Towering over a hilltop near where I live on the Mendips, in Somerset, is a shiny, new 330ft wind turbine – a perfect symbol of the greatest political unreality confronting Britain today.
The sole reason that a Government inspector insisted it should be built, overriding all normal planning rules and a unanimous vote by our local council, was that within 12 years, Britain is obliged by the EU to generate nearly two fifths of its electricity from “renewables”, most of it from 20,000 wind turbines like this.
There is not the remotest chance of this target being met.
The unreality of our energy policy is now such that the Government talks about building 10,000 giant turbines offshore – at a rate of more than two a day – when it knows that neither the technical nor practical resources exist to achieve more than a tiny fraction of that figure.
Furthermore, as was recently admitted by Paul Golby, the chief executive of E.ON, one of our leading energy companies, even if we could build all those turbines, we would have to build dozens of conventional power stations to provide 90 per cent back-up for when the wind is not blowing.
And yet, by 2015, we stand to lose more than a quarter of our existing generating capacity from the closure of 16 nuclear and coal-fired power plants through a combination of obsolescence and EU anti-pollution laws.
Far from the drive for wind energy adding to our existing capacity of 76 gigawatts (GW), Mr Golby explained, we should have to enlarge our capacity to 120GW, costing hundreds of billions of pounds.
Just as we are threatened with massive power cuts from the closure of existing plants, we would thus have to build 50GW of nuclear or fossil-fuel capacity to compensate for the wind’s unreliability.
We are threatened with a truly massive disaster.
I have spoken before of “the great wind scam”, and how its only beneficiaries are the developers, who now make nearly twice as much money from the derisory amount of electricity their turbines produce as the companies that provide 99 per cent of our power by conventional means.
For each megawatt of capacity, a windfarm developer gets on average £130,000 a year from selling his electricity to the grid, plus another £109,000 a year in subsidy paid by the rest of us in higher electricity bills under the Government’s “renewable obligation” scheme.
Meanwhile, up and down the country, scores of local campaigns battle to save our land from disfigurement by these monstrous machines that have no useful purpose.
The campaigners soon discover how ruthlessly the Government has rigged the planning system in the wind industry’s favour, in obedience to wholly fanciful EU targets.
The saddest thing of all, as we plunge towards this Government-engineered disaster, is that, if we look to the Opposition to save us by grasping the hard facts, we find it is as much in the grip of the madness as the Government itself.
As I have said before, stand by for the lights to go out – quite possibly when we have a Conservative government, which will not have a clue where to turn.
By Christopher Booker
22 June 2008
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