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Exposed: the myths about windpower

Across the East Midlands, local communities are facing up to the threat of wind farms on their doorsteps, with all the associated problems of noise, health risks, visual intrusion and housing blight.

Some of the myths about wind power need to be exposed.

“Wind is not intermittent, so long as the wind farms are spread out – it’s always blowing somewhere”.

No it’s not. It’s not uncommon for a high pressure area to cover the UK for days.

Anyway there are technical distribution problems in bringing wind power from Ayrshire to Abingdon.

“Nuclear is intermittent too”. Nonsense.

Of course it’s possible for any generating equipment to fail (we’ve all seen the videos of wind turbines breaking up).

But nuclear, like coal and gas, delivers the consistent, predictable, reliable base-load power we need to support our industry and our children’s jobs.

Wind offers an intermittent trickle of power if you’re lucky – usually less than 30 per cent rated capacity, often much less.

“Nimbys claim that wind needs back-up, but so does every other form of generation”.

Of course there needs to be a contingency plan for unexpected stoppages for any generator.

But only wind is variable, unpredictable and intermittent all the time on an hour-by-hour basis.

Only wind needs constant conventional power on stand-by, running at sub-optimal capacity and wasting fuel and money.

These extra costs are rarely accounted for in the cost of wind.

Wind is only viable with the huge implied subsidies that are already driving up electricity costs for homes and for industry.

They’re not wind farms at all: they’re subsidy farms.

There are real questions whether our national grid can operate at all with the sort of high proportion of intermittent wind power planned by the Government.

Certainly it’s never been done before.

If it can’t, or if the Government’s plans for investment in wind are delayed, we’ll be sitting waiting for the lights to go out, and cursing our Government’s folly.

Never forget the wise words of the Renewable Energy Foundation: we must remember that wind turbines are garden ornaments, not power stations.

Roger Helmer

Conservative MEP for the East Midlands

Buxton Advertiser

10 July 2008