Anyone wanting final proof that Gordon Brown lives on another planet should consider his boast to last week’s EU “Mediterranean summit” that “Britain’s North Sea could be the Gulf of the future for offshore wind”.
To help Britain meet its EU target of generating 32 per cent of our electricity from “renewables” by 2020, Mr Brown says he wants to see 3,000 giant wind turbines built round our coasts.
The “optimum” capacity of an offshore turbine is 3 megawatts (MW), so the nominal capacity of Mr Brown’s turbines would be 9,000MW. But due to the vagaries of the wind, they would produce on average only a third of this, say 3,000MW.
The Drax coal-fired power station in Yorkshire has a capacity of 3,800MW. Thus the entire output of Mr Brown’s “Gulf of the future” would be less than that of a single conventional power station.
The cost of building his turbines, estimated at £2.3 million per MW, would be at least £20 billion (the £10 million cost of the solitary 3.5MW turbine recently built in Cromarty, Firth, ran out at £2.8 million per MW).
In addition, someone (who?) would have to build up to a dozen gas-fired power stations just to provide backup for when the wind is not blowing. We could get considerably more electricity from two new nuclear power stations at a fraction of the cost.
Fortunately, there is no possibility that Mr Brown’s 3,000 turbines, each the size of Blackpool Tower, will get built. It is impossible that they could be erected at a rate of one every working day for 11 years, not least because the world has only one ship of the size needed to install them.
Such fantasies are only made possible by the fact that we are all forced, through our electricity bills, to pay a hidden subsidy to the turbine developers, which is 50 per cent higher even than the near-100 per cent subsidy we pay towards onshore wind energy.
But if Mr Brown is living on the Planet Krypton, he has, alas, been joined by David Cameron and our entire political class. Not one MP, it seems, dares question a policy the total insanity of which they could work out for themselves just by spending 20 minutes on the internet.
By Christopher Booker
20 July 2008
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