British consumers are coughing up £1billion a year to support renewable energy without realising it, a leading expert revealed yesterday.
And the Government-imposed charge will have raked in around £30billion within a decade.
Professor Ian Fells, Emeritus Professor of Energy Conversion at Newcastle University, spoke as the world’s biggest wind-power facility was launched officially off the Kent coast.
Thanet Wind Farm has 100 turbines and could generate enough electricity to power 200,000 homes a year, bringing the Britain’s total wind power to 5GW.
But Prof Fells insisted consumers are unwittingly paying extra to support green energy through the Government’s Renewables Obligation.
He claimed: “This adds about £80 a year on the average electricity bill of £600. Last year the Renewables Obligation raised about £1billion and, by the Government’s own figures, this charge will gross about £30billion by 2020 – enough to build five nuclear power stations. Yet unlike nuclear power, wind power is intermittent and does nothing to secure Britain’s energy supplies.
“The Government’s infatuation with offshore wind has led to other renewable sources, such as tidal power, being starved of resources.” The opening of the Thanet facility by Energy Secretary Chris Huhne means Britain is now the world’s biggest generator of offshore wind power.
The farm, owned by Swedish energy company Vattenfall, is a major step towards Britain meeting Government targets to get 15 per cent of all its energy from renewables by 2020 – compared to the current total of three per cent.
Matthew Sinclair, director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “This Renewables Obligation is a tax that people are not aware of. It hits the poorest and the elderly hardest and costs people a fortune. And the cost will only rise.”
But Nick Medic, of RenewableUK, defended the payments saying: “The Renewables Obligation is a crucial contribution to de-carbonising our energy economy.
“In plain terms, we are getting bountiful green electricity out of wind and other renewable sources while at the same time generating jobs and business opportunities.”
A Vattenfall spokesman said yesterday the farm was operating at two-thirds of capacity and was expected to operate on average at between 80 and 85 per cent.
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