- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Watchdogs challenge efficiency of wind farm costing £1.5m to subsidise

Watchdogs have challenged the efficiency of North Lincolnshire’s only operational wind farm after it was revealed it cost taxpayers around £1.5 million to subsidise last year.

The eight turbines on the 300-acre Bagmoor Farm last year produced 30,755 megawatt hours of electricity worth around £1.23 million.

The site generates enough power to meet the annual needs of 8,946 homes.

But the report by the charity the Renewable Energy Foundation shows the North Lincolnshire farm worked at just 27.2 per cent of its annual capacity and had to be subsidised by £1.47 million.

Dr John Constable, the foundation’s director of policy and research, said: “It’s a pretty low efficiency rate and not a very impressive performance. The Government needs to face the facts. The Renewables Obligation is enormously costly to the consumer and is delivering high profits to developers even for under-performing and environmentally-damaging on-shore wind.

“The Government should not only review the levels of public subsidy but also make it mandatory that public subsidies if evidence of capital cost is provided and put into the public domain.”

The challenge came as Energy Minister Charles Henry warned it was wrong for inefficient wind turbines to get “significant” public subsidies.

The Minister said wind farms were part of the Coalition’s energy policy. But he added: “They need to be positioned where the wind is best.”

He added: “We have launched a review of the Renewables Obligation Certificate to make sure the scheme doesn’t encourage development where the resources are not so good.

“If people are getting a significant amount of money where the wind is not blowing strongly, it would suggest it is set at the wrong level.”

But a spokesman for Renewable UK, the trade body for the wind farm industry, later insisted the Bagmoor site was both efficient and value for money.

He said: “It is operating at just below the national average rate of between 28 and 29 per cent and well above the national average in Germany of 18 per cent.

“We are talking here of tapping into a free resource – the wind. The operational and construction costs of wind farms are well covered in their 20 to 25-year life spans.

“We have to look at all forms of renewable energies in this country because in 25 years we will be importing 90 per cent of our gas from countries like Russia and Iran.”

The eight wind turbines at Bagmoor started producing electricity in 2009, following the £18 million investment by RidgeWind, which is also attempting to set up a second farm at nearby Flixborough Grange.

Under the Renewables Obligation Certification subsidy scheme, owners of wind farms earn around £48 for every megawatt hour of electricity they produce on top of the cash they raise from selling electricity.