Talking on the BBC last week about wind turbines, which are at the centre of our Government’s energy policy, the Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, said “onshore wind doesn’t need subsidy any more, onshore wind can pay its way”. This was so laughably untrue that one has to wonder whether Mr Hammond was being deliberately untruthful or whether, which is almost worse, he is so ignorant that he actually believed what he said.
The fact is that no one would dream of building these absurdly inefficient machines unless they were guaranteed a 100 per cent subsidy through the Renewables Obligation. This forces electricity companies to buy the power produced by onshore wind at twice the market rate, paid by all of us through our electricity bills. In the case of the offshore turbines that the Government is so keen on, this subsidy is doubled to 200 per cent.
When it was reported recently that a Dutch company, Eneco, is to build the world’s largest offshore wind farm, covering 76 square miles off the Dorset coast, the media mindlessly parroted a claim that its 240 turbines will be able to generate 1200MW, “enough to power 820,000 homes”. In fact, thanks to the intermittency of the wind, their actual output would average little more than 300MW, equivalent to the needs of only 125,000 homes. Yet for this we will be paying three times the market rate, including a subsidy of £250 million a year.
For the same capital cost of £3.6 billion, we could build enough gas-fired power stations to generate 15 times the amount of electricity, continuously, without a penny of subsidy and without ruining the views off the Jurassic Coast, which is a World Heritage Site for its natural beauty. If Mr Hammond does not know this, let him keep quiet until he has done his homework.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding