Following the revelation that we’re all paying a secret stealth tax to subsidise so-called renewable energy sources, it seems like a good time to check out exactly what we are getting for our money.
At midday yesterday, wind power was contributing just 2.2 per cent of all the electricity in the National Grid. You might think that’s a pretty poor return on the billions of pounds spent already on Britain’s standing army of windmills.
But it’s actually a significant improvement on the last time I checked the wholesale electricity industry’s official website. At the turn of the year, the figure was 1.6 per cent. During the cold snap the turbines had to be heated to stop them freezing and were actually consuming more electricity than they generated.
Even on a good day, they rarely work above a quarter of their theoretical capacity. And in high winds they have to be turned off altogether to prevent damage. Britain’s 3,426 wind turbines produce no more electricity than a single, medium-sized gas-fired power station.
Any sane individual would conclude that wind generation is hopelessly inefficient and horribly expensive and stop throwing good money after bad.
But when did sanity ever have anything to do with government policy?
Ministers are planning to install another 12,500 of these worse-than-useless windmills, some of them up to three times the size of existing monstrosities.
We are paying for all this through hidden charges which now make up a fifth of all gas and electricity bills. The average household has to fork out an extra £200 a year.
That’s because the Government forces energy companies to buy from renewable sources, which are far more expensive than conventional power stations. The cost is then passed on to the consumer.
Ministers know there would be an outcry if they raised taxes to pay for windmills, so they hide the subsidies in our gas and electricity bills and hope the energy companies get the blame.
Scottish Power has just announced it is increasing gas prices by 19 per cent and electricity by 10 per cent. Although there is little the companies can do about rising world commodity prices, our bills are being artificially inflated as a direct result of the Government’s insane ‘climate change’ policies.
At a time when the price of everything from petrol to basic foodstuffs is going through the roof, it is outrageous that ministers are piling on the misery by forcing all of us to pay well over the odds for domestic fuel.
Here’s how crazy it is.
Earlier this year the National Grid was forced to pay £900,000 compensation to the owners of six wind farms which were forced to close down one especially gusty night – because they were producing too much electricity and there was no capacity to store it.
So they’re either producing little or no electricity, or else have to be switched off because they’re producing too much. Either way, we pay.
It’s not just windmills, either. Farmers are being offered £50,000 to cover their fields with solar panels, which are useless when the sun don’t shine.
Given that we are told we could soon be facing food shortages, you might have thought it would make sense to encourage farmers to grow crops.
But with a guaranteed annual return far higher than if he grew wheat, you can’t blame Farmer Giles for concluding it’s not worth getting his hands dirty and taking the money.
Lavish subsidies for renewable energy schemes are also making some of the country’s richest landowners even richer at the taxpayers’ expense.
Meanwhile, manufacturing industry faces a 70 per cent increase in its fuel bills – regardless of the level of world energy prices – because of a reckless levy on carbon emissions imposed by the Coalition’s tame racing driver. Some say he ran off with a lapsed lesbian and that he persuaded his ex-wife to take the rap for a speeding offence. All we know is: he’s called Chris Huhne.
The Lib Dem Energy Secretary epitomises the political establishment’s obsession with ‘man-made global warming’. Climate change has given them a catch-all excuse to grab more power and raise taxes.
Don’t take my word for it. Tony Blair’s former Cabinet Secretary, Lord Turnbull, has condemned MPs and civil servants for punishing hard-working families and jeopardising economic growth in the name of saving the polar bears.
He said: ‘We need more open-mindedness, more rationality, less emotion and less religiosity and an end to the alarmist propaganda and to attempts to frighten us and our children.’
Amen to that.
Why should Britain have the world’s toughest targets for cutting carbon emissions, especially when China is opening a new coal-fired power station every week? Meeting those targets will take £13 billion a year out of the economy.
Why should British householders, uniquely, be forced to pay higher gas and electricity bills to disfigure our green-and-pleasant with hideous War Of The Worlds windmills, simply so politicians like Huhne can preen themselves at international ‘global warming’ conferences?
It is suicidal to load unnecessary financial burdens on British businesses, which are trying to compete with cut-price Chinese products produced in factories powered by cheap electricity.
It’s not even as if there are tens of thousands of jobs being created in Britain by the ‘green economy’. The wind turbines are all built and installed by foreign firms. British taxpayers are subsidising companies in Germany, Spain and Japan.
My wife recently went for lunch in a Norfolk hotel which was overrun with Scandinavian technicians, living high on the hog, plonking offshore wind farms in the Wash and the North Sea.
Politicians are putting our economic recovery at risk by posturing over ‘global warming’ and dragging their feet over the obvious and urgent solution of building more clean, safe nuclear power stations.
Because of this madness, Britain faces the very real prospect of rolling power cuts in the not-too-distant, as our older generation of power stations come to the end of their lives.
Stuff the polar bears. Unless the politicians get a grip, sky-high gas and electricity bills will be the least of our worries.