The Government’s wind farm plans are a ‘big gamble’ which may not pay off, according to a committee of MPs.
They say ministers are banking on the cost of offshore wind going down and major improvements in efficiency to ‘make the numbers add up’.
In a report out today, they say a ‘supergrid’ – costing up to £60billion – may be needed to join Britain’s wind farms to plants in other European countries.
There are more than 500 turbines off the coast of the UK and another 1,000 approved or under construction.
But thousands more will be needed to meet the target of generating 15 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.
The Energy and Climate Change Committee report says: ‘Today the national grid is struggling to cope, because so much of our electricity is produced in remote areas, especially the North.
Our transmission systems do not always have the capacity to deliver power to where is needed.
‘If the Government hopes to deliver its aspirations at all, let alone in a cost-effective way…a more efficient way of connecting wind needs to be planned.’
It says offshore wind is necessary to reduce Britain’s dependence on oil.
But the reports adds that it is ‘a notoriously expensive and intermittent source of electricity supply and imposing an unacceptable cost on consumers’.
It continues: ‘The Government is banking on reductions in the cost of offshore wind and improvements in efficiency to make the numbers add up.’
It was revealed this weekend that £2.6million was paid in compensation to 11 wind farm owners to switch off their plants because the National Grid could not cope with the surge in electricity.
The committee’s chairman, Tim Yeo, said connecting the UK’s electricity network to other countries would make the system cheaper and more efficient.
He added: ‘At the moment we are paying some generators to switch off because we haven’t got the wires to deliver electricity from where it is produced to where it is needed.
‘An offshore grid can relieve some of this pressure.’
The cost of reinforcing the existing lines and cables to deliver electricity where it is needed has been put at £32billion by 2020, the committee said.
A spokesman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change said it was in talks with nine countries about the feasibility of a supergrid in the North Sea.
He added: ‘Offshore wind has a crucial role to play in the UK’s future energy mix, with huge potential benefits for our economy and our energy security, but we are clear that increasing offshore wind deployment is dependent on reducing the costs.’
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