Not in my back yard? Not in anybody’s back yard!
There has been a great deal of published correspondence recently concerning the “Dash for Wind” in the Borders. Much of the argument has centred on the adverse impact imposed by the construction, environmental intrusion, noise, flicker effect and general economic blight which these monuments to corporate greed and governmental folly will inevitably visit upon those unfortunate enough to live close to a large commercial windfarm.
I consider myself extremely fortunate in that I do not suffer from these direct effects of proximity. Nor are there, at present, any plans of which I am aware which would change this blessed state of affairs (although the apparent willingness of the local planning authorities to countenance the proposal by the A1 at Reston suggests that nowhere in the Borders can now consider itself safe in this respect). Nonetheless, I am wholeheartedly opposed to the senseless headlong drive to spend our money on a critically flawed aspect of energy policy which is incapable of delivering either reliable, sustainable energy or the environmental benefits claimed for it – and will fail to do so at a massive cost to electricity customers, pushing many towards fuel poverty at domestic level and risking destroying manufacturing competitiveness in an extremely cost-sensitive global trading environment.
Senseless, did I call it? Not if you have an economic interest in the wind power industry it isn’t. Let me give you an example. A few weeks ago when our part of the world was exposed to the tail end of Hurricane Katia, the UK wind industry had a beano – for once, it found that it was able generate close to the maximum potential of its installed capacity (average output being less than 30% of the theoretical maximum).
The principal wind industry pressure group, RenewableUK were delighted and issued a press release to say so – a peak value of 4500MW of energy generated by wind, equivalent to 10% of UK demand.
Sounds good? Well, what the erstwhile (when it was rather more honestly named) British Wind Energy Association neglected to tell us was the cost to the consumer of this mini wind bonanza. Electricity generated from wind (assuming something like the peak output was maintained over the eight hours when the winds were at their strongest) would have cost the consumer around £2.1 million more than the equivalent energy from the conventional power stations which were displaced as a result of the high winds.
It gets worse. The National Grid, on behalf of electricity customers was forced to pay out nearly £3 million to wind generators to refrain from producing energy because the Transmission Network was unable to accept it. One of the largest windfarms in the Borders, Crystal Rig was paid £1.2 million of this total. Its operator was paid around ten times the price it would have received for generating electricity for producing nothing. Think about that for a minute. For eight hours which the wind industry proudly heralds as its greatest achievement, you and I – the customer – overpaid for our electricity by about £5 million in round figures.
Evidence of the scale of the cost of this madness is legion. The electricity industry regulator has suggested that £299 billion pounds will need to be set aside over the next 20 years to pay for the present renewable energy policy, much of this will be required to fund, directly or indirectly, the growth in onshore wind. The Whitehall Government’s energy advisers have recently warned that “green” energy policies could add £300 to the average electricity bill. The Scottish Chambers of Commerce chairman, told the organization’s recent annual dinner that Government energy experts predict greater reliance on “very expensive” renewable energy projects will lead to consumers’ electricity bills doubling. I could go on, but you get the picture.
And for what? The only sensible answer to this admittedly rhetorical question is “to line the pockets of the landowners, Multi-National Corporations and brass nameplate offshore investment trusts who, with the direct connivance of our elected representatives, are taking you and me and all other electricity consumers for a massive ride”.
Worst of all, this exorbitant charade has a negligible positive effect on the reduction in greenhouse gasses which contribute to global warming. There is a good argument that, as wind generation increases, the need for more conventional plant to act as backup and standby to deal with the unpredictable and intermittent nature of the technology will actually make the position with regard to emissions worse rather than better. Furthermore, the fatally-flawed and disproportionate concentration of resources on wind generation draws vital resources away from measures which could make a real and lasting difference in the very real fight against global climate change.
Yes, I’m angry. You should be too – unless, of course, you’re one of those wealthy landowners, Corporations or tax-dodging offshore trusts who stand to make a fortune at the expense of ordinary electricity customers. Whether or not you stand to have your life directly blighted by this industrial-scale machinery, I would urge anyone who is convinced by the arguments against commercial wind generation to say so in no uncertain terms to their elected representatives before the Borders – and much of rural Britain as a whole – is overwhelmed in the name of an unaffordably expensive and unthinkingly pointless political vanity project.
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