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Households would be saved £550 by scrapping wind farms

Shelving expensive wind farms in favour of cheaper nuclear and gas-fired power stations would save every Briton almost £550, it is claimed.

Government plans to cut pollution by a third by 2020 rely heavily on wind power and will cost £108billion to implement, an accountancy firm has calculated.

But shifting the emphasis away from turbines and towards nuclear and gas-fired power stations would slash the bill by £34billion, according to KPMG.

This equates to around £550 for every person in the country.

The preliminary conclusions of the Thinking About the Affordable report come as spiralling gas and electricity bills have left millions worrying about how they will keep warm this winter.

The average annual dual fuel bill stands at £1,345, almost double the £740 of five years ago.

Bills are predicted to rise another 25 per cent over the next four years, taking one in four households – 7.25million – into fuel poverty.

Wind turbines produce around 5 per cent of the country’s electricity, or enough to power 3.2million homes. This will increase around five-fold by 2020 under plans to raise the amount of green energy produced, while cutting carbon emissions.

But wind power is one of the most expensive forms of electricity generation to build.

For instance, an offshore wind farm capable of powering 800,000 homes would cost £2.4billion. The bill for an equivalent power station fired by gas, a cleaner alternative to coal, would come in at £400million, or one sixth of the amount.

Wind farms and nuclear power stations cost similar amounts, but turbines are seen as more expensive as depending on nature means they often operate at a fraction of full capacity.

KPMG, which advises the Government on energy pricing, says wind power is too expensive. Mark Powell, the report’s author, said: ‘Taking a clinical economist’s view of hitting our carbon-reduction targets for the least cost shows we can reach our goal for a lot less.

‘However, to do this, the most expensive forms of renewable energies, particularly offshore wind, need to be scaled back.

‘Trying to meet carbon targets with a heavy reliance on renewable energy was a laudable vision but … it’s time to face facts on how the huge level of investment may translate into fuel poverty.’

He said focusing on gas-fired and nuclear power plants would help Britain reach its target of a 34 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide by 2020 and increase the level of energy from renewable resources to 15 per cent.

The bill, which will be footed by the consumer, would fall from £108billion to £74billion.

But the wind industry said the figures do not factor in points such as the farms being cheaper to run or benefits of not being reliant on imported gas.

The Energy Department echoed the criticism, saying KPMG ‘ignored long-term benefits to customers of energy sources that involve no on-going fuel costs’.