Thousands more wind turbines will be needed to meet Britain’s green targets, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne admitted yesterday.
His department envisages a huge expansion of wind farms, despite complaints that they blight the landscape and are noisy.
An analysis of official figures suggests up to 32,000 could be built in the next 20 years, of which at least 6,000 would be onshore.
Mr Huhne yesterday said it was ‘one scenario’ but that the actual total was more likely to be around 10,000, given the increased use of more powerful turbines.
At present, there are about 3,000 onshore wind turbines with a few hundred offshore, and they generate less than 2 per cent of the nation’s power.
A carbon plan published by Mr Huhne’s Department of Energy and Climate Change says wind power will play a key role in meeting the obligation to cut emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
It outlines a tenfold expansion in use of renewable energy, mostly wind, in the next 40 years, even though electricity demand will be much higher, perhaps double the current level.
This is partly because, according to the plan, Britain’s 30million petrol and diesel cars and vans could disappear from the roads by 2050 to be replaced by battery or hydrogen- powered vehicles that can be recharged from low-carbon sources of electricity.
The plan also envisages an enhanced role for nuclear power. One plant a year should be built from 2019, it says.
The proposals will provoke concern about ‘green’ taxes, which fund the subsidised wind industry and are already projected to rise to £280 a year by 2020.
Dr John Constable of the Renewable Energy Foundation said that levies for these measures were falling disproportionately on poorer households.
He said: ‘By 2020 the subsidies for renewable electricity will be adding £8billion a year to consumer bills.
‘The costs are getting out of control.’
A DECC spokesman said: ‘We don’t know at this stage which is going to be the most successful and cheapest and that’s why we need a portfolio to make sure that we don’t bet the farm on one particular technology.’