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Wind power ‘unpredictable’ and expensive – Civitas

Support for wind power is cutting opportunities for cleaner, more affordable energy, a new report from Civitas suggests.

The report, ‘Electricity Costs: the folly of wind-power’, by economist Ruth Lea, argues that the push for wind power is preventing Britain from effectively reducing CO2 emissions, while creating extra costs for energy users.

She says that wind power is less reliable than fossil fuels, and so requires back-up power stations to maintain a consistent supply, meaning that users effectively pay twice.

Lea suggests that the cost estimates for wind do not include all the factors, such as the relative lack of wind in the areas of highest electricity demand. She also says that wind farms create more emissions than gas power alone.

The Climate Change Act requires emissions to be cut by 80% by 2050, and the EU’s Renewables Directive commits the UK to sourcing 15% of final energy consumption by renewables, including wind.

The report concludes: “[Wind power] is expensive and yet it is not effective in cutting CO2 emissions. If it were not for the renewables targets set by the Renewables Directive, wind power would not even be entertained as a cost-effective way of generating electricity or cutting emissions. The renewables targets should be renegotiated with the EU.”

But Dr Gordon Edge, director of policy at trade association Renewable UK, said the analysis relied on research from “anti-wind cranks” outside of the scientific mainstream. He said the research is based on an assumption that there is a need to build a new fleet of rapid-response gas power stations (known as open-cycle gas turbines, or OCGT) to back up wind generation on a megawatt-for-megawatt basis. These assumptions “significantly inflate” the cost of energy from wind, Dr Edge said, adding: “Dedicated OCGT plants are not required to provide back-up for wind. Instead, wind can be integrated into our existing electricity system to act as a fuel saver, enabling us to harness the weather when it’s available.

“It is surprising that a think tank such as Civitas has published a report based on the work of anti-wind cranks, repeating the same discredited assertions. The UK’s energy policy over the next ten years will play a critical part in our economic success – offshore wind in particular has the potential to revitalise our manufacturing sector, with the promise of over 70,000 jobs.”