Wind power is a “folly” which is “crippling” consumers with increased energy costs, a report by a leading think tank warned yesterday.
Civitas claims that “unwarranted support” for wind power is “hindering genuinely cleaner energy” and stopping the UK effectively reducing its carbon dioxide emissions.
Its report states wind power is “unreliable” and requires back-up power stations – meaning that energy users “pay twice” for the “window-dressing of renewables” and again for the fossil fuels.
The report comes as the Welsh Government explores changes to the planning system to support the development of renewable energy.
Proposals for wind farms – such as the planned development at Nant y Moch in the Cambrian mountains – have inflamed fierce opposition and the Civitas report will cement convictions that wind power carries too high a financial and environmental cost. However, Friends of the Earth Cymru yesterday rejected its findings.
Director Gareth Clubb said: “The paper argues we need to be renegotiating and relegislating in order to pump more climate changing gasses into the atmosphere.
“There’s not a reputable climate scientist in the world who would say that’s a sensible thing to do.”
The report by economist Ruth Lea, titled Electricity Costs: The Folly of Windpower, argues that “when all costs are included, gas-fired power is the most cost-efficient method of generating electricity in the short-term, while nuclear power stations become the most cost-efficient in the medium- term.”
It also states that targets to cut emissions and increase renewable usage are “draconian” and “add to energy costs and undermine business competitiveness”, adding: “Britain’s CO2 emissions are about 1.5% of the world total and even the EU27’s share is only 12% of the world total. No other major emitters have binding policies to cut back their emissions.
“China’s emissions are, for example, rising quickly.”
However, Friends of the Earth argues that China is also investing in renewables and that the UK has a chance to establish itself at “the forefront of new technology that pretty soon every country in the world will be needing”.
The charity supports reform of the planning rules in Wales so it will be easier to establish wind farms outside Strategic Search Areas (SSAs).
Mr Clubb said: “We think the SSAs as a concept have had their day and we think wind developments should be considered on a case by case basis under planning law.”
The Welsh Government yesterday stated it was “pushing forward work to research how the consenting process for renewable energy projects in Wales is currently working”.
This is an attempt to “establish an evidence base and uncover any factors that might be delaying consents for renewable energy projects” in response to “claims from some quarters that the current system has restricted the development of a number of renewable energy projects and that it is contributing to a climate of uncertainty.”
Labour Environment Minister said: “Renewable energy really is the future; it will not run out, will help us to reduce our carbon emissions and is not dictated by factors, such as oil supply, which are outside our control.”
A spokesman for the UK Government Department for Energy and Climate Change said: “Onshore wind is one of the most cost-effective large scale renewable technologies, and being one of the windiest places in Europe it makes perfect sense to exploit this natural resource.
“We need to develop a mix of energy sources here in the UK rather than rely on fossil fuel imports, to keep the lights on and cut emissions as old power stations close.
“Wind farms provide home- grown renewable energy, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, cut carbon emissions and bring huge investment to support jobs and growth.
“Value for money is vital so that is why we have set up a task force to help bring down the cost of offshore wind and why we are proposing to reduce support for onshore wind as costs come down.”
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