March 7, 2012

Households will pay ten times more for green energy as bills soar to cover £120bn wind turbines gamble

By Sean Poulter, This is Money, 7 March 2012

A rush to green energy by spending billions covering much of the countryside with wind turbines would be an expensive blunder, a damning study has found.

Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University said the massive programme will cost consumers £120billion by 2020 through higher bills.

This is almost ten times more than the £13billion it would cost to generate the same amount of electricity from efficient gas-fired power stations, according to the leading energy and environment economist.

Supporters of wind power insist the key benefit is that it allows a huge reduction in CO2 emissions, in line with EU obligations.

This is challenged in the study, which suggests the switch to wind will actually deliver only a tiny reduction.

The report is published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a think-tank devoted to challenging conventional wisdom about climate change. GWPF’s chairman is the former Tory Chancellor Lord Lawson and its findings are backed by Lib Dem peer Emma Nicholson.

Professor Hughes said families are being forced to subsidise wind farms through their bills.

Meanwhile business energy costs are also being driven up, so harming their profits and ability to invest and grow.

By contrast around a dozen landowners who allow wind farms to be erected on their property are to share an £850million subsidy windfall.

A wind turbine generating £150,000 of electricity a year is eligible for ‘monstrous subsidies’ of £250,000 a year.

Professor Hughes warned: ‘Unless the Government scales back its commitments to wind power very substantially, its policy will be worse than a mistake, it will be a blunder.’

Wind farm support stems from a pledge in the 2008 Climate Change Act for a 34 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions.

However, Professor Hughes insists figures show opting for wind power rather than building efficient gas-fired power stations will – at best – reduce emissions by 2.8 per cent.

He said the figure is so low because any investment in wind farms will have to be backed up with the building of gas turbine power stations to ensure the lights stay on when there is no wind.

Professor Hughes said: ‘There is nothing inherently good or bad about investing in renewable energy and green technology. The key problems with current policies for wind power are simple. They require a huge commitment of investment to a technology that is not very green but which is very expensive and inflexible.’

Baroness Nicholson joined the attack, saying: ‘A dozen of the biggest landowners will between them receive almost £850million in subsidies, a huge amount paid by ordinary families through hidden taxes on their electricity bills.

‘I am immensely unhappy wind power has attracted such monstrous subsidies. I am particularly unhappy because the facts have been hidden from the consumer who will have to pay the bill for this folly.’

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said developing wind power will mean the UK is less reliant on imported gas.

She said: ‘We need investment in new energy capacity. Wind will be a crucial part of that, alongside gas, new nuclear and carbon capture and storage.

‘Home grown renewables will help insulate our economy and consumers from depending excessively on gas imports.’

URL to article: