Scots are set to be hit with a multi-million-pound bill for hundreds of new wind turbines as experts warn that most will need replaced after only half their predicted lifespan.
It is claimed household bills will rocket as energy firms prepare to renew two-thirds of the country’s 188 wind farms by the end of the decade.
The warning follows a new independent analysis which suggests that onshore turbines are wearing out after 10-15 years – significantly less than the 25-year projection mooted by industry and Government planners.
Professor Gordon Hughes, an economist at Edinburgh University, reported his findings in the study published by the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF).
It estimates the faster rate of deterioration will more than double the cost of energy. Around £2billion a year in renewables’ subsidy is already added to household bills across the UK but this could soar to buy new turbines.
According to REF, approximately one fifth of the 1,764 wind turbines in Scotland are already ten or more years old. And by 2018, 129 of them will have been in place for more than a decade.
Dr John Constable, REF director, said: “These figures should be a wake-up call for the sector, its investors and Government planners. Generous subsidies are essentially being handed out on a false premise.
“It is likely to double the costs involved in what is already an expensive industry. This has serious implications for bills.”
Tory MSP Murdo Fraser, convener of the energy committee, yesterday urged the Scottish Government to heed the report.
He said: “This is another damning verdict on wind energy. If the SNP isn’t going to listen to communities or councils, it should at least listen to the experts.”
However, the industry has disputed the report’s findings, with ScottishPower Renewables insisting that its turbines will last 25 years.
And Jenny Hogan, director of policy for Scottish Renewables, said: “Our oldest commercial wind farms are 16 years old and none has been decommissioned or repowered.”
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