The full extent of the profits to be made by wind farms in Britain can be spelt out for the first time.
A briefing document on the wind industry written for investors – and seen by The Sunday Telegraph – shows how attempts to increase the supply of green energy will make turbines far more profitable over the next decade.
It predicts that wind farms will generate greater income following the introduction of a new tax on energy from gas and coal-fired power stations because it will drive up the cost of electricity over the next seven years.
The new tax, intended to cut pollution from traditional sources of electricity, will allow wind farm operators to charge more for the power they produce, with the extra costs expected to be passed on to consumers through their bills. Energy industry experts predict the new tax will cost electricity customers an extra £1billion a year from 2016.
The documents seen by The Sunday Telegraph show how:
* Wind farms are already making hundreds of millions of pounds of profits, with half the income from existing consumer subsidies;
* Coal-fired power plants are being forced to close ahead of the new carbon tax as it will make operating too expensive;
* Electricity prices are expected to increase at an accelerated rate due to the resulting reduction in power supplies;
* Energy costs will rise by around eight per cent each year between now and 2020, meaning wholesale prices will almost double.
The details are contained in a 70-page prospectus drawn up by Barclays Bank and sent to financiers looking to invest up to £260million in a new energy fund, Greencoat UK Wind, which is planning to buy stakes in six big wind farms around the UK.
The document will anger backbench Tory MPs, who have campaigned for wind farm subsidies to be cut – only to discover that they will effectively be receiving a new subsidy on top of existing ones the industry receives to encourage renewable energy.
Chris Heaton-Harris, a Conservative MP who has led a campaign to reduce wind farm subsidies, said: “I find it hard to believe that the Department of Energy and Climate Change has pulled the wool over the eyes of those in the Treasury.
“This prospectus explains the massive rush of wind applications, as developers know they will get rich whilst pushing thousands of energy consumers into fuel poverty.”
The financial prospectus shows just how much money the bank is convinced investors can now make from wind energy, providing the most detailed insight yet into the workings of the wind industry.
Most of the profit comes from the generous subsidy currently offered by the Government to encourage green energy, which is subsequently added on to electricity bills.
The document says the introduction of the new green tax on polluting forms of energy – called the “carbon price floor” – will have the effect of driving up prices, not least because coal-fired power stations are being shut down as a result, making wind farms even more profitable.
The Government, through the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, has committed £50million to the Greencoat fund to underpin the scheme.
Critics complain that this means the Government is unlikely to reduce generous subsidies on which it is now also staking its own money.
Investors were told in the prospectus that electricity prices should rise by 55 per cent from £45 for each megawatt-hour to £70 by 2016. On top of that wind farms receive an additional subsidy of about £50 for each megawatt-hour.
Dr John Constable, director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, a charity which has highlighted the cost of wind farms, said: “Wind power is already over-subsidised, so it is simply astonishing that government should calmly and one suspects incompetently spread another generous layer of jam on the revenue of existing wind farms.”
A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesman said it was investing £50million in Greencoat “to help catalyse the additional private sector capital required” to increase investment in renewable energy.
Richard Nourse, managing partner at Greencoat Capital, which will manage the fund, said: “Greencoat UK Wind offers investors the prospect of a six per cent dividend yield expected to increase in line with inflation.
“In these days of low interest rates and high volatility, this seems to be attractive to investors.”
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