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New figures blow a giant hole in SNP’s wind turbine policy

The SNP’S energy policy has been branded a ‘fantasy’ after new figures revealed wind turbines in Scotland are the most inefficient in Britain.

Ministers insist our more blustery weather will help turn us into the ‘green powerhouse of Europe’.

But Government statistics show a typical windmill sited north of the Border produces less electricity than one anywhere else in the UK.

They also reveal that investors are increasingly putting their money into English projects instead.

Independent energy consultant John Large said: ‘Offshore turbines tend to be more efficient because there is a steadier, more predictable supply of wind out at sea with less chance of turbulence. The east coast of England is the most ideal environment in the UK to place these.

‘Firstly, the water is shallower, which means the machinery is easier and cheaper to install and, secondly, the flatter topography of Norfolk and Lincolnshire, for example, gives the wind a clearer, undisturbed run. Scotland does not enjoy these natural advantages, which is why most of its capacity is still located onshore.

‘These figures show that turbines in England are now consistently outperforming those in Scotland.’

The statistics from the UK’s Department for Energy and Climate Change how regional variations in wind farm efficiency. Load factor gives a measure how much of a turbine’s installed capacity is being used to generate electricity. England outperformed Scotland in seven of the eight quarters in 2011 and 2012, averaging 31.75 per cent compared to 27.12.

Offshore farms south of the Border now account for around a third of all UK wind capacity, up from 19 per cent only two years ago.

Meanwhile, Scotland has seen its share of the market fall from 49 per cent to 45 per cent and is set to be overtaken by England this year as the major supplier. Linda Holt, spokesman for anti-wind farm group Scotland Against Spin, said: ‘Alex Salmond has miss-sold Scotland as a preferred location for wind turbines to investors and the Scottish people.

‘Scottish energy policy needs to be grounded in economic reality, not Nationalist fantasy.’

Scotland’s windier weather: also makes electricity generation less predictable and operators have received millions of pounds from the National Grid to turn off turbines when the system cannot cope with output.

Kinross-based campaigner and engineer Dr George Lindsay said: ‘Constraints are mostly here in Scotland where our infrastructure is not yet capable of handling large wind generated electricity.’

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser – convener of Holyrood’s economy, energy and tourism committee – added: ‘There can be no justification for continuing this madcap rush to cover Scotland’s countryside in these installations.’

But a Government spokesman insisted: ‘Scotland has the highest onshore wind energy load factors in Great Britain. Scotland’s renewable energy sector has attracted £2.8billion of investment since 2009.’