Wind farms couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding, Boris Johnson has said, warning the UK is facing a major energy crisis.
The London Mayor cast doubt on the effectiveness of wind farms as he argued Britain should be doing more to exploit the potential of shale gas.
He even suggested that people might be able to conduct controversial exploration for shale gas in London, after geologists revealed Britain has vast reserves of the fossil fuel underground.
Speaking on his new LBC 97.3 Ask Boris radio show, Mr Johnson said shale gas was the best answer to the problem of Britain’s looming energy shortages.
He dismissed the Government’s efforts to replace closing coal stations with wind power and nuclear, arguing shale gas offers the best opportunity for a secure supply.
“Labour put in a load of wind farms that failed to pull the skin off a rice pudding,” he said. “We now have the opportunity to get shale gas – let’s look at it. It is part of the 2020 vision we have for this city – power generation is vital.”
The Coalition has proceeded cautiously on shale gas after drilling caused a mini-earthquake near Blackpool and fears that it could contaminate drinking water if not done properly.
Mr Johnson said it was right to look at the dangers but “it may be some people will benefit mightily from living near these reserves”.
He mocked Labour’s installation of wind farms just days after the Coalition also announced it would offer developers generous subsidies to put in turbines for at least another six years.
Under the deal, ministers will give them double or triple the market rate for the electricity they produce.
The Government said onshore wind farms should get at least £100 per megawatt-hour, when the market rate for electricity is currently less than £50 per mega-watt hour.
Offshore wind farms will get triple the market rate at £155 per megawatt-hour in a deal described by City analysts as “astonishingly expensive”.
The difference will be met by a subsidy from the taxpayer, which is potentially more generous than the current regime that hands developers more than £1 billion a year.
Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, said new costs were “broadly comparable” with 2013 prices but his department said it had not worked out whether consumers wil be paying more or less for wind power under the new system.
The subsidies will continue despite David Cameron’s promise this month to “think very carefully” about green subsidies for energy sources such as wind farms and solar panels, as they “end up on consumer bills”.
It has already angered backbench Tories, after 100 MPs campaigned to stop the spread of onshore turbines blighting the British countryside.
George Osborne ordered a 10 per cent cut in subsidies for onshore wind farms last year and senior Conservatives had hinted that there would be more to follow.
Developers have promised that they can reduce the cost of generating energy from wind substantially over the next few years to make it more affordable.
However, under the plan, subsidies will only be cut slightly in 2017 by five per cent for onshore wind and 13 per cent for offshore wind.
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