Wind farms are being handed £1.2billion a year in subsidies paid for by a supplement on consumer electricity bills.
That works out at £25 for each household and business, in what one Conservative MP criticised as a Klondike-type gold rush.
Ministers told Parliament that onshore wind farms received £557million last year, and offshore turbines £699million. The figures will add to fears that big business is planning to erect hundreds more turbines in order to claim the generous handouts.
The so-called ‘renewables obligation’ is paid for by energy firms adding a small amount to all home and industry bills. It was introduced by Labour in 2002 to encourage investment in green energy.
In 2012/13, £1.2billion was paid through the scheme, said energy minister Michael Fallon. This suggests a typical ten-turbine wind farm is receiving a subsidy of more than £2million a year.
Tory MP Chris Heaton-Harris, who opposes wind power, said: ‘This just proves the cost of this expensive, inefficient, intermittent form of energy to every household.’
Geoffrey Cox MP, who will lead a Commons debate on the issue today, warned that ‘huge industrial machines’ wreck the countryside. He said: ‘There is a Klondike-type gold rush going on in rural areas.’
Dr Lee Moroney of the Renewable Energy Foundation, a think-tank critical of wind power, said: ‘The already exorbitant costs to consumers will carry on increasing year on year as the number of wind farms in the pipeline are built.’
Robert Norris, or Renewable UK, which represents the wind industry, dismissed the criticism. ‘We are generating huge quantities of clean electricity from wind. In December, we provided 10 per cent of British energy and in February, it was 11 per cent,’ he said.
‘It’s going up all the time. We have also created 16,000 jobs, a figure that will double by 2013.
‘International events of the last few weeks have shown that we have to develop our own secure supply of energy and not rely on expensive imports of dirty fossil fuels from potentially unstable regimes around the world.’
Chancellor George Osborne used his autumn statement last year to unveil plans to cut environmental taxes and obligations on energy firms, saving the average household £50 a year for gas and electricity.
Ministers decided that companies will no longer have to fund the Warm Home Discount scheme, which offers subsidies worth as much as £135 a year to those on low incomes.
Instead the scheme will in future be paid for by a crackdown on tax avoidance. However, many Tory MPs now want the Government to examine the renewables obligation.
Critics say the total subsidy is likely to rise dramatically – to as much as £6 billion – by 2020 if the Government meets its target of providing 15 per cent of energy needs from renewable energy.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change says that in total, £112 a year out of a typical £1,267 total bill is accounted for by green levies.
A DECC spokesperson said: ‘We publish figures every year showing the make-up of household energy bills, including the cost of government policies. The latest figures for 2013 show that around £30, or 2 per cent, of the average consumer bill is taken up by support for large scale renewable energy.
‘Renewable energy is an important part of the UK’s energy mix and this support contributes to the country’s energy security. Since those figures were published we have reduced the cost of Government energy policies, knocking an average £50 off consumers bills.’
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