Driving recently over the Mendips where I live in Somerset, I saw a new wind turbine poking up over the treetops. I was naturally intrigued because a decade ago I chaired a campaign protesting in vain, despite the unanimous support of our local council, against a giant 2 megawatt turbine that now spins 330 feet above the nearby countryside. A closer look revealed that this new windmill was a Canadian-made Endeavor E3120. I was surprised to see that, despite being 120 feet high, its “capacity” is only a mere 50 kilowatts, just a 40th of that of its nearby big brother. Allowing for the intermittency of the wind, this means that its actual output only averages some 13 kilowatts, enough to power just 13 kettles.
So what purpose is served by this mini-monster, which would have cost a minimum of £240,000 to install? The answer, we can see on the Ofgem website, is that it can generate for its owner an income of nearly £24,000 a year, a return of 10 per cent, certainly rather better than the 0.5 per cent interest we get for leaving money in the bank. But only around £6,500 of that is the value of the electricity it feeds to the grid. The remaining £17,500 is what we all pay in “feed-in tariff” subsidies, through our bills.
So the pitiful amount of electricity produced by this windmill, like thousands of others now proliferating over the land, is being subsidised at a rate of 260 per cent: even more than the 200 per cent subsidy we pay for those vast offshore wind farms the Government is desperate to see covering hundreds of square miles of sea around our coasts. Can our wise and clever climate change secretary, Ed Davey, please tell us what other commodity in the history of the world has ever been subsidised to the tune of 260 per cent – just to boil up on average a dozen kettles?
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