A new generation of wind turbine likely to be seen as even uglier than current designs is to be rolled out by one of Europe’s biggest energy companies.
The turbine, in which the blades spin around a vertical – rather than horizontal – axis, is being developed with millions of pounds of public funding from Brussels.
The European Commission has approved funding of about £30 million towards a new offshore wind farm being built by EDF, the French energy giant which has substantial interests in the UK.
The farm will incorporate the new type of turbine, which has been developed with an additional £2 million of funding from Brussels.
The new design means the turbines can be built on shorter columns, making them in theory less obtrusive. But critics are likely to round on the design as uglier and more bulky than the present standard turbine design.
The 26MW wind farm, producing enough energy to power about 60,000 homes, is being built at Fos-sur-Mer on the Mediterranean coast close to Marseilles. It will consist of 13 wind turbines in total and is due to begin operating by 2016.
A prototype of the turbine, developed with the help of around £2 million of funding from the European Commission, is currently being tested on land in Fos-sur-Mer, with the first of three levels of blades which will make up the final structures.
Chris Heaton Harris, a Conservative MP who has led a backbench rebellion against the spread of wind turbines across the UK and has railed against the subsidies they receive, said: “It seems amazing that an industry, built on subsidy and high energy prices, can receive yet more taxpayers’ money to waste.
“Getting value for money has never been a strong suit for the European Commission, but it seems now they are happy to throw taxpayers’ cash around like straws in the wind.”
A European Commission spokesman said that all member states, including the UK, had agreed an EU policy to invest in green energy technology.
The spokesman said: “The rationale is not only that cleaner energy is essential to tackle climate change – though it is – but also that it is a sector of the future with huge potential to create jobs and economic growth. Developing it will reduce dependence on energy imported from Russia and the Middle East, which is for obvious reasons even more important in the light of current developments.”
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