The government has accused the Daily Mail of misleading its readers over the performance of the wind energy industry, by using outdated figures to argue the amount of power produced by wind farms fell in the past year.
In an article published on New Year’s Day, the newspaper stated that “the amount of electricity generated by wind farms dropped by 20 per cent, despite 900 turbines being built in 2013”.
The article drew on figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) which showed output fell in the three months up to last June as a result of “very low wind speeds” during the period.
But in a rare move DECC publicly criticised the report, pointing out that the Daily Mail had used outdated figures. It argued the latest data showed that wind generation had increased by 5.9 per cent for the three months to October in comparison to the same period the year before.
“Since 2010 we have more than doubled the amount of electricity from renewables,” it added in a statement. “We now have a record amount of green electricity, with over 15 per cent of electricity coming from renewables. In October 2014 we produced more electricity from renewables than from nuclear for the first time ever.”
The Department also used its Twitter account to accuse the Daily Mail of refusing to run a rebuttal to the story.
— DECC (@DECCgovuk) January 7, 2015
The claim featured in a story in which the Daily Mail also highlighted accusations that offshore wind turbines were drawing power from the grid to ensure they do not ice up in cold weather.
The paper quoted a letter to The Daily Telegraph from Brian Christley, of Conwy, in which he complained that “over the weekend just gone – the coldest of the year so far – all 100-plus offshore wind turbines along the North Wales coast were idling very slowly, all using grid power for de-icing and to power their hydraulic systems that keep the blades facing in the same direction”.
However, RWE, which owns 30 turbines off North Wales, insisted its wind farm provided power to the grid on both of the days in question.
“Our turbines were not idling but generating electricity during each of the days in question, contributing a positive balance of energy into the grid,” a spokesman said. “All energy generators use a small amount of electricity to keep their systems running smoothly, in the case of wind farms drawing power from either an adjacent operating turbine or the grid. These quantities are tiny compared to what is returned to the network.”
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