The premise that wind energy will lead to lower electricity costs is one that I believe fails the credibility test.
There is no solution that compensates for the fact that there is no wind power when the wind does not blow. If we are to have security of electricity supply, we additionally need gas and/or nuclear-generating capacity equal to UK peak demand. Either that or the lights will definitely start going out – and frequently. Having to maintain this parallel standby network of gas and nuclear adds an inescapable cost to national electricity supply. Renewables push up the unit cost of electricity. Germany and Denmark top the world charts for electricity costs and have done for years due to the pursuit of a carbon-free nirvana.
As for the statement that wind power costs have reduced (“Hope renewables will help bring the cost of our bills down”, The Herald, November 10) – is the wind suddenly blowing much more, so allowing the generation of more electricity per pound of operating cost? No. It takes little effort to examine the audited accounts of a range of wind farm operators. Capital and operating costs are edging up year by year at the same time as generating performance gradually decreases due to wear and tear. Think for a moment – the components of a wind farm are steel, concrete, labour, loan interest and rare metals such as lithium. Are any of these going down in price? If wind turbines are suddenly made in the UK rather than China where labour, steel and energy are significantly cheaper than we have here, do you think the cost of a turbine will go down?
A wind turbine can only yield electricity when the wind blows. This is about 40 per cent of the time across the on and offshore turbine estate. You only have a product to sell when the wind blows in excess of your needs. Nobody can predict when this is. You can only have a market to sell into when there is a gap in somebody else’s supply. You can’t predict this either. Basing a business model on something so uncertain is ridiculous.
By way of illustration, turbines have been going up at an average rate of 10 per week since the year 2000 so there are about 12,000 wind turbines in the UK now. If we are to [theoretically] produce 100% of our electricity from wind power, we will need another 36,000 turbines to do the job. This will take 69 years. [And back-up would still be needed. —Ed.]
Andy Cartwright, Glasgow
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