Carland Cross Wind Farm Action Group





UK’s Energy Gap

The UK faces a serious energy gap within the next few years as older coal and nuclear power stations are paid-off.  At the same time, the Government has committed to deliver 15% of our energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020.  Government policy is based on using wind power to help close this energy gap and to meet its renewable energy targets.  If the Government is to meet its target, the amount of electricity to be generated by wind farms will have to increase by more than 20 times but they have many serious shortcomings.

·              Expensive

Electricity generated by wind farms enjoys huge subsidies and tax breaks through the Renewables Obligation scheme.  This is highly profitable for developers and landowners but very bad for taxpayers.  To see how profitable, click here.  The Royal Academy of Engineering has calculated that wind energy is two and a half times more expensive than other forms of electricity generation in the UK.  The Government has now accepted that the total costs of meeting the 2020 target will be at least £100 billion.  This is the equivalent of an extra £4,000 for every household in the country.

·              Inefficient
For any generator, a crucial measure of efficiency is the load factor, in other words, the proportion of power generated compared to the theoretical maximum of the installed capacity. The average load factor for UK wind turbines is less than 27%, meaning a typical 2MW turbine actually produces only 0.54MW on average. However, this ‘inefficiency’ is no disincentive for developers as the generous subsidies mean that wind farms make a profit even when they are operating at low load factors and outputting relatively little electricity.

·              Unreliable

Wind generation does not provide a reliable supply of power so it must be backed up by other sources.  Greater reliance on wind power could lead to electricity supply disruptions if the wind does not blow, blows too hard or does not blow where wind farms are located.

·              Unpopular

In the UK only 15% of people say that they are fairly or very willing to pay higher electricity bills if the extra money funds renewable power sources such as wind whereas the overwhelming majority, 37% and 24% respectively, are ‘very unwilling’ and ‘fairly unwilling’ to do so.  This unpopularity is understandable: the over-reliance on expensive wind energy, coupled with rising gas prices, is driving six million households into fuel poverty.

·              Disrupting

Wind farm planning applications do not have to take into consideration the economic viability of the project or whether the topography and meteorological conditions are suitable.  The planning system already favours wind farm developers.  If the Government is to meet its renewable target by 2020, current planning regulations will be weighted even further in favour of wind farm developers, and against the interests of local people with little if any account taken of the impact on our countryside and communities.

The alternative

The energy gap must be filled so the alternative, belatedly being pursued at least in part by the Government, is that the UK should develop its nuclear, clean coal and other renewable supplies of energy, particularly tidal, as quickly as possible.  Wind energy, in contrast, can play only a negligible role in plugging the UK’s energy gap and the Government must recognise this and act before we are plagued by turbines.  RATS has been saying this since early 2008 so now see what The Times says (July 2009) by following our Home page Noticeboard link to ‘Tilting at Wind Farms’.


Carland Cross Wind Farm Action Group