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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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’.
COPYRIGHT 2008 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Carland Cross Wind Farm Action Group