Friday, 20 November 2009

Is the wind power bubble about to burst?

I have no expertise in energy. But I have been reading one or two things about it recently which interest me.

Take this quote from Professor Ian Fells, from an article in the Express: “For a long time I have thought that the wind power bubble would burst. I think that’s starting to happen. Ed Miliband tells people that to oppose wind farms is morally indefensible, but as more people start to realise the reality of what wind power actually offers, that will change.” Professor Fells has written before about his reservations about the government's enthusiasm for wind, but he now seems to think that the tide may be turning in his direction.

However, the interesting thing is the apparent reason for Professor Fells' statement. A National Grid document is quoted as saying that wind power could cost “£300 – £800 per mega watt hour (MWH) compared to conventional generation at £23 per MWH”. (The Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “A more realistic comparison of conventional and wind power would be £23 MWH compared to £30 or £80 MWH.*” So even they admit that wind power is not cheap.)

Yes, wind power is expensive. But because the government likes it, it is heavily subsidised. Professor Fells again: "Last year subsidies paid out on wind and landfill gas was £1 billion. By 2020 that figure will be £30 billion." One of the ways that wind power is subsidised is through Renewables Obligation legislation which forces energy companies to buy a certain amount of their energy from "renewable" sources. This means that suppliers of wind energy can sell their expensive product with no difficulty, and make a good profit.

In other words, the government has rigged the market in favour of wind energy, and lots of people, particularly (but not just) land owners, can get very good money at the tax-payer's expense by jumping on the wind bandwagon. I say 'not just' because the government can potentially use tax-payers' money to bribe communities, local authorities, and businesses (to mention just a few) to get wind turbines erected all over the place.

Which might just be fair enough if the science behind wind energy was right. But if Professor Fells is right, then the government is simply taking our money at gunpoint to wreck the British countryside by sticking massive concrete and iron structures all over it, which will probably be obsolete in a generation.

This is the power of the Leviathan state, which the Archbishop of Canterbury is so enthusiastic about - pursuing long term social goals to avoid "the ecological crises that menace us", and using taxation as a "sophisticated tool" to build a habitat which may turn out to include hundreds of square miles of destroyed countryside.

*When they have a name like "The Department of Energy and Climate Change" one really has to be sceptical of their utterances and figures. I mean, it really is a case of "Well, they would say that, wouldn't they?"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You commit an error.