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What is wrong with wind power

Friday, 2nd July 2010

Some people tell us that we should be using wind power, because the wind is free. Well the wind may be free, but wind power is very expensive indeed. Currently the annual subsidy per turbine is nearly 150,000, and that's paid by you, the consumer, and by British industry.

To add insult to injury, wind farm operators are even being paid extra to turn off their turbines when their power is excess to requirements -- for example at night. Scottish Power were recently paid 180 per megawatt hour for switching off, which amounted to 13,000 for turning off two wind farms for just over an hour.

More generally, UK subsidies to wind farms topped a billion pounds last year. It is estimated that total renewable energy subsidies will reach 10 billion by 2020, as the UK struggles to meet the EU's hopelessly optimistic renewables targets. In addition, the National Grid will need investment of around 10 billion to cope with this new world of intermittent and distributed power sources.

The cost of wind is further increased by the need to keep conventional back-up constantly fired-up and available, for when the wind drops.

Taken together, it is likely that the costs of our renewables objectives will drive a million more British families into fuel poverty by 2020.

Wind power is intermittent, unpredictable and very, very expensive. Shaun Spiers of the Campaign to Protect Rural England has said that we will come to see wind turbines as the "redundant relics of our compulsion to do something". The Renewable Energy Foundation says that wind turbines are garden ornaments, not power stations. Wind power is simply about gesture politics -- about salving the consciences of the chattering classes.

Meantime the turbines are continuing their march across of some of the UK's finest rural landscapes. They are blighting villages, and homes, and lives.