Wind policy ‘blunder’ could cost £120bn and increase emissions

The Government’s policy of backing wind power could be a “blunder” which could cost roughly ten times as much as gas plants and actually be worse for the environment, claims […]

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By Vicky Ellis

The Government’s policy of backing wind power could be a “blunder” which could cost roughly ten times as much as gas plants and actually be worse for the environment, claims new academic research.

The study ‘Why is wind power so expensive?’ published by the climate change sceptic group Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) suggests wind could end up costing £120 billion.

To meet the Government’s target for renewable energy in 2020, the report reckons 36 GW worth of wind capacity will be needed, backed up by 13 GW of open cycle gas plants. On top of this, it says extra investment in transmission capacity will bump up costs.

The study claims the same electricity demand could be met from 21.5 GW of combined cycle gas plants with a cost of £13 billion.

Professor Gordon Hughes at Edinburgh University, who wrote the study said: “The key problems with current policies for wind power are simple. They require a huge commitment of investment resources to a technology that is not very green, in the sense of saving a lot of CO2 but which is certainly very expensive and inflexible. Unless the current Government scales back its commitment to wind power very substantially, its policy will be worse than a mistake, it will be a blunder.”

But the Government attempted to dismiss the claims.

A spokesperson said: “Wind technology is becoming cheaper. The relative gap between onshore wind and gas electricity costs has halved over the past 5 years, which is why we have proposed to cut the subsidy received by onshore wind by 10%.”

DECC pointed the finger at gas for recent rises in consumer bills, adding: “While gas will still play a role in the future, home grown renewables will help insulate our economy and consumers from depending excessively on gas imports and the volatility that accompanies that.”