Will wind energy in the UK cost tax payers millions?

New report into renewable energy is set to raise serious questions over the economic and ecological benefits of wind power

A publication this week in The Scotsman, a renowned Scotish newspaper, of a new report into renewable energy is set to raise serious questions over the economic and ecological benefits of wind power. According to the leading economist Professor David Simpson, the government’s strategy to promote wind power as a means of reducing carbon emissions is fundamentally flawed. His report Tilting at Windmills, a copy of which has been obtained by The Scotsman, goes on to suggest that nuclear power could be a better option for the future, as long as there was an "acceptable waste management strategy". Conducted on behalf of the influential Edinburgh-based think tank the David Hume Institute (DHI), the paper also claims using so-called "green power" would cost the taxpayer millions of pounds more than conventional power sources.

In February last year, Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, announced a strategy to promote greener forms of energy in a bid to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 60 per cent in the next 50 years. Pledges to put a five-year block on planning new nuclear power stations and increase renewable energy sources such as wind and wave power were broadly welcomed by environmental pressure groups at the time. However, others dismissed the white paper as a "policy-free zone" and insisted "intermittent and unproven" renewable resources were no answer to Britain’s need for reliable, continuous electricity. The new paper, a severe criticism of the government’s commitment to produce 20 per cent of electricity from renewable resources by 2020, predicts the consequences of investing in renewables will have costs over and above those of conventional fuelled energy. Prof Simpson writes: "Achieving a target of 20 per cent of electricity generated by wind power would cost consumers at least an extra £1.2 billion each year, and over £2 billion annually on less favourable assumptions."

He adds that because of the cost of providing additional stand-by generating capacity - when the wind doesn’t blow - it is unlikely wind power will ever account for more than 20 per cent of electricity generation. However, Scottish Renewables, a trade association representing the renewable energy industry, last night dismissed the report as "a one-sided diatribe masquerading as an authoritative academic study". Jason Ormiston, a spokesman for the organistion, said: "The simple truth is that wind energy is clean, economic and has an important role, alongside other renewables and energy efficiency, in helping the UK in meeting climate change targets."
Online editorial www.windfair.net
Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist
UK, Scotland, wind power, wind energy, wind turbine, offshore

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