General and UK
The perfect news to greet a freezing Britain today - energy bills are set to take another hike thanks to a series of dodgy wind energy contracts. According to today's Telegraph, a ‘shocking series of errors' has resulted in deals worth £17 billion stacked in the favour of turbine manufacturers. It appears the excessive costs of these contracts could be handed down to families, placing an extra strain on households at a time when family incomes are being pushed to the limit.
Openness and transparency were among the founding principles of the Scottish Parliament - yet Holyrood has been found wanting.
It emerged almost by accident that last month the First Minister misinformed MSPs about the number of jobs created by his renewable energy drive.
Mr Salmond insists it was an accidental slip ...But that clandestine corrections procedure gives as much cause for the concern as the First Minister's somewhat shaky grasp of basic facts and figures.
Do none of these Mooney-like green zealots realise the idea of having one of these obscene blots [wind farms] on the landscape located close to you is about as attractive as living in the central reservation of your nearest motorway?
There is considerable evidence that shows these turbines are not just undesirable, they're positively dangerous.
In the future, historians will puzzle how landscapes, revered for generations, were destroyed by 100-metre-plus machines all over the country. ...Public relations for the wind industry has been magnificent in persuading conformists it is all right to erect machines in once valued landscapes.
Wind power is clearly not the answer to fuel poverty and in Scotland the use of nuclear power has been ruled out. Solar, wave, tidal, shale gas, thorium and biofuels are either as useless as wind or need a significant amount of development to become commercially viable alternatives. The carbon-free utopia will have to wait. Finding the right energy mix will take time.
"The main challenge associated with wind power is its variability; wind power output is highly dependent on weather conditions and carries a high degree of uncertainty ...As the volume of wind power capacity increases, so will the effect of wind variability and hence the accuracy of the wind power forecasts will become more important."
It's difficult to avoid the conclusion that at present there is no policy, with literally hundreds of applications in the pipeline and turbines appearing here, there and everywhere. ...The rush to renewables should not, however, mean an easy ride for proposals which have a significant and potentially irreversible impact on other aspects of life.
Green groupthink must never conquer common-sense. Where is the value in destroying some of our most important and fragile ecosystems in order to build wind turbines that will struggle to last 20 years? The lesson for everyone is that the green lobby does not have the monopoly on environmental protection.
The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) - which sets property valuations for the purposes of council tax - appears to have accepted that having wind turbines near your house can (and does) reduce the value of houses.
Until now, all suggestions that this is the case have been firmly rejected by the industry.
Serious investors in a serious industry are there for the long haul. These are fly-by-night carpetbaggers, grabbing and running in an ‘industry' thrashed into existence simply because the subsidies were there; and governments were desperate to achieve carbon emission targets.
Now, in harder economic times ...both available subsidies and potential demand are shrinking.
But the industry has been arrogant, overbearing, greedy and bullying. It has often ridden roughshod over local communities and has mopped up the financial gains, giving little back. No wonder that, while wind power remains broadly supported, the industry is increasingly hated by those who have come into contact with it.
This result was in stark contrast to very recent polls by Friends of the Earth Scotland and WWF Scotland which claimed overwhelming support in Scotland for such renewable developments. It has now come to light that WWF Scotland and FoE Scotland and even the RSPB have been in receipt of substantial sums from the wind industry.
The enemy of good policy and fairness, in this case, is boredom. A vast and powerful industry has, with a certain cool daring, presented itself as if it were some sort of warm-hearted green charity, and has characterised anyone with reservations over individual sites as self-interested. The media and the public have, on the whole, bought it.
As a rule of thumb, the annual income per MW fed to the Grid from wind energy is around £800,000 ...So the income from the Eye turbines might be around £1.6 million a year - which hardly makes the £7,000 offered to the locals for the blighting of their skyline the bargain of the century.
Only those in complete self-denial would dispute that the wind power industry suffers from overcapacity, a legacy of the pre-crisis turbine construction boom when oil and gas prices were at near-record levels and few had yet appreciated the competitive challenge of shale gas.
In the fat years, wind and solar power companies were tempted into extravagant investments that exploited their soaring equity prices.
No one would build wind turbines unless they were guaranteed a huge government subsidy paid for through household bills. If the 10,000 wind turbines, as promised by the government are built, then customers can expect their bills to rise by hundreds of pounds. Of course the government and the power companies will ensure that these "green taxes" are not detailed on the bills. What will we be left with when the subsidies run out?
Alas, despite all the practical evidence to show why wind power is one of the greatest follies of our age, those who rule our lives, from our own politicians and officials here in Britain to those above them in Brussels, seem quite impervious to the facts.
Unsurprisingly, planning officers and their committees have taken an increasingly sceptical view of applications. Too often, energy companies have held back key information. They have used bullying tactics, and regularly characterise those who have raised concerns about effects on human lives, the impact on landscape and wildlife, as selfish and trivial-minded.
The renewable energy industry is delighted when politicians set ambitious targets. It knows promises later have to be backed up with the regulatory, planning and pricing regimes that ensure they're kept. How realistic is 100% of electricity from renewable sources?
Nothing illustrates the distance between the political culture and reality in modern governments so much as the billions invested in wind power. Presumably the purpose of such investments is to a) reduce greenhouse emissions and b) reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The plain fact that it increases both seems not to have bothered anyone.