Library filed under Energy Policy from UK
According to Britain's politicians, covering the landscape with wind farms is still the future. Last month Chris Huhne, the energy secretary, promised a "seismic shift" to wind and other non-carbon forms of generating electricity. The failure of the wind industry to generate much electricity during last month's extreme cold snap has been widely reported.
In private, the best-informed analysts now agree that Britain's environmental policies have put the country on track to have the world's most expensive electricity. This is mainly because our competitors are almost certain to choose cheaper routes to emissions reductions, such as natural gas, or to shun emissions reductions altogether.
Jeremy Nicholson, director of the Energy Intensive Users Group, which represents major companies employing hundreds of thousands of workers. He was speaking after new figures showed that during the latest cold snap wind turbines produced less than two per cent of the nation's electricity.
Concern is rife that the huge investments required in the UK's aging energy infrastructure in the decade ahead may not materialise in an uncertain investment climate, despite relative buoyancy within the energy sector, analysts say.
Over the past three weeks, with demand for power at record levels because of the freezing weather, there have been days when the contribution of our forests of wind turbines has been precisely nothing. It gets better. As the temperature has plummeted, the turbines have had to be heated to prevent them seizing up. Consequently, they have been consuming more electricity than they generate. Even on a good day they rarely work.
Arguably the biggest change contained in the bill are new rules allowing for local referendums where people, councillors and councils can instigate a vote on any local issue, including planning proposals. The new referendum powers are likely to present a major challenge to wind farm projects, some of which have faced fierce opposition from local groups.
Experts say the plans will cost around 1 per cent of the UK's gross domestic product by 2030 - the equivalent of £30billion a year. The report also called for the end of the free market for electricity companies and the return to a centralised planned system of power generation.
Matthew Sinclair, director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Taxpayers are paying enough for investment in extremely expensive and inefficient wind turbines here in the UK without having to finance expensive energy abroad as well."
Scotland is in "serious danger" of suffering power shortages over the next decade thanks to Alex Salmond's "bonkers" green energy policies, the head of one of the country's largest generators has warned. Rupert Soames warned Scotland will be in 'deep trouble' if it relies on green energy.
Soames blames the current UK energy investment climate for the recent decisions by energy companies to postpone new power stations. "We need a new market structure that will allow as far as possible a level playing field between renewables, nuclear and thermal power stations so that people can build all three types of technologies."
Conservative Andrew Griffiths is co-sponsoring the Bill, which if it became law, would enable councils to only approve applications for structures if they were at least 1km away from the nearest residential property, or 2km for larger turbines and wind farms.
When, in my late twenties, I gave up political ambition and devoted myself to a career in industry, I never dreamt I would have the opportunity to speak in Parliament. What an unexpected treat, what a dream fulfilled, what a privilege it is to be able to stand and speak in Parliament, without licking a single envelope, or canvassing a single street, or doing battle with bureaucracy on behalf of a single constituent. And in recognising the privilege, let me also say to the politicians here that I salute you. When I use the word politician, as I will do during this speech, it is as a term of endearment. I recognise that many people, and businessmen in particular, do not appreciate just how bloody hard politics and public service is. For those in business who can say "go" and they goeth and say "come" and they cometh, it can be difficult to understand how hard it is to get things done when people are elected to oppose your every action, when the press peruse your every move, and people around you are volunteers rather than employees. So, as Ali G would say ..... "Respect!"
He said the planning system had become "skewed", favouring the development of giant wind turbines over protecting environmentally rich regions such as the Westcountry. Wind farm plans have repeatedly come up against angry opposition in Devon and Cornwall.
Plans to build massive wind farms off the coast of Britain are in doubt due to an obscure piece of legislation that means oil companies can force turbines to be moved if fossil fuels are discovered in the area.
Over the past five years, concern for the future of the planet has morphed into an unthinking support of any plan, however harmful to the countryside, that might just possibly help the energy crisis, however infinitesimally. Turbines have become a marketing tool, representing global concern and niceness, appearing in advertising campaigns, as backdrop for local TV news, even in the England World Cup symbol.
More than 230 separate local campaign groups against wind farms are operating across the UK, from Scotland and Kent to Norfolk, Yorkshire and Cornwall. These groups are scoring striking successes in defeating planned wind farms - even when faced with the weight of official recommendations.
"The design of a feed-in tariff mechanism is innately uneconomic. They are great for investors but very difficult for governments to sustain," said Jim Fitzgerald, assistant director in consultancy Ernst & Young's renewable energy practice. "The real lesson here for investors is that if something is too good to be true, then it probably is just that," he told ClimateWire.
"The British experience," Whitehouse says, "has been to use wind farms to increase the energy bills of every household without increasing the security of energy supply." In Britain, that explains why energy analysts have of late widely predicted national power cuts within just four years. Once we get past the wind-industry press handouts, what the "British wind experience" actually teaches is how quixotic fictions can easily leave us cold.
"Because of its intermittent nature, wind power generation must be backed-up up by ‘dirty' fossil-fuelled power generation. The country's current renewable energy ambitions are therefore likely to usher in a matching 'dash for gas' to maintain security of supply, with the risks this implies for greater exposure on gas imports.
Despite growing opposition from citizens, nature conservation trusts and local lawmakers, the government continues to push for more wind farms across the country. Time is ticking toward a deadline in 2020 set by the European Union by which Britain would have to increase the amount of power it generates from renewable sources to 15 percent.