‘Reinstating wind farm subsidies would cut energy bills’
A Midlands green energy expert has called on the Government to reinstate onshore wind subsidies which would help cut energy bills.
Ron Fox was commenting after a new study recently showed that building more onshore wind farms could save householders £1.6 billion on the cost of their electricity.
A total of 7,000 onshore wind turbines generating up to 12 gigawatts of power have been built in the UK.
They are commercially viable thanks to subsidies paid on energy bills. But since this benefit was stopped three years ago development has ground to a halt even though an estimated 1,800 turbines, which could produce an extra four gigawatts of power, have been given planning go-ahead.
“It is incredible that nothing has been done about this since 2015,” said Ron, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science and Innovation Park. “Yet here is a golden opportunity to cut our carbon footprint at the same time as giving residents cheaper energy bills.”
Now businesses are lobbying Parliament to revive the sector as they believe that the potential savings were “staggering” according to Lindsay McQuade, chief executive of Scottish Power Renewables, one of the companies that commissioned the report by BVG Associates.
They want ministers to resume offering contracts guaranteeing a price for the electricity they generate, similar to those offered to offshore wind farms and nuclear plants such as Hinkley Point C. This usually is a figure above the market price and it relies on consumers paying “top-up” subsidies.
The BVG study suggests that from 2023 wholesale market prices would be higher than those needed by onshore wind farms, so that they can pay back the extra they received to consumers, which over 15 years would be more than £1.6 billion.
It added that if the onshore wind farms were offered contracts next year they would need £45.60 per megawatt hour compared with the £92.50 per megawatt hour offered to Hinckley Point C nuclear plant.
However, some critics say this is an unfair comparison as nuclear power can be generated round the clock while wind farms are dependent on the weather.
One unexpected benefit from offshore wind farms, as opposed to onshore wind farms, is that latest two-year study backed by the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) has shown that seagulls were observed changing their flight path to avoid the turbines.
The project, commissioned by 11 offshore wind developers, looked at more than 600,000 videos which recorded only six collisions with birds, far fewer than scientists previously thought. Only two per cent of the videos showed any evidence of birds at all.
But ornithologists have called for more research in more locations onshore and offshore closer to seabird colonies.
“Wind is an excellent source of green energy as it is a clean fuel which is abundant and inexhaustible,” said Ron. “The Government needs to look at reintroducing these subsidies as a matter of urgency.”
For advice on green energy call Ron on 0845 474 6641 or go to www.noreus.co.uk