Disconnected from Reality:
Mr. Huhne

The Energy and Climate Change Minister, Mr. Huhne, said yesterday that Britain must get used to price rises on fuel bills or go without energy.

He announced a major shake-up of the power supply market, saying that price rises would still be lower than if the country did not invest in low carbon energy and relied on fossil fuel instead.

He also said that the reforms would help secure the 110 billion investment required to replace the quarter of power stations which were set to close in the next decade.

He included nuclear power stations and wind farms as examples of 'investments' which would be made.

ND comment - this statement has little connection with reality. Nuclear is fine, but on present evidence, wind farms are the least effective and most expensive means of generating electricity.

There is no evidence that investment in renewables in the UK stabilises energy costs.

Germany's disastrous wind energy programme, currently delivering about a twentieth of its rated capacity, suggests the opposite.

The Royal Academy of Engineering estimates the current cost of energy production (pence per Kilowatt hour) as: Gas Fired 2.2, Nuclear 2.3 (including decommissioning) , Coal 2.5 to 3.2, On-shore Wind 5 to 7, Off-shore wind 15 to 21.

To keep prices down for the long term, we need:

1.Investment in new nuclear.

2.An exemption to the Large Combustion Plant Directive for our present coal fired power stations, which are working perfectly well and which currently supply about a third of our energy.

3.New coal fired power stations using modern technology, without carbon capture, similar those being built in Germany.

What the country does not want:

1. Carbon capture on new coal fired power stations, an experimental technology which does not exist on a commercial scale anywhere in the world. Recent pilot projects in Canada and elsewhere showed the science to be unworkable.

2. More wind turbines, which generate power at between five and ten times the price of nuclear or gas depending on the site.

Large amounts of money have been spent on subsidising wind turbines (25% is the guaranteed return on capital for a period of 21 years) - the Renewables Obligation - when the technology cannot supply the energy we need at the time we need it.

For example, wind energy generated at night, and paid for, is frequently rejected by the National Grid (see example below).

If subsidies are to be used, they should be aimed at ensuring stability of supply.

If subsidy is to be used, it should be given to the development of nuclear infrastructure.


13 Jul 2011

    Wind farm operators were paid 900,000 by the National Grid on one night during April to disconnect their turbines because the electricity could not be used. This is 20 times the value of the power they might have produced.

    The payments were discovered by the Renewable Energy Foundation.

    Nearly a million pounds for producing no energy at all.

    One wonders how often this occurs without being reported.

    Not using wind energy at night is unsurprising; the problem was highlighted several years ago in my article grid control .

    It is becoming clear that the UK's unsuccessful wind programme is increasing our electricity bills significantly.

    3 May 2011

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