By Christopher Booker
Blowing in the wind: there isn’t the faintest chance that any of the Government’s renewable energy targets will be met
Is there any subject on which more nonsense is talked and written than the mindblowing proposals being bandied about by the Government for meeting our EU target of generating, within 10 years, 30 per cent of our electricity from renewable sources? (That is roughly six times the current total, meaning that we have by far the most challenging target of any country in Europe.)
For instance, the industry regulator, Ofgem, recently announced that by 2020 we will need to have spent £40 billion on connecting up our new renewable energy sources to the national grid – £4 billion a year. Alistair Buchanan, the head of Ofgem, blithely claimed, on the BBC Today programme and elsewhere, that this would only add £6 a year to the average electricity bill of Britain’s 25 million households. Yet ten seconds with a calculator shows that the cost per household of that £4 billion a year works out to £160.
On top of this, the Government wants us to have, by 2020, offshore wind farms with a capacity of 33 gigawatts (1 gigawatt = 1,000 megawatts). At the current capital cost of £3 million per megawatt of capacity, this would cost another £100 billion (£10 billion a year, or £400 a year for each household), to be paid for through our electricity bills. However, even if they could all be built, they would produce on average only around a quarter of that amount of electricity.
Add in £8 billion a year (or £320 per household) which, the Government forecasts, we will be paying by then through its ludicrously generous feed-in tariff for solar power and, for these measures alone, our total annual bill for the dream of meeting our EU renewables target would be at least £22 billion. That’s considerably more than the entire wholesale cost of Britain’s electricity generated from all sources last year, at £18.6 billion.
In other words, these measures alone would much more than double our electricity bills, for producing on average – and very unreliably – barely as much energy as we get from a handful of conventional power stations.
In reality, there isn’t the faintest chance that any of the Government’s targets will be met. But the massive diversion of resources that it is doing its best to encourage will not help when it comes to filling the looming 40 per cent gap in our electricity supplies, as 17 of the older nuclear and coal-fired power stations are forced to close. There is virtually nothing, then, in these plans to ensure that we can keep Britain’s lights on.
See post here.