Investment at risk after wind power backlash
Billions of pounds’ worth of investment in Britain’s energy infrastructure is under threat amid fears the government’s commitment to wind energy has wavered, it has emerged.
Walney wind farm off Cumbria Photo: ALAMY
By Andrew Hough
7:00AM GMT 27 Feb 2012
Some of the world’s biggest wind companies, who are considering expanding their business in Britain, say they are reviewing their investments due to a growing backlash against the technology.
The companies say that billions of pounds of investments in factories, research facilities and other developments in the country, has been placed at risk.
Earlier this month, more than 100 MPs wrote to David Cameron, the Prime Minister demanding cuts to the £400 million a year subsidies paid to the wind power industry.
At least 4,500 more turbines are expected to go up as the Government’s drive to meet legally binding targets for cutting carbon emissions sparks a green energy boom.
But that investment has been placed in doubt after major energy companies raised concerns about the mounting growing political opposition to wind energy.
Reports suggested that major investments have been placed on hold or remain uncertain while executives are also seeking reassurances from ministers on the future of energy policy.
Several potential investors have also voiced concerns over the poor state of the country’s infrastructure including an ageing electricity grid, which experts say must be upgraded to cope with a massive influx of intermittent wind energy.
General Electric (GE) Energy’s managing director, Magued Eldaief, said his company’s proposed wind manufacturing investment, amounting to more than £100m of direct funding, was “on hold” pending ministers’ decisions on future reforms to the energy market.
“Our investment is on hold until we have certainty and clarity regarding the policy environment that we are in,” he told The Guardian. “One of the most important things for us is political certainty, so we can justify the business and investment case for a facility in the UK.
“But we think there are some [political] headwinds which do not help, especially in terms of the subsidies discussion.”
Vestas, the world’s biggest wind turbine maker, said it was waiting to see whether its customers were able to sign orders before committing itself to build a proposed turbine factory in Kent that would create about 2,000 jobs.
Mitsubishi, Gamesa and Siemens, who have all announced hundreds of millions of pounds of investments in wind technology, also expressed concerns that an anti-wind power backlash was building.
Ed Davey, the energy secretary said: “A responsible energy policy for this country is one that rules in all of the key low carbon technologies to help us keep the lights on and emissions down. Ruling any of them out would be folly.”