A typical wind turbine generates power worth about £150,000 a year, but attracts subsidies worth £250,000. These are designed to encourage power companies to build wind farms , but are added directly to consumers bills. Some landowners can receive an annual income of between £15,000 and £20,000 a turbine with the rest going to the energy companies.
£1 billion a year for the last 5 years has gone into subsidising wind farms. Without these subsidies they would not have been built.
Wind turbines produce less than 5% of our power needs, but Britain is committed to a target of producing 20% of power from renewable sources by 2020.
A large number of wind farms have been constructed in Scotland and Wales. Unfortunately, adequate transmission lines have not been built to enable the flow of power to England where consumption is higher.
In April 2011 power companies operating 6 wind farms in Scotland were paid nearly £900,000 to switch off their turbines for a night because the National Grid did not need the power. This was to compensate for the loss of their subsidies and the income from the power they would have sold.
The payments, up to 20 times the value of the power the wind farms would have produced, were offered by the National Grid because it urgently needed to reduce the electricity entering the system. The power could have been used in England, but the transmission cables lacked the capacity to carry it south.
Whitelee – £312,654 – Scottish Power – 6 times the wholesale value
Hadyard Hill – £134,095 – Scottish and Southern Energy – 3.5 times the wholesale value
Black Law – £132,263
Farr 1 & 2 – £263,484 – Npower Renewables – 20 times the wholesale value
Millennium – £32,534
Total = £875,030
Last year Welsh wind farms produced only 19% of the theoretical maximum energy they could generate. In calm weather, wind turbines across Britain can remain stationary for weeks, and up to 3 months of the year they will produce almost no power at all.
Are wind farms really just a white elephant? Is it really worth spending all this tax payers money to help fund large power companies…?