Contrary to what supporters of wind claim, onshore wind farms are in addition to conventional power stations and do not replace them; it is not a case of choosing one over the other. Conventional power stations are still required as back up because for the vast majority of the time the wind does not always blow at the right speed; this duplication is hardly cost effective but of course it is the energy users that pay.
The seemingly unstoppable march of commercial onshore wind farms has become a very highly contentious subject with so many communities and cherished landscapes falling under relentless attack from determined developers who wish to profit greatly from the available subsidies.
The subsidies are paid on top of what the developer receives for selling the electricity to the national grid at the standard price. In simple terms, for each £100,000 worth of electricity sold to the national grid by a wind developer, they will receive that £100,000 PLUS another c£200,000 in subsidies. This is purely an illustration and the exact amounts may vary.
It is reported that over £100billion is likely to be paid in wind subsidies over the next 18 years, the vast majority of which being to foreign owned companies such as Kelda; ironically some of these companies are also involved in large scale tax avoidance. This is quickly leading to massively increased electricity bills that will only get higher and higher; ultimately crippling business and our industry - manufacturers will simply leave the UK to find cheaper and a more reliable energy network. It is worthy to note that India and China are each building on average one coal fired power station a week; even Germany has also recently announced that it is to build new coal fired power stations to reduce its energy costs, yet on EU orders the UK is closing down theirs.
Wealthy land owners also prosper by renting their land to these developers; for example David Cameron's father in law, Sir Reginald Sheffield, receives c£365,000 a year in rent for just seven turbines on his estate. The subsidies are of course financed through the energy bills of normal customers, many of whom already struggle to make ends meet.
The wind industry has become a formidable force to deal with, not just alone but through their trade association RenewableUK which is perceived by many to heavily influence Government policy, if not indeed dictating it. Many developers use dirty tricks and sinister means to upstage local campaigns, often using some 'green' groups that receive payments from the wind industry. It is any wonder that communities feel increasingly powerless in the face of speculative applications from big, well-funded developers and a government that ignores their plight.
This disgraceful situation has firstly come about through our successive Governments agreeing to illogical targets with the EU; indeed setting some that are proportionally in excess of any other country. That said, the UK has already well on course to exceed its 2020 target for commercial onshore wind, with 3,324 turbines already in operation, 911 under construction and 2,085 with granted planning consent. In addition a further 3,478 are currently in the planning system (not including those under scoping). So why are certain members of the Government still pushing ahead for even more onshore wind farms to the delight of RenewableUK; one answer in respect of certain current and ex-Ministers may be found from the image on the left - at the very least they are hardly impartial.
Wind turbines are also the visually stark symbols that allow certain members of Government to appear conscious of protecting our precious planet; unfortunately this allows them to elude from the more effective measures such as energy conservation, other means of renewable energy and genuine environmental protection that would make a real difference.
A quote from Chris Heaton-Harris MP - September 2012: "Wind farms are destroying people’s lives, destroying the environment, and destroying the economy – but instead of opposing it, all three main political parties are committed to building more of them and it’s not accidental. This is a stitch-up between the wind lobby and its friends in Parliament and it’s an outrage. It’s the biggest health scandal of our age and the metropolitan elite just don’t care."
The Page Links on the left provide greater detail on the above with a collection of interesting videos, newspaper articles and reports; of course there are two sides of the argument so believe what you wish – the choice is yours.