Are the PM’s wind power plans just hot air?

Yesterday’s ‘well attended’ Green Café featured a number of interesting discussions, which were capped with a talk by Sandy Tod from our Energy Group about the potential for local renewable energy projects. During the exchanges he referred to the prime minister’s recent announcement when he pledged that offshore wind farms will generate enough electricity to power every home in the UK within a decade. Mr Johnson said the government was raising its target for offshore wind power capacity by 2030 from 30 gigawatts to 40 gigawatts. Sandy had a number of concerns about the proposals, which he intended to put into a letter to the Craven Herald and below is a copy which he has just sent to the local paper.

The prime minister’s conversion to supporting offshore wind power, unveiled in his speech to the Conservative Party virtual conference on Tuesday 6th October, should be encouraging. However despite all the rhetoric about Britain being a leader in offshore technology, it is the likes of China, Indonesia and Dubai whose yards will benefit from contracts to build the massive turbines and their platforms destined for the North Sea. The only work UK contractors will get will be to upgrade shore facilities to support erection and maintenance.

Labelling Britain “the Saudi Arabia of wind” Mr Johnson claims offshore wind will power “your kettle, your washing machine, your cooker, your heating, your plug-in electric vehicle… from the breezes that blow around this island”. What he omits to point out is that the breezes are highly intermittent and to ensure a steady supply will still require a considerable balancing input from more conventional onshore sources including nuclear and gas turbines.

The vision of a “limitless resource” of clean energy from “gusts far out in the deepest waters” contradicts two decades of environmentalists and governments, including the present one, encouraging consumers to reign in electricity usage.

While offshore wind already makes a very significant contribution to the nation’s demand for electric power, and further expansion is needed in the grand scheme of things, this is far from a recipe for plentiful cheap power. The high price paid for Mr Johnson’s dream will only benefit large scale international suppliers and their shareholders. Britain’s householders and businesses will eventually have to foot the bill.

Renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and hydro are available onshore at point of use and are ready to be exploited by local communities to power our kettles, washing machines etc. In addition, local energy plans employing a mix of renewable technologies with some local storage can ensure continuity of supply. All of which has the capacity to encourage local innovation and employment.

Communities could benefit from generating their own power if only the government would get on and back local energy plans, which appear to be missing from the so called Build Back Greener Plan.

Sandy Tod ACE Settle and area

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