Wind power hot air

NO-ONE doubts the need to conserve fossil fuels and, at the same time, reduce our reliance on imported gas and oil. However, for the following reasons, the construction of wind turbines should be halted immediately.

- In August 2006 the German company E.On (the company bidding to build a wind farm off the Sussex coast) pointed out that, although by 2020 Germany plans 48 gigawatts of ‘installed wind capacity’, the vagaries of the wind mean in practice this will equate to a pitiful two gigawatts of stable fossil fuel capacity. It was also pointed out, by E.On, Germany will also have to build an additional 1,700 miles of costly high-voltage transmission lines to connect turbines to the grid.

- Centricia and other energy companies told the government last summer that if Britain is to spend £100billion on building thousands of wind turbines, it will require the building of 17 new gas-fired power stations simply to provide back-up for all those times when the wind drops.

- The concrete foundations for a turbine weigh up to 500 tons, buried more than 100 feet below the earth and, therefore, are environmentally damaging both above and below ground.

- Despite the high cost of gas, electricity generated by wind turbines is up to 22 times more expensive than that produced by a gas-powered generating plant.

- Electricity produced by off-shore wind farms is twice as expensive as that generated by land-based turbines.

- A Dutch study concluded that wind turbines actually increase overall CO2 emissions. This is because power stations must be kept permanently operating to make up for at least three-quarters of the time when wind conditions are insufficient to supply power, or have to be switched off.

- Wind turbines do untold damage to wildlife, particularly bats which eat insects that damage crops. Thus farmers have to spray insecticide more frequently. In 2006 it was reported that wind farms off the coast of Norway killed four white-tailed eagles and a further 30 had gone missing, believed to have suffered a similar fate. One large wind farm in California kills up to 300 redtail hawks and 60 golden eagles a year with its revolving blades.

- Land that has wind generators built on it will, I predict, reduce in value enormously within the next 20 years. The cost of removing the generators will have to be deducted from the pre-turbine value.

Future generations will probably conclude that wind turbines are highly visible monuments to the crass stupidity of man in general, and today’s leading politicians in particular. I must add that I have reason to believe my MP, Andrew Tyrie, has strong doubts about the wisdom of constructing wind turbines.

Derek Hunnikin