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Anthony Trewavas: We can’t afford wind farms in the long run

More than 20 proposals for wind farm projects in Pentlands

More than 20 proposals for wind farm projects in Pentlands

THE Scottish Government intends that, by 2020, renewables will generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity.

The economy, tourism and energy committee concluded it could be done. But its report relied on the evidence of unqualified activists who typically ignore costs. What is the reality?

Electricity consumption is vital to our economy and wellbeing. None of us has a real choice about its use, so if costs rise, we all have to pay, with the poorest hit hardest.

The government says renewables, ie wind farms, cost the average UK consumer only £20 a year. That is deceitful. The public uses only one third of all electricity but industry also passes its costs on to us, with 20 per cent VAT added on. The real cost to consumers is £70.

But even higher bills are on their way. There is the £7 billion for an upgrade to the grid – largely in Scotland – needed to cope with more renewable power. A threefold increase in wind turbines is planned, and struggling consumers will foot the bill for subsidies to power companies and landowners.

This much larger network will incur more costs for gas generating plants needed to avoid the lights going out. The total exceeds £11bn; more than six times what we pay now or £469 for each household. But that ignores the independence issue. UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey told the committee much of the extra cost would arise in Scotland. But an independent England would rely on cheaper electricity from Ireland and France (with its secure, lower-cost nuclear base load) leaving Scottish citizens to cover the cost of all the wind farms.

Meanwhile, industry would relocate to countries with cheaper electricity. And if any excess wind-generated electricity is to be sold rather than dumped, it will go at knock-down prices to England, subsidised by Scottish consumers.

Consumers would face extra bills of many thousands of pounds each year. Cost cannot simply be ignored as numerous greens do; it is central to any sensible policy.


• Prof Anthony Trewavas chairs Scientific Alliance Scotland, a sponsor of Energy Policy in an Independent Scotland, on Tuesday 11 December. www.scotsmanconferences.com

 

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