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Conservative MPs rebel over onshore wind farm subsidies

Over 100 Conservative MPs have written to prime minister David Cameron urging the government to reduce onshore wind farm subsidies in a letter published in the Sunday Telegraph yesterday.

The MPs said in these “financially straightened times” it is unwise for consumers to pay for “inefficient and intermittent energy production that typifies on-shore wind turbines”. Wind farms are supported by subsidy in the form of renewable energy obligations (Rocs) certificates and now feed-in tariffs, costs which are then passed onto the consumer.

The 101 MPs are also worried about the new National Planning Policy Framework - currently being slimmed down by the government – which in their opinion “diminishes” the chances of local people defeating unwanted onshore wind farm proposals through the planning system.

Backbencher Chris Heaton-Harris organised the letter which include senior figures including David Davis, Bernard Jenkin and Nicholas Soames.

Liberal Democrats re-iterate need for green investment

Deputy prime minister and Liberal Democrat MP Nick Clegg said he wants the UK to “number one destination for green investment” this morning.

Clegg and new energy secretary Ed Davey want to send a clear signal that “green growth and green jobs” will remain at the heart of the coalition government’s strategy for growth.

Davey and Clegg made the remarks while visiting research body BRE’s Innovation Park near Watford, a testing site for green homes.

“My priorities are very simple: green jobs, green growth and getting the best deal for energy bill payers,” said Davey.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Congratulations to this group of MP's. They should include removing all Wind Turbine subsidies, offshore and onshore, and then we can re-launch the UK Energy Gap investigation on a proper undistorted total power generation system cost per Gwhr unit power generated comparison basis and, if the likes of Clegg still want "green" considerations, on a parallel proper undistorted comparison of total cost per Tonne of CO2 saved per system. They should also add the effectiveness of the UK's attempts to reduce global CO2 levels over the next 10-20 years with these systems compared to current global CO2 levels and their known/estimated future global increases.

    Shale gas must be included in this exercise for it to be any meaningful assessment and comparison. The indications are this UK sourced fuel could provide a repeat of the 1970's North Sea Oil and Gas development, avoiding present massive FX costs and risks of imported fuels leading to secure and cheaper fuels, which in turn gave a boost to the economy and the basis of across the board new real jobs throughout the economy and massively improving our Balance of Trade!

    The "green" bonus from changing all our Coal Fired Power Stations to shale gas fuelled Gas Turbines would be a further 60% UK reduction in CO2 for the replaced plants power output and providing to date a total UK 1990 Co2 reduction from Power Generation of 50%, and all by far cheaper, easier and quicker means than and so called "green" systems such as Wind turbines. The Developing Wotld should immediately such a target for any Global Strategy to be effective.

    A nice little starter for Mr. Davey with a possible bonus for him, politically!

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  • Presumably you and the 101 MPs do not agree with any form of subsidy to the Nuclear sector either - including bail outs and underwriting the cost of decommissioning and waste disposal? The nuclear industry has benefited from massive public subsidy over many decades despite being a mature industry. The ROCs for Onshore wind are there to support a relatively new industry and to penalise carbon emissions (and no - the fact that windmills have been around for hundreds of years milling flour does not make electricity generation from wind turbines a mature industry, as was written a few weeks ago on a comment)

    As for shale gas: fracking involves the use of huge amounts of toxic chemicals and the use of millions of litres of water (half of which stays in the ground and half comes back up requiring disposal) and has blighted areas in the US by contaminating the water supply. It is also questionable as to whether the full carbon costs are actually less than coal when the emissions from the production of chemicals and the gas emissions from the drill sites are included. Would people prefer these drill sites on their doorsteps or wind turbines?

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  • It's a shame that fossil fuel subsidies rarely make the headlines.

    According to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, gas, oil and coal prices in 2010 were subsidised to the amount of £3.63bn and the International Energy Agency estimates that UK fossil fuel subsidies in 2010 were $5,6bn (excluding the military cost of securing fossil fuel supplies such as defending oil pipelines and support received by oil, coal and gas companies from export credit agencies, national development banks and international financial institutions).

    We are currently spending around £3bn per year on nuclear decommissioning (£3.2bn for 2013/14) and investment is expected to remain at around this level for many decades to come.

    It is expected that in order to attract investment in new nuclear power, the government will need to introduce market interventions such as setting a minimum price for carbon in order to ensure that the low carbon attributes of nuclear power receive sufficient financial reward to make this source of power economically viable.

    Tax breaks recently announced by the George Osborne to encourage shale gas development have not been included in the above figures.

    In comparison with the above, both off-shore and on-shore wind received £0.7bn during the same period, and the total renewable energy sector for all technologies £1.4bn.

    In view of the above information, it can be seen that direct comparisons between the costs of onshore wind and fossil fuels are not straightforward. It seems likely that the energy produced by onshore wind is cheaper than that produced by nuclear power but still more expensive than conventional gas. However in the last few years fossil fuel costs have dramatically increased in price, meanwhile subsidies for onshore wind have been reducing and the government is expecting real reductions in the cost of wind power.

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