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Wind farms good value for money - Energy Secretary

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 15, 2013

By Graeme Demianyk, WMN London Editor, Twitter: @graemedemianyk

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The Energy Minister has defended wind farms as good value for money amid growing calls to slash "green" energy subsidies to slash household bills.

Tory backbenchers are leading a campaign to scale-back an estimated £110 added to energy bills to underwrite unprofitable renewables.

But Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary, has defended the hand-outs to developers.

Interviewed on the BBC's Andrew Marr show, Mr Davey was asked if onshore wind turbines provide value for money.

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He replied: "Absolutely. They only get paid when they are generating electricity."

Mr Davey defended subsidies for wind farms, saying: "We have to invest in renewable energy to catch up with the rest of Europe."

The growth of wind farms in the Westcountry has prompted criticism from communities fiercely opposed to their impact on the countryside, claiming negative knock-on effects for tourism.

Last week, the Western Morning News reported how George Eustice, Conservative MP for Camborne and Redruth, wanted wind and solar energy subsidies slashed and for "green" technology to "fight one another" to get financial support.

He made his comments as an adviser to Number 10 on energy and climate change issues before being named a junior minister in the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Energy prices have become a major political issue after Labour leader Ed Miliband promised to freeze bills for 20 months if elected in 2015. It would save the typical household £120 between May 2015 and January 2017.

Householders have been warned that they face sharp increases in their heating bills this winter.

Last week, the energy giant, Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) announced it was increasing prices for customers by 8.2% – the first in a series of likely bill-hikes by big firms.

The firm's chief executive said one-third of the increase was due to "green subsidies" including loft insulation for the poorest and elderly and renewables.

Mr Davey said only 4% of an energy bill went on low carbon technology – arguing most is spent on "social policies to help the fuel-poor manage their bills". "I don't think we want to get rid of those," he said.

Conservative ministers have drawn up a four-point plan to prevent the growth of wind farms and other forms of renewable energy such as solar power plants from blighting the countryside.

Neil Parish, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said he wants to see "drastic" cuts to subsidies for wind and solar energy. "I think they should be much more economically sustainable," he said. "I think we have belatedly woken up to smell the coffee and we are now seeing how much 'green' subsidies are putting on energy bills which is creating more fuel poverty."

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9 comments

  • green4marches  |  October 29 2013, 5:39PM

    Ed Davey will stick to his mantra until kicked out of post (cannot come too soon - we need someone with some technical knowledge as opposed to having learnt by heart the spiel put out by the subsidy-seekers and the groons). He might just follow Charles Hendry MP (sacked Energy Minister) into a very lucrative job with a 'wind energy company' that - by pure coincidence - he has had a few meetings with ... ? All the windies are masters of weasel words hence Davey's comment about payment. But what he chooses not to mention is that the existing subsidised payment for onshore and offshore wind is even HIGHER than the figure promised for future nuclear power. Hinkley Point £92.50 Mwh Onshore wind £100.00 Offshore wind £155.00 and wind 'constraint' payments are insanely higher than even these figures. He chooses not to mention either the double-build costs for back-up plant thanks to unreliable wind - nor the staggering cost of altering the Grid specifically to pick up all the dispersed dribs and drabs of windmill energy Recent example of windy weasel words at a Public Inquiry :- windmill barrister used the term "adverse impact" when describing recorded raptor mortality. "Killed" would have been simpler and clearer ?

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  • sandman18  |  October 15 2013, 8:14PM

    See the latest figures on our website in spreadsheet format also latest map update of turbines in picture and also in download for Google Earth. http://tinyurl.com/96bxqsl Its all about the MONEY !!!

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  • letigre  |  October 15 2013, 8:03PM

    I'm no nimby, I live next to a wind farm which incidentally does keep my family awake at night but the point we're discussing here is efficiency and cost. As can clearly be seen here wind is utterly useless and we have to bring online Gas (Indian Queens) and Diesel (Plymouth) to back it up. The irony being that Cornwall was carbon neutral as it was fed by nuclear, now it has a bigger carbon footprint to back up these renewables. Live output at Bears – useless as usual: http://tinyurl.com/pqygdul Oh and nationally – what a triumph wind is - 15% of it's capacity: http://tinyurl.com/6ja8btf Wind is like having a car that only works 3 days a week. Heaven help us when the coal power stations go offline.

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  • Robin1966  |  October 15 2013, 2:01PM

    "and we are now seeing how much 'green' subsidies are putting on energy bills which is creating more fuel poverty" More sloppy research, the major factor in rising energy bills is the rising cost of global gas, not renewable energy.

    |   -15
  • TheGeofflane  |  October 15 2013, 12:52PM

    Funny isn't it how the whole world is embracing wind farms, from China to Holland. No, the wind doesn't always blow, but most of the time it does. Nuclear power stations also don't work all the time and cost millions to decommission. When French rivers get too warm in summer, they can't export the elec. we rely on. Gas elec. causes global warming. Coal elec. pollutes. BUT we need ALL of 'em. And don't wind turbines look beautiful. You're all NIMBYS worried about house prices, birds and bats.

    |   -17
  • Free2opine  |  October 15 2013, 11:03AM

    Ed Davey and DECC have become a law unto themselves, deliberately driving up energy prices. Subsidies should not and should never have been paid for "green" energy ideas. His comment about WE should be doing what EUROPE is doing is like a red rag to a bull. Does this mean, that if EUROPE freezes as many of their population to death, to reduce the population, that we should follow suit!? Wind turbines are one of the biggest waste of space and money objects, that have ever been invented. They are determined by natural events i.e. wind and as that is so unreliable and the turbines unable to store energy, then by their very nature, they are ugly, useless, white elephants.

    |   19
  • letigre  |  October 15 2013, 10:45AM

    And wind farms paid £8 Million in August to turn off. What were you saying again Davey? http://tinyurl.com/l6dlhrr Why follow Europe anyway – Spain is clearly a disaster: http://tinyurl.com/lx6h6oq

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  • letigre  |  October 15 2013, 10:25AM

    @Dipstick Davey wouldn't know the truth if it slapped him round the face with a kipper. He clearly has no understanding of the UK grid, STOR, spinning reserve etc. He is quite clearly delusional and an example of what happens when you give the keys to the energy department to someone who puts ideologies ahead of actual science. Do you fancy joining my newly formed company "Cornish Wind Farms Inc" – we're solely scoping in Kingston-upon-Thames and Surbiton!

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  • DipStick  |  October 15 2013, 10:08AM

    "He replied: "Absolutely. They only get paid when they are generating electricity."" That's a complete lie! If the wind is blowing but for some reason the grid can't cope, or there isn't enough demand, then they get paid a 'constraint payment'. Basically they get paid to NOT produce power. But telling porkies to the electorate is just par for the course with politicians. "I think we have belatedly woken up to smell the coffee and we are now seeing how much 'green' subsidies are putting on energy bills which is creating more fuel poverty.". Well it was Ed Milliband as Energy Minister (or whatever the title was at the time) that pushed through the Climate Change act that was DESIGNED TO PUSH UP ENERGY PRICES - EVEN ED HAS ADMITTED AS MUCH (use Google to find out when/where he has admitted this on many occasions) but it was supported by almost all in the HoCs (though Neil Parish wasn't an MP at the time - he was an MEP and so knows exactly what was voted for. If he doesn't then he's incompetent) so for almost any MP to bleat about prices going up is hypocritical in the extreme. DS

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