The wind energy subsidy farmers are looking to boost their harvest of our cash

A couple of weeks ago after John Hayes made his comments about enough being enough when it comes to onshore wind turbines, I listened with incredulity to the radio as the bandwagon jumping opportunist, Dale Vince (founder of Ecotricity) claimed that in 2011 support for onshore wind turbines cost consumers only £5 per year on their energy bill.

While I should have written about it at the time I was busy with other things and let the moment pass.  However now is an ideal moment to bring this deception back to the fore.  Firstly to correct the falsehood promulgated by Dale Vince, a man with tens of millions of pounds worth of vested interest reasons to spin a lie.  One commentator on the Bishop Hill blog puts it nicely in context:

Looking at ROC’s [Renewable Obligations Certificates for the UK] rather than any other costs, that’s £1.3 billion, which, if we assume 24 million households gives us £54.17 per household p.a. or around 15p a day. Further into the report they [Ofgem] state that out of the 24.9 million ROCs issued, 7.7M were for onshore wind, so applying that factor to our figures would still leave us somewhere north of 4.5p per day per household just for ROCs and only for Onshore wind.

Colour me sceptical, but I call bullshit on the 2p figure, unless someone wants to point out where I’ve gone wrong in the above maths and can also explain how, other than ROCs, wind power costs absolutely nothing.

And of course, wind power does cost the taxpayer a lot more than that because ROCs are not the whole cost of renewables.  Not even close.  Vince and the various lie machines at the heart of Ofgem and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) are deliberately leaving out other costs to the taxpayer to make their subsidy farming seem almost inconsequential for the hard pressed taxpaying consumer.

The reality is that the amount paid in wind power subsidy during the coming year is expected to be over £1 billion, with just 10 companies between them set to get £800million of our tax pounds through subsidies over the next 12 months.  That figure is not included with the ROC direct charge on our energy bills.  Nor is the cost of paying over the odds for energy produced via Feed-in Tariffs.

A look at DECC’s own figures (pg 64) show they admit the cost of renewables policies alone has already added 15% to the retail price of electricity (£/kWh) and this will rise to 27% by 2020 – and wind subsidy is a signifcant part of that. £5 per year?  Give over.

So why is this background timely now?  Because in the media we are seeing comments from the likes of John Selwyn-Gummer (aka Lord Deben) hinting at a change in focus to offshore wind power.  Earlier this year the cost of offshore wind was £150–£169 per MWh and the most optimistic projections don’t see offshore wind close to £100 per MWh until at least the 2020s.  How does that compare to other energy generation?  Well, why not let the Secretary of State at DECC tell us

Reports by ARUP and Parsons Brinckerhoff [External link] commissioned by DECC in 2011, found that the cheapest onshore wind has a cost of £75/MWh, which is around the cost of nuclear at £74/MWh.

Given these costs you can be certain that if the amount of subsidy doled out for onshore wind is staggering, the billions of pounds of subsidy that offshore wind will attract will be mind blowing.  Which is why the wind subsidy farmers are content to dial down onshore wind and position their behaviour as conceding to people pressure to stop scarring our landscape.

There is an evident financial vested interest in doing so and the taxpayer is going to see the amount of money diverted to offshore wind dramatically increase, both in visible ROC charges on bills and government spending that uses more of our tax pounds to make the proliferation of offshore turbines attractive for private business that will make huge sums as a result.

Do not be fooled into thinking the gradual shift in focus from onshore to offshore wind that is underway and will become more prominent in weeks and months to come is any form of victory for taxpayers and residents.  A bigger and more lucrative opportunity has been identified.  The wind energy subsidy farmers are not backing off, they are actively looking to boost their harvest – and their crop of choice is our cash.

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1 Response to “The wind energy subsidy farmers are looking to boost their harvest of our cash”


  1. 1 Brian H 11/11/2012 at 11:57 am

    Yes, a good analogy. The gov’t de facto establishes a payoff field to be plowed and cultivated when it sets up a schedule of subsidies and penalties. Parsing and exploiting these is much easier than honest work.


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