Wind power - fault line in the logic

Brian Beck trots out his usual list of reasons why wind power and other renewable energy sources don’t make sense. Stuck at the bottom of his letter is the major fault line with his apparent logic. He states that “any system that needs a subsidy is by definition not viable”.

Really? How on earth did he think that North Sea Gas came into this country, with every home fitted to receive it? The Government rightly supported it through a strategic programme and a range of subsidies that offset over many years the massive investment costs.

Again, following Mr Beck’s no subsidies criteria, hardly a single UK rail route would remain and our roads would now be at complete gridlock.

Nuclear has been subsidised from day 1 and wouldn’t exist without the billions it has sucked in over 45 years. It will continue to do so despite brave efforts to pretend otherwise. The OECD estimate that UK fossil fuels still receive more than £3 billion a year in subsidies.

Energy options that are characterised by higher up front capital costs and lower operating costs – such as renewables and nuclear – will always struggle up against lower capital costs options such as gas, particularly where the pollution impacts are not reflected in their prices. That and other reasons is why phased strategic subsidies are used. Faced with security of supply issues, climate change and rising fuel costs, government is rightly trying to plan ahead to avoid sleepwalking into major problems of supply and environmental damage in 5 to 15 years time.

The complete emptiness of the Brian Beck world is that by his definition nothing would change. More gas, coal, shale gas through fracking, and nuclear seem to be the sum total of his imagination, and a lot more pollution.

Despite all his rants against wind, it won’t have escaped those who care to look that the Glyndebourne turbine has been turning virtually every day for the past six months. I for one think the turbine offers a beacon of hope and a way forward that promises lower costs and a lower polluting future – a better option than the status quo that ‘head in the sand’ Brian Beck would have us adopt.

Stewart Boyle, South East Wood Fuels Ltd