There is much talk about “greening the environment”. No doubt the way our economy is organised now ferociously wastes finite natural resources. To hear the Greens talk one would think that everything can be solved by things such as wind power. An interesting set of facts recently became public to do with who is pressing for the introduction of wind power, and who is going to make a mint out of it.
There are a number of private companies – Scottish Power Renewable is one of them – which pay farmers to place wind turbines on their land. This particular company will pay £10,500 a year for 25 years to a farmer, so for example having a 10-turbine wind farm could work out at £2.6 million for nothing more then putting their signature on a contract. Elsewhere land owners have been offered as much as £17,000 a year; big money.
Although a 2 megawatt turbine up to 350 feet high generates on average a quarter of its capacity (due to the variability of the wind), it generates a great deal of cash: thanks to the government’s subsidy systemit can earn its owner some £450,000 a year.
At current prices, £230,000 will come from selling the electricity to the National Grid. The developer also receives a further £218,000 from the government’s renewable obligation which compels our electricity suppliers to buy all the energy generated from wind – the suppliers pay that much on top of its normal price, and it is all then passed on to the rest of us when we pay our electricity bills.
This is the secret which the wind companies are anxious not to reveal to the farmers whose land their machines stand on. It means for each turbine, the developer will be making considerably more money each year than the land owner can hope to make in a quarter of a century. By the time a farmer has a 2 megawatt turbine in his fields the developer is making around £450,000 a year; so over 25 years a wind turbine company would be able to put some £11 million in the bank in return for a small (and tax deductible) initial outlay.
There’s another secret that the government is not so anxious to see brought into the light of day. It’s that the rush for wind turbines is being driven from Brussels. A European Directive issued at the end of last year obliges Britain – along with all countries in the EU – to generate 20 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2020.
Last year the 2,000 wind turbines already built in Britain generated between them less electricity than a single gas-fired power plant, and much less than a nuclear power station. Even the 700 additional turbines Gordon Brown boasts of building (including those off shore) will produce less electricity then the Drax coal-fired power station in Yorkshire.
The price of meeting the EU Directive is becoming clear. We’ll pay a lot more for our electricity, we’ll blight our landscape, and we’ll waste natural resources building the turbines in the first place. But so long as someone’s out there making that kind of money, presumably we should all be green with envy.