The wind industry loves to claim that it’s approaching “Grid Parity” with proper grown-up generation. But to do this they simply ignore the layer after layer of extra costs associated with wind.
There are all the regressive subsidies to landowners, which (by and large) take money from poor people and pensioners who use electricity, and give it to wealthy land-owners and operators. There are the payments made to operators for doing nothing when their production is surplus to requirements. There are all the costs of back-up: the opportunity cost of capital sunk in back-up power stations that operate way below capacity. The higher cost (and higher emissions) of those gas-fired power stations that are obliged to operate intermittently to complement variable wind output. There are all the grid adaptation costs to deal with small-scale distributed generation, in a system originally designed around large base-load power stations.
Then there are the costs of operation and maintenance, which I am advised are coming in much higher than planned – especially for off-shore turbines which operate in a harsh and corrosive environment.
But recently, I’ve discovered a whole new category of costs of which I was previously unaware. Wind turbines can – and do – have an adverse effect on the radar systems that keep commercial aviation on course (and of course on military radars used in a similar context). That’s why all wind turbine planning applications have to go to the National Air Transport Service (NATS) for approval.
What I didn’t realise – until recently – was that NATS have been funding a major programme of up-grades to their equipment, designed to enable them to operate more effectively in the face of interference from wind turbines. The first phase of this programme is costing £14 million. I shall be writing to NATS to ask for their best estimate of the total cost of the programme. But here is an example of what seems to be a significant initiative in the Scottish borders.
Here it is in their own words: “We have poured a huge amount of our own resources into working with the industry on mitigation. We don’t have to do this, it is over and above our core role as an Air Navigation Service Provider, but we do so in the spirit of supporting the UK’s renewables targets”.
I understand that NATS is funded by levies on the airline industry. So you get to pay for this up-grade programme, either as a passenger, or as a customer for any goods transported by air. Or both. And it’s being done explicitly to enable more wind turbine applications to be approved.
The costs and the waste involved in the wind industry are mind-boggling. All in pursuit of climate policies which themselves are hugely open to question. In primitive and historic communities they conducted human sacrifices to appease the weather gods and to ensure good harvests. Our modern climate policies are equally absurd and ineffectual. But I suppose we should be grateful that in these modern times all we are sacrificing is wealth and prosperity.