An Open Letter to Andrea Leadsom MP


Dear Andrea,

I was shocked to read in the Sunday papers that you may be contemplating some verbal gymnastics to enable you to continue subsidising on-shore wind farms at the expense of tax-payers and energy consumers.  I hope these reports are false, and I call on you to honour the clear manifesto commitment on which this Conservative government was elected.  If you do not, many voters — including many members of your party – will be very disappointed indeed.  And perhaps angry.

Can I particularly warn you against the cost estimates which no doubt the wind industry is inviting you to consider.  You may wish to ask the industry how they can claim, on the one hand, to have achieved “grid parity”, and on the other hand complain that they cannot operate without subsidy.  May I ask if they (and you) have taken account of the following factors:

1. The costs of conventional back-up which is required to balance the intermittency of renewables

2. The capacity payments which are required in accounting terms to compensate for sub-optimal usage of the conventional back-up

3. The higher cost and emissions per unit of output which result from running the back-up intermittently, and therefore inefficiently

4. The very large investment required in the grid, originally designed for a small number of large power stations, to adapt it to cope with large numbers of small and widely distributed renewable generating plants

5. The well-documented and substantial decline in output from wind turbines over time, and the escalating operation and maintenance costs of wind turbines during their planned operating life.

Could I suggest that you ask for an analysis of these costs from sources not beholden to the industry.  You may wish to consider, for example, Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University, or John Constable of the Renewable Energy Foundation.

I should be very glad to receive your response to these questions.

Best regards.  ROGER HELMER

Post Script:  Since sending this letter I have had a reply from the Minister, in which she insists that the press reports I quote are “a total distortion”.  I am grateful for her reply, and glad of her assurance on this point.  However I do not so far have any reply or reassurance on the issue of the extra costs associated with wind power — which are all too often forgotten.

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13 Responses to An Open Letter to Andrea Leadsom MP

  1. jenny608 says:

    I hope you will post her reply on this blog Roger, I for one am anxious to hear what she has to say.

  2. The claim that onshore wind will be “subsidy free at £80/MWh” is based on the Committee on Climate Change’s Power Scenarios for the Fifth Carbon Statement.

    In it they state:

    Low-carbon technologies are, and in the 2020s will continue to be, a more expensive way to generate electricity than burning gas and allowing the emissions to enter the atmosphere for free. However, in a carbon-constrained world this is not an option.

    A carbon price that reflects the full cost of emissions would increase the cost of gas-fired generation to a level at or above the cost of some low-carbon options. The Government’s carbon values are designed to be consistent with action required under the Climate Change Act (Box 3). They reach £78/tonne in 2030 and would be enough to push the costs of gas-fired generation up above the level of mature low-carbon options in the 2020s (Figure 2).

    •In a central scenario for gas prices and with a value attached to carbon that is consistent withmeeting the UK’s 2050 target, the full cost of new gas generation would be £85/MWh for newplants coming on line in 2020 and £95/MWh for 2025. That assumes a gas price that increasesfrom 46 p/therm in 2015 to 66 p/therm by 2025;1 if gas prices remain at 46 p/therm, the fullcosts for gas generation would be £70/MWh in 2020 and £85/MWh in 2025.

    •Mature renewables are already demonstrating that they can provide electricity at a lowerlifetime cost, implying they will effectively be subsidy-free by 2020 (Box 4):
    –Onshore wind and ground-mounted solar projects have signed contracts to deliverelectricity at £83/MWh from 2016/17.

    In other words, onshore wind can only be competitive with gas, if gas is slapped with a large carbon tax to make it more expensive.

    Detail below:

    • ian wragg says:

      The clowns have already priced coal fired stations out of the market. The power companies are paying the fines for lack of capacity rather than run at a loss. The fine is cheaper than the loss.
      The government is bleating about the lack of new gas fired capacity when they are saying it will be abolished in 15 -20 years time.
      Who in their right mind would fund such capital projects under this climate.
      Starting with Cameron and down to Rudd and the rest of them we have a fifth column which is hell bent on destroying this country.
      The 3 main parties are stuffed with economic clowns and should be despatched as soon as possible.

  3. Ex-expat Colin says:

    As a woman in the audience of QT said the other week to A. Rudd…you only say “stuff” to keep your job. I suspect this one won’t respond…don’t have to and keeps the job? Would you hire any of them for your business?

    If they thought they were smart…they are definitely not.

  4. Jim Hunt says:

    I won’t hear a word said against the delightful Ms. Leadsom. She maintains:

    “I am as keen as mustard on electricity storage!”

    What’s not to like?!

    • catweazle666 says:

      The fact that no-one has yet produced anything like convincing economically viable grid-scale that could produce the kind of energy that the UK would need for days/weeks in winter when there is a blocking high to the North-West for a start.

      Plus, anyone who believes that chemical storage of the scale required to back up GWh is ever going to be remotely environmentally friendly has not been paying attention and has no conception of the size of the numbers involved

      Oh, and then there’s the environmental havoc wreaked in places like China and South America mining and refining the materials required for Western “Liberal” Greens to feel good about themselves. I suspect the locals don’t like your notions at all.

      But hey, what do they matter when there’s virtue signalling to be done?

      • Jim Hunt says:

        I note that Roger’s webmaster hasn’t seen fit to muzzle you yet CatWeazle. Ah well.

        When it comes to non chemical energy storage, here’s a non exhaustive list for you:

        Pumping water
        Heating water
        Freezing water
        Compressing air
        Liquifying air
        Heating/cooling rocks
        Spinning flywheels
        and when it comes to transport generating hydrogen.

        When it comes to “wreaking environmental havoc”, the OECD have concluded that:

        Outdoor air pollution kills more than 3 million people across the world every year, and causes health problems from asthma to heart disease for many more. This is costing societies very large amounts in terms of the value of lives lost and ill health.

        Air pollution in OECD countries has fallen in recent years, helped by tighter emission controls on vehicles, but it has increased in China and India as rapid growth in traffic has outpaced the adoption of tighter emission limits. The switch to more polluting diesel vehicles in many countries threatens to arrest the downward trend in emissions from road transport in OECD countries.

        Those 3 million people assure me they are very happy with the current state of affairs, since life really isn’t worth living.

        Are you aware that Jaguar are going back into motor racing? I wonder why?

      • catweazle666 says:

        “I note that Roger’s webmaster hasn’t seen fit to muzzle you yet CatWeazle. Ah well.”

        What a sad little troll you are, Jim.

      • Jim Hunt says:

        I was of course referring to your comments on a previous thread CatWeazle, which have already proved sufficient to gain you entry into the 2016 Great White Con “New Einstein” competition:

        My “for the moment at least” prediction has come to pass quite quickly too!

        Keep watching at around the same time next year to discover if you’re the lucky recipient of the loan of a polar bear suit and a big but battered surf board.

  5. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Think I heard BBC R4 on about doomed EDF and busted Arriva. VI’s now working on getting a high strike price some other way perhaps? Meanwhile back in the real UK power generation heads off this way: Euan Mearns

    UK Blackout Risk – Amber Warning

    I think Torness Nuclear Power Station extends to 2030, originally to close in 2023. Odd really when you condemn a NPS you might think there was a really important reason for that?

  6. Anyoldiron says:


    Who are the blameless faceless ones?
    The ones who produce the seeds?
    The seeds that will feed the whole wide world,
    Yet kill off all the weeds.
    No sign of flight from birds above,
    The silent spring has come,
    No butterflies fluttering in gentle breeze,
    Their day has long since gone.

    The faceless ones who live so grand,
    And work in tall glass tower,
    Control every aspect of our lives,
    These faceless men of power.
    They tell that Pontius Pilate’s dead,
    That his days and ways are gone,
    Yet they too will quickly wash their hands,
    When another wrong is done.

    Such is the way of the faceless ones,
    Who released the winds of change?
    Now blows the gale that strips the earth,
    To vent anger o’er tortuous range.
    Should we too be classed the “faceless ones”?
    Does the truth now seem uncouth?
    Did we grow too fond of the easy life?
    Where there isn’t much need of truth.

    Are we as guilty as those faceless ones?
    Whose interest was strictly wealth?
    Why do we stand by without a fight?
    While they use trickery and stealth.
    It has oft’ been said there’s none so blind,
    As the ones who will not see,
    Yet faint heart, faint voice win no argument
    Accepting brings hunger and misery.

  7. Jim Hunt says:

    Presumably Andrea’s own “open letter” meets with your approval Roger?'s-blog/my-vote-on-the-eu-referendum/827

    I want to be absolutely clear – I will be voting to leave the EU. This is not a decision that I have made quickly or easily, as I have been a strong advocate for reform within Europe for many years.

    As far as I can see from a swift scan she doesn’t mention “Energy” or “Climate Change” once!

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