Star comment: Cameron’s promise on windfarms is being kept

There is a wind of change facing windfarms which goes to the heart of a fundamental question. Can they pay for themselves?

windfarm turbines stock

Promises made before elections are sometimes quietly forgotten once the votes are in the bag, but at Prime Minister’s Questions David Cameron made it clear to Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies that the new administration is sticking to the pledge to end future subsidies for onshore windfarms.

So we now have a proverbial level playing field in which windfarms are not given special favours.

The issue is potent in Mid Wales. There are plans for five windfarms in Powys. There are plans for pylons across Mid Wales and North Shropshire to carry the power from windfarms.

“It is time to give local people the decisive say,” declared Mr Cameron.

Judging by the scale of the protests and opposition in Mid Wales, giving the locals the right of veto – if that is what Mr Cameron is saying in effect – means that the windfarm honeymoon is well and truly over. Getting permission for any new windfarm is going to be difficult, but maybe not impossible if those behind the schemes work with the local population, listen to them, and try to get them onside.

The cheers from the Welsh hills will be heard all the way to Westminster.

A shift is under way in which the emphasis is increasingly on solar power, a renewable energy source which does not appear to generate quite so much heat – in debating terms – as wind power. And maybe in future there will be yet another source of renewable energy which becomes fashionable and is talked up.

We are feeling our way in new territories, at the edge of technological frontiers in which there are going to be winners and losers as we explore new sources of energy and balance their pros and cons.

The current generation is not going to run out of energy. The oil is not going to run out tomorrow. The gas can still be tapped.

The knowledge that these resources are finite puts a responsibility on all our shoulders to search for alternatives which will supplement, replace, or at least help eke out the fossil fuels on which we still overwhelmingly depend.

There is unlikely to be a single answer. There will be a range of potential answers and the challenge is to choose those which best suit.

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Comments for: "Star comment: Cameron’s promise on windfarms is being kept"

Welsh Windbag

Very good news, long overdue. Time to end the appalling damage to Britain's countryside caused by wind turbines and their infrastructure and concentrate on developing renewable energy systems that don't cause more harm than good, that don't divide communities, and that don't rely on the bribery and corruption that has wholly permeated the wind industry. Mid Wales is very fortunate to have Glyn Davies as MP, he has fought this campaign with determination and integrity.

'Owd Monner

Can they pay for themselves? No, wind power is a scam. You think you're going to get a viable return on those solar panels? You're not...don't look to me for the answer, but I'll gladly tell you where it isn't

thedodo

Paying for themselves? Well the subsidy is far less than new nuclear without the spent fuel which will have to be stored underground for thousands of years - stick that in your pipe.

Llandy

It is, well and truly, a scam. The subsidies on wind power and the financial returns generated were based on turbines having an average lifespan of around 22-25 years. A couple of years ago the industry itself had to admit that their average lifespan was only around 18 years, with some failing at only 12 years (and this doesn't include those breaking down due to fires or blade failures). Also, they admitted that they were not conducting routine maintenance on turbines older than 10 years, as the drop-off in efficiency made it financially unviable.

Under these circumstances how can wind farms exist with subsidies?

Llandy

My mistake, should read "how can wind farms exist without subsidies?"

Cj

i think we will still see wind farms coming forwards especially upgrades and expansions of exisitng clusters with bigger and bigger blades to capture economies of scale, it will also force development into the coastal and uplands which have and more consistent windspeeds but where previously viewed as too picturesque to develope, laws of unintended consequences

Llandy

Cj: With respect, your are mixing up two issues here. Giving more say to local communities will probably make development of new sites in 'picturesque' coastal and upland areas even more difficult. Upgrades and expansions of existing sites, will invalidate any current subsidies a site is getting and will require a new planning application.

Furthermore, you can't simply bolt a new set of bigger blades onto an existing turbine, or a bigger turbine onto an existing pylon; and the pylon is concreted into the base - the whole thing is an integral unit - you have to replace the whole lot, hardly an economic reality.

Dabber

You could change the rotor head for one with more blades, if you check out the majority of efficient propeller aircraft, they use 5,6 even 8 blades, and would not cost much in the scheme of things