The Welsh Assembly’s plans to install 800 giant wind turbines in mid-Wales make no economic sense, says Christopher Booker.
On Tuesday the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff will see the biggest demonstration so far in Britain against the disaster now being set in train across the land by the Government’s infatuation with wind power. Nowhere is this more obvious than in mid-Wales, where the Assembly wishes to see the hills covered with up to 800 giant wind turbines, up to 415ft high, visible over hundreds of square miles. Recently In Parliament, Glyn Davies, the Tory MP for Montgomeryshire, spoke about the anger this is arousing locally, recounting how one recent meeting called at short notice in Welshpool had drawn 2,000 people.
Mr Davies described how the problem is not only the turbines, but the need for two vast substations and 100 miles of steel pylons, up to 150ft high, to carry the electricity into Shropshire to connect with the National Grid. But although he may have spoken eloquently about the visual and social impact of this project, he failed to spell out its nonsensical economic implications. To build 800 two-megawatt turbines would cost at least £1.6 billion, plus, it is estimated, another £400 million for the pylons and sub-stations. With the output of Welsh turbines last year averaging less than 20 per cent of their capacity, thanks to the intermittency of the wind, the power produced by this £2 billion project will average out at little more than 300MW.
Yet contrast this with the 882MW produced by Centrica’s new Langage gas-fired power station near Plymouth, costing just £400 million. This single plant, built for a fifth of the money, covering a few acres, will produce nearly three times as much electricity, without disfiguring one of the most beautiful landscapes in Britain. Those Welsh turbines, costing us all £120 million a year in subsidy, will produce power that could have been generated without subsidy at a 15th of the cost. How many of those Assembly members on Tuesday will manage to step outside the bubble of illusion surrounding wind power, to recognise just what insanity they are being made party to?