More than Half of UK’s Wind Farms Built in Areas Not Windy Enough
Researcher says that government subsidies are to blame.
More than half of Britain’s wind farms are operating at less than 25 percent capacity because they’re installed in areas without a continuous breeze, according to an academic study reported by the Daily Mail.
The study was based on official data provided by energy regulator Ofgem.
The worst locations cited in the study were a 9-turbine wind farm at Blyth Harbour in Northumberland, northern England, which managed to reach only 4.9 percent of its capacity, and a 4-turbine operation at Chelker reservoir in North Yorkshire operating at 5.3 percent capacity.
Europe’s largest wind farm, located near Glasgow, ran at less than 25 percent capacity, according to research of the data from 2009.
The analysis was carried out by Michael Jefferson, a professor of international business and sustainability at the London Metropolitan Business School.
Jefferson placed the blame squarely on government subsidies, which he says encourage firms to site their operations badly because of their rush to take advantage of financial incentives. British consumers currently pay an extra £1 billion ($1.56 billion) per year on their fuel bills in order to subsidize the government’s push toward it’s renewable energy goals.
“There is a political motivation to drive non-fossil fuel energy, which I very much respect, but we need more focus,” Jefferson said. He suggests that stimulus funds should be reserved only for the windiest of projects in order to ensure that taxpayers are getting the most bang for their buck.
Operations that fall below 25 per cent should be deemed ineligible for renewable subsidies. “That would focus the mind to put them in a sensible place,” he said.
Britain has 2,906 wind turbines spread over 264 sites with a further 7,000 turbines planned for the next 12 years.
Jefferson has written extensively on energy policy, including contributions to various UN bodies. He was the Deputy Secretary-General of the World Energy Council for 10 years, where his work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change led to a certificate for his contributions to their award of a Nobel prize.