I’ve recently been taking a closer look at alternative energy sources. Not only can these sources reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, but alternative energy sources will lessen our need for mining of rare earth metals, which can be exploited by a country with a terrible human rights record.
The first is wind power.
For most of human history, wind has been used to power the simplest of machines, boats and homes. By modern times, wind farms have been popping up in most of the large cities of the world. The challenge of powering our homes and businesses from wind has recently caught the eye of movie stars and business moguls.
Wind power is being employed in the UK to run major power stations including, power stations in Spain, France and Portugal, the ScottishPower turbine complex, and the Hinkley Point C nuclear station.
So how much does wind power add to our energy bill?
The biggest negative to wind power is its location. Wind is a sporadic resource, and can only be harnessed in very arid climates. And not only can we not rely on wind to power our homes and businesses, but wind’s location makes it’s power highly variable.
As a resident of the UK, I am surprised to learn that we have the highest electricity prices in Europe. Our abundant sunshine, windy climate has no compunction about blowing winters cold. We don’t need expensive wind turbines to power our homes, and we don’t need submarines to export our power to other continents. If we don’t need it, we don’t buy it.
The UK is at the top of the league for electricity prices. Our wind power is cheaper than other countries’ nuclear, coal and gas-fired generation. If we had to pay to have it, our bills would have been the lowest in Europe.
What has surprised me is how willing our politicians are to promise a government subsidy to our manufacturers and electricity consumers to enable them to build turbines and wind turbines, and how much resistance we have. Politicians are willing to use our cash to stimulate the economy, but no one is willing to promise an equivalent cash subsidy to subsidize our builders and electricity consumers to enable them to build alternative sources of energy, such as solar photovoltaic, wave and tidal. And there is no sign of alternative energy producing industries offering a comparable, reliable source of revenue.
I haven’t been impressed with the statements made by our local politicians. I have heard, in particular, the same two things repeatedly. I would regard them as misleading at best, and outright lies at worst. Here are my comments:
*”We will make our turbines and turbines will come.” This is simply wrong. We already have many thousands of wind turbines. We have a full complement of windmills. What we need is a bigger bank account, and a bigger team of engineers to develop the technology to make them. If I had 100 billion to invest in new technologies, I would take it, and build more wind turbines. In the meantime, there is no shortage of off-shore wind turbines and wind farms to supply our energy needs. The UK doesn’t need to duplicate Germany’s wind energy to meet its own requirements.
*”And why not?” I cannot see what stops us, domestically, constructing more wind turbines. The UK can and should do more domestically, to meet its own energy needs. Why not?
To sum up: do you believe there is room in the UK for two, or three, or four, new, larger wind turbines? It’s my money, and I want my money, not some government subsidy to lure me. We have enough, and more, off-shore wind turbines, and wave and tidal energy to supply us energy needs. What we need is the financial guts to build it.
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