Family energy bills will soar by more than £300 a year because of the obsession with wind power, a report claimed yesterday. The Government’s green crusade “blunder” will cost £124 billion, according to a former World Bank adviser. He estimates that by 2020 domestic electricity bills will have risen by up to 58 per cent under plans for a huge increase in the number of onshore and offshore wind turbines.
Professor Gordon Hughes warned that wind power may even fail in its aim of cutting greenhouse gases.
He said: “Unless the current Government scales back its commitment to wind power very substantially, its policy will be worse than a mistake, it will be a blunder.”
In a damning report for Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation, Professor Hughes said family electricity bills will rise to nearly £850 a year from their current £528 to pay for wind power technology.
He claimed the same electricity could be provided by modern combined gas cycle plants for £13billion – nearly 10 times cheaper.
Ministers are committed to wind power to reduce carbon emissions in the fight against climate change and to help replace ageing coal, gas and nuclear power plants.
But Professor Hughes, a professor of economics at the University of Edinburgh, branded wind power “an extraordinarily expensive and inefficient way of reducing CO2 emissions”.
He said it could lead to higher emissions because wind is so intermittent that back-up will be needed – almost certainly gas power stations.
The report, which has been submitted as evidence to the Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, said the likeliest policy of a mix of onshore and offshore wind farms would also be more expensive than building modern gas power stations.
The findings were backed by Professor Ian Fells, Emeritus Professor of Energy Conversion at Newcastle University, who said: “Wind energy is the most expensive way of generating renewable electricity.
“It will also cost jobs. We are already seeing some industrial firms packing up and moving abroad. The increasing price of energy is going to be the next big political problem.” But a spokesman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change said: “Wind power is a homegrown, secure and sustainable source of energy with an important role as part of a balanced energy mix.
“Over-reliance on any one technology could have serious consequences for consumer bills. That’s why we want to see a diverse energy mix with renewables, nuclear, clean coal and gas all playing a part.”
The trade association RenewableUK insisted that wind power is economic, breaks our reliance on fossil fuel imports and creates jobs.
A spokesman said: “Official figures, from the independent regulator Ofgem, show that the cost of generating clean electricity using wind power is 2p a day per household. That’s a small price to pay to keep the lights on in Britain.”
He said the rise in fuel bills was caused mainly by soaring gas prices.