GENEROUS government subsidies are enabling Britain’s 10 worst-performing wind farms to earn a total of £1.3m a year, despite producing electricity worth only half that, according to new figures.
Among the poorest performers are two turbines at GlaxoSmithKline’s pharmaceutical plant at Barnard Castle, Co Durham, and the Ecotricity wind turbine at Green Park in Reading, Berkshire, which the company boasts is Britain’s best-known because it is adjacent to junction 11 of the M4.
The turbine beside the motorway runs on average at just over 16% of its capacity. It earned £229,700 in 2010-11, but half that was paid in subsidy. The electricity generated was worth about £115,000.
The Barnard Castle turbines did even worse, running at just 8.2% of capacity and earning £26,000, half of which was paid as subsidy by the government’s renewables obligation scheme.
Last week Ed Davey, the energy secretary, admitted for the first time that the number of existing wind farms added to those going through the planning process were already enough to meet the target the government had set for 2020.
Chris Heaton-Harris, Conservative MP for Daventry, Northamptonshire, said the speed with which they were being erected showed the subsidy level was too high and that turbines were being put up in inappropriate places to take advantage of the payments.