The great British wind scam

Your taxes are meant to be supporting smaller turbines. In fact, they’re making giant ones less efficient

24 November 2012

Almost everybody agrees that wind turbines are ugly and inefficient. But you’d think that the government, if it must persist in subsidising renewable energy, would do everything it could to incentivise wind power producers to create as much energy as possible while keeping the aesthetic damage to a minimum. Astonishingly, it is doing the opposite.

Inquiries by The Spectator have revealed a scam known as ‘de-rating’. Green businesses are modifying large turbines to make them less productive, because perverse government subsidies reward machines that produce less energy at nearly double the rate of more efficient ones. It’s extraordinarily profitable for a few beneficiaries, even if it clutters the countryside and does little to save the planet.

Under the government’s Feed-In Tariff (FIT) scheme, which aims to make renewable energies competitive with fossil fuels, the size of a turbine is measured not by height but by power output. If a turbine pumps out more than 500kW, its owners receive 9.5p per kilowatt hour. But a ‘smaller’ sub-500kW one receives a subsidy of 17.5p per kilowatt hour, supposedly to compensate for its lower efficiency. The idea is to lure smaller wind-power producers into the market.

Problem is, while smaller turbines are more popular with the public, those designs don’t produce anything like the 500kW needed to take full advantage of the subsidy. So instead, investors are buying big, powerful turbines and downgrading them, tweaking their components to churn out no more than the magic 500kW. It’s simply far more lucrative to hobble bigger turbines — machines that ought to be capable of producing almost twice as much electricity.

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For instance, it would cost a farmer roughly £1.5 million to plan, buy and put up a single 80-metre turbine, which could produce up to 900kW. He could run it at full capacity, and see a 7 to 10 per cent return on his investment each year. But if the machine’s efficiency were lowered, industry sources suggest, the return would jump to between 17 and 20 per cent. Clearly, the under-500kW subsidy bracket is where the money is. Last year, Ofgem reported a 850 per cent rise in FIT approvals for 100 to 500kW turbines, compared with 56 per cent for the 500kW to 1.5mW category.

Turbine suppliers boast about selling products that take advantage. The German firm PowerWind says on its website that it has developed its PowerWind 500 turbines ‘especially for the UK market’ and encourages potential customers to ‘secure the highest FIT in Europe’. In other words: turbines designed especially to game British subsidies.

Or take EWT, a Dutch manufacturer of wind turbines. Its website lists the giant DW 52/54 turbine — as tall as seven double-decker buses — in two forms, one producing 500kW and the other 900kW. Why such a difference in power output, if the specifications suggest they’re the same machine? A sales representative from EWT explains that it offers the less-productive model because ‘the tariff is very, very advantageous’. So why buy the less efficient model, when it has the same environmental footprint? Because ‘you have a better return on investment… you get more money per kilowatt’. The EWT salesman conceded the British system is ‘very very strange’. It’s all about the subsidy, not the environment.

Neither company could be contacted for comment.

One would imagine the government would be appalled at an abuse so widespread that turbine companies advertise specially crocked machines. In a recent report, the Department for Energy and Climate Change said it is fully aware of the loophole. But closing it would not ‘necessarily bring net benefits and could potentially limit access to the scheme’. They have renewable energy -targets to meet — and closing the scam down would see the number of turbines installed reduced. And if the same amount of energy could be produced by half as many turbines? They’re not interested. Not even the department, it seems, cares about the environment.

In the next few days, the Department for Energy will lower Feed-In Tariff rewards for all wind turbines. But it refuses to do anything about ‘de-rating’. It’s already depressing to see a massive turbine scar the countryside. It’s worse when you know these some of these machines are far larger and less productive than they should be. If George Osborne is looking for extra cuts ahead of his mini-budget next month, he may find inspiration as he looks out of his window on the journey to Dorneywood.

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Show comments
  • http://www.climatebites.org/ John Russell

    While, if true, the government — and taxpayer — is being taken for a ride on this, you’re missing one point. A turbine which is downrated has only its peak output limited. So a downrated 900mw turbine will produce at its peak capacity — and therefore earn at the higher rate — for a much greater percentage of its running time. Consequently your line “the same amount of energy could be produced by half as many turbines”, is inaccurate. I’d guess a turbine downrated as described would produce 50% more electricity than a smaller, 500kW version. Which is why they’re worth the additional cost.

    As someone who supports the wind energy initiative — provided turbines are erected in the right place — this sort of abuse, frustrates. One has to wonder if this sort of regulatory incompetence is deliberate.

    • http://www.facebook.com/gary.gudalefsky Gary Gudalefsky

      Question: how does the turbine produce at peak capacity, if it has been intentionally modified to NOT produce above 500kW?

      • http://www.climatebites.org/ John Russell

        Its peak capacity is capped at 500kW, so its output is ‘clipped’ abruptly when it reaches that point. But it’s higher and as has bigger blades than a genuine 500kW turbine so it can achieve 500kW in slower wind speeds. This means it can produce at its artificially-limited peak more of the time.

        If it was de-rated to behave exactly like a 500kW turbine there’d be no point in paying the extra cost for the bigger machine, would there?

        • Phillip Bratby

          You are wrong. Some manufacturers make identical sized turbines at say 800kW and 500kW rated capacities. Developers install the 500kW turbine to produce less electricity and get more FiT income. Other manufacturers make turbines at say 800kW rated capacity and they can be de-rated by the operator to 500kW maximum output to get maximum FiT income. However it is illegal to claim the 500kW FiT rate, because it is the maximum rated capacity of 800kW which should etermine the FiT rate. There are many developers out there who are into the scam. It depends on OFGEM diligence whether they get away with it.

          • http://www.climatebites.org/ John Russell

            You comment doesn’t make sense in the context of the article. The maximum rated capacity is whatever the manufacturer says it is. Hence the word ‘hobbled’. Have you read the article?

          • Phillip Bratby

            My comment makes total sense. It’s not my fault if you can’t understand or don’t realise how a turbine works – but then you say you support the wind energy initiative, so that says all we need to know.. Of course I’ve read the article.

  • Windprof

    It sounds like you need to check your facts. 500kW is tiny as far as serious wind developers are concerned; maybe a couple of farmers are dealing in projects of this scale but the wind industry doesn’t generally put up turbines of less than 1.5 megaWatts (and more usually 2 – 3 MW). It may well be true that at the margin some wind turbine owners have done the calculation and would be better off ‘de-rating’ but the numbers involved must be pretty small.

    • Vindpust


      We are talking about FiTs and so-called ‘farm turbines’ here. You will see hundreds of examples in the Borders, Lothians and across Northern England.

  • Phillip Bratby

    I emailed my MP about this scam several weeks ago. He alerted DECC and the Planning Inspectorate to what is going on. DECC don’t care. Planning Inspectors are now aware of the scam. Ofgem say that it is the installed capacity that counts for the FiT tariff. Thus if an EWT 900kW turbine is derated to 500kW, it still should get the 500-1,000kW tariff band when registered for FiT. But it needs watching.

  • a6 master

    If I de-tuned my car engine to a lower CO2 emissions bracket, I would still be charged the higher VED. As usual, it’s one rule for them and another for us.

    • lojolondon

      My thoughts exactly! If I promise to drive slowly, then perhaps I can pay less CO2 tax on my car?
      In fact, seeing as ALL wind turbines operate at around 15% of peak output over a given year, perhaps they should all be rated at a sixth of peak power capability?

    • mark startin

      Ah, but if the manufacturer de-tunes the output and the declares a lower emission level they can sell the same car as a ‘greener’ alternative.
      This is the problem in setting bands for emissions / power generation. There is an incentive at the margins to make a change. For cars it would have been far simpler, and avoided the perverse incentives, to set a charge per gram emitted, with a lower level cut-off to avoid levying very small charges.
      For turbines the problem is more complex, but I am sure a better solution could readily be devised even if only by the interim introduction of more bands and an.earlier reduction in FIT payment levels.

  • http://fenbeagleblog.wordpress.com/ Fenbeagle

    Is there anything to gain from me bringing this to the attention of my MP?….He’s the Energy Minister John Hayes.

    • Phillip Bratby

      It sounds like a good idea. I brought it to the attention of my LibDem MP. John Hayes would be a good chap to be informed of yet another way the FiT scheme is being scammed.

    • Lyndsey

      Lucky you Fen – we have Charles Kennedy ….Groan…………………

    • Peter F Gill

      In a word Yes!

  • LB

    It’s a fraud. Like most of government.

    Wait until you see these size of the debts hidden off the books

  • James Lawson

    Totally predictable. After a major American chip maker started selling the 386 processor (maybe the 486), customers asked for a cheaper version. The chip maker decided that the best way to handle that was to take a 386 and disable part of its functionality. Voila, a more expensive chip that sells for less.

  • Dave

    Not just wind power-

    “DURING CONSULTATION on New Labour’s renewable energy policy and the Renewables Obligation, which ran from March 1999 to March 2001, government and stakeholders alike agreed that existing large hydro-power stations should, as a mature and profitable technology, be excluded from the subsidies regime.
    However, after consultation closed, hydro generators pressed the government to reverse its decision, citing ageing plant and poor trading conditions.
    Two major changes were subsequently made to the regulations, both of benefit exclusively to large generators. The first, which eased the qualification criteria for subsidies to include all hydro-power stations under 20 MW, was made public.
    The second, which was all-but hidden from public view and did not generally come to light until 2004, brought an even larger portion of the UK’s hydro portfolio into the scheme. It authorised owners to cut the capacity of turbines to bring them below the declared qualification limit.” (From the article)

  • dodgy

    …But a ‘smaller’ sub-500kW one receives a subsidy of 17.5p per kilowatt hour, supposedly to compensate for its lower efficiency. The idea is to lure smaller wind-power producers into the market….

    Remind me again why we’re actively trying to encourage smaller, lower efficiency generators into the market. I can’t have been listening when the reason for prizing LOWER efficiency was explained. Is it something to do with Gaia?

  • John A

    A poorly written article by the Spectator. The Government set the transition points on the FITs scheme not the manufacturers. The latter will find the cheapest way of providing the turbines which the customers want. Dont blame the manufacturers.

    • Swankyflanks

      We’re not. We’re blaming the government. Happy now?

  • brossen99

    Ed Miliband admits that the 2008 Climate Change Act was in effect a license for the Corporate Multinational Cartel to rip the UK energy consumer off for the next 40 years, especially before 2020 !


  • ENC27

    This is the sort of subjective journalism our renewables industry does not need. If the ‘journalist’ wishes to present an economic argument regarding abuse of the Feed in Tariff then perhaps he might present real facts and figures with actual calculations to support his findings. Phrases such as ‘Almost everybody agrees wind turbines are ugly and inefficient’ hardly set the scene for a balanced and informed article. Perhaps a follow up article detailing the economics of his argument will be forthcoming? I very much doubt it.

    • Peter Wilson

      While I certainly agree it is not the kind of publicity the subsidy farming industry needs, I am at a loss a s to why you believe it is subjective, or lacks actual facts and figures. For instance,”Ofgem reported a 850 per cent rise in FIT approvals for 100 to 500kW turbines, compared with 56 per cent for the 500kW to 1.5mW category.” Or how about “if a turbine pumps out more than 500kW, its owners receive 9.5p per kilowatt hour. But a ‘smaller’ sub-500kW one receives a subsidy of 17.5p per kilowatt hour.

      Objective facts. Appalling figures.

      On a more subjective note, can anyone explain why less efficient turbines are considered more desirable, this seems batshit crazy to me.

      • ENC27

        Peter, perhaps subjective is the worng way to describe the article. What I should have said is that the article is simply inaccurate and biased. It presents an 800kWh turbine as being ‘downgraded’ to 500kWh, accusing the developer of chasing profits. A downgraded 800kWh turbine operates to a maximum capacity of 500kWh, but benefits from the technology of a larger turbine, meaning it produces more energy at lower wind speeds. This makes it more efficient and allows the turbine to produce energy for longer periods of time. The anti-wind lobby can’t argue on one hand that turbines are inefficient, and then on the other that if they are made more efficient the developers are proifiteering. Using a more efficient technology by ‘hobbling’ means the developer invests more money in the turbine to generate higher efficiency. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but it is preferable when that opinion is not presented as fact.

        • BrittAJ

          Well said ENC27, Bigger turbines = more efficient turbines = more power generation for longer periods. Where’s the scam?

          Thing is, small turbines don’t really generate much power at all. Perhaps Peter’s problem is the subsidy scheme. It’s not a scam… Its a subsidy and people are using it.

          • ENC27

            I’m not sure why it is called a subsidy. In my opinion, and I clearly state this is an opinion, the Feed-in-Tariff is a way in which the electricity consumers ensure a certain amount of their payment for electricity is ring fenced to be spent on renewable development. I am not sure why the concept of an energy company spending its profits on renewable infrastructure is so widely attacked. They spend they’re profits on other projects that we know nothing about. At least there is transparency and I take comfort from knowing the money is clearly spent in this way. Infrastructure has to be paid for, and the only way that happens is through the Energy Companies funded by consumer’s payments or by Government funded by our taxes. At least in this instance an individual’s contribution to the electricity infrastructure is directly proportional to their use of energy, at least as far as the Feed in Tariff is concerned.

            By the way on the subject of smaller turbines, such as 100kWh capacity, new turbines are hitting the market that are already benefiting from advances in technology such as direct drive systems that deliver higher production at lower wind speeds. They also significantly reduce the cost of maintenance. I am sure that with these advances the Feed in Tariff will reduce as is planned. Lets allow the technology to catch up and make considered reductions based on performance and costs.

          • Vindpust

            FiTs are more accurately described as a mechanism for redistributing wealth from the poor to landowners and the middle classes.

            Possibly the most regressive tax yet devised!

    • mark startin

      Is it really a renewables industry or is it a tariffs industry?

  • claret

    Dreadful piece of journalism! Yet another incorrect, poorly researched wind article.

    I am not saying that de-rating does not happen but when assessing applications for accreditation under the FITs scheme, amongst other criteria, Ofgem must have regard to the definition of total installed capacity (TIC). This is defined in the relevant legislation as follows:

    “total installed capacity” in relation to a generating station, means the maximum capacity at which the station could be operated for a sustained period without causing damage to it (assuming the source of power used by it to generate electricity was available to it without interruption)

    It is therefore the responsibility of the operator of the generating station to provide Ofgem with sufficient evidence which establishes the TIC of the generating station. Consequently, if a generator wishes to apply for accreditation of a generating station on the basis of a de-rated (capped capacity) wind turbine, they will need to satisfy
    Ofgem that the TIC is in accordance with the requirements of the Feed-in
    Tariffs (Specified Maximum Capacity and Functions) Order 2010 (“the Order”).

    The chances of de-rating a 900kW turbine to 500kW to hit the sweet spot for FiTs is therefore unlikely to succeed and will most probably not even make it past planning to Ofgem!

    • Phillip Bratby

      An excellent piece of journalism. Let’s hope OFGEM spot these developers trying to claim the 500kW FiT rate for a down-rated 900kW turbine. Plenty of down-rated turbines have got through planning, because planners don’t understand wind technology. Some have got through the Planning Inspectorate on appeal.

  • Green Fingers

    Not just wind-power and not just hydro-power (@Dave) – Private Eye ran a story in March on a similar subsidy-scam relating to over-sizing and under-using boilers to get cash payments under the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

    “RHI gives hard cash to businesses for using ‘renewable’ fuels such as wood pellets, paid on each metered unit of heat generated. The flaw arises from the two-tiered scale of pay-outs. For an initial proportion of utilized boiler capacity the payments are extremely generous, potentially being more than the cost of fuel. But the payment for use above that level is less than the cost of fuel. This is so that no-one whose heating needs are satisfied by using, say, 90% of the capacity of the boiler should have any incentive to burn more fuel wastefully just to get some more second-tier cash-back – because it would be less than the extra fuel cost they’d incurred. So far,
    so logical.

    The problem comes when someone invests in an over-sized boiler and their needs are actually satisfied by the first tier of boiler capacity – because then they will always be getting the higher payment (plus an incentive to use the boiler wastefully). Stupidly, the scheme does not require that the boiler be correctly sized for their needs: and unscrupulous firms are already selling oversized boilers specifically for the purpose of abusing the scheme. Plenty of taxpayers’ money is being lined up in this scam.” (Private Eye)

    An example was given where the boiler firm makes £100k from the scam and the customer makes £300k.

  • Jonathan Kearsley

    In the interests of getting the facts right the 900kW EWT creates around 20% to 25% more units of electricity in one year than the 500kW EWT. But I get the point that was made. The trouble is that in tackling this issue the industry would have to change the way is classifies wind turbines and that is a lot more complex than it seems. The FIT essentially needs to take a completely different approach to solving the issue. Otherwise deregulation or subtle alteration of design of any wind turbine will always occur to boost profits and thus give one manufacturer the edge over another to boost sales.

    Business will always optimize return on investment and providing it is legal I see no reason why it should not have that target. What is at fault here is not the argument of what is and what is not in a certain band of the FIT, but how the bands were set up in the first place. The answer is a single tariff where all wind turbines, PV, Digesters, Hydro and even nuclear installations benefit from a higher rate for the first 200,000 units, then a slightly lower tariff from 200,000 to 500,000 and slightly lower again from 500,000 units to 1M and so on… This approach would have motivated the wind industry to harness as much energy from wind as possible. In effect the ROI could be set at roughly the same percentage return for every project at any size and would therefore encourage economies of scale.

    Considering the equipment is not worth anything in the end of 20 years, and the cost of finance is around 7%, I suggest the gross profit (before tax, interest, repayment etc) should at around 14%. So a farmer wanting to safeguard his electricity costs to run his dairy can afford to install a wind turbine, but also a major wind farm providing a significant resource for our energy needs would have equal motivation.

    Combined with stability from a longer term strategy this would not create enough return to allow the system to be abused, but enough to create a slower take-up over a period of say 10 years. We would then see a lot less wind turbines, but a lot larger wind turbines harnessing a lot more energy. Incidentally I think the planning system needs a complete overhaul to come with the complexities of wind and other RE generation, EHOs across the country need to be giving consistent advice and the mechanism for pre-application advice should be streamlined and less generic.

    I know you will argue with this point, but if we look at Germany we will see that we are way behind in terms of a renewable and sustainable strategy to secure our energy needs beyond gas, coal and nuclear. I am certain that our kids will grow up understanding and appreciating the need for wind turbines in the mix of other forms of renewable energy. After all, this low carbon landscape we are creating is designed to safeguarding this landscape from global warming and sea level rise, and give our kids a better future.

    What is a shame is that the way the Government has rolled out their FIT has attracted the get-rich-quick mentality and unfortunately the planning system is not robust enough to stop the inappropriate development that is giving this industry such a bad name.

    The good news for most of you who do not like wind turbines, is that the end of this rush is near and the FIT subsidies are dropping to a level that makes it really hard to find the capital investment. Combined with the MOD’s tough stance on the potential impact on its radar and their lack of communication in the interests of national security, we think that the door is closing on these opportunities. Spare capacity in the grid is also becoming scarce, in that DNOs are finding it harder and harder to accommodate more wind turbines on their system. So the cost of the grid upgrade for an EWT, for example, is going up to over £500,000 in the majority of cases and this is the cut-off for these schemes remaining viable.

    I hope this information is informative and it is in no way meant to antagonise anyone.

  • AlecM


    ‘My Dear Bernie, as you have a scientific training you should know there can be no CO2-AGW. The ~100 m IR emission/absorption depth of the atmosphere is within 1 K of the Earth’s surface so its thermal IR, near enough black body, switches off IR in those same bands at the surface apart from a few water vapour sidebands.

    No IR absorption, no ‘GHG blanket’, no CO2-AGW. This is basic radiation physics. Unfortunately, meteorologists like Trenberth are taught incorrect physics and imagine ‘pyrgeometers’, IR pyrometers, measure a real energy flux, not a temperature signal. So, the models exaggerate warming by ~6.8x.

    Please tell the loonies at DECC there can be no CO2 climate change, the Earth is cooling as the sun’s magnetic field heads below 1500 Gauss and cloud cover increases and we should be planning for ice blocking the Northern ports from ~2020. This has been the biggest scientific and commercial fraud in history and DECC is at the heart of it.’

  • Bill Andrews

    Once again the Spectator has got it wrong, the 500kw break point in the Feed In Tarrif legislation clearly encouraged manufacturers to produce turbines up to this capacity rating as at the time there were several around 250kw and 330kw but not 500kw.Some chose to take the basic design of a larger machine and fit smaller generators to it. Whilst this clearly met the DECC requirement not to exceed 500kw max power output it has meant that the large rotor is much more efficeint at capturing the wind energy at lower wind speeds. In fact so efficient are these machines that the DECC at first thought that they were exceeding the 500kw limit. However they were not and are not. For those who read the Spectator and for the Spectators own technical editor, the maximum efficency of a wind turbine , defined as energy produced by the turbine divided by the energy in the wind, is known as the Betz linit and is 59% .(or 100X16/27).. These large rotor 500kw turbines have operating characteristics very close to the theoretical maximum. It is common practice for anti wind turbine media. to deliberately confuse capacity factor ( ratio of actual annual average turbine power and maximum rated power) with efficiency as the later is lower. We are seeing however with the 500kw turbines capacity factors approaching and sometimes exceeding 40%. The previous criteria for a good wind site turbine combination used to be a capacity factor around 30%, so lets not knock this very significant performance increase by erroneous techical statements.
    Bill Andrews- Engineer.

  • Swankyflanks

    Absolutely revolting.

    Which is what we should all be doing!

  • FF42

    Almost everybody agrees that wind turbines are ugly and inefficient

    According to polls almost everyone prefers to be next to a wind farm than alternative forms of power generation, eg coal powered or nuclear power station. Again compared with most alternatives, onshore wind is reasonably cost effective as part of the overall mix and is getting better value over time.

    There are issues to be discussed and choices to be made but let’s keep it fact based instead of pretending it’s all a conspiracy.

    • sponner

      everyone wouldn’t need to be next door to a coal or nuclear power station would they ?

      • FF42

        Some would have to be,though. Which would you prefer: next to a wind farm or next to a Fukishima style nuclear power station?

        • chris

          Nuclear for me every day – chances are minuscule that my life would be troubled by them in any way (apart from the purely hypothetical “dangers” invented by Greenie phantasts), while the noise, shadowing, and sheer ugliness of a wind farm would gall me EVERY day. There’s so much more risk I might die in a car or household accident of my own making than by the nuclear plant in my neighborhood blowing up, it would be ridiculously foolish to let this influence my decision where to live or not. But next to a wind farm (or an organic livestock farm for that matter, with all kinds of stinky and noisy animals IN THE OPEN rather than in appropriately designed cages)? Never!!

  • PrimaryKey

    What we should really be asking is would anyone have commissioned a gas or coal or nuclear power station that was only capable of running at 23% of its rated capacity? Of course not. So why are we wasting a fortune on wind mills?

    • windengineer

      Like coal plants, wind turbines are of course capable of running at 100% of their rated capacity. The concept of capacity factor is obviously confusing you. It can be defined as the percentage of actual energy produced, relative to the maximum amount of energy producible in a specified time period (usually a year).

      There is a similar metric for conventional generation plants (coal, gas, nuclear) known as “load factor”. It will never be 100% no matter what type of generation.

      • PrimaryKey

        I’m not confused in the least. Nor did I suggest the other sources were 100%. They are however a lot more efficient than 23%

        • FF42

          It doesn’t really matter. What matters is how much it costs to add a unit of electricity onto the Grid and to stop doing so when demand drops. Remember demand is as variable as supply and supply must always be matched to demand. In the overall mix, onshore wind is not the cheapest. Currently gas and coal are cheaper, but if you want to diversify the mix for various reasons, onshore wind makes for a sensible component of that mix.

          • Alex

            True, but the total costs of gas and coal are not priced into the generation costs, both are massively subsidised, via war or military expediture or corrupt governments etc.

        • windengineer

          “only capable of running at 23% of its rated capacity”

          Taking the type of turbine referred to in this article as an example, when the wind is blowing at roughly 10m/s and above, they will be operating at their rated capacity.

          “They are however a lot more efficient than 23%”

          Again, I think you are confusing efficiency with capacity factor. If someone talks about the efficiency of a turbine they are most likely referring to the amount of kinetic energy the rotor can extract from the wind as a percentage of the total available. The theoretical maximum is about 59%, and with modern blade designs the rotor efficiency can be as high as 45%.

          It may surprise you to learn that the typical thermal efficiency for coal fired plants is around 33%.

          • Vindpust

            Load factors/capacity factors are of less interest than availability, as National Grid has repeatedly emphasised.

            Wind is particularly problematic in that it has a proven history of delivering maximum output when least needed: in warm westerlies and least when most needed: winter high pressure systems.

            So we see 5 years of wind delivering an average 5-7% Load Factor at winter peak and during very high load periods while being ‘curtailed’ to protect grid stability during periods of low load (cost the consumer £24 million in 2011 with very little wind in the system).

            In Germany they are dumping 10-15% of wind output and are now experiencing over 1,000 forced wind shutdowns p.a. due to grid instability caused by wind.

  • Dibnah

    200 years of known coal reserves (possibly 1000 years), the best nuclear engineers in the world (although mostly retired now) and we build windmills. Madness.

    • Anser indicus

      Firstly they are not windmills unless you are using them to grind wheat and other staple crops. I am pretty sure that is not what this page is about. They are wind TURBINES. Secondly the reason why the government is looking to wind as a future energy source is largely to meet our carbon emission targets. It is not just about meeting energy demands although that plays a part.

      • http://www.247homerescue.co.uk/ 247 Home Rescue

        well said

  • http://www.facebook.com/tobi.kellner Tobi Kellner

    “Almost everybody agrees that wind turbines are ugly and inefficient.”
    Nice way to just assert something that isn’t true.
    There’s broad public support for wind power.
    And if you want to talk “efficiency” (which has a clear technical definition, in this case electricity output per source energy input), wind turbines are actually more efficient than thermal power stations. You probably didn’t mean efficiency. You probably don’t feel you need to know what “efficiency” means before you say that “everyone agrees” that wind turbines are “inefficient”.
    As for the actual issue of downgrading: Yes, that’s a “perverse incentive”, but easy enough to fix by some clarification of the FiT rules.

    • Anser indicus

      I agree. I think that support for wind energy is increasing and so that statement you quoted is simply not true. As for the FiT’s I think that perhaps a gradual step down in tariff prices over production bands along with some new regulations would help solve the problem. It would also encourage more to invest in larger turbines (not downgraded ones) so would be of more help in providing the UK with large amounts of green energy.

  • Robin Whitlock

    “Almost everybody agrees that wind turbines are ugly and inefficient”? What a load of nonsense. Repeated surveys by a variety of organisations over recent years suggest that public support for wind energy in the UK swings roughly between 69% to 80%, as can be seen here: http://www.eon-uk.com/generation/publicattitudes.aspx. You obviously haven’t bothered to do your research properly before delivering the usual right-wing invective against renewable energy, Mr Payne. I found E.On’s website entry on this in seconds, so how come you never discovered it? Probably because you never bothered to look in the first place I should imagine. Your more technical claims about wind power warrant some investigation but you are certainly wrong about wind power’s popularity, so that’s not a good start.

  • Richard Mann

    I truly wish Wind energy worked (reduced C02) and was benign (did not
    harm nature, animals or humans), but that is not the case. Despite all
    the help (priority access to grid, subsidies, accelerated approval
    process, government paid infrastructure) wind struggles to reach 5% of
    energy supply in Ontario. If anyone wants to know the truth, the
    failure of renewable energy in Ontario Canada, follow this link. “The Agenda”
    with Steve Paikin. TV Ontario, first aired March 25th, 2015. This
    is the first time Media has had an open and honest debate about the pros
    and cons of Wind Energy.


  • Richard Mann

    News from Ontario, Canada.

    The irony of this is that Ontario for all its money spent on subsidies for renewable energy, is not even reducing C02 emissions. We have been sold a bill of goods by our government, and by the environmental movement in general. Neither wants to admit that this scheme has been a huge failure.

    OSPE (Ontario Society of Professional Engineers) have written a number of reports that show the difficulty integrating intermittent wind energy into the electrical grid. For details look at the document “Engineering Expertise Vital to Success of Ontario’s Electricity System: OSPE”, Jan 16, 2013.

    Engineers’ reports are significant because they are legally bound to report success (or failure) of their projects. Reading the reports you’ll see what we have suspected all along. Engineers must follow government mandate (move to Green energy), but they cannot show a reduction in C02.

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