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The Hidden Cost Of Wind Power – Booker

October 21, 2018

By Paul Homewood



Booker on the cost of wind power today:




The hidden cost of wind power


In the past year or two there has been an extraordinary attempt by ministers, the renewables industry and green pressure groups to convince us that electricity from wind and the sun is now cheaper than that from fossil fuels. This issue has come up yet again with the refusal of the BBC to uphold a complaint from the Global Warming Policy Foundation about remarks made by Lord Deben (aka John Gummer), chairman of the Climate Change Committee, in an interview by John Humphrys on Today on Radio 4.

Although the BBC upheld one part of the complaint, it rejected another against Deben’s claim that onshore wind is now "the cheapest form of producing electricity". It came up with Government figures to show that onshore wind is now marginally cheaper than any other power source.

What the BBC and the rest always conveniently omit when making such claims is that both wind and solar only exist because they receive colossal subsidies (paid for through our electricity bills). By various means, the majority of onshore wind farms get a subsidy which means that the price we all pay is almost double that from fossil fuels (although even here the Government and the BBC load the dice further by adding on to the fossil fuel cost that of the hefty “carbon tax”, and omitting what we pay for standby backup from gas for when the wind isn’t blowing).

For offshore wind, the average subsidy costs are almost double that again. In no way is the cost of wind anything but vastly more expensive than that from fossil fuels. They really should stop trying to pretend otherwise.

  1. Mike Jackson permalink
    October 21, 2018 2:11 pm

    I normally agree with most of what Booker says. In this instance I’m not 100% with him on his carbon tax argument.

    Since it is government policy to use this tax to skew the market away from fossil fuels (whether you like that policy or not) it seems quite legitimate to count that as a generating cost for that sector of the market.

    What is not legitimate is to exclude from the cost of renewables generation the cost of stand-by reserves or any payments made to renewables generators either as compensation payments for non-generation or in excess of what they would receive in head-to-head competition with other generators.

    • October 21, 2018 5:18 pm

      Note that all generation needs standby reserves in case of planned or unplanned outages, so it’s not a clear-cut calculation to isolate the extra cost burden of intermittent power sources.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      October 21, 2018 6:28 pm

      No, that’s just totally bonkers. The cost of something is its cost, not the arbitrary amount a third-party puts on top of that cost. Anything can be made more expensive by that route, and every economic discussion skewed to whatever you want the outcome to be. The claims made about wind power are given to the public as if they are real, actual comparisons of costs, not comparisons of two made-up numbers biased towards wind.

      Either we are doing economics – which the wind-power people claim they are – or we are just making stuff up.

    • JimW permalink
      October 21, 2018 10:06 pm

      Erm, you put a tax on something to make it expensive, then argue it is expensive.
      Definitely an argument of the mad house.

    • Phil permalink
      October 22, 2018 10:18 am

      It may be government policy to bias the market in favour of renewables, but it is reasonable to expect the BBC to tell us this. Also, by how much. You can bet that if there were a wind power tax, every BBC comment would contain the words “…but of course, this figure includes a tax of £xxx which the government levies only on wind and solar power.”

  2. October 21, 2018 2:43 pm

    Here’s a transcript of the original Humphrys/Deben interview:

  3. Iain Reid permalink
    October 21, 2018 3:19 pm

    I would agree with Mike Jackson on the carbon tax if it were to cause a competition in the generating market. The simple fact however is that the givernment, with this tax, is just increasing the price to the consumer as we need these fossil fuel generating systems, for load balancing and back up. This will be the case for decades and the government should know this.
    The current and past governments have made such a mess of the generating system of the U.K. and are compounding it by the senseless push for electric vehicles, fuelled by fossil fuel generation.

    • keith permalink
      October 21, 2018 3:45 pm

      And with Clarke and Perry in control of energy, they will continue making a mess of our energy generation. Why on earth the press do not jump on this and highlight what is going on, I really don’t know. Unless of course, they are being told by the Government to down play the issue.

      • October 21, 2018 4:07 pm

        The press and media in general are, together with the civil service and hence the Government, firmly under the control of the globalist Greenblob. There are no lies too big for them. They keep repeating the lies ad nauseam, knowing that the sheeple will accept the lies.

      • JimW permalink
        October 21, 2018 10:09 pm

        Do you think there is anyone in the press with enough of a scientific/engineering knowledge to understand the issues?
        I fear there isn’t.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      October 21, 2018 6:32 pm

      I disagree. The comparisons are being made as if they are real costs, not arbitrary costs after the government has manipulated the costs. The claims are that we should accept wind because it is the cheapest – but it is only the cheapest if other forms are made more expensive. That is not an honest comparison.

  4. October 21, 2018 3:44 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  5. It doesn't add up... permalink
    October 21, 2018 4:26 pm

    One of the other big hidden costs of wind power is the investment in grid transmission and interconnectors to support it. Wind farms do not pay for this through having a lower value of their power output at their grid connection points as used to happen BR (before renewables) – that bill quietly goes to consumers.

    Ireland depends on its interconnectors to GB (500MW Moyle from NI to Scotland, and 500MW E-W from near Dublin to Deeside, to be joined by a further 500MW connection – Greenlink, I kid you not – between Pembroke (with its 2GW CCGT power station for backup) and Wexford. These are used to dump surplus wind when it blows, and to import reliable power when it doesn’t.

    In Scotland we have the 2.2GW HVDC Western Link to that has just opened to join the Beauly-Denny line, and at the very least, further reinforcement of the Eastern side of the grid, if not another offshore HVDC link to England – not to mention the 1.4 GW link to Norway, without which it is doubtful that the proposed 950MW Moray Firth wind farm would ever get built: perhaps we should add the £1.75bn cost for that and another £1.25bn from the Eastern HVDC to the wind farm. Those hidden costs make a mockery of its supposed £57.50 (in 2012 money now worth £63.66) per MWh CFD.

    • tom0mason permalink
      October 21, 2018 6:45 pm

      Grid upgrade costs are the ‘hidden’ expense for installing ruinable power generation. The extra money for the additional infrastructure of distributed computerized monitoring and control to stabilize a far less stable grid is paid for by the tax-payers. Add to that the ever increasing maintenance costs — for the more whirligigs added the more maintenance will be required later. It’s truly banal.
      And all for what? A less stable system that cost much more and delivering less for the paying customer. And CO2 levels both nationally and internationally will not reduce (look at Germany and it’s RISING CO2 levels).
      Meanwhile Indonesia, China, India, Pakistan, etc., etc., enjoy burning any amount of fossil-fuels and generating increasing CO2.

      The world’s gone mad!

  6. It doesn't add up... permalink
    October 21, 2018 4:41 pm

    I seems appropriate to revise one of Mozart’s famous ditties from The Magic Flute:

    Der Vogelschredder bin ich ja,
    Stets lustig heissa hopsasa!
    Ich Vogelscredder bin bekannt
    bei Alt und Jung im ganzen Land.
    Weiß mit dem Lokken umzugehn
    und mich aufs Segel zu verstehen!
    Drum kann ich froh und lustig sein,
    Denn alle Vögel sind ja mein.

    Der Vogelscredder bin ich ja,
    Stets lustig heissa hopsasa!
    Ich Vogelscredder bin bekannt
    Bei Alt und Jung im ganzen Land.
    Ein Netz für Mühlen möchte ich;
    Verbinden dutzendweis für mich!
    Dann sperrte ich sie bei mir ein
    Und alle Energie würden mein.

    Wenn alle Energie mir gehört,
    so täusche ich Stromkunden dort.
    Die welche mir am liebsten wär,
    der gäb ich gleich den Strom sofort.
    Wenn Winde bläst hier zärtlich an,
    gibt keine Strom – Sie sind betrogen.
    nicht mehr auf meiner Seite sein
    sie würden mich entwurzeln Bein.


    I’m the Birdshredder, hip hip hooray – I’m known to young and old throughout the land. I know just how to lure people and birds with my sails. So I can be a happy chappy, since the birds will all be mine.

    I’m the BIrdshredder, hip hip hooray – I’m known to young and old throughout the land. I want a (transmission) net for dozens of windmills connected to me – then I’d tie everyone to my energy.

    When all energy belongs to me I’ll swindle the power customers. Those who are dearest I’ll supply with power immediately. But when the wind blows softly there’ll be no power and they’ll be cheated. Since they won’t be on my side any more, they’ll uproot my “leg”.

  7. GEORGE LET permalink
    October 21, 2018 4:55 pm

    Pie in the Sky
    Do they not think that the free market would jump on wind and solar if it could be profitable without the huge government subsidy?

  8. October 21, 2018 5:21 pm

    It doesn’t add up, agreed. Energy analyst Gail Tverberg did an essay looking into renewables economic impact and concluded:

    “In fact, I have come to the rather astounding conclusion that even if wind turbines and solar PV could be built at zero cost, it would not make sense to continue to add them to the electric grid in the absence of very much better and cheaper electricity storage than we have today. There are too many costs outside building the devices themselves. It is these secondary costs that are problematic. Also, the presence of intermittent electricity disrupts competitive prices, leading to electricity prices that are far too low for other electricity providers, including those providing electricity using nuclear or natural gas. The tiny contribution of wind and solar to grid electricity cannot make up for the loss of more traditional electricity sources due to low prices.”

    My synopsis of her work with links and images added:

    • JimW permalink
      October 21, 2018 10:14 pm

      It is only madmen who hang unreliables onto sound power networks developed over decades to be efficient.

  9. Erik permalink
    October 21, 2018 6:14 pm

    Yes and what are the hidden costs of coal and nuclear in terms of polluting the environment for decades to come? This comparison goes a bit further than the market price of a kwh generated with coal or wind/solar.

    • October 22, 2018 10:35 am

      Erik. And what about the huge environmental costs of rare earth mineral mining for wind, the huge amounts of infrastructure needed, the 100s of tons of concrete needed for each and every on shore turbine and the need for gas and nuclear to back them up? Yes the costs go beyond just KWh generation. You folk seem to think wind turbines just automatically sprout from the ground wherever they are needed.

  10. October 21, 2018 8:26 pm

    Define cost and the lies pop up.

    For the consumer it is the energy bill plus the subsidy. For government it is the the number of votes lost. For the businessman it is the actual cost less the lobbied subsidy. For the economy it is the cost of infrastructure to mitigate disruption.

    For Joe Bloggs it is creative austerity. – Undefined.

  11. October 21, 2018 8:53 pm

    Goldman Sachs piling in on solar – I’m getting this daily…

    Utter weapons grade dishonest garbage = “In some areas of Europe” renewables are producing the lowest cost electricity“.

    • October 21, 2018 10:48 pm

      TomO, oftentimes they are referring to temporary surpluses from wind or solar that are dumped at low cost, undermining the revenues of baseload suppliers and their economic viability. In that case, low cost is not a feature but a fatal flaw.

  12. Scott permalink
    October 21, 2018 9:25 pm

    New build on an offshore wind is cheaper than new build gas. The last round of CFD set a price of £57.50/MWh. Go find me a company that will build a gas fired power station and contract for that price of electricity.

    Historically on and offshore wind have received large subsidies. They don’t now. So the statement that onshore wind is the cheapest form of new generation available stands true. Its not been tested yet, but I’d expect a new build onshore windfarm to contract for around £49/MWh.

    • October 22, 2018 10:58 am

      £57.50 is at 2012 prices. The current price is £63.66/MWh, and it won’t even be built till 2023, if ever.Before then a load more offshore is coming on stream at prices between £127.21 and £166.59/MWh, subsidies that we will still be paying for well into the 2030s.

      New CCGTs are being built with no contract price at all, (which is a from of subsidy itself), and will have to compete for business on the open market where the price in the last few years has averaged around £45/MWh.

      If wind really is cheapest, of course, wind farms would be being built without needing to go through the CfD. Since that subsidy was withdrawn for onshore, new investment has totally dried up, which tells you all you need to know!

    • October 22, 2018 11:52 am

      And, of course, Gummer stated categorically that onshore wind is “the cheapest form of producing electricity today”. This is quite untrue, and she should apologise for misleading the public.

  13. Derek Colman permalink
    October 22, 2018 12:20 am

    I recently saw some figures for the subsidiies paid to the largest offshore wind farms in 2017. For each there are two figures. One is what they are paid for the electricity, and this is what Lord Deben is quoting to claim they are cheap. The second is the subsidy paid in addition to that first figure. They vary a bit, but all are in the region of 1.5 times the electricity cost. Deben is probably quoting just the first cost because the industry who briefed him conveniently forgot to mention the subsidies. The actual cost to the consumer is therefore about 2.5 times the quoted “cheaper than fossil fuels” price. I posted this in a comment on the Independent site, and my account was permanently blocked for breaching community guidelines.

  14. Sam permalink
    October 22, 2018 1:43 am

    That is very true
    I love green power but when it costs 1/4 of its current cost , when it uses 1/500 land of what it uses currently, when it is dispachable like fossil fuel power, and with much less disturbance to habitats and people.

  15. October 22, 2018 6:46 am

    If you really want to learn about the Government’s insane renewable energy policy to “tackle climate change” and to reduce our “carbon emissions”, then listen to this. You will hear all the troughers moaning about the incoherent Government policy, the huge loss of ruinable energy jobs and the removal of all those subsidies. (File on Four: Fuelling the Future)

  16. October 22, 2018 10:03 am

    Needing to be factored into the equations also are the costs to human health through noise generated by these bird & bat choppers erected in the holy name of clean green energy.

    Safe clean nuclear energy is demonised by a thoroughly corrupt fake news MSM, owned by stupid & bought & paid for govts like our BBC, or the oligarchs promoting the “Green” fraud, as in America.

    Plant food CO2 is demonised as carbon pollution & a major climate driver.

    The Western world is now entirely insane.

    John Doran

  17. Harry Passfield permalink
    October 22, 2018 11:53 am

    Where, in all of this is the load factor taken into consideration? If a private company built a nuclear power station rated at (say) 500MW and sold it to the government as such, and if it was then programmed to only deliver a quarter of that output, I’m pretty sure the government and the BBC would be up in arms about it. Being set to deliver one quarter of the maximum capable must surely mean that the Cap-Ex is relatively that much more costly.

  18. 4TimesAYear permalink
    October 26, 2018 11:33 pm

    Reblogged this on 4TimesAYear's Blog.

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