In today’s Guardian, Simon Jenkins takes issue with the UK government’s support of wind energy. Yet his arguments are one-sided to say the least. He writes that “Meeting the current EU renewables directive, largely from wind, would cost some £15bn a year, or £670 a household”.
Currently, each EU citizen pays considerably more than that – over €700 a year – to import oil and gas from the likes of Russia and Algeria. And the price of imports is constantly changing, mostly in an upwards direction. Wind energy is a domestic European resource which is free once the turbines are up, and which saves money on fuel imports – €5.7 billion were saved thanks to wind energy last year.
Onshore wind is already broadly competitive with new gas and new coal – and considerably cheaper than new nuclear. Money that would have been spent abroad can be invested in a European industry which provides thousands of jobs.
Jenkins says that meeting the EU’s 20% renewable energy target “is calculated to save a mere 0.2% of global emissions, with negligible impact on the Earth’s sea level.”
Wind turbines emit no greenhouse gases, unlike coal and gas stations. Wind energy across Europe is already avoiding 126 million tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent of taking 30% of EU cars – 64 million vehicles – off the road. Wind energy alone can meet 29% of the EU’s current 2020 greenhouse gas reduction target, which is why the wind industry is arguing that a higher target of a 30% cut in emissions is necessary.
“Yet the government wants to commit a staggering £100bn to wind farm subsidies over the next decade”, Jenkins goes on, referring to the “enormous public sums” given to green energy.
For every dollar of government support given to renewables – not just wind – at least five are given to fossil fuels, according to the International Energy Agency. The European Environment Agency says that 80% of EU energy subsidies go to fossil fuels and nuclear.