Trade association defends wind energy

A renewable energy trade association has jumped to the defence of wind power after damning media reports about its viability.

The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) condemned claims made by environmental experts on the BBC that the government is subsidising farms being built in areas of the UK without enough wind.

Maria McCaffery, BWEA chief executive, said: "The UK has the best wind resource in Europe. These claims are absolute nonsense; the wind energy industry is investing billions of pounds to produce clean power in the UK to tackle climate change."

The government has subsidised the wind turbine industry with hundreds of millions of pounds as it tries to reach an EU target of 20% of all energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Companies that meet green energy targets receive cash under the government's Renewables Obligation Certificate Scheme.

Experts told Radio 4 programme Costing the Earth some claims of wind farm potential were being overestimated by firms keen for subsidies and that these were encouraging them to site wind farms badly in areas with relatively little wind, such as the Midlands.

Ms McCaffery rejected the claim saying companies were subsidised not for building wind farms but only for the electricity they produced.

"Wind speeds vary across the country, which is why most wind farms are concentrated in key areas," she said.

"No-one in their right mind would build turbines where they wouldn't produce a viable amount of electricity. These claims are ill informed and disingenuous. There is no robust scientific base for these assertions."

She pointed out in 30 years of monitoring no days have been recorded where the wind did not blow and that wind farms generate power about 85% of the time supplying around 1.5% of UK electricity needs.

David Gibbs


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