It is said that the UK has the greatest wind energy potential in Europe. Our weather could give us more sites producing more energy per wind turbine at less cost than any other country in Europe. The country also has Europe’s most vocal minority of opponents of wind farms who campaign with such vehemence that it is hard to think of a more divisive issue.
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Offshore wind farms, which also have huge potential, do not attract such campaigners, and so Britain has become a world leader in the deployment of this technology, despite the fact that it is far more expensive. This has produced the curious result of Amber Rudd, the secretary of state for energy and climate change, pulling the plug on cheaper on-shore wind in favour of offshore, claiming in the House of Commons it is to save consumers money.
The fear she expressed is that we should have so much cheap onshore wind that companies would no longer want to invest in more expensive off-shore, tidal and other renewables still being developed.
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While everyone claims to want to save the planet, there is clearly a division in the new House of Commons between the Conservatives protecting the countryside against wind farms and other politicians who want to save jobs.
Rudd’s announcement came as new figures emerged about the vastly increased potential for sea level rise around southern Britain. This will submerge parts of Conservative held seats. Presumably this means that potential wind farm sites will then become offshore and so qualify for subsidies.