The environmentalists will have us believe that renewables are providing a valuable contribution to the UK energy needs and that the use of any fossil fuels is evil.  So now after years of our landscape and seascape being despoiled by huge rotating wind turbines and fields being covered with solar arrays let us consider where we now are.

Coal was at one time was a huge industry in the UK employing hundreds of thousands of people but now a shadow of its former self. It has recently been announced that one of the last two remaining mines, at Thoresbury in Nottinghamshire, is to close this year with the loss of 1300 jobs at the mine and presumably thousands more in associated supporting industry.

We still have nine coal-fired power stations that are not scheduled for closure any-time soon. There is one at Ironbridge in Shropshire due to close within the next few months and not included in the following list.

NAME LOCATION BUILT PRESENT OWNER MW
Aberthaw Barry, Glamorgan 1971 RWE npower 1500
Cottam Nottinghamshire 1969 EDF Energy 2008
Drax Selby, North Yorks 1974 Drax Group 3870
Eggborough Goole, East Riding 1967 British Energy 1960
Fiddlers Ferry Cuerdley, Cheshire 1971 SSE 1961
Ratcliffe on Soar Nottinghamshire 1968 E.ON 2000
Rugeley Staffordshire 1970 Int. Power 1006
West Burton Nottinghamshire 1968 EDF Energy 1972
Wilton Redcar & Cleveland 1951 SembCorp   197
Total continuous generation capacity 16,474MW (16.47GW). About 1/3rd of peak needs.

According to RenewableUK website www.renewableUK.com and the linked page UKWED there are presently 6037 functional onshore and offshore wind turbines, with a rated peak generation capacity of 8.07GW onshore and 4.05GW offshore, total 12.12GW.

On this glorious Easter Monday morning, 6 April 2015, and 8.35am, the electricity demand according to UK Energy Watch at www.ukenergywatch.org/Electricity/Realtime was 30GW.

This was being supplied by the following means:

SOURCE COAL NUCLEAR GAS IMPORT OTHER HYDRO WIND
GW 11.11 7.44 6.43 2.994 1.146 0.488 0.438
% 37 24.8 21.4 9.9 3.8 1.6 1.5

The winner is COAL, coasting along at 2/3rd rated capacity.  OTHER presumably includes solar but it is unknown what proportion that is.  The loser as usual is WIND electricity generation providing just 1.5% of our bank holiday needs and producing a mere 3.6% of peak capability.

According to RenewablesFirst on www.renewablesfirst.co.uk the present installations costs of onshore wind turbines are £1.4m for 0.5MW & 0.8MW, £2.7m for 1.5MW, and £3.1m for 2 to 3MW.  For offshore turbines the installation costs are three times this.

With about 4000 onshore turbines in operation with a peak rating total of 8GW we can say the average rating is 2MW.  So as a first approximation the cost of onshore wind turbines is 4000 x £3.1m = £12,400m (£12.4b).  For 2000 offshore turbines it would be about £18.6b.

Total cost so far then ~ £31b.

Wind Farm Statistics.

Peak capacity 12GW, average generation just 2.4GW.  Occasional generation as low as 0.2GW.  Maximum lifespan of each turbine about 20 years.  Mean time between breakdowns 2.5 years.  Costs of servicing and maintenance never revealed.

Nuclear

In comparison the new Hinkley Point nuclear power station is to be built at a cost of £24b and has a continuous rating of 3.34GW with a 35-year lifespan.  So it will provide one and a half times more power on average than all the existing wind turbines of the UK at four fifths of the cost and for almost twice as long. Expected breakdowns, none in 35 years!

Coal and Gas

Coal and gas fired power stations are cheaper and quicker to build but cost more to run.  We don’t have enough gas unless we can start fracking and then can become net exporters again to help balance the economy.  Coal fired power stations can also use the large remaining stocks of UK coal although it is more expensive than that mined in countries like the Ukraine.

Shutting down coal fired power stations in the UK and supposedly being more reliant on renewables is cloud-cuckoo-land thinking.  Especially when China and India are presently building 800 coal-fired power stations and bringing them online at a rate of 26 per year.

Anyone who tells you that wind farms are providing an important contribution to the energy mix are green fanatics and completely blind to economics and the maintenance of a reliable electricity network.

Pushing up electricity prices to consumers and industry by taxes added to producers and green taxes of 15% added to electricity bills is destroying industry, creating energy poverty and will NOT save the planet.

There is only one party against renewable subsidies and wind farms and that is UKIP.  For sensible energy policy, reliable energy generation and lower energy bills vote UKIP.

 

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