GWPF Warning: Wind Energy Is Extraordinarily Expensive And Inefficient

  • Date: 06/08/12

The Global Warming Policy Foundation has warned policy makers that wind energy is an extraordinarily expensive and inefficient way of reducing CO2 emissions. In fact, there is a significant likelihood that annual CO2 emissions could be greater under the Government’s current wind strategy than under an alternative Gas scenario.

Professor Gordon Hughes (University of Edinburgh), on behalf of the GWPF, has also assessed the likely impact of wind power on household energy bills.

In his economic analysis, submitted by the GWPF to the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, Prof Hughes concludes that meeting the Government’s target for renewable generation would increase households electricity bills by 40-60% by 2020.

The necessary investment for this Wind scenario would amount to about £124 billion. The same electricity demand could be met from 21.5 GW of combined cycle gas plants with a capital cost of £13 billion – the latter option is cheaper by an order of magnitude.

According to Professor Hughes, “the average household electricity bill would increase from £528 per year at 2010 prices to a range from £730 to £840 in 2020 under the Mixed Wind scenario. These figures amount to increases of 38% to 58% in the average household bill relative to the baseline under the Gas scenario. The equivalent ranges for the other scenarios are 29-46% for the More Onshore Wind scenario and 40-62% for the Future Offshore Wind scenario.”

“The key problems with current policies for wind power are simple. They require a huge commitment of investment to a technology that is not very green, in the sense of saving a lot of CO2, but which is certainly very expensive and inflexible. Unless the current Government scales back its commitment to wind power very substantially, its policy will be worse than a mistake, it will be a blunder,” Professor Hughes said.

The GWPF’s submission to the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change public evidence session on the Economics of Wind Power Committee is available here: Gordon Hughes: The Impact of Wind Power On Household Energy Bills.

Professor Gordon Hughes

Dr Gordon Hughes is a Professor of Economics at the University of Edinburgh where he teaches courses in the Economics of Natural Resources and Public Economics. He was a senior adviser on energy and environmental policy at the World Bank until 2001. He has advised governments on the design and implementation of environmental policies and was responsible for some of the World Bank’s most important environmental guidelines. Professor Hughes is the author of the GWPF reports The Myth of Green Jobs and Why is wind power so expensive?