Mr Geoff King’s letter of February 17 in which he claims that wind farms are not efficient is grossly negative and sadly lacking in any evidence for his conclusions. In the UK a single average-sized turbine of 1megawatt capacity typically produces at least 2.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. This is enough to meet the electricity needs of almost 600 average households. Wind farms actually generate electricity around 80–85% of the time, and power is converted to electricity very efficiently, with none of the thermal waste inherent in fossil fuel plants. So, wind power is an efficient way to generate large amounts of electricity, employing a free energy source that is also renewable. The Rampion Offshore Wind Farm project is estimated to generate a total output of 2,100 gigawatts (and a gigawatt is a thousand megawatts!) of power per year, which would meet the needs of 450,000 households assuming that each household consumed 4,700 kWh of electricity per year on average.
As for wind power being subsidised, all forms of power generation in the UK, including coal, gas and nuclear receive subsidies of one kind or another. Wind power receives a tiny subsidy compared with conventional forms of power generation. For example, the nuclear industry receives a subsidy of over £1 billion per year, and does not have to worry about the costs of decommissioning old nuclear power stations, estimated to be £75 billion! Incidentally, wind power can now produce electricity at a cheaper price than nuclear power in this country. And anyway, the Committee on Climate Change recently reported that 80% of the rise in our energy bills from 2004 to 2010 was unrelated to low carbon measures such as renewable energy subsidies, and most of that 80% rise was due to the rise in the wholesale price of gas. Much better surely, to subsidise a renewable energy source like wind that will help keep the lights switched on even when oil, coal and gas supplies become too scarce or expensive. Wind farms also help to drastically reduce our carbon emissions so as to help save the planet for human habitation, and they do not need vastly expensive decommissioning when they come to the end of their working life!
As for the local employment opportunities that the Rampion project might bring, Mr King is being unduly pessimistic. It may be true that skilled workers may be brought in from outside the area to construct the turbines and install them, but there could be all sorts of ancillary jobs created to provide facilities and services to those skilled workers, especially if either Newhaven or Shoreham get selected to provide port facilities and services for the project, and given that the wind farm would last for many decades, then the jobs created could well be sustainable because of the ongoing maintenance needed for the wind farm. How can Mr King be so sure, at this very early stage of the consultation process, that so few jobs would be created? Surely a project this big, certainly bigger than the ASDA proposal, is bound to have a beneficial economic effect upon the area? Perhaps it would be better if Mr King, and the rest of us, found out a bit more about the details and potential effects of the project before condemning it so roundly.
Yours sincerely, A.D.