European Commission to Britain: Yeah, we’re going to need you to get rid of those wind-farm subsidies

posted at 5:21 pm on January 7, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

Britain is now the number one producer of wind energy in the entire world, but as even The Economist explained just last week, theirs isn’t so much a worthy example to be emulated as it is a cautionary tale. Brits are struggling beneath steeply rising electricity prices, and the wind energy they once imagined would help to mitigate those costs with a green alternative is actually contributing to the heady increase thereof:

Britain gets more electricity from offshore wind farms than all other countries combined. In 2012 it added nearly five times more offshore capacity than Belgium, the next keenest nation, and ten times more than Germany. Its waters already contain more than 1,000 turbines, and the government thinks capacity could triple in six years. …

Unfortunately, offshore wind power is staggeringly expensive. Dieter Helm, an economist at Oxford University, describes it as “among the most expensive ways of marginally reducing carbon emissions known to man”. Under a subsidy system unveiled late in 2013, the government guarantees farms at sea £155 ($250) per megawatt hour for their juice. That is three times the current wholesale price of electricity and about 60% more than is promised to onshore turbines. It is also more than the £92.50 which Britain’s new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point will get—though that deal is for 35 years, not 15. …

Another hitch is that much of the money lavished on building offshore wind farms leaves the country. Only about 25% of capital spending flows through British companies, compared with 70% of the cash invested in North Sea oil and gas. Almost all of the country’s existing offshore turbines were produced by two firms, Siemens and Vestas, which manufacture them in Denmark. Fleets from continental ports commonly construct the farms.

Which is probably why Europe at large isn’t quite as keen on continuing with every possible manner of green-energy subsidies as some of its various governments seem to be. European Union antitrust regulators are already investigating Germany for what look like some dubious practices in subsidizing their own green-energy plans, and the EC is now ever so gently suggesting that Britain take a beat on its own grandiose wind-farm ambitions. Via the Telegraph:

The European Commission is to order Britain to end wind farm subsidies.

Officials have told ministers that the current level of state support for renewable energy sources must be phased out by the end of the decade. …

The commission, which oversees the European single market, is preparing to argue that the onshore wind and solar power industries are “mature” and should be allowed to operate without support from taxpayers. Under the single market rules, European Union governments are forbidden from providing long-term “state aid” to domestic industries that can function without support. …

Although Conservative ministers sometimes criticise the EC for its interference in domestic matters, they are understood to be keen to cooperate in the case of renewable energy subsidies.

“I never thought I’d say this but the commission is absolutely right about this,” a Conservative minister said.

“It’s absurd that taxpayers are being made to subsidise wind technology.”

Indubitably.


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“among the most expensive ways of marginally reducing carbon emissions known to man”.

Uh, it’s not like they haven’t been told that a gazillion times already, they just didn’t listen and called everyone saying it evil shills for Oil Companies.

Johnnyreb on January 7, 2014 at 5:31 PM

Reality sucks sometimes. But economic reality rarely makes sense to libs or greenies regardless how much it sucks.

major dad on January 7, 2014 at 5:31 PM

The only reason those windmills exist is because evil politicians used a hoax to fleece the ignorant masses.

Murphy9 on January 7, 2014 at 5:35 PM

The European Commission is to order Britain to end wind farm subsidies.

…wish they wouldn’t do that…JugEars will want to double ours now!

KOOLAID2 on January 7, 2014 at 5:36 PM

The only reason those windmills exist is because evil politicians used a hoax to fleece the ignorant masses.

Murphy9 on January 7, 2014 at 5:35 PM

It was the evil oilman Bush he tricked them into making all of those windmills.

Johnnyreb on January 7, 2014 at 5:39 PM

The commission, which oversees the European single market, is preparing to argue that the onshore wind and solar power industries are “mature” and should be allowed to operate without support from taxpayers.

I don’t think the correct word describing that is mature.

I’d argue that the onshore wind and solar power industries are incapable of any future life without continual life support.

Deciding to unhook the life support and declare a time of death is sometimes necessary; but it doesn’t mean the subject is “mature”.

I think that’s called a “persistent vegetative state”.

gekkobear on January 7, 2014 at 5:39 PM

And who thinks that after the coming wind market crash that anyone will have the funds to dismantle a gaggle of rusting offshore behemoths?

I smell another bailout coming, in several countries.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on January 7, 2014 at 5:48 PM

Second look at European Commission ruling on American wind subsidies?

rbj on January 7, 2014 at 5:55 PM

Big expensive ugly noisy bird killing wind farms were created to put less CO2 into the air. But CO2 does not drive warming like Al Gore and other Climate Cultists want you to believe.

CO2 is actually good for the planet, it makes the plants grow faster, thus more food for a hungry world.

There is no man-made Global Warming, in fact for at least the last 12 years, there isn’t any kind of warming.

The world is now cooling and has been for at least 12 years. http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:2001/to/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:2001/to/trend/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:2001/to/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:2001/to/trend

According to RSS satellite data we are currently only 0.2°C above normal, which is nothing. http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/rss/from:1998/to/plot/rss/from:1998/to/trend

Top climate scientists say there is no man-made Global Warming.

The Great Global Warming Swindle
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtevF4B4RtQ

Global Warming Doomsday Called Off
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fr5O1HsTVgA&playnext=1&list=PLC012004CB098DE90&feature=results_main

Axion on January 7, 2014 at 6:00 PM

It is also more than the £92.50 which Britain’s new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point will get

Trivia: Quick, name the last new nuclear plant in the U.S.

‘Nuff said.

Marcola on January 7, 2014 at 6:05 PM

keen

kirkill on January 7, 2014 at 6:12 PM

Damn.

It was nice not having all those seagulls.

WryTrvllr on January 7, 2014 at 6:30 PM

Reality sucks sometimes

Actually, I think it blows in this case…

Kraken on January 7, 2014 at 6:33 PM

I started keening while reading this which I thought was pretty keen.

Bishop on January 7, 2014 at 6:34 PM

The only reason those windmills exist is because evil politicians used a hoax to fleece the ignorant masses.

Murphy9 on January 7, 2014 at 5:35 PM

Not just politicians! Read the UK Telegraph link comments section and you’ll see a real windbag who calls itself “Henk Daalder Windparke Wiki”. “Designs good-looking windfarms”.

Stopping state aid for renewable energy, would also mean CO2 tax a a level of 50 to 500 EUR per ton, given the massive cost of giving up land for the rising sea level, and invasive insects from warmer souhern countries, to name just 2 heavily subsidized fossil consequences.

Furthermore owners of wind turbines must get the right to use their own electricity for free, wherever it is produced on the grid.
EU citizens and businesses are allowed toe move the thins they own everywhere in et EU.

I doubt that the fossil friends of conservative politicians, wiull appreciate this being implemented, although fossil energy companies do this right now, for their ptrivate avantage. At the cost of citizens

Sorry bout these remarks, I now see that this is the Telegraph, friend of fossils

Del Dolemonte on January 7, 2014 at 7:07 PM

Marcola on January 7, 2014 at 6:05 PM

Last activity in the sector of which I am aware is the rebuild of Unit 1 reactor at Browns Ferry (AL) which was commissioned in 2007. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

A significant part of what causes nuclear power to be so bloody expensive to build and operate is found in government regulation (e.g., the US Atomic Energy Commission, IIRC, declared after the TMI event in ’79 that it would regulate civilian nuclear power out of existence). This is why most companies that manufacture specialised castings for nuclear power plants are now located in China, and why if new nuclear reactors in Western countries are started at all, it’s because governments subsidize them (both directly, as in the case of Hinckley Point; and indirectly, by way of government-backed construction loan guarantees). The brutal fact in this regard is, breaking these regulatory fortresses will require a concerted effort that most Western countries’ so-called “conservative” political parties are simply not willing to make.

So I’d suggest the better fight to have is to expand “fracking” for unconventional oil and gas, which will then support the construction and operation of new gas-fired power stations. There will be the usual regulatory castles to storm, but it won’t require nearly as much political effort to accomplish this, as opposed to dealing with the regulations that effectively kill any thought of constructing new build nuclear power plants.

My two cents.

Wanderlust on January 7, 2014 at 7:12 PM

Not just politicians! Read the UK Telegraph link comments section and you’ll see a real windbag who calls itself “Henk Daalder Windparke Wiki”. “Designs good-looking windfarms”.

Del Dolemonte on January 7, 2014 at 7:07 PM

No comment section loads on my browser. I think ghostery is blocking it.

Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s climate action commissioner, said the eventual aim was the end of state aid for wind power. “One of the things Europe has to do better is how we subsidise renewables,” she said.
“That is why the commission is reviewing state aid guidelines for energy, including renewables.”
“My view is that if you have mature technologies, renewables or not, they should not have state aid. If they can manage themselves why have state aid?”

There is no such thing as “renewable energy.”

Murphy9 on January 7, 2014 at 7:12 PM

There is no such thing as “renewable energy.”

Murphy9 on January 7, 2014 at 7:12 PM

More liberals seem to crop up every day.

WryTrvllr on January 7, 2014 at 7:31 PM

Solar energy and wind energy are nothing but a scam promoted by ideological fanatics in environmental organizations and allied special interests. We all pay for the scam with our taxes and with our electric bills.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/12/the_solar_swindle.html

Murphy9 on January 7, 2014 at 8:06 PM

Marcola on January 7, 2014 at 6:05 PM

Catawba – (Duke Power) I believe, was the last new construction plant. Or have I been out of touch for too long?

DanM on January 7, 2014 at 9:08 PM

Not just politicians! Read the UK Telegraph link comments section and you’ll see a real windbag who calls itself “Henk Daalder Windparke Wiki”. “Designs good-looking windfarms”.

Del Dolemonte on January 7, 2014 at 7:07 PM

No comment section loads on my browser. I think ghostery is blocking it.

Murphy9 on January 7, 2014 at 7:12 PM

Some websites have comments sections that take longer than others to load. WaPo is infamous for the slow speed of its pages.

Del Dolemonte on January 7, 2014 at 9:40 PM