Wind farms will be a monument to an age when our leaders collectively went off their heads
Last updated at 7:54 AM on 15th July 2009
Let us be clear: Britain is facing an unprecedented crisis. Before long, we will lose 40 per cent of our generating capacity.
And unless we come up quickly with an alternative, the lights WILL go out. Not before time, the Confederation of British Industry yesterday waded in, warning the Government it must abandon its crazy fixation with wind turbines as a way of plugging this forthcoming shortfall and instead urgently focus on far more efficient ways to meet the threat of a permanent, nationwide black-out.
There are a few contenders for the title of the maddest thing that has happened in our lifetime.
Controversial: A wind farm near Rye, East Sussex
But a front-runner must be the way in which politicians of all parties have been seduced by the La-La Land promises of the wind power lobby.
If you still haven't made your mind up about wind power, just consider some of the inescapable facts - facts which the Government and the wind industry do their best to hide from us all.
So far we have spent billions of pounds on building just over 2,000 wind turbines - and yet they contribute barely one per cent of all the electricity that we need.
The combined output of all those 2,000 turbines put together, averaging 700 megawatts, is less than that of a single, medium-sized conventional power station.
What's more, far from being 'free', this pitiful dribble of electricity is twice as expensive as the power we get from the nuclear, gas or coal-fired power stations which currently supply well over 90 per cent of our needs - and we all pay the difference, without knowing it, through our electricity bills.
But despite its best efforts to conceal the fact that wind turbines expensively and unreliably generate only a derisory amount of electricity, the Government keeps on telling us of its megalomaniac plans to build thousands more of them - at a cost of up to £100billion.
The prime reason for this is that we are legally obliged by the European Union to generate 32 per cent of our electricity from 'renewable' sources by 2020.
Ed Miliband: Set restrictions on coal-fired power stations
And with just 11 years to go until that deadline, we hope to meet the target by building highly-subsidised wind turbines.
But this is a farce. In fact, as the Government is privately well aware, there is not the faintest hope that we can do anything of the kind - even if we wanted to.
Gordon Brown talks airily of building 4,000 offshore turbines by our target date - plus another 3,000 onshore. But this would mean sticking two of these 2,000-ton monsters, each the height of Blackpool Tower, into the seabed every day for the next 11 years.
Nowhere in the world has it proved possible to install more than one of them a week. The infrastructure simply isn't there to build more than a fraction of that figure.
Furthermore, such are the weather conditions around Britain's coasts that it is only possible to work on these projects for a few months every summer.
Then there are the 3,000 promised onshore turbines - many of which are to be erected in the most beautiful stretches of Britain's countryside.
These are meeting with so much local hostility that the Government has continually had to bend the planning rules in order to force them through over the wishes of local communities and the democratic opposition of local councils.
But wind power is not just the pipedream of deluded politicians. As the CBI was trying to warn yesterday, the real disaster of this great wind fantasy is that it has diverted attention from the genuine energy crisis now hurtling towards us at breakneck speed.
For while the Government is trying to force a scattering of useless wind turbines through the planning offices, the truth is that the rest of us will lose 40 per cent of our power stations within as little as seven years.
If this happens, and we don't have an alternative, our kettles won't boil, our computers won't work and our country will face economic meltdown.
There is little hope now of an 11th hour reprieve. Eight of our nine nuclear power stations - which presently supply 20 per cent of our electricity needs - are so old they will have to close.
Nine more large coal and oil-fired power plants will also be forced to shut down under an EU anti-pollution directive.
But more alarming still is the astonishing naivete of almost all our politicians when it comes to working out how we are going to fill the 40 per cent shortfall left in their wake. Very belatedly, the Government has said that it wants to see a new generation of nuclear reactors.
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VIEW FULL ARCHIVE CLICK HERE
Yet there is little hope that any of them can be up and running earlier than 2020. What's more, they will have to be built by foreign-owned companies because, as recently as October 2006, the Government sold off our last world-class nuclear construction company, Westinghouse, to the Japanese at a knockdown price.
At the same time, our Energy And Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, now says he will not allow any new coal-fired power stations to be built unless they have 'carbon capture' - piping off CO2 to bury it in holes in the ground.
This technology not only doubles the price of electricity but hasn't even yet been properly developed. And so the only hope of keeping the lights on will be to build dozens more gas-fired power stations - at a time when North Sea gas is fast running out.
And then we will be forced to rely on imports from politically unreliable countries such as Russia, at a time when gas prices are likely to be soaring.
In any event, over the past 20 years, our politicians have made an even more unholy shambles of Britain's energy policy than they have of our economy - and the cost, when the chickens come to roost in a few years' time, will be almost unimaginable.
The causes of Britain's impending energy crisis are manifold. Michael Heseltine's 1992 'dash for gas', when he closed down most of our remaining coal mines because North Sea gas was still cheap and abundant, and because its CO2 emissions were only half those of coal, was one of them.
But nothing has done more to take the politicians' eye off the ball, egged on by environmentalist groups such as Friends Of The Earth and Greenpeace, than their quite incomprehensible obsession with windmills.
For these white elephants can never produce more than a fraction of the electricity we need, and by no means always when we need it - as we saw last winter when, for weeks on end, they were scarcely turning at all.
Do politicians never look outside the windows of their centrally-heated offices to see how often the wind is not blowing?
The Government has now shovelled so much money in hidden subsidies into the pockets of the turbine companies that the 'wind bonanza', promoted on a host of fraudulent claims, has become one of the greatest scams of our age.
But if and when our lights do go out, it will be important to remember just why we got carried away by such a massive blunder.
Left with a land blighted with useless towers of metal, we shall look on those windmills as a monument to the age when the politicians of Britain and Europe collectively went completely off their heads.
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"In politics, stupidity is not a handicap."
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