Questions and Answers
At Cornwall Protect we get asked a lot of questions. These are some of them…
Q1. Does the windfarm near us mean we will get cheaper local electricity?
A. No, the power it generates goes into the National Grid, the national system balancing supply and demand. It will not be cheaper because wind turbines are not cheap to build, and government targets forcing your electricity company to buy renewable energy make it expensive. A cost and hidden subsidy paid for by us, the consumer.
Q2. Wind is free; surely this means the power has to be cheaper?
A. Wind doesn’t blow all the time, wind power cannot be ordered or stored, and so you always have to have enough other means of supply ready to step in. The existing conventional generating capacity has to remain the same for the 7 out of 10 days when the wind doesn’t blow, so existing costs remain the same. Essentially you are paying for two systems.
Q3. Wind is clean; surely this is better for reducing carbon emissions?
A. At a simple level yes, but as the electricity companies agree, for every 1 MW of wind power generating, you need at least 0.9 MW of conventionally produced back up. So you are paying a very high price for limited reductions. It is an equation that can’t get any better, unless someone can control the wind.
Q4. What would really make a difference then?
A. Well to really address the problem of emissions we need power generation that replaces, that actually takes the place of fossil fuelled power stations. Obviously nuclear is an available option, but we need to be investing more heavily in all sorts of different technologies, most of which are a lot more efficient, and controllable than wind. The problem is nearly all the renewable energy investment money is being put into wind, which is unable to replace the firm generation provided by nuclear or fossil fuel.
Q5. But won’t wind help to fill the energy gap I’ve heard about?
A. NO, as we have shown its unpredictability means it can’t replace the National Grid, or fill any gaps. Yes there is a problem with our elderly power stations but relying on wind wouldn’t bridge that gap, it would create a bigger chasm, or to be blunt, no power at all for at least 7 days out of 10.
Q6. So you are really saying the rush to build windfarms is misguided?
A. Well it is more than misguided because it gives people the impression we are doing something positive, going green, and it’s all going to be all right. Well it isn’t going to be alright, and there are many other major sources of pollution that we also need to be concerned about e.g. cars, ships and planes.
Q7. Do politicians know about this?
A. Well maybe they do, maybe they don’t, but what we do know is the Government knows, because the National Grid has told them all the problems and issues in a recent document: “Operating the Electrical Transmission Networks in 2020” (June 2009) http://www.ensg.gov.uk