Shut Off the Subsidy Tap….and the Windweasels Scurry!

Brits’ Wind Power Nightmare to End Soon: Tories Set to Take the Axe to Subsidies

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Contrasting with the delusions that continue to grip Australian’s political betters in Canberra (see our post here), sensible governments are rapidly retreating from the brink of energy market madness.

The Americans are pulling the plug on Federal and State based subsidies for wind power outfits. Its ‘wind power’ states have cut their state based subsidies to wind power outfits (or are well on the path of doing so); and Republicans are out to prevent the extension of the Federal government’s PTC wind power subsidy:

Texans Move to Slam Wind Power Subsidies

2015: the Wind Industry’s ‘Annus Horribilis’; or Time to Sink the Boots In

US Republicans Line Up to Can Subsidies for Wind Power

And David Cameron’s Tories strode to power on the back of a manifesto pledge to slam the door on wind power outfits eager to carpet Britain in 10s of thousands of giant fans, in terms that couldn’t be clearer:

“I want to make it clear that if there is a Conservative Government in place we will remove all subsidy for on-shore wind and local people should have a greater say.  Frankly I think we have got enough on-shore wind and we have enough to be going on with, almost 10 per cent of our electricity needs, and I think we should give local people a say if they want to block these sorts of projects.  The only way to stop more on-shore wind is to vote Conservative there is no other party with this policy. We are saying very clearly we would remove the subsidy and give local people the power to say yes or no. This would end the growth of on-shore wind and if that’s what you care about you must vote Conservative.”

Now, Cameron’s Tories are sharpening their axes ready to bring the lunacy to an end even faster than Brits could have dreamed of, even a month ago.

Wind farm subsidies facing the axe
The Telegraph
Emily Godsen
31 May 2015

Generous taxpayer subsidies will be cut off earlier than expected, effectively preventing thousands of turbines from being built, under plans being considered by Amber Rudd, the energy secretary

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Subsidies that have fuelled the spread of onshore wind farms are to be dramatically curtailed, under Government plans to be unveiled within days.

The Telegraph has learnt that a generous subsidy scheme will be shut down earlier than expected, effectively preventing thousands of turbines from getting built, under plans being considered by Amber Rudd, the new energy secretary.

The proposals, which could be announced as soon as this week, will set out for the first time how the Conservatives will implement their manifesto pledge to end any new public subsidy for onshore wind farms – amid concerns that turbines are unpopular with local communities.

Under current policy, any big onshore wind turbines built before the end of March 2017 would automatically be able to qualify for generous payments through a scheme called the Renewables Obligation (RO), which is funded through green levies on consumer energy bills.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has now confirmed it plans to “reform” the RO scheme. It is understood to be looking at ending the free-for-all by shutting the scheme down early – effectively preventing thousands of turbines getting built. The action follows similar moves taken to curb subsidies for solar farms last year.

After the RO shuts, the only possible subsidies for wind farms will be through a new scheme that is less generous and also much more strictly rationed, with ministers deciding how many projects – if any – are awarded subsidy contracts, enabling them to block further onshore wind if desired.

As well as big wind farms, subsidies for small individual wind turbines such as those popular with farmers – funded through a separate scheme called the Feed in Tariff – are expected to be limited under the plans.

A spokesman for the DECC said: “We are driving forward plans to end new public subsidy for onshore wind farms.

“We will shortly be publishing our plans to reform the Renewables Obligation and Feed in Tariff scheme to implement this commitment. With the cost of supplying onshore wind falling, government subsidy is no longer appropriate.

“We have supported new technologies when they’ve been a good deal for the consumer – providing start-up funding and certainty about future payments to help them become competitive. However, those subsidies won’t continue when costs come down – that’s not value for money for billpayers in the long run.”

Ms Rudd said: “We promised people clean, affordable and secure energy supplies and that’s what I’m going to deliver. We’ll focus support on renewables when they’re starting up – getting a good deal for billpayers is the top priority.”

Government plans to tackle climate change and hit EU renewable energy targets envisage that between 11 and 13 gigawatts (GW) of onshore wind power is needed by 2020.

More than 9.5 GW of projects – about 5,500 turbines – have either already been built or are under construction in the UK. At least 5.2 GW more wind farms – almost 3,000 more turbines – have already been granted planning permission.

Even if not all of these are built there would still be enough to hit the top end of Government plans.

On top of that, there are close to 3,000 more big new turbines with a combined capacity of more than 7GW seeking planning permission.

The DECC spokesman said: “Looking at what has already had planning permission, there is enough onshore wind to contribute what’s needed to reach the ambition set out in the Coalition Government’s renewables roadmap that 30 per cent of our electricity should come from renewables by 2020.”

Many of the projects that already have planning permission would have been expecting to secure subsidies under the RO scheme and it is not clear whether they will still be able to if the scheme shuts early. Ministers may consider offering a ‘grace period’, enabling some of those that already have permission to still get built while blocking off subsidies for those that do not.

One of the biggest factors determining the impact of the proposed changes will be whether or not they apply in Scotland, where the majority of proposed turbines are due to be built.

The Government said last week that it would “consult with the devolved administrations on changes to subsidy regimes for onshore wind farms”.

Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP Scottish First Minister, wants more onshore wind farms and has already demanded a veto on the Tory plans – raising the prospect that subsidies could continue to be paid to new projects in Scotland.

However the Conservatives will be under pressure from their own backbenches to ensure the subsidies are scrapped across the UK.

The Government also announced in the Queen’s Speech last week that it would bring forward legislation to give local communities “the final say” by ensuring large wind farm projects are decided at local rather than national level.

Ms Rudd said: “We need to make decisions on energy more democratic and give our communities a direct say into new onshore wind farms where they live. In future, I want planning decisions on onshore wind farms to be made by local people – not by politicians in Westminster.”

However those in the green energy industry had been most concerned about the pledge to end subsidies, amid uncertainty over the detail of the plans.

Critics of the Conservative pledge, including Tim Yeo, the former Tory head of the energy committee, and Ed Davey, the former Lib Dem energy secretary, have argued that it will actually push up bills as ministers instead offer subsidies to more offshore wind farms that are even more expensive.
The Telegraph

What’s spelt out above is just the accelerated passage of the inevitable.

Britain’s insane wind power policy has been accompanied with all the usual stuff: an unstable grid, with increased risk of widespread blackouts; subsidy-soaked, institutional corruption; spiralling power costs;splattered birds and bats; and divided and angry rural communities.

In those circumstances, David Cameron had little choice but to promise to end the madness. By answering the brewing rage among rural constituents about the adverse impacts of thousands of giant fans on home, hearth and health, he headed off an attack from the UKIP – which had run a solid pro-community stance against the wind power fraud.

And, by decoupling from the Lib-Dem’s deluded love of giant fans (an outfit peopled with wind industry shills like Ed Davey), Cameron dragged in votes from those hundreds of thousands of households and businesses being belted by escalating power bills (see our post here).

And the Conservatives have also seized on a report into the health complaints of those subjected to incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound; promising to add adverse health effects as a basis to refuse planning approval, with local communities to have the final say, in any event (see this article from the Daily Mail).

Any policy that is unsustainable will either fail under its own steam; or its creators will eventually be forced to scrap it. Endless streams of massive subsidies for a meaningless power source fits the “unsustainable” tag to a T.

The wind industry has been telling the world it’s almost ready to stand on its own two feet for over 30 years (see our post here). Now, in Britain, David Cameron, Amber Rudd & Co will give it the chance to do so. We wish it the best of luck.

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