by Mike Newland.
Every decent citizen remembers ‘hug a husky’. That pivotal moment in our national life when David Cameron threw off Tory nastiness and showed himself to be that caring and progressive man who would save us all from global frying.
Less remembered is ‘hug a chimney’ when Caring Cameron wrapped a wind turbine round his home chimney. No mere gesture politician, Dave put his money behind his fine principles and purchased a small fan claimed to produce electricity.
At one point these home turbines were being sold in supermarkets to a gullible public newly acquainted with alternative energy. They must work. Mr Cameron’s got one. He’d hardly be selling a pup would he?
The reality is that what looks like a large wind machine when poised over your house in reality produces so little electricity that these home power stations were little better than toys demonstrating the principle that there is indeed energy in wind. They were adult equivalents of the chemistry sets children were given in the 1950s before elf’nsafety killed off education.
Apart from anything else, the wind only blows sometimes. At others, a fan on your chimney is fair set to pull it down. Just like the regularly appearing pictures in newspapers of huge turbines in the countryside which have keeled over in gales.
One of the staples of newspaper coverage of wind power is the description of some new wind farm as having the capacity to supply 10,000 homes or some such. Invariably, the figure quoted is what you’d get if the wind were just right all the time. But the fact is that most of the time the weather is too calm or at the other extreme turbines have to be stopped or they blow up. The actual practical output is a fraction of that quoted and not even timed to coincide with use. The wind does not conveniently decide to blow just when everyone is boiling kettles for their evening tea. The newspapers should be ashamed for misleading people – and not just about that topic! You need other sources of energy to fill the gap apart from the sheer cost of wind power systems.
So how many turbines do we need to provide a viable national source of power?
Bring on Professor David MacKay of Cambridge University who’s written a book about it.
To provide one sixth of the nation’s power you’d need turbines covering the area of Wales! And wind is the source the Government has been largely relying on for its fantasy land of 20% of energy production from renewables by 2020.
Do the politicians who are plugging turbines know that? Do they care? The entire debate has been conducted for years on the basis of pretence. Most of the public seem to think that a small area of land here and there and we’d have enough power not to require coal, gas or nuclear power.
The politicians can’t be that ill informed – which strongly suggests that we are being subjected to yet another national confidence trick. It’s well known that there is lots of money to be made from the subsidies paid to wind farms and quite a few politicians seem to have their grubby hands in the money pit – as usual.
Nuclear and King Coal are the only realistic long-term sources for most energy supply without relying on massive and uncertain foreign imports of oil and gas. Fracking may help some but it’s not exactly dig a cheap hole and oil gushes out as in the heyday of plentiful hydrocarbons easy to access.
It really is time for reality to be faced.