Wind energy’s viability in question

Energy Business Review

Research conducted by the Renewable Energy Foundation has revealed that the UK failed to meet its 10% renewable electricity target for 2010. Specifically, only a 6.5% share of the UK’s 2010 electricity came from renewable sources. Elsewhere, a report carried out by Stuart Young Consulting indicated that wind farms are much less efficient than claimed, producing below 10% of capacity for more than a third of the time.

The report concluded that turbines “cannot be relied upon” to produce significant levels of power generation, a claim hotly denied by the wind industry. Given that billions of pounds in subsidies have been spent on renewable energy and especially the wind industry, which accounts for more than £5bn of subsidies since 2002, the value for money of this investment is being called into question.

Onshore wind energy has typically been something that has attracted opposition from local communities due to the size and perceived ugliness of the turbines used to harness the energy. The counter argument has often centered on their supply of renewable, clean energy and the UK’s need to move towards a decreased dependence on non-renewable sources. The data from the latest reports into the industry is likely to provide ammunition to those opposed to the construction of wind farms and local communities, as well as single-issue NGOs in and around planned construction sites. An additional issue with which the wind industry has to contend is the amount of subsidies it is receiving via consumers’ electricity bills.

A recent report from Ofgem showed that renewable subsidy has risen above £1bn, adding an estimated £13.50 to the average household electricity bill during 2010, at a time when the cost of power is becoming an ever greater consumer issue. The positives of wind farms appear to be being undermined. Indeed public protests against proposed wind farms appear to be stepping up in frequency and media presence. For example Druim Ba Say No Action Group’s plans to fly a blimp near the proposed wind farm to demonstrate the scale of the turbines and Yorkshire’s Megawatt Valley campaign against turbines along an arc of land across the Selby district and into North Lincolnshire.

From a reputational perspective, the increased negativity around wind farms poses an additional challenge to companies; they are tasked by the government with increasing Britain’s supply of renewable energy, of which wind is the most popular while at the same time, their association with wind energy construction is likely to damage their reputations with other stakeholder groups. Local communities opposed to the environmental and social impact of the company’s behaviour, customers due to overall higher power bills and potentially shareholders due to the complicated and often prolonged planning process which frequently results in lengthy and costly overruns. This is a classic reputational conundrum in which the expectations of multiple stakeholders must be assessed, prioritised and, if possible, reconciled.

The UK wind sector faces charges of blighting the landscape, unreliability, unpredictability and cost-inefficiency, yet at the same time, the government is applying pressure to utilities to speed up the construction of wind farms in order to hit increasingly unrealistic targets. The reputational threat posed to the sector and companies who seek to harness wind energy from multiple stakeholder groups is becoming an increasingly difficult balancing act.

Alva’s methodology

Alva calculates its reputation scores on a 1 to 10 fractional value basis, which represents the perception of various stakeholders and market segments at any given point in time. The scores are based on the daily analysis of over half a million news and financial announcements, trading and analyst reports and social media comments.

—- Nicholas Chrysanthou, energy consultant analyst at Alva

11 thoughts on “Wind energy’s viability in question

  1. “Renewable Energy Fails To Green The U.K. Economy”, April,15,2011

    “Rather than simply calculating how much it costs the government to create a green job and then using the average cost of a regular job to determine the ratio of jobs created to jobs destroyed, Verso uses what economists refer to as ‘input/output’ tables to estimate the number of jobs that were foregone in the U.K. general economy in favor of the green jobs that were created through government subsidization.”

    Is this how the “green” jobs created in Ontario are also calculated?

  2. Is there a way to force the Ontario government to release both the figures used and the method used to calculate the “green” jobs they say will be created?

  3. Also ..

    “It is clear from this analysis that wind cannot be relied upon to provide any significant level of generation at any defined time in the future. There is an urgent need to re-evaluate the implications of reliance on wind for any significant proportion of our energy requirement.”

  4. Watch the Source with Ezra Levant on Friday night at 10:00pm. Lorrie Goldstein talks about renewable energy and wind turbines. Channel 517 on Shaw (Star Choice).

  5. Lynne,

    Thanks, this is the same Verso study that pointed out that there are different methods that can be employed by governments to calculate the number of “green” jobs created.”

    “Rather than simply calculating how much it costs governments to create a green job and then using the average cost of a regular job to determine the ratio of jobs created to jobs destroyed,

    Verso uses what economists refer to as “input/output’ tables to estimate the number of jobs that were foregone in the U.K. general economy in favor of the green jobs that were created through government subsidization.”

    So it is now known that different numbers and methods can be used to calculate the number of “green” jobs created.

    Now the question is how can the true data and methods used in Ontario become known. Will the government release the numbers and method used to calculate the “green” jobs created by renewable enrgy?

  6. NEWS WIRE Feb.23,2009,

    “Green energy Act good for green jobs: Blue Green Canada applauds key aspects of the Green Energy Act released today”

    “Create demand for renewable energy and then encouraging buy-local for wind turbines and solar panels-this is a good way to create new jobs in Ontario”

    The key words here are CREATE DEMAND FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY.

  7. GOOGLE DOCUMENT: Google article title and use Quick View

    “BLue Green Canada A Year in Review 2009-2010

    Ken Nuemann at the launch of Blue Green Canada, University of Toronto,April 23,2009.
    Page 1, Photos of Rick Smith & Ken Neumann

    Page 2, “Working with the Green Energy Act Alliance and World Wildlife Fund,Blue Green Canada also released a report ‘Building the Green Economy: Employment Effects of Green Energy Investments for Ontario’,May 2009. Our report estimated the creation of 90,000 good green jobs in the green energy sector by expanding the areas of investment to include off-shore wind projects and the development of a smart grid electrical transmission system. You can download the full report from”

    Page 5, Photo showing U.S. Congressmen Ed Markey and Henry Waxman at Blue Green event in Copenhagen.

    Key elements here are:
    1. Expansion of off-shore wind development
    2. Smart grid electrical transmission system

  8. THE TYEE,

    “In Canada,a Push for Obama-style Green Stimulus”, Jan.20,2009 by Linda Soloman

    Green Energy Action Fund to push for Green Stimulus.
    Green Energy Action Fund comprised of:
    Pembina Institute
    Environmenatl Defence
    Forest Products Association of Canada


    “Power UP pays a price” ,April 21,2009

    Explains Blue Green Alliance in both the U.S. and Canada with stratigec alliance in Canada with Environmental Defence.

    Above comment should be for GREEN ECONOMY ACTION FUND and not Green Energy Action Fund.

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