Inefficient 'renewable' energy in UK not meeting targets


The UK has suffered a second fall in renewable energy production this year, raising concern about the more than £1bn support the industry receives each year from taxpayers.

The drop in electricity generated from wind, hydro and other clean sources in the first half of 2010 could also be a setback to the coalition government's promise that the UK could help lead a "third industrial revolution" and create a low-carbon economy.

The DECC today said lower than expected wind speeds and rainfall led to a 12% fall in renewable electricity generated between April and June, compared to the same period in 2009. This setback follows a smaller but still notable decline between January and March, again compared to last year.

With a sharp drop in output from nuclear power stations as well, greenhouse gas emissions from each unit of electricity generated will inevitably have risen, at a time when the UK has pledged to cut such pollution, and is pressing other countries to do the same.

The renewable energy figures are likely to prompt criticism of the government's energy policies from all sides. Supporters want ministers to increase funding for green industry so more wind farms are built, reducing the risk of seasonal set backs; critics will say the government should instead increase support for energy efficiency, nuclear power or cleaner forms of burning fossil fuels.

Wind energy requires a constant flow of wind for it to meet its potential. There are few places in the world who can count on that. Solar energy is so inefficient that it will not pay back its capital cost during the life of the facility at this point. Nuclear energy is more efficient than either, but it is still not as easy to use as oil and gas which are still the most efficient fuels.

The fantasy of magic energy is still yet to be found, but when it is, it should be at least as efficient as what it is trying to replace. That way it want need government subsidies and higher costs to users on top of it.


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