Scottish households are set to feel a chill set in as the government prepares to end unfair and costly wind farm subsidies which have been propping up the renewables industry.
The new Conservative energy secretary Amber Rudd has signalled she wants to pull the plug on the huge transfers of cash, paid for by all energy users in the form of an 8-10 per cent ‘green levy’ on bills, the Scotsman reports. She has the support of UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall MEP who called wind farms “virtually useless”.
And the renewable energy industry has reacted with warnings of price hikes for businesses and consumers saying the sudden end to subsidies for new onshore wind farms set to be included in the Queen’s Speech would have to be met by end users as the industry is not efficient enough to cope with the market.
Niall Stuart, chief executive of trade body Scottish Renewables, said the industry had cuts costs significantly in recent years but “a sudden change in support will reduce deployment and threaten the work being done to reduce costs in a phased and managed way.”
“Indeed, it could actually push up bills if any shortfall required to meet our targets has to be made up by more expensive generation,” he admitted.
And he complained that the move to reverse the inequality the subsidies burden poorer households with did not “square with the UK government’s commitment to cut carbon emissions in the most affordable way, whilst pledging to end any support for the cheapest form of renewable electricity that can be deployed at the scale we need to meet our climate change targets”.
He was backed up by renewables developer RES, based in Glasgow, who said the sudden end to cash transfers for these projects would harm the industry’s efforts to become cost effective and subsidy free in the medium term.
Gordon MacDougall, a spokesman for the company, said “Onshore wind now stands on the verge of being able to compete on a purely commercial basis with other, more mature, forms of energy generation without requiring new subsidies in the 2020s – and it would be in no-one’s interests for this important opportunity to be squandered.”
He said that retaining the support for onshore wind was a “key stepping stone to a subsidy-free future”.
But others have supported the move by the newly promoted Ms Rudd who said that although she “personally quite enjoyed” seeing wind farms, was committed to delivering the party’s manifesto pledge.
“It will mean no more onshore wind farm subsidies and no more onshore wind farms without local community support,” she explained. “This is really important. I’ve already got my team working on it. That’s going to be one of the first things we’re going to do.
“I’ve put a rocket under the team to get it done, putting the local community back in charge. We’re looking to do the primary legislation as soon as we can.”
The legislation will also end subsidies to operators of new onshore wind farms, making it extremely unlikely that any new wind farms will be proposed during this parliament.
UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall MEP said the move was “a step in the right direction.”
“Wind farms are virtually useless,” he said. “They are ineffective, only working 25 per cent of the time, and all they do is make rich people richer and poor people poorer.”
But he suggested that David Cameron’s father-in-law Sir Reginald Sheffield might not be too happy about it as he is said to earn about £350,000 a year from public funds for having wind turbines on his land.
Mr Cameron has personally said he thinks the public is “basically fed up” with onshore wind farms. “Enough is enough and I am very clear about that,” he said.