Just when you thought Boris Johnson couldn’t get any less competent or conservative, along comes his ‘hold my beer’ masterstroke: a ‘green revolution’ where every home in Britain is ‘powered by wind’ by 2030.
The failing, distracted, bewitched Prime Minister announced the plan in a speech delivered by Zoom to the Conservative party conference which is being held online this year because of Chinese coronavirus. (Perhaps it was just as well for Johnson that there was no live audience. Otherwise, he might have had to witness half the Tory grassroots membership committing seppuku in disgust at what the priapic oaf has done to their party).
Here is the relevant section of his speech:
“And there is one area where we are progressing with gale force speed; and that is the green economy, the green industrial revolution that in the next ten years will create hundreds of thousands if not millions of jobs.
“I can today announce that the UK government has decided to become the world leader in low cost clean power generation – cheaper than coal, cheaper than gas; and we believe that in ten years time offshore wind will be powering every home in the country, with our target rising from 30 gigawatts to 40 gigawatts.
“You heard me right. Your kettle, your washing machine, your cooker, your heating, your plug-in electric vehicle – the whole lot of them will get their juice cleanly and without guilt from the breezes that blow around these islands.
This is classic Johnson: all jaunty colour and braggadocio, but zero detail, logic or intellectual seriousness.
The speech has been hailed as ‘phenomenal’ by one leading Conservative – former MP turned Lord – Zac Goldsmith.
— Zac Goldsmith (@ZacGoldsmith) October 6, 2020
Unfortunately, this is not a sign of how good the speech is but how terrifyingly bad: Goldsmith is part of the small but influential eco-fascist clique within the Conservative party determined to drag it kicking and screaming in the direction of the Greens.
A more sober analysis comes from the independent think tank the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), which estimates that the cost of this ‘green revolution’ will be to increase electricity prices by 200 per cent.
In a statement it warned:
Ignoring clear evidence that the underlying economics of renewables are disastrous, the Prime Minister has today committed the UK to a further expansion of offshore wind power by 2030, with frightening implications for electricity prices, which would have to treble to pay the real costs.This is not only economically foolish, but incoherent climate policy since today’s decision will ensure that other low emission goals, such as the electrification of vehicles and domestic heating, become unaffordable for most Britons.Despite the wind industry’s smoke and mirrors, offshore wind remains an extremely expensive way of generating electricity. Meeting the Prime Minister’s target will actually increase current costs still further because of the need to build turbines in deeper water with much higher operating costs.
Nor is the GWPF convinced by the ‘hundreds of thousands, if not millions of jobs’ Johnson has frivolously promised.
The implications for net employment are also devastating. Subsidy may create some soft UK jobs in the wind industry, and many more in China and the Middle East where wind turbines are made, but will not offset the loss of real UK jobs in other businesses that are no longer viable because of high energy costs. The net effect for the UK will be severely negative.
A 2009 study by Gabriel Calzada Alvarez for the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid found that for every ‘green job’ created by government spending on renewables (such as the wind farms proposed by Boris Johnson), 2.2 jobs are destroyed in the real economy.
As the GWPF’s Andrew Montford argues, wind power is only viable if you use voodoo economics. He explains the problem here:
It is true that guaranteed strike prices for new renewable energy projects have declined. For example, new offshore wind has decreased from around £114/MWh in 2014 to £40/MWh in 2019. But, importantly, as found by John Constable and Professor Gordon Hughes: the actual capital and operating costs of wind have both increased over recent decades. There is a risk that operating costs will grow at existing wind farms because of rising maintenance costs. The more remote and experimental, like taller turbines or the floating wind farms proposed by the Prime Minister, the higher the operating cost.
The divergence between the actual costs of wind and the current prices is creating a trap. The new wind projects are providing a mirage of cost effectiveness. But once locked into energy sector planning, the struggling companies are likely to come back later demanding bailouts – either in the form of three to four times higher power prices or direct taxpayer subsidies. One way or another, we will all be paying for excessive faith in renewable energy.
Boris Johnson himself used to understand the limitations of wind. In 2013, while London Mayor, he attacked Labour’s wind farm policy and said that Britain should go all out for shale gas.
As he said in an interview with LBC radio:
“Labour put in a load of wind farms that failed to pull the skin off a rice pudding,” he said. “We now have the opportunity to get shale gas – let’s look at it. It is part of the 2020 vision we have for this city – power generation is vital.”
In his conference speech he referred dismissively to his own, now apparently incorrect, former position:
“I remember how some people used to sneer at wind power, twenty years ago, and say that it wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding.
“They forgot the history of this country. It was offshore wind that puffed the sails of Drake and Raleigh and Nelson, and propelled this country to commercial greatness.”
No Boris, it was the old you – the one that used, quite correctly, to sneer at wind power, who had it right. The new you is so awful that he has no right to invoke great names like Drake and Raleigh and Nelson in support of his deranged schemes. They helped make Britain great. You, on the other hand, are setting the course for total ruination.