Blown away by weak wind research

Last Friday, The Australian made a UK study on wind farm costs front page news. But a look behind the study highlights the vested interests at play.

A cheap shot via a front page splash (David Crowe, The AustralianBillions blown away on wind power, says British study”) again undermines business reality, and proper independent research. 

The International Energy Agency will publish a report this year analysing the growing renewable energy sector, which now accounts for almost one-fifth of global electricity supply. Given the fact that renewable energy support is a fraction of that which fossil fuels and nuclear power receive, we continue to wonder why this paper continues to circulate bile from a highly conflicted former conservative British politician and his pet project to fund and foment climate scepticism.

If “wind energy costs ten times as much as gas”, why haven’t we seen a ten-fold increase in South Australian energy costs where wind energy makes up over 20 per cent of energy supply and where are all the new open cycle gas generators to “back up” all this new wind?  In fact, Bloomberg predicts wind energy will compete with gas in the US in four years time at US6.5c/kWh.  

Anyone who has spent time studying energy should know that no national energy system was established without subsidies in the first place. The vehemence of opposition in the article (for what is bipartisan policy) to the market mechanism that supports private sector investment in renewable energy is disturbing.

The opposition by Astroturf groups like Lord Lawson’s GWPF (which commissioned the study) relegates what is prudent and appropriate risk mitigation and risk management to the bottom of the pile of political and corporate concerns in the face of climate change impacts (sceptics read: increasing variability) and rising fossil fuel costs.

This latest attack on wind energy from the UK is yet more confirmation that the vested interests of the fossil fuel lobby, climate change sceptics and nuclear power spruikers are behind much of the anti-wind movement. These links are undeniable in the UK and are beginning to better understood in Australia as articulated by Federal Member for Reid John Murphy in Parliament 15 February 2012 and in a series of forensic articles written by Sandi Keane at Independent Australia.

Lane Crockett is the General Manager of Pacific Hydro Australia.