Using windfarms would be an easy, quick, cheap and actually popular way to solve the energy bill crisis
After Friday’s huge jump in energy costs, millions of people across the UK face a frightening future. Urgent measures are needed but, instead of taking action, the cabinet is absorbed in a pointless argument that wrongly pits the energy bill crisis against our climate commitments. In reality, the best way of bringing down bills is to get off gas for good.
We can take immediate steps to stop using gas because the UK has clean energy sources that can get going quickly, and are cheap and popular – wind and solar in particular. But at a time when they should be powering up the UK with renewables, ministers have other ideas: suggesting deepening our reliance on fossils fuels by opening up more drilling in the UK; or labouring under the misapprehension that people would rather live near a nuclear power plant than a wind turbine.
The government’s tug of war over onshore wind is particularly puzzling. Onshore wind is clean, cheap and extremely popular, with the government’s own polling showing support from four out of five people in the UK. Far from considering them an “eyesore” as some Tory MPs and ministers worry, a Survation poll last year found that people who live near existing windfarms are the most supportive of all. Yet a major cause of the past month’s delay in getting the energy strategy out appears to be the government’s utterly unfounded concern that people don’t like onshore wind, and their mistaken belief that removing the virtual ban on new wind projects in England would provoke huge resistance from Conservative voters.
Even a decade ago, two-thirds of people supported onshore wind, with support steadily rising to the 80% at which it currently stands. The British public know that clean energy is the way out of this crisis but, as they watch their energy bills shoot up and face the dismal prospect of cold homes, all they can see is their government dithering and delaying on the clean energy sources that are the quickest and easiest solution.
Instead of fixing this crisis with renewable energy, ministers are reportedly thinking of pursuing nuclear power. Ministers recently tried and failed to argue that onshore wind is too expensive, yet they seem quite happy to argue for bill payers to shoulder the cost of nuclear power, which is about twice as high per unit of electricity as onshore wind.