EDITOR’S COMMENT: As Boris Johnson trumpets his vision of powering every home with turbines, we reveal the botched scheme that will inflate bills for 20 YEARS!
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister made a dramatic pledge to power every home by wind by 2030. Mr Johnson told the Conservative conference he would work at ‘gale-force speed’ to usher in his ‘green industrial revolution’.
However the Mail’s investigation uncovers how an existing wind scheme is being abused at a vast cost to consumers. It was set up to incentivise landowners to erect small wind turbines. They would receive fees for ‘clean’ power fed into the electricity grid. Even David Cameron erected one in his back garden. Ministers called it a ‘clean energy cashback’. To fund it, they introduced a ‘green levy’.
This so-called ‘renewables obligation’ adds about £73 a year to a typical household electricity bill. After 2009, these incentives were recognised as being too generous and were dramatically cut down in England, Wales and Scotland. Northern Ireland officials inexplicably kept the rate sky-high – sparking a rush among wealthy investors to install clapped-out turbines and claim practically risk-free handouts.
On a desolate hilltop south of Londonderry, the Mail found the wind turbine likely to be the biggest money-spinner of its type in the UK. Named ‘SP2045’, its blades revolved enough in the brisk Ulster breeze last year to generate about £51,000 of electricity. But this particular machine is worth a further £324,000 more in green subsidies. In total, SP2045 reaped £375,000 in 2019 – more than seven times the market value of the electricity it actually produced.
For spurious reasons, the owners of small wind turbines – defined as those with a peak output of 250 kilowatts – in Northern Ireland are entitled to a handout worth about £220 for every megawatt of power they produce per hour. Elsewhere in the UK, the figure changes every year, but was £16 last year. And that is on top of selling the actual electricity at market price.
The wholesale price of electricity fluctuates but has averaged about £35 per megawatt-hour over the past year. So the owner receives £35 for the electricity plus £220 in subsidy, totalling £255 – more than seven times the market value of the power itself. The same does not apply to windmill owners anywhere else in the UK. Nor does it apply to larger turbines.
The owners and financiers of these small wind turbines have not done anything illegal. They simply spotted a practically risk-free opportunity to make money. No wonder more than 400 ‘small’ wind turbines were installed across Northern Ireland after 2009.
By the time it has done its 20 years, this machine alone will have raked in more than £6million in subsidies – all from charging ordinary householders across the UK more for electricity.