For some politicians it is a badge of honor to come out in favor of wind farms. It allows them to suck up to green voters, while at the same time keeping in with big energy producers.
At www.off-grid.net we like wind turbines and solar panels, but we oppose large arrays of them. We believe in distributed power – consumed at the place of production.
Big wind farms attract big government subsidies, paid for out of taxes. Spending large amounts of public money adds to politicians sense of self-importance but in the case of solar or wind farms this money goes straight into the coffers of large companies, who could perfectly well afford to build power generation without subsidies if there was an economic case for it.
Meanwhile, small-scale energy producers are disadvantaged – forced to pay over the market price for solar and wind energy if they want to receive the same subsidies, and subject to the same onerous planning restrictions.
It would be more far-sighted to subsidise energy producers who did not sell their power into the grid, but instead created mini-grids, selling direct to neighboring consumers.
And big wind farms, along with solar farms and big hydro-electric projects are only marginally better for the environment than gas-powered or nuclear powered generating stations in our view.
They are slightly less polluting, but still highly wasteful of resources and still lose up to 30 per cent of the electricity they generate in the process of transmission around the country, or between countries.
They still leave energy production in the hands of a tiny oligopoly of Utility companies who spend more effort trading the energy between themselves than they do increasing efficiency and reducing costs to the consumer.
The big eco-pressure groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth also love wind farms and solar farms. But they seem to have spent so long ingratiating themselves with big business and politicians that they have forgotten why they are here and become like those they once opposed.
Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the off-grid.net web site
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