Caution to wind

Energy expert, Jim Heathcote, has warned that the race to build new wind farms could harm Britain’s manufacturing industry and force thousands of consumers into fuel poverty.

Heathcote, chief executive of hydrogen producer, ITM Power, said that the government’s £100bn wind power investment programme was flawed as it did not include plans to store the energy that it would generate.

According to Heathcote, the UK’s energy consumers would have to foot the bill for Britain’s wind farm expansion through higher utility bills.

He said: ‘The result will not only mean hundreds of thousands of consumers, mainly elderly people, being pushed into fuel poverty but also cause a dramatic rise in electricity costs for industry, making our manufacturing sector uncompetitive.

‘The need to import wind turbine components will also have dire consequences for British jobs.’

The government plans to build up to 10,000 turbines by 2020 in an effort to produce 60 per cent of the UK’s electricity from renewable sources by 2050.

Despite these efforts, criticism has been levelled against it because of failure to support companies such as ITM Power, which specialise in turning electricity and water into hydrogen for storage.

Heathcote said: ‘As renewable energy systems- primarily wind farms- increasingly take over from conventional fossil fuel-powered stations, Britain must have the means to store the electricity generated so that supply can match demand.

‘If we don’t, much of the clean electricity produced during periods of low demand will simply be wasted and, more alarmingly, when wind power can’t match consumer demand at peak periods, blackouts could result.’