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Scientific Alliance

12 Dec 2011 06:59:26

The Adam Smith Institute and Scientific Alliance predict an energy crisis if the Government continues with its focus on renewable sources

By Joseph Willits 
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TurbinefireA report produced jointly by the Adam Smith Institute (ASI) and Scientific Alliance suggests that the Government's focus on renewable energy sources is both misguided and unrealistic, and could lead to an energy crisis by the middle of the decade if pursued. The technologies used to supply renewable energy sources have been deemed inadequate to cater for the country's energy requirements. The report finds:

  • Wind and solar power are not as renewable as they ought to be, doing little to reduce carbon emissions. For wind power to be a successful energy source, the investment in turbines has to be matched by large-scale conventional back-up generating capacity, rendering CO2 reduction has rather modest. With wind power, energy cannot be stored long enough not to require back-up generators. Intermittency will often prove detrimental.
  • Energy security is an equal a concern as the reduction of carbon emissions. The intermittency of renewable energy technologies does not provide the much needed security required as many od the UK's coal-fired stations, and nearly all existing nuclear reactors are being decommissioned.
  • Renewable energy will be expensive for the consumer through higher electricity prices. The generation of renewable energy is already 28% below an already reduced target. To avoid an energy capacity crisis in the future, nuclear and gas sources would be the best option. Despite being subsidised more in the UK than other European countries, many wind farms are not built due to an inability to connect them to the Grid.
  • Both wind and solar power would be inefficient to satisfy the energy demands of the country. In order for wind farms to become a viable commercial option, they would have to rely heavily upon governmental subsidies. The capacity of wind farms would be 25%. The operational life for wind farms is only 20 years.
  • For current wind turbine targets to be met, an unrealistic number of 5 to be installed each day, would have to be achieved. The majority would also be positioned offshore.
  • The financial incentive for solar power is considerably less due to the difficulty and cost of building solar farms. Solar farms would require a larger land area to be built than both nuclear and coal-fired power stations.
  • It is not only cost, but the country's latitude which disadvantages the success rate of solar power. So far, subsidies for solar power have been on a small-scale, domestic level, which is less cost-effective.

Martin Livermore, joint author of the report has said:

β€œFor too long, we have been told that heavy investment in uneconomic renewable energy was not only necessary but would provide a secure future electricity supply. The facts actually show that current renewable technologies are incapable of making a major contribution to energy security and – despite claims to the contrary – have only limited potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Consumers have a right to expect government to place high priority on a secure, affordable energy supply. It seems that ministers have not yet realised the need to invest in more nuclear and gas generating capacity if the electorate is not to be badly let down.”