The idea of getting free, clean energy from the wind is a compelling one. But is it too good to be true?

The Navitus Bay project is the biggest infrastructural project ever to hit this part of Dorset. Here we detail our reasons for being against this proposal, which centre on the economic and environmental issues.

By Roger Helmer MEP & Martin Houlden UKIP PPC for Bournemouth West

1. When the wind doesn't blow, you don't get any power generation

This might be quite an obvious point to make, but it is rather an important one.

What most people don‘t know however, is that when they are not generating power, the taxpayer has to pay a huge subsidy to the wind farm developer for loss of income.

This subsidy is usually about four times what they receive from the National Grid when the turbines are operating.

2. When the wind blows too hard, you don't get any power generation

Wind turbines have a limited operating window, and if the windspeed becomes too high they have to apply their 'brakes' to stop the blades spinning off under the increased load. So they hardly ever operate at their claimed capacity.

For example on 21 December 2010, the contribution of wind to the UK’s energy consumption, was 0.04%, and even on an average summer night, the industry is only running at 13% capacity.

3. Windfarms need a backup Gas or Coal Power station 100% of the time

Because wind is intermittent the National grid requires additional conventional capacity to back-up the supply. This is called a "Spinning Reserve" usually a gas or coal power station, (but also thousands of dirty diesel generators too).

Essentially we’re paying twice for the same capacity – once for the wind turbines, and then again for the back-up

4. The manufacture of the turbines is a highly toxic industrial process

The manufacturing process of wind turbines require ‘Rare Earth‘ metals – 97% of the world‘s supply being controlled by China (so not great for independent energy security).

The process is so toxic that the areas which process these minerals suffer from devastating pollution in their soil and groundwater. The Guardian reports there are regions which are now heavily contaminated with deadly chemicals that farmers have seen all of their grazing animals killed off by the toxins.

So they're not 'green' and they don't actually address the problem they're designed to solve.
– Are there any other negatives?

How does the electricity get into the grid?

Until now, we've only focussed on the problems offshore – but there are some very serious problems on land as well.

The array needs to get it's power into the National Grid, it does via some very large cables. The Navitus Bay project is due to hit land at Taddiford Gap (between Barton-on-Sea and New Milton), and run 22 miles through the New Forest to a new sub-station at Mannington near Wimborne.

The civil engineering required to embed the cables is equivalent to a land cutting the same width as a 8-lane motorway, carved through Hampshire and Dorset, and is projected to take four years to construct.

The cables

The proposed route

So what's the difference between you and the conservatives?

The conservatives

The Conservative Party has pledged its full support to the development of wind turbines (indeed, David Cameron's father-in-law receives over £350k annually for having turbines on his land).

They want to increase the number of offshore wind turbines.

MP's

The current MPs for Bournemouth East & West, (as well as Poole and Christchurch) object to Navitus due to the negative effects on tourism they say it will have. This approach has led to them being called "NIMBYs" by some members of the public.

UKIP do not believe that name-calling is a particularly helpful way to discuss this issue, and would rather focus on the pros & cons of the technology.

Tourism effects

Reports differ on the potential negative effects on our tourism industry (see BBC report).

Whilst there may be some merit in those arguments, UKIP's objections are based on the core facts related to Wind Power as presented above, rather than the relative merits of any particular site.

So who makes the decision?

The government has stated that no final decision will be made until after the General Election in 2015.

We believe that they intend to approve the scheme, but are waiting until after the election to avoid a humiliating defeat at the ballot box in this area.

We want to know why they can't make a decision now? What is it they trying to hide from the electorate?

But we have to do something. If wind isn't he answer, what are the alternatives?

UKIP Energy Policy suggests a wide-ranging combination of different energy generation methods including some renewable sources. Clean coal, shale gas, nuclear and hydroelectric are all proven and reliable technologies. They are the only realistic options available to us at present. They also offer a degree of energy independence due to the vast coal and shale deposits around the UK, as well as a landscape suitable for hydro-electric power generation in some areas.

Coal & Gas

Just one 4GW modern clean-coal fired power station supplies 10x times the electricity that the Navitus Bay array could do (if it were operating at it's theoretical maximum). – And it supplies that power when we need it, without requiring an additional backup.

The UK still has substantial coal reserves — enough for 200 years, on some estimates. UKIP strongly supports a clean environment and clean air. Coal-fired power stations must use clean technology to remove sulphur and nitrogen oxides, particulates and other pollutants.

Shale gas

America is reported to have reserves of shale gas for up to 500 years. Already gas prices in the USA have roughly halved. America is looking forward to a new industrial renaissance based on cheap, indigenous natural gas. Shale Gas in Britain and Europe is in early days, but there are believed to be large commercial deposits of shale gas in the UK, especially in the North West, but also across the Midlands.

We are please that the Government has recently changed it's stance to reflect UKIP Policy, and is now advocating the exploration of shale gas.

Nuclear

We believe that nuclear is a vital part of the energy mix, nuclear remains the safest mainstream generating technology available. It is a matter for regret that we in Britain have sacrificed our early lead in nuclear technology, and that we have to a large extent lost the skills-base needed for a major nuclear programme.

In 2010, the UK’s 17 commercially operational reactors produced 62 terawatt hours (16 percent) of the UK’s electricity supply. Most of the UK’s reactors will be closed by 2023, except Sizewell B. The Goverment has recently announced approval for a new power station at Hinckly Point C in Somerset to be built jointly by the French and Chinese. Report BBC News

Thorium Reactors

Thorium as a fuel for nuclear fission has several advantages: it produces less waste suitable for weapons, and is plentiful. In principle, we are in favour of thorium development. Wikipedia Thorium

Research and development of thorium-based nuclear reactors is currently being done in done in India, China, Norway, the U.S., Israel and Russia. In February 2014, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), in Mumbai, India, presented their latest design for a "next-generation nuclear reactor" that burns thorium as its fuel. India's government is also developing up to 62, mostly thorium reactors, which it expects to be operational by 2025. Even Friends of the Earth UK considers research into it as "useful" as a fallback option.