Tory MEP compares wind generators to banking collapse

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  By a Newsnet reporter
 
A Scottish Conservative MEP has claimed that funding wind generators will result in similar losses to that which was caused by the banking collapse.
 
Struan Stevenson said funding for UK wind turbines should instead be redirected into nuclear power.

The Tory MEP has insisted the £7billion spent on wind turbines should instead be used in order to build a third generation nuclear reactor which he says would have an 80-90 year lifespan, compared with 15 or 20 years for turbines.  According to Mr Stevenson, the funding would cover decommissioning and waste storage costs.

“In 15 or 20 years these installed turbines will be redundant, they will be rusting hulks,” he said.

“The whole thing is a catastrophic waste of money.  Future generations will look back and shake their heads in wonder that we wasted money on such a colossal scale.  It will be almost the equivalent of the banking scandal.”

The Tory MEP based his remarks on figures which show that the recent summer resulted in significant fluctuations in the amount of electricity generated by wind turbines.  At one point windfarms were contributing 95,206MWh per day of metered electricity to the National Grid, but two days later that figure fell to 6,293MWh.

The fluctuation was blamed on long periods of calm brought on by high pressure over the country.

Mr Stevenson’s comments were criticised by Niall Stuart, chief executive of the industry body Scottish Renewables, who accused the MEP of cherry picking periods when there was little wind.

Mr Stuart said wind power was only “one part of the jigsaw” which also included hydro, biomass, marine energy and investment in storage.

The Scottish Renewables chief also challenged claims that nuclear was more cost efficient, pointing out that it too was subsidised and the cost of decommissioning alone made it uneconomic.

“In fact, it will cost us £65billion to clean up Sellafield alone – that sum dwarves the support given to renewables in Scotland,” Mr Stuart said.

“Windfarms only receive cash for electricity generated or when the grid operator can’t meet its obligation.

“It is meaningless to cherry-pick times of the day where wind generation is low – what matters is the output over a year.”

The comments from the Tory MEP follow increasing concern over radioactive contamination at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima after it emerged hundreds of tonnes of toxic water had leaked from a container.

Authorities in Japan have now raised the level of the new contamination to 3 on the international scale – up from level one, after instruments detected one hundred millisieverts of radiation in one hour from the water.

Masayuki Ono, general manager of Tepco, told Reuters news agency: “One hundred millisieverts per hour is equivalent to the limit for accumulated exposure over five years for nuclear workers; so it can be said that we found a radiation level strong enough to give someone a five-year dose of radiation within one hour.”

The plant suffered a catastrophic disaster in 2011 after a Tsunami caused cooling pumps to fail.  There followed explosions in several reactors which led to the evacuation of thousands of people as workers fought to contain the disaster zone.

Following the catastrophe, many countries cancelled their own nuclear power programmes.