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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 February, 2005, 19:08 GMT
Anti-wind farm report dismissed
Wind farm off the Norfolk coast
The UK has one of the biggest resources of wind in Europe
A report from the world's biggest wind power producer denouncing wind farms as too expensive and inefficient has been widely dismissed in the UK.

Money would be better spent targeting energy efficiency to combat greenhouse gases, the German Energy Agency said.

It comes as UK wind power grows at the fastest rate in the world, with the government aiming generate 10% of energy from renewable sources by 2010.

A government spokeswoman said the UK was in a different position to Germany.

'Wind penalty'

The report by the German government-backed agency says it will cost Germany 1.1bn euro (700 million) to link its wind farms to the national grid - which it must do if it is to reach its target of 20% of energy coming from renewable sources by 2015.

With more than 15,000 turbines, the nation has the most wind farms in the world.

But, says the report, almost the same cuts in carbon dioxide emissions - at nothing like the cost of wind power - can be achieved by installing modern filters at existing fossil-fuel power plants.

Anti-wind farm groups say the revelation, from a country which in some areas already has 20% of its energy supplied by wind power, confirmed their views.

They also said government grants paid to the sector meant the taxpayer was subsidising "this madness".

The UK the approach has led to the cost of wind power falling quite substantially in the past few years
Stephen Tindale, Greenpeace

"'Green' tariff consumers in the UK believe they are saving the world. In fact they are causing a heavy penalty to be transferred to all other consumers as this so-called 'green' electricity costs up to three times what they actually pay," said Angela Kelly, director of Country Guardian, which campaigns against wind farms.

"The UK's plans to rely more heavily on wind power onshore, and especially offshore, will bring the huge extra costs of more transmission lines.

"Public opposition to wind farms has risen rapidly as the facts about wind power become known and consumers realize that they will be landed with the cost."

'Vital differences'

However, a spokeswoman for the Department of Trade and Industry said the report recommended Germany focused on energy efficiency which the UK had been doing "for some time".

"It is the combination of energy efficiency and that of renewable energies that is important," she said.

"The wind sector in the UK is different to that of Germany. The UK has one of the biggest resources for wind energy in Europe.

"The report does not directly translate to UK circumstances, nonetheless we will study it with interest despite the important difference between the UK and Germany."

Greenpeace chief executive Stephen Tindale agreed, increasing wind power was "definitely worth it".

"There are several differences between the UK and Germany. Firstly, our wind resource is better - it's stronger and more consistent.

The extra costs of wind energy's expansion in the UK ... amount to increases of some 0.5% per year on our electricity bills and totalling 5% by 2010.
British Wind Energy Association
"Secondly we are using different and better policy instruments. It is much more competitive in the UK. Elsewhere you get a guaranteed price, but in the UK the approach has led to the cost of wind power falling quite substantially in the past few years.

"The third difference is the amount of wind power used in Germany, in some parts it is 20%.

"Everyone accepts that when you get to that level it is much more of a problem because of the fact that wind is intermittent.

"We don't anticipate this in the UK for about 10 to 15 years, by which stage we would have expected to have overcome these difficulties."

A spokesman for The British Wind Energy Association said: "The extra costs of wind energy's expansion in the UK has been costed recently by the National Audit Office to amount to increases of some 0.5% per year on our electricity bills and totalling 5% by 2010.

"For this small additional cost the wind industry will deliver savings of between 10 and 17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, a significant part of our country's CO2 reduction plans, thousands of new jobs and of course improve our nation's energy security."




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