Wind energy has 'widespread public support and offers value for money'

Paul Boughton
RenewableUK, the trade association representing the wind, wave and tidal industry, has welcomed the UK Prime Minister's public vote of confidence in wind energy, following the publication of a letter by a group of backbench MPs questioning the value of supporting onshore wind. In response to the letter, a Downing Street spokesman said: “We need a low carbon infrastructure and onshore wind is a cost effective and valuable part of the diverse energy mix". 
Jennifer Webber, RenewableUK's Director of External Affairs said: "We know there's a huge amount of public support for wind energy. YouGov conducted a poll in December which showed that 56 per cent of people think we should be expanding wind power in the UK, and 60 per cent believe the Government is right to provide financial support to do so. We're also glad to see that the wind industry has immediately received strong support from the Government in response to this letter. The Government  recognises that, as well as providing a secure source of clean energy, we're driving our costs down, which will reduce the level of financial support we need in the long term.  
"Onshore wind is already important in helping guard against energy price shocks. The cost is just £10 per household per year, according to the independent regulator Ofgem. If we keep relying on expensive and polluting imports of fossil fuels such as gas to generate electricity, our bills will continue to go up - that's the conclusion reached by the Government's Committee on Climate Change in its report just before Christmas, and that's what Ofgem found in its ground-breaking Project Discovery research. Wholesale gas prices went up by 40 per cent this winter according to Ofgem. Gas hit a three-year high of 75p per therm in Britain on Friday as a result of the cold snap across Europe. We have to get off the fossil fuel hook to stop our energy bills escalating.
"Wind energy will become more important over the course of this decade as many of our traditional power sources such as coal-fired and nuclear power stations reach the end of their natural lives. Wind is the only form of low-carbon technology which can be deployed on a big enough scale in the short window of time available if we want to ensure that we're not overly dependent on imported fuels and the price shocks they cause. Wind turbines generate electricity for 70-80 per cent of the time, so they form an important part of our energy mix – as the Energy Minister Charles Hendry said last year whilst the Sizewell B nuclear generator was offline for seven months, wind provided enough power for 400,000 homes. In total, we've already installed enough capacity to power the equivalent of 3.3 million homes.
"As well as the need for wind in the energy mix, we're building an industry in the UK which already employs 10,600 people at every level from apprentices to experienced engineers. The number of jobs is expected to rise to 88,300 by 2021, including the many companies, large and small, involved in the supply chain. Over the next few years, huge factories  are due to open in Hull and Sheerness manufacturing the next generation of wind turbines, providing well-paid green collar jobs. 
"At a local level, wind farm developers are pouring thousands of pounds into community projects. The industry's Community Benefits Protocol, set up last year, stipulates that local communities will receive £1,000 for every megawatt of onshore wind power installed. Local people are using that money to refurbish school libraries, village halls and sports facilities. Our onshore wind farms are part of those communities, giving something back because we recognise that that's important."