Gone with the Wind
COPENHAGEN – Efforts to stem global warming have nurtured a strong urge worldwide to deploy renewable energy. As a result, the use of wind turbines has increased ten-fold over the past decade, with wind power often touted as the most cost-effective green opportunity. According to Connie Hedegaard, the European Union’s commissioner for climate action, “People should believe that [wind power] is very, very cheap.”
In fact, this is a highly problematic claim. While wind energy is cheaper than other, more ineffective renewables, such as solar, tidal, and ethanol, it is nowhere near competitive. If it were, we wouldn’t have to keep spending significant sums to subsidize it.
In the United Kingdom, for example, wind remains significantly more costly than other energy sources. Using the UK Electricity Generation Costs 2010 update and measuring in cost per produced kilowatt-hour, wind is still 20-200% more expensive than the cheapest fossil-fuel options. And even this is a significant underestimate.