Saturday, January 1, 2011

"Renewabubble" Energy

The bill is coming due for Spain's "green" energy subsidies. Realizing that wind and solar power are vastly more expensive than conventional energy, Spain's socialist government mandated electricity rates lower than production costs and made up the difference by borrowing.

With the government's fiscal crisis deepening, it has slashed the subsidies and raised rates to begin to approximate the actual capital and operating costs. The Spaniards, mired deeply in recession, are, not surprisingly, not pleased.

Meanwhile, though, in old Blighty, renewable energy problems of a different sort.

Despite high demand for electricity as people shivered at home over Christmas, most of the 3,000 wind turbines around Britain stood still due to a lack of wind.

Even yesterday , when conditions were slightly breezier, wind farms generated just 1.8 per cent of the nation’s electricity — less than a third of usual levels.

The failure of wind farms to function at full tilt during December forced energy suppliers to rely on coal-fired power stations to keep the lights on — meaning more greenhouse gases were produced.

Experts feared that as the Government moved towards a target of generating 30 per cent of electricity from wind — while closing gas and coal-fired power stations — cold, still winters could cause a problem in the future.

Renewable, indeed. The problem, though, is that it renews itself when it feels like it -- not necessarily when we might like the power.

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