Will the Tory leader get it up (his turbine that is)?
- 1 Dec 06, 05:51 PM
There’s been an impressive response to my blog on the physics of wind turbines. The overwhelming consensus seems to be that small wind turbines are simply not appropriate for most homes.
If that is correct then domestic turbines, which not so long ago looked like proud environmental virility symbols, might very well end up looking like limp gestures. So are some of the high profile people who signed up to micro-wind power now reconsidering?
The most notable wind enthusiast is, of course, the Tory leader David Cameron. His plans to erect a turbine on his home generated acres of newspaper comment along with the ire of some his neighbours. He was awarded planning permission months ago by his local authority but there is still no sign of a turbine on his West London home.
My discreet enquires suggest that Mr Cameron has put the mini-windmill on hold. I understand he is now talking about delaying installation until turbine technology improves. Certainly the architect behind the eco-makeover of his home seems to have doubts. “It’s early days for wind turbines and their efficiency can only get better” Alex Michaelis was quoted as saying by the Evening Standard last week.
Apparently the Tory leader’s attention has also been drawn to another consideration (and an elegant justification for not proceeding) which is that putting a windmill on his house is a security risk because it will make it so easy to identify.
So what of Malcolm Wicks MP? As Energy Minister he emphasised on Newsnight and elsewhere his desire to beat Mr Cameron to erect a turbine. Last month he was appointed Minister for Science and Innovation: has his enthusiasm for the wind technology waned since taking on the science brief?
Mr Wicks says his views haven’t changed one jot. He’s still committed to micro-generation and, as soon as he gets planning permission, hopes to put up a Windsave turbine. He says he is confident the wind above his Croydon home will prove strong enough to generate significant electricity. I wish Mr Wicks the best of luck but remain sceptical that even the strong winds of suburban South London will be enough.
So if turbines aren’t the answer, what is the best way to reduce the carbon footprint of your home?
Until this week I would have argued people like Mr Cameron and Mr Wicks who want to minimise their carbon emissions should sign up to a green electricity supplier or a green electricity tariff. Unfortunately I may have to revise my opinion.
On Wednesday I outed the climate change Minister, Ian Pearson, for not having done so. Then someone wrote in to argue that I may be claiming too much for my green tariff and - worryingly for my family’s carbon footprint - he seems to have a point.
At the moment we’re estimating that signing to a green supplier has cut my family’s emissions by a full ten per cent – one ton of carbon. If my correspondent is correct it is actually much less than that.
The vigorous shoots of my family’s green revolution are wilting before my eyes. So help me: is he right, are green electricity suppliers not as green as they are cracked up to be?