How Badly Does Europe Want to Convert to Wind Power?
Very badly. But a recent Wall Street Journal article (gated) by Guy Chazan makes clear that as much as Europe, and the U.K. in particular, is devoted to building offshore wind farms to wean itself from coal-powered electricity, the logistical challenges and costs are starting to look insurmountable. Among the most important passages:
“Offshore wind is one of the most expensive short-term ways you can conceive of to reduce CO2 emissions,” says Dieter Helm, professor of energy policy at Oxford University. “It’s economic nonsense to put all your eggs in one basket like this.”
Dr. Helm says the most cost-effective way of “de-carbonizing” U.K. energy, at least in the short term, would be to switch from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas in power generation. “If you take out 4 to 5 gigawatts of coal and replace it with gas, the CO2 savings would be similar and it would only cost ?5 billion to ?7 billion, compared to ?100 billion for offshore wind,” he says.