The United Kingdom’s former chief scientific adviser, the late Dr. David MacKay, told a prominent newspaper the country’s financial support of green energy is an “appalling delusion.”
MacKay, who died in April 2016, said the U.K. should have ignored wind and solar power to focus on nuclear energy and clean coal. MacKay pointed out only nuclear and clean coal could power the U.K in the winter when energy demand is highest but sunshine is lowest and winds can drop for days at a time.
“There is this appalling delusion that people have that we can take this thing that is currently producing 1% of our electricity and we can just scale it up and if there is a slight issue of it not adding up, then we can just do energy efficiency,” MacKay told the Guardian in an interview published Tuesday. “Humanity really does needs to pay attention to arithmetic and the laws of physics – we need a plan that adds up.”
MacKay was a physicist at the University of Cambridge and served as chief scientific adviser to Britain’s Department of Energy and Climate Change from 2009-2014. He had gained public prominence after writing the book, Sustainable Energy – without the Hot Air, which stated that solar and wind energy simply cannot produce enough reliable power to meet the world’s energy needs.
MacKay heavily criticized the European Union’s energy policy for the high costs and embrace of wind and solar subsidies, which he attributes to “very successful lobbying.”
“If you ask what is the optimal amount of wind and solar to add in then the answer is going to be almost zero,” MacKay continued. “I love wind turbines – they are the cathedrals of the modern age – but they are a waste of money if you have a low carbon solution that gets you through the winter … because when the wind blows you are going to have to either turn them down or something else down that you have already paid for like nuclear or CCS.”
The government of Great Britain ignored MacKay’s advise. Green energy subsidies in the U.K. regularly exceed spending caps and account for roughly 7 percent of British energy bills, according to study released in July by the government.
As a result, British citizens pays an average of 54 percent more for electricity than Americans paid last year. Much of the price comes from expensive subsidies for green energy, which account for roughly 7 percent of British energy bills, according to government study released last July. An estimated 38 percent of British households are cutting back essential purchases, like food, to pay for high energy bills. Another 59 percent of homes are worried about how they are going to pay energy bills.
If subsidies are not cut, the government anticipates an 18 percent increase in domestic electricity prices by 2020, which could drive up household energy bills in the U.K. by another 5 percent.
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