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Daily Telegraph: Tilting at wind power

Daily Telegraph: Tilting at wind power

9 June 2005:

“Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them than he said to his squire, ‘Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless’.”

Four hundred years on, a new generation of windmills is rising up all over Britain, hulking giants to keep the lights on and the CO2 down. The £1.5billion London Array project, off the Essex coast, is the finest flowering of this policy, with backers Shell and E.On claiming that its 270 windmills could power a quarter of London’s homes. They were less keen to talk about the economics, since the green power generated from (dis)Array will cost more than twice as much as coal, and is not so much wind farming as subsidy farming.

The only real alternative to oil and gas is nuclear, and now the election is won, ministers have no excuse. As for the windmills, it’s time someone in Whitehall echoed Sancho Panza’s reply to his master: “What giants?”

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