Former UK environment secretary Owen Paterson has used very forceful language to make his opposition to wind power known, and believes combined heat and power is one of the technologies that can make a credible difference in its place.

The former minister was highly vocal in his belief that a combination of CHP, shale gas and nuclear power would best serve the country in meeting its energy efficiency objectives.
Owen Paterson
Speaking to the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London, Paterson said that Britain’s wind energy policy is the “single most regressive policy we have seen in this country since the Sheriff of Nottingham,” calling it: “The coerced increase of electricity bills for people on low incomes to pay huge subsidies to wealthy landowners and rich investors.”

He added that it was “immensely costly, regressive and damaging to the environment”, and has had virtually no impact on carbon emissions.

Patterson urged for more consideration to be given to Combined Heat and Power as a way of reducing energy bills, saying that new localised power plants could produce both energy and heat, with results from Massachusetts showing 40 per cent of total energy can be from CHP.

The former Environment Secretary also went on to call for more nuclear power in the UK, saying that small nuclear reactors could be integrated with CHP. He said that while nuclear power is incredibly useful, there are simply not enough sites to build enough big reactors. Britain should instead therefore build more, smaller nuclear plants.

He said: “Small factory built nuclear plants, could be located closer, say within 20 to 40 miles, to users and provide a CHP function.  Installed near urban areas, they can deliver electricity and power district heating schemes or, in industrial areas, provide a combination of electricity and process heat.”

The former minister also took time out to question the claims of all current forms of renewable energy in the UK, saying they will never help Britain achieve “zero carbon” by 2050.

He was particularly scathing of offshore wind turbines, which he criticised for their “gigantic costs” and unreliability, saying: “There is a reason we are the world leader in this technology – no other country is quite so foolish as to plough so much public money into it.”

He also called solar power “an expensive red herring” and criticised biomass for not being zero carbon.

As well as CHP, he advocates adoption of shale gas, saying that just 10 per cent of shale from the Bowland basin, could meet Britain’s needs for decades.

Only a combination of these factors, he said, can help Britain “keep the lights on”.