The oil and gas industry has long been accustomed to criticism, but these days renewable energy is being pilloried around the globe—especially in the UK.
"The politicians who foisted them upon us should be put in the stocks," said a UK commentator last week, referring to the numerous wind farms that now dot the countryside.
The writer was Clive Aslet, editor-at-large of Britain's Country Life magazine—an august publication devoted to portraying the nation's stately homes, their grand interiors, and their lush countryside settings.
"Wind farms are Blairism incarnate," Aslet said, referring to former Prime Minister Tony Blair. "Wanting to look big on the international stage, he committed Britain to some preposterously over-ambitious targets for reducing our greenhouse gas emissions."
Aslet says that Blair decided on wind farms instead of having to confront a decision that might have incurred short-term unpopularity, but is all but inevitable for the UK's future energy security: nuclear power stations.
"Of course, in the boom times, when the economy was growing, this green indulgence might have been like that extra chocolate you shouldn't have; nobody would notice it when the suit had been let out," says Aslet.
But he also notes: "We have now found that the waistband isn't infinitely elastic." He goes on to note that Britons have made an unpleasant discovery just as belts are being tightened in the current era of austerity.
In this new time, says Aslet, Britons have discovered that green energy has bloated the country's bills by a whopping £7.1 billion—a fact ascribed to Lord Marland of the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
"Think how many libraries that would keep open," said Aslet. But £7.1 billion is just the beginning, and things are due to get worse.
"According to the Renewable Energy Foundation, whose sums have so far proved accurate, that figure will have risen to some £40 billion by 2020—that's between £6 billion and £8 billion a year; nearly all of it taken by wind," Aslet said.
Worse, Britain's wind farms aren't even accomplishing their intended aim.
"However many turbines bristle on Welsh mountain tops or pylons stride through the Great Glen, we'll only be tickling the nose of our energy crisis," said Aslet, adding, "We're missing those targets to reduce emissions by a country mile."
Nor is Aslet long-winded when he comes to the future of the UK policy makers who are foisting wind on an unsuspecting populace: "Throw them out. Throw out the windmonger-in-chief, Energy Sec. Chris Huhne, and leave it to the money men."