wind farmNick Ansell/PA Wire

Domestic energy bills are helping prop up Britain's wind farm industry, with every job in the sector effectively costing £100,000 a year in subsidies, according to reports.

A national newspaper said wind turbine owners received £1.2 billion in consumer subsidies last year. Supporting 12,000 jobs, the subsidy - paid by a supplement on electricity bills - equates to around £100,000 per post.


The figures, in The Sunday Telegraph, are yet another blow to the beleaguered wind industry, which already faces increasingly fierce opposition from residents in coastal areas ripe for hosting the technology.

Lord Teverson, who leads on energy and climate change for the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, said the subsidies were not primarily for "a job creation programme", but rather allowed Britain to compete at the forefront of the renewable technology industry.
He said: "It (a subsidy) is in terms of getting us ahead in the world and gives us skills we can export. It is a good investment for the future. The positive is Britain wants to be at the forefront of this."

West Country-based Lord Teverson, who lives in region boasting more than 100 turbines, said some element of subsidy for renewable energy projects was "inevitable" while the technology is still in its infancy.

He added: "There are some high start-up costs and money is needed for investment, but after that the energy is free. I can see how the idea of a subsidy for renewables doesn't sit well with some, but you ask most people down here (in Cornwall) about wind turbines and it is not high on their agenda of things to worry about, unlike the shortage of affordable housing."

The Sunday Telegraph figures come in the wake of tough new rules mooted to help locals have more say in opposing plans for on-shore wind farms over fears about both the physical blight on the countryside and the noise impact of some of the larger turbines.

The Government said the wind subsidies did more than simply support jobs, citing multiple environmental benefits as key to the payments.

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said: "Subsidies for wind have multiple benefits for the UK economy, supporting jobs is only one important factor. Wind power adds to our energy security as part of a diverse energy mix, alongside nuclear, gas and other renewables. In 2012, over 5% of all electricity generated came from wind power, helping to reduce our dependence on imported gas and cutting damaging carbon emissions."

© 2013 Press Association