Electricity produced by wind turbines in the UK may be cheaper than that generated by burning gas within five years, even if the climate-warming pollution from the latter is allowed to be pumped straight into the air. That is one startling implication of a comprehensive analysis produced for the Guardian by experts at Imperial College London and the UK Energy Research Centre.
The chart, which is from preliminary analysis, reveals the folly of betting the UK's energy future on the hope of cheap gas, the preferred option of many of the critics of reneweable energy.
This is not because wind power, or any other energy source, is certain to be cheaper. Instead, says Dr Robert Gross at Imperial College, it is because the principle of targeting subsidy to create viable new energy sources is well founded and the notion of gas as a cheap and relatively low-carbon energy source is not. Look at the range of gas cost forecasts from 2020 onwards: they are much wider than those for wind.
The oil and gas industries, and the nuclear industry, all benefited from far greater public subsidies in their formative years than renewable industries do now. Such is the grip of fossil fuels on national economies that they benefit from five times the amount of taxpayer support than that of green energy, both in the UK and globally.