first published as Shepherd on Climate No.62 on Saturday 6th August 2011
The only sane humane ecological policy for meeting British electricity needs in the 21st century is to phase out nuclear power as soon as possible without turning out the lights. This means replacing the nuclear electricity base load as a matter of some urgency. 
Most electricity strategies fail to adequately disambiguate energy and electricity needs...while fudging over the complexity of integrating different electricity producing components into an electricity grid distribution system. 
In part this is because much of the essential research still needs to be done; research that should be government-led  and include modelling of variably-scaled grid integration options from a self-sufficient village grid to a continental grid with nested grids and smart grid management and control technology as the most likely future post-nuclear electricity infrastructure.
Private vested interests...grid, pipeline or energy component and resource owners and operators are not the right people for this infrastructure replacement R&D project. Buggy whip makers would have found themselves with a conflict of interest had they been asked to design horseless carriages.
Wind power is not the panacea once believed.  At the current state of wind science , wind-generated electricity is only useful when coupled to reliable base-loads...to which an equivalent amount of supplementary capacity is needed to accommodate the variability of wind power generation. Variable energy quality on the user (demand) side is another (poorly researched) option.
Large or small-scale hydro-coupling with wind is one possibility. This is what Denmark does by piggy-backing on Norway’s mountain landscape. Without this Nordic collaboration Denmark’s wind development makes little economic sense. While not unique to Denmark it is not a common situation elsewhere in the world.
Useful lessons for wind energy may be learned from the right exploitation of another solar energy technology. Tidal barrage schemes such as the one proposed for a new London Airport in the Thames Estuary might also address the coupling specifications of economically viable solar power because the current proposal sensibly matches natural realities with specific needs. But this is a particular set of conditions and not something to be generalised.
A Global Electricity Grid linking the light and dark sides of the planet also bears serious consideration although this looks like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut…forty-five minutes being all the time needed for the sun to supply the energy needed for a year. There are also legitimate concerns about undesirable and unanticipated side effects. The larger the project, the greater the likelihood that ‘the side effects will be the main effects’. 
In the long term it makes neither (public) economic nor (private) commercial sense to misrepresent the special conditions of an isolated farm house high on the Yorkshire Moors to invent a policy of national wind-electricity generation targets and massive public subsidies to private hustlers. The inevitable result will be the projecting and eventual mis-selling of damaging and expensive Wind Farm Solutions for urban and suburban domestic settings and industrial usage with quite different operant conditions. 
The Welsh Parliament is set to be one of the first public authorities to question the rationale behind the British Government's planned six-fold increase in UK wind generation capacity over the next decade.
If Wales is to play her part she will need to install 800 huge wind turbines in the hills of mid-Wales.  These will generate electricity many miles from where it is needed, necessitating a new 19-acre substation of five 250-ton transformers, connected via a 400,000-volt cable on 150-feet high pylons to the main grid in Shropshire 30 miles away.
To build all this, the roads and bridges must be strengthened to transport the giant transformers and huge amounts of concrete and steel.
According to a report in Private Eye  these plans are strongly opposed in the region, ‘so politicians have moved into full obfuscation mode’. Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones (Labour) has made conflicting statements as to how large the scheme is to be. 
On the subject of whether the cables could be buried instead of using pylons, Tory energy minister Charles Hendry has assured anxious delegations that he would “listen carefully to the arguments before a final decision is made”, and that “the issue isn’t cut and dried”.
This is not how the local grid operator Scottish Power (sic) sees it. It says burying the cables would increase the cost of the connection from £50 million to £500 million - clearly implying that pylons will be used. 
Wind being wind, at most this giant scheme will have an intermittent average output  of around 400 megawatts. This is the equivalent of one medium-sized (reliable electricity-generating) gas-fired power station that could be built on a plot about the same size as the planned new transformer alone - but on the site of a disused coal-powered station with existing road access and connection to the grid.
Instead the people of Mid-Wales will have to put up with the politicians’ desired monstrosity subsidised by the long-suffering tax-payers of Middle England.
Wind Power Lobbyists dismiss such reports as ‘alarmist’ and ‘anecdotal’.  But the alarm is real and cumulatively, anecdotal evidence is more meaningful than official announcements, dodgy dossiers and manipulated statistics.
In fact the ever-increasing quantity of anecdotal evidence indicates a broader failure to think through energy and electricity needs from basic principles. David Bellamy summed it up in declaring that “wind power is a swindle.”
 Great Britain has the dubious good fortune of French nuclear electricity available through the Channel Tunnel cables…and French nuclear fall-out just a few miles away (with a prevailing wind). The country also has other options to join consortia developing future European (or Icelandic) grids. But these should be transition arrangements with subsidiarity as the national energy policy goal…i.e. with energy and electricity self-sufficiency pushed down to the smallest possible unit everywhere. See also Energy Wars by William Shepherd which picked up on the potential of hydrogen to provide 'too plentiful to meter' energy for everyone everywhere...a dream first discussed by Jeremy Rifkin in The Hydrogen Economy (Tarcher/Putnam, New York, 2002, ISBN 1-58542-193-6).
 For details on the engineering complexities of integrating wind and other energy sources into a National Grid see The Wind Farm Scam by John Etherington. A notable exception to the industry-led research designed to perpetuate the current electricity infrastructure...instead of looking impartially at a full range of future infrastructure options...is the research by two Swedish academics. For further details see Increasing the Hosting Capacity of Distributed Energy Resources Using Storage and Communication at http://pure.ltu.se/portal/files/36777611/Nicholas_Etherden.pdf.
 Local national and state strategies should include the option of outsourcing the research to public state confederations such as the United Nations and the United States. Competition has its place but not everywhere.
 The natural availability of wind energy and the engineering realities of harnessing its power limit its use. Wind creation technologies might alter this. Shaping the natural and man-made environment is an unexplored technology presently invoked accidentally to collapse cooling towers and create windy city centre environments. Buckminster Fuller also pointed out that bringing the wind down to ground-based turbines made more sense than putting turbines at the end of long poles.
 Wind science should be an integral part of the sciences of aeronautics and fluid flow derived from Bernoulli’s studies of pressure differentials and their wider impact on the real world. Yacht designers might turn out to be the leading experimental scientists. It took centuries for the fore and aft rig to be invented in the 16th century to allow ships to sail into the wind.
 Academia should have developed a Science of Scale during the 19th & 20th Century in response to the rise of large scale technological applications following the industrial revolution. Instead it allowed a bogus theory of diminishing returns...which applies to marginal land (and to capital accumulation)...to be taken as a general theory that was beneficial to national prosperity and human happiness.
 In a sane, humane ecological society with sensible laws (e.g. the 1571 Law Against Usury in the UK or a constitutional amendment prohibiting usury in the USA), the perpetrators would also be criminally liable.
 Across Montgomeryshire this implies a density greater than one per square mile.
 See a short piece in Private Eye (Issue Number 1294 on 5th August 2011) entitled Keeping the Lights On.
 Carwyn Jones has hinted that planning concerns will limit the scale of the scheme, while targeting a capacity of 70 percent greater than would be the case if these concerns were allowed to prevail.
 There may be other wider environmental ramifications than those included in these cost estimates. See Megaliths, Meis & Miners by William Shepherd.
 Energy companies are up there with the banks and the mobile phone companies for mis-selling and mis-leading the public. On Bank Holiday Monday 2013, the Daily Telegraph was reporting that wind farm operators in Scotland had been paid over a million pounds 'to shut down their turbines for a single day last month'. No doubt steps will be taken to adjust the small print of the contracts with small wind electricity suppliers to 'curtail' the legal definition of 'intermittent average output' and ensure that this doesn't happen again. Here is the full story. 'A total of £1,146,614, which ultimately comes from electricity consumers' bills, was given to 13 companies to compensate them for not producing power during periods of high generation and low demand.' This is becoming standard practice with small private generators of solar-voltaic electricity. 'The Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), a charity that publishes information on the energy sector, said the "constraint payments" were made on April 29, the largest being £348,349 for the Crystal Rig II Wind Farm operated by energy company Fred Olsen in East Lothian. One company, EDF, charged between £89 to £149 for every megawatt hour (MWh) of energy that was not produced, compared with £50 per MEh it would have received for selling it.' Set-Aside might be an appropriate name...if the European Commission haven't slapped their copyright on the term. 'A total of £3,6 million was paid out in April, the highest monthly total since September 2011. A National Grid spokesman said the payments spiked while maintenance was carried out.' So that's all right then.
 Truly alarming for the Wind Power Lobbyists are recent reports from Manchester of gigantic gas fields in Lancashire. Cuadrilla, a gas exploration company has been drilling for shale gas and discovered 200 trillion cubic feet of gas. If only a tenth of this were to be produced, it would still make it far larger than any gas field discovered in the Scottish North Sea, with the added benefit of being accessible from dry land. As Private Eye commented on 30th September 2011: '[Cuadrilla's discovery] represents a potential lottery win: not just for Cuadrilla but for UK plc as a whole.' Shame the public purse won't get to see any of the money, although in one of the many ironies of English and Scottish history, the discovery might make possible the break-down of the United Kingdom into more manageable ten million population chunks...provided that the European Union doesn't meddle in the UK's internal affairs. Left to their own devices, the clever boys in London and Edinburgh would have few problems sorting out what would have been well-nigh impossible before...the allocation of residual past and future energy assets (and profits) between the two nations. William Shepherd discusses the issues raised by the recent shale gas strikes in England in the cesc dispatch Letter from Blackpool. Regrettably it is not economic to exploit the country's shale gas deposits while there is plenty of cheaper gas available elsewhere in the world, so what we are witnessing is something insiders' call an Exploration Play. This is rather like the Supermarket Ploy to secure planning permission on a piece of empty land to improve their negotiating position. First find your reserves of shale gas and then sell on the exploration license for a fat profit. If, at some future date, you wonder where the high price of local UK shale gas came from you need look no further. Cuadrilla's Australian backer, engineering firm AJ Lucas, has as good as admitted this when remarking that it doesn't expect to develop the gas it has found...a cunning deviation on the derivatives business. This is all set to change. The largest contributor to UK's present imported gas dependency is Qatar...from a giant offshore gas-field shared with Iran. Declaring war on Iran could well mean declaring environmental war on the Weald and shaking up the people who live in the North West. Is it an 'unintended consequence' if you know but keep quiet? Hey Ho! One more set of private players to add to the growing list of limited liability judicial persons with a vested commercial interest in unleashing the dogs of war from the comfort of their executive dining rooms.