Thursday we issued a zombie warning – we had concerns that armies of undead arguments were likely to crawl from their graves onto ITV’s ‘Tonight: the real cost of going green’. Did you spot any?
Well, perhaps not entire armies - ITV were a bit more sensible than we expected. And they were a lot more sensible than the Panorama crew who based a whole documentary on a KPMG report on the costs of renewables, which they never actually saw, and which KPMG have now decided not to release. Overall, Tonight was relatively even-handed. Perhaps the KPMG fiasco has taught the media to be a bit less trusting of dubious pronouncements on green energy.
Nevertheless, a few zombies did manage to sneak under the wire.
Most obviously, the claim that ‘some analysts have calculated that the full cost of the government’s going green policies will add up to £400 on household bills’ lurched into view near the end of the programme. Which analysts? Well, they didn’t say, but that figure corresponds to claims made by Policy Exchange’s report ‘The Full Cost to Households of Renewable Energy Policies’, and there’s the same sleight of hand used here as in previous reporting of those claims. Their £400 figure, which is based partly on unsupported guesswork, doesn’t really refer to an increase in your energy bill, but is instead their estimate of the total costs to the entire economy - which they claim will eventually be passed to the householder through various routes.
‘Tonight’s website also recommends the Taxpayers’ Alliance book, Let Them Eat Carbon, so that’s two walking corpses making it onto the show.
And finally, one zombie that we didn’t mention yesterday, but will be on the look-out for in future. Ambitious Conservative Anne-Marie Trevelyan complained that wind farm operators are paid huge amounts of money when their turbines are turned off because the grid is over-supplied. That’s not incorrect, strictly speaking, but this applies to all power sources, not just wind farms. And wind only receives about 3.5 per cent of the money given out to off-line power sources through the Balancing Mechanism, whereas much greater amounts are given to off-line fossil fuel plants.
That’s in line with the general situation on energy funding. Globally, fossil fuels get 500 per cent more subsidies than renewables. Perhaps this explains why the zombie hordes tend to demand an end to wind power, rather than an end to subsidies.