There is a real-world example of what can happen when subsidies are cut and greater scrutiny is applied to renewable energy projects, buried in the pages of the much maligned Senate committee report into wind turbines and health.
In January 2012, following the global financial crisis, the cash-strapped Spanish government abolished subsidies for wind farms. In Spain’s least windy region, Extremadura, 100 wind projects that had applied for approval abruptly withdrew.
But despite frantic claims that the entire wind industry would be ruined, 83 per cent of wind farms planned for Spain’s windiest region, Galicia, will still be built. They will be backed up by four reversible hydro-electric plants that can store the energy produced when the wind is blowing but electricity is not needed on the grid.
The first wind farm to develop without subsidy support began operations in Galicia in March.
Under the old system, this wind farm happily would have double-dipped for profit, collecting money for electricity sold and subsidy payments that were a blanket fit for the renewables industry in Spain, where inefficiency and corruption have been exposed on a grand scale.
With subsidies withdrawn, former wastage has been revealed, non-viable projects do not proceed and viable projects go ahead without need for additional financial support.