“An Absolute Disgrace”


November 25, 2011

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“Absolutely useless, completely reliant on subsidies and an absolute disgrace…”

So says the Duke of Edinburgh, when asked recently about his thoughts on the future of European wind.

Evidently, the outspoken royal isn’t our biggest fan.

Perhaps then it would come as a shock to discover that thanks to the foresight of the Crown Estate, he’s actually set to do rather well out of what he’s called a, “…fairy tale…” technology.

From 2013, the Royal Family’s civil list payments are to be replaced with a 15% payment from Crown Estate profits. As such, in the future the duke might be more dependent on wind energy than he’d like to think.

Put in context, the Crown Estate’s land and property portfolio is as significant as it is vast (valued at around £7bn). The portfolio owns almost all of Britain’s 7,700-mile coastline and has already leased and approved vast tracts of the seabed to developers – through Round One, Round Two and Round Three.

For the Duke, this means that the resultant offshore wind energy generation will be doing more for the Royal Family than he’d care to think. While this irony has yet to be fully appreciated by the Duke, it is something that numerous other land rich and cash poor families have already acknowledged.

It is, after all, difficult to ignore an opportunity to convert low-grade agricultural land into a direct source of regular and dependable income.

However, it’s not the paradox of the Duke’s future wealth that really irks. Rather, it’s the closed mindedness that such a high profile individual embodies.

After all, while the Duke stands to benefit from the income, it’s the wider UK economy that really stands to gain.

As the publication of the latest report timed to coincide with this week’s EWEA Offshore makes clear, Europe could have over 150GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030. A prediction that would meet 15% of the continents energy demand, while at the same time providing work for nearly 300,000 people.

It’s a realistic and achievable figure. The Duke makes plain that he doesn’t believe in fairy tales. Perhaps this is the one story for which he needs to make an exception?

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