IF the whole of Wales was covered with wind turbines, the nation would generate only a sixth of the UK’s energy needs, a leading academic has calculated.

The claim comes as the Environment Agency is about to announce plans to build up to 80 turbines on its own land and the speculation that a new nuclear power station will be built in Wales intensifies.

Professor David MacKay, a physicist at Cambridge University, said ministers would have to look at other forms of alternative energy, like tidal power, if they were to meet ambitious renewable energy targets.

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In his new book, Sustainable Energy – Without The Hot Air, Prof MacKay, who backs wind power, argues that wind farms will need at least five times more land than previously estimated to make a significant contribution to the UK’s energy needs.

He states: “The average energy used per person in the UK is 125 kilowatt hours per day. To achieve even 20 kilowatt hours per day per person it will require enough wind turbines to cover an area the size of Wales. It is an incredibly large area and with the difficulties in getting planning, it is hard to imagine how it could be achieved. The government needs to look at some of the other options such as tide energy. We need a plan that adds up.”

Ministers have pledged to provide 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020 and have relied on wind energy to provide almost all of the capacity.

The Environment Agency will today reveal plans to build up to 80 wind turbines on its own land.

A spokesman said: “We have a duty to look at our own sites and see if it is possible to be sustainable. The idea is that we produce power for our own buildings, with any excess energy going into the national grid.”

The site of Wylfa nuclear power station on Anglesey is likely to be up for sale, causing speculation a new power station could be built.

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