I SUPPORT J Lodge in his desire to keep Scotland as unpolluted as possible
(Letters, December 14).

However, renewable energy is not a replacement for conventional forms of power.

Wind farms in Scotland make no economic or practical sense. The Scottish
electricity demand curve rises in the early morning, remains relatively
constant through the day, rises again to a peak around 8pm and then falls
to a low between 3am and 4am. Electricity cannot be stored in any
significant amount. It must be produced at the time to meet the demand.

We don’t control when the wind blows. If wind farms produce electricity
during the night, the operators get paid not to produce electricity. These
“constraint payments” were £2m between April and October this year.

In Denmark, wind power electricity generated overnight is sold cheaply to
Norway which has spare pump storage capacity. Hydro-electric schemes are
used to pump water to high reservoirs in the Norwegian mountains. During
the day, the Norwegian hydro-electric power is re-sold back to Denmark at a
higher market price.

In Scotland we do have hydro pump storage capable of supplying about 5% of
our daytime electricity needs. A new £800m scheme at Coire Glas near Spean
Bridge was recently approved by the Scottish Energy Minister. This will
improve Scotland’s electricity storage capacity. The scheme has been
opposed by the John Muir Trust and Scottish Natural Heritage on
environmental grounds.

The need to get wind farm-generated electricity to the central belt and
beyond was the justification for the Beauly to Denny power line which is
now operational at a cost of £350. There is a new proposal for a 15-mile
line from Tomatin to Inverness which will see the existing 86ft pylons
replaced with 152ft pylons necessary for the 275kV line. The update is
needed to meet the projected electricity supply from wind farms in the
Tomatin area.

Mr Lodge’s claim that “the planet breathes a sigh of relief with every
renewable project” is incorrect. The statement confers an uncritical
significance to the word “renewable”. Each project is associated with
practical conseq­uences. The electricity has to be stored or transmitted to
the areas of need or the suppliers paid not to generate.

Hydrogen technology offers the best solution to this problem.
Locally-produced electricity is used to split water into hydrogen and
oxygen. The hydrogen can be stored and transported. There is no need for
costly and unsightly power lines Prototype hydrogen-powered vehicles are on
our roads now.

We need Government-supported research into all aspects of renewable energy,
including the hydrogen option.

We must have ideals, but we live in a practical world. Transparent costs
and an informed debate should guide the way forward.

John Black,
6 Woodhollow House,

SAS Volunteer

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