NOT unusually at this time of year some cynical observer of the Scottish
Government’s agenda for the advancement of renewable power generation,
notices that calm weather undermines its case, when wind is the predominant
renewable source at this early stage of the transition away from fossil
fuels. George Herraghty does just this in a letter (December 27) in which
he avers that the “Scottish Government has been well and truly stuffed by
the wind industry”, despite other sources of renewable power such as solar,
wave, tidal and geothermal rapidly entering the frame. Nevertheless, small
countries, occupying relatively small land areas, such as Scotland,
England, the UK, France or even Spain with seemingly copious sunshine,
cannot satisfy their future energy needs in a carbon-less fashion on their
own. The sane and sensible route forward is through co-operation and
sharing. In this part of the world that means the EU.
So the major misjudgment has not been by Holyrood, but by Westminster
ministers in allowing our small island with limited potential to supply
users with reliable electrical power from renewables, to be dragged out of
Europe. In several recent EU-based publications, it is reported that a
viable high voltage direct current (HVDC) super-grid is being planned to
connect geothermal power stations in central Europe, solar power stations
in southern Europe, wind farms in Western Europe, wave/tidal systems off
Norway and Portugal, hydroelectric stations in Northern Europe. This system
would be backed up by massive storage facilities based on compressed gas
and hot water thermal storage using cathedral sized underground caverns, on
massive battery farms, and on pumped storage employing artificial lagoons
constructed in shallow sheltered bays. An example is already under
construction in the coastal waters off Denmark. The super-grid has to be
geographically extensive to ensure continuity of supply from these diverse
Mr Herraghty will be interested to know that according to the International
Energy Agency (IEA), in its recent report, entitled Energy and Technology
Perspectives 2016, developments in renewable technology have been
impressive. Since 2008 the cost of wind power generation has reduced by 41
per cent, solar PV by 55 per cent, battery storage technology by 73 per
cent, and LED based lighting by 91 per cent. On the battery front,
furthermore, the cost per kWh of storage has fallen 200 per cent while
energy storage capacity has improved from 150Wh/litre to 700Wh/litre.
The above advances are largely being procured through the private sector
and the market mechanism. However, countering climate change needs much
more. It can be achieved by European nations cooperating, directing and
implementing infrastructure projects through their public sectors
allocating generous budgets at a level which have, in the past, been
regularly directed toward foreign wars. Unfortunately, the UK will be on
the outside looking in.
Alan J Sangster,
37 Craigmount Terrace, Edinburgh.
I READ, with surprise, George Herraghty’s letter decrying the lack of wind
contribution to the national grid and its cost.
I shan’t respond using the same excitable Christmas language; however, I
will point out that:
(1) Wind is still a minority energy source and is only one of numerous
renewable energy sources (including direct hydro, forced hydro, solar,
waste, tidal, wave, and so on) which are being improved constantly (we are
fast approaching the theoretical maximum efficiency of 59 per cent).
(2) When the National Grid switches on, wind (and other renewable sources)
are at the front of the queue and are started up immediately meaning they
are always in demand and called on every single day. The grid avoids carbon
whenever possible but fires up gas etc during peak times (for now until
there is more renewable energy).
(3) The economy of scales means that the capital expenditure on a wind farm
which was approx £2 million per MW just six years ago is now less than £1m
per MW. To add to this, feed-in tariffs (subsidies funded via tax) are
being cut back dramatically; wind is becoming self-sufficient.
(4) The UK produced two consecutive days (2017) and three consecutive days
(2018) of energy (records respectively) with no coal burning whatsoever.
Four consecutive days are expected in 2019; this is not the combined number
of days in a year but reflects the growing consistency of moving away from
carbon energy sourcing.
(5) From a holistic perspective, any energy source with zero fuel costs,
zero carbon emissions and very strict planning/regulatory processes has,
surely, to be applauded?
OK. Just one Yuletide analogy: working in the renewable energy sector, my
Christmas dinner tasted pretty good this year.
Pintail Crescent, Great Notley, Essex.
WE are so often told by turbine enthusiasts that the wind is free and so it
However, the harnessing of it for unreliable energy production would appear
to mean it is free to wreak havoc on the environment it is placed in; free
to divide and distress unwilling communities; free to burden the consumer
with generous subsidies and extortionate constraint payments to turn
turbines off when demand is low; free to adversely impact on the health of
its neighbours; free to produce an energy that is erratic, unreliable and
hard to manage on the grid; free to fail on a regular basis with no
penalties charged; free to take our local authority money with routine
appeals against objections because no doesn’t seem to mean no to a wind
developer; free to masquerade as a low cost energy because the 24/7 back up
required is not considered; free to proclaim it reduces emissions when so
many factors are not included in calculations; free to kill protected birds
and bats without recourse…
Yes, wind may indeed be free but the cost of using it is immeasurable and
increasingly unacceptable to the people who really care about the
environment and those in fuel poverty who cannot afford all the “green”
levies added to their energy bills.
Darach Brae, Beauly.
DAVID Attenborough’s stark warnings re consequences of global warming
unless we take decisive action now has been accepted by most thinking
people. One aspect that we`ll have to get used to, also, is what will
happen when mass migration is on the move as humans fight for survival.
It’s incumbent upon us to plan for that, too. We will have to change
attitudes and our scientists come up with answers. Cheaper making provision
on this planet than fly to Mars, I would imagine …
10 The Woodlands, Stirling.