ANYONE taking the letters by Alan Sangster and Malcolm Orton (December 31)
at face value will have gained a very distorted view of Britain’s
electricity system. Both play up the multiplicity of renewable sources, yet
the fact is that there is very little coming onstream in Scotland at scale
except for wind.
A key marker of unthinking PR is when wave power is included in renewables,
as both Mr Sangster and Mr Orton do. There have been experiments in
extracting energy from waves for decades: there is still no commercial
grid-scale wave energy in Scotland. Tidal is developing but at a glacial
pace. Hydro has limited scope for increase: the rash of subsidised
run-of-river schemes in recent years has produced highly visible gravel
roads but small amounts of power – locally useful but nationally
negligible. Burning wood (biomass) for electricity generation, especially
when most is imported, is a short-term fix to reach political targets.
Waste-to-power will be non-renewable when we become better at recycling
waste rather than burning it.
Gas is not only used to generate electricity at peak times. It is the
backbone of the electricity system in Britain. Even at a low-demand time
with above average wind, like 8am on New Year’s morning, gas, nuclear and
wind were producing roughly similar amounts of electricity. Gas provides
both baseload and peaking power. On top of that, it provides the essential
firm power able to ramp up and down quickly to keep the grid in balance
despite the uncontrollable variability of wind.
We are making some progress on reducing our carbon footprint, but not
nearly as much as politicians and enthusiasts would like us to think (and
even that is far less than is needed). A hard-headed approach based on real
numbers and engineering practicalities is needed, not weasel-worded targets
and fantasy futures.
60 Bonhard Road, Scone, Perthshire.
ASHLEY Campbell is correct in stating that “it is almost inevitable that
Holyrood will miss the proposed new targets on fuel poverty” (“Why we need
a bold target on fuel poverty”, Agenda, The Herald, January 2). The reason
is simple – Scotland cannot afford a zero emission policy.
Seventy-five per cent of energy demand in Scotland is met from gas, hence
replacing 150 Twhours of gas energy (4p per unit) with renewable energy
(16p per unit ) will add £18 billion a year to energy bills and result in a
vast increase in fuel poverty.
Indeed, had the policy manager of CIH Scotland read the paper by Citizens
Advice Scotland there could have been a quote in the article to show that
51 per cent of Scots living in all-electric dwellings are in fuel poverty –
almost double the figure for those who access a dual-fuel energy source.
Is it not time for Holyrood to address the impact of energy charges on the
79 Queen Street, Castle Douglas.