SOME recent letters regarding mains electrical power provision reveal, in
my opinion, partisan attachments for or against certain power generation
methods. Why, I do not know, for this a practical matter which depends on
established facts, the most important of which is that wind turbines are
used in large numbers in many countries.
Wind energy which cannot be used due to lack of demand, can be stored by
pumped storage; hydrogen generation by electrolysis; as “heat” stored in
the “cold” source of heat pumps, and batteries.
Pumped storage is a proven technology which has been in use in the UK for
decades (for example, Cruachan and Dinorwig). Hydrogen generation on a
large scale presents no special difficulties. Hydrogen has two main uses –
to augment the natural gas system we already have and as fuel for internal
combustion engines. Will a large investment in new technology be needed?
Yes, but let us recall that a large investment was needed to produce our
current system. It is very big and expensive, but essential to the society
we have.
Some argue that continuing to burn hydrocarbons is acceptable if the CO2
produced is stored under the seabed. This is possible but a risk of the
stored CO2 leaking back into the environment exists. It is difficult to
tell at present if this will rule it out.
If governments ban the release of CO2 into the atmosphere, developments in
the areas described above will occur. A careful costing and risk assessment
for all systems will be needed.
John Fleming, Glasgow.

SAS Volunteer

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