The real tragedy about offshore wind investment halving in the last year (your report, 29 January) isn’t that the Scottish Government target of 100 per cent electricity generation from renewables won’t be met, but that it will.
Offshore wind development in Scotland has been failing to deliver the anticipated megawatts for years. Destroying huge tracts of prime Scottish landscape with industrial wind turbines for a negligible number of permanent jobs, no new manufacturing base and no net economic gain (except to the foreign-held bank accounts of multinational wind developers) was never part of the plan that was sold to the Scottish public.
When I confronted the Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing on this policy failure 18 months ago at a protest, his response was that if the government restricted onshore wind development, it might hurt investor confidence in offshore wind.
So Scottish landscape and people were being sacrificed for a desperate punt on an offshore wind bonanza? Mr Ewing corrected me and said he preferred the term “calculated risk”.
Electricity consumers are beginning to see they have been had. Sections of the UK Government are getting it. Even the EU has recognised that continuing down the renewables path means economic ruin.
But the Scottish Government, it seems, won’t be deterred from losing the family estate to the false promises of the wind industry. Will this be Alex Salmond’s “green” legacy?
Some time ago (Letters, 26 March, 2011) I made the tongue-in-cheek remark that Scotland kicked off the global warming crisis. I now know that to be generally scientifically accepted.
The industrial revolution changed power requirements from “as available” to “on demand” – one consequence of Watt’s steam engine being the demise of the windmill – so why are we apparently reintroducing the shortcomings of two centuries ago?
A major factor in the opposition to wind turbines is the growing awareness that, in isolation, they are quite useless as an on-demand energy source. However, in combination with a suitable buffering system a wind farm would operate like a continuous-supply conventional power station.
The main effort in Scotland should be towards the exploration of sufficient pumped hydro to meet future needs. This could be difficult, even for current electricity demand, and may be impossible for the hugely increased future requirement.
It should be written in banner headlines that the 2020 energy target of 100 per cent electricity provision, 100 per cent from renewables, is simply not possible without the above and is highly likely not to be achieved.
(DR) A McCormick