IT IS surprising that such an eminent scientist as Sir Ian Wilmut has been seduced by the renewable energy lobby into supporting the further spread of onshore wind farms (News, 13 January). Whatever the extent of links between carbon dioxide emissions, global warming and flooding, present renewable energy technologies will make no difference.
In reality, anything done to reduce emissions in Scotland, the UK more broadly or even the whole of the EU is more than offset by the new coal-fired power stations being built in China and other rapidly developing economies.
To make matters worse, even if the Chinese suddenly stopped investing in conventional generation and turned completely to wind farms, emissions savings would be modest; without economic energy storage systems on a massive scale (and these are not even on the horizon), the need for backup generation significantly limits the practical use of wind power.
If Scotland really wants a no-regrets, low carbon energy policy, the government needs to think seriously again about new nuclear power stations. Sir Ian rejects the technology as having “other hazards”, but nuclear has a very good track record. The actual harm caused by the Fukushima incident, for example, has been grossly overstated. Even what we now regard as nuclear waste is in fact a major untapped source of energy for the future.
It is time politicians realised they are despoiling the countryside and inflating electricity costs for no discernible benefit.
Martin Livermore, Scientific Alliance, St John’s Innovation Centre, Cambridge