Cheap electricity should be top priority

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The only hopeful feature in the recent Budget was the strong intention to ­exploit our abundant shale gas 
resources (your report, 21 March).

But this sensible policy is being offset by the crass requirement to make our largest generating stations, often next to coal mines, use expensive wood chips shipped from California or Canada.

Wood produces more emissions than coal per kWhr and is less efficient at converting heat to electricity. The added expense is thrown cavalierly on our electricity bills.

Essential coal-fired power stations are being shut early, new gas-fired power stations are not being built and there is now growing talk from generating industry representatives of dangerous blackouts.

These problems have just one source: the climate 
legislation in this country and from the EU, with strict targets about emissions reduction. It was no doubt a noble gesture but has become the ultimate gesture politics 
because, apart from Europe, no one else is bothering or 
is going to bother about emissions.

We are not saving the planet by coating our countryside in turbines or from introducing carbon prices or any other of the regulations that will continue to send electricity, that vital commodity for civilised life, spiralling upwards in price.

Instead it looks increasingly like the ultimate economic suicide note while others round the world take 
full advantage of cheap fuel and the economic activity and employment that goes with it.

Worldwide emissions have continued to burgeon and will do so for the foreseeable future.

If we had shut everything here it would have had no discernible effect anyway.

The climatologists’ 
models for which so much was claimed have proven poor predictors of future change and should never have been taken so easily at face value. The climate is not simple and no-one yet has devised a method for unambiguously distinguishing natural variation from mankind’s 
contribution.

What is needed now is 
politicians with the courage to admit errors and abandon policies that inflict direct damage on the people they represent.

We need cheap, reliable electricity, however it may be got, not political or green fundamentalist hubris about unrealistic targets.

(Prof) Tony Trewavas FRS FRSE

Scientific Alliance 
Scotland

North St David Street

Edinburgh

Your report (22 March) of the warning from Ian Marchant, chief executive of SSE, that the loss of thermal 
capacity with the closure of power stations such as 
Cockenzie means there is now a serious risk of 
electricity blackouts, comes as no surprise.

What your report does not highlight is that this is partly down to the misdirection of scarce public resources in the form of subsidies to the ­renewable sector and wealthy landowners.

The money wasted on trying to build up wind power, which is intrinsically unreliable, should instead have been spent on replacing our base load energy generation.

We can only hope that First Minister Alex Salmond will spend as much time as he has spent on promoting inefficient wind farms in trying to encourage ScottishPower to build its new gas power stations in Scotland.

Alan Black

Camus Avenue

Edinburgh

If I had the financial resources, I would take legal action against The Scotsman for making false statements regarding your report on the gigantic offshore wind farm proposed for the Moray Firth (20 March). Unfortunately, I haven’t.

You are probably hiding behind the fact that you are quoting the developers’ claim that enough energy will be generated for more than a million homes.

But surely, as a responsible paper, you should put the claim into some perspective, such that this will only occur for about 30 per cent of the time due to the general lack of wind of the correct speed.

Where will the electricity come from for the majority of the time? Certainly not from onshore turbines where the energy generating capacity is even less for a 
similar reason.

(Dr) Gordon Cochrane

Dargai Terrace

Dunblane