Letters: Nuclear option alongside wind power needed

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The decision to extend the life of Torness power station until 2030 (Your report, 17 February) is excellent news.

It means that up to a quarter of our electricity requirements will continue to be supplied from a reliable, low-carbon source, helping – in admittedly a very small way – to offset global warming.

Given that earlier this year WWF Scotland claimed that for 2015 wind energy generated enough power to supply the electrical needs of 97 per cent of Scottish households, there is clearly no need to build any more wind farms.

This is an opportunity for politicians to recognise that our wild lands are a precious resource that have to be preserved for future generations and not be used as a short term “cash cow” by land owners and electricity companies.

Alan Black

Camus Avenue
Edinburgh

Is the Torness extension an indication that at last common sense might be applied to our future energy generation?

With a grid distribution system fuelled entirely by wind, unsupported from immediately accessible stored-energy sources, when the wind supply drops below demand level this does not mean that we could soldier on for a bit with a reduced supply. The likely consequence is complete grid collapse from which, with reliance only on wind, recovery would be very difficult. Our heterogeneous generation system with a large wind component would suffer similar consequences in the absence of back-up.

A number of recent articles in this newspaper praising the large average contribution of wind to our electricity supply without reference to this factor are at best innocently misleading.

Nuclear stations like Torness work best when continuously operating at full potential. This means that with a capacity to meet average daily demand, there is plenty of extra energy available off-peak at no additional fuel cost.

Off-peak nuclear power would also charge the batteries of future electric vehicles and provide the vast amounts of energy required for flood defences.

Unsupported wind energy cannot meet our needs – so, do we need it at all?

Dr A McCormick

Terregles
Dumfries

That the operational life of the nuclear power station at Torness in East Lothian has been extended is good news, especially with the coal-fired Longannet set to close in March.

Paul Younger, professor of energy engineering at Glasgow University, said he welcomed this decision since “Scotland is facing a meltdown in its ability to produce all the electricity it wants on demand”.

Sarah Beattie-Smith of the Scottish Greens and Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of Earth Scotland, condemned the decision, saying there was no need for nuclear. I would have more respect for these two if they refused to take tainted Scottish electricity into their own homes, and also the gas, coal and nuclear electricity from England.

The dream of the SNP government for green energy to meet all of Scotland’s requirements by 2020 is in tatters. The SNP lacks a credible long-term energy policy to stop the lights going out when there is no wind or it blows too strongly.

Clark Cross

Springfield Road
Linlithgow

The extension of operation granted to Torness is welcome news, not just for the more than 700 people who work there and the many more who benefit as a result, but for our electricity supply and the environment.

However, the comments of the Scottish Greens spokesperson you quote are just silly. EDF is not “dictating energy policy”. In fact, the extension is in line with Scottish Government policy and approved by the UK’s independent Office of Nuclear Regulation (energy is reserved to the UK Government). How is democracy undermined in that?

As for focusing on climate change, that’s exactly what nuclear power does: it produces electricity without producing greenhouse gases. Some environmentalists approve of that, so what makes the Scottish Greens so blind?

Steuart Campbell

Dovecot Loan
Edinburgh