Report underplays renewable energy

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There has been much ill-informed criticism of the fact that the white paper, 
Scotland’s Future, was paid for by the Scottish Government. By my calculation (with the help of a Scotsman leader) the latest report from the Department of Energy takes the total number of reports briefing against independence produced by UK Government departments at the expense of the UK taxpayer to 16.

Unsurprisingly, this report seeks to underplay both the ultimate potential benefits Scotland will reap in the long term from renewable energy and the fact that the UK taxpayer will be subsidising for decades the building of the next generation of nuclear generation as the profits from it flow abroad.

Also there is no mention of the massive costs that the UK taxpayer will have to bear to decommission the current ageing generation of nuclear power stations. That, taken with the high energy transmission costs Scotland has to bear at present, might lead us to conclude that we should get out while we can.

Douglas Turner

Derby Street

Edinburgh

The SNP demonstrates a strange lack of common sense when it comes to power.

Clearly, western Europeans are getting anxious about the extent to which they (especially the Germans) are beholden to the Russians for gas.

However, when it comes to electricity, the SNP seems to believe that overpriced, sporadic electricity from Scotland can be forced onto the English grid if Scotland breaks away.

However, the high-voltage direct current link (which, it seems, the SNP has never heard of) supplies cheap, nuclear power station-generated electricity to the UK via cross-Channel power lines already.

Since new nuclear power stations are to be built in England and since the French have a huge investment in such cheap power, which is reliable whatever the weather, it is a puzzle as to where expensive Scottish electricity can be sold and where they can create a reliable electric power source in Scotland. Clearly, the SNP needs a plan Sizewell B.

Andrew HN Gray

Craiglea Drive

Edinburgh

I taught physics off and on for more than 30 years in day school, night school and college, where it was clear how vulnerable young people are to pedagogic propaganda.

Post-war generations were turned against safe, convenient and reliable nuclear power by a continuous stream of CND sledging in subjects such as history and general studies.

In recent years, eco-activism has been rampant in schools, with pupils bombarded with alarmist misinformation about the fashionable creed of man-made global warming.

Instead, they need to be aware that human knowledge is advanced by scepticism and equipped to make their own judgments when exposed to the hucksters of pseudo-science.

Public documents suggest alarmism has been toned down in the new English curriculum but in Scotland it is getting worse and that is surely a cause for concern.

(Dr) John Cameron

Howard Place

St Andrews

Creating unforeseen circumstances or, indeed, deliberately avoiding such (Carolyn Taylor, Letters, 10 April) seems to me a bit oxymoronic.

Having endured the Glasgow smogs of the 1950s how could I not agree with Ms Taylor’s views on this?

However, removing the worst of them (China and India) would take at least two generations and would not return the equilibrium (actually non-equilibrium) pre-industrial state.

We would still have the extra greenhouse gases and that other, probably more serious, unforeseen consequence of industrialisation, an almost unsustainable human and domestic animal population.

I am not a sceptic of climate change but I think that far too little has been done far too late to have any real effect (and I will again remind people of the disastrous unintended results of many well-intentioned “green” solutions to world problems).

We should be preparing as much as possible for the likely consequences, not wasting resources in the probably useless attempts at avoidance.

(Dr) A McCormick

Kirkland Road

Dumfries

We ARE hearing the usual unqualified stuff about “Scotland’s abundant energy wealth” and how “green energy will be in demand” as UK and Europe try to cut climate emissions (your report, 10 April) and “we know how to mitigate our impact” on the environment by removing known contributors to climate change (Letters, same issue).

It all gets in the way of rational debate. Energy wealth includes fossil fuels which add carbon dioxide to the air and contribute to global warming.

Green energy must include nuclear. Once operational, there are many decades of greenhouse-gas emission-free electricity generation.

Mitigating measures do not depend on inefficient and intermittent wind turbines being erected on every square kilometre possible but on finally paying up for really expensive carbon dioxide capture and storage systems for fossil fuel power plants.

Large-scale storage systems for solar and wind electricity can help to even out their unreliability, but as yet are unavailable at any reasonable cost.

A reminder is needed that methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Why does that matter? Because natural gas leaks, and fracking and landfill leaks all enter the atmosphere. Then mammals, including us, emit methane.

The nightmare scenario is that the methane sequestered deep in hydrates in the sea beds and on land is released in massive volumes if global warming goes too far, with catastrophic consequences.

That is not yet a proven scenario, but should the precautionary principle apply in spades?

(Dr) Joe Darby

Dingwall

Ross-shire