Water mistake

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WITH respect to hydro power (your report, 11 February) it is good to see that the Scottish Government is now at least thinking along the lines I have previously proposed ( Letters, 30 January).

It is a great pity First Minister Alex Salmond still hasn’t grasped that Ben Cruachan, like its big brother at Dinorwig in Wales, is not a primary generation facility but an energy store and, as such, will power nothing on its own.

Even with the additional buffering possible from the car batteries of the future it may be that hydro/pumped hydro will not be achievable and acceptable at the level required to support sufficient wind and tidal power. We need something else in addition.

Then there is the problem of sea and air transport, both (Letters, 1 February) heavy consumers of fossil fuel and probably, the latter especially, non-adaptable. We should be aiming to preserve our precious remaining oil reserves for this purpose.

Scotland has some advantage over other countries, mainly because of low population density but even here it is clear we will not be able to continue at our current standard of living on renewables alone.

We need to embrace science, and build new nuclear plant.

(Dr) A McCormick

Kirkland Road

Terregles

Dumfries

COUNCILLOR Bill Butler (“Facts that make nuclear future fanciful”, Letters, 6 February), merely exposes the mythology on which his anti-nuclear stance is founded.

Based on fatalities/kiloWatt hours of electricity generated, nuclear is one half that of wind and the safest of all generating methods. When the total system cost of wind or solar energy is properly estimated, renewables are twice or more the cost of  nuclear. If as he thinks the price is coming down, remove all subsidies; the industry is mature now. Radioactive waste from power stations is transported in massive steel containers. Real tests between a fast speeding locomotive and these steel containers showed they survived unharmed.

Known uranium reserves have actually increased threefold since 1975 due to increased exploration. The oceans offer virtually unlimited uranium supplies if needed. GE and Hitachi have offered to build a small prism reactor at Sellafield to dispose of its waste and to generate 60 years worth of electricity.

Fast-breeder reactors leave almost no waste and what remains has a very short half-life. As a scientist I used radioactive materials throughout my career and know the fears expressed by Mr Butler are greatly exaggerated.

Finally the Fukushima tsunami killed 20,000, the damaged power station killed none. If the concern is to ban supposed risks then we better start with aeroplanes worldwide and cars on UK roads. In each case the death totals are about 2,000 a year. From UK nuclear power stations, none. 

(Prof) Tony Trewavas

Scientific Alliance Scotland 

North St David Street 

Edinburgh