SNP fuelled the crisis facing Longannet

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IN TYPICAL SNP style, Fergus Ewing diverts attention from reality by blaming Westminster and grid transmission costs for the potential closure of the Longannet power ­station (your report, 17 February), conveniently failing to admit the primary cause of the threat to Longannet is his own government’s energy policy, which focuses on the reduction of carbon emissions through extensive and ever increasing use of renewables, primarily wind.

Wind turbines do not, by their existence and operation, reduce carbon emissions but rather potentially do this by displacing fossil-fuel generation. Since wind generation is given priority access to the grid, fossil-fuelled generators such as Longannet are constrained, particularly since there are very limited means of consuming any excess electricity the wind turbines generate.

Inevitably, as the amount of wind generation increases, fossil-fuelled plants are more and more constrained, often becoming less and less economic, as would ­appear to be happening at Longannet.

However, it does appear that, at long last, Mr Ewing has recognised the importance of Longannet to Scotland’s ­future electricity supply by providing back-up when the wind isn’t blowing and in helping maintain grid stability. The saying “hoist with one’s own petard” springs readily to mind.

(Dr) GM Lindsay

Scientific Alliance Scotland

North St David Street

Edinburgh

THERE is a serious danger of people being misled about the reasons for Longannet power station’s future being in doubt. 

Fergus Ewing and Scottish­Power like to blame the UK government and National Grid for applying 
“unfair” charges to Longannet for accessing the grid. But why should this be an issue now? Those grid access charges have applied for years without ScottishPower or politicians 
expressing any public concern, and regulator Ofgem has already agreed to the charges being reduced. 

The Scottish Government has taken the position for some time that Longannet will close in 
2020. There is a very good reason for that date.

ScottishPower has chosen not to invest in the technology that would be required to enable Longannet to meet European Union sulphur dioxide emissions limits from 2016. They could be allowed to be part of a transitional phase, but that would be unlikely to take them beyond 2019 unless hundreds of millions of pounds are spent on further mitigation technology.

Add to that the carbon tax, which will be costing Longannet up to £150 million a year from now till 2020, and grid access charges start to look wholly irrelevant. There is cross-party consensus that coal-fired power stations will be phased out. Rather than 
finding spurious reasons for blaming the UK government for Long­annet’s closure, Mr Ewing 
should be explaining what his government is doing to ­facilitate an orderly decline for Longannet and finding alternative employment for the workers and communities that currently depend on it. 

Malcolm Spaven 
(Chair) Scottish Opencast Communities Alliance 

Gladhouse, Midlothian

FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned that the future of Scotland’s electricity supplies could be in jeopardy (your report, 17 February).

The Longannet coal plant in Fife could be closed by its owners, ScottishPower, within three years because the high network charges, set by Ofgem, will make the plant unprofitable by next winter.

Ms Sturgeon is now demanding Prime Minister David Cameron changes the rules to “keep the lights on” in Scotland. Is this the same Ms Sturgeon who with Alex Salmond vowed to close coal-fired and nuclear plants and rely on wind? Everyone, except the SNP, realised this was impossible.

Longannet provides 2,400 megawatts of electricity for two million homes and nuclear energy provided 35 per cent of Scotland’s needs.

Already Scotland is becoming increasingly reliant on importing English electricity.

It is ironic the SNP is reliant on England and the imported power is mainly generated from nuclear, coal and gas.

If the First Minister is so concerned about security of electricity supplies she should champion reliable new gas plants fuelled by Scottish shale gas.

Clark Cross

Springfield Road

Linlithgow, West Lothian

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