Gas power key to cutting energy prices

ELIZABETH Marshall (Letters, 13 June) raises points of great concern regarding current ­energy policy.

Firstly, the price of electricity is now difficult for anyone to understand as a result of privatisation since 1990 and the fact that all new renewable plants and nuclear plants rely on subsidies and guaranteed prices respectively.

The current generating cost of electricity from nuclear and gas plants is under £70 per megawatt hour and although the Hinkley Point guaranteed price seems high at £92.50 per megawatt hour, it is less than the cost of most renewables.

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Secondly, the cost all electricity generating prices should be analysed taking into account subsidies and guaranteed prices. My understanding is that the price of onshore wind power is about £120 per megawatt hour and the price of offshore wind power about £192 per megawatt hour.

These prices do not take into account subsidies, grid integration costs or the back-up supply required from fossil fuel plants (gas).

Thirdly, gas power plants are urgently required to replace coal power stations and also as back-up for renewable facilities and at present represent the best value for money.To make sure we have security of gas supply we should now investigate fracking.

The Independent Expert Scientific Panel – Report on Unconventional Oil and Gas 2014, commissioned by the ScottishGovernment makes clear that fracking can be implemented safely and without any dangers to the environment.

However, the main problem with the electricity industry is that, since privatisation, Britain has lost control of the generating companies and of much of the engineering expertise and we seem to be dependent on foreign companies and investors.

Perhaps we should consider nationalising the generating companies or setting up a National Electricity Generating Authority to oversee and work with the existing companies to ensure that the interests of the consumer are paramount. A proper energy policy is urgently required. 

C Scott

Mortonhall Road


ELIZABETH Marshall (Letters, 13 June) is mistaken in taking my letter (12 June) as a defence of the price for Hinkley C.

It is indeed absurdly high as a result of the incompetence of our government’s negotiators ending up in the position of a “distressed buyer” with only a single bidder which could then name its own price.

My point was that even this would be less expensive for consumers than wind, which would require additional infrastructure and back-up. I am as clear as Ms Marshall that potentially the cheapest electricity for the forseeable future can be obtained from gas.

However, the market distorting effect of renewables subsidies and grid priority 
makes it uncertain that this will be achieved.

I have seen one estimate of the likely load factor for gas put at 40 per cent in the present market situation. This would be an unattractive investment unless guaranteed a premium price.

Politicians’ obsession with “renewable” electricity increases the cost to the consumer of all types of generation. 

(Prof) Jack W Ponton

Earlston, Berwickshire