Letters: War of statistics in the green debate

GERALD Warner's comment on climate change (Insight, 26 December) appears to misunderstand or misrepresent a number of fundamental points. I'll leave the climate experts to respond to his questionable arguments negating global warming, however, his criticism of wind energy is crying out for correction.

Firstly, if he had read the report referred to by the First Minister in Jane Bradley's article on wind farm approval rates (News, 26 December), he would know that renewable electricity met over a quarter of Scotland's demand in 2009, with almost a 50-50 split in the contribution from wind and hydropower. Due to steady growth in operating renewables projects, we will see an increase in this figure year on year.

Warner also misses the point of what "capacity factor" means. No generating station of any kind runs at 100 per cent of its total theoretical capacity. The output from most renewable generators is of course more variable than fossil fuel or nuclear power stations, however National Grid has confirmed that a high proportion of renewables on the system is entirely manageable.

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And yes, until we have up and running a greater mix of renewables alongside adequate technologies to store energy and to manage the peaks and troughs in demand, conventional power stations will continue to have a "back-up" role to fill the gap when demand is high or renewables output is low. However, even now, the more renewables are generating on the system, the less fossil fuel is used in these stations, meaning Scotland is already moving closer to a clean, secure and sustainable economy.

Jenny Hogan, Director of Policy,

Scottish Renewables, Glasgow

ONE salient phrase leaps out from Gerald Warner's Strictly Speaking article in your 26 December issue: it's all about cash. It couldn't be otherwise, of course; nothing else could explain blind government acceptance of "evidence" distorted and even invented to fit the claims. Gerald expertly lists the most outrageous of these, and I have two further questions.

Firstly, did the Scottish Government investigate the accuracy of the statistics paraded by those claiming man-made pollution? The very survival of mankind (remember Gordon Brown's "50 days to save the world" last year?) must surely have been thoroughly debated in parliament.

Secondly, with an emissions output almost too small to register globally, why has Scotland set such draconian renewable energy targets? Our government prides itself on having the world's most ambitious climate change targets: for heaven's sake, why?

We're leading where others have already stopped going. Denmark, leaders in the windmill field, has declared the enterprise a disaster and, like Germany, has not saved a single gram of CO2 emission, having in fact opened up new coal mines as back-up.

It is indeed all about cash; massive taxpayer subsidies to producers and further costs to consumers in the form of higher energy prices.Robert Dow, Tranent

EITHER Alex Salmond does not understand electricity generation or he is being deliberately deceptive. Because of exports, it is not possible to know whether or not Scotland produced 27.4 per cent of "our entire electricity needs from renewables". All we know is that in 2009 only 20.7 per cent of all generation in Scotland came from renewables, only about 11 per cent from wind, wave, solar power and thermal renewables.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh