Nuclear option

I refer to the article, “Only one winner in energy debate” (Friends of The Scotsman, 10 July) which is crowded with misinformation on which I wish to make some observations.

The “need to cut carbon 
dioxide emissions while at the same time reducing our reliance on imported natural gas” can be achieved by using gas in preference to coal, and by using fracking gas. Scotland is inadequately connected to the British electricity system and there are signs that England will not wish to fund the necessary transmission reinforcement for the potential benefit of a foreign nation.

It would be prudent of the Scottish Government to factor that in to its detailed energy planning (if any).

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I am not aware that electricity demand has fallen by any great extent. In spite of massively increased renewables, the Scottish Government targets for emission reduction have never been met. The article goes on to say: that “the National Grid is managing this system by contracting for as much reserve plant as is necessary”. Including large banks of diesel generators and mothballed plant is not spare capacity in that it cannot be used at will or in an emergency.

The wholesale electricity price of electricity is around £42 per MWh, as pointed out in the article. How on earth is wind generated electricity at £80 cheaper? We buy French nuclear generated electricity in the open market at competitive prices every day.

The only reason for negotiating at the Hinckley C rate is that the UK has boxed itself into a corner through its lunatic energy policy and the nuclear industry is negotiating from a position of considerable strength.

In any case, why should it accept less for reliable nuclear generated electricity than the government is prepared to allow the consumer to pay for unreliable wind generated electricity?

Nuclear is given despatch priority for sound engineering reasons. Wind also has “despatch priority” but only because of artificial market conditions which make it the most expensive generation to constrain off.

When generation constraint is necessary, the National Grid first shuts down cheaper fossil generators, allowing the consumer to continue to buy expensive wind electricity.

The National Grid will only constrain off wind to preserve the integrity of the grid when threatened by wind itself.

Stuart Young

Scientific Alliance