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Monday, November 22, 2010


Wimdmill with 20 year design life

This is the second letter in the Herald today. Ist Herald letter they've published since March & the first since May 2009 on this subject though my letters have certainly attracted attention.
Jim Mather defends the SNP's position on not building new conventional power plants by saying "by 2008, Scotland was producing 11% of its consumption from wind" & implicitly more now.

His own government's figures available on Scottish Energy Study: Volume 1: Energy in Scotland: Supply and Demand figure 21 indeed show "renewables" make up 11% of Scottish electricity generation. However what this omits is that this is all renewables undifferentiated & that for decades hydro power has made up 10% of our power.

Certainly rain has not ceased thus much of the 11% he claims must still be hydro power, probably 10% of it. I hope next year the government will give figures in more detail but in any case 1% is not enough to keep the lights on when Holyrood has voted unanimously to close 42% of CO2 generating power within 10 years. Combined with the nuclear closure that is half of all electricity. 1% of power produced by windmillery does not inspire confidence that it can replace 50% within 10 years & suggests Rupert Soames is, if anything, being optimistic when he says we face blackouts if we are not "pouring concrete" for practical plants "within 2 years."

Just 1% also seems a poor return for spending £1 bn a year subsidising "renewables." That would be enough, through our tax varying powers, to cut every body's income tax by 3p - or at least it would have been had the SNP not decided, while claiming their failure to improve the economy was because they need "more powers", to give away the real power we have but which it has been feart to use.

Italics for small bits edited out, all of which simply tightens up & improves the letter.

The original letter from Jim Mather, whom I regard as the brains of the SNP & thus seems to have limited influence, is here. I will advise if there is a reply disputing my "11% is all renewables not just wind".

The first letter comes from Prof Colin McInnes, to whom I have no problem yielding. It concentrates on comparing the astronomical cost of wind, particularly if it becomes a large part of our power, with that of nuclear.
renewables obligation costs of £37 per MW-hour have already led to a bill of more than £200m per year for consumers.

However, this pales in comparison to the cost of the much larger 11GW of offshore wind to be installed in Scottish waters, as advocated by Mr Mather and others. The offshore wind deployment will require £30bn of capital and up to £57bn in renewable obligation payments over the 20-year design life of the plant. For the best part of £90bn, we will receive only 20 years of fluctuating electrical energy.

For a fraction of the cost of offshore wind, we could secure a compact, carbon-free nuclear base load capacity with a useful 60-year design life. Assessments of full life-cycle costs by professional engineers clearly demonstrate that nuclear (6-8p per kW-hour) is significantly cheaper than coal with carbon capture (10-16p per kW-hour), and vastly cheaper than offshore wind (15-21p per kW-hour) and can be comparable with low carbon gas (6-11p per kW-hour).

The 3rd letter is on the same line saying that pouring money into "renewables" means
...greater reliance on importing power from elsewhere to cover our erratic supply situation. Most likely, much of this will come from the increased nuclear capability that more rational administrations are now planning.

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Hi Neil -congratulations - we BOTH got published in the Herald and on
the same subject. Germaine to the subject is the now old story about how
the labour government was equally cack handed in their energy policy. If
you google up "Subsidies and subterfuge" and follow the link about
public petition on PE1188 you can get most of the sordid details. In
short ,a sustained campaign by the big hydro to persuade a gullable
government that many of the dams they had taken over at give away prices
were so badly in need of repair that they could only justify these
expensive repairs if the bar for eligibility for ROC's was raised to 20
megawatts and that refurbished schemes that were down rated to that
level would qualify as would all new hydro,regardless of scale. This was
a huge shifting of the goal posts and occasioned a significant drop in
hydro capacity in pursuit of ROC's subsidy. The "huge" repair costs
were to prove so far from the actual costs as to probably be fraudulent.
Despite a loss of hydro capacity equivalent to losing the Pitlochry
power station altogether, the opposition parties were,and remain
mute.Replacement turbines are usually MORE efficient and produce MORE
energy, not less, but that was what was allowed to happen
Pump storage hydro is one of the few proven systems of large scale
energy storage yet because of the ROC's system, Glendoe could not
qualify, though from a technical viewpoint it would have been very
suitable. ( The money to be made from ROC's was greater than that from
storing off peak electricity ).As the other successful letter writer
pointed out, off shore wind is a huge swindle, regards Sandy
Pump storage is useful not only for wind but also for nuclear since nuclear produces at a flat rate 24/7 (indeed I think that is why Cruachan is close, as the crow flies, to Hunterson). Nonetheless it is only about 60% energy efficient according to the gragh I invoked in the letter so it just about doubles the cost of power. That may not matter for otherwise unusable off-peak nuclear but certainly does for any wind costing.
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