Hidden costs and benefits of Wind power

Hidden costs and benefits of Wind power

In declaring that wind power is “now the cheapest form of energy” (8 October), Environment Editor Tom Bawden is wide of the mark. Other reputable analyses paint a picture different to Bloomberg’s.
 
However, the elephant in the room is intermittency. Taking the most basic approach, an onshore wind turbine at 25 per cent load factor requires 75 per cent back-up. The best candidate for that back-up is combined cycle gas power, and having it on standby when the wind is strong adds around £13 to each MWh of wind power. More to the point, we are never going to decarbonise the grid by going on in this way.
 
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recognises that wind power requires “extra measures” if it is to be a serious player. That means store-and-recover technologies, of which there are many types including our own Dinorwig pumped hydro facility. Inevitably, some of the energy will be lost as it goes into storage, and some more lost as it is recovered.  Whatever technology is used, it appears that only about 65 per cent or so of the electricity destined for storage would make it into the grid. 
 
The overall effect is a real cost for wholesale wind power that is approaching double what is claimed.
 
Renewables campaigners must know all of this: in claiming otherwise they  just squander credibility and trust.
 
Meanwhile, across the Channel the French grid is almost fully decarbonised, courtesy of nuclear and hydroelectric power, and  is also delivering some of the lowest electricity prices in Europe.
 
The demonising of nuclear power for two generations has left the electorate in disbelief that nuclear is overall less demanding of finite resources than any of the wind, solar or biomass “solutions”. Do we really want solutions, or is  protest being enjoyed for its own sake?
 
James Anderson, South Wonston,  Hampshire
 
Is it just me or is anybody else’s head in a spin about the amount of industrial-scale wind farms appearing in the highlands and uplands of Scotland. Everywhere I look I find myself staring at rotating propellers, and it’s starting to make me feel dizzy.
 
There was a time, not so long ago, when a drive through Scotland filled me with awe, wonder and pride to live in such a unique country, with such outstanding landscapes, for which we used to be so famed throughout the world. Now I find myself dreading driving around the next corner in case the next industrial-scale wind farm has been erected on one of our sacred mountain sides. 
 
How much more of this vandalism are we prepared to accept? How can you call something that destroys wild habitat “green energy”? I fully appreciate and support smaller-scale community-led wind turbine projects that benefit the community. However, there is a big difference between those and these awful industrial scale developments which now blight much of Scotland.
 
The whole “green energy” movement has been hijacked by EU subsidy hungry landowners and businessmen. They don’t care about climate change or Scotland, they only care about revenue.
Calum Cormack, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire
 
The sooner people cease their nimbyism and desire for beauty, the better. Britain has huge amounts of countryside; leave the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty but start building well-designed wind turbines throughout the rest, in addition to well-insulated homes. It is selfish to fail to tackle climate change and live a life of  personal luxury.

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