Power to the consumers?
Letter to Sunday Herald 13th March 2011
By Sir Donald Miller FEng. FRSE, was chairman of Scottish Power 1982-92.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the Scottish Government’s concentration on so-called renewable energy sources to the exclusion of more reliable and economic sources such as nuclear is little short of disastrous.
No wind or marine energy sources can be relied on to provide power when it is needed. Wind and marine need nearly 100% back-up from conventional generators. Any expenditure on these is additional to “normal” capital required to secure our electricity supplies. Output from wind turbines varies rapidly, not just locally but nationally, so that conventional back-up generation is required to run inefficiently at part load, incurring further costs for the consumer. Wind and wave are low-density sources of energy so costs will always be high.
The cost of onshore wind to the consumer is some £200/MWhr taking into account the renewables obligation certificate subsidy, back-up generation and additional transmission costs. This is more than four times the cost of energy from conventional or nuclear sources. The cost of off-shore wind is even higher at more than £250/MWhr.
The claim that Scotland has vast resources of marine energy is based on a failure to appreciate the physics. The potential is readily assessed by normal engineering criteria. These show that the total tidal current resource of UK waters from the Pentland Firth to the Channel Isles, neglecting costs and the impossibility of servicing such a plethora of installations, would amount to no more than 2.5% to 5% of UK electricity requirements.
The wellbeing of a modern economy is based on a reliable and economic supply of electricity and will be even more so in future as transport becomes increasingly electrified. If one wanted to go down in history as the politician who did the most to damage Scotland’s economy it would be difficult to think of a more effective route than the present energy policy.
Sir Donald Miller FEng. FRSE, was chairman of Scottish Power 1982-92. He writes in support of a “March to stop the destruction of Scotland with wind turbines” taking place at noon on Wednesday (16/3/2011), assembling at the Scott Monument in Edinburgh.