The letter from Alison Mitchell (September 3) makes a strong case for shifting investment from inefficient windfarms to small-scale, renewable energy-producing schemes, integrated into local communities.
This is borne out by last Thursday’s BBC Radio 4 programme Costing the Earth, the central theme of which was that most onshore windfarms will not reach the necessary 30% load factor (average amount of wind generated in a year) to make them viable. Further, because subsidies are so attractive, applicants are encouraged to exaggerate claims as to wind speeds and the amount of potential energy a farm can supply, as well as the households that can be serviced. Planners cannot dispute these claims as they are forbidden to comment on the technical or commercial considerations relating to an application. This inefficiency of power generation is exacerbated by a lack of consistency of wind supply, certainly borne out at the Braes of Doune, where the turbine arms are rarely to be seen other than at a standstill.
In essence, planning permission is being sought for most onshore windfarms based on subsidies, not performance or practicalities.
The contribution of wind energy to reducing our carbon footprint is laughably small, but hysterically costly – £90 per year for most households is quoted. We can reduce our carbon footprint by the same trivial amount for nothing, just by using use a bit less electricity and gas, and taking public transport a bit more often.
To make a real difference, if money is to be spent on generating wind energy, it needs to be offshore, not onshore, and with a clear strategy for creating the supporting infrastructure.
Ottilia Saxl, Cuillins, Orchil Road, Auchterarder.
6 September 2007
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