Scottishpower’s success in obtaining approval for the Harestanes windfarm near Moffat produced a statement to the effect that it confirmed “the major role that such projects have to play in delivering targets for and making a real difference to climate change”.
If only this were true. The claimed saving in carbon dioxide emissions of almost 500,000 tonnes each year equates to the amount of CO2 produced by just three 747 jumbo jets flying both ways across the Atlantic each day for a year.
Yet we cannot depend on the wind and are approaching the point where wind-generated power has to be backed up by conventional fossil-fuelled generators “spinning” in reserve: an operating state which is inefficient and perversely increases CO2 emissions. Faced with the growing problem of transport emissions, the contribution wind generation makes is as useful as a teaspoon to empty the Atlantic.
It is probably unreasonable to blame the power companies since the politicians have delivered a lucrative sweetener in the form of the renewables obligation financed by increasing the price of electricity to consumers. We cannot expect a privatised power industry to pass over a profitable opportunity as an altruistic gesture to save our scenery.
The problem lies with the government’s energy policy, which is designed to give the appearance of acting responsibly, but in reality is a cowardly avoidance of implementing effective measures which would be deeply unpopular with the electorate. For the present, every reasoned objection to windfarms has to fail because it would confound “meeting renewable energy targets”. Future generations may weep and yet they may not know what they have lost – Scotland’s unique selling point: its matchless scenic beauty.
Norman McNab, 14 Branziert Road North, Killearn.
13 September 2007
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