Unfortunately, the letter by Stephen Boyd et al (February 4) does not quantify the economic benefits which are claimed for the Lewis Wind Farm. The other side of the coin is the cost to the electricity consumer, which can be readily estimated.
The recent government consultation document on The Future of Nuclear Power gives a cost of onshore wind output of up to £62/MWh, although generators could actually be receiving in excess of £80/MWh.
However, the cost to consumers is greater than this because of the need for backup generation when the wind is light (or blows too strongly), and also because of the costs of extra transmission capacity to move the power south.
The capital and operational costs of this backup, required to maintain the normal standard of security of supply, could amount to some £20/MWh. The extra costs of transmission reinforcement from the north of Scotland would exceed £15/MWh before including the cost of the cable to the mainland. So the total cost to consumers for wind power could be in excess of £100/MWh compared with a mix of nuclear, coal, and gas power stations at £40/MWh (including carbon costs).
Thus, for a 400MW wind farm on Lewis the extra cost to electricity consumers would be more than £60m per annum, a figure which, I would suggest, is far in excess of any benefits to the island’s population.
There are also less quantifiable costs to society in general for the loss of visual amenity and for the damage to the environment. Part of these costs will be reflected in a reduction in tourist activity.
Surely it would make more economic sense to support direct investment in infrastructure, transport and industry to create permanent job prospects at a fraction of the cost, and at the same time preserve the landscape and tourist industry.
Sir Donald Miller, Chairman SSEB/ ScottishPower 1982-1992; Colin Gibson, Power Network Director, National Grid Group 1993-1997, Biggar.
I must thank Ian MacGillivary for his honesty in publishing the costs of the project to install a grid in the island of Eigg (Cost of eleiggtricity, Letters, February 6). As they say, however, the devil is in the detail: £20,000 to install 1Kw of photo voltaic cells? Can they ever produce enough electricity, at a cost comparable to mains electricity even to pay back the interest on the capital? I think not.
If this is an example of the real costs of “green” electricity let us stay brown, or nuclear. It will be infinitely cheaper. Photo voltaics are a waste of money.
Drew Duncan, Paisley.
8 February 2008
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