David Haskell visualises an “Alice” looking-glass world in which our power generating system is not what it seems (Letters, 30 May).
Giant windmills produce electricity which is rewarded with a consumer-sourced “subsidy” of more than 100 per cent, provided by the Renewables Obligation but in the real world the wind electricity is so intermittently variable, and not available on demand, that it wouldn’t even be marketable without the “obligation” to purchase.
Not marketable? Baseload generation runs at peak output 24/365, providing for the continuous minimum consumption that our society demands. Wind cannot replace this because it is so variable. The generation which fills the gap between baseload and the wandering peak of consumption must also be available for every hour of the year. Wind cannot do this either.
However much wind power we deploy, demanding huge finance from consumers, we must also have an equivalent amount of conventional generation to fill the gap. As a government adviser put it recently (and was ignored), “The paradox of building windmills is that you have to build a lot of ordinary power stations to back them up.”
If we sensibly take this advice, wind power will not only be very expensive but will save much less carbon dioxide emission than foolish politicians assume.
Dr John Etherington,
6 June 2008
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