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Crucial questions about the validity and worth of wind farm-generated electricity

Catriona Stewart asks rhetorically if wind turbines “hum” but this is hardly the point at issue (“In praise of … Whitelee wind farm”, The Herald, August 28).

More important is: “Do they do anything useful?” Ofgem’s data for 2009-2010 shows that Whitelee had a load factor of 23% – in other words, it produced less than one-quarter of its maximum capacity if the wind blew hard and continuously every day, year-round. This means that for many periods during the year the machines quite unpredictably generate less than their maximum output and often give next to no electricity.

The crucial questions and answers are:

Do they make much electricity? Obviously no. How much does it cost? At least twice as much as conventional wholesale electricity because the Renewables Obligation (RO) subsidy exceeds 100%. Who pays for this? We all do, as the RO subsidy is transferred unaccounted to all consumers’ bills. Would wind electricity be a marketable commodity without enforcement by the RO, which requires distributors to purchase a set percentage of renewably generated electricity? No – the saleability of all other electricity demands total predictability on a half-hour basis. The noise issue is a quite separate matter and has nothing to do with “humming”. Ask those who have been driven from their homes and/or are unable to sell them.

Dr John Etherington, Pembrokeshire.

Catriona Stewart sings the praises of Whitelee wind farm (The Herald, August 28). She, like many of your readers, urgently needs to read Dr John Etherington’s The Wind Farm Scam. Like most commercial wind farms, Whitelee does not power any homes, it does not make any difference to climate change and it is driving the poor and the elderly deeper into fuel poverty. Is Ms Stewart aware that Whitelee is costing us, the consumer, £1m per week in subsidies and that, during the construction phase, millions of tons of precious peat were destroyed? Most of us who care about Scotland’s irreplaceable scenery wish this lady happy cycling and cannot wait until she gets back on her bike.

Bob Graham, Moray.