Catriona Stewart (“In praise of … Whitelee wind farm”, The Herald, August 28) wonders if wind turbines hum and whether one can feel the energy being made by putting one’s palm against a turbine. She notes that a similar project on the Lewis peatland would be unacceptable which, of course, it proved to be.
Though less iconic, Eaglesham Moor was also a major peatland and thus a CO2 sink. Assessing the scheme’s environmental impact, ScottishPower estimated that “only” 300,000 cubic metres of peat would be excavated to build turbine foundations and access roads. However, in 2003, it conceded that this was far too low and that the real figure would be much closer to the one million cubic metres that local objectors had predicted.
How much was eventually dug up, no-one knows. What is more certain is that excavated peat dries out over time and emits CO2. Equally inevitable is that the extensive drainage, without which the turbines cannot function, leads over time to much of the rest of the peat drying out and emitting CO2.
As Ofgem data show that last year the site achieved only four-fifths of the output predicted by ScottishPower, calculations showing that it could be 20 years or more before its purported CO2 savings balance losses caused by peat destruction should perhaps be taken more seriously. After all, consumers are already paying in the region of £1m a week in subsidies and it’s barely half finished. “Humming” does not really come into it.
The excellent letters from Dr John Etherington and Bob Graham (August 30) seem comprehensively to demolish the case for wind-based electricity generation, and make one wonder how our Government came to adopt such a policy, evidently without a business case or engineering research of the various options in supplementing fossil fuels. The policy decisions seem to have been based on wishful thinking.
Consultation with the Danes and Germans would be very relevant, since they have much experience to confirm the scepticism voiced by critics here but has evidently been ignored by our politicians, who should now be honest enough to admit that wind turbines are, like the 18th-century Darien scheme, a very costly loser for our nation. In the 18th century, research would have been very limited in preparing a business case but, now, expert engineering and economic guidance are available to us.
Those in charge owe it to our country to get this essential homework done so as to avoid a rerun of the Darien fiasco, which bankrupted Scotland, forcing the Act of Union, so Scottish Nationalists ought to be sensitive to this point.
Dr Charles Wardrop,
After reading the letters from John Etherington and Bob Graham, and the wisdom they contain, I thought perhaps it was time to bring the tale of the big bad wolf and the three little piggies into the modern era.
An apposite modern analogy would be how the wolf tried to get enough power from wind turbines to oven roast the wee porkers but discovered, on examining the power production facts, that huge porky pies had been told by developers, certain conservation agencies and a host of politicians about the amount of power renewables could actually produce.
The story could end with the wolf huffing and puffing but unable to make the turbines produce enough electricity to cook the piglets, who all escaped in the dark thanks to power cuts.
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