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Wind farms cannot replace fossil fuel

As a one-time chartered electrical engineer and also a long standing member of the RSPB it was with increasing dismay that I read through the letter (23 September) from Messrs Dixon, Austin and McLaren of the WWF, RSPB and FoE (Scotland) respectively.
To refute all their misunderstandings, ill-understood technicalities and flawed recommendations would require at least half a page of this newspaper. I shall content myself with addressing one simple misconception and that is their weird belief that wind farms can replace fossil-fuel electricity-generating plants.

The reality is that winds sometimes blow strongly and sometimes weakly and sometimes not at all, but because electricity is needed all the time, every wind farm has to be “backed up” by fossil-fuel fired plant of equal installed capacity.

When the wind blows, wind farm electricity can replace some, but not all, of the the fossil-fuel plant output and so reduce some, but not all, of its carbon emissions. When the wind doesn’t blow the back-up plant takes over.

The above consortium is proposing that by 2020 wind farms should provide 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity needs.

This will require about 3,000 turbines with a total installed capacity of 10GW backed up by 10GW installed capacity of fossil fuel-generating plant. Perhaps seven or eight large coal fired power stations?

Instead of protesting against plans to build a coal-fired power station at Hunterston, they should instead be enthusiastically supporting it and pressing for the construction of the other six or seven. Only then will their cherished wind farms be a viable proposition.

William Oxenham
Easter Currie Place
Currie, Edinburgh

It is interesting to see the RSPB writing, in concert with other “environmental” subsidy lobbyists, for more government bungs to wind farmers.

A school which spent £20,000 on its own windmill recently turned it off because the sight of its continuous shredding of birds was not helping them give the pupils the desired “alternative” indoctrination.

Since the total number of birds killed by windmills is clearly many orders of magnitude more than those killed in the Caribbean oil release perhaps the RSPB could endorse something less harmful to its alleged clients, like more oil spills.

Neil Craig
Woodlands Road
Glasgow