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‘Big’ wind disastrous

Anton Eberhard seems to want us to move from “big” coal and nuclear stations to “gigantic” wind and solar ones. (Urgent reforms are needed for responsive power sector, November 25). The result would be a disastrous rise in electricity prices and a disastrous fall in electricity reliability, as can be seen all around the world.

To produce the same amount of electricity as Koeberg nuclear power station would require more than 2,800 gigantic wind turbines, each more than 100m high (assuming 2MW turbines and a generous 25% capacity factor). But because wind is hopelessly unreliable, they would all require back-up generators, adding to their huge cost.

Wind for grid electricity has proved everywhere an expensive failure, despite the billions of dollars poured into it. The only reason anyone builds them is because of government-enforced subsidies, essentially a transfer of money from the poor to the rich. Germany, for political reasons, decided to phase out its cheap, reliable nuclear power and replace it with expensive, unreliable wind and solar power.

The result has been soaring electricity prices, increased pollution, severe problems of electrical instability and 800,000 Germans unable to pay electricity bills. France, which gets more than 75% of its electricity from nuclear power, has about the cheapest source in Europe.

Why does Mr Eberhard mention only the two European pressurised reactors being proposed for Hinkley Point in England, which are admittedly too expensive, but not the reactors being built around the world at much lower costs?

As for “transparency”, I invite Mr Eberhard to compare our existing wind and nuclear stations. The production figures for Koeberg are public information. The production figures for the Darling Wind Farm are a big secret.

South Africa is desperately short of electricity and requires a huge increase if our economy is to grow. The wind turbines being built as part of the renewable energy programme will make our problems worse, adding to prices and reducing reliability.