That Joss Blamire of Scottish Renewables rather than the energy minister Fergus Ewing should write into this paper (Letters, 19 February) speaks volumes. Why is it left to Mr Blamire to defend the Scottish Government’s lack of robust information to justify its wind energy policy?
The only data the government has about jobs and investment created by wind energy comes from Scottish Renewables, an organisation whose sole purpose is to defend the interests of its members. And what are the interests of its members? To maximise profits.
While other industries might look to research and development, or improving management, to bolster profits, this makes no sense for speculative developers driven by the prospect of winning the lottery every time they win a wind farm consent.
Scottish Renewables’ main job is to exert as much pressure on government and opinion-formers as possible so the gravy train can continue unhindered.
This means making sure first that the billions of pounds in subsidies, grants and other incentives extracted from UK energy consumers and taxpayers keep growing (and without which not a single turbine would turn), and second that nothing checks the Scottish Government’s ludicrously permissive system for building wind farms. A wind farm is twice as likely to be allowed in Scotland as in England, and we already have more than double the number of onshore wind turbines.
Our ministers should be deconstructing the sales-speak from Scottish Renewables, not mindlessly parroting it. For instance, onshore wind jobs are usually lumped together with all renewables jobs because otherwise the figure looks pathetically small. It’s never broken down either so we can see how many real, permanent jobs it includes.
Similarly, when it comes to the millions in investment Scottish Renewables brags about at every opportunity, what does investment mean?
Well-paid new employment opportunities, flourishing businesses and communities with new spending power – as we have seen oil and gas create in Aberdeen and the north-east or nuclear around Dungeness, Hunterston and Torness?
If the wind industry has created equivalent areas of economic prosperity, they are certainly not in Scotland.
When multi-national corporations cosy up to third world governments in order to exploit their natural resources, we hear the same happy talk of millions in investment as the bulldozers move in.
Local people, concerned about their homes and communities, are ignored, bought off or driven away.
The local environment is trashed and the local economy impoverished while the huge revenues from these developments flow abroad.
As Scotland turns into a giant wind farm for the south-east of England, what’s in it for us?
The self-serving answers from Scottish Renewables and the Scottish Government are not good enough.
Jeremy Sainsbury is understandably appreciative of the government support he gets for renewables development. The other side of the coin is that the apparent growing opposition to this essential undertaking is largely due to political mismanagement, particularly in Scotland.
People are becoming more aware that such terms as “installed capacity” means the car that on average limps along on two cylinders, that pumped hydro “powering” X thousand homes is technical nonsense, that wind turbines are being installed by the thousand unmatched by the essential equivalent buffering storage, that thousands of cars have not actually been taken off our roads because of renewable energy supplies.
We have government ministers stating emphatically that Scotland’s nuclear installations will still be operating for at least another decade, no mention of when fossil-fuelled power stations will shut down, yet we are still to believe that Scotland’s electricity will be completely from renewables by 2020. Is that as silly as it gets? No.
Renewable energy development depends on CATT (climate, area, topography and tide). Domestically, Scotland does have advantages from all four. The main one is “A” – we have about 16,000 square kilometres per million head of population and also an above average tidal resource.
However, we have about 0.8 per cent of both Europe’s population and area so I find it embarrassing to hear it claimed repeatedly that Scotland could provide a significant proportion of the continent’s energy requirements from renewables.
We could certainly do without so much misguided political puff.
(Dr) A McCormick
As I would expect from a consultant involved in advising the renewables industry, the letter from Jeremy Sainsbury (21 February) is convincing, although one-sided and seems more like an advert for his Natural Power Consultants business.
If renewables subsidies were slashed or cancelled, as other countries are doing, he would no longer have a business. I am sure he knows the steel for wind turbines and the turbines themselves are made abroad, and foreign engineers supervise the erection with mostly foreign labour.
The developers are mostly foreign-owned energy companies and the shareholders’ dividends mostly go abroad. How many of the 11,000 jobs are British? How many jobs were lost in manufacturing and other areas caused by the high energy prices inflated by these renewables subsidies?
International research has proved that for every job created in the renewables industry two to four are lost in the general economy. Once the mission was to “save the planet” but now all pretence of this has been abandoned and the aim is to make as much money for consultants and developers as possible before the renewables bubble bursts.