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Constraints on Scotland

I am afraid it is Tom Cassells (Letters, October 18) who does not “have a clue how the energy industry works” and I would suggest he refers to the Renewable Energy Forum website for a little lesson as this contains a detailed explanation of the constraints payments system with links to the Balancing Mechanism and other informative sites.

The data on constraints can also be obtained from this site and by last week the total for the whole of the UK was just under £835 million, of which Scotland accounts for just under £773m (it is increasing all the time). The rest of the UK paid only £62m. These figures are what is paid to windfarms to switch their turbines off when the Grid cannot take the electricity. This is not the total, as other windfarm payments are kept secret for “commercial confidentiality”. Payments to other forms of generation are a different system entirely.

Currently the whole UK renewable electricity subsidy bill, which includes constraint payments, is shared across the UK. If Scotland becomes independent this cost will be separated like so many other things; there is no chance those south of the Border will purchase the resultant high-cost electricity.

Unfortunately Scotland’s energy policy allows more windfarms to be constructed even while existing windfarms, both on and offshore, are being paid not to generate. This includes building extensions to windfarms already being constrained off.

Brenda Herrick, Thurso.

Tom Cassels (Letters, October 18) seems to think that a windmill is a turbine like a steam turbine. Not true. A real turbine always involves compression – of steam, or exhaust gas in a diesel or petrol engine by a turbocharger. A wind “turbine” just drives through a gearbox. Mr Cassels may be in favour of wind power but on October 18 the thousands of wind machines throughout Britain were only producing 1.9 per cent of UK electricity. Around where I live there are three visible wind farms and I could see that their blades were all stationary.

William Loneskie, Lauder.