Wind Energy Needs A Fair Hearing

June 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

AS an avid supporter of the deployment of onshore wind energy in the UK, I long ago gave up hoping that The Journal will give the technology a fair hearing (Leading article, June 9).

While accepting that correct legal procedure must, of course, be followed when determining schemes I believe that it is your newspaper’s stance on onshore wind energy that is misguided, to use your own words, and that it ill-serves your wider readership.

This approach is exemplified by the portrayal of Andrew Joicey as a sort of “white knight” to whom we should all be thankful for fighting “our” anti-onshore wind farm cause, a sort of flattery with which I cannot concur. I find his beliefs , and those of others like him who have opposed wind energy at every step, as incredibly short-sighted and inhibiting to the development of renewable energy.

What I can hope for though is that your journalists will at least report accurately on the key technical ideas that underpin energy generation, rather than just repeating the mantras of anti-wind farm campaigners that wind turbines are inefficient’. Efficiency as a concept of physical science relates to how well one form of energy (eg the wind) is converted into another, in this case electricity. Wind turbines actually do very well in this regard compared with other forms of generation.

It is often quoted by opponents that turbines are “inefficient” because they don’t “turn all the time”. Wind turbines, on average, turn between 70% and 80% of the time but because, as we all know, the wind does not always blow with the same strength they do not generate continually at maximum output. This does not make them “inefficient” per se, and it is casual, inaccurate reporting to suggest otherwise.

The Journal should continue the energy debate, but should also report the truth about the technology and not perpetuate easy myths.

JOHN BUSWELL, High Heaton, Newcastle

Better way than wind power

I CAN understand John Barber’s frustration at having to wait for Northumberland County Council to follow correct planning procedure before he gets his wind turbine (Views of the North, June 12). However, like the planners , his agent and NCC, he would do rather better if he stuck to the facts.

Firstly, it is just not true to claim that, “Wind turbines are the only established and efficient alternative source of electricity generation”. Has Mr Barber not heard of biomass, bio-gas and hydro? All of these are as well-tried as wind and are considerably more efficient, because they offer reliable, predictable power generation. All are scalable and well suited to Northumberland.

A large straw-fuelled biomass power station in Cambridgeshire has been running since 2000 (the first commercial wind farm in the UK opened in 1999). Unlike wind, it provides many jobs and benefits local agricultural businesses.

A 44MW, wood-fuelled biomass power station at Stevens Croft, near Lockerbie, has been running since 2007. It created 40 new jobs and safeguarded over 300 local jobs .

In Denmark, the promised land for windies like Mr Barber, they produce much more renewable energy from biomass and bio-gas than from wind. That country is now moving away from wind and is looking to more promising technologies, especially new types of biogas.

In the UK we already generate more electricity from biomass than from wind, according to official figures.

Speaking in 2010, Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: “Biomass is the UK’s single most important renewable energy source. It also provides a controllable supply, irrespective of weather conditions.”

The wind industry tells us that we currently have 323 onshore wind farms with a headline capacity of 4,766MW. If they get their way we could end up with over 23,000MW of onshore wind capacity by 2030.

But National Grid tell us that even if all possible wind farms, onshore and offshore, are built, we will still need 30,500MW of new nuclear, 36,000MW of new gas and 5,500MW of new coal-fired power stations just to keep the lights on.

DON BROWNLOW, Berwick, Northumberland

Work trimmed, but not grass

C METCALF highlights the state of the grass in Gateshead which is really a blot on the landscape and returns the town to its rundown state of yesteryear (Views of the North, June 12). However, I can report that things are moving.

Out with the dog on Monday and walking towards the Angel just past the petrol station I was amazed that I could see the Angel in full view.

How, you wonder, had this occurred? Yes, the grass between the two carriageways had been cut. My walk then took me down Allerdene and again the grass had been cut, although only on one side.

Then the penny dropped that this was the route of the Olympic Torch and those where the torch doesn’t go the length of the grass remains.

What a mess. My day then took me to Bill Quay where the green outside the cricket club was being cut but just the outside portion. However, a path was cut to the swings.

The only thing is that youngsters do not stick by the path and on Bank Holiday Monday two youngsters were so afraid of the size of the grass they had to be rescued by their parents.

All the green areas that were previously cut and well maintained are now a mess and children who did play football and cricket are now having to spend the long nights indoors. Take a drive to South Shields and see the neat and tidy verges which presents a much better appearance to would be investors than in Gateshead.

PETER BROWN, Low Fell, Gateshead

Education plan does not add up

WHAT a breath of fresh air! The Government seems to have rediscovered the three Rs and is talking of requiring schools to teach tables, spelling and grammar (The Journal, June 12).

There is, however, a fly in the ointment. Where are we to find the teachers to do it? Thanks to half a century of the loony left in education we have a population in which all but the oldest university graduates not excluded can’t tot up the shopping bill and work out the change without a calculator, can’t spell, don’t know where to use and where not to use an apostrophe, how to construct a sentence that means what it is intended to mean or the difference between “due to” and “owing to” and between “under way” and “underway”, and probably haven’t forgotten but rather never knew of the subjunctive.

It is particularly saddening that the BBC, that used to set the gold standard, has for some time been leading the descent into chaos. Where, as but one example, do they find those television news caption writers?

MICHAEL MATTHEWS, Shiremoor, Newcastle

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