Letter: Brutal plans for energy conservation

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The Independent Online
Sir: Marcus Rand's letter (15 May) made some very strong statements concerning the benefits of solar power. Statements which are dangerous to the credibility of the environmental lobby.

Your report (12 May), cited by Mr Rand, gave the cost of the new solar array as pounds 80,000. With a lifespan of 25 years, that is pounds 3,200 per annum. A large electricity bill indeed.

Irrespective of the economic issues, it is worth considering the environmental impact of mass-produced solar cells. Mass production means lower costs, lower lifespans to sustain a market, and hence a greater use of some fossil- derived chemical "nasties" Greenpeace has and does campaign against. What happens at the end of the cells' life ? Landfill? Recycling? Further, photo-voltaic arrays require batteries. Batteries are not exactly eco- friendly.

Our over-reliance on a small number of energy sources is much to blame for our current problems. Becoming reliant on photo-voltaic cells will not eradicate environmental problems. It will just create new ones.

They do have a role to play in new large-scale building projects or the renovation of older large buildings, where the cost can be justified, but not the replacement of our existing fossil power supplies. The many technologies which need to be considered include bio-gas, fuel cells, offshore wind turbines and the harnessing of novel energy sources such as landfill gas

CHARLES GULLON

Sheffield

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