Letter: The choice is wind power or selfishness

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The Independent Online
Sir: Nicholas Schoon suggests that "the expansion of non-polluting energy resources needs to be intelligently subsidised" ("So this is global warming?", 4 January). I wonder if he has looked at the political folly called the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO), known in Scotland as the Scottish Renewables Obligation (SRO), both of which came into being as a knee-jerk response following the Rio Conference in 1992.

Under these schemes, consumers each pay a compulsory "renewables" levy on electricity bills. Operators of renewable-energy schemes, predominantly wind power stations, then apply for contracts to supply electricity to the National Grid.

Local authorities are being besieged with applications for the erection of wind power stations, usually in the loveliest countryside. Generally, these are for 25 or so turbine towers, reaching some 200-plus feet into the sky.

Wind is unpredictable. When it blows in sufficient strength, the state- of-the-art turbines, operating at about one-third efficiency, create very small quantities of electricity which must be taken by the Grid, whether it needs it or not. Large-scale storage is impossible. Operators are paid about 4p per unit, guaranteed for 15 years. It is a goldmine.

The money would be better spent on domestic and industrial energy conservation, power station filtering, low-energy light bulbs, and loft insulation, all of which last for years and are silent and invisible.

JOHN CAMPBELL

Edinburgh

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