The Crimean referendum may have been ‘illegal’ in terms of international law but the result was obviously quite genuine
Heat pumps are not quite as “game changing” as Ed Davey is reported to believe (“Renewable energy from rivers and lakes could replace gas in homes”, 23 March). Typically 1 kilowatt (kW) of electricity is required to produce 3 to 4kW of useable heat from a heat pump. However, electricity can cost three or four times the price of gas per kilowatt-hour (kWh), so the running costs are not necessarily “relatively low”. This is broadly the case whether the electricity to run the heat pump is generated from renewable sources or fossil fuels, as in the case of electricity generated from renewables, there is a lost opportunity cost.
In addition, if the electricity to run the heat pump is generated in a fossil-fuel (eg gas-fired) power station, which may only produce 1kWh of electricity for every 2 to 2.5kWh of natural gas consumed, the overall energy gain is not as large as one might at first suppose.
Heat pumps certainly have their place in a coherent UK energy strategy, but they are not as revolutionary as you suggest in your article.
Dr John Coppendale
The installation of a district heating scheme supplied by heat pumps is very welcome. However, it should be noted that district heating, along with heat pumps, has rarely been found economic in the UK. In countries where district heating is widely used there is a cultural and regulatory environment that supports and encourages their use, and we don’t have this yet. We are seeing one small step, and should not confuse this with a giant leap.
Well knock me down! The Energy Secretary has just discovered heat pumps. It only takes a crisis in the Ukraine for HMG to re-invent the wheel. I am 80 and clearly remember that in the 1950s the Festival Hall was heated by the Thames and a heat-pump system. That was a time when Croydon Council ran all its vehicles on methane gas recycled by its sewage works.
Tony Brenton is a lone voice of reason (“Crimea is lost, but there is a deal waiting to be done” 23 March). The Crimean referendum may have been “illegal” in terms of international law, but the result was obviously quite genuine. If we cannot see that Russia has gone through a much more sudden and traumatic loss of empire than we did, we are very blind to 20th-century history.
By all means plan gradually to make western Europe free of its dependence on Russian oil and gas, which will ultimately make the Russian economy even more of a basket case and help to bring them to compromise with us; but, meanwhile, we should stop posturing and threatening, and try to get round the table with Putin anyway. The alternative of escalating conflict is far too serious for any of us to contemplate.
The shadow Work and Pensions Secretary is right to say that “the problem with the Budget was that there was nothing for people who can’t afford to save” (23 March). Which doesn’t surprise me as the Chancellor was trying to play to the gallery of core Tory voters whom the party are afraid might turn to Ukip at the next general election.
D J Taylor almost but not quite nails the impact of Old Etonians in British society when he notes that, politics aside, David Cameron seems a more assured performer than Ed Miliband (23 March). The products of Eton are to be found on the left as well as the right, and some are very astute. That however is not what Eton has taught them. That is rather a sense of self-belief and self-confidence that was not imparted, for example, at my north London comprehensive school. So we find with the current Prime Minister that he is a mostly plausible public performer, but anyone looking to him for deep thinking about the problems facing our society is likely to be disappointed.
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