EDITOR – Peter Sanderson writes passionately and eloquently, as previously, on the subject of wind energy and climate change (Letters: Market Rasen Mail, October 3).
However, in the interests of a balanced perspective on the issue, a number of complementary facts appear worthy of consideration.
Firstly, the assertion that ‘we are being told by all the leading scientists that our climate is changing for the worse’, is the kind of statement not untypical of those who have an admirable and unshakeable belief in their thesis.
Evidence that our climate is actually changing to anything like the extent often described (contested by a not inconsequential cohort in the scientific community) tends to be rather less clear-cut.
The question of ‘ice-melt’ for example, occasioned by human activities, according to the protagonists Peter has in mind, has some contradictory features. Whilst there has been concern in recent years for evidence of this phenomenon in the Artic, the opposite pole gave the indication less than two weeks ago, that the area of sea ice in the Antarctic fell only marginally short of the greatest extent ever recorded at either pole.
Furthermore, charting of the global sea ice over the past 33 years reveals that the overall extent has remained virtually constant. Perhaps things are not as self-evident, or universal as sometimes claimed?
Then there is the question, of course, of the feasibility of looking to wind power as even a partial solution to our energy needs. The prospect of building (or attempting to build) tens of thousands more wind turbines over the next eight years to meet our ‘obligations’ under European legislation targets is thrown into stark relief by a statistic, as an example, from early August of this year: during a given windless period, the 3,500 wind turbines that dot our landscape contributed 12 megawatts to the 38,000 megawatts of electricity the nation was using at the time – official electricity statistics recorded this contribution as ‘0.0 per cent’.
On those occasions when the wind either doesn’t blow, or blows at the wrong speed, dozens of gas-fired power stations would be needed, given the envisaged expansion of turbines, to provide back-up for our energy needs.
Ramping these back-up gas plants up and down would, apparently, give off so much carbon dioxide that we would be in danger of increasing rather than decreasing emissions of the gas.
Finally, we have the cost of supporting the ‘ideal’ (as well as the unproven technology): the search for a cleaner Britain via the means espoused would cost £124 billion (or £5,000 per household) by 2020 in order to reach our target of an 80 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050.
It may be that the members of Lincolnshire County Council (along with, now, I think at least one other county council) are privy to such considerations (and others) and are mindful that guardianship and stewardship of our immediate environment (as well as implications for the world at large) is an onerous responsibility; meriting something other than an unconsidered leap in the direction of the ‘attractions’ of wind power?
Dr Mike Stopper