LETTER: Is it not better to invest in renewable energy?

Are our energy suppliers really treating us like 'chumps'?
Are our energy suppliers really treating us like 'chumps'?

There seems to be an erroneous belief that wind and solar energy cannot be stored. This is not true.

Nuclear power plants don’t shut down at night irrespective of whether power is required or not. 
Excess power is used in pumped storage schemes where two linked reservoirs are used. In times of low demand water is pumped from a reservoir at a low level to one high above. In times of high demand water is released from the top dam to drive turbines on its way down to the lower dam. 
Such schemes are in daily use for our National Grid in Wales and Scotland. If Chernobyl had never happened I imagine we would have many more nuclear power stations and many more pumped storage schemes.

We already have proven working designs of wave machines, undersea turbines and there are plans for several coastal barrage schemes which would all generate large amounts of free electricity 24/7. With pumped storage we could have large amounts of storage as required. Of course all renewable costs are upfront, in the manufacture and siting of units. No fuel required. 
Tesla is making great strides forward with batteries in Nevada. We should be doing the same. Why don’t we stop being a nation of shelf stackers and van drivers and be a nation to be proud of again?

With nuclear there is a large upfront cost, an ongoing fuel cost and huge decommissioning costs. Fracked gas has many problems. This rock is 
impermeable so basically drilling down into this rock is not enough. No gas will come out. The rock is solid and the gas is trapped in minute pockets inside. The rock must be thoroughly broken to release the gas. This means that a very large number of gas wells would have to be drilled in any one area to release all the gas, which is the only economical way to frack.

Air pollution worries, heavy traffic nuisance and serious groundwater contamination problems are all concerns along with some seriously unpleasant chemicals in the fracking fluid.

The world’s most respected climate scientists tell us that if we burn all the oil, coal and gas that we already know about in reserves then we will pass a very dangerous tipping point where 1,600 gigatonnes of methane, currently frozen in the Arctic, will begin to be released in massive quantities. Methane is a very dangerous greenhouse gas.

We also have five oceans’ worth of another very dangerous greenhouse gas. Water. A warming world means more evaporation, followed by more warming due to the water vapour. It doesn’t take a genius to see where that will end. Why on earth would we try to open up new reserves?

People in the fossil fuel industry try to blame the sun. The facts don’t bear this out.

People say its all happened before. Of course it has, by natural processes that take tens or hundreds of thousands of years. That long timescale gives other natural processes time to absorb and mollify the worst effects. We are making Herculean efforts to release it all in a couple of hundred years or so.

Wouldn’t it be better to invest all that fracking and oil money in renewable technology? We would be making all our own power. No liquid gas tankers or pipelines to worry about. No fuel costs. Normal maintenance costs as any large system has. Pollution slashed to minute levels. We could throw all those inhalers away. No more Exxon Valdez or Deepwater Horizon disasters.

It definitely doesn’t mean going back to the horse and cart. Tesla makes a car that accelerates from nought to 60 in 2.8 seconds. The future sounds good to me.

Dave Simpson

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