Green power will never be enough

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Hopefully this may be an answer to letters by Malcolm Scott and Keith Armstrong to explain how we ever got into the mess which we call green energy.

Firstly, climate change objectives are set out by the EU directive on climate change based on percentage reduction of 1990 greenhouse gas emissions.

The targets were 20-20-20 to be achieved by 2020 (20 per cent reduction of emissions; increasing energy from renewables by 20 per cent; and 20 per cent improvement in energy efficiency).

The UK is the only EU country which enshrined emission targets into law (these are 34 per cent reduction by 2020 (higher than the EU directive) and 80 per cent by 2050).

Germany never passed any legislation and kept its options open to adjust targets.

Some countries, Germany included, already had Lignite burning power plants which emitted volumes of carbon dioxide.

Achieving a percentage reduction from a high level in 1990 in carbon emissions by 2020 becomes easy.

Just spend some money and modernise or build a few more efficient power plants.

In the UK , in the Thatcher years, significant de-industrialisation occurred, shutting coal mines, closing down chemical and heavy industries.

These industries were exported along with their pollution to China and the far east.

North Sea gas came on line, and there was a “dash for gas”. Gas fired power plants have been constructed and carbon emissions reduced significantly.

The UK contributes only about 1.75 per cent of world greenhouse gases, of which about 83 per cent is carbon.

The power generation sector accounts for around 30% of this carbon; effectively causing 0.5% of global pollution.

If we shut down all fossil-fired power plant it would only reduce global carbon pollution by 0.5% approximately.

China releases 25 per cent and the USA 18 per cent of greenhouse gases (ref, United Nations).

The position of the UK is, whatever it does, it cannot save planet earth, but must endure the effects of climate change caused by others.

To meet a target reduction of 34% in emissions by 2020 from an already small 1990 emission base, the UK is forced to adopt extraordinary measures to comply with its own law.

The carbon tax, like the window tax before it, can produce some amazing results. It is satisfactory to chop down forests and turn them into pellets and call the pellets biomass.

If the trees had been left in the forest to grow and absorb carbon dioxide it would have improved the global climate.

As things stand the UK will spend millions to satisfy legislation, which never should have entered the statute book, to worsen the global climate.

The application of subsidies distorts economic solutions, and enables wind farms to be constructed where there is little wind to harness.

Companies can boost profits by collecting the subsidy. The subsidy of £16Bn for atomic power plants to be built at Hinckley Point is being investigated by the EU as a subsidy too far.

A third category, which distorts the energy picture is the demonstration project.

Float an idea out which looks attractive to government of the day, dress it up, and hope that the government ‘plays ball’ (an old technique used many times in the past).

The project itself may not achieve the objective for which the grant was given, but the ‘spin offs’ may be very worthwhile for the company promoting the project.

The gasification of undersea coal perhaps belongs to this category. The process is similar to the old gas works process which produces hydrogen (can be burnt), but also carbon monoxide/dioxide which is additional pollution and has to be got rid of.

The way forward, rescind the UK climate change act, and get some high efficiency coal-fired power plant (with low emissions) on load before it is too late.

We cannot sacrifice the economy of the UK by investing in huge renewable energy schemes that will do very little to solve global climate change.

John Cure

Whitley Bay