Renewable energy will not be enough to supply our requirements

Malcolm Scott seems to be slightly unaware of the reality of life on this planet (News Guardian, April 10).

The reality is that it will never be possible to return to the days of zero emissions and a quick look at North Tyneside conurbation at night from the air will bear that out; add the great cities of the world and try to imagine how many solar panels and wind turbines and wave machines will be needed to satisfy the demand for energy.

It is also worth a look at our environment in the UK.

Drax power station is the largest coal burning power station in the UK and is in the process of converting to renewable energy sources - namely, wood pellets.

They are cutting whole forests in Virginia, USA, taking the wood to factories and converting them into usable pellets, (all at added cost) they are then transported to a port, carried 3,800 miles to the UK, (again at what added cost), loaded into special rail wagons and then transported to Drax.

Because these pellets are quite light for their bulk, special rail wagons have to be used.

The irony of all this is that only one unit at Drax has so far been converted to pellets and I understand that a further five will be converted in due course.

Also, the emissions of CO2 are in fact higher from wood pellets than they are from coal.

This is due to EU regulations and orders regarding renewable energy and do not take into account that, according to American conservationists, a tree will take 100 years to reach a stage when it can be cut and used as pellets.

Add that to the stated fact by Drax staff that without heavy subsidies, Drax would not be at all viable. It is a business and must require funding.

By the time Drax is fully using wood pellets, it will require many millions of tons of wood to be converted to a useable state.

Already, due to the use of energy from shale, the USA has reduced its energy costs to a level where industry is actually returning to the USA.

Germany, an EU member and committed to the EU energy directorates, is now mining Lignite, the most pollutant of coal, and is in the process of actually dismantling a village that has been inhabited for more than 700 years to get it.

Recently, BBC News showed the largest mining machine in the world and it is Lignite that it is mining. I understand that in total nine communities are affected or mined over.

If this and any future government have any sense, they will ensure that any gas or other forms of energy extracted will be solely used for the UK and not sold off to other countries as has happened in the past.

Yes, we need a clean environment, and yes it would be wonderful if we could create it, but I am afraid that that will not happen given the present state of affairs.

Now add in the recent possibility that Russia is capable of cutting off our gas over the Ukraine business and that, to me, means that we really need to be self sufficient for energy of any sort.

Unfortunately, I do not believe that wind, waves and sun are anywhere near capable of supplying us with our requirements.

Keith Armstrong

Whitley Bay