THERE is a lot said about how we don’t have enough renewable energy sources to not rely on nuclear when the wind doesn’t blow. However there are two limiting factors.

Firstly the transmission costs, which have been in the news recently, with green Scottish energy cheaper in France than in Scotland.

Secondly, and more stealthily, the existence of current nuclear production.

Nuclear can’t easily be turned up or off. It is a set supply. That’s why hydro is needed. Especially pump storage hydro.

Scotland has 90% of UK hydro. Now that produces at high loads, but in low-usage periods spare electricity is used to pump water up to the reservoir. Without hydro, nuclear energy is less useful.

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Now nuclear can’t be switched off, whereas wind can be. We often see wind farms at standstill but that is not always because of a lack of wind. Sometimes it’s simply that the nuclear sector is supplying the load. When that happens, wind energy producers are paid to shut down. Yup, paid to not make any electricity! Those costs should, rightly, be attributed to nuclear production, not wind.

Nuclear also has a huge decommissioning cost. And we still have nuclear waste that, if left to its own devices, will still be “hot” in thousands of years.

We had Chernobyl, and were told it couldn’t ever happen again. Then we had Fukushima. Don’t tell me never again. The consequences of error are too severe.

So back to lack of wind. And it does happen. But offshore is a very windy place. And a lack of wind almost never happens everywhere at the same time. It only does so when we have good weather. That means solar will be in high production.

Wave and tidal energy are also part of the renewable mix, particularly as tidal has such a well-known production profile.

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The self same means of exporting our electricity is another solution, because we can import as well.

Scotland is not building any new nuclear, we don’t need it. So why are we gonna pay for it? Multiple times?

Transmission charges cost Scotland’s producers more by a factor of 11 over a producer in London, because they have to transmit it hundreds of miles to London. Meanwhile, the unit cost for Scottish users is higher, because we are far away from London. Their unit cost is lower, much lower, than ours. Their increase just 8% while ours is up by 100%! We pay more to produce and more to use, both because of the supply to use distance. Aye, oor leccy gauns fir a holiday in London afore we get it, apparently!

Were we independent, that transmission charge would apply the other way around. London would pay more and we would pay less. We’ve been subsidising London electricity for decades! And it is getting worse.

They need liquefied petroleum gas and oil imports to fuel their fossil-fuel electricity production whereas we can supply all our needs from our resources. It is their dependence on imports that is driving price increases.

Were we independent we could sell electricity that we export at the market rate, while supplying homes here at a much reduced rate. Fuel poverty, in energy-rich Scotland, is a political choice of our governments. And it is past time we did something about it.

Brian Kelly

DOES anyone in the Conservative party understand that the tide goes in and out four times a day? I have no reason to believe that this is about to stop any time soon. There is a huge potential around these islands to harness this energy. However, eight new nuclear power stations to be built and by the time they come on stream the planet will be f***ed.

Gordon Fraser
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