THE UK’s energy policy is an unsustainable shambles based on the rather quaint and erroneous assumption that every kWh produced by wind turbines is consumed and means that one fewer kWh needs
to be generated at a fossil-fuelled power station.
This perverse assumption continues by asserting that the unneeded heat is not simply wasted; it is fuel that is not burned. The reality is the best wind turbines can do is to delay the burning of our planet’s dwindling supplies of fossil fuels by a few days at best.
Our muddled “energy policy” was cobbled together by our last 16 energy ministers, without a shred of engineering know-how between them, who relied on “independent” advice from self-aggrandising renewable energy “experts’” drawn from the renewable energy industry itself.
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The resulting UK energy policy is based on burning “a never-ending supply of fossil fuels” and biomass to provide “green” backup for when
the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow.
Nobody knows how much coal, gas and oil there is left to burn, but everybody does know fossil fuels will run out one day. These “experts” told our string of clueless energy ministers that burning so-called “carbon neutral trees” to raise steam is the sustainable green way forward. These “energy experts” have so far been wrong on wind, wave and tidal turbines, and they are wrong with biomass being sustainable too.
(Biomass is also used to heat most of our hospitals, schools, swimming pools and a whole host of other structures.)
Since the beginning of 2012, the UK has had to import 23.4 million tonnes of biomass to make up for our indigenous shortage of trees.
During the last quarter of 2016 over 2.4 million tonnes of woody biomass was imported from North America in the main. This tonnage will double in two years’ time and will double again every two years after that, so the UK will need to import more than 9.6 million tonnes during the final quarter of 2020, totalling 110.3 million tonnes in the last eight years. There will need to be 266 freighter movements in that quarter, with a total of 47 ships per day at sea shuttling back and forth across the Atlantic to keep all of our biomass boilers going in the UK.
However, our creaking UK infrastructure will collapse long before then, because we do not have enough biomass handing facilities at our ports or lorries to clear the quays with these huge volumes. We will also need to train more than 72,000 extra lorry drivers to keep these lorries moving 24/7 to cope with ships arriving every eight hours disgorging thousands of tonnes of biomass pellets.
Perhaps Aberdeen Harbour Board may want to recalculate the size of the new harbour in Nigg Bay to cope with Scotland’s share of 321 million tonnes of biomass arriving by the final quarter of 2030 with a biomass freighter docking somewhere in the UK every 12 minutes.
Andrew H Mackay,