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Energy Gap - Letter in The Times, 29 July 2015

“Plummeting” renewable energy costs are a mirage and consumers need to know it

Sir, Your correspondents (letters, July 28) who argue in favour of further investment in renewable energy ignore two major problems. The first is that solar and wind energy alone are incapable of powering a modern economy. In the long run, development of cheap energy storage on a massive scale could change that, but there seems no chance of this happening in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, fossil fuel power stations will remain in operation to provide essential continuity of supply.

The second problem is that “plummeting” renewable energy costs are a mirage. When the real costs of an electricity grid with significant amounts of wind and solar generation are considered — the need for additional transmission lines, the problem of rapid generation fluctuation and the reliance on backup generation — the price is always higher. Consumers pay these higher prices. If they were more aware of this reality, it is unlikely that 80 per cent would still support renewable energy at its current stage of development.

Martin Livermore

Scientific Alliance

Cambridge