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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


Current Issues

Future costs of UK energy supply

The Scientific Alliance recently published part 1 of an examination of National Grid's Future Energy Scenarios, dealing with security of supply. We are now pleased to publish part 2 - cost of supply. The authors - Dr Capell Aris and Colin Gibson - conclude that building more gas and nuclear stations would be considerably less expensive than any of the NG scenarios, as well as offering better energy security.

What's New

14 October 2016: Read the new report by Dr Capell Aris, published jointly with the Adam Smith Institute - Solar power in Britain: the Impossible Dream