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The wrong emphasis

the wrong emphasis

From Dr C H Osman, Aberdeen, Scotland

I believe the wrong emphasis is being placed on the reasons for building renewable energy systems (Opinion, Windpower Monthly, April 1994). Whilst there are important benefits which will accrue now, it is easily argued that the same benefits can be had by more efficient use of energy, without the visual intrusion of WEC systems. It is also easily argued that there is over capacity in the UK electricity system and that building wind farms simply adds to it.

Instead there should be an emphasis on the need for renewable energy technology to be fully developed and accepted, well in advance of the inevitable decline of oil and gas towards the middle of the next century. Many people will see these time scales as being remote, but in reality there is all too little time available, given the magnitude of the task of conversion from fossil fuels to renewables.

I am also concerned about the widespread assumption that renewables can be used only to supply electricity directly to a grid. Intermittent renewables are limited to supplying only a fraction of the total capacity under this regime. The use of hydrogen (produced by electrolysis of water) as an energy storage and transmission medium would permit a wholly renewables based energy supply system. With hydrogen eventually replacing natural gas in a gas supply network, the transport sector could also be satisfied.

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