Energy Central Professional


Nuclear power is needed when the wind doesn’t blow

John O'Groat Journal  


    Nuclear power is needed when the wind doesn’t blow

    Further to the article in your paper [Caithness Courier, January 19] that Councillor Dalton thinks that we do not need nuclear power to keep the lights on, perhaps he has not considered what happens in high pressure times when the wind does not blow.

    I direct Councillor Dalton to go to Grid Watch and scroll down to – here he will see the energy demands in gigawatts (GW) for fossil fuels, renewables, other energies and interconnectors.

    Very low figures for wind will be noted on many times of seeking the power at a given time.

    Nuclear power figures are way and above higher than those of wind on many occasions.

    Jamie Stone, MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, is quite right to get the expertise of scientists and engineers to use the Rolls-Royce mini nuclear power stations, one-tenth the size of Hunterston B which shut down recently, supplying 1.7 million homes for 46 years.

    Michael Baird

    Dornoch Road

    Bonar Bridge

    Caithness is wrong place for reactor

    You have to give Jamie Stone credit – he’s an absolute master at whipping up hysteria for political advantage, and his latest effort over small modular reactors might be his best yet.

    But look a little closer and what do we find? Let’s see•

    Firstly, Councillor Feargal Dalton didn’t say that there was little support in Caithness for nuclear power – he was talking about the whole of Scotland. According to Wikipedia: "• YouGov research for Scottish Renewables shows Scots are twice as likely to favour wind power over nuclear or shale gas. Over six in 10 (62 per cent) people in Scotland say they would support large scale wind projects in their local area, more than double the number who said they would be generally for shale gas (24 per cent) and almost twice as much as nuclear (32 per cent)."

    So only about three out of 10 people across Scotland would favour nuclear power over renewables – does that sound like overwhelming support? I don’t think so.

    As a nation, the UK does need new nuclear generation capacity, and small modular reactors (SMR) might be one way to provide it. However, how many have been built so far? None. Rolls-Royce has only ever built military reactors for submarines and, given that the market for those is limited, you can’t blame them for looking for other outlets. But should Caithness be clamouring to be among the first to host an unproven reactor design? Really? When you have many gigawatts of tidal power flowing back and forth through the Pentland Firth every day – and there are already proven machines in the water producing electricity from it?

    Wind energy is most economically produced where there is plenty of wind. Same for tidal energy. So you don’t have much choice over where to site these forms of generation. Not so for a nuclear plant. According to Rolls-Royce, each SMR will power up to one million homes. But, if you could choose anywhere to put a power station, why would you site it hundreds of miles away from the customers that will use that energy? You’d lose a couple of per cent in transmission losses – that might not sound like much but if you don’t need to incur those losses, why would you do it?

    Here’s what National Grid has to say: "Scotland is experiencing large growth in renewable generation capacity, often in areas where the electricity network is limited, including developments on the Western Isles, Orkney and the Shetland Islands. This is going to increase the network reinforcement needs in some areas." Note the term "network reinforcement" – in other words more transmission capacity will be needed just for the planned expansion in renewables. If the northern Scotland grid is already saturated, how would a shiny new SMR send its power south?

    The reality – which even Jamie Stone can’t avoid – is that there are many practical and economic obstacles to siting an unproven type of reactor in Caithness, and there really is little broad support for it across Scotland. Why isn’t Jamie Stone whipping up enthusiasm for tidal power instead? Surely having a thriving tidal power industry in Caithness would be just as beneficial in terms of jobs, infinitely more sustainable, and by the way it would be a fantastic selling point for a lucrative tourist sector attracting visitors to one of the most stunning parts of the country.

    John Farquhar

    Jenny Moores Road

    St Boswells


    Storm damage needs attention

    Here is a photograph of the damage done to the old beach huts on Thurso beach during the recent storm. What I would like to know is what the council are going to do about this.

    Since the storm all they have done so far is to put up a few bollards and a few bits of string saying that this area is closed, and already one set have been knocked over and it won’t be long before the others follow.

    I see people every day just ignoring the warning signs and ducking under the string to access the beach.

    Forgive me for being cynical, but if this was a boat shed on the banks of the River Ness I’m pretty sure that something would already have been done about this damage. Are the council just waiting for the next big storm to occur and cause more damage and then say that they have no option but to demolish the remaining building?

    What they do not seem to realise is that this walkway was the first line in defending the promenade along Thurso beach and if they allow it to be washed away it won’t be long before the whole of the foreshore is in danger.

    Hugh Millar

    Castlegreen Road


    Burns was true ahead of his time

    This is the birthday week of Robert Burns, our national bard, who is still celebrated throughout the world almost 200 years since his death for the genius and humanity of his work.

    Burns could not have described the current political situation in the UK any better than when he penned those famous words "Sic a parcel O rogues in a nation’’.

    Those poignant words resonated for the political times of his age, and now aptly resonate again when we compare the chicanery, chaos and corruption of the charlatans at the head of the UK government.

    Burns was not of course alone in his grim affirmation of his political times, many others recorded their sentiments on such an unequal society, but none but Burns could have delivered them so succinctly and creatively that would touch the hearts of all mankind.

    It is absurd that we are here now in 2022 still battling against those same sorry woes of inequality in society, and still repeating the same sorry mistakes of the past. Has history taught us nothing?

    I see it as a crime against all our citizens that there are millionaires with their riches stashed away in tax havens in the Channel Islands and throughout the world, while families are forced to go to food banks to put meat on the table, and now with soaring fuel prices faced with the choice of eat or heat.

    All of this, I may add, at the behest of the Tory government at Westminster, who it seems know the price of everything and the value of nothing. A sleazy corrupt government comprising a cabinet full of millionaires and a Chancellor of the Exchequer who is a billionaire. How can their likes possibly comprehend what it is to be poor?

    I quote here from the profound words of a Latina American Archbishop in Brazil, one Dom Helder Camara, who famously said: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint, but when I ask why they are poor they call me a communist."

    It is time to wake up and smell the coffee, and the accepted systemic corruption for what it is. A system that has controlled and manipulated the people of this country for far too long.

    A system emanating from the so-called days of the great British Empire. "Those days are gone now, and in the past they must remain’’.

    We should never again be subservient to the ruling of the privileged kind, the Eton educated elite born with the golden spoon in their mouths, while the rest of us make do with the plastic ones.

    And while we raise a glass in celebration of the great man, let’s remember: '"Then let us pray that come it may, / As come it will for a’ that, / That sense and worth, oer a’ the earth, may bear the gree, and a’ that / For a that and a’ that / It’s comin yet for a’ that / That man to man, the warld o’er / Shall brothers be for a’ that."

    John McLeod

    Oakwood Court



    Our story on the prospect of a new nuclear reactor being touted for Caithness – and the subsequent response from Councillor Feargal Dalton, chairman of the Scottish Forum of Nuclear Free Local Authorities, who suggested that far north MP Jamie Stone should focus on renewables instead of whipping up support for nuclear power developments – got quite a response. Here are just a few of the comments received through the various stories and our online poll on the story:

    Last year Scotland’s power generation was the least green in eight years despite all the new wind farms coming on line. You don’t hear too much about that from the green lobby.

    Angus Mackay


    I think that in the fight to control climate change, we need nuclear power at least in the early years. Scotland is strong in renewable power but we need that backup without resorting to gas. Our experience with nuclear power goes back to the 1950s. It is safe and clean and would prevent Caithness dying economically after Dounreay is wrapped up.

    Ann Ross


    Why build a nuclear reactor to hang an albatross around the neck of future generations, especially when we are nearly self sufficient in renewable energy – with much more planned?

    Alistair Gow


    Last chance to double the love

    We want to let your readers know that this is the last month for their donations to Mary’s Meals to be matched through the charity’s Double The Love campaign.

    We have been enormously moved by the stories of the children who eat Mary’s Meals. Children like 11-year-old Failo, whose life is in some ways no different to that of children living here in the Highlands. He enjoys playing football with his friends and, in class, loves reading and writing best.

    But his life can be very hard. He lives in a rural village in Zambia where there is no electricity, and his windowless home is made from mud bricks. Food is scarce and Failo relies on a serving of porridge from Mary’s Meals each morning in school – often his first meal of the day.

    More than two million children in 20 countries eat Mary’s Meals every school day. The food attracts them into the classroom, where they receive an education that can, in the future, be their ladder out of poverty.«

    Until January 31, donations made to this wonderful charity’s Double The Love campaign will be matched by a group of generous supporters, up to £1.6 million – meaning even more little ones will receive a nutritious meal at school. We hope your readers will visit to donate.

    Emma and Sophie Thompson

    On behalf of Mary’s Meals

    We need sustainable power which nuclear power has been able to provide 24/7 • I drive pass the huge and growing wind farm on the causeymire they are a blight on our beautiful Caithness and I can assure they are more often stopped so how can they be providing 24/7 power which we are told is the way forward ? The cost to bill payers are getting higher and higher and what are we getting in return? Useless giant white turbines that just stand there mocking us while people make money selling us the green power• look at Germany it failed and now building coal power stations • get over our fear and go nuclear..

    Gay Draper-Rickards


    In a separate report, we told how Highland Council was hoping to arrange new lease for the caravan site in Wick after the couple who currently run it announced that they were retiring.

    When we visited this camp ground many years ago we really enjoyed ourselves. My mom worked in what was the hotel by the river during the war. I now believe it is a nursing home. So we had a lot of things to do in Wick and places to see. My parents were married in the old church that is above the grocery store car park. How many memories for her and for me. I certainly hope you find someone to take on the park. If I wasn’t so old I might consider immigrating – always wanted to run a camp ground.

    Marina Abbott



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