The Spectator

Letters: what unites the two sides of the mask debate

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Wind worries

Sir: You are right to side with the 2013 version of Boris Johnson, when he claimed that wind power could not pull the skin off a rice pudding (‘Boris’s second wind’, 10 October). However, it was wrong to claim that offshore wind at £40 per megawatt hour makes Hinkley Point C, at over twice that price, look like a bad deal. The nuclear plant will be able to provide reliable, constant baseload power for up to 50 years. A wind plant will provide power only when the wind is blowing (and not blowing too hard). To provide reliable baseload requires fossil-fuelled backup.

Second, the £40 per megawatt hour is the current strike price offered by the winners of projects to build new capacity. Unfortunately this does not commit those companies to supply power at that price when the projects are built. Professor Gordon Hughes has conducted an analysis of companies which are building and operating 350 UK wind farms, and found that they would have to sell power at three to four times that price to be profitable.

These companies are taking a huge gamble on the future. Perhaps they believe that the government will introduce a carbon tax at such a rate that our electricity bills will at least double by 2030. Perhaps they can make offshore wind such a large component of our energy mix that the government will be forced to bail them out when they fail. Either way, the inability of wind turbines to pull the skin off a rice pudding when weather conditions are unfavourable will be the least of our worries.
Richard North
Hayling Island, Hants

Red herring

Sir: In his piece supporting Greenpeace dropping boulders onto the Dogger Bank (‘Breaking the bank’, 10 October), Charles Clover maintains that the European fishing industry is allowed to ‘bypass environmental laws’.

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