Fracking’s risk of contamination

Brian Beck (letters, January 4) claims to present facts about wind power and fracking, facts which turn out to be myths and distortions. He questions my figure of 10 per cent of electricity being supplied by wind power. The figure varies from day to day but on some days (eg September 14) wind power provides over 10 per cent of UK electricity, a figure that will rise inevitably over time as more wind farms come on-stream.

Wind turbines will generate electricity from wind speeds as low as 7mph, not the 15mph that Mr Beck quotes, but are sited in areas that normally produce wind speeds of 15mph or more regularly, so as to ensure the maximum amount of electricity is generated.

Yes, wind power is intermittent, but this is not a problem for those in charge of the national grid, especially as the intermittency is predictable (weather forecasts are useful here) and indeed a widely distributed system of wind farms helps give the grid operators flexibility and much needed extra capacity, plus it provides a ready availability of back-up power when nuclear plants and traditional fossil fuel plants, including gas powered ones, go offline because of accidents or maintenance. Wind power goes straight into the national grid, therefore storage is not necessary and Mr Beck’s figure of 90 per cent back-up needed for wind power is simply ridiculous.

Yes, wind power gets subsidised but so does every single method of energy generation. Fossil fuels receive more than six times the subsidies of renewables, despite the fact that we need to phase out fossil fuels to reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change.

As for fracking, Mr Beck fails to mention the 4 to 10 million gallons of water needed to frack each well just once and each well may be fracked 6 to 20 times. Thousands of wells would have to be drilled in the UK as each well would only last a couple of years at most.

Before and after drilling, thousands of truck and lorry trips would be needed to bring water and toxic chemicals in and take gas and toxic waste water out, adding to road congestion and pollution.

Any accidents or drilling failures would immediately risk severe contamination of local air, water, and soils - something that has already happened many times in the USA. Do we really want that?

Andrew Durling