Letter in RailWatch December 2019
The need for more electricity for trains (Railwatch 161) has raised worries about supplying peak demand, partly because electricity is difficult and expensive to store. Solution one is to ensure a plentiful supply of electricity from renewable sources, mainly wind and solar, and to use any surplus to generate hydrogen (which is storable) by electrolysis of sea water. In contrast to renewables, even without the problems of future storage, nuclear power costs are already twice the cost of renewables. Nuclear is as out of date as coal in this age of global warming. Solution two is to cooperate with our neighbours, such as Norway, which has lots of hydro power. We can send Norway electricity on windy days and take it back on still days. Transmission losses can be reduced by using very high voltage DC, rather than high voltage AC lines which we use now. There have been plans for interconnectors from St Fergus, near Peterhead, to Norway, as well as Wales-Ireland and Scotland-Northern Ireland. The lack of a connector prevents renewable schemes in Shetland. We should not waste power by using battery vehicles, which are inherently less efficient than pure electric trains, trams and trolleybuses which should replace diesels in cities. Capital costs are also lower for pure electric vehicles. Engineers have solutions while politicians seem to lack both knowledge and political will.
James A Whitworth
Isle of Yell