Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Anti-wind turbine people have hidden motives

Wind turbine

Wind turbine (identity crisis?)

Ever since Donald Trump soiled the good name of Scotland with his nasty tactics as he abused and rode roughshod over the locals to build his golf course and development on the Menie Estate -see Don’t miss this video of a mad bad man – Donald Trump and follow-up stories in the general media – I’ve noticed that any stories in the media about wind turbines and wind farms tend to be followed (if comments are allowed by the web site) almost immediately by anti-wind farm comments.

This has happened so often (to my eyes at least), and often comes with the same dismissive and derogatory language about the whole concept of wind power that it almost seems to come from a standard script. One can almost imagine people paid to watch for such news items, and as soon as they appear, instructed to select any three to five paragraphs from their master list, and incorporate them into a comment that rubbishes wind power. Since he may not be short of the money to pay for this, I tend to think Donald Trump has his staff doing this, and the reason I think this is likely is because he is too stupid to realise that he make himself look like an ignorant fool every time he open his mouth and continually refers to wind turbines as ‘windmills‘.

Wind turbines produce electricity, windmills mill grain to produce flour.

Notably, many of the apparently scripted anti-wind turbine posts/comments refer not to wind turbines, but to windmills.

An interesting coincidence?

Windmill hill

Windmill on a hill

Conflict of Interest

And now we an indication that more anti-turbine campaigning is being promoted by someone with links to the oil industry.

Before carrying on to the rest of the story, I would suggest this is not linked to the industry, but to personal interest of the person concerned.

The Deeside Piper reports:

The chairwoman of local group, Stop Turbines in Cushnie (STIC), runs a business in London which works closely with multi-national oil firms.

Caroline Mary Gerrie, who has written press releases for (STIC), is a director and co-owner of Tagus, whose client list includes BP Oil Europe, Shell UK, Shell International, Enterprise Oil and Mobil.

A source said: “I find it very interesting that Ms Gerrie is campaigning against a government-backed subsidy for alternate energy while she makes her money from companies who have a vested interest in minimising the amount of alternate fuel sources out there.”

The Tagus ‘Our People’ profile on Ms Gerrie also states: “She spent many years (more years ago than she cares to remember!) as an internal consultant in the oil and gas industry.”

Part of Ms Gerrie’s Tagus profile states: “She lives in London with her partner, Dominic, and their three cats.”

This conflicts with a statement in a press release, which said: “I moved back to Scotland, the land of my birth, just over a year ago, after being away for more than 20 years.”

Letters of objection also show that other members of Ms Gerrie’s London firm have opposed the planning application via the Aberdeenshire Council website.

The article goes on to quote a senior representative for an oil and gas company who stated that they did not think someone who has significant work with the industry to also be taking an anti-renewable stance actively and in public.

When asked if she believed working for oil companies while campaigning against a renewable energy source was a conflict of interest, Ms Gerrie said: “Renewable energy is justifiable only when the sole benefit can be measured against the many impacts.

‘‘Since the developer refuses to give correct information regarding either, all I can say is that for the last few years I have not been campaigning against a renewable energy source, I have been campaigning against what I believe to be a litany of lies.’’

“As for Tagus, without going into too much detail, the work we do for oil companies helps to prevent serious injury and save lives!

“I think there are too many factors involved in both renewable energy and the oil and gas industry for me to give a simple yes or no answer regarding such an important subject.”

Via Anti-turbine activist’s oil links revealed – Local Headlines – Deeside Piper and Herald

Words such as ‘credibility’, ‘business ethics’ and ‘truth’ come to mind. Well, they come to mine, but I doubt if they come to any chairwomen in the immediate vicinity.

She talks gibberish too…

After thinking about it, I have no idea what she meant by “Renewable energy is justifiable only when the sole benefit can be measured against the many impacts.”

Ah…

It’s ok, my brain is fine. I just checked what Tagus does – they’re consultants, and use the the word ‘methodology’. That explains the gibberish.

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September 5, 2013 Posted by | Civilian | , , | 2 Comments

Donald the Delusional now claims the ASA is in league with Alex Salmond

Mad golfer

Mad billionaire Donald Trump has now accused the ASA (Advertising Standard Authority) – the UK’s independent regulator for advertising across all media – of banning one of his adverts “to protect Alex Salmond”.

Trump said: “The ASA is only trying to protect Alex Salmond for the disgraceful decision to release terrorist, al-Megrahi – the Lockerbie bomber freed for humanitarian reasons. He killed 270 people and was supposed to live one week but lived two years. This is the same mind that is destroying Scotland with industrial wind turbines.”

The ASA refuted the tycoon’s allegation. A spokeswoman said: “The ASA banned Trump International Golf Club Scotland’s ad because it made misleading claims about the impact of wind farms on Scottish tourism and contained a misleading image of wind turbines that couldn’t be proven to be representative of a proposed wind farm in Scotland.”

The advert, which featured a picture of a wind farm in California, stated: “Tourism will suffer and the beauty of your country is in jeopardy!

“This is the same mind that backed the release of terrorist al-Megrahi, “for humane reasons” — after he ruthlessly killed 270 people on Pan-Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie. Take action. write, demonstrate and protest [against] Alex Salmond.”

Mr Trump has already been criticised by a father who lost his daughter in the Lockerbie disaster.

Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora died in the bombing in December 1988, said the tragedy had “no place in a confrontation between an entrepreneur who is interested in making money in Scotland and the government”.

Speaking in December he said: “We all know what Trump’s interest is and this is obviously to further his entrepreneurial practice.

“Donald Trump’s attempt to blacken the name of the Scottish Government and convince people the Highlands will turn into one vast wind park has very little to do with Lockerbie. Other than the government has refused a proper investigation into the issues.

“The discussion and investigation [about Lockerbie] has no place in a confrontation between an entrepreneur who is interested in making money in Scotland and the government who failed to investigate the infinitely more important questions over why people were killed in 1988.”

Via Donald Trump claims advertising watchdog is ‘protecting’ Alex Salmond | Aberdeen & North | News | STV

It’s a pity Trump and his entourage, his golf courses, and his hotels can’t be run out of the country, or bulldozed into the North Sea, as he is beginning to make a smell, and it would be a pity of that smell got so bad that people were put off Scotland as a tourist destination, lest they become tainted by the deluded ravings of this madman.

 

April 26, 2013 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Donald Trump anti-wind farm ad blocked for Lockerbie bombing link

Boeing 747

Donald Trump continues to prove he is a nasty and evil piece of work, not worthy of the effort of scraping off the sole of your shoe if you stepped in him.

He has already proven how low he will stop in his insane ranting and raving against wind farm already, when he took a swipe at Alex Salmond back in December 2012:

Under the banner “Is this the future for Scotland?” his protest displays a picture of a huge wind farm in California. It states: “Tourism will suffer and the beauty of your country is in jeopardy!

“This is the same mind that backed the release of terrorist al-Megrahi, ‘for humane reasons’ – after he ruthlessly killed 270 people on Pan-Am flight 103 over Lockerbie.”

Via Donald Trump ‘sick’ for using Lockerbie in a rant against wind farms – Politics – Scotsman.com

Now he’s had his adverts banned:

The newspaper adverts featured a photograph of First Minister Alex Salmond and linked the Government’s support of wind farms with the decision to release Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) will publish a report this week condemning it as misleading.

The advert prompted 21 complaints, including one from Green party leader Patrick Harvie.

The MSP said: “Only a sick mind would link renewables policy with Lockerbie victims and while the ASA says the advert did not breach its code in terms of offence, it agrees it was distasteful.

“It also agrees that both the claim about tourism and the use of an American image were misleading. I believe Mr Trump owes an apology for his crass behaviour.”

The ASA decision is the second such ruling against the Trump Organisation over their anti-wind farm campaign. An earlier advert was banned for exaggerating the number and type of turbines used in Scotland.

Mr Harvie added: “He didn’t have a shred of evidence that tourism would suffer when we quizzed him in Parliament, and he’d already been censured by the authorities for anti-renewables adverts.

“The fact he went ahead and placed further adverts demonstrates his ignorance and arrogance yet again.”

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “The advert was pretty distasteful, and it’s now been shown to be factually wrong too.

“If the evidence to be presented at his forthcoming court challenge is as flimsy as that used to create this misleading advert then it’s likely to be a very short case.”

Via Donald Trump’s Lockerbie windfarms ad to be banned – Environment – Scotsman.com

We’re far too tolerant in this country, and it’s ridiculous that an American who is neither a citizen nor resident of Scotland is able to exert, or try to exert, or even have any say or influence over national policy.

One only had to think of some the documentaries aired over the years, and which show the sort of response “Good Americans” have towards any outsiders that try to influence their policies. Laws banning them seemingly appear out of nowhere, if they are lucky. If not, then it’s not long before the locals run them out of town, and we get reminded that unlike the UK, gun ownership is not restricted in the US.

Again, I’m also wondering how much George Sorial, executive vice president of the Trump Organisation, accepted when he sold his soul to Trump.

Acting as his mouthpiece, he usually speaks for Trump, and must be in danger of altitude sickness when he puts his wallet in his back pocket.

The media reports that his response to the ruling against the distasteful and incorrect adverts was not to say “Sorry”, but to say that they wanted the adverts to be stronger, and that they considered the ASA and CAP was contradictory and demonstrated how “disorganised, inefficient and wasteful these agencies are.”

Better known as – Everybody is wrong but Trump… Always!

April 21, 2013 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Second CalMac hybrid ferry to be named Lochinvar

Hybrid ferry

Hybrid ferry via CMAL publicity

We previously noted the imminent arrival of hybrid ferries to the Clyde, and the completion of the first of a pair pioneered by CalMac when the 135-tonne MV Hallaig was launched from Fergusons on December 17, 2012, at 14:00, which marked the start of  new era. The hybrids are able to carry up to 150 passengers, 23 cars or two HGVs, and travel at 9 knots.

The second of the pair has had its name of MV Lochinvar released by Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), and like Hallaig, was built at Ferguson Shipbuilders Ltd in Port Glasgow and is due to be launched in May. Lochinvar’s route will service Tarbert and Portavadie.

The names of all ships in the new hybrid fleet will follow the first vessel, the MV Hallaig, and be named after Scottish literature.

Hundreds of people voted for the new name and Lochinvar received over 55% of the votes cast.

The name comes from an excerpt of Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem Marmion written in 1808. The stanzas telling the story of “young Lochinvar” particularly caught the public imagination and were widely published in anthologies, and learned as a recitation piece by many school children.

Via New hybrid ferry named MV Lochinvar after Sir Walter Scott poem | Highlands & Islands | News | STV

Sir Walter Scott, “Young Lochinvar”

April 11, 2013 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump takes the hump as offshore wind farm gains approval

Tall wind turbine

Proving that he is the last person you would want to do business with, megalomaniac billionaire Donald Trump has made good on his promise to pull the plug on any future investment in his £750 million golf resort in Aberdeenshire, following news that an offshore wind farm that might offend the eyes anyone on the resort has been approved.

This demonstrates that he has no interests but his own in his head, and has just dumped anyone that might have benefited – after abusing all the locals in the area with his bullying and boorish tactics.

He’s not even going gracefully, and has vowed to start a lawsuit:

Mr Trump said: “We will be bringing a lawsuit within the allocated period of time to stop what will definitely be the destruction of Aberdeen and Scotland itself.

Via Consent for Donald Trump row wind farm announced

And Following the decision Mr Trump said he would now bring a “spend whatever monies are necessary” in an effort to stop the project going ahead.

And Donald Trump golf course hotel axed over wind farm – Environment – Scotsman.com

Far from aiding Scotland with his luxury golf resort – which I suspect few locals can afford to use, or be welcome at – his legal actions will end up costing a fortune in legal costs as they drag through the courts.

On the other hand, if he spends on Scottish lawyers and does not import his own American services, then we might benefit.

More Trump costs: Donald Trump pressed Ministers for wind farm probe – Top stories – Scotsman.com

Misinformation

This blog isn’t the place to cover the matter of renewables and wind power, or more specifically, the operating criteria for wind power. but it’s truly appalling to see the amount of misinformation and ignorance displayed by those who are jumping on this issue as one which can be used to rubbish wind power.

While I am not going to get embroiled in this utter nonsense, it is nonetheless sad to see how many people are reposting the rubbish spouted by Trump and his advocates against wind power as if it were fact.

The only saving grace is that none of them actually quote any sort of factual information for reference, or dare look at the figures reported for production from wind.

Probably the most insulting thing they do is misrepresent wind as if it was a single element of renewable energy, and saying that because wind is not productive 24/7 it is useless.

In the real world away from their twisted minds, wind power is one of a number of contributing sources, which are integrated in order to provide a total package.

But – why let truth and fact get in the way of a good fairy story?

March 27, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Scotland pioneers hybrid ferries, but could it go for battery as well?

I hadn’t realised it was just over a year to the day that I had first noticed and written about the pioneering hybrid ferries had commissioned, and were to be built in our very own Scottish shipyards – Fergusons Shipbuilders of Port Glasgow to be exact.

I won’t repeat the story behind these new ferries and their operation (you may read the original post here: The hybrid ferries of CalMac are real where links are given to the manufacturers description of the concept and its operation) , other than to say the two vessels are described as the world’s first sea-going roll-on roll-off vehicle and passenger diesel-electric hybrid ferries.

The first of the two hybrid ferries was completed recently, and the 135-tonne MV Hallaig was launched from Fergusons on December 17, 2012, at 14:00. The vessel is almost 150 feet long, and can accommodate 150 passengers, 23 cars, or two heavy goods vehicles.

The launch was recorded by someone lucky enough to work at the yard, and get a privileged position:

See also: ‘Hybrid’ CalMac ferry launched from Port Glasgow

Completion for delivery into service with CalMac is expected to be completed during early 2013, with the new ferry expected to come into service on the route between Skye and Raasay next summer, following fitting out, testing and certification. Trial are expected to take place in April/May, with the handover taking place in May.

Hallaig has its own page on the excellent Ships Of CalMac web site.

So, since we appear to have a reasonably well thought out and Scottish-made hybrid ferry (and another in the pipeline) ready to go into service, why did I refer to battery operation in the title?

Battery ferries

While Scotland has its ‘world first’ as its first hybrid car ferry gets set to enter operation…

I have recently come across another ‘world first’ in the form of the first car ferry powered by a purely electric drive system, as reported by Siemens on January 9, 2013.

Working together with the Norwegian shipyard Fjellstrand, Siemens announced development of the world’s first electrically powered car ferry, known as ZeroCat. Larger than Hallaig, their 80-metre (260 foot) vessel can accommodate up to 360 passengers and 120 cars, so is not only fully electric, but in a different class, given its ability to carry so many passengers.

Battery ferry

ZeroCat battery ferry – Siemens press picture

Due to enter service in 2015, ZeroCat will serve the route between Lavik and Oppedal, across the Sognefjord. The electrically powered ferry was developed in response to a competition organized by Norway’s Ministry of Transport, and won by shipping company Norled, which was also granted a license to operate the route until 2025 as part of its prize.

Instead of the 2,000-hp diesel engine which powers the current ferry and consumes on average more than 264,000 gallons (over 1 million litres) of diesel each year, and emits around 570 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) and 15 tonnes of nitrogen oxides (NO),  ZeroCat uses an 800 kW, 11 tonne battery to drives two screws. Although the battery is heavy, the completed vessel weighs only half that of a conventional catamaran ferry, as its twin hulls are fabricated in aluminium. The hulls also use a particularly slim design which increases their efficiency, and Siemens estimates that the new ferry will need only 400 kW to cruise at 10 knots.

One  critical requirements the design was required to satisfy was the need to fully charge the batteries in only 10 minutes – the time taken to turn the ferry around at each terminal. This power demand rendered conventional charging methods unsuitable, since neither port was supplied by a large enough electrical grid to deliver the required charging current.

Instead, each terminal is equipped with a high-capacity battery installation, able to be charged slowly while the ferry is en route. This means they are then ready to provide a quick “dump charge” in the 10 minute period during which the ferry is docked while it loads and unloads it cargo of passengers and cars.

Such a system would seem to be one which could be used to advantage in Scotland, where a number of short routes exist, and the ferry terminals are only a short distance apart. For example, Rhubodach/Colintraive, and Largs/Cumbrae come to mind in my own area.

These journeys are much shorter, and of lesser capacity than that given in the Norwegian example, simplifying the demands on the batteries, motors, and charging systems. The turnaround times are also somewhat longer here, allowing more relaxed charging criteria. Given the shorter routes, it should also be possible to relax the full charge requirement too, and allow such ferries to operate without having to receive a full charge at every docking.

Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone in this business now (I used to, long ago, and even worked on some ferries – no, not in the galley, but in a technical capacity), so have no idea if anything like this is even being considered for future vessels operating in Scottish waters.

February 5, 2013 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The hybrid ferries of CalMac are real

While it would unkind to say that I actually doubted the rumours that I first detected regarding ‘battery operated ferries’ coming to the Clyde, the stories did come as a surprise, meaning that whoever was going to undertake this venture (there were no real details given) had to be ready to try something new.

It wasn’t long before the story broke formally, and the news came of two hybrid RoRo (roll-on roll-off) diesel-electric ferries, described as a world first for such sea-going vessels.

While the principle of using diesel (or other) powered generators to power electric propulsion units (eliminating the need for a direct connection of a drive-shaft between the engine and the propeller), combining this with rechargeable batteries which will supply a minimum of 20% of energy consumed was new.

I’m afraid I find little that ever makes me agree with those I refer to as ‘professional CalMac bashers’, and the fact that CalMac went with this proposal is, to me, yet another reason to turn a deaf ear towards them.

In operation, the ferries can be powered from the generators, or the batteries, which are kept topped up by the generators, and will be charged overnight, while the vessels are moored. Although the overnight charging will be carried out using mains electricity, it is hoped that energy from local wind, wave or solar systems will be used to charge the batteries as such facilities become available near the moorings.

Scottish build

Even more remarkable is the fact that the innovative project will also be undertaken on the Clyde – the ferries will be built by Ferguson Shipbuilders, which will be working along with Glasgow-based ship design specialists SeaTec, and electrical specialists Tec-Source. The project is supported by a Scottish government loan, with an additional funding of £450,000 provided from the European Regional Development Fund.

Ferguson Shipbuilders Limited is now part of the Ferguson Group, and is a shipyard located in Port Glasgow. Unfortunately,  it is currently notable as being the last remaining shipbuilder on the lower Clyde, and the only builder of merchant ships on the river, where it has long been a builder of RoRo ferries.

The contract is worth £22 million, and the media carried news of the first steel being cut on January 30, 2012s, with the first ferries of the ferries set to enter service in early 2013.

The 900 tonne ferries are designed t0 accommodate 150 passengers and 23 cars, and for short routes, including the link between Skye and Raasay.

Some background links to save you the effort of digging:

Hybrid Ferries Project | CMAL | Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd

CMAL Hybrid Ferry Presentation (PDF, 1.3MB)

CMAL Hybrid Ferry Presentation (PDF, 1.9MB)

Hybrid ferry

Hybrid ferry via CMAL publicity

January 30, 2012 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Caithness offshore wind farms named after Scottish engineers

Robert Stevenson bustThree new offshore wind farms to be built off the coast of Caithness coast are to be named after notable Scottish engineers:

  • Lighthouse builder Robert Stevenson (pictured), born in Glasgow
  • Thomas Telford of Westerkirk, near Langholm, Dumfriesshire
  • Sir Edward MacColl, born in Dumbarton, and a pioneer of hydro power in Scotland

Developers claim that the three cluster of turbines, which could contain a total of 200 turbines, could generate enough electricity to power 750,000 homes, which they say is more than a conventional coal-burning power station.

January 4, 2011 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

East-west split reported in wind farm cash handouts

I must admit that, despite being told by others that “There’s hardly any difference”, and I am “Imagining it”, I still haven’t really gained comfort in the new layout of the BBC’s news and related sites. The old style suited me as it was compact, and the bits I wanted were located close together, and I can’t get comfortable with the new layout, which seeks to spread stuff out more.

I’m missing the news, but hopefully I will forget the old style, and this will make the new one more palatable – it is already improving from the initial launch, as they presumably get user feedback and incorporate tweaks to the layout – and I’ll get back into the habit of looking at their feed.

Colour wind farm turbinesWhen I did look in recently, I was intrigued to see that good old wind power money was still an issue, and that despite one load of folk moaning about the cost, another was holding its collective hands out for some ‘wind’-fall.

It seems we have developed and east-west differential resulting in an east-west divide in wind power benefit with communities in the west Highlands not benefiting in the same way from wind power projects as those in the east, at least according to a council report, and that in terms of planning policy and access to the National Grid, the west had fewer farms. Highland Council officers have suggested setting up a new community fund to spread more widely money contributed by wind scheme operators and have recommended setting up a new system to handle funds from wind farms and eventually marine and tidal energy projects. Their suggestion is for communities where schemes were located would get 60% of the money provided from operators, while the remainder would be put into a pot for
the benefit of the wider region. Using current figures for wind farms, £860,000 would be generated for
those areas with projects, and £575,000 for the benefit of the rest of
the council area.

According to their study, 12 of the 21 areas which make up the Highland Council region have no large-scale wind farms.

They went on to suggest that after an initial delay to allow proposed marine and tidal projects to become established, even more money could be generated for the proposed Pan-Highland Community Fund.

I must be missing something here…

While the sum is not huge, at least in terms of the research and development costs, or even some of the few awards for such work, especially in offshore tidal and wave projects, shouldn’t such monies be invested in these new projects, which always seem to be popping up in the news, seeking funding, and complaining that not enough is being done to advance this work.

Or is the aim really just to raise bribes to silence protesters, and residents of course, who are getting fed up with the advance of wind farms over Scotland, and are now blocking planning applications with objections, rather than just nodding them through because they must be ‘good’?

I just can’t help feeling that if the folk that were behind these renewables were serious, there would not be surplus or spare cash sloshing about, as everything would be being ploughed into research, development, and production, in order to get these moving in the shortest possible time.

September 13, 2010 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reality could awaken old wave power technology

Sea wavesEither my opponents are getting tired, or have just decided I am some sort of nut (took them long enough), but I seem to be collecting less flak as time goes on and I continue to peddle my pet theory that wind power was little more than a handy cash cow in the early day of renewables. Unlike wave or tidal power systems, all the prospective wind power developer had to do was hijack some nice land where the numbers could be stacked to show potential, and a fairly standard box of wind turbine parts could be despatched and assembled to merit payment of a handy subsidy, more commonly referred to as Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC), or RO in Scotland.

This is generally misinterpreted as my suggesting that there was something untoward, or even fraudulent, in this process, but all I really intend to do by pointing out the blindingly obvious is that the easy route was taken, and the more difficult, but effective, road to wave or tidal power was bypassed. The subsidy was always available to any form of renewable power generation, the thing was that the only worthwhile system were usually wind based. The reason is obvious. By comparison, sea based renewable power means coping with a corrosive environment, and a liquid power source that carries much more energy than is gaseous partner, meaning that the hardware has to be much stronger to cope.

Back at the start of the wave and tidal power search, there was little research (and the bulk of the interest was in the speedy return from easily manufactured wind systems), and less incentive as a result. Now, the message that the land would have to be buried under wind turbines is beginning to get through, and wave/tidal schemes are beginning to look more attractive, especially since coal is still seen as dirty for various reasons, CCS (carbon capture and storage) is still to get going seriously, and the old radiophobia problem is still being loudly championed by those opposed to nuclear power.

The potential good news is that as time has passed, material science has progressed, we have better computer control systems, and the old ideas that were not developed in the early years of wave/tidal power may hold new promised if revisited and addressed using ‘new’ technology.

The BBC reported that ‘forgotten’ wave power technology from the 1980s was being examined and evolved to provide design inspiration for new systems currently being developed, and that there had been an assumption that because the technology hadn’t worked then, it wasn’t worthy of reconsideration. However, it seems that as is usually the case, making an assumption rather than a reasoned judgement was a bad idea, and that by revisiting the earlier ideas, but using modern material, an effective wave power generator could be built.

BBC News – Firm develops ‘forgotten’ wave power technology

It may be taking a while but, as time passes, it looks as if the ideas I’ve been posting in here about wave/tidal power over the past few years (while I also took a gentle, but firm, swipe at wind power) just might not be the ramblings of a deranged lunatic after all.

This particular project has another couple of years to run, so we’ll see how close I was, and if there’s anything useful to be had, or if any more ‘surprises’ join it.

June 16, 2010 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

Renewables bob back up in the news

The various renewable power generation schemes seemed to have gone a little quiet in the news, which was handy after I decided to stop following them as I was afraid of becoming stuck in some sort of pro or anti crusade, rather than just being interested.

From comments received, it seem that if you disagree with claims about any particular system you are quickly targeted by its fans, and seen as some sort of heretic, while if you offer positive remarks, others will consider you as some kind of nut – or green loony.

Still, the past week has been interesting…

Wave Power

Vagr Artfed wave power generatorStarting in Scotland, the Vagr Atferd generator has just been completed and launched in Leith, where it was produced by local firm Pelamis Wave Power (PWP) for the German energy giant E.On. It will travel to Orkney, where it will be tested for three years to prepare it for commercial use.

180 metres long, it weighs 1,500 tonnes and can produce up to 750 kW of electricity.

Launch picture courtesy of the Scottish Government web site.

Solar Power

Next, is the possibly surprising story that proposals for a £40 million network of solar farms are to be the subject of a public consultation. This will look at plans for a 15-acre “energy farm” on a green-field site at St Kew, three miles east of Wadebridge, which acts as the gateway to north Cornwall’s popular tourist heartlands. A local farmer has raised £4.5 million of private investment to construct the first of what could be ten similar sites across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, which, if all built, would triple the UK’s current solar generating capacity.

I sense an alarm bell ringing about the seriousness of this proposal, not because of the viability or otherwise of solar power – I’ve lived down on the south coast of England during summer and winter, and the difference between Central Scotland and the south coast is stunning, no wonder the oldies go and retire there. Even in the height of (a normal) winter, you can find there is no real need for heating – at least if you are a Scot used to freezing in Glasgow during (a normal) winter.

What I actually found of concern was the proposer’s statement to the effect that, “To reduce costs, R-ECO says it is cheaper to employ five staff to manually adjust the panels so they face towards the sun as it moves across the sky than install automated tilting mechanisms.”

Five staff at average wages would cost about £125,000 per annum, just to carry out an inefficient manual adjustment of the solar panels. Inefficient because they would only be able to optimise the panels at intervals, presumably when they did their rounds, and not continuously as would be the case of an automated system. I can think of two different control system that could be used to control cheap servos, and these are priced in the hundred of pound per system, rather than thousands. Costs could be further reduced by having one controller control banks of panels, meaning only the servos need to be duplicated.

Update

As I thought, there is no problem in automating the sun-tracking process, and gaining a considerable efficiency increase as a result. This site offers one way of achieving this, which could be constructed more professionally, and still be cheaper than the annual cost of employing five staff to do this by hand.

I think the people in Cornwall need to employ some smarter planners, if they are serious.

Britain described as the ‘Saudi Arabia of renewable energy’

I suspect that the articles suggesting Britain could be the ‘Saudi Arabia of renewable energy’ might be better entitled if the word ‘Britain’ was replaced by ‘Scotland’, as most of the reports I’ve spotted have tended to concentrate on the North Sea, and the power that could be collected there. But to be fair, the bigger picture does draw on power that could be collected from further afield.

My own opinion of these claims is to side with the sceptics, as although the report was produced by an independent group, it was sponsored by Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Scottish government and the Crown Estate as well as companies including Scottish and Southern Energy, E.ON and wind turbine manufacturer, Vestas.

This is not to imply that there is anything particularly underhand, rather that it will be biased to report the most favourable options, and minimise or ignore those that are not advantageous to the sponsors. Although I haven’t noted any particular article or report, a look around the web nowadays will find publications which suggest that the promised return from wind farms are failing to meet promised made, as the wind has failed to blow to the extent that initial applications claimed it would. In light of this real world ‘revelation’, the following quote from the study just sounds to good be true, and perhaps the cost of achieving what is stated would be impractical:

The study, undertaken by the Boston Consulting Group, suggests that Britain could not only keep the lights on but would produce a surplus, suggesting the need for connections to a “super grid” to enable electricity to be exported via subsea cables. It predicts that using even 29% of the available resources, Britain could save 1.1bn tonnes of carbon dioxide between now and the middle the century.

I think the closing remark is much more reasonable, and contains the necessary warning about net getting too carried away by promises of Britain becoming the Saudi Arabia of renewables:

There was caution among financial analysts such as Dean Cooper, head of clean tech at Ambrian Resources. He said: “We see the report as providing compelling sizing information to value the offshore resource, but equally it highlights the herculean scale of efforts needed to achieve the numbers outlined. To reach 78GW will require a build rate of 2.8GW per annum by 2050, which is equivalent to more than two 5MW turbines every day. This compares to the equivalent of one 5MW turbine installed every two weeks for the installed stock of offshore wind in the UK today. Offshore wind will be an important element in the UK’s energy mix to keep the lights on, yet the gaps in supply chain, grid and planning to achieve this are monumental. There is money to be made in offshore wind as a structural growth trend, but when?”

This sounds much more like a statement made in the real world where such projects have to be funded by real money, attract real investment, and work in real time, not some impossible or impractically short timescale that suits a soundbite made for the benefit of the media, or political expediency.

Think back to the first article I mentioned above, where new technology for collecting wave power is not even going to become operational for at least three years, as it is going to take that long merely to test its practicality in the sea. If anything goes wrong and it falls apart, the technology could take many more years to refine and make practical, and the way some investors work, it could simply be scuttled and abandoned if it does fail under test, and no-one is prepared to invest further.

May 23, 2010 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | 4 Comments

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