Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Battery storage planned for Whitelee wind farm

Although I’m too far from something like the Whitelee wind farm to wander along for a look, I did see it recently as the coach I was headed south out of Glasgow.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen a large wind farm, and used to pass one (and did actually stop and wander to the base of some of the turbines) when I drove south, although I’ve no idea which one it was, or really even where it was now.

Sad to say, I don’t see the ‘horror’ that the various naysayers who campaign against wind farms see. Nor could I see or hear any of the strange side-effects I used to read about in objections and complaints that used to be raised against them. Those stories seem to have disappeared, unless you’re unfortunate enough to let your eyes fall on the moron comment section after any wind farm articles in The Scotsman  – where you will see the same ‘individual’ (who I suspect are NOT individual, but sponsored commenters, funded by activist or campaign groups, given the time they must spend making comments, and the vast number of loony links they have access to).

As someone who spent some time in conventional (fossil fuelled) power stations, none of arguments against wind (or other renewables) seem to make sense nowadays, even the appearance and supposed claims of land and environmental damage seem born of resistance to change rather than reality.

I expect (if I were to offend my eyes and brain by looking) the naysayers will be whining away (somewhere) as usual, against news that Whitelee will have battery storage installed. I remember the first such system being commissioned only a few years ago, amidst scepticism that such a large installation could even be built, or made to work. Sadly, for the naysayers at least, it did, and has since be joined by many others, of various sizes.

Sad to say, such system also upset the naysayers who object to any pumped storage hydroelectric system being added to those already present in Scotland.

I used to know one, until he found out I’d been an electrical engineer – and I burst out laughing the day he tried to convince me that pumped storage was a conspiracy by the electricity companies to boost their profits by selling the same electricity twice, or some such idea. I freely confess I wasn’t listening, especially after I realised he was being serious, and expected me to accept his dogma.

The world is changing, and that change is happening quickly.

It used to take decades for change to happen, now it happens in years.

A huge “super battery” will be built on the site of the UK’s largest wind farm, after plans were approved by the Scottish government.

It will store power generated by the 215 turbines at Whitelee wind farm on Eaglesham Moor, near Glasgow.

Scottish Power, which operates the wind farm, said the battery storage site would be the size of half a football pitch.

Its planned capacity will make it largest wind farm battery in the UK.

The energy firm said the facility would support the National Grid in maintaining the resilience and stability of the electricity grid, even when the wind is not blowing.

It will be able to achieve full charge in less than half an hour.

The battery can been fully discharged or used in bursts as and when required to keep the electricity network stable by balancing supply and demand.

‘Super battery’ for Scottish Power’s Whitelee wind farm

Oh dear, that seems to hit a few naysayer claims on the head.

On the bright side, it gives them a whole new range of option to moan about, and say ‘Nay’ to 🙂

Incidentally, such storage systems are not quite as new and untried or untested as objectors would have you believe – we’ve had such large systems protecting computer and data centres for years. But why let a few facts waste a good naysayer’s fantasies?

We can have a little fun, thanks to this pic they always use to mock such storage.

Giant battery

Giant battery

One’s no use, the trick is use the whole box!



13/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

Intriguing developments in energy management

When I was studying, one of the things I came across in the university library was a book by someone who had invested in a heat pump system to heat his home.

I’m not sure when it was published, maybe late 1960s or more likely early 1970s.

I’d liked to have done something similar, but never had the chance.

It’s a fairly major undertaking to do properly, and means either excavating to heat collector piping well below ground, or drilling boreholes to achieve the same result.

There are current systems being sold which try to extract heat from the air, but they’re almost ‘cowboy’ systems in reality as the end up freezing in cold weather, meaning their effectiveness is severely limited. Sadly, being better known, and rubbish, they air systems have led to heat pump systems getting a bad reputation, which they don’t deserve.

I noticed an article in the news which described a system which had been installed correctly today, together with other innovations not available back in the 1970s.

Probably the most significant aspect is the understanding of insulation…

From many angles, it is little different from many of those near it in a small community in Ayrshire.

But the technology which powers it draws energy from as far as 400ft below the ground – or, thanks to an impressive solar device beside the house, directly from the sun.

This house is home to Jamie Davidson, who built it with a determination to minimise its impact on the environment.

Much of the design is directed towards reducing heat loss from the building.

“At the outset I was very focused on what technologies I could use to generate heat and electricity in a sustainable way,” he explains.

“I was quickly told that the focus should be on insulation, insulation and more insulation.

“The amount of time that we spent putting in the insulation and the insulated plaster board and making sure with the foam gun that we filled up every hole and paying the extra money for the triple glazing was really the most important thing.

“If you’re not losing heat, you don’t need to generate it.”

The house that keeps its secrets buried

It’s well worth a read of this short piece, as it debunks a lot of the nonsense spouted by ‘Armchair Experts’ who dismiss all the types of energy saving tech mentioned in the article.

I really don’t know why so many people are so happy to be dismissive of these methods, especially when they are proven in use.

Energy storage

Another aspect widely promoted by the naysayers is the inability to store energy.

Again, this is completely untrue.

We CAN store energy, but at the moment are not particularly good at it,  nor has there been enough work or experience in this field to either optimise the process, or get it right first time, every time.

That also means it can be fairly expensive, but that’s always the case when something is new.

However, if commercial businesses are beginning to take up this option, then unless you are a professional naysayer with no interest in the facts, then it’s time to start looking at this option.

The technology is becoming easier to adopt, and the prices are falling.

An Edinburgh hotel has become the first in the UK to be battery-powered.

The Gyle Premier Inn at Edinburgh Park has installed a five-tonne battery which will charge from the national grid during off-peak periods and power the 200-room site for several hours each day.

The 3m3 lithium ion battery is expected to save the hotel £20,000 a year on its energy bill, and is able to power the whole venue, including the restaurant, for up to three hours at a time after a two-hour charge.

Premier Inn’s parent company Whitbread said the trial of the battery storage technology will help its commitment to halve its carbon emissions by 2025.

Cian Hatton, Whitbread’s head of energy and environment, said: “Batteries are of course everyday items, more commonly associated with powering small household goods like the TV remote control, so it’s incredibly exciting to launch the UK’s first battery-powered hotel.”

The hotel chain joins companies including B&Q and Veolia, which both installed lithium ion battery power systems in 2018.

Electricity company E.ON has supplied and installed the technology at the hotel and will be remotely managing the battery’s workload and efficiency from its energy management centre in Glasgow.

Premier Inn to become first battery-powered hotel in UK

If you want a good laugh, or maybe a good cry, you could try reading some of the stuff in the Moron Comment section after this article on the same subject.

A lot of it is just… sad.

UK’s first battery powered hotel comes to Edinburgh

I think there’s another group that could be included if we ever follow the example of Golgafrincham, and launch a ‘B’ Ark one day.



Golgafrincham was a planet, once home to the Great Circling Poets of Arium. The descendants of these poets made up tales of impending doom about the planet. The tales varied; some said it was going to crash into the sun, or the moon was going to crash into the planet. Others said the planet was to be invaded by twelve-foot piranha bees and still others said it was in danger of being eaten by an enormous mutant star-goat.

These tales of impending doom allowed the Golgafrinchans to rid themselves of an entire useless third of their population. The story was that they would build three Ark ships. Into the A ship would go all the leaders, scientists and other high achievers. The C ship would contain all the people who made things and did things, and the B Ark would hold everyone else, such as hairdressers and telephone sanitisers. They sent the B ship off first, but of course, the other two-thirds of the population stayed on the planet and lived full, rich and happy lives until they were all wiped out by a virulent disease contracted from a dirty telephone.

Sounds like a plan 🙂

06/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Media reports say Scottish Power will go 100% wind

More for myself, as a reference to look back to than to comment on, I was intrigued to check various article titles seen recently, and confirm that they did indeed refer specifically to wind power rather than the more general term ‘renewables’.

Like the subject of EVs (electric vehicles), or even the more generalised heading of ICE (internal combustion engine or fossil fuelled vehicles), this really seems to bring out the blind (in so far as they choose not to see), the moronic, the mad, and of course, the conspiracy theorists, which probably includes those who state either that we don’t need renewables, ever, or that there is no reason not to just carry on using oil etc.

I’ve found there’s little or no point even trying to debate with them, their views are fixed, and they are RIGHT! Or, as I heard someone else put it – Never argue with someone who believes their own lies. (That one kind of reminds me of someone who calls themselves the ‘Scottish Scientist’ and seems to live in the comments section of The Scotsman, posting voluminous tripe as if it was fact. I’ve learned who he is, and he’s one nasty piece of work.)

It remarkable to see “Scottish Power plans to invest £5.2bn over four years to more than double its renewables capacity”, especially since the conspiracy theorists who are telling us wind can’t generate enough electricity ALSO tell us that the suppliers are suppressing wind (and other renewables) to force the use of fossil fuels. BOTH can’t be right (unless you think like a conspiracy theorist).

It’s a long-term plan, and, much like the case of EVs (which the big car makers were supposedly suppressing to force people to keep driving ICE), I suspect the others will suddenly follow the lead of the first company to do this, as has happened with cars, as the big makers are now all competing to get their EV out first.

I’d waffle on, and give logical, reasoned opinions regarding this, but as noted in the opening, this post is really just for my benefit, as a marker so I don’t forget about this, and can revisit it in future so see how things are progressing – and if any other providers have joined the race.

The issue is simply not ‘if’ this sort of thing is done, it’s ‘when’.

Scottish Power to use 100% wind power after Drax sale

(The BBC allowed comments after this article, so if you are feeling glum just have a read through them – you’ll soon be laughing after seeing some of the anti-wind and anti-renewables comments from the nut-jobs. I even saw David Icke’s name somewhere in there.)

Just to wind up some of the anti-wind power types, I thought I’d drop this in, showing that not all wind turbines look the same.

Don’t expect to see many of these though, as the industry has to work with a common design – see VHS vs Betamax for example (sad, but true).

There are more, this is only a recent sample.

Sad to say that there are some really smart and ingenious designs out there, but if you have a genuine engineering brain cell, you’ll be aware that scaling physical devices up is not always practical, as the mass rises with the cube of the dimensions (and the energy rises with the square of velocity), so many ideas have to be dumped as they may work well with small models, but just get too heavy (and destroy themselves) when they get bigger.

And that’s why many designs have been dropped, and not, as the conspiracy theorists would have you believe, because some industry bought them up purely to take them off the market, and suppress them because they were ‘Too Good’,

Alternate Wind Turbines

Alternate Wind Turbines


While I realise the US is not the UK, or Scotland of course, generation is the same around the world – just some of the criteria change.

Only morons won’t realise that these changes are coming, wherever you are.

Remember, I don’t quote gurus, activists, or people with agendas, just actual stories of work that is being done in the real world.

More electricity in the U.S. is now produced using natural gas, and wind and solar are on the rise. These renewable sources produced a negligible percentage of U.S. electricity in 2001 and now account for more than 7 percent.

ALSO READ: California Legislature passes zero-carbon power plan for 2045

As an example of the efficiency of new renewable energy sources, the Financial Times cites a Colorado project in which regulators approved a move by Xcel Energy to save customers $200 million by shutting down a 660-megawatt coal plant and replacing it with 1.1 gigawatts of wind power, 700 megawatts of solar and 275 megawatts of battery storage—all of which until recently were considered prohibitively expensive.

In a speech at the Edison Electric Institute’s annual convention in June, Xcel CEO Ben Fowke, said, “It’s not a matter of if we’re going to retire our coal fleet in this nation, it’s just a matter of when.”

Wind and solar cost less than coal for power




13/11/2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Hydrogen powered ferry to be studied for Western Isles

I usually steer clear of projects involving hydrogen, not because there is anything intrinsically wrong with the idea itself, if carried out under appropriate conditions, but because all too often I find that many of those advocating such projects are technically incompetent, and fall into closer to the category of Green Looney than informed advocate.

Hydrogen is easy to misrepresent, and sell only on the basis of being ‘clean’ (or ‘green’), since the only emission (claimed by some) from its use is… water.

But this forgets the conventional process of producing the gas, which can consume large amounts of energy. This is merely a fact arising from the processes involved – it is neither ‘green’ nor ‘non-green’.

This also conveniently glosses over the consequent fact that using the same energy (and let’s be honest and say this is electricity) to power electrical transport directly can be done at around 90% efficiency, while using hydrogen to power transport, via a mechanical engine, or fuel cells, with only yield about 20% – once the whole chain is taken into account.

Those with a negative agenda will now point out that the production process is ‘dirty’, since it uses various fossil fuels to produce the electricity needed to manufacture/compress/store/chill/pump the hydrogen.

They might also note that hydrogen cannot be stored indefinitely, and in hydrogen vehicle use, the tanks have to be vented as the compressed gas boils, with the loss being up to half a tank over a two-week period.

And so far, apparently, there are no private hydrogen refuelling stations for vehicles – they cost millions, and the few that exist for road vehicles are presently only provided by the hydrogen suppliers. I could go on with more potential pros and cons, but it’s not my job to educate, just to point out that both exist, and should be properly considered.

But we don’t have an agenda, so we now point out that sensible plans will use renewable sources of electricity for those processes – something that makes a great deal of difference to such proposals.

This is a game-changer for such proposals, and it seems that the proposal for a hydrogen-powered ferry does refer to renewable sources to provide its hydrogen.

The feasibility study will look at the manufacture of the hydrogen using local wind power, the challenges of how to handle, transport and store the hydrogen on local piers, and how the design of the ship and its engines needs to be adapted to run on hydrogen fuel.

Point and Sandwick Trust said hydrogen has been used for small vessels on rivers or coastal routes but, so far, not successfully for larger sea-going vessels.

Project manager Calum MacDonald, development director for Point and Sandwick Trust, said: “We have a simple yet bold vision which is to harness the huge potential of community-owned wind power on the Scottish islands to power the lifeline ferry services by utilising the very latest in hydrogen energy technology.

“Turning that vision into reality will be a world-first and requires the very best expertise in both energy and shipping technology.”

Via Study into hydrogen powered ferry for Western Isles

At this stage, pre-judging positively OR negatively would not be a wise move, and more indicative of the politics of anyone making such a premature judgement.

Hopefully the media will not just forget about this study, and will alert us to the subsequent findings.

I lost track of the story of CalMac’s hybrid ferries, and never picked up the thread again, although I was told that there had been a problem with the batteries, but my ‘informant’ on this subject failed to provide any details to back up the claim. And, after a quick look failed to find any substantial details, I gave up. I know… I should have ‘Tried harder’.

Wonder what these guys breathe?

Unusual Ferry

Unusual Ferry

26/02/2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

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.”


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.

05/09/2013 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.


26/04/2013 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 –

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 –

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!

21/04/2013 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”

11/04/2013 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 –

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 –


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?

27/03/2013 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.

05/02/2013 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

30/01/2012 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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