Comment posted Wind energy may be controversial but the logistics and the skills are mesmeric by Robert Wakeham.
Vestas has decided to stop manufacturing the turbine model supplied to Allt Dearg, and is closing the Hohhot factory.
Robert Wakeham also commented
- Facts, Malcolm, facts – don’t ascribe claims to me that I didn’t actually make; the global costs of electricity supply are ultimately charged to the users, whether through the generating company or the transmission company, and whether by direct billing or indirect taxation, so SSE’s costs for building a new power line are paid for by the users.
- Malcolm, from what I’ve seen so far the Allt Dearg turbines seem to be spinning nicely even when there’s been only a slight breeze on Loch Fyne, but cloud down over the hill makes any reliable assessment of their performance impossible.
I read your posts but sometimes have trouble digesting the illogicality of some of them.
The energy from Allt Dearg – and from the other Kintyre and Mid Argyll wind farms, and a host of hydro power plants – all goes in to the local branch of the main transmission network. As the transmission losses increase the further the energy travels on the network (and as I understand it that’s why UK national grid transmission charges penalise power generated in the north of Scotland) it’s absolutely logical to talk in terms of the demand in mid Argyll being met from the nearest sources of supply.
It seems to me that it’s you misrepresenting what I’ve said – far from only a ‘tiny proportion’ of the Allt Dearg supply being consumed locally, I think that in reality all of it is, unless there’s sometimes more than is needed.
It’s the latter case that seems to be the issue in this area, with the main transmission links having to be reinforced if the grid is not to act as a bottleneck to the development of more local power sources.
You could think of the Scottish grid as a tree, with the roots originally based firmly on the coal fired thermal stations in the central belt and the branches spreading out throughout the country to the twigs serving the smallest places.
The establishment of the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board led to the development of many more far flung branches and twigs, but with additional roots from hydro plants that greatly reduced the transmission distance problems in the Highlands & Islands.
However, the growth in windfarms has seen some of them located out on the branches and twigs, remote from the main transmission network, and this has been driving the need for network reinforcement, and has apparently created the problem of assessing the viability of new development proposals before network reinforcement can be justified.
The Crossaig – Hunterston link obviously won’t come cheap, but surely reflects just how much potential there is in Argyll for more energy production.
By the way, Malcolm, if you’re so exercised by wind farm developments, what do you think of the possibility of a copper mine in a remote part of mid Argyll?
- I’m not muddling up anything – the local power producers feed via local substations into the main transmission line that extends down from Glen Shira to terminate at Carradale. This line feeds local distribution networks via the local substations. Power from Allt Dearg feeding into the grid and power from the grid being fed to local consumers in mid Argyll is in both cases local.
The only main transmission line that I’m aware of in Argyll that’s entirely separate from local networks is the link from Cruachan to Bearsden – which I think is dedicated to serving the Cruachan pumped storage power plant, and the only connection en route is to the Sloy area main transmission line at Inverarnan.
- I doubt that it means anything of the sort; the electricity is fed into the same grid that supplies the locality, and it’s common sense that the less distance it travels the less the transmission losses. In terms of electricity used in mid Argyll this also applies to the power generated by the Lochgair hydro station, and the forestry waste thermal station planned near Cairnbaan, when & if that’s built.
However, presumably there’s sometimes a considerable surplus of supply over demand in south Argyll as a whole when the wind farms are all working – hence the expansion of the Port Anne switchyard, and the project for a subsea powerline linking Crossaig to Hunterston. In terms of supply & demand it would also be interesting to know how much power the Jura hydro scheme and Sound of Jura marine turbines will be capable of generating compared with the total demand in Islay & Jura.
- Malcolm, it’s tedious replying to your half-formed half-baked stream of distorted ‘facts’ – just one example, I’m pretty sure that the figures you give for your ‘financial windfall’ income stream to the three owners of Allt Dearg are not the profit – there’s all the development and construction costs to be recovered, and there are other players involved – the venture capital funds and Cooperative Bank who financed the project, Lomond Energy who put it together, the consultants who designed it, the contractors who built it, and last but not least SSE who had to build a new power line (part underground) from Inverneil to Lochgilphead.
And all this activity created a considerable amount of work, a substantial proportion providing employment in Argyll – tower fabrication at Machrihanish, component transport from all over the place, and civil & electrical construction work in mid Argyll. All helping the local economy, and – furthermore – the net income to the owners really will help maintain the rural community in this area.
And if I could be bothered I’d question your false assumption that the power isn’t being fed into the local grid. Of course it is, and the point was made to me that the Christmas / New Year holiday season is just when power demand in Mid Argyll is likely to be high.
The fact that some wind farm electricity production has attracted ‘green’ retailers to flog it at a premium doesn’t mean that it flows into a dedicated power line to some far away place – it flows into the national grid, which in the case of Allt Dearg is via the Lochgilphead substation in Bishopton Road.
Recent comments by Robert Wakeham
- Western Ferries: history and valediction
‘…which seemed like a refugee from Las Vegas’ – could well be called The Good Ship Bling. But I wonder if there might have been outside influences at work on the decor, perhaps connected with the economic and political clout of the distillers and the steady rise in the importance of Whisky Tourism?
There’s a parallel here with the Norwegian Hurtigruten system of very long distance coastal ferries, where many of the ‘old hands’ preferred to patronise the ships of more traditional character rather than the brash modern ‘gin palaces’, apparently designed to appeal to the international tourist market..
- Best Environment Project Award for Helix Park and the Kelpies
Or the Grangemouth petrochemicals complex?
- Greece crisis: the timetable and the moves
The way things are going, if Alex Salmond is at a bit of a loose end down at Westminster he could always take a wad of Euros out of a cash machine (I’m pretty sure you can do that, some places in London), nip over to Greece and advise the new lads running the show on their negotiating skills. Maybe he’s already there.
- Western Ferries: history and valediction
Definitely a must-buy, but surely not from Amazon when you can purchase it from your local bookshop in Argyll.
In fact there’s a parallel here with ferry services – with Western Ferries & Pentland Ferries comparable to your local bookshops and Serco more like Amazon.
- Council cuts teacher numbers – without consultation – at Sandbank Gaelic Medium Unit
At least there’s good news from outwith Argyll today, with the new School Closure Review Panel putting a stop to Highland Council’s plans to close four primaries in Skye and consolidate the kids in one new school.
But maybe – in the not too distant future – Scottish schoolkids will be sitting at desks more like those horrible computerised supermarket checkouts, with nary a teacher in sight and ‘electronic countermeasures’ to discipline any misbehaviour. Roll over, George Orwell.
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