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And would ‘Gordellan’ be equally ‘horrified, disgusted and …

Comment posted Wind energy may be controversial but the logistics and the skills are mesmeric by Robert Wakeham.

And would ‘Gordellan’ be equally ‘horrified, disgusted and bemused’ to know that the Ormsary Estate family are also responsible for developing a hydro electric scheme on Jura that can feed enough power into the grid to render the island self-sufficient if needs be? Shock horror!

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

  • With Heb Isles in for repairs, CalMac charters replacement vessel to reduce underprovision for Islay
    Scott Smith – you give the impression that you have advance knowledge of future vessel deployments, but you get your dates, boats and places jumbled up. Any chance you could clarify these, please?
  • With Heb Isles in for repairs, CalMac charters replacement vessel to reduce underprovision for Islay
    A movable mezzanine deck that can’t be repaired unless the ship is dry docked?
    Sounds a bit like a car that needs dismantling before the oil can be changed. I wonder if someone specified some really exotic features on that mezzanine deck that no commercial ship owner in their right mind would dream up in their worst nightmare – but which the ship builder was only too happy to install, if the price was right?
  • With Heb Isles in for repairs, CalMac charters replacement vessel to reduce underprovision for Islay
    The comments on this particular thread (at least, those that are relevant and not just trying to make everything political) can be read as reflecting wider concerns, and it’s now being reported in the newspapers that the seriously inadequate response of Calmac when the Hebridean Isles had to be withdrawn from service for repairs in the middle of the summer tourist season is going to be reviewed at a meeting in Islay in October, reportedly to be hosted by our MSP, to hold Calmac, Transport Scotland and the Government to account.
    Hopefully they’ll have the sense to leave the bullshit on the mainland.
  • With Heb Isles in for repairs, CalMac charters replacement vessel to reduce underprovision for Islay
    The BBC Scottish News website today has a lengthy item about Calmac’s trials and tribulations with the good ship Isle of Arran.
    However, it’s really only padding out the previously known facts as deemed suitable for release by Calmac, and leaves the details of the boat’s problems unexplained. It’s basically a case of ‘bear with us, there’ll be jam tomorrow’.
    Someone needs to spell out to the Calmac management – and our Holyrood politicians – that if you drive an old banger that wouldn’t pass its MOT and gave the police some feeble excuse about not being able to find spare parts you’d wind up in court.
    The BBC could at least have asked Calmac to explain what sort of problems were making the boat more susceptible to weather cancellations – and as to the Finlaggan running about with a broken mezzanine deck and the Heb Isles crashing into Kennacraig pier, maybe the BBC consider these matters to be unworthy of reporting, let alone investigation.
  • With Heb Isles in for repairs, CalMac charters replacement vessel to reduce underprovision for Islay
    Quoting me out of context, NCH – but it’s nice to know that you read my despicable comments in the Herald, as well as enthusiastically scrutinising this, your favourite despicable blog. Chin up, don’t let your enemies get you down.

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