Thank you, Scots Renewables, we were about to …

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

Thank you, Scots Renewables, we were about to do this when we saw you’d done it.

This is a valuable and detailed record and of interest to photographers as well.

newsroom also commented

  • And that is the most serious concern. Ben Loyal and the Flow country?
  • One of the issues here is the presence in Mongolia of rare earths.
    Emerging economies like China’s are, at government level anyway, prepared to bear the environmental costs of market dominance.
    In this case the environmental and health costs to humans and to wildlife come from the volumes of highly toxic fluid waste resulting from the process of separating the rare earths (which coexist); of which neodymium is used to make the substantial magnets needed in the turbines themselves.
    As a major producer of rare earths, China – Mongolia – has also become a major manufacturer and supplier of turbines, contributing significantly to its dominance in this industry.
  • This is very much part of the scenario in this ‘industry’ that is of concern. ‘Here today gone tomorrow’ is a defining characteristic, along with bald-headed subsidy chasing.

    And Vestas has proved a serial ‘here today gone tomorrow’ operator.

    Corporate social responsibility doesn’t get off the page,

Recent comments by newsroom

  • Situation analysis 2: Scotland now – the counter attack
    You’re quite right. Humza Yousaf’s name is one of those listed in a sample of the incumbent members of the Labour group in the Scottish parliament who, with the introduction of the frontline MPs suggested, would be a capable part of an effective team.
  • Situation analysis 2: Scotland now – the counter attack
    This is indeed a fascinating ‘gate’ issue.
    We’ll be discussing it, with other constitutional issues, later today, 28th September.
  • SNP gain a councillor at Argyll and Bute
    Your style is quite interesting ‘Alan’.
  • Situation analysis 1: Scotland now – the SNP predicament
    Here is a Scottish Government paper of 2010:

    http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/933/0107179.pdf

    They seem to have no idea that the performance bonuses to which they refer, for 2007-2009, cannot have been getting through to the actual civil servants – if your own experience is anything to go by.
    How does Head of the Scottish Civil Service, Sir Peter Housden’s escapade – being shown to have attempted to put behind-the-scenes pressure for silence on a businessman who was critical of the independence prospectus – square with the code? [...carry out your role with dedication and a commitment to the Civil Service and its core values: integrity, honesty,objectivity and impartiality.']

  • Fight for SNP Deputy Leader pits future against past
    On a point of information, For Argyll has its largest stable audience ever – and that is discounting spikes.

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224 Responses to Thank you, Scots Renewables, we were about to …

  1. It’s a good job Malcolm is on the high seas . . . .

    Re. the ‘clean green’ bit . . . China announced today it is further restricting rare earth exports as a consequence of its drive to clean up its rare earth mining industry.

    BusinessGreen article

    It will be interesting to see if the industry (outwith China) responds by moving away from its recent trend towards direct drive solutions which require huge neodymium magnets.

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    • This is very much part of the scenario in this ‘industry’ that is of concern. ‘Here today gone tomorrow’ is a defining characteristic, along with bald-headed subsidy chasing.

      And Vestas has proved a serial ‘here today gone tomorrow’ operator.

      Corporate social responsibility doesn’t get off the page,

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  2. Turbines have become larger. Continuing to manufacture units for which there is no longer a demand would make no sense whatsoever. It is hard to see how this decision by Vestas is any more than business common sense.

    Ceasing manufacture of a model does not mean ceasing support for the product. That is only likely to happen if the firm goes bust and the buyer does not take on its service obligations.

    From Vestas’ website:

    Servicing the kilowatt platform will remain an important business for Vestas and we will continue to offer comprehensive service solutions to the owners and operators of the kilowatt turbines.

    Let us hope that Vestas continues to make the business decisions necessary to ease its present financial woes and that it continues to service its existing obligations for a long time to come. I sometimes get the feeling that Newsroom would almost welcome the failure of Vestas, with all the implications that would have for all the Vestas turbine owners worldwide.

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  3. Condemning companies for a “Here today gone tomorrow” attitude is to underestimate the tremendous commercial pressure that European manufacturers are under from Chinese companies. China has pretty much gutted all of the non-Chinese solar PV manufacturers and are now trying to do the same with wind manufacturers. It is very much innovate or die (and the medium to long term prospects don’t look good).

    Problem is that we now live in an intensively competitive environment in manufacturing with product development times being hugely reduced from what we were used to even a decade ago – just look at the mobile phone market where significant product developments seem to happen on a daily basis.

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    • One of the issues here is the presence in Mongolia of rare earths.
      Emerging economies like China’s are, at government level anyway, prepared to bear the environmental costs of market dominance.
      In this case the environmental and health costs to humans and to wildlife come from the volumes of highly toxic fluid waste resulting from the process of separating the rare earths (which coexist); of which neodymium is used to make the substantial magnets needed in the turbines themselves.
      As a major producer of rare earths, China – Mongolia – has also become a major manufacturer and supplier of turbines, contributing significantly to its dominance in this industry.

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      • It’s a bit more complicated than that. One of the funny things about rare earths is that they are in fact not rare at all and many nations have large concentrations of them.

        China engineered a near monopoly of rare earth production by the simple expedient of undercutting everyone else on price then using their near monopoly to force manufacturers to base their plants in China.

        There are significant efforts being made globally to crack this monopoly (particularly by the Japanese who are the largest consumers of rare earths) both to develop new mines and to replace or reduce the need for rare earths.

        All mining and ore processing is pretty nasty (the gold mining at Tyndrum is similar in terms of potential impact). The problems in China are purely down to them pursuing the cheapest options. Responsible mining and processing should enable rare earth production without unacceptable environmental damage.

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        • Makes me wonder about the seemingly enlightened principle of free trade if it enables anything – from chicken to rare earths – from countries with lower production standards to undercut and destroy production in places with tougher environmental and health & safety legislation. A bit like fighting with both hands tied behind our backs.

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          • Robert: welcome the world of globalisation! On the upside we in the West are able to buy really cheap consumer goods that we don’t need; on the downside we lose all of our jobs and the planet is trashed.

            Free trade is one thing but without equivalent environmental and labour standards then it just screws everyone except the rich.

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      • Newsroom,

        If you read my first comment on this thread you will see that it was to say that China has begun to clean up its rare earths industry.

        One of the consequences will be less for us – or we have to start mining our own.

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          • newsroom – it’s also worth re-iterating that rare earth metals such as neodymium are not ‘needed’ for turbine manufacture – they are one option for producing magnetic fields in generators, which can alternatively be produced electrically even in direct-drive turbines.

            Whether or not rare earth magnets are used is an economic decision, not one of necessity. If scarcity of supply or toughening environmental standards on mining increase the price too much, manufacturers will simply switch to another option.

            If concerns about rare earth environmental impacts are colouring your judgement about wind power in general, this is misplaced. The campaign should be for tougher standards on mining, not against the principle of wind power which is in any case only one application of these metals.

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  4. Scots Renewables,when did big business ever have respect for the environment.Wind farms are not going to give us clean,green energy at a price we can afford,Alex Salmond is going to have to realise like England that we need nuclear(dirty word)power or pople on lower incomes or government pensions are going to experience stark choices in winter i.e. eat or stay warm.

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    • Trigger: your comments rather jar with the announcement yesterday that SSE was pulling out of a wind farm project on Lewis because of environmental concerns.

      We will need to wait and see, but Government projections (at both Scottish and UK levels) suggest that we will start to see relatively cheaper energy bills because of the investment in renewables as early as next year due to rising gas prices (ie we will see bills that are higher but not as high as they would have been without the renewable components). Wind is of course a big part of the renewable drive.

      As for nuclear, I think pretty much everyone on here accepts the need for some nuclear, certainly in the UK if not in Scotland. CCS isn’t an attractive alternative though the option of an interconnector with Norway might allow a nuclear-free option for Scotland. However, we would probably still have to rely on nuclear plants in England and France for base load at least some of the time.

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      • The cost of electricity generation by gas is currently uncompetitive compared to coal (partially thanks to the ludicrous EU carbon tax) and likely to remain so for some time; in time for US shale gas LNG exports to EU to reduce the price is my guess. EU gas futures are at a 2 year low now which shows you how cheap coal has become if gas generation is more expensive. CO2? Who cares, certainly not the Germans.

        You have disagreed previously that (rising) temperature is a significant factor in the current low annual electricity demand. Obviously it is otherwise winter demand would not change, would it? The problem, as I have mentioned before, is that UK companies such as SSE see a marked reduction in profit as demand drops. However renewable generation, especially wind, is unlike their “liberalised” business and far more similar to their regulated business in that they are guaranteed a price irrespective of whether the UK wants or needs their power. Therefore, wind power swells and insulates SSE’s profit and I see no reason why that should not be the case for every other wind farm. Renewables to give cheaper electricity? I think not.

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        • Fuel pricing depends on where you start from. You obviously don’t think that de-carbonisation is an issue (and hence fuels should just be priced at their intrinsic cost. I, on the other hand, believe that de-carbonisation is not just essential for environmental reasons but also makes sound economic sense and so carbon taxes are justified.

          Let’s put that aside for a moment though and consider the various points you put forward.

          One of the interesting differences between fossil fuels and renewables is that the former are commodities and fluctuate rapidly in price. Most renewable energies (wood and biofuels being the obvious exceptions)use what are effectively zero cost fuels. Once the capital costs are sunk into a wind turbine, the costs are limited to modest maintenance costs with the fuel itself being free. The amount of fuel that the turbine can use will depend on wind speeds but these will average out over the life of the turbine.

          All of this means that the future costs of wind power on a per MWh basis is extremely easy to predict and should become significantly cheaper with time (as the electricity cost reflects capital costs and not operational costs, the subsidy declines in cost due to inflation also the subsidy regime declines in any case so new plant becomes cheaper).

          For simplicity, let’s ignore coal and consider just gas. Gas plants aren’t cheap but they are quick to install and (depending on the actual type of plant being installed) are very flexible. Natural gas has the added advantage that it can also be used as a heating fuel as well as a generating fuel. These characteristics mean that it is much in demand (about 50% of the UK electricity is now generated by gas and once domestic heating is added in then it must be our dominant energy source in the UK). Unfortunately everyone else wants gas as well. Gas prices are obviously a tension between demand and supply. The current demand is at a low because of the global economic slowdown but the long term demand is clearly up. Shale gas is an interesting factor in the mix. I suspect that US shale gas will indeed be exported but largely to China rather than the EU. Prices in the US were initially suppressed but are now rising. The smart money is on shale gas helping the US economy through reducing energy imports rather than an overall reduction in fuel costs.

          Anyway, the main point is that renewable electricity is pretty much immune to future price shocks whereas the fossil fuel market is very volatile. While renewables start off more expensive than gas, longer term they become cheaper due to the relentless increase in gas prices because of rising global demand.

          Of course, something may happen to disturb that forecast (huge global recession or a large increase in supply) – futurology is an inexact science.

          Just to deal with another of your points: I don’t think I denied that a warm summer will depress energy usage in the UK but what I was alluding to is that electricity usage is not so predictable as warm weather also results in much more energy being used for air conditioning. I seem to remember saying that this wasn’t much of a problem in Scotland but in the USA, power outages are usually the result of over-demand in the summer months due to massive use of air conditioning.

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          • Your first assertion is of a relentless increase in the cost of gas which justifies continuing to encourage investment in renewable electricity which is wind. You are prepared to bet the ranch on this despite much evidence to the contrary. You assert that both UK and Scottish governments hold this opinion and yet the Treasury’s leaked letter to DECC last month implies the opposite. DECC in December 2011 gave the ‘affordable levy funded subsidies’ as £3.2bn and the Treasury letter notes that, despite savings, the cost has increased by £0.5bn in 6 months. It is out of control.

            Your second assertion is that wind power will become significantly cheaper (once the capital cost has been repaid). Who benefits and what evidence do you have for this? One UK, several German, a Spanish, two French companies and hundreds of Scottish land owners will, after the passage of twenty years (or 2035 whichever is sooner), willingly forego the subsidy? This is akin to removing the drug craved by the addict. The question neither of us know is how long before a turbine requires replacing. What is not in doubt is that the turbine will require replacing and may well occur just when the subsidy is withdrawn. That isn’t going to happen, is it? If you believe that gas generation cost will rise inexorably, so will wind generation.

            Your third assertion is implied; you are assuming that the surplus Scottish power generation will be sold to England after independence. A Scottish Minister (not ecclesiastical) went further and asserted that England would be a willing buyer to avoid a shortfall in her own supply. You and others have asserted that wind power output will be smoothed across the UK. This is not the case. The weather systems covering the UK are much larger than the UK which will lead to common output levels. When Scotland’s wind generation is high, so will be England’s.

            I would hope that your political view and philosophy never get anywhere near the levers of power; if you did, they wouldn’t be gas powered, more likely clockwork by then!

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          • HB: You decry the projections of gas price rises but don’t offer any alternative evidence. DECC are forecasting on their central and high models gas prices more than doubling in the next few years

            http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/11/about-us/economics-social-research/2933-fossil-fuel-price-projections-summary.pdf

            Only in their low model is gas at much the same level as it is today and before anyone thinks that is a cheery prospect, the central assumption of the low model is that the world continues in a deep recession. The central projection has demand reduced somewhat by renewables.

            The Treasury is not predicting that gas prices won’t rise: they are concerned to ensure that investors will continue to back new gas plants in the UK as these are necessary to replace coal and are probably the only way to ensure enough base load is available between now and 2020 since both CCS and nuclear appear stalled.

            As I have said before, there is a debate over subsidy levels and renewable costs need to be kept within affordable bounds but that isn’t an argument for abandoning renewables. Energy security is also one of the key benefits of increased levels of renewables in the UK grid mix. If gas prices do not rise as much as DECC project (and they could actually rise much higher) then the UK still gets the benefits of decarbonisation, energy diversification and increased security for its investment whereas if it does nothing and gas prices do rise then we are left with poor energy security and eye wateringly expensive fuel bills. I know which gamble is the safest.

            There is no reason for the fuel price for wind to increase (it is free after all except for the maintenance costs of the turbines) whereas oil and gas prices are dictated by the cost of extraction and supply. For oil this is straightforward: it is costing more to extract oil every year. Gas is more difficult to predict as it crucially depends on how fracking develops. We are, of course, only talking about the “manufacturing” cost of energy not the price to consumers as the latter will depend on overall demand and a presumption that supply is in excess of demand. Generators will be able to sell their electricity above their generating costs and, as gas prices increases, renewables become more competitive and thus do not need subsidies to be profitable.

            Turbines will need replacing but the cost of replacement will be much less than the initial construction costs as there is no need for groundwork, planning costs or grid connection. Towers will probably be reusable. All power plant needs replacing or refurbishing so nothing unusual about wind in that regard.

            I just don’t see why wind costs should increase. There is no linkage between them and gas prices so no reason to expect generating costs to increase.

            Are you suggesting that the RUK would NOT buy electricity generated in Scotland? On what grounds? I could see why they wouldn’t pay a premium for it but I cannot see how the situation post-independence is any different from the present where the UK purchases electricity from France.

            Your comment about weather patterns being the same over the whole UK is just silly. Yes, sometimes the whole UK does share the same weather but this is pretty rare (as anyone having a think about this year’s weather would quickly conclude). The weather here in Barcaldine is often quite different from that in Oban never mind between here and, say London.

            I can at least reassure you on your last point: I have no intention of standing for office so my thoughts are unlikely to influence UK energy policy.

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        • EDF are wanting a guaranteed £140/MWhr for electricity if they are to build nuclear reactors in the UK. The current market rate is about £50/MWhr. Renewables sound a lot cheaper than nuclear.

          Both the Chinese and the Norwegians are looking at the possibility of thorium reactors. The Norwegians apparently see them as a possible wealth stream post-oil. The UK does not have the stomach for such high tec innovation though the solution sounds much safer and cleaner than conventional reactors.

          The SNP want to wring further decades out of old nuclear plant, something that does not sound particularly wise and which I am not to keen on living near Hunterston.

          Global warming does not mean winters will be warmer. It means that, in total, there will be more energy in within weather systems.

          Good to see components being moved by ship rather than the A83.

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          • Dr M. Look, if you will, at the BMReports or NETA UK forecast and supply data. Wind generation is not constant. It is not silly at all. I thought I had provided evidence to support the gas price? The futures price of gas to 2016 is increasing at about inflation. I don’t know from whom DECC get their data. I can see how they have convinced themselves, like the EU, of the correctness of their position and will not listen to a contrary argument. Our civil service are not well grounded. My view is that they should not be allowed to take the gamble they are taking.

            To ferryman. The £140/MWhr figure never came from EDF as far as I know. It came from a calculation by CitiGroup based on a 14% return on capital. Nuclear power is heading toward a regulated status similar to how the transmission business is treated where the ROCapital for such a protected state is around 6%. Arguably, all our generation is regulated to a greater or lesser extent; why we privatised it, lord only knows. If you walk through the Highlands and peek into the Hydro remote stations whose cost of capital replacement was going to be so horrendous that SSE were virtually given the assets, you might see who manufactured the gear – Bruce Peebles, Babcox & Wilcox, British Thomson Houston – all at least 40 years old and still working. So don’t worry about a few extra years of nuclear operation, we do know how to make things good enough to last.

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          • No HansBlix we don’t know how to make things like nuclear reactors last. The original designers built in safety margins, but as we extend the lifetime we are using up those margins. Nobody actually knows for certain what is happening to materials being bombarded with radiation over these time periods.

            The Scottish Government showed itself incapable of running a passenger ferry service. The last thing they should be doing is making decisions on whether or not to extend the life of nuclear reactors. Is the SNP policy not anti-nuclear, how do they square that with running old reactors that are well past their sell-by date and crossing their fingers?

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          • I tried to find some figures on availability of nuclear plant as I remember reading it is much worse than you might expect.

            Instead I found this fairly old document which tells a tale of underinvestment, lack of maintenance, operator errors and design problems – not happy reading.
            http://www.british-energy.co.uk/documents/Prospectus_-_Part_II.pdf

            Trying to squeeze the last out of current reactors sounds risky to me and why build new reactors that are less safe than potential thorium alternatives. I would be pro-nuclear were we doing something safer and more innovative like thorium reactors (still the waste problem though).

            We had a lead in wind energy with Howdens, but we let it slip so now all the major wind turbine manufacturers are foreign.

            The Germans made themselves a force in both solar and wind. The Chinese and maybe even the Norwegians are going to master thorium reactors.

            Our politicians lack foresight and ability.
            The Scottish Government cannot run a passenger ferry service (it is suspended just now by the way on a perfectly fine day), no way should they extend the lives of nuclear plant without a public enquiry into safety.

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          • You are talking complete nonsense about nuclear efficiency. There is 9.933GW available (Wyfla No 2 closed in April) and today nuclear is generating 9GW. Call it 90%.

            And, incidentally, the Germans were astonished to find when they took over Ratcliffe on Stour that one of the 500MW generating sets (largely built in Scotland I think) had run *continuously* for 30 years. No plant in the world has achieved this.

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          • “Aug 6 (Reuters) – The UK’s 550 megawatt Dungeness B21 nuclear power station went off the grid in an unplanned outage”

            “Jul 18 Both units at the Sizewell nuclear plant tripped unexpectedly, removing 1.2 GW of supply, with no restart date currently offered”

            “June 26 (Reuters) – EDF Energy shut down its 610-megawatt (MW) Heysham 1-2 nuclear reactor in Britain on Monday evening for an unplanned outage, the operator said.”

            “Jun 6 EDF Energy shut down its 610-megawatt (MW) Heysham 1-2 nuclear reactor in Britain on Monday evening for an unplanned outage, the operator said.”

            Nuclear have long planned outages on top of the unplanned.

            With our marvelous ferry service the powers that be did not make any provision for relief vessels to cover either planned or unplanned outages. Instead we just have a half service for a minimum of 4 weeks per year. Good job we have surplus capacity in the electricity grid system.

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          • AGRs have a statutory outage every three years, PWRs have a statutory outage every 18 months. Outages last over 50 days.

            Refueling also requires reactors to either shut down or run at reduced capacity. Shutting down is for about a week every 5 months, refueling at reduced capacity takes a few days every 6 weeks.

            On top of that there are unplanned shutdowns, of which you can see from the earlier post there are a few.

            HansBlix wrote “one of the 500MW generating sets (largely built in Scotland I think) had run *continuously* for 30 years. No plant in the world has achieved this.”

            I am not surprised that no plant has ever achieved that. It would mean it had never been stopped for inspection and maintenance.

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  5. I am absolutely disgusted, horrified and bemused by the gullability of the people of Ardrishaig and Argyll allowing this desecration and industrialisation of MY land. Get real — this is a S.O.P. and only crude profiteering in a delusional “nanosecond” in the Planet’s existance. You’re being taken for a ride with all the oh-sohhhh proud protagonists and participants digimaged and gawping at these pornographic, abusive portrayals of “progress”. SHAME on all who promote, benefit from or support these futile and crass constuctions. Anyway, fortuneately, it won’t be long before they are redundant and removed — who’ll pay for THAT, then?!! By the way are you the same people who allowed the ruination and despoilation of the canal basin at Ardrishaig by killing the green, hugging girdle of transmutive trees and replacing them with the undesigned, unimaginative and ugly “dwellings” presumably the residents refer to as “home” which are, to be restrained, a pain in the eye? Wake up Tiree — I hear it’s your turn next — don’t be fooled, misinformed and ruined. If we can send a real estate scout to our future home on Mars shurely we can do better than this or, in the interim, at least refrain from further desecrating our current abode [try doing/using LESS]. Come on people of Argyll get the REALLY big picture and see beyond the parochial paranoia exploited by the profiteers. Keep warm.

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    • The sub-urban villas that cluster around Ardrishaig canal basin share a common history with the Allt Dearg wind farm in that they both started off being turned down by the planners and only approved after redesign.
      In the case of the houses I hate to think what the original proposal was like, as the final scheme seems to have been intended for Glasgow’s outer suburbia and plonked down in Ardrishaig by mistake.
      The windfarm is much less obtrusive than the original proposal, which was for bigger machines massed nearer to Loch Fyne. I’ve got a grandstand view of the towers going up, and though it’s early days I think they’re much less obtrusive in the landscape than the original scheme would have been. My reservation is demonstrated in one of the recent progress photos, where you can see another nearby windfarm. I bet that most people in mid Argyll don’t know it exists, and I only became aware of it after I reached the top of the Meall Mhor track up to the masts south of Allt Dearg. It’s the proliferation of windfarms until you feel besieged by them that would bother me.

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      • Flying over the location on a regular basis from Tiree shows the amount of damage the access roads have done…which will no doubt stir the hornets nest of replies, yep you can’t make an omlette without breaking a few eggs…

        “Proliferation”….great word for what is going on, plague also springs to mind.

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    • Gordellan – The land, I believe, is owned by Ormsary and Stronachullin and is, therefore, not yours. I have seen their land change significantly over the years and I would assume that this has been necessary in order for the estates to diversify and survive. Next you’ll be slagging off the timber boat that comes into Ardrishaig for industrialising your view of the pier.
      As far as I know there are no fossil fuel or nuclear power stations in Argyll. Why should the rest of the UK bear the burden of producing our electricity? Why shouldn’t we contribute? And I far prefer to contribute with renewable energy rather than the alternatives…
      I would assume the owners of the windfarm will be paying for the removal of the turbines when/if they are decommissioned as is the industry norm. In the meantime the owners of one twelth of the project (the people of Ardrishaig) can get themselves along to trust meetings to voice their opinion on how best to spend their income.
      And I think the photographs are beautiful.

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      • 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!

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      • “Why should the rest of the UK bear the burden of producing our electricity?” errr ???, you might just want to see how much power we need in the area before ye open up a can of worms…

        Big difference between commercial and community wind Norma.

        Karl

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        • What can of worms? Argyll and Bute used 542.2GWh in 2010. Wind, hydro and other renewables had a rated capacity of 377.2MW in 2009 with Cruachan giving a further 440MW capacity. Argyll could (in theory) be self sufficient, thanks to renewables. We are taking positive steps to address climate change and we are contributing to the power needs of Britain as a whole. And again, I far prefer to contribute with renewable energy rather than the alternatives – fossil fuel plants.

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          • Interesting – you are obviously in the business somewhere which explains a lot.
            Well Norma – fact – not theory -if the wind don’t blow – nay electric.
            And no power station has shut down or ever will because this theory you have that Argyll could be self sufficient in the aforesaid electric.

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          • You keep repeating this bit about renewables not leading to any fossil fuel plants shutting down. This may be correct today but won’t be the situation for ever. It also conveniently ignores the fact that renewable electricity generation replaces the need to burn fossil fuels.

            I think you have latched onto the fact that wind turbines have a poor capacity credit as wind penetration increases. I’ve seen lots of different calculations for this but most assume a capacity credit of between 10-20%. That is, for every 1000 MW of installed wind you can “retire” only about 100-200 MW of other generation types.

            (Just while we are here, wind penetration on the grid needs to exceed 40% before any additional plant (gas, nuclear, coal or a high rated renewable) needs to be built).

            Aha! I hear you cry so GOD admits that wind turbines don’t displace fossil fuel plants. Yes, but that’s like saying that a fish isn’t useful because it cannot ride a bicycle. The value of wind is that the fuel is free and it is carbon neutral. Yes, you need back up from other generating types but the existing system has enough capacity to cover probably the entire growth potential of wind in the UK. However, every GWh of electricity produced by wind is a GWh that does not have to be generated from a fossil fuel (and don’t go on about the need to keep gas plants operating at sub-optimal efficiency as the existing system needs that anyway).

            Low capacity credit is a feature of intermittent renewables such as wind, wave and solar but it is not true of other renewables (biogas; biomass, tidal and to an extent hydro) where the capacity credit is nearer to 100%. This means that you can back up wind with other renewables – you don’t actually need fossil fuels or nuclear.

            Back to Argyll: you could develop a system so that Argyll would be self sufficient in renewable electricity and heat. By adding tidal, biomass CHP and some biogas generating to the area’s hydro plant, you would be able to completely back up even a GW wind capability. Of course, this is just a theoretical independence as there are no plans for Argyll to sever itself from the National Grid so our role would be as a net exporter of electricity most of the time.

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          • Could somebody clarify (because I am having a dumb moment?)
            Are renewables not simply a top up for increasing demand ? Renewables are not a replacement for current carbon based tech.
            And is it not factual that (legacy issues aside…bitter pill swallowing aside) conventional nuke is the only current, viable alternative for replacement of carbon based power generation ?

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          • Karl: I have just covered this point. The whole system needs redundancy regardless of the mix. Ferryman’s list of unplanned nuclear power outages shows why you need this (as well as dealing with daily fluctuations in demand). Some renewable technologies are better than others when it comes to replacing the need for additional generating capacity. For instance, if you add a 1GW CHP biomass plant to the grid, you can safely retire a similar amount of fossil fuel plant (because a CHP plant is very predictable in its output). Wind doesn’t allow much replacement of other types of PLANT as this will be needed when the wind doesn’t blow but it does replace the need for as much FUEL (and in particular fossil fuels).

            You could completely replace fossil fuel and nuclear with renewables but this would be very difficult for the UK.

            However, I agree with your earlier point: reduce power usage and the whole problem becomes easier.

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  6. A couple of weeks ago while driving up the A82 a police car with two policemen aboard, with all blues and twos going directed me into the side of the road. This car was followed by a Transit sized Escort Vehicle; this was followed by a huge multi-wheeled lorry carrying an enormous tube part of a windmill. Following this was another Escort Vehicle and then another large lorry which in turn was followed by another two man police car. Four vehicles and how many men to escort two large lorries. In terms of the environment what inspired anorak believes that it is a good idea to transport these huge vehicles from Campbeltown to where – where are they going to? What is the financial and environmental cost of all this to save the planet. Windmills – see windmills – see nonsense.

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  7. Agreed. This has been going on for years. While I am all in favour of rural employment if they must build windfarm towers at Campbeltown have they not heard of sea transport?

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    • I guess they have heard of sea transport – there is a major dredging and onshore construction project ongoing in Campbeltown harbour and pier to allow the easy transfer of towers from the factory to be shipped out by sea. Not sure when this is due for completion but last time I was in Campbeltown it looked pretty well through the construction process.

      However, road transport will presumably still be needed for inland projects not located close to a convenient (and suitably equipped) port.

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      • I thought sea transport had been used for some time, so unless people in Kintyre know differently I think Nigel has reached the wrong conclusions, but Tim is correct in that road transport will continue to be preferable for some projects (like Allt Dearg) – and that’s why, as I understand it, Wind Towers is helping finance the A83 improvement at the bad bends up the hill south of Muasdale.

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        • Robert – I think you are correct that sea transport has been used for some time – someone I spoke to in Campbeltown told me the re-modelling of buildings and roads on the sea front was to eliminate the need for the long-loaders to have to execute multi-point turns to get round the existing buildings!

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  8. Doc – what you try and get away with when I’m not here ! Your whole argument is based on renewables will become cheaper as other sources of generation become more expensive – what you really mean is that renewables may APPEAR cheaper – not will be cheaper. A comparison would be to say that if diesel prices increase considerably – petrol will become much cheaper – that’s an argument ?
    Subsidy payments for renewables are indexed linked are they not ?
    I think you have to come clean and state your interest in heavily subsidised renewables. You obviously have some direct income interests or depend on others who do.
    In the last few days I have passed so many wind farms standing idle ( @ £32.5 million subsidy every day ) but one in particular seemed to be working although under the same weather pattern as others. I have had a quick look as to the reasons and found that the operators can actually use electricity from the Grid to make the blades turn for appearances sake. In fact wind turbines use a heck of a lot of electricity from the Grid for so many reasons including heating the poor wee things when it is a bit cold up there. http://www.aweo.org/windconsumption.html – read and weep!
    Norma – we pay Council Tax – if Ardrishaig needs a coat of paint then that is where the money should come from – not from my electricity bill.
    Robert – Hydro schemes are heavily subsidised and therefore very very profitable – more profitable by far than wind farms.
    Cruachan and similar are absolutely necessary however to inject extra power into the Grid when needed, and that’s usually in periods of high demand on very cold winter days when wind turbines are totally stationary and useless – and in fact as we now know are consuming a whole load of electricity themselves – and guess where that electricity is coming from – you got it ! Coal , Gas and Nuclear Power Stations.

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    • And there I was thinking that cruising around Ireland might keep you out of harm’s way, Malcolm.
      The point that you address specifically at me – hydro power – is not born out by reality, there’s a very long history of developing hydro power where it’s worthwhile, particularly where other means of supplying electricity are problematic. Jura is one such place – it’s an island, Malcolm, that has suffered over the years from occasional damage to the undersea cable links to Knapdale and Islay, so the hydro power scheme is undoubtedly a very worthwhile asset, and not just to the developer.
      You surprise me that windfarms consume ‘a whole load of electricity themselves’ – they have their disadvantages, but never in my wildest dreams did I guess that this was one of them.

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    • Malcolm good to see you back but sad that your sojourn doesn’t seem to have diminished your appetite for spouting nonsense.

      Firstly, I did not say that renewables would become cheaper (though some, notably PV, will) but rather fossil fuel derived electricity would become much more expensive. Both ROCS and FITS are indeed index linked but this is to the RPI and not to fuel prices. Fuel prices fluctuate (often dramatically) but the overall trend is steeply upward (as anyone who fills their car or oil tank up knows). The projections are that rising gas prices will reduce the generating cost gaps between renewables and fossil fuels and eventually result in consumers paying less for their electricity than would have been the case if we had used 100% gas. It also improves energy security and reduces our balance of payments as we don’t have to import as much gas.

      Basically, renewables are expensive now in comparison to fossil fuels but will become cheaper relative to them as fossil fuel inflation increases the cost of gas. Wind, wave and tidal do not increase in price as the fuel is free (and anything times nothing is still nothing).

      Also remember that the subsidy regime is only for twenty years and that the ROCS mechanism means that as renewable generating costs reach parity with fossil fuel costs then the value of the ROCS also falls (possibly to zero).

      I know you see conspiracies everywhere Malcolm but I have no connection to the wind industry (industrial or otherwise), no financial ties nor am I dependent on someone who does. I’m just interested in balanced argument and don’t like misleading BS when I read it.

      Wind turbines use electricity! Shock, horror, probe! Of course they do. I don’t know if they subtract this electricity from the stated output (I’ll find out) but the consumption is small beer compared with the overall output and they will pay for any grid electricity consumed. The idea that a wind farm would pay to power its blades on a windless day for appearances is just laughable.

      As for hydro – where do you get your information from? I would like to see you demonstrate that hydro is more profitable than wind and indeed that it is heavily subsidised. New, small hydro does attract FITS and ROCS but established stations do not, nor do new plants above 10MW – and in that category is pretty much all of SSE’s fleet of hydro stations.

      To improve your education Malcolm I suggest you read this:
      http://www.see.ed.ac.uk/~gph/publications/Hydro05_ROC.pdf

      If you are going to do this as a hobby Malcolm you should at least read ALL of the literature and not just the febrile internet content that coincides with your own world view.

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    • ‘I have had a quick look as to the reasons and found that the operators can actually use electricity from the Grid to make the blades turn for appearances sake.’
      I think the Irish saw you coming! Did they also tell you the turbines have been killing leprechauns? Best start making your youtube video now!
      I didn’t suggest a ‘coat of paint’ for Ardrishaig. I suggested that the people of Ardrishaig let the Trust know what they WOULD like to do with their income. The possibilities range far beyond a lick of paint.
      Doc references peer reviewed published papers. You, Malcolm, reference a paper written by Eric Rosenbloom which is ‘published’ on aweo.org – an anti-wind farm website that is owned and maintained by Eric Rosenbloom. Yup, good place to go for hard facts.

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      • Glad you agree. Maybe just for once, one of you would like to detail just how and where the Rosenbloom conclusions are wrong – come on Norma – some internet research for you for a change. If you can prove his conclusions are wrong I will very openly post an apology on these pages.
        You have one flaw – well perhaps many – but the one that stands out is the fact that you denigrate learned information I offer from the internet and from my contacts in the anti wind farm communities ( 48 in Scotland alone at the moment ) whilst everything pro the heavily subsidised profiteering wind industry posted on the internet seems OK. Well I have to tell you that I have just looked at the offering from the Doc – a paper on Hydro – and there is nothing newer in it than the year 2004 ie it is 8 years old and out of date.

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          • Nice one John – both great videos – it would be good to see another post on the river next year.
            Margaret Heffernan is very profound and it is great listening to her – however I get the impression she seems to be referring to an ideal world where ills can be righted by openness. The proof might be in seeing what Norma produces from the research I have asked of her.
            However, where £ notes are concerned I really don’t think it’s all that straight forward. Where grants and subsidies are concerned there will always be somebody with no conscience who will take and take and take and become totally dependent on them.
            Incidentally I have no objection to Hydro schemes where they are necessary to maintain the power supply to homes, commercial interests and Industry. If Cruachan is not on a subsidy – good – but if it is then also – good. We need it ! It’s there- absolutely guaranteed to perform when required – unlike RENEWABLES.

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          • Malcolm: I’ve always thought of Cruachan’s purpose as a bit like an adrenalin injection into the heart – it was designed to power up in 2 minutes (30 seconds if the turbines are on ‘spinning reserve’), but be careful of claiming that it’s ‘absolutely guaranteed to perform when required’.
            I thought that it was built to shove a relatively large quantity (440mw) of power (hence the dedicated connection to Bearsden) straight into the centre of demand, but it can only do this for less than 24 hours before exhausting the available quantity of water in the reservoir. So it’s designed to cover sudden spikes in demand or major generating failures, and is unlikely to help in your scenario of really cold weather when demand for heating can increase and stay high for days or even weeks. And it only gets 10% of its water needs from local streams, the rest has to be pumped back up from Loch Awe.
            If we could build a lot more Cruachans they might be complementary to intermittent renewables, as could interconnectors to other countries, to share and even out the available power. To condemn renewables out of hand is just plain daft – why don’t you apply your energies to investigating ways in which the intermittent nature of power from wind (and, to a lesser extent, tide) can be evened out?

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        • There you go again Malcolm: you dismiss a paper because it is “out of date” (and doesn’t back up your peculiar world view) but you don’t say why it is out of date and what has changed in the meantime. Nor do you offer any evidence of your peculiar (and inaccurate ) comment that hydro is hugely subsidised and more profitable than wind.

          Evidence Malcolm, evidence.

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        • Malcolm – Seeing as Rosenbloom’s paper is dated at the bottom as 2003-2006 and references studies done as far back as 1998, surely I don’t need to say anything other than… There is nothing newer in it than the year 2006 ie it is 6 years old and out of date. Therefore I will not address any of the issues within it until Doc is happy with your critique of the hydro paper he pointed you at. Fair’s fair!

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          • Excuses – I have clearly stated that I am not against Hydro where it is of use to maintain a supply for the general good of the citizens of this country. Cruachan is there when needed, which is most likely to be during a cold daylight spell, and can be replenished overnight – that being the point of the whole thing.
            I did not question the content of the Doc’s Hydro paper but just said it was old and therefore out of date. However Norma you questioned the content of Rosenbloom’s paper -if it’s so out of date you should have no problem in proving it incorrect in 2012.
            Look forward to hearing from you – I shall in the meantime be preparing my apology ! !
            A wee starter for 5 Norma:- http://www.kellyaerospace.com/wind_turbine_deice.html

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          • Malcolm, trying to deal with your convoluted logic is like trying to nail jelly to the wall, and I just wonder when you’ll exhaust people’s patience and they’ll give up addressing (or should that be indulging?) your idea of sensible debate.

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          • Malcolm. There is not enough room to address all the farcical points Rosenbloom makes on his website (I’ve decided to stop calling it a paper as that alone implies it has some worth). Please find below some of his more questionable statements (taken from the abridged version of his ‘paper’) and a brief summary of why, in my oh so humble opinion, I believe he is wrong.

            ‘Output figures from wind developers are typically annual averages expressed in the vague figure of “number of homes provided for.” Homes, however, account for only a third of all electricity use, and electricity represents only a third of all energy consumption (only a fifth in Vermont).’ — If you see output figures described as ‘number of homes provided for’ this is the result of a calculation based on government supplied data. It has been a generating industry indicator of power consumption for many years and the figures can be worked backwards so that you can calculate the figures in the power unit of your choosing. You can find the methodology here – http://www.bwea.com/edu/calcs.html under the ‘homes equivalent’ heading.

            ‘As averages, the figures ignore the fact that hour to hour, day to day, season to season, even the most windy sites experience periods of calm when the turbines are producing no electricity at all and cycles of slower wind when they are producing far less than their maximum capacity. When the wind is too fast, the turbines must shut down to avoid damage. This variability, they say, is balanced by wiring up a multitude of sites, one of which at any time must surely be producing significant power. Instead of a “free and clean” source of energy, then, the necessary proposal is an expensive network of redundant installations that must fill most of our land and seascapes to make any meaningful contribution. Despite local variabilities, however, the overall rise and fall of the wind is generally the same over the larger region. The grid must plan for the likely low point, i.e., the least power it may see from all of the attached wind plants. Large power plants cannot respond quickly to the hourly variations of the wind, so they must be already going when the power from the wind plants drops off. There are solutions to this on a small scale, but for most grid systems, any power produced by wind plants is therefore in practice superfluous. The backup generation is already providing it.’ — This report by the UK Energy Research Centre states that the introduction of significant levels of intermittent renewable energy would not lead to reduced energy supply reliability- http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/Downloads/PDF/06/0604Intermittency/0604IntermittencyReport.pdf – easy as that.

            ‘But industrial wind facilities are not just useless. They destroy the land, birds and bats, and the lives of their neighbors. Off shore, they endanger ships and boats and their low-frequency noise is likely harmful to sea mammals.’ — The WWF support wind turbines, http://www.wwf.org.uk/filelibrary/pdf/windpowerposition.pdf , why can’t you?

            Aaah, the power of google. Please note my thoroughly credible referencing.
            I’ll leave you with this thought… If the worlds most eminent scientists and those in support of wind and other renewable energies are entirely wrong in their assessment of the role that renewables can play in averting a global fuel and climate crisis, what have we wasted? Money? Ok. If they are right then they have averted potential Armageddon. Which legacy would you rather leave your Grandchildren?

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  9. OOOh ! Really touchy this morning!
    I see a body swerve – I didn’t ask if you were involved in the heavily subsidised Wind Industry I asked if you were involved in heavily subsidised RENEWABLES !

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    • Not at all touchy (though others might think I have a right to as you are accusing me of financially motivated bias).

      Wind (and hydro) is what we are discussing but just to satisfy you, I don’t have any financial connection to any company in the renewable electrical production industry.

      As you well know, my company, Xanthella is involved in developing better and cheaper equipment for growing algae. Xanthella itself is not a renewable energy company but the main interest at the moment in algae is the production of algal oil to replace fossil oil.

      However, my company’s interests have nothing to do with me trying to inject a bit of balance on FA to your constant misinformation, And, I suppose, I enjoy it!

      Go away and read that paper on hydro.

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      • OK – would it be fair to say that you are providing equipment to a heavily subsidised / grant aided research industry without which – well who knows ?
        In case you have not looked above – your hydro paper is totally out of date the most recent bit of info being no more recent that 2004.
        It would also be fair to say that as a staunch SNP supporter you are pro renewables because it is one of the SNP’s flagship policies and as there is no chance of the ‘Independent’ vote going through you are flailing about looking for some policy to hang on to.

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        • More rubbish Malcolm:
          We are still developing kit and our first customers look like the University of West Indies. Our customers are likely to be researchers, island communities and distilleries. If I wanted to supply kit to a REALLY heavily subsidised industry I would of course target banking. (By the way Malcolm, each UK taxpayer pound spent on research brings back several pounds in return so funding research is a bit of a no brainer). None of this has anything to do with this thread but a good try in deflecting the topic.

          I’ve covered the hydro paper above.

          I am a SNP supporter but that has absolutely nothing to do with my approach to renewables. You seem remarkably confident that the independence referendum won’t be won. That will be down to the Scots in 2014 but I would remind you that a majority SNP Government was supposed to be an impossibility at Holyrood. Miracles happen and nothing is over until the Fat Women sings (or is it the overweight man?).
          Anyway, I”m off to watch the closing ceremony which I hope will be as good as the opening. You will have noticed that the Olympic village had wind turbines all over the place…

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  10. Sorry to those of you who can’t handle them but I’m afraid yet more facts – and these are only the FITs payments – seems hydro gets a subsidy – normal factory gate price for electricity is about 4p – see for yourself what you are paying for renewables in this category – and of course the ROCs payments made to Wind Farms are much much worse.
    http://www.fitariffs.co.uk/eligible/levels/
    Robert I can’t believe you have actually tried nailing jelly to a wall – was this in your younger days or more recently.

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    • (Sigh)

      “of course, the ROCs payments made to wind farms are much worse”

      So, now you are saying that wind is in fact better supported than hydro? FITs are only for small scale hydro. Larger scale is supported through ROCs but only new or refurbished plant and only medium scale plant.

      I’m just going out but I really need to tackle you on “subsidies” when I get back. You clearly don’t understand why such payments are made and why they are basically a “good thing” or at least a necessary thing since your pals the Thatcherites privatised our utilities.

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      • I am actually relieved to hear the learned Doc actually goes out, as it often appears that he is glued to his PC, finger poised, to tap out an erudite and rapid response to most posts. Imagine what progress Xanthella might make if you weren’t such an avid blogger!

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      • I would be careful how you use the word ‘ subsidies’. I have some info coming along which might just blow your ‘ subsidy explanation ‘ out of the water. Unfortunately it will be a few days so probably not on this forum. Got an interesting story on Brian Wilson – not one of yours was he – who got ripped off by the hydro schemers – another time however.

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      • OK – I’ll try and tackle what is a huge and quite complex subject succinctly.

        Let’s start at the end: there is a debate to be had on the overall level of subsidies for the renewable industry and how these are distributed. For instance, the FIT rate for solar PV was set far too high (as solar PV prices had already fallen globally because of the German’s FIT scheme and over supply). Then the UK Government compounded its error by trying to cut the FIT rate far too fast: risking the destruction of the UK installer network.

        So the debate is about the details rather than the underlying principle (which I’ll come to). Malcolm would have us believe that subsidies are “bad” as they increase the price and interfere with the operating of the market. Badly chosen subsidy regimes can indeed have sever consequences but get it right and good things flow from it, including better service and CHEAPER outcomes for consumers.

        Let’s first deal with another of Malcolm’s false propositions: that subsidies are an evil only associated with renewables. In fact all energy supplies are subsidised in one way or another and to one degree or another. There is a good article in the Guardian looking at global subsidies for fossil fuels:
        http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/datablog/2012/jan/18/fossil-fuel-subsidy

        In the UK Gas and oil production receive tax breaks to encourage the development of new fields. You can argue that this is a good thing as it reduces the UK’s dependence on imported oil and (particularly) gas. About 50% of the UK’s gas demand is now imported and in winter the UK has only about one day’s supply of gas actually stored in the UK (!). Clearly, anything that affected the ability of the UK to import gas would have a potentially disastrous effect as gas supplies about 50% of our electricity (and a lot of our heating). Centrica has said the tax relief on gas drilling would bolster its Cygnus project in the North Sea, underpinning 1.4 billion pounds of investment in developing a field that will create 4,000 jobs. To encourage this, the UK Government has given a £500M tax break to gas developers.

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/9427595/Tax-break-to-spur-1.4bn-investment-in-UK-gas-field.html

        (I used the Telegraph so Malcolm wouldn’t just dismiss it as green propaganda!)

        This example shows well the moral dilemma of subsidies and reaches to the core of the situation: without the tax breaks the Cygnus development would almost certainly not go ahead. No jobs, no increased fuel security, worsening balance of payments.

        There are a lot of situations where the Government needs to use a carrot approach (subsidies) to ensure that the Market delivers what the Government wants and what is also (hopefully) in the best interests of the consumer. (For an example of why Government involvement in the energy market is necessary see the Wikipedia article on the Californian energy crisis for a sobering account of how things can go very, very badly when you leave the Market to go about things in an unregulated fashion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_electricity_crisis)

        Nuclear subsidies are well understood but very difficult to quantify. Most are in the form of Government underwriting or risks and in decommissioning costs but the UK also seems to be moving to a direct subsidy for nuclear that will come out of consumers’ pockets:
        http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/apr/20/coalition-u-turn-nuclear-energy-subsidies

        This in response to the realisation that it is going to be very difficult to persuade the Market to fund any new nuclear plants in the UK without an improvement in the subsidy regime in favour of nuclear.

        Coal in the UK doesn’t SEEM to be enjoying any direct subsidy at present (though it did up till quite recently). Nevertheless it does receive a fairly massive R&D subsidy through the commitment to CCS projects, with £1 billion being available for a demonstration project. Recently, Spanish miners have been rioting because of their government’s attempts to greatly reduce subsidies for coal mining.

        Another thing to remember is that the UK taxpayer invested heavily in coal, oil, gas and nuclear during the development of these fuel sources and when looking at the current subsidy regime for renewables it is important to realise that Malcolm’s favoured energy sources all received larger subsidies in the past than renewables which has resulted in their ability to deliver energy that looks cheaper but is in fact similar or even more expensive when the full life time costs are taken into account.

        Malcolm would like us to believe that subsidies exist only to line the pockets of the fat cat developers. However, their purpose is to encourage investment into infrastructure by guaranteeing an attractive rate of return that is sufficient to compensate the investor for the loss of liquidity and the risk to their capital. One of the things that turbophobes frequently say is that without subsidies wind farms would never be developed. Well duh! That is why the subsidies are there: to encourage investors to take the financial risk of committing capital to major projects. It also has to be remembered that most of the financial risk for our existing thermal and hydro plant was taken directly by the taxpayer when the electricity supply industry was state-owned.

        What has happened is that we have transferred utility capital risk from Government to the private sector, producing an additional cost necessary to create attractive profit but which is also reduces the Government’s requirement to borrow. This means that the cost to the taxpayer has fallen but has instead been transferred to the consumer. It is a moot point as to whether this actually works out better in the long term or not. Personally, I suspect that the attempts to create competition (and hence drive down prices) in what are effectively monopolies (as you cannot swap networks for gas, water or electricity the way you can for mobile phones)will actually prove more expensive in the long term, However, given the state of the UK Government’s finances, it is difficult to see how the necessary investment in the power supply infrastructure could have been found.

        What the UK and Scottish Governments are trying to do is to encourage investment into our power supply infrastructure. Emphasis is being given towards renewables, primarily to meet our climate change targets (which are legally binding and cannot just be abandoned without negative consequences). Enabling renewables to compete on a level playing field with fossil fuels will. however, also improve fuel security and the balance of payments.

        Nevertheless, neither the UK nor Scottish Governments are prepared (despite the rhetoric) to risk investment into fossil fuel energy production as we have seen by the recent tax breaks for oil and gas production and the support for CCS projects aimed at coal.

        The Governments of the UK and Scotland subsidise all sorts of things. They do so to attempt to produce an outcome that is favourable for our citizens. Subsidies financially benefit those who are capable of supplying the capital needed to generate whatever it is that the Government is supporting through subsidies. The level of this profit is a point of keen contention but the alternative to subsidy is to risk market failure and in critical areas such as utilities we just cannot afford that. The only alternatives are to re-nationalise key utilities or to attempt to tightly regulate the market (which will almost certainly fail as it is difficult to force investors to part with their capital except through nationalisation.

        Longer than I was hoping for but to recap:

        1: energy supply is subsidised because market forces cannot be relied upon to deliver the necessary societal benefits (basically there is a high risk of the lights going off).

        2: There is a constant debate around the scale and nature of the subsidies in utilities but attacking subsidies as intrinsically bad is naive and even dangerous to our economic well being.

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  11. Well – I’m sure one of you learned people can enlighten me as to how the carbon emissions from the Olympic flame could have been ‘off-set’ in order to render it carbon neutral.

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  12. Hello usual suspects !!! glad to see you are still tilting at windmills :) ought to be worthy of at least two gold medals for staying power…
    Anyhow, chuffed to the top of my head to report that the proposed Argyll aka Tiree Array area is seemingly not only the primary hotspot for Basking Sharks in Scotland…but now most likely europe…time will tell.(918 individuals at the last count!!!)
    Anyhow…leave you all to it for now…just got back to the eco disaster known as Basra…4 days ago I was bobbing around mesmerised as 10m sharks swam around my rhib, what a planet of contrasts we live on, eh ?

    PS…Scottish Power Renewables will in due course no doubt be getting ready for the autumn departure of good old Maximus and get ready to start their Great Northern Diver count…only local microclimate change and light pollution to begin studying then. As for the light pollution…well it seems that both Coll and Tiree are going for recognised dark sky status asap to extend the tourist season…

    rgds

    karl

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    • Good to hear from you – yes we were off the Garvellachs on Friday hovering over a small basking shark – about 2/3 metres. The tour boats were out and fascinated – we can’t loose that – wind turbines out – sharks and tourists in.

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    • We saw two basking sharks off Eileach an Naoimh on Friday. Fortunately SeaFari, Porpoise et al didn’t know about them, so we got to watch them in peace for half an hour.

      Basking sharks don’t seem very bothered by noisy RIBs full of tourists thundering up to them on a daily basis, so I doubt if they will be very bothered by wind turbines.

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        • How rude Malcolm.

          Perhap you could expand.

          Do you mean that basking sharks and other marine mammals ARE bothered by high-powered outboards high-revving propellors roaring around them?

          Or are you implying that they are selectively deaf to huge outboards and high speed propellors but hugely sensitive to the sound of gently turning wind turbine blades a hundred feet above the sea surface?

          Which of the above propositions are you supporting today, and what evidence do you have to support it??

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          • Malcolm reminds me of the Queen of Hearts in ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ – but whereas she liked to shout ‘Off with her head!’, Malcolm prefers to shout ‘Nonsense!’

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      • Hi SR.
        Have to agree that Basking Sharks seem not to be to worried about aproaching boats…thats most likely why we have seen several with serious damage to their dorsal fins and other body parts. It,s actually illegal to disturb them. There is a code of practice for approach and watching them…www.baskingsharks.org
        Also, studies are under way to see just what the affect of eco tourism is on the species…boats with passengers on wildlife trips should not approach courting/breeding sharks within 500m
        The disturbance is most likely not caused by wind turbines SR…but by construction and sensetivity to electro magnetic fields. It is thought thatthe reason they seem attracted to swimmers, boats etc is electromagnetic based. Which raises the issue of sub sea HV cableing in sensitive areas.
        one has to wonder what damage sub surface turbines will do ?
        Anyhow….as with earlier coments on mining v environment….it will be an interesting exercise to see if the Scottish Government or Scottish Power Renewables are willing to even go in the direction of putting commercial interest above their continually refered to…GREEN Credentials.
        Karl

        As a foot note….you should all put your sightings in to Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust…. http://www.whaleand dolphintrust.co.uk

        Ta

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        • The impacts of EM fields and sub surface noise from marine renewables has been reviewed:
          http://www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/publications/commissioned_reports/401.pdf

          AS you might expect, very little in the way of definitive studies have been done but it is an interesting area of study.

          Karl is right to point to sharks being attracted to electric fields and a number of sub-surface cables have been damaged by sharks in the past so this is not as daft as it may initially sound. One caveat I would put in though is that I would expect that basking sharks are less likely to be affected than other species as they are filter feeders rather than active predators and so their electrical senses are presumably less important to them as they are not used for hunting.

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          • Seems they locate micro plankton via changes in water temp and electromagnetic fields from predatory fish higher up the food chain (mackrel and the likes)

            Exeter Uni are on the case !

            Karl

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          • Here is what the 2006 MCS report on basking shark numbers had to say about the possible impact of renewables:

            “There is currently a move towards the use of renewable energy sources throughout the world, and for Britain, having the highest wind resource in Europe, offshore wind power represents a valuable resource (BWEA, 2005). The introduction of the UK Government’s
            Marine Conservation Society Basking Shark Watch 20 year report 1987-2006 17
            Utilities Bill, which places an obligation on electricity suppliers to provide an increasing amount of power from renewable resources, will increase development of offshore renewable energy developments such as windfarms, marine current turbines, and tidal power generators. The majority of suitable locations for these generators are located along the Irish Sea coast (Gill &Taylor, 2001), where, according to MCS data, basking shark surface sightings are most common. These developments could affect basking sharks and other elasmobranch species during the construction phase, operation and de-commissioning. During construction and de-commissioning, elasmobranchs in general may be disturbed due to the disruption of food supplies (Gill & Taylor, 2001). Construction may also result in permanent changes in current patterns which may be significant for basking sharks as changes in the current pattern may affect the location and abundance of fronts, where basking sharks tend to concentrate their feeding effort (Gill & Taylor, 2001). In addition, noise and vibrations during operation of installations could act as deterrents to elasmobranchs (Gill & Taylor, 2001). The installation of offshore energy developments will require the transport of electricity via submarine cabling, which produces electromagnetic fields (Gill & Taylor, 2001). Sharks exploit the electric outputs of organisms in saltwater, to detect and capture prey (Bullock, 1973; Kalmijn,1982). It is therefore possible that these species may detect and respond to the electromagnetic fields produced by offshore power installations and underwater cables. Evidence for use of electroreception for prey detection or navigations is lacking for the basking shark, however they do possess electroreceptors and therefore could potentially be affected by the electro-magnetic fields generated by underwater cables. There is a dearth of definitive published information relating to whether electric fields produced by underwater cables have any effect on electrosensitive species (Gill & Taylor, 2001). Preliminary research has shown that the benthic shark, Scyliorhinus canicula, avoids electric fields at 1,000 μV/m which are the maximum predicted to be emitted from 3-core undersea 150kV, 600A cables connecting offshore wind turbines to the mainland (Gill & Taylor, 2001). As the basking shark is pelagic rather than benthic, the effects of electromagnetic fields on the species may be minimal. Further long-term research on the avoidance behaviour by elasmobranchs is required, in addition to short term species-specific studies to determine the response of species to electric fields, the extent of individual variability in their response, the effect of temperature on the response, and the various species’ habitat-use. It is also imperative to determine habitat-use by elasmobranch species over time, whether certain species are attracted to specific locations at any point in their lifecycle or at specific times of year. This information will be crucial for deciding on site location and the timing and decommissioning stages of the development. The Basking Shark Watch project provides information on the hotspot locations of surface basking shark sightings, and to some extent the seasonal and annual variations in distribution of surface sightings. This dataset will be increasingly important for identifying areas and times when basking shark surface sightings are abundant, in relation to proposed renewable and other offshore developments.”

            I think the most relevant point in it regarding EM fields is that the field strength is unlikely to be strong enough to affect the sharks while they are feeding as they are demersal rather than benthic and so are unlikely to come close enough to the cables to sense them.

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        • Karl, Basking Sharks are legally protected from being killed, but your statement that “It’s actually illegal to disturb them” is not true. The code of conduct you mention has no force in law. If you think differently, then please produce the legal order protecting them from disturbance as I’ve not been able to find it.

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          • Alex, I refer you to my previous link: http://www.baskingsharks.org, if you still need further clarification I suggest you read the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

            I assure you that I am correct and have legal advice on the matter (in regards to SPR’s proposed Argyll aka Tiree Array location) my statement is true.

            Not only are Basking Sharks listed as Endangered, they are also legally protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

            Please read on:
            “Basking Sharks are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000), the Northern Ireland Wildlife Order (1985) and the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act (2004). These Acts make it illegal to intentionally kill, injure or recklessly disturb or harass Basking Sharks in British waters. Any person committing such an offence could face up to 6 months in prison and a large fine.”
            Internationally, Basking Sharks are listed under CITES Appendix II, CMS Appendix I and II and UNCLOS Annex I.

            Note the point on ” recklessly disturb or harass “…

            Hope this clarifies your query.
            Regards
            Karl

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      • Agreed on many points Norma…
        RSPB, WWF, GP, FoE etc do support renewables in general…and on a case by case basis, location by location basis.
        However, RSPR and WWF are now looking not only at the implications of local developments (wind powerstations) but at the strategic implications of vast swaths of the country been covered with turbines as “strategic implications to migration routes”… and will object to placement of windpower stations where known mass migration routes exist. There is Norma a balance in all things, a saturation point where the detremental effects to our least damaged most natural environments are ignored for commercial gain and not for the sake of the environment. Please be aware that since the tsunami of wind turbines hit our coasts and shores not a single conventional hydrocarbon based powerstation has been decommissioned due to renewable energy taking its place. Renewables in their current commercial guise are simply taking up some of our ever increasing demand for energy.
        We waste in the UK some 40% of what we generate…investing in energy saving could reduce our consumption or cover our ever increasing demand by around the same figure…benifit all (citizens) and be a real legacy. However, we live in a commercial world and the wheelers and dealers in energy generation/the green dream have hijacked what was once a solid and noble cause for the sake of a quick $.
        Community renewables upwards is still a glimmer of hope in the madness.

        Of note: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19208400 difference in subjective spin and subjective pre-planning. BTO are a scientific body of great repute,

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    • Yes, that is interesting.

      Of course newsroom (aka soapbox) has not yet answered the question of whether or not ForArgyll has sponsors and, if it does, who they are.

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      • So the likes of RWE/Repsol/Stat Oil etc do not produce oil? just as SSE and SPR do not support nuke ?…or BP do not build solar pannels ?… Or Shell do not produce bio fuels ? very weak point.
        If there is a $ to milk they all come to the cow.
        Who supports the pro wind energy campaign ? Trump ?
        Karl

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        • The point, if you read the article Karl, is about the Koch brothers being involved in funding nation wide unscrupulous anti-wind farm movements in America. On the back on my discussion with Malcolm over the reliability of one of his American sources, it seemed like an appropriate article to point him to. My mistake Karl, I ought to have referenced back to all the previous posts so that you could catch up with the gist of the conversation.

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          • Hi Norma,
            Both sides of the argument have extreme elements…driven by personal ambition, fiscal return, down right narrow mindedness or ignorance. Trump/Koch do springs to mind.
            I do try (not very well sometimes) to treat wind power stations on a case by case basis, I am however finding it a necessity to defer to the strategic implications of the proliferation of turbines within our small land/ coastal waters mass (Scotland).
            I will remain a solid supporter of community wind/renewables project…but after nearly 2 and a half years at the core of the “No Tiree Array Campaign” ref: Argyll aka Tiree Array proposal, the research & time given into looking into all the associated aspects of large commercial wind, find my views on it’s immoral foundations simply harden up my resolve. Large scale commercial wind may have a place in development of better tech, but other than that ,it is simply a carpet bagging exercise…ill thought out and poorly applied, driven by fiscal (and in Scotland political posturing) return rather than any broad and genuine respect for the core issues ie: antiquated reliance on carbon based fuels and, the knock on affects of the human implications within the global warming debate.
            I have been called everything from NIMBY to extremist…recieved threat email and phone calls…been told by one leading NGO: namely FOE Scotland that I was putting my childrens future at risk by not supporting the Argyll Array…and that my family will drown, as the sea rises around Tiree.

            All of these items simply make me feel that the message is getting to the people I want it to…and that the Argyll Array as a single issue MUST not be allowed to happen.
            On a good note: I have learnt so much about Tiree and the environment that we live in out there on the very edge of Europe that …I realise how blessed me and my family are to live on Tiree.
            Cheers
            karl

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  13. The fun about being otherwise occupied all day is that in the evening you can go down the posts awarding green ticks and red ticks – God – getting as bad as Robert with his children’s fairy stories and his attempts at nailing jelly to walls.
    Karl – there surely won’t be any sharks left anywhere near Tiree once the turbines have been installed – I mean – months and months even years of large vessels drilling, hammering, concreting into the granite south of the island is going to chase everything away – possibly for ever. Major vessels with multiple engines, noisy cavitating bow thrusters, working cranes etc – create sound that travels through the decks into the surrounding waters. And doesn’t sound travel further in water ? There will be support vessels passing to and fro all day to the base station on the Island plus plenty RIBs with high reving engines. Many of these boats will be there for the lifetime of the Turbines.
    Again Karl you probably know the answer – how big and how deep does the foundation of a 200 metre high wind turbine need to be to make sure it survives the worst of weathers.
    Also – I can’t believe that a hollow 140 metre high tower will not be emitting some sort of noise emissions at its base when it has a multi ton 100 metre diameter propeller turning at its top end.
    And finally folks:- If every wind turbine in the UK was switched off now – you would still be provided with every volt and amp you could wish for – remember – Renewables need Power Stations – Power Stations don’t need Renewables – and the bonus being YOU – the consumer – would be saving £32.5 million pounds a day on you electricity bills.

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    • Hi Malcolm, whatever the context of use here, I have to admit “nailing jelly to the wall” is a great phrase !!! and I intend to use it out here in Iraq.

      Answers below for what I know to be fact:

      “there surely won’t be any sharks left anywhere near Tiree once the turbines have been installed – I mean – months and months even years of large vessels drilling, hammering, concreting into the granite south of the island is going to chase everything away – possibly forever.”

      Sad thoughts…compounded by the fact that any construction would logically, be weather dependent ie: summer…smack bang in the instinctive breeding/passage period.

      “…There will be support vessels passing to and fro all day to the base station on the Island plus plenty RIBs with high reving engines. Many of these boats will be there for the lifetime of the Turbines…”

      SPR are not certain if support would be based onshore or offshore (accom platform ?) they are playing a “…if we are onshore there could be employment for locals, offshore employment would (for locals) be minimal…”
      game, bribe etcetera. Fair to assume that they will go for some form of limited support, also 5km from Tiree is not OFFSHORE!

      “..you probably know the answer – how big and how deep does the foundation of a 200 metre high wind turbine need to be to make sure it survives the worst of weathers…”

      We (NTA/Tiree) have no definitive answer to the enginnering solutions. Lewisian Gneiss is bloody hard & it is fair to say in regards to the proposal nothing like this has been done before.

      “Also – I can’t believe that a 140 metre high tower will not be emitting some sort of noise emissions at its base when it has a 100 metre diameter propeller turning at its top end…”
      Acoustic reverberation is definitely a YES.

      “And finally folks:- If every wind turbine in the UK was switched off now – you would still be provided with every volt and amp you could wish for – remember – Renewables need Power Stations – Power Stations don’t need Renewables – and the bonus being YOU – the consumer – would be saving £32.5 million pounds a day on you electricity bills.”

      Whatever anybodies views on commercial wind energy (or commercial renewables in general) we have to look seriously at our addiction to hydro-carbons and move on from finite reserves…Environmentally or indeed at a later date fiscally, carbon based energy has had it’s day in it’s current guise. You will be aware of my views on multi-national or indeed commercial wind energy…it is immoral as it not based on reducing global warming or ultimately reliance on carbon based fuels, these green rants are simply a tiny global benefit..commercial wind is based on shareholder portfolio’s, corporate greed & political posturing…the green credentials are basically the cheap, nice and acceptable toilet seat on a drain folk seem willing to throw money down.

      UPDATE below for you (sorry for going off at a tangent from the original post & excellent photographs)

      Very glad to report that on island support for NTA is now more than I ever expected. Crofters are begining to ask about local micro-climate change…oh and while I am at it are interested in a little known/publisised problem associated with turbine fires…seems the clean up bill for the vast amounts of toxins and hazardous debrise that land runs to many 10′s of thousands of pounds. I was asked by a local crofter “what happens if a turbine catches fire within the array, and the soot and debrise all blow down wind onto Tiree?”…much the same as if Tilley burst into flames only on a much larger scale (current industry practice is to evacuate/isolate and let burn)

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  14. Sorry Doc – unlike you I was looking forward to professional actual facts from Karl to increase my knowledge of offshore wind farms. But I’m afraid I have to consider you as a red tick but rest assured if you go to the vets you can get something for it..

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  15. Ferryman ( somewhere way above in this forum ) £140 MWh for a 100% – 24 hour supply of totally clean nuclear electricity against a 5% unreliable supply at £50 MWh from Wind Farms. I hope you have not been using that sort of mathematics when comparing ferries.

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    • The £50/MWhr figure is the present market rate which includes nuclear and gas. The current nuclear plant is old, EDF are holding the UK to ransom for replacement nuclear and want £140/MWhr. Russia can turn the tap off on gas, they also have significant control over coal and uranium.

      The Germans went flat out to build up a solar industry, there are or at least were very active in geothermal as well. As I said Norway and China are looking at innovative thorium nuclear technology.

      There are hard choices to be made and no easy answers.

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  16. Have just at long last found time to go through the Ardrishaig Community Trust’s pictures of the building of the Allt Dearg Wind Farm. Excellent effort by the two photographers involved. It’s always fascinating watching large developments take shape and heavy machinery you don’t see too often, working in inclement conditions especially. The huge cranes are particularly fascinating – how that fairly small hydraulic ram can take that huge weight I can never understand. Congratulations also to McNaughtons – a massive contract to have won in these lean times.

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  17. HB: I’ve moved “our” part of this discussion to the bottom as we were running out of “reply” further up.

    Wind generation: some days it is windier than others but, as far as I am aware, there has never been a day over the past 5 years when wind turbines have not contributed something to the UK grid. Sometimes it drops to about 100MW, other days it exceeds 3000MW but it never drops to 0MW. This shows that wind is always available somewhere.

    The DECC figures are projections not forecasts. The assumptions they use are in the report and are updated annually. Forecasts are much more difficult to make but you are ignoring my point that it is safer to assume that gas prices will rise than fall when looking at how to ensure we have enough generating capacity.

    One thing we can agree on was the short-sighted stupidity of privatising electricity generation supply in the UK, Sadly, a bit late to do anything about it.

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    • “short-sighted stupidity of privatising electricity generation supply in the UK” and selling much of it off to overseas companies…

      Totally agree on this point !

      Karl

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      • It gets worse, Karl, the government of the time was so convinced that state ownership of our electricity system was a disaster that in the enthusiasm to get rid of it to the private sector a substantial chunk was acquired by EDF – the NATIONALISED French electricity organisation. Clearly, foreign state ownership of our infrastructure is ok – or was it just a question of flogging off anything & everything to raise some cash?

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          • So I wonder if EDF in France (and now in Britain) delivers cheaper energy than the CEGB did in England, and NOSHEB and SSEB did in Scotland?

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        • It’s just possible that our nuclear fleet’s efficiency (90% is the absolute maximum such a plant can operate at and they are currently collectively doing that) is due to EDF’s ability and experience. EDF own the lot, I think.

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          • EDF certainly have plenty of nuclear experience – and they only just managed to avoid catastrophic problems when France’s Rhone valley nuclear ‘fleet’ very nearly ran out of cooling water in that summer heat wave some years ago.

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          • Where do you get the 90% figure from?
            I have only seen 80%, but that was in older reports.

            Don’t forget our nuclear plant is old and design defects could result in several reactors having to being shut down simultaneously and perhaps indefinitely.

            To build replacement plant EDF want energy prices almost three times the current level.

            Nuclear is not clean, it is not cheap, it is at risk of large shutdowns and it does not even give security of supply because they need uranium from overseas.

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          • Ferryman. 90% from British Energy. We have 8 of one type and one of the other – Magnox? – and it’s that one that requires extended inspection.

            Where does it say EDF want almost (?!?) 3 times energy prices.

            Do you want these things to fail? Are you such a pessimist?

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          • 90% is, frankly, rubbish.

            Between 2005 and 2009 the UK nuclear fleet never exceeded 80% load factor in any year, and in 2008 it was below 50% (figures from DECC [table 5.10, page 142]).

            It would be nice to think that in 2012 a load factor of 90% was going to be achieved, but it seems unlikely as there have been a spate of unplanned shutdowns. The 640MW Torness 2 reactor was mysteriously offline for three months from May 13th to August 10th. (with no explanation). At the same time the 1200 MW Sizewell B nuclear reactor was taken offline. This was Sizewell B’s second unplanned outage in three months. Earlier In February Hinckley Point B was shut down due to a hydraulic leak.Today (Aug 17th) the 550MW Dungeness B22 reactor has been taken offline for refuelling.

            And of course Hunterston B has only been operating at 70% capacity since 2007 as a safety measure.

            I’m not blindly anti-nuclear per se, but I am anti the lies and nuclear hype. Nuclear is expensive and nuclear power stations go wrong. We need a very high load factor to justify the cost of new nuclear, but false claims do not help. If we get 80% from existing plant we will be lucky. I would not trust anything EDF say.

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          • SR. What I’m telling you is that there is just shy of 10GW nuclear capacity and from NETA, nuclear was churning out 9GW. It’s been doing this for some time. I agree that their performance in the past has been awful but something has changed. It is reasonable that they’re weeding out the rubbish, I don’t know. EDF must be bringing some experience and so on.

            I thought I had explained some posts ago how 90% is the absolute maximum.

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          • HB seems to be correct: Nuclear capacity in the UK is usually quoted as being 10GW (sometimes 11)and NETA figures in August showed a high of 9GW.
            http://www.geog.ox.ac.uk/~dcurtis/NETA.html

            Nuclear seems to average about 8GW though there are quite frequent spikes where it falls to less than 4GW.

            I suspect that you are actually both right (SR and HB). Nuclear does appear to hit 90% at times but the average performance is less than this.

            There is a good review from the House of Commons Library (Nuclear Energy Statistics 2012).

            I must confess to being puzzled as to how it gets to 90% though as some stations are “governed” to lower outputs (such as Hunterston B and Hinkley Point B both at 70%).

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          • DocM The logical answer to the Hinckley and Hunterston conundrum is that the theoretical output is more like 9.5GW and the whole fleet is running.
            I know we aren’t allowed to run plant at 100% but there you are …

            Secondly, SR and others, shock horror at breakdowns (call it what it is rather than the unplanned outages obfuscation) should be aware that this happens all the time with the whole generation fleet. Nuclear stations were built in the period when the first 500MW generating sets were built. Anyone with a long enough memory will remember the troubles at Cockenzie which was shedding turbine blades like confetti. I haven’t examined in any detail the few nuclear plants breakdown that there are but I’m prepared to bet that the boiler/generator are a factor.

            I am not advocating nuclear without being cautious even although the Mott MacDonald report says “bring ‘em on”, but I am concerned that by a series of nods and winks EDF are going to convince the public that we’re ripe for shafting.

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          • Nuclear plants can, of course, also produce more than 100% of their power but that is usually a bad thing!

            Capacity efficiency is in many ways a red herring: what actually matters is output and the levelised cost of that output. However, it isn’t true to say that nuclear plants ever approach anything like 90% energy efficiency: they are only about 36% efficient because of the huge energy losses in converting heat into electricity
            http://www.imeche.org/knowledge/themes/energy/nuclear-power/about-nuclear-power/how-does-it-work/nuclear-power-stations

            Since uranium is a cheap fuel (only 10% of the cost of operating a nuclear plant is fuel costs compared to 90% for gas) this efficiency doesn’t really matter. The high capacity efficiency (rated output to actual output) of nuclear plants is of course because they cannot be made to operate at fluctuating outputs easily so are always run at high outputs whereas gas and to a lesser extent coal are operated as grid balancing and thus are deliberately run at less than their possible capacity efficiencies.

            The UK energy output graphs I have previously referenced reward careful scrutiny.
            http://www.geog.ox.ac.uk/~dcurtis/NETA.html

            They clearly show nuclear being used as a steady base load and gas and coal being used to smooth the daily fluctuations. Wind usually gently ramps up and down (certainly more gently than the big daily swings of the others) and hydro relatively unimportant. One thing that has changed recently is that they have started showing pumped storage in terms of its balance of power ie when it is consuming power rather than generating (pumped storage consumes more electricity than it generates). It did occur to me last night that we shouldn’t count Cruachan in the balance of Argyll’s renewable energy as it consumes more power than it releases.

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    • You might not have seen this but, Exxon drilled 3 wells in Poland for shale gas and reported, in effect, ‘no gas here’. Now, normally, tens, hundreds of wells would be drilled before a reasonable conclusion could be drawn. The reason is the $bn Exxon, Shell etc have had to write down their own shale assets because the gas price is so low. Why make the position worse by finding more of it? These people have no national interest other than what is in their interest and that is not cheap gas.

      I am not ignoring the assumption that gas prices will rise; only that for a CCGT plant to produce electricity at the price a wind farm does, the gas price has to rise to extraordinary levels. Gas prices as you mentioned are beginning to show a cyclical trend in relation to eg economic activity which is, I suppose, a welcome sign rather than having a Sheik Yamani or Gazprom naming a price but I question the wisdom of determining policy on an outcome that looks less likely as time passes.
      There is one point of agreement; once the capital is paid off, a wind farm becomes easily as cheap to run as conventional generation. We know because there is no shortage of literature which says so, that typically an onshore wind farm will have paid off its debt after 10 years, perhaps a little more for some who build a 4 lane highway with services through the farm. Instead of cutting the subsidy off after 10 years, we keep paying it. Why?
      We need a Manny Shinwell who can take these people on.

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      • Hi,
        Your wrong on the reason the drilled 3 holes…this was their drilling commitment to hang onto the lease. Also given that some of the areas surveyed are within Natura 2000 forest drilling has taken place on areas deemed to be at the closure/dip in the reserve.
        “Now, normally, tens, hundreds of wells would be drilled before a reasonable conclusion could be drawn”…absolutly incorrect.
        Seismic data provides subsurface structure data…holes are drilled to basement depth and through the capping structure…initial exploration drilling generally takes place for coreing samples on the closeout/dip areas of structures…in many cases simply to cross check the seismic data (called up-hole survey). CGG Veritas and Geofizika Krakow are carrying out the seismic surveys…first production well is not due for a year and a half…two wells have been drilled that show large commercially viable reserves…but who wants this information getting out when shares will be released in second quarter of 2015.
        And this is from the horses mouth….as I did the HSE pre-start-up audit of Geofizika Krakowe for Exxon in 2011.
        Karl

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        • So what you’re saying is that Exxon are not disclosing the true position to enhance their earnings at some time in the future? That was what I thought.

          The number of wells drilled was an analyst reaction in the FT to Exxon’s no oil report and I added the hundreds, incorrectly. I’m still puzzled as seismography will tell you the rock might be oil/gas bearing but I thought you had to drill to establish the extent and that could take a lot of wells.

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  18. Getting back to the point – I am delighted and heartened to learn that we have regular outages in the equipment supplying our power ie Power Stations, because I certainly never knew that, and probably very few citizens in the whole of the UK knew that. And of course we wouldn’t would we, because we have never had a light go out for lack of electricity. We have ample electricity. Good old Britain and all who sail in her.
    SO WHY DO WE NEED WIND TURBINES ??? HELL KNOWS !
    By the way Doc – I presume you sleep sound at night – because you seem to do all your dreaming during the day.
    I think you are wrong on the fact that the UKs wind farms have never actually produced zilch / nada / nothing. But the fact that you are prepared to accept – nay promote – that people already in fuel poverty should be paying a contribution to the £32.5 million pounds subsidy required by renewables each day is absolutely disgraceful – you even suggest that a piddling little contribution of 100MW from wind, which is not in any way needed, makes it all worthwhile.
    Can’t you understand – it’s a total rip off !
    http://scef.org.uk/news/1-latest-news/245-middle-earning-scots-in-fuel-poverty-thanks-to-bill-rises#.UCvmBOAuqYs.facebook

    Norma it appears that offering pages from the internet is now acceptable to you contrary to your first postings above – please follow the http://scef.org.uk web site – you don’t have to agree but at least it will widen your knowledge.
    Also – I am planning on doing a Scotland wide survey on actual employment figures in the Wind Industry with the help of Communities Against Turbines Scotland and the dozens of affiliated groups throughout the country. Could you offer the figure for Allt Dearg now it is up and running, of the number of permanent local jobs created please.

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    • Malcolm,
      It would be interesting to know the ratio of field staff to admin staff(somebody has to deal with all the cash :) ) …long term employment in O & M is minimal in renewables but that is the nature of automation…construction is obviously a quick hit for employment numbers and should be seen as short term.
      What would be really interesting is the ratio of British/Scottish based support admin staff compared with the overseas home bases where the vast majority of the expansion plans are created.
      What is without doubt is the quangos/home office and governmental departments dealing with the renewable surge are expanding…and we are paying for this through our TAXES.
      The Saudia Arabia of renewables dream may yet come true…but having worked in Saudia I would see this as a worst nightmare, especially given that the vast majority of general workers come from Pakistan and other poor countries…the middle management and upper management of Saudi are generally saudi nationals and do bugger all except rubber stamp everything for their own good and take the credit for the efforts of the overseas poor workers…LOL :) now there is at least one similarity that we all know !

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      • I trust you are not going to have any parts of your body cut off in public for your insinuations that Saudis might not be totally honourable. Which arm do you helm with ?
        You know how wind farm profiteers say that their farm will provide electricity to say 1,000 homes which they base on turbines working at a 30% output all day every day – which of course is total nonsense. They are lucky to work for even half that – or actually much less – so it’s all propaganda. It’s much bandied about by SNP – MSPs – but we know they are not averse to telling lies.
        In the same vein they talk about the huge local employment figures that go along with renewables – I just want to do a bit of research to actually see what these figures are – or are they just further hot air from the vested interests to bribe the locals.

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    • Malcolm – ‘…Allt Dearg now that it is up and running’ – yet another example of your careless presumption; the structures are in place, but there’s much yet to be done in the power and control systems, and it apparently won’t reach absolute completion until sometime in December. Perhaps you could find time in your busy life to actually research how wind farms work? (I do appreciate that you’ll find this less fun than your planned survey of their ‘actual’ employment figures by consulting anti-windfarm people).

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    • Malcolm, your link is to an anti-wind farm website (again!) which describes itself as a forum. So I’m not quite sure what your point is… The links I referenced are – the UK Government Department of Energy and Climate Change (specifically the sub national local authority electricity consumption figures), Argyll and Bute Council, Scottish Power’s information sheet on Cruachan Power Station, the BWEA energy calculations (also known as Renewable UK, if you would like to discount this one as ‘Pro wind’ then you can find the same workings on the Scottish Government’s website), the UK Energy Research Centre’s peer reviewed paper on energy intermittency, the WWF, the RSPB and a lonely little article by The Guardian.
      I don’t know how many permanent local jobs have been created by Allt Dearg but if you follow the Ardrishaig Community Trust page (http://www.ardrishaigcommunitytrust.org/turbine.html) you will see that it is not scheduled to be up and running until December. As they are Vestas’ machines I would assume that Allt Dearg will help maintain and possibly increase the number of the company’s service personnel in Argyll.
      If you read the information that I, and others, posted for you then you may not have so many questions. The energy intermittency paper will tell you all about the way in which the grid balances the system to ensure that there is always ample electricity.
      Oh, and – ‘Extreme lows or highs in wind speed are a natural feature of the UK wind climate; however a diversified wind power system would be less affected as it is rare that these extreme events affect large areas of the country at the same time. This report found that: Low wind speeds affecting 90% or more of the UK would occur in around one hour every five years during winter; The chance of wind turbines shutting down due to high wind speed conditions is very rare – high winds affecting 40% or more of the UK would occur in around one hour every ten years.’ Taken from http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/publications/downloads/sinden05-dtiwindreport.pdf , a paper on wind power and the UK wind resource by the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford.

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      • Thanks for digging up the wind data Norma, that also addresses one of Hans Blix’s points.

        To be fair, there are times when wind speeds across the whole of the UK are low and so wind will not produce much energy but the probability of the UK wind turbine network producing NO electricity is very small indeed. However, this is perhaps to look at things the wrong way round: what we should be thinking that when it is windy we are enjoying lots of clean energy that means we don’t have to burn as much gas and coal.

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      • The Oxford paper from 2005 uses Met data historically intended for maritime and aviation purposes not wind farms. In other words, the locations are not, in the main, suitable for wind farm analysis. There are more recent reports which reflect the gradual change in UK climate which has become more extreme; you don’t get F10 in summer but we did this year.

        The Eire grid report is very interesting in that it is a practical summary of what happens with wind. Given that the prevailing wind is SW, Ireland gets it first and the land friction dissipates energy before it hits us. They also remark that there is a difference in either timing or strength of wind across the island north to south. Weather systems move at about 10kn, sometimes faster, so the passage creates wind 10kn more powerful on the leading SE quadrant but 10kn less powerful on the trailing NW quadrant. A total change of 20kn is quite a difference. Basically, in the northern hemisphere you do not want to be anywhere near the SE quadrant of a SW moving storm.
        http://www.eirgrid.com/media/GCS 2011-2020 as published 22 Dec.pdf

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      • Norma – “…(also known as Renewable UK, if you would like to discount this one as ‘Pro wind’ then you can find the same workings on the Scottish Government’s website)”

        That won’t work I’m afraid – perhaps you haven’t known Malcolm for as long as some of us, and didn’t therefore realise that in his opinion the Scottish Government is part of the ‘Pro wind’ lobby :-)

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    • I despair of you Malcolm – though I do have a sneaky admiration how you manage to twist everything round until it fits your view that wind turbines are terrible things.

      Power outages are rare in the UK because we have a superb grid system courtesy of the old CEGB (and corresponding Scottish Boards) and lots of diverse generating plant well in excess of peak demand.

      Once more and with feeling: wind power isn’t needed (in the UK at least) because we are short of power generation (not yet at least); it is being pursued so as to increase our energy security, buffer us against violent fluctuations in the price of fossil fuels; decarbonise our energy system and help the UK meet its binding targets on carbon emissions – oh, and to provide jobs in about the only growing part of the UK economy.

      If I’m wrong and there has been a day during the last five years when wind power produced zero power then you be sure to point us to that evidence. Certainly I haven’t been able to spot one in the NETA data: http://www.geog.ox.ac.uk/~dcurtis/NETA.html

      And you are still waving the fuel poverty red herring around. For domestic properties, usually around 60% of the total energy goes into heating the house – and that is mainly through fossil fuels not wind. There are various schemes to help people in fuel poverty- such as UHIS and the EAP as well as special low tariffs from energy suppliers. The push for renewables does put up prices but only by 2p per day per household for wind. This is dwarfed by the increases in prices due to fluctuations in fossil fuel prices, Have a look here for the historical data on fuel prices:
      http://www.castlecover.co.uk/historic-home-utility-prices/

      Note how gas prices have “sky-rocketed” and remember that over 50% of our energy (other than transport fuels) is gas. Electricity costs have doubled in real terms over the last seven years and those costs have much much more to do with the price of gas than renewables.

      I do sleep well at night and part of my job is to dream up better tomorrows. However, even when I’m asleep I seem to have a better grasp of reality than you do Malcolm – and that is something I share with the majority of people in this country who do not share your turbophobia.

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      • Global warming does not give our politicians sleepless nights, what gives them sleepless nights is energy security.

        When Russia turned of the gas in a spat with Ukraine in 2009 overnight millions across Europe suffered collateral damage in the middle of winter. That woke the politicians up in a cold sweat.

        Why all the bother about gas?

        Well the EU (I don’t think UK figures are vastly different) gets not just 30% of its gas, but also 30% of its oil and coal from Russia. That is right 30% of the oil comes from Russia. On top of that Russia also has significant control over uranium.

        http://ec.europa.eu/energy/international/russia/russia_en.htm

        One reason for the scramble into renewables is to help counter that dependency. It is a bit like having only one vehicle ferry company. Today they may be nice but tomorrow the prices may go up.

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    • The loonies have taken over the asylum
      :) what a load of c–p !
      One of the killers in developing nations is poor H & H education and in general transmission of disease via insects or ground/potable water contamination…not the type of toilet used…
      “Traditional flush toilets waste tons of drinking water and are often impractical in many areas of the developing world ” more c–p. Traditional where ? not in developing nations! traditional in developed nations and tourist hotspots…
      A compost toilet costs virtually nowt…and simply with the addition of quick lime and urine destroys most virus and bacteria and the resulting compost can be used for food or fodder production, as a spin off herbivor dung is still one of the most cost effective sustainable and renewable fuels known to man…if Mr Gates wants to change the planet… his cash and ideas would be better spent or directed in sex education and malaria prevention…and health and hygiene campaigns.
      (nice not to talk about windy mills for a moment or two)

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      • Despite my liking for green technology, I have to confess that I am sceptical about the merits of toilets that produce electricity and hydrogen gas as really being the way forward. But it’s Bill’s money and, to be fair, he already spends shed loads of it on extremely useful R&D through their Global Health programme.

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          • Had a flushing one in Guinea West Africa that regulaly spouted frogs and on one occasion a black mamba (seems it was chasing the frogs). A free-fall one in Peru into a pig pen…and a concrete one in the middle of the sahara over a 2000m dry oil well (maybe this is where the idea of carbon capture came from ?

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  19. Ferryman – why would Russia turn off its supply of gas,oil and coal – its own government coffers would empty – so why would they cut off their nose to spite their face – the Cold War days are surely over – they no longer have all their satellite countries to help keep them going.The altercation with the Ukraine was something to do with an unpaid bill was it not ?
    According to the online Scotsman Business Briefing there is a lot of new investment going into the North Sea and new jobs being created so is that not good news for a change ?
    Global warming is probably a natural cycle that the earth has gone through so often in the past but those people who always need a ‘ cause’ to shout and scream about, latch on and spread panic. There are plenty on both sides of the fence, so who knows. Whatever the truth is, it is not big enough or obvious enough for the so called experts to all agree on.
    Allt Dearg not ready yet ? Good god, how much more money is it going to consume ?
    Norma, we in Scotland alone pay £400 million pounds in subsidies to onshore wind farms. As has been shown above, Britain is not suffering from a shortage of electricity so why are we forking out all this money for a useless, occasional, intermittent, unreliable form of generation.
    Global warming – No ………. Politics – YES.
    Another point you might wish to consider – if Argyll was being supplied by wind farm produced electricity our / your electricity bill would double – do you want that Norma ? The average bill today is about £500 – don’t you care enough about your fellow man ( especially pensioners ) to perhaps not want to see this go up to £1000. To anyone not aware – not only do we pay huge gravy train subsidies to onshore wind farms, we pay twice as much for their electricity. If the offshore Tiree Array is built then our electricity bill will treble to £1500 per annum as we are pledged to pay 3 times the going rate over and above increased subsidies.
    As I said above, if every wind turbine in the country was shut down now – nobody out their would notice the difference. We would however have to keep paying for the thousands we have already allowed to be built for decades to come – the existing albatross round the neck can’t be got rid of I’m afraid.

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    • The Russians DID turn off the gas in 2009, and they had another spat in 2010.

      They control so much of our energy supply they can bump the prices up and just the threat of supplies being turned off will make us pay.

      As I said it is security of supply that has politicians in a scramble for renewables not global warming.

      On global warming: I don’t see the relevance of whether it is a natural cycle or not. “Mother Nature” is the mother from hell. If substantial global warming occurs then there is no reason to suppose Homo Sapiens will not be one of the species that goes extinct. If reducing fossil fuel consumption can limit or even just slow warming it is therfore a good idea.

      Regarding cost: if all the electricity was supplied by nuclear through EDF the bill would be £1,500 (three times the present). We would still depend on uranium from oveseas and the new reactors might well be at risk of all requiring simultaneous shutdown since they would probably follow the same design.

      It is always best to have alternatives. You certainly would not want, for example, to be dependent on a single ferry operator for your vehicle crossing when there is no price control – the current situation on the Firth of Clyde.

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    • Malcolm – “To anyone not aware – not only do we pay huge gravy train subsidies to onshore wind farms, we pay twice as much for their electricity.”

      I wasn’t aware. Could you provide evidence/explanation of that statement?

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  20. The truth will out – Doc – the truth will out !
    The Doc has left the building – well in fact he has just entered the building because it appears he does some work on a Thursday.
    He’s run away Norma – it’s up to you now.

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    • Malcolm. It’s all been covered, in some cases many times over. If you would only read the information that I and others have posted for you then you may find you have a change of heart. Stop spouting the spiteful rhetoric you find on anti-wind farm websites and look at the facts and figures for yourself. With the amount of time and effort that various people on here have spent finding hard facts to increase your knowledge on so many matters, only to have you ignore it and continue with your mindless ranting, the following springs to mind – “The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye. The more light you shine on it, the more it will contract.” Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

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  21. All the information on this Forum you have offered has been taken from politically motivated web info – ie those with their noses in the trough whereas I have offered hard facts which neither you or the doc have ever countered . All you do is sneer and denigrate when you are threatened:- example I have given costings above which are absolutely factual and truthful. Where is your well constructed argument in opposition. Missing, as always

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    • Malcolm – come on! ‘Hard facts’? – such as “Norma, we in Scotland alone pay £400 million pounds in subsidies to onshore wind farms.” and “If the offshore Tiree Array is built then our electricity bill will treble to £1500 per annum as we are pledged to pay 3 times the going rate over and above increased subsidies.”

      Those are not hard facts – they aren’t even remotely factual! You have made them up on the spot, and now accuse others, who quote academic, government department and respected media sources, of only supplying information from those with their ‘nose in the trough’!

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      • Tim: I think Malcolm got that figure of £400M a year for onshore windfarms from the Telegraph, which notes that was the figure the Tory MPs who wrote to David Cameron wanting a reduction in wind farm subsidies
        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/renewableenergy/9276895/Electricity-bills-set-to-rise-to-pay-for-wind-farm-subsidies.html

        but he has mistakenly applied the £400M figure for the whole UK to Scotland. I’ll be interested to see how he corrects himself.

        I also note that he continues with his usual trick of quoting a big number without putting it into context. £400M sounds a lot but it works out at £15 per household per annum. I don’t know where the figure of £400M for onshore wind originally comes from but it is suspiciously close to the figure of £398M which was the figure for all ROCs payments in 2010-2011, of which wind formed around 50% – so in 2010-2011, each household paid around £7.50 for wind power – which is around 2p per day. Even if that £400M figure for onshore wind is correct it still means that wind is currently costing each household just about 5p per day. Hardly run away costs given that the average household bill for electricity is £1.57 per day.

        Malcolm also seems oblivious to an internal inconsistency in his argument: on one hand he castigates wind as being useless and not contributing anything useful to the grid and on the other hand he criticises it for being far too expensive. However, wind farm operators are paid for the electricity they generate and if they are not generating much electricity then they aren’t paid very much. He cannot have it both ways.

        Another inconsistency is his constant railing against “foreign” wind farm companies and how they do not bring any revenue to the local economy. Of course, any local community who ARE receiving financial benefit from a wind farm are berated for selling out. But back to “foreign” ownership and money leaving the UK. He goes on about this but his alternative is for the UK to rely on gas and coalthe majority of which comes from overseas and so represents money leaving the UK to foreigners….! He seems unabashed by this inconsistency in his argument.

        Of course, those of us who gently point out these inconsistencies, distortions and factual inaccuracies are merely running dogs of the renewables industry with our noses in the trough (somewhere). Alternatively we are dupes, believing the fraudulent figures put out by the Government, the EU, the IEA, academics not to mention the renewables industry, all of whom are pursuing some vast conspiracy to rip simple, honest folk like Malcolm of his hard earned pension.

        No doubt he will construe this as a personal attack and proof that I am from the dark side.

        The Truth is out there (and it isn’t hard to find if you actually look at all the data rather than those bits which pander to your own views Malcolm).

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    • On a break!

      Malcolm: I found this on a sceptics forum talking about 9:11 conspiracy theorists:

      “We’re all familiar with the pattern of posting on a typical thread here. A truther makes a claim that appears on the face of it to support a 9/11 conspiracy theory. Several regulars point out internal inconsistencies within the claim, inconsistencies between the claim and other related claims made by the same truther, inconsistencies between the claim and the evidence, and inconsistencies between the claim and any possible rationally constructed narrative. As we can all predict, the truther will then handwave away any responses on the flimsiest of pretexts, will rapidly change the subject to a completely different claim, will misrepresent all the responses so as to construct spurious counter-refutations, or in some other way avoid addressing the objections raised to his claim. Having done so, at some point he will declare himself unconvinced by the objections, and imply that an inside job is proven.”

      Does this behaviour sound in any way familiar to you?

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      • http://www.ae911truth.org/ sites like this Dr? maybe you are a sheep that beleives the government is here to take care of you protect you and never lie to you? maybe you beleive that your taxes pay for the services in this country and not just pay the interest on loans to private banking companies like the bank of england LOL bet you think the BofE is a public bank Bah!Bah!

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          • PMSL: is this your measure of credibility? If someone believes in the moon landing they are credible? If not; their nuts? LOL
            Tell me were you there on the moon? Or do you believe it because you were told they landed?
            Son I could not care less about man landing on the moon, I do care about lazy people like you who fail to see what a bunch of loonies are trying to force on the people of this planet,
            Clowns like you are so hooked up on global warming crap they fail to see what is coming in the back door

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        • Keith: if you read through the thread a bit you will find that you illustrate my point perfectly.

          Plenty of evidence that governments lie and cover up things (Tony Blair and Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction or the lies about North Sea oil reserves in the 70′s immediately spring to mind).

          So government conspiracies do occur. There is nothing wrong with conjecture that things may not be as they seem. I also have no problem with people arguing that climate change isn’t occurring or that the UK policy towards wind generation is foolish. In the same vein there is nothing wrong with advancing the theory that 9/11 was a US Government conspiracy – it’s a valid hypothesis albeit a highly improbable one.

          Where I do have problems with “truthers” is them failing to recognise contrary evidence, promulgating demonstrably false “facts” and decrying everyone who doesn’t agree with them as dupes, sheep or part of the “conspiracy”.

          The “truth” may be very difficult to ascertain but if you think that every fact contrary to your hypothesis is a deliberate falsehood then that way lies madness.

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          • Dr; have you not just proven your own point? You failed to review my posted website had you taken the time to look at it you will see that it is qualified engineers and architects, which are calling for a new independent review of the events.
            Maybe since it was al-CIAda that took down the three buildings you could explain why our government has just given them 5.5 million pounds of your tax money to fight the government in Syria
            Maybe you could tell me how the BBC reported that building 7 had just collapsed when it was standing in clear view behind the reporter.

            “Where I do have problems with “truthers” is them failing to recognise contrary evidence, promulgating demonstrably false “facts” and decrying everyone who doesn’t agree with them as dupes, sheep or part of the “conspiracy”.” Do you not do the very same thing in return Dr?
            Lord Monkton and his team have proven that global warming is a farce (oops Climate change best to cover all angles)
            So tell me this DR if global warming/ climate change is not a massive fraud on the people of this land why are your masters thinking about making it a criminal offence to deny it LOL bet you did not even know that

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  22. Time always tells what was true and made up, sometimes it takes a long time, all what I know is the cost of energy goes up every year. I do not object having to pay more to secure our future energy generation just like how the road tax funds our well maintained roads.

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    • Malcolm: I’m sure we are all impressed by your arithmetical prowess but you ignore the capital cost of installing the turbines. using the Millour Hill farm as a guide, their 6 3MW turbines cost £24M to install – so £4M per turbine. On your figures, it will take 12 years to recoup the capital costs. After 12 years the wind farm starts to make a ROI profit. Hardly price gouging.

      The cost per MW comparisons are misleading as your 4.5p per kWh cost isn’t taking into account the levelised costs. When you levelize costs then onshore wind isn’t much more expensive than gas.

      http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/statistics/projections/71-uk-electricity-generation-costs-update-.pdf

      DECC suggest that our investment in wind will pay dividends in delivering relatively cheaper electricity later this decade than if we did not invest in it.

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      • And now we await Malcolm’s next gravity-defying skating act to misapply figures to the confusion of everyone – but is it really worthwhile putting the effort into trying to correct his claims, or would that just be putting fuel on the fire of his evangelistic determination to prove (without doing his homework properly) that he’s right and the carefully considered opinions of the Doc, Tim, Norma and others are fantasy? I know who I think is bonkers.

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        • And if, Malcolm, you didn’t listen to ‘In Business – Coal Comfort’ at 20.30 tonight on BBC Radio4, you’d do well to catch up with it, balanced comment drawn from all sides of the energy debate.

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        • Robert: That piece I quoted above about 9:11 conspiracy theorists (which also relates to the modus operandi of pretty much all conspiracy theory/climate change denying/Obama Barack is an alien types) was interesting as it was part of a wider piece examining the reasons why people like myself spend so much time patiently debunking the views of people like Malcolm. The interesting conclusion was that, psychologically there may not be much different between the “truthers” and the rational sceptics such as myself. We have very different approaches to evidence but the subconscious motivations of both are in fact the same. In many ways it could be said that Malcolm and I are mirror images of each other, both driven albeit by different stimuli. “Truthers” come across as less balanced than sceptics as their behaviour is often rooted in a rather obvious paranoia (usually some variation on “we are being lied to”) but the compulsion a sceptic feels to defend “truth” is possibly just as pathological. Of course, the sceptic’s position is less harmful psychologically to the individual as it is rooted in normality (ie the view that everything we see is explicable without the need to generate conspiracies) whereas the “truther” is in danger of losing touch with objective reality. Interestingly, people who believe in one conspiracy theory are much more likely to believe in others.

          Just for the absence of doubt, I don’t think that everyone who holds sceptical views on climate change or the value of wind turbines is any way delusional but they can be distinguished from “truthers” by their ability to accept awkward facts and argue their case on a balanced basis without the need to accuse everyone who does not share their view as biased, foolish or corrupt.

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          • LOL… psychoanalysis is one of your specialist subjects too doc ? you should be careful placing yourself on such a wobbly feudian pedestal…
            The fact is; that even the most outlandish comments from either side of the debate have value…the water always finds it’s own level does it not ?…and you should not take another persons lack of knowledge, lack of structured research or indeed consummate ability to play the devils advocate as a failing of your ability to explain things in basic engaging terms (teach)…should you (?)
            Simply present the objective facts, light blue touch paper and stand well back.
            Example:When buying a pair of binoculars: who needs to know the primary properties of visible light:intensity, propagation direction, frequency or wavelength spectrum or polarisation, or that its speed in a vacuum is 299,792,458 meters per second, or that it is one (?) of the fundamental constants of nature ?
            Who in the general public gives a toss ?

            Simply advise like so: Why waste money on an expensive pair of binoculars…simply walk up to the object you wish to view. :)
            Karl

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      • I appreciate that government sometimes has to rely on external sources to help them, but, Mott MacDonald who wrote this report (and numerous others for DECC) are giving Mott MacDonald’s view as they have done at every step. On something this critical we surely can employ people to do so within government?

        You’re not a very good poker player, levelised costs of £80 for CCGT and £94 for onshore wind is quite a bit more expensive?! They aren’t very good at forecasting either given that the estimate 10 years ago was around £30.

        DECC did make one contribution which was the estimated price of gas in 2030 at 74p a therm. Henry Hub is 29p a therm and UK current spot is about 50p. The report was written in 2010. 50p to 74p over 20 years is below expected inflation and gas might even have fallen since 2010. I am trying to mangle your ‘wind will get cheaper than gas’ assertion and it appears more and more of a gamble *unless* the subsidy is removed. Said more in hope than expectation …

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        • HB: Sorry, I had missed this earlier (not ignoring you!).

          I think the point about consultant reports is that they are meant to be more trustworthy because they DON’T come from government. However, we live in an imperfect world.

          Regarding the levelised costs: yes, wind is more expensive than gas but not hugely so and vulnerable to upswings in price. I haven’t looked to see just how levelised the costs are but it would be interesting to see if they include measures of energy security (which can be monetised) and future carbon taxes. If the latter rise to the levels that some are pushing for then wind would soon become cheaper than gas (and this is being used as an argument for nuclear which is much more expensive than on shore wind).

          Regarding future gas prices, the DECC projections are normalised to 2011 prices (from memory), so inflation has already been taken into account and all we are looking at are price increases due to supply/demand constraints. Predicting the future price of gas is, I’ll concur, difficult. The supply side is complicated by the emerging shale gas story which may decouple gas prices from oil (or may not) and the demand side which will, ironically, be affected by renewables: lots of renewables depresses gas demand, keeps gas cheap and means gas generation is still cheaper than renewables! However, I think gas demand will continue to grow strongly, particularly in the Far East but also in Europe as carbon taxes make it uneconomic to burn coal. I also suspect that shale gas will not be sufficient to remove supply side constraints (except perhaps in the USA) but I could be wrong in that. Time will tell.

          I repeat my earlier point: it is safer to assume that gas prices will rise and roll out alternatives accordingly than to do nothing in the hope that they don’t rise.

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    • Malcolm – in your post 31, you demonstrate that wind power is currently more expensive than the average of power generation costs from other sources. This is not in dispute generally, although it does not take into account the heavy taxpayer subsidies for nuclear which do not form part of the electricity price to consumers.

      I was specifically referring to your earlier claim to Norma that Scottish consumers ‘alone’ were paying the entire subsidy cost of all wind power generated in Scotland – nonsense, for the reasons Doc explains. Also, you claimed that building the Tiree Array would result in a trebling of our electricity bills – also complete nonsense, for the same reason.

      Then earlier still you claimed ‘for those not aware’ that the subsidy costs were in ADDITION to the higher overall cost of wind energy, which you have yourself disproved with your calculations.

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  23. “Simply advise like so: Why waste money on an expensive pair of binoculars…simply walk up to the object you wish to view.”
    Watching wild life from a distance is sometimes a better option.

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    • Aye…especially when the wild life involves apex predator’s on this page (agreed ! a poor example…wish I could have tied in the nailing of jelly to the wall)

      Might have been better if I had said light is very fast ! and is inclined to hide behind the couch when you turn the light off :)

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  24. I have been asked to expand my earlier post. Incidentally the figures shown have been checked and approved by probably the most technically knowledgeable person in Scotland on the truth about wind farms and their worth.
    A typical 125m turbine is rated at 3MW.
    If we give it a load factor of 25% it will generate 6570MWh per annum. The value of the ROC subsidy is determined by market forces but £45 is accepted as an average.
    Therefore the ROC subsidy is :- 3(MW) x 24(hours) x 365(days) x .25(load factor) x £45 (ROC)
    =£295,650
    The lowest cost of electricity receiving no ROCs is 4.5p/kWh ie £45/MWh (x 1000) so this is used to work out the cost of the actual electricity – as it happens it’s the same @£295,650.
    So for electricity that should only cost £295,650 we are paying the owners of the wind farms: For onshore wind :-
    £295,650 + £295,650 = £591,300
    For offshore wind which receive double ROCs;
    £295,650 + £295,650 + £295,650 = £886,950.
    Bear with me:-The NG metered output from Scottish onshore wind farms is 2919MW. It is known that the output is greater than that, some claim up to 50%,but I have only added 20% to be fair.I also have used the output figure of 30% which all wind farms owners, government employees, the Media and of course SNP – MSPs and their supporters want you to believe.
    So using the same system as above Scottish onshore wind farm owners get a subsidy of:-
    3383 x 24 x 365 x 0.3 x 45 = £400,073,580 per annum. Now as the doc has just pointed out the poor dears have to pay off the cost of the turbines but by his own figures it still gives them a 40% net profit ( do you want to work it out ?) on ROCs alone guaranteed for 20 years, plus every penny earned from selling their electricity which we didn’t need in the first place.
    Ferryman – how many decent ferries for the benefit of the people of Scotland could you build with that sort of money ?
    Robert you could have your wee tunnel – might straighten your face a bit.
    Norma – I have just read in the Squeak this morning that Allt Dearg is going to supply all of Ardrishaig and Lochgilphead’s electricity needs – get the candles in !
    For me – Doctor Douglas McKenzie has brought his title, which is normally treated with respect , down to near gutter level, but I’ll leave him to have the last word. ( one word – you got to be joking )

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    • Who is ‘the most technically knowledgeable person in Scotland on the truth about wind farms and their worth’ Malcolm?

      Time to name your source if you want to retain any credibility – otherwise you are just trotting out the same tired old figures yet again.

      Your comment about Dr. Mackenzie and the gutter is beyond the pale and I for one feel a public apology is in order. Newsroom?

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      • I’m reminded of the old saying: “we are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars”.

        Karl: no expert on psychoanalysis but I am curious as to why I invest as much energy into this forum as I do. I rationalise to myself that it is actually useful (I know a lot more about wind turbines, energy subsidies and general economics than I did before) or that I just enjoy a good argument (which I do) but deep down I know that it is a compulsion. I tell myself I could stop anytime but here I am still pounding away on the keyboard.

        You may be right and what I have is a compulsion to teach or, more prosaically, to impart information. That makes me literally pedantic. Hopefully the majority of readers on here (most of whom never comment) appreciate those of us who try to provide balance backed up with referenced facts so they can go and find out more for themselves if they want to (now that does sound like someone with a teaching compulsion!).

        Enough navel gazing! and back to work for me!

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        • Compulsion and a quick fix for the compulsion..I am equally quilty. Frustrating as folk are “viva the difference” I sincerely meant no disrespect…I for one willingly read and absorb many of your comments…without refering to supporting documentation…your in put is honest and well grounded…(a little long winded but thats because it is structured and who am I to throw stones in a glass house)
          Perhaps we should both back off a little when seeds of wisdom fall on fallow soil…
          I do wish we could talk about sailing a little more :)
          Bottom line for myself is; The Argyll Array is in the wrong place. Expansion of wind power stations is taking place for the wrong reasons and at an unsustainable pace…and we need to, as we all know, focus on saving not only the energy we generate, but our planet…keep the Argyll Array 35km away and I and many others (inc: our local fauna) will be happy enough.
          Back to the bedlam…off out for a couple of hours to down town Basra & all that involves :(
          Karl
          PS: Who is the best to approach for an air-source heat pump in Argyll…I would be gratefull if SR or you have any ideas/info.

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      • “the most technically knowledgeable person in Scotland on the truth about wind farms and their worth”.
        I would be interested to know too.

        I think Malcolm and the Dr…should go and have a cuppa…time out gents.

        Karl

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  25. Karl – ask Rob – he knows.
    It seems that as the Doc prefers lying in the gutter looking up at stars that he regularly consumes something a little stronger than ‘ a cuppa ‘ I am afraid that somebody so self obsessed who believes he has psychoanalysed himself to self justify and understand his superiority to judge – talk down to – criticise – others, and then have the cheek to convince himself that he is actually teaching – not dictating – hell – he has a serious problem. I suspect he is of small stature.
    However the most interesting bit is that I gave you all hard facts that were indisputable about the ridiculous cost of wind farms and not one of you have commented with a contrary view. I laid it out so a child could understand it – and none of you would say – OK – now we understand Malcolm’s point of view.

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    • I laid it out so a child could understand it – and none of you would say – OK – now we understand Malcolm’s point of view.

      That is because your figures are unsubstantiated, plucked out of thin air and have been thoroughly refuted more than once on here.

      I know the Doc is too polite to complain, but your pathetic personal abuse is not the way civilised debate is conducted. You really do seem to have lost the plot Malcolm – time for a wee lie down perhaps?

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  26. Maybe you would be a more rounded and pleasant man, Malcolm, if you spent a little introspective time with yourself. Doc seems to understand himself and his motives and therefore has an empathy and compassion for others. That was a nasty little attack there Malcolm. You should be ashamed of yourself. I would say more, but… from what I have seen, Doc will not be hurt or offended. I assume (sorry Doc if I’m speaking out of turn) that he will pity you. Much as I do.
    At your request, I addressed some of the issues I felt were incorrect or being misrepresented in Rosenbloom’s ‘paper’. You have not apologised as you said you would. In fact you have not even acknowledged my response…

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    • Malcolm is correct about one thing: I’m not hugely tall – which does make it difficult for me to talk down to anyone except my children.

      I’m sorry that Malcolm thinks I talk down to him. I am also sorry that he doesn’t recognise self-deprecation. I have always felt that an ability not to take yourself too seriously is a useful character trait. My earlier comments were not intended to hurt but to give him a looking glass so that he might better understand why so few of us can take his arguments seriously.

      As for pity, well, as Scobie in Graham Greene’s seminal novel says “Pity destroys” and, as it can be the product of almost monstrous pride, I’ll spare Malcolm from my pity.

      I think we are all becoming a bit exasperated by Malcolm’s failure to properly engage in debate (a fundamental feature of which is acknowledging others’ points and responding to them rather than just regurgitating the same line over and over ad nauseum). No doubt Malcolm will proclaim his triumph but I don’t intend to respond to any more of his comments until he changes his style a bit.

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    • Norma – You never replied to the question set you. You questioned the considerable detail I offered showing that wind turbines consume huge amounts of electricity from the grid to help keep them warm and turning etc.

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      • Wind turbines consume relatively miniscule amounts of electricity from the grid Malcolm. The yaw motors operate only when the wind changes direction, and the blade feathering controls only come into play when the turbine is already at maximum output.

        All power stations consume electricity from the grid for heating, lighting, security systems etc.

        If a period of low temperatures is combined with a low-wind condition, a wind turbine may require an external supply of power, equivalent to a few percent of its rated power, for internal heating.

        This Wikipedia article gives the example of the St. Leon, Manitoba project. It has a total rating of 99 MW and is estimated to need up to 3 MW (around 3% of capacity) of station service power a few days a year for temperatures down to –30 °C.

        This factor obviously marginally affects the economics of wind turbine operation in cold climates. However, Manitoba is in Canada where winters are much colder than they are in Scotland.

        Electricity is not used to turn turbine rotors, this is just a daft conspiracy theory with no evidence to support it.

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        • It should also be remembered that nuclear plants require quite large amounts of power when their reactors are off line because of a planned or unplanned outage to maintain cooling of the core as well as all of the reactor’s other safety systems.

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  27. Now remember – Doc, SR and Norma – you aren’t going to respond to that – you are far too superior.
    So the actual facts I posted are still correct as nobody has contradicted them.
    What was it they said in the Monty Python film – Oh I remember :-
    RUN AWAY – RUN AWAY – RUN AWAY

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  28. “RUN AWAY – RUN AWAY – RUN AWAY”
    Much as I enjoy our debates…Run away is what I am going to do until For Argyll post another “wind” relevant article,rather than add to the 40% of wasted energy…I intend to save the computer amp’s for a more constructive and less personal thread….
    from Don Quixote
    “In short, our gentleman became so caught up in reading that he spent his nights reading from dusk till dawn and his days reading from sunrise to sunset, and so with too little sleep and too much reading his brains dried up, causing him to lose his mind.” :)
    All the best to all…
    Karl

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  29. Cheers Karl – there should be something new coming up soon which will interest you – as soon as ‘ you know who ‘ publishes the paper he is working on.

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  30. Having objected vociferously to the original wind farm application south of Ardrishaig, I’m pleased (sorry, Malcolm) to see the the somewhat scaled back proposals for Allt Dearg now up and all dancing, without (to my mind) doing serious damage to the view.

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  31. According to the Argyllshire Advertiser this morning the lights in Ardrishaig and Lochgilphead are being powered by green energy with all 12 turbines operational at Allt Dearg – what a load of propaganda rubbish. The lights are being kept supplied with electricity from Nuclear, Gas and Coal fired Power Stations with perhaps on good days a few percent of our needs coming from the UK’s thousands of wind turbines. But isn’t it nice to know that wee Ardrishaig is going to earn £400,000 per year – guaranteed for the next 20 years – from us utility bill payers – it warms the heart doesn’t it ? Maybe the Council should lower the Council Tax for the rest of us as they won’t have to pay for the upkeep of Ardrishaig with them now being self sufficient. But doesn’t it give you even more pleasure to know that apparently 2 Estate owning families will be getting £4.4 million – yes £4.4 million – per annum for the next 20 years ( index linked) for an electricity supply we don’t need, as we are already paying for a sufficient supply from our traditional reliable major generators.
    It has already been clearly shown on these pages and elsewhere,that wind turbines do not reduce CO2 emissions – so what is the point of them – are they there just to put zillions and zillions of our hard earned cash into private hands ? It would appear so.

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  32. I agree, Malcolm, that it is still disappointing to learn some people believe electricity can be taken directly from wind farms to feed local buildings. A few people on Gigha thought that they would receive free electricity from the Dancing Ladies, the same from Tilly on Tiree and even islanders on Easdale thought the same when the small turbine was proposed there. I believe that it is only when most of us are unable to afford our energy bills that realisation will dawn.

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  33. Surprised that those two vociferous supporters of Allt Dearg wind farm – Robert and Norma – have not come back with a retort to my post above. If this financial windfall had been created by an old style Tory Government then every person in the country with any socialist leanings would have been screaming and shouting ‘ blatant nepotism’ – but all is quiet – why ?

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    • 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.

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  34. Electricity from Allt Dearg may be fed into the national grid at a local substation but that means it can’t be connected directly into a local power distribution network for domestic consumption. Electricity used by consumers will, of course, contain contributions from wind farms but there is no way of identifying where it came from at the point of use. Our electricity is a mixture from coal, gas, nuclear and renewable sources.

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    • 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.

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  35. I believe that you are muddling up the way that electricity is fed into the grid and supplied from it, Robert. i.e. The difference between feeding into the national grid and receiving from the local distribution network. This seems to be the same way that ‘green’ electricity producers also try to sell it to consumers by confusing the matter.

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    • 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.

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  36. Robert – you seem to have not read my earlier post properly – any production of electricity – no matter how intermittent from Allt Dearg – goes into the National Grid and therefore, I suppose you are right to an extent that theoretically a tiny proportion could feed back into the Ardrishaig supply combined with the supply from the other wind farms throughout the UK but how one would work this out I have no idea as they produce an unreliable supply much of the time, and when they do its such a small percentage of the whole.
    The thing is that all the standard traditional methods of producing electricity can do that anyway without Wind Farms. We are paying 2 suppliers for what has always been obtained from just one. Imagine going into a filling station and paying for a gallon of petrol and you say No – No – I want to pay twice for the same gallon. Well – thats what wind farms are costing you.
    You are also way far wrong in thinking that the wind farm profiteers pay for their grid connection beyond the local sub station. I pay for that – you pay for that – everyone in the UK pays for that – that is added to your electricity bill. In fact the cost of upgrading the grid to support wind farms is huge eg. Hebrides to mainland £700 million – on that basis Shetland to mainland well over a £billion – extending the Grid South to Denny – hundreds of millions over budget – and that’s just a fraction of the Grid costs throughout the UK, and all paid for by us solely for the benefit of Wind Farm owners. It must add up to multiple £billions.
    The difference I suppose is that when the GRID is upgraded then that’s that, as opposed to wind farms where we are contracted to keep paying for un-needed electricity for 20 years. But anyone who believes we will still be in any way relying on wind farms in 2023 / 2033, is not in the real world or may fantasise that Salmond still rules
    We in the UK already have over 1 £billion of debt every year for wind farm produced electricity ( without the grid costs included )- it won’t be long before that’s doubled.
    Incidentally – the Squeak’s report on the profitability of Allt Dearg is well overstated – presumably to create a headline.
    Robert your sympathy towards the Banks is misplaced – Anyone who has had to earn a living through their own endeavours and hard work will tell you that the Bank will ask searching questions as to how you will repay any loan. In the case of wind farms it’s simple – the UK public guarantees a massive subsidy over 20 years to pay off the Loan without me ever having to get out of bed of a morning ! What better.
    But added to our personal costs are the increases made necessary from our traditional household and business electricity suppliers which have to – when denied income / profitability because of the the leakage to wind farm profiteers – have to increase their prices. Ours is a no win situation – we the consumers loose – loose – loose.
    As to bleeding heart causes – I believe the present Rosneath application was given every support possible from local and Holyrood government departments with funds awarded to help the cause. Did any of them put their own hands in their pockets? – No ! – talk about milking the system.
    Maybe someone here will tell me where the 48 + community groups in Scotland presently fighting wind farm intrusion into their lives, can get just one penny to support their efforts in this so called democratic country called Scotland. Come on – there must be some ‘ cooncillurs ‘ read these columns – advice please !
    But Robert – you could be doing your bit – how about keeping a Log of how many hours a day you see the turbines turning – say for the next 3 months and we can then discuss the results. Of course overnight production does not count because we have our steady reliable supply from Nuclear Power Stations covering that period although wind farm owners will still be paid excessive amounts to shut down because nobody wants their electricity

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    • As to bleeding heart causes – I believe the present Rosneath application was given every support possible from local and Holyrood government departments with funds awarded to help the cause. Did any of them put their own hands in their pockets? – No ! – talk about milking the system.

      If you don’t like it Malcolm you’d better lobby your MSP; I don’t think you’ll have any luck though. As it happens I’m not overjoyed at having my pocket picked by landowners, SSE and all the other multinational power companies, but like you I don’t get a choice. With that in mind I wholeheartedly support the Cove Wind Farm as there are no fatcats involved; the finance is from the Co-Op, the landowners get a market rate for the land use and the community benefits from the rest. I’d rather just not pay the Renewables Levy, but as that’s not an option the community wind farm do instead.

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      • I have lobbied MSPs along with 100s of other anti wind farm campaigners, and you are correct – no luck. As long as Salmond has control over them, their incomes, and their pensions, they haven’t the guts or backbone to stand out from the crowd.
        I would make it clear that I recognise the dedication and enthusiasm of the committee who have put together the Rosneath application. Every small community has a few people like them – thank goodness.
        However, there are recognised ways of raising funds for rural communities capital projects – Lottery ,etc, etc. I consider it scandalous that every person and business in the UK should have to pay anything towards the Rosneath community – or any other for that matter – through extra charges on their electricity bill.

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        • Malcolm – the point is that the tiny extra amount on your bill is your share of the cost of generating clean, green electricity :-) – the fact that the community benefits is because they are fortunate to live close to a windy hill, and it is only natural for any community to capitalise on whatever natural resources they have to hand.

          Amusing that you should refer to the Lottery which, when it first appeared, was described by someone as a ‘tax on the poor, the stupid and the hopelessly optimistic’ – is it really a fairer way to fund community projects than renewable energy?

          Happy New Year by the way!

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          • A good New Year to you as well !
            You are tongue in cheek here because you are well aware one has a choice as far as buying a Lottery ticket is concerned.
            Think I’ve occupied enough of ForArgylls pages this morning – cheers !

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  37. 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?

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  38. Allt Dearg, along with the various other generating plants in the area, feeds into the 33kV network radiating out from the Port Anne grid supply point. If the output from those plants exactly matches demand in the local network, there will be zero power transfer at the busbars in Port Anne – i.e. the local plant is supplying local consumers.

    This will almost never happen. Most of the time the generators will be producing a surplus, in which case the balance is exported to the wider grid at Port Anne, or a shortfall, in which case there is net import. Robert is correct – the grid is not like a giant loch with pipes feeding into and out of it – it is a network with nodes where power flows can be measured. This means that locally-produced power will always go firstly to satisfy local demand, and only the excess will be exported to the HV transmission system.

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  39. Tim – thanks for that – I am always learning. Robert you were right – this time ! ! !
    I note you didn’t acknowledge your mistake in claiming that the wind farm owners paid the huge cost of the grid upgrade.
    I have a great idea for a new ‘Reality’ TV programme – in fact a worlds first if Tim is correct on the local control of incoming electricity. It would attract all the attention Salmond could handle from the worlds media. He’d be here – amongst us – swoon !
    Lets run Ardrishaig for a month solely on the output from Allt Dearg – Theories are all well and good but an actual factual practical experiment can’t be beaten. I’ll vote for that !
    The cameras in the houses and shops would have to be battery powered of course.

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    • 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.

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    • …and you will note that I used the words “This will almost never happen” in relation to the output of the wind farm exactly matching local demand. The grid is needed to provide power balancing and control of voltage and frequency. Of course it is possible to do this in a standalone system – e.g. Eigg, but only sensible where the much higher cost of doing so is still cheaper than a grid connection.

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  40. Should the need arise the UK would probably import cheaper nuclear generated power from France rather than the expensive renewable energy from Scotland.

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