Friday, May 27, 2011

Brave New Renewable World

Personally I'm glad some effort is finally going into renewables but a lot more has to be done if humanity is to get away from coal-fired or nuclear generation. Bearing this in mind the following comment by anemophobe is perhaps worth an airing as a post in its own right:

"The recent gale force winds led to news headlines about power-cuts in and around Inverness and elsewhere in Scotland.

Which set me thinking, in this region of ever-more numerous windfarms. Back in the fierce grip of sub-zero winter with deep snow on the ground, frost on the trees and a massive increase in demand for power for heating, did the wind turbines deliver? Not a lot: the blades hung motionless in the still and freezing air.

Then this week: howling winds, so no doubt the turbines were spinning flat out and the windfarms were generating immense quantities of electricity. And what happened? What an irony: in the heart of windfarm country, thousands of households, shops and factories across the region suddenly found they were getting no power at all.

O brave new natural, renewable world!"


Mr W Miller, Trumpton said...

Producing energy is dirty by most conventional means. It is true that wind farms don't work if there isn't any wind, but the recent storms brought outages due to power lines being down, a situation that would have happened no matter what your source of energy was, so unfair to blame wind power
Recent events in Japan have surely put a line through nuclear in most people's minds?
Renewables are an answer, and personally I would like to see more investment in tidal energy
There is also the very unpopular suggestion that we try and use less
One thing is for sure come wind or no wind, energy is going to become much more expensive and the burning hole in your pocket for the next few years is going to be paying for carbon as you journey to work or boil the kettle
Remember, energy is a potential export for Scotland, so embrace that wind farms?!

Jim said...

Does anyone know for certain, is it correct that the big wind turbines don't operate above certain wind speeds?

Potential there could be a problem with the centrifugal forces built up by the rotating mass of the blades exceeding design strength, so that the whole thing might fly apart should it exceed 1000 r.p.m., or even 10,000 r.p.m, or somesuch figure?

Anonymous said...

"I am rapidly coming to the dismaying conclusion - based on the recent approval of the vigorously opposed Corriemollie scheme - that an increase in blood pressure is the only thing likely to be gained from the opposition of wind farm developments. As a consequence of the no doubt well-intentioned Renewables Obligation, a lot of people stand to gain a lot of money - your money and mine - from the construction of wind farms. The only way that the current frenzy of wind farm construction could be halted would be from the very top down; by dismantling the legislation that makes their construction so very profitable for the developers and the landowners. I really cannot see that happening any time soon." - Continues

Above quote taken from;

Anonymous said...

good news, my place of work is starting a recycling procedure, beginning july :) after plently of asking i will add

Anonymous said...

if wind farms are so damm good - then why haven' they started putting them up on the hills of Hampstead Heath in London?
Oh I forget - NIMBY's live down there!!!

Anonymous said...

Windfarms don't work if there is toolittle wind ie in cold, clear weather when we need power the most.

They also don't work in high winds either because they would mechanically fail at high rotational speeds.

Since electricity can't be stored we will need gas, coal or nuclear anyway to provide the base load of electricity. The renewables contribution is an irrelevant and costly add-on to this

Look at your energy provider's website. On a pie chart of the components of my energy cost was an environmental levy of 24% for renewables.

Yes my energy costs have been inflated by 24% to pay for wind and other so-called renewables that "don't work" effectively. Due to the global warming climate change industry/ scam/ subsidy bandwagon.

As others have said about government "|They are meant to work for us"! Let us scrap the renewables levy and produce energy in the most cost effective way.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps those that are not for renewable energy should lobby to have a coal fired or a nuclear power station built at Sandown, but I doubt they will.

It seems some people just want magic energy, out of sight, out of mind, and not costing their pocket too much

Anonymous said...

The public discussion of energy options tends to be intensely
emotional, polarized, mistrustful, and destructive. Every option is
strongly opposed: the public seem to be anti-wind, anti-coal,
anti-waste-to-energy, anti-tidal-barrage, anti-fuel-duty, and

We can't be anti-everything! We need an energy plan that adds up.
But there's a lack of numeracy in the public discussion of energy.
Where people do use numbers, they select them to sound big, to make an impression, and to score points in arguments, rather than to aid
thoughtful discussion.

My motivation in writing "Sustainable Energy - without the hot air"(available both on paper, and for free in electronic form
[]) is to promote constructive conversations about
energy, instead of the perpetual Punch and Judy show. I've tried to
write an honest, educational and fun book.[2] I hope the book will help build a cross-party consensus in favour of urgently making an energy plan that adds up.


The above text is taken from an Address to the House of Lords on 13 Jan 2009 bu Prof Mackay:

It links from this page:

Anonymous said...

Issues Facing Community Councils Receiving Wind Farms’ Community Benefits

An item from pages 10 / 11 of Spring 2011 Association of Scottish Community Councils' magazine 'The Community Councillor'


Jim said...

Dear Anonymous No. 4

As you point out, electricity can't be stored, so windfarms and tide/wave generators aren't much use at night.

1) As well as being an hour ahead of us, the rest of Western Europe has a different usage pattern to the UK. I haven't worked out what they do differently, but assume that it is. Therefore there is scope for selling surplus power via the underwater connection to the French grid.

2) The way to 'store' electricity is via pumped-storage hydro-electric plants, where surplus electricity, however generated, is used to pump water up to a high-level reservoir, so it can generate power at other times.

There are some examples of this in North Wales, but I haven't heard of any in Scotland. Certainly no plans to create more have been raised.

I think that EU/UK and Scottish government interference has distorted the market away from what is both necessary, desirable and practical. Expansion of windfarms without balancing pumped-storage hydro schemes is a fair example of this. The EU subsidize the windmills but not the means for surplus energy to be stored.

Spurtle said...

Dear Jim ,

Cruachan on/above Loch Awe

Chuffing big pumped storage unit, predates Dinorwig in North Wales by nearly 20 years.

Some of us engineers were at it before the wind turbine brigade were eating solids :)

Speaking of which - off shore turbines generate meaningful amounts of electricity but cost more than onshore turbines, which also hold the potential to stuff the Highlands as a world class holiday destination, if they end up covering as much of Scotland area as the investors would have them.

Easy answer - keep paying the ROCS subsidies to those wanting to make a buck...but make them build them offshore. Everyone wins just the rich folk don't get quite as rich, quite as quickly.

& please don't anyone start bleating on about 'rather onshore wind turbines than nuclear' To replace one reactor, you'd need to erect about 6000 industrial scale onshore turbines. They'd be like a**holes, everyone would have one.

Offshore wind , Tidal & Wave - look to sea young man , the answer lies there :)

Brian @ said...

Germany is moving from nuclear to wind:

Jim said...

Although, Brian, winds are no more reliable in Germany than in Scotland.

So what is their Plan B?

If the sun doesn't shine, the wind doesn't blow, and the tidal/wave generators not yet arrived (and just who says they will?) then Germany can only try to buy power from their neighbours.

The biggest neighbour, France, have their own problems - with rivers low due to lack of rain, only the coastal nuclear stations can operate. That leaves France with a power shortfall too.

Will Germany be the first EU country to implement power rationing, with rolling outages throughout the country?

Will the voters be unreasonable enough to remove a government that can't provide electricity? California (the world's third largest economy) removed a certain Governor Gray for just that reason.

Will there be riots in the streets because TV is off and the internet is down? How do they recharge their mobile phones? Oh, no street lighting , I see. The electric trains don't run too well either.

We are moving into uncharted territory. To simply say 'Let's use renewables' is a meaningless statement. It begs the question 'What renewables?'

Which national leader is staking his future on renewable energy being available?

Nimby said...

With the recent closure of seven of it's older nuclear plants Germany is now dependent on imports of electricity from France and the Czech Republic.

A case of going green whilst your neighbours do the dirty work for you

Jim said...

Apologies. In my last posting I mentioned the deposed Californian Governor Gray Davis, but failed to type his name correctly.