/ The wild and the wind
"If the proposed wind farm at Stronelairg goes ahead, 67 turbines, each 135 metres tall, will tower over the landscape from a 700ft plateau in the heart of the Monadhliath Mountains, near Loch Ness. Much of the development will be built on peatland, an internationally important habitat that stores huge amounts of carbon, supports wildlife and helps to filter clean water. Around one million tonnes of rock will be excavated to build the site's concrete foundations and 40 miles of access roads. The entire development will create a footprint the size of Inverness, making Stronelairg not so much a wind farm as a wind city."
I think the tide seems to be turning as the public become more aware of the serious limitations of wind power but unfortunately by then I think it'll be too late for many areas and we will be saddled with high electricity bills.
the rights and wrongs of wind power are clearly a matter for debate
and there are many arguments against them, especially in an area such as the monadhliath
but blaming them for high electricity bills doesnt strike me as a particularly persuasive one.
indeed when mr putin decides that gas is going to be much more expensive, and next generation nuclear is still somewhere mired in planning beaurocracy, it might seem like a bargain comparatively...
though reading the article in the OP, there's not much i'd disagree with
interesting stat there too- scotland 12th longest coastline of any country. commercial wave power would indeed be a great step forward, but i expect it will come with its own environmental costs. theres no such thing as a free lunch
and the approaches to glasgow on the M74 from before beattock on to hamilton are a corridor of turbines. i think it is dramatic and adds to the landscape, though i accept that's a personal view and a matter of taste
but i would draw a distinction between the environs of glasgow and the monadhliath.
Most other European countries are embracing wind power - it is us Brits who seem to have a real issue with it. Personally, I find them beautiful structures. Our landscape is entirely man made, so I don't buy the argument about 'we must leave these wild environments' - the landscape has been changed, and worked by man for thousands of years - you are kidding yourself if you think Scotland is a wild and natural place.
Windmills have been a part of the landscape for thousands of years, and for me, this is just the next development of the same technology of man harnessing the power of the wind. I just wish the British people (and the Tories are the worst!) would wake up and realise that they do have a place in the British landscape if we all want to continue using the amount of energy that we are all accustomed to - oil is too expensive to use for power generation; gas is on a finite supply from the north sea, and then we are in for buying Russian gas; coal is very polluting (not forgetting the CO2 emissions from each of those), and next generation nuclear is still 20+ years away. Wind is one of the few bridging technologies we have available, and we should embrace it.
Amazes me that they never seem to mention that you need the equivalent conventional generation for every wind turbine.
no doubt, but surely there are limits? i mean, a row of turbines along the liathach would be the despoilment of a world-class landscape, wouldnt you agree?
the monadhliath may not be as immediately eye catching or well known as torridon, but i'd say they are every bit as important scenically, and have a role in preserving the illusion of wilderness in the UK; even if it is an illusion, its still one that is important for the wellbeing of very many people.
In Germany they are just in farmers fields.. and they farm around them.. all along the autobahns.
amazes me that in a problem as serious and complex as this (how to keep the lights on), people still feel that one line comments highlighting a single narrow part of the issue have anything significant to add to the debate...
Do you really think that the odd windmill here and there can be compared with a new industrial development with a footprint the size of Inverness?
Some parts are still more wild than others. It strikes me as absurd to say that just because not all of our land is completely wild, we ought not to discriminate between the likes of the Monadhliath and some of the more obviously post-industrial parts of the country.
The electricity market is distorted. 1kwh of wind does not have the same value as 1kwh of gas. Wind is a low quality electricity generator and also requires additional power conditioning which comes at additional cost, hence it would be sold at a lower price in a free market. However the market is rigged so we pay a premium for it. Over double the average market cost. This is paid for by the bill payer, so it is clear they cause bills to increase (this is in addition to the tax revenues going to wind).
The reason why most of Europe has less of a problem, is because they have much more localised government. As far as I know, In Spain, any community with wind turbines nearby benefits financially from them. This approach massively reduces nimbyism.
It seems that onshore wind is the cheapest but least useful source of alternative energy, but I can't imagine for one moment that reliance on foreign fossil fuels is a route to cheap reliable prices in the future. Demand from the rest of the world will keep rising. The value of sterling will inevitably fall over the long term, and the current level of storage capacity and gas pipelines, mean we are at risk of spikes and shortages without major investment.
As to the arguments about wind turbines, the usual complaints of noise, the fact they people don't like the look of them, and birdkill, just seem crazy to me. The ones they have recently put up near to Kendal, apparently have an 'liason committee who are involved with the developer's activities designed to mitigate the effects of turbine noise and shadow flicker on homes' the closest of which is 600 metres away. This is a community that lives right on top of the M6.
The Monoliadth seem to me to be raped by deer/sheep overgrazing. If they are to be protected from windfarms, they should be protected from overgrazing and their biodiversity allowed to grow. I recently visited the northern peninsula of Knapdale, south of Oban. Now there is a place which deserves protection from any development. Wonderful native forested country.
> The Monadhliadth seem to me to be raped by deer/sheep overgrazing. If they are to be protected from windfarms, they should be protected from overgrazing and their biodiversity allowed to grow.
If deer and sheep numbers are reduced then the land will regenerate. Building a huge windfarm will change the landscape for decades if not centuries. I don't see this kind of argument having any validity at all, "the flora is a bit screwed so lets build 40 miles of road and 67 wind turbines over it as well because it won't make much difference now".
Wind turbines have their place but the Monadhliath isn't that place.
Maybe the New Forest though, I always found the place a bit disappointing when I lived down there (in response to the poster from Southampton who needs to get out a bit more.
> but blaming them for high electricity bills doesnt strike me as a particularly persuasive one.
> indeed when mr putin decides that gas is going to be much more expensive, and next generation nuclear is still somewhere mired in planning beaurocracy, it might seem like a bargain comparatively...
Are you not aware Gregor that the necessary load following backup to cater for wind's intermittency is, yes you guessed it Gas.
And not only that, it is the type of gas stations that react really quickly, and churn out a lot of emissions as a result. Some have argued that filling the gaps in wind with gas, would at best be carbon neutral, and therefore you have spend billions to save nothing in emissions.
There is. Load following capability in New Nuclear, but, it will be very expensive as to ramp nuclear up and down rather than use it as base load means extra safety case work, additional maintenance, reduced life etc, so they would have to charge more to load follow.
Surely there is a better way forward than the ruination of the wilderness. And if there's no such thing as a free lunch then maybe we've got to get used to eating smaller lunches. In other words we need a consensus based on reducing our need for more and more electricity. If it was a choice between talking to you fellas on this machine and the saving of the wilderness, I'm afraid it's gonna have to be a case of meet you on the crag!
For your information, my house overlooks fields, and those fields are now 90% covered in a very large solar park that is in the final stages of build (I could throw a stone from my bedroom and hit the panels). I get out plenty thanks - perhaps it is you who needs to broaden your horizons a little more?
We change the landscape with virtually every activity we do and action we take - it is just what you choose to see and what you choose to ignore. As you say, agriculture began the changes of our landscape, and industrialisation has continued it...But this is what we do as a species!
If you don't want progression, then go and live in a cave somewhere.
You don't think there's possibly some middle ground to be had?
'on reducing our need for more and more electricity'
...and how about reducing our need for more and more eat, so that we can get rid of some of those grazers in the southern Uplands and create a more diverse landscape. The wind turbines here seem far less of a problem to me than the farming practices. Monoculture.
Surely we know by now that "progression" (sic) is more complicated than simply adopting the next "modern" thing without question; look at the recently commemorated Beeching "reforms". What we wouldn't give to have at least half those railway lines back again.
There seems to be a deep green approach which concedes the despoilation of the landscape in order to save it. To quote Oscar Wilde: "each man kills the thing he loves"...
> 'on reducing our need for more and more electricity'
> ...and how about reducing our need for more and more eat, so that we can get rid of some of those grazers in the southern Uplands and create a more diverse landscape.
Fine but you have to bear in mind that these areas and the current farming practices provide income and jobs. If the sheep and deer numbers are reduced then they have to be replaced with something else.
How many times have you seen the crags of Glencoe feature in different movies and adverts? Think how great it'd look with a forest of turbines on top of 'em.
Anyway it's just plain wrong. Those great towers sit on concrete plinths sunk deep into the ground. Where does the concrete come from? Some vast hole in some lovely limestone country somewhere else.
Well, if everyone installed solar panels on their homes, agreed to have wind turbines in built-up areas, and did their best to cut their energy usage - rather than complaining that they want as much cheap energy as they can use (as long as it is provided from somewhere they can't see it from their own window), we probably wouldn't need to build wind turbines in places like this
What've you got against sheep? They're a damn sight less ugly than 130m windmills!
As for the poster who is comparing old fashioned windmills here and there with a whole load of monster ones, that's ridiculous too... as is the notion that because man has influenced his environment since at least Neolithic times then trashing it completely with hundreds of white monstrosities is all very fine today, I'd say there was an error of logic in there somewhere!
Thats because the Germans are so much more switched on than the UK. They have them because they work and they are happy to give up a bit of greenbelt for them for substainable power.
For the greater good in Germany, not a massive amount of "not on my land" demos going on. Paderborn is a classic example. Great city that has turbines on the main hill outside of town which generates so much electricity that they have a fairly sizeable reduction in their bills and they store so much of the stuff, they have enough to power the town of nearly 300,000 people for at least 2 years should it be needed I might be wrong, it may have changed but that was in 2002.
UK is so far behind on so may things compared to Germany.
I don't eat meat, so why would want sheep. If I had one in my back garden there wouldn't be anything left. I'd rather grow fruit and veg and enjoy some flowers and wildlife out of my bcak door.
I buy bottled water for 35 cents.. I take it back to the machine and get 25 cents back for the bottles and a receipt for credit.. for use in that store..
So bought todays lunch out of my recycling..
Germany is creating a problem for itself with the amount of wind energy it produces. A power network needs a range of generating options, base supply just keeps running all the time, typically nuclear and coal, planned demand that can be ramped up slowly, and high speed response, (Gas turbine and hydro.)
The engineers controlling the distribution in Germany have already flagged up that the amount of wind production could lead to brown-outs in parts of the country due to the reduction in other forms of generation.
Wind turbines should be located close to communities near to an existing infra-structure. without tax breaks and guaranteed revenue it makes no sense to stick them on mountains and whether the towers last or not the bases and roads will be there forever.
....I think for the UK we need to designate wild zones (i.e most of the munro areas), SSSI's national parks etc and concentrate these massive wind farms in industrial zones, offshore or have more smaller developments like 1 or 2 turbines for a small town - however with the amount of money to be made by landowners and energy companies this is unlikely to happen. I personally don't see why the public (through our bills) should be paying for private energy firms to build wind farms so they can make profits for their shareholders.
> Well, if everyone installed solar panels on their homes, agreed to have wind turbines in built-up areas, and did their best to cut their energy usage - rather than complaining that they want as much cheap energy as they can use (as long as it is provided from somewhere they can't see it from their own window), we probably wouldn't need to build wind turbines in places like this
Another point that is commonly misunderstood - one of the major advantages of wind turbines is that they can meet 'peak demands' - they can be switched on remotely, and operation from standstill in under a minute. They are often used as an alternative to dam released hydro or gas turbine based power generation.
Final point - even with the road, the concrete foundations etc, a typical 3MW turbine would be carbon neutral in under 10 months of operation. Until we invent a viable alternative, I really do believe they have a place in our landscapes.
> I buy bottled water for 35 cents.. I take it back to the machine and get 25 cents back for the bottles and a receipt for credit.. for use in that store..
> So bought todays lunch out of my recycling..
Why buy bottled water, you could save all that packaging if you had one container and drank tap water and simply reused the container. Is the tap water not fit or consumption?
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