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Topic - Monaliadth Windfarm.

drmarten on 07 Jun 2014
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-27730168

I note the 'landowner' is estimated to make 60 million pounds out of this. This is not a landscape that has been celebrated as much as some of the more obviously scenic areas of Scotland. I've visited the area several times and it holds a value much more important than it's usefulness for energy provision or for what are ultimately monetary reasons.

Taking away my extreme dislike of these horrendous things, can someone advise how much more of these are likely to be built?
Does Scotland not have enough renewable supply yet, are we self sufficient or are we to further ruin our landscape for export purposes?
Ridge - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to drmarten:
As long as there's subsidies for the power generated and sometimes even bigger subsidies for not generating power when there's not enough demand I think you can expect plenty more to follow.
Post edited at 17:49
Clint86 - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to drmarten:

How would you generate electricity for the future?
aln - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to Clint86:

> How would you generate electricity for the future?

How would you? Are windfarms plastered all over Scotland's wild places the only option?
Jim C - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to Ridge:

> As long as there's bribes for the locals I think you can expect plenty more to follow.

muppetfilter - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to drmarten:

Ruin the landscape ... like the fracking alternative is better? A Turbine can be taken down in a single 12 hour shift, the plinth and roads will obviously take longer to remove .... how long will the after effects of Fracking last....
Steve Perry - on 07 Jun 2014
Jim C - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to muppetfilter:

> the plinth and roads will obviously take longer to remove ....

The roads will be taken back by nature ( longer if the bikers continue to use them) but the 'plinth' is the tip of an iceberg.
There is more to these foundations than meets the eye, I doubt they will ever be removed completely. There is a good illustration on page 5 of gage link.

http://www.byggvetenskaper.lth.se/fileadmin/byggnadsmekanik/publications/tvsm5000/web5173.pdf
Saor Alba - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to drmarten:
Leaving aside whether wind turbines are the way forward or otherwise, this and multiple other developments will continue until the land ownership laws are reformed in Scotland and the UK. Simply put, if you have the money, you can do pretty much anything you like including evicting people, suppressing the economy, putting up wind turbines and hydro and all of that is supported and subsidised by tax breaks.

My general impression is that the MCofS and so on are utterly unwilling to recognise that land reform will lead to a situation where wind farms are much more difficult to put up. I don't know why that is. It is certainly much easier to bang on about governments but tackling the underlying structure is much harder.

The whole precess is managed. It is not SSE that owns this land, it is a private landowner and that is the key. SSE are the developer, not the cataylst or the ones permitting this.

Even at outline planning stage it's already too late as all the counter arguments have already been thought through.
Post edited at 20:45
Clint86 - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to aln:

I'd reduce the amount of energy we need by as much as possible and then try to meet as much of the remainder by renewables. How would you generate it.
In reply to Saor Alba:

> it is a private landowner and that is the key. SSE are the developer, not the cataylst or the ones permitting this.

I just don't believe it is all as simple as this. We are short of energy. Energy companies need to, inter alia, stick up turbines. Landowners don't just go round asking companies to stick them up on their land and hey ho earn 60 million.

Why shouldn't a land owner get tax breaks for having turbines on his land supplying power to Salmond's country?
ScraggyGoat on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to Saor Alba:
The SNP are making a statement; natural heritage is subordinate to what they believe is national economic interest.................its a very clear message to business, do not let protestors, planning guidelines or even government bodies like SNH concern you.

as the old saying goes......'price of everything but the value of nothing'


Its like the torries chopping something up as useful as Nimrod, even when they could have sold them........... 'we have the power, just watch us'.
Jim C - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to Clint86:
> I'd reduce the amount of energy we need by as much as possible
Sorted, our Electricity prices to industry will make our manufacturing industry uncompetitive, sales will diminish, and the factories will shut down, and use much less electricity.

and then try to meet as much of the remainder by renewables. How would you generate it?

Even with no , or little manufacturing industry, renewables are so unreliable / intermittent (and expensive ) that it will be a difficult job .

Might be possible if you count New Nuclear as a ' renewable' ( reprocessing) but then that to, is very expensive. ( and all the cash raised goes to the French government)

So perhaps we could also grow / import lots of trees, burn some as biomass,bury the rest down mines that we dig the coal out of , burn the coal, and rebrand coal as a 'long term renewable' ;)

( Sorry for not taking this seriously I work in the Power industry, why should I take it seriously when our governments haven't)

And there is the problem of uncertainty putting off investors as well.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/10868250/Britains-uncertain-renewables-policy...
Post edited at 22:00
Clint86 - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to Jim C:

I don't think the government know what to do.
Clint86 - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to Jim C:

I don't think it will take too much of a rise in sea levels to make uncompetitive industry irrelevant.
aln - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to Clint86:

> I'd reduce the amount of energy we need by as much as possible

We're in agreement

and then try to meet as much of the remainder by renewables.

Still in agreement

How would you generate it.

Solar panels on every domestic roof. Small wind turbine's in everyone's garden, larger wind turbines all over industrial estates rather than wilder places, every big commercial building with a flat roof covered with solar panels.
Dunno, not sure. How about a small wind turbine in


Jim C - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to Clint86:

> I don't think it will take too much of a rise in sea levels to make uncompetitive industry irrelevant.

My own home is at real risk to rising sea levels, that said ,If we accept gat levels are due to power generation, even if we switch the whole of the UK 'off' tomorrow, our contribution to the worlds emissions is pretty irrelevant, statistically insignificant in god bigger picture.

But we can certainly sacrifice our economy to futile gesture politics.
Clint86 - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to Jim C:

Changing the way we generate our electricity is just one of the changes we could make. Surely just carrying on as normal cant be the answer. I'd rather be part of the solution.
crustypunkuk - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to Jim C:
'But we can certainly sacrifice our economy to futile gesture politics.'
Here here.


wintertree - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to Clint86:

> How would you generate electricity for the future?

Well, wind is a write off for displacing more than a small fraction of our fossil fuel derived energy - not just electricity.

We'd be much better of building a couple of new nuclear plants instead of the sideshow distraction that is onshore wind.

Then we'd better build another 15 or so.
crustypunkuk - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to Clint86:

Short of covering the entire country in those f*cking hideous big turbines, we can NEVER generate the required capacity for us (Scotland) to cope with demand. We need nuclear power. We can argue all we like, Salmond can strut all he likes about our green credentials, but we need a base load which cant be supplied by anything other than uranium, unless we cover the country in turbines, or dam every glen we have.
Jim C - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to aln:


> Solar panels on every domestic roof.
Not all roofs face in a suitable direction to make 'every domestic roof ' a worthwhile proposition.

Small wind turbine's in everyone's garden,
Not all gardens are suitable to erect a turbine, even fewer have suitable wind patterns.
In my garden, and all my neighbours for example, you would have to move all the telephone lines for a start. And the foundation would be larger than the footprint of my garden.
The amount of energy invested ( and emissions) in it's manufacture is unlikely to be recovered in the lifetime of such equipment.
If your garden suitable to erect a wind turbine ?

larger wind turbines all over industrial estates rather than wilder places,
Some out of town estates might be suitable, ( if there is sufficient wind)
And if this was relied upon as a power supply for industry, the workers will be limited with the hours/ days/ weeks/ months they will not be able to work when power is not available;)

every big commercial building with a flat roof covered with solar panels.
Possible, but We don't get a lot of light in the West of a Scotland, it might be more workable in the South.

I think is you replaced 'all' and 'every' with 'suitable' you might have a better case.
( but the numbers will reduce dramatically)


Robert Durran - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to Jim C:

> Some out of town estates might be suitable.

The Dutch and so on seem, in the absence of uplands (or any "wild" land), to be happy to put turbines all over the place. Why can't we do the same. I'd line every main road in the Central Belt with them - got to be at least as aesthetic as those Kelpie things anyway and very easy access. Anyway, for what it's worth, I don't mind them anywhere I've yet seen them.
wintertree - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to Robert Durran:

> The Dutch and so on seem, in the absence of uplands (or any "wild" land), to be happy to put turbines all over the place. Why can't we do the same.

Perhaps because it'd cost a fortune and do almost nothing to secure a post fossil fuel energy supply fit for an industrialised first world nation.

aln - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to Robert Durran:

> those Kelpie things

The Kelpie's are just round the corner from me. They're gorgeous, and they're irrelevant to this topic.
aln - on 07 Jun 2014
In reply to Jim C:
> Not all roofs face in a suitable direction to make 'every domestic roof ' a worthwhile proposition.

Jeez. OK then, every roof in a suitable direction.

> Small wind turbine's in everyone's garden,

Yeah wind only blows at certain times in certain places. Apparently only in wild places.

> The amount of energy invested ( and emissions) in it's manufacture is unlikely to be recovered in the lifetime of such equipment.

Surely that's the argument argument against large scale wind farms?

> larger wind turbines all over industrial estates rather than wilder places,

> Some out of town estates might be suitable, ( if there is sufficient wind)

> And if this was relied upon as a power supply for industry,

Who said it's to be relied on? Surely we're talking about steps along the way to reducing energy consumption and making it more sustainable?
> every big commercial building with a flat roof covered with solar panels.

> Possible, but We don't get a lot of light in the West of a Scotland, it might be more workable in the South.

> I think is you replaced 'all' and 'every' with 'suitable' you might have a better case.

> ( but the numbers will reduce dramatically)
Post edited at 00:04
Jim C - on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to Clint86:

> Changing the way we generate our electricity is just one of the changes we could make. Surely just carrying on as normal cant be the answer. I'd rather be part of the solution.

I agree, I work for a company that manufactures or maintains Coal (clean if required) biomass, nuclear and also wind generators, it makes no odds to me , as far as employment is concerned) who buys what from around the world.

That is different to believing that renewables will make any impact in my lifetime, it is a technology that needs some future storage technology to make it a realistic alternative.

That said we have research and development into improving the combustion of coal stations , and the 'efficiency/ reliability of Wind Generators, as well as research into carbon capture and storage ( which also has a very long way to go)

Biomass, is a short term diversion from coal, but not a long term solution. In ten years there will be no coal burned, and the only 'coal' stations left will be biomass conversions, but all the coal / biomass plant is old already, something quickly needs to take their place.

Investment in power generating plant of any flavour is not really in this countries control of course, as the ownership of our stations are largely foreign owned , so any future investment decisions is in their hands . The only thing our government can do us promise ,our money , to them in subsidies to push them towards the way they want to go.
But do our government's current Energy department have a clue what they want, and will the next one?

Looks like the next move of subsidy money will be moved to Fracking, and that is another fossil fuel.


.
Jim C - on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to aln:
> Who said it's to be relied on? Surely we're talking about steps along the way to reducing energy consumption and making it more sustainable?

Perhaps there is a confusion here. The proposal I was responding to said :-
reduce demand as much as possible, and replace as much as possible of the remaining demand by renewables.
So not just steps upon the way , and to do that you need massively reduce consumption is the only way renewables can hope to be an alternative to existing generators, and yes rely on renewables for the majority of the rest.

At the moment we have about 20% redundancy in the system to compensate for planned and unplanned outages.

If you do what is suggested, you remove that redundancy, and you rely on renewables.
If there is an unplanned outage you need something to keep the system at 50HZ, you have very little time to slot that into the system. pumped storage can be used very short term to buy some time, you can call in some French a Power from the inter connecter ( Nuclear) and increase the base load from our own Nuclear stations ( coming to the end of their lives) you can then increase the coal stations output .

IF most ( or all)that is gone , and most of what you have is renewables as your main generator, it simply will not work.
Post edited at 01:46
Clint86 - on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to Jim C:

I guess the one thing we can agree on is to use less! The government could help by reducing the spikes that we get during the day for example. That shouldn't be beyond their wit. Then they could install metres which only allow a certain amount of power in each house to be used at any one time. Then they could prohibit any participation in the Europa league. Etc. Etc.
Jim C - on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to Clint86:

> I guess the one thing we can agree on is to use less! The government could help by reducing the spikes that we get during the day for example. That shouldn't be beyond their wit. Then they could install metres which only allow a certain amount of power in each house to be used at any one time. Then they could prohibit any participation in the Europa league. Etc. Etc.

I may be somewhat selfish here , but as I never watch soaps or football, I would be happy with that. I tend to go to bed around 2:00am and anything I want to catch up on would be done between 11:00 and 2:00, good wind generator time as they tend to produce more towards the evenings when power is not required as much.

So yes, there should be incentives to use power between specific hours , and avoid others. There is no real need to watch a soap live, or even football tennis etc in my view, but I may be in the minority there as football fans seem to get excited about watching matches live and are even prepared to pay for it ! ( you would have to pay ME for my time to watch it at all)

There certainly could be things done to even out the load on the grid. Soap fans and football fans are an easy target, but the snag us they have a vote, and the party making that suggestion may become a tad unpopular .

Installing equipment to limit consumption is expensive, better to just fine those who go over whatever allowance is allotted to them , or if they breach when they are allowed too use it, similar to the phone companies do with roaming charges, then we would really see how important it was to watch live TV for example, and then rush off to put on a 3kw kettle at the end.

As far as the load following for wind generation is concerned, I have listened first hand to the National Grid guys who came in and gave us 'some idea' of just how complex a balancing act it is already, and to throw in large amounts of intermittent renewables into the mix will make that even harder, of course as long as you are prepared to have gas standby , and are prepared to pay for it, you can then 'rely' on more wind, safe in the knowledge that a gas station will cut in and save the grid. but you will not, in the long term as I understand what they were telling us,-given current intermittency patterns , save any emissions that way.
And it will cost even more. Then there will be some who cannot afford the dual costs( it is already a problem, renewables will make that much worse) If there was an easy answer, brighter people than us somewhere , would already be doing it.

If we are happy to pay more , put up with limits on consumption, and endure some some blackouts and brown outs , then we can certainly go for much more renewable without adding as much cost.

I have experienced first hand blackouts in the past, but we were a camping family and coped really well topping up large capacity batteries for lighting etc , and also had prepared to use bottled gas for cooking on large stoves that we already had, but some of our neighbours coped less well, and we'd had to help them out.

That was many decades ago, and the younger generation are even less resilient ( more reliant) on power these days than back then, so an even bigger problem is facing us -if we get to that.




ads.ukclimbing.com
Jim C - on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to Clint86:

> I guess the one thing we can agree on is to use less! The government could help by reducing the spikes that we get during the day for example. That shouldn't be beyond their wit. Then they could install metres which only allow a certain amount of power in each house to be used at any one time. Then they could prohibit any participation in the Europa league. Etc. Etc.

I may be somewhat selfish here , but as I never watch soaps or football, I would be happy with that. I tend to go to bed around 2:00am and anything I want to catch up on would be done between 11:00 and 2:00, good wind generator time as they tend to produce more towards the evenings when power is not required as much.

So yes, there should be incentives to use power between specific hours , and avoid others. There is no real need to watch a soap live, or even football tennis etc in my view, but I may be in the minority there as football fans seem to get excited about watching matches live and are even prepared to pay for it ! ( you would have to pay ME for my time to watch it at all)

There certainly could be things done to even out the load on the grid. Soap fans and football fans are an easy target, but the snag us they have a vote, and the party making that suggestion may become a tad unpopular .

Installing equipment to limit consumption is expensive, better to just fine those who go over whatever allowance is allotted to them , or if they breach when they are allowed too use it, similar to the phone companies do with roaming charges, then we would really see how important it was to watch live TV for example, and then rush off to put on a 3kw kettle at the end.

As far as the load following for wind generation is concerned, I have listened first hand to the National Grid guys who came in and gave us 'some idea' of just how complex a balancing act it is already, and to throw in large amounts of intermittent renewables into the mix will make that even harder, of course as long as you are prepared to have gas standby , and are prepared to pay for it, you can then 'rely' on more wind, safe in the knowledge that a gas station will cut in and save the grid. but you will not, in the long term as I understand what they were telling us,-given current intermittency patterns , save any emissions that way.
And it will cost even more. Then there will be some who cannot afford the fuel. costs( it is already a problem, renewables will make that much worse) If there was an easy answer, brighter people than us somewhere , would already be doing it.

If we are happy to pay more , put up with limits on consumption, and endure some some blackouts and brown outs , then we can certainly go for much more renewable without adding as much cost.

I have experienced first hand blackouts in the past, but we were a camping family and coped really well topping up large capacity batteries for lighting etc , and also had prepared to use bottled gas for cooking on large stoves that we already had, but some of our neighbours coped less well, and we'd had to help them out.

That was many decades ago, and the younger generation are even less resilient ( more reliant) on power these days than back then, so an even bigger problem is facing us -if we get to that.




Saor Alba - on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to ScraggyGoat:

I think you will find the Labours and Lib Dems are just as supportive and were so when in power. Governments change and there is broad consensus on the need for wind power (amongst political parties I mean, Tories aside).

Until we reform the land ownership rules (yes scary I know if you get a warm feeling from these sorts of things) this will continue and long after the SNP are out of power.

Most of the micro hydros going in right now don't even get seen by the government.

To answer Nick, the reason is that we are subsidising private profit of people who do very little for the places they make the money from. This applies to trees, hydro, land, energy and none of that protects the environment or helps the local economy.
wintertree - on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to aln:

> Who said it's to be relied on? Surely we're talking about steps along the way to reducing energy consumption and making it more sustainable?

Yes. Small steps. On a road to nowhere. To meet even a dramatically reduced version of our total energy needs we either have to burn fossil fuels or build nuclear. Of we go for the later, we might as well build 2 more plants and be done with the windmills.

All the wind farms really achieve is to destabilise the pricing and viability of the cleanest fossil sources and divert money and attention away from the action needed for a genuinely sustainable energy future. Brownouts in 2-5 years according to academic experts and OFGEM. Then we'll see how useful the windmills are.

Saor Alba - on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to wintertree:

But they also line the pockets of landowners, don't forget that useful function.
wintertree - on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to Jim C:

> That was many decades ago, and the younger generation are even less resilient ( more reliant) on power these days than back then, so an even bigger problem is facing us -if we get to that.

Even bigger still when you consider all the fossil fuel needs to be displaced, not just that currently used for electricity generation. Depending on how much efficiency you can bring to transport and heating, it looks like the future grid needs 2x to 4x the generating capacity.

Amongst other things this will need 2x to 4x the number of super pylons. That's going to make middle England even less happy than distant turbines...
Robert Durran - on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to wintertree:

> Amongst other things this will need 2x to 4x the number of super pylons. That's going to make middle England even less happy than distant turbines...

Maybe every super pylon could double as a giant wind turbine. ie Just have huge turbines with wires slung below the height of the blades. The turbines could presumably be easily connected to the grid and the double use ought to be highly economical too. They would also look much more elegant than traditional pylons.

Jim C - on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to Saor Alba:

> But they also line the pockets of landowners, don't forget that useful function.

Indeed, my sister is at risk of her neighbour taking a large bribe( sorry compensation) to allow them to build on his land , ( right next to her boundary) and she us not happy, as they are huge and very close. However, until recently she was firmly in the pocket of the wind companies , even involved in distributing ' community compensation' for earlier projects ( that they craftily put well away from anyone just to get their foot in the door) . Now plan B comes in, where they drive a wedge through the community by targeting individual landowners that are prepared to put aside their neighbours concerns for a substantial individual personal benefit. This has an unsettling effect on neighbourly relationships as I have witnessed.

She WAS warned( by me and others ) so I have limited sympathy. If they were going to take a 'bribe' they should have made sure it was a really big one, but they settled for a pittance to what the wind industry made ( from us the taxpayer) and now they will pay the price as the real plan is revealed and they have previously set the ' compensation' benchmark low for the community.



Jim C - on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Maybe every super pylon could double as a giant wind turbine. ie Just have huge turbines with wires slung below the height of the blades. The turbines could presumably be easily connected to the grid and the double use ought to be highly economical too. They would also look much more elegant than traditional pylons.

Sounds good, but the majority pylons will mostly be situated away from the optimum locations as they carry the power away from the wind generators to where it is required.

And if you look at the recent fires involving fatalities, in the Dutch farms, and fires elsewhere, I doubt it would get past a safety case study. The gearboxes are really not up to the job yet.
Saor Alba - on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to Jim C:

The critical thing I think in this is that to actually get proper land reform other related subjects such as tax subsidies, title, the House of Lords all need to be brought into this picture and I don't think for a second that this can be done as part of the UK.

Leaving that to one side, whilst the current system persists (which is not a product of any political party) then wind farms or other things will continue to happen. It was the same with trees, now it is wind farms, it might be something else soon.

wintertree - on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Maybe every super pylon could double as a giant wind turbine. ie Just have huge turbines with wires slung below the height of the blades. The turbines could presumably be easily connected to the grid and the double use ought to be highly economical too. They would also look much more elegant than traditional pylons.

Sounds near but there are lots of incompatible requirements - its hard to make a vibration free turbine, and I imagine it's hard to make a super pylon whose bolts don't mind being vibrated. The super pylons need to be much more robust than the turbines, whilst turbines need more servicing which is not compatible with HVAC transmission. Pylons are designed to be large to separate cables and to withstand centenary forces, turbine poles are thin and strong against compressive forces from the turbine assembly.

Also it's not so windy in the lowland locations of transmission lines.

It would look very cool though.
wintertree - on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to Saor Alba:
> But they also line the pockets of landowners, don't forget that useful function.

Aye. I see them as subsidy farming machines, pumping cash from the pockets of the poor to the rich. The irony being how they do this best when the grid can't take their power and pass it on to us bill paying mugs.

If the government wants to interfere with the market pricing they could at least try and pretend its about the environment and not their rich pals. But if they did that we wouldn't be building windmills, but new nuclear capacity and investing in multiple different fusion research concepts.
Post edited at 13:41
Jim C - on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to wintertree:

>But if they did that we wouldn't be building windmills, but new nuclear capacity and investing in multiple different fusion research concepts.

They are building New Nuclear, the ground clearing has been started and the foundation contracts are being negotiated. The strick price has been agreed with EDF ( essentially the Fench government by any other measure) and it is not cheap and lasts for many decades guaranteeing EDF money from the British taxpayer which is what this Government said would not happen. As they have subsidised it, there is now an investigation into the legality of that subsidy. ( see links no subsidy , then Huge subsidy)

A further Snag is , even if it goes ahead, if you then look at Flamanville for example , it is not a good omen to how long and how much Hinkley is going to build, so don't run away closing too many stations meantime.

There IS of course ongoing research into Fusion, in fact there are prototypes being built right now and I spoke to one young PhD student working on those, and he told me (testing alone ) once the plant is completed, is programmed to take longer than his entire working lifetime . If successful, they would then start to build a full size plant, which is another few decades.
I'm 55, alas I will be long dead before we see any operating fusion plant generating to the grid.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/10688788/EDF-to-miss-its-own-deadline-for-Hin...

http://www.jonathonporritt.com/blog/%25E2%2580%259C-subsidy-nuclear%25E2%2580%259D

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/10/huge-nuclear-subsidy-shows-tory-inconsistency-markets
wintertree - on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to Jim C:
To little to late on the new fission plant though. We should have been planning to replace coal with it 15 years ago. Instead we're deforesting Missouri to run Drax. Even with the apparently crap-for-us contract over hinckley c, the unit price won't look so bad 20 years down the line, and I'd happily sign on to pay twice that now if it guaranteed the fission infrastructure for the next 25 years.

> There IS of course ongoing research into Fusion, in fact there are prototypes being built right now and I spoke to one young PhD student working on those, and he told me (testing alone ) once the plant is completed, is programmed to take longer than his entire working lifetime . If successful, they would then start to build a full size plant, which is another few decades. I'm 55, alas I will be long dead before we see any operating fusion plant generating to the grid.

There is research, but we spend a pathetically small amount on it in the UK, and it's almost all spent on tokamak fusion and as you say you'll likely be dead before that's on the grid.

On the other hand there are 4-5 alternative reactor designs that are unfunded by almost all governments due to the unstoppable tokamak funding/politics monster. I think odds are one one of them reaching net energy gain in the next few years and being on the grid on 15.

The Polywell team have just put out a preprint on a major demonstration of the practicality of their reactor - http://arxiv.org/abs/1406.0133 - and general fusion are making a very big reactor, whilst Lockhead Martin and Focus Fusion are very secretively burrowing away. Here's a picture of the General Fusion machine - http://www.canadianbusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/2d530c294e9e9387b4da24507948.jpg - it looks like they're close to some pretty major tests. All these alternative reactors sidestep critical problems from ITER but have benefited from less than 0.5% of the funding level - insanity that the gigabucks only go to the project with a timescale of 30+ years. It's a very exciting 5 years ahead as the dark horses are all progressing.

The UK could be funding any one of these projects for less than the money frittered away on wind, something with zero value or utility if any of these reactors work. In the mean time we should focus on fission, but given the eventual importance of fusion and the insignificance of our fossil emissions compare to the world, I think there's a strong argument for pulling all our coal reserved out, thriving on cheap coal electricity and using the growth that produces to drive a new manhattan project into fusion. It would save more co2 in the long run. Instead we fart around tweaking the edges of policy and making the rich richer.
Post edited at 15:50
drmarten on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to thread:
Just back from the hills - Cairngorms from Linn of Dee, no turbines seen although low cloud may have hid them to the NE.

Wind turbines are not wholly about protecting the environment - to me they are also about cash, big huge wads of cash for landowners paid indirectly by the consumer. We can cover the whole of Scotland with turbines (perhaps we are) and it means absolutely nothing on a global scale, it's pissing in the - excuse me - wind.

The landscape is suffering for cash and turbines are appallingly inefficient, the sheer number of them should demonstrate that. My original post was a query about how many more we're going to see, I'm concerned that Scotland will continue to build turbines in order to export wind power. I think I'm right in saying that when Scotland has a shortfall in supply (that winter high pressure system) then we will import power from England - which may be produced in nuclear power plants. I can't be the only one who finds that prospect hypocritical.
Post edited at 16:04
wintertree - on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to drmarten:

> My original post was a query about how many more we're going to see,

Who knows? If independence doesn't happen, the Tories are elected, and they stick to their promises, then the subsidy for onshore wind is not going to be available for new builds. I suspect that will kill most new on-shore turbine building. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-27137184

Regardless of the referendum and the election, various research groups and OFGEM themselves are all suggesting that within the next 1-5 years the grid will no longer be able to always meet demand - i.e. blackouts. We're basically out of spare capacity so one major incident or unplanned plant failure and things get even worse. This might just be a catalyst in waking public opinion up to the bit where wind is not helping to keep the lights on.

> which may be produced in nuclear power plants. I can't be the only one who finds that prospect hypocritical.

No more so than the hypocrisy of wanting nuclear weapons out of an independent Scotland whilst remaining a NATO member, or wanting to waive tuition fees for all EU members except those from rUK or any of a dozen other examples. Also, it's working quite well for Germany, whose renewable policy is apparently driven by new coal mines, new coal plants and French nuclear power... It's also a hypocrisy England could be quite happy with, because it represents a potential nice little earner; just ask the French...

drmarten on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to wintertree:
Your link was interesting, the government said that the UK would have enough wind power by 2015 to meet 2020 targets. From what I could find the UK's target for 2020 is 15% of consumption from renewable sources. Scotland's target is to generate the equivalent of 100% of consumption from renewable sources.

I wonder where we stand now and whether - once that 100% is met - we will continue to build turbines.
Post edited at 16:59
wintertree - on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to drmarten:

> I wonder where we stand now and whether - once that 100% is met - we will continue to build turbines

We could imagine having 100% of current electricity demand supplied by renewables (quite a stretch of imagination) and yes, we would need to build more power plants.

At some point road, rail, boat and plane transport is going to need to move away from fossil fuels, meaning that the energy either has to come from the sun (solar, wind), the earth (geothermal) or the atom (fission, fusion), and then be packaged up in a form suitable for vehicles (batteries, combustible gas, compressed air). I did a rough calculation a few months ago, and we'd need something like Hinkley Points D, E and F to run the road network alone.

You could make a strong case that the time has come to ban the internal combustion engine and to replace it with central generating plants, even it they're fossil fuel based.

I don't however think that Scotland has a rat in hell's chance of meeting a 100% renewable source supply, unless they import geothermal from Iceland (proposed HVDC links) and hydro from Scandinavia, on top of an eco-catastrophic flooding of every glen for storage and hydro...
Ridge - on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to drmarten:

> The landscape is suffering for cash and turbines are appallingly inefficient, the sheer number of them should demonstrate that. My original post was a query about how many more we're going to see, I'm concerned that Scotland will continue to build turbines in order to export wind power. I think I'm right in saying that when Scotland has a shortfall in supply (that winter high pressure system) then we will import power from England - which may be produced in nuclear power plants. I can't be the only one who finds that prospect hypocritical.

Export wind energy where? When it's windy in Scotland there,s also wind across a fair proportion of Europe. This is when the wind companies shut down their turbines, ( and in many cases get paid more than if they were producing), or give it away to places like Norway, who get to re-prime their pumped hydro storage on the cheap. Then during those winter high pressure days when there's massive demand and no wind, you get to buy it back for far more than you sold it for. Doesn't sound a great export industry.
drmarten on 08 Jun 2014
In reply to Ridge:

According to the Economist Scotland exported 26% of it's electricity generated in 2011. Again in 2011 wind accounted for 27% of Scotlands electricity generation. Scotland is already exporting wind power. The UK is big enough to have large differences in wind speed between the north and the south, never mind the wind differences over Europe.

Fergus Ewing, Scotland's energy minister, suggests that England, which itself faces an energy shortfall, will need Scottish power regardless : England will need Scottish energy to keep the lights on by 2015" he says.

http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21572234-how-independence-might-threaten-one-snps-favourite-in...
Moley on 09 Jun 2014
In reply to Jim C:

> Indeed, my sister is at risk of her neighbour taking a large bribe( sorry compensation) to allow them to build on his land , ( right next to her boundary) and she us not happy, as they are huge and very close. However, until recently she was firmly in the pocket of the wind companies , even involved in distributing ' community compensation' for earlier projects ( that they craftily put well away from anyone just to get their foot in the door) . Now plan B comes in, where they drive a wedge through the community by targeting individual landowners that are prepared to put aside their neighbours concerns for a substantial individual personal benefit. This has an unsettling effect on neighbourly relationships as I have witnessed.

> She WAS warned( by me and others ) so I have limited sympathy. If they were going to take a 'bribe' they should have made sure it was a really big one, but they settled for a pittance to what the wind industry made ( from us the taxpayer) and now they will pay the price as the real plan is revealed and they have previously set the ' compensation' benchmark low for the community.

I'm afraid this is exactly what is happening in our community (Wales). Some hill farmers (3 as far as we know) have been approached by a company who offer £20k per turbine per annum, beats sheep farming any day!

So a wedge is already splitting the community, farmers all want some of the action and talk about "it's just progress" whilst non landowners object to covering the Cambrians with turbines, there is already a "them and us" situation in an otherwise happy valley community.

I consider these sums of money a very simple "bribe", it is blatantly so. Wiki says there are 5276 turbines in the UK, I know some are offshore, but for instance if we took 5000 turbines at £20k per annum land rental = £100,000,000pa before a blade even turns in production or starts on a profit for the generators. Could that money be better used? I don't know but it seems a lot of cash to me.
wintertree - on 09 Jun 2014
In reply to Moley:

> £100,000,000pa before a blade even turns in production or starts on a profit for the generators. Could that money be better used? I don't know but it seems a lot of cash to me.

Yes. That bribe money could be better used. Over the lifetime of the turbines it would make up about 16% of the cost of Hinkley Point C. HP-C alone can produce as much power as the average output of all of our on shore turbines. Plenty of consumers, myself included, would rather pay even more for our electricity to see it sourced from new nuclear instead of wind.



Clint86 - on 09 Jun 2014
In reply to wintertree:

Who would build the nuclear power stations? I thought they were struggling to find companies willing to take on the huge costs and risks. How secure will these stations be when the sea levels rise as they are forecast to do fairly quickly. How difficult will the decomissioning be. I've visited Traswfynndd and it was an eye opener seeing what was/is involved in dismantling it. I can see why the government struggles to see a way forward! If we all used %80 less power as we were advised to by the Stern report........it would be a lot easier.
wintertree - on 09 Jun 2014
In reply to Clint86:
> Who would build the nuclear power stations? I thought they were struggling to find companies willing to take on the huge costs and risks.

We should have started growing a state owned company with the skills to build then 20 years ago. Now we have people prepared to build them (and profit from our lack of foresight and stupidity) and we should be building many more of the same design to make sure we start getting some economy of scale.

> How secure will these stations be when the sea levels rise as they are forecast to do fairly quickly.

Erm, really? As I understand it it's a maximum of 1 meter over the next 100 years, or 40cm over the design life of a reactor. That's not exactly a problem compared to the tides and storm waves now is it? How about we build them a whole meter higher just to be on the safe side, that surely is going to tax even our finest engineers.

> How difficult will the decomissioning be.

It will be expensive, but a lot has been learnt over the last 40 years that can be accommodated into new power plants. There's also a very good chance that in 40 years time we will have much cheaper power (through another 40 years of improvement in fission, or through viable fusion, or through space based or desert solar power) and a much more productive society through general improvements in technology, all of which will reduce both the costs of decommissioning and open the possibility of viably transmuting the waste into much safer materials.

> If we all used %80 less power as we were advised to by the Stern report........it would be a lot easier.

Yes, and if magic energy fairies existed it would be a lot easier. Even if made savings of 60% to our electricity usage tomorrow, we would need new generating capacity to decarbonise the other primary consumers of fossil fuels in the country.

Have a go at using only 20% of your energy for a month and report back on what it was like.
Post edited at 11:40
Skip - on 09 Jun 2014
In reply to wintertree:

> Plenty of consumers, myself included, would rather pay even more for our electricity to see it sourced from new nuclear instead of wind.

>

Really! Wow i will never understand the anti-wind lobby. People moan about electricity prices and the fact they are paying for wind subsidies. Now you're claiming you're willing to pay even more to get nuclear.

?????
wintertree - on 09 Jun 2014
In reply to Skip:
> Really! Wow i will never understand the anti-wind lobby.

Do you understand how much energy we need, how much currently comes from fossil fuels, how much wind can produce?

> People moan about electricity prices and the fact they are paying for wind subsidies. Now you're claiming you're willing to pay even more to get nuclear.

Yes. I am unhappy to pay subsidies for wind because I do not see it as a useful component of a post fossil fuel energy supply. I do see nuclear as suitable. I would therefore be happy to pay more to see it go ahead. This is supposed to be the point of the subsidies - encouraging the adoption of new technology to de-carbonise our energy production.

If we are going to spend giga pounds subsidising something, it should be something that has a genuinely useful role to play in providing more than a few percent of our total energy needs (not just electricity.)

I am not inherently anti-wind, but pro-nuclear. Consider that one plant, Hinckley C, will match or exceed the time averaged output of every single on- and off- shore turbine currently installed, and it will not require CCGT fossil fuel burning plant to sit idle awaiting windless days, and it will not tear up half our upland countryside with access roads, giant buried cement plinths and a myriad other problems.

Look at France - currently 87% of their electricity comes from nuclear - http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/france/ - it's possible with 30 year old reactor technology. It should be entirely possible to take advantage of everything we have learnt and developed in the last 30 years to build safer, cheaper, longer lasting reactors. I bet most of the population complaining about new nuclear don't even think about the decades old reactors in France, some of them will be closer to them than the ones in the north of England.

If the argument is that subsidy encourages technology development and drives its adoption against economic barriers, for the good of the future environment, then why would you not subsidise nuclear?

Take a look at this figure

http://www.withouthotair.com/c27/page_212.shtml

These are our options. The only one without coal or nuclear is "plan G", and that requires 120 times as much wind power as today. Given the current subsidy estimated at £100M/year earlier on this thread, you'd be talking about £12Bn/year, or enough to build a Hinckley C every year...

Otherwise you can eliminate nuclear only by running a lot of coal and trusting a good fraction of our energy security to large scale solar in the North African deserts. Nice, secure source of energy that.
Post edited at 12:17
Ridge - on 09 Jun 2014
In reply to Clint86:

> I've visited Traswfynndd and it was an eye opener seeing what was/is involved in dismantling it.

Trawsfynydd was one of the Magnox fleet, a late 1940s/early 1950s design for making bombs with a power sideline. Decommissioning hadn't been thought of at the time, and a modern design is far easier to deal with.

Barring massive tidal barrages that could, (I think), produce almost continually there's no current non fossil alternative to nuclear. Unfortunately it will still be horribly expensive, (the nuclear industry is firmly attached to the British taxpayer's tit), and the Govt still haven't made a decision on what to do with the high level waste or ever increasing plutonium stockpile.
yarbles - on 09 Jun 2014
In reply to muppetfilter:

> Ruin the landscape ... like the fracking alternative is better? A Turbine can be taken down in a single 12 hour shift, the plinth and roads will obviously take longer to remove .... how long will the after effects of Fracking last....

Wind is not a viable generator. It must co-operate with other forms of generation. When you see a wind farm that is only a part of the infrastructure required to produce the energy.

What wind must co-operate with is gas due to the relatively quick speed it can be ramped up and down to cope with the fluctuations in supply. More wind = more gas and therefore more incentive to frack.
Jim C - on 09 Jun 2014
In reply to Skip:
> (In reply to wintertree)
>
> [...]
>
> [...]
>
> Really! Wow i will never understand the anti-wind lobby. People moan about electricity prices and the fact they are paying for wind subsidies. Now you're claiming you're willing to pay even more to get nuclear.

He will be paying even more, the only difference is that when he pays more for Nuclear he will actually get the power guaranteed, and where when he wants it.

Wind, is also expensive , but we can't plan for it, and don't know if it will be ever available when it is needed.
Clint86 - on 09 Jun 2014
In reply to wintertree:

Thanks. Some good info from all!

I don't think we can say 'what we should have is....'. What we should have done is make the north sea oil last 10 times as long as we have!.....But we haven't!

Re using 20% less power. I am pretty sure we use a lot less than we did say 10 years ago. Haven't flown for 6 years, sold the car in December. Grow a lot of what we eat. Don't feel like we are missing out.
Scomuir on 09 Jun 2014
In reply to drmarten:

In principle, I'm for renewables, but there is a place for them. There are some turbines nearby, but another 7 are proposed within spitting distance of Glen Affric. Objections can be lodged until midnight tonight!

http://wam.highland.gov.uk/wam/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=N4W149IH09A00
ads.ukclimbing.com
wintertree - on 09 Jun 2014
In reply to Clint86:
> I don't think we can say 'what we should have is....'. What we should have done is make the north sea oil last 10 times as long as we have!.....But we haven't!

Yes we can, and we should be able to demand some accountability from government after government who have thoroughly and miserably failed to plan our energy plans - we're heading into crises both short and long term (1 million a year dying from air pollution now, an unstable grid in the UK within single digit years, long term climate change) and the short term crises were well understood 15 years ago. Identifying our failures from the last 15 years is a first step to not making them over the next 15.

> Re using 20% less power. I am pretty sure we use a lot less than we did say 10 years ago. Haven't flown for 6 years, sold the car in December. Grow a lot of what we eat. Don't feel like we are missing out.

I though it was 80%? We could have some backwards terminology here. 20% is likely achievable at an affordable price to society, 80% isn't. I've got rid of my car and generally try and reduce my dependance on fossil fuels, but I still rely on a society fuelled by it, and my plans for a nice, somewhat self sufficient, property in the hills can't be applied to the millions living in our cities in the same ways.
Post edited at 14:42
drmarten on 09 Jun 2014
In reply to Scomuir:

Although I think windfarms are a scam, I drove along the M8 today and into Fife, several small windfarms line the route and I don't have a problem with them in that landscape. But even Whitelee makes me uneasy (100 miles of tracks in place for 215 turbines?), who decides what landscape is or isn't suitable? Radio Scotland today had a short article about the Monaliadth windfarm - one commentator gave some perspective when she said that the 67 wind turbines were each the size of the London Eye.

Skip - on 09 Jun 2014
In reply to drmarten:

>who decides what landscape is or isn't suitable?

Sites with a good wind resource.
wintertree - on 09 Jun 2014
In reply to Skip:

> Sites with a good wind resource.

Pull the other one. Planning permission, amenable land owners (or otherwise), cost of connection to the national grid, interference with military radar and training areas, wind is one of many factors, and I am not sure it is all that important in the grand scheme of things.

If the quantity of wind decided sites, we'd be building them on summit plateau's or flying them up high on giant tethered wings. Some degree of aesthetic sense (mountains), cost of connection (mountains) and current feasibility (flying wings) exclude these sites with the best wind resource.

Moley on 09 Jun 2014
In reply to drmarten:

I'm not against windfarms as such but I am against some of the places they are being put.

I believe it is important to try and retain a few pieces of countryside that at least give the illusion of being "wild", that means places with no visible human interference. I'm really speaking for Wales as I don't know Scotland at all, but the Cambrian mountains hold our last remaining wilderness areas (the fact they failed to get national park status is criminal).

Somehow the whole business seems wrong with no consideration to the landscape and countryside and to some of us that matters. By all means go ahead and build the ruddy things if they work and are the future (highly debateable) but more care must be taken where they are built, currently it seems like a free for all driven by cash and profit.

For the record, I've never had a problem with nuclear power and always thought that the obvious answer, I would prefer to take my chances with nuclear than live in a country covered in wind turbines.
Jim C - on 09 Jun 2014
In reply to Moley:
I would prefer to take my chances with nuclear than live in a country covered in wind turbines.

You are already taking your chance with Nuclear, the French have a lot of them, and we had fall-out from Russia all these years back when Chernobyl went up, France is closer.
The new stations will be built to the French design and code.
Post edited at 18:46
Clint86 - on 09 Jun 2014
In reply to Moley:

Too many sheep to rank as wild places.
Moley on 09 Jun 2014
In reply to Clint86:

> Too many sheep to rank as wild places.

Agreed, hence my use of the word "illusion" of being wild. Best we have here so we should cling onto it.
Clint86 - on 10 Jun 2014
In reply to wintertree:

What do you mean 'demand accountability'? Thats meaningless. Governments get voted out if you don't like what they do. For example, if they promised to be the greenest government ever, and then proceed to appoint Owen Patterson as minister of environment. What else could you do that would bring them to account?
wintertree - on 10 Jun 2014
In reply to Clint86:
> What do you mean 'demand accountability'?

If we do reach the stage of brownouts or blackouts there should be a full public enquiry into how one of the most able nations on the planet got to such a sorry stage. One of the tasks would be to follow the money paid out in subsidies and look for correlations with the old boy network and lobbying...
Post edited at 08:26

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