/ Glen Etive hydro - the arguments..

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Richard Baynes - on 10 Mar 2019

My latest report and analysis: interested to hear opinions....

https://www.tgomagazine.co.uk/news/history-vs-hydro-power-in-glen-etive/

1
jonnie3430 - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to Richard Baynes:

Sorry, your pop up adds broke in and I couldn't get rid of them. What little I read, the bit about it being a test case for small scale hydro sounds untrue. There's loads of small scale schemes established in remoter places. Can you back this up?

Richard Baynes - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to jonnie3430:

Yeah not me saying it, read on ... test case of multiple new schemes in Wild Land areas. That’s what Andrew Baxter said.

jonnie3430 - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to Richard Baynes:

Can you post it here so I don't have to deal with the pop-up ads? They're really annoying.

I'm pretty sure UKC isn't a fan of posts just linking to another website either.

Richard Baynes - on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to jonnie3430:

Nah it’s copyright ... Not getting popups here. If anyone else has a big prob can check with site.

4
Andy Johnson on 10 Mar 2019
In reply to Richard Baynes:

A good, balanced article I though, and well written. I haven't changed my mind about this particular scheme (I'm against it), and I know that wasn't the purpose of the article, but the points about keeping the estate viable and smaller benefits to the community were well-made.

I didn't get any pop-ups (Firefox on Windows).

wbo - on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to Richard Baynes: your first sentence states there are seven hydro electric schemes planned for Glen Drive but the article says different?

Tringa on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to wbo:

A difficult one. If we are to move away from fossil fuels we need something else and I don't know what the answer is.

However, I'd like government to do one of two things.

Say

1. we designated some places as Wild Area Land (same applies to SSSIs too) because that is what we wanted them to be so they are not to be touched, or

2. we designated some places as Wild Area Land (same applies to SSSIs too) so people will think we are looking after the environment be really its just window dressing and these areas are as open for development as anywhere else.

Dave

Rog Wilko on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to wbo:

Glen Drive?

summo on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to Tringa:

> 1. we designated some places as Wild Area Land (same applies to SSSIs too) because that is what we wanted them to be so they are not to be touched, or

> 2. we designated some places as Wild Area Land (same applies to SSSIs too) so people will think we are looking after the environment be really its just window dressing and these areas are as open for development as anywhere else.

Wild areas are not designated because they are species diverse, rich habits etc.. It's because in the case of etive they look how we feel wild places should look. Rocky mountainous, uninhabited  etc.  It's an artificial labelling of sorts. 

They aren't sssi and might never be. But some may also contain sssi areas too. They are though completely independent schemes and statuses.

Planting trees etc.  to screen the hydro facilities, fencing out the over grazers etc.. will likely increase species diversity and make it wilder, but not the kind of barren wild many seem to hold in the highest esteem. 

galpinos on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to Richard Baynes:

Unless I missed it there was nothing about quantities of electricity would be produced by the schemes. With any scheme like this I believe there is a "pay-off" calculation to be done, what is the "harm" to the local area compared to the benefit these give? Are they going to produce enough electricity to power Glencoe village, or the ski resort, or the Kinghouse for example?

The £35k seem quite small compared to the £15million investment which implies quite high revenues.

wbo - on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to Rog Wilko:uff auto correct

Edited as I have reread article and was talking nonsense

Post edited at 11:31
fifthsunset - on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to Richard Baynes:

The pop up ad on that page just loud whispered "SHOWER AND SHAVE" in a creepy voice to a room full of my colleagues. Wasn't a fan of that. 

Coel Hellier - on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to jonnie3430:

> There's loads of small scale schemes established in remoter places.

Can anyone point to photos of how such schemes look, after a couple of years for the vegetation to recover?

Coel Hellier - on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to Tringa:

> If we are to move away from fossil fuels we need something else and I don't know what the answer is.

The only sensible answer -- the only one able to produce power on a big enough scale to make a difference, and to do it reliably and reasonably cleanly -- is nuclear. 

1
jonnie3430 - on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

NH 481733 is probably the oldest I know, which supplies power to wyvis lodge. There's a new one in glen Cannich at NH252331(see it on Google maps with messy fresh road,) and another at the back of Monar Lodge at NH202403. Glen Affric is an interesting one with 2 new small hydro schemes. One new  dam about NH199257, not sure where the power house is. And a new powerhouse about NH180223.  There was a huge mess while it was being constructed, but they should be tidying now.

For an old tidy example, the dam at NG855287 is hydro, you can see the pipe running south. The new ones have buried pipes so you won't even see that. The track south of loch Orrin is a hydro one that has a pipe next to it from about NH390497 to see how tracks age.

Walk Highlands are being naive in describing the affric construction site as havoc, they all are, it's what it looks like after that counts.

Totally agree about nuclear being the future, but we've got rid of our design ability, which is crazy and have to pay top dollar to Chinese and French to build ours, and they're scared in case we copy Germany and turn it all off. I don't think the UK populace is for it, they hear nuclear and think "bad."

Until then, and even then, I'm in favour of small scale renewables, the impact of these will be minimal, I don't even see how paddling the Etive is affected, and all the stories about destruction is hype, the glen will not be destroyed. There will be a messy construction site then it will blend in.

Richard Baynes - on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to wbo:

There are seven. Four are approved, and three have been recalled by The councillor.

Richard Baynes - on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to galpinos:

Yes I maybe shd have gone into outputs, but the developer says significant and others say not. Will root out some figures.

R

daftdazza - on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to jonnie3430:

You need to look at small scale hydro in overall strategy to reduce carbon emissions.  Scotland already produces at least 85% of its domestic energy use from clean sources, and upscaling current small scale hydro production will likely never take us much above 85% but add a bit more to energy bills.

I think the next aim off the government should be to reduce emissions from transport.  I think the cost associated with reduced emissions from transport will derive the maximum good for society.  Reducing car use in cities through congestion charging, parking reductions and taxation on parking, combined with more cycle infrastructure and investment in public transport will help transform cities making them more livable, reducing deaths from air pollution, reducing cardio respiratory disease, cancer rates, kids will be more likely to play on streets, walk or cycle to school and generally improve population health.  Such schemes may cost more than subsidies on small hydro, but will provide a degree of benefit to society where more hydro scheme will provide negible benefits.

Annual global energy demand has been outstrip annual growth in renewables by about a factor of 5 to 1, the world is taken no action on climate change, and we are looking at 4 degree warming plus by the end of the century.  It's is correct that as a society we do something, and Scotland has tried, achieving nearly 90% of domestic energy use from green source.  But with the world doing nothing we should concentrate on doing what we can that derives maximum benefit to people living here, even better if it helps mitigate effects of climate change. reduction of urban air pollution and changing upland management to reduce down stream flooding should be priority, both reduce C02 emissions but also help society.

We also could look at energy efficiency, how many tenement flats in our cities have single glazing?  So many more cost effect ways to reduce co2. Reduced consumption would have so many benefits to society, some easy fixes, but a meaningful global carbon consumption tax would ultimately be required.

jonnie3430 - on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to daftdazza:

I was at an IET presentation by Green highland renewables in Inverness a few weeks ago, they reckon the subsidy is so low there won't be more small hydro in Scotland until it goes up (not sure what's happening with loch a'bhraoin,) and they're looking at overseas work instead, which sounds great; Scottish expertise used for installing renewables overseas where a bigger impact may be had.

Totally agree on cycle infrastructure and improving "public," (but privately owned,) transport. The latter needs cost cutting to get folks away from cars.

Tringa on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to summo:

> Wild areas are not designated because they are species diverse, rich habits etc.. It's because in the case of etive they look how we feel wild places should look. Rocky mountainous, uninhabited  etc.  It's an artificial labelling of sorts. 

> They aren't sssi and might never be. But some may also contain sssi areas too. They are though completely independent schemes and statuses.

> Planting trees etc.  to screen the hydro facilities, fencing out the over grazers etc.. will likely increase species diversity and make it wilder, but not the kind of barren wild many seem to hold in the highest esteem. 


I wasn't suggesting Wild Area were in some way connected/similar to SSSI's just that both designations suggest a certain importance, one for species diversity, richness and/or biological importance, the other for the importance of landscape.

Unfortunately both seem, and this is just my perception, to suffer in the same way - the designations can and have been overridden.

As said it is a difficult one. 

Dave   

Tringa on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> The only sensible answer -- the only one able to produce power on a big enough scale to make a difference, and to do it reliably and reasonably cleanly -- is nuclear. 


I agree. Unfortunately to do it well costs a lot and the lead in time is possibly so long that it might be too late to get stations on stream in time to meet the targets.

Dave

daftdazza - on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to Tringa:

It's likely already too late to meet the 2 degree target, and certainly too late to meet the 1.5 degree target.  Nuclear is the only real option for the world.   Any solution to climate change is likely to be extremely expensive, but nuclear, combined with big solar farms in Africa etc, is likely best option to make a start. 

Reality is renewables alone will never meet current global energy demand. Nuclear must play the biggest part in reducing global emmision.   But a move away from economic growth, big reduction of energy use and consumption is only real solution, and we have not even reached peak emissions yet, that all suggest that no meanful action will be taken globally over next few decades, maybe attitudes will change if consequences starting becoming more severe and apparent.

Jim Fraser - on 11 Mar 2019
In reply to Richard Baynes:

If you speak to the old boys; the few of the engineering guys who built big hydro that are still around; their heads are full of catchment area calcs and turbine efficiencies. In a few easy calculations they'll tell you what is economically viable. Other than pump storage, the truly worthwhile catchments were all developed decades ago. Only by introducing subsidy have we had this spurt in further development. But this is not a developing technology. It is a very mature technology and we know in great detail how it will work. So this is not wind, wave and tide that need injections of subsidy to carry the R&D forward to a mature level. 

A few estate level projects may have ongoing viability but I expect they will be few and far between. So I worry that at the flick of a treasury minister's switch there may be small hydro projects that just become litter on a hill-side. 

2
summo on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to Jim Fraser:

But compared to say 30 or 40 years ago mass production may have made them cheaper; other small scale options like Archimedes screws exist. The cost of electricity isn't static either. But yes calculations can be done. 

Plus the main goal isn't cheap power, it's to stop producing power by methods that aren't indirectly killing us, so it's highly likely if you want green energy it is going to cost everyone on the planet more. 

jonnie3430 - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to Jim Fraser:

> If you speak to the old boys; the few of the engineering guys who built big hydro that are still around; their heads are full of catchment area calcs and turbine efficiencies. In a few easy calculations they'll tell you what is economically viable. 

So you think the engineers that scoped and designed these schemes didn't do the same calculations? That the investors didn't satisfy themselves that the projects are economically viable? No one throws money away (in private world,) there is more assurance for these than the old, big hydro. 

Eric9Points - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to galpinos:

> Unless I missed it there was nothing about quantities of electricity would be produced by the schemes. With any scheme like this I believe there is a "pay-off" calculation to be done, what is the "harm" to the local area compared to the benefit these give? Are they going to produce enough electricity to power Glencoe village, or the ski resort, or the Kinghouse for example?

About 2MW per scheme so 28MW. The income comes from subsidies so we end up paying estate owners to generate a paltry amount of electricity.

gravy - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

"reasonably cleanly" - hmmm and those reasonably clean sites like Sellafield  don't look like they are a bit of an environmental problem for the next few millennia? and perhaps you missed out on "reasonably cheap" or "reasonably safe"?

5
Coel Hellier - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to gravy:

> reasonably cleanly" - hmmm and those reasonably clean sites like Sellafield  don't look like they are a bit of an environmental problem for the next few millennia?

Yes, "reasonably clean", not perfectly so, but cleaner than the alternatives.

> ... and perhaps you missed out on "reasonably cheap" or "reasonably safe"?

Yes, "reasonably cheap", generally cheaper than renewables.    (Not as cheap is just digging up fossil fuels and burning them, but cheaper than most other things.)

And yes, reasonably safe", not perfectly safe but safer than all the other alternatives. 

Coel Hellier - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to jonnie3430:

> That the investors didn't satisfy themselves that the projects are economically viable?

... or viable given subsidies. 

dh73 - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to Richard Baynes:

the photo of the dam in the article does not show a particularly attractive feature. can the dams not be clad or made of more visually attractive material? that may make a big difference. still a lot better than electric mountain in Snowdonia though!

jonnie3430 - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> ... or viable given subsidies. 

Yes, with subsidies to make them viable compared to fossil fuel.

galpinos on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> Yes, "reasonably cheap", generally cheaper than renewables.    (Not as cheap is just digging up fossil fuels and burning them, but cheaper than most other things.)

Do you have any numbers for this? Horizon Strike price was £77.5 per MWh and folded, Hinckley C is £92.5, PV solar is between £50-55 and offshore wind is £57.5

Add in wind power subsidies run for 15yrs, nuclear for 35yrs, decommissioning and waste management costs become a public finance cross to bear etc and the renewable sector is not in that bad shape?

(I know this thread is about small scale hydro but my numbers are for large scale renewables, comparable to large scale nuclear)

Coel Hellier - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to galpinos:

> Do you have any numbers for this?

Current nuclear costs (e.g. Hinckley C) are large because they are one-off builds, and the government is expecting the private company to take on all the financial risk (private shareholders really don't like long-term financial risk), and there are few companies with the ability to do it since few Western countries are ordering nuclear-power plants.

If the government decided to build 20 nuclear plants, and took on the financial risk, then it would cost less than renewables that would deliver the same amount of power (and do it at vastly less environmental impact). 

And something like 20 new nuclear-power plants in the next decade is roughly what we need to be doing if we're serious about CO2 emissions. 

Harry Jarvis - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> If the government decided to build 20 nuclear plants, and took on the financial risk, then it would cost less than renewables that would deliver the same amount of power (and do it at vastly less environmental impact). 

However, in the real world ...

2
summo on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to Coel Hellier:

> And something like 20 new nuclear-power plants in the next decade is roughly what we need to be doing if we're serious about CO2 emissions. 

Or just use the cost of 1 power station to subsidise the cost of all home insulation products. Plus fund the modernisation of all public buildings. In the southern half of the uk, heating costs in a well insulated building should be absolute minimal. Add in solar panels on all appropriate facing state buildings. 

If you don't consume so much electricity, then there is no debate on how to produce it. Although I think too little consideration is given to electric vehicle demands in 20 years time.

Harry Jarvis - on 12 Mar 2019
In reply to summo:

> Or just use the cost of 1 power station to subsidise the cost of all home insulation products. Plus fund the modernisation of all public buildings. In the southern half of the uk, heating costs in a well insulated building should be absolute minimal. Add in solar panels on all appropriate facing state buildings. 

Absolutely right. It is a woefully misguided energy policy that puts so much attention on generation, and so little on reduction of demand. Our waste of energy is scandalous. And it occurred to me that the Government, through its Right to Buy scheme is in a perfect position to demand suitable changes in the housing market - only allow Right to Buy for houses which meet the highest possible energy standards. Building very low energy housing is not difficult. 


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