Thursday, July 16, 2009

Survived gale force winds.

Was a speaker at the British Wind Energy Association Conference in Cardiff this morning. Good turnout. A well informed audience. Fellow Panellists were Rhodri Glyn Thomas for Plaid Cymru, Alun Davies for Labour and Mick Bates for the Lib Dems. Notionally, I was speaking for the Conservatives, but I felt more a representative for the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales. Here's some of the issues raised.

In my five minute opening slot, I launched into the TAN 8 document, published by the Assembly Government in 2005 - describing it as an assault on local democracy, as counter productive in that it antagonises local planning authorities, as enshrining the principle of 'cumulative impact' in the planning process, as being far to focused on a single form of renewable energy, and being totally unachievable in Mid Wales because there will be no capacity to transfer the power generated to the National Grid until 2016. To me its clear that TAN 8 has been a disaster, and needs to be redrafted. Must admit I was expecting some stick, but I didn't get any - and over coffee I was surprised to hear quite a lot of support.

Rhodri Glyn must have been living on another planet for the last year or so. He seemed to think the choice facing us is nuclear power or onshore wind farms. Such idealism is entirely appropriate for a man of the cloth who believes that faith and prayer can deliver the impossible. Mick Bates took the same line. Alun Davies agreed with my view that the issue has already been decided, and the UK Government is now totally committed to building more nuclear power generation. Interestingly, Ieuan Wyn Jones, leader of Rhodri's party agrees with Alun and me on this. Didn't seem to bother Rhodri at all when this was pointed out.

Mick made one of those arm waving speeches of his that I find a bit difficult to follow. He was boasting about how proud he is of the stance Liberal Democrats take in support of wind farms (in response to a question about off shore wind). Couldn't help it. Had to point out that in Montgomeryshire, the MP he shares an office with publicly disagrees with almost every word he said today. Someone else pointed out that his Assembly colleague, Peter Black vehemently opposed the off shore proposal near Porthcawl some years ago as well. I won't embarrass Mick by repeating what he said - except to report that it was not very complimentary about either of his supposed colleagues. De-mob happy I reckon. But fair play to Mick. On this issue he's been consistent for a while now.

It looked a good professional conference. Would like to have stayed longer, but wanted to be back in Newtown by 2.00 for a Montg. Wildlife Trust meeting.


flatho said...

Just a thought - but with all this wind farm stuff, what does it really mean?

Will anything really change? Can someone somewhere explain what impact in % terms that wind farms will have on changing the weather.

I don't see the correlation.

The amount of carbon is essentially constant.

When the equilibrium of carbon dioxide moves one way, nature will tend to push it the other way. More carbon dioxide, more plant growth, more plant growth, more food. More food, less starvation.

If carbon dioxide is such a killer then how come Brits and everyone else is happy to buy goods delivered from the far east via unregulated (pollution wise) mega-size ships burning dirty fuel oil?

China and India are mining more coal to build more coal fired powerstations to power the factories that produce the goods we want which are then transported over thousands of miles on mega-size air-polluters/ships.

Shouldn't we just cap imports from China and the far east if we want to save the planet?

Build nuke power stations to power electric cars?

Anonymous said...

I wonder whether Mick Bates backs Lembit "look at me" Opik's latest cause - the fight against size zero models. It's of such relevance to Montgomeryshire.........When is our joke of an MP going to start backing a cause that actually counts in his constituency?????

Peter Black said...

As Mick understands, just because you support wind farms does not mean that you support them everywhere. I am in favour of social housing but I would not build that a mile off shore of Porthcawl either. Too many problems with damp I suspect.

Anonymous said...

Not so long ago Lembit Opik supported wind farms. Has he done a turn-about on this, just like fox hunting, because he can see he would lose votes otherwise?
I suggest you check out LO's statements re wind farms from a couple of years back.
I also pose the question, is he narked by Sian Lloyd's anti wind farms comments?

consdian said...

Not meaning to deflate anyone's ballooon, but the British Wind Energy Association's arguments are at tipping point - between 'ill conceived' and 'obsolete'.

Doesn't the BWEA 'read the newspapers'? More specifically, doesn't anyone at BWEA read "C&EN" (Chemical & Engineering News) - well they should. The July 6 edition has a great article explaining "BIOMASS CHEMISTRY".

Essentially a review on the latest advances in transforming plant matter into valuable products. There's a huge amount of untapped chemical energy in regular plant material.

The technology is now moving so fast we can expect a whole new carbon neutral industry that will likely deliver HUGE quantities of organic material to reduce the importance of, e.g., oil as a feedstock.

Bush talked about cellulosic ethanol, but the latest developments in BIOMASS CHEMISTRY go well beyond 'ce'.

It is such a pity that those so keen to blight Welsh countryside in the name of PC when in fact chemisty is on the verge of applying breakthrough technologies that will essentially undermine the need for wind energy.

Don't forget that one of the reasons why wind energy is touted so much is because it will reduce the west's reliance on hydrocarbons from the Middle East.

Well, BC - biomass chemistry is coming to you hoo hoo who. "Is calling you, who who who". Or some such verbage.

Bah humbug. It's time to understand that the fuddy duddy premise behind wind power is crumbling. It's "Biomass time" ... or 'party time', but it ain't 'Windy Time" not even in my old town of Chicago.

Get a grip windy people - biomass chemistry is about to flatten your faces.

'Too much into Harry Potter if you ask me' - they are not keeping up with 'the news'. Chemical biomass news.

Jeff Jones said...

I was interested in your comments about TAN 8 and democracy. Democracy obviously didn't apply when a group of AMs decided to over rule the professional and independent judgement of a planning inspector in the case of the Porthcawl off shore wind farm. At great public expense a public inquiry was held into the planning application. The application was opposed by the local Council although Bridgend's 'brilliant' planning department had no objections. With the Cabinet Member for the Environment refusing to go to the inquiry because he did not feel confident to face the applicant's barrister after being mauled in another inquiry the task of opposing the application fell into my lap as the then Leader of the Council. If you wonder how I managed to get around the question of how planning offciers supported the application and councillors didn't .That was simple. As I explained to United Utilities's barrister both he and I had degrees worth having. In his case law and in mine history. The average planner on the other hand was just a superannuated geographer at a loose end. Even the inspector laughed at that. We were surprised when the inspector refused the application but this surprise turned to anger when his decision was over turned by Assembly members with no connection or interest in the area. Sadly this decision didn't help the reputation or standing of the Assembly particularly in Porthcawl. Ironically despite having planning permission construction on the wind farm still has not even started.

Anonymous said...

It is a well-used falacy that we face a choice between wind or nuclear, and wouldn't everybody prefer graceful windmills to glowing atomic monsters..... well yes, if the choice was BETWEEN the two, but it isn't. You will get BOTH! Wind alone cannot generate our electricity needs. Not only does it not blow 100% of the time, but even if it did - there will still be a massive shortfall, as well as the line loss factor transporting this power to the grid in the East. No, we must look at genuine workable alternatives!

penlan said...

Our energy policy is a total mess.No poltician wants to make an anti-green decision,but with the present capacity nearing retirement and the green alternatives undeveloped/inadequate/unproved ,firm decisions are being shelved.This cannot go on.Miliband minor talks of new coal fired power stations with carbon capture as if the large scale technology is already available.He's even worse than his brother.

If we are to have some green energy then lets get on with a Severn barrage now.Even then,it will be years before it starts producing power.

inite said...

"A well informed audience."

So - what did they have to say about the progress in in 'Biomass Chemistry' - anything at all?

Not even a little tid-bit?

Hmmmm ... and we are supposed to bow down to their 'greater' knowledge.


frankie said...

What you said about the meeting Glyn, gave me some encouragement that perhaps the scales are at last falling from some of the wind supporters eyes.

I find it incomprehensible that Mick is still supporting the fatuous argument between wind and nuclear being an "either or". Surely AMs should be educating themselves about the facts before spouting off on a public platform?

One of the things about the proliferation of these monsters on our hillsides that upsets me most, is that the whole business has been far from democratic, and local views and councils opinions have been steam rollered.

Anonymous said...

Where does wannabe showbiz man Lembit Opik stand on wind farms? I am totally confused

Anonymous said...

-> too many souls needing a decent cooked breakfast are pretty much ignorant of the many alternatives. In fact most PC greens don't even know why there are volcanoes, why there are huge natural releases of CO2 into the atmosphere - limestone after all thermally decomposes to carbon dioxide and CaO (the stuff that Romans used as an 'ingredient' to make cement mortar); they heated up limestone to get CaO but with concommitant release of CO2 (by heating 'rock' of CaCO3 - calcium carbonate) ... when rock containing CaCO3 or any carbonate is pushed down into the earth it will naturally generate CO2 - which is vented at some point via volcanic vents or land based volcanoes).

Yes, it's not wind or nuclear, but should be a combination of different technolgies, but putting up MEGA tall wind-turbines in pretty countryside will harm Wales.

Anyways/milliways, are we forgetting that the aim is to reduce CO2 output.

So biomass chemistry is somewhat like nuclear energy in that it is not a great net producer of CO2.

Because we are essentially putting carbon from a renewable resource to make hydrocarbons as feedstock(s) thus displacing our reliance on hydrocarbon imports - which are not CO2 neutral in the sense that the imported hydrocarbons are from deep reserves under ground where the carbon is sequesterd/partitioned from the carbon cycle at least in the mid to long term absent human interventino pumping them out of the ground.

But plants are on the surface, and their lignocellulose (made up of three main 'ingredients': cellulose (35-50%), hemicellulose (23-32%), and lignin (15-30%)) forms part of the 'immediate' carbon cycle and so we can exploit plant material (preferably not the bits we eat) without worrying too much about releasing CO2. Anyways/milliways, the Le Chatlier principle will work to fix the released CO2 back into yes, you guessed it, plant material. It's a nice self renewing loop that we, as mankind, can tap into.

codenti said...

"Carbon Capture" would be less of an issue when 'biomass chemistry' gets going - stop thinking just wind-turbine or nuclear or carbon what's it. Broaden your horizons to include 'green chemistry' - 'biomass chemistry' ... feel the new wind of change.

ousee said...

Footnote: some of the underground deposits of oil do leak to the surface, that's how oil was first discovered and exploited. There are recorded instances of oil coming in from the sea from natural venting from the sea bed. I seem to recall an article or two about the problem off California's (CA) coastline.

Btw, the US primary source of crude oil is not from the Middle East, but from Canada. Last time I looked up the data it was, in order of quantity of imports of oil into the USA: Canada, Mexico/Saudi, Venezuela and then Iraq.