Friday, January 08, 2010

Offshore Wind Turbines.

Had calls from BBC Radio Wales and Radio Cymru this morning, inviting me on to discuss the Westminster Government's announcement of two massive new wind farm developments off the coast of Wales. They are part of a wider scheme, worth £100 billion to construct wind farms off the coast of Britain. It was assumed that I would be opposed to them. But I'm not - in principle anyway. Must admit that I'm not sure how this squares with my position as president of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales. We can't be opposed to everything! I'm not a supporter of onshore turbines, mainly because of the damage they inflict on our very special landscapes, but I've never been opposed to offshore turbines. This is not a 'green light' opinion, because there is the matter of how dominant they are on the views from land, and what developments are needed to connect to the Grid. Anyway, I was immediately dropped as a guest from both programmes. Don't know who took my place to duel with Llewelyn Rhys.

The second reason that I'm opposed to onshore wind turbines is that they need shedfuls of taxpayer's money to make the things profitable. This consideration could apply to the offshore proposals announced today as well. And there's the cost of creating a National Grid capable of handling the highest levels of production. These wind farms may never come to pass. I remember the huge row over the Scarweather Sands proposal, just off the coast at Porthcawl a few years ago. The application was approved after a monster row, but were then scrapped because the cost of materials increased suddenly, and rendered the scheme uneconomic.

Problem with anything the Prime Minister says at present is that he cares nothing about value-for-money. All he seems to care about is how it looks to voters during the next 17 weeks. Comments are welcome - especially from anyone who happened to hear Post Cynta or the Radio Wales Phone-in today. Tell me what I missed.


Helen said...

I didn't hear Post Cynta or Radio Wales, but did hear David Cameron on the Welsh News, and was pleased to hear his views on offshore wind farms, and the use of hydro etc, at least he doesn't seem hell bent on covering every mountain in Wales with these useless, hideous monstrsities.
Anyone who thinks that wind energy is efficient should read a book called The Wind Farm Scam by John Etherington. In the Introduction there's a quote "He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense."(John McCarthy, computer pioneer Stanford University) I wonder if he's met Mick Bates?

Anonymous said...

How quickly have the turbines been spining these has few days while the energy demand has been at it's highest ?

Glyn Davies said...

Helen - One issue that is becoming interesting is the time its taking National Grid to tell us what is happening with the proposed 400 kv line from Ironbridge to Carno/Llandinam/Abermule/? Now these really will be hideous monstosities.

Anon - When the wind don't blow, the blades don't turn.

alanindyfed said...

From a vantage point near my home in Ireland I can see two hills surmounted by wind turbines, 7 on one and 5 on another. I don't see them as hideous monstrosities and they are just part of the landscape these days. It makes sense to use alternative sources of energy rather than rely on dirty coal power stations or nuclear power stations(monstrosities?)!

Glyn Davies said...

Alan - If these wind turbines eliminated the need for nuclear power stations, you would have a point - but they don't. For years the UK Government tried to pretend that this was the case, and in the end descended into panic, emasculated the planning system and went hell bent for nuclear power.

alanindyfed said...

I know that, but they have not solved the problem of radioactive waste which I'm told stays around for 25,000 years. It would seem that "clean coal" is the answer if the technology is there and if it is affordable.

Helen said...

Glyn you are so right, and I think that people living along this proposed line need to wake up and make themselves heard now, it'll be too late to complain when there's a gigantic pylon at the bottom of their garden, ruining their views,maybe affecting their health and rendering their property worthless!
As for alunindyfed who is lucky enough to only be looking at a total of 12 turbines, which he doesn't consider as hideous or monstrosities, would he still feel the same if he was looking at hundreds, which is what could happen here in Mid-Wales.As for them being an alternative source of energy, they're not, wind power simply supplies bulk MWh when the wind is available, unrelated to night and day variation in demand, or peak demands caused by such weather conditions as we are experiencing now.
We don't have to rely on dirty coal power stations as you mention, Finland and France are currently building 1,600MW nuclear stations of the AREVA EPR pressurized water design?!

Anonymous said...

Clean coal is an oxymoron, you are still burning carbon just more efficiently, the product of oxidation of carbon is still carbon dioxide.

Alan in Dyfed, good for you going against the trend and being in favour of windfarms.

Helen - Nuclear Power, yes please.

Anonymous said...

Anon (06:16:00)> to be fair, when coal is burned 'you' just don't get carbon dioxide, so clean coal technology is not an oxymoron per se! But I do question the overal usefulness of clean coal technology vis-à-vis oil derived from tar sands or new dirty coal fired power stations being built at a phenomenal rate, for example in India. Has anyone noticed that Wales has given up on much of its coal field and we still have 'global warming', that the UK has burnt up a chunk of North Sea natural gas in British power stations - yet we still have a 'global warming' issue. Frankly, given the rate at which China and India now pollute whatever we do in Wales is less than a drop in the bucket. More cars are now in China than in the USA. I dare say that China will surpass every other country in the number of cars on its roads, and China uses the dirtiest ship engines in the world to deliver goods to our shores, much of these goods bought by the same people who complain about 'dirty coal power stations' - China has LOTS more of them than Wales! Nearly 70% of electricity in China is generated in dirty coal fired power stations.

Ian Titherington said...

I do not support nuclear and would want to see all options taken to avoid it. However, it may be an option of last resort if renewables and conservation are not taken more seriously. Labour have dragged their feet over the development of tidal power projects and I suspect that this week's offshore wind announcement is more spin than substance (although I hope I am wrong).

Clean coal is still to be proven and despite all the letters and comments from Dr Etherington and co, wind energy is still the best renewable option that can be developed today. This is according to organisations like the Institution of Civil Engineers and not just the usual suspects.

If the Tories do win the British election in May, I hope that they show a bit more committment to renewables than Labour.

Anon of 11:52:00 PM said...

Sorry, missed out "sold" in: "More cars are now in China than in the USA", which therefore should have read: "More cars are now sold in China than in the USA."

trappel said...

"... it may be an option of last resort if renewables and conservation are not taken more seriously"

It already is, perhaps you are not keeping up with the news. Gordon Brown's party is now in a dash for nuclear power to avoid the lights going out.

It's finally dawned on the powers that be that wind energy has serious problems; we need to keep a high load base on-line because conversion of wind-energy to electrical energy is weather dependent. In contrast, tidal or water-energy is very predictable - we know beforehand when the tides are coming in/going out, so we can plan far more easily using water-power. But there is always an environmental/eco-system cost using water-power. Far more impact on eco-systems than nuke power.

I'm not sure why people are so put off by nuclear power - yes, there are storage issues - but hey, the core of our planet is radio-active - evidence for this is abundant, e.g., the Earth's core is molten from heat from nuclear fission events. It's why Lord Kelvin miscalculated the age of the Earth - the reason why the Earth is still hot inside. Canada has a huge nuke power facility - and incidentally has more oil trapped underground than the Middle East - just that it's more costly to extract, but hey, they are extracting it now, and guess who is buying it. Enough oil to power the world for 100+ years - same goes with unconventional methane gas deposits - new technology means Europe can think about reducing its reliance on Russian natural gas.

Nuclear power is no threat to the Earth or life on Earth per se. Sure, Mankind can suffer - but nature and life just goes on creating new species, adapting to new circumstances, and even rebuilds eco-systems around nuke reactors that have blown up and released radio-active fallout.

Anyway, this argument is essentially moot. China is in the process of building a vast number of nuclear power plants.

alanindyfed said...

Scientists find new leukemia gene risk factors

Glyn Davies said...

Alan - You are right. The supposed solution to the waste problem is deep burial, but its expected that it will take decades until a site is ready - but it makes no difference to the debate. The Government is going ahead at full speed, as we type.

Helen - I fear that the decision about the 400 kv line has already been taken - though National Grid seems a bit reluctant to tell us anything about it at present.
I'm not sure about the new types of nuclear power stations in Finland. Last I heard they were behind schedule and way over budget. I need to do some research on this.

Anon - Whaty makes you think Alan is against the trend? Most meetings I've been at where a vote has been taken, its gone in favour of the wind turbines - except for a big meeting in Welshpool when it went the other way big-time.

Anon 2 - You are right. What we do in the UK is insignificant in the great scheme of things - but I still believe the UK has international influence which will only be taken seriously if we 'walk the walk' ourselves.

Ian - You may not like nuclear power, but its too late. I didn't support it either until it became too late - several years ago. I agree with you that we have been too slow in developing energy from tidal power.

Anonymous said...

Quite right Glyn:

"....What we do in the UK is insignificant in the great scheme of things - but I still believe the UK has international influence which will only be taken seriously if we 'walk the walk' ourselves."

Global warming by vertue of CO2 emissions isn't going to go away because we choose to ignore it. It is a real threat to the whole planet.

ststd said...

"Global warming by virtue {sic} of CO2 emissions isn't going to go away because we choose to ignore it. It is a real threat to the whole planet."

Anon (Mon Jan 11, 11:52:00 AM)> Sorry, but you are factually incorrect, CO2 emissions are not a threat to the whole planet - far from it. Plant growth will increase (application of Le Chatelier's Principle) and there are MEGA tons of organisms that don't care about CO2 level. It's an issue for us because we worry about it, but quite frankly, the Earth generates huge amounts of CO2 itself (what do you think happens when layers of CaCO3 laden rock is rendered molten? Why is CO2 emitted in VAST quantities from volcanic vents - don't you see an obvious connection? Global statements like: "CO2 will destroy the earth" or "Global warming threatens all life on the planet" are factually incorrect on their face - why? Because the Earth has been a lot hotter than it is now and yet the Earth was abundant with life.

For evidence look at Chernobyl, just a few years ago a nuke reactor there blew up and released radio-active clouds yet the area is TEAMING with life, animal and plant life. Look at former sterile islands (of volcanic origin) - they are teaming with life. The forces of nature are way beyond anything we can do - we (mankind) can hurt ourselves for sure, but we don't have the capacity to destroy life on the Earth.