Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Alternatives to Onshore Wind

For 7 years I have opposed the desecration of mid Wales by wind turbines, and the horrible infrastructure needed to support them. The appalling threat remains, though I do think some in Government are beginning to understand just what madness it is. But opposition, no matter how ferocious is not enough to win on its own. The Coalition Gov't is (rightly in my opinion) committed to reducing carbon emissions, and (wrongly in my opinion) see onshore wind turbines as the way to achieve it.. Opponents of onshore wind have a responsibility to encourage alternatives.

The main argument has been about nuclear energy. This debate is over. There is widespread agreement that a new generation of nuclear power stations is inevitable. Government has given them the green light. It may be that there will be an energy gap as we approach 2020, but I suspect this is much exaggerated, particularly since the economy is unlikely to return to significant growth for a while yet. Whatever, the debate about nuclear is over. Its going to happen.

But what else. Not enough to look at solar, biomass, aerobic digestion or micro generation etc. They must all be supported, but they are not going to make a huge difference. The 'Green Deal' is a great idea, which I greatly support - but there's a bit to go until we can be confident it will be a game changer.

Which brings me to 'tidal' and 'shale gas'. There seems to be renewed interest in a Severn Barrage, which would produce about 5% of the UK's needs. Its early days, but we should be giving every support to Corlan Hafren which is 'rumoured' to be working on a scheme. Such a scheme will not be popular because of the inevitable disruption and dislocation it will cause. Many years ago I was opposed (as I was to nuclear power) but its not possible to support carbon reduction as a principle without accepting there are consequences. There has also been disappointing progress on the development of lagoons. Gov'ts have been content to stick up a few wind mills so that it looks as if they are doing something, while spinning us into an energy disaster.

And so little urgency is being invested in shale gas, which has so transformed the energy market in the US, that there is prospects of it being exported. Of course we have to establish that 'fracking' does not lead to damaging subsidence - but there is just no urgency. If as much effort had gone into developing energy alternatives, as has gone into forcing destruction on rural Britain with wind farms, we would not have a Secretary of State at DECC wanting to destroy the mid Wales that we know and love.


mairede thomas said...

Fossil fuels can only ever be a short term answer (said with my idealist hat on) so for reliable energy its got to be tidal, solar and (possibly) fusion. Can we persuade our Sec. of State to go out into the big wide world and try to get agreement for some decent funding and research, on an international basis, for these 3 nascent technologies.

Anonymous said...

I work in the United States, we are awash with methane gas so much so deals have already been struck to export this hydrocarbon to the UK; so while the UK drags its feet claiming ‘this, that and the other thing’ about 'shale gas', some of it will probably be imported through the natural gas terminal in south west Wales and thence across Wales to England through a large diameter bore pipe that was recently laid down across South Wales. cw

Anonymous said...

M. Thomas> actually no, the US reserves of natural gas are ENORMOUS and so we don't need to worry about methane shortfalls in our lifetime. Even solar will run out at some point, but we don't need to be worried about that. And we forget so easily that other energy technologies are on the horizon such as turning natural cellulose into energy fuels. There is an abundant supply for natural cellulose, we can't exhaust it as it is naturally renewable and derives its energy from the sun, which isn't going to blow up anytime soon. Fusion is still a long shot due to technical issues and will for the foreseeable future remain a very expensive technology and the UK would be better off spending its research budgets on other things connected to boosting the UK economy in the shorter term - to boost exports and thereby generate real jobs for unemployed Brits etc. cw

Anonymous said...


In response to an recent blog of yours on this subject, I said I was unconvinced about climate change, mam made or not.

What is becoming abundantly clear (but not to those with vested interests) is that CO2 levels are not linked in any way to avg. temperatures. A couple of years ago I sent you an analysis of the Met. Office figures released In support of the global warming hypothesis, just prior to Copenhagen. These showed that avg temperatures in the UK in the period 1850-1860 were higher than during the latter part of the C20. Furthermore, you will recall that I also sent a piece of research by NASA showing that heat radiation FROM earth was some 20% higher than the rate used in the long range models used by the climate fanatics. In fact the earth has cooled in C21 in spite of the continued rise in CO2 levels.

The BBC is at the forefront of this campaign of disinformation. They are very eager to tell us through Attenborough that the Arctic ice is shrinking. THey do not tell us that the Antarctic ice cover is increasing at a faster rate.

The kind of absurdly expensive reaction to this theory simply would not have taken place on any other equally spurious basis even if a mass threat to life was involved.

This whole theory needs much more rigorous and unbiased examination. Particularly the mathematical models which cannot predict next summer but claim a degree of certainty about 50-100 years hence.

Kevin Mahoney said...

"You think that because I do not approve of Mid Wales, my home and the land I love being desecrated by hundreds of pylons and turbines"

Nice one Glyn! We'll just put up with 16 years of heavy construction work down here on the coast added to a highway being driven through our community, just so " your home, the land you love isn't desecrated"

How about our homes you selfish hypocrite?

Those of us with our heads screwed on know the monstrous abuse of wind farm subsidies which are blighting the Welsh countryside, but don't suggest that others have their communities carved in two and lives blighted by such a major construction project being driven through other populated areas.

We should be investing billions into unobtrusive underwater tidal and current power generation not monstrosities such as a Severn barrage.

Think about others rather than just your own rather selfish situation

Glyn Davies said...

Kevin - A Severn Barrage would cause disruption, but would be a significant and consistant source of energy. If onshore wind farms did the same, our argument in mid Wales would not be justified, or have much traction. What angers us is that its all so pointless. We need sources of energy that will make a difference, and if the alternatives you suggest prove to be viable then there would be no objection from me.

JohnJ said...

Tidal power schemes do not produce energy 24 hours a day. A conventional design, in any mode of operation, would produce power for 6 to 12 hours in every 24 and will not produce power at other times, according to this website

Compare with WindTurbines.Depending on the wind resource available at a particular site, wind turbines produce electricity for about 80-85% of the year on average. Sometimes the "capacity factor" is talked about: this relates to the energy produced over a year. If a wind turbine has a capacity factor of 30% then it produces 30% of the amount of energy it could have produced if it was working flat out all through the year. The capacity factor is a function of variations in wind speed rather than the efficiency of the wind turbines,according to this website

Onshore wind must surely have less environmental impact and less cost than a Tidal Barrage?

The subsidy argument is worth nothing,Farmers have had them for years and in fact cannot after all these years manage without them. SPS payments totalling over £1.5 billion (£1,000,000,000)are paid to over 100,000 farmers in England alone each year
Bombardier in Derby are going to receive £80 million in subsidy.
Could quote other sources....

For those who doubt co2 rises here here is a useful graph

Anonymous said...

I can assure JohnJ that tidal power schemes do generate 24 hours a day when the lagoon system is used. Anyone looking at the difference in tide times at different parts of the Severn estuary can see this. There is also a convenient proximity of the Menai tidal flow turbines to the Dinorwig pump storage scheme.

JohnJ said...

Anonymous> I understood the discussion was about a severn estuary Tidal Barrage, not lagoon's The website reference is to Tidal Barrages.
Have you visited ENENEWS.COM One of the very few web sites giving the true state in Japan.