Tuesday, 18 October 2011

A Sad Border Crossing

Travelling up and down the M74 through the border of Scotland and England in the past few weeks, I was stunned by the size of the windfarm on the east and the pylons on the west side of the motorway.  What a wonderful welcome to motoring visitors to Scotland to see such a display of renewable energy - plus old energy - within a few miles of the Scottish border.  How pleased visitors must feel to be entering a country where wind turbines are sprinkled like the heather they thought would welcome them.

Covering the countryside with wind turbines is not the answer to resolving Scotland's energy problem. It's exceptionally well recorded that they do not provide the energy suggested and yet the Scottish government continues to sing their praises, yet we hear little about the actual amount of permanent jobs which have been created since their inception.  Could that be because the jobs are so few?  I wonder.

Yesterday the Scottish media heralded the removal of electricity pylons in the Cairngorm National Park prior to the start of construction work on the controversial Beauly to Denny power line.  What the BBC or ITV did not mention is that pylons on other parts of the route are to be replaced with new ones between 42m and 65m tall - around 50% larger than those being felled.

The technology is there for all power supplies to be put underground yet, because the energy companies refuse to do this owing to cost, government has decided to compromise.

There should be no compromise on this matter. Companies should be told underground or not at all.  Two years ago the German green party started to doubt their efficiency yet the Scottish government has ignored the warning.

Of course we need to create jobs, but work which will be of a long-term benefit to society. Windfarms don't do that, but they do seriously reduce the impact of Scotland's magnificent countryside - it's best-selling point. I suspect more than a few Scottish politicians hope that more and more visitors arrive by air rather than road.  Let's not even consider those treacherous emissions...


WitteringsfromWitney said...

And Donna Quixote did not have a tilt at them? Shame on you.....

Off topic: Reminder re Edward's school post.........?

Joe Public said...

"The technology is there for all power supplies to be put underground yet, because the energy companies refuse to do this owing to cost ...."

It costs (probably) between 10 & 100 times as much to put powerlines underground.

It's not the power companies that pay this extra cost, they simply pass it on to all consumers.

Electricity costs are already much higher than necessary because of the windmills & solar panels harvesting the "free" stuff.

Would many of your readers pay even more per kW?

Those who object to overground powerlines inevitably do so from the luxury of already having a connection.

Would the 'few' affected by the aesthetics be willing to foot the entire bill for burying them?

Dons tin hat, ducks, & awaits incoming flak.

windcatcher said...

Dear Subrosa
My point about your article is that the Scottish Government should take the option/advantage of what is available regards EU grants, it would be a fool not to. This does not mean that I in anyway endorse this action but if it for the good of Scotland then why should they not "GO FOR IT" like so many other countries have done.

RMcGeddon said...

Although we'll have a good laugh about these windmill follies in 30 years time there won't be much laughing in the meantime. Just years of rising energy bills funding this madness and thousands of people freezing to death. Terrified of putting on the heating in case they can't pay the bills and they get their supply cut off.

Observer said...

I have to say I don't actually find windfarms visually offensive.

Anonymous said...

My investigations have revealed that these windmills have a life expectancy of about 20 years. So...by the time that the last one is built, the first one will need to be replaced. Recently, I read that the best performing windmill in Denmark (very windy) was retired - after some 15 years. And what is likely to be the cost of maintenance in the closing years of a windmill's life? And the only reason that these windmills are economically viable is via huge subsidies. But who provides the subsidies?
The whole idea is built upon the acceptance of Climate Change (aka Global Warming) - except that there is an element that none of us are told about, and that is terrorism. It is easy to see how a politician could be persuaded to support the New Aristocrats' plans if he was told that a terrorist attack which disabled, say, a nuclear power station, that it would be better to spread the provisin of electrical power over thousands of windmills - even if they cost 4 times as much. It becomes a question of 'security of supply' - for Government. Be in no doubt that, if ever there was a serious interuption in the supply of electricity, it would be Whitehall which would receive 'emergency' supplies from the windmills - not Holyrood or Stormont or you and I.
Actually, I would not mind so much if they just said so.

subrosa said...

Ah WfW, I will email you.

subrosa said...

The pylons would be acceptable Joe on their own but with them one side of the road and this massive windfarm on the other it was too much. It certainly wasn't like entering another country - more like a industrial backwater.

I know underground is expensive and not suggesting all cables go that way, but sometimes aesthetics have to be taken into account and the border should surely be one spot in particular.

As for the price - take it from the windfarm subsidies. That's the only reason these things are being erected so fast anyway. We pay these subsidies remember.

subrosa said...

Windcatcher, I should think the SG already does that no? As you say they'd be foolish not to.

subrosa said...

I won't be around to laugh RM and I don't think the next generation will find it in the least amusing to have to pay for the removal of thousands of tons of concrete and obsolete metal (the metal of course will be recyclable) to be removed from our hills.

No there won't be much laughing.

subrosa said...

In certain areas they're ok Observer, but I wonder what they'll look like in 20 years time. As far as I can gather they hardly last that long.

subrosa said...

Some excellent points Junican.

Just this week I was reading about India, China etc ignoring the Kyoto agreement and the writer was saying Britain looked rather foolish thinking it could stop climate change on its own.

Being first in something isn't necessarily best and in this matter that's certainly true.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Windfarms (call them subsidy farms for better accuracy) are actually evil.

They do not generate any useful electricity - it's no good for baseload, following load, or peak load because of its unpredictable nature.

They do not reduce emissions (if you care about such things) due to the need to keep more reliable capacity on standby all the time.

And the evil bit - they are financed by higher bills for poor poeple, which are handed over to big companies and rich landowners (including, famously, the Prime Minister's father-in-law).

Oh, and they ruin the view as well.

RMcGeddon said...

"'emergency' supplies from the windmills"
Have to hope the baddies attack on a windy day then ;)

SR. I doubt if the concrete will ever be removed. Each windmill has a base roughly 20m x20m x 9m depth. And for Whitelees Subsidy Farm that's x140 windmills. Plus of course all the rare earths in the gear boxes which will have to buried somewhere like Dalgety Bay where the local MP isn't too bothered as he's away abroad on speaking tours most of the time ( Gordon). Oh and the 70km of metalled roads through an ancient peatland will remain as the most expensive cycle track in history.
Yes, the 20 square miles of Whiteless will never recover from the devastation and will be testimony to our incompetence for hundreds of years.

Anonymous said...

Why would you bury the rare earth metals rather than recover them?

They are rare, after all.

RMcGeddon said...

There are companies that do recycle these rare earths and that would be the ideal solution. Which is why it won't be done.

pa_broon74 said...

I've changed my mind about wind farms. I still think they look good in very specific circumstances but as an answer to the so called climate change problem (which I'm not convinced about anyway) I'm now swinging away from them.

Tidal? Yes, probably. Hydro? Again yes (environmental impact to one side of course.)

Not sure what the SNP are up to with it to be honest. I still think it's worth investing in renewables, even windmills. Materials will become more durable extending lifespans and methodoligies will also get better (inc energy storage) so it's worth doing.

Chucking up all those windmills now though? I'm not convinced.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

I'm not particularly enamoured by wind turbines - especially those inland - but in the dynamics of development these are probably on par with the tiller steered car as opposed to the ones we drive today.

As to their effect on the climate control argument, that is a complete irrelevance to the real and objective issue of sourcing energy from renewable elements. That said it's still relevant in as much as the use of renewable can only reduce any effect not add to it.

And as for the China, India and other developing nations argument, the more we can develop renewable technology and efficiency the more likely they will be to adopt, adapt and add to its development.

I suspect the real argument here is with regard to who is going to pay for its development and who is going to profit going to profit from its management and distribution? (consider that a rhetorical question)

As an old style capitalist the practice was for a company to weigh up the cost of maintaining existing plant and laying aside ,or borrowing, additional capital for renewal or modernisation. This was built in to its costs which would hopefully stay within what the market would bare and allow the company to remain viable. The certainty was if they didn't achieve these goals the company was either sold off or went out of the business.

Under privatisation this no longer happens. Developments have to a large and increasing extent to be funded from the public purse while the corporations cry Wolf having spent or redistributed their profits to avoid tax and or bonuses and dividends. This is corporate welfare at social cost while profit is advanced by fraud.

This ridiculous situation has insult added to injury when these cartels refuse to take account of what the market can bare and will claim, as their right, to diffuse or distort any subsequent profits made from the irrevocable fact they're getting the energy source for zilch.

These are the reasons behind the manipulating propaganda were being fed through the MSM today. We're being told by the industry and tame energy analysts that these wind farms are hugely expensive - tripe. Not when compared to building new conventional coal stations, and many of the old are well beyond their sell by date. Gas fired are a bit cheaper but then you have the limitation of supply and reliance on markets. Nuclear is an option if you close your mind to their redundancy. But for the cost of five you could practically cover Scotland in coast to coast wind farms.

Unfortunately for now the choice is not ours. That is the real problem needing solution.

subrosa said...

Good points Weekend Yachtsman but some people really do believe they are 'green' you know.

subrosa said...

RM, your statistics are roughly what I'm hearing from friends near the Aberfeldy one and they too feel the whole hillside will be a crumbling concrete wasteland in 40 years time because once the wind turbines are past their usefulness, they will be left to rot.

subrosa said...

Jings pa, I'm pleased to hear it. Tidal is still in its infancy and will take a few decades before it improves to be a useful source. Hydro, as I said on another thread, has had little environmental impact and if you have ever visited Pitlochry, you will have noticed hydro has improved the area rather than blight it.

I'm not against renewables at all pa, as long as their cost is within reason. The current subsidies are costing us far too much. Shortly people will begin to complain. I've already started. Yesterday I had a bill from my utility provider to say my monthly gas/electricity charge will be £169.41 a month!! That's 35% of my state pension. I've spent some considerable time on the telephone to utility companies today but with no result. Will try again tomorrow because my head's spinning with all the figures quoted. As I see it I can get a cheaper deal for a month or two then it increases. It's a cartel.

subrosa said...

Crinkly, I wish I could find what I was reading yesterday about the world powers and renewables.

Yes, that is the real argument. It is the average person who is bearing the brunt of the cost and I find that unacceptable. Politicians go on about job creation but I hear little about good jobs being created in the industry. No turbines are produced in this country so no profits from them are reinvested here.

China etc will wait until we develop the technology and then copy it. Much cheaper way of doing it - just as Pakistan did with the jute industry back in the 60s.

No, the choice isn't ours and the numbers of vulnerable people who die from cold will steadily increase and be ignored, until people suddenly realise the deaths could have been avoided.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Rosa -the old adage was the truth would set you free.

In this day and age the more you uncover the truth, the more you want to curl up and die.

subrosa said...

But we must fight on Crinkly. Our children deserve it.

RMcGeddon said...


"We're being told by the industry and tame energy analysts that these wind farms are hugely expensive - tripe. Not when compared to building new conventional coal stations"

Don't forget that you need 24/7 back up for windfarms from conventional power stations. So you would still need to build a coal powered station or gas or nuclear irrespective if you had every square inch of Scotland covered in windmills.

Looking at Whitelees...

capacity 320MW ( actual output 25% of this at the most - I've been twice and the output was 9%). But being generous we'll say output of 25% so 80MW.
For a build cost of £300m we get 80MW assuming it's windy. Add the cost of it's backup from coal or nuclear and it's not economically viable.

Coal power station output capacity is 24/7 with no back up required and we get 1,500 to 2,000MW for £600m

So we get 10 times the output for twice the outlay and it's available 24/7. Although if you go the windfarm route you still have to keep building conventional power stations for when it's not windy so you would have to add that cost to the subsidy farm cost. The ramping up and down of the output from conventional power stations to support the windmills as the wind refuses to blow constantly makes them very inefficient as well adding to the costs.

So basically any windfarm is an expensive novelty, provides intermittent power, requires 24/7 back up from coal or nuclear and destroys 20 square miles of peatland for a paltry 80MW output at most.
For a spell last winter we got 4MW out of 3,600 windmills.
Not even enough to turn them and stop the gearboxes freezing up.
This forced us to import nuclear powered electricity from France. The new £5Bn undersea connector to Europe shows what the future will be. An increasing reliance of power from Europe as our power stations are de commissioned to be replaced by expensive and useless windmills. Just to please the global warming scammers. Sad.

RMcGeddon said...

Should have said it was 20 times the output from coal compared to wind. And coal powered output is of course 24/7 and not just now and again.

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