Yesterday, the Stornoway Gazette cast some light on the enigmatic windturbines down at Grimshader, although they needed the Battery Point powerstation to generate the power for that light. You see, the turbines on the Arnish Moor are notorious for not turning. Don't think that we haven't got the wind to make them go. We do. But, it was found that the local electricity grid was unable to cope with the variable output that you get from a wind turbine. It needs upgrading, and that's something planned somewhere in the next 5 to 10 years.
The point behind the stationary turbines is that the wind does not blow at a constant speed. With the changes in the weather, which happen fast and furious up here, windspeeds vary wildly. At higher windspeeds, the turbines obviously generate more power - but when the wind drops, so does your output. And your average electrical appliance does not work terribly well when your power supply fluctuates. It wreaks havoc with the lifespan of a lightbulb, and can cause serious damage. So, in recent times, the eastern part of Stornoway has been going to sleep to the dulcet roar of the Battery Point powerstation, going at full blast to supply the island with electricity. Of course, we do have a mainland link-up through Skye. But it would appear that this is not too reliable either.
Point I am making is that at best, those turbines have been installed 5 to 10 years early, because they will only be able to operate when the local grid can cope with their vagaries. The other thing is a general point, which is being made on account of these problems, that once the three windfarms come on stream (if they ever do), the same problem will apply on a much larger scale. And, you'll always need a back-up from another source to supply power when there is too little or too much wind.
As I am writing about wind energy, I might as well chip in on the Pairc Windfarm. The planning application is avaiable for perusal in Stornoway Library, and objections can be raised until (I think) mid July. It is going to be an absolute eyesore. The hills of South Lochs are low, and these 500 ft monstrosities will be dominating the skyline for dozens of miles around.