Friday, 22 June 2007

Stationary turbines

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.

1 comment:

  1. "Modern governments, being obsessed with short-term political gain, don't do joined-up thinking, whether it's on energy supply or public transport or indeed, energy saving. Will it be any different under Dear Prudence?"

    Flying Cat from rhetorically yours...
    "long live nuclear power!!"

    carol from over here
    "....and indeed it, or it's detritus, will live long. The rest of us may not though..."

    Flying Cat from Keep Torness Green
    "This upgrade to the grid, and improvement of reliability of mainland connection is why the new cable is proposed by SSE. Bit alarmist AL about the lightbulbs fluctuating though. "

    Mark from Gravir
    "Mark, do tell us when you start to understand how expensive, problematic and dysfunctional the power supply we just voted for will be. The more you find out the more alarming it is for the consumer. "

    Sid from Glasgow
    "Sid,if you followed IB as religiously as some, you'd note my earlier posts with objection and abject horror to the proposed cable and wind factories. AL does need tempering sometimes though, plus as somebody who does live here I am more than aware of current problems in our distribution network. A ten second blackout during the finale of Doctor who on saturday was most unwelcome. However I'd rather that than have plant digging around at the bottom of my garden and throughout the village and island. What is this vote you refer to? Glaswegians get to decide by ballot for us now eh?"

    Mark from Gravir
    "Hi Mark. The vote referred to the large proportion of urban population who have deciding to vote for parties who believe we can live off renewables and who think renewables are all fine and dandy for rural areas out there somewhere: Re Glaswegians / urban population deciding on your future - that's the truth. They have more votes."

    Sid from Glasgow
    "Who were the bunch of muppets to allow the building of the turbines before appropriate steps had been taken to handle the fluctuations?! Someone didn't do their research properly. Quick solution: add some sort of electricity storage device to the site which will release the generated electricity slowly onto the network."

    George from Lewis
    "Re "Quick solution: add some sort of electricity storage device" People have been looking for a realistic, cost effective solution for a long time but I must have missed it. Give us a clue? "

    Sid from Glasgow