Thursday, 22 January 2009

Wave power

The wee bay at Shader and Ballantrushal on the West Side of Lewis will very soon play host to a tidal barrage, where electricity for 1,800 homes will be generated. Forty generators will be placed in a dam, stretching across the bay. It will not be a visually intrusive structure, apparently.

I am very happy that this structure has been given the green light by Scottish ministers. Although its generating capacity of 4 megawatts is minute, it is in my mind indicative of the way forward for small scale electricity generation. The Isle of Eigg was switched on to its own generating scheme last February, and they have never looked back. Small windfarms (of up to half a dozen turbines) are being designed across Lewis, to be installed in places like Point, Shawbost and Borve. I support those. Not the multi-dozen turbine windfarms that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is still trying to smuggle in through the backdoor.

31 comments:

  1. I think that's brilliant ...!
    and if the juice generated would come to us, I wish they'd do it at Breasclete ...

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  2. Great! And it'll help keep the sharks away from the bathers as the ocean warms up!

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  3. i too think it is great - lets hope they get the idea and let other small communities do it too!

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  4. Tidal power rules, one might say! Unfortunately quite large lengths of the global coastlline are not so blessed with the large tidal ranges of the British Isles. But there should be enough for significant power generation because water is 760 times as dense as air AND they come, regular as clockwork, every 12 1/2 hours in the Atlantic (but only once a day in the pacific and Indian oceans). Isn't Stromness host to some sort of tidal popwer generator testing facility?

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  5. We are the throbbing heart of things tidal I'll have you know!
    http://www.emec.org.uk/
    http://www.aquatera.co.uk/
    http://www.cess.co.uk/
    http://www.pelamiswave.com/content.php?id=142
    http://www.oref.co.uk/
    Oh go on bore yersels to death...you know you want to!

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  6. Interesting article Mr Fourex. What happened to Salter's Ducks?

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  7. The tide mill is dead. Long live the tide mill. Incidentally the French had a huge scheme on the Rance when I was a kid. It must be ages ago;I read about it in Meccano Magazine, The Rance barrage is still in existence although I believe it did throw up some problems; the perils of pioneering I suppose. The Stromness facility is on the exposed west coast and is for testing wave power generation. There are proper tidal generation units off Rousay and at the Falls of Warness off Eday.
    The latter is a spectacular site ( and sight ). A major overfall between Eday and a smaller island, you can actually see the gradient on the sea surface. Interesting turbulence down tide though.

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  8. I would be willing to put a watermill on Blue River (I have more than 1200 feet of river frontage) but it's not doable: the Blue River has a scenic waterway designation, and dams are not allowed. I should have bought property on Whiskey Run - but there is not enough Whiskey run- off to power much.

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  9. It's Nic! It's Nic! It's Nic!23 January 2009 at 15:07

    Seriously? Only one tide a day in the Pacific?

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  10. I think you are wrong Barney. I thought that I remembered two tides a day in Vanuatu, so to be sure I looked it up. High water today 24/01 is at o533 and again at 1622. If you think about the physics it has to be so, the tidal wave peaks at points 180º opposed ie nearest to the sun and on the opposite side of the globe. (Have I bitten again btw?)

    mjc I think you can get low speed turbines which can simply be placed into the river or stream without the need to build a dam or a weir. Would something like that be acceptable to the authorities.?The down side is that such devices are less efficient at energy conversion but as I argue in favour of wind turbines; it is not as important to be very efficient if the initial energy input is free.

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  11. Delighted of Gravir in total agreement with post. Maybe now the greed and folly of large scale wind turbines and massive InterConnectors imposed over Gravir and South Lochs area can be seen for what it is.....massive,mis-guided,mindless abuse of the environment.

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  12. HB, no foolin', but I read this in a Swedish book and maybe the guy si not so canny about tides. So I go to the RYA Navigation handbook/T. Bartlett, and, yes, there are places in the Pacific that only experience one tidal peak/day becasue the other one is passing a long way South (or North) of the first place (p. 79 at the bottom). In other words the bulge of the tidal wave is not going around parallel to the equator but at an angle to it, that angle being determined by the direction of the moon.

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  13. Nah, Hyper B: the Blue River is a designated scenic waterway (I may have mentioned to you before, you can canoe on it all the way to the mighty Ohio), with oodles of restrictions. Oh, this afternoon, the weather being quite wonderful (blue skies, sun, a tad cold), took the car for a spin along the Ohio (which can be viewed from different perspectives as it's hilly country). Compared to England or the Benelux, this place is quite deserted. I would stick one of those water windmills (that you see in Texas, OK and the Plains) on our property, just for the fun of it (or to help water the gardens), but it would be expensive to dig down three hundred feet (we live on a small hill that slopes down to the river on one side) through limestone.

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  14. Mjc, pioneeres always pay the price, but without them no progress. Getta hold of that spade, fella'!

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  15. Replying to RJG (whose comment I was late in moderating, apologies): Don't want to deflate you too quickly, but you're still stuck with the Eisgein windfarm which will be built, and with a substation in Gravir unfortunately.

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  16. Arnish....deflating slowly anyway as corrupt CNES system of non-accountability seems way forward for certain Island Entrepeneurs but I do wonder if negative Economic Climate or common sense will determine outcome....? safe journey btw. RJG

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  17. Severn Barrage has reared its head in the press again this week. Multiple gigawatt output promised. I think this is another scheme like Barvas, well intentioned but grossly innapropriate and grounds of scale and impact.

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  18. Have to disagree with Hyper-Borean in that the Shader / Barvas scheme is not grossly inappropriate in terms of scale or impact.

    I do agree that the Severn Barrage does meet the criteria for being huge, in terms of size, impact as well as inappropriateness.

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  19. Thanks to EffCee for the lovely technology links, one with a sexy photie of a man in a bioconverter! The pelamis wave energy harvester looks rather solid to bump into, but sounds impressive in its performance.
    The Swedish Academy of Engineers (IVA) has just issued a study that concludes Sweden could have a net CO2 emmission budget of 0 in 20-303 years time, largely by energy savings. So we don't have to go hell for leather for the new technologies, just get savvy with down-to-earth existing ones. For example you can get very efficient insulation now from recycled paper fluff that has been treated with an anti-combustion chemical (borax). And there are a lot of energy-heavy industries like paper mills whose energy emissions could be recycled using existing technology if only some municipal regulations about who can provide long-distance heating were changed.

    I have asked this question before, without a satisfactory answer: how did Eigg manage to become energy self-sufficient? In particular, how much did it cost and who paid for it?

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  20. Thank ee', Arnish, at last the real McCoy! It seems a lot of harware for £1.6 million. On the other hand, it is quite a lot of money per capita. A most interesting approach to renewable energy coupled with energy conservation. It will be interesting to see how the cost of servicing all this works out.

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  21. I find myself in full agreement with Barney re the use of already tried&tested down-to-earth existing technologies. If regulations on insulation levels in new builds were changed to even just double what they are now, it would make a huge difference, but its political and the building industry carries a lot of clout. Imagine how they'd squeal to their pet politicos if such an imposition were to be made.
    Tomorrow we get an energy audit done on Anorak Towers...

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