Friday, 27 June 2014


There has been a sense of are you sure we didn’t miss something about the new ferry ship, the MV Loch Seaforth. This is due to come into service on the Stornoway - Ullapool route in September. Already, questions are being raised by local councillors whether it provides sufficient capacity to cover the island’s needs. Generally, the current ferry services (note: plural) are held to be insufficient to enhance the Western Isles economic development.
When the idea of a replacement for the good ole Isle of Lewis was thought up, an idea was mooted to have two ships plying the Minch. However, it was decided to build just one large ferry. Not until after the keel was laid did anybody think about the port infrastructure in both Ullapool and Stornoway, and a dash is currently on to have everything in place in time for the arrival of the LS. A notice outside the Stornoway works, however, intimates that the proposed date for completion is November 2014.

Thursday, 26 June 2014


Hebrides News today reported on interconnectors to the Scottish islands, like the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland. I’m afraid I have some serious questions to ask about the facts presented therein.

The article closes by saying: “One key advantage of marine renewables, and of the wind resource on Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, is that its output is less correlated with wind generation on the mainland. This helps to smooth intermittency effects elsewhere on the system.”

Shall we get the phraseology right? Electricity generated by wind power. Wind generation is something that mother nature does. It doesn’t matter where wind is used to generate electricity - it is inconsistent, unpredictable and inefficient. Intermittency effects are part and parcel of “wind generation”, because the wind does not blow at a consistent speed at our latitude.

I also question the figures quoted in the article. In six years from now, 4 tera (that’s a million million) watt hours of electricity will be generated in these islands. What on earth is going to do that? Marine technology is still being developed, and even the proposed windfarm at Muaitheabhal (Eishken) only has an output of 120 MWh.

Over the past number of years, it has become clear that there is a huge push on to have the interconnector constructed between Gravir and Dundonnell on the mainland, in spite of the fact that the benefits of wind-energy are increasingly being called into question. If it weren’t for vast government subsidies, the majority of windfarms in Scotland would not have been built, or even proposed. Opposition to those schemes is leading to increasing numbers of proposals being binned.