Renewables North of the Border...

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Mark
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Renewables North of the Border...

Postby Mark » Tue Feb 15, 2011 2:00 pm

Quite interesting.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0 ... _Scotland/

Even features a bit of the Proclaimers.

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Re: Renewables North of the Border...

Postby Telo » Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:01 pm

Mark wrote:Quite interesting.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0 ... _Scotland/

Even features a bit of the Proclaimers.


Leaving aside the oil question (;-)), Scotland has sufficient natural rainfall, potential height difference, wind strength, tidal currents and wave power, to diversify into several new or newish energy technologies which may make it easier to balance available renewable resources to demand. Personally, as a lay observer to all this, my hope is that hydrogen fuel cell technology can also be sufficiently developed to be able to "store" energy created at inconvenient times by wind, tidal etc. The trouble is of course that hydrogen is very unstable and has a minute molecular structure that makes storage difficult.

I'm not a supporter of the SNP, but feel that Alex Salmond is genuine about his commitment; he was an oil economist in the early 70s when there was much debate how to effectively use the oil revenues that were about to flow to the UK. Hopes were dashed when that short term boon was used to pay for tax cuts. Now, one could argue the extent to which that policy was economically progressive or otherwise, but the general view in Scotland, including that of the middle classes, was that the revenues were squandered for short term political advantage. Mr Salmond believes that Scotland's natural advantages could be developed into a second energy revolution, and doesn't want Scotland to squander a second chance. But it won't be cheap; however oil and gas will not last forever, so the alternative has to include renewables and/or clean coal technologies. Nuclear, for the time being at any rate, has been ruled out by the government.

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Re: Renewables North of the Border...

Postby Mark » Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:19 pm

Shard wrote:[Personally, as a lay observer to all this, my hope is that hydrogen fuel cell technology can also be sufficiently developed to be able to "store" energy created at inconvenient times by wind, tidal etc.


Isn't there a massive area of mountain that could be made into a massive pumped water storage lake?

I really think nuclear is the real answer to all this. Well, draconian population control is the real answer but I can't imagine that being a worldwide vote winner.

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Re: Renewables North of the Border...

Postby Rowana » Tue Feb 15, 2011 4:58 pm

Mark wrote:{snip} draconian population control is the real answer but I can't imagine that being a worldwide vote winner.


To me, that is the ONLY answer, but like you say, nobody is going to grasp that particular nettle.
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Re: Renewables North of the Border...

Postby Nick » Tue Feb 15, 2011 7:10 pm

.
How odd that this topic should have been raised at this particular time. As a lot of you know, renewables and questions of energy generally are a bit of an interest of mine, so with the weather being pish last weekend I decided to put a new website together focussing on Scottish renewables. The obvious domain was already taken by an energy consortium lobbying group, so you can see my humble efforts at http://www.scotsrenewables.com. The site is still very much a work in progress, but the blog is under way and I will try to post something interesting several times a week.

I too believe that Salmond is sincere in his determination to turn Scotland into the energy powerhouse of Europe - I think he sees this as a second bite at the cherry after the failure of the 'Scotland's Oil' ploy. There is the potential for Scotland to produce seven times her own domestic electricity consumption, and Salmond is a great champion. Things may change after the May elections though if Scotland finds itself with Andy Gray at the helm, a man who strikes me as gray by name and nature.

Regarding population control - Scotland doesn't really need it. We did our bit by exporting our surplus population.
- Nick 8)

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Re: Renewables North of the Border...

Postby Mark » Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:30 pm

Nick wrote:.
How odd that this topic should have been raised at this particular time. As a lot of you know, renewables and questions of energy generally are a bit of an interest of mine, so with the weather being pish last weekend I decided to put a new website together focussing on Scottish renewables. The obvious domain was already taken by an energy consortium lobbying group, so you can see my humble efforts at http://www.scotsrenewables.com. The site is still very much a work in progress, but the


Hell of a coincidence.

I desperately want renewables to work out, but it seems a bit too good to be true. Wind power has such obvious drawbacks. Tidal power seems better, but is it?

Nick wrote:Regarding population control - Scotland doesn't really need it. We did our bit by exporting our surplus population.


In a country where the men wear skirts, I don't see excessive breeding as a major concern! :)

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Re: Renewables North of the Border...

Postby Nick » Tue Feb 15, 2011 11:03 pm

Mark wrote:In a country where the men wear skirts, I don't see excessive breeding as a major concern! :)

Do you drink rum by any chance?
- Nick 8)

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Re: Renewables North of the Border...

Postby Telo » Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:46 am

Who is Andy Gray?

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Re: Renewables North of the Border...

Postby marisca » Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:53 am

I'm Spartacus!

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Re: Renewables North of the Border...

Postby Telo » Wed Feb 16, 2011 1:52 am

I don't think there is any right or wrong answer, and I doubt if there is any energy silver bullet, but, imho, the key to the future is a moving feast, a mixture of technologies, starting from where we are, with coal, gas, oil, nuclear, and moving towards a greater mix of diversified renewable technologies.

Like many others, I had strong doubts about windpower (a few years ago, I'd posted about my concerns re high pressure / low wind strengths, and relative costs in TOP), but, I've come round to supporting the policy of a wide range of diversified energy generation, including windpower. To read some criticisms of windpower, you'd think that is the only current or future renewable energy source; in reality, no government, nor any group of investors, would be naive enough to believe that wind would the sole source of alternative power. There are obvious issues about sustained periods of high pressure, as there also are about how long dry periods can knock out much of of hydro generation (see 2Q figures for 2010). But nobody suggests abandoning hydro. The real issue, to to me, is achieving the mix, and then managing it properly, which, as the system becomes more sophisticated, will probably mean smartgrid technology; as substantial resources will have to be invested in reconfiguring the national grid (led by the private sector in my view) to harness offshore generation (wind, tidal, and wave), this should be the ideal opportunity to make the smartgrid technology leap.

There are technical issues, and financial and amenity costs to be reckoned with. It does cost a fortune - but what are the alternatives? Could the Sanda project close the Sound to navigation? Can Smartgrid with distributed generation provide sufficient levels of safety for line employees (traditionally electricity has only gone in one direction, from power station to consumer)? Would more hydro destroy social amenity by cluttering our mountains with unsightly concrete dams? Can we do more to "store" energy - pumped hydro like Cruachan, or hydrogen technology? Will biomass (not a very big issue in Scotland - low population density) become the new NIMBY in the wealthier parts of England? Could small scale distributed generation be a real runner? All of these issues, and many more have to be managed, but if this is carefully processed, we could have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get a real handle on cutting edge energy technology, with huge spinoffs for innovation, cash generation, as well as upskilling and sustainable employment.

Personally, I believe that Mr Salmond and the SNP minority government, with support from Labour and the LDs, are quite correct to push this up the agenda. Getting in at the start, utilising Scottish and UK experience from the North Sea rigs, getting the universities and colleges involved in the tech development, harnessing start-up capital (always a problem), making it attractive for institutional capital to invest in the infrastructure, and developing the patents and the IP has to be the right way to go. IMHO.

There are many others here and on TOP who have first hand experience from within the energy sector; I am merely a bystander with an interest in how we cope with changing energy demand, so please feel free to shoot me down. But it's a really interesting issue; the problem on TOP was that all discourse became polarised on climate change or the problems of windpower. I'd suggest that there is a bigger picture.

Julian

Re: Renewables North of the Border...

Postby Julian » Wed Feb 16, 2011 2:38 am

Shard wrote:The trouble is of course that hydrogen is very unstable and has a minute molecular structure that makes storage difficult.


How did they use it in the zepplins if that is the case, or was that not super pure clean H, for energy does the H need to be pure H¹?

And then why does it need to be so pure, oil derivatives certainly aren't pure, maybe H on it's own is not the answer?

Questions, not point scoring, I left chemistry behind when I turned over the final page of my 'O' level paper.

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Re: Renewables North of the Border...

Postby aquaplane » Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:05 am

I think hydrogen is only clean because it doesn't produce CO2 when it's burnt.

I suspect that industrial production isn't by electolysis but whichever process is employed there is a good bet that significant ammounts of energy need to be used and that means either renewables, nuclear or fossil fuels.

Hydrogen does alow us to keep running cars as we know them, more or less, instead of using public electrified transport, again where is the electricity coming from. Both battery powered and hydrogen powered cars have range issues that would mean I couldn't get to sail in Scotland without lengthy refueling stops. Overhead cables like we had for trolley busses, now that could work!

I think the R101 and Hindenberg put folk off hydrogen so it went out of fashion, the same arguements apply today. Cryogenic hydrogen is ok for the space shuttle but not really viable for a private car. I'm not sure how it's stored safely these days but I'm sure you can't fill up like you can with petrol or even LPG.
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Re: Renewables North of the Border...

Postby Nick » Wed Feb 16, 2011 10:52 am

Shard wrote:Who is Andy Gray?


He played Chancer in City Lights . . .

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erm, I meant Ian Gray, but you get my drift :oops:
- Nick 8)

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Re: Renewables North of the Border...

Postby marisca » Wed Feb 16, 2011 10:56 am

Vaguely related - the generators at Longannet and Cockenzie were filled with hydrogen at positive pressure - I was told to reduce the windage.

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Hydrogen

Postby Nick » Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:05 am

.
aquaplane wrote:I suspect that industrial production isn't by electolysis but whichever process is employed there is a good bet that significant ammounts of energy need to be used and that means either renewables, nuclear or fossil fuels.

A new 'hydrogen office' was recently opened in Fife.

If we can find a safe way of storing it in bulk then Scotland will be ideally placed with a huge surplus of renewable energy from offshore wind to make any amount of the stuff. It is an ideal way of storing energy in windy times.
- Nick 8)

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