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Wind Energy Information Group Predicts 'A NAMA For Wind Turbines!'

category national | environment | other press author Thursday November 07, 2013 22:23author by T Report this post to the editors

The plan for a huge number of wind turbines is not just running into trouble. It seems it could turn out to be a bit of a white elephant. The drive is coming from the UK because the population density is so high they are running into continual problems with objections and as a result they are unable to meet their own promised obligations for the percentage of renewable energy. But they have done a deal with the Irish government to use the 'empty' midlands of Ireland to build thousands of wind turbines and transfer the power by cable to the UK.

To many these seems like corporate colonialism and the though of all the billions in investment with the chance to then quickly sell complete wind farms on has all the worst kinds of people involved and the Irish government and their friends have been so eager to get hands on this that the Irish government has incredibly not even carried out a Cost Benefit Analysis of the whole thing.

With wind farms if the site is not windy enough and too many turbines are put on the site, it can result in a situation where they do not meet the targets for power output and hence revenue and it can result in the venture not covering its costs properly -i.e. making a loss. This has happened quite a bit in the interior locations of various countries as the strongest and most consistent wind generally occurs on coastal sites. And Colm McCarthy, the ‘Bord Snip’ economist, has already described the drive to build wind farms all over Ireland as another potential ‘Nama’.

The news that we could end up with a NAMA for Wind Farms in the Midlands was reported today in the Midland Tribune.

The opening paragraph says

Kilcormac/Kinnitty/Cadamstown Wind Energy Information group has expressed the view that Ireland will soon need a NAMA for wind turbines, if proposals to erect hundreds of wind turbines in the Midlands go ahead.
Responding to the publication of the Bord na Móna's Chief's comments in last week's Tribune that Offaly will be the Saudi Arabia of wind energy if their Clean Energy Hub projects go ahead, the Group has yet again called on the Government to demonstrate that its Wind Energy Policy fulfills the three Pillars of Sustainability in Planning terms i.e. Environmental, Economic and Social.
In a statement the group said 'It is inconceivable that the CEO of Ireland Inc is intent on pressing ahead with its unsustainable wind energy policy without even having carried out a Cost Benefit Analysis from the outset! Has Minister Rabbitte not looked across the water to Scotland where they are in danger of blackouts before the end of the century due to the Scottish Government's massive investment in Wind Energy without also having done the costings and also having ignored other forms of renewables. Colm McCarthy has said that Ireland will soon have a NAMA for wind turbines.'

The report then goes on to mention some of the usual anti-wind arguments although I do not think it is quite straight forward but in this particular case, I think the final comment really sums up the situation

This project is all about profit at the expense of our quality of life. That's it. Money!'

And what this encapsulates is that in all these cases where we are trying to solve a problem -in this case energy supply and reducing CO-2, there are always people and large business who are willing to use and abuse this concern and public support to run roughshod over people and to make a killing for themselves and the people who cleared the institutional obstacles to allow them to do it.

You can read the full report at the link below

Related Link: http://www.midlandtribune.ie/articles/news/36905/wind-energy-information-group-predicts-a-nama-for-wind-turbines/
author by Tpublication date Thu Nov 07, 2013 22:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The following from the Roscommon People (today) is also relevant to the above and lists some of the locations where "developers" are considering placing turbines. People have a limited time to object.

Sites in Elphin, Ballaghaderreen, Scramogue, Arigna, Cloonfad and Brideswell have been deemed viable for wind energy development in Roscommon County Council’s Draft Wind Energy Policy and the closing date for submissions on the policy is February 28th.

A spokesperson for Sliabh Ban Community Group said that it is important that Roscommon people read the draft policy, because once it is accepted by Roscommon county councillors, it will guide developers as they seek to profit from future wind turbine sites in Co. Roscommon. As it stands, large areas of County Roscommon are being described by the draft policy as suitable for wind turbines.

The Draft Wind Energy Policy puts forward the following areas as being viable for wind energy development:

Elphin Drumlins;
Ballaghaderreen and Bockagh Hills Uplands;
Sliabh Ban and Boerish Bogland;
Scramogue River Basin;
Lough Funshinagh and Stone Wall Grasslands and Esker Ridges;
Arigna Mountains; Skrine Hill and Limestone Pavement;
Mid Lough Ree Pastureland;
Ballinlough Bogland and Esker Ridges;
Cloonfad Hills and Esker Ridges;
Cloonfad Bog and Upland;
Mulaghnashee Wet Farmland Plateau;
Cloona Lough and Lung River Bogland Basin;
Brideswell Esker Belt

The report also added some specifics for two of the locations:

The spokesperson said that developers have recently sought planning for wind turbines on Sliabh Bán, our highest peak, (twenty turbines), and the Dysart area (16 turbines). The turbines are proposed to be over 130 metres tall, which is taller than the Dublin Spire, or twice as tall as St Patrick’s Cathedral. In the Sliabh Bán example, the wind turbines will be highly visible from the N5 road and the Shannon River, which are major tourism routes for Roscommon.

The Draft Wind Farm Strategy is available for inspection at the County Council Planning Office on Golf Links Rd. It also can be downloaded from the Internet on the Roscommon County Council website www.roscommoncoco.ie ....but it is quite hard to find so it has been downloaded and attached here too. See page 35 for the list of sites.

Full text at link below

PDF Document Roscommon Draft Wind Farm Strategy 3.2 Mb

Related Link: http://www.roscommonpeople.ie/itemdetail.asp?itemID=17117&menu=d17117
author by fredpublication date Fri Nov 08, 2013 07:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

But, T., don't you agree, having a whole bunch of electricity generating wind turbines on our land when the "shit hits the fan" so to speak (i.e. when fossil fuels run out) can only be a good thing in the longer term view! ;-)

author by Tpublication date Fri Nov 08, 2013 20:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The problem with renewables is that they don't produce a base load. And without an European scale inter-connection and some kind of storage system, adding extra capacity is more or less wasted because you have to have other plant on standby and idling to make up for the shortfall.

And if we take the storage approach, the capital and energetic costs of building that out are huge and you actually lose efficiencies anyhow because of losses in storing the energy and then re-releasing it. Thus lets suppose in a system like pumped storage -aka Turlough Hill, the pumps/turbines are 90% efficient, then when you store they act as pumps and turbines when you release, so you multiply that as 90% x 90% which is 0.9x0.9 to give 0.81. which gives losses of 1 - 0.81 or 19% losses. And that just on storage.

Then in terms of capacity, if you have say 1000 MW of Wind capacity, you will only get this amount of power about 5% of the time. On average you will only get 25% to 30% of the 1000MW which would be 250MW to 300MW. But it is not simply a case of saying right we will just build 10 x 1000MW and we will get 10 x 250MW or 2.5 GW. You are still left with having alternative type of plant and unfortunately that is usually fossil fuelled, to handle the cases where the system is producing almost nothing. Besides scaling up the capacity by 10 in the case of Ireland would not be possible when producing 50% capacity unless you can export the power, since it would have to be dumped otherwise.

The core problem though is this. We can't run the energy intense society we have now on any sort of power. With fossil fuel, we are cooking ourselves and the cheap stuff is running out, even though the race is on to Frack everywhere and to completely screw up the environment everywhere indefinitely. With Hydro, most of the existing sites are already used. With Nuclear, see Fukushima and that ain't over by a long shot. For biofuels, tick the food or fuel box. For solar, not applicable to Ireland really, assuming discussion is kept to Ireland for the moment. However, all the Greenies have bought into the idea -mainly to get a seat at the table -that somehow we can run system we renewables.

The only solution for which lip service has been paid, is to radically cut back on energy use. The less we use, then the greater the chance that renewables can then fit the bill. To achieve this some of the things we should be considering and doing is:

1) Having a massive (and if necessary subsidized) programme to assess every building in the country both residential and commercial and refitting for energy insulation. It could be done as a 10 year plan

2) Introducing free or near free public transport in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and possibly some of the smaller towns. We would need to improve services and greatly expand the bus fleet and reorganise the bus network to be more grid like and less central spoke based. The savings in petrol and car insurance not needed would be immense. We would also rapidly reduce our oil import bill and rapidly reduce our CO-2 emissions. People could keep the cars except they would just spend more time parked in the driveway

3) For electricity use, basically night meters for lower cost (off peak) power should be rolled out to every house. I am suspicious of corporate led and designed "smart" meters as I think they would be use to gouge on prices. But the idea would be to reshape the electric demand cover to better suit the nature of renewables.

4) Possibly build another pumped storage scheme (although I know that negates what I said above) somewhere in Ireland but not the ridiculous "Spirit of Ireland" which was too big and not cost effective in money or energy and was typical corporate largess.

These of the sort of things we need to do. The present plan for the Midlands is just a corporate / colonial grab with elements of the government delighted to get their grubby hands on it. They are using the very real concern people have over the future energy supply and of the environment to their own private advantage and calling it sustainable when in fact this has nothing to do with sustainability and rather a lot to do with money. Sure we probably could do with a few more wind turbines but people have to be involved and the local environment has to be considered too.

As to when we do start to encounter a real energy crunch, it will only help a bit actually to have thousands of wind turbines because the system will be unable to function as it is evolved such that it cannot work properly without the fossil fueled backup power stations. What we are not doing in preparation for the day when energy becomes expensive and beyond the reach of the pockets of ordinary people, is we are not re-designing our built environment to allow us to live in a much lower energy environment. Instead like everything we do in this country, it is ill-conceived, half arsed, amateur and shoddy.

And to just finish, over at http://joewheatley.net/bad-power/ this chap Joe has crunched the numbers and they do make sense because I have regularly checked the instantaneous wind power over on Eirgrid and shows the power distribution versus installed capacity for wind power. It uses data from 2009 to 2010 for Ireland.

In the graph you can see that the amount of time where collective output of the wind turbines matches 60% or even 80% of the installed capacity is quite low and most of the time it is producing (as said earlier) around 25%. Now I know with different designs, heights and sites for the turbines (mostly coastal and not inland), you might push that up to 33%. But you can clearly see, wind is not a silver bullet. And like most things in nature, that turns out to be a good thing, because if they did produce at 80% most of the time, the country would already have 1000s upon 1000s of turbines all over it to feed the insatiable unsustainable power demands of our corporate controlled and led society.

[1] Real-time all-Ireland wind energy output from Eirgrid is at: http://www.eirgrid.com/operations/systemperformancedata/windgeneration/

Image amended with text from original by Joe Heatley at: http://joewheatley.net/bad-power/
Image amended with text from original by Joe Heatley at: http://joewheatley.net/bad-power/

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