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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2012 12:21 pm 
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The current windfarm controversy reflects a dilemma faced by many rural communities, so perhaps now is a chance to think about Seil's future from a new angle.
With the closing of the quarries, Seil basically became a post-industrial site. While it is attractive in parts, it's no jewel in the crown of the Highland landscape. Attractive enough though, to become a rural commuter suburb of Oban in the '60s & '70s. Unfortunately, the unrestricted and unsympathetic house building that was allowed at that time did much to spoil the area - as have more recent business developments that can be described as blots on the landscape, at best. Now, Seil has taken on a very run down appearance with its cleared,but undeveloped building sites, houses on sale for years at a time and,of course, Scottish Water's addition. And now a possible windfarm!
So the rural idyll, if it ever existed, is shot to pieces. Why not go in another direction?
Wales has its Centre for Alternative Technologies - why not Seil as a Centre for Alternative Renewables?
Let's get the wind turbines. Push Scottish Water to get the waste plant working well so that it becomes a showpiece.There's enough tidal races and wave power to have installations demonstrating their capabilities. Slate's not as good as granite, but the capacity for geo-thermal units must be possible. Add biomass and biogas plants fuelled by the raw material coming from the farms and fishing activity. Then, we mustn't forget the solar potential - though better to keep that small scale just now.
On one site, Seil, we could have every renewable development on show as a working project. So instead of folk protesting that a windfarm would drive tourists away, this venture would attract visitors. Employment would be generated, with housing answering the needs of workers, not speculative development.
The community and business could seek funding and grant incentives with the aim of making Seil a community wholly powered by renewable energy - even with a visitors' centre and research establishment - perhaps at the crossroads - let's face it, that's going to remain a wasteland for the foreseeable future.
So - here's a project that could unite a community, a project that everyone could benefit from and a project that could revitalise a down-at-heel and flagging Seil.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2012 3:51 pm 
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Interesting blog this. Thanks, Tic. My personal view is that there are various flaws in your argument. The first is that Seil is down-at-heel and flagging. It seems to me to be a fantastic place to live, with a relatively good rural community mix, beautiful and quiet but not far from urban infrastructures and services. The only thing really spoiling it is the lousy weather, which is of course shared with the rest of the west of Scotland. On a sunny day, where else could anyone prefer to be? OK, there are eyesores here, as elsewhere, but hopefully these are temporary. It is no place to develop comic energy sources. Nuclear and cleansed fossil fuels are the only sensible way forward for sound baseload power supply in Scotland. Throw in some hydro power and we're fine! To spoil our island with the trendy mad hatter stuff would be so silly. So I for one am not at all with you, Tic! But thanks again for the stimulating vision. Maybe others will be more in agreement. Though I suspect you're just havin' a laugh!

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:21 pm 
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I rather like the idea, but can't imagine who would have the resources and vision to take it forward. Biogass from fish droppings is an idea I have never heard before . . . but I suspect it might take more energy to dry it out than it ever produces.

RE. the mess - TSL are showing no signs of clearing theirs up. They won't answer my e-mails, anyone else had any luck? And - there is no word at all of Scottish Water landscaping the treatment plant as far as I know.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:30 pm 
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:brightidea How about a methane producing farting cow factory? :cow

Plenty of hot air on this forum too!!

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:01 pm 
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I like your post Tico it would take some amount of dosh and a politician of some magnitude to push it through.
On Gigha the turbines create over 100000 a year profit for community they are smaller turbines and the loan for them was paid off 3 years ago it would take a buyout to be able to do it


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 4:07 pm 
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:square the idea of a total power supply from energy that has not, does not and for the furture will not have a detrimental effect on our enviroment is a nice idea, even if you were just having a laugh 'tic', why not keep on laughing and look into it further?
as for the other things being said about the looks of the island etc. not going to see much when the water level has risen anyway, last i heard it could come up 15 m when the ice melts. :(

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:15 pm 
NickB wrote:
RE. the mess - TSL are showing no signs of clearing theirs up. They won't answer my e-mails, anyone else had any luck? And - there is no word at all of Scottish Water landscaping the treatment plant as far as I know.


I too got all hot and bothered about these, I can see them both from my garden, so I too got all Nimbyish. Then I found the solution !
I hold my arm out straight and stick up one thumb. That totally covers them. Solved ! :mrgreen:
Works for the windfarm too......I'm now a supporter as I can no longer see it thanks to a bit of digital shuffling.

Stiff Shanks (looking like a prat by choice)


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:12 am 
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Renewable Seil looks like it could be taking a step forward with the announcement by Nova Innovation of a consultation on Easdale to discuss the possibility of putting tidal turbines in Cuan Sound. The scoop in yesterday's Oban TImes is that the company's proposal is for three micro tidal turbines in Cuan, one for each island (Seil, Luing and Easdale).

Considering the recent infighting on Easdale over renewables proposals (solar panels, wind turbine, heat pump etc) one wonders if this is the best place to launch the project - particularly when Cuan Sound lies between the two larger islands and some distance from Easdale.

Nova Innovation have installed** the world's first community owned tidal turbine in Bluemull Sound between Yell and Unst in Shetland. Some info here.

For those of you without a current Oban Times, the consultation is apparently being held in Easdale island Community hall on Saturday 7th April, 10.30am for 11am. Does anyone know who will be representing Seil and Luing at this meeting?


** Or apparently not . . . see Brodie's information below.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:47 am 
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I believe that this topic was discussed at this weeks SECC meeting with the conclusion that small-scale tidal energy technology is "immature" and untried.

This is backed up by the fact that the first Nova tidal turbine located in Bluemull Sound between Yell and Unst is not yet in the water, is uncommissioned and not functional.

It it also interesting to note that the company is listed as being "Dormant", another example of an unproven cottage industry.

As to representation at the meeting on Easdale maybe this question should be answered by the SECC and by Luing CC and while they are at it maybe they could both explain why they have not made any representations regarding the Clachan Wind Farm planning application.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:12 pm 
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Brodie if the tecnology was proven what would your objection be come on suprise me?


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 10:45 am 
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Once the device is in the water, commissioned and field trials have demonstrated that it is a viable technology that has met its design specifications then I would have no objections provided that everybody in the community benefits from it and not just a select few using it to power the EE club house on the Rock.

It would be far less obtrusive with a higher efficiency than wind turbines and would not require back-up conventional fossil fuel power stations in the way that wind power generation does.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 12:21 pm 
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brodie wrote:
It would be far less obtrusive with a higher efficiency than wind turbines and would not require back-up conventional fossil fuel power stations in the way that wind power generation does.

Because of the difference between the flow at springs and neaps and the slowing in flow around slack water a tidal turbine in Cuan might only have the same capacity factor as an 'average' wind turbine. The exact figure is difficult to predict without having exact flow rates for the site and the specs of the machine in question, but if the flow rate halves at neaps compared to springs then the power available for extraction in the same cross-section of flow at neaps is only one eighth of that available at springs. (Inverse square law).

It's still a great technology because, like wind, when the turbines are turning the fuel is cost-free and CO2-free - but if you are obsessed with capacity factors then in those terms it isn't potentially all that much more efficient if widely deployed. It is less visually intrusive though and the (variable) output is predictable hour by hour and day by day. The 'back-up generation' argument (which is flawed in the way it is usually presented) would apply almost equally to tidal power once a significant amount was grid-connected.

The exciting part of this proposal - for me anyway - was the implied community involvement/ownership with the potential for a good income. Sadly it seems that the technology is indeed 'unproven' as Nova's first device is, I have been informed, not yet operational.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 12:54 pm 
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Nick, you may very well be correct regarding capacity factor. However, the SeaGen tidal turbine installed by Marine Current Turbines Ltd in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough has exceeded 1000 hours of commercial operation and has achieved a capacity factor of 66% which is far in excess of any wind turbine.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 1:31 pm 
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brodie wrote:
Nick, you may very well be correct regarding capacity factor. However, the SeaGen tidal turbine installed by Marine Current Turbines Ltd in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough has exceeded 1000 hours of commercial operation and has achieved a capacity factor of 66% which is far in excess of any wind turbine.

In Strangford Narrows the neap flow is 75% of the Spring flow, and slack water times are very short.

The 3MW Burradale windfarm in Shetland has a capacity factor of 52%, which isn't bad. I think that Strangford Lough narrows is the tidal equivalent of that hill outside Lerwick - an exceptional place. Cuan might be nearly as good on a smaller scale, though obviously there isn't the room for an MCT machine - only a subsea design would really be suitable.

(MCT claim to be 'state of the art' - but their machines are intrusive visually and place constraints on surface navigation - I do not see this as the way forwards for the bulk of tidal energy installations, though there are schemes planned for Kyle Rhea (Skye) and Anglesey)

Image
Artists impression of MCT installation in Kyle Rhea

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 9:19 pm 
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Would you be able to store electricity during springs and use excess during neaps is that possible ?
Doesnt Cruachan sell its electricity when the demand is great and reduce its output when its not


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 10:24 pm 
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Husker Doo wrote:
Would you be able to store electricity during springs and use excess during neaps is that possible ?
Doesnt Cruachan sell its electricity when the demand is great and reduce its output when its not

Yes, Cruachan is like a giant battery in effect. When electricity is cheap because supply outstrips demand it is used to pump water uphill to fill the top reservoir. At times of peak demand the sluices are opened and the water rushes back downhill, turning the turbines. If some of the the power from tidal turbines at springs is surplus to requirements it could be stored in a pumped storage sschemes like Cruachan.

There are ways of managing the variability of renewables, but being able to store more power in times of surplus would be very useful. There is limited scope for more hydro pumped storage like Cruachan, but there is one big new scheme planned for Loch Lochy. Needless to say the NIMBYs are having a go at it.

There are other ways of storing energy from surplus electricity. Using the power to generate hydrogen from water is one route. Hydrogen is a tricky form of energy though - low energy density and highly explosive.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 11:55 pm 
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Unfortunately, pumped storage would not be a viable option for the Cuan sound.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 12:05 am 
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brodie wrote:
Unfortunately, pumped storage would not be a viable option for the Cuan sound.


The electricity would almost certainly be going into the national grid, not being used locally through a separate local grid.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 11:43 am 
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Naturally, this then leads to the question :-

Has Nova Innovation been accredited by OFGEM as a recipient of Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) ?


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2012 11:59 am 
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brodie wrote:
Naturally, this then leads to the question :-

Has Nova Innovation been accredited by OFGEM as a recipient of Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) ?

I'm not an expert on the ROS and ROCs, so stand ready to be corrected by anyone who has more detailed knowledge, but:

Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) are green certificates issued by the Authority to operators of accredited renewable generating stations for the eligible renewable electricity they generate. Nova Innovation don't appear to have actually fed any electricity into the grid yet, so probably not - although I do not know at what stage in the development of a project ROCs are applied for.

The Scottish government have set an enhanced band for both wave and tidal stream generation at 5 ROCs (per Mwh). In the event of a community tidal device being installed in Cuan it would be eligible for this tariff, which is how it would be funded - with surplus income going to the community. By comparison, onshore wind currently attracts only 1 ROC

(The reason for the huge disparity is that wave and tidal energy is still in its infancy and without this subsidy new players and risk takers like Nova would not emerge).

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