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Cronky

An Island Covered In Wind Turbines?

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If you go to the dti consultation page above, you can download a report that was comissioned into the Island's renewable resources. Its pretty exhaustive and occasionally difficult to understand, but it shows all the locations they at least identified as possible sites for wind, tidal stream and tidal impoundment.

 

The problems with wave power is that a) Its wind power and b) It is expensive and experimental. Yes, there is an extensive Pelamis (sea-snake) test off Portugal, and plans for a similar facility off the Cornish coast, but the numbers on them are poor and they are vulnerable to storm damage.

 

Thanks for the info on the report - as you say exhaustive but does give a good insight into locations, visibility issues etc etc..I was impressed with the work the consultants have done (notice they are from the Orkneys - another flow on commercial benefit there of alternative energy).

 

On the option of tidal entrapment there is nothing new under the sun. I remember visiting this tidal mill near Southampton:

 

http://www.elingtidemill.wanadoo.co.uk/

 

It has been working for over 900 years on the tidal entrapment principle! Fascinating place to see if anyone is down that way.

 

The French have also had a tidal entrapment barrage working for about 40 years on the Rance estuary near St Malo.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rance_tidal_power_plant

 

According to the article it generates an average of 68MW of power and 600 million KwH per annum. I wonder how that compares to IoM consumption? Apparently it generates electricity at about 70% of the cost of nuclear generation. The Rance has a particularly high tidal rise and fall that probably contributes a lot to the effectiveness of the barrage.

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Just to give some sense of scale - Burbo has 25 3.6MW wind turbines.

 

Giving a max output of 90MW. The supporting documentation state that on average these will produce at 40% efficiency. So average output over a year of the entire farm will be about 36 MW. The whole thing is expected to cost about £90 million.

 

For the Island to replace Pulrose - ie to have an average output of about 90MW you'd need something like 63 turbines - costing about £230 million.

 

If these were installed in the same layout as Burbo the farm would be about 5 x 5 km square.

 

As I've said before the farm would have to be linked into a much larger grid than the IOM so that its uneven output can be compensated for. So an extra cable would be required - say another £50M.

 

It is a huge outlay on a technology which is only just proven.

 

I've not got the time to work out its economics, but I am doubtful it would significantly reduce the IOM's electricity cost, and could well increase it! But then again IF the price of petrochemical fuels keeps increasing it will look increasingly competitive!

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Cunning plans indeed and if you factor in the cost of subsidies per acre for innefficient manx farms, turning land over to turbines would be a saving straight way [you know they wont let it happen, farmers must have subsidies] :(

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I've not got the time to work out its economics, but I am doubtful it would significantly reduce the IOM's electricity cost, and could well increase it! But then again IF the price of petrochemical fuels keeps increasing it will look increasingly competitive!

 

Wind isn't the only solution no, but it could be part of one. We already have a biomass station, and very small hydro station, add some wind and tidal and we could be far more self-sufficient in the long term. And yes, it may raise costs in the short term. But much of the revenue generated could be spent locally, rather than spent on imported foreign fuel.

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I basically agree with you aidroid, but I'm a bit skeptical that the spending would remain local. Most of the cost is the inbuilt R&D which the companies will be seeking to recoup. If they are off shore the installation will almost entirely be out-sourced.

 

As you intimated, with renewables you are putting in far more up front investment and recouping it with lower fuel and maintenance costs etc over its life. The way fuel costs are going it is more than likely the right thing to do, but it would be a major project - as I've said before it isn't really to supply the Island, but a much larger market which can absorb the fluctuations in supply.

 

The costs etc mean it is unlikely the IOM would bear the costs on its own - we are slightly burdened with electrical infrastructure costs at the moment! More than likely it would be a joint venture with a large international electrical utility - which mean revenues will be shared and not remain local.

 

With soaring energy costs, global warming etc renewables are increasingly attractive, but it is still a major project for a tiny population. Lots of eggs and few baskets and all that - the policy dilema is how to diversify the risk AND diversify the energy supply. I'm not certain we've found it yet, and would need convincing before any huge projects were approved.

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I'm a bit skeptical that the spending would remain local. Most of the cost is the inbuilt R&D which the companies will be seeking to recoup. If they are off shore the installation will almost entirely be out-sourced.

Though it might also give the DTI the opportunity to pursue, and then several companies the incentive, to then relocate to the island to operate from here. It would be a good growing industry to base here with our sea-links etc. - bang in the middle of the British Isles.

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It doesn't have to be a major capital project though, and, depending on the approach taken, would not necessarily mean immense spending from the Government's capital budget.

 

Electricity would require a substantial outlay if we tried to do loads of it at once. However, if IoMG/MEA focus first on developing a Smart Grid, we would have the infrastructure to better manage micro-renewables, which would be much more effective here than they would in the UK, due to the size of the transmission network.

 

Whilst that was going on, a NGO, like a beefed-up transistion movement, involving residents, businesses, LG, CG and other groups, could work on reducing the fuel demands of heating and transport, which constitute something like 50% of our energy use. Efforts in this area would help reduce the financial burden on people, thus softening the increased energy prices associated with a switch to renewable electricity generation. Additionally, efforts in these sectors would involve a lot more on-Island business (insulation installation, bicycle merchants, etc.)

 

Moving back to electricity, there are definite safe bets, such as the undersea cable and (potentially) anaerobic digestors, as well as the possibility for a new gas-fired station (probably not the most progressive option, but the infrastructure is available and it should not be dismissed out of hand, particularly given how they can be used to maintain grid quality.

 

Ultimately, for all new renewable generation tech, all the money, in the short and medium term, is likely to go off Island, but that is largely the case now with gas and fuel oil. The problem is that we will be adding to those costs with additional international expenditure. Obviously the manufactuer and installation offshore wind turbines is beyond any Island business, unless we can attract some to base themselves here.

 

On the other hand, there is no pressing urgent requirement to install a vast renewable capacity in the short term, and I can see no problem with addressing the situation through more smaller projects rather fewer larger ones, especially if you look at it from a planning perspective. This is especially the case if we are simulatenously reducing our heating and transport costs, where the pay-back time is shorter and the benefits more obvious.

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Interestingly if you read the MEA inquiry evidential documentation, the authority was investigating wind power in 2001 and Mike Proffitt was tasked with putting together a plan for it. Events kind of took over, and now Mr Proffitt can be found peddling alternative energy - including wind power - around the world with his new company.

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Interestingly if you read the MEA inquiry evidential documentation, the authority was investigating wind power in 2001...and now Mr Proffitt can be found peddling alternative energy - including wind power - around the world with his new company.

There'll be no shortage of wind power during that enquiry I'd imagine.

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