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Renewable Energy, but at any price?

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Offline Dave

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« on: February 22, 2008, 12:52 PM »
Hi Everybody
For a change a Portuguese story, regarding the headlong rush to tap renewable energy sources, and some of the problems caused
From the BBC.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/working_lunch/7256687.stm
Regards
Dave

Offline Steve West

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« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2008, 20:52 PM »
Thanks Dave

Reminds me of the new scene around Fuendetodos, a quaint village to the south of Zaragoza where Goya was born. Nice museum, cultural experience, etc, and hills plastered with wind turbines.

Who was the best athlete? Geoff Capes or Daley Thompson? What I mean is if you let the politicians and the technicians do what they like even with renewable resources they go for the simplest equations like "where is it windy?= wind map", "who owns such and such a hillside?". Single track solutions are often worse than the problem, as they distort and create freaks (no disregard to Geoff Capes intended!). The best solutions are all round athletes, integral solutions that take into account as many factors as possible: wind, landscape, tourism, wildlife, costs, benefits to local community, alternatives, etc.

I guess it's all a bit too much for many decision-makers, and that's why we have these conflicts with renewable energy sources. Just look at the fuss that biofuels are kicking up.

Steve
Birds and Birding Tours in north-east Spain
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My latest book. Part travelogue, part memoir, part ornithology, Steve West’s engaging story of a young man seeking adventure and enlightenment in a foreign land
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Offline Technopat

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« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2008, 22:30 PM »
Greetings Dave and Steve and All,
Thanx for that - only just came across it when doing a search for "renewable".
Here's another angle:
Interesting article in last week’s (?) The Economist about wave power.
Here's the link, but not sure if it’s open to non-subscribers, so just in case, here's a nice little tidbit (my bold print):

Quote
... Given wave power’s potential, why has it been so hard to get the technology to work—and may things now be about to change?

The first patents for wave-power devices were issued in the 18th century. But nothing much happened until the mid-1970s, when the oil crisis inspired Stephen Salter, an engineer at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland, to develop a wave generator known as Salter’s Duck. His design contained curved, floating canisters, each the size of a house, that would be strung together and then tethered to the ocean floor. As the canisters, known as Ducks, were tossed about by the waves, each one would rock back and forth. Hydraulics would convert the rocking motion to rotational motion, which would in turn drive a generator. A single Duck was calculated to be capable of generating 6 megawatts (MW) of electricity—enough to power around 4,000 homes. The plan was to install them in groups of several dozen.

Initial estimates put the cost of generating electricity in this way at nearly $1 per kilowatt hour (kWh), far more than nuclear power, the most expensive electricity at the time. But as Dr Salter and his team improved their design, they managed to bring the cost-per-kWh down to the cost of nuclear power. Even so, the research programme was shut down by the British government in 1982. The reasons for this were not made public, but it is widely believed to have happened after lobbying by the nuclear industry. In testimony to a House of Lords committee in 1988, Dr Salter said that an accurate evaluation of the potential of new energy sources would be possible only when “the control of renewable energy projects is completely removed from nuclear influences.”

Trouble is, when you reach my age, it gets increasingly harder to remember things like "Now, who was in government in 1982?"

Dr Salter rules OK!
Regs.,
Technopat
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2008, 09:11 AM »
Greetings Caesar,
Re. your
Quote
I know people are currently trying to get tax on oil lowered - but I personally think it should be raised. And every penny of it should be spent on encouraging the adoption and development of renewable energy sources. The best law the EU could ever introduce, in my mind, is one that would require at least 90% of energy to be from renewable sources within a few years. It won't happen though...
, I posted this the other day. It refers to NZ's commitment
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php?topic=1637.msg13845#msg13845
Zapatero, at least publicly, seems to be heading in the same direction - if they let him...

Which reminds me, couldn't you - in your spare time  :angel: - knock up some sort of wave power generator to dangle off the back of Mollymawk? One that would obviously work both when you're haring along at a rate of knots (horizontal mode) and when you're moored up (vertical mode)...

Regs.,
Technopat
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline Clive

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« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2008, 10:27 AM »
Hi all,

Need to do some catching up over on the dedicated topic Caesar :)
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php?topic=501.0

Clive

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Offline Steve West

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« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2008, 20:34 PM »
I've also only just come across this; when it rose to the top of the list after TP posted his reply.
As I see it the only problem mentioned in the article is that the wolves moved out of the area temporarily during construction work, and then returned - it is not the turbines being there that caused a problem.

I don't understand why so many people are always so eager to stop any form of renewable energy that has any slight drawback whatsoever - ignoring the incredible drawbacks to our current power sources; fossil fuels and nuclear. Fortunately the Spanish and the Portuguese are rather more into environmentally friendly forms of energy than the British - the British public are a peculiarly stubborn bunch, it seems. Steve; I think your anecdote is a perfect example of this - the locals are happy but the British tourists feel that the turbines shouldn't be allowed because, in their opinions, they are ugly. (I disagree on this count; I love them.)

I know people are currently trying to get tax on oil lowered - but I personally think it should be raised. And every penny of it should be spent on encouraging the adoption and development of renewable energy sources. The best law the EU could ever introduce, in my mind, is one that would require at least 90% of energy to be from renewable sources within a few years. It won't happen though...

Sorry but who's the British tourist you mention?
As for the locals loving wind turbines I suggest you do a quick opinion poll in the area of Els Ports: Terra Alta, Montsià and Matarranya. Fairly recently the local residents (and not many British tourists among them at that time) of Horta Sant Joan held a referendum and 80% voted to reject the colossal wind energy sheme that would have severly affected growing prospects of rural tourism.
I imagine this debate is not going to go anywhere constructive from this point on, because you have already shown your cards and taken it into the realm of the personal. Don't distort what is said, whatever your opinion. State your opinion and listen to the opinions of others. You said you love wind turbines, I can see that in writing and I don't base my arguments on anything I presume about you. Are you the spokesman for a wind energy company? For the Spanish nation? Am I a "British tourist"?
Is this to be a worthwhile debate?
Birds and Birding Tours in north-east Spain
www.birdinginspain.com

My latest book. Part travelogue, part memoir, part ornithology, Steve West’s engaging story of a young man seeking adventure and enlightenment in a foreign land
www.flyingoverthepyrenees.info

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2008, 00:55 AM »
Greetings All,
Variations on a theme: tidal power.
Quote
The ebb and flow of tidal power
By Mark Kinver
Science and nature reporter, BBC News

In January, the UK government and Welsh Assembly launched a two-year feasibility study into the possibility of harnessing tidal energy in the Severn estuary in order to generate electricity.
More 'ere:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7449284.stm



Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline Steve West

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« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2008, 17:13 PM »
And I apologise for my rather "tanked up" reply. Just goes to show that one shouldn't go on to forums after a couple of glasses of wine! There are still a couple of things that I disagree with you about, but I will try to expound them in a more civilized tone.

Firstly, the British vs Spanish thing. It still doesn't sound right, even after your explanation. Just the fact that you even brought up a supposedly different outlook on the issue based on nationality. If my children have a British passport, and I'm not stating whether that is or is not the case, but they have lived in Catalunya all their lives, what should their outlook be? Or what about someone who is British but applying for Spanish nationality? I just don't see the point of bringing nationality into it, unless it's a jab in the form of "us and them".

You have also expressed some of your opinions on windfarms without really taking up any of the issues mentioned in previous posts, despite the fact that you make reference to them. What about the suggestion that it is not the windfarms themselves that are the problem but rather their inadequate locations? Don't you think that they should be subject to stricter planning controls that also take into account factors such as wildlife, landscape and efficiency?   

Best regards
Steve
Birds and Birding Tours in north-east Spain
www.birdinginspain.com

My latest book. Part travelogue, part memoir, part ornithology, Steve West’s engaging story of a young man seeking adventure and enlightenment in a foreign land
www.flyingoverthepyrenees.info

Offline Technopat

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« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2008, 14:23 PM »
Greetings All,
Great to see this thread back on topic - sorely tempted though I was, I didn't want to butt in on someone else's argument  :angel:
Very few people I've spoken to seem to be against windpower per se. As you both mention, the problem is where to set up the wind farm/park (?), having first taken into serious consideration basic aspects such as the effect on local AND - possibly even more importantly - migratory species.*

It's perfectly clear to me that the bottom line is that we suffer the logical consequences of a culture that wantonly looks to make an unnecessarily high and immediate** financial profit - and at any cost to the ecology and/or human life - as opposed to a sustainable - and in principle, less harmful, rational use of renewable resources. I heard Zapatero or a minister say yesterday that the government was committed to not expanding nuclear energy, to which a spokesperson from the PP immediately replied that a future PP government would create over a hundred thousand new jobs related to the nuclear sector. Same carrot as at San Glorio: offer jobs all round, promise of bounty and hang the consequences...

Have mentioned elsewhere that local councils in rural areas suffering serious migration, particularly of young people, are so desperate to raise funds just to cover basic needs that they will literally stop at nothing. Even in those cases where the mayor him/herself is not receiving any direct personal gain, if some smarmy (Sp. anyone) business person comes up and offers to rent (they never buy 'cos they have no intention of staying...) land for any kind of use, who are they to say no... And then it's up to those d*** ecologistas to do their best to put a spanner in the works (Sp. anyone?). Usually to no avail, needless to say.

*Can't remember offhand which species of flutterby  :dancing: flutters south from the USA ONCE every 15 years or so.
**Have mentioned elsewhere the straight-talking bigwig who told me that the moment the current subsidies run out, his company is ready to dump their wind energy operations and go elsewhere. This is NOT because there's no money to be made - simply because there's not as much money as they'd like to make (:disgusted non-smiley:)

Regs.,
Technopat
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline Steve West

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« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2008, 18:54 PM »
There are several articles on this topic in Quercus June 2008, no.268 pp 60-61 .
One on Scotland (Lewis), another on Castellón - Els Ports and Alto Maestrazgo.
The latter refers to 220 Griffon Vultures killed in this area since wind turbines started operating in October 2006.
¡Más leña al fuego!

Steve
Birds and Birding Tours in north-east Spain
www.birdinginspain.com

My latest book. Part travelogue, part memoir, part ornithology, Steve West’s engaging story of a young man seeking adventure and enlightenment in a foreign land
www.flyingoverthepyrenees.info

PeterJ

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« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2008, 21:17 PM »
There are several articles on this topic in Quercus June 2008, no.268 pp 60-61 .
One on Scotland (Lewis), another on Castellón - Els Ports and Alto Maestrazgo.
The latter refers to 220 Griffon Vultures killed in this area since wind turbines started operating in October 2006.
¡Más leña al fuego!

Steve

It might also be worth a mention Steve that during 2006 55 Griffon Vultures met their end at the Tarifa windfarm end! God knows how many more were striken dead during preceeding years and I am still trying to get figures for 2007. Then you have a number of White Stork, Lesser and Common Kestrel, Booted/Short-toed Eagle and Steppe Buzzard!!! The list is a long one and only refers to one area. Yes they are ugly to me, but more than that, without careful and proper duty of care they are an absolute killer for an already struggling raptor population.

Peter
www.spanishbirds.com

Offline Steve West

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« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2008, 17:45 PM »
That was certainly worth a mention, Peter. I imagine it's very hard to get reliable figures for raptor mortality caused by wind farms in most areas of Spain.

Steve
Birds and Birding Tours in north-east Spain
www.birdinginspain.com

My latest book. Part travelogue, part memoir, part ornithology, Steve West’s engaging story of a young man seeking adventure and enlightenment in a foreign land
www.flyingoverthepyrenees.info

Offline lisa

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« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2008, 22:19 PM »
We'll see how the Fapas Griffons get on.........
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Offline Dave

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« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2008, 12:43 PM »
Hi Everybody
Another BBC report on the downside of renewable energy
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7472532.stm
Talk about damned if you do damned if you don´t
regards
Dave

Offline lisa

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« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2008, 08:03 AM »
I've read that 800 Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) deaths were caused by wind turbines in Spain in 2007. I'm afraid it was just a small paragraph and didn't say where the figures came from.
Over to Wind farms and effects on birdlife for, in John's words, "aerial mincing machines" new designs.
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Accommodation, ski touring, snowshoeing, walking and info on the flora and fauna of the Picos de Europa.
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Offline Clive

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« Reply #15 on: June 26, 2008, 10:19 AM »
Thanks for directing this topic Lisa....

Talk of wind power and its effects should be over there whilst this is a general topic about renewable energy.....

Clive
Explore the nature of Iberia at www.wildsideholidays.com

The beautiful town of Ronda, the City of Dreams?

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Simon

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« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2008, 19:47 PM »
Hello all,

I may be off on one of my tangents again, ,or perhaps up to my usual skill of upsetting everyone! But I think there's an essential problem with a lot of this debate that is in microcosm a reflection of one of the difficulties that a lot of 'green' thinkers have - and that's not to dismess said thinkers' thoughts!!! :angel:

OK: carbon based energy is wrong because it is polluting and unsustainable (insustainable? help me TP!)

OK: renewable energy is fine because it is sustainable, but it has environmental consequences in detail

OK: nuclear energy is just plain bad

Well, not OK really because every one of these statements is far from 'true'

Carbon based energy worked because it has so many advantages: mainly that it s readily portable, i.e. the stuff can be carried around in a mall, powerful and 'relatively' safe format

Renewable energy only really works as a complement, and a very valuable complement, to other forms of supply, i.e. there would always be  need for 'conventional' sources of potential to maintain a 'grid' supply of power. But far more important s the fact that most'alteratve sources are located far away from the demand, with the subsequent environmental impact of the infrastructure, i.e pylons, plus the enormous loss of potential in said infrastructure.

Finally - is nuclear so bad based on these considerations?

The arguments that I've heard recently:

Nuclear isn't all that 'green' due to the extraction, construction of infrastructure, etc. Well, how 'clean is an oilfield-tankers-refineries? S taking the accountants' method (and I hate accountants by the way): cancel each other out and nuclear wind hands down

The risk of nuclear pollution is too high: that's why they put them in the back of beyond or course, where they are left to moulder (I refer her to the recent events at Asco, amongst others) Now not that I'm cynical  :technodevil: but if a nuclear plant were to be built in, say, Battersea (London), then I have a certain feeling that there really wouldn't be much of a problem, bearing in mind that one huge central installation is much more easy to control that numerous diverse ones.

Of course, we could always reduce our demand, but the last politician to suggest a sensible idea is living quietly somewhere on the West Coast, as they say in Ireland!

Ready for spirited arguments

Simon


Offline Steve West

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« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2008, 12:40 PM »
I still haven't heard aof any long term solution for the disposal of radioactive waste, an issue that is generally side-stepped by the proponents of nuclear power. Now that it's no longer dumped at sea (as far as we know), what is its final destination to be once the special "pools" are filled up? Perhaps we could fly it to the moon (aboard a nuclear powered space shuttle of course!).

Steve
Birds and Birding Tours in north-east Spain
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My latest book. Part travelogue, part memoir, part ornithology, Steve West’s engaging story of a young man seeking adventure and enlightenment in a foreign land
www.flyingoverthepyrenees.info

Simon

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« Reply #18 on: June 29, 2008, 13:02 PM »
Hi Steve,

Don't go away thinking that I'm necessarily a proponent of N.E., but my understanding (which is of course highly questionable! :speechless:) is that the strategy is to render the stuff ever more low grade, until it reaches a point that it is a) non lethal, and b) pretty much the same as levels of ambient radiation that occur in many populated areas of the globe, e.g. Cornwall.

What I wanted to get across is the need to analyse the options rather than give in to the tendency for dogma that seems to clog up the issue in so many ways.

Regs

Simon

PS I'm a good example of a low grade radiation source, as I'll carry a dose around until the day I die - when said radiation will be relatively static for a few millennia  :technodevil: