REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 215

Revolt news 25/10/2006

1. George Monbiot, author of much hype about global warming, has discovered the limitations of micro turbines and accuses their promoters of hype (APPENDIX A). Perhaps he will eventually get the point about large-scale wind generation of electricity too.

2. Described as "the world's longest underwater pipeline", the 1200 km Langeled pipeline opened at the end of September. It is to bring gas from Norway equivalent to one fifth of winter peak fuel demand. It lands at Easington in East Yorkshire (not Easington, County Durham). (Ceefax page 108, 30-9-06.) The markets showed a rapid response, especially as the weather has been mild and gas storage capacity is 96% full. There was a glut of gas in UK and a fall to negative wholesale prices (minus 5p per therm), so traders had to pay to get rid of it! (Ceefax 110, 3-10-06)

3. From news@all-energy 72 and 73, (APPENDIX B). UK transmission companies (gas & electric) fear their 4.5 billion pound spending allowance might not be enough to fix new wind farms to the national grid. A more intelligent distribution system is sought, to take variable renewable power.

4. Dermot Finnigan (news214.2) writes again  after being taken to hospital and surviving his dangerous hunger strike.

5. Pre-inquiry meetings for the Beauly - Denny line are under way this month. The relevant matters to be considered in the inquiries themselves are quite inclusive, according to the list in the Minute of Appointment of the Technical Adviser, Giles Scott, which says: "The scope of his report will include: need for the line and associated substations, power system operation and security, route of the line, different options for the line including undergrounding, EMF levels and possible health risks, network resilience to storms, proximity of the line to trees and buildings, construction and decommissioning, and access and maintenance during operation.

6. More news from Poland (see also news210.7) and an appeal to sign their petition are at APPENDIX D.

7. National Grid choose preferred partner for 500 million pound contract for grid reinforcement in western England and Wales (APPENDIX E).

8. Cilfrew Residents' Association tells us (APPENDIX F) of a new area of difficulty with NG "bullying tactics", with gas pipelines. Hitherto NG had evoked that reaction with electric power lines but since the merger with Transco former electricity staff are now dealing with gas pipelines. It is a pity, since at the time of the Yorkshire 400 kV line local landowners contrasted NG with the co-operative approach from BP over its ethanol pipeline in the same locality.

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APPENDIX A Monbiot on small-scale wind turbines.

New Scientist magazine, 30 September 2006, issue 2571 Small-scale renewable power - low-wattage thinking? George Monbiot

TO PREVENT global temperatures rising by 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, the rich nations must cut their carbon emissions by 90 per cent by 2030. In seeking to work out how this might be done, I have made many surprising findings, but none has shocked me as much as the discovery that renewable micro-generation - whereby people generate their own electricity with devices on their houses or in their gardens - has been grossly over-hyped. Those who say we can produce all the electricity we need and heat our homes from renewable sources have harmed the campaign to stop climate chaos, by sowing complacency and misdirecting our efforts.

Here's an example of how misleading the rhetoric over micro-generation can be. Last year, the environmental architect Bill Dunster, who designed the famous BedZed zero-carbon development outside London, published a brochure claiming that "up to half of your annual electric needs can be met by a near silent micro wind turbine". The turbine he specified has a diameter of 1.75 metres.

A few months later Building for a Future magazine, which supports renewable energy, published an analysis of micro wind machines. In winds of 4 metres per second - higher than average for most of the UK - a 1.75-metre turbine produces about 5 per cent of an average household's annual electricity. To provide the 50 per cent Dunster advertises, you would need a machine 4 metres in diameter, which would rip the side off your house. ?In almost all circumstances, micro wind turbines are a waste of time and money?

What's more, turbulence makes wind generators even less efficient, and to avoid it you must place them at least 11 metres above any obstacle within 100 metres. On most houses, this means constructing a minor hazard to aircraft. And the higher the pole, the more likely you are to inflict serious damage on your house. In almost all circumstances, micro wind turbines are a waste of time and money.

What about micro solar power? In his book Half Gone (Portobello Books, 2006), Jeremy Leggett, who is chief executive of the solar energy company Solarcentury, claims that "even in the cloudy UK, more electricity than the nation currently uses could be generated by putting photovoltaic roof tiles on all suitable roofs". This is a big claim, so you would expect it to come from a good source - a peer- reviewed journal, perhaps. But the reference Leggett gives is "Solar Energy: brilliantly simple, BP pamphlet, available on UK petrol forecourts".

The estimate is contradicted by the European consultancy firm Future Energy Solutions, formerly the Energy Technology Support Unit, which calculated that if solar electricity could somehow achieve an efficiency of 12 to 15 per cent at all point s of the compass, the "maximum practicable resource" in the UK in 2025 would be 266 terawatt-hours per year. Total annual electricity demand in the UK is currently 407 TWh.

Leggett's claim is even more misleading than this suggests. For a start, solar panels facing north produce less power than solar panels facing south. Furthermore, seeking to generate all our electricity this way would be staggeringly and pointlessly expensive; there are far better ways of spending the money. The International Energy Agency's MARKAL model puts the cost of saving carbon using solar electricity in 2020 at between £2200 and £3300 a tonne. Its estimate for onshore macro wind power, by contrast, ranges between a saving of £40 and a cost of £130 a tonne. A third problem is that solar electricity supply is poorly matched to demand. In the UK, demand peaks on winter evenings. Even if we could produce 407 TWh a year from solar panels on our roofs, most of it would be wasted.

What about the argument from some campaigners that even though micro-generators can make only a small contribution, they still wake people up to green issues? It seems more likely these devices will have the opposite effect, as their owners discover how badly they have been ripped off and their neighbours are driven insane by the constant yawing and stalling of the ill-sited windmill.

What's the alternative? Far from replacing the national grid with more localised power supplies, as the Green MEP Caroline Lucas suggests, we should be greatly expanding it to carry renewable energy from places where it is most abundant. This means, above all, a massive investment in offshore wind farms. A recent UK government report suggests England and Wales have a potential offshore wind resource of 3200 TWh. High-voltage direct current cables would allow us to make use of a larger area of the continental shelf. This means we can generate more electricity more reliably, avoid spoiling the view from the land and keep out of birds' migration routes. The electricity system cannot be run on wind alone. But surely it's clear that building giant offshore windmills is a far better use of our time and money than putting mini-turbines in places where they will generate more anger than power.

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APPENDIX B From news@all-energy 72 of early October 2006 (and, further below, from issue 73)


3.1.£4.5bn to invest in UK's energy

The owners of Britain's gas and electricity networks will have £4.5 billion to spend on meeting the country's energy needs over the next five years, £2.5 billion less than they had requested.... transmission companies fear that it will not be enough to fix new wind farms to the national grid... 

From issue 73:

3.5.Making electricity distribution systems more intelligent

Imperial College leads a three-year, £4m project to make the electricity distribution system more intelligent, so alternative sources of power can be integrated without overloading the ageing distribution system. 

4.14.Put windfarms near cities

More wind farms should be sited near to population centres in order to cut power losses and minimise the impact of pylons on the countryside. 

8.3.A third industrial revolution?

'Europe is a huge continent of renewable energy, but it's disparate. Hydrogen can store all these different forms of renewable energy. Smart power grids, currently being tested in the US' Silicon Valley, could then be used to distribute energy. The grids can be used like the Internet. There's an opportunity here to create a third industrial revolution' - Jeremy Rifkin, founder and president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in the US 

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APPENDIX C Letter from Dermot Finnigan after surviving ordeal.

Dear Mr Chairman and Chief Executive.

You now have the report that proves your line is in trespass and yet you refuse to release it

The suppression of the evidence by a company worth £450billion to deny a family their entitlement is both cruel and callous.

Maybe you could explain your decision.

I was taken to hospital last Tuesday night and released on Thursday evening. I have recovered over the weekend and will be in London again this week to make myself available to you in the hope you can bring yourself to meet with me and resolve this crippling dispute.

Yours Faithfully

Dermot Finnigan

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APPENDIX D Message from Poland

Dear Friends!

if you believe that children have a right to safe life, if you believe that people have a right to protection of their immediate environment, if you believe that big companies shouldn’t break the law and carry out their investments by force protected by armed people, if you respect such values like honesty and justice, if you don’t want to anyone to be allowed to put seventy-metre 2x400kV and 2x200kV pylons near your home overnight without consulting you, pylons blinking with red lights, pylons with 26 wires making noise heard within the range of 500 metres, being a threat to your children’s lives, if you want the law to be changed so that it prevents such things happening, help us, please! Read and sign our petition, see our photos from protest and watch the film

The protesting inhabitants from: Kamionki, Borówiec, Daszewice, Skrzynkii

Film - link 

Our PETITION - link 

The signature list under the petition - link 

Our photos from protest - link 

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APPENDIX E. Press release - AMEC JV appointed preferred bidder for £500m National Grid contract

London, United Kingdom (24 October 2006)

A joint-venture between AMEC, the international project management and services company, Babcock International and Mott MacDonald, has been appointed by National Grid as the preferred partner for the West Overhead Lines and Cable Alliance, which will carry out the upgrade of overhead power lines and underground cables across the western half of England and all of Wales over the next five years.

The contract will be worth £500 million (AMEC's share: £237.5 million) over an initial five-year period, after which the contract may be extended for a further five years.

As part of National Grid's expenditure of up to £2.8billion on alliances to improve the electricity transmission network, the joint venture's work will enable new infrastructure such as wind farms and other new electricity generation plant to be connected to the grid and will cover enhancement and replacement of existing assets to ensure the safe and reliable operation of the electricity network.

"We are delighted to be extending our strong relationship with National Grid and look forward to working in partnership to deliver an upgraded transmission network that will bring significant benefits to our customer, the public and the UK economy," said Samir Brikho, chief executive of AMEC. "This major electricity alliance contract, similar to our alliance with National Grid for gas networks, underlines AMEC's expertise in providing long-term asset support for the energy infrastructure sector."

AMEC and its partners are now finalising contractual and operational details and expect the contract to be signed in early 2007.

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APPENDIX F Trouble with NG over gas pipelines.

I understand your site is regarding power lines but we are facing exactly the same struggles with the NG plc industrial pipeline running through Wales into Gloucestershire in England. The same bully boy tactics, the same people. We have rotten Councils who are conniving votes to get this project through in spite of major unrest along the route of this massive pipeline. The Forest of Dean and Hereford Planning Authorities have recently thrown out NG's application for stations along the route and the Resident's Association of Cilfrew are awaiting a Judges decision on leave to apply for Judicial Review. Could you please highlight our plight along with your own as we are facing the same people and the same carnage of our beloved countryside with no choice whatever, in spite of the UK Government ratifying the Aarhus Convention in February 2005.

The three main "pillars" (as some people sometimes refer to them) of the Aarhus convention Agreement are outlined at:  Thank you, Linda Ware, Secretary Cilfrew Resident's Association Member of Safe Haven Network 

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-- Mike O'Carroll




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