REVOLT opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

opposing unnecessary, excessive and intrusive powerline development

REVOLT Newsletter 216

Revolt news 10/11 /2006

1. Following last issue's note on micro-wind power (news215.1), the Guardian reports on B&Q's new domestic turbines (APPENDIX A).

2. Dermot Finnigan (news215.4 etc.) wrote 28.10.06 to the Queen to ask that Sir John Parker, NG chairman, be relieved of his knighthood, on the grounds of his alleged fraudulent misrepresentation of a land boundary in HM Lands Registry in the course of denying the need for a wayleave. He has also written to the Prime Minister and keeps writing to the NG Chairman, apparently without reply.

3. Falkirk Council is to withdraw its objection to the Beauly-Denny line (APPENDIX B).

4. The Stern Review on the economics of climate change reported this month. It has been criticised for promoting the case on global warming made by the IPCC, whereas its brief was on economics and not on reviewing the science. Stern shows that the economic impact on the world economy of the sort of climate change suggested by the IPCC would be severe, but that the (expensive) measures suggested to resist it would be affordable. However he is not able to say how effective those measures might be, if at all. One general trend, reflected elsewhere in government agencies, is towards "adaptation", i.e. preparing to cope with inevitable climate change, as distinct from prevention. The 27-page Summary can be seen at  http://tinyurl.com/yzfpf6 

5. Power cuts across Europe caused a stir the evening before bonfire night (APPENDIX C).

6. The Antarctic ice sheet perhaps isn't melting after all (APPENDIX D), and sea levels are falling rather than rising, in contrast to the global warming scare stories unquestioningly perpetuated in the Stern review.

7. My Revolt Chairman's Report 2006 is at APPENDIX E, as accepted at the AGM.

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APPENDIX A B&Q domestic turbines

To see this story with its related links on the Guardian Unlimited site, go to http://tinyurl.com/ymmc4j 

Blowing in the wind B&Q is now selling wind turbines over the counter. But how easy are they to install? And do they work? Dominic Murphy gives the lowdown Dominic Murphy, Thursday October 26 2006, The Guardian

How do they work?

Turbine blades rotate in the wind, turning a copper coil inside a magnetic field and creating an electrical current, in the same way as a dynamo. The Department of Trade and Industry estimates that by 2050, 6% of all our energy could be generated this way, with mini windmills either attached to the home, or to a mast in the garden. There are two basic systems: stand-alone or grid-connected. The first has traditionally been used to power batteries in remote areas. A turbine connected to the grid will need a "grid tie inverter", which converts the current to the 240 AC mains voltage.

How much will it cost?

A typical one-kilowatt domestic turbine will cost upwards of 1,500. With installation, this could rise to 2,500-3,000. Larger systems in the region of 1.5kW to 6kW come in at between 4,000 and 18,000. Many turbines qualify for a government grant of a third of their cost (0800 915 7722;    Lowcarbonbuildings.org ), and prices are expected to come down as demand increases: B&Q anticipates selling 50,000 of its Windsave system, which might explain the price of 1,498, including survey and installation.

Can you install it yourself?

In theory. However, you will need an electrician to connect it to the mains, and will not get a grant unless you use an accredited installer.

Will they make a noise?

B&Q says the noise on its turbines is 40 decibels: "This is the equivalent sound of two people walking in front of your house talking." A study by Nottingham University found that the StealthGen turbine, the windmill David Cameron is proposing to put on his London home, is quieter at 2-3 decibels above background noise.

Do I have to live in a windy area?

Turbines operate best with constant wind, rather than gusting, which can wear out parts more quickly. Average wind speed in the UK is 5.6m/s, which is a gentle breeze, and many models are designed to work at around 4m/s. You can check the average wind speed in your area here, but such measures are notoriously inaccurate, not taking into account local factors such as surrounding buildings and trees.

How much electricity will it produce?

"Up to 30%" of a household's needs is a common figure bandied about, but it verges on meaningless because it is often based on average wind speed. Not only will the true saving depend on how windy your area is, but how much energy your property uses - according to the Energy Saving Trust ( www.est.org.uk , 0800 512012), a typical home uses between 4,000kWh and 7,000kWh per year. So that is two wildly divergent figures from which to begin your calculations.

Can I sell any surplus electricity back to the national grid?

It is quite possible that you could produce more electricity than you need at certain times - at night, say, or in a gale. In which case some turbines will "export" this power back to the grid. In reality, however, it is actually quite difficult to do. First, you will need to invest in a special meter (about 120), then negotiate a rate with your electricity supplier. This will probably be an insulting few pence per unit of power, as opposed to the 11p or more that they are charging you. Compare this with Germany, where micro-generation incentives include paying householders 30p for every unit of solar electricity they export. Much easier is to sign up with a "green" supplier of electricity such as Good Energy, which will pay you around 5p for every unit of power you generate - special meter or not. Then there are ROC (renewable energy certificate) allowances, which is money you can claim from your electricity supplier for reducing your carbon emissions (this could be a round 60 a year, though expect some nightmare paperwork to claim it).

Am I going to get back my investment?

The 1,500 question. Again those average wind speeds figure in some controversial calculations. B&Q reckons its turbines will take seven to eight years to pay for themselves at current electricity prices, but a Sussex University study suggested it could be as much as 28 years for some models.

Will I need planning permission?

This year's Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Act requires local authorities to set targets in micro generation, so you could well find a sympathetic ear at the planning department. However, you will still need permission and policy varies from council to council. Building Control will also need to know about your plans.

Do I need a survey?

Nope, but you would be mad not to have one. You can try to find an "environmental consultant" for some advice, but at the moment the wind turbine industry is a young, unregulated pup, so you could end up none the wiser. You can look up the list of accredited models and installers at < http://www.Lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk >.

Will it structurally damage my house?

A good reason for getting that survey, and a controversial point. Wind turbines mounted on masts have been around for years and are tried and tested energy producers. Those bolted to homes are not, and many have doubts about their suitability. Alternative energy expert Nick Martins, writing recently in Building for a Future, the green construction magazine, says: "This is not the same thing as fitting a satellite dish on the side of a house. I would guess that the lateral thrust exerted by these turbines on a Victorian chimney stack in a high wind would be more than sufficient to topple it. The same might be true of the gable ends of many older houses."

Would I be better off with some other form of micro-generation?

The bottom line is that wind turbines mounted on homes is relatively untried technology. Solar hot water systems, however, which could cost as little as 3,000 and qualify for a grant, have been with us for years. There are no moving parts, so there is less to go wrong, and you don't need planning permission. Also, achieving 50% of your yearly hot water needs is not unrealistic. The cheapest power-saving option? More insulation, switching off appliances and low-energy light bulbs.

Copyright Guardian News and Media Limited

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APPENDIX B Falkirk Council to drop pylon objection.

http://tinyurl.com/yga6d2 >

Pylon objection set to be dropped Power line Falkirk Council is expected to withdraw its objection to controversial plans for a line of huge electricity pylons from the Highlands to Central Scotland.

The line, proposed by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), would see 600 pylons built on a 137-mile route.

Falkirk officials have recommended that councillors approve the withdrawal.

The move would mean the authority not taking part in a forthcoming public inquiry on the plans, which have attracted thousands of objections.

The authority had earlier lodged a "holding objection" to the plans, but planning chiefs pointed out that only a small part of the line would come into the authority's area, having a minor effect.

A council report added that it had yet to receive additional information on an application for a sub-station near the listed Torwood Mire wildlife site, meaning councillors would not be able to determine it.

Perth and Kinross, Highland and Stirling councils have objected to the power line, but SSE said the development was needed in order to transfer green energy from proposed projects in the north of Scotland.

The line would run from Beauly near Inverness to Denny near Falkirk, passing through the Cairngorm National Park and close to the Wallace monument in Stirling.

The public inquiry, called by the Scottish Executive, will be held in 2007

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APPENDIX C Power cuts strike Western Europe http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6117880.stm  Last Updated: Sunday, 5 November 2006, 03:01 GMT

Power cuts have struck several countries in Western Europe, leaving millions of people without electricity.

Power companies said the outage started in Germany with a surge in demand prompted by cold weather, and then spread to other parts of Europe.

Some five million people in France lost power, mainly in the east of the country and including parts of Paris.

"We weren't very far from a European blackout," a senior director with French power company RTE said.

Pierre Bornard told the French news agency AFP that two German high-voltage transmission lines failed, causing problems across western Europe.

This triggered a "house of cards" style system breakdown, he said.

Automatic security systems cut supplies to some customers to avoid a complete blackout.

Italy, Belgium and Spain were also affected by the power cuts.

Most electricity supplies were restored within two hours of the outage, and so far no injuries or accidents have been reported.

Fire brigades in France said they had to answer several calls from people stuck in lifts.

High speed rail links were also disrupted.

***** ... and a further article:

Bid to overhaul Europe power grid Story from BBC NEWS: http://tinyurl.com/yjvz92  Published: 2006/11/05 16:07:20 GMT

Italy's prime minister has said Europe needs a central power authority to prevent the kind of blackouts that left swathes of West Europe without energy.

An overload in Germany's power network triggered outages leaving millions without electricity on Saturday night.

Romano Prodi said there was a "contradiction" in having a unified power network but no central authority.

Power failed first in Cologne, Germany, before shutting down across parts of France, Italy, Spain and Austria. Belgium, the Netherlands and Croatia were also affected.

"My first impression is that there is a contradiction between having European networks but not having a central European authority. It is somewhat absurd," Mr Prodi said.

Transmission failure

German utility provider E.ON said early investigations suggested the supply failures were caused by overloads in the power network in northwest of the country, according to Reuters.

The power outages were quickly restored in most cases but in some of the worst incidences:

In Paris, firefighters responded to nearly 40 calls from people stuck in lifts as the city lost power

Scores of trains were delayed in Germany's industrial Ruhr region for up to two hours

The Italian regions of Piedmont, Liguria and Puglia lost energy overnight between 2100 and 2200 GMT

In Spain, power was lost in the cities of Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza and parts of the Andalucia region.

European blackout risk

E.ON said the power failures may have been linked to a line across a river being switched off to allow a ship to pass through safely, Reuters reported.

France was one of the worst affected, with five million losing power mainly in the east of the country and the capital, Paris, and its suburbs.

"We weren't very far from a European blackout," a senior director with French power company RTE said.

Most electricity supplies were restored within two hours of the outage, and so far no injuries or accidents have been reported.

The worst recent power blackout struck Italy in 2003, plunging the country into darkness for 18 hours between 28 and 29 September.

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APPENDIX D ANTARCTIC ICE SHEET MASS BALANCE

CO2 Science Magazine, 8 November 2006 http://tinyurl.com/ymcq6d 

Reference

Wingham, D.J., Shepherd, A., Muir, A. and Marshall, G.J. 2006. Mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A 364: 1627-1635.

What was done

The authors "analyzed 1.2 x 108 European remote sensing satellite altimeter echoes to determine the changes in volume of the Antarctic ice sheet from 1992 to 2003." This survey, in their words, "covers 85% of the East Antarctic ice sheet and 51% of the West Antarctic ice sheet," which together comprise "72% of the grounded ice sheet.""

What was learned

Wingham et al. report that "overall, the data, corrected for isostatic rebound, show the ice sheet growing at 5 1 mm year^-1." To calculate the ice sheet's change in mass, however, "requires knowledge of the density at which the volume changes have occurred," and when the researchers' best estimates of regional differences in this parameter are used, they find that "72% of the Antarctic ice sheet is gaining 27 29 Gt year^-1, a sink of ocean mass sufficient to lower [authors' italics] global sea levels by 0.08 mm year^-1." This net extraction of water from the global ocean, according to Wingham et al., occurs because "mass gains from accumulating sno w, particularly on the Antarctic Peninsula and within East Antarctica, exceed the ice dynamic mass loss from West Antarctica."

What it means

Contrary to all the horror stories one hears about global warming- induced mass wastage of the Antarctic ice sheet leading to rising sea levels that gobble up coastal lowlands worldwide, the most recent decade of pertinent real-world data suggest that forces leading to just the opposite effect are apparently prevailing, even in the face of what climate alarmists typically describe as the greatest warming of the world in the past two millennia or more.

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APPENDIX E Revolt Chairman's Report 2006.

UK energy policy is due to be framed in a new white paper, expected to promote both renewable and nuclear energy, against volatile oil and gas markets and the increasing profile of climate change concerns.

On the subject of climate change, the (in)famous "hockey stick" graph purports to show an underlying trend of a flat temperature profile for a thousand years followed by a steep rise in modern times. Although that flies in the face of historical evidence of the mediaeval warm period, it has been heavily promoted by the IPCC, government agencies and even the Royal Society. Yet its method is fundamentally flawed, as confirmed this year by two key US government sponsored reports. Of most interest to me is the Wegman report by eminent statisticians, which completely upholds the statistical criticism of the hockey stick. It also confirms that the flawed method would give such a result when purely random input temperature data are used. While global warming remains a proper and serious concern, this falsification of science at the highest level is equally alarming. Royal Society take note!

Wind power, with its excessive powerline implications, continues to drive ahead. Wind farms themselves are likely to be the single most damaging visual impact in the UK over the next decade. Yet the severe limits to their effect in combating global warming continue to be misunderstood. Revolt has made representations in the new (limited) regional and local planning procedures this year. Hambleton DC is at the forefront of the new processes.

Revolt is collaborating with objectors to the Beauly - Denny 400 kV proposal in Scotland. A public inquiry is to open in February and is expected to be a new testing point for considerations of health and undergrounding. The applicant, Scottish and Southern Eenergy (SSE), had repeated the old story of a "sterilised swathe" across the countryside caused by undergrounding, in spite of the contrary example in Yorkshire (and the photos on Revolt's web site). Yet, after objectors arranged a presentation to the Scottish Parliament by Europa Cables, SSE has had to accept that, contrary to its environmental statement, it would use the more benign XLPE cables rather than the old oil-filled type.

Further developments on new and cheaper forms of undergrounding, led by European firms, have emerged from objectors in Ireland. Revolt is again collaborating and gathering information on improved technology.

The stakeholder advisory group (SAGE) on health issues from EMFs has not yet reported but continues to be very active with Revolt taking a central part. One outcome is my collaboration with Professor Denis Henshaw on related research and analysis.

Revolt's web site continues to be heavily used, as we are largely an internet-based organisation. Over the last year 17 issues of Revolt email news were circulated.

Mike O'Carroll, Chairman

 

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