Look to the tides for power
Published at 00:00, Friday, 18 January 2008
I AM an energy consultant, now long retired. My expertise is not in renewables, but I find it surprising that most of the debate is about wind energy.
Reliability and consistency are all important. If we look at alternative sources, it is clear that, in this country, the most predictable is tidal.
Other sources such as solar, save and wind just cannot compete, and I am surprised at the lack of schemes aimed at harnessing this natural resource.
The technology is available using artificial lagoons, turbines in bridge supports (and elsewhere) and, of course, barrages.
Yet, in a recent debate on BBC’s Newsnight on the need for nuclear power generation, although solar and wind power were mentioned, there was not one reference to it.
I read that up to 21 per cent of the generating capacity in the country could be from wind farms.
Well, maybe, but I would expect it to have a large adverse effect on the efficiency of conventional power plants, and surely it is vital that our fossil plants operate in an optimum manner.
During my career I was, for a considerable time, concerned with the strategy for coping with a demand-led energy system, which used by-product fuels, in various quantities, supplemented by purchased oil and gas.
To avoid burning off and thereby wasting the by-product gases, electricity was generated.
By and large, electricity generating turbines operate at maximum efficiency at full load.
Unfortunately, turbines cannot be switched on and off at the drop of a hat.
In our case, at peak demand for by-product fuels, they had to be run at base load, which is very inefficient (but justified because of the overall saving) and when there was insufficient by-product fuel, imported oil had to be used.
The calculations to optimise works costs were complex. On a national scale, I suspect they are pretty daunting.
But the implications of 21 per cent of generating capacity being lost when an extended period of what the meteorologists call blocking highs occur, and the giant turbine blades are stationary, are uncomfortable.
Either there would be power cuts or there would have to be a turn-up capability of 37 per cent and, I understand, we already have a buffer of 20 per cent to cope with varying demand.
Not once have I seen this acknowledged by the wind farm lobby.
*LOVE them or hate them, wind farms continue to divide local opinion on these pages, a subject so emotive we are all wondering who will get the last word.
On the green side, Messrs Jill Perry and her supporters seem altogether nice people, with a high priority for clean air and a pollution-free environment, the sort of people you’d like living next door to, people who’d keep their music down and stop their dogs from barking and fouling your footpath.
Trouble is, on the down side, the wind-operated drones they champion on more and more of our green hills just won’t cut the mustard when it comes to meeting our ever-growing energy demands.
The idealists, on the other hand, who favour a nuclear solution are equally upstanding and desirable neighbours, especially as letter writer Bill Stephens is a friend of mine, and their chief spokesman.
While impressing us with science and figures that seem to add up, they have worried us sick with conspiracy theories and shady profiteering.
Instead of counting pretty windmills in my sleep, I now have nightmares of futile waste.
Whatever I choose, there’s a danger I might shoot the very people who will keep the lights burning when I’m 90 (God willing), sitting by the fire trying to read the Times & Star letters page.
Instead, peace and long life be upon them.
A simple test of their intelligence and wisdom will decide who has the ascendancy, with the answer (one of four possible) to the following question.
To each, I ask: “If you knew the world was going to end tomorrow, would you still plant an apple tree today?”
*AS ONE of the minority of West Cumbrians opposed to the nuclear industry I must express concern at last week’s announcement by John Hutton (Times & Star, January 11).
The apparent enthusiasm with which the announcement was met locally is surely misplaced as the government took the opportunity to make clear that the fuel from any new power station built in Britain would not be reprocessed, so the future of Thorp will not be extended.
As Tony Cunningham was only too quick to explain, because any new reactors would be built by private companies, no guarantee can be made that West Cumbria would be a chosen site.
The net result is that no serious effort or investment will be made into providing West Cumbria with the non-nuclear future it deserves, while the false hopes of continuing as we are persist.
The problems are not only local, as this push to nuclear threatens to divert investment from renewable energy technology and decentralised power generation schemes, and all for nothing.
Any new reactor could not be brought on line in time for the predicted shortfall in 2015; even 10 new reactors would only reduce UK carbon emissions by four per cent while distracting attention from the need to improve energy efficiency.
This government announcement is bad news for West Cumbria, bad news for UK power supplies and bad news for the planet.
*IF THE small shops in Workington don’t come up to scratch, how can this be the fault of the new Tesco?
Progress moves on. It would be great if, in the real world, we could have a vast shop under one roof run by one co-operative that could cover everything the householder could want to purchase without having to cover miles of the town.
So, if Tesco is about to turn some of this into reality, then, why grumble?
Uppies and Downies should remain a thing of the past. It’s dated and, in this day and age, an excuse for a brawl that could, in all possibility, end in someone getting badly injured.
Another idea could be to build a supermarket atop the town centre car lot, if reinforced to take the weight and if the land is in short supply.
As to spending £18 million on a sports stadium from the sale of the Cloffocks land, would it not be better spent on something more for the majority than the minority of people?
Competition for the smaller retailer will certainly prove a challenge, and a bit of incentive would go a long way to urging them to try a bit harder to please their public.
If they’re any good at business then they’ll certainly succeed; time will tell.
Good luck to the new Tesco, and if everything goes to plan, I’m sure it will give the town a big boost, both jobwise, and most importantly, help to satisfy all its new customers in the future.
*THERE is only one person playing a political game about the Workington Southern Link road and that is Coun Allan Caine (Times & Star, January 11).
His statement that he was the person who first took this plan to the county council during his time in power (sic) and Labour fought bitterly against it, is outrageous.
Let me remind Coun Caine that prior to 1997, when there was no overall control on the county council, his Liberal Democrats consistently voted with the Conservatives to ensure that the top priority road scheme for Cumbria was a by-pass for Kirkby Stephen.
When Labour took control in 1997, we abandoned that scheme and replaced it with two priorities.
Firstly, a Carlisle Northern Development Route and secondly a Workington Southern Link.
In 2001 the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives formed a joint administration to replace Labour. One of their first acts was to review transport priorities.
They accepted that the council was already committed to the CNDR, but despite the advice of their own officers, they threw out the Workington Southern Link scheme and replaced it with the Kendal Relief Road, a scheme which has no possibility of ever being built.
If Coun Caine and his fellow Liberal Democrats had supported Labour members the Workington scheme would still be in the programme.
Is he seriously saying that the reason he didn't support Workington was that he thought Labour members were playing a political game?
It wasn't a game Coun Caine, and your actions and those of your fellow Liberal Democrats have caused immense damage to the economic development of Workington and West Cumbria.
Leader, Labour Group
Cumbria County Council
*I WONDER if anyone can help please? I am trying to trace details for the Workington Old Black Diamonds football team.
My grandfather, Thomas Spedding, played for them a fact mentioned, in the report of his death in 1938.
Also my cousin has a medal which is for the FA Shield in 1896/97 season.
We understand that our grandfather captained the team when they won this.
If anyone can help or can put us in touch with anyone who might know we would be very grateful.
12 Hall Farm Gardens
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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