Look around world for answer to reliable investment in renewables [Herald, The (Scotland)]
(Herald, The (Scotland) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Following an unrelenting stream of letters triggered by the Trump debacle at the Scottish Parliament, most dismissing the efforts of engineers to harness the power of the wind in order to preserve the biosphere, perhaps alternative evidence-based input is needed ("Trump: Ministers lied over wind farm support", The Herald, April 24 & Letters, April 25, 26, 27 and 28).
The primary reason given for rejecting renewables as an alternative to fossil fuels is intermittency and the need for back- up, or base load, supplied by coal-powered or nuclear-powered electrical generators.
However this claim is not true if a truly diverse mix of renewable systems extracting energy over a wide area is created (Europe, for example), and is enhanced by modern storage techniques.
Energy storage is clearly a key technology in enabling a viable future for renewables, and much research and development is being pursued in other parts of the world to find effective solutions.
In the US a range of examples exist of the advances being made in massive energy storage (MES). In particular, a compressed air system being developed by energy storage incorporation in Norton, Ohio, is well advanced. The air is compressed in an abandoned limestone mine where the rock is sufficiently lacking in permeability to provide reliable long-term storage. At a planned storage capacity of 2700 MWh it is potentially the largest single-site storage system yet envisaged.
Battery storage, although already well established, is also making inroads into the MES sector of next generation energy supply. A technology termed cellcube, using low-maintenance vanadium redox flow developed in Germany by Cellstrom GmbH, has been shown to display almost unlimited charge/discharge cycles and a 20-year lifespan. The number of operational grid-scale battery storage systems of this type is growing rapidly, with capacities in excess of 1000MWhr already in the pipeline for use on solar farms and wind farms.
Another good example of the significant progress being made in the development of large electrochemical storage systems for electrical supply back-up is the new battery energy storage system (BESS) at Fairbanks in Alaska. This is designed to stabilise the local grid and reduce its vulnerability to events like blackouts. A consortium led by the Swiss company ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, supplied and installed the BESS in 2003.
On Honshu Island, one of the four main islands forming the Japanese land mass, a smart grid project will see the island becoming a test bed for renewable electrical power generation (wind plus solar) and energy storage. The renewable power stations will be the first to be backed by dedicated large-capacity storage batteries, with the aim of creating a standalone electricity generation system powered solely by renewables. Honshu has a population 20 times larger than Scotland's, so if energy self- sufficiency based on renewables can be procured there, it can be procured anywhere.
It is evident that MES systems are rapidly becoming sufficiently powerful and robust to provide an effective buffer between intermittent renewable power supply systems and the grid.
When civilisation, including Scotland, makes the transition from fossil fuels to renewables, as it soon must, MES buffering will ensure that consumers can look forward to reliable and consistent supplies of electrical power from renewable sources.
Alan J Sangster,
37 Craigmount Terrace, Edinburgh.
I have to agree that the involvement of Donald Trump has raised what is a very important debate in Scotland.
The destruction of our landscape by the erection of massive turbines are industrialising whole areas of our landscape.
Where I live, a planning application by Banks Renewables will be submitted in June to erect 10 115-metre high turbines right next to Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, north-east of Drymen and almost right on the national park's boundary.
If planning permission is granted this wind farm will be seen at every entry point to the national park from Queen's View to Stirling Castle and from Ben Ledi and Ben Venue to Ben Lomond. The visual impact will be enormous and I would argue that it will detract from the natural beauty that is a feature in Visit Scotland's literature covering the area.
If Visit Scotland truly believes tourism will not be affected, may I suggest it includes these wind farms in the literature produced so tourists to our country can have a real understanding of the effect these turbines have on our landscape.
I read with horror that 800 separate planning applications for turbines have been lodged in Aberdeenshire alone in the past 14 months. At this rate every Graham, Corbett and Munro across Scotland will have turbines on them and the subsidies that will be paid will ensure that through our electricity "green energy" tax we all pay for this enormous expansion.
The Scottish Government has intimated that currently 20% of electricity is produced by wind power but no-one has seen a corresponding 20% reduction in electricity bills.
Park of Auchentroig, Balfron Station.
Almost every day I am blasted with hot air about wind turbines when I open The Herald.
A vociferous minority of climate change deniers, nuclear lobbyists, Salmond-haters and plain moaners is trying to persuade us that a herd of white elephants is stampeding across our landscape.
These correspondents aren't interested in ways of keeping the lights on that don't involve fossil fuels or nuclear energy. Over and over they tell us that wind can't provide for all our needs, without mentioning the strides that have been made in developing other, complementary, renewables.
I agree that some landscapes should be protected from wind farms. Likewise more needs to be invested in bringing on wave and tidal power. But this relentless negativity about renewable energy does future generations no favours.
4 Stanley Place, Dunbar.
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