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Shetland's proposed windfarm - Viking Energy

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#16 trout

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 10:48 AM

Tieing in with Atomics post regarding the cost of transporting electricity:

http://news.scotsman...fm?id=753942006

Describing where to build nuclear reactors

"It would undoubtedly be more expensive the further you are from the market. The logical place to build new reactors is in the south. The first place you would look is not Scotland,"



#17 BigMouth

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 05:22 PM

If the tories get back in I guarantee that they wont be built in the south.

#18 WindyMiller

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Posted 23 May 2006 - 09:39 AM

Hi-i Trout, to answer your question about the cons of an undersea power cable from Shetland to the mainland:
According to my 'source' 8) employed in Scottish Power Glasgow's National Policy dept, the price of physically laying the cable, although astronomical, isn't the real reason why this isn't cost-effective for the National Grid.
It's all about how the Electricity network as a whole works in the UK. In essence, you have 3 steps:
the Electricity generator companies produce electricity and sell it to the National Grid;
the Electricty Businesses (Hydro, etc) buy it from the National Grid;
then the consumer buys it from the Hydro etc.
It's a lot like the city traders in the stock exchange, they bid, buy and sell like crazy to and from the grid desperate for the best possible price.
The relevant factor for Electricity is the dramatic fluctuations in demand. When it's getting dark, everyone in the area puts on their lights. At roughly mealtimes, demand increases hugely as cookers, microwaves & kettles turn on. In the UK the most densely-populated area is the south-east quarter of England. So at any time of the day, and particularly peak times, their usage will be disproprotionately higher than elsewhere.
Now back to the 3 steps. Electricity is produced, it is stored on the National Grid, then it is released on demand.
Most demand is in the south-east, but we are as far north as you can get. The problem is it's very expensive to transport Electricity. Power lines are transformed to high voltage/ low wattage to reduce heat-loss but is still really inefficient. This means that most Electricity companies will prefer to buy electricity from generators as near to their customers as possible, to maximize their profits. There are already generators in the rural highlands of Scotland who really struggle to compete with those further south because those several hundred miles of transportation can make a big difference when you're looking at millions of customers.
If we were producing electricity to join the Grid and we were in Aviemore we'd have a hard enough time being profitable but when you add on the burden of recouping the expense of a massive 200 mile undersea cable it is not financially viable until the Electricity watchdogs set new regulations to favour the more remote renewable energy producers. Hope this helps, and correct me if I'm wrong if anybody knows anything more to add. Ta.


If your source really works for Scottish Power then he/she should be very worried about competence assessments. The 3 steps are a fair description but you went somewhat astray 2 paragraphs later. The south of England is the major demand centre in the UK but it is not disproportionate. At peak time the energy use across the UK does increase but while a percentage increase across 2 different volumes gives different measured rises, the rises are exactly proportionate.
Then the most obvious mistake. Electricity is not stored on the National Grid. It is transmitted across the National Grid. Power for the UK electricity system is generated on demand. Normally the system operator knows roughly what they will need and so can have enough generators running to meet demand. Short-term fluctuations in demand are handled by increasing or decreasing the output of particular individual generators. Think of a car throttle with the increasing/decreasing demand acting as a foot controlling the engines to different outputs.
While most demand is in the south east of England it is not like there is only a couple of 40 watt lightbulbs in Scotland. Scotland is currently a net exporter of power, which means it exports power more often than it imports power. This is changing rapidly and with the imminent closure of only 1 or 2 of several ageing power station, Scotland will soon be a net importer (estimate 2010). Further, the electricity market is deregulated and there is no connection between who you buy your electricity from (be you consumer or supplier) and who generates it. The system operator makes sure that everyone gets what they need and that someone pays for everything that is consumed. So suppliers have no reason or incentive to buy power locally. It would probably harm their profits to do so as they would be reducing their options. Generators in north Scotland are not automatically competing with generators in England. Suppliers might be but since the two are unrelated then this is not relevant.
Power cables do have losses but these are not massive. Losses over a cable between Shetland and mainland Scotland would be no more than around 3%. Even allowing for taking the power to the Central Belt (Scotland’s demand centre) these might get as high as 5-6%.
Profitability depends on so much more than location. A windfarm, such as the proposed Viking Energy project, will be more profitable than one in Aviemore. This is because a windfarm in Shetland will be about 25% more productive for the same capital outlay (conservative 50% capacity factor per MW in Shetland vs optimistic 40% CF in Aviemore). Even allowing for a full 6% transmission loss, the Shetland windfarm will still be about 17.5% more productive (50%reducedby6%=47%. 7is17.5%of40). So long as the costs of transmission are less than this 17.5% advantage then it is worthwhile.
Without wanting to shift topics, Shetland would not be chosen as a site for a new nuclear power station because in that case the transmission costs would over and above otherwise identical economics for building on the mainland. With wind we get more “fuel” at no extra cost. 2MW in Shetland produces the same power over time as 3MW anywhere outside the north highlands and islands.

#19 Njugle

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Posted 23 May 2006 - 11:17 AM

What an excellent post WindyMiller! I've pondered and wondered about some of those stats for a long time, but never known where to find them.
It's always good to hear from those who seem to be "in the know"

Thanks for that. :D Put's a whole more positive slant on the wind farm proposals, whether in the lang kames or elsewhere.

#20 McFly

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Posted 23 May 2006 - 02:12 PM

Hello WindyMiller, and welcome to Shetlink :D

Where did you get those figures on percentage losses through transmission? Those losses are a lot lower than I would have expected. This is an area I know little about though :wink:

#21 WindyMiller

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Posted 23 May 2006 - 04:15 PM

Hello WindyMiller, and welcome to Shetlink :D

Where did you get those figures on percentage losses through transmission? Those losses are a lot lower than I would have expected. This is an area I know little about though :wink:


Figures are estimates and cannot be proved yet because the Shetland interconnector has not been fully designed yet so the losses can only be forecast. Every interconnector is bespoke and has different characteristics. The figures given are based on comparisons with similar existing and proposed subsea interconnectors like the NorNed link beteen Norway and the Netherlands.
http://www.statnett....?ChannelID=1408
"Transmission losses are calculated at five per cent for full utilisation at 700 MW (megawatt), a rate which is particularly low for a cabling distance of 580 km"
This is very close both in distance from Shetland to the Central Belt and the discussed capactity (600MW). There are lots of these projects and the companies building them learn from every project so I would be comfortable that the Shetland interconnector would have equal or better loss performance.
Other projects worth watching include the East-West Ireland to UK interconnector ( http://en.wikipedia...._Interconnector ) and Basslink Tasmania to Victoria ( http://www.nationalgrid.com.au/ )

#22 McFly

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Posted 23 May 2006 - 04:21 PM

Thanks for the links.

That Norway/Netherlands project does look very similar in scale.

#23 pernjim

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 03:51 PM

What an excellent post WindyMiller! I've pondered and wondered about some of those stats for a long time, but never known where to find them.
It's always good to hear from those who seem to be "in the know"

Thanks for that. :D Put's a whole more positive slant on the wind farm proposals, whether in the lang kames or elsewhere.


Well gosh! I'm glad everybody's so happy! Just hang on a minute... I want to see what they LOOK LIKE!! I think the fact no-one's been brave enough to give us any visual representation yet is very telling. If the turbines are as high as the instrument masts recently set up to get wind readings, etc. you'll be able to see them from Unst to Sumburgh. So much for our pristine environment lauded so lavishly of late on TV and in the press. Let's get real, everybody - there's a risk of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

#24 Muppet

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 04:12 PM

Well gosh! I'm glad everybody's so happy! Just hang on a minute... I want to see what they LOOK LIKE!! I think the fact no-one's been brave enough to give us any visual representation yet is very telling. If the turbines are as high as the instrument masts recently set up to get wind readings, etc. you'll be able to see them from Unst to Sumburgh. So much for our pristine environment lauded so lavishly of late on TV and in the press. Let's get real, everybody - there's a risk of throwing the baby out with the bath water.


Where are those masts? I'd like to see them to get some perspective. I did hear that the proposed turbines are about twice the height of the existing Burradale ones.

#25 Njugle

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 04:28 PM

Well gosh! I'm glad everybody's so happy! Just hang on a minute... I want to see what they LOOK LIKE!! I think the fact no-one's been brave enough to give us any visual representation yet is very telling. If the turbines are as high as the instrument masts recently set up to get wind readings, etc. you'll be able to see them from Unst to Sumburgh. So much for our pristine environment lauded so lavishly of late on TV and in the press. Let's get real, everybody - there's a risk of throwing the baby out with the bath water.


I'm happy, yes, happy to get some tangible statistics on the practical implementation of a serious wind farm. Last time i heard anything directly about the possibility of said windfarm being sited in the lang kames it was to the negative for reasons of bird conservation, hence why i say the kames or elsewhere. My personal preference would be for a large scale development to be offshore, the deployment technology is well proven now. If the kames is the only reasonable option,my primary concern would be for birdlife, secondarily aesthetics. I actually like the ones at burradale, i think they have made a dull hill become a feature. The same could happen in the kames as long as they don't go OTT with the numbers.

#26 WindyMiller

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 09:46 AM

Well gosh! I'm glad everybody's so happy! Just hang on a minute... I want to see what they LOOK LIKE!! I think the fact no-one's been brave enough to give us any visual representation yet is very telling. If the turbines are as high as the instrument masts recently set up to get wind readings, etc. you'll be able to see them from Unst to Sumburgh. So much for our pristine environment lauded so lavishly of late on TV and in the press. Let's get real, everybody - there's a risk of throwing the baby out with the bath water.


An overall fair point here but some not so fair. Avoiding the topic shift...
Fair = the clear demand for more information. No argument that there needs to be more information available asap.
Not so fair = The lack of public visualisations is nothing to do with bravery and entirely down to a desire to avoid unnecessary scaremongering. The design and layout of the windfarm will be dictated mainly by the environmental constraints. The constraints are informed by the multitude of studies ongoing now and which have been ongoing over the last three years. To put up designs that will certainly be changed later when someone finds a rare moss would inevitably lead to complaints when what is built does not match what the complainant saw in the early visualisation. Protection of Shetland’s pristine environment is one of the key aims of the project and is the reason things are taking so long. If you know a way to speed up bird breeding seasons then please let us know.
The existing Burradale turbines can already be seen from Unst to Sumburgh. That fact in itself does not make them bad nor will it do so for the bigger windfarm. What will be important is the magnitude of impact. A few dots on the horizon or dominant eyesores. From close up there is no doubt they will draw the eye but can you say for sure that this will be true from Unst? There is a professional landscape and visual impact assessment being undertaken. Would it not be a reasonable idea to get the initial results/feedback back from that study so the discussion about this can be held with the facts about how visual the windfarm will be, there on the table in front of everyone, rather than us all arguing about unknowns?

#27 pernjim

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 11:24 AM

Presumably you know how tall these things are going to be; at least roughly how many of them there are; and on which hills they'll be sited. Forgive me, but I think the reason there's no visual representation yet is that that is going to be the main point of public debate. There's no doubt economically it looks good (at least on paper) - but what you call 'scaremongering', others would call 'early debate'. Bring it on - get it out of the way now, instead of progressing so far down the road that there's no way back. Or is that the intention?

#28 pernjim

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 11:25 AM


Well gosh! I'm glad everybody's so happy! Just hang on a minute... I want to see what they LOOK LIKE!! I think the fact no-one's been brave enough to give us any visual representation yet is very telling. If the turbines are as high as the instrument masts recently set up to get wind readings, etc. you'll be able to see them from Unst to Sumburgh. So much for our pristine environment lauded so lavishly of late on TV and in the press. Let's get real, everybody - there's a risk of throwing the baby out with the bath water.


I'm happy, yes, happy to get some tangible statistics on the practical implementation of a serious wind farm. Last time i heard anything directly about the possibility of said windfarm being sited in the lang kames it was to the negative for reasons of bird conservation, hence why i say the kames or elsewhere. My personal preference would be for a large scale development to be offshore, the deployment technology is well proven now. If the kames is the only reasonable option,my primary concern would be for birdlife, secondarily aesthetics. I actually like the ones at burradale, i think they have made a dull hill become a feature. The same could happen in the kames as long as they don't go OTT with the numbers.


PS I think several score might qualify as 'OTT'. Slightly more than five - and significantly taller.

#29 Tomblands

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 12:24 PM

Does anyone think that tourists are going to stop coming to Shetland because a few wind generators are erected?

I personally think it shows Shetland in a good light, that we are try to move away from the traditional methods of generating energy and ultimately helping to contribute to the future of our planet. I'm fed up of the "but they look bad in the countryside" brigade. I drove through a huge windfarm in California last year and I thought it looked very impressive and certainly not a "blot on the landscape".

#30 WindyMiller

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Posted 06 June 2006 - 08:18 AM

Presumably you know how tall these things are going to be; at least roughly how many of them there are; and on which hills they'll be sited. Forgive me, but I think the reason there's no visual representation yet is that that is going to be the main point of public debate. There's no doubt economically it looks good (at least on paper) - but what you call 'scaremongering', others would call 'early debate'. Bring it on - get it out of the way now, instead of progressing so far down the road that there's no way back. Or is that the intention?


Debate is best (most worthwhile?) when guesswork has been removed and opinions can be formed using reliable factual information.





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