Exporting electricity

UPDATE2 Over on Twitter, Antoin argues that the plan as interpreted by me would violate EirGrid’s statutory monopoly.

Minister Rabbite yesterday announced plans to export wind power to Great Britain. This is a result of the energy summit organized shortly after the last elections. It now appears ready for public discourse.

The plan is simple. Build a load of wind turbines in the Midlands, where the relative lack of wind is made good by the relative lack of tourists and nature reserves, on land owned by Bord na Mona and Coillte. Build dedicated transmission lines to Great Britain. (The Spirits of Ireland hope that there will be pumped storage as well.)

The plan makes half sense from an English perspective. It is hard to get planning permission for onshore wind turbines in Great Britain. Onshore in Ireland plus transmission is cheaper than offshore in British waters. On the other hand, the plan is driven by the EU renewables target, which is pretty tough on the UK. With Germany abandoning its green energy plans (following earlier such decisions by Portugal and Spain) and with Theresa May wishing to ban Greeks from the UK, it is not immediately clear why the UK obeys the EU with regard to renewables.

It is not clear what is in it for Ireland: English-owned turbines generating power for England, transported over English-owned transmission lines. Dedicated transmission means that there are no benefits for Ireland in terms of supply security or price arbitrage. If the new transmission would be integrated into the Irish grid, Irish regulations would apply — and subsidies too, so that you Irish would sponsor my electricity bill. Ireland does not have royalties on wind power or transmission (and if it would, the same royalties should be levied on Irish turbines and power lines). That leaves some jobs in construction, fewer in maintenance, and 12.5% of whatever profits are left in Ireland for taxation.

It may well be that this plan is a quid pro quo for the UK contribution to the bailout of Ireland.

I am not convinced that the plan will go ahead. The English power market is in turmoil, and the companies may not be interested in an Irish adventure. Recall that the UK government also confidently announced that private companies would build new nuclear power. Well, they did not. The comparative advantage of Ireland in this case is the relatively lax planning regulations. Pat Swords may have put an end to that. But even the current planning regime can be used to block to an English adventure with no Irish spoils.

It is early days for this project still. It is worrying that the minister seems to think that more state intervention is required, and that the state still has money to waste. UPDATE: Paul Hunt points out that it is indeed the Government’s plan to intervene and subsidize: See the new energy strategy.

More academic thoughts on interconnection are here.

83 thoughts on “Exporting electricity”

  1. Minister Rabbitte is a great man and I believe everything he says. He ran a press conference from my shop in Grafton Street in February 2011 promising all commercial tenants market rents. Fairytales from Ireland.

    With all this great news is there a general election or referendum coming soon?.

  2. It can probably only make any sense with no subsidies from the Irish government.

    If it goes ahead, it will mean a few Irish thousand time-limited jobs in construction and project development, and some permanent jobs in operations and maintenance. Under current circumstances, that could be quite a compelling logic for the Irish government.

    Depending on the detail, it could also make sense as a defensive move to provide an outlet for the overcapacity in Irish-owned wind that is already planned, limiting the upward pressure it will place on Irish energy prices.

  3. Richard,
    The strategy announced yesterday is I believe, as you state, the beginning of the public discourse on the future of Irelands renewables industry.

    But I very much doubt that it marks the beginning of a process whereby Irish taxpayers are to subsidise UK energy consumers via REFIT although perhaps the opposite may turn out to be the case.

    Rather than EU targets being the focus, it should perhaps simply be regarded as just another area of commerce, one in which Ireland has the natural resources to compete.

    I would welcome an Aarhus debate and would also welcome an open debate on a possible future role for nuclear, possibly as a replacement for coal or peat fired generation.

    Only a fool puts all his eggs in one basket.

  4. @Richard,

    Ireland becomes a dumping ground for an ersatz technology that is increasingly hard to push past a skeptical British public.

    “It may well be that this plan is a quid pro quo for the UK contribution to the bailout of Ireland.”

    Very chilling.

  5. Rabbitte published a disappointing “Renewable Energy Strategy 2012-2020” yesterday. It contains no measurable targets, no tangible goals, merely a collection of aspirations. The list of action items start with phrases like ‘Liaise with’, ‘Review’, ‘Work with our partners’, ‘Encourage’…

    Wind electricity export to the UK is an attractive prospect but there needs to be some quantification of likely costs and benefits.

    Eddie O’Connor’s company, Mainstream, was reported on the weekend to be looking at a 5GW privately owned interconnector to the UK. How likely is this and where does privately owned grid infrastructure fit in with the state’s plans?

  6. @Ossian
    There surely is a market for interconnection, but the EU frowns on private initiative here.

    There was (is?) a plan for a private cable between Ireland and Wales, but was abandoned (is stalled?), partly because EirGrid wasn’t too keen on connecting it to the grid.

  7. So I’m paying a premium to ship the power to the UK. Am I getting this correctly.
    Well I suppose the Blood Transfusion Service selling ‘white blood’ to the US while importing contaminated blood product for the hemophiliacs has established a precedent.

  8. @Ossian

    “Rabbitte published a disappointing “Renewable Energy Strategy 2012-2020″ yesterday. It contains no measurable targets, no tangible goals, merely a collection of aspirations. The list of action items start with phrases like ‘Liaise with’, ‘Review’, ‘Work with our partners’, ‘Encourage’…”

    Is it not the case that DCENR are signalling to the industry that the ball is now in their court, develop viable initiatives and government are interested.

  9. @Richard

    You propose in your OP that wind farms in Ireland would be owned by UK companies, they might be as Irish companies currently own wind farms in the UK.

    However even humble Irish consumers can own a wind farm as has been illustrated by West Clare Renewables Ltd, a co-op.

  10. @Pat

    I don’t see anything like that in the published policy. The previous attempt by Imera to build private interconnection fell on regulatory problems. The rules haven’t changed since.

    A choice for Ireland is whether the grid is a natural monopoly that should be owned by the state or whether a ‘smart grid’ should be part privately owned/operated with a fault tolerant architecture more like an IP network.

  11. The electricity market is not like any other market that you know about. Both supply and demand are basically ‘inelastic’ as the economists say, i.e., they don’t change in response to price. The punters still want to boil their kettles, and if the wind isn’t blowing, it doesn’t matter how high the price is at that moment, it still won’t blow. (Similarly, you can’t just bring gas or oil generating capacity online on-tap, you need to invest years ahead.)

    The electricity is sent around the country through a transmission network of wires and pylons. This is diversified, which basically means that there are multiple routes to any given point. This is to ensure supply doesn’t get cut off completely just because there’s a problem at one point.

    If you want to ‘play’ in the electricity market, you do so by buying out of or selling into various pools. You do not need to build your own supply chain, you can buy everything from somebody else for a transparent price. The business consultants might call this ‘vertically disintegrated’ (as opposed to ‘vertically integrated’ as the ESB-controlled market used to be). So the transmission charge you pay is a proportion of the total cost of operating the transmission network. Equally, when you buy power, you buy out of a ‘pool’. You cannot buy power directly from the generator, nor can you operate your own transmission, except in the most limited circumstances.

    This is all very theoretically sound. There are some operational issues with it (mostly people complaining that the overall time and money cost of adding new transmission is too high. This is basically the sort of issue we see in relation to the interconnector described above. Some people disagree with how eirgrid is going about the whole thing. I have no idea who is right or wrong in this instance.

    If you are the British government, there is absolutely no reason why you would not take electricity out of the Irish pool, and send it on into the UK. Someone would obviously have to build these wind turbines in order to supply the power, but that is no big deal, if HMG is willing to enter into a forward contract of some sort with a prospective generator. Equally, there is no reason for you to build your own transmission system, when there is an adequate company already in place here to run the transmission network, and to boot, you would get the benefit of the diversity of this existing network.

    (I have left out the subtlety here in relation to identifying the source of the power as renewable, or whatever. Again, that is done through identifying various types of pools of electricity. I feel reassured that this is well accounted for, though to be honest, it sounded very fishy to me at the beginning.

    The whole point of this for the British government would be that a greater proportion of their electricity would come from renewable sources. As well as the warm and fuzzy feelings this would instill, and the fact that it would help the UK meet its EU targets, it would also diversify their range of supplies away from oil, gas and nuclear. This would have economic benefits. Even if this project were expensive, it would still be cheaper or at least competitive with the economic and political costs of building more nukes to replace their aging existing plant. (As I understand it, Great Britain is not really in a good place as regards generating capacity. They are underinvested for the future and they are in a rush to get enough new projects online before their old capacity starts to wind down at the end of its useful life.)

    For us in Ireland, it would make all our wind energy more valuable, because we would have a new customer who would basically have to buy our electricity, and it would also mean that we would have access to renewable energy from other parts of these islands at times when the wind isn’t blowing in our own fair land. In practical terms, this could or should reduce the PSO levy on your (and Irish-based industry’s) bill. The extra guaranteed cash into eirgrid for transmission should also mean that our transmission will attract reinvestment and this should lead to stable or dropping costs, alongside a higher quality of service.

    So this is all about forming bigger pools. The whole thing is basically a cooperative market, not a competitive one. This is basically what an intergovernmental agreement would be all about.

  12. @Antoin
    You would be right if the plan is to enhance interconnection and market integration between Ireland and Great Britain.

    The plan, however, is to generate power in Ireland and transmit it to Great Britain, without connecting to the Irish grid.

  13. Strategic Goal 4

    Increase sustainable energy use in the Transport sector through
    biofuels and electrification.

    “Sustainable energy use” through “Biofuels” ??????

    This is incredible rubbish. Biofuels are a very unsustainable commodity. This should be obvious to anyone with a modicum of knowledge about growing crops. Grow trees. They are not exactly free, but if cropped and re-planted correctly they are a suitable fuel source. Pretty to look at and soak up lots of carbon dioxide. The fallen leaves are excellent soil regenerators. Biofuels!!!!!! Easter Island syndrome again! Yeast are more intelligent than humans after all.

    Transport sector HAS TO REDUCE! Is there anyone in the ministry office paying attention to reality?

    Transport in Ireland is over 90% dependent on imported fuels. So we have some utter dopes in the ministry advocating we substitute an expensive commodity for an even more expensive one. It is only when you strip out the ‘incentives’ looted from our taxpayers that you expose the real cost (in energy terms!). But that would be a tad uncomfortable for some folk.

    Sustainability – or whatever else you want to term it, means you produce less each year you consume less each year, you service less each year, year-on-year until you balance your resources. Sustainability DOES NOT mean that you are free to pursue business-as-usual (Permagrowth) by attempting to use ‘green’ or renewable (it should be re-usable) primary energy sources to generate a secondary energy resource. It sheer lunacy.

  14. Whats the transmission losses on this ?

    The “wind industry” has taken some flak in Scotland despite support from the SNP……

    When future archaeologists dig up perfectly preserved wind turbines in the millennia after the coming dark age what will they think we were doing ?

    It should produce a few long term jobs in academia anyhow.

    Really sad that so few keep it simple stupid solutions have not been pursued to solve our most pressing problem….. liquid fuel costs / transport costs.
    If the state must subsidise loss making operations then single railcar type activities on the Rosslare to Waterford line & perhaps the New Ross to Waterford line would be a good idea.
    The recent rail plan for Massif Central ( a sparsely populated area) seems to be quite effective.
    http://www.auvergne.pref.gouv.fr/plan_rail.php
    The Money
    http://www.auvergne.pref.gouv.fr/pdf/plan_rail/annexe2.pdf
    A typical station
    fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gare_de_Murat

    While these operations are also serious loss makers (20% of costs covered by tickets)…….. in the event of a energy crisis / energy ration or Ireland operating in a more optimal monetary envoirment these systems can capture the new flow.
    The above rail operators primarily use the Diesel X73500 which unlike many single railcars can operate reliably at least on branch lines , and can become a 2 or 3 railcar system depending on the demand.
    I feel it would suit (a Irish gauge version) now many closed IR & NIR branch lines including the Lisburn to Antrim line.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjx6eVFUu14

  15. Last friday, Rabbitte also cancelled the carbon credit windfall tax on electricity producers. This tax raised €75m. Is this revenue that the state no longer needs? This windfall levy was previously discussed here.

    @Brian Woods Snr
    How do you feel about woods as a feedstock for biofuel? There has been much research into the sustainability of various biofuels in the past few years when doubts emergedabout the whole idea. Different feedstocks come with differing energy returns which also depend heavily on local climate. A real fear is that imported biofuels will be generated in environmentally damaging ways abroad.

    Better than using renewable energy sources in transport is to switch to public transport, walk, cycle or avoid the journey altogether.

    @Antoin
    Price elasticities do exist in domestic electricity; how else do you explain people staying up late to turn on their washing machines and dishwashers!?

    @Richard
    You seem to have more details of the plan than have been published. Would you like to share something with the group?

  16. I always thought that Ireland would eventually be ‘outsourced’ to e.g. China to become a vegetable allotment and source of clean water for the folks back home. I never dreamt we would be outsourced to become a power supplier by sticking the windmills up in Ireland and sending it straight back to the UK.

  17. @Antoin

    “For us in Ireland, it would make all our wind energy more valuable, because we would have a new customer who would basically have to buy our electricity, and it would also mean that we would have access to renewable energy from other parts of these islands at times when the wind isn’t blowing in our own fair land. In practical terms, this could or should reduce the PSO levy on your (and Irish-based industry’s) bill. ”

    It’s a nice story, but you might have a sign error there. Coupling Irish and British grids makes our wind energy less valuable on average, not more. The problem is that wind speeds are very highly correlated across large distances – when it is windy in Scotland it tends to be windy in Ireland too (~ 70% correlation).

    http://joewheatley.net/weather-correlations-using-rs-raster-package/

  18. @Brian Woods,

    Strategic goal 4.

    There is at present a very advanced plan to restart the sugar industry in Ireland and it is instructive to examine the high level business model.

    A sugar refinery producing both sugar and ethanol according to market demands, possibly co-located with a large data centre in order to use the waste heat to cut costs in the refinery. But definitely co-located with industry using sugar and/or ethanol as feedstocks.

    Further electrification of Irelands transport sector is very necessary when you consider that according to the “EIA From 2000 to 2010 the average amount spent on oil imports in Europe was USD182 billion a year. In 2011 oil imports reached a record of USD488 billion” http://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/news/2012/may/name,27221,en.html

    I believe that Richards OP might have deliberately provocative by concentrating on the UK dimension.

  19. There are so many things rancid about this as a statement of renewable energy policy that it’s hard to know where to start.

    Overall, it reeks of ‘special pleading’ by vested interests, state and private, in the sector. Even the one ‘big idea’ – there had to be something newsworthy to provide a focus for the Minister’s press release – of creating an export opportunity to the UK and North West Europe (wherever that may be) for Irish wind energy is equivocated: “provided this is economically beneficial to this state.”

    According to Richard’s anlaysis, this is a dubious proposition. So we may presume that the talks with his British Minister will proceed and Minister Rabbitte will have several opportunities to inform the media of their progress …. and nothing much will happen beyond the promise of much happening. Otherwise, God help us.

    The entire document reads more like a PR puff piece for the renewables industry than an effort at any serious analysis of this area of energy policy. My heart sank, as it always does, when the old giveaway line that all this guff is inspired more by vanity than realistic prospects popped up in the narrative, that old ‘world leader’ paradigm. Whenever you see that in a government publication or a political statement, you just know these people are in trouble. Thus we are assured that Ireland Ireland has the capacity “to become a world leader” in testing the next generation of offshore renewable equipment; that Ireland could become a “world leader in renewable energy integration and smart grid technology” and Ireland is on course to become a “world centre for energy and ICT research and innovation.”

    The cock crowed thrice…

  20. @Pat
    I focussed on the UK dimension because that is the only new part (or newly public).

    @Veronica
    Exports are fine, of course, as long as you sell things at a profit.

  21. @Veronica

    “that Ireland could become a world leader in renewable energy integration and smart grid technology”

    energyco-ops.ie is less than 6 months old and already have confirmed interest totaling just under 1400 households for participating in the first smart grid trials involving local local generation and consumption of energy produced from various technologies.

    The world is changing as we speak.

  22. @ Richard,

    “I focussed on the UK dimension because that is the only new part (or newly public).”

    I believe I gave you credit for that in my first post, its a good headline, and may indeed serve a good purpose if it begins a considered debate.

    I agree that export must cost effective, I further submit that serving wind energy from storage enables that energy to reach the market when its needed rather than when its merely available.

    I know of at least one trial at present investigating the practicality of using small scale storage to shave peak costs at company level by storing night rate electricity for discharge at peak times.

  23. @Pat
    If that true , then the Waterford / Rosslare line should reopen for those Beet Campaigns.
    In truth many such lines are only viable as mixed Passenger DMU / cargo rail routes and it was probally the real reason for its closure.

    Although in my humble opinion far more oil would be saved rather then produced if Waterford harbour was used as a major ship to rail transfer point for Irish farm inputs and perhaps outputs transporting Fertilizer , feedstock etc to various new Hub points in the Golden Vale such as Cahir (new 400m rail head maybe ?) or using older unused rail such as the Silvermines rail spur or very central areas such as Ballybrophy..as truck distribution points.
    Ditto for carrying Beeron rail once again….a no Brainer given its weight.

  24. @richard where is this plan articulated?

    @ossian do you have any actual evidence of the level of price-sensitivity, and whether people are actually time-shifting their consumption? Firstly, I do not see any evidence of anything more than a small shift. Secondly, shifting from the ‘shoulder’ of demand to the trough doesn’t really help that much. You really need to shift from the peak of demand to the shoulder or the off-peak to reduce the amount of plant required.

  25. @Pat Gill

    The world is always changing…and our little neck of the woods has changed irrevocably.

    The renewables sector has relied for far too long on creating an image for itself as ‘clean’ energy, which it is not; as ‘free’ energy, where it’s prohibitively expensive; as ‘efficient’ energy, even it’s frequently the opposite and as green and wholesome and caring and sustainable, all of which are arguable propositions when applied to any method of energy generation.

    Gullible politicians and administrators have latched onto the so-called environmentally friendly and sustainable image of the renewable sector’s sales pitch and, to my mind, spoiled the potential of the renewables sector with subsidies. Subsidies that can no longer be afforded by society, which is why they are being dismantled in several EU states as we speak.

    By all means, Minister Rabbitte should press ahead with his wind export business to the UK, provided it is not at a cost to the Irish exchequer in the form of subsidies and investments or on a promise of ‘jam tomorrow’ in profits that cannot be demonstrated as ever likely to materialise.

    Instead of assembling an adivsory group of vested interests from the renewables sector, as proposed in the Minister’s strategy document, it might be better to appoint a couple of international energy economists to examine the merits of the wind energy export idea before a penny of public money is invested any further in it. As the government never tires of reminding us, every cent spent in one area means one cent less available somewhere else. The days of vanity projects, exemplified by the ‘world class’ mantra of the renewables PR-speak, are over.

  26. @ Veronica,

    “The days of renewable energy being dependent on subsidy are over”

    I couldn’t agree more that tech’s such as onshore wind are now mature enough to survive without subsidy, provided that the infrastucture to accomodate them is in place, particularly storage.

    Technologies such as Anerobic Digestion are cost competitive in a world which embraces the polluter pays principle with waste disposal gate fees replacing REFIT.

    For a suitably flexible thought process, austerity need not be feared.

  27. @ Anton and Pat: Thanks for those comments.

    Have to think about the sugar/ethanol matter. We used to have an ethanol plant sometime ago?? You need to conduct an energy out v energy in audit. Ratio must be 5/1 to be anyway meaningful.

    Ethanol is a carbohydrate fuel – has about 1/3 the energy of longer-chain hydrocarbons. Its the bang that counts! Ethanol is a complement, not a substitute. Have to re-formulate ICE fuels to avoid corrosion.

    In the name of Jove. Could we not just reduce our fleet of private vehicles? Or at least get vehicles which do double the distance for the same fuel consumption – even if this means reducing speed limits to 80 kph. And enforcing the damn limit.

    Mandate all long-distance container transport to rail and put severe restrictions on road freight (vehicle size and max tare). If we do not do this, then Mr Price will do it for us.

    No amount of electrical power can substitute fully for liquid hydrocarbon fuel. This very nasty lesson will just have to be experienced the very hard way. It will never be learnt.

  28. @veronica

    “…rancid…”
    “…reeks…”
    “…god help us…”

    Does renewable energy policy in Ireland merit such description? At about a 31.5% load factor (for 2011), Ireland’s c. 1500MW of wind turbines are at least performing assets, and I would save this type of language for the gross misallocation of resources into the recent property bubble.

    Things are most likely to happen incrementally in energy infrastructure and in the end it comes down to issues of MW capacity, MWh generated, cost per MWh, security of supply, external liabilities and commercial risk assessment. Overall I would say that Ireland has very good renewable resources and a certain amount of state investment is justifiable for both technology and project development. Details surrounding such investment are important and it is also the case that what is aspired to may not materialise in the end and the clamour of those opposed to subsidisation may be premature if the money amounts discussed are not subsequently allocated. No one knows with any certainty what the energy landscape will be in ten years time – with the exception that oil prices are very unlikely to be relatively cheaper.

  29. @ Richard Tol,

    I would suggest Royalties should be imposed, but only after the initial cost of the investment is recouped by the investors.

    Not sure what figures are being thrown about, but Ossian Smyth mentions a figure of 5 Gw above, Mainstream?

    With a generator of 1 Mw, then that is 5000 generators, but as the load factor is only around 31%, this figure would have to rise to 16,666 generators approx.

    In addition it would be prudent to disperse the generators into different areas, so that if there is calm in region A, regions B & C should still be producing some power.

    However 16,666 wind generators is a bit of an eyesore, and a lot of light flicker as well. Perhaps one will have to wear special glasses to visit these areas?

    Even if the generator is increased to 2 Mw, one is still looking at 2,777 units per region.

    Perhaps offshore would be better, from a aesthetic perspective, even though it could be cost prohibitive and the technology might not be up to the harsh environment just yet.

  30. @Pat,
    Can you provide us with evidence (or even quantitative worked estimates)that the return on investment on a storage facility in Ireland is likely to at least equal the cost of capital, with no REFIT on wind?

    What waste disposal gate fees do you think are required to make anaerobic digestion competitive without REFIT? And, are they just for landfill, or do they have to also apply to composting, MBT etc.?

  31. To make a profit wind turbine generators have to be sited for optimal power production. Anything else is a waste of money. The day will come when the public will be begging for power and to be opposed on aesthetic grounds will be seen as the height of folly. Wait for oil north of $200 a barrel with rush hour traffic being bicycles as in those old movies from the thirties and forties.

    In the meantime schemes that are sub optimal should be eschewed.

  32. @BeeCeeTee,

    Now here we come up against the inevitable confidentiality problem however a high level assessment might be possible by reading the following thesis on the subject http://www.castlelab.princeton.edu/theses/Schoppe_C_ThesisApril2010.pdf it addresses wind+storage in a market not too different from the SEM. According to EU regulation, electricity coming out of storage does not qualify as renewable energy from the point of view of eligibilty for subsidy, then again the combination is dispatchable on demand and also available for ancillary services use, whether load sourcing or load sinking.

    If the output does not qualify for renewable subsidy, perhaps there need not be a renewable filter on the input, with a sufficiently robust grid perhaps the need for ramping of thermal plant could also be reduced.

    Re AD a viable AD plant would need adequate feedstock, silage/silage effluent/manure/food waste/grease trap residue/domestic or commercial organic waste in general, to be available locally perhaps within 20 miles of the plant, diversity of feedstock is key to increased output levels.

    A gate fee broadly similar to that presently charged for landfill would probably be adequate for break even, the cream would be if the resulting digestate could be certified as a fertiliser, I believe that the EPA began work on the required regulation and specification of digestate some time ago.

    It would also help of course if the providers of the feedstock had a commercial interest in the AD plant.

    There are two food processing plants currently building AD plants to process their waste, REFIT was necessary for viability in both cases as the waste streams were not diverse enough to generate sufficient output AND the digestate did not have a commercial value.

    The other important point is that from April 2013 there will be a carbon floor of £30 a ton imposed in the UK on electricity generation, maybe it wont just be electricity that will be traded.

  33. @Pat,
    Many thanks for that link, but I don’t immediately see anything in it addressing whether the operating profits it projects under any of the various operating scenarios it analyses are sufficient to cover the cost of capital.

    Simply achieving an operating profit on a capital intensive operation such as a pumped storage facility does not indicate that it makes any economic sense.

  34. I would think pumped storage makes sense for a country with a cheap but inflexible base load……Nuclear or Coal.
    ALL of these energy projects are capital intensive… which means their construction will subtract from consumer demand , consumer capital purchase etc etc etc.
    This alternative energy stuff gets really really hard as oil is not only energy but the wests capital base … when less oil is available less capital is available to build stuff wether it is fluff or not.

    Again I call on people to use the keep it simple stupid principle , much of our oil consumption still remains the private car and home / commercial oil heating…… they are the low hanging fruit.

  35. @ Mickey Hickey,

    You are right about the wind generator having to be sited correctly. But this applies to just about everything. Fish have to be sited correctly i.e. in the water for them to function and survive.

    A very interesting link on wikipedia about Shepards Flat wind farm, planned for August 2012, link here..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shepherds_Flat_Wind_Farm

    Some snippets of info..

    845 Mw, 338 wind generators, type GE 2.5 XL, Generator height 75 to 100 meters, rotor diameter 100m, 30 sq miles of wind farm, 400 people employed in construction and once operational 35 permanent employees,
    5 million dollars income for the county, 16 million dollars income for the state of Oregon.

    No mention of external contractors which I am sure would be employed for maintenance etc. So number of people employed would be greater than 35.

    If we assume a 33% load factor, then this site probably generates 278 Mw on average. Thats about 18 times smaller than 5 GW mentioned above.

    Lets Scale up to 5 Gw.

    18 X 35 = 630 permanent jobs. 18 X 16 M$ = 288 m$ income / year. 18 X 30 sq miles = 540 sq miles by comparison Co Dublin is 356 sq miles.

    Finances, well there it gets more complicated, but it mentions 1.2 Billion $ for the generators and a 10 year service contract, a 1.3 billion dollar loan by the Dept of Energy.

    Perhaps more jobs could be created by the Govt insisting on a plant being built in Ireland, which would employ people here to make all these generators.

  36. ACEA
    “COMMERCIAL VEHICLES registrations: -10.1% over four months; -11.9% in April
    Brussels, 30/05/2012 – In April, demand for new commercial vehicles decreased by 11.9% in the EU*, dropping in most markets. New registrations fell by 1.2% in France, 1.6% in Germany, 13.3% in the UK, 28.9% in Spain and 38.6% in Italy. Four months into the year, downturn continued its course (-10.1%) as all major markets shrank. France remained the largest market, despite a 4.7% contraction, followed by Germany (-1.2%) and the UK (-9.8%). Spain (-24.1%) and Italy (-36.7%) recorded more severe drops. In total, 589,987 vehicles were registered throughout the period.”

    Again the Bus market is the only segment showing growth with the UK driving the entire European market market once again , this I suggest is its monetary envoirment , changing the ratio of money & credit which encourages the use of public transport.

    “In April, buses and coaches were once again the only segment to record somewhat positive results (+0.6%), mainly driven by the British market (+13.3%). From January to April, it posted a strong 52.1% upturn, while all others declined, except for the German (+6.7%). Both markets contributed to sustaining demand, leading to an overall 4.9% growth of the segment which totaled 10,398 units.”

    EU 27 (not inc Bulgaria , Cyprus & Malta ) Jan – April : 10,398
    UK Jan – April : 2,866

    The UK is now 27.5% of the entire Market for 2012 to April !!

  37. @josephwheatley

    sure, there is a correlation, and a high one, but even a few percentage increase in the amount of ‘wind cover’ available for heavily populated England should make a difference. England has access to other renewable electricity sources too, through interconnectors to the continent. I doubt the UK is looking at Ireland as a solution in isolation.

    Now I can’t say all this for certain. There is a lot of complicated interaction and you have to examine and understand the models in detail. A lot of complex detail ends up having to be boiled down into simple headlines.

  38. It is not clear what is in it for Ireland: English-owned turbines generating power for England, transported over English-owned transmission lines.

    Are you quite sure that you managed to mention “English” enough, instead of the UK or British?

    A certain saying about patriotism and refuges springs to mind.

  39. @EWI
    The choice of words is factual. Wales is ahead of England wrt renewables. Scotland is on a largely separate grid. Ireland and Northern Ireland are united in electricity.

  40. BeeCeeTee,

    “Simply achieving an operating profit on a capital intensive operation such as a pumped storage facility does not indicate that it makes any economic sense.”

    I thoroughly agree, however it is a positive beginning to the analysis when the glamour role is shown to be profitable. The thesis simply modelled the profit improvements enjoyed by a single wind farm connected to storage, and scale is important, generation, pumping and storage capacity .

    Additionally it did not model ancillary service income which in a market the size of the imminent FUI will be substantial and its energy sources were restrictive .

    The next stage of the high level analysis might be to take a look at the annual accounts of First Hydro Ltd, the operators of Dinorwig, the necessary details for the search are here http://www.fhc.co.uk/about.htm

    Valueing all of the societal and system benefits is a little harder but progressing satisfactorily.

    @The Dork of Cork,

    The French nuclear industry and grid is dependent for its very viability on pumped hydro.

  41. @Richard,

    “@EWI
    The choice of words is factual. Wales is ahead of England wrt renewables. Scotland is on a largely separate grid. Ireland and Northern Ireland are united in electricity.”

    Quite correct, however it is the small size of the Irish market which places limits on the possible instantaneous renewable energy production in Ireland and drives the need for both storage and export.

  42. @Pat
    Sure , the French Hydro Industry was the Nuclear industry of its time.
    Travel to the Alps or Pyrenees and you see even early 20th century investments , pipes with Titanic like Rivets still operational in some areas with various subterranean tunnels etc. etc.
    But they mainly use simple dams on the upper levels of rivers / Corries which release energy slowly (after icemelt) to a central Hydro plant below.

    This is a more recently built dam
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Étang_de_Soulcem
    which is one of many sourses which focus to a point in the town of Tarascon below.
    enipedia.tudelft.nl/wiki/Pla_De_Soulcem_Powerplant

  43. @The Dork of Cork,

    Ah but watch the power flows on the French grid and interconnectors, particularly at night.

    France is a net exporter of electricity but not by a huge margin, it often imports its own exports after their brief holiday in the Alps.

  44. @Pat
    Sure there is waste….. but in the final anylasis it saves a huge amount of Natural Gas , that can be used for more effiecent uses.

    The French were always best at that strange synthesis of planning and engineering since the days of Vauban at least.
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sébastien_Le_Prestre_de_Vauban

    At the the mid point of that valley using Gravity to the maximum – there was a old Aluminium factory now gone. (Y2003)
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/36739189@N02/3385568083

    http://www.sculpture-metaux.com/order_realizations.html

    We have a different tradition….
    Going back to a more recent time…….. Irish Steel.

    Of burning precious Gas for strange uses given our energy envoirment … now using gas to create electricity to carry out thee most energy intensive of operations , turning Bauxite into aluminium.

  45. I would love to see a clear discussion of what is proposed, the pros the cons etc. From the links I’ve scanned over this seems to effectively be a privately owned extension to the English grid. Money could be made in Ireland from it for sure, the lease of the land where the turbines are built is an obvious example. But over all it doesn’t seem to me that it will benefit Ireland in the long run.
    http://www.farmersjournal.ie/site/farming-Britain-s-powerfulopportunities-forIrish-farmers–15027.html

    Wind energy is a resource, alarm bells go off in my head any time I hear of resources being directly exported out of the country. I know I’m oversimplifying things, but I can envision a not too distant future where private companies export our volatile “green” energy, and we purchase stable base load to meet our own demand. That situation will be self perpetuating, meaning that we’ll never develop the infrastructure to manage our own resources. It’s possible that I’m being a wee bit paranoid but at the very least I feel there’s no need to rush into projects like this. Energy demand always goes up, always. Sitting on our hands for a few years while we gain perspective isn’t always the wrong decision.

  46. There is little or no analogy to be made between exploitation of renewing resources like wind and non-renewing mineral resources like gas and oil. They are completely different things.

  47. @IGenerallyDisagree,

    I point you to the following http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0823/1224302861374.html as an example of what can be achieved by ordinary citizens, a local co-op of farm families and neighbours in partnership with an established energy company.

    The financing options referred to in the article are real, international and debt based, now if only we had the grid and regulatory constraints removed, which the Minister to his credit seems to doing.

  48. @Antoin,
    Ordinarily I would probably agree, but not if a separate private grid is used for transmission. There are a limited number of locations suitable for erecting turbines to capture wind energy. I would expect any private company interested in exploiting those resources to sign very long leases on the turbine sites. If as the article suggests our grid is not utilized for transmission, we lose access to the resource for at a minimum the duration of the lease. It could then become economically unviable to amend the situation in 100(?) years when the leases expire. I’ve obviously made gross assumptions in this, but in the medium term, I see it as being no different to the export of any other resource, renewable or otherwise.

  49. @Pat,
    Interesting read thanks. I wasn’t aware that Spirit of Ireland was still progressing. To clarify for me though, when you mention removal of grid constraints, is that the creation of the pumped storage facility or this dedicated transmission link or both?

  50. @IGenerallyDisagree,

    Its progressing well, three years or so ago the concept was first discussed on this site and now it is being discussed as part of Government strategy, with two competitors joining the fray to be first past the post.

    By 2016, Ireland will join France and the UK in the FUI regional electricity market, possessing a strong national grid, adequate interconnection and large scale electricity storage facilities will enable Ireland to compete aggressively in this market.

    The SEM will also have to evolve to some extent to allow intra day trading.

    Smart Grid technology will further change the energy landscape allowing the introduction of the prosumer concept, producing and consuming at all scales including domestic.

    If Ireland does not harvest its renewable resources for its own benefit they will blow over our heads to the UK and Europe or bounce of the west coast and return to the US.

    Those benefits are both primary and secondary and their scope is wide.

    High level info is available at http://www.energyco-ops.ie detail is available to your appetite.

  51. This thing about building a private grid is some sort of misunderstanding. Neither HMG nor private firms are going to do that. It would not be in their interest. The engineers won’t allow it. The planners won’t allow it and they won’t be able to benefit from the strategic infrastructure act or electricity acts, since it wouldn’t be strategic infrastructure and wouldn’t be for electricity delivery. Any economist who knows anything about the actual electricity market will kick up and the British security services would certainly veto the whole scheme if no one else does. Nobody builds private grids. How could you even get planning permission or way leaves for such a thing?

  52. @Richard,

    Re the tweet, dont go all economisty on us, there is nothing wrong with a good idea being hijacked by all and sundry or a government or five.

  53. It appears Pat Rabbit has not got the memo

    http://www.businessnewsonline.org/?p=230667

    What is so hard to understand ?
    Both Solar & Wind are Diffuse ,Unreliable energy sourses.

    It does not matter much if Spain is Sunny or Ireland is windy.

    It requires oil to build all things – including my favourite investments, Dense base load Nuclear (save Nat Gas & coal) & Rail.(Saving Gasoline & Diesel

    The wind bangs for your Buck is pathetic , the opportunity costs must be huge.

    Imagine how much highly valuable gasoline & diesel is saved if 120,000 people use these vehicles with Nuclear powered electricity…

    http://www.trams-in-france.net/montpellier.htm

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montpellier_tramway

    The Spanish and Italian electricity industry lost its long term capacity when they both gave up on Nuclear in the early /mid 80s.

  54. @Pat
    I’ve always said that Spirit of Ireland cannot do without substantial government support (without having had the privilege of inspecting your numbers) and that your entire strategy was aimed at securing such support.

    I do not begrudge your success in finding a government nipple to suck on. I pity the Irish for having to transfer their wealth to you. I’ll try to avoid any of my money flowing to you.

  55. @Pat,
    If you are interested in making people think that pumped storage and wind can together cover their cost of capital without subsidy (or even with current Irish levels of subsidy on wind), you should probably try to do better than referencing an undergraduate project that covers a small part of the question and a pair of Welsh pumped storage operations with a completely different business model. Answering the most commonly identified economic problem with pumped storage with semi-relevancies doesn’t do much to advance your case – more the reverse.

  56. @Richard,

    There is a very wide gulf between financial support for a specific project and the regulatory measures which enable a new market to open up for a countries industries.

    I think we can all agree that government subsidy for renewable energy technologies will soon be significantly scaled down and that both nuclear and gas will expect and receive their share of the reducing pie in order to encourage investment in their own spheres.

    Moore’s law drives the pace of change and investment decisions in the computer industry, the pace of change in the energy industry is far slower but changing it is, just as it changed at the beginning of the 18th and 20th centuries.

    But in a regulated market those slower transformations must first be enabled by governments, particularly involving transnational agreements.

    As the Irish public purse is short of moolah I wouldn’t hold my breath for financial sustenance from that source. Which is a good thing.

  57. @BeeCeeTee,

    If that were indeed my interest you would be correct, my purpose though is simply to provoke a little flexibility of thought on the question of replacing subsidy via technology and market instruments.

    And taking my two references together should provide a starting point for an interested reader in that regard.

    Presenting the particular business of a commercial company is surely the job of that companies finance director and I am not he or she.

    I merely present an itch to be scratched from the position of a private citizen with an opinion and an interest in other opinions.

  58. I think I’ve been abusing the terminology a bit, and I’m quite confused at this point, so please bear with me. The newspaper article Ossian linked to clearly stated that the transmission link would be separate to the Irish network. I assumed then that the transmission lines connecting the turbines to that link will also be separate. I referred to that transmission network as a private grid. I’m unaware if I misinterpreted the article or if it’s wrong etc etc.

    If I assume for the moment that I have more or less understood the above correctly, at a very high level and in the medium term at least, I see this as no different to selling off non renewable resources we’re currently unwilling or unable to handle (reasons in an earlier post). I’m paraphrasing a bit here, but in response to that Antoin said “no”, can someone please elaborate on this?

  59. @Dork

    “The wind bangs for your Buck is pathetic , the opportunity costs must be huge”

    What drives your strong negative opinions when it comes to renewables and your polar opposite positive views on nuclear – it comes across as highly unbalanced – maybe both have merits? What about wind plus normal hydro? One thing for sure is that Pat Sword’s fantasy of 2-3c per kWh for nuclear is far greater than any tall tales the renewable industry have come up with. Maybe in another life as a Japanese taxpayer/electricity consumer you would like to have contributed to the Monju Project?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monju_Nuclear_Power_Plant

  60. @Pat,
    If I understand your first sentence correctly, you are actually talking about subsidising pumped storage, but through market mechanisms that raise electricity prices, sucking on the multiple nipples of the public and enterprise, rather than on a single government nipple.

    My back-of-envelope calculations suggest that the subsidy would have to be very large. Technology would not help much. The cost of wind is indeed falling on a weak equivalent of Moore’s Law, but the major costs in a combination of wind and pumped storage are in pumped, the basic technology for which – hydro – is mature after well over a century’s accumulation of experience.

  61. A poorly phrased sentence. My point on the relationship between costs in wind and pumped storage is that while onshore wind is more or less cost effective by itself provided it can be absorbed by users, adding the capital cost of pumped storage in order to time-shift wind power supply makes the combination of the two very expensive.

  62. @ Pat Gill,

    I have a number of questions which I would like to put to you.

    1) Ireland currently has one of the most expensive electricity rates in Europe, despite all the so called competition which was introduced over the last 10 years or so. So considering pumping electrons is very expensive to do in Ireland, then why would Ireland become a exporter of electricity?

    2) In the data I gave above about Shepard’s Flat in Oregon, what sort of subsidy or Govt backed loan are you looking for? Shepard’s Flat required a 1.3 Billion dollar loan, and that was only for a 845 MW array, with no pumped storage, and indeed 845 MW really only means 278 MW nominal output.

    3) How much area of land are you referring to, for producing 5 GW of wind power. All things being equal I estimate covering a land area of 560 sq miles in wind generators to produce 5Gw. That is a much greater land area than Co Dublin.

    4) How much employment do you envisage for such a scheme? Shepard’s Flat with 338 generators is estimating 35 people employed, that’s 10 generators per employee.

  63. @Tim
    Its a question of energy density – wind and solar is just too diffuse,at least for post 18th century lifestyles – therefore the capital expended for the output is very low and unreliable –

    As for Hydro most of the large low hanging fruit has been plucked…. (see Norway) with significant negative effects to the wilder areas of Europe.

    I can’t see how oil or gas can be completly replaced – especially for transport given the much higher capital costs of battery powered cars etc. etc.

    The best we can do is to try to replicate at least some of the transport network as it was before the rise of the Bus in the 1930s & the private car post war.

    But the dramatic wastage of a highly valuable fuel (Nat Gas) for electricity can be slowed at least for base load operations via Nuclear build – however the expertise has been stripped from this Industry since the $ bull run of 1980.
    Nuclear is therefore not possible in Ireland as even the UK is now incapable of new Build.

    We should put all our efforts into rail.
    For example a rail line to Youghal would cost perhaps 85 -90 ~ million.
    This would make it a 3/4 railcar DMU service rather then the present 2 railcar DMU to Midleton with fuel savings per passenger.
    The daily outbound (No. 260) 18 bus routes to Youghal can be cut to a skeleton service.
    The Mogeely(3) bus diversion can be avoided.
    Traffic holdups between Kent and Parnell Bus station can be avoided saving more fuel.(although future road traffic may not be that heavy)
    A wider rail catchment would benefit Kent insuring more potential passengers on the Cork to Dublin route etc etc.
    Youghal – a relatively rationally planned town can be saved.
    The band of population between Cork city ,Carrigtwohill , Midleton & Youghal can be linked with the miniumum of oil inputs etc etc.

    The 260 coming into Parnell from Kent direction can be seen at the start of this video.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzEidDJF2aM

    It comes down to a question of resourses.
    In my opinion almost all road capital expenditure should be directed towards rail both light & heavy.
    Wind will not save us much Diesel.

  64. @TDOC
    Building a few km of railway, while potentially a very good idea, will not stop the price of diesel from rising. I think it’s prudent to maybe explore alternatives now while diesel is still relatively affordable.

  65. @BeeCeeTee,

    I will clarify my first sentence, pumped hydro can, in a wide range of scenarios, effectively replace the need for feed in tariff support for wind energy financing by providing a guaranteed market for output as and when it generates irrspective of system demand, it could also, if required, replace the current imperative for must run status in the presence of a strenghtened regional grid, it can provide balancing, including inertia for renewable integration without incurring a fuel cost. It can provide the above services at a nominal kwh cost in quantity, Turlough Hill is sometimes quoted at a marginal cost of less than a cent per unit per cycle.

    It can, in addition, enable ccgt’s or coal stations to run at their most efficient operational settings further reducing fuel costs by minimising ramping.

    It can provide energy banking for export and market coupling, occsionally dabble in arbitrage and it can perform all of the above simultaneously and more.

    It is a very flexible and cost effective piece of infrastructure with a design life between major overhauls of perhaps fifty years.

    In addition, the scale of the plants envisaged in the governments strategy document would serve international as well as domestic market and would have the capacity necessary to integrate ocean energy as and when it arrives and enable renewable and conventional generation to cost effectively service an increasing transport market for electricity.

    Turlough Hill was built in the 1970’s to balance a small nuclear plant which never built, despite this minor setback the plant has been cost effectively earning its keep ever since.

    Nowhere in the world is pumped hydro publicly subsidised, instead the market pays for its commercial services via capacity and ancillary service charges in addition to the plant participating in the energy market per se.

    I will not be tempted to reveal commercial IP to make my case but perhaps one more publicly available piece of research at random from among a multitude of new work on this new subject.
    http://www.abve.org.br/downloads/bcg_-_revisiting_energy_storage.pdf

    The market may indeed prefer to continue business as usual but my instinct says it might.

  66. Well Ireland cannot stop the price of Diesel rising , building a few windmills will not stop the diesel rising – Europe maybe, if it dumped all those new Diesel private cars.
    The Irish energy objective should not be to stop the diesel price rising – its to reduce the amount of high value Euro exports for fuel which is squeezing discretionary domestic demand.
    .
    A 2 carriage modern DMU is generally a bit more effiecent then a Bus (if full)
    If you can extend the line , more passengers get on in Kent = a more effiecent 3 or 4 carriage carriage service therefore less BTUs per person.

    Once the monetary system changes….. as in the UK ( the ratio of money and credit is changing because of QE although they are not producing enough money to replace the credit that is being paid down)
    Rail captures the new flow as cars are credit dependent.
    Its a no Brainer , once we are out of the Euro even lines such as New Ross to Waterford will become viable.

    Look at the UK rail stats over the years…. its telling us something , in the midst of a European depression UK rail passengers are growing 5.6% YoY

    http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/nav.1527

    The UK Monetary policey is the primary reason why NIR is booming while IR is in the doldrums.
    Belfast to Derry passenger numbers
    Y2006/7 : 1,021,000
    Y2011 :1,477,000

    Its a small island but Northern Ireland is smaller…. why is there a general rise of passenger numbers in N.I. ?
    The longer distances should make southern Ireland a more optimal rail envoirment.
    Why ?

  67. @IGenerallyDisagree
    Also
    NIR passenger journeys
    Oct Dec 2010 : 2.7 million
    Oct Dec 2011 : 2.88 million

    NIR passenger miles
    Oct Dec 2010 :49.11 million miles
    Oct Dec 2011 :53.15 million miles

    These are record numbers

  68. @Sporthog,

    My opinion.

    Re 1) Ireland currently operates a pool type, day ahead electricity market with capacity payments and with extremely limited intra day trading, this market type has advantages that other countries are beginning to covet, most other European markets are of a different nature and are extremely complex to operate and regulate, as electricity markets develop and integrate throughout the continent I would expect to see incremental moves towards developing pool capabilities along with the SEM introducing more intraday trading.

    As electricity storage in most respects operates behind or underneath the pool and retail market, it does not follow that its pumping costs track headline retail rates. For example a CCGT plant in Ireland might have slightly elevated fuel costs over a similar plant in the UK but its marginal costs would be broadly similar, with the advantage over the UK plant of being able to avail of capacity payments to hedge its capital costs.

    It looks pretty certain that similar capacity payments will soon also be common place in the UK and Europe to incentivise new capacity of all technologies.

    Re 2) Ireland currently has in excess of 1600 MW of wind which was financed on the strenght of a very modest Feed in Tariff, as explained above pumped hydro is not subsidised anywhere.

    Re 3) I believe you are referring to the proposal from Mainstream, as I understand that proposal it envisages a large amount of offshore capacity, here is a link to the real map of Ireland and although I take your point about the area required it is insignificant in relation to the resource area http://www.marine.ie/NR/rdonlyres/07A3B2CD-E351-4FD5-86FD-8E06E9FB1A80/0/RealMapofIrelandwithEEZKey_Nov09_web.jpg

    Re 4) The ongoing direct employment requirements of an offshore windfarm are not high, they are significantly higher for offshore. The real employment potential for Ireland would be significant employment in the build out phase, lasting perhaps 15 or 20 years, with significant employment coming onstream in both R&D and manufacture of ocean energy plant.

    Over time the secondary employment potential is large and driven by the competitive advantage of renewables being able to guarantee stable prices over long time frames, we see that dynamic already happening in such projects as the planned autoproduction wind turbines on the individual premises of the main pharma cluster in Cork harbour and similar increasing renewable autoproduction in the food industry.

    Some food related autoproduction takes advantage of the co2 emissions of CHP of various fuel types to enhance horticultural efficiency.

    According to the May statement by the EIA “From 2000 to 2010 the average amount spent on oil imports in Europe was USD182 billion a year. In 2011 oil imports reached a record of USD488 billion.”

    Oil demand in Europe over the same period increased by only circa 0.5%, the real increase in oil prices over the period averaged 12% per annum, cumulatively over 100% in real terms since 2000 and this trend was mirrored at a minor discount by natural gas prices.

    Almost every single grid study undertaken at the beginning of the last decade vastly underestimated the rate of gas price increase.

    Consumers both small and large consider such matters as a threat to their future viability and further consider renewables as a sensible hedge against such a threat. As fossil fuel increases in both price and price volatility it brings more renewable technologies into the viability range.

    And in my personal opinion it is then that the consumers consider the climate change question, and they do, but in that order.

  69. The Portrush to Coleraine railway….. has experienced a 40% increase in passenger growth since Y2002.

    Hmmm
    It has also received considerable investment last year with continuously welded steel laid down.

    http://www.fpmccann.co.uk/civil_engineering/coleraine_portrush

    Hmm………..
    Population
    (Y2001)
    Coleraine : 24,000 ~ Waterford : 51,519 (46,747 city limits)

    Portrush : 6,372 New Ross : 8,151

    Length of line : 9Km Length of Line : 20+ km

    Now Portrush serves as a dormitory town for the University of Ulster which makes the line viable in the Winter Months but… the population of the New Ross /Waterford area is much larger.

    Also the Collage is much more central up North.
    With Plunkett station a very isolated station in comparison.(it needs a new passenger bridge to link with Waterford Bus station)

    But still ?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suhN47IgtrE

  70. @Dork

    That’s a more reasoned use of language in response but I think you have blind spots. The c. 33MW average generation at Ardnacrusha was enough to cover our total demand for a number of years after being built in the 1920s so talk of 18th century lifestyles is a non-starter. People that are opposed to renewables seem to have a need to lump them all together (wind and solar are very different), exaggerate downsides or introduce imaginary problems. You missed the point about wind + plus natural hydro in that existing facilities can be used to smooth out the generation curve and even their capacity increased expressly for this purpose if practical.

    I would need an awful lot of convincing that the EROEI ratio of wind in general is below 15 provided it is well positioned, including all the tacked on arguments about entropy etc. It is hard to squeeze renewables as a group into some type of diffusivity box. At largely over 40kW/m average energy on the Irish Atlantic seaboard, wave energy is quite concentrated, if it can be economically captured. There is also the argument that nuclear is too concentrated and that there are limits in terms of material constraints that have been reached – requiring ever more expensive solutions.

    The requirement of a well educated/skilled and experienced workforce to maintain nuclear over lifespans of up to forty years plus decommissioning is a major drawback and something that seems to worry the Chinese in their current building programme. Don’t forget that a change from productive asset to massive liability can happen overnight with nuclear and in that case I would prefer to be dealing with rusting wind towers with a lick of Hammerite.

    I think your observations on transport are interesting and important and it seems evident that Ireland’s current settlement pattern will not cope well with higher and higher oil prices as you regularly point out.

  71. You must question our Brethern up North also.

    “KENNEDY GIVES BELFAST TO LARNE DUAL CARRIAGEWAY GREEN LIGHT
    Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy, today, announced his decision to proceed with the £100million A8, Belfast to Larne, dual carriageway scheme.
    Having considered the Inspector’s Report into the Public Inquiries on the A8 scheme, the Minister has tasked Roads Service to progress the project, taking into account the Inspector’s recommended amendments. The Inspector recommended that the proposed dual carriageway should be constructed in accordance with the preferred route, which bypasses Bruslee and Ballynure.
    Construction of the scheme, by the consortium Lagan, Ferrovail and Costain, will provide 14.4 kilometres of new dual carriageway from Coleman’s Corner Roundabout to Ballyrickard Road. Work on the dual carriageway is expected to start in June this year and take two and a half years to complete.”

    See Fig 4.3 (traffic especially commercial has sunk and then flatlined post 2007)
    http://www.drdni.gov.uk/a8_poe_traffic_and_economics_final.pdf

    This 100 million is being wasted after the disasterous decision not to link up the new CairnRyan port to rail leaving the Stranraer railway as a now dead asset.
    http://www.rail.co/2011/04/01/rail-link-for-loch-ryan-port-unlikely
    This crazy decsion now affects the Larne railways viability.

    Meanwhile another viable line goes unused for the most part with Crumlin town having seen considerable growth since its closure in 2003.
    “The Lisburn-Antrim line was returned to passenger service on Sundays 9 and 23 October 2011 when the direct Antrim-Belfast line was closed for points/track renewal at York Road and between Bleach Green Junction and Whiteabbey. Londonderry line services were diverted via Lisburn rather than being substituted by bus, to the appreciation of travelling public.”

  72. This comment from a railway.co blogger reflects the possible corporatisation of the planning process in Scotland and its dangers to the commons.
    “This is an absolute debacle. Stena held the Scottish Government to ransom saying either we get what we want or we pull out of Lochryan altogether. Stranraer Port will be dead, it’s rail link consisting of mostly ferry passengers will die soon because of the coach transfer set up from Ayr. Travelling from Glasgow to Belfast will take one hour longer using this method than it was getting a train to Stranraer and boarding the ferry there, plus the environmental impact of herding an extra 32500 ex-rail passengers onto the goat track known as the A77. Stena proposed that Stranraer harbour will be given over to the town for free on condition they don’t attract another ferry company to use it because they also know that the town can’t afford to buy the harbour. Also airy-fairy plans have been drawn up to woo the locals turning Stranraer harbour into hotels, housing, shops and a light industry complex but who exactly will come to a now dead end town of 10,000 population? Disgraceful!”

    @Tim
    I agree – the Norwegian Hydro programme supplies all of their electricity , if the source is concentrated I have nothing against it other then possible environmental damage in senstive scenic / environmental areas.

  73. The Scale of public transport fixed capital investment in France is truely something to see.
    At present – In Lyon Alone
    1. Extension of Metro B under the Rhone river
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKDlSdrUfqs

    2. Extension of Tramway T1
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3pcuYf10ZU

    3. Extension of tramway T2 (also known as T2+ or T5)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLXKR4T-bKA

    4. Two projects for T3 including a extension to a sports stadium.(in the future its likely to travel to market towns 40 Km from the city.

    5. Extension to line T4
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDt6SZVaDaE

    6. A Express Busway system.

    So after previous massive investment most recently a Tram train system to the west of the city / suburbs / satellite towns – massive investment continues.

  74. Sorry to drag up old news but since this is plastered all over the media again today I read up a bit on their website. It seems A dedicated grid/transmission system is the plan after all.

    http://www.mainstreamrp.com/energy-bridge/

    “The Energy Bridge project will capture wind power generated onshore and offshore in Ireland, transport it under the Irish Sea and connect it to the UK via a grid connection that Mainstream has already secured. The cable for transporting the energy from the wind farms is entirely independent of Ireland’s existing electricity system.

    Using underground cables we will connect a number of turbines to create a single wind farm. We then connect several wind farms to a regional collector node, forming a wind park. Our underground cable then carries the electricity to the east coast”

    @Antoin & Richard, you mention no one in their right mind would build a private grid. So what’s the deal with this then? I still see this as similar to the export of non renewable resources. AFAIK leases on turbine sites are in the region of 100 years, so direct acccess to the resource is basically lost to us. The only difference we won’t run out of wind so the tax stream (such as it will be) should remain for as long as energy is exported.

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