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back to article Scottish gov OKs Europe's biggest onshore wind farm

Scottish ministers today greenlighted Europe's largest windfarm. The 152-turbine, 548MW Clyde wind farm will comprise clusters of turbines straddling the M74 motorway near Abington in South Lanarkshire, providing juice for 320,000 homes. The £600m project will create 200 jobs during construction and 30 full-time operational …

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Yay! Windies!

From where I live, on the top of a hill, on a clear day I can see both the Blacklaw and Whitelee wind farms. I hope I'll be able to see this new one, too.

They're not a blot on the landscape by any means. Also, with the Scottish right to roam laws, you'll be able to picnic under the sweeping arms on the rare days the weather isn't ... um, Scottish.

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How accurate...

"Scotland has a clear, competitive advantage in developing clean, green energy sources such as wind, wave and tidal power."

Isn't that just a thinly veiled way of saying "scotland's weather isn't brilliant" They're right to take advanrage of it though 548MW is nothing to be sniffed at, we need to do all we can to generate clean electric and save where we can - and by that i mean doing things like using energy saving lightbulbs - not by turning off servers or buying a smaller tv, efficiency is good but blindly removing the usage doesn't help.

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False ecconomy

The more windmills that are built the more power needs to be available on standby.

So either there will be power cuts on windless days it is surprising how many of these there are as windmills only work between certain wind speeds,or other power stations will have to be switched on and off as required which will increase the cost for these stations to operate.

The only guaranteed way is through tidal power it doesn't matter which government is in power the tide will come in and out everyday.

Whilst i agree there is a place for this technology it is not to be relied on and should not be seen as anything other than a paper shuffling exercise.

More could be done to encourage people to generate their own with solar for example but the energy companies wouldn't like that idea.

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Numbers

I know Daily mail units seem to be all the rage, but what do they actually expect to generate - what's the maximum power output, and the predicted average power over the year?

Count of houses is not a measure of energy or power, it's just crap.

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Extra Power

If they installed a wind farm at Holyrood, then I reckon all the windbags in the Scottish Parliment would generate over 600MW.

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Great Scott!

Excellent, we're nearly half way to generating 1.21GW!

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Amazed!

Normally the scottish NIMBY parade shoot this sort of thing in the foot at the preliminary stages. The fact that it has actually been approved has left me speechless.

What a pleasant change - pragmatism over romantacism from the scottish govt/public.

Steven R

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It's enough to make you sick.

Yet another thing to praise the scottish for. it's just not cricket. i'm getting ridiculously jealous south of the border. i even like the rain and cold. ah well.

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Anonymous Coward

peaks+troughs

It's pretty easy to take calm days into account. You build your windy system with x% spare capacity (where x is the number figured out from historical weather patterns etc) so that when its windy you spend that x% pumping water up a tall hill. When the wind stops you let it fall and suck the energy out with a turbine or 15. Scotland is fuckin windy anyway so should be hunky dorey!

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the wind of change

Ironically, the Chinese' continuing proliferation of coal-fired power stations leading to more climate change and theoretically higher winds must be seen as a good thing.

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Flame

Cue the following arguement.

FRISP: Now that we have lots of renewable energy we should sell it to the English when we declare independance.

Englishman: Good luck with that. We'll want some stiff penalty clauses in there if you can't provide the power when the wind dies down.

FRISP: Still, we've got the oil so we can just sell that.

Englishman: Good luck with that. As we have a navy and you don't it would be rather tough for you to do stuff in our territorial waters.

FRISP: But, but, but your navy is up here in our ports.

Englishman: Yes, it's a very basic form of government subsidy. We put it there so that you guys would have some jobs after your shipbuilding industry imploded. We have dockyards at Plymouth and Portsmouth. Besides, how are you going to cope being independant if we pull the plug on the massive health and social care subsidy you get? Best you just keep quiet because you are on to a good deal at the moment as one of our Queen's territories.

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IT Angle

What was missing...

From the announcement:

"It will have a total capacity of up to 548 Megawatts (MW)"

I interpret this to mean it's maximum under ideal conditions.Wind farms do not run under ideal conditions all the time, so a correction facto of, say, 30% needs to be applied to the ideal capacity, dropping it to 164.4 MW. Making a few more guesses about % up time, etc, I reckon it should generate about 1TwH in a year. Scotland uses about 200 TWh/year, so this will give 0.5% of total demand.

I understand that around 10% is the maximum wind power a grid can handle, so Scotland could have 20 of these, if it can find the room. More if it uses them for pumped storage. It should be interesting to see what the actual figures are in practice....

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@AC

FRISP?? Urbandictionary ist verboten here but, from what little I can see on Google's listing, 'FRISP' seems to be a rather derogatory term. You're not one of those horrible racialists are you?

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Joe
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Solar power

"More could be done to encourage people to generate their own with solar for example but the energy companies wouldn't like that idea."

Neither would anyone with a brain as the environmental damage from manufacturing solar cells far outweighs the input you get from them in the UK, (and certainly in Scotland FFS) and they will decay to a point of non-usefulness far before they have produced more energy than their production consumed.

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Alert

The M74, eh?

Is it just me, or does anyone else ever feel a bit disorientated when trying to drive at 70mph in a motorway lane in heavy traffic with huge whirling blades slicing at random speeds across the surrounding sky?

I wonder if anyone's done any research on road safety with distracting movement in the peripheral field of vision?

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Go

National Grid Seven Year Statement 2008

The National Grid have a Seven Year Statement that gives a useful overview of power generation in the UK and some of the factors that concern people with wind power, particularly comments I see on The Registrar.

See http://www.nationalgrid.com/uk/Electricity/SYS/current/

Peak unrestricted demand is given as: 61.4GW in 2007/08 rising to 67.3GW by 2014/15.

The aggregate power station capacity rises from 79.9GW in 2008/09 rising to 110.1GW by 2014/15.

"The largest change is due to the 13.9GW increase in CCGT (gas) plant capacity over the period. On this basis, the capacity of CCGT plant will overtake that of coal by 2009/10. By 2014/15, CCGT capacity will exceed coal capacity by 8.2GW and account for 36.0% of the total transmission contracted installed generation capacity.

The second largest increase is due to the growth in Wind generation, with onshore wind accounting for a 7.8% increase and offshore wind accounting for a 7.4% increase in overall capacity. Wind generation capacity (both onshore and offshore) is set to rise to 15.9GW by 2014/15."

The great increase in aggregate power station capacity appears to greatly improve plant margin assumptions for wind generation. 'Plant Margin’ is the amount by which the installed generation capacity exceeds the peak demand

See table:

http://www.nationalgrid.com/uk/sys_08/dddownloaddisplay.asp?chap=true&sp=sys_Table5_5

2008/9 plant margin is 28.6 (wind at 100%) 25.7 (wind at 0%)

2014/15 plant margin is 64.3 (wind at 100%) 43.4 (wind at 0%)

As much of the new generation (particularly windpower) is in Scotland they have to plan more grid capacity from North to South, or new generation in Scotland could be rendered "sterile" at they call it. Some of this planned reinforcement appears subject to Public Inquiry, which might delay commissioning dates.

From the Executive Summary they say:

"National Grid’s responsibility in the Balancing Mechanism is to balance generation and demand and to resolve transmission constraints. The persistence effect of wind (i.e. its output is naturally subject to fluctuation and unpredictability relative to the more traditional generation technologies) coupled with the expected significant diversity between regional variations in wind output means that, while the balancing task will become more onerous, the task should remain manageable. Provided that the necessary flexible generation and other balancing service providers remain available, there is no immediate technical reason why a large portfolio of wind generation cannot be managed in balancing timescales.

However, balancing costs would be expected to rise in line with the wind portfolio. Our estimation of balancing cost increases is between £5 and £7.50 per MWh of wind production for 2008/09. As the wind portfolio grows in size, we would anticipate these costs to tend towards a level of between £4 and £7 per MWh of wind production due to greater diversity and geographical location of wind generation of a larger wind portfolio. The increase in the estimates of costs from those reported in previous statements is linked to the rises in market prices for balancing services, in particular reserve and response

In the longer term, we do not think it likely that there will be a technical limit on the amount of wind that may be accommodated as a result of short term balancing issues, but economic and market factors will become increasingly important."

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Pish

What a waste of money. I'm sorry, I know our weather is crap, but lets be perfectly honest about this, wind farms don't operate at full capacity. Quoting the maximum possible output instead of the realistic figures is just a marketing and political tool. The reality is that these windmills will sit idle or operating at sub optimal performance for much of the time.

Until we can reliably store excess power without flooding large proportions of the country stick to nuclear for a base load of at least 80% of our requirements and supplement this with other means of generation.

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Water?

I agree with Michael, in that nuclear is the only sensible option, but I think we have left it too late......

I have read that hydrogen is a possible answer, but I gave up on chemistry when the teacher could not adequately explain why water doesn't burn. It's made of hydrogen and oxygen, how explosive can you get?

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stu
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Happy

Windy Miller

This is surely an ideal opportunity to have one straddling the central resevation of the M74.

You have to time it just right, just like Windy Miller, to drive through the blades.

It would make the trip north much more fun.

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Paris Hilton

Riddle me this?

The real peak demand occurs when people turn on big ticket items such as air con on hot days and central heating on cold ones. These two meteorological situations are typically occurr when you have an anti-cyclonic weather pattern. These are also noted for their low wind speeds! Rejecting Nuclear will come back to haunt the Scots...

Perhaps some kind of national balanced energy portfolio or an investment in candles is what's needed.

Paris - Well, there's nothing like a good blow in the Trossachs!

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Me
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re:Pish By Michael & Riddle me this? By AC

I personally live in East Kilbride - with a full view onto the Eaglesham Moor wind farm - and I can tell you right now that there is never a day when most of those props are spinning.

We usually have wind enough to spare regardless of the weather and if you knew the area these other farms are being sited (Abingdon sounds perfrect - never done the M74 without a fierce cross-wind there) then you'd know we're gnna get a good % load overall.

Of course these figures are inflated in press releases etc. - but only a fool takes those at face-value after so long under Lie-bour and B-liar - however I have to assume that sensible load estimates are part of the approval process - and as pointed out some fairly significant proposals are being turned down on a benefit vs draw-back basis.

On a personal note my 13 yr old daughter sees the spinning props as a commitment to her future and looks forward to more - screw the nimby's

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Me

correction

"most of those props aren't spinning."

typo - sry

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Dead Vulture

You'll be able to make bio-diesel ....

from all the bird carcasses these giant mincers produce. It should also produce additional jobs for a couple of lads to fork them into the truck.

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Boffin

Nu-Clear waste not an issue?

Of course nuclear is the answer! The fact that the half-life of waste from the new generation of nuclear reactors is measured in millions of years is inconsequential. We just need to find somewhere geologically stable enough to last that long, create Ma scale construction methods and jobs a gud un!

We could also chuck in all the waste thats been kicking around in the existing nuclear power stations that we hadn't worked out what to do with, ditto the military waste and the radioactive bits of decommissioned plants that we'll generate over the years.... hmmm, its going to have to be a massive hole, Coventry perhaps?

Sarcasm aside, I'm genuinely interested in what the pro-nukes think the answer is to this problem?

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Flame

Solar Cell Manufacturers giving them away?

"... the environmental damage from manufacturing solar cells far outweighs the input you get from them in the UK, (and certainly in Scotland FFS) and they will decay to a point of non-usefulness far before they have produced more energy than their production consumed."

I am curious about the environmental damage from solar cell manufacturing. Although early semiconductor plants often dumped their waste inappropriately, today the waste treatment is much better (I should know, I have worked in the industry in Silicon Valley for nearly 40 years). The probable time to decay to non-usefulness is certainly many decades, and probably centuries, and since the payback time is now under 20 years, the energy consumed in their production must be very cheap if it is less than their lifetime production! Unless the manufacturers expect to lose money on them.

Even Scotland is sometimes sunny.

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