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« Nature: no scrutiny of the academy | Main | Will renewables kill off Scottish independence? »
Wednesday
Nov092011

Darien II

One commenter on the last thread rather perspicaciously pointed out the parallels between Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond's leap for renewables and the Darien scheme - the disastrous commercial venture at the end of the 17th century that bankrupted the Scottish establishment and led to the country having to go cap in hand to the English and ask for union.

With this in mind, it's useful to notice the report by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers into energy needs for an independent Scotland. As the Telegraph says,

Scotland faces buying power from abroad to keep the lights on because Alex Salmond has no “practical strategy” for delivering his promise of a green energy revolution, a damning report by a leading engineering group has concluded.

Darien II, indeed.

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Reader Comments (57)

It's kinda simple. If power costs more in Scotland than elsewhere in the world because of the power source (whether direct billed or paid out of tax revenue), people and companies will migrate.

Nov 9, 2011 at 8:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Schneider

People and companies already migrate out of Scotland (as I did 20 years ago myself) so this is no surprise. It's a shame, the Scots are generally very engineering minded, have very good Russell Group universities (one of which I am an alumni of), and have loads of good natural resources. But time and again, people all drain away to other countries, because nothing is ever done there. Shame.

Nov 9, 2011 at 8:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

You have to wonder why Salmond is even bothering with the idea of seperation, most Scots don't want it and can't see how it would work. That said all these endless whitehall generated scare stories about "independence and doom" are just making Scots consider it more and more. If they just kept quiet, Alex would hold his vote, probably get a mandate for more powers but not full seperation.

That tapped you have to wonder why Salmond is even bothering with the idea of a vote - he keeps forgetting the reason he got into office the first time round was becase ALL of the other parties were either unelectable in Scotland (Tories) or totally incompetent in office (Lib-Dem & Labour) whilst his team seemed to keep themselves out of any major gaffs - snow chaos excepted.

Nov 9, 2011 at 8:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris

Salmond, undoubtedly is a crafty and venally clever operator but this feral ability is matched too by his inability to see the big picture, his overriding, grandiose and disproportionate ambition makes this inevitable, that's why for Scotland and Britain he's a dangerous one trick pony.

Nov 9, 2011 at 9:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Salmond would have called an independence referendum straight away, except he knows he'll probably lose it, and even if he wins, it'll be a disaster.

Nov 9, 2011 at 9:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Funny that!

I'd always assumed the Scots lost their independence with the fall of an axe right after the mother of all cries for "FREEEEEEEEEEEDOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!"

How deflating it is to learn that in fact it was a failed colonialist business enterprise that brought this martial nation down to a union with their mortal enemy.

As for the current sentiment for independence, though I fully support the Scotland's right to secede from the UK, I am not sure of the wisdom of swapping the UK for the EU. Scotland and England have had so much history together. Longer, stronger and more successful history with each other than what either of them have managed with the with the Continent.

Nov 9, 2011 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

"I'd always assumed the Scots lost their independence with the fall of an axe right after the mother of all cries for "FREEEEEEEEEEEDOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!"

No. We had another 400 years of freedom after the murder of Sir William Wallace.

It's the 'Institution' of Mechanical Engineers and not 'Institute'.

Nov 9, 2011 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterBob

Too many anti-Scottish voices for my liking. This debate is not about nationalism.

Nov 9, 2011 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Excuse my ignorance on the Darien scheme but after reading that article, though I can see how they lost 15 ships and 2,000 people, I don't see how they lost £500,000 - where did that disappear to?

Anyway, Scotland is as likely to go independent as Quebec is. Both use the independence card to get more money from their central governments but in reality have no intention of going for full independence.

Nov 9, 2011 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered Commenterstanj

Mac notes 'Too many anti-Scottish voices for my liking.'

True - I used to suffer from scotophobia, but then I saw the light!

Nov 9, 2011 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan E

Agreed Mac. One of the uncomfortable things about being sceptical about CAGW is that we are bedfellows with some of the the green pencil brigade. This is because climate change draws in legitimate scientific doubters, but also people who are simply against windmills, or who don't like EU anything, never mind targets, or who are actually right-wing creationst loons.

Can we keep it on the science and politics?

Nov 9, 2011 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

If England follows Poland into shale gas then it won't need Scottish power, nor Norwegian for that matter.

What I don't understand is why Salmond isn't trying to reclaim Scottish fishing grounds from the EU?
For which, of course, he'd need the Royal Navy.
Well managed fish-stocks, unlike the desecration of EU fishing policy, would be a valuable National natural resource and reduce Scottish dependence on imported food?

Nov 9, 2011 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandy

A broadside here from 'Straight Statistics' :http://www.straightstatistics.org/article/scotland%E2%80%99s-unevidenced-energy-claims

Here are 3 extracts:

From their intro: In a new report the IMechE criticises the lack of transparency, the overblown claims, and the engineering feasibility of Scottish targets. Some of these issues were ventilated here in June

Unfortunately, the Scottish Government doesn’t show any sign of listening. An unnamed spokesman has responded to the report by re-iterating the same claims, saying that progress towards the target meeting the equivalent of 100 per cent of electricity from renewables is assessed using statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and that Scottish Renewables estimates that “in excess of 7 gigawatts of capacity from renewable are already operational, under construction or consented – a level of capacity approaching 60 per cent of Scotland’s gross consumption.”
...
But wait, they have spotted a problem: This statement, whoever drafted it, is innumerate nonsense.
...
Their conclusion: Scottish energy policy, as it stands, is a mixture of wishful thinking, boastful talk and engineering ignorance. Nor is it true, as the Scottish Government spokesman said, that “investment in offshore renewable and other clean, green energy sources will also help us to keep energy bills low in the future and therefore combat fuel poverty”. The opposite is more likely to be the case.

See the full posting to get the bits in between these paragraphs!

Nov 9, 2011 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Yet quietly the Scots have been authorising fracking.

http://thegwpf.org/uk-news/4277-fracking-for-shale-gas-given-the-green-light.html

Nov 9, 2011 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Page

If there's any part of the UK that could get all its energy from renewable sources then it's Scotland.
It has the mountains for hydro, an assortment of firths suitable for tide and wave, and more wind than anywhere else in the UK (not including Eck the Fish's outpourings).
But it won't work because like everyone else Salmond is heading inexorably up a dead end. Wind is not the answer. In fact I can hardly think of a question to which wind would be the answer. Wave/tide has greater potential to provide base load (which is essential) but work on these is mainly on the back burner presumably because it's not as "sexy" as windmills. Ruling out nuclear simply makes Salmond look as stupid as Huhne.

Nov 9, 2011 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

Personally I'd have difficulty voting for any party with "national" in its name. It clearly shows a one agenda party, with a considerable amount of racism, and fear of foreigners. In the UK they are synonymous with Englishophobia, perhaps with due cause. As I reckon at least half the population of England are the progeny of Celtic immigrants, (I am myself) it seems a fruitless exercise, Englishophobia that is. As to the SNP well if it's the will of the Scottish people to separate from the union, good luck to them, but they will have to cope with the equivalent of a combination of the LibDems and the Greens running their affairs, (as they appear to be running the UK's affairs, at least until the next election when the revenge will be visited upon the Tories for letting this happen), and they will bugger up the energy planning, as they are in the UK generally, and we will have energy poverty, but it will be worse in Scotland, because there don't appear to be any checks and balances on the SNP's dotty ideas about what can be achieved.

Nov 9, 2011 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Mike Jackson: You're right about Scotland's ability to provide renewables through hydro, but they're not planning that and in any event, as far as I can see, the time from to decision to energy being churned out is too long to help the Scots.

Are BBD and Shub in the sin bin? they've gone very quiet, and this thread is one I would have thought would have BBD's full attention.

Nov 9, 2011 at 10:26 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

"Too many anti-Scottish voices for my liking. This debate is not about nationalism."

Indeed Mac, the trouble is with energy provision and energy policy, is that it is driven, influenced and cocked-up by politics and politicians. If just for one moment, politicians lent an ear to the rationale of engineers who are objective and 'uncompromised' - then the problems with energy production, utilisation and pricing would be greatly reduced.

Nov 9, 2011 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

@Mike Jackson - What propels sailing vessels?
Glad to have helped ;-)

Other than that, littleto disagree with in your post, although there's a big difference between could and should, or could afford to.

Nov 9, 2011 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteveW

"all these endless whitehall generated scare stories about "independence and doom" are just making Scots"

For economic reasons I am in favour of separation. However, it is not Whitehall, but the SNP themselves who are making me increasingly concerned about independence.

My biggest concern is not renewables or energy, but the SNP's whole authoritarian attitude ... "we're in power now ... now you do what we tell you". With no second chamber to stop some mad prime minister doing what they want, and with a flagrant disregard for the role of the courts as Alex Salmond clearly demonstrated earlier this year. Together with a few insights to the attitude of SNP MSPs.

It doesn't bode well for an Independent (aka Under the SNP Yoke) Scotland

AND I VOTED SNP LAST ELECTION!

I'm beginning to wonder whether the economic benefit of independence is worth the high risk of Scotland turning into an authoritarian "witch-hunting" culture where we all must tow the "celtic" line otherwise we will be metaphorically "burnt at the stake".

Scotland ... land where everyone must respect everyone else no matter who they are (unless you are English, sceptical, don't believe in celtic "fatherland", don't speak gaelic, do believe in competitive games at schools ... do believe that kids should be free to throw snowballs, do believe that science and evidence counts more than "consensus")

Nov 9, 2011 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Haseler

I would trust an engineer more on energy policy than any banker, especially from a failed bank that had to be bailed out by the US government.

The Institute of Mechanical Engineers have raised legitimate concerns, Citigroup have not.

Following a little digging I would like to point out that Scotland sits on $1 Trillion of 'known' oil and gas reserves. $ Billions more in coal and frakked gas, and currently exports over 40% of its electricity to England and Northern Ireland.

If the Scots wanted to they could build and maintain as many renewable projects as they want from fossil revenues and energy exports and still have enough change to annoy the English.

As I said this is not a debate about nationalism, because you would have trouble distinguishing between a nationalist and a unionist on energy policy.

It is worth being good neighbours.

Nov 9, 2011 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

If we got independence, the rest of UK need never fear a socialist government again. Most businesses would emigrate, within a few years we would be bust, and would be back cap-in-hand asking Westminster to take over our debts again. That awful film Wallace did much more damage to Scotland than most people realised.

Nov 9, 2011 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterHuhneMustGo

HuhneMustGo

Sorry but that is Daily Mail nonsense, because there are simply no socialist parties left in the UK.

New Labour is akin to socialism as the Pope is to Calvinism.

Nov 9, 2011 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Wow, no time to read the comments in any detail but this place has hit a rich seam with this insight from 17th century for 21st. In between mindless blog wars something special happens. Must remember, must do better :)

Nov 9, 2011 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

I have to say there has been a lot of bollocks (for want of a better word) written above, about the politics of the SNP and Scotland's electrical energy potential.

iirc the maximum potential output (installed capacity) from hydro in Scotland is about 2GW. About half of that has already been realised. To get the rest many glens and moors would have to be flooded, which just isn't going to happen, for political and environmental reasons. Hydro is very useful, in particular the predominantly post-war schemes which offer storage potential and therefore flexible generation capacity (for peak spikes for most of the year). But most of the new schemes being developed are less than 1MW and run-of-the-river, they won't keep the lights on and they have no storage potential. The only reasons there has been a profusion of them in recent years is like wind, the ROCs are far too generous and landowners and pipe-layers are laughing all the way to the bank. Don't get me started on the proposed scheme for the Birks of Aberfeldy, which will effectively put up to 65% of the water which should be going down the famous waterfalls (and SSSI) into a pipe. This is renewables madness and SNH, SEPA, Perth and Kinross Council and the SNP should be ashamed of themselves if the neighbouring landowner get's his way (the gorge is actually owned by the community who were effectively never consulted until after abstraction rights and planning permission were given).

So the bigger picture is that Scotland doesn't have much more potential for hydro - we don't have that many big rivers and output depends largely on rainfall events (unlike the Norwegians who are blessed with high flow rates throughout most of the year because of summer snowmelt from the high plateaux). We do have potential for some new pumped storage (e.g. Sloy, Finlarig and around Loch Ness) but these will cost and I can't see anyone stumping up when the ROC's are so tempting for wind.

Scotland does have significant potential for wind, we already have about 3GW but most of that is the easy onshore sites which have only a 20% load factor. The offshore potential is greater, but the SNP has been totally duped by the renewable industry as to the true costs and difficulties of harvesting it. As Rupert Soames said in his Holyrood speech last year, the only logical place for windfarms is in the shallow and relatively protected North Sea, e.g. around Lincolnshire or in the Wash, not far from existing grid infrastructure and demand. The realities of building what is proposed for example off Tiree (up to 500 turbines totalling 1.8GW, in seas up to 40m deep, where wind speeds can reach well over 100knots and wave heights can be up to 25m in winter storms) just have not dawned on Salmond and his team. As I say they have been duped by the turbine manufactures and subsidy junkies who are living in la la land. The lighthouse-building Stevensons will be laughing in their graves. The real cost will be astronomical, and I doubt the machines will last long even if they can get them built. And getting the potential 1.8GW to the mainland (a new line of 400Kv pylons over Mull? and through Argyll) has not even been addressed.

I think there is a role for some wind e.g. in areas where tourism is not the key industry, where it is close to the demand, (e.g. in a Scottish context, Whitelees), with the proviso that the total wind output is never enough to result in grid instability. But if the Argyll/Tiree Array or similar off shore schemes are commissioned, it will be Scotland's Darien2.

As for tidal and wave potential, yes, we have some of that too. But same problem, they have been talking about this technology for 30 years now. And all we have is small scale prototypes which will suffer the same problems of high maintenance costs and relatively low output. (The much trumpeted tidal scheme planned for the Sound of Islay will total 10MW - a total waste of time and money). Like off-shore wind, salt water, spray, winter storms, it is a disaster in the making.

Thankfully Cockenzie is being converted to gas, and Torness still has 10 or so years left so Scotland will be able to keep the lights on in winter cold spells. So with these, Peterhead, and albeit ageing Longannet, the lights will not go off in Scotland, even if the wind does not blow (max winter demand in Scotland is only about 3.5GW). But what Salmond forgets is that the National Grid is just that, and unless England gets it act together and starts to build at least 10 new nuclear stations pdq (looks very unlikely given that Cameron, Clegg & Huhne are at the helm), sooner or later the whole grid will go down, and the cascade could well lead to the lights going off in Scotland also, despite the fact that we are (and most likely still will be) net exporters.

Nov 9, 2011 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

That is a good comparison. To be fair to the ancestors Darien wasn't that silly a scheme, it was located where the Panama canal is now and was to serve a similar function, it was just inexperience and ignorance of conditions that ruined it. Scotland's current political class have no such excuses.

Nov 9, 2011 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

lapogus - you make my point if the Scots wanted to they could build as many marine renewable projects as they want because they have huge amounts of known fossil fuel reserves, oil, gas and coal that is set to last for the next 50 years and more, about 25 years of nuclear and including current export electricity all the revenues they need to pay for it all.

So it is not a question of if the Scots can afford to do it, because they have enough money to overcome funding and technical problems, but really a question of does it now make politcial and economic sense to do it when there is so much doubt about AGW.

Take away the AGW arguement then there would be no political and economic will to pursue expensive and heavily subsidised renewable energy projects.

Nov 9, 2011 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

@ Neil - yes agreed.

@ Mac - yes agreed, but only if Scotland gets the revenues from North Sea Oil and Gas, which at the moment is doesn't.

One correction to my rant - the maximum winter demand is about 6GW - it is the average demand which is about 3.5GW. We should still be able to generate 6GW even if the wind drops, but only if Longannet, Torness and all the other ageing plants are still functioning. Bird death prayer wheels indeed.

Nov 9, 2011 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

Scotland's power demand is about 5 GW. At 750 kg of steel for each kW marine power, they'd need 3.75 million tonnes of steel. The onshore windmills need c. 1.5 tonnes/kW including the concrete so they'd need 7.5 million tonnes. Offshore at ~830 kg/kW would mean 4.5 million tonnes.

That's an awful lot of constructional material and with the roads for onshore and to connect offshore, it will take 20 years to make.

Nov 9, 2011 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

Lapagos

"iirc the maximum potential output (installed capacity) from hydro in Scotland is about 2GW. About half of that has already been realised. To get the rest many glens and moors would have to be flooded, which just isn't going to happen, for political and environmental reasons."

I'd be interested in quotes or sources for this info.
Ed

Nov 9, 2011 at 1:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterEddieO

As a retired Member of the Institution (not Institute, if you would be so kind) of Mechanical Engineers, I have read the linked report - which is, of course, carefully worded and based on facts. The second sentence in the 'Scottish Energy 2020? Recommendations' section says it all - and not only for Scotland..
(Aspiration)...'must be founded on a pragmatic engineering approach to what can actually be achieved and on what timescales.'
Amen to that - and wouldn't it be wonderful if politicians were to take note...!

Nov 9, 2011 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Lapogus
This statement is not strictly true:-
So the bigger picture is that Scotland doesn't have much more potential for hydro - we don't have that many big rivers and output depends largely on rainfall events (unlike the Norwegians who are blessed with high flow rates throughout most of the year because of summer snowmelt from the high plateaux).

In terms of volume of water The River Tay has a typical flow in excess of 100 cubic metres per second (cumecs) near Kenmore with an average daily flow of approximately 175 cumecs at Perth. Whilst the Thames at Kingston is approximately 66 cumecs and the Severn is 107 cumecs at Apperley, Gloucestershire. So the Tay = Thames + Severn in approximate terms. River Spey is 65 cumecs at the mouth, in general Carron, Clyde, Don, Findhorn, Nith, Tweed all 50-100 cumecs average. (Various internet sources). I am not sure about Norway, but Scotland is blessed with many decent (in UK terms) sized rivers.

I'll agree, however, that getting useful energy might be a bit more difficult.

Nov 9, 2011 at 2:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

As a matter of accuracy, this should be about Darien III because there were two Darien Gap expeditions...

Nov 9, 2011 at 2:11 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

SandyS


If as you say Scotland is blessed with many decent sized rivers, then a not inconsequential amount of power could be generated relatively cheaply by the installation of river turbines. That volume of water from the River Tay is mightly impressive.

Nov 9, 2011 at 2:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Good that man? 'On the peaks of Darien', a scheme that so bankrupted Scotland, in one of their inevitable, periodic bouts of madness ('rabbling' anyone?), they had to come begging to England! Read that great Scottish historian, Macauley!

Nov 9, 2011 at 3:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterLewis Deane

Mac, what about water mills? Also there are a lot of cyclists in Scotland...well,relatively few (a weight problem, I believe)...

Nov 9, 2011 at 3:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterLewis Deane

I will pop back when this nonsense has finished and we get back on subject!

Nov 9, 2011 at 3:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

Mac
I believe that the catchment area for the Tay is greater than 5,000 square kilometres. The Highlands of Scotland are not renown for being dry even in summer. I don't know what the current warm-cold, wet-dry forecast is but I would suggest more of the same only more of it.

I would expect there to be a huge environmental protest if more hydro-electric schemes were proposed in Scotland. We can submerge the countryside in windmills but not water I suspect.

Nov 9, 2011 at 3:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Sandy S - yes the Tay is a big river by UK standards and even by European standards when it is in spate (c. 2500cumecs in the 1993 flood), but the average flow at Kenmore is more like 50 cumecs not 100. It is about 100cumecs once it is joined by the Tummel at Logierait. But unless a dam was built at the Duke's pass (just upstream from Dunkeld) and the entire strath was flooded up to Pitlochry and Pitnacree (along with the A9 and main Perth-Inverness railway and a few villages) there is no way you could get any more than a few MW out of it. Pitlochry Power station (on the Tummel, c. 50cumecs, and a head of 15m) only produces 15MW at full pelt and that is when the river is high. Most of the time it only runs one set and generates about 5MW. Even a couple of thousand of Mac's river turbines would only produce peanuts and would be a nightmare to maintain. Big storage schemes is where it is at and they have all been done (except perhaps Glen Tilt, Rannoch Moor, and Glen Nevis, all of which were considered in the 1950s but were quite rightly ruled out because of their enormous environmental impact / unacceptable loss of land). The ROC's have instigated dozens of micro-hydro schemes around here in the last 10 years, but the biggest I know of is only 2MW. Barely enough to light up 1/5th of the houses in Perth. And in the winter cold spells when the precipitation falls as snow, and the burns freeze, like the wind turbines, these run-of-the-river schemes produce nothing.

Nov 9, 2011 at 3:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

When will they ever learn?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-15650454

Two large energy firms have agreed to work together to develop carbon-capture and storage (CCS) in Aberdeenshire - if they can get the funding.

The UK government said it would hand over £1bn to develop CCS, which captures emissions from power stations and burying them under the sea bed.

A pilot project at Longannet in Fife was cancelled last month due to cost.

Nov 9, 2011 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Neil Craig,
As we are seeing nearly worldwide, the political 'leadership' suffers from ignorance of conditions and bad planning as a default state.
Darien failed for the same reason the AGW driven policies fail: it is unusual for political leaders to not be misled and to make horrible, avoidable decisions.

Nov 9, 2011 at 3:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

By the way, river turbines would never be permitted in the main river - the riparian owners would go ballistic at the thought of these salmon mincers.

Nov 9, 2011 at 3:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

The solution is obvious. The green revolution need merely take over the Institution (not Institute) of Mechanical Engineers. A new report will then be written giving Alex Salmond's great leap forward high marks, and Scotland will press on "irregardless."

Nov 9, 2011 at 4:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

It amazes me how you fellows blame the stupid, venal, incompetent, ignorant, avaricious, crooked, politicans. But never the stupid, venal, incompetent, ignorant, avaricious, crooked, voters.

Nov 9, 2011 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Steiner

lapogus

Salmon mince sounds revolting.

I do note that a Dutch company, Tocardo are planning to install river/hydro turbines in the River Tay next year. Do you know anything about it?

Nov 9, 2011 at 4:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Mac - the only proposal I have heard on the river itself is an archimedean screw type generator which will be powered by the water from the old lade beside the Grandtully rapids - http://www.strathtayvillage.co.uk/documents/Handoutr2.pdf

Maybe the Dutch company are thinking of a location in the estuary? Yes, Tocardo are planning a tidal scheme - http://www.thecourier.co.uk/News/Dundee/article/17263/dutch-energy-company-tocardo-bv-looking-at-tay-for-tidal-energy-project.html

Nov 9, 2011 at 5:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

Lapogus,
I'm proposing that we build dams and flood Strathtay and Strathearn, I don't think Hydro is anything but a small player in energy supply. But if you're going to use so called renewables then hydro should be considered. All that water comes from headwaters somewhere. Surely hydro-generation and storage technologies have progressed since the 1950s? More installations like Cruachan along with use of Shale Gas and Nuclear make far more sense to me.

As a point of interest Hydro is contributing 720MW (1.4%) to the grid as I type, ref GridCarbon Android app.

Loch Faskally is actually quite beautiful, particularly at this time of year, it is also a popular spot for anglers.

Nov 9, 2011 at 6:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

It amazes me how you fellows blame the stupid, venal, incompetent, ignorant, avaricious, crooked, politicans. But never the stupid, venal, incompetent, ignorant, avaricious, crooked, voters.

Mr. Steiner, where have you been for the last 40 or so years?

'Tis the trouble with being a part of the greater European soviet, in Westminster [British-soviet] we live under an elective authoritarian government [Lib/lab/Con or like in Zimbabwe], it matters not how; "stupid, venal, incompetent, ignorant, avaricious, crooked" the voters are - we get the policies decided for us by diktat. Indeed, what the voters want, think and do is neither here nor there.
We are run by a corrupt political elite who are fiddling like never before, whilst the Western world burns down around them - due in no small measure to their mismanagement.

Power must be reassumed by the stupid, venal, incompetent, ignorant, avaricious, crooked, voters, it is doing this by peaceful means which foxes us law abiding lot, some seek other ways but by hook or, by crook it must be done.

That is why we are in the biggest pile of cow doings, economically and politically since the collapse and fall of the Roman Empire - history repeats itself.

Nov 9, 2011 at 6:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

@ SandyS I'm proposing that we build dams and flood Strathtay and Strathearn...

I assume this is a jest.

Surely hydro-generation and storage technologies have progressed since the 1950s?

Not much. But they were about as efficient as they could be then, and to my knowledge the laws of physics haven't changed either. e.g. E = mgh. So assuming you build a dam on the Tay with a 50m head at Dunkeld, with an average annual flow of 100 cumecs then the scheme will only produce a maximum of 50MW. Or 1/20th of a conventional coal or gas station. And you will also have flooded at least 20 sq.km of good farm land and about 10 miles of the A9 and railway line. Not to mention a few settlements like Balnaguard, Dalguise, Kindallachan, Logierait etc. La la land.

Nov 9, 2011 at 7:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

Mike Haselar has noted elsewhere the coincidence of the Maunder Minimum prevalent at the time of the Union and the possible inception of a new Minimum at this time of the SNP's desire for break-up. The issue of Darien II fits the brackets. Like the people who brought us the first disaster Salmond has bet the country on his judgement, through his passion for renewables.

Another coincidence by the way is the fact that there was a banking crisis prior to the Union as well. The fairly newly established Bank of Scotland nearly collapsed, partly because of Darien. At one point it had to suspend operations for six months because of shortage of funds.

One hopes that if we have a new Minimum the effects will not be as bad as the last one. The 15-20 years before the Treaty were some of the worst of the Little Ice Age. Combined with the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Hekla in 1693 the effects on the weather led to the 'Seven ill years' (approx 1695-1702). The harvest in Scotland failed on seven successive years. Depending on the calculating historian the result was either the death of 20% of the population or 'two thirds'. Dreadful times!

But no doubt Salmond sleeps peacefully of a night.

Nov 9, 2011 at 7:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterBill R

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