Navitus Bay Wind Park - Threat to Jurassic Coast : UNESCO

The Jurassic coast is the coastal section in England stretching from Studland Bay down through the Purbecks to Lime Bay and the East Devon coast. Immediately adjacent to the Eastern end of the Jurassic coast is the magnificent seven mile stretch of sandy beach around Bournemouth and Poole Harbour. As a natural environment it is unsurpassed in the UK. In Europe and the World it may have equals but nothing can trump the Jurassic Coast.

But the Jurassic coast is not just “pretty”. It is geologically and historically important.

Laid down during the Jurassic period (hence the name) the cliffs and stata are laden with fossils. The first fossils were identified here in the 19th century. The whole area has a massive importance to the study of geology and pre-history. The cliffs and region provide a continuous record of life over a 185 million year period

The area is so important that UNESCO has designated the Jurassic Coast a “World Heritage Site” There are only four such sites, classed as “natural” in the UK with another 28 designated as “Cultural”

One would imagine, in a (supposedly) civilised and advanced nation that such items as having a World Heritage site would be a mark of pride and would call for extra special protection and care. One would hope such sites would be protected and cherished.

Well, dream on.

Immediately off this shore-line and in the face of massive public outrage, a Dutch/French corporate alliance plan to build an enormous Wind Park. The government is firmly in their pocket.

But others, other than greedy foreign corporations or a morally bankrupt supine governments have an interest in the Jurassic coast.

The prospect of the proposed Navitus Bay Wind Park of 196 huge industrial wind turbines being built immediately offshore the Jurassic coast has caused such alarm within UNESCO that they are discussing the potential removal of the special status that the Jurassic coast has. (See BBC Report on This LInk) 

UNESCO commissioned their own independent impact study into the wind park. Unsurprisingly (thats to the locals - but not apparently to EDF) this impact assessment differs considerably from the “independent” report commissioned (and paid for) by the Dutch/French consortium.

The UNESCO commissioned report would appear to have more in common with the views of the local population than the one commissioned by the money hungry foreign corporations. 

Now, isn't that a surprise? (not)

Here is a snippet of what UNESCPO said to the government

"Any potential impacts on this natural property (the Jurassic Coast) are in contradiction to the overarching principle of the World Heritage Convention.
"The property will change from being located in a natural setting largely free from human-made structures to one dominated by human-made structures."

Are we really going to let greedy foreign corporations trash one of the worlds most important sites? Are we really going to let them get away with this?

Seriously, why the hell has this not been thrown out a long time before this?

How the hell has this potential travesty and rape of natural England been allowed to progress this far?

Wind Turbine Design, Cube Laws, Efficiency and Cock Ups

Well, I have to 'fess up to having made an error regarding the output characteristics of modern day Industrial Wind Turbines.

A silly mistake at that.

But possibly a mistake that also reveals some interesting possibilities with wind turbines. Especially related to reducing their size, noise and increasing useful power output.

Crack Pottery? Possibly. But I've not been at the cider yet. (honest)

First, in order for this post to make sense, let me summarise some things that ARE true.
  • The energy in the wind is a cube of the speed. In other words if you double the wind speed – wind contains 8 x energy. Halve wind speed- wind contains one eighth the energy.
  • The theoretical maximum amount of this raw wind energy that can be harvested is 59.3% (Betz's Law)
  • In reality the most efficient turbines manage about 45% (at a wind speed of around 7-8 m/s).

All of the above are correct. (Or I really am in trouble!)

My mistake in some earlier posts was to assume the efficiency of a wind turbine was roughly constant across the operational wind speed range (up to maximum output). 

Sadly this is nowhere near true.

In reality the efficiency (or how much energy the wind turbine can actually suck out of the wind) drops like a stone as the wind speed increases.

For most industrial wind turbines the highest efficiency (at around a wind speed of 7m/s) is about 45%. But as the wind speed increases, the efficiency falls to around 10% at a 90% loading.

The overall effect of this is to roughly linearise the power output to the wind speed. So instead of getting eight times the power out when you double the wind speed you only get double the power out. The rest is spilled.

So what does this matter if the thing is only as efficient as a 19th century steam engine when confronted with a high wind?

It matters a lot.

Way back in 2002 at the Lee Ranch wind turbine research facility in New Mexico, it was discovered that 50% of the annual energy output of a wind turbine was delivered in 15% of the time. 

My own analysis done back in 2011 showed that for a three month period the whole UK wind turbine fleet delivered 50% of its energy in 25% of the time. But remember that was for the whole distributed fleet. 

It would be reasonable to assume that for a single facility, the Lee Ranch figures are roughly correct for the UK too. Also, there is no reason to think any design change to wind turbines since 2002 will have significantly affected these Lee Ranch findings.

In order to harvest the 50% of the energy that is smeared out over 85% of the year you have to compromise the turbines efficiency at higher wind speeds. The result today is an enormous unreliable monster.

So, for a moment, let us forget about the grindingly low 50% of energy generation that gets smeared over 85% of the year. Let us concentrate on the other 50% that arrives in 15% of the time (currently at an efficiency of a measly 10-15%).

For arguments sake, let us design a turbine that may not cut in until the wind speed is 12 or 14 m/s but then delivers an efficiency of 40%. It will (MW/hr for MW/hr) be very much smaller, simpler and more robust than a conventional turbine. 

OK it will only operate for 15% of the time and it is truly intermittent. But all wind is intermittent. Remember a conventional turbines output during 85% of the year is pretty derisory anyway. Often it is so low that it might as well not be there.

So, build smaller more efficient turbines. Crucially, in order to make these turbines more efficient, they only operate at higher wind speeds. We then rely on gas backup for the rest. More predictable, less environmental impact and more reliable (due to narrower operating domain). 

Tell me where I'm wrong. (Seriously - I may well be)

Of course this is still all window dressing. This (and the rest of RE) is just Care Bear fluff. Nuclear plant (with some gas) is the ONLY viable option to cut GHG and air pollution.  

But I hope that this is at least “interesting” fluff.

F Minus for the GroKo

OK. I've been away. Recovering from my jet lag I came across this. The video not only shows that our German friends have a truly wicked humour it also shows that they are becoming pig sick of the fatuous and failing Energiewende and their coalition government that promotes it. The video is subtitled and starts slowly but persevere. After two minutes it is a truly wonderful cutting satire.

Love & kisses

Lovelock: Adapt and Survive

In an opinion paper, Dr James Hansen has recently posed the following question:

"Do Scientists Have a Duty to Expose Popular Misconceptions?"

Dr Hansen then went on and answered his own question by blasting away vigorously at some choice misconceptions and at the medieval self serving bigotry that so often defeats (or at least holds back) scientific, technological and social progress.

(His paper is Here - it is well worth a read)

Whether by coincidence or not, the Grand Old Man of Rational Environmentalism, Dr James Lovelock CH, CBE, FRS is first to take up Hansen's call to arms.

In a new Channel 4 video ( This Link ) he expounds on the benefits of Nuclear, the sheer stupidity of wind farms and also expresses his reasoned support for fracking.

Although now 92 years old his sharpness and lucidity clearly rattle his interviewer, who was no doubt expecting somewhat less forthright (and more conformist) views.

The video, along with a commentary is in This Link to the relevent Channel 4 blog page:

Enjoy. (I did)

The Merchants of Doubt

I know some folk who read this blog are nervous about Nuclear power or even out-right hostile.

Today I do not want you to listen to my reasoning as to why Nuclear is the only practical solution to our problems. Instead I would ask you to read  the following quote from one of the greatest scientists who has ever lived.

Then I would ask you to look at the people who have previously advised you to be against Nuclear.

Look at them closely. What are their skills? Where is their expertise?

How good are they actually as scientists? How many papers have they published in leading journals?

How do they compare with the likes of pro-nuclear scientists like Hansen, Lovelock, Wigley and Allinson?

Anyway, here's the quote:

Dr James Hansen writes:


The public is unaware of pressure put on scientists to be silent about nuclear power.

After I mention nuclear power I receive numerous messages, often heart-breaking in their sincerity as they repeat Caldicott like unfounded assertions and beg me not to mention nuclear power.
More disconcerting is the pressure from environmental organizations and the liberal media. Each large environmental organization has a nuclear “expert” (often a lawyer, not a physicist) with a well-developed script to respond to any positive statement about nuclear power.

Liberal media follow precisely the “merchants of doubt” approach that the right-wing media use to block action on climate change; raising fears about nuclear power is enough to stymie support. The liberal media employ not only environmental organization “experts”, but former heads of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) appointed during Democratic Administrations.

These NRC talking heads are well-spoken professionals with a spiel that has been honed over years. And they have a track record. The NRC, despite its many dedicated capable employees, has been converted from the top into a lawyer-laden organization that can take many months or years to approve even simple adjustments to plans. 

It is almost impossible to build a nuclear power plant in the United States in less than 10 years, and this is not because an American worker cannot lay one brick on top of another as fast as a Chinese worker. Anti-nukes know that the best way to kill nuclear power is to make it more expensive.

Those are the exact words of one of the worlds leading scientists. the full text of his statement is Here (the above extract, fully in context, is on page 15.)

Now, ask yourself this: Who is telling the truth?

The world leading scientist and his many peer level colleagues?

Or the propaganda department from Greenpeace?

Death by Energiewende

A while back (in this post - Here) I worked out roughly how many people would be killed from air pollution by the insane German retreat from nuclear power and the consequent retrenchment into a choking mix of lignite and hard coal. The deaths, limited as it was to the partial shut-down so far actioned, came out at a staggering 1150 per year and that is ignoring the tens of thousands of seriously ill and the legion of minor debilitating ailments.

Even though my humble calculations used unimpeachable peer reviewed data from world leading academics, my post drew a fair amount of flak from assorted greens. Their continuous denial (especially relating to the use of lignite as a nuclear substitute) was absolute. Nuclear was the enemy. The use of coal/lignite as a substitute was not their problem. In fact they opposed the use of coal/lignite as well. (sigh). Clearly realism was not their top priority

Well, denial is a difficult thing to overcome. But luckily this excellent post by the Breakthrough Institute (Here) gave me an idea.

Even if we ignore the coal and lignite, perhaps we can figure out the casualty figures from the renewable sources themselves. Here, for brevity, I'll stick to the main killer among the renewable technologies. That technology is Biomass. The ugliness of the fanatical exploitation of German agriculture to service this new god is well described in the Breakthrough post above.

Using figures from Here and Here it would appear that currently Germany sources around 600 PetaJoules (or around 167 TWhr)  from biomass annually.

So how many people will this kill every year? Luckily we have a highly regarded and scrupulously peer reviewed paper by Markandya & Wilkinson to help us out (Paper is Here ) In this paper we find this table.

Using the above table we find that this 167 TW/hrs of energy derived from biomass will kill (4.63 x 167) about 750 people EVERY year. The serious illness (hospitalised) count comes in at over 7000/yr and minor though debilitating illness is a staggering 38,000.

The Green cults running this insanity want to (at least) double this usage, and so double the death toll. But remember this is simply the biomass. These figures appalling as they are, get buried in the noise when you start looking at lignite/coal.

Now let us substitute 600PJ of nuclear instead of the biomass. According to Markandya & Wilkinson this 167 TW/hrs of nuclear will kill 8 people and lead to 36 serious illnesses. 

So the terrified Germans with their Energiewende and nuclear close-down, are killing nearly 100 people from biomass for every potential death from nuclear. But at least this way they can balm their medieval paranoia over nuclear.

Of course it is actually much, much worse than this, because to replace nuclear you REALLY do use coal/lignite as a substitute. Biomass is (and always will be) a bit part player.

Thousands will die needlessly EVERY year in Germany because of the mythical fears and hysteria promoted by the Greens so they can do away with nuclear.

The Energiewende and the Greens' denial of deaths from coal/lignite and biomass, coupled with their hysterical non-scientific opposition to nuclear will see thousands of ordinary Germans sent to early graves. Every year. Year in. Year out.

Yet it is unlikely that any death certificates will bear the real cause of death. I imagine signing off someones life with "Death by Energiewende" would be strictly verboten.

Wrecking the Sea Bed with Offshore Wind Part 5

This is the fifth and last in a series of posts about the damage done to the sea floor by offshore "Wind Parks". Data has been taken from the proposed Navitus bay wind park consultation documents (Available On This Link) which are also available on a DVD. The main files are:
PEI3_Ch2_NavitusBayWindParkProject.pdf  ( Link HERE )
PEI3_Ch5_PhysicalProcesses.pdf  ( Link HERE )
PEI3-Ch_9_benthicecology.pdf (Link HERE)
PEI3_Ch_10_fishandshellfishecology.pdf ( Link HERE )

I hope I have shown in the first four posts (using the Navitus' own documentation) that the small power plant that would be Navitus Bay Offshore Wind park will involve massive damage to the seabed.

Just to summarise from previous posts: 

The foundations will  involve ripping up around one and a half million tonnes of seabed. This damage coupled with disposal of the spoil will wreck around 1000 acres of sea bed - or around a total of 4 square kilometers.  

Several hundred miles of undersea cabling will involve trenching, ploughing and jetting into the sea-floor. The debris will spray out, burying everything within a 5 -20 meter wide corridor. Though a plume of finer debris will extend much further. So another 1000 acres (or another four square kilometers) of sea bed will be trashed. 

On top of this cabling sea bed disturbance, there will be dumped  over a third of a million tonnes of rock debris to protect the cables from being accidentally trawled up.

But it does not stop there. There is even more rock debris required. This rock is known as anti-scour.

Anti Scour

The Navitus Wind Park (like any other offshore wind farm) will need thousands of tonnes of imported rock piled around the bases of turbines to prevent the foundations being undermined by scouring. 

This anti-scour rock debris will essentially form a foreign and unnatural marine environment around about 30% of the turbines. Typically, each anti-scour ring will measure  25 meters in diameter and be 2 meters thick. (para 2.70)

A ring that size will account for about 1000 tonnes of rock debris per turbine or around 70,000 tonnes in total for the proposed 30% of turbines (para 2.68) that will need the anti-scour.

In addition to this there is additional anti-scour to cover the cable entry points (this is in addition to the rock used for cable protection described in a previous post). This will be needed on an unspecified proportion of turbines requiring anti-scour (para 2.71). Assuming 40 turbines need this and it will be as thick as the anti-scour itself then this will be another 30,000 tonnes of rock debris.

In total the anti-scour alone will involve importing another one hundred thousand tonnes of foreign rock and dumping it into the marine environment directly off the World Heritage Jurassic Coast.

The suffocation of the natural environment around these turbines by building what are essentially artificial and foreign habitats will no doubt, over time, also import foreign wildlife into the area (as has happened elsewhere - para 9.121). With the excavation and  dumped spoil, this anti-scour will inevitably skew the current balance of the existing wildlife within the turbine area. No doubt some species will prosper. But others may collapse as they struggle to compete in what is to them an artificial and chaotically changed environment. Sadly though it does not end there.

Effect on Tidal Flows

Although the potential gains from this scheme are pitifully poor, it will still be a huge artificial structure. In fact a structure so enormous and so intrusive on the natural environment that it will actually slow down the tidal flow rate by 7% within the turbine area and cause a flow speed increase outside. In an area already suffering from considerable marine coastal erosion, having a structure that speeds up tidal flows north (i.e. landward) of this structure would appear to be careless - to say the least. (para 5.325)

Finally I'll point out that this thing is so big and intrusive on the natural environment it could actually cause a change of tidal phase where the peak rate of flow may be retarded by a full 10 minutes (para 5.325).

Finally I would like to bring up a topic nobody is talking about although I suspect it is a topic many involved with this project are fully aware of.

Sea-bed Methane Release

Coastal sediments can potentially hold large quantities of Methane ( see paper Reindl & Bolalek link - Here ) & ( paper Mascharka, Montross, & Pierrehumbert link - Here )

Whenever you disturb ancient coastal sediments you are guaranteed to release trapped seabed Methane. Large Dredgers (as an example) are usually fitted with methane extraction and venting equipment to prevent the risk of explosion (See The Art of Dredging - Here ). But here the problem is not so much tied up with an explosion risk as to the fact that methane is a green house gas 20 times as potent as CO2. 

It would be high farce for this monstrosity to be built only to do more damage to the atmosphere than it is optimistically slated to offset. It is difficult to see how that trenching and ploughing an area equating to 1000 acres then excavating a million and a half tonnes of seabed can do anything but release copious quantities of trapped coastal seabed methane. 

Somehow this possibility appears to have been missed out of the Navitus documentation altogether.

So finally - What Exactly will be the Environmental Gain?

Sadly the pillage and destruction described here are just the tip of the ice-berg. 

In these few posts I have dealt solely with a sub-set of the sea-bed damage caused by offshore wind farms. Nobody seems to have publicly paid much attention to this, although to be fair English Heritage has raised the alarm (table 9.2). Perhaps the surface calamities threatened by these offshore projects are so awful they push other unseen destruction to the back of people's minds.

A very good site detailing other major problems with offshore wind (particularly Navitus) is on this link - Challenge Navitus - Here 

Most of all though, let us just remember that all this destruction and upset to a fragile and internationally recognised coastal region is to provide a SMALL intermittent power supply of typical daily output of 250 MWe or less.

Even then, simply to be viable, this offshore wind farm will have to be paid around three times the typical electricity wholesale cost.

If we leave aside the quasi-religious zeal, the vacuous fashionability and the endemic greed that drives this foolishness, can anyone really give a good reason to desecrate this coast (or any other) for so little gain? 

Wrecking the Sea Bed with Offshore Wind (Part 4)

This is the fourth in a series of posts about the damage done to the sea floor by offshore "Wind Parks". Data has been taken from the proposed Navitus bay wind park consultation documents (Available On This Link) which are also available on a DVD. The main files are:
PEI3_Ch2_NavitusBayWindParkProject.pdf  ( Link HERE )
PEI3_Ch5_PhysicalProcesses.pdf  ( Link HERE )
PEI3-Ch_9_benthicecology.pdf (Link HERE)
PEI3_Ch_10_fishandshellfishecology.pdf ( Link HERE )

Foundations and Waste - adding it up

Yesterday I looked at the devastation wrought on the sea bed by a single gravity base turbine. In that scenario the spoil from the foundation excavations were dumped nearby.

There is an alternative to this. Instead of dumping the spoil on site it can be dumped elsewhere. Maybe at a nominated disposal site within the Solent itself.

Of course, for a single turbine, the disposal of several thousand tonnes of seabed spoil, whether locally or to a waste dump is unlikely to cause significant problems to the area as a whole. When regarded as a single entity, the waste issues caused by an individual turbine (while lamentable) are negligible within the bigger picture. 

The problems come when you add it all up.

Potentially, for the 213 turbines plus three substations a met mast and other assorted sea bed scrapings, the amount of displaced spoil comes in at well over one and half million tonnes. Even if they end up with a significant number of turbines that use foundation techniques that generate less spoil it is highly unlikely that the amount of seabed spoil will ever be less than about 1.2 million tonnes.

Remember this all gets excavated fairly rapidly over a four year period.

So how much is 1.6 million tonnes of sea-bed?

It has a volume of about 860,000 cubic meters. To give an idea of how much that is, let us build a solid cone of spoil sitting in Bournemouth Square. The base of this cone needs to be 100 meters across (325 ft). Now imagine building your cone upwards.

Do you remember from earlier how a 100m wide cone of rock debris (used to armour the cables) reached  beyond the height of Westminster Abbey?

Well, for this mountain of sea-bed spoil, that's kids stuff.

As you keep building it upward don't look back as you go past the height of Big Ben (96m - 300ft.) Keep going past the height of the London Eye (135m – 443ft).

You've got a helluva long way to go yet.

Keep going until you reach the height of the Shard in London (London's highest building 310m – 1017 feet). Take a quick breather if you like, but you are not there yet.

Keep on building up beyond the Eiffel Tower (324m) – but keep going.

You end up running out of spoil 40m short of the top of the Empire State Building in New York. The final height of your 100m wide solid cone of seabed spoil will be 344m - 1128 ft.

Now remember, if you plan dumping this mountain somewhere other than by your turbines, you will need to find a way of bringing it all back again during decommissioning. It will be needed to fill those craters left when you dig out the foundations of the defunct turbines. Or is there some other plan (if any) for this eventuality?

From the environmental assessments that form part of the Navitus documents, it appears that the disposal of this mountain of spoil will have a “negligible” affect on the environment. In fact “negligible” is a much used word in this documentation. It vies with “imperceptible” for popularity.

A Little Parallelism for you.

If I go to an ancient Oak forest and cut down and dig up an old Oak, the effect on the rest of the forest is probably “negligible”. The trashed area will no doubt recover in a few years. Then lets say, three days later, I do the same thing again. This is a large forest so again the effect is negligible. Then I do it again and again. I keep going for four years. Each Oak cut down makes a negligible change to the forest. But at the end of our four years of "negligible" destruction, we end up with a scene of desolation. A brutalised and trashed environment that will take, as a whole, very many years to recover (if at all).

I hope you can see the parallel with building an offshore wind park.

I was going to deal with heavy metal pollution and methane release from the spoil as well today but this post is too long already. That will come on another day. Sadly there is so much wrong with offshore Wind (and  Navitus Bay in particular) that I'm going to be at this for some time.

Wrecking the Sea Bed with Offshore Wind (Part 3)

This is the third in a series of posts about the damage done to the sea floor by offshore "Wind Parks". Data has been taken from the proposed Navitus bay wind park consultation documents (Available On This Link) which are also available on a DVD. The main files are:
PEI3_Ch2_NavitusBayWindParkProject.pdf  ( Link HERE )
PEI3_Ch5_PhysicalProcesses.pdf  ( Link HERE )
PEI3_Ch_10_fishandshellfishecology.pdf ( Link HERE )

Foundations and Waste

While the sea bed is being dug up with hundreds of miles of cable trenching (see last post), the average offshore wind park will also be gouging out the seabed for the foundations for the turbines themselves. 

Take a single gravity base turbine. 

The concept appears to be that the sea bed is variously excavated, levelled and generally dug over and the 7600 Tonnes of spoil from these operations is shipped to the surface. The gravity base structure is then built on top of part of the excavated area. The final coup-de-grace to the area is then executed by rapidly dumping the spoil in the vicinity of the turbine base.

Over a period of a few minutes, directly below the spoil barge, a devils rain of 4800 tonnes of boulders, stones and gravel smash into the sea bed destroying everything in its path. As the waste piles up it will collapse and spread out, cascading outward like magma from a volcano. The area of destruction is likely to be well over 100 meters wide. 

Within this area everything dies. 

Flora, fauna, starfish, crabs, everything. It is unlikely that even fast swimming fish would escape the devils rain but even if they did, they are not going to live for long. Nature does not favour creatures evicted from their immediate habitat. Survival would be the exception rather than the rule.

That accounts for 4800 tonnes of the spoil. Then we have the remaining 2800 tonnes of mud and fine sand to consider.

The sea acts like a filter. The large rubble in the spoil falls directly to the sea bed leaving the smaller particles in suspension. The rate these fall to the sea bed is dictated by their size. A large opaque bloom of debris will spread out from the dump site flowing along with tidal direction. It will (mostly) sink as it travels. While some of this debris will remain in suspension for days, most will smear out a suffocating coat of mud over the sea bed extending out hundreds of meters from the dump site. Assuming a suffocation depth of 10cms and that 500 tonnes of the particulate matter is fine enough to remain in suspension, the remaining 2300 tonnes has the capability to extend the destroyed area by another 10,000 square meters.

So this single turbine has the potential to destroy an area of sea-bed equal to the excavated area (para 5.155) plus the area of the dump site and a further area suffocated by mud

2000 square meter excavated area
7500 square meters destroyed by large spoil
10000 square meters suffocated by mud

Thats not far short of 20,000 square meters of sea bed totally destroyed and left devoid of life - a ring of death with a diameter of over 150 meters.

From the documentation Navitus optimistically report that the environmental damage will take around 5 years to heal.


While this may be true for the mud polluted areas, it is difficult to see how areas covered with large amounts of immovable rock, shingle and boulders, piled haphazardly on the what was the sea bed will recover. You have dumped what amounts to 7600 tonnes of (at best) sub-soil on what was the sea bed.

Ask any gardener how well plants grow in mining spoil. Ask the older people in the valleys of South Wales how well vegetation grew on the spoil heaps that were imposed on them.

Truly, life is tenacious. It will in some form return to the devastated areas. But the likelyhood is that the balance of flora and fauna will at least be different and more likely to be diminished and enfeebled.

All of the above is for a single turbine. Navitus plan to build 213 of these things. 

The seabed “preparation” will be done at 3 day intervals. Every 15 working days another 100,000 square meters of sea bed will have been destroyed. This will go on for four years.

Even on their own reckoning, by the time they have trashed this 1000 Acres of sea-bed none of it will have had time to recover.

Now add this 1000 Acres of devastation to the 1000 acres of ruin brought about by the cable laying and the cable rock armour.

All this for a pitifully inadaquate, intermittent and massively expensive power generation technology.

Ruin upon ruin. 

But it does not stop there. Next I will look at the scale of the total amount of spoil produced and also some of the less desirable elements within that spoil that will be released into the marine environment.

Wrecking the Sea Bed with Offshore Wind (Part 2)

This is the second in a series of posts about the damage done to the sea floor by offshore "Wind Parks" . Data has been taken from the proposed Navitus bay wind park consultation document.Document reference link below. On the DVD the main file is: PEI3_Ch2_NavitusBayWindParkProject.pdf

Undersea Cabling, Trenching, Ploughing and Encasement.

In order for an offshore wind park to show a semblance of operational ability, it requires a massive amount of undersea cabling. This cabling not only connects to land, but runs turbine to turbine and from turbine to substation, substation to substation and finally  substation to land. (Link: Navitus Bay PE13 Chapter 2 Section 2.6.10)

To protect these cables, they need to be buried. As a result, the sea bed will be variously trenched, ploughed and then backfilled. In some places these cables need to be secured to the sea floor by further encasing them in rock and/or concrete.

We are not talking about narrow little furrows here. This gouging through the seabed will involve hundreds of miles of trenches, many meters across and up to two meters deep.

Here are the main tables taken from the Navitus DVD itemising some (but not all) of the cabling.

NOTE: for export cables the "construction zone width" is missing however
para 6.116 indicates it is 10m
There is also a potential 70 Km of  of inter-substation cabling. The documentation indicates that this will be similar to the export cabling (para 2.106) so I assume 10m wide "construction zone"

Using the proposed trench/plough construction width multiplied by the length of the trench we find that if the trenching/ploughing was done as a continuous block, the trenched/ploughed area would amount to just over 4 square kilometres. That is around 1000 acres of virgin seabed, immediately off the World Heritage Jurassic Coast, completely ploughed up or covered with trenching spoil, then backfilled.

To get a feel for this vandalism, imagine excavating a trench across the New Forest. A gash that runs all the way from Bournemouth to Southampton - about 25 miles. The "construction zone" for this trench (i.e the trench itself, plus piles of debris, plus machine access) will be 100 meters wide. Then when you are done you roughly backfill it. 100 meters is incidentally just short of three times the width of an eight lane motorway.

Cable Protection
About 30% of the inter-array cabling and inter-substation cabling will require rock armouring. If you use the figures in the Navitus DVD, you will find that there will be a seven meter wide strip, one meter high (para 2.137) piled on top of some cables for a distance of over 27 Km ( 17 miles ).

 If you figure that out as a contiguous area of sea-bed smothered in foreign rock to a depth of one meter it comes out at over 47 Acres. 47 Acres of seabed immediately off the Jurassic coast. To achieve this encasement will require over a third of a million tonnes of rock debris (340,200 Tonnes of imported rock debris @ 1.8 tonnes per cubic meter)

Another way of viewing this mountain of rock debris is by imagining Bournemouth square filled with a cone of rock debris 100 meters across with a height of 77 meters (230 feet) in the middle. That is 25 feet higher than Westminster Abbey.

All this so a small intermittent power facility can operate at a wholesale cost of about three times that of the base electrical wholesale price.

Did I say it gets worse?

Well, sadly it does. Tomorrow we talk about foundations, piling and waste dumps. 

Wrecking the Sea Bed with Offshore Wind (Part 1)

Just off the World Heritage Jurassic coastline there are plans for a large offshore wind farm called Navitus Bay. A consultation process ended last year. Most of the referenced data used in the following few posts has been dug out of the CDROM produced for this. An online link to the main document I use is HERE and on the CDROM it is PEI3_Ch2_NavitusBayWindParkProject.pdf

As Offshore windfarms go, there is nothing remarkable about Navitus Bay. Most of the data in the following few posts, shocking as it is, will equally apply to similar schemes elsewhere in the country.

But before I start, I feel I need to emphasise how poor offshore wind farms are at generating electricity. We need to keep this in mind when we look at the massive environmental damage done by their construction.

So first of all let us cut through some of the propaganda.

The first fantasy figure that gets promoted is the maximum output rating – a figure that is rarely (if ever) reached. Navitus Bay gets promoted as a 1GW+ plant. Or about the same capability as Sizewell B. Which is frankly, absurd.

There is an enormous difference between the maximum rating and the actual averaged yearly output (the Capacity Factor or CF). The documentation for this project optimistically touts a Capacity Factor of 35% or an annual averaged rating of around 350MW.

The actual national offshore CF from 2008 to 2012 is recorded by DECC 

Using the DECC recommended "unchanged configuration" table, an offshore geographically averaged CF of 35% has only ever been achieved once. But remember, Navitus Bay is near Bournemouth. This is not the Irish Sea. Navitus Bay will inevitably be performing at the lower end of the average. Those few per cent matter. If the final CF turns out to be 28% and not 35% then the averaged power rating will have been overstated by 25%. 

Even then, like all wind turbinery the typical daily output will be significantly less than the Capacity Factor. This is because the Capacity Factor gets inflated by unpredictable short duration high energy events. 

So bear in mind that while this is physically a large project, in reality, the final result would be a SMALL intermittent power plant.

In the next few posts I'll solely deal with the environmental damage done to the sea bed by offshore wind farms. Damage you will not be able to see. But damage that will take hundreds and maybe thousands of years to heal. And all for a puny amount of electricity, a vacuous feel good fashion statement and of course, lots and lots of money.

Tomorrow I start with undersea cabling and the required trenching ploughing and general trashing of the sea bed that goes with it. So how much undersea cabling am I talking about? Try 300 miles worth. And the trenches? how about up to 2 metres deep and 10 meters wide...

Wind Turbines: The Ghost in the Gearbox

I first came across this shocking industrial wind turbine (IWT) gearbox problem some time back and posted about it (Here) and originally (Here). The basis of these posts was this article (Here)

This long running problem is so serious that since 2007, the US Government has been coordinating research into it through the NREL. (More on that further down.)

By the looks of it nothing has got better, although there is a lot of industry spin claiming the fix is just over the hill. Some of it quite recent  (See Here)

So what is the problem and why is it kept so quiet?

Industrial Wind turbines (IWT's) have a generic, long standing and apparently intractible problem with gearbox reliability.

Many gearboxes need a rebuild within 5 -7 years instead of lasting 25 years as designed. Many suffer catastrophic failure within the 5-7 period or even earlier. Depending on the age of the turbine, a gear box failure may effectively write it off. Even when repaired, these gearbox failures are highly expensive and often take out the turbine for months.

Replacing the gearbox adds massively to the overall cost of the IWT. Manufacturers increase the cost to cover warranty repairs in the first 5 years. When out of warranty, the cost of a maintenance contract sky-rockets, eventually to a point where the operation of the IWT becomes untenable.

Why does this matter? After all it is the operators/manufacturers problem isn't it?

It matters because IWT's are capital intensive. That means that most of their operating cost is mostly soaked up in purchasing the thing - and maintaining it. If the IWT has a much shorter life (or a much higher maintenance cost) and so produces less money than anticipated, their ability to ever live without massive government subsidy becomes an even bigger illusion than it already is.

So, you may say, "It is only a technical glitch 'll all come right in the end."

Well, maybe. But first of all this is a glitch that has lasted since the 1980's

Unfortunately the evidence suggests that nobody actually knows what to fix yet let alone how too fix it. So possibly the answer is - maybe not.

We need to get an idea of how bad this problem is but for obvious reasons the wind industry isn't telling and they are certainly not releasing any meaningful figures

But there are a number of alarming markers out there.

The  US Government (in association with the wind industry) formed a little known group called the "Gearbox Reliability Collective" (GRC) (See Here)  The GRC is no less than a section of the USA government NREL. (That National Renewable Energy Laboratory).

In other words the problem is so bad the US Government is having to tackle the problem.

The leading sentence on the GRC website blandly states...
Premature gearbox failures have a significant impact on the cost of wind farm operations.

To quote from the latest finding report from GRC testing...(Here)
Despite reasonable adherence to these accepted design practices, many wind turbine gearboxes do not achieve their design life goals of 20 years—most systems still require significant repair or overhaul well before the intended life is reached. 

These guys in the NRC are (to put it mildly) clever people. But they have been at this since 2007 and so far they are still, by all appearances, quantifying the problem. In otherwords on a scale of ten, the intractibility of the gearbox issue probably rates a nine.

The NREL does not allocate such significant resources lightly. This is a bad problem.

The GRC are trying to build a failure database as well as running a series of tests on prototype gearboxes. Unfortunately this failure database is not for public consumption and is subject to a strict NDA so we will probably never know the full facts.

Manufacturing members of the GRC can (and mostly do) remain anonymous. One exception is Vestas. While I have little time for any wind industry company at least Vestas appear to be willing to stand up and be identified rather than just pretend their is no problem like the rest.

Of course, while we do not have full access to the database we do have some access to data held within it from the research papers published by GRC

For example, from an early sample set from 2010 and This Paper  covering 37 failures we have this:

Notice that while this early table covers 37 failures there were many more problems found in the strip downs. It looks like the problem is poorly localised and is probably caused by a number of different issues.

So what is the point of this post?

Simply to show that the current fleet of IWTs (yes - whole fleet ) are really not fit for a production environment. They are still suffering intractible and major operational problems and are highly unlikely to ever be able to operate without a huge government subsidy. To suggest they have a lifespan of 25 years is laughable.

This is bad enough for land based turbines.

But anyone who suggests that we can successfully and economically place these things out in the North Sea and English Channel for long term energy generation, is in need of medication.

Prof David MacKay on the Laws of Physics

Prof David Mackay FRS is Regius Professor of Engineering in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge and chief scientific adviser to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change.

He is also the author of  the famous (and free) "Sustainable Energy (Without the Hot Air)" . The whole book (12Megs) is available HERE

But he has also recorded a number of lectures on the viability and practicality of renewables, particularly he has focussed on the land areas needed to meet specific goals. These are goals that meet specific energy requirements. Here he is talking about systems that are other than window dressing or merely fashion statement technology.

My favourite quote is:- "I'm not anti renewables but I am pro arithmetic"

The recording is 18 minutes but is well worth a watch (unless you are a green dreamer that is)

A Bulgarian Back Door?

A great many people have been getting hot and bothered about the impending relaxation of work restrictions on Bulgaria in 2014 and the potential influx of Bulgarian immigrants to the UK.

But Billothewisp (or rather one of his aliases) has come across another rather strange possibility. That of people moving to Bulgaria. But this influx will not be from other EU nations, and potentially, the new arrivals won't be staying in Bulgaria that long either.

For some unknown reason Billothewisp's other identity  has somehow managed to get put onto an email list that  (apparently) trades in Visa's.

Here's a snapshot of the email I received:

Interestingly, you may notice the sentence:
"you can study in the EU or get transferred to the UK, USA....." 

Also notice
"Golden opportunity for those without IELTS"

It doesn't exactly look like there is a huge requirement for formal academic qualifications either.
"noc from the principal of the last attended college or school mentioning that the student is fit for university studies in India or abroad"

I don't know whether this is just a scam aimed at fleecing Indians looking for a back door into Europe (and potentially the UK) or a genuine scheme aimed at bypassing entrance requirements.

But clearly the stated purpose is to avoid having to meet the IELTS requirement ( link to IELTS here) needed to study in the UK and most other EU countries.

To me it appears mightily strange. I hope there is a simple (and honest) explanation. If such an explanation exists would love to know what it is.

Maybe someone in the Borders Agency would like to take a look? (sigh....thought not).

Wind Power. The Scale of the Problem

Take one AP1000 nuclear power plant, output around 1150MW  (If you don't like nuclear substitute  a similar sized gas/coal plant if you like) Now lets compare that graphically with how many turbines and how much space is needed......

Excellent Animation. H/T to designer Gabrielle Hollis

Protesters told to Frack Off

The good people of Balcombe are law abiding and decent folk. Bearing in mind how much anti-fracking propaganda has been spewed out about the Balcombe drill site they are understandably somewhat nervous. But even they realise that the Cuadrilla test well is hardly the end of the world. It is by the way, not fracked. It is not even gas - they are drilling a test well for oil.

The good folk of Balcombe are, however getting truly p*ssed off with the anti-social self-indulgent tribe of technologically illiterate bigots who have descended upon them.

Below is an open letter from the Balcombe Parish Chairman to the buffoons.

(h/t to Bishop Hill here )

...At a public meeting held last Friday evening [No Dash for Gas] sought to justify such actions on the grounds that the company that is drilling is acting illegally and that in consequence illegal actions to stop it are justified. This is quite simply not the case.  Like it or not, the drilling operation is entirely legal.  All the necessary permissions and permits have been sought and are in place.
  • Thirdly the  group seeks to legitimize such actions by saying that whatever is done is in response to Balcombe residents’ call for help. This is just not true.
So here it is. Balcombe strongly opposes any actions which may be taken which involve civil trespass and/or illegal acts. And I further state this, if the No Dash for Gas group is coming here in the full knowledge that it intends to break the law then it should stay away. It is not wanted in Balcombe! It is duly uninvited.
Alison Stevenson
Balcombe Parish Council

I just found the full letter.... it is HERE

Just about says it all really.

Fukushima – the Hidden Epidemic

I hope to show in this post how the events at Fukushima and the subsequent actions of the Japanese government effectively signed the death warrant for thousands of Japanese people and consigned many more to ill health and premature death. I will also show that sadly, this is a continuing and on-going problem with no end in sight.

A great deal of lurid speculation has surrounded the melt downs at Fukushima. But surprisingly, (it is now two years since the Tsunami) there has been no indication of any actual loss of life from radiation from any reputable body.

But significant loss of life there has been. Without a doubt.

The press and media have distracted people from this silent epidemic by their lurid (often fictional, usually ignorant)  sensationalist news reports. The result is that most people are now focussing on the wrong issue.

To get a handle on this epidemic we  need to consider events that took place all across Japan immediately after the Tsunami. Particularly we need to see what happened to Japanese power generation.

After the melt downs,  the Japanese government ordered the shutdown of all nuclear plant in Japan. Today, two years on, only two reactors are in operation. As Japan relied on nuclear power for close on to 30% of its electricity, these shut downs left a very large hole in Japan's generation capability. A hole that had to be filled by other generating capacity.

Here is a a set of tables up to end 2011 of  Japanese fossil energy usage for electrical generation

From this you can see Natural Gas generation rose by 58 TWh, coal by 57 TWh, and Oil by 9 TWh through 2011.  It would seem reasonable to assume the split remained much the same through 2012, if not somewhat higher in total

Now we come to some highly regarded published and peer reviewed papers

The first paper (published in Environmental Science and Technology paper available HERE) is by Hansen and Kheracha (if you don't know who Dr Jim Hansen is then you must have been asleep for the last ten years)

They reference a second paper (published in The Lancet medical journal - paper available HERE) by Markandya and Wilkinson. Both papers revolve around this table showing the number of deaths caused by electrical generation. While this table refers to Europe, I would argue is equally valid for Japan.

The extra Coal based electrical generation, (displacing Nuclear) kills through air pollution, 24 people per TWh of generation. Over the two year period that comes to (24 x 57 x 2) = 2736 deaths, 25,000 serious illnesses and untold minor ailments.

Extra Natural Gas based electrical generation has caused (3 x 58 x 2) = 348 extra deaths, 3400 serious illnesses and  again thousands of minor illnesses

Oil based electrical generation statistically kills 19.2 people per TWh. So the additional oil based generation has caused the deaths of ( 19 x 9 x 2) = 342 extra deaths, 2900 serious illnesses and another legion of minor illnesses.

Assuming Nuclear would have originally handled all this (i.e. 57 + 58 + 9 = 124 TWh),  then the statistical deaths from nuclear would have amounted to (0.052 x 124 x 2) = 12 deaths and 54 serious illnesses.

So there we have our hidden plague. Death brought about NOT BY nuclear power, but brought about by NOT HAVING nuclear power. An epidemic killing almost 3500 people in two years ( that is nearly 33 a week) and leaving many times that number ill and incapacitated.

Of course, this slaughter can be stopped within a few days. But that requires political courage and an honesty beyond that seen so far in Japanese politics.

Basically somebody has to stand up, explain the statistical risks to the Japanese people from nuclear power. Then detail the continuing carnage from the fossil fuel replacement.

Then they need to turn the nuclear plant back on.

(my figures are highly conservative. The most likely death toll from this silent plague is considerably higher)

How Wind Turbines Increase Global Warming

Below, using some peer reviewed data I hope to show you why an Industrial Wind Turbine, replacing coal plant, will actually increase Global Warming for well beyond the lifespan of the Industrial Wind Turbine itself.

First of all, just to be nice, we are going to assume that some highly dubious pro-wind propaganda is true.

We will assume a turbine has a productive life of 25 years.
We will assume that it directly offsets coal plant on a one-for one basis.
We will assume it needs no spinning reserve at all.
We will totally forget about the concrete/Neodymium mining/ steel/fibreglass/copper etc.
We will ignore the methane ( a strong greenhouse gas) that gets released from disturbed peat bogs where IWT's are sometimes placed.

Most of all we will completely forget about the environmental damage to wildlife. We will also totally ignore those pesky Human Beings who think they have a right to have a say about what gets built near them (Nimbys - damn them all!)

For those of you who are either falling about laughing or about to burst a blood vessel at this point, please bear with me and read on.

At this point we need to bring in the current ruckous over shale gas.

The data here I use here is taken from this paper: Coal To Gas: The Influence of Methane Leakage by Tom L. Wigley of the (U.S.A) National Center for Atmospheric research.

The main thrust of Wigleys research was to study what effect different rates of Methane loss (rogue methane) would have on a coal to gas conversion. His initial paper dealt with only a 50% coal replacement over 50  year period with a linear rate of replacement. The electronic suppliment dealt with a much more drastic changeover where coal was totally replaced by gas in 50 years.

The surprising outcome from this research is that in the first 40 -60 years or so, as gas replaces coal the main driver of global warming is the reduction in Aerosols emmitted from coal plant. A primary constituent of coal Aerosols is Sulphur Dioxide which is a very potent anti-greenhouse gas. So the removal of the aerosols actually increases global warming. It is only after about 60 years before the reduction in Carbon Dioxide overwhelms this warming.

The best graph to illustrate the problem is actually in the electronic supplement to this paper (see graph ESM2) This graph assumes total replacement of coal with gas over 50 years.

This is the graph (the top half refers only to proposed global temperature increase and is irrelevent here)
Notice with Natural Gas there are three issues surrounding it's affect on Global warming:

1. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) reduction by displacing coal (causes reduction)
2. Seepage of Methane (CH4) from either pipes or wells. (causes increase)
3. Reduction of Aerosols (mainly Sulphur Dioxide SO2) by replacing coal. (causes increase)

You can see this clearly on the left hand portion of the above graph. While this graph includes rogue methane from natural gas, clearly, even when you take the methane out of the picture the net affect  on progressively replacing Coal plant for any non sulphurous generating plant for the first 40-60 years will be an increase in Global Warming.

Let us replace the Gas for Industrial Wind Turbines.

(We will ignore IWT peat bog methane release - although we shouldn't)

Over the 25 year life time of our idealised super Industrial Wind Turbine, these will be no reduction in Global Warming from a decrease in Carbon Dioxide generation at all. But over the same period, the reduction in Sulphur Dioxide emissions from the replaced coal plant will cause a much higher and significant rise on Global Warming.

This is true for Gas, Nuclear, Hydro, Wind and Solar. Anything, that in a rolling program reduces Sulphur Dioxide emissions will cause more Global Warming (not less) in the first 40-60 years after coal replacement starts.

A Gas plant will last 40+ years. Nuclear 60+ years, Hydro 100+ years. Plus all the three will give a consistent and reliable output without requiring any form of backup.

Even assuming the cloud cuckoo land concept of an IWT having a lifespan of 25 years, it will need to be replaced at least twice before any productive gains from Carbon Dioxide reduction will be made. The same applies to Solar.

But worse than that, the IWT's will always need backup from Gas anyway. It is very easy to visualise that even if a madcap scheme involving the building of hundreds of thousands of our idealised turbines took place, there would be no decrease in global warming at all this century. But there would be an increase in at least the first 40-60 years..

This all assumes the lies wishful thinking of the wind turbine industry are true. In my own opinion, the most likely outcome is that Industrial Wind Turbines will have no impact positive or negative on global warming at all, simply because they are so damn ineffective.

Of course, removing Sulphur Dioxide is actually a very good thing. Even if it causes a temporary rise in Global Warming. Today hundreds of thousands of people die from coal based aerosols and the sooner they are removed the better.

But really, do we need to try and do it with half baked, wildly expensive and short lived plant like IWT's? Just about anything Gas, Hydro or Nuclear is more effective. The only technology that may be even more ineffective than IWT's is solar.

The end result of this, even if you believe the Wind Industry, is that Industrial Wind Turbines are NOT going to help prevent global warming within their 25 year life span. Or during the life span of the replacement or even the replacement after that. In fact assuming they actually do replace coal plant they will increase global warming for the next two generations at least.

Note: A less valid version of this argument is currently being used by the Greens against fracking. Their argument is less valid because gas is reliable, dispatchable and requires no backup other than standard fail-safe spinning reserve. It is also plentiful, is useable in transport as well as power generation and can be stored. It is also vital as a backup for the useless wind turbines even though it already cuts CO2 emissions by 60% from coal by itself. 

But it appears that the Greens now think Sulphur Dioxide is "A Good Thing". (God help us all) 

The Executioners Turbine

H/t to @MorainePains  at twitter who is currently fighting off the wind turbine Carpet Baggers in Ontario Canada. A little entertainment for all...

A modern day execution (seriously, this is good)