Archive for December 2011
British Geological Society to research rare earths in Sutherland
The news that the BGS is planning to research rare earths in Sutherland has produced a doom-laden article from the crusading blog ‘ForArgyll’ warning of the appalling environmental consequences of rare earth mining and extraction, which has devastated communities in China. China currently controls around 97% of the planet’s supplies of rare earths.
Neodymium magnets are vital components in a lot of renewable technologies. Huge neodymium magnets are used in direct drive wind turbines, with smaller ones essential for the manufacture of electric and hybrid vehicles. The use of rare earths is a common criticism made by opponents of renewable energy.
Before using rare earths as a stick to beat renewables with though it is worth remembering that we are all guilty participants in this filthy industry. Neodymium magnets appear in products such as microphones, loudspeakers, in-ear headphones (ear buds and hearing aids), guitar pick-ups and computer hard drives.
The largest rare earths mine outside China is owned by Molycorp in the US. Its neodymium is more expensive because it has to comply with a huge raft of environmental legislation. Yesterday (28/11/2011) its share price dropped 14% on the back of the announcement that China’s rare earth export quotas will not fall next year as previously thought.
The truth is that we are all complicit in the destruction of the Chinese environment. We can take these stances to make ourselves feel good, but for as long as we allow the ‘free market’ to control everything we do and behave as good (passive) consumers these problems will remain. If we do find exploitable depostis of rare earths in Scotland and we are not prepared to take the risk of producing our own neodymium then really we have to throw away our hi-fis, computers and smartphones.
Personally I would rather see the world’s cleanest, most expensive neodymium produced in Scotland and used purely by Scottish manufacturers. To enable this we have to create an economic system where environmental damage is a real cost, not one that is farmed out to the planetary commons and ignored.
It should be a question of ‘whatever it takes’ rather than yet another soapbox article written using neodymium-powered technology.
Those lunatic comments posted on climate sceptic blogs . . .
I’m sure most of us have heard about the vilification of individual climate scientists by climate change deniers, up to and including death threats - but we have assumed it is just the mad hatters from the tea party and their like. The Scottish blogosphere is not exempt from random outpourings of bile however, as a quick glance through almost any comment thread on a climate change related article will confirm. Now I have been personally targetted with some fairly vile and possibly actionable abuse.
Neil Craig is the producer of a wildly erratic and hard to define Scotish blog called ‘A Place To Stand‘. Among Mr. Craig’s other obsessions he is a rampant hater of climate science, climate scientists and the whole global warming ‘hoax’. You can get a taste of his style with the headline for Tuesday, December 13, 2011 : Salmond and the Eco-Nazi Traitors Stealing Another £11 Billion
He is the only groupie of the ‘Scottish Sceptic’ blog, a very moderate climate sceptic blog by Mike Haseler, who describes himself as ‘an agnostic on man-made warming, a sceptic by scientific training and disgusted with so called climate “science” which isn’t science as I was taught it‘.
Now, Mike seems like a nice guy and he really deserves a little more support for his blog – but sadly it is not regular enough or ‘in your face’ enough for the rabid attack dogs who flock to the likes of Bishop Hill. So – sadly for Mike Haseler, Neil is his only long term fan - apart from me that is. Seeing Mike as the sort of sceptic I could possibly engage with I began to post comments on the blog.
Sadly it was pointless. Mike doesn’t seem to have any time for his blog at the moment, so there is no-one there to talk to except Neil - and he is, I am afraid, not someone you can have an intelligent discussion with. If you care to take a look here you will see that he has called me:
A ‘lying murdering piece of filth’
‘wholly corrupt, lying, thieving, fascist, parasite’
’100% a lying thieving pensioner murdering piece of filth’
If you want to find out what I have done to earn this level of vilification, read the post on Scottish Sceptic. (If you can’t be bothered, it is because he refuses to believe my assertion that I am not in the pay of the government!)
So – why bother posting this on here? Well, firstly as a public health warning in case you ever come across the bizarre Mr. Craig online or off. Secondly, as a reminder of just how deranged and foaming at the mouth many climate deniers are. And thirdly, matter of public record while I decide what – if anything – to do about it. (I have also kept a local copy of the page in case it mysteriously disappears).
More importantly though, what is Mike Haseler going to do? Is he going to continue to allow this kind of material on his blog, or is he going to step in and do some moderating? If the ‘sceptic’ blogosphere expects to be taken even half seriously then it is time it cleaned up its act and disassociated itself from the (disturbingly large) lunatic element among its followers.
Hammerfest Strom HS1000 installed at EMEC
Iberdrola SA (IBE)’s ScottishPower unit announced today that its prototype 1-megawatt Hammerfest Strom HS1000 tidal turbine had been deployed at the EMEC testing facility in Orkney. The device will now be grid-connected and extensively tested ahead of its commercial manufacture and deployment.
The HS1000 is the device chosen for Scotland’s first commercial tidal farm in the Sound of Islay. Scottish Power expect the device to complete testing in 2012, and for the Islay units to be installed between 2013 and 2015.
First Minister Alex Salmond commented that the project was a “fitting end” to an exceptional year for renewable energy in Scotland.
Interim target of 31 per cent of demand from renewables met.
New figures published this week for the first three quarters of 2011 show Scotland’s renewable energy output was on track for the best year ever. The figures, which were released on Thursday by the Department for Energy and Climate Change, point to 2011 being a record year for renewable generation in Scotland, with the first three quarters of 2011 already delivering 94 per cent of the previous year’s totals, and 83 per cent of the previous record year. If the trend continues over the fourth quarter, 2011 will be a record year for renewable electricity in Scotland.
The statistics also demonstrate that there is enough generation capacity in Scotland to meet the country’s interim target of 31 per cent of electricity demand met from renewables in 2011. This is important progress towards the Government’s 2020 target of the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity needs met from renewable energy, as well as more from other sources.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said:
“2011 has been an exceptional year for renewable energy in Scotland. These figures show that it is on course to be truly the best year yet. We have seen momentous progress towards our goal of generating the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity needs from renewables and more from other sources by 2020, with enough renewable energy capacity installed to more than meet our interim target of 31 per cent. In the first three quarters of the year alone, renewables have already delivered 94 per cent of the previous year’s totals, and 83 per cent of the previous record year. This year projects were switched on representing 750 million pounds of investment in renewables, and a staggering 46 billion pounds of investment is in the pipeline.”
“But most importantly we have taken real steps to ensure that communities all over Scotland will benefit from the renewable energy generated in their area, with a community benefit register which will help empower communities, as well as loans projects to help them develop renewable energy projects of their own.”
The 2011 figures were published alongside figures for the whole of 2010, which show renewable installed capacity in Scotland reached a record high of 4.3 gigawatts (GW) over the year, and that Scotland continued to be a net exporter of electricity in 2010, exporting 21 per cent of electricity generated.
As a result of the driest year since 2003, hydro electric generation fell in Scotland by a third in 2010, which led to a fall in overall renewable output from a peak in 2009. Renewable sources delivered 24.1 per cent of total electricity demand in Scotland in 2010, down from 27.4 in 2009. However, this drop has been more than made up for in 2011.
The figures also show that final energy consumption fell by 7.4 per cent compared to 2008 and 9.6 per cent against the 2005-7 baseline in 2009. Although this is in part due to the temporary impact of the global recession on energy demand, the reduction indicates that Scotland is on track to meet the 2020 final energy reduction target of 12 per cent.
An encouraging example of compromise in windfarm planning
As a follow-up to Turbinetastic’s article on planning we thought it worth reporting on Scottish Natural Heritage ‘s response to the planned Glenmorie windfarm http://www.glenmorie.com/ near Bonar Bridge in Sutherland. Their concern is the impact on the Dornoch Firth National Scenic Area, and their solution is to remove just five turbines from the proposed total of 43.
Steve North, SNH operations manager for South Highland, said: “We support renewable energy as a key means of addressing the climate change threat. The challenge for us all is to balance the needs of the renewable energy sector with those of nature and people’s enjoyment of the outdoors. We are confident that a wind farm can be accommodated at Glenmorie without nationally significant adverse impacts, provided some of the turbines are removed from the proposal.”
We see this as a perfect illustration of Turbinetastic’s call for fair play in planning (previous article). If only other landscape-focussed organisations (the John Muir Trust springs to mind) were as reasonable.