Tuesday, 28 June 2022
Wednesday, 22 June 2022
Yesterday evening, I went to the Caberfeidh Hotel in Stornoway, where SSEN (which maintains the electricity network in this part of the world) were hosting a public meeting. In this meeting, they were presenting their plans for a HVDC Converter Station and GIS Substation, which are pencilled in for the industrial site at Arnish Point. HVDC is a high voltage direct current converter station, GIS is a gas-insulated sub station. What would happen there is that the alternating current electricity, generated by on-shore (sic) renewable energy sources gets converted to direct current and transmitted to the Scottish mainland through a 600 MW subsea cable, also known as an interconnector. This 50-mile line comes ashore at Dundonnell, from where the power will be reconverted to A/C and transmitted to an existing switching station at Beauly, west of Inverness.
This is a long-standing project with which I am well acquainted. Some years ago, SSEN had to abandon the idea of an interconnector, because there was insufficient input from on-shore renewable sources. At the meeting, I was reminded this was only 180 MW, whereas a cable is only economical from 600 MW upwards. SSEN told me that sufficient projects were going to be consented, upon which I asked what the likelihood was that these projects were going to receive consent. One major development would be the proposed windfarm, nestled between the Lochs Road (the A859 Stornoway to Tarbert road) and the Pentland Road, the old A858 to Achmore.
My next question was regarding the Gas-Insulated Substation. It would appear that the chemical compound Sulfur Hexafluoride is widely used for insulation purposes, to prevent arcing from high-voltage cables. SF6 is a potent greenhouse gas, 23,500 times more powerful than CO2 in fact, and it is being phased out. SSEN was not entirely sure what compound was going to be used instead of SF6, which itself is a gas.
As this project relates to on-shore renewables, the question about the input from the offshore renewables was not factored into this project. The N4 Northwind project could generate 2GW (2,000 MW), which obviously needs to be transmitted to the mainland as well. Part of this would be used to produce hydrogen, which would be coupled with nitrogen into ammonia at an on-shore facility at Floday, off the west coast of Lewis near Carishader and Geshader.
It strikes me that the Arnish project is still bedevilled by many uncertainties. The required throughput is not certain, and SSEN will probably need to revisit it again in view of the Northwind project off the West Side of Lewis. The completion date of 2027 looks more hopeful than realistic.
Sunday, 19 June 2022
This is a very difficult subject in the Netherlands. At the time, I was working for the Ministry of Defence there, and I have known some of the members of Dutchbat personally. Some of them were eye-balling Mladic and could have pulled a gun on him. But the aura of power is irresistible and to be fair, in the face of overwhelming firepower, resistance is sometimes futile.
Dutchbat were poorly equipped by the UN to carry out the task that they were ordered to perform. Mark Rutte's apology is one by proxy; it should have been the UN apologising. That would have carried more clout. None of it, though, will bring back the 8,000 men and boys from Srebrenica who were murdered back in 1995. The UN failed them. The verdict by the Dutch Supreme Court that the Netherlands were partly responsible is an accurate reflection of shared guilt.
Monday, 30 May 2022
Friday, 27 May 2022
A list was recently published of shootings at American schools. I have come to call it a List of Anguish. Each mass shooting is followed by an outpouring of anguish, grief and anger, a call to disarm (sic) - and then everybody goes back to the way things were.
Through my social media contacts, I discern a sharp division of opinion regarding the issue of guns in American society. Some feel more controls are necessary. Others hold the opposing view. It's not the guns, or their availability, that's at fault. There should be MORE guns, so you can all defend yourselves against the nutcases.
As long as that dichotomy, that delusional paranoia, exists in American society, this List of Anguish will only continue to grow. I cannot think of a way to resolve this. It's something that American society as a whole will have to address.
However, with institutions like the NRA in existence and people like Trump and Cruz taking its endorsements, I see no hope for the future.