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Offshore wind turbines?

In the Spring of 2007 I spent some time in France. In an area similar to Salisbury Plain I found a field of wind turbines. I happened to encounter a team of engineers who were servicing one of the wind turbines. There were two giant articulated cranes that were being used to erect scaffold towers to access the wind propellers. The wind propellers are located at the top of the mast or pillar that is required to mount the wind propellers above the ground. The design is similar to those hand held toys that we all used when we were children. These toys consisted of a stick and and a propeller at the end of the stick. However, with real electrical generators there has to be a dramatic increase in scale to take advantage of the power of the wind. Technical information

The diameter of the "stick" is in fact larger than the average car and the height of the "stick" is in excess of 200 metres (600 feet). The engineers were completing their maintenance operations so although I had an armoury of video and digital camera equipment I was too late to record their activity. I am sure that they would have been delighted for me to have recorded their work, but with my scant knowledge of French I was unable to ask them whether they were merely replacing a light bulb! Or something more serious.

Looking around I saw that there were over twenty wind turbines and at least a quarter of these turbines were not turning. since the rest were turning I presumed that the others were broken and would need service. The accompanying photos give some indication of the scale of the operation. I have no idea how much it would cost to call out two massive mobile cranes but let's suggest £2500 a day. These "windmills" are located on land and I thought how much would it cost to service offshore "windmills"? I leave it to the reader to check that electric pylon riggers get in excess of £1000 a day and that is only the labour for one man. The cost of the gear is another matter.

The people who propose such off shore installations must be barmy! I think that the wind turbines would be quite likely to be mowed down by some ship, before they even needed maintenance! How on Earth do you maintain wind turbines located in the sea anyway? Servicing Oil rigs is OK, at least they cover an extensive area apart from being high above the sea, but a wind turbine! The French wind turbine farm was at least located in an almost featureless landscape but I wouldn't like to see these monsters off our shores.

The photos below show the apparatus that is required to service those wind turbines that are located on land.

Wind turbines beside road in France and cars

The road is 7 metres wide and the turbines are quite a long way off. Gigantic aren't they?

Winde turbines and tower cranes to service them

The two mobile cranes that were used to erect a tower to access the wind turbine generator

wind turbine and section of service tower

View of part of the access tower. Note the scale of the tower in relation to the engineer.

Wind turbine and tower access doorway

The wind tower base with access door

Wind turbine and sunshine

In this bleak landscape the wind turbine adds an element of interest. Note my car in the background!

Posted on 15 Jan 2009 by Geoff Edwards

Winsley Post Office Closure

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What a nasty surprise. I read in the "Your Letters" page of the Wiltshire Times & Chippenham News that without warning Winsley post office has closed. Apparently without warning not only to the villagers but also the staff behind the counter. Residents will now need to go to Bradford-On-Avon.

Apparently the letter is misleading. The previous week in the same paper there was a story about the actual situation that I had managed to miss. The company that owns the shop and post office and many other similar properties has had to go into adminstration. Unfortunately, the Winsley shop and post office has got caught up in the problems that the company has. Many residents of Limpley Stoke travel to Bradford-on-Avon via Winsley rather than Staples Hill and use the shop and post office.

I hope when we are supposed to be avoiding  wasting fuel as much as possible we should all try to support Winsley and try to shop and use local services as much as possible. I don't often use the shop at Winsley as I live closer to the Westwood shop but I know that it is very popular.

Posted on 26 Dec 2008 by Geoff Edwards

Oil from Algae?

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Maybe, just maybe, there is some hope for a better, a sustainable future. This link provides some information about the production of green oil from algae: renewable Fuel 

In the past we have been lead trustfully into the future; believing that our scientists, if not our government, will find the solutions to our problems, whether that is illness or in the present, the growing predicament of waht may be used to replace fossil fuel. And this needs to be not only a renewable or rather sustainable source of energy but a source of energy that will not continue to increase global warming.

Nuclear energy is at best only a stop gap, as Uranium is also going to be used up; and what is worse the cost of keeping the waste until it is harmless (secure storage for up to 100,000 years) is astronomical!

Perhaps the production of oil from algae may not be the solution to the immanent loss of our oil supplies  but it may be part of the solution and it reminds us that chemical and physical processes are not some modern invention but, whilst the technology maybe, they have existed from the beginning of our world and before. The dinosaurs saw electrical energy, but it took a long time before humans (their descendants?) could make use of it.



Posted on 30 May 2008 by Geoff Edwards

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