Thursday, 30 December 2010

Forth

Took advantage of a break in the weather for a short trip in the Firth of Forth.   I headed west from North Berwick, towards Fidra.  At first there wasn't much to see ...


The islands were shrouded in mist.  There seemed little point continuing west, so upon reaching Fidra, turned round and headed east towards the Bass, managing to run out of the fog bank in the process.


With a tide and wind behind me, progress was rapid.  At Craigleith, the owner of the lobster boat below stopped and took my picture, getting me to sit in the rays of the sun, with North Berwick Law in the background.  I should have given him my camera and got a picture of myself, but never thought until after the event.


The Bass Rock was eerily quiet without 100,000 gannets ...



So headed for home, and a hot chocolate with marshmallows in the Seabird Centre.



A short, but pleasant 20km.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Blencathra

Yesterday was a repeat of another walk that was first done around thirty years ago.  This time it was down to the Lake District, for a jaunt up Blencathra via Halls Fell Ridge.  Again it was an icy start to the drive down, and by the time I got down to the Lakes, it was daylight.  The hills were surprisingly bare of much snow, although it was cold.



The route is a steep pull to start with, and views are soon to be had to the south ...


And to the Pennines in the East ...


Soon after this was joined by Jonathan of Blencathra Art, and soon arrived at the top.




Ater which it was a quick trip down and a small refreshment in the pub before the drive home ...

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Where Has All The Snow Gone ?

Swapped the boat for boots and headed up into the local hills.   This was a repeat of a walk I had first done about thirty years previously, and have done countless times since. 

Started at the NTS car park and headed up to Loch Skene...


The tramp along the fence line was not the usual bog trot, thanks to the cold weather having partially frozen the ground.  Once on the shoulder of Lochcraig Head, the view back showed a small inversion in the main Moffat Valley ...



Whilst the route onward still led uphill ...



Although near the top, the grass was a covered in hoar ...


Further round, beyond White Coombe, the cloud had came down over Lochcraig Head.


Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Arran

The weekend saw an early rise and a drive across to the West coast.  A sharp frost saw a couple of slides in the car, including a slightly out of control entrance to a roundabout...  But arrived at Portencross.  Despite having the furthest to travel, was first there. 



The others soon arrived and fairly soon we were on the water.  It was that bright, that Harvey had to don the sun cream ...  in December !


We heading NW, skirting the bottom of Little Cumbrae, and onto the Isle of Bute ...






After Bute, headed West, and onto Glen Sannox ...



By the time we got down to Brodick, the sun had went down, and a cold night was in store ....







Saturday, 4 December 2010

Thawing ....

It's no longer snowing - frist time for a week; and it's now thawing.  Not before time either.  It's been too much for the old washing line ....

But the icicles are a sure sign of the thaw ...


And our feathered friends will be glad ...



Couldn't get the car out today - in fact got it stuck and got towed out.  See what tomorrow brings ...

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Wind Farm Efficiency ....

How efficient is a wind farm ?  I'm not entirely sure I know how that's measured and costed.  There appear to be that many variables and subjective views on the subject.  I came across the following two quotes from a 'pro windfarm' site ...

"Wind turbines operate when the windspeed is within certain limits. There has to be enough wind for the blades to turn – typically 3-4m/s (or 7-9mph, 6-8 knots). When the windspeeds get to 25m/s (56mph, 49 knots), turbines typically shut down to protect the structure from excessive loads"

"As windspeeds increase, so the energy generated by the turbine does as well. At some point where windspeeds are around 15m/s (34mph, 29 knots), the maximum (or rated) capacity of the turbine is reached. A limit has to be set to define the sizes of the various components – gearbox, generator, cables, rotor blades)."

That equates to a about a F3 -F7 range.  Key point for me is that peak capacity of the windfarm is around the 15m/s mark ( top end of a F4 ). 

The Solway Firth has 100 3MW turbines planned for Luce Bay.  The Strategic Environment Assessment from the Scottish Government quotes that the average wind speed for the Solway Firth is unlikely to exceed 8.5 m/s.  Without being too exact about the arithmetic, that is rougly half of the speed required to read peak efficiency. 

Another source, reputedly using data from NASA from the previous ten years worked out an average of 9.5 m/s.  I'm not going to get hung up over the difference, nor suggest that the "efficiency" will be as simple as outlined above, but perhaps serves to illustrate the amount of spin / misinformation / call it what you want ... that is out there. 

It's almost an argument for siting the windfarm further offshore.  But then that would cost more money and decrease the profit.  Or am I just cynical ?  Where would the optimim location be ?  Who knows ?  As I've looked into this subject, I can't help feel that we're being 'guided' by industry bodies that perhaps have a slightly coloured 'green' agenda ...

Windfarms are here to stay - there's no question about that.  There's too much politics, government money, face at stake now.  Finding a balance between location and impact is going to be difficult to achieve.  The development in the Firth of Forth seems okay, but the Solway proposal feels too near the coast ....