Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Energy Islands

Wind turbines at Findhorn, Scotland

These are the notes from a lesson about the use of small-scale renewable energy, with examples from the Danish island of Samsø and Scotland. It was originally intended for people working in the energy industry.

Opening discussion
Robert McIlveen, a research fellow in environment and energy, recently argued in the Guardian that small scale renewables (for example those subsidised by feed-in-tariffs) were inefficient and that the government should concentrate on large scale installations. Guardian

1. Is there any small scale generation in your country, and are there any government incentives to individuals or institutions to produce electricity or sell it to the grid?
2. To what extent do you agree with McIlveen?

NB Feed-in-tariffs - In many European countries (the UK since June 2010) individuals and institutions have the right to sell surplus electricity from renewable sources to the grid at favourable prices with a a guaranteed price structure, depending on the source, over a number of years. See Wikipedia

The Island of  Samsø,  Denmark.  (See map)
Do you know anything about it?
Watch the video  

 Or watch on YouTube

1. Why did they start doing this?
2. What effect has it had on the community?

Read this  New YorkTimes article  (If you have difficulty opening this, try this CBS article.)
What are your reactions

Scotland is home to the largest onshore wind farm in Europe - Whitelee wind farm (140 turbines 322 MW), and approval has been given for the even bigger Clyde Wind Farm which will be a 152-turbine, 548 MW project, capable of powering 320,000 homes.

But local community projects are also very important. See Wikipedia

The Island of Eigg, Scotland  See map
Read this article from (first half) - second half (optional) is more technical
Why did the islanders start this scheme?
Watch this video

Or watch on YouTube
What effect has this had on the community?

Island of Gigha, Scotland
Another island scheme, using second hand  generators . This is Scotland 's first community owned, grid connected, wind farm. This article is in the form of FAQ, and doesn't need to be read in detail. 

General discussion
How can community projects affect public attitudes towards wind farms? NB anti-wind farm action is currently one of the most common types of community action group in the UK.
How would you feel if you heard a wind farm was being built near you by a large company getting lots of subsidy money from the government?
How would you feel if your local community invited you to join a small-scale 
renewables system, where your community, or maybe even you, got subsidies from the energy company (in the form of FITs)?

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