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Unacceptable interference

Those who wish this nation military harm are being aided by the drive to build on-shore windfarms. At least, according to the Ministry of Defence.

An application to build an eight turbine, 20 megawatt, windfarm on Hill of Braco near Aberdeen is being strenuously opposed - on the grounds that it would obstruct the capabilities of a radar station’s ability to “detect threats to UK airspace”. This is even though the nearest radar station is over five miles away at RAF Buchan.

 

Such relative proximity has sufficiently concerned the brass-hats down at the MoD in London, that they have fired off a formal objection to Aberdeenshire Council. “This will compromise the capability of Air Defence operation staff to detect threats to the UK airspace, and control aircraft at range”, they thunder.

And while they are about it, the MoD are adding they anticipate the turbines will cause “unacceptable interference” to a Met Office facility on the Hill of Durwick even further off.

What should we conclude from this? Firstly, unless they invite a Brigadier or two onto their board, developers PNE Wind UK may as well abandon this project. You simply cannot take on the military establishment in Britain and hope to win. The second conclusion is the Taliban in Afghanistan should cease trying to shoot down NATO planes. All they need to do in future is bung up a few windmills. And the entire Western military capacity will be thrown into total confusion.


At a standstill

Shale gas is unlikely to disappear from the headlines. The government is due shortly to publish a report on potential reserves around Blackpool in Lancashire. I gather this is likely to give a figure of about 5.6 trillion cubic metres, or half a year’s UK demand. Coincidentally this is very similar to the estimate previously put forward by Cuadrilla Resources, the shale gas firm active in the area, headed by former BP boss Lord John Browne.

Sadly the start-up company Caudrilla is already falling foul of the Advertising Standards Authority, as the ASA is condemning the company’s glossy promotional brochures for claiming it operates “proven, safe” technologies.

The ASA points out Cuadrilla has not undertaken any fracking of rocks for shale gas since it hit the headlines in 2011 by causing earth tremors in Blackpool. Which prompted the government to bring all fracking activity in Britain to a standstill.

Following those tremors, the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering were asked to examine this worrying outcome. Fortunately for Caudrilla, both had also enjoyed the privilege of having been chaired by Lord John Browne. Whilst giving a broadly clean bill of health to Caudrilla¹s activities, both Royal bodies did recommend a handful of relatively minor alterations for future activity.

What irritates the ASA is that, particularly when the brochure was issued says Cuadrilla “had not yet...fully implemented them, or had time to show tangible results.”
Cuadrilla is also wrong to claim people will not notice disturbances caused by its activity, the ASA adds, as this simply cannot be guaranteed. It can also not state the fluid it uses to frack rocks is free from hazardous or toxic components. Some hazardous substances would be used in drilling operations – and the public would assume those are part of the same process.

Oh dear, oh dear. Here is Caudrilla, setting itself up as the free market alternative to renewable energy. And demonstrating all too clearly what happens to the truth when there is no purposeful regulation. No wonder Chancellor Osborne was offering them all those ‘generous tax breaks’ in his Budget.


Glowing tribute

David Cameron has had the same energy policy advisor at No 10 since he became Prime Minister. So the Guardian newspaper had a mini-scoop when they alone revealed Ben Moxham had unexpectedly resigned.

The story said there had been mixed views as to whether Moxham had been personally helpful with, or alternatively antipathetic to, Cameron’s ostensible determination to run “the greenest government ever”, turning the UK into “the most energy efficient nation in Europe.”

Of those who were quoted nobody produced anything more equivocal than Andrew Warren, the director of the Association for the Conservation of Energy.  He said: “Everybody involved with energy efficiency will wish him a long and happy retirement”. On the face of it, a warm and glowing tribute. Until you realise Ben Moxham has just turned 34.


Detecting energy theft

“Electricity thieves cost utilities billions of dollars each year, and marijuana growers are some of the biggest culprits.” So began a press release from a Vancouver, Canada-based company called Awesense.

Apparently it provides sensors and software to detect energy theft. And has found marijuana growers are heavy electricity consumers  - because they use special energy-hogging lights to make their crops grow faster indoors. “Electricity is one of the biggest costs for a marijuana-grow facility,” said Doug Bunker, a company Vice President . “Marijuana grow-ups have been the largest single industry for power theft.”

Apparently the first wave of marijuana growers just paid their fuel bills like normal people. But then realised the police could easily find them. So they began tapping into either primary or secondary electricity lines.

The growers tap into lines that are exposed to the air, they dig into underground lines, or even tap off an existing panel box. A single grower might steal £5,000 of electricity a year, but an organised ring could steal as much as £400,000 of electricity per year.

The sales pitch from the Canadian company is electricity companies should provide their own investigation teams with Awesense¹s products, in order to ‘scrub their grid’ on a regular basis. Alternatively they can place the monitors in areas where they suspect electricity theft. But beware. The company has noted that. even in the growing number of locales where marijuana is legal, the growers are just as likely to continue to steal power.