45: None So Blind

Not content with vampire tapping into Scotland’s oil revenues since the mid 1970’s, a little-known grab by the UK government of 6,ooo square miles of Scotland’s North Sea in 1999 added insult to injury and ensured that several key oilfields would always stay within English jurisdiction and pump money into the UK treasury (see map).

To revisit this is not just picking at old sores. The area in question hems in an active Scottish & Southern’s plan to build a huge offshore wind farm that would stretch from off St Abbs to off Arbroath and range between 20 and 40km offshore. Invisible from land, over a hundred massive turbines out there could generate the equivalent of Torness. But wind rarely develops it rated output: it’s unpredictable and sometimes fails entirely.

But with the first serious (1 Mwatt) test turbines for tidal soon to be laid in the Sound of Islay and followed by full-scale (100 Mwatt) in the Pentland, we should be looking even closer to home to provide us with clean power. Tidal runs four times each day, is therefore predictable and suitable for providing the base load that nuclear currently does. And before someone lodges a comment about slack at high and low water, high tide at Leith is 8 hours behind Oban; tide is always running somewhere on our 6,000km coast.

Which brings us to our very doorstep. What if we looked at the tides that churn in and out of the Forth twice daily? With an average 5m rise per tide and 3kt current on a good day, that means the 11 billion tons of water passing between Fidra and Elie Ness could, potentially, provide 40 gigawatts of energy if it were all tapped. Clearly it’s not possible but just harnessing 3% would again be equivalent to replacing Torness.

Why, with its insistence on nuclear, is each UK government so eternally greedy for our oil yet so blind to our renewables? Could it be their interests are not the same as ours?

About davidsberry

Local ex-councillor, tour guide and database designer. Keen on wildlife, history, boats and music. Retired in 2017.
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