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Neil Imperator @NeilImperator
, 25 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
Oh, you're looking for advice?


Devolve Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy in full to Scotland. We'll *show* you how it's done.

@claireperrymp @beisgovuk @NicolaSturgeon @WingsScotland #CleanGrowth #GreenGB
First point: we can give tidal turbines a level playing field by funding their development properly. Wind turbines got research funding, grants for pilot installations, Renewable Obligation Certificates, Feed-In Tariffs and Contracts for Difference.
Tidal turbines only got research funding and grants for pilot installations like the one in the Pentland Firth. Then the Conservative Party at Westminster cut them off at the knees:
Just to show you the sheer magnitude of that mistake:
Tidal power fluctuates, as do wind and solar, but it has one extremely useful attribute: the fluctuations can be predicted literally centuries in advance. All you need is a tide table. That makes it much easier to plan which generators need to be supplying the grid and when.
If the tide is running during a period of high demand, we send the power straight to the people who need it. If demand is low, we send the power to a storage facility and use it later when demand rises again, or we export it. Always nice to improve the balance of payments.
Second point: we can start doing something about those storage facilities I just mentioned. SSE have a pumped-storage hydroelectric project ready to build in Scotland right now, if only Westminster would do something about it.
Pumped storage is proven technology. When you have spare electricity - tidal, wind, solar, whatever - you use it to pump water uphill to a reservoir. When you need the electricity back again, you let the water flow back down through turbine generators.
The problem is, no one's going to build it until they know there's going to be a market for storing energy. That's where Westminster policies [should have] come in. Even Westminster's nuclear-heavy energy plans can use pumped storage to smooth out fluctuations in demand.
Nuclear power stations are most cost-effective when you run them close to full power round the clock. That's awkward, because you don't always need full power. Pumped storage is the way you store excess nuclear energy at night, ready to use the next day.
We have pumped storage already, but there's not nearly enough of it to cover the needs of the new zero-carbon energy system we're going to need. Westminster have been so lackadaisical about it that the last pumped storage unit built in the UK was Dinorwig. In the *1970s*.
Third point: we can start upgrading the electricity grid in Scotland so that we can actually get our renewable energy to the people who need it. Westminster should have been building better grid connections to the Western Isles, the Pentland Firth, Orkney and Shetland years ago.
The Western Isles have been let down many times on this point. Even now, Westminster are still dangling the bait without actually committing to anything. No decisions will be made until at least 2019. See here:
Shetland were let down last year:
And now the bait's being dangled again:
By the way, if it sounds like I want to cover the Scottish islands in wind turbines and that makes you nervous, don't worry. There's nothing to stop us building offshore wind turbines just over the horizon and bringing the power ashore on the islands.
That way, the islands can get the jobs and investment without risking their landscapes or their tourism industry. Now that we have floating wind turbines, there's a lot more scope for placing them in deeper water and windier locations.
Those floating wind turbines were first piloted right here in Scotland, by the way, with full support from the Scottish Government at Holyrood:
On a related note: we're already paying compensation to renewable energy generators when the grid runs out of capacity to send their output to their customers. That wasted money comes straight out of the British population's pockets.
The reason for this is that Westminster used to build fossil fuel and nuclear power stations near the cities that needed the power. Unfortunately, renewable energy needs to be transported long distances from remote areas. You have to have a larger, stronger grid to do that.
The energy industry have been warning Westminster about the need to strengthen the grid for years. It is ludicrous that we're still struggling with the problem. Here's an example from *2011*:
Fourth point: err, no. I'll stop there for the moment. Don't get me started on grid access charges, carbon capture & storage (CCS), interconnectors to other countries or Brexit :) I've only touched on three aspects of one industry, but this thread has already exploded!
I will say one last thing, though. Can you imagine all the other ways Scotland could do better if we could use all of the tools in the box, not just the ones Westminster chooses to lend us?
Footnote: if you're curious to know how much electricity the UK is generating and from what sources, Drax have a nice "Electric Insights" page showing a snapshot. Click on "Explore the Data" for graphs ranging from the last 24 hours to the last year.
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