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Spirit of Ireland - A bright spark in today's economic gloom?

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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 724 ✭✭✭dynamick


    What is 'Spirit of Ireland' other than a suggestion to use pumped hydro in elevated coastal valleys to balance the intermittency of wind?

    Is there any IP? Why would the promoters of SoI be the best people to develop such a project?

    Could the government not commission a viability report for 100K and if it's worthwhile then put out a tender to build and operate it. I don't see where SoI come into it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,435 ✭✭✭Heroditas


    I was a bit surprised that nobody commented on the fact that Eddie Hobbs had Graham O'Donnell on the Right Hook a few weeks ago and gave him free rein to indulge in some fantasyland fairy tales for about 15mins.
    The biggest one was how he claimed that Ireland could "make between €8bn and €10bn a year" exporting power if the project went ahead. He gave no indication if this was €8bn of sales or profit.
    Of course, he gave no indications as to how much electricity that would entail either.
    Here's a hint - the pool price of electricity is about €65 per MWh .... that gives us approximately 123TWh of electricity to be "exported".
    To put that in perspective, about 28TWh of electricity was produced in Ireland last year.
    So we're going to quadruple electricity production using wind power and export 75% of it on interconnectors that haven't even been built yet?
    Also, it doesn't even take into account the cost of actually using the interconnectors.
    Even the SoI guys say they may need to import power at times to fill the reservoirs yet they still claim the country will get rich on the back of this. Meanwhile O'Donnell said they were looking for foreign investment, i.e. give ownership to foreign investment funds who will demand as much profit as possible.
    Even if the average pool price of electricity doubles (and if that happens, the whole world will be facing financial catastrophe due to crippling soaring energy price hikes) , we're still looking at doubling the amount of electricity produced.
    If that happens, there will be precious little money to fund this scheme.

    This is very basic back of envelope stuff yet the likes of Hobbs doesn't even question it.

    I'll just sit back now and wait to be branded as a "vested interest" and a "NIMBY" :rolleyes:


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,435 ✭✭✭Heroditas


    dynamick wrote: »

    Could the government not commission a viability report for 100K and if it's worthwhile then put out a tender to build and operate it. I don't see where SoI come into it.


    Poyry commissioned a report and in it they said that pumped storage was horrendously expensive compared to other energy sources.

    Also, if it's so viable, why aren't the energy companies here already doing it?
    Of course, the SoI guys will counter that with comparisons with Ardnacrusha and say that the companies here lack the "vision", despite them being profit-driven.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,235 ✭✭✭lucernarian


    I'll only throw this out as a possible explanation, the €8 to €10 billion a year figure may be a sum total of economic benefits and not some pure business case figure. Though of course if the benefits were more national and societal, the govt. would have been nearly falling over themselves to milk a certain cash and jobs cow. Which hasn't really happened.

    The jist of my observation is that the figures may involve job creation and macroeconomic effects etc.

    I'm not sure that using cheap imported electricity e.g. at night to refill pumped storage resovoirs is that bad a thing. Free and easily facilitated trade is generally beneficial to all countries concerned. There may be security, reliability and strategic issues at stake with the trade of electricity but that's another kettle of fish.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,435 ✭✭✭Heroditas


    Though of course if the benefits were more national and societal, the govt. would have been nearly falling over themselves to milk a certain cash and jobs cow. Which hasn't really happened.


    Exactly! For such a cash cow, the government aren't even looking at it.


    The jist of my observation is that the figures may involve job creation and macroeconomic effects etc.

    One would think that is the case but they haven't even said this themselves.


    I'm not sure that using cheap imported electricity e.g. at night to refill pumped storage resovoirs is that bad a thing. Free and easily facilitated trade is generally beneficial to all countries concerned. There may be security, reliability and strategic issues at stake with the trade of electricity but that's another kettle of fish.

    Of course there isn't an issue with cheap imported energy. However, SoI have gone to great lengths several times to say that they could export some of the excess at night. The next thing they're saying they'll import cheap night energy to pump the water.
    Well they're either going to import or export at night...... could they at least be consistent?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,235 ✭✭✭lucernarian


    Heroditas wrote: »
    Of course there isn't an issue with cheap imported energy. However, SoI have gone to great lengths several times to say that they could export some of the excess at night. The next thing they're saying they'll import cheap night energy to pump the water.
    Well they're either going to import or export at night...... could they at least be consistent?

    For the first two points, I'd say that we don't know that much about what the Govt's views on SoI etc are beyond vague encouragement. Maybe they do care. We may underestimate the incompetence of the DCENR and probably the CER at our own peril, I have seen the actions of the DCENR over several years and their views on innovation seem to be whatever Analysis Mason tell them (and ignore various reports by Forfas etc). Yes, Graham O'Donnell really should have fleshed out the economic numbers for the SoI concept and the idea of heavy renewables investment in general. I do think there are many potentials for economic gain from this type of investment however and perhaps in the course of the debate it's something people now take for granted. That there will be jobs from this industry, there is clear potential for export opportunities etc. Of course, the cost to export is one of the most overlooked aspects of this debate in the wider media and it's time proponents were honest about the costs. We can't even build a stretch of pylons to NI without local protestations. There's one running up the centre of Louth and no one has tried to blow that up yet!

    The point about importing or exporting is not so hard to fathom considering some nights will have less power generation and demand than other nights. Electricity market prices fluctuate within a day for good reason, if I may simplify how the market works for a moment. There's nothing to say that both couldn't happen even over the space of a night, if there was enough installed wind power and pumped storage in the country.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,435 ✭✭✭Heroditas


    For the first two points, I'd say that we don't know that much about what the Govt's views on SoI etc are beyond vague encouragement. Maybe they do care. We may underestimate the incompetence of the DCENR and probably the CER at our own peril, I have seen the actions of the DCENR over several years and their views on innovation seem to be whatever Analysis Mason tell them (and ignore various reports by Forfas etc). Yes, Graham O'Donnell really should have fleshed out the economic numbers for the SoI concept and the idea of heavy renewables investment in general. I do think there are many potentials for economic gain from this type of investment however and perhaps in the course of the debate it's something people now take for granted. That there will be jobs from this industry, there is clear potential for export opportunities etc. Of course, the cost to export is one of the most overlooked aspects of this debate in the wider media and it's time proponents were honest about the costs. We can't even build a stretch of pylons to NI without local protestations. There's one running up the centre of Louth and no one has tried to blow that up yet!

    The point about importing or exporting is not so hard to fathom considering some nights will have less power generation and demand than other nights. Electricity market prices fluctuate within a day for good reason, if I may simplify how the market works for a moment. There's nothing to say that both couldn't happen even over the space of a night, if there was enough installed wind power and pumped storage in the country.



    And still nobody can tell me why the existing energy companies aren't jumping to be involved in this if it's such a good idea.
    We don't even hear someone like Michael Walsh from the IWEA comment on the scheme.
    Zero interaction between SoI and the utilities. Why is that?

    Electricity market prices fluctuate within a day for good reason, if I may simplify how the market works for a moment.


    You don't need to simplify it. I have a very good grasp of it and am exposed to it on a daily basis. Perhaps it needs to be explained a bit better to SoI though. Their grasping of the concept of how the market actually works seems to be a bit vague.
    Also, another of the cornerstones of SoI is to stop these fluctuations in price. Yet they say they'll use that to their advantage?


    Absolutely nothing they have released in the last two years has convinced me that they really know what they're talking about.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,105 ✭✭✭hi5


    I wouldn't dismiss an idea just because an Irish government can't see the merit in it,the last government thought building houses into infinity was the way forward;).


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,435 ✭✭✭Heroditas


    hi5 wrote: »
    I wouldn't dismiss an idea just because an Irish government can't see the merit in it,the last government thought building houses into infinity was the way forward;).


    Again, that doesn't explain why energy companies aren't getting involved, particularly if vast amounts of money can allegedly be made and the benefits are so blindingly obvious.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 9,376 ✭✭✭ei.sdraob


    Heroditas wrote: »
    Again, that doesn't explain why energy companies aren't getting involved, particularly if vast amounts of money can allegedly be made and the benefits are so blindingly obvious.

    Lets say you are an investor (or group) with 10 billion (or whatever large figure this will cost) burning in your pocket
    and you like the sound of pumped storage

    Why would you invest it in Ireland a small market behind another island in the atlantic instead of somewhere closer to core european (Alps?) or US market (Appalachians?), or even asia (China? Japan?) for that matter?

    What exactly makes Ireland "special"?


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 724 ✭✭✭dynamick


    Ireland has already attracted 10s of billions of FDI and continues to outbid other euro countries on a per capita basis.

    Ireland may be a good place for large pumped storage for a couple of reasons:
    very windy west coast relative to rest of europe
    availability of suitable valleys (elevated, near sea, dammable, unpopulated)
    low corp tax
    Planning and environmental rules are more lax in Ireland than in other euro countries.
    New HVDC lines allow electricity export over long distance with low loss, allowing sales to distant markets.

    British ministers have discussed plans to import wind power from Ireland to help meet the UK's renewable energy targets.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jun/18/ireland-wind-power-grid

    With sufficient interconnect, I would imagine that the UK grid would provide plenty of demand for Irish wind power without going down the SoI route.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,435 ✭✭✭Heroditas


    dynamick wrote: »
    Ireland has already attracted 10s of billions of FDI and continues to outbid other euro countries on a per capita basis.

    Ireland may be a good place for large pumped storage for a couple of reasons:
    very windy west coast relative to rest of europe
    availability of suitable valleys (elevated, near sea, dammable, unpopulated)
    low corp tax
    Planning and environmental rules are more lax in Ireland than in other euro countries.
    New HVDC lines allow electricity export over long distance with low loss, allowing sales to distant markets.

    British ministers have discussed plans to import wind power from Ireland to help meet the UK's renewable energy targets.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jun/18/ireland-wind-power-grid

    With sufficient interconnect, I would imagine that the UK grid would provide plenty of demand for Irish wind power without going down the SoI route.

    Wirh sufficient interconnection, there's a strong possibility that electricity prices here will be substantially driven up.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,235 ✭✭✭lucernarian


    Heroditas wrote:
    Well they're either going to import or export at night...... could they at least be consistent?.
    Could you elaborate on that aspect then? What's to say that pumped storage cannot generate or store surplus energy over the course of a night?

    Also, have SoI referred to stopping the fluctuations in price on a long-term scale or with spot market prices e.g. from hour to hour, or both?


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,435 ✭✭✭Heroditas


    Could you elaborate on that aspect then? What's to say that pumped storage cannot generate or store surplus energy over the course of a night?


    It's either pumping or storing. If there is adequate power to meet national demand being generated by wind, why do you waste that power by pumping water up a hill? If there is an excess of power being generated and the reservoir is not full, you then use that excess to fill it.
    Sure, if the wind drops off completely, then the reservoir can be used to generate.
    However, it's really not the best use of a resource such as pumped storage.
    Have a look at Turlough Hill - it's filled at night and then discharged during the peak time of day.



    Also, have SoI referred to stopping the fluctuations in price on a long-term scale or with spot market prices e.g. from hour to hour, or both?


    They've just come out with lots of fluff regarding how it will benefit everybody in the face of potentially ever-increasing energy prices.
    Anyway, spot market prices are typically rolled up into one pool passthrough price. Nobody in their right mind would want a spot price electricity contract.


    I'm very familiar with the Irish energy market, hence why I have my doubts regarding the scheme.
    I can see plenty of problems with it such as the scale and also the simple maths that seems to escape the SoI guys whenever they make any sort of "announcement".
    One minute the scheme will be owned by Irish people, the next they state they're looking for foreign investment, yet still claiming it will be owned by the people of Ireland.
    Nothing wrong with a couple of small pumped hydro stations but I just don't feel it's workable.

    Wind farms currently have a payback in the region of 10 years ... that's even with the REFIT subsidy and capacity payments.
    Throw in the cost of building a great big reservoir and the payback lengthens.

    Who's going to be patient with that sort of payback? What's needed? Greater capacity payments? Larger levies? Larger subsidies?
    Who ends up footing the bill? You and me......


  • Registered Users Posts: 337 ✭✭ciaran75


    is the SoI project now dead or is anything still happening with it???


  • Registered Users Posts: 131 ✭✭patgill


    ciaran75 wrote: »
    is the SoI project now dead or is anything still happening with it???


    ciaran75,

    We are still quietly working away.

    We even received a small pat on the head from Minister Rabbitte last Tuesday.

    Tuesday 15th, part three after the news headlines.

    http://www.newstalk.ie/programmes/all/the-right-hook/listen-back/


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,235 ✭✭✭lucernarian


    Minister Rabbitte is more interested in talking about the briefs of his colleagues and the general economic state of the country than running his own department by the sounds of news media in the last few months. I wouldn't mind hearing the latest status of the Spirit of Ireland project and if they are still "discussing" the matter with various landowners in a couple of places out West.


  • Registered Users Posts: 86 ✭✭luohaoran


    Can someone enlighten me here...

    how does foreign owned enterprises developing wind farms in Ireland benefit Ireland?
    I'm hoping someone will explain how a certain proportion of the money generated from "our" natural resource goes directly into the state coffers, for now and for ever after.
    I know this is a key point for the whole SOI ethos, but are we actually giving it away if we continue to let it be developed by others?
    What is the current "licensing" arrangement?


  • Registered Users Posts: 2 futureshock


    Hi Pat,

    There were a couple of news reports over the weekend about Enercon doing a feasibility study in Mayo with a report due in January, after having had discussions with SoI.
    The reports died down almost as quickly as they appeared so are they real or some journalist getting over-enthusiastic?

    http://www.breakingnews.ie/business/report-german-wind-energy-firm-looking-at-mayo-531832.html

    BJJ.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 25,234 ✭✭✭✭Sponge Bob


    Enercon has a large pipeline of projects in the west and it would make sense for them to manufacture their turbines in the west and barge the turbines onsite around the coast....the Asahi site in Killala Co. Mayo. makes perfect sense.

    SoI would be their biggest potential customer but there are quite a few Enercon turbine projects already through planning in the west right now. Them turbines gotta come from somewhere.

    The more recent 2mw and 2.5mw units are what punters go for nowadays and these have a hub height of 100m....not many roads in the west have 100m straight bits. :D


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  • Registered Users Posts: 14,694 ✭✭✭✭loyatemu


    interesting article here on a similarly grandiose project that our German overlords are backing, another part of the mooted grid of renewable energy that SOI are hoping to contribute to?


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,284 ✭✭✭dubhthach


    loyatemu wrote: »
    interesting article here on a similarly grandiose project that our German overlords are backing, another part of the mooted grid of renewable energy that SOI are hoping to contribute to?

    At least the sun shines for 12hours a day in those parts (give or take the odd sandstorm), what's guarantee that when we need the wind blowing most that we end up with a big High pressure sitting ontop of us for several days!


  • Registered Users Posts: 38,717 ✭✭✭✭Dan Jaman


    I heard Pat Gill and yer man Val on Pat Kenny programme this morning. PG certainly came across as knowledgeable and level-headed while the other wan presented himself as some sort of swivel-eyed eejit.
    Вашему собственному бычьему дерьму нельзя верить - V Putin
    




  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 25,234 ✭✭✭✭Sponge Bob


    Dan Jaman wrote: »
    PG certainly came across as knowledgeable and level-headed while the other wan presented himself as some sort of swivel-eyed eejit.

    Val Martin of the 'European Platform Against Wind Farming'

    Think he is from Kingscourt in Cavan where he is known as Kingscourt Residents against wind farming.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2 futureshock


    I'm not sure I agree that the guy Val came across any worse than Pat (and I'm pro SoI). Unfortunately Pat is not a good public speaker and was very hesitant in his answers and so did not come across well, whereas at least the guy Val had a good grasp of his figures and made his points clearly and concisely.


  • Registered Users Posts: 38,717 ✭✭✭✭Dan Jaman


    I'm not sure I agree that the guy Val came across any worse than Pat (and I'm pro SoI). Unfortunately Pat is not a good public speaker and was very hesitant in his answers and so did not come across well, whereas at least the guy Val had a good grasp of his figures and made his points clearly and concisely.
    Jeez, if that was him on form, I'd not want to hear him off of it.
    Вашему собственному бычьему дерьму нельзя верить - V Putin
    




  • Registered Users Posts: 260 ✭✭Poster King


    Sorry, there is a group that is against wind farming? Is it just one lunatic, surely there can't be many against it. On what grounds?
    I can understand concerns about pumped storgae of sea water, but the only possible objection I can see to wind turbines is that you might not like the look of them. Personally I think wind turbines are beautiful and I would be delighted to have them near out house in Connemara.


  • Registered Users Posts: 38,717 ✭✭✭✭Dan Jaman


    Sorry, there is a group that is against wind farming? Is it just one lunatic, surely there can't be many against it. On what grounds?
    I can understand concerns about pumped storgae of sea water, but the only possible objection I can see to wind turbines is that you might not like the look of them. Personally I think wind turbines are beautiful and I would be delighted to have them near out house in Connemara.
    There are people against them on principle - the principle being that they're being bunged money by the oil companies.
    Other, more principled people, are against them on aesthetic grounds - fair enough, beauty in the eye of the beholder and all that; personally, I like them.
    Then there are the NIMBYs - nothing in their purview, at any cost, will be erected.
    All anti-windmill groups start to dig up all sorts of spurious arguments against them - birds, noise, bog damage, access roads, blah de blah,,, de blah.

    You know, if there was a windfarm opposite me and it was pumping water into a hill valley above me, I'd love it. Every time I looked out the window at it I'd be aglow with the feeling that every kilowatt of power it produced was one more step to saving some oil and leading to a self-sufficient Ireland.
    Am I being unrealistic? No, I don't think so - the price of energy will only continue to rise and even if nuclear fusion is finally cracked, it won't lead to cheap or free power; the powerstations will have to be built at some huge cost.
    In the meantime, SoI can plug away and get the infrastructure built and we all can bask in the glorious sunshine of a fairly eco-friendly state (and I'm not a fecking tree-hugger, sorry if it sounded like that).
    Вашему собственному бычьему дерьму нельзя верить - V Putin
    




  • Registered Users Posts: 260 ✭✭Poster King


    Dan Jaman wrote: »

    You know, if there was a windfarm opposite me and it was pumping water into a hill valley above me, I'd love it. Every time I looked out the window at it I'd be aglow with the feeling that every kilowatt of power it produced was one more step to saving some oil and leading to a self-sufficient Ireland.
    My sentiments exactly. There was a proposal to erect a wind farm on an island off the coast of Roundstone in full view of our house and we were delighted at the prospect but my understanding was that it got shot down pretty quickly because it would be unsightly in a touristy area.


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  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 25,234 ✭✭✭✭Sponge Bob


    Nope that offshore wind farm has passed through planning and is awaiting a grid connection offer http://www.fsteo.com/


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