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Some of our politicians have recently shown much excitement about the prospects for power from tides around Scotland. 'Saudi Arabia of renewables' has even resurfaced in the media. While it is true that tidal power could have advantages over onshore wind in particular – turbines under the sea would not have the divisive and destructive effects on communities that putting wind turbines outside peoples' homes has had – it is really too soon to get excited about what is an essentially unproven...
As consumers, we take a properly functioning electricity supply for granted, barring strong winds or snow bringing down power lines. But in practice there will always be some risk to the security of this supply. The question is: what is a realistic target to set for this risk? In July, National Grid (NG) published their Future Energy Scenarios paper (FES 16) which put forward four scenarios of future energy demand for GB between now and 2040, and how those demands could be met.  It did not,...
Britain’s probable departure from the EU provides an opportunity to re-examine national policies on energy and climate change. The Climate Change Act was passed with the best of intentions but with competent analysis neither of its likely impact on global emissions, the practicality of its implementation nor the possible consequences to the UK's economy and energy security. While the Act actually proposed emission reductions beyond those required by the EU, our impending exemption from those...
In 2007, Alex Salmond rejected any new nuclear Scottish power stations. Policies based on fear, rather than facts, may feel good, but they increase the overall risk by not educating the public.  Successful democracy requires people understand the decisions they make; otherwise it becomes a loose cannon, with decisions based on slogans. Accidents, when amplified by the media, induce fear far beyond realistic risk. At Fukushima none died from radiation exposure.  At Chernobyl only 46 died as a...
Last month's major scientific breakthrough was rightly lauded; Einstein's century old gravitational wave theories proved correct. How will we view current theoretical climate science in 2100? Will there be global headlines confirming validity or a consigning to history's dustbin? So far prospects are worrying, with climate computer predictions, on which costly taxpayer funded policies are based, well wide of measured reality. In terms of temperature increase, ocean acidification, sea levels and...
On a mild still day last November a serious problem crept up on the UK electricity network.  Darkness approached, lights came on and industrial demand stayed high.  National Grid declared a “Notification of Inadequate System Margin” in order to bring in more generating capacity.  The situation led to the price for extra power rising to 60 times the more usual buy-in price.  With our present electricity market this is an inevitable response to urgent demand when we have hardly any reserve...
The sweet potato (commonly called a yam) is a familiar root vegetable on our supermarket shelves. The swollen root is highly nutritious, low in fat but high in vitamins A, C and fibre. It is easily grown and is eaten by one billion people world-wide.  Hardy varieties are necessary for cultivation in the UK and are available from seed merchants. It is unrelated to the potato but it too can be roasted, fried, boiled, chipped and baked and acts as one of the recommended five-a-day. If you too have...
A stark contrast still between Scotland and Eastern Europe and Russia with a harvest story of over abundant moisture in one and a drought in the other! In both arenas yields have been good, where the right inputs have been applied, as they have in Ireland too. This will sadly not help prices, although Chinese demand for grain and soya imports remains stronger than for metal commodities! The Chinese currently lease almost 10% of Ukrainian arable land. The weakness of the rouble and increases in...
While it is standard practice for politicians to blame their opponents for all embarrassing events, it is disingenuous of Mr Ewing to attribute all responsibility for the impending closure of Longannet to the present Westminster government, and particularly so to imply some responsibility to the early closure of the ROC subsidy scheme. (Scottish Government press release) Scottish Power are quoted as blaming a charge of up to £40 million a year for connection to the UK grid for their decision to...
An Ecomodernist manifesto has recently been published by 18 prominent greens. Its 84 statements are a radical departure from traditional environmentalism which it rejects. Humanity it states must shrink its environmental impacts to provide more space for nature. This view is incompatible with traditional environmentalist policy of accommodating mankind within the natural world. Nature will not be protected by increasing human dependence upon it more so because the human population is expected...

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