Winds of Change: The Enemy Within

Crabs in a bucket…

Its been a hard week globally, nationally and (most importantly!) personally and, against the backdrop of my increasing understanding of the impact of wind power, I have reassessed my plan of posting my research journey. While a few people have found my posts useful and shared them (thank you!) and some more have been indifferent, or silent anyway, the most vigorous commenters – not many to be fair – are if not negative then pointlessly argumentative. The hard bit is that it has not come from those who hate (are frightened by) wild spaces or wildlife but from the conservation or environmental side.

The most disturbing was an Irish conservation group on Twitter, a group I had admired in one of my previous digital incarnations. In the only comment I got on any of my posts there, and quite out of the blue, they lectured me for the term ‘floating windfarm’* on a post’s featured image. When I engaged with them they accused me of spreading lies, refused to provide alternative terminology, would not tell me where their writing on wind energy is (if there is any) and implied I was at fault because I was researching windfarms long after they had. And this was only after they had looked at a picture on the blog from a post that had nothing to do with floating turbines. Jesus wept.

Then they read the post. Their response was…

Yeh, we read your “blog” 🙄’.

Including the quotes and the eye roll. Then they blocked me. No one’s getting conservation confused with conversation in that group then…

*They don’t like the term floating because its ‘lies!’ and all turbines are bad and we are not allowed talk or learn about them. Or something.

Even mild rebukes from “environmentally-friendly” (goddamn now I’m using “quotes” )people are not informative but vague and general “you will hardly see the turbines, the sea life will be fine, we have no choice” or – as with the Twitter Twats – nit-picking. Those arseholes are just the more shouty edge of a large wedge – most people just don’t want to know. While I am starting to appreciate the enormity of the changes about to be wrought and the desire to look away from it all, I find this drive to shut down conversation unsettling.

Am I giving up? No, but I don’t believe any more posts right now will do anything except disturb the comfortable and I just don’t have the time to deal with other people’s crap. Considering my deeply embedded misanthropy, I have done well to get this far. Time for a regroup. There’s enough information in the previous posts for the interested to think about so after next Saturday’s post – a list of our marine life – I will take a break to do some reading about environmental impacts and how they are measured and, in the new year, if I think a post on that will be useful, I’ll do one then.

For the last thoughts on what wind farms consist of, below is some information about onshore substations which connect wind farms to the national grid. Some questions might be – How many will there be in Waterford and Cork? Will one service all proposed wind farms? How big an area will a substation take up? Do we get a say in where they are built? Who builds them?

No don’t tell me. Go and ask someone involved in such a project if you’re interested.

The wind farms proposed for Waterford currently make up 5.6 GW The diagrams below show how things are connected up.

Figure 4. Diagram showing the transmission system from wind farms to landfall point via various cables, substations and converter stations. (Source: ABB)

Below is an example of a substation.

Moray East

…is a 950MW wind farm 22km off the Scottish Coast. The substation, around 25km inland in farmland is an 85,000sq ft new build and includes road improvement works. The developers introduced elements to help in blend into the Aberdeenshre countryside including painting buildings green and planting trees.

Moray East substation at Deer. March 2019.
Moray East substation at Deer. February 2020