Electricity Generation Options for the future

During 1992, the government in the Isle of Man was considering a proposal by Scottish Power to buy the entire Manx generating operation and supply electricity by cable. The following submission was made in August 1992. The sale did not go ahead but the Manx Electricity Authority has put its own undersea cable in place in 2001 and is also to be supplied by a natural gas pipeline feeding gas-turbines to be housed at an entirely new generating plant at Pulrose.


Mec Vannin Energy Generation Options Report

PART ONE

THE CURRENT SITUATION

1. 1) The M.E.A. has three generating plants, all of which use conventional diesel powered generators. These are situated at Douglas (Pulrose), Peel and Rnmsey. These plants, whilst not forming a part of a grid as such, are interlinked at a central distribution point, and can supplement each other's output. Pulrose has recentlv been refurbished, its output increased and its environmental standards improved. The M.E.A. have cast doubt over the continued reliability and output from the machinery at Peel. Other sources contradict this. There continues to he no clear indication as to the future of the Ramsey plant, and its function now appears to basically supplemental / backup.

1.2) Inspite of the improvements at Pulrose, the M.E.A. has predicted that it will not he able to guarantee being able to meet future winter-time peak demand, which is expected to exceed 56MW in the coming winter. Other sources again suggest that this is misleading.

1.3) Over the past four years the Island has been subject to substantial population increase (approximatelv 8%) but electricity demand has increased out of line with this.

THE ALTERNATIVES

1.4) Increase generation capabilities by:

i) Expanding diesel generation capabilities. Sec section 2.1
ii) Initiating "alternative" generation capabilities. See section 2.2
1ii) Use alternative fuels for generation. See section 2.3

1.5) Alter electricity requirement trends by:

i) Fiscal methods. See Section 2.4
ii) Encouraging 'off-peak" electricity consumption. See section 2.5
iii) Alter Government policy concerning population expansion. See section 2.6
iv) Encourage "energy awareness" within the community. See section 2.7
1.6) Import electricity. See Section 2.8

PART TWO

THE METHODS

2.1 ) Increasing diesel generation capacity.

2.1.1) Both Peel and Ramsey would benefit greatly from refurbishment. Such refurbishment would allow for increased generation capacity to be incorporated.

2.1.2) This option is the one that has received the most attention and receives support from the M.E.A. itself. Sites exist at both Peel and Ramsey, no new technology is involved and a new station would incorporate increased noise and vibration suppression. New technology can also cost efficiently reduce exhaust pollution. The replacement of an existing station would not require a new site to he despoiled. The low speed engines proposed for this project are capable of running on a variety of fuels, and even have the potential for conversion to gas. By having generation sites spread around the Island, the chances of an all Island blackout are considerahlv reduced and energy losses from distance transmission are also reduced. Employment in the area is uneffected.

2.1.3) On the negative side, submissions to the Peel power station enquiry cited the visual impact, increased noise, vibration and airborne pollution as some of the objections. As stated, however, the potential is actually to reduce pollutants of all forms.

2.1.4) Pulrose, which has already had the building substantially improved, could have its remaining "old" sets replaced with new, higher capacity units. It is probably possible to expand Pulrose sufficiently to replace Peel's output, which would improve Peel's environment, streamline operation methods, and therefore reduce costs.

2.1.5) Having all the Island's generation capacity under one roof increases the possibility of an all Island blackout and the output from Pulrose has been completely stopped at least once in the past three years. Isolated loss of supply would also probably increase. Energy losses from distance transmission and voltage fluctuations at distant consumers would increase and, unlike Peel whose emissions could be reduced through rebuilding, the environment around Pulrose would be subject to increased pollution of all forms. There would almost certainly be job losses.

2.1.6) High speed containerised generation units could be placed around the Island at areas of high electricity consumption to supplement local demand. This would improve the quality of power supply to industrial sites where the existing supply can be very "dirty". If interlinked, a grid would be formed, thus substantially decreasing power-cuts, and transmission losses are reduced. No single area is subject to large scale development.

2.1.7) There is conflict as to the running costs of these units, and they are considerably less flexible where the type of fuel is concerned. Some reports indicate that they can also be noisy, but this is not confirmed. On an Island wide basis, there would be no reduction in airborne pollution. Fuelling and cooling may be more complicated than at first envisaged.

See section 3.1 for conclusions

2.2) Instituting "alternative" energy generation.

2.2.1) Until the turn of the century, virtually all industrial energy requirements of the the Island were met by what are now termed "alternative" energies. This usually took the form of a watermill, although there were several windmills in the Island. Although steam engines were used to power plant from the first half of the nineteenth century onwards, they failed to gain general favour because of the expense of coal.

2.2.2) Advances in technology have substantially increased both the efficiency of utilisation of traditional renewable resources, and opened up many new ones. Consequently, the available energy and reliability of output has vastly increased.

2.2.3) Hydro-electric is the most widely used renewable energy source and is employed in the Island at Sulby. This plant was something of an after-thought, however, and its 2% contribution to electrical generation is hardly representative of the potential for hydro-electric generation in the Island, with over 1000mm of rainfall per annum. Inspite of what some may think, however, the Island's steep gradient is actually a handicap where conventional hydro-electric generation is concerned. For example, much of the water in the Sulby reservoir has already fallen through hundreds of feet before it enters the reservoir. Raising the situation of the dam is self defeating in that the catchment area is reduced.

2.2.4) There are two ways around this. One is to raise the height of the dam itself, which maintains the catchment area whilst increasing the pressure head at the base. The draw back is. quite obviously a suhstantiallv b gger dam of probably a different construction type e.g. arch. This substantially increases costs of building and not all geological conditions arc" suitable. The surface area of the resultant reservoir is greater, therefore increasing evaporational losses.

2.2.5) The other way is to use a series of smaller reservoirs. This is similar to the situation that could be found on several rivers on the Island in the last century, when the tail water of one water mill was the feed for the next. The efficiency of the whole system is suhstantially improved by using a method employed by the engineers who constructed the water driven plants associated with the Laxey Mines. Water channels known as lades ran along the contour line of the surrounding hillsides, intercepting the natural drainage In this way, the catchment area at any given altitude in a vallev has the same boundaries as the final, lowest plant in the system, without depriving it of any water. Visual Impact is significantly less than larger reservoir schemes, as are construction costs and evaporational losses.

2.2.6) Whether or not this system has the same reserve capacity as the single reservoir is entirely dependent upon the topography of a given area. Generation is divided into smaller units, the upper ones of which have a less predictable output.

2.2.7) The best example of the practical utilisation of water power in series in the Island is in Laxey. An authoritative study of the the Laxey wheel by Anders Jesperson reveals that the wheel would turn through a drought at 12.5% of its rated 185hp. i.e. a minimum output of 17KW and a maximum 137KW. This is not a particularly impressive figure in itself but if the wheel's original water supply were to be utilised fully from where it feeds the "Lady Isabella" to sea-level this becomes a respectable 0.5MW during winter months. The theoretical winter yield of the catchment area above the wheel. (which included Glen Roy, Glen Mooar and Laxev Glen), is 1.2 MW if the water is used in series.

2.2.8) Another increasingly popular method of feeding hydro-electric generation is to use an upper and lower reservoir, with the generation plant in between. Water is ran off into the lower reservoir at peek demand periods and then pumped back up to the upper reservoir using power generated by other methods at low demand periods. In this way, demand upon conventional plant is stabilised. It can also act as the energy reservoir for intermittent alternative energy sources, such as wind. The energy from these sources can be used to pump the water to the upper reservoir as and when they are available.

2.2.9) This is not strictly a renewable energy system, since it takes more energy to pump the water from the lower to the upper reservoir than is generated by running it down in the first place. Whether the deficiency is made up by additional water collected from the catchment area in meantime, is entirely dependent upon the particular site.

2.2.10) There is the potential to convert the Clypse / Kerroo Doo reservoirs into a two reservoir generation system during winter, when the reserve requirement is lower, and peak electricity demand is greatest. Water would be restored to the upper (Clypse) reservoir during night-time using diesel generated electricity. This system could up to 1 MW for around 3 hours a day.

2.2.11) The building of another dam or even two above the existing Sulby reservoir would provide as significantly larger output, of a more sustainable output.

2.2.12) The use of these systems to satisfy peak demand would obviate the need for the expansion of diesel generation capacity, and would make more effective use of existing plant. Whether or not additional water entering the system would make up for energy losses in pumping the water is impossible to say at this stage, but it is unlikely that oil consumption would be decreased.

2.2.13) Wind power is now being considered seriously the world over, and practical wind generation units are now available "off the shelf". The most popular seems to be the propeller type, and their particular performance characteristics can be tailored to suit the prevailing conditions.

2.2.14) They seem to be most practical for direct generation when used in great quantity in areas where there is a steady wind, such as the American plains. Our own condtions are not quite so favourable, with our hilly geography causing gusting and sudden changes of wind direction.

2.2.15) This does not rule out their use, however, since they can be used for indirect generation by either raising water to be run through hydro-electric plants at will, or generating hydrogen for use in hydrogen fuelled electricity generation as it becomes more available. A suitable area for direct generation may be the western coast of the Island from Ballaugh through to the Point of Ayre. This would make use of a steady inshore prevailing wind.

2.2.16) Apart from the inconsistency of wind generation potential in the Island, windmills have a high visual impact, usually in a skyline position. It has also been reported that local noise is quite high. Although both prevailing weather conditions and the design of a windmill can significantly affect its performance, empirical guidelines indicate that to generate 1MW in a steady lOmph wind (an average wind figure for the British Isles) would require in excess of one hundred 60ft diameter windmills.

2.2.17) Several tidal generation schemes are in operation around the world, one of the most notable being at St. Malo, Brittany. Here, an exceptionally large tidal range (around 60ft) combined with a broad river estuary provide ideal conditions.

2.2.18) Although no such outstanding conditions occur around the Island, three sites stand out as being capable of worthwhile investigation. These are Derbyhaven, where the existing mole could be extended to form a tidal pool, The Sound, where a submerged pier could be built in the tidal stream, and the Point of Ayre, where a similar pier could be built. Tidal generation is also available from free standing generation units that can, essentially, be placed anywhere in whatever quantity is necessary.

2.2.18) Taking the Derbyhaven example, this site has excellent geology for the construction of a twin pool system that would yield a constant 1MW during mean tide conditions (the use of two pools means that generation is independent of the state of the tide). An added bonus is the creation of the much talked of yachting marina.

2.2.19) Although The Sound is geologically suitable, its potential output is difficult to ascertain, as is the ecological impact in a sensitive area. It would also remove a useful navigational channel for small craft.

2.2.20) The Point of Ayre would generate, within reason, as much electricity as was wanted depending on the size of pier built. The geology is not stable, however, and any construction in this area would provide an additional navigational hazard in an already busy shipping zone.

2.2.21) All these projects require a high capital outlay in relation to the resultant generation capability: Each project on its own would cost around the same as building a complete power station. The submerged piers' output is intrinsically linked to the state of the tide : There is no output at slack water.

2.2.22) Solar energy is currently enjoying extensive investigation by the world's scientists. Solar panels have been in use for several decades for heating purposes. Photo-clectric cells have been and are used extensively for isolated energy supply, and major breakthroughs have been made in the field of photosynthesis for energy purposes. It is not envisaged that photoelectric generation will ever make a worthwhile contribution to energy supplies, however, and photosynthesis will not be available until well into the next century.

2.2.23) Over the past two decades, several groups of researchers have produced various devices for generation of electricity from waves, and some small scale schemes are in operation. These schemes can have added benefits in terms of reducing coastal erosion in exposed areas. These schemes must still he considered as experimental at this stage, however, and capital expenditure is high against return.

See section 3.2

2.3) Generation using alternative fuels.

2.3.1) Coal has been widely used to generate steam for turbine driven generation. This method of generation is still used in parts of Britain and throughout the world, but on a much reduced scale to twenty years ago. World coal supplies well outstrip those of oil, and suppliers are highly competitive. The technology, although different to diesel, is not new and there are undoubtedly engineers within the M.E.A. and other employs in the Island with turbine experience. Turbines are very quiet in operation, and vibration free.

2.3.2) Coal can also be destructively distilled to form various grades of hydrocarbon gas and liquid fuel. Coal slurry has been considered for gas turbine fuel.

2.3.3) Other combustible solids can be and are used for the production of steam to generate electricity. Éire has both wood and peat burning power stations and one proposal for refuse incineration within the Island included the possibility of using flue gases for steam-electric generation.

2.3.4) Neither wood nor peat have anything like the calorific value of coal and so much greater bulk is required for a given output. Supplies are not necessarily cheap or plentiful and the exploitation of these fuels is environmentally very damaging.

2.3.5) Hydrocarbon gas can be used for internal combustion engines and, indeed, this type of engine pre-dates petrol and diesel engines. They can also fire gas turbines, or (unusually) used indirectly for steam generation. There is at this time, a better prospect of long-term supply than for liquid fossil fuels, and suggestions have been made that the Island could tap a proposed natural gas link between Scotland and Éire.

2.3.6) Although the medium term future for natural gas is good at the moment, if it becomes populatr on a wide scale for generation, its projected life span will he drastically shortened. If supplied by pipeline, there would he no choice of supplier, and so price negotiation would he difficult. Bulk import and storage are more complex than for oil.

2.3.7) Hydrogen gas can be used in the same manner as hydrocarbon gases, but its use as such is not widespread at this time. It is essentially non-pollutant, the combustion product being water. Since this can be readily dissociated to form hydrogen and oxygen once more, it makes it a truly renewable fuel.

2.3.8) As a combustion fuel, hydrogen has two major drawbacks. Since the combustion process involves combining a very light gas (hydrogen) with oxygen to form a single heavier gas (steam), the product is physically smaller than the primary constituents. The expansion required to produce motion comes purely from thermodynamic processes. This is just the opposite to hydrocarbon gases which are heavy, and change to several lighter gases upon combustion. The expansion is therefore physical as well as thermodynamic.

2.3.9) It also burns much faster than hydrocarbon gases (approximately 5 times faster than butane) making power delivery characteristics poor for internal combustion, and requiring higher delivery speeds for continuous combustion.

2.3.10) Hydrogen does not occur in great quantity naturally, and would have to be obtained by dissociation from one of its compounds, most specifically water. This makes the whole process a net energy consumer, and so hydrogen must be regarded as an energy medium rather than a source. Nonetheless, as such it provides a clean and flexible energy storage medium for inconsistent alternative energy sources.

2.3.11) Nuclear / steam / electricity generation has seen a proliferation in the past thirty years, with some countries (such as France) being very heavily dependent upon this form of power.

2.3.12) This system of generation was originally a sideline of, or justification for, the production of fissile material for the nuclear weapons programme. The generation side of the process is the same as for other steam turbine generators, but the steam is heated as a result of nuclear fission as opposed to combustion (except when it goes wrong).

2.3.13) Advocates of nuclear power claim that this is a non-pollutant energy generation system, with a long term future (World reserves of uranium ore have a comparable energy potential to coal reserves).

2.3.14) The reality is a history of accidents and cover-ups. Even the worst oil spillages, whilst causing vast amounts of damage in the short and medium term, are capable of being dealt with. This is not the case with nuclear discharges, which are extremely difficult to deal with, and the effects of which do not go away - they are cumulative. The source for nuclear fission power, uranium, is very expensive. It has extremely high costs associated with its handling, and dealing with spent fuel is an ever growing nightmare.

2.3.15) On a local scale, there is not a suitable site for construction of a nuclear power station, which require vast amounts of cooling water and secure handling facilities for both fresh and spent fuel. The cost of construction is astronomical.

2.3.17) On an international scale, nuclear technology is spreading into Third World military countries, where its use is nothing more than a stepping stone to the acquisition of nuclear weapons technology. As long as the developed world continues to expand its own nuclear power programmes, there is no legitimate argument for denying other independent nation states their own programs.

2.3.18) All nuclear power stations emit radioactivity. Although advocates are quick to point out that this accounts for a fraction of the mathamatical average radiation dose, workers within these sites receive most of their radiation from this source and the dosages in the vicinity are much increased. The amhient radiation level has increased significantly world-wide since 1945 due to the use of nuclear power for both peaceful and military purposes. Radiation is, in the context of human perception, cumulative.

2.3.19) Accidental spillages continue to occur even in the limited number sites currently in operation. An increase in number of sites operational will lead to a directly proportional increase in normal emissions, and an indirectly proportional increase in mishaps as the concentration of sufficiently qualified, conciencious and experienced personnel are diluted by an expanded programme.

2.3.20) The other source for nuclear power, deuterium fusion, would theoretically keep mankind in energy for 6 million years at presents levels of demand, but since the practical utilisation of this process remains a theory, it is hardly worth discussing.

See section 3.3

2.4) Fiscal methods for altering electricity demand.

2.4.1 ) Electricity demand could he reduced by an across the board increase in tariffs.

2.4.2) Excessive electricity demand can he discouraged by imposing a sliding scale tariff. Although domestic over-consumption would almost certainly be cut by a sliding scale of charges, it would be difficult to apply fairly to industry. Some operations are subdivided into smaller companies who would pay a lower rate than a single operation consuming the same amount of electricity. It would also discourage expansion, and existing large consumers would argue that their competitiveness would he severely impaired.

2.4.3) An "Energy Allowance'' system could be instituted, which would encompass all forms of energy with penalty rates for excess. The information is now available to "weight" household requirements for the size of the household. The result would he to improve the standard of living for households already conservatively.

2.4.4) Obviously, to confine the allowance to electricity would encourage more people to use electricity in preference to other forms of energy and would so be self-defeating in terms of limiting electricity consumption. It must also he coupled with charges for excess which would require either interfering with the costing structures of private enterprise, or taxing fuels. This may run into difficulties with the Customs and Excise agreement The scheme would be difficult to apply to commercial consumers without the use of in independent "energy auditor".

2.4.5) If it is accepted that the greatest use of electricity is by commercial venture, then it follows that the greatest savings are to he made in this area. A scheme whereby commercial consumers are rebated for savings in consumption would dramatically increase the incentive for efficiency.

See section 3.4

2.5) Encouraging "off-peak" consumption.

2.5.1) For many years, the U.K. has operated "off-peak" tarrifs to encourage the use of electricity during the early morning hours. This is intended to encourage the use of storage heating units, and the use of non consumer interactive appliances such as automatic washing machines, tumble-dryers, and water heating, during times when there is surplus generation capacity, whilst removing the burden at times when there is high demand.

2.5.2) The use of storage heating will only reduce load if it means the transfer of electrical heating from another area. If people currently using another form of heating transfer to electric storage heating, the total burden of electricity demand is increased. Just how many domestic consumers would be willing to tolerate increased noise from automatic appliances in the home at night is open to question.

2.5.3) Other operations can be controlled automatically to use electricity at these times, such as the pumping of water between reservoirs. This presupposes that such activities are carried out in the first place.

2.5.4) Industry can use shift working to alter consumption patterns. Utilisation of machinery 24 hours a day can significantly increase a company's efficiency. It allows for increased productivity without site or plant expansion.

2.5.5) Such activities will only pay if there is more work than machine capacity / manpower can cope with in a normal shift. Finding personnel willing to work regular shift work can be difficult. To encourage firms to operate nightshifts in preference to day shifts would require the saving in electricity costs to outweigh the increased wage rates that invariably accompany shift work.

See section 3.5

2.6) Altering Government policy on population growth.

2.6.1) An immediate end to population expansion would, theoretically, cap the demand for more electricity. It would also serve to alleviate a magnitude of other problems that have resulted from a monumentally mismanaged and fundamentally flawed immigration policy. Growth has been artificially stimulated in one specific area, that of international finance. This growth has been achieved at the expense of, rather than in partnership with, more stable traditional industries.

2.6.2) The justifications for this statement are manifold, but would consume too much time and space within this document. To effect such a change would require a fundamental review of Government policy.

See section 3.6

2.7) Encouraging energy awareness within the community.

2.7.1) A campaign similar to that of the 1970's "Save It" campaign, directed at reducing base electrical demand could be launched. Encouraging people to spend less on unnecessary electrical consumption would have the dual effect improving the environment and keeping more money in peoples pockets. This would give them the opportunity to spend it ways that would genuinely improve their standard of living.

2.8) Import electricity.

2.8.1) Scottish Power have made an offer to import electricity via an undersea cable link. It is claimed that this will reduce tariffs. It would make existing power generation within the Island redundant, thus reducing pollution within the Island. The link's rating would be capable of meeting expanding electricity requirements into the next century.

2.8.2) The M.E.A.'s generating operations turned-over in excess of £19 million during 1991. Of this, some £5 million left the Island immediately in the form of fuel purchases. Of the remaining £14 million, it is impossible to say how much stayed within the Island's economy. One thing is clear, however, except for wages to a small group of standby employees, all monies for electricity purchase would leave the Island's economy immediately. Most of the 100 strong workforce would be redundant, with no prospect of employment commensurate with their skills, if indeed, they can obtain any employment at all. The domino effect from the loss of spending within the Island is impossible to calculate, but it has already been made clear that oil prices will increase within the Island, and at least one importer may close down, with further repercussions.

2.8.3) The reliability of supply will decrease. The majority of power cuts within the Island are due to cable faults rather than generator faults. Since Scottish Power will be using the same distribution network within the Island, the risk of failure will be that which stands at present, compounded by whatever failure rate exists for the Scottish supply.

2.8.4) Scottish Power is heavily dependent upon nuclear generation. The Manx Government has stated its opposition to the operations at Sellafield, yet must accept that this plant is an intrinsic part of the British nuclear industry. To use nuclear power (and the grid system of distribution means that Scottish supplied electricity would contain such) would make such opposition farcical.

2.8.5) Scottish Power is a privatised company, with primary responsibilities to its share-holders. It is reasonable to suppose, therefore, that a cable link to the Island would have to turn profit after eight, and certainly within ten years of installation. Since the reported cost to Scottish Power of installing the cable and purchasing the M.E.A. totalled some £70 million, repayment costs would total approximately £12 million per year. Using the 1991 figure of 221,358,000 units of electricity sold, this means an average cost per unit of 5.42p to repay the initial expenditure, plus generation and other costs.

See section 3.8

Part Three CONCLUSIONS

3.1.) Increasing diesel generation capacity.

3.1.1) It can be seen that there are a variety of viable options in this respect. What must be borne in mind is that it is peak demand rather than base that must be catered for: The M.E.A. claims to he able to have a firm capacity of 50MW, yet other sources claim much more. In either case, it is possible to cater for a certain expansion in base demand with existing plant.

3.1.2) The question then becomes one of whether or not diesel generation has a future in the long term. It is difficult to say with great certainty just when liquid fossil fuels will dry up completely, since new fields continue to be found, but between twenty and forty years is a popular estimate. Long before this, however, it is reasonable to suppose that to extend the period for which these fuels are available long as possible, both producer and consumer governments will almost certainly, discourage their use by both increasing costs, and imposing stricter environmental regulations. This will conserve stocks for those applications where liquid fossil fuels really come into their own: Portable / mobile power units and polymer engineering.

3.1.2) If either the Peel or Ramsey power stations were at the very end of their useful life, and no alternative means of generation other than diesel were available, or if diesel generation had a long-term future, then the rebuilding of a station can be justified. As it is, however, diesel generation does not have a long-term future and, in spite of the M.E.A.'s statements on the matter, there is no reason to suppose that both the Peel and Ramsey stations cannot continue to generate efficiently well into the next century. By this time, the end will be in sight for diesel generation, and a forced transition to other means will be underway.

3.1.3) Given that localised environmental damage and less efficient power distribution would negate any benefits gained from operational streamlining, and when coupled with the above argument, the expansion of Pulrose is similarly an unfavourable option.

3.1.4) Within the next twenty to thirty years then, an alternative to generation by diesel for the Island must be identified, and a program initiated. As an interim option, the most econornic option for satisfying any imperative need for diesel generated electricity would appear to come from the high speed diesels.

3.1.5) Whereas these may or may not be as fuel efficient as low speed sets, and whereas they may or may not be as noisy, it must he remembered that any shortfall between supply and demand that they are required to make good will only occur for a few hours a day during a few weeks of winter. The problems of attenuating noise and vibration of isolated units is considerably easier than that of attenuating the cumulative output of those units at one site.

3.2) Increasing generation capacity through alternative energies.

3.2.1) It can he seen that the only reliable alternative energy sources for direct generation for the Island are the hydro-electric and tidal generation schemes. Existing drinking water reservoirs cannot make a significant contribution to generation because of their small capacity and the conflicting demand for water. This does not mean that these systems cannot he extended to form useful plant, however.

3.2.2) All alternative energy schemes require a high capital outlay for a small return in generation capability. Once established, however, their limited supply of energy is extremely cheap, and environmentally friendly.

3.2.3) Tidal schemes are capable of making a similar contribution, all year round, with similar capital costs.

3.2.4) Wind power has a contribution to make, hut more likely as a server for hydro-electric schemes.

3.2.5) It has been demonstrated that the intensive use of small-scale hydro-electric generation would yield enough energy to supply 10% of the peak demand of 56MW within the next five years; hardly an insignificant contribution.

3.3) Generation using alternative fuels.

3.3.1) There are three realistic options here: Natural gas, peat and coal. Coal has the longest future and is capable of being refined into liquid and gaseous fuels.

3.3.2) Although technically viable, peat should not be considered, since coal is a more economic and cleaner fuel.

3.3.3) Since gas engines have the capability to be adapted to burn different grades of fuel, this makes gas powered generation a long term viability from the technical viewpoint, being able to utilise both natural and coal gas.

3.3.4) Again, although fossil fuels have a long term future from the technical viewpoint, it is likely that current moral obligations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions will develop into a more formal international treaty. Whereas the Island could argue for the retention of this capability due to our limited capabilities for alternative energy use, it is difficult to envisage our being able to expand this capability or continue existing fossil fuel generation without demonstrating a commitment to total energy efficiency and pollution reduction.

3.3.5) The use of coal derivative fuel or natural gas should only be adopted, therefore, as replacements for existing diesel powered generators as the need arises. This would allow plant to be chosen that used state of the art technology for long term use in the 21st century.

3.4) Fiscal methods for reducing electricity demand.

3.4.1) Any across the board increase would leave many households already living on extremely tight budgets in a poorer condition, and so this in itself is not an option.

3.4.2) The "energy allowance" scheme is related to energy consumption in general and will be looked at again in section 4

3.4.3) A sliding scale of charges should make people more conscious of their electricity consumption at the domestic level but should not be applied to industry. Although capable of being effective initially, the rebate scheme would not be effective for new ventures and is capable of being manipulated. An independent energy audit would allow industry to use electricity at extremely competitive rates for efficient use but would be penalised by a higher tariff for exceeding the allowance. Reassessment would he available at any time.

3.5) Encouraging off-peak consumption.

3.5.1) At the domestic level, there is very little to be gained from this since the 1991 census report shows that electric heating is used by a mere 7.6% of households use electric heating as the main form of heating. There is little else in the domestic household that would make any significant use of off-peak electricity.

3.5.2) The current situation in Manx industry is such that there is a surplus of machines to men, and a surplus of men for demand. This is the exact opposite to the conditions to justify nightshift work on any large scale, and it is not likely to change for some time to come.

3.5.3) It is reasonable to conclude that the use of off-peak generation will not he justified in the Island.

3.6) Changing Government policy on population growth.

3.6.1) Given the abject failure of this policy to deliver its promises or achieve its objectives except within the covers of one-sided government reports, the argument for this is very real. Increased turnover has been matched by increased expenditure. Countless millions of pounds have been taken out of the Island by the boom economy. Manx people were left severely disadvantaged in the housing market. Due to the lack of training requirement and the inconsistent (to say the least) application of work-permit regulations, they have been left disadvantaged in the job-market as well.

3.6.2) As was inevitable, we are now entering a recession, and the expenditure will not be continued to be supported. There is nothing lasting to show for the boom, and in spite of claims by Government to the contrary, the finance industry is not providing the stability that was envisaged by its advocates.

3.6.3) It is felt inevitable that Government will resort to yet further forced expansion in an attempt to maintain the flagging economy, hut to succeed in the face of recession will mean offering such financial incentives so as to render the expansion without benefit.

3.6.4) Through the lack of any form of protectionist fiscal economy, local produce and services have been usurped by imports due to the production / consumption imbalance.

3.7) Encouraging energy awareness within the community.

3.7.1 } Two decades ago, Europe faced an oil crisis. In the U.K., a highly successful "Save It" campaign drove home the message of energy economy. Far from suffering, people benefited from reduced expenditure. Once the immediate crisis was over, however, complacency set in and we now consume more energy per person than ever.

3.7.2) Recycling, whilst not an immediate imperative in the same sense has become increasingly popular, as have calls for increased public transport facilities to reduce traffic. This demonstrates that environmental and energy awareness is establishing itself within the community.

3.7.3) In the U.K., the privatisation of the electricity networks has introduced a profit motive that has led to the encouragement of consumption as opposed to its reduction.

3.7.4) In Mann, the objective of the M.E.A. as a government department is to provide a service, not make a profit. In spite of this, the M.E.A. has just announced a profit of £4 million.

3.7.5) Figures indicate that even without population growth, electricity consumption would have increased over the past ten years. Without detailed analysis, exact reasons cannot be given, but there are a few obvious examples of the totally unnecessary expansion in the use of electricity both by domestic and commercial consumers:-

i)Domestic. The proliferation of the video recorder. which is generally left on 24 hours a day. The increased use of remote sensing T.V sets, which have been reported to still consume 3/4 of the electricity when "switched off' as they do when in use. The proliferation of external lighting on premises, often left on throughout the night.

ii) Commercial. There must be very few businesses now that do not make use of a computer. While the computers themselves are not heavy users and can be switched off overnight, they are invariably accompanied by a monitor consuming as much electricity as a portable T.V. set. When it is considered that the vast majority of terminals are used for text entry only, the considerably more efficient L.C.D. monitors could be used instead. Floodlighting of premises has increased, frequently only for display purposes.

3.7.6) It seems both feasible and proper, therefore, that a campaign aimed at reducing electricity consumption would he effective when the incentive was to preserve the environment and obviate the need for a new power station. The effectiveness would be further enhanced when combined with economic incentives as described in section 3.4.

3.8 Importing electricity.

3.8.1) The importation of electricity will result in a substantial loss to the economy, up to £14 million directly, and even more indirectly.

3.8.2) There will be unemployment as a result.

3.8.3) Since off-peak electricity is not and is not likely to become widely used in the Island, there is no advantage to be gained here.

3.8.4) Given that the projected cost of repayment for Scottish Power's investment will be 5.42p per unit at 1991's consumption level, leaving a mere 3.15 pence to keep within the M.E.A.'s average tariff, it is unlikely that Scottish Power will be able to supply electricity any cheaper than the M.E.A. except through encouraging a significant increase in consumption. Since this means consumers spending yet more on electricity, and even more money leaving the Island, this is economically damaging for the Island.

3.8.5) This assumes that Scottish Power pays an arbitrary minimum sum for existing facilities and in-going business. If the generation network and in-going were sold at market value it is highly unlikely that Scottish Power would entertain the idea. It further assumes that the operation is debt free.

3.8.6) It is unlikely in the extreme that any supplier would contemplate the supply of electricity without having monopoly status. The retention of the Island's generation facilities by the M.E.A. or Government as security against poor service or a break of agreement over price structure is highly unlikely. In the event of a change of heart, and the Government wishing to re-establish generation within the Island, which is quite possible, the facilities would have to be repurchased, and the best market price for both plant and ingoing would be commanded by the vendor.

3.8.7) As described in section 2.8.3, the reliability of supply would be reduced by a cable link, as would the risk of an all-island blackout. Since all power would be coming from a centralised transformer plant, voltage fluctuations at extremes of the distribution network would increase.

3.8.8) Given Tynwald's stated opposition to Sellafield, and given that Scottish Power is a contributor to that plant's requirement, the Scottish Power option represents a blatant conflict of policy.

3.8.9) Scottish Power would supply nuclear generated electricity to Island, which is unacceptable to Mec Vannin, many other people in the Island, and many millions more throughout the world.

3.8.10) Whereas being technically viable, the cable option should only he considered if it ever became impractical to generate electricity within the Island. The 1991 Government Policy document states in paragraph 1.8 the commitment to, "Ensure the economic, efficient and effective provision of the services and infrastructure necessary to meet the Island's needs."

3.8.1 1) In the event of a cable link being seriously considered, the opportunity would have to he put out to tender, and all offers considered to ensure that both the best all-round deal was obtained.

SECTION 4

A POLICY

4.1) All options have now been considered, and a short-list of alternatives established. Until this point, each alternative has been considered in isolation. It is now necessary to look at the situation overall and establish a policy for the immediate and long term future.

4.2) It has become obvious from the preceding sections that it is not simplv a question of electricity consumption, but energy consumption that must he addressed; electricity is merely a medium.

4,3) Many of ourselves and certainly our children will witness a revolution in energy supply and usage. Whether or not this is a crisis is dependent upon our actions within the next decade. The revolution will he the result of a two pronged attack on the use of fossil fuels. One is the continued availability of oil. The other is the growing need to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide, an inescapable result of the burning of organic substances.

4.4) This being an international problem, the problem will occur whether or not we generate our own electricity. Current energy consumption both locally and world-wide can only continue to be supported by the widescale adoption of nuclear power or alternative energy. Even though alternative energies are theoretically capable of supplying the world's energy needs, in practice it is very difficult to achieve. Apart from the low efficiency of conversion for manv alternative energies (natural photosynthesis efficiency is around 0.5%) their prosecution to the level required would have profound and potentially damaging effects on our environment. To utilise anythingg close to the available energy, even if inefficiently, requires its manic pursuance e.g. turbines on toilet waste pipes.

4.5) There is a deep and well justified resistance to nuclear power, and all possible means to avoid its uae should be adopted.

4.6) A rather sobering fact is that the U.K. uses 1/20 of the 5TW (5x10-12W) of energy consumed world-wide. It is high consumers such as this that will suffer most in any energy crisis. If we are tied to it, we will suffer the same crisis.

4.7) The average consumption of energy per head for the U.K. is approximately 4000W. Total energy consumption for the Island is not available at such short notice, but average electrical consumption is around 560W. This figure becomes roughly 1300W when corrected for energy losses, and 2000W if a half hour car journey is included. This leaves very little for gas and coal consumption before we match the U.K. figure. Given that we have very little energy intensive industry, it would appear that we have a consumption problem. The surprise news that the M.E.A. wanted a new power station to supply future demand, and the latest reaction to the Scottish Power proposal demonstrate that the Manx government has no strategy for electricity generation, let alone energy.

4.8) This Island can be producing a reliable 5MW plus another 3MW during winter peak demand renewable energy within the next five years. This figure could be as high as 10MW by the early years of next century. This is a substantial amount in absolute terms.

4.9) This Island will never support present consumption from alternative energies alone.

4.10) The only way we will be able to justify the continued dependence upon fossil fuel to the rest of the world in the next century is if we have demonstrated that we have exploited alternative means to the best of our abilities, are using our energy efficiently and have minimised carbon dioxide emissions through the use of contemporary technology.

4.11) The alternative is to opt for a cable link which will result in a massive loss to the economy coupled with a campaign to increase our dependence on an electricity supply that will either be substantially reduced or totally nuclear within thirty years. In the intervening period, disruption to supply will have increased.

4.12) Many of the objections to the new Peel power station were based on a "Not in my backyard" outlook. This is understandable, and it is reasonable to expect the same consideration to be extended to the people of Scotland. The plain truth is that all current energy conversion techniques have some sort of impact on the environment, and if we want the energy we must accept that impact.
4.13 ) On this basis, and with reference to current Government Policy (1991 document, paras. 5.26 and 17.13), it is concluded that generation of electricity should continue within the Island, there being no practical reason why it shouldn't. This must be coupled with a decrease in consumption of energy per head through waste reduction and efficiency increases.
4.14) An energy study must be instigated immediately to establish:

i) Current average energy consumption per head.
ii) Establish an objective for energy consumption on a modular basis. There is undoubtedly material already available in connection with this.
iii) This objective for consumption should be as low as possible without compromising the health or safety of the populace.

4.15) The necessity, if any, to re-negotiate the Customs and Excise Agreement to allow the imposition of fuel taxes must be immediately undertaken so that the necessary mechanisms are in place at the earliest possible date.

4.16) Using the findings of the energy study, an energy allowance should be established for domestic consumers. Energy vouchers are to be redeemable against any fuel / energy purchase for domestic use, and quantified in MegaJoules. Spending over the allowance will be charged at retail price plus tax.

4.17) Commercial consumers should be audited to asses their efficient energy requirement, and a tax levied at the end of the financial year for exceeding the consumption allowance.

4.18) An intensive energy awareness and education campaign should be launched to make people aware of how they can most effectively save energy to benefit both the environment and their personal finances.

4.19) Building regulations should be revised to make effective energy saving construction techniques compulsory rather than optional.

4.20) Government assistance must continue for the upgrading of older properties for energy conservation purpose.

4.21) Public sector energy consumption must he audited in the same manner as the private sector. Obvious examples of inefficiency are street lighting and heating levels in certain Government offices.

4.22) The M.E.A. should be retained with a "break-even" economic policy, whilst allowing for capital reinvestment schemes.

4.23) To make more efficient use of our existing diesel generation capacity, one or more of our existing reservoirs should be converted to a two reservoir generation system with diesel-electric water recycling at night as a matter of priority.

4.24) All future planning and development / redevelopment must be on a modular basis with provision for localised generation from alternative energy and combined heating and power generation from backup fossil fuel generation. An authoritative study must he made as to the best choice of unit: Gas turbine or internal combustion. The priority must be continued fuel availability combined with operational efficiency.

4.25) The greatest potential for hydro-electric generation is between 300ft and sea level. As a part of any future sewage / drainage renewal scheme, storm water should he segregated and collected in localised sub-terranean reservoirs similar to those used for domestic water distribution. The buffer capacity / outflow rate should he balanced to, as far as possible, allow steady small output hydro-electric generation with outfall into natural drainage. This is eminently more suitable than the present system that has starved natural water ways of much of their volume in their lower courses.

4.26) Any sewage treatment scheme should incorporate a methane generation process.

4.27) All this effort is completely wasted if economic growth is encouraged by the expansion of industry, commerce and the associated population expansion. The economy should he expanded by the regeneration of an insular economy aimed at retaining as much money within the Island as possible. Expansion of existing production should come from increased energy efficiency, not increased energy consumption.

4.28) The net result of this policy will he an increase in retained wealth and secure long-term energy supply.

END

Sources:
Kaye and Laby's Tables of Chemical and Physical Constants - Longman
Report on Water (and Wind) Mills Volume 12 - Anders Jesperson
World Energy Conference (1978)
Resources and Man - M. King-Hubbert
Kempe's Engineering Yearbook - Morgan Grampian
Energy: The Way Forward - I.O.M.F.E.
Mliscellaneous othcr sources.


Back to Mec Vannin Homepage