Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Alternative energy proposals wreak havoc with boating traffic

Crown Estate approves new wave and tidal installations  

Last week, two separate proposals from opposite sides of the Atlantic drew the attention of groups that represent the interests of boaters.  Although very different issues, they illustrate what happens when a body makes decisions in the absence of input from all affected parties.


A case in point is the Crown Estate's eager approval of proposals by commercial ventures to explore wave and tidal energy installations. This is not a go-ahead but it is a nod in favour of continued development. What they failed to take into account is the precarious navigation in some of the chosen locations. The RYA, rightly so, and the ICC on behalf of Irish cruisers, are preparing arguments against such development.



England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland are densely populated areas with a high concentration of boating activity. It requires careful planning for introduction of renewable energy sources that won't disrupt what limited recreation is available. With such a prominent sea going heritage, it behooves the government and interested parties to cooperate in finding solutions that do not cause more problems than they solve. Aside from the hazards potential, no one has yet been able to answer my question of how much and what type of energy is consumed to create one wave machine or one wind turbine and how much renewable energy produced and used will it take to make up the amount spent creating it? I think it's a logical question. I often get the deer in the headlights look when I ask it of the 'experts'.


Project sites and demonstration zones announced
Location
Project Sites/organisation
Demonstration Sites/organisation
England
Portland Bill (tidal current, 30MV) Siemens MCT
North Cornwall (wave) Wave Hub
North Devon (tidal current) Wave Hub
South Pembrokeshire (wave) Wave Hub
Northern Ireland
Strangford Lough (tidal current 20MV) Siemens MCT
-
Scotland
Stronsay Firth (tidal current, managed test facility, 20MV) EMEC
Mull of Galloway (tidal current, 30MV) Siemens MCT
Isle of Harris (wave) EMEC
Islay (tidal current) EMEC
Wales
Holyhead Deep (tidal current, 10MV) Minesto
West Anglesey (tidal current) Menter Môn



Source: The Crown Estate


The corn debate: US contemplates more ethanol in fuel E15


Meanwhile BoatUS is objecting to proposals to increase the content of biofuels in gasoline to 15% from the current 10%.  Marine engines are not able to withstand that much ethanol. Nor are they approved for such use. They are already experiencing increased wear of components and problems with blockage of carburetors even with E10. When the engines start cutting out putting lives on the line, is that when our regulatory bodies will respond appropriately to suggestions for introducing E15?

We should also mention that ethanol produced from corn crops is not doing the environment any good. Cutting down rainforest to grow corn commercially is a huge travesty that benefits very few and cannot possibly replace the fossil fuels consumed efficiently. The problems inherent in allocating food corn for fuel when people are starving and dedicating land with its attendant pollution and irrigation issues are just the tip of the iceberg.  An article in Forbes states that it is now clear to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that biofuels are doing nothing to help the environment. Let's not give in to the folks making money on corn crops in place of those making money on oil.

No one disagrees that alternative energy is an immediate need, but how much more harm are we going to do to the environment that we've already messed up with these environmental intrusions,and to our ability to interact with it?  Please take an active stance in supporting the people who are standing up and asking the tough questions before we make worse mistakes than we already have. 

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