Members Login
    Remember Me  

Status: Offline
Posts: 311

Ben Cruachan, one of Scotland's tallest Munros, is the highest point in Argyll and Bute and its mist-wreathed peak is visible from miles around. Thousands of feet beneath this peak, deep in the belly of the mountain itself is a marvel of modern architecture and engineering Ben Cruachan Hydro-Electric power station. Construction of the facility began in the early 1960's but the station did not officially open until 1967.The central cavern excavated inside the mountain to house the huge electricity turbines necessitated the removal of nearly a quarter of a million cubic tonnes of rock and soil and is high enough to contain the Tower of London. Indeed the visitor to Ben Cruachan wandering along miles of underground tunnels and through huge chambers buried a kilometre beneath the earth's surface easily comes away with the impression of having wandered through one of those other great architectural wonders of the early to mid 1960's the futuristic headquarters from the set of a James Bond film!The station pumps water from nearby Loch Awe 360 metres uphill into a storage reservoir. The water is then passed back downhill through four turbines. Additional tunnels have been built through the mountain to collect surface rainwater and this now contributes around 10% of the station's power.Hydroelectric power is one of the cleanest, most efficient renewable sources of power available and Ben Cruachan can go from standby to full production in two minutes: generating 440 mega watts, around a third of Scotland's total monthly hydroelectric energy, enough electricity to supply a city the size of Dundee.Indeed (and perhaps unsurprisingly given that Scotland is a hilly country known to have its fair share of rain!) hydroelectricity is the country's single largest source of renewable energy, a fact that in a world where concerns over climate change and carbon emissions grow more pressing every day is serving to make plants like Ben Cruachan even more crucial sources of power today than they were forty years ago.At the recent All Energy Conference the UK's largest renewable energy exhibition in Aberdeen (with over 4000 delegates from all over the world attending: nearly twice as many as had attended previously) wave and tidal energy generation were very much at the forefront of the agenda, with no less than fifteen new wave and tidal generation devices from around the world being premiered, including several from Scottish companies.Scotland's first wave energy farm is being built off the coast of Orkney and is expected to start producing power within months. The ten million pound construction (considerably less cost than building an equivalent 'dirty' power facility) will be the UK's first commercial wave farm. Five hundred foot long Sausage-shaped generators called Pelamis, after a type of sea snake convert wave power into electricity which is then transported to the mainland. A combination of miles of wave-lashed coastline (some experts believe that every metre of Scottish coast has enough wave energy reaching it to power 100 homes!) and thanks to the North Sea Oil industry extensive expertise in at-sea engineering have made Scotland an ideal location to develop this kind of plant.Because sea power is more predictable than wind power it is thought that harnessing the oceans could be a major step forward in the development of sustainable energies. Environmentalists are very excited about this and many believe that Scotland is poised to become a world leader in the marine energy market.Another step forward in making Scotland potentially one of the world's greenest countries has come from an unexpectedly different source. Scottish secondary schools through an initiative developed by the Scottish Executive and Scottish Power are to show pupils 'An Inconvenient Truth', the climate change documentary made by former US-Vice President Al Gore.It is a bold move: recently a school board in Seattle voted to restrict showing the film to schoolchildren because it was 'too controversial'. However, Stephen Dunn, Scottish Power's director of human resources and communications, said 'We are happy to help the Scottish Executive put An Inconvenient Truth into the curriculum. The film offers hope on what we can still do to fight climate change and it tells the story simply and powerfully.'Some experts are predicting that Scotland will have the capability to meet as much as 40% of her energy needs from renewable, non-polluting sources by 2020 far ahead of the most optimistic projections for most developed countries. Coupled with the educational initiatives underway in her schools, it seems that Scotland can make a good claim to be attempting to nurture one of the most environmentally aware generations in the world today.So happy birthday Ben Cruachan, and here's to another forty years of helping to make Scotland's electricity among the greenest on the planet.Further


Page 1 of 1  sorted by
Quick Reply

Please log in to post quick replies.

Tweet this page Post to Digg Post to

Create your own FREE Forum
Report Abuse
Powered by ActiveBoard