Archive for Hydro head

More power, give me all the power damn you!!

Posted in Envrionment view, green with tags on 10/11/2009 by bimbo78

OK The Problem
We all know that the UK needs to reduce it’s carbon emissions and beyond that the whole world needs to. In the grand scheme of things the UK is but a drop in the ocean when it comes to population, energy production and therefore carbon. If we became a carbon neutral country it will be fabulous but if other countries with greater populations and flourishing economies do not see things the same then we are indeed screwed, no pressure!

Sooooo….83% of global CO2 emissions are from energy production. Of this energy 82 % is generated from fossil fuels. The top 10 emitting countries emit 2/3rds of the world CO2 emissions, these being:


But this is all skewed because of population. The US has 5% of Worlds population but emitted 20% of CO2 in 2007, conversely India has 17% World population and emitted 5% of the CO2. (International Energy Council)

So yes, indeed we need to sort this out globally.The UK is supposedly cutting emission by 20% by 2010, (that’s next year!!) 34% by 2020 and 60% by 2050. The latter two targets are legally binding with the government of the day supposedly being taken to court if we don’t reach them, (yeah right!!). Anyway, I’m getting side tracked. We need to reduce emissions and the aim of this blog is to suggest some of the lesser known alternatives. Not for big scale production but I think people need to take more responsibility for the amount of energy they consume which should involve lots of smaller scale stuff, (microgenration)to reduce the demand on the grid. This is especially important with growing population and greater demand generally caused by the increase in popularity of the electric car, (I’m just guessing that will happen). And I just want to talk about some newer bigger scale stuff too.

Righty dokey…
First Geothermal, not a very ‘alternative’ alternative I know but in the UK I think it could be regarded as being a little out of the ordinary. I remember hearing about geothermal power in Cornwall when I was first at uni, (the first time around) . Basically the rocks under parts of Cornwall have a steep thermocline, (they get hot quickly just below the surface). Anyway, it looks like things have moved on a bit and Eden Projectwant to install some geothermal to power the domes and 4,000 homes. This will involve drilling two 4,000m, (yes that’s 4km) wells to get to the hot rocks. Not as naturally occurring as the old Iceland geothermal but well done all the same. This would be good as a community based scheme I imagine.

Wave power, not to be confused with tidal power. The action of waves is used to turn turbines in various guises. I wrote a paper on this freaking years ago so was very interested to see how things have progressed. Pelarmis is the major addition made by the Scottish company Pelarmis I mentioned in my previous blog. Pelarmis is a long hinged thing and as it moves up and down in the waves it’s hinges bend pumping hydraulic fluid into it’s turbines. Pelarmis now have a commercial wave power station in Portugal called Agucadoura Wave Park , 3 snakes make enough power (2.25 MW) for 1,500 homes. There are lots of smaller scale wave power jobbies such as the duck and the LIMPET which I wrote about in the aforementioned paper , I’ll comeback and finish this off in the next few days as i would love to see if things actually have progressed.

Ahh now small-scale hydropower which encompasses Pico, Micro and Mini. Pico refers to tiny tiny schemes generating less than 5kW which isn’t really enough to run a modern day house. Pico hydropower has quite a following, it is quite an effort to go to produce such a small amount of electricity but go for it guys. It is very important in some rural developing areas, (I should put a reference here but I actually do just know this shit) where instead of hydro turbines waterwheels are used, (yes she had to get to in somewhere). Now a UK charity makes a low cost efficient waterwheel called a Pedley Wheel. Now not meaning to blow my own trumpet but, Spencer (2006) did a study into the feasibility of using old watermill sites in the UK for the production of electricity. I focussed on very small scale stuff and developed a methodology for assessing whether a site would be feasible or not. I’m not going to link to it as I think Cranfield actually own the rights to it, (I won’t vent my anger here at that, actually I shall email Cranfield and ask if I can link to it). But let’s just say some of the larger sites really are feasible especially if newer more efficient water wheels are installed. It should be made easier for such installations to take place especially where in-river schemes are proposed.

Just for Spex.. the solar chimney, I believe this would only really be feasible in hot countries. Basically a big chimney is built in a hot area, air is sucked in and warmed up in a kind of greenhouse at the bottom of the chimney, it rises up the chimney dragging in more air at the bottom and turning the turbines. Another dude has proposed the Solar Nozzle, (tee hee I said nozzle) which sort of works the same but instead of a chimney a cylinder with a wide base and narrow top is proposed, this works the same but the air rises quicker due to the narrowing. Ok not at all feasible in soggy old Blighty and they supposedly aren’t particularly efficient anyway. But as small scale producers in very hot countries it may in fact work. The Botswanan government is thinking about giving permission for the first ever commercial solar chimney power plant

Currently Botswana only has 1 coal fired power station producing 132 MW of electricity, the rest of their energy is purchased from South Africa. The Botswanans have discovered that there one and only power station does not really operate very efficiently at high summer temperatures so have decided to take complete advantage of what their country has to offer, this being high temperatures and 70% of the country being taken up by the Kalahari desert. So they have plenty of room, high temperatures and little history in a particular type of energy production, they have therefore ploughed loads of dosh into research. It’s almost a fresh faced innocence that I think should be applauded. They have taken advantage of what their country has to offer and very much seized the day. I think we could learn a thing or two as we are an island with over 19,000 miles of coast when the bigger isles are included; and also an estuary with the second highest tidal range in the world you’d think we really would be able to harness tidal or wave power to some degree. I know the tidal barrage is controversial but really if there is no freaking salt marshes left because of rising sea levels what on Earth have we actually achieved by not letting the barrage go ahead. I wrote ages ago about a scheme called ECOSTAR that could possibly generate 25% of the UKs demand for electricity!!

But what about using these of ordinary chimneys and cooling towers…., as the air isn’t be constantly replaced at the bottom the chimney and therefore not a great deal of pressure will be generated I’m not sure this will be enough to turn a turbine with an electric motor attached although i will do some more research I promise.

I’ve done a tad more research and I can’t find any info on using normal chimneys I’m afraid Spex. It would seem if it could be used then it would have been by now. I did however find all that stuff on Botswana that I have just added to my dear little blog.

Once again that is enough but I will add more about wave power soon.


I have the power!!!

Posted in Envrionment view, green, water with tags , on 09/11/2009 by bimbo78

Hey hey!! Bimbo is back and full of beans. Not literally, if I was going to be literal I’d have said Bimbo is back and full of pita bread and banana smothie but that doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. I did have some beans in my pita bread earlier but I’m certainly not full of them, and anyway…….

Right ok in a return to form I’m about to get really cross about something but it involves energy production instead of cancer, (now I bet that sentence has never been used before in the whole history of everything).
The go ahead has just been given for 10 new nuclear power stations, (see the little linky). The governments arguments (Department of Energy and Climate Change) are just all wrong, so yes we need to do something now I do agree with that. We need to reduce our carbon emissions big time. One way is to give this freaking country a shake-up. We need to reduce our energy consumption but no government is ever going to encourage that too much as it would involve making unpopular decisions, can you remember the furore created by getting rid of non energy efficient light bulbs?! If such a fuss can be caused by something that I had been whinging about for about a decade then imagine what the following will do to the small minded idiotic Daily Mail readers. New build homes should all now have to adhere to the code for sustainable homes not just certain councils, and the code needs to be stronger. Solar water heating should now be fitted as standard, solar panels for lighting where feasible, wind turbines in new housing estates, (and none of your NIMBY crap, you use electricity it has to be produced somehow so deal with it and personally I think wind turbines are beautiful). So in my humble dizzy opinion that should have been the first step in making us a more efficient country in the first place, but no the governments decides it’s first action will be to commission new nuclear power stations that take a freaking eon to build and make safe. The first should be producing electricity by 2018 and that’s if it’s fast tracked!! What also worries me is if we go further along this path there will be no way back. The cost of nuclear is huge and it is a very long-term commitment. I can’t see renewables featuring much if this addition to our nuclear family, (see what I did there!) happens.

Secondly instead of ploughing money into nuclear how about a bit of cash for the lesser known alternatives? What about Pelamis, (the sea snake hisssss) And my personal favourite which if perfected could actually be an end to coal/oil and nuclear power stations; harnessing the power of Osmosis. In this country with our huge amount of coast line it could just be immense. It would also mitigate the problems that the proposed Severn barrage would cause by blocking the estuary as no barrage would be needed, they can even be built underground to keep the NIMBYs happy, not that I am pandering to them. Also and I do appreciate that the effect of this will be minimal but how about installing small scale hydropower, (yes indeed I had to get hydrogeekery in somewhere) on sewage work outfalls. Even if it just powers the plant itself, that’ll reduce power consumption and should also bring water bills down. And while you’re at it submergible hydro generators should be more accepted, I can’t get into the details of this as it would clash with my job but .. actually no, I’m going to save this for another blog as it is my particular forte, bet you can’t wait!

Credit where credit is due however, Ed Miliband has suggested changes to the planning system to make it less tedious although this does incorporate planning for all types of power station.

Ooh that felt good. I apologise if it is lacking the usual Bimbo edge but give me time.

Waterfalls R us

Posted in water with tags on 25/09/2008 by bimbo78

Waterfalls I have seen. I will add more pictures when I have scanned them in. I will also update the list as it is not yet finished.


1. Ystradfellte- There are 4 waterfalls here, listed below.
· Sgwd Clun Gwyn
· Sgwd-yr-Eira
· Sgwd Gwladus (v.impressive)
· Neath River Falls, (unnamed)

2. Pistyll Rhaedr Falls, (got a crazy natural arch in the middle of it.

3. Swallow falls
4. Aber Falls, (v.impressive)
5. Devils Bridge falls

6. Gulfoss (this really does have to be seen to be believed)

7. Skogafoss

8. Seljalandsfoss

9. Svartifoss (V.famous. Would have been more impressive but been quite dry, lots of crazy basalt columns)
10. Hundafoss (on way to Svartifoss)
11. Magnúsarfoss (on way to Svartifoss)
12. Thjofafoss (on way to Svartifoss)
13. Foss á Siðu (literally “waterfall at Siðu”) Seen from the side of the road. Very long and narrow.
14. Faxifoss, (the first waterfall we saw in Iceland, not high but impressive)

15. Öxarárfoss (within Thingavar national park, it had been dry so it wasn’t that impressive)

16. Fagrifoss, (my favourite, on the way to Laki up some crazy ass track)

17. Plus various others we saw on the side of the road but can’t remember their names.

New Zealand
18. Bowen Falls
19. Stirling Falls

20. Dunns River Falls (Jamaica, stunning)
21. Umauma Falls (Hawaii on the big island)
22. Wailua Falls (the ones on Kauai not Maui)

Still to do
Dettifoss, (Iceland)
Godofoss (Iceland)
Angel Falls

Pictures all my own, don’t copy them or I’ll send the boys round.


Posted in Envrionment view, water, weekends with tags , , on 06/09/2008 by bimbo78

Iwatched the rain get worse again. My colleague from upstairs came and informed my boss that the surface water was starting to gather in Tenbury Wells again. As the Environment Agency have refused to fund any sort of defences in Tenbury my boss is putting a case together to try and get them some flood warning instead. So off he went in a 4×4 wearing my waders and my high viz jacket. The rain continued. There were was a steady rain with some really sharp intense bursts. Bond and Dr Bob left whilst I waited for Bob to come and pick me up. He was coming from near Bodenham and had to come through a road that I had just heard was shut on the local radio. Anyway he made it and we set off.

Well I got home ok but I did have to push a poor Morris Minor out of a flood at Cotheridge, (between Bromyard and Worcester on the A44). We watched it shudder to halt as we were waiting to go through the water, this has become the common occurrence on the roads of Herefordshire and Worcestershire recently. A rare show of manners as you wait patiently for the cars coming towards you to drive through the water in the middle of the road as the middle of the road is generally higher. Then some twat in a 4×4 will overtake the waiting cars and whizz through engulfing the cars coming the other way and forcing them to deeper water. This happened when I was getting out of the car to help the Moggy. I ran towards the Moggy in me wellies to help the poor hippy chick push her beloved car out whilst the cars behind sat doing bugger all waiting for us to remove the car. Yeah thanks for that. Another chap who was behind us helped too and so did Bob but that was it. We ran up the road pushing the Moggy as the chick desperately tried to start it up. No such joy, but the other chap who had stopped seemed to know a thing or two about engines and so stayed with her. Ahh knight in shining armour.

The road from Bromyard to Worcester was nowhere near as bad as 20th July last year but the council have done quite a bit of drainage work on it since. I have been informed that the road from Burley Gate to Bromyard was awful and just as bad as last year. Now this is probably because Herefordshire council haven’t got the money to spend on drains.

We got home and I texted my mates in the local area to make sure they were ok. All were fine. TH had been out in South Wales that day but had got back ok. Mer was fine and Bond got home ok. I texted my boss who rang me getting very excited. He was still in Tenbury taking dip readings on the Kyre Brook. This is the smaller of the two watercourses in Tenbury. It was literally lapping at the banks and going to come over. The police had tried to evacuate him but he was having none of it and told them he was trying to help Tenbury so they left him. The Kyre Brook flows at one end of the high street in Tenbury and the Teme is at the other. They both flood and then meet in the middle. This is the 4th time in 18 months that Tenbury has been engulfed! I left my boss to carry on dipping. I should really text him again to make sure he is back home as the road between Tenbury and Bromyard got shut.

The flooding worries continue as the pluvial flood subside and the rivers begin to rise. Last night on our way home from the pub the Severn was lapping at its bank top outside Browns. I should imagine it is now out. Well where on earth are the Environment Agency going to put the demountable barriers. They have started the permanent barriers so the trees have been chopped down and there are big mounds of un compacted clay where the barriers would normally go. We spotted the EA out last night looking at the situation. There is no room between the Severn and the clay so basically most of this is going to get washed into the river. There you go Upton have some red clayey water. I will nip down and see what is going on in a bit. I’m such a geek!!

Talking of rain

Posted in water with tags , on 05/09/2008 by bimbo78

It’s been chucking it down here all day. I’m currently at work in Bromyard and having flash backs to my journey home on 20th July 2007. Why does this stuff always happen on a Friday?! I have stayed at work because the Met Office informed me the heavy rain was due to stop at about 2ish so in my hydrohead brain deduced it would be best to wait till home time to go home as the surface water would have dissipated by then and the rivers wouldn’t have had chance to rise too much.

Well it’s still raining and really doesn’t show much signs of stopping. I think the intensity may have decreased a bit. Mu boss has just driven to Tenbury Wells to get some snaps of the Teme and Kyre Brook taking over the town again, if indeed they do. The Environment Agency have refused to give Tenbury Wells nay funding for flood defences even given last years fiasco.

Oh what I said about intensity, forget it. The rain sounds like it is about to come through the roof. Arghhhhhh

Dinner Party Continued

Posted in Envrionment view, water with tags on 13/06/2008 by bimbo78

Ok number two on my fantasy dinner guest list is Sir Joseph Bazelgette. I’ve written about him before on my previous blog let me just dig it out…..
I obviously just got distracted by my old blog and have spent the last half hour looking at all my old stories, most of them were written when I was in the midst of MSc hell. Anyway it turns out I only wrote a little bit about Sir JB but here it is, it is refereeing to a green list that was published n the guardian back in Feb 2007.

Obviously Jospeh Bazelgette should have been higher too. Only at number 19 for wiping out cholera in London AND it is down to him that London has so many big green parks. Admittedly he wiped out Cholera by accident, he thought it was due to miasma or bad air. As the London streets were full of sewage he thought it was the smell of this sewage that was causing people to get ill and not the open sewers leaking into the water system. He designed the massive sewage system that is still used today. All of the sewers converged in several big tunnels, (the Victoria and Chelsea embankment being two of them). Where the sewage was pumped along the side of the Thames by (at the time) the worlds biggest steam engine. It however, was pumped back into the Thames BUT it was below the tidal limit so the effect was huge. The Thames was cleaner and the people of London no longer had contaminated water to drink. He has a little statue on the Victoria Embankment which everybody ignores so next time you are there go and see him, it is directly opposite the exit to Victoria Embankment underground.

Hydro head hero

I know I’m a geek but Bazelgette had an amazing effect on the world. So he is duly invited to my dinner party.


Posted in Envrionment view, water with tags on 28/05/2008 by bimbo78

My boss has a raingauge and has just informed me that we have had the same amount of rainfall this May as last May. May 2007 wasn’t the wettest month on record in this area but the period May-July was and also the months June and July were the wettest on record. The law of averages tells me that we couldn’t possibly have a repeat of last year. On the other hand we have no idea what is happening to the climate at the moment. Is this freak weather or have we been in a realtively ‘dry’ period the past few decades or even the last century and this is a return to ‘normal’ weather. Or is it climate change, which has predicted warmer drier summers and wetter winters in this region so it doesn’t really make sense. But then again how can we predict what churning out all this CO2 will do to the atmosphere. Some German dude has recently released a model that says we will be fine now for 10 years, there will be no obvious rise in temeperature but after that we are in for a massive increase. I know myself that competer modelling is very subjective. What parameters did he use? Did he take into account the massive increase likley from China and India? (the IPCC emissions scenarios have tried to take this into account). Did he predict that the oil would run out so we would have to find another greener substitute for cars, planes etc..Who knows…All I know at the moment is it’s still chucking it down and i have a thunder headache which is being made worse by all the possibilities flying through my head.