The Anonymous Widower

How Norway Will Keep Britain’s Lights On

This is the title of an article in today’s Times about the building of the North Sea Link, which is described like this in Wikipedia.

The North Sea Link (also known as North Sea Network Link or NSN Link, HVDC Norway–Great Britain, and Norway–UK interconnector) is a 1,400 MW subsea high-voltage direct current electricity cable under construction between Norway and the United Kingdom. It is a joint project of the transmission system operators Statnett and National Grid plc and is due to be completed in 2021.

To put the size of the North Sea Link into context Hinckley Point C nuclear power station will generate 3,2000 MW, so we get 44% of the power reliably for as long as Norway’s hydro-electric power system functions.

The Times article also lists other interconnectors in which National Grid are involved.

  • 160 MW system (1961) – 100 MW – co-owned with the French.
  • 2000 MW system (1986) – 2000 MW co-owned with the French.
  • IFA2 – 1000 MW co-owned with the French
  • BritNed – 1000 MW co-owned with the Dutch.
  • NemoLink – 1000 MW co-owned with the Belgians.
  • Viking Link – 1400 MW co-owned with the Danes.
  • ICELink – A possible 1000 MW link to Iceland.
  • A possible second connection to Norway
  • A possible second connection to the Netherlands.

In addition, there are other links like FABlink and NorthConnect, where National Grid don’t have an interest.

It’s not all importing of electricity, as recently because of troubles with their nuclear plants, we’ve been exporting electricity to the French.

As a control engineer, I think all of these interconnectors are sound investments, as Europe can mix the erratic sources of wind, wave, tidal and solar with the steady outputs of nuclear, coal and hydro.

This Wikipedia article called Wind power in the United Kingdom says this.

The United Kingdom is one of the best locations for wind power in the world, and is considered to be the best in Europe. Wind power contributed 11% of UK electricity generation in 2015, and 17% in December 2015. Allowing for the costs of pollution, particularly the carbon emissions of other forms of production, onshore wind power is the cheapest form of energy in the United Kingdom In 2016, the UK generated more electricity from wind power than from coal.

So back wind up by steady sources from the UK and Europe like nuclear and hydro-electric, when the wind stops and all is well with the lights.

And of course, as many of these interconnectors are bi-directional, when we have excess power, countries in Europe who need it can import it.

Who sits like spider in the middle of this web? – National Grid of course!

All those, who think that coal is a good idea, should be made to sit on the naughty step.

 

 

 

February 20, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Are You Annoyed By Noisy Trains At The Bottom Of Your Garden?

I have just found this document on the European Parliament web site, which is entitled Reducing Railway Noise Pollution.

It is a fascinating document and this is the abstract.

12 million EU inhabitants are affected by railway noise during the day and 9 million during the night. This study lists measures, funding and regulations to reduce it. The introduction of modern rolling stock will lower noise most significantly. In the short run, the replacement of cast iron by composite brake blocks on rail freight cars is most important. Developing a regulation scheme for a staged process towards low-noise rolling stock is the heart of a rail noise abatement strategy.

Many of us in the UK, would think that we suffer badly from the noise of trains, but it would appear that Germany and other Central European countries suffer badly from all freight trains passing through. The Rhine Valley which has over 400 freighs trains a day, suffers badly from noise.

So how can we reduce noise?

  • As the abstract says new rolling stock is the best way to reduce noise and many of our trains have been replaced with new or refurbished ones in the last few years.
  • The report says that most (approximately 75%) of UK freight wagons have disc brakes or composite brake blocks. So that is good.
  • In my view one of things that gets most complaints is noisy and smelly diesel locomotives, like the dreaded Class 66 locomotives. They may be liked by the freight companies, but they are not favourites of drivers and those living by the railway. More friendly types of diesel locomotives like the Class 68 are starting to appear and it can’t be too soon.
  • Surprisingly, with electric trains, pantograph noise is a problem. I’d hand that and any other aerodynamic problems over to the engineers in Formula One and aircraft design. I have read that Bombardier’s new Aventra will be very clean aeodynamically, which must make for a reduction in noise.

Let’s hope that these small improvements continue to reduce the noise by trains.

The report also says this about physical noise barriers.

Noise barriers are a visual intrusion, particularly since they are a target for graffiti; they have a high cost, and cause problems for track access. Their effectiveness depends on their absorption properties, their height, and the proximity of the barrier to the noise source and/or to the receiver.

I am not a fan, as they ruin my taking of photographs.

 

 

 

July 9, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Help From The Germans

I want to go to Sudbury today, so to find the times of the trains, I tried to look them from Shenfield to Sudbury on the National Rail web site.

But the site was having an off day.

So I used the alternative of the Deutsche Bahn web site.

Shenfield To Sudbury By Deutsche Bahn

Shenfield To Sudbury By Deutsche Bahn

As you can see it worked. As it does with all European trains!

So if you want to go from Zaragosa to Geneva say, it will give you the route and details.

It even has Llanfairpwll station in the database and looking up the journey to there for Cologne, it even estimates twenty-five minutes for the walk between St. Pancras and Euston.

It is a very comprehensive free service.

 

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

What Game Were Corbyn And Milne Playing?

To sabotage the Labour party’s support for Remain, as I detailed in For The Female Of The Species Is More Deadly Than The Male, seems to me a very strange thing for Seamus Milne and Jeremy Corbyn to do.

Most commentators felt that by voting Leave, it would put the country into a recession. Other commentators have stated that the EU needs the UK as a balance to Germany.

My father old me about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Hitler and Stalin , which he felt was two equally bad regimes supping together. To him, there was no difference between the extreme left and the extreme right and let’s face it Stalin’s Russia was as bad at killing people as Hitler’s Germany.

So in some ways to me, this seems like two of the hard left , have deliberately aided those to the right to remove the UK from the EU.

Perhaps, they are hoping that this will cause the EU to collapse!

And who would benefit from that?

Vladimir Putin.

I hope I’m wrong.

Certainly the pair of them have destroyed any credibility the Labour Party had left!

 

June 26, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , , | 8 Comments

I Will Just Carry On

I feel this morning, just like I did on the 2nd May 1997, which was the day Tony Blair became Prime Minister.

I was slightly apprehensive then as to what is going to happen, as after John Major’s government had fallen, I wondered what a left-wing Government would do to the economy.

But I feel that just as John Major and Kenneth Clarke left Blair an economy that worked, I believe that David Cameron and especially George Osborne have left the country in a state to live with or without the EU.

I was very much for staying in, but since the vote only one large company has expressed regrets as this article in the Daily Post, which is entitled EU Referendum: Airbus assessing impact of ‘disappointing’ Brexit vote, details.

But I am an Englishman and especially a London mongrel, with genes stolen from all the best parts of Europe.

I grew up with stories from my parents and others of the Blitz, in the midst of some of the worst air pollution, any child has ever had to endure.

Since then, I lived through the bombings of the Irish troubles and although I wasn’t in London for the bombings of the 7th July 2005, I know many who were. Perhaps the biggest terrible event, that happened near me was the Moorgate Tube Crash of 1975, which was less than 200 metres from where I lived in the Barbican.

Londoners will do what they always do in times of troubles and that is just carry on! It’s in their genes.

My genes from the Tailor of Bexley, did for a few hours about running, but my solid Devonian genes, told the others to wait and let’s see what happens first.

I said that David Cameron and George Osborne have left the country in a good state for the future.

For years, this country has been too centralised, so giving power to the regions and big cities will become Osborne’s legacy.

If Manchester wants to develop its trams or city centre, or build offices, housing and factories, that should be Manhester’s decision and should not be decided by the dead hand of London.

Scotland’s new bid for independence, is a good thing, and it is a consequence of devolved government.

I can for instance envisage a time in say a hundred years, where London becomes a powerful independent city-state. In the nineteenth century we had several of those; Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds, London, Manchester and Sheffield.

That model for the UK will return.

If you look at the most powerful country in Europe; Germany already has that model with Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, the Ruhr cities and Stuttgart dominating.

But look at France! What Paris and the elite want, they impose!

Perhaps the biggest consequence of Brexit, will be a desire for the people of Europe to have more independence from their own Central Government.

 

June 25, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , , | 2 Comments

Developing Rail Systems In Eastern Europe

I like travelling in Eastern Europe and so I was pleased to see this article in the International Rail Journal, which is entitled EU funds help to unlock rail’s potential in Eastern Europe.

It gives a long summary of the rail projects in the East, which I think are essential to improve the prosperity of the area.

I’m looking forward to the day, when I fly to Helsinki and take a ferry to Tallinn in Estonia.

From there I will take Rail Baltica through the Baltic States to Warsaw and Berlin, before taking a direct train from the German capital to London.

You might ask, what benefits spending money in Eastern Europe does for the UK other than opening up tourism for those who like travelling on trains?

The roads of Eastern Europe are clogged with trucks bringing exports and imports all across Europe.

One of the aims of these projects is to get freight on rail. As the last time I went on the M25, there seemed to be loads of East European trucks, surely freight trains through the Channel Tunnel will cut the numbers.

The other large aim is to link Eastern Europe better to Western Europe and help loosen the economic ties to Russia.

March 16, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Will We Vote For Cameron’s Deal On Europe?

I don’t know the answer and there are probably only a couple of people who can predict the result with any certainty.

I’ve just looked at the reliable Odds Checker web site for their Brexit Referendum Betting Odds and as I write this post, it is 5/2 On to stay in and 5/2 that we’ll leave.

If I vote and I probably will, as the first time I voted was for the EU Referendum of 1975, it will probably be to stay in, as I am a committed European in habit and probably culture.

I also think that we should be in a reformed Schengen Area and that we need a more flexible payment system.

Schengen is an ideal, but in the modern world of terrorism, international crime and immigration pressures, it falls down a deep hole.

What could replace it, I know not, but surely we can find something, that is better than what we have now.

Flexible payments will happen, as cash is replaced by contactless payments on cards and mobile phones.

How long will it be until I look at my credit card statement and see real -time transactions in pounds despite spending them all over the world in euros, dollars and Ruritanian groats?

We will be moving inexorably towards a World electronic currency, that appears to everybody as the one they want to use.

Let’s face it, it’s only software.

The currency merging will be led by the Anglo-Saxon English-speaking triumvirate; the US/Canada, the UK and Hong Kong/Singapore.

The Eurozone will be unable to keep the Euro out of this juggernaut.

Europe’s biggest problem is migration and despite what you read in the Mail and the Express, because of our island status, we are isolated from the worst excesses of uncontrolled migration into the European Union.

I think it will have further effects after it destroys Schengen in its present form.

There are elections in a lot of European states soon!

Will we see fruit-cake parties campaigning against more migration and for a renegotiating of their relationship with the European Union, as David Cameron has just done?

You bet we will!

David Cameron has truly opened Pandora’s Box!

 

February 20, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Putin And Europe’s Far Right

There was a headline in The Times yesterday of Le Pen’s party asks Russia for €27m loan.

So I searched for Putin’s links to far right parties and found this article in the Guardian entitled We should beware Russia’s links with Europe’s right. This is said.

It sounds like a chapter from a cheesy spy novel: far-right European party, in financial trouble, borrows a big sum of cash from a hawkish Russian president. His goal? To undermine the European Union and to consolidate ties between Moscow and the future possible leader of pro-Kremlin France.

Europe isn’t the problem! It’s Putin and Russia!

February 20, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Do The English, Scots And Welsh Work Better Together Than The Belgians, Dutch And Germans?

If we take these two groups of three countries, they all have different railway companies, but do they illustrate a problem in the relations between various EU countries.

I know my experience of travelling between these six countries is mainly on the trains, but to travel between England, Scotland and Wales by train, is a lot easier than travelling between Belgium and The Netherlands and the Netherlands and Germany is full of little difficulties.

Strangely if you add France into the mix, that is generally as easy as the three home nations.

Judging by my experience in Europe, there are many ways that the Scots and Welsh could make the English unwelcome. But they don’t, except for the Seniors Bus Pass, although the same Senior Railcard is valid everywhere in the UK.

I know we’re all part of the same country, but I think where something has to be agreed across a border, we generally find a solution that is acceptable enough!

In the important area of rail ticketing, there seems little agreement on common standards between Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany.

Imagine how difficult it would be if ScotRail had different ticketing rules to say Virgin.

Surely, if Europe can’t get its act together in something like rail ticketing, how can it get something important like dealing with migrants working?

 

October 13, 2015 Posted by | Travel, World | , , , , | Comments Off on Do The English, Scots And Welsh Work Better Together Than The Belgians, Dutch And Germans?

Is The Greek Tragedy Approaching The Final Act?

According to this report on the BBC, Greece has now voted through the bailout conditions, so that they can get further money from its debtors.

But will this be the end of the tragedy?

I doubt it!

The Greeks voted for the end of austerity in the last General Election and they have now got Austerity Plus. But they do get to keep the euro!

That sounds like a recipe for trouble!

If there is a lesson in the story of Greece and the euro over the last few years, it is that you must not fiddle the books, bribe the electorate and you must above all keep the finances in order and hopefully balanced.

Did anybody tell the Greeks that euros don’t grow on trees in Brussels?

At least the sun won’t go on strike! This is the one light at the end of the tunnel.

July 16, 2015 Posted by | Finance, World | , , | Leave a comment