Pylons – Blocking our vision in more ways than one.
Would you live next door, or anywhere near, a pylon? No chance, says John O ‘Connor the incoming head of Eirgrid, the company planning to erect 1300 large pylons stretching from Cork to Kildare. Why would he not like to live near a pylon one wonders?
“it would affect the residential amenities of the house. It would be visually intrusive if very close to you, it would cause shadows. A pylon very close to my house, I would prefer it not to be there.”
And so say all of us. He agrees that the pylons will devalue property too. It’s likely that he also understands, although it’s perhaps not clear enough to some vocal people in sections of the media and academia yet, that living in proximity to very high tension cables increases the risk of cancer.
Whether he does or he doesn’t many, many people do, and for all of these reasons they don’t want them anywhere near their homes. There are other reasons too, matters of principal, matters of property, matters of industry, economy. The plan appears to be as follows: Erect 1300 or so pylons, reaching up to 45m in height, across 14 counties. String high voltage cables along them. While this takes place allow non-national companies to approach Irish landowners, farmers who are struggling to survive, who are caught between subsistence CAP subsidies and predatory supermarket chains, and offer them large amounts of money to erect massive wind turbines on their land. Get them to sign confidentiality agreements so that not many people know this is occurring. Then, around the same time as the pylon network is installed begin erecting hundreds of massive wind turbines, and connect them to the new grid. Once this is complete sell the generated electricity to the United Kingdom and Europe, keep the profits and leave the stupid Irish living beside the pylons and the turbines. Tell them they are saving the planet, tell them that all the new industries which are coming to Ireland will need the electricity. Tell them anything, it doesn’t matter.
What is the Taoiseach’s comment on all of this? “It’ll create jobs.”
So, is it jobs we’re after? It’s not cheap, or free, electricity anyway, that much is clear.
If it’s jobs we’re after then the pylon and wind turbines plan shows up the glaring lack of vision in our current government. The pylons it seems block the view even before they are erected.
Pylons are needed to transmit power over long distances, because it must be pumped at high voltage, requiring heavy cables. Wind turbines must be connected to a grid to get their power to end users, and so heavy cables need to be run all over the countryside to connect them all up, if we erect them. Do we need to erect them?
Wouldn’t local, clean, generation be more attractive, less damaging, less expensive? It certainly would, but there would be one problem with it: You couldn’t export it and make massive profits. It would be for domestic use. For that reason our government isn’t really interested in powering Ireland in the best, cleanest, safest, cheapest way. They are interested in helping large businesses, mostly foreign ones, in making massive profits. Then when they retire with large pensions they have a good chance of getting a nice easy job as a consultant, or public speaker, or something else light on work and heavy on pay, with one of these companies. Bertie Ahern, ex Taoiseach, Chairman of the International Forestry Fund, is a good example of this.
If we are talking about power generation, job creation, energy security, landscape preservation, affordable electricity, safe electricity supply, then there are several options open to us that never enter the discussion in Ireland.
For example, In Germany there are hundreds of biogas plants using waste organic material such as slurry and grass, along with purposely grown fuel stocks, to generate biogas (methane) that is used to power engines and generate electricity plus a significant amount of excess heat. These plants are relatively inexpensive and highly efficient.
Ireland’s climate and conditions are particularly well suited for the implementation of this technology, since we have a large cattle industry with the associated large quantities of slurry and also very fertile land to grow fuel stocks. If Ireland were to implement biogas and build biogas plants countrywide in many towns employment would be created in the construction and operation of the plants. Local farmers would have an outlet for otherwise unwanted slurry and a source of income from same. Locally generated electricity would be more environmentally friendly, and combined heat and power systems could be installed with biogas plants to utilise the excess heat to heat buildings. Doing this would reduce the necessity for fossil fuels wherever installed. Biogas technology and plant equipment is readily available in Germany. Alternatively, Irish companies could manufacture some if not most of the equipment required, boosting light engineering firms. Power generated in this way would not require any pylons at all, as it would be locally generated and supplied. Good for Ireland, bad for greedy power companies. Whose country is it though, ours or theirs? This straight-forward, existing, option never makes it into the debate. How come?
Installing a pylon grid, or burying the cables, is a somewhat forward thinking plan. Future-proofing in a way. Is the future going to be wind-powered is the question?
At the moment, relatively quietly, there are at least two major energy stories playing out which look very likely to radically change our approach to power generation on planet Earth. The first is the area called LENR, or ‘Low Energy Nuclear Reactions’. This used to be called Cold Fusion and was discredited when it first appeared in 1989, mostly by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The field has continued however and now several companies are approaching market readiness with LENR technology. Companies and bodies including Toyota, Mitsubishi, NASA and even, ironically, MIT, have all confirmed it is real and valid and that an energy generation revolution is just about upon us which will make our current energy grids and dirty unsightly and dangerous power plants obsolete. It will also render large wind projects obsolete, which in turn means we will not need any pylons. If this is true then herein lies the solution to the pylon controversy. What does our government say about this? Nothing, because they likely have never heard of it, because they are incompetent and have the vision of a school of goldfish.
This technology has been reported by several mainstream news sites including Forbes, Oilprice and lately CNN ireport and Wired.co.uk. Below are a list of links which give an introduction to this potential game-changer. It may be pie in the sky, but respectable scientists and institutions say it isn’t. If it isn’t then a forward-looking country seeking to improve the way of life of all who live in it, who care for the environment and nature, who don’t care for pylons, should look into it as a possible solution which would neatly solve most of our most pressing issues: recession, energy, CO2 and pollution, pylons.
This site contains over 1000 scientific papers on the subject of LENR.
The second exciting prospect was reported on in The Financial Post of Canada on January 14th 2014, under the following headline:
BlackLight Power, Inc. Announces the Game Changing Achievement of the Generation of Millions of Watts of Power from the Conversion of Water Fuel to a New Form of Hydrogen
The article details the workings of Blacklight Power’s technology, including the following seemingly-impossible statement:
Using readily-available components, BlackLight has developed a system engineering design of an electric generator that is closed except for the addition of H2O fuel and generates ten million watts of electricity, enough to power ten thousand homes. Remarkably, the device is less than a cubic foot in volume.
These claims sound outrageous, and require a close look at the website of this company to determine if there is any substance behind them. Looking at their website one finds a section with independent third party test results, with the full result reports available. The reports make for interesting reading, as they confirm what BLP claim. It appears as though BLP have a breakthrough energy device which is clean, small, cheap and safe.
If this technology were utilised in Ireland we would not need pylons, anywhere. We could in actual fact remove the ones that are already in place, creating employment and salvaging the valuable copper and steel, and replace the entire grid with small locally produced generation capacity.
The implications of these energy sources becoming available are enormous. The economic boost of a nationwide project to replace our power generation and scrap the old system would go a long way to helping us climb out of recession. The economic boost that cheap energy would give to industry across the boards is almost unmeasurable as it would reduce the cost of operation and transport massively. The potential stimulus to the economy in terms of innovation and new businesses would also be massive, as the enormous number of applications are explored and developed.
In a direct democracy ideas like these can happen. Policy is not dependent on corporate lobbying, astronomical consultancy fees or incompetent politicians. Rather it is open to all citizens to take the initiative, seek out the best ideas, spread the information, take part in the formation of national policy by becoming involved, by initiating legislation and projects, by presenting your idea and letting the facts speak for themselves, by putting it to the vote.
All these things may never happen. Certainly they will never happen while Ireland is run as it currently is, with government in bed with big business. But they could happen, if we have the will and the nerve to make them happen. At the very, very least we should explore these options, we should be open to new and seemingly unbelievable information, because if we are not, if we keep believing the lies, keep trusting that it will all be ok, that ‘They wouldn’t do that’ we will end up by the side of the road, dispossessed, homeless and broke in a rich country looted and destroyed by greedy, visionless men. We can do better, we know we can.
DDI wish to create the possibility for ideas to be examined and for the best to be implemented, as decided by the people of Ireland, together, for the benefit of us and of our beautiful country. We will shortly be circulating a request for policy ideas and initiating a policy development process. We intend to find the best solutions for Ireland, by asking the Irish people what direction we want to go in and examining all the options. The future is up to us all, and it can be as bright as we make it.