This time we have Reviews of the visit to Renishaw, and of the September and October talks, photographs by courtesy of Michael Clinch of our Autumn Luncheon on the website version and finally a short article on the "Dynasphere" obtained from the South Western Electricity Historical Society. A video presentation accompanies this latter item on the website - let me know how you find this experimental presentation.
Seasons Greetings To You All.
Talk by Marcus Palmén
A talk by Mr David Kerr, formerly Chief Design Engineer of Sir Robert McAlpine given to Joint RPEC and SWEHS meeting held on 10th Oct. 2007 at Bristol.
Mr Kerr started by outlining the background. Much would be the result of work by the Severn Tidal Power Group, the Sir Robert McAlpine, Balfour Beatty, Taylor Woodrow and Alstom consortium. The first major study by Bondi produced EP (Energy Paper) 46 in 1981. A tripartite study, EP57 – 1989, costing £4 x106, defined the present scheme. A Definition Study was produced in 2002 for the DTI. If work started soon, the scheme could be producing power by 2017 – the La Rance Scheme at St Malo in northern France is already forty years old.
Addressing the technicalities he outlined the various options, showing that “ebb generation” was preferable to “flood” or “two-way”. Positioning proposals ranged from The Shoots, just north of the first Severn crossing at Aust, clear of significant shipping interests, right down to a north-south line slightly west of Minehead. The preferred scheme has the barrage running approximately NW from just south of Brean Down to Lavernock Point south of Cardiff, via Steep Holm. The anticipated annual output would be 17 TWh, representing approximately 5% of the UK total consumption, from an installed capacity of 8.64 GW. The barrage would make no contribution to the “renewables” obligation of the UK of 15% by 2015, but could provide the whole 17 TWh of the next tranche to 20% by 2020, provided it is sanctioned soon. Electricity costs might be 6-7 pence per unit.
In 1989 the projected capital cost was £8 billion, rising to £14-15 billion by 2005, but re-estimating would be essential because of various changes since then. The environmental lobby feels neglected, but in 1989 50% of the cost of the estimates was spent on seventy environmental studies. While there would be environmental negatives, there would be a significant number of positive outcomes. There may be an environmental balance achieved, but all issues would be studied. He emphasized that openness is a prerequisite for success in a project of this magnitude.
The barrage would be able to carry a road and rail link if factored in early, but there are doubts about this. The generator cells would necessarily lie in the deepest parts of the channel and would be formed from prefabricated caissons 80m square. These would house the total of 214 generators driven by 9m diameter bulb turbines, a tried and tested 40MW design. After a 4 year re-appraisal, construction would take six years and 200,000 man-years, providing 35,000 jobs at the peak and leading to between 10,000 and 40,000 permanent new jobs in the region around the estuary. [There is some background information, replicating some of Mr Kerr’s illustrations, at www.reuk.co.uk/UK-Hydro-Power-Stations.htm .]
Mr M Hield opened the questions, giving us a considerable résumé of his studies of the scheme. He covered issues of sediment, debris, flooding, sourcing materials and wind-power. The remaining questions were very wide ranging, mainly on environmental issues, from sourcing and transporting the fill material to the effects of the works on the local infrastructures, but also to considering alternative generation methods and, last but not least, the question of finance and ownership.
The definitive answers to many would depend on studies yet to be determined, but Mr Kerr was very clear that everything that could be affected would be considered. He was clear that the majority of the materials required would come by sea, the volumes rendering vehicular or rail transport uneconomic.
As John Conybeare, Chairman of RPEC, chaired the meeting, David Hutton, Chairman of SWEHS, proposed the vote of thanks to which the audience of 84 responded enthusiastically.
Dr. John Purves was born in Taunton in 1870 and gained a degree at Edinburgh University. He established an electrical consultancy at 82 Queen Street, Exeter in 1908, then establishing the Paignton Electric Light & Power Company with his brother William. In the 1920's he devised hydro-electric schemes on five rivers on Dartmoor for Torquay Corporation, which were turned down by Parliament after representation by the Dartmoor Preservation Society. In the late 1920's he was a major player in the setting up of the West of England Electricity Company.
In the 1930's he designed the "Dynasphere", which could be described as a spherical motorcycle. This he did with the assistance of Douglas's of Kingswood, Bristol, the nearest motor-cycle manufacturers at that time. His experiments were conducted on Weston Sands and elsewhere. The Dynasphere was virtually a motor-cycle carriage, which ran in spherical rails with its weight causing it to roll along the ground. The contraption was steered by tilting it with the carriage remaining upright. He died in 1952 at Cullompton.
These video clips were filmed in 1932 at Weston-super-Mare (Brean Sands) and at Brooklands.
Videos on websites present difficulties unless specialised more expensive video servers are employed. Experimentally this is a different way of presenting videos and photos on the site. You may have to download a free flash player and you should also have Windows Media Player 8 or later installed on your computer.
Clicking on the play symbol in the player that has appeared provides an automatic run through all the clips for those with broadband. If you do not have broadband then please click on "options" button and untick the autoplay feature. You can then hightlight any individual clip in the left hand table and just play that clip. When the mouse is over the clip a yellow text box appears with information - the figure in brackets at the beginning of the text give the size of the clip in kbytes - you can use this to decide how long the clip will take to appear.
The video clips (with exception of the static photos) are provided with sound which can be adjusted with the second slider at the bottom of the player. Do listen to the Lady's (Purves's wife?) instructions and you will finding driving the Dynasphere a cinch! We are beholden for this form of player to the Media College dot Com. Details of this available at www.mediacollege.com/flash/media-player.