Engineer: sooner we link direct to France the better
THE quicker Guernsey establishes a direct electricity connection with France the better it will be for the whole island, engineer and neighbour to the power station Mike Snelling has said.
Following the cable link failure in October and the subsequent reliance on diesel generators at the power station, the need for a two-cable link to France that would allow continued power transfer in the event of a one-cable failure has become ever more pressing, he said.
‘The numbers are very significant,’ said Mr Snelling.
‘If we are on 100% local generation, as could well be the case during parts of winter time, then you are going to be burning 5,000 tonnes of heavy oil every month.
‘This is burnt in generators which do not have scrubbers installed and so the emissions released are as good as untreated.
‘I do not take issue with GE stating it wasn’t economically viable to fit scrubbers because it isn’t if you are expecting to very rarely use the power station. However, nobody foresaw this kind of reliance.’
Currently a cable runs from Guernsey to Jersey, with three cables then linking that island with France.
Mr Snelling recently purchased an air quality tester online because he had growing concerns over the level of emissions in his locality, especially following the increased use of the power station.
While he has not compiled his data rigidly, more as and when, Mr Snelling records the wind direction, estimated wind speed and the level of particulate matter.
‘You cannot rely on this data alone, but it definitely indicates what concerned me enough to buy the monitor in the first place. I carried out the data collection quite casually but there is a definite correlation of results, as you may expect. When the wind speed is low and wind direction southerly or easterly the readings are largely higher, with some being extremely high,’ said Mr Snelling.
‘At times when the power station is in use and Vale Avenue is gridlocked the readings are above the EU recommended limit of 25 Ug per cubic metre. This is why I feel that as well as the power station, vehicle emissions require controls.
‘There should be a standard level which all commercial companies should have tested annually on their vehicles.
‘It is all well and good virtue signalling, but we must take action soon before it is too late.
‘The sooner there are two cable links in place the sooner we can begin to address emission levels. Many people do not realise that high inertial mass is needed to be able to give frequency stability when mixed with renewable energy sources.
‘When we have two power connections in place it will allow a much better basis for renewables to be exploited.’
Guernsey Electricity is investing more than £30m. in a replacement subsea cable to Jersey.
The replacement cable should be in service by the end of this year.
GE’s long-term plan is to connect the island directly to France, and its chief executive, Alan Bates, has said that the States’ revised energy policy and environmental aspirations, which are due to be published this year, will be pivotal to setting the direction for these investment decisions.