In praise of cinnamon buns and hydro power

I’ve just discovered something quite wonderful. Apparently the smell of cinnamon buns has been shown to increase blood flow to the penis. Just joking! I mean, it is true apparently, but that’s not the wonderful thing I want to talk about. It was just a cheap shot to get your attention 🙂

Perhaps not quite as exciting as an erect penis but still pretty good is a community-led hydro project in Scotland which was launched last year. The village of Callander, in Stirling, has approval to build 36 run-of-river hydro power plants within Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. They’ve already built 11 which are now operational and generating electricity. The electricity is sold back to the national grid with the proceeds going to the community in Callander.

They raised £1.9 million in funding for the project and although this has to be repaid, they still anticipate making £3 million over 20 years which is pretty good for a small village of fewer than 3,000 people. It’s also expected to generate 1.3 – 1.4 gigawatt hours per year.

A run-of-river hydro scheme is not something I’ve heard of before and is different to the large hydro power stations I am aware of like Lake Tekapo in New Zealand and Snowy Mountains Hydro in Australia. This one is very sympathetic to the landscape and doesn’t involve creating dams or reservoirs. From what I understand, water is diverted from the river where it flows down a buried pipe, spins a turbine which generates electricity, and then returns to the river downstream. It’s explained in more detail on the community website: http://www.callandercdt.org.uk/proj-hydro.html

Both the rivers running through Aberdeen, the Dee and Don, I imagine would be good for schemes like this. Aberdeen seems to be so full of clever, thoughtful, diverse, and talented people that I’m sure it must have the man-power to get something like this off the ground. Indeed I don’t think I’ve ever lived anywhere before with such a lovely community feel to it and with so many people with all sorts of skills.

16 thoughts on “In praise of cinnamon buns and hydro power

  1. Cinnamon, mmmmmmmmmm and not for the possible effects, and ginger, and cardamons, and . . . . . but I’m getting diverted. That scheme looks good but others on rivers with fishing and good canoeing might meet more resistance?

    1. I don’t think it would have much, if any, impact on canoeing and fishing. It doesn’t divert the river, just some of the water in the river and a relatively small amount. Some of the water gets piped through a turbine and this is then added back downstream. I think it’s not that unlike the old water-powered mills that used to power bread-making factories.

      1. Thanks, Michael. It was your link that motivated the first paragraph of this post so I probably should have given you credit for the cinnamon buns. Thank you!

      2. Rachel, you’re welcome. There were other links on the same subject but that one was irresistible!

  2. Nice post. I always wondered if there was a viable alternative to the big dam projects we have built (and continue to build) here in British Columbia. You’ve made me hungry. i am headed out to buy a cinnamon bun(s). 🙂

    1. The large dam projects can produce more power but there are advantages to having more distributed power generation projects like this one. One reason is that the revenue is returned to the community. Another reason is that if there are lots of such things and the energy is used near the place of generation then it reduces the need for transmission lines which are costly to maintain and also to build.

  3. These hydro plants need a sufficient elevation difference (=> pressure at the turbine) to work. Do the Dee and Don have that in the vicinity of Aberdeen?

    I had always thought of the Don in particular as being on the flattish side, especially as it nears the Sea of Azov. 🙂

    The main argument for large reservoirs is smoothing out the annual water flow for both power production and irrigation, but these don’t really hold up to scrutiny. A few dams have already been removed in the U.S. at least, and hopefully there will be more to come.

    1. I’m not sure about the Don but the Dee originates from the Cairngorms and so there’s a steady elevation from Aberdeen into the Cairngorm Mountains. From Aberdeen to Ballater I think it’s about 40m. How high does the elevation need to be and over what distance?

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