17 February 2020
17th February and the club was delighted to welcome Chartered Engineer John Bowman, who is a mechanical design engineer with Orbital Marine Power Ltd.
John delivered an assured and fascinating look at the work of his company, which is developing innovative machines to harvest tidal power from the sea.
Orbital Marine Power Limited (formerly known as Scotrenewables Tidal Power) is credited with pioneering floating tidal stream turbines since the company’s formation in 2002 in Orkney, Scotland. Maximum tidal flow is experienced close to the surface, which is why floating turbines provide higher efficiency in power capture compared to machines permanently fixed closer to the sea bed.
Much development work was carried out with a first prototype machine, which paved the way for the current ‘Orbital 02’ project which is being built at the moment. It was pleasing to hear that much of the work is being done in Cupar and Dundee. It is an impressive machine: 74.2 metres long, 26.3 metres draft, effective turbine diameter 20 metres to produce 2.4MW output at 11,000 volts ac.
John’s talk also covered political and environmental considerations. Millions in crowd funding were raised from just about all parts of the UK, together with European support - with mention made of the European Marine Energy Centre. The potential for change as a result of Brexit, clearly a concern, with £10 - 15M of funding at risk.
Although viewed as a beneficial ‘low carbon’ technology, It was interesting to learn of environmental concerns likely to result from the extraction of large amounts of energy from tidal flows. It is thought there could be, not necessarily positive, implications for tidal effects in coastal areas.
The audience clearly found this topic of immense interest, with many questions asked as John developed his story. It was greatly appreciated and properly reflected in an appreciative vote of thanks proposed by Malcolm MacDonald
13 January 2020
Speaker on 13th January was club member Anthony Lodge who took as his topic Kellie Lodging; a late 16th century house which stands on the north side of the street at 23 High Street, Pittenweem.
It is rubble-built and consists of a three-storeyed main block with a wing projecting to the street. The wall head of this main block was raised in the 17th century and the windows have been enlarged. The upper part of the wing oversails on a heavy moulded corbel course similar to that on the east tower of Kellie Castle.
Tony has researched the history of Pittenweem, and provided fascinating detail on the Lodging. We heard too of the origins of Pittenweem from the granting of permission by King David 1st of Scotland, to the Prior of May, to set up a new town - and to its history of fishing, coal mining and salt production.
The Lodge was the town residence of the Earls of Kelly and was thought to have been built by them. However Tony’s research has led him to the belief that it was probably the Ingles of Tarvit who were responsible. We heard of evidence that a subsequent sale was via David Scott of Scotstarvit to Alexander, Earl of Kelly.
It was entertaining to hear something of the social history of Pittenweem - some famous residents like clockmaker John Smith and families such as the Abercrombies, Oliphants and Erskines - along with images from mediaeval times and the stories behind street names such as Coal Wynd and Water Wynd.
Altogether a most interesting and entertaining talk and, following questions, George Hunter proposed an appreciative vote of thanks.
06 January 2020
6th January saw the club back after a pleasant Christmas and New Year break. Another Christmas Post has been delivered; close to 11,000 cards collected, sorted and delivered around the East Neuk coastal villages and £2,628 raised for good causes. Organiser Malcolm MacDonald expressed thanks to all who helped make it possible.
Speaker for the evening was club member George Hunter, who entertained with photographs and the story of a visit made to Russia - St Petersburg and Moscow, with a river cruise in between.
We were treated to excellent pictures, especially of the many churches and cathedrals: of the Kremlin and Lenin’s mausoleum too. The colourful domed roofs and the ornately gilded interiors - something of icons - were particularly impressive. These are characteristic of Russian Orthodox christianity, yet seeming very out of place in a country known for its communist and totalitarian recent history.
It is clearly hugely popular now as a tourist destination. George commented that visitors were organised - even regimented, yet all done very efficiently. He also spoke of the cleanliness everywhere and of the absence of beggars on the streets. Interestingly the many blocks of apartment, which are huge by any standards - perhaps 1,000 residents - are all painted and colourful.
We heard something of the culture and history of the area; of the complexities of the Russian language - and even benefitted from a quick explanation of the Russian alphabet!
Following many questions a vote of thanks was proposed by Ian McBain.
02 December 2019
We were pleased to welcome Carolyn Bell as speaker at our meeting of 2nd December. Carolyn is a Technical Officer at Resource Efficient Solutions - a part of Fife Council.
Carolyn spoke about her work, which is focussed on care for the environment and specifically about the reduction, re-use, recycling and disposal of waste. We were treated to an eloquent, detailed and factual presentation of the work being done in Fife - and of the many challenges to come.
Figures for 2017 showed 55% of waste being recycled - 167,000 tonnes. Some 61% of waste has already been diverted from landfill. But that still leaves 39% as landfill and Scotland has a ‘zero waste plan’, requiring no more than 5% to landfill by 2025. It also includes a ban on biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill from 1st January 2021. The purpose of this is to reduce waste landfilled by directing residual waste to alternative treatment:
- To extract remaining resource value from the residual waste stream
In terms of waste management facilities, we heard that currently Fife has 11 recycling centres, 278 recycling points and 2 landfill sites.
As she progressed through her talk, Carolyn provided much interesting information about the concept of a ‘waste hierarchy’, the ‘circle of responsibilities’ for packaging materials and also Scotland’s Household Recycling Charter. Whilst many challenges clearly exist, it was nonetheless good to hear that progress is being made - and that clear plans exist in order to continue to make progress. It was fascinating to hear about the treatment of food and garden waste - the digestion process that results in useable compost - but also produces significant, recoverable amounts of heat. Carolyn was also encouraging with advice on how each one of us can contribute by reducing waste, by re-using and repairing or upcycling items where possible.
Altogether a most interesting talk on a very important matter - one that is critical for our planet. Following many questions, a vote of thanks was proposed by Steve Blaney.