The Anonymous Widower

What Happens When The Wind Doesn’t Blow?

In Future Offshore Wind Power Capacity In The UK, I analysed future offshore wind power development in the waters around the UK and came to this conclusion.

It looks like we’ll be able to reap the wind. And possibly 50 GW of it! 

The unpredictable nature of wind and solar power means that it needs to be backed up with storage or some other method.

In The Power Of Solar With A Large Battery, I describe how a Highview Power CRYObattery with a capacity of 500 MWh is used to back up a large solar power station in the Atacama desert in Chile.

But to backup 50 GW is going to need a lot of energy storage.

The largest energy storage system in the UK is Electric Mountain or Dinorwig power station in Wales.

  • It has an output of 1.8 GW, which means that we’d need up to nearly thirty Electric Mountains to replace the 50 GW.
  • It has a storage capacity of 9.1 GWh, so at 1.8 GW, it can provide that output for five hours.
  • To make matters worse, Electric Mountain cost £425 million in 1974, which would be over £4 billion today, if you could fine a place to build one.

But it is not as bad as it looks.

  • Battery technology is improving all the time and so is the modelling of power networks.
  • We are now seeing large numbers of lithium-ion batteries being added to the UK power network to improve the quality of the network.
  • The first Highview Power CRYObattery with an output of 50 MW and a capacity of 250 MWh is being built at Carrington in Manchester.
  • If this full size trial is successful, I could see dozens of CRYOBatteries being installed at weak points in the UK power network.
  • Other battery technology is being developed, that might be suitable for application in the UK.

Put this all together and I suspect that it will be possible to cover on days where the wind doesn’t blow.

But it certainly will need a lot of energy storage.

Gas-Fired Power Stations As A Back Up To Renewable Power

Last summer when the wind didn’t blow, gas-fired power stations were started up to fill the gap in the electricity needed.

Gas-fired power-stations normally use gas turbines similar to those used in airliners, which have a very fast startup response, so power can be increased quickly.

If you look at the specification of proposed gas-fired power stations like Keadby2, they have two features not found in current stations.

  • The ability to be fitted in the future with carbon-capture technology.
  • The ability to be fuelled by hydrogen.

Both features would allow a gas-fired power-station to generate power in a zero-carbon mode.

Carbon Capture And Storage

I am not in favour of Carbon Capture And Storage, as I believe Carbon Capture and Use is much better and increasingly engineers, researchers and technologists are finding ways of using carbon-dioxide.

  • Feeding to tomatoes, salad vegetables, soft fruits and flowers in greenhouses.
  • Producing meat substitutes like Quorn.
  • Producing sustainable aviation fuel.
  • An Australian company called Mineral Decarbonation International can convert carbon dioxide into building products like blocks and plasterboard.

This list will grow.

Using or storing the carbon-dioxide produced from a gas-fired power station running on natural gas, will allow the fuel to be used, as a backup, when the wind isn’t blowing.

Use Of Hydrogen

Hydrogen will have the following core uses in the future.

  • Steelmaking
  • Smelting of metal ores like copper and zinc
  • As a chemical feedstock
  • Natural gas replacement in the mains.
  • Transport

Note that the first four uses could need large quantities of hydrogen, so they would probably need an extensive storage system, so that all users had good access to the hydrogen.

If we assume that the hydrogen is green and probably produced by electrolysis, the obvious place to store it would be in a redundant gas field that is convenient. Hence my belief of placing the electrolyser offshore on perhaps a redundant gas platform.

If there is high hydrogen availability, then using a gas-fired power-station running on hydrogen, is an ideal way to make up the shortfall in power caused by the low wind.


Batteries and gas-fired power stations can handle the shortfall in power.

January 2, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , | 21 Comments

Foot Crossing Obstacle Detection Using AI

The title of this post, is the same as that as this article on the Railway Gazette.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Seibu Railway is to start testing a newly-developed AI-assisted warning system for detecting obstacles on foot crossings at two stations on the Ikebukuro Line in the suburbs of Tokyo.

The article is a detailed description of how the Japanese are using technology to make foot crossing a lot safer.

I can see applications for this technology not just on the rail system, but in other situations as well.



January 2, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

Green Ships Ahoy Along Vital Corridors

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on 7 News Australia.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Australia’s biggest miners are preparing for a day of reckoning.

Shipping accounts for two to three per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions so manufacturers and retailers are no longer just considering what appears in national targets.

The article then goes on to explain how the big mining companies are cutting their emissions.

This paragraph illustrates how important mining and shipping is to Australia.

Resources and energy earnings passed $300 billion for the first time in 2020-21 and will surge towards $400 billion in 2021-22, according to December figures.

Hence the big need for ships fuelled by lower carbon fuels.

January 2, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel, World | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Future Offshore Wind Power Capacity In The UK

I am building this table, so that I can get a feel for the electricity needs of the UK.

According to Wikipedia, on February 2020, there were thirty six offshore wind farms consisting of 2180 turbines with a combined capacity of 8113 megawatts or 8.113 gigawatts.

Currently, these offshore wind farms are under construction, proposed or are in an exploratory phase.

  • Triton Knoll – 857 MW – 2021 – Under Construction
  • Hornsea Two – 1386 MW – 2022 – Under Construction
  • Moray East – 960 MW – 2022 – Under Construction
  • Neart Na Gaoithe – 450 MW – 2023 – Under Construction
  • Seagreen Phase 1 – 1075 MW – 2023 – Under Construction
  • Dogger Bank A – 1200 MW – 2023/24 – Proposed
  • Dogger Bank B – 1200 MW – 2024/25 – Proposed
  • Dogger Bank C – 1200 MW – 2024/25 – Proposed
  • Moray West – 1200 MW – 2024/25  – Exploratory
  • Hornsea Three – 2400 MW – 2025 – Proposed
  • East Anglia One North 800 MW – 2026 – Exploratory
  • East Anglia Two – 900 MW – 2026 – Exploratory
  • East Anglia Three – 1400 MW – 2026 – Exploratory
  • Sofia Offshore Wind Farm Phase 1 – 1400 MW – 2023/2026 – Under Construction
  • Hornsea Four – 1000 MW (?) – 2027 – Exploratory
  • Rampion Two Extension – 1200 MW – Exploratory
  • Norfolk Vanguard – 1800 MW – Exploratory
  • Norfolk Boreas – 1800 MW – Exploratory


  1. The date is the possible final commissioning date.
  2. I have no commissioning dates for the last three wind farms.
  3. Wikipedia says that the Hornsea Four capacity is unknown by Ørsted due to the ever increasing size of available wind turbines for the project.

I can total up these wind farms by commissioning date.

  • 2021 – 857 MW
  • 2022 – 2346 MW
  • 2023 – 1525 MW
  • 2024 – 1200 MW
  • 2025 – 6000 MW
  • 2026 – 4500 MW
  • Others – 5800 MW

I can draw these conclusions.

  • Total wind farm capacity commissioned each year is increasing.
  • It looks like there will be a capacity to install up to 5000 or 6000 MW every year from about 2025.
  • If we add my figures for 2021-2026 to the 8113 MW currently installed we get 24541 MW.
  • Adding in 6000 MW for each of the four years from 2027-2030 gives a total of 48541 MW or 48.5 GW.

As I write this on a Sunday afternoon, wind power (onshore and offshore) is supplying 13 GW or forty-four percent of our electricity needs.

I have further thoughts.

Parallels With North Sea Oil And Gas

I was very much involved in the development of North Sea oil and gas, as my software was used on a large number of the projects. I had many discussions with those managing these projects and what was crucial in shortening project times was the increasing availability of bigger rigs, platforms and equipment.

Big certainly was better.

I believe that as we get more experienced, we’ll see bigger and better equipment speeding the building of offshore wind farms.

Reuse of Redundant North Sea Oil And Gas Platforms

Don’t underestimate the ability of engineers to repurpose redundant oil and gas platforms for use with windfarms.

Electrolysers on the platforms can convert the electricity into hydrogen and use redundant gas pipes to bring it ashore.

Some processes like steelmaking could use a lot of hydrogen.

Platforms can be used as sub-stations to collect electricity from windfarms and distribute it to the various countries around the North Sea.


Some processes like steelmaking could use a lot of hydrogen. And I don’t think steelmakers would be happy, if the supply was intermittent.

So why not produce it with giant electrolysers on redundant oil and gas platforms and store it in redundant gas fields under the sea?

A large store of hydrogen under the sea could have the following uses.

  • Steelmaking.
  • Feedstock for chemical manufacture.
  • Transport
  • Power generation in a gas-fired power station, that can run on hydrogen.

It would just need a large enough hydrogen store.

Energy Storage

This large amount of wind power will need a large amount of energy storage to cover for when the wind doesn’t blow.

Some of this storage may even be provided by using hydrogen, as I indicated previously.

But ideas for energy storage are coming thick and fast.

The North Sea Link To Norway

The North Sea Link is much more important than an interconnector between Blyth in Northumberland and Norway.

  • At the Norwegian end the link is connected to a vast pumped storage energy system in the mountains of Norway.
  • This pumped storage system is filled in two ways; Norwegian rain and snow and UK wind power through the interconnector.
  • In times of need, we can draw electricity through the interconnector from Norway.
  • It has a capacity of 1.4 GW.
  • It was delivered on time for a cost of around €2 billion.

It can almost be thought of as an international bank of electricity and is probably one of the most significant pieces of European infrastructure built in recent years.

There are also plans to build NorthConnect, that would connect Peterhead in Scotland to Norway.


It looks like we’ll be able to reap the wind. And possibly 50 GW of it!


January 2, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

More Train Companies Are Advertising Now

At the end of October, I posted Hull Trains Are Mounting A Big Advertising Campaign.

Today LNER are also advertising in The Times and these follow other companies like Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, Grand Central and Great Western Railway.

It looks like the Hull Trains campaign must have been successful.

January 2, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment