The Anonymous Widower

Could Norfolk And Suffolk Be Powered By Offshore Wind?

This week this article on the BBC was published, which had a title of Government Pledges £100m For Sizewell Nuclear Site.

These are the first three paragraphs.

The government is putting up £100m to support the planned Sizewell C nuclear plant in Suffolk, Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has announced.

The investment marks the latest stage in efforts to build the £20bn reactor on the east coast of England.

However, it does not commit the government to approving the project, which is still subject to negotiations.

My view of the proposed Sizewell C nuclear plant is that of an engineer, who used to live within thirty minutes of the Sizewell site.

  • Hinckley Point C power station, which is currently being constructed, will have a nameplate capacity of 3.26 GW.
  • Sizewell C would probably be to a similar design and capacity to Hinckley Point C.
  • Sizewell C would likely be completed between 2033-2036.
  • Sizewell B is a 1250 MW station, which has a current closing date of 2035, that could be extended to 2055.
  • East Anglia and particularly the mega Freeport East, that will develop to the South at the Ports of Felixstowe and Harwich will need more electricity.
  • One of the needs of Freeport East will be a large supply of electricity to create hydrogen for the trains, trucks, ships and cargo handling equipment.
  • Sizewell is a large site, with an excellent connection to the National Grid, that marches as a giant pair of overhead cables across the Suffolk countryside to Ipswich.

But.

  • We still haven’t developed a comprehensive strategy for the management of nuclear waste in the UK. Like paying for the care of the elderly and road pricing, it is one of those problems, that successive governments have kept kicking down the road, as it is a big vote loser.
  • I was involved writing project management software for forty years and the building of large nuclear power plants is littered with time and cost overruns.
  • There wasn’t a labour problem with the building of Sizewell B, as engineers and workers were readily available. But with the development of Freeport East, I would be very surprised if Suffolk could provide enough labour for two mega-projects after Brexit.
  • Nuclear power plants use a lot of steel and concrete. The production of these currently create a lot of carbon dioxide.
  • There is also a large number of those objecting to the building of Sizewell C. It saddened me twenty-five years ago, that most of the most strident objectors, that I met, were second home owners, with no other connection to Suffolk.

The older I get, the more my experience says, that large nuclear power plants aren’t always a good idea.

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

In Is Sizewell The Ideal Site For A Fleet Of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors?, I looked at building a fleet of small modular nuclear reactors at Sizewell, instead of Sizewell C.

I believe eight units would be needed in the fleet to produce the proposed 3.26 GW and advantages would include.

  • Less land use.
  • Less cost.
  • Less need for scarce labour.
  • Easier to finance.
  • Manufacturing modules in a factory should improve quality.
  • Electricity from the time of completion of unit 1.

But it would still be nuclear.

Wind In The Pipeline

Currently, these offshore wind farms around the East Anglian Coast are under construction, proposed or are in an exploratory phase.

  • East Anglia One – 714 MW – 2021 – Finishing Construction
  • East Anglia One North 800 MW – 2026 – Exploratory
  • East Anglia Two – 900 MW – 2026 – Exploratory
  • East Anglia Three – 1400 MW – 2026 – Exploratory
  • Norfolk Vanguard – 1800 MW – Exploratory
  • Norfolk Boreas – 1800 MW – Exploratory
  • Sheringham Shoal/Dudgeon Extension – 719 MW – Exploratory

Note.

  1. The date is the possible final commissioning date.
  2. I have no commissioning dates for the last three wind farms.
  3. The East Anglia wind farms are all part of the East Anglia Array.

These total up to 8.13 GW, which is in excess of the combined capacity of Sizewell B and the proposed Sizewell C, which is only 4.51 GW.

As it is likely, that by 2033, which is the earliest date, that Sizewell C will be completed, that the East Anglia Array will be substantially completed, I suspect that East Anglia will not run out of electricity.

But I do feel that to be sure, EdF should try hard to get the twenty year extension to Sizewell B.

The East Anglia Hub

ScottishPower Renewables are developing the East Anglia Array and this page on their web site, describes the East Anglia Hub.

This is the opening paragraph.

ScottishPower Renewables is proposing to construct its future offshore windfarms, East Anglia THREE, East Anglia TWO and East Anglia ONE North, as a new ‘East Anglia Hub’.

Note.

  1. These three wind farms will have a total capacity of 3.1 GW.
  2. East Anglia ONE is already in operation.
  3. Power is brought ashore at Bawdsey between Felixstowe and Sizewell.

I would assume that East Anglia Hub and East Anglia ONE will use the same connection.

Norfolk Boreas and Norfolk Vanguard

These two wind farms will be to the East of Great Yarmouth.

This map from Vattenfall web site, shows the position of the two wind farms.

Note.

  1. Norfolk Boreas is outlined in blue.
  2. Norfolk Vanguard is outlined in orange.
  3. I assume the grey areas are where the cables will be laid.
  4. I estimate that the two farms are about fifty miles offshore.

This second map shows the landfall between Eccles-on-Sea and Happisburgh.

Note the underground cable goes half-way across Norfolk to Necton.

Electricity And Norfolk And Suffolk

This Google Map shows Norfolk and Suffolk.

Note.

  1. The red arrow in the North-West corner marks the Bicker Fen substation that connects to the Viking Link to Denmark.
  2. The East Anglia Array  connects to the grid at Bawdsey in the South-East corner of the map.
  3. Sizewell is South of Aldeburgh in the South-East corner of the map.
  4. The only ports are Lowestoft and Yarmouth in the East and Kings Lynn in the North-West.

There are few large towns or cities and little heavy industry.

  • Electricity usage could be lower than the UK average.
  • There are three small onshore wind farms in Norfolk and none in Suffolk.
  • There is virtually no high ground suitable for pumped storage.
  • There are lots of areas, where there are very few buildings to the square mile.

As I write this at around midday on a Saturday at the end of January, 49 % of electricity in Eastern England comes from wind, 20 % from nuclear and 8 % from solar. That last figure surprised me.

I believe that the wind developments I listed earlier could provide Norfolk and Suffolk with all the electricity they need.

The Use Of Batteries

Earlier, I talked of a maximum of over 7 GW of offshore wind around the cost of Norfolk and Suffolk, but there is still clear water in the sea to be filled between the existing and planned wind farms.

Batteries will become inevitable to smooth the gaps between the electricity produced and the electricity used.

Here are a few numbers.

  • East Anglian Offshore Wind Capacity – 8 GW
  • Off-Peak Hours – Midnight to 0700.
  • Typical Capacity Factor Of A Windfarm – 20 % but improving.
  • Overnight Electricity Produced at 20 % Capacity Factor – 11.2 GWh
  • Sizewell B Output – 1.25 GW
  • Proposed Sizewell C  Output – 3.26 GW
  • Largest Electrolyser – 24 MW
  • World’s Largest Lithium-Ion Battery at Moss Landing – 3 GWh
  • Storage at Electric Mountain – 9.1 GWh
  • Storage at Cruachan Power Station – 7.1 GWh

Just putting these large numbers in a table tells me that some serious mathematical modelling will need to be performed to size the batteries that will probably be needed in East Anglia.

In the 1970s, I was involved in three calculations of a similar nature.

  • In one, I sized the vessels for a proposed polypropylene plant for ICI.
  • In another for ICI, I sized an effluent treatment system for a chemical plant, using an analogue computer.
  • I also helped program an analysis of water resources in the South of England. So if you have a water shortage in your area caused by a wrong-sized reservoir, it could be my fault.

My rough estimate is that the East Anglian battery would need to be at least a few GWh and capable of supplying up to the output of Sizewell B.

It also doesn’t have to be a single battery. One solution would probably be to calculate what size battery is needed in the various towns and cities of East Anglia, to give everyone a stable and reliable power supply.

I could see a large battery built at Sizewell and smaller batteries all over Norfolk and Suffolk.

But why stop there? We probably need appropriately-sized batteries all over the UK, with very sophisticated control systems using artificial intelligent working out, where the electricity is best stored.

Note that in this post, by batteries, I’m using that in the loosest possible way. So the smaller ones could be lithium-ion and largest ones could be based on some of the more promising technologies that are under development.

  • Highview Power have an order for a 50 MW/500 MWh battery for Chile, that I wrote about in The Power Of Solar With A Large Battery.
  • East Anglia is an area, where digging deep holes is easy and some of Gravitricity’s ideas might suit.
  • I also think that eventually someone will come up with a method of storing energy using sea cliffs.

All these developments don’t require large amounts of land.

East Anglia Needs More Heavy Consumers Of Electricity

I am certainly coming to this conclusion.

Probably, the biggest use of electricity in East Anglia is the Port of Felixstowe, which will be expanding as it becomes Freeport East in partnership with the Port of Harwich.

One other obvious use could be in large data centres.

But East Anglia has never been known for industries that use a lot of electricity, like aluminium smelting.

Conversion To Hydrogen

Although the largest current electrolyser is only 24 MW, the UK’s major electrolyser builder; ITM Power, is talking of a manufacturing capacity of 5 GW per year, so don’t rule out conversion of excess electricity into hydrogen.

Conclusion

Who needs Sizewell C?

Perhaps as a replacement for Sizewell B, but it would appear there is no pressing urgency.

 

 

January 29, 2022 - Posted by | Computing, Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 Comments »

  1. Aren’t you missing Sheringham shoal/Dudgeon expansion, with new (and slightly controversial) cable landfall between Sheringham and Cley, and inland route to Aylsham area (eventually connecting to Vattenvall?)

    Or is that buried in one of the East Anglia set, or is your list limited to Suffolk and I missed that nuance?

    Comment by MilesT | January 30, 2022 | Reply

  2. I missed it! I will update the post. I intend to write a post about the objectors, who seem to be mainly in Norfolk.

    Comment by AnonW | January 30, 2022 | Reply

  3. Who needs Sizewell C- the 66m people that live in the UK thats who. Wind is fine but when it doesn’t blow we are in trouble although i feel most of that standby generation if you can call it that now needs to come from gas. However, we should cover at least 50% of our baseload with nuclear. The waste is a problem i accept but then all waste is a problem and there are solutions that juts have to be adopted not continually avoided. Batteries are way off being able to provide the level of backup windless days will need. If its a windless mid winter you would need capacity of c1.2TWh for 24hrs and really 3 days cover has to be a credible scenario. That would Teslas entire battery output for a year in 2030 if they can achieve there production target and that is for their vehicles. Oh and every country goes to be trying to do this.

    What this country needs to put far far more effort into is reducing our overall energy demand be that in more efficient housing or more use of public transport and shank’s pony rather than trying to substitute 100% renewals for todays energy uses.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | January 30, 2022 | Reply

    • I didn’t put in a section I intended, which was about my views on batteries, which include a very wide range of technologies.

      As to your last point, most of the houses in this country need to be demolished, as they can’t be made energy efficient. That would be a vote loser, which always stops politicians doing a lot of things.

      Comment by AnonW | January 30, 2022 | Reply

      • Agreed they can’t be made highly energy efficient but we could do more to at least make them as good as practical and we should have building regs that mean only EPC Grade A homes should be being built now but they aren’t albeit its improving.

        Comment by Nicholas Lewis | January 30, 2022

  4. Don’t get me started on building regs. I’ve had so many arguments with planners.I also used to know a senior planner for a big housebuilder, who claimed that every new house in the UK was a couple of percent more expensive because the building regs were different in every local authority.

    Comment by AnonW | January 30, 2022 | Reply

  5. With respect to the nuclear power stations, I hope the projected sea level rise and a 1 in 10,000 year (or better) storm event has been designed in. Has the effect of a tsunamis been considered? as caused by volcanic eruptions on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands which would eventually cause a piece of the island to break off and fall into the ocean.

    I have been working in the metal mining industry for over 40 years and been involved in a many of projects from small sump & pump installations to whole mine construction and mine closure. Projects are essential to the mining industry as it is a wasting asset which has to be replaced by finding and developing new ore bodies.

    Note that Highways England is the government company charged with operating, maintaining and improving England’s motorways and major A roads and it does not set up a separate company to do major road construction unlike the railways.

    Remember that a contractor is in the business of making a profit and the actual work carried out comes second. This includes a contracted out project management who can easily take the part of the contractors. I believe the problems with projects in the UK running late and over budget can be improved by:-

    1. For an accurate project cost and schedule you must have an fully detailed design to allow an accurate project cost. Do not use design and build contract without having an agreed detailed design.

    2. If you delay the project by 5 years you must update the project cost, the delay of HS2 from 2015 to 2020 has increased the cost by about 20% (the compounded construction cost inflation).

    3. Extending the time to carry out the project from 5 to 10 years could easily increase the cost by 20 to 30 percent, depending on the cost of HS2 Ltd (inflation plus project overhead costs).

    4. Overall project scheduling and project control must be carried out by a company which is either the paymaster (TfL for CrossRail) or the end user (Network Rail for HS2).

    5. The secret to good project scheduling is to use expert engineers with relevant experience in maintenance and operations who know how long activities take, sequencing, which can be done in parallel and resources required. The ideal is to use in house expertise (generally available at a mine) or hire in retired engineers or headhunt from similar industries, I suggest Highways England as they seem to complete road building on time and budget.

    6. The paymaster or end user must have clerk of works and project engineers, making regular inspections, reporting directly the end user, and sorting out problems on site. This is the only way accurate progress can be reported to the end user.

    7. I suggest the Network Rail insist on implementation of “Construction Quality Assurance” which is a recognised system for inspection and testing to confirm standards are met. I was involved in this on the tailings dam rehabilitation when the Irish Environmental Protection Agency specified this. I would recommend that this is extended to include the design so that any changes are documented.

    Comment by Ben Oldfield | January 30, 2022 | Reply

  6. Interesting comments.

    In the seventies, I wrote Artemis, which was my third big system and the first small system on a mini-computer.

    So I do know a bit! Or so I’m told!

    Without doubt, the biggest problem with project management is amateurs (i.e. politicians) making decisions that effect the project.

    Comment by AnonW | January 30, 2022 | Reply


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