The Anonymous Widower

Gore Street Energy Storage Fund Revenues Boosted Amid Market Volatility

Over the last few years, I have blogged about energy storage and two energy storage funds; Gore Street and Gresham House.

According to an article on Proactive Investors, with the same title as this post, Gore Street hasn’t been doing badly lately and says this about their recent performance.

Gore Street Energy Storage Fund PLC said its assets in Great Britain generated revenues two times above forecast in September and added that industry is only at the start of its growth curve.

When I saw the concept of an energy storage fund, as a Control Engineer, I liked it.

The wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine, so something is needed to cover the gaps in the supply.

The obvious way to cover the gaps is to put a battery in the circuit.

  • When the electricity supply is higher than the demand, the surplus electricity can be stored in a convenient battery connected to the grid.
  • When the reverse is true and there is a deficit of electricity, the energy in the battery can be used to make up the difference.

The battery works with electricity, just like a bank works with money, except that batteries don’t pay interest.

  • The battery owners do make money by buying electricity, when it’s cheap and selling it back at a higher price.
  • Tesla and others will sell you both batteries and the controlling software.
  • Some areas with perhaps high levels of wind and solar or unreliable power supplies could use batteries improve the robustness of the electricity supply.
  • More wind and solar power will inevitably lead to a need for more energy storage.
  • Battery technology will get cheaper in terms of the cost per MWh of storage.
  • Battery-grid interface hardware will get more capable.
  • Management software will get better at balancing the grid.

This all adds up to increasing opportunities at possibly lower costs for energy storage funds like Gore Street and Gresham House.

So we will inevitably see a growth of energy storage funds.

But they will change.

New Battery Technology

There are several new battery technologies, that I believe could prove to be competitive in terms of capacity, cost, efficiency and reliability when compared to lithium-ion batteries.

Some of them will also have the advantage of only using easy-to-source, environmentally-friendly materials in their manufacture.

Some battery technologies are also easier to scale up, in that your have a central unit, which is connected to several stores. So to scale up, you add another store to the central unit. Highview Power’s CRYOBattery works on this principle.

I can see energy storage funds taking off faster, when someone designs the ideal battery for their purposes.

More Energy Storage Funds

We will see more players enter the energy storage fund market, just as we saw more players enter the peer-to-peer lending market. But just as that market attracted men with silly hats, boots and horses, not all will be reputable. But there are signs that banks I might trust are entering the market.

I also think there could be a hybrid model, which is almost a cross between an energy storage fund and peer-to-peer technology.

But be prepared for financial innovation.

And always do due diligence before investing.

Local Energy Storage Funds

I can envisage sensible established players offering investment on a local basis.

So perhaps the residents of a town with a need for a battery, might like to help fund it.

Or just as Aviva with their strong connections to East Anglia helped to fund Greater Anglia’s new trains, they might fund a battery in perhaps Cromer.

Conclusion

I feel the future is very rosy for energy storage funds.

 

October 26, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Finance | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Northern Ends Of The Platforms At Kings Cross Station

These pictures show the Northern ends of the platforms at Kings Cross station.

The two trains are both nine-car Hitachi Class 800 or Class 801 trains and I was standing in line with their noses.

I wonder what is the maximum length of trains that can be handled in these platforms.

  • They can certainly handle ten-car trains, as LNER run these to Leeds.
  • Hitachi have designed the trains, so they can be up to twelve-cars, which are 312 metre long trains.
  • Looking at maps, I suspect that eleven-car trains would be the largest that can be handled.

But surely to maximum the number of passengers handled in the station, the platforms should be able to handle the longest Hitachi trains.

  • Unless, the capacity of an individual train is limited by the gate-lines and Network Rail have said that ten-car trains are the longest allowed.
  • Or would twelve-car trains be two far to walk with lots of luggage.

But ten-car trains would allow Lumo to double-up trains to increase capacity selectively, when perhaps, there is an important sporting event.

So when say the Culcutta Cup is taking place, an early morning train to the match and a late evening return could be doubled to add another four hundred seats.

But the current Lumo timetable only shows just two trains on a Saturday.

  • London King’s Cross – Edinburgh, which leaves at 10:25 and arrives at 14:57.
  • Edinburgh – London King’s Cross, which leaves at 08:49 and arrives at 13:17.

Not very good to go to the rugby or a birthday lunch with your mum.

But realtimetrains reveals two early morning paths allocated to Lumo.

  • London King’s Cross – Edinburgh, which leaves at 05:45 and arrives at 10:06.
  • Edinburgh – London King’s Cross,  which leaves at 05:36 and arrives at 10:04.

So you can get to the other capital, but is there a later last train back?

Oh! Yes there is! And again they are revealed by realtimetrains.

  • London King’s Cross – Edinburgh, which leaves at 18:27 and arrives at 22:56.
  • Edinburgh – London King’s Cross, which leaves at 17:56 and arrives at 22:29.

Is the Southbound service earlier, as Murrayfield is closer to Waverly station, than Twickenham is to King’s Cross?

If the return was fifty pounds and the trains were doubles, that could be revenue of around  £ 40,000. There would be more electricity and track access charges, and they’d need extra train crew, but Lumo would surely be quids in!

Lumo’s financial model has several nice little earners.

 

October 25, 2021 Posted by | Finance, Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Need To Call Your Bank? Many Can Now Dial 159 For Safety

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Money Saving Expert.

This is the first paragraph.

Consumers wanting to avoid financial fraud now have a secure and easy-to-remember phone number to contact their banks on in order to avoid painful scams. It could prove to be the safest way for many to contact their provider if they have suspicions and concerns about their accounts, or even if they’re struggling to find a customer services number.

I like this anti-fraud measure and just heard it from Martin Lewis, who founded Money Saving Expert on the radio.

Many years ago before mobile phones, my late wife had her handbag snatched. This would surely help in a situation like this, as you can at least get in touch with your bank from a phone.

October 6, 2021 Posted by | Finance | , , | 2 Comments

How Clean Energy And Jobs Can Flow From Morocco to The UK

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in The Times.

  • The article has been written by Simon Morrish, who is the founder and CEO of Xlinks.
  •  The article is about his plans to build a 10.5 GW solar and wind power complex in Morocco and connect it to the UK, by an undersea power cable running up the coasts of Morocco, Spain, Portugal and France.
  • This page on the Xlinks web site gives details of the project.

These are some points from the article.

Relationship With The Exchequer

He makes these points about the projects relationship with the Exchequer.

  • The company will be a net contributor.
  • The project will not require government subsidy of finance.
  • Energy will be delivered under the Contract for Difference (CfD) price of £48/MWh.
  • This compares with a CfD price of £92/MWh for Hinckley Point C.

Simon Morrish also claims they will be energised before Hinckley Point C.

That sounds good to me.

Finance

I wonder if at the CfD price quoted in the  article, could this mean that this is a project that could be financed in the City of London or from a Sovereign Wealth Fund?

As Simon  is confident the project can be completed before Hinckley Point C, I suspect that the finance might be in place, even if it hasn’t been signed off.

The 20GWh/5GW Battery

Simon says this about the battery.

Alongside the consistent output from its solar panels and wind turbines, a 20GWh/5GW battery facility will ensure power generated can be delivered every day, resulting in a dedicated, near-constant source of flexible and predictable renewable energy, designed to complement renewable energy generated in the UK.

In Moroccan Solar-Plus-Wind To Be Linked To GB In ‘Ground-Breaking’ Xlinks Project, I forecast that the battery would be from Highview Power, but given the delivery date before Hinckley Point C, I would suspect that Xlinks have a battery supplier in mind.

Employment Benefits

Simon says this about employment benefits.

Thousands of jobs will be created in Morocco and also at home.

If the project goes ahead, given its size, I don’t think many would disagree with that.

Simon also claims the project will create 1350 permanent jobs by 2024. Sites mentioned include Hunterston, Port Talbot and the North East of England.

Simon’s Conclusion

This is Simon’s conclusion about the project.

I love the idea of clean electricity flowing, all the way from Morocco to the UK. I hope it may inspire other ambitious renewable energy projects too — which, together, will provide clean, secure and stable energy, at affordable prices, for businesses and households to rely on and help to protect this special planet.

If you can, I suggest you read the full article on The Times.

Conclusion

The more I read about this project, the more I tilt towards it being feasble

Engineering is the science of the possible, whereas politics is dreads of the impossible.

September 29, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Finance | , , , , | 1 Comment

Heading North For Summer: Report Reveals £21bn Annual Visitor Spend Across The Region

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Transport for the North.

This is the opening paragraph.

Pan-regional figures reveal the full importance of the North of England visitor economy for the first time, with 25% of all England’s tourism spend taking place in the region.

The figures quoted are much larger than I would have expected.

September 2, 2021 Posted by | Finance, Transport/Travel, World | , | Leave a comment

Is The TP Group Worth A Punt?

I have been following the Class 799 train for some time. It is a hydrogen train prototype being sponsored by the owner of the train; Porterbrook.

The difficult task of fitting all of the hydrogen and electrical electrical gubbins under the floor of the train has been accomplished by the combined efforts of Birmingham University and TP Group.

But TP Group according to this article on The Times, which is entitled Directors In Line Of Fire As TP Group Takeover Bid Turns Sour, seems to have turned a bit difficult for the company.

I wrote about the Class 799 train in A Class 319 Train, But Not As We Know It! and I predict that it could be one of the stars of COP26 in Glasgow later in the year.

This picture sums up why!

The prototype may have designed for publicity, but I can see pictures of Joe, Boris, Angela et all going for a ride in this zero-carbon train, that started out as a British Rail commuter train on Thameslink.

I shall be watching the TP Group share price with interest.

 

August 17, 2021 Posted by | Finance, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

New Company Established To Help Transition Bus Fleets To Hydrogen

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on H2 View.

These first two paragraphs describe the company.

A new asset financed company has been launched to help design, deliver, and finance the seamless transition to a zero-emissions bus fleet with hydrogen included.

Launched by Wrightbus owner Jo Bamford today (August 9), FUZE will support the energy transition to cleaner variants by offering packages that enable the transition to hydrogen or electric fleets of buses.

If Jo Bamford gets this right, it could certainly smooth the transition to hydrogen and electric buses, where bus companies will be introducing new technology.

The words asset-based make me think, that buses, fuelling systems and chargers could all be hired on a bus-by-the-hour basis in much the same way train manufacturing companies like Hitachi and Stadler supply trains to the train operating companies.

The manufacturers are contracted to supply so many trains each day and if there are reliability or availability problems, then they must compensate the operators. That model would surely work with buses.

  • I also suspect the model would allow flexibility, as to the choice of either an electric or hydrogen bus.
  • I also think, that the model would be able to provide short-term deals for large events and Rail Replacement services.
  • Buses no longer needed could also be returned, repainted and hired by another operator.
  • FUZE could also have a standby fleet, so any bus operator wanting to try hydrogen buses for a month, could enter into a short-term deal.

I also think that this new generation of buses can open up innovative ideas for bus use. In Three Hydrogen Double Decker Buses Set For Dublin, I describe how Dublin will use just three hydrogen buses to create a fast commuter route.

Conclusion

I like it!

Short Term Hire Of Buses

I have a feeling that if say you wanted to hire a small fleet of buses for say a festival like Glastonbury, that hydrogen buses could be the better bet.

Suppose you wanted to run a fleet of five buses to and from the car park at the nearest rail station.

  • Feeding the chargers for five buses will need a substantial electricity feed.
  • Hydrogen buses can be refuelled from a mobile fuelling station.
  • Hydrogen buses can probably run all day on one refuelling.

The ease of refuelling would appear to favour the hydrogen bus.

 

August 10, 2021 Posted by | Finance, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments

The Location Of Sunset Studios In Broxbourne

This article on HertsLIve discloses the location of the new Sunset Studios in Broxbourne.

This is said.

Land to the west of Waltham Cross has been bought and is allocated in Broxbourne Borough’s Local Plan 2018 – 2033.

It’s just off J25 on the M25 and is thought to be land on either side of the A10 Great Cambridge Road.

James Seppala, Head of Blackstone Real Estate Europe, said: “The site is on the north-west corner of the M25-A10 junction. It’s ideal given its accessibility across Hertfordshire, into Central London, to London’s airports due to its proximity to the M25, and it has the scale for the scheme we’re planning to develop.

“Highways England are expanding the motorway junction currently which is helpful as well.

This Google Map shows the location.

Note.

  1. The M25 runs across the bottom of the map.
  2. The A10 runs North-South between the two roundabouts.
  3. Newsprinters Broxbourne sits on a forty-acre site and is the largest newspaper printing site in the world.

I would expect that the brown agricultural site is where Sunset Studios will be located.

I have one big question.

Is It The Right Place For The Studios?

I know nothing about making films, but from what has been said, this development will produce up to 4,500 jobs.

How are all these people going to get in to work every day?

The site may have a good road network, but it doesn’t have a nearby rail connection.

But in my quote from Herts Live, this is said.

It’s just off J25 on the M25 and is thought to be land on either side of the A10 Great Cambridge Road.

Does that mean it includes the Newsprinter site as well?

This Google Map shows that site.

The site seems to be closed in by roads and on the Eastern side by the Cheshunt branch of the London Overground.

  • It is a double-track railway.
  • It runs between London Liverpool Street and Cheshunt stations.
  • It only runs two trains per hour (tph) at present, but it has been designed to handle upwards of four tph.
  • The trains on the route are new eight-car Class 710 trains, each of which can hold up to 1,300 passengers.

Could Sunset Studios be thinking about a rail-connected studio complex?

  • Liverpool Street will be well-connected through Crossrail to much of London including Heathrow and Canary Wharf.
  • Cheshunt is connected to Cambridge and Stansted.
  • There are fifteen stations between Liverpool Street and Cheshunt, which must surely mean easy access to the complex for a massive number of potential employees.

A station at the complex, would certainly seem a possible move to cut the amount of road traffic travelling to and from the complex.

Riding Past The Sunset Studios Site On The London Overground

I took these pictures of the area around the Sunset Studios site from a train going North to Cheshunt.

Note, that when the line was reopened in 1960, British Rail left wide margins and from my pictures and the Google Map indicates that building a station on this stretch of line wouldn’t be the most challenging of tasks.

 

 

 

August 4, 2021 Posted by | Business, Finance, World | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Crossrail: Report Finds Not Enough Money To Finish Project

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

The cost of completing Crossrail exceeds available funding, the government spending watchdog has found.

The National Audit Office (NAO) estimates the cost of the new rail link will be between £30m and £218m above the current funding.

After such a good start with the tunneling and surface line going well, how did we get here?

My main business for nearly forty years was writing project management software and that gave me a deep insight into the dynamics and mathematics of large projects.

The software, I created in the 1970s; Artemis was deeply involved in the most important project of the time; North Sea Oil.

But then more by luck, than any judgement on my part, it was well suited to solving the management problems of North Sea Oil.

The software ran on a small Hewlett-Packard mini-computer with an attached display and a printer, whose footprint, gave Artemis an advantage over competitors who needed a mainframe, for which there was no office space in Aberdeen.

I had first got involved in scheduling resources at ICI about five years earlier and because from previous experience I knew resources would be critical, I gave the program extension resource aggregation and scheduling capabilities.

I have been told that the latter proved invaluable in successfully developing North Sea Oil. People may have been flattering me, but I do know that Shell used to ensure that all their suppliers used Artemis, so they could check easily if they were being told the truth.

I suspect that Shell and others used the aggregation capability to see that they weren’t overloading the pool of labour available.

Artemis definitely proved itself capable of handling the various projects in the North Sea.

We have now moved on forty years, but has project management moved on to cope with the advances in technology of the modern world?

As with North Sea Oil in Aberdeen, in the 1970s, Crossrail and other large projects like Berlin’s new Brandenburg Airport will always have a need for large numbers of resources, be they men, materiel or machines.

I have some questions.

  • Do all contractors working on Crossrail use the same software?
  • Does Crossrail have the right to inspect the contractors project management systems?
  • Is the upward reporting what it needs to be?
  • Does the software the contractors use, have an aggregation capability?
  • Do Crossrail track and predict the resources needed?

Someone I respect told me, that a lot of modern project management software doesn’t even have an aggregation capability- Enough said!

I must admit, aggregation and scheduling software is difficult to write, so it might be easier to cut it out and let your clients muddle through!

Worsening The Resource Problem

Crossrail,the Greater London Authority and the Boroughs should have been monitoring this growing resource problem, but I doubt they were in anything other than a perfunctory way!

Instead the politicians were giving planning permission to anybody with money, who wanted to build a shiny new development close to a station.

These project would need more men, materiel or machines.

As many of these new developments are backed by companies or funds with bottomless pockets to get their developments finished they are prepared to pay more for their labour.

So labour has been deserting Crossrail in droves, thus further delaying the project.

Senior politicians in the Greater London Authority and the boroughs should accept some responsibility for Crossrail’s delay.

They didn’t need to withhold the planning permission, just say that construction could’t commence until an appropriate phase of Crossrail was open.

In some parts of the world, brown envelopes will have changed hands, but it would be nice to know how many mayors and senior politicians have had holidays in places, they would not normally visit.

Senior project managers tell me, that they would not be surprised if developments along Crossrail had delayed the project.

The Covid Problem

No-one saw Covid coming, except possibly the Chinese.

But good project management is all about negotiating the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

There is the story of the miniMetro production line.

The first body shells coming out of the automated welder were crooked and it turned out that the machine had hit a motorway bridge in Germany. But by good project management using Artemis, British Leyland engineers were able to get the second line working before the first and the car was launched on time.

With Covid, the Mayor shut construction, and it was some months before it restarted again.

I am certain, that with good project management we could have done better.

Covid is also a good excuse for lateness.

On the other hand good project management got the vaccines developed, manufactured and delivered into arms.

Covid also blew a big hole in Transport for London’s finances.

But then so did Sadiq Khan’s Fare Freeze, that brought him to office.

Could Crossrail Have Part-Opened Earlier?

I often ponder this and others ask me if it would be possible.

The Victoria Line was built with crossovers and it was able to open in phases.

Crossrail has crossovers in the following places.

  • Either side of Custom House station
  • To the West of Whitechapel station
  • Between Farringdon and Tottenham Court Road stations

Note.

  1. It doesn’t appear to have been built for part opening.
  2. From media reports, it appears Whitechapel station is the basket case in the East.

The answer is probably that Crossrail can’t be part-opened, but there are reasons, why it could be opened earlier.

  • To generate a small amount of revenue.
  • To give travellers and Londoners in general a lift.

The only practical service would be a few trains turning at Farringdon.

July 10, 2021 Posted by | Finance, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Is This The Shape Of Freight To Come?

This article on Rail Advent is entitled Eversholt Rail Unveils First Swift Express Freight Train In Doncaster.

It is a full report on the first of a new breed of freight trains based on redundant 100 mph electric multiple units.

Three Rail Problems

The rail industry, its financiers and customers have a lot of problems, they’d like to solve, but these three seem to be coming together to create a whole new industry.

Rolling Stock Leasing Companies Have A Surplus Of Redundant Rolling Stock

 

Most of the released rolling stock has been made redundant because of the arrival of new trains.

What will be left will be a an assortment, which will contain a lot of trains with these characteristics.

  • Four cars
  • Can run in formations of 4, 8 and 12 cars
  • Electrically-powered.
  • Some trains are even dual voltage.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Good reliability.
  • Easy maintenance and modification if needed.

Many were even built over thirty years ago by British Rail Engineering Ltd.

As someone, who used to part-own a company that leased trucks to operators, I know that to maximise cash-flow and ultimately profits, you don’t want them sitting in a yard or a siding.

Conversion to zero carbon is one option.

  • Porterbrook have said they will convert the Class 350 trains, that they own to battery-electric operation.
  • Porterbrook have also converted some Class 319 trains to electro-diesel Class 769 trains.
  • Porterbrook have also converted a Class 319 train to hydrogen operation.
  • Eversholt Rail Group and Alstom are converting Class 321 trains to hydrogen operation.

I also believe that the redundant Class 379 trains will also be converted to battery-electric operation.

But there will still be a substantial number of quality trains, that need a second life.

The Growth Of Parcel Freight

Parcel freight traffic driven by on-line shopping, has boomed in the pandemic.

This type of traffic often originates from outside of the UK and enters the country at places like London Gateway or East Midlands Airport.

Much of it is currently distributed to large cities by truck, which in this day and age is not a green option, or even an option at all.

Rail Operations Group have leased ten Class 769 trains and 9 Class 319 trains with the intention of running parcel services under the Orion brand. I wrote about this proposal in A Freight Shuttle For Liverpool Street Station Planned.

Road Congestion

Road congestion is getting worse and there is bir much point in having product stuck on the motorway, when it can be running along at a 100 mph on an electrified rail line.

The Need For Just-In-Time Deliveries

Many factories these days work on the Just-In-Time principle, with product delivered just as its needed.

As an example Toyota build their cars at Burnaston near Derby, but the engines are built in North Wales. I suspect that they go across the country by truck.

Looking at maps, the engine plant could be rail connected and I feel one could be arranged at Burnaston.

Do they keep a good stock of engines at Burnaston?

I can see several situations like this needing a regular company train.

Fast Food

Because of Brexit we will need to be growing more of our own food.

Traditionally, the Class 43 power cars of InterCity 125 trains carried flowers and fish up from Cornwall.

So will we see rail provide an alternative.

Conclusion

Put these problems together and you can see a fair number of four-car electric multiple units being converted to short 100 mph electric freight trains.

Eversholt Rail Group‘s Swift Express Freight Train is very much a demonstrator for their ideas and it has some expected and unexpected features.

Based On A Class 321 train

The train is based on a four-car Class 321 train.

I rode one recently and I timed it at over 90 mph on the way to Southend.

Trolley Cages

Pictures in the Rail Advent article show a stripped-bare interior with a steel floor, with another picture showing three supermarket trolley cages arranged across the train.

One estimate in the article says that each coach can handle over fifty of these cages and up to nine-and-a-half tonnes of cargo.

Four Seats And A Toilet

Eversholt feel that some of the trains could be used in a Travelling Post Office mode and there may be a need for sorting en route, so two first-class seats, two second-class seats and a toilet are provided.

This train would enable an Anglo-Scottish parcel service.

  • It might stop several times en route.
  • At each stop parcels would be rolled out and in, perhaps with the help of a Harrington Hump.
  • The on-train staff would sort the incoming parcels and put them in the required trolley for offloading.

I don’t think though, they’ll be delivering postal orders.

A Last Mile Capability

The article also disclosed that Eversholt were thinking of fitting a Last-Mile capability to the Swift Express Freight Train.

Batteries were mentioned and they would obviously work.

But one development recently is Porterbrook’s HydroFlex train, which has converted a Class 319 train to hydrogen power.

  • The conversion was done by Birmingham University.
  • It appears that all the hydrogen gubbins is underneath the floor, so cargo capacity would not be reduced.

I suspect underfloor hydrogen power could be very viable in an express freight train.

Fleet Size

The article talks of a fleet size of twenty and also says that the first train has been leased to an unnamed parcel distributor in the UK.

July 3, 2021 Posted by | Design, Finance, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments