The Anonymous Widower

Reflections At Seventy

I completed by seventh decade this morning at about three, if I remember what my mother told me about the time of my birth correctly.

Dreams Of A Shared Retirement With Celia

Perhaps twelve years ago, my wife;Celia and I made a decision and that was to sell everything in Suffolk, after she retired from the law in perhaps 2015 or so and retire to a much smaller house in somewhere like Hampstead in London.

I remember too, that we discussed retirement in detail on my sixtieth birthday holiday in Majorca.

But of course, things didn’t work out as planned.

Two Deaths And A Stroke

Celia died of a squamous cell carcinoma of the heart on December 11th, 2007.

Then three years later, our youngest son died of pancreatic cancer.

Whether, these two deaths had anything to do with my stroke, I shall never know!

Moving To Dalston

Why would anybody in their right mind move to Dalston in 2010?

It is my spiritual home, with my maternal grandmother being born opposite Dalston Junction station,my father being being born just up the road at the Angel and grandfathers and their ancestors clustered together in Clerkenwell and Shoreditch. My Dalstonian grandmother was from a posh Devonian family called Upcott and I suspect she bequeathed me some of my stubbornness. My other grandmother was a Spencer from Peterborough and she could be difficult too! But that could be because she was widowed at forty-nine!

Celia and I had tried to move to De Beauvoir Town in the 1970s, but couldn’t get a mortgage for a house that cost £7,500, which would now be worth around two million.

So when I gave up driving because the stroke had damaged my eyesight, Dalston and De Beauvoir Town were towards the top of places, where I would move.

I would be following a plan of which Celia would have approved and possibly we would have done, had she lived.

But the clincher was the London Overground, as Dalston was to become the junction between the North London and East London Lines. Surely, if I could find a suitable property in the area, it wouldn’t lose value.

But I didn’t forsee the rise of Dalston!

Taking Control Of My Recovery

I do feel that if I’d been allowed to do what I wanted by my GP, which was to go on Warfarin and test my own INR, I’d have got away with just the first very small stroke I had in about 2009.

In about 2011, one of the world’s top cardiologists told me, that if I got the Warfarin right, I wouldn’t have another stroke.

As a Control Engineer, with all the survival instincts of my genes that have been honed in London, Liverpool and Suffolk, I have now progressed to the drug regime, I wanted after that first small stroke.

I still seem to be keeping the Devil at bay.

Conclusion

I’m ready to fight the next ten years.

 

August 16, 2017 Posted by | Health, Travel, World | , , | 2 Comments

No One Is Born Hating Another Person Because Of The Colour Of His Skin Or His Background Or His Religion

The quote is from Nelson Mandela and according to this report on the BBC, after being tweeted by Barack Obama, it has become the most liked tweet.

This is said.

It may be President Trump’s communication tool of choice – but it’s a tweet by former President Barack Obama that has become the most liked in Twitter’s history.

When someone writes a book on the most important tweets of this decade, I do wonder how many of Trump’s tweets will have been much liked, by those who don’t have a dead-end agenda!

As to myself, I was certainly brought up by my parents in the spirit of the title of this post, but with perhaps two exceptions.

  • My father wasn’t keen on Pope Pius XII, as he believed he’d not done enough to help the Jews and others during World War II.
  • My mother was from a Huguenot family and wasn’t that keen on Roman Catholics.

I don’t think either would have been pleased if I’d married a practising Catholic. But as a confirmed atheist and humanist for as long as I can remember, I don’t think there was ever much chance of my marrying anybody with a serious religious conviction.

 

August 16, 2017 Posted by | Computing, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Conn By Name, Con Artist By Nature

I have just seen the Chief Executive of Centrica; Ian Conn, giving the most unfeasible explanation, why despite the fact that electricity prices are going down, British Gas will be putting them up by 12.5% from September 11th.

This article on the BBC gives more details.

Now is the time to give British Gas a good kicking by moving to an alternative smaller supplier.

I moved to OVO over two years ago and have had no trouble except.

  • Changing from my old Bog Six supplier was a pain, due to the original company’s incompetence. Was that real or deliberate?
  • OVO have still not fitted me with a smart meter. But I’m not sure I need one!

OVO have also handled my solar panels without trouble.

August 1, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Could Trump Organise A Piss-Up In A Brewery?

After reading this report on the BBC and seeing it in full on the ten o’clock news, I think the answer is no!

I am old enough to remember  the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Six Day War, which were both events that if they’d been handled in an insensitive manner could have led to something a lot more serious.

Can Trump’s judgement be trusted to deal with Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un?

The guy is just too inexperienced!

 

July 31, 2017 Posted by | World | | 1 Comment

Electricity Shake-Up Could Save Consumers ‘up to £40bn’

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

The electricity shake-up was forecast in yesterday’s Sunday Times and I wrote about it in Giant Batteries To Store Green Energy.

In We Need More Electricity, I talked about what RWE are doing to create an all-purpose Energy Centre at Tilbury.

The Tilbury Energy Centre will feature.

  • Efficient energy generation from natural gas.
  • Substantial energy storage.
  • Peak energy production from natural gas.
  • Load balancing of wind power with storage and generation from natural gas.

But I suspect, it will get involved in other advanced techniques, like using carbon dioxide to get greenhouse fruit and vegetables to grow quicker.

The electricity market is changing.

July 24, 2017 Posted by | News, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Scotland’s Floating Wind Farm

This article on the BBC is entitled World’s first floating wind farm emerges off coast of Scotland.

In the early 1970s, I worked on a unique concept for a reusable oil platform called a Balaena.

I wrote about using a Balaena for a wind turbine in Could a Balaena-Like Structure Be Used As a Wind Power Platform?.

There is also a brief description of the idea in The Balaena Lives.

I have a strong feeling that revisiting all of the work done for a Balaena over forty years ago, could enable a better way to build a floating wind farm.

I would build my Baleana-based floating wind-power turbine like this.

  • A steel cylinder is built, which will form the tower, horizontally in a dry dock.
  • It is floated out horizontally to some very deep water perhaps in a fjord.
  • It is then raised to a vertical position by letting a calculated amount of sea water into the tank.
  • It will float vertically, if the weight profile is right and by adjusting water levels in the tank, the top can be raised on lowered.
  • The tower is adjusted to a convenient height and the turbine is placed on the top.
  • It would then be towed vertically into position.

Note that Balaenas were designed to sit on the sea-bed using a skirt and a gum-boot principle to hold them to the bottom, with extra anchors and steel ropes.

 

July 24, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Giant Batteries To Store Green Energy

In today’s Sunday Times, there is a small article with this title.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Britain could soon be relying on battery power under plans to create a network of electrical storage facilities around the national grid.

Greg Clark, the Business Secretary, is expected to announce plans this week for giant rechargeable battery facilities to be installed near wind and solar farms to store the energy generated when demand is low. It can then be released when demand rises.

The article also says that householders will be encouraged to use batteries alongside solar panels.

I think this is only the start.

Imagine an estate of new houses, an office development, a factory estate or a business park.

  • Solar panels would be everywhere.
  • Wind turbines could be strategically placed.
  • A central CHP system would provide heating and some electricity.

Everything would be backed up by a suitably-sized battery.

 

July 23, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | 3 Comments

We Need More Electricity

Everything we do, seems to need more and more electricity.

We are greening our transport and every electric train, car, bus and truck will need to be charged.

Unless it is hydrogen-powered, in which case we’ll need electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Computing and the Internet needs more electricity and is leading to companies putting server farms in countries like Iceland, where there are Gigawatts of low-cost electricity.

We’re also using more energy hungry equipment like air-conditioning and some household appliances.

And then there’s industry, where some processes like metal smelting need lots of electricity.

At least developments like LED lighting and energy harvesting are helping to cut our use.

Filling The Gap

How are we going to fill our increasing energy gap?

Coal is going and rightly so!

A lot of nuclear power stations, which once built don’t create more carbon dioxide, are coming to the end of their lives. But the financial and technical problems of building new ones seem insoluble. Will the 3,200 MW Hinckley Point C ever be built?

That 3,200 MW size says a lot about the gap.

It is the sort of number that renewables, like wind and solar will scarcely make  a dent in.

Unfortunately, geography hasn’t donated us the terrain for the massive hydroelectric schemes , that are the best way to generate loe-carbon electricity.

Almost fifty years ago, I worked briefly for Frederick Snow and Partners, who were promoting a barrage of the River |Severn. I wrote about my experiences in The Severn Barrage and I still believe , that this should be done, especially as if done properly, it would also do a lot to tame the periodic flooding of the River.

The Tilbury Energy Centre

An article in The Times caught my eye last week with the headline of Tilbury Planned As Site Of UK’s Biggest Gas-Fired Power Station.

It said that RWE were going to build a massive 2,500 MW gas-fired power station.

This page on the RWE web site is entitled Tilbury Energy Centre.

This is from that page.

RWE Generation is proposing to submit plans to develop Tilbury Energy Centre at the former Tilbury B Power Station site. The development would include the potential for a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) power station with capacity of up to 2,500 Megawatts, 100 MW of energy storage facility and 300MW of open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGT). The exact size and range of these technologies will be defined as the project progresses, based on an assessment of environmental impacts, as well as market and commercial factors.

The development consent application will also include a 3km gas pipeline that will connect the proposed plant to the transmission network which runs to the east of the Tilbury power station. The proposed CCGT power station would be located on the coal stock yard at the site of the former power station, but would be physically much smaller than its predecessor (a coal/biomass plant).

I will now look at the various issues.

Carbon Dioxide

But what about all that carbon dioxide that will be produced?

This is the great dilemma of a gas-powered power-station of this size.

But the advantage of natural gas over coal is that it contains several hydrogen atoms, which produce pure water under combustion. The only carbon in natural gas is the one carbon atom in methane, where it is joined to four hydrogen atoms.

Compared to burning coal, burning natural gas creates only forty percent of the carbon dioxide in creating the same amount of energy.

If you look at Drax power station, which is a 3,960 MW station, it produces a lot of carbon dioxide, even though it is now fuelled with a lot of imported biomass.

On the other hand, we could always eat the carbon dioxide.

This document on the Horticultural Development Council web site, is entitled Tomatoes: Guidelines for CO2 enrichment – A Grower Guide.

This and other technologies will be developed for the use of waste carbon-dioxide in the next couple of decades.

The great advantage of a gas-fired power station, is that, unlike coal, there are little or no impurities in the feedstock.

The Site

This Google Map shows the site, to the East of Tilbury Docks.

Note that the site is in the South East corner of the map, with its jetty for coal in the River.

These pictures show the area.

The CCGT power station would be built to the North of the derelict Tilbury B power station. I’ll repeat what RWE have said.

The proposed CCGT power station would be located on the coal stock yard at the site of the former power station, but would be physically much smaller than its predecessor (a coal/biomass plant).

Hopefully, when complete, it will improve the area behind partially Grade II* Listed Tilbury Fort.

Another development in the area is the Lower Thames Crossing, which will pass to the East of the site of the proposed power station. As this would be a tunnel could this offer advantages in the design of electricity and gas connections to the power station.

What Is A CCGT (Combined Cycle Gas Turbine) Power Station?

Combined cycle is described well but in a rather scientific manner in Wikipedia. This is the first paragraph.

In electric power generation a combined cycle is an assembly of heat engines that work in tandem from the same source of heat, converting it into mechanical energy, which in turn usually drives electrical generators. The principle is that after completing its cycle (in the first engine), the temperature of the working fluid engine is still high enough that a second subsequent heat engine may extract energy from the waste heat that the first engine produced. By combining these multiple streams of work upon a single mechanical shaft turning an electric generator, the overall net efficiency of the system may be increased by 50–60%. That is, from an overall efficiency of say 34% (in a single cycle) to possibly an overall efficiency of 51% (in a mechanical combination of two cycles) in net Carnot thermodynamic efficiency. This can be done because heat engines are only able to use a portion of the energy their fuel generates (usually less than 50%). In an ordinary (non combined cycle) heat engine the remaining heat (e.g., hot exhaust fumes) from combustion is generally wasted.

Thought of simply, it’s like putting a steam generator on the hot exhaust of your car and using the steam generated to create electricity.

The significant figures are that a single cycle has an efficiency of say 34%, whereas a combined cycle could be possibly as high as 51%.

In a section in the Wikipedia entry called Efficiency of CCGT Plants, this is said.

The most recent[when?] General Electric 9HA can attain 41.5% simple cycle efficiency and 61.4% in combined cycle mode, with a gas turbine output of 397 to 470MW and a combined output of 592MW to 701MW. Its firing temperature is between 2,600 and 2,900 °F (1,430 and 1,590 °C), its overall pressure ratio is 21.8 to 1 and is scheduled to be used by Électricité de France in Bouchain. On April 28, 2016 this plant was certified by Guinness World Records as the worlds most efficient combined cycle power plant at 62.22%. The Chubu Electric’s Nishi-ku, Nagoya power plant 405MW 7HA is expected to have 62% gross combined cycle efficiency.

There is also a section in the Wikipedia entry called Boosting Efficiency, where this is said.

The efficiency of CCGT and GT can be boosted by pre-cooling combustion air. This is practised in hot climates and also has the effect of increasing power output. This is achieved by evaporative cooling of water using a moist matrix placed in front of the turbine, or by using Ice storage air conditioning. The latter has the advantage of greater improvements due to the lower temperatures available. Furthermore, ice storage can be used as a means of load control or load shifting since ice can be made during periods of low power demand and, potentially in the future the anticipated high availability of other resources such as renewables during certain periods.

So is the location of the site by the Thames, important because of all that cold water.

But surely using surplus electricity to create ice, which is then used to improve the efficiency of the power produced from gas is one of those outwardly-bonkers, but elegant ideas, that has a sound scientific and economic case.

It’s not pure storage of electricity as in a battery or at Electric Mountain, but it allows spare renewable energy to be used profitably for electricity generators, consumers and the environment.

The location certainly isn’t short of space and it is close to some of the largest wind-farms in the UK in the Thames Estuary, of which the London Array alone has a capacity of 630 MW.

Wikipedia also has a section on an Integrated solar combined cycle (ISCC), where a CCGT power station is combined with a solar array.

I can’t see RWE building a new CCGT plant without using the latest technology and the highest efficiency.

Surely the higher the efficiency, the  less carbon dioxide is released for a given amount of electricity.

Building A CCGT Power Station

The power station itself is just a big building, where large pieces of machinery can be arranged and connected together to produce electricity.

To get an idea of scale of power stations, think of the original part of Tate Modern in London, which was the turbine hall of the Bankside power station, which generated 300 MW.

Turbines are getting smaller and more powerful, so I won’t speculate on the size of RWE’s proposed 2,500 MW station.

It will also only need a gas pipe in and a cable to connect the station to the grid. There is no need to use trains or trucks to deliver fuel.

Wikipedia has a section entitled Typical Size Of CCGT Plants, which says this.

For large-scale power generation, a typical set would be a 270 MW primary gas turbine coupled to a 130 MW secondary steam turbine, giving a total output of 400 MW. A typical power station might consist of between 1 and 6 such sets.

I feel that this raises interesting questions about the placement of single unit CCGT power stations.

It also means that at somewhere like Tilbury, you can build the units as required in sequence, provided the services are built with the first unit.

So on a large site like Tilbury, the building process can be organised in the best way posible and we might find that the station is expanded later.

RWE say this on their web site.

The exact size and range of these technologies will be defined as the project progresses, based on an assessment of environmental impacts, as well as market and commercial factors.

That sounds like a good plan to me!

100 MW Of Energy Storage At Tilbury

RWE’s plan also includes 100 MW of energy storage, although they say market and commercial factors could change this.

Energy storage is the classic way to bridge shortages in energy, when demand rises suddenly, as cin the classic half-time drinks in the Cup inal.

In Wikipedia’s list of energy storage projects, there are some interesting developments.

The Hornsdale Wind Farm in Australia has the following.

  • 99 wind turbines.
  • A total generating capacity of 315 MW.

Elon Musk is building the world’s largest lithium-ion battery next door with a capacity of 129 MwH

But those energy storage projects aren’t all about lithium-ion batteries.

Several like Electric Mountain in Wales use pumped storage and others use molten salt.

Essex doesn’t have the mountains for the former and probably the geology for the latter.

But the technology gets better all the time, so who knows what technology will be used?

The intriguing idea is the one I mentioned earlier to make ice to cool the air to improve the efficiency of the CCGT power station.

What Is The Difference Between A CCGT (Combined Cycle Gas Turbine) And An OCGT (Open Cycle Gas Turbine) Power Station?

RWE have said that they will provide 300 MW of 300MW of Open Cycle Gas Turbines, so what is the difference.

This page from the MottMacdonald web site gives a useful summary.

OCGT plants are often used for the following applications:

  • Providing a peak lopping capability
  • As a back- up to wind and solar power
  • As phase 1 to generate revenue where phase 2 may be conversion to a CCGT

CCGT plants offer greater efficiency.

I’ve also read elsewhere, that OCGT plants can use a much wider range of fuel. Used cooking oil?

Conclusion

There is a lot more to this than building a 2,500 MW gas-fired power station.

RWE will be flexible and I think we could see a very different mix to the one they have proposed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 23, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

Grenfell Tower Gas Pipes Left Exposed, Despite Fire Safety Expert’s Orders

The title of this post is that of an article in the Guardian.

Read the article and you’ll see the standard of the work done on the gas system in the tower by National Grid.

This is a paragraph.

In March, three months before the blaze, residents told the London fire brigade (LFB) that people living in the 24-storey tower were so scared by the pipes “that they are having a panic attack”.

There is a lot more like that.

Interestingly, Cadent Gas; the division of National Grid that did the work was spun off and is now owned partly by the Qatari government.

Agas system, when it is installed by nincompoops is a disaster waiting to happen.

Workmanship of the quality shown in the pictiures would have been rejected by the inspectors on the chemical plants, I worked on in the 1960s, so why when the consultant rejected the installation, was action not taken by Cadent?

The gas may not have caused the Grenfell House fire, but I wonder if the unprotected gas pipe fractured in the heat of the fire and then just added to the inferno.

 

July 6, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , | 3 Comments

Help For Charlie Gard

This article on the BBC is entitled Charlie Gard: Pope and Trump offer parents support.

I think this Pope is a good man, and I suspect his kind words would be welcome.

But whilst Trumpkopf does nothing to abolish the death penalty in the United States, his unwanted comments should be treated with the contempt they deserve.

July 3, 2017 Posted by | Health, World | , , | 1 Comment