The Anonymous Widower

Sun Cable’s Australia-Asia PowerLink

Two weeks ago, in How Clean Energy And Jobs Can Flow From Morocco to The UK, I talked about a plan to generate electricity using solar arrays in Southern Morocco and use an underwater interconnector to bring it to the UK.

If you think that project was ambitious and distinctly bonkers, then that project is outshone by Sun Cable‘s Australia-Asia PowerLink, which is shown in this SunCable graphic.

These are a few facts about the project.

  • Electricity will be generated by solar panels in the Northern Territories of Australia.
  • There will be 12,000 hectares of solar panels in Australia, which will create 3.2 GW of electricity for distribution.
  • There will be a 36-42 GWh battery in Australia.
  • There will be 4,200 km of submarine HVDC cable to deliver the electricity to Singapore and Indonesia.
  • It looks like there will be batteries in Darwin and Singapore.
  • The link could supply up to fifteen percent of Singapore’s electricity.

It is certainly an ambitious project, that will contain the world’s largest solar array, the world’s largest battery, and the world’s longest submarine power cable.

Note.

  1. Currently, the largest solar park in the world is Bhadia Solar Park in India, which is half the size of the solar array proposed.
  2. At 720 km, the North Sea Link is the largest undersea HVDC is operation.
  3. The largest battery in the UK is Electric Mountain in Snowdonia, which is only 9.1 GWh.
  4. A Tesla Megapack battery of the required size would probably cost at least ten billion dollars.

This is certainly, a project that is dealing in superlatives.

Is The Australia-Asia PowerLink Possible?

I shall look at the various elements.

The Solar Panels

I have flown a Piper Arrow from Adelaide to Cairns.

  • My route was via Coober Pedy, Yulara, Alice Springs and Mount Isa.
  • There didn’t seem to be much evidence of rain.
  • The circle from South to East took four days of almost continuous flying, as Australia is not a small country.
  • It left me with the impression of a flat featureless and hot country.

Having seen solar panels on flat areas in the UK, the Australian Outback could be ideal for solar farms.

Sun Cable are talking about 10,000 hectares of solar panels, which is roughly 38.6 square miles or a 6.2 mile square.

Given enough money to source the solar panels and install them, I would expect that the required solar farm could be realised.

The Cable

Consider.

  • The North Sea Link is a 1.4 GW cable that is 720 km. long.
  • I would size it as 10008 GW-km, by multiplying the units together.
  • The Australia-Asia PowerLink will be 4200 km or nearly six times as long.
  • But at 3.2 GW as opposed to 1.4 GW, it will have 2.3 times the capacity.
  • I would size it as 13,400 GW-km.

Whichever way you look at it, the amount of cable needed will be massive.

The Battery

Currently, the largest battery in the world is the Bath County Pumped Storage Station, which has these characteristics.

  • Peak power of 3 GW
  • Storage capacity of 24 GWh.

Sun Cable’s 36-42 GWh battery will be the largest in the world, by a long way.

But I don’t think pumped storage will be suitable in the usually dry climate of Northern Australia.

The largest lithium-ion battery in the world is the Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia, which is only 150 MW/194 MWh, so something else will have to be used.

As Highview Power are building a CRYOBattery for the Atacama region in Chile, which I wrote about in The Power Of Solar With A Large Battery, I wonder, if a cluster of these could provide sufficient storage.

 

October 12, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iron Ore Miner Orders Heavy-Haul Battery Locomotive

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Mining company Roy Hill has ordered a Wabtec FLXdrive battery-electric heavy-haul freight locomotive. This will replace one the four ES44ACi diesel-electric locos used to haul its 2 700 m long iron ore trains, and is expected to reduce fuel costs and emissions by ‘double digit’ percentages while also cutting maintenance costs.

The locomotive is scheduled to be delivered in 2023. It will have a capacity of 7 MWh, an upgrade from the 2·4 MWh prototype which Wabtec and BNSF tested in revenue service in California earlier this year.

Note.

  1. It will have a 7 MWh battery.
  2. 2700 metres is 1.6 miles.

It looks to me, that the three diesel locomotives and one battery locomotive are arranged as a massive hybrid locomotive and I suspect that with sophisticated control systems, those double digit cuts in fuel costs and emissions would be possible.

A couple of years ago, I took this picture near Shenfield.

This double-headed train has a Class 90 electric locomotive and a Class 66 diesel locomotive at the front of a long freight train.

  • The Class 90 locomotive has an TDM system for multiple working.
  • The Class 66 locomotive has an AAR system for multiple working.

So does this mean that the two locomotives can’t work together, which if it does begs the question of what is happening.

  • Had the Class 66 locomotive failed and Class 90 was acting as a Thunderbird?
  • Was the Class 66 locomotive being moved from one depot to another for maintenance or repair?
  • Was it an experiment to see if the two locomotives could work together?

I sometimes think that I didn’t see this unusual formation, but then the camera doesn’t lie.

But could we learn from what Wabtec are doing for Roy Hill in Australia?

The Class 93 Locomotive

Rail Operations Group have already ordered thirty Class 93 tri-mode locomotives from Stadler, which have following power ratings.

  • Electric – 4000 kW
  • Diesel – 900 kW
  • Hybrid – 1300 kW

If this locomotive is capable of hauling the heaviest intermodal freight trains out of Felixstowe, Southampton and other ports and freight terminals, it could contribute to substantial  reductions in the diesel fuel used and emissions.

As an example, I will use a freight train between Felixstowe North Terminal and Trafford Park Euro Terminal.

  • It is a route of 280 miles.
  • I will ignore that it goes along the North London Line through North London and along the Castlefield Corridor through Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • There is fifteen miles without electrification at the  Felixstowe end.
  • There is under three miles without electrification at the  Manchester end.

On this service , it could be as much as 94 % of diesel and emissions are saved, if the Class 93 locomotive can haul a heavy freight train out of Felixstowe. A few miles of strategically-placed electrification at the Ipswich end would help, if required.

It must also be born in mind, that the Class 93 locomotive is a 110 mph locomotive on electric power and could probably do the following.

  • Run at 100 mph on the busy Great Eastern Main Line.
  • Run at faster speeds on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Fit in well with the 100 mph passenger trains, that run on both routes.

So not only does it save diesel and carbon emissions, but it will save time and make the freight train easier to timetable on a route with lots of 100 mph passenger trains.

The Class 93 locomotive looks like it could be a game-changer for long-distance intermodal freight, especially, if there were short sections of strategically-placed electrification, added to the electrified network.

Emissions could also be reduced further by using some for of sustainable fuel.

The picture shows a Class 66 locomotive, which is powered by Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil  or HVO.

I can see that all diesel-powered trains and locomotives will be powered by sustainable fuels by the end of this decade.

A Wabtec Battery-Electric Locomotive

Wabtec is building a battery-electric locomotive for Roy Hill in Australia.

This article on Railway Age talks about Wabtec’s FLXdrive battery locomotives and describes some features of the locomotive for Roy Hill in Australia.

It mentions pantographs and overhead wires to charge the batteries.

  • Wabtec’s prototype battery locomotive has a power output of 3.24 MW and a battery size of 2.4 MWh
  • The Roy Hill battery locomotive has a power output of 3.24 MW and a battery size of 7 MWh

I could envisage Wabtec designing a UK-sized battery-electric locomotive with these characteristics.

  • 2.5 MW power output, which is similar to a Class 66 locomotive.
  • A battery size of perhaps 1.8 MWh based on Wabtec’s  FLXdrive technology.
  • A pantograph to charge the batteries and also power the locomotive where electrification exists.
  • 75 mph operating speed.
  • Ability to work in tandem with a Class 66 locomotive.

All technology is under Wabtec’s control.

This locomotive could have a range of at least fifty miles on battery power.

I think this locomotive could handle these routes.

  • Peterborough and Doncaster via the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line via Lincoln, with some form of charging at halfway.
  • Felixstowe and Nuneaton, with some extra electrification at some point between Peterborough and Leicester.
  • Oxford and Birmingham, with possibly some extra electrification in the middle.

One option for charging electrification, would surely be to electrify passing loops.

I think a battery-electric locomtive based on Wabtec’s  FLXdrive technology could be a very useful locomotive.

Could Wabtec’s Battery-Electric Locomotive Pair-Up With A Class 66 Locomotive?

Roy Hill will use their locomotive to form a consist of three diesel locomotives and one battery locomotive to obtain double-digit savings of fuel and emissions, when hauling iron-ore trains that are 1.6 miles long on a route of 214 miles.

We don’t have massive iron-ore trains like this, but we do move huge quantities of segregates and stone around the country in trains generally hauled by Class 66 locomotives.

So could a Class 66 or another suitable locomotive be paired-up with a battery-electric locomotive to make savings of fuel and emissions?

I would suggest that if it works in Australia, the technology will probably work in the UK.

The biggest problem for Wabtec is that the heavy end of the market may well be a good one for hydrogen-powered locomotives. But Wabtec are going down that route too!

Conclusion

I am convinced that the two decarbonisation routes I have outlined here are viable for the UK.

But I also feel that locomotive manufacturers will produce hydrogen-powered locomotives.

Other companies like Alstom, Siemens and Talgo will also offer innovative solutions.

 

 

 

 

 

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Power Of Solar With A Large Battery

This post is based on this press release from Highview Power, which is entitled Highview Enlasa Developing 50MW/500MWh Liquid Air Energy Storage Facility In The Atacama Region Of Chile.

This is the first paragraph.

Highview Enlasa, the 50/50 joint venture between Highview Power, a global leader in long duration energy storage solutions, and Energía Latina S.A.-Enlasa, the largest backup power generation provider in Chile, is pleased to announce that it is developing the first liquid air long duration energy storage project in Chile. This 50MW/500MWh (10 hours) CRYOBattery™, which represents an estimated investment of USD $150 million, will be located in Diego de Almagro in the Atacama Region.

Ican deduce these points from this paragraph.

The power output of 50 MW appears to be standard for all of Highview Power’s CRYOBatteries, which is not surprising as the centre of each system appears to be a standard turbomachinery solution from MAN Energy Solutions, as I wrote about in MAN Energy Partners With Highview Power On Liquid-Air Energy-Storage Project.

But whereas the first system at Carrington, near Manchester, can only store 250 MWh, this plant in Chile is twice the size and can provide 50 MW of electricity for ten hours. The Chile plant will just have twice the number of storage tanks for liquid air.

I can no reason, why if Carrington needed to store more electricity, that more tanks couldn’t be added.

This Google Map shows the area around the city of Diego de Almagro.

Note.

  1. The city of Diego de Almagro is in the centre of the map.
  2. In the North-Western corner is the Planta Fotovoltaica ENEL Diego de Almagro, which even my rudimentary Spanish, identifies as a solar power plant.
  3. In the North-Eastern corner of the map, is appears that a second solar power plant is under construction.

The city is surrounded by the large Atacama Desert.

This second Google Map shows the location of Diego de Almagro, with respect to the Chilean Coast.

Note.

  1. The red arrow indicates the solar powerplant at Diego de Almagro.
  2. La Paz in Bolivia is in the North-East corner of the map.
  3. The sandy-beige colour indicates the Atacama Desert.

The area would appear not to lack sun.

This extract is from the press release.

With one of the highest solar irradiations in the world, the Atacama Region has the potential to generate all the country’s electricity. By pairing solar with cryogenic energy storage, Chile can benefit from 24/7, 100% renewable energy.

The Wiukipedia entry for Solar Power In Chile, is not as optimistic as the press release, but does show the rapid growth in the amount of solar power.

Conclusion

Solar power installed with large batteries, will transform the electricity supply in countries like Australia, Chile and India and those in Africa and other places, where there are large hot deserts.

In Europe, Spain is investing heavily in solar power and is a big innovator in solar technology.

 

 

July 1, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Story Of ITM Power

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

The article confirms, that they have the funds to build a second Gigafactory for electrolysers and it would take eighteen months to build.

My view is that after the Anglo-Australian trade deal, that it could be built in Australia, as that country will need a lot of electrolysers to fulfil their hydrogen ambitions.

June 18, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , | 3 Comments

Hydrogen And The Anglo-Australian Trade Deal

This article on the BBC is entitled UK And Australia In First Post-Brexit Trade Deal.

I can see one very profitable result of this trade deal.

The world has a large and growing need for green hydrogen produced by renewable energy.

Australia is embracing the hydrogen economy and I have posted about Australia hydrogen developments several times.

This post is entitled H2U Eyre Peninsula Gateway Hydrogen Project Begins Largest Green Ammonia Plant and it describes how Australia will convert renewable electricity into liquid green ammonia for export to Japan.

Australia has a lot of sun and can create a lot of green hydrogen and ammonia for South East Asia.

Electrolysers need to be used to convert solar and wind electricity into hydrogen, which would be exported in tankers either as liquid hydrogen or liquid ammonia.

The largest hydrogen electrolyser factory in the world, is owned by ITM Power and is located in Sheffield/Rotherham. It has a capacity to build 1 GW of electrolysers in a year.

Looking at the electrolyser market, I can see the company needing another similar-sized factory.

Australia’s Solar Power Potential

This section in the Wikipedia entry for Solar Power In Australia is called Potential.

These are some points from the section.

  • Typically, in the winter months, a square metre of much of Australia receives 4 kWh of insolation per day.
  • Some areas in the North receive fifty percent more.
  • Australia has the potential to install 179 GW of solar power on roofs across the nation.

Australia used to curse the sun because of all the cancer it brought. Now it could make them the world’s hydrogen powerhouse!

At present ninety percent of Australia’s solar panels are made in China.

But that may not be for ever, if what I wrote in Solar To Hydrogen Efficiency Record Broken By Australian National University Researchers, turns out to lead to an alternative technology to create hydrogen.

An Anglo-Australian Hydrogen Alliance

What better possible place to build a second electrolyser factory is there, than in Australia?

  • The Australian economy can use a lot of hydrogen for transport.
  • Australia is embracing hydrogen technology.
  • Australia is well-placed to export electrolysers to their friends in South East Asia.
  • Australia has the sun to produce massive amounts of green hydrogen.

If the UK and Australia developed hydrogen together, it would be good for both countries.

  • Australia can develop massive levels of renewable electricity from solar.
  • The UK can develop massive levels of renewable electricity from wind and possibly other sources.
  • Both countries are researching the ways to create and use hydrogen.
  • Both countries could produce hydrogen for nearby economies needing large amounts of hydrogen.
  • Many UK and Australian companies operate in both countries.

But above all, we haven’t had a major fall-out with Australia since the Bodyline Tour in 1932-1933.

June 15, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could West Africa Become A Green Energy Powerhouse?

I ask this question, because I have just read this article on Hydrogen Fuel News, which is entitled Green Hydrogen Potential Causes Germany to court West African countries.

The article has this sub-title.

Nations in that part of Africa have the capacity to meet 1500 times Germany’s 2030 H2 demand.

That would appear to be a massive amount of hydrogen.

This extract from the article, talks about energy production.

Initial results for the 15 West African Economic Area (ECOAS) countries revealed that a massive three quarters of West African land is appropriate for wind turbines. Moreover, the electricity production from wind energy in the region costs about half the amount it would in Germany.

Additionally, solar power systems can also be economically operated on about one third of the West African region.

Add in a few large electrolysers and you have the hydrogen.

The hydrogen can be transported to Germany by tanker, either as hydrogen or ammonia.

The German strategy is to be underpinned by education, as this extract explains.

In support of developing West African green hydrogen production, a new master’s graduate program on clean H2 technology will begin in September. The purpose of the program will be to train local green hydrogen scientific specialists. The first three waves of the program are expected to train about 180 students attending four universities in Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Senegal, and Niger.

Perhaps the Commonwealth should do something similar in West African countries like Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

After all many parts of Australia have very similar climate and population densities and probably energy generation potential to large parts of West Africa.

The Geographical Advantage

It should also be noted that geographically West Africa is close to Europe by ship.

There are no pinch points like the Suez Canal

As the European hydrogen gas network grows, the journey will get shorter.

Does anybody know how long it would take a tanker to go between say Accra in Ghana to Rotterdam?

Conclusion

I would see four main benefits coming to West Africa.

  • Electricity for all.
  • Employment to support the new industries.
  • Hydrogen to power transport.
  • The value of all those exports.

Hopefully, the standard of living of all those in West Africa would improve.

 

May 26, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Australia’s First Net-Zero Hybrid Power Station Gets The Green Light

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Australian Broadcasting Company.

This is the first paragraph.

Australia’s first power plant — capable of running on both hydrogen and natural gas — will be built in NSW, following an agreement between the private sector and both state and federal governments.

The article also makes these key points.

  • The gas power plant could begin using green hydrogen as early as 2025.
  • EnergyAustralia plans to buy 200,000kg of green hydrogen a year — equivalent to five per cent of the plant’s fuel use.
  • The Illawarra project is expected to deliver a $300-million boost to the economy and support about 250 jobs during construction.

But it doesn’t say, where the green hydrogen is coming from.

Is it going to be produced by solar power in Australia’s hot interior or is it going to be imported by ship at the hydrogen hub at Port Kembla?

May 4, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , | Leave a comment

Australian Coal Mine To Transform Into Pumped Hydro Facility

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Australian utility AGL is transforming its operations in a number of ways, from restructuring the company itself, to building energy storage facilities for flexible distribution of renewable energy into the future. The company is also planning to build a pumped-hydro facility at a disused open-cut coal mining site in eastern Australia.

It is an interesting proposition to say the least to reuse an opencast coal mine for something useful.

It would appear to be able to supple 250 MW for eight hours, which would make it a 2 GWh facility.

But then Australia is a country, that needs a lot of energy storage as they transform their economy to zero carbon.

April 20, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , | Leave a comment

Coal Plant Closures Loom Large As NSW Backs Hydrogen For The Hunter

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Sydney Morning Herald.

This is the first paragraph.

The future of NSW’s coal-fired power plants is under increasing threat from cheap renewable energy, which this week forced Victoria’s Yallourn coal plant to bring forward its closure date as analysts warn the end may come even sooner.

The future for coal in Australia certainly doesn’t look good.

March 12, 2021 Posted by | Energy | , | Leave a comment

Europe Blocks 250,000 AstraZeneca Vaccine Doses Bound For Australia

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Australian newspaper The Age.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Officials in Europe have blocked the shipment of 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia in a ploy set to trigger a major diplomatic dispute.

It is a surprisingly calm article.

Although it does say this.

More than 150 international deliveries were authorised without a hitch over recent weeks, but Italy has now opposed the delivery to Australia. Rome’s objection was endorsed by the European Commission.

It looks to me that Australia has been singled out. Could it be because to EU officials, it is seen as a British colony?

Or is it because the EU believes that the French-born CEO of AstraZeneca; Pascal Soriot, is a traitor for taking up Australian citizenship?

Aussie comedians will have a field day.

I also suspect, that when Australia starts delivering its own locally-made AstraZeneca vaccine towards the end of the month, some will be exported to the EU to solve their self-inflicted vaccine shortage.

March 5, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , | Leave a comment