The Anonymous Widower

New Electricity ‘Superhighways’ Needed To Cope With Surge In Wind Power

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Energy companies are pushing for the rapid approval of new electricity “superhighways” between Scotland and England amid fears that a lack of capacity will set back the country’s wind power revolution.

Businesses including SSE and Scottish Power are calling on the industry regulator Ofgem to approve a series of major new north-south power cables in a bid to ease congestion on the existing electricity network.

These points are mentioned in the article.

  • Current capacity is 6 GW, which even now is not enough.
  • Another 17 GW of capacity will be needed by 2033.
  • Wind farms in Scotland have been switched off and replaced by gas-fired power stations because of a lack of grid capacity.
  • Another 25 GW of wind farms could be built after leases were awarded last month.

Two North-South interconnectors are being planned.

Peterhead And Drax

This is being proposed by SSE and National Grid.

  • It will be an undersea cable.
  • It will be two cables, each with a capacity of 2 GW.
  • Peterhead and Drax power station are four hundred miles apart by road and 279 miles as the seagull flies, as a lot of the route would be over the sea. So an undersea connection would appear to be sensible.
  • Peterhead is on the coast, so connecting an undersea interconnector shouldn’t be too challenging or disruptive to the locals.
  • Drax power station is a 4 GW power station and the largest in the UK, so it must have good grid connections.

This Google Map shows the location of Drax power station in relation to Hull, Scunthorpe and the rivers in the area.

Note.

  1. Drax is marked by the red arrow in the West of the map.
  2. The large body of water in the East is the Humber Estuary.
  3. Hull is on the North Bank of the Humber.
  4. Scunthorpe, which is famous for its steel industry is South of the Humber in the middle of the map.
  5. To the West of Scunthorpe the Humber splits into the Trent and the Ouse.
  6. The Ouse leads all the way to Drax power station.

I suspect an undersea cable could go up the Humber and Ouse to Drax power station.

Is it a coincidence that both Drax power station and the proposed link to Peterhead are both around 4 GW?

Consider.

  • Drax is a biomass power station, so it is not a zero carbon power station.
  • Drax produces around six percent of the UK’s electricity.
  • Most of the biomass comes by ship from North America.
  • Protest groups regularly have protests at Drax because of its carbon emissions.
  • Drax Group are experimenting with carbon capture.
  • Drax is a big site and a large energy storage system could be built there.
  • Wind is often criticised by opponents, saying wind is useless when the wind doesn’t blow.
  • The Scots would be unlikely to send power to England, if they were short.

This is also said about Drax in Wikipedia.

Despite this intent for baseload operation, it was designed with a reasonable ability for load-following, being able to ramp up or down by 5% of full power per minute within the range of 50–100% of full power.

I take this it means it can be used to top up electricity generation to meet demand. Add in energy storage and it could be a superb load-follower.

So could the similar size of the interconnector and Drax power station be deliberate to guarantee England a 4 GW feed at all states of the wind?

I don’t think it is a coincidence.

Torness And Hawthorn Pit And Torness and South Humberside

These two cables are being proposed by Scottish Power.

  • Each will be two GW.
  • Torness is the site of the 1.36 GW Torness nuclear power station, which is likely to be decommissioned before 2030.
  • Torness will have good grid connections and it is close to the sea.
  • Hawthorn Pit is a large closed coal mine to the North of Newcastle, with a large substation close to the site. I suspect it will be an ideal place to feed power into the grid for Newcastle and it is close to the sea.
  • Just South of Hawthorn Pit are the 1.32 GW Hartlepool nuclear power station, which will be decommissioned in 2024 and the landfall of the cables to the massive Dogger Bank wind farm.
  • As I showed earlier with Drax, the Humber would be an ideal estuary to bring underwater power cables into the surrounding area. So perhaps the cable will go to Scunthorpe for the steelworks.
  • As at Drax, there is backup in South Humberside, but here it is from the two Keadby gas-fired power stations.

The article in the Telegraph only gives the briefest of details of Scottish Power’s plans, but I suspect, that given the locations of the ends of the interconnectors, I suspect the cables will be underwater.

Conclusion

It strikes me that all three interconnectors have been well thought thought and they serve a variety of objectives.

  • Bring Scottish wind power, South to England.
  • Connect wind farms to the two nuclear power station sites at Hartlepool and Torness, that will close at the end of the decade.
  • Allow the big 4 GW biomass-fired station at Drax to back up wind farms and step in when needed.
  • Cut carbon emissions at Drax.
  • Use underwater cables as much as possible to transfer the power, to avoid the disruption of digging in underground cables.

It looks to be a good plan.

February 13, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Shell Starts Up Europe’s Largest PEM Green Hydrogen Electrolyser

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Refhyne.

These are the first three paragraphs.

Europe’s largest PEM hydrogen electrolyser*, today began operations at Shell’s Energy and Chemicals Park Rheinland, producing green hydrogen.

As part of the Refhyne European consortium and with European Commission funding through the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), the fully operational plant is the first to use this technology at such a large scale in a refinery.

Plans are under way to expand capacity of the electrolyser from 10 megawatts to 100 megawatts at the Rheinland site, near Cologne, where Shell also intends to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) using renewable power and biomass in the future. A plant for liquefied renewable natural gas (bio-LNG) is also in development.

It certainly seems a comprehensive green development.

  • It will be based on a massive 100 MW electrolyser.
  • I estimate that the electrolyser will produce just under 45 tonnes of hydrogen per day.

As ITM Power is part of the Refhyne consortium, the electrolyser is being built in their factory in Sheffield.

This paragraph quotes Shell’s Downstream Director, Huibert Vigeveno .

“Shell wants to become a leading supplier of green hydrogen for industrial and transport customers in Germany,” he added. “We will be involved in the whole process — from power generation, using offshore wind, to hydrogen production and distribution across sectors. We want to be the partner of choice for our customers as we help them decarbonise.”

Shell certainly have green ambitions.

July 7, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , | Leave a comment

Velocys Signs Agreement For Commercial-Scale Biomass-To-Jet Fuel In Japan

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

I am very hopeful about Velocys, who are a UK public company, that were spun out of Oxford University and do clever things in the area of chemical catalysts.

Velocys’ Fischer-Tropsch technology does seem to be a good way of creating sustainable aviation fuel from household rubbish and biomass.

February 18, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drax, Velocys Help Launch Coalition For Negative Emissions

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

U.K.-based companies Drax Group and Velocys are among 11 organizations that have launched the Coalition for Negative Emissions, which aims to achieve a sustainable and resilient recovery from COVID-19 by developing pioneering projects that can remove carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the atmosphere.

This paragraph details the companies and organisations involved.

In addition to Drax and Velocys, members of the coalition include Carbon Engineering, Carbon Removal Centre, CBI, Carbon Capture and Storage Association, Climeworks, Energy U.K., Heathrow, International Airlines Group, and the U.K. National Farmers Union.

They have sent a letter to the Government, which can be downloaded from the Drax website.

Conclusion

I have an open mind about biomass and products such as aviation biofuel and techniques such as carbon capture.

Keeping the wheels of commerce turning, needs a sustainable way to fly and ideas such as producing aviation biofuel from household and industrial waste, could enable sustainable transport in the short term.

Carbon capture is very difficult in a lot of processes, but I feel that in some, such as a modern gas-turbine powered station, if they are designed in an innovative manner, they an be made to deliver a pure stream of the gas. A pure gas must be easier to handle, than one contaminated with all sorts of unknowns, as you might get from burning some sources of coal.

I am pleased that the National Farmers Union is involved as using pure carbon dioxide, as a growth promoter for greenhouse crops is a proven use for carbon dioxide.

Overall, I am optimistic about the formation of the Coalition for Negative Emissions.

 

October 14, 2020 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Debate Over Burning Dead Trees To Create Biomass Energy

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

This is the sub-title.

Critics worry about the risks of overcutting and wood smoke. But supporters say the practice will prevent megafires—which release even more carbon dioxide.

For those who worry about the ethics of biomass, it is a must-read.

June 28, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Colne – Skipton Reopening Moves Closer

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris has confirmed that investigations have been commissioned into the proposed reinstatement of the 19·3 km Colne – Skipton ‘missing link’ connecting east Lancashire and west Yorkshire.

Investigations will look into.

  • Capital costs
  • Passenger demand forecasts
  • Service options.
  • Gauge enhancement measures necessary to increase rail freight capacity on TransPennine routes including between Accrington and Todmorden stations.
  • Proposals for a rail freight terminal on the site of the demolished Huncoat power station near Accrington.

This sounds more than a simple proposal to reopen the route between Skipton and Colne stations.

These are a few of my thoughts.

The Rail Route Between Preston And Skipton

The rail route between Preston on the West Coast Main Line and Skipton can be summarised as follows.

  • Preston and Rose Grove via Huncoat – double-track – electrification at Preston
  • Rose Grove and Colne – single-track
  • Colne and Skipton – to be reinstated – electrification at Skipton

Colne and Skipton might not be the easiest route to reinstate, as a dual carriageway has been built across the route to the North of Colne station.

Could Colne And Skipton Be Double-Track All The Way?

Consider.

  • The new section between Skipton and Colne could be built with single or double tracks.
  • The section between Rose Grove and Colne stations was built as a double-track and singled in 1971. British Rail’s accountants strike again!
  • The single-track section includes the Bank Top Viaduct, in the centre of Burnley.
  • Trains currently take twenty-one minutes between Rose Grove and Colne stations.

This picture shows Bank Top Viaduct.

I think the viaduct could be key to whether the route is double-track all the way.

  • If the redoubling can be performed at a reasonable cost, then that will be the way to go, as it might be possible to squeeze up to three trains per hour (tph) between Skipton and Rose Grove via Colne.
  • If on the other hand, doubling is too difficult or expensive, I estimate that no more than two tph would be possible.

For both solutions, there will need to be double track or a long passing loop, between Skipton and Colne.

Could Colne And Skipton Be Electrified?

Consider.

  •  Preston is a fully-electrified station on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Skipton is a fully-electrified station with electric trains to and from Leeds.
  • Full electrification would create an electrified route between Leeds and Blackpool, Liverpool and Preston.
  • It could be a useful diversion route for electric passenger trains across the Pennines, when their are engineering works on the Huddersfield Line or due to the building of Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  • Electrification of the route, would allow electric haulage of freight trains to and from the proposed Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal.
  • Electrification of the Calder Valley Line between Preston and Leeds is always being proposed.
  • Electrication of Bank Top Viaduct could be tricky!

It should also be noted that this article on Rail Magazine was published on May 12th, 2020 and is entitled Electrification Key to Decarbonisation – Government. Views in Government about electrification have changed, so this might affect the decision to electrify the route.

The power is already there at both ends and electrification systems with low visual intrusion could be used.

On the other hand, some might consider electrification of the route inappropriate.

Could Colne And Skipton Be Partially Electrified?

Consider.

  • I estimate that the distance between Preston and Skipton will be 41 miles.
  • If Blackpool North station were the final destination, there would be 34 miles (2 x 17) to charge the batteries.
  • If Liverpool Lime Street station were the final destination, there would be 70 miles (2 x 35) to charge the batteries.
  • If Leeds station were the final destination, there would be 52 miles (2 x 26) to charge the batteries.
  • Manufacturers’ estimates of distances, indicate that battery electric trains could cover up to 65 miles on battery power.

As both ends of the route are electrified and trains would run extra miles under the wires, it would seem likely that a battery electric train could run between Preston and Skipton, without needing a charge en route.

Drax Group And Colne And Skipton Reinstatement

Drax power station uses Flue Gas Desulphurisation. Wikipedia says this about the process at Drax.

All six units are served by an independent wet limestone-gypsum flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) plant, which was installed between 1988 and 1996. This diverts gases from the boilers and passes them through a limestone slurry, which removes at least 90% of the sulphur dioxide (SO2). This is equivalent to removing over 250,000 tonnes of SO2 each year. The process requires 10,000 tonnes of limestone a week, sourced from Tunstead Quarry in Derbyshire. A byproduct of the process is gypsum, with 15,000 tonnes produced each week. This goes to be used in the manufacture of plasterboard. The gypsum is sold exclusively to British Gypsum, and it is transported by rail to their plant at Kirkby Thore (on the Settle-Carlisle Line).

The gypsum trains go through Skipton to access the Settle-Carlisle Line.

Drax power station is part-fuelled with biomass, which comes from all over the place including the United States via the Port of Liverpool.

It is no surprise that Drax Group are in favour of the Colne and Skipton reinstatement, as it would give them a new route between Drax and the Port of Liverpool.

This press release from Drax Group gives more details including this paragraph.

It will have a direct impact on improving our supply chain at Drax, allowing freight trains to travel much more quickly to the power station in North Yorkshire – reducing journey times from the Port of Liverpool to less than three hours, a journey which can take up to nine hours at the moment.

Trains will avoid the busy Huddersfield Line and Manchester Victoria station.

Drax’s statement would appear to be a powerful reason to reinstate Colne and Skipton.

These smart new or refurbished wagons, used by Drax to move woodchip should be much faster than the typical 20-30 mph freight speed of TransPennine routes.

This page on the Drax web site, is entitled This train isn’t like any other in the UK, and it gives more details about the wagons.

  • They were custom-designed and built in the last few years.
  • The roofs open automatically for loading.
  • A twenty-five wagon train can be loaded in 37 minutes.
  • A full train can carry between 1,700 and 1,800 tonnes of biomass.
  • Each train can unload in forty minutes.
  • They are the largest wagons on UK railways by a margin of 30 %.
  • Each wagon is nineteen metres long and can carry over seventy tonnes of biomass.
  • Approximately 14 trains per day arrive at Drax, bringing 20,000 tonnes of biomass.

I suspect to minimise journey times, Drax would like to see a fully electrified route between Preston and Skipton and a new double-track route between Colne and Skipton.

The Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal

This Google Map shows the position of the former Huncoat power station.

Note.

  1. Hapton station in the North-East corner of the map.
  2. Huncoat station in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. The East Lancashire Line running between the two stations.
  4. The M65 running across the top of the map.
  5. The A56 or Accrington bypass running North-South from the motorway junction at the top of the map.

Huncoat power station appears to have been in the South West corner of the rough-looking area, South of the M65 and the railway and West of the A56.

There is no Wikipedia entry for the demolished power station, but this page on The View From The North has some details and pictures.

It does appear to be a well connected site for a Rail Freight Terminal.

  • There could be a direct connection to the motorway network.
  • There is space for a connection with the East Lancashire Line, that would allow trains to access the interchange from both directions.
  • Trains could go West to the Port of Liverpool and the West Coast Main Line via Preston.
  • Trains could go East to Leeds and Yorkshire and on to the East Coast ports of Felixstowe, Hull, Immingham and Teesport.
  • If the East Lancashire Line were to be electrified, electric haulage could be used.

The Rail Freight Terminal could be bigger than a hundred hectares.

Gauge Enhancement On TransPennine Routes Including Between Accrington And Todmorden

Consider

  • Most freight trains passing through Hebden Bridge station  use the route via Rochdale and Todmorden to get to and from Liverpool and the West.
  • Few if any use the East Lancashire Line via Accrington.
  • Some passenger trains do take the Accrington route.
  • There are five tunnels between Accrington and the Todmorden Curve.
  • The building of the Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal, must mean that trains between the Rail Freight Terminal and Leeds and the East would need to use the Calder Valley Line as far as the Todmorden Curve. or the East Lancashire Line to Colne for the new route.

As freight trains rarely seem to use the East Lancashire Line to the East of Accrington could it be that this section of track needs gauge enhancement?

But if this gauge enhancement were to be completed, that could give two routes between Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal and the East, for the largest freight trains.

Thoughts On The Project Management

It would appear that there are a series of sub-projects to be done.

  1. Perform gauge enhancement and route improvement on the East Lancashire Line between Rose Grove and Colne. This would include any doubling of the route, if that were to be done.
  2. Start building the link between Skipton and Colne.
  3. Start building the Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal.
  4. Finish building the link between Skipton and Colne.
  5. Start passenger and freight services between Skipton and Colne.
  6. Finish building the Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal.
  7. Perform gauge enhancement on the Calder Valley Line between Accrington and Todmorden.

My objectives would be.

  • Open the Skipton and Colne route as a TransPennine diversion, as early as possible.
  • Upgrade the East Lancashire Line between Rose Grove and Colne with minimum disruption.
  • Open the Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal as early as possible.
  • Create multiple freight routes to and from Huncoat Rail Freight Terminal.

Electrification would be a future aspiration.

Whither Drax?

Drax Gtroup and their flagship power station have a major environmental problem in that the power station is a large emitter of carbon dioxide.

They also run a lot of diesel locomotive hauled trains carrying biomass, fly ash, gypsum, limestone and other materials to and from Drax power station, which is on the Drax branch of the Pontefract Line.

  • The Pontefract Line was built to serve the coalfields in the area.
  • It runs between Leeds and Hull via Pontefract and Goole.
  • It is not electrified, but it connects to the electrification at Leeds.
  • In the East is has good connections to Cleethorpes, Goole, Grimsby, Hull and Immingham.
  • The Port of Immingham is a major port, that is used by Drax to import biomass, which is hauled to the power station by diesel locomotives.
  • The route between Drax and Immingham has been improved recently, by the addition of the North Doncaster chord.
  • High Speed Two will run alongside the Pontefract Line on its approach to Leeds.
  • Freight trains between Drax and Skipton use an electrified diversion South of Leeds via Armley, that avoids the need for freight trains to pass through Leeds station.

I can see that in a more favourable climate for electrification, that electrification of the Pontefract Line would be recommended.

Given, the environmental record of Drax, which is both good and bad, I would suspect they would like to see electrification of the Pontefract Line, as it would create a lower carbon route for biomass trains between Immingham and the power station.

A New Electrified TransPennine Route For Passengers And Freight

I sense that a grander plan might exist behind all my thoughts.

If the following routes were to be electrified.

  • Preston and Skipton
  • The Pontefract Line between Leeds and Hull.
  • Knottingley and Immingham via Thorne

Hull and Liverpool would be connected for passenger electric trains and Liverpool and Immingham would be connected for freight.

Drax could also be on an electrified branch and they could say, they were hauling all their trains using renewable electricity. Marketing and environment are always important

 

 

 

 

May 12, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments