The Anonymous Widower

Have We Missed The Boat On Fracking?

I have just re-read my post from October 2019, which was entitled Fracking Hell…Is It The End?, where these were my conclusions.

  • Fracking for hydrocarbons is a technique that could be past its sell-by date.
  • The use of natural gas will decline.
  • INEOS could see hydrogen as a way of reducing their carbon footprint.
  • The heating on all new buildings should be zero carbon, which could include using hydrogen from a zero-carbon source.
  • There are reasons to think, that electricity from wind-farms creating hydrogen by electrolysis could replace some of our natural gas usage.

So will the Government’s lifting on the ban on fracking make any difference?

The announcement is detailed in this article on the BBC, which is entitled Fracking Ban Lifted, Government Announces.

These are my thoughts.

Fracking Is Not A Quick Fix

My personal view is that to achieve any significant amounts of gas from fracking will take some years, so it is not something that will be available in the short term.

Opposition To Fracking Won’t Help

There are very few inhabitants of the UK, who are enthusiastic about fracking.

Opposition to fracking will make it less likely to be the feasible short term fix we need in the UK.

Suppose There Was An Earthquake Near To A Fracking Site

Fracking also has the problem, that if there were to be a small earthquake near to a site, even if it was very likely to have not been caused by fracking, it would result in massive public uproar, which would shut down all fracking in the UK.

This to me is a big risk!

Would The Jackdaw Oil And Gas Field Be A Medium Term Solution?

I believe that with other gas field developments and imports, Jackdaw could keep us supplied with enough gas until the end of the decade.

Future Renewable Electricity Production

In Will We Run Out Of Power This Winter?, I summarised the likely yearly additions to our offshore wind power capacity in the next few years.

  • 2022 – 3200 MW
  • 2023 – 1500 MW
  • 3024 – 2400 MW
  • 2025 – 6576 MW
  • 2026 – 1705 MW
  • 2027 – 7061 GW

Note.

  1. Ignoring 2022 as it’s going, this totals to 19.2 GW.
  2. Hopefully, by the end of 2027, Hinckley Point C will add another 3.26 GW
  3. According to Wikipedia, there are currently 32 active gas fired combined cycle power plants operating in the United Kingdom, which have a total generating capacity of 28.0 GW.

I think it is not unreasonable to assume that some of the electricity will enable some of our gas-fired power stations to be stood down and/or mothballed.

Gas consumption would be reduced and some power stations would be held in reserve for when the wind was on strike!

Using Hydrogen To Eke Out Our Gas

Consider.

  • In Lime Kiln Fuelled By Hydrogen Shown To Be Viable, I wrote about how hydrogen can be used instead of or with natural gas to fuel a lime kiln.
  • There are other processes, where hydrogen can be used instead of or with natural gas.
  • Using more hydrogen will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted.

Perhaps we should strategically build a few huge hydrogen electrolysers, so that some large industrial users can cut back on their natural gas.

Will Energy Storage Help?

Energy storage’s main use is to mop up all the surplus electricity when demand is low at a low price and sell it back, when demand is high.

If we waste less energy, we will use less gas.

Will District Heating Schemes Help?

Consider.

More schemes like this should be developed, where there is a readily-available source of heat or electricity

Conclusion

As we add more renewables to our energy generation, it appears to me, that our gas usage will decline.

If we were to go fracking, we should have done it a lot earlier, so we can bridge the short term gap.

 

 

 

 

September 22, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Eden Project: Geothermal Heat Project ‘Promising’

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

This is the first paragraph.

A three mile-deep (4.8km) borehole has shown “promising” prospects for a geothermal heat plant in Cornwall.

Eden estimates the borehole can produce enough heat for 35,000 homes.

Geothermal energy is only at the beginning in the UK, but just because we don’t have any active volcanoes, we shouldn’t discount it.

On the other hand, we do have a lot of water-filled abandoned coal mines, which in former mining areas of the UK can and will provide a substantial amount of district heating, as I wrote in Exciting Renewable Energy Project for Spennymoor.

And then there’s one-off project’s like Bunhill 2 in Islington, which I wrote about in ‘World-First’ As Bunhill 2 Launches Using Tube Heat To Warm 1,350 Homes.

Conclusion

The UK may not be an Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, New Zealand, Philippines or the USA, but according to Wikipedia we have a good potential.

  • Deep geothermal resources could provide 9.5GW of baseload renewable electricity.
  • Deep geothermal resources could provide over 100GW of heat.

I think my most significant post on geothermal energy is Schlumberger New Energy And Thermal Energy Partners Form Geothermal Development Company STEP Energy.

Schlumberger and the other oilfield services companies have a very serious problem.

With countries abandoning oil and gas, they have lots of engineers, geologists and other staff, who will not be needed by the oil and gas industry.

But their expertise and skills can be transferred to the geothermal heat and power industry. This will benefit the staff, the companies and the world!

The other place there expertise can be used is in the storage of captured carbon dioxide.

November 6, 2021 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Could We See More Bunhill 2s On The London Underground?

This article on Railway Gazette, is entitled Air-Conditioned Piccadilly Line Train Designs Presented.

This is said in the article about the air-conditioning of the new trains.

The trains will feature air-conditioning for the first time on one of the capital’s small-profile deep-level Tube lines, which has posed a significant engineering challenge. The heat passed into the tunnels from the air-conditioning units is expected to be offset by a reduced heat output from the traction and braking equipment, given the trains’ lower energy consumption.

Cutting the energy consumption will be mainy good basic engineering.

  • Lighting will use LEDs to use less electricity and cut heat generated.
  • Efficient air-conditioning units will save energy.
  • All electrical equipment like traction motors, transformers and door actuators will be low energy units.

There could also be some more complex ways to save energy.

Extensive Mathematical Modelling Of the Temperature And Humidity Of The Trains

I have built large numbers of mathematical models. I can see a lot of scope to use the technique to find the most efficient method of operation.

  • On hot days would the trains be cooled down on the surface sections, so that they entered the tunnels cold?
  • Conversely on cold days, would the heat in the tunnels be recovered to get cold trains entering the long central tunnel up to temperature?
  • How does passenger loading effect the temperature and humidity?

The model would help to identify, the best operating procedure given the weather conditions.

The mathematical model could even be built into the control system of the train.

Heated Floors

As I said in Air-Conditioned Piccadilly Line Train Designs Presented, the trains could have heated floors, which are an efficient use of space.

They might even be an efficient way of warming a train on a cold day.

I lived near Cockfosters Depot for the first sixteen years of my life and know from personal experience, it can get very cold in the winter.

Regenerative Braking To Batteries

Regenerative braking is used in two ways on the London Underground.

  • As the system is DC, electricity generated during braking, can be returned to the rails for use by nearby trains.
  • Some stations are also hump-backed, so trains are slowed coming up the hill into the station and pick the energy up, going downhill out of the station. Stations using this technique are very noticeable on the Victoria Line.

I believe that the new Siemens trains should and probably will use regenerative braking to batteries.

  • Electricity generated during braking is stored in a battery or batteries on the train.
  • When accelerating away from the station, this energy is reused.

The method has advantages.

  • There is less electricity transfer between train and conductor rails, which means less heat generated and less contact shoe wear.
  • If there is a power failure, the batteries can provide hotel power for the train and could even be large enough to move it to the next station for evacuation of the passengers.
  • There may even be scope in building batteries and traction motors as an integrated unit to save weight and reduce heat generation.
  • Because of the reuse of energy, energy use is reduced.

I will be very surprised if these new trains aren’t fitted with batteries.

Why Build More Bunhill 2s?

The Bunhill 2 Energy Centre is described on this page of the Borough of Islington web site, which is entitled Bunhill Heat Network.

This is said about Phase 2 of the project.

Phase 2 of the Bunhill Heat and Power network involves building a new energy centre at the top of Central Street, connecting the King’s Square Estate to the network and adding capacity to supply a further 1,000 homes.

The core of the new energy centre is a 1MW heat pump that will recycle the otherwise wasted heat from a ventilation shaft on the Northern Line of the London Underground network, and will transfer that heat into the hot water network. During the summer months, the system will be reversed to inject cool air into the tube tunnels.

Note that a 1MW heat pump can supply enough hot water to heat upwards of a thousand homes.

This page on the Islington web site lists the project partners.

Transport for London is a key partner and this is said.

As a key partner in the Bunhill 2 scheme, TfL upgraded its City Road mid-tunnel ventilation system to enable the capture and utilisation of waste heat from the Northern line tunnels to provide hot water to local homes and businesses. TfL is also carrying out further research to identify opportunities for similar projects across the Tube network as part of its Energy and Carbon Strategy.

So what other stations could be used?

These are disused stations on the deep lines.

York Road, which is close to all the developments to the North of Kings Cross, would probably be the most likely to be converted into an energy centre to transfer heat to and from the Underground.

Could Some Ventilation Shafts Be Converted Into Energy Centres?

The obvious one is probably Green Lanes Ventilation Station.

Green Lanes Ventilation Station

But then I suspect this is on Transport for London’s list of sites to be converted into something more useful.

 

March 16, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Why Canada’s Geothermal Industry Is Finally Gaining Ground

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

When I think of Canada, I don’t think hot rocks and volcanoes.

But read the article and this Wikipedia article, which is entitled Geothermal Power In Canada, that adds more flesh.

This is an interesting paragraph.

At present, Canada remains the only major country in the Pacific Rim that is not producing electricity from its geothermal resources. This is despite the fact that the colder it is outside, the more electricity a geothermal power plant can produce. This is because the larger the temperature differentials between the geothermal resource and the ambient air temperature, the more efficiently geothermal plants operate. This makes geothermal power ideal for cold northern countries.

Iceland is certainly blessed, with mountains, volcanoes, hot rocks and cooler weather.

In 2016, sixty-five per cent of Iceland’s electricity and space heating was from geothermal sources.

I took the pictures on a summer holiday In July.

It looks like if the articles on the Narwhal and Wikipedia are to be believed, Canada could exploit a lot of geothermal energy resources.

Canada though will have the advantages of not being first.

The technology has already developed in countries like Iceland, the United States and the Philippines.

A lot of the skills needed is available in Canada’s oil industry.

We’re even seeing oilfield services companies like Schlumberger moving into geothermal energy. I wrote about that in Schlumberger New Energy And Thermal Energy Partners Form Geothermal Development Company STEP Energy.

We shouldn’t forget the potential for geothermal energy in the UK. We’re looking seriously in Cornwall and already extracting heat from the Underground in Islington, using similar techniques.

See Drilling Starts For ‘Hot Rocks’ Power In Cornwall and Bunhill 2 Energy Centre.

Conclusion

Geothermal energy would appear to have a high capital cost, but should return a fixed income year-on-year.

For this reason, I believe that funding for viable geothermal schemes, will be easier to obtain, as we improve the engineering and the returns increase.

So expect more geothermal schemes in the future.

 

September 16, 2020 Posted by | Energy | , , , , | Leave a comment

Siemens Gamesa Begins Operation Of Its Innovative Electrothermal Energy Storage System

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

In a world first, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) has today begun operation of its electric thermal energy storage system (ETES). During the opening ceremony, Energy State Secretary Andreas Feicht, Hamburg’s First Mayor Peter Tschentscher, Siemens Gamesa CEO Markus Tacke and project partners Hamburg Energie GmbH and Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) welcomed the achievement of this milestone. The innovative storage technology makes it possible to store large quantities of energy cost-effectively and thus decouple electricity generation and use.

This second paragraph gives a brief description of the system.

The heat storage facility, which was ceremonially opened today in Hamburg-Altenwerder, contains around 1,000 tonnes of volcanic rock as an energy storage medium. It is fed with electrical energy converted into hot air by means of a resistance heater and a blower that heats the rock to 750°C. When demand peaks, ETES uses a steam turbine for the re-electrification of the stored energy. The ETES pilot plant can thus store up to 130 MWh of thermal energy for a week. In addition, the storage capacity of the system remains constant throughout the charging cycles.

This system is a pilot plant and will test the system thoroughly.

They state that the long term aim is to store energy in the gigawatt range and be able to provide the enough power for the daily electricity consumption of around 50,000 households.

The method of energy storage would appear to be inherently simple.

  • Heat rocks to a high temperature using a gigantic electric heater and blower.
  • Use the heat when required to boil water to create steam.
  • Pass the steam through a conventional steam turbine.

I can envisage a clever computer system, controlling the hot air and water flows into the vessel to get the correct level of steam out, as needed for the amount of electricity required.

I suspect the biggest problem is where do you keep a thousand tonnes of hot rock?

The answer is given in this article on the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, which is entitled Heated Volcanic Rocks Store Energy.

This paragraph describes the storage.

A key finding from an earlier, smaller project proved greater efficiency of a round shape for the container holding the rock. It has an increasing diameter on both ends, where inflow and outflow openings are located. It has a total content of 800 cubic meters of rock with a mass of 1,000 tonnes, covered with a one-meter-thick layer of insulation.

I estimate that the diameter of a 800 cubic metre rock sphere would be just 11.4 metres, so perhaps around fourteen with the insulation.

The sphere would need to be a pressure vessel, as it would contain high-pressure steam.

The process looks to be simple, efficient and scalable.

The article also makes the following points.

  • Eighty percent of the components are off-the-shelf.
  • There are no hazardous materials involved.
  • High efficiencies are claimed.
  • Siemens Gamesa are aiming for a 1 GWh system.
  • The German government has provided development funds.

It is being built on the site of an old aluminium smelter, so I suspect, the site has good connections to the electricity grid.

In the early 1970s, I was involved in the design and sizing of chemical plants for ICI. In one plant, the process engineers and myself proposed a very large pressure vessel, that would have been larger than the one, Siemens Gamesa are using in Hamburg. But then the domes of pressurised water reactors, like this forty-six metre diameter example at Sizewell B are even larger.

 

I very much believe, that design and construction of the pressure vessel to hold the hot rocks for Siemens Gamesa’s system could have been performed by the team I worked with in 1972

How Big Would The Sphere Be For A One Gigawatt-hour System?

  • The current pilot system has a 130 MWh thermal capacity and uses a thousand tonnes of volcanic rock.
  • The rock occupies 800 cubic metres.

I estimated that the pressure vessel with insulation could have a diameter of fourteen metres.

A system with a 1 GWh thermal capacity would be 7.7 times larger.

  • It would need 7,700 tonnes of volcanic rock.
  • The rock would occupy 6,160 cubic metres.

I esimate that the pressure vessel with thermal insulation would have a diameter of twenty-five metres.

How Much Power Could Be Stored In A Sizewell B-Sized Dome?

Out of curiosity, I estimated how much power could be stored in a pressure vessel, which was the size of the dome of Sizewell B power station.

  • The dome would have a diameter of forty-two metres if the insulation was two metres thick.
  • This would store 39,000 cubic metres of rock.
  • This would be 48,750 tonnes of rock.

Scaling up from the pilot plant gives a 6.3 GWh thermal capacity.

I would suspect that Siemens know an engineer, who has worked out how to build such a structure.

  • A steel pressure vessel wouldn’t be any more challenging than the dome of a pressurised water reactor.
  • It would be built in sections in a factory and assembled on site.
  • Rock would probably be added as the vessel was built.

I can certainly see one of these energy stores being built with a multi-gigawatt thermal capacity.

Would This System Have A Fast Response?

Power companies like power stations and energy storage to have a fast response to sudden jumps in demand.

This section in the Wikipedia entry for Electric Mountain, is entitled Purpose and this is said.

The scheme was built at a time when responsibility for electricity generation in England and Wales was in the hands of the government’s Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB); with the purpose of providing peak capacity, very rapid response, energy storage and frequency control. Dinorwig’s very rapid response capability significantly reduced the need to hold spinning reserve on part loaded thermal plant. When the plant was conceived the CEGB used low efficiency old coal and oil fired capacity to meet peaks in demand. More efficient 500 MW thermal sets were introduced in the 1960s, initially for baseload operation only. Dinorwig could store cheap energy produced at night by low marginal cost plant and then generate during times of peak demand, so displacing low efficiency plant during peak demand periods.

Given that we are increasingly reliant on intermittent sources like wind and solar, it is surely getting more important to have energy storage with a fast response.

Consider.

  • Gas turbine power stations are very quick to start up, which is a reason why, they are liked by power companies.
  • As Wikipedia says pumped storage systems like Electric Mountain usually have a fast response.
  • Lithium-ion batteries have a very fast response.

I think the Siemens Gamesa ETES system could have a medium-fast response, provided there was enough heat in the rocks to raise steam.

Could This System Be Placed In A Town Or City?

Consider.

  • The system doesn’t use any hazardous materials.
  • The footprint of a 1 GWh system would probably be football pitch-sized.
  • The system could probably be designed to blend in with local buildings.

This picture shows the Bunhill 2 Energy Centre in London, which extracts waste heat from the Underground and uses it for district heating.

When I took the picture, the system wasn’t complete, but it shows how these types of developments can be fitted into the cityscape.

 

 

May 15, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage | , | 3 Comments

‘World-First’ As Bunhill 2 Launches Using Tube Heat To Warm 1,350 Homes

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

A new energy centre using heat from Northern Line Tube tunnels can now provide warmth and hot water to 1,350 Islington homes.

These are some of my pictures of the centre.

If you want to go and see the Bunhill 2 Centre, walk down City Road from the Angel.

March 6, 2020 Posted by | World | , , | 5 Comments