The Anonymous Widower

Hydro-Storage Options To Be Studied For Grängesberg

The title of this post, is the same as that of this news item from Anglesey Mining.

These are the highlights of the news item.

  • Anglesey Mining plc, together with its 49.75% owned subsidiary Grängesberg Iron AB (“GIAB”) have entered into an MoU with Mine Storage to investigate the potential for the Grängesberg Mine to be converted into a Pumped Hydro-Storage project at the end of the mine’s producing life.
  • Pumped-Hydro Storage is a green-energy storage solution that utilises water and gravity to store electrical energy. An underground mine can provide a closed-loop solution using proven, pumped hydro-power technology. Essentially, the system involves water being gravity fed through pipes down a shaft into the turbines, which produce electricity for supply to the grid and also pump the water back to surface. The mine storage system has a high round-trip efficiency of 75-85% and proven durability.
  • The MoU with Mine Storage could lead to numerous future benefits.

I like this project.

Too often, when mines, quarries or other large operations come to the end of their economic lives, they are just abandoned in the hope that something worthwhile will happen.

But here we have a company planning the end of an iron ore mine in a way that will turn it into a source of future revenue.

I have a few thoughts.

Mine Storage

Mine Storage are a Swedish company with an informative web site.

The web site answered most of my questions.

Mines Are Moving From a Liability To A Resource

Consider.

  • Gravitricity are using mines to store energy using cables and weights.
  • Charlotte Adams and her team at Durham University are developing the use of the heat in abandoned coal mines.
  • The Global Centre of Rail Excellence is being developed in a disused opencast mine in Wales.
  • RheEnergise are developing their first High Density Hydro system in the Hemerdon Tungsten Mine in Devon.

And now we have this co-operation between Anglesey Mining and Mine Storage working together on pumped storage hydroelectricity.

Where is Grängesberg

This Google Map shows the location of Grängesberg.

It is convenient for storing energy for Stockholm.

 

March 17, 2023 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lützerath: German Coal Mine Stand Off Amid Ukraine War Energy Crunch

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

This is the sub-heading.

From her tiny wooden treehouse, which sways precariously in the winter wind, a young woman watches an enormous mechanical digger tear into the earth below, its jaws edging ever closer to the village which she’s determined to save.

And these two paragraphs outline the protest.

Lützerath, in western Germany, is on the verge – literally – of being swallowed up by the massive coal mine on its doorstep.

Around 200 climate change activists, who are now all that stand in the way of the diggers expanding the Garzweiler opencast mine, have been warned that if they don’t leave by Tuesday they’ll be forcibly evicted.

But this is not about coal or bituminous coal, as we know it in the UK, this mine will produce lignite or brown coal.

Read both Wikipedia entries linked to the previous sentence and you find some choice phrases.

For bituminous coal.

  • Within the coal mining industry, this type of coal is known for releasing the largest amounts of firedamp, a dangerous mixture of gases that can cause underground explosions.
  • Extraction of bituminous coal demands the highest safety procedures involving attentive gas monitoring, good ventilation and vigilant site management.
  • The leading producer is China, with India and the United States a distant second and third.

For lignite.

  • It has a carbon content around 25–35%. and is considered the lowest rank of coal due to its relatively low heat content.
  • When removed from the ground, it contains a very high amount of moisture which partially explains its low carbon content.
  • The combustion of lignite produces less heat for the amount of carbon dioxide and sulfur released than other ranks of coal. As a result, environmental advocates have characterized lignite as the most harmful coal to human health.
  • Depending on the source, various toxic heavy metals, including naturally occurring radioactive materials may be present in lignite which are left over in the coal fly ash produced from its combustion, further increasing health risks.
  • Lignite’s high moisture content and susceptibility to spontaneous combustion can cause problems in transportation and storage.

I don’t think, that we’ve ever burned lignite in the UK for electricity, as it is just too filthy.

This map shows the mine.

Note.

  1. The autobahn at the West of the map, is a six-land highway, so gives an idea of the scale.
  2. The village of Lützerath is towards the bottom of the map in the middle.
  3. What has been left after the mining, is going to take a lot of restoration.

It almost appears that some of the scenes of devastation, we are seeing in the Ukraine are also happening in Germany due to the frantic search for energy.

A 1960s-Educated Engineer’s Attitude To Coal

I was one of about four-hundred engineers in my year at Liverpool University in the 1960s.

  • Quite a few of those engineers were from coal-mining areas and some were children of miners.
  • I remember the graduate recruitment fair at the University in 1968, where the representative from the National Coal Board sat there alone, as if he’d got the 1960s version of Covid-19.
  • Some went and talked to him, as they felt sorry for him.
  • As far as I know, not one of us, went to work for the National Coal Board.

Engineers and other graduates of the 1960s, didn’t feel that coal was the future.

Had Aberfan and the other pit disasters of the era killed coal as a career, amongst my generation of the UK population?

What Should The Germans Do?

It is my view that whatever the Germans do, burning brown coal, should not be on the list. It’s just too polluting.

This article on euronews is entitled Germany And Poland Have A Dirty Big Secret – An Addiction To Brown Coal.

A few years ago, I was in Katowice on Poland and I have never seen such pollution in Europe, since the smogs of the 1950s.

The euronews article says this.

In eastern Germany some members of a little-known group claim they are being ethnically cleansed, not by militia groups, but by the coal mining industry.

Bulldozers have so far destroyed over 130 Sorb villages to make way for the mining of Europe’s dirtiest kind of fossil fuel – brown coal, or lignite as it is also known.

Brown coal mines are open cast and devour vast tracts of land. As well as whole villages farming and wildlife are destroyed.

The Penk family live in the village of Rohne. They feel their whole culture is also being destroyed.

Note that the Sorbs have a Wikipedia entry, which says there are 60,000 Sorbs in Germany.

One thing the Germans are doing is investing in the UK renewable energy industry.

  • RWE own or part-own over 7 GW of offshore wind farms in the UK, some of which are under development.
  • enBW and BP are developing 3 GW of offshore wind farms in the UK.
  • Over twenty offshore wind farms use Siemens Gamesa turbines.
  • The NeuConnect interconnector is being built between the Isle of Grain and Wilhelmshaven.

Would it not be better for the physical and mental health of German citizens, if they abandoned their dirty love of brown coal and spent the money in the North Sea?

January 10, 2023 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Green Groups Furious As New Coalmine In Cumbria Is Approved

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

These two paragraphs outline the story.

Michael Gove has approved the first deep coalmine in 30 years, despite calls from environmental activists and Labour to turn down the project.

The levelling-up secretary’s planning approval for the mine in Cumbria comes after two years of opposition. Critics said that it would increase emissions and 85 per cent of the coking coal would be exported to produce steel.cumbria

In March 2019, I wrote Whitehaven Deep Coal Mine Plan Moves Step Closer, when local councillors unanimously backed the plan.

In that post, I speculated about the possibility of using the coal from Cumbria with the HIsarna ironmaking process and wrote this.

In Wikipedia, there is an entry for the HIsarna ironmaking process.

This process is being developed by the Ultra-Low Carbon Dioxide Steelmaking (ULCOS) consortium, which includes Tata Steel and the Rio Tinto Group. Reduction in carbon-dioxide produced by the process compared to traditional steel-making are claimed to be as high as fifty percent.

This figure does not include carbon-capture to reduce the carbon-dioxide still further.

However, looking at descriptions of the process, I feel that applying carbon-capture to the HIsarna steelmaking process might be a lot easier, than with traditional steelmaking.

If you are producing high quality steel by a process like HIsarna, you want to make sure that you don’t add any impurities from the coal, so you have a premium product.

So is Cumbrian metallurgical coal important to the HIsarna process?

I originally heard that the coal from Whitehaven was very pure carbon and I felt as the HIsarna process uses powdered coal, there might be a connection between the two projects. Reading today in The Times article, it seems that the Cumbrian coal has some sulphur. So either the HIsarna project is dead or the Dutch have found a way to deal with the sulphur.

The HIsarna process is a continuous rather than a batch process and because of that, it should be easier to capture the carbon dioxide for use elsewhere or storage in a depleted gas field.

There’s more to come out on the reason for the approval of the project.

I shall be digging hard to see what I can find. But I do believe a steel-making process, that uses a much smaller amount of coal, not coke, could lead to a more economic way of making zero-carbon steel than using hydrogen created by electrolysis.

Carbon capture would need to be used to deal with carbon dioxide produced, but progress is being made with this technology.

 

December 8, 2022 Posted by | World | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Glenmuckloch Pumped Storage Scheme

This article on the BBC is entitled Glenmuckloch Opencast Mine Hydro Energy Scheme Approved.

  • It appears to be capable of generating 400 MW.
  • Energy storage capability appears to be 1.6 GWh.
  • It is to be built in a disused opencast coal mine.

It is only a small scheme, but it does seem to have planning approval.

The Scheme has a web page, which is entitled Glenmuckloch Pumped Storage Hydro

  • It is being promoted by Buccleuch and 2020 Renewables and respected consultants; Arup has produced this Non-Technical Summary.
  • The Non-Technical Summary is a very professional document and an interesting read.
  • 2020 Renewables are now part of Forsa Energy.
  • It is certainly an interesting way of removing the remains of an opencast coal mine.

According to this article on the BBC, which is entitled Buyer Sought For £250m Hydro Scheme At Glenmuckloch, the project now appears to be for sale.

Whether it will sell will depend on the cost of realising the scheme, the finance and how much the scheme will earn.

Conclusion

This project appears to have stalled, but I do like the idea of using a disused mine to store energy and the engineering behind the project.

March 1, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mine Water Heat

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The Coal Authority is working with partners to unlock the heat within our historical coal mine network, to transform the homes and workplaces of the future.

The Coal Authority doesn’t have much of a historic product, so selling the heat from the mines could be an environmentally-friendly revenue scheme.

These four paragraphs are the heart of the press release.

As part of our work to make a better future for people and the environment in mining areas, we’re exploring opportunities to use mine water to heat and cool homes and businesses.

Water within the mines is warmed by natural processes and can, if sustainably managed, provide a continuous supply of heat. Mine water temperatures are not affected by seasonal variations and, subject to the right support, mine water can provide renewable, secure, low carbon heating for buildings in coalfield areas.

With heating accounting for 40% of energy use in the UK, mine water heat could improve the sustainability of the places where we live and work. Mine water heat could also play a part in the UK’s efforts to tackle climate change and support its net zero future.

The Coal Authority are working with academics, local authorities, central government and others to help realise the potential of mine water heat. We’re supporting the delivery of mine water heat projects and working with others to make them happen.

The press release then adds more details and describes specific projects.

Mines For Storing Electricity

We also mustn’t forget other uses for abandoned coal mines.

I particularly like Gravitricity’s idea of used abandoned deep mines to store energy, that I wrote about in Gravitricity Explores Czech Coal Mine For MW-Scale Storage.

I hope the Coal Authority has its eyes on this ball.

Conclusion

I first became aware of the ability to extract heat from abandoned coal mines at a lecture at the Geological Society of London, after which I wrote Can Abandoned Mines Heat Our Future?.

I believe that for some parts of the country, this could become the preferred technology for heating homes and businesses.

The technology was even featured on the BBC tonight.

 

January 6, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , | 1 Comment

Good Energy’s Juliet Davenport Joins Gravitricity

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Solar Power Portal.

Taking the title of this article at face value, it is probably good practice for a company like Gravitricity to take on someone like Juliet Davenport, as they move to the next phase of their business.

The article also mentions Gravitricity’s developments in the storage of hydrogen and heat.

This paragraph also mentions a new development.

Gravitricity is now developing plans for a full-scale energy storage project at a recently closed coal mine in mainland Europe, in what will be the start of a pipeline of projects worldwide.

That does seem to be good news.

Note that it is recently closed coal mine. This is surely for the best, as who knows what the state of long-disused mine will be? My project management and engineering knowledge, says that an orderly handover can reduce the cost of the installation.

 

 

October 2, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , | 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

Generating Clean Energy From The Coal Mines

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

With a number of the UK’s abandoned coal mines being repurposed for green energy projects, Jon Excell asks whether the legacy of Britain’s polluting industrial past could hold the key to its low carbon future?

A few points from this must-read article.

  • We spend £2.4 billion every year dealing with the water in abandoned mines.
  • The huge volumes of mine water – heated by geological processes to temperatures as high as 40˚C – could actually help power the UK’s shift to a zero-carbon economy.
  • The Coal Authority now has around thirty different projects.
  • there is an estimated 2.2 million GWh of annually renewing zero carbon geothermal energy held within the mines.
  • Heat can be extracted using boreholes, heat pumps and heat exchangers.
  • The mines can be used to store energy as waste heat.
  • I particularly liked the use of a mine shaft as a thermal flask, which is being developed at Shawfair in Scotland.

The article then talks about Gravitricity.

This is an extract.

According to Gravitricity project development manager Chris Yendell, the potential for the technology is huge.

Research carried out for the company by KPMG identified 60,000 vertical shafts of 200m or greater in Germany alone. Indeed, many of these shafts as deep as 1000m. Meanwhile, following discussions with the Coal Authority, the team believes that in the UK there are at least 100 potentially viable deep vertical mineshafts. “Based on that you could look at a future portfolio in the UK of 2.4GWh of capacity, based on a 10MW peak system with a capacity of 24MWh” said Yendell.

The article finishes on an optimistic note, by outlining how in the former mining areas, there is lots of expertise to maintain and run these new green energy systems, that will replace coal’s black hole.

Conclusion

Coal could be the future! But not as we know it!

September 4, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , | Leave a comment

Funding To Develop Geothermal Energy Plans For Disused Flooded Coal Mines

The title of this post, is the same as that of this page on the University of Strathclyde web site.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Researchers at the University of Strathclyde have won early stage funding to develop plans to tap into the geothermal energy contained within disused, flooded coal mines in Scotland.

I have talked about this technique before in Can Abandoned Mines Heat Our Future?, which I wrote after I attended a public lecture at The Geological Society.

This page on the Geological Society web site, gives a summary of the lecture and details of the speaker; Charlotte Adams of Durham University.

This paragraph indicates the scale of the Scottish project, which has been called HotScot.

Heat trapped in 600 km3 of disused mine-workings in the Central Belt of Scotland could meet up to 8% of Scotland’s domestic heating demand.

It looks to be a very comprehensive project.

Conclusion

As this appears to be the second project where disused coal mines are used as a source of heat, after one in Spennymoor, that I wrote about in Exciting Renewable Energy Project for Spennymoor. I wouldn’t be surprised to see other projects starting in other mining areas.

And not just in the UK, as techniques developed by engineers and scientists get more efficient and more affordable.

August 12, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , | Leave a comment

Whitehaven Deep Coal Mine Plan Moves Step Closer

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

This is the first three paragraphs.

The first new deep coal mine in the UK for decades has moved a step closer after councillors unanimously backed the plans.

The West Cumbria Mining Company wants to mine next to the site of the former colliery in Whitehaven that shut three decades ago.

The Woodhouse Colliery could create 500 jobs, but objectors have said mining will contribute to global warming.

I am not normally a friend or supporter of coal, but there might be a different agenda behind this mine.

The coal that will be mined at Woodchurch Mine, will not be burnt in a power station or steam engine, as it is being mined for a different purpose. It is high-quality metallurgical coal, Wikipedia says this about metallurgical coal.

Metallurgical coal is a grade of low-ash, low-sulfur and low-phosphorus coal that can be used to produce high grade coke. Coke is an essential fuel and reactant in the blast furnace process for primary steelmaking. The demand for metallurgical coal is highly coupled to the demand for steel. Primary steelmaking companies will often have a division that produces coal for coking, to ensure stable and low-cost supply

Currently, there is a shortage of this product and Europe import several million tonnes a year.

It also appears that the Cumbrian metallurgical coal is of a high quality and low in impurities.

In Wikipedia, there is an entry for the HIsarna ironmaking process.

This process is being developed by the Ultra-Low Carbon Dioxide Steelmaking (ULCOS) consortium, which includes Tata Steel and the Rio Tinto Group. Reduction in carbon-dioxide produced by the process compared to traditional steel-making are claimed to be as high as fifty percent.

This figure does not include carbon-capture to reduce the carbon-dioxide still further.

However, looking at descriptions of the process, I feel that applying carbon-capture to the HIsarna steelmaking process might be a lot easier, than with traditional steelmaking.

If you are producing high quality steel by a process like HIsarna, you want to make sure that you don’t add any impurities from the coal, so you have a premium product.

So is Cumbrian metallurgical coal important to the HIsarna process?

I obviously don’t know and it is not even certain that HIsarna will eventually become a mainstream way of producing high-quality steel.

But you can be assured that there are other companies trying to find the Holy Grail of producing high quality steel with low impurities and without creating masses of carbon-dioxide.

The company or organisation, who cracks this one will make a fortune ethically, as we’ll always need lots of high quality steel.

Conclusion

Mining coal in Cumbria may seem a retrograde step, but it could be central to cutting carbon-dioxide emissions in high-quality steel-making.

I’ll be watching this development with interest.

March 20, 2019 Posted by | Energy, World | , , , , | 2 Comments