The Anonymous Widower

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 | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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 | , , | 1 Comment

Cumbrian Coast’s Coal Comeback?

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 874 of Rail Magazine.

When I saw this article, I thought it was rather surprising, as coal is rather the arch-demon to environmentalists.

But this is not about coal for producing electricity, but metallurgical coal, that will be used in steelmaking.

West Cumbria Mining are proposing the mine and ofn their web site, the following is said.

West Cumbria Mining is investing in developing plans for the creation of a metallurgical coal mine off the coast near Whitehaven in West Cumbria to supply the UK and European steel-making coal market, which currently imports around 45 million tonnes per annum.

I would assume the 45 million tonnes refers to the total of the UK and European markets. S there is certainly a large market to supply, if the price is right.

Woodhouse Colliery

This extract describes how the mine will be created.

Woodhouse Colliery would be created using the access tunnels to old anhydrite workings at the former Sandwith Drift Mine, on the edge of Whitehaven. Until 2004, the site was occupied by the Marchon chemical works.

Studies have determined that sufficient coal reserves could be accessed to sustain mining operations for at least 50 years.

This picture was taken from their web site.

It doesn’t look to be a stereotypical coal mine.

Much of the coal would appear to be mined offshore.

Use Of The Railway

This extract talks about the use of the Cumbrian Coast Line, that passes through Whitehaven.

One of the things that actually makes the project realistic and viable is that we have access to existing infrastructure. There are lots of projects where actually the biggest capital cost is the infrastructure required. We have to remove everything by rail – one: because of the volume of material; but two: we wouldn’t be able to get planning if it was a road solution.

An agreement has been reached with Freightliner to transport the coal to Redcar. With the mine in full production, six trains per day would operate Monday-Friday.

More details about the rail transport are also given.

  • There would be a single-track siding for loading.
  • The siding would be connected to the mine by a 1.4 mile coal conveyor.
  • Everything is covered, so there no dust and gas.
  • The loading will be in an acoustically-closed building.
  • Trains will have 23 wagons.
  • Class 66 or Class 70 locomotives will be used.

It does appear that they are designing most things to a high standard.

These days, if planning permission with conditions is given, the conditions are usually adhered to, as sanctions are now easier to apply through the Courts.

I do have a few thoughts.

Route Between Whitehaven And Redcar

Trains would probably go via Carlisle, Newcastle and Middlesbrough

There would not be much electrification on the route, except for on the East Coast Main Line.

I would estimate that trains would take around three hours between the Woodhouse Colliery and Redcar

Rolling Stock

The article states that the wagons would be a dedicated fleet for the operation.

Surely, they could be designed for fast and quiet operation.

Locomotives

I feel that locomotives that meet the latest European regulations should be used. Class 66 locomotives do not, Class 68 locomotives do!

I also feel that in the next five years or so, more environmentally-friend;y and quieter locomotives will become available.

Improving The Cumbrian Coast Line

The article describes how the Cumbrian Coast Line will be improved if the mine gets Planning Permission.

Conclusion

If we are going to continue to make and use steel in the UK and Europe, it looks like this mine could create wealth in a part of the UK that needs it, without causing too many negatives.

It’s an interesting project.

 

 

 

March 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment