The Anonymous Widower

The Coaling Jetty, Battersea

This Google Map shows the riverside to the North of Battersea Power Station.

The area is by no means fully developed, but you can see the two Northern chimneys of the power station and their shadows.

On the river there are two structures; the smaller Battersea Power Station Pier for the Thames Clippers and the larger Coaling Jetty, which was originally used to bring coal to the power station.

This summer the Coaling Jetty has been opened as a free public space with bars, chairs, music and entertainment for children.

I can envisage, as more of the riverside opens up, the site will develop further.

The area is certainly worth an explore and there are several places to get food and drink.

August 17, 2019 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Drax Secures £500,000 For Innovative Fuel Cell Carbon Capture Study

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article on the Drax web site, that was published in June 2019.

This is the first paragraph.

Drax Group will explore the feasibility of using molten carbonate fuel cells as a technology for capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) having secured £500,000 of funding from the UK Government.

These objectives are listed.

  • Fuel cell FEED study to assess the feasibility of building a second carbon capture pilot at Drax Power Station will help position the UK as a world leader in the fight against climate change
  • The technology used will produce power at the same time as capturing carbon dioxide from Drax’s flue gases
  • Neighbouring horticultural site will use the COto improve yields and demonstrate how businesses working together in clusters can deliver climate solutions

I am glad to see, that the \Government is supporting initiatives like this.

The Drax Paradox

I have seen strawberries in a supermarket, labelled as coming from a farm at Drax in Yorkshire.

Were they grown using carbon dioxide from the power station?

They probably weren’t labelled as organic, but can you grow organic strawberries in a carbon-dioxide-rich atmosphere and label them as Organic?

Conclusion

I don’t think these and other technologies will lead to any massive revival of coal-fired power stations, as mining coal is a very disruptive and dasngerous process compared to extracting gas or growing bio-mass.

But I do think that they are needed fpr application to the following plants, that produce a lot of carbon dioxide.

  • Gas-fired power stations.
  • Biomass power stations.
  • Cement-making
  • Steel-making

The two last processes are probably the most important, as improvement in renewable energy generation, should make the first two redundant.

August 3, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Aberthaw Power Station Set To Close, Risking 170 Jobs

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

This is first two paragraphs.

Wales’ last coal-fired power station looks set to close in March due to “market conditions”, putting about 170 jobs at risk.

RWE said it was proposing closing the 1.56-megawatt Aberthaw B Power Station in Vale of Glamorgan on 31 March.

Read the section called Oerations in the Wikipedia entry for Aberthaw power station.

This is a sentence from that section.

Coal now mainly comes from the Ffos-y-fran Land Reclamation Scheme in Merthyr Tydfil.

I may be very much against, the burning of coal for the generation of electricity or heat, but surely an exception should be made, when it is part of a process to clear up the considerable mess left by coal mining. As Aberthaw power station can use the Welsh coal in conjunction with bio-mass, perhaps there could be an argument to mothball one of the later coal-fired power stations.

Carbon Capture And Storage or a sensible use for the carbon dioxide, will be developed within the next ten years and in conjunction with one of the more modern coal-fired power stations, it could be used to help clean up the detritus of coal mining.

If nothing else, we could plant a lot of trees on the sites being reclaimed.

Bare in mind, that carbon dioxide produced by a coal-fired power station or cement factory is all in one place and can probably be collected using well-established engineering processes. On the other hand try collecting the carbon dioxide produced by a large fleet of diesel trucks.

 

August 3, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

East Midlands Parkway Station – 11th July 2019

I took these pictures at East Midlands Parkway station.

These are some of my thoughts.

Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station

The station is dominated by the coal-fired Ratcliffe-on-Spar power station, with its eight massive cooling towers.

When I was leaving Liverpool University in the late-1960s, I don’t think any of my fellow students thought coal had a future.

Several of my group of Electrical Engineers went into nuclear engineering, but many like me went into computing, electronics and instrumentation.

But still the Government ploughed on with mining coal and burning the filthy stuff to produce electricity.

Now the current government has decided, that they’ll all be gone by 2025!

And good riddance to them!

It has amazed me, they have survived this long.

I can remember reading in the Guardian in the 1980s of proposals by enlightened thinkers to retrain miners as insulation teams to insulate our terrible pre-war housing stock, which wastes vast amounts of energy.

But politicians of the left, including some who are still around today, glory in the honest toil of working in a coal mine.

I’m afraid, that I’ve met so many children of miners, whose major advice from their father, was to never go down a mine except as a tourist.

Burning coal, has been one of the worst cul-de-sacs of the human race.

An Inadequate Train Service

I have scarcely been to a station with such an inadequate train service.

Logic suggests, that it would have a service something like two or four trains per hour (tph) to major cities within half-an-hour.

But read what is said under Services in the Wikipedia entry for the station.

Here’s the first two paragraphs.

Fears were raised by various bodies, notably East Midlands Airport, about the service pattern proposed for the new station.

Donington Park motor racing circuit is nearby, and its owners have expressed their desire for spectators to use the station or coach services when travelling to the circuit. The owners are also in support of any future light rail transport to East Midlands Airport itself.

On my visit, I took a train from Leicester and then had to wait nearly an hour to get one back to where I started.

Abellio certainly have scope to improve the service.

In Leicester Station – 11th July 2019, I wrote that I felt that if Abellio apply similar logic to that which they are applying in East Anglia, that there could be a significant improvement in services on the Midland Main Line, to the North of Leicester.

  • Three tph – Fast trains between Leicester and Sheffield via Derby and Chesterfield
  • One tph – Stopping train between Leicester and Sheffield via Derby and Chesterfield
  • Three tph – Fast trains between Leicester and Nottingham
  • One tph – Stopping train between Leicester and Nottingham
  • One tph – Stopping train between Leicester and Lincoln

As the new trains will have a better performance, more could stop at East Midlands Parkway to even out the terrible stopping pattern.

Station Usage

Wikipedia gives the station usage as just over 300,000 passengers per year.

This compares with  Louthborough station, which is the next station to the South having a usage of 1,300,000 passengers per year.

Even the new Ilkeston station further North with only two platforms and of a much simpler design, had a usage of 250,000 passengers in its first year.

As this Google Map shows, the car parking has attracted a few takers.

I do question though, if the station should ever have been built!

I hope Abellio have a plan to breathe some life into the station.

Megabus

Note the Stagecoach Megabus in the pictures.

This provides services all over Yprkshire and is decribed under Multi-Modal in the Wikipedia entry for the station.

This is the first paragraph.

From 30 March 2009, the station has been used as an interchange station for combined multi-modal journeys using Megabus-branded services run by Stagecoach (the operators of both East Midlands Trains and of Megabus). The MegabusPlus services transport passengers from cities in the north of England to East Midlands Parkway, where passengers transfer to rail for the service to London.

At a first glance, it looks like a crazy idea.

But Stagecoach wouldn’t run it, if it wasn’t needed or profitable.

Charging Battery Electric Trains

In The Mathematics Of Fast-Charging Battery Trains Using Third-Rail Electrification, I showed how a third-rail-based fast charging sstem, like that proposed by Vivarail could transfer several hundred kWh to the batteries of a train stopped in the station, for a few minutes.

East Midlands Parkway station with pairs of tracks between generously-spaced platforms with a gap between the tracks, would be an ideal location for such a charging system.

  • The two third-rail would be laid together between the two tracks.
  • The third-rails could be shielded, but as they would only be live with a train on the top, would it be necessary?
  • The driver would only need to stop the train in the correct position, but they do that anyway.
  • An adequate electricity supply shouldn’t be too much of a problem!

In a three minute contact between the train and the third-rail, I believe it would be possible to transfer up to 200 kWh to the batteries of the train.

Conclusion

This station has problems.

I’ll be interested to see how Abellio attract more passengers and use the station to passengers and their own benefit.

 

 

July 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Britain Hoes A Record Five Days Without Burning Coal

The title of this post came from an article in Tuesday’s Times!

It says it all!

Good isn’t it!

Although it’s probably not true, as there must be a few blacksmiths, who used coke to shoe a few horses.

May 7, 2019 Posted by | World | , | 1 Comment

Ryanair One Of Europe’s Top Polluters, EU Data Suggests

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

These are the first three paragraphs.

Ryanair has become the only airline to be included in a list of Europe’s top 10 polluters, according to data from the EU’s Transport & Environment group.

It is the first time a company that does not run a coal-fired power plant has come near the top of the ranking.

Seven plants in Germany and one in both Poland and Bulgaria were on the list.

Will Michael O’Leary be annoyed, that he was beaten by nine coal-fired power stations?

April 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 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 | World | , , | Leave a 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 | , , | Leave a comment

Germany Agrees To End Reliance On Coal Stations By 2038

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Germany has agreed to end its reliance on polluting coal power stations by 2038, in a long-awaited decision that will have major ramifications for Europe’s attempts to meet its Paris climate change targets.

The country is the last major bastion of coal-burning in north-western Europe and the dirtiest of fossil fuels still provides nearly 40% of Germany’s power, compared with 5% in the UK, which plans to phase the fuel out entirely by 2025.

Travel across Germany on a train and you see the high chimneys of coal-fired power stations everywhere.

When we can get rid of coal by 2025 and France by 2022, you do wonder why Germany is taking so long.

The Guardian article provides a partial answer in that both the power company; RWE and the trade unions are very much for the continued use of coal.

The Germans are phasing out nuclear power, in response to the Green Party. Surely, unregulated coal-burning is far worse than well-regulated nuclear power?

But then the prevailing winds mean that most of the carbon-dioxide and pollution goes to Poland, who are big coal-burners themselves.

I wonder what would have happened to coal-fired power stations in the UK, if Margaret Thatcher hadn’t taken on the miners and started the run down of the use of coal!

The can would probably have been kicked down the road and we’d probably have coal power stations at German levels.

 

 

January 30, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

China-Backed Coal Projects Prompt Climate Change Fears

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

These are the first three paragraphs.

As levels of greenhouse gases reach a new record, concerns are growing about the role of China in global warming.

For years, the increase in the number of Chinese coal-fired power stations has been criticised.

Now environmental groups say China is also backing dozens of coal projects far beyond its borders.

I have been against coal as a fuel for at least fifty years.

Initially, it was for three reasons.

  • Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, there regularly seemed to be a serious coal-mining disasters like Aberfan and Katowice.
  • My health had been seriously affected by London’s domestic coal fires.
  • I also believed that nuclear power could supply us with affordable energy.

Also at Liverpool University, I met so many students, who were from mining areas, with horror stories of the health of miners.

Over the last couple of decades, I’ve gone very much against the building of large nuclear power stations, although I do feel that small modular nuclear reactors may have a place.

But the growth of wind and solar power has convinced me that with the addition of energy storage, we can manage without coal.

Obviously, the Chinese and Donald Trump think differently.

It should be noted that we are an island and if sea levels rise we will suffer, whereas China and the United States are large land masses with plenty of places to develop.

Trump and Xi Jinping need to be reeducated.

 

November 23, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment