The Anonymous Widower

Scotland’s Mines To Be At Centre Of Green Energy Renaissance

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

The article is a good explanation of the pros and cons of using the heat stored in disused coal mines, to heat hones and businesses.

September 22, 2020 Posted by | Energy | , , , | 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 pf 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

After Coronavirus, What’s Next? China: More Coal, US: More Oil, EU: More Renewables

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

The title says it all, but read the article to get the detail.

June 2, 2020 Posted by | Health, World | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Is There A Link Between Historic Coal Mining And COVID-19?

In Air Pollution May Be ‘Key Contributor’ To Covid-19 Deaths – Study, I wrote about the link between current pollution and COVID-19, that had been shown by European researchers.

Today, in The Times, there is an article, which is entitled Pressure To Free London From Lockdown As Cases Fall.

It talks about the areas, that are recording the most new cases of confirmed COVID-19 in the last fortnight.

The article says this.

Only one area south of Birmingham is in the 20 local authorities with the most coronavirus cases in the past two weeks, while those with fewest are clustered in the south, an analysis of official figures by The Times shows.

That local authority in the top twenty is Ashford.

i have looked at all the data in The Times and this table shows the number of cases in the last fortnight in decreasing order.

  • Birmingham – 266
  • County Durham – 209
  • Manchester – 184
  • Bradford – 168
  • Sandwell – 164
  • Wigan – 156
  • Shropshire – 155
  • Cheshire West and Chester – 151
  • Sheffield – 144
  • Cheshire East – 135
  • Leeds – 138
  • East Riding Of Yorkshire 129
  • Barnsley – 126
  • Tameside – 124
  • Doncaster – 121
  • Ashford – 118
  • Stoke – 117
  • Wirral – 107
  • Trafford – 102
  • Folkestone and Hythe – 99
  • Leicester – 99
  • Bolton – 94
  • North Somerset – 94
  • Oldham – 93
  • Stockton-on-Tees – 93
  • Oxford – 90

Note.

  1. Why is Cheshire in the top half of the list?
  2. There seem to be a lot of coal mining areas on the list.
  3. Ashford and Folkestone and Hythe are even close to the former Kent coalfield.

I’d love to see Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish data added to this list!

Is Coal A Factor?

Given the large number of coal-mining areas featuring in my list, I very much feel that there should be a serious analysis to see if working in the mines or growing up in a coal-mining area, is a factor related to the chances of catching COVID-19.

I should say, that my only personal memories of British coal mines working, was to see the mines in Kent, as we drove to see by uncle in Broadstairs. They were filthy places.

The Cheshire Paradox

Cheshire doesn’t have any coal mining, but it does have a lot of chemical works and oil refineries along the Mersey, many of which use Cheshire’s most valuable natural resource – salt.

When I worked at ICI, I was told that there was enough salt underneath the green fields of Cheshire to last several thousand years, at the current rate of extraction.

There was also the ICI office joke about pensions.

You would get a good pension from ICI, as the pension scheme was well-funded and also because so many pensioners, after a lifetime of working amongst all the smells and dusts of a chemical works, which gave the lungs a good clear out, didn’t live long in the fresh air of normal life and caught every cold, cough and flu doing the rounds.

The three Cheshire areas have these numbers of total confirmed cases per 100,000 residents.

  • Cheshire East – 304
  • Cheshire West and Chester – 312
  • Wirral – 378

These compare closely to nearby Liverpool with 319.

But look at these figures of a similar county around London, that from personal experience is similar to Cheshire.

  • East Hertfordshire – 176
  • North Hertfordshire – 171

So have all the chemicals in the historic Cheshire air, softened up the population for COVID-19?

I used the word historic, as pollution in the seventies in Cheshire/Merseyside was much higher, than it is today.

 

 

May 23, 2020 Posted by | Health, World | , , , | 3 Comments

Record Drop In Coal Use As Rich Nations Go Green

This is an article in today’s Times.

November 25, 2019 Posted by | World | , , | 2 Comments

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