The Anonymous Widower

Thoughts On Last Week’s Major Power Outage

This article on the BBC is entitled Major Power Failure Affects Homes And Transport.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Nearly a million people have been affected by a major power cut across large areas of England and Wales, affecting homes and transport networks.

National Grid said it was caused by issues with two power generators but the problem was now resolved.

This second article on the BBC is entitled UK power cut: Why it caused so much disruption, and gives these details.

It started with a routine blip – the gas-fired power station at Little Barford in Bedfordshire shut down at 16:58 BST due to a technical issue.

Then, a second power station, the new Hornsea offshore wind farm, also “lost load” – meaning the turbines were still moving, but power was not reaching the grid.

These are my thoughts on the incident.

Power Stations Do Fail

Any complex electro-mechanical system like Little Barford gas-fired power station or Hornsea offshore wind farm can fail.

  • Little Barford gas-fired power station was built in 1994 and is a 746 MW gas-fired power station.
  • Hornsea offshore wind farm obtained planning permission in 2014 and is being built in phases. It will eventually have a maximum capacity of 8 GW or 8,000 MW.

Compare these figures with the iconic coal-fired Battersea power station, which had a maximum output of 503 MW in 1955.

I will not speculate as to what wet wrong except to say that as the Hornsea wind-farm is relatively new, it could be what engineers call an infant mortality problem. Complex systems or even components seem to fail in the first few months of operation.

Why Do We Have Gas-Fired Stations?

According to this page on Wikipedia, there are around forty natural gas fired power stations in England.

Most gas-fired stations are what are known as CCGT (Combined Cycle Gas Turbine), where a Jumbo-sized gas-turbine engine is paired with a steam turbine powered by the heat of the exhaust from the engine.

This form of power generation does produce some carbon dioxide, but to obtain a given amount of electricity, it produces a lot less than using coal or ioil.

By combining the gas turbine with a steam turbine, the power station becomes more efficient and less carbon dioxide is produced.

Power stations of this type have three various advantages.

  • They have a very fast start-up time, so are ideal power stations to respond to sudden increases in electricity demand.
  • As they are a gas-turbine engine with extra gubbins, they are very controllable, just like their cousins on aircraft.
  • They are relatively quick, easy and affordable to build. The Wikipedia entry for a CCGT says this. “The capital costs of combined cycle power is relatively low, at around $1000/kW, making it one of the cheapest types of generation to install.”
  • They don’t need a complicated and expensive transport infrastructure to bring in coal or nuclear fuel.
  • They can also be powered by biogas from agricultural or forestry waste, although I don’t think that is a comm practice in the UK.

The carbon dioxide produced is the only major problem.

Gas-Fired Power Stations In The Future

If you read the Wikipedia entry for combined cycle power plants, there is a lot of information on CCGTs, much of which is on various ways of improving their efficiency.

I believe that one particular method of increasing efficiency could be very applicable in the UK.

Under Boosting Efficiency in the Wikipedia entry, the following is said.

The efficiency of CCGT and GT can be boosted by pre-cooling combustion air. This is practised in hot climates and also has the effect of increasing power output. This is achieved by evaporative cooling of water using a moist matrix placed in front of the turbine, or by using Ice storage air conditioning. The latter has the advantage of greater improvements due to the lower temperatures available. Furthermore, ice storage can be used as a means of load control or load shifting since ice can be made during periods of low power demand and, potentially in the future the anticipated high availability of other resources such as renewables during certain periods.

The UK is the world’s largest generator of power using offshore wind and as we are surrounded with sea and wind, the UK is only going to produce more of the power it needs in this or other way.

This  method could be used to store the wind energy produced when the demand is low and recover it, when it is needed.

Could The UK Develop A Chain Of Carbon-Neutral Gas-Fired Power Stations?

In parts of the UK, there is a unique mix of resources.

  • A plentiful supply of natural gas, either from offshore fields or interconnectors to Norway.
  • Large amounts of electricity generated by offshore wind, which will only get larger.
  • Worked out gas-fields still connected to the shore, through redundant platforms and pipes.
  • Closeness to agricultural areas.

Technologies under development or already working include.

  • Offshore creation of hydrogen using electricity generated by offshore wind and then using the redundant gas pipes to bring the hydrogen to the shore.
  • Using a hydrogen-fired CCGT power station without producing any carbon-dioxide.
  • Feeding carbon dioxide to plants like salad and fruit to make them grow better.
  • Using excess electricity from renewable sources to cool the air and improve the efficiency of CCGT power stations.

I can see all these technologies and development coming together in the next few years and a chain of carbon-neutral gas-fired power stations will be created

  • Hydrogen produced offshore on redundant gas platforms, using electricity from nearby wind farms, will be turned back into electricity, where it is needed by onshore hydrogen-fired power stations.
  • Redundant gas platforms will be refurbished and reused, rather than demolished at great expense.
  • Some natural gas will still be used for power generation
  • I’m not quite sure, but I think there could be dual-furled CCGTs, that could run on either hydrogen or natural gas.
  • Any carbon dioxide generated will be stored in the worked out gas fields or fed to the crops.
  • Gas storage onshore will ensure that the gas-fired power station can respond quickly.

I also believe that there is no technological and engineering challenges, that are too difficult to solve.

This strategy would have the following advantages.

  • It should be carbon-neutral.
  • Because there could have as many as two hundred individual power stations, the system would be very reliable and responsive to the loss of say a cluster of five stations, due to a tsunami, a volcanic eruption or a major eathquake.
  • If power from renewable sources like offshore wind is low, extra stations can be quickly switched in.
  • It is not dependent on fuel from dodgy dictators!
  • It would probably be more affordable than developing nuclear power stations.

There is also the possibility of bringing more hydrogen onshore to be used in the decarbonisation of the gas-grid.

Conclusion

A chain of carbon-neutral gas-fired power stations, linked to hydrogen created offshore by wind farms is very feasible.

Last week, after the double failure, extra stations would have immediately been switched in.

Energy Storage

The fastest response system is energy storage, where a giant battery holds several gigawatt-hours of eklectricity.

Electric Mountain

The biggest energy storage facility in the UK is Dinorwig Power Station.

This is the introduction to its Wikipedia entry.

The Dinorwig Power Station , known locally as Electric Mountain, is a pumped-storage hydroelectric scheme, near Dinorwig, Llanberisin Snowdonia national park in Gwynedd, northern Wales. The scheme can supply a maximum power of 1,728-megawatt (2,317,000 hp) and has a storage capacity of around 9.1-gigawatt-hour (33 TJ)

It is large and has a rapid response, when more electricity is needed.

We probably need another three or four Electric Mountains, but our geography means we have few suitable sites for pumped-storage, especially in areas, where large quantities of electricity are needed.

There are one other pumped-storage system in Wales and two in Scotland, all of which are around 350 MW or a fifth the size of Electric Mountain.

In the Wikipedia entry entitled List Of Power Stations In Scotland, this is said.

SSE have proposed building two new pumped storage schemes in the Great Glen; 600 MW at Balmacaan above Loch Ness, and 600 MW at Coire Glas above Loch Lochy, at £800m. Scotland has a potential for around 500 GWh of pumped storage

I’m sure the Scots will find some way to fill this storage.

If all else fails, there’s always Icelink. This is the description from Wikipedia.

Icelink is a proposed electricity interconnector between Iceland and Great Britain. As of 2017, the project is still at the feasibility stage. According to current plans, IceLink may become operational in 2027.

At 1000–1200 km, the 1000 MW HVDC link would be the longest sub-sea power interconnector in the world.

The project partners are National Grid plc in the UK, and Landsvirkjun, the state-owned generator in Iceland, and Landsnet, the Icelandic Transmission System Operator (TSO)

Plugging it in to Scotland, rather than London, probably saves a bit of money!

Conclusion

Increasing our pumped-storage energy capacity is feasible and would help us to survive major power failures.

Batteries In Buildings

Tesla have a product called a Powerwall, which puts energy storage into a home or other building.

This was the first product of its kind and there will be many imitators.

The Powerwall 2 has a capacity of 13.5 kWh, which is puny compared to the 9.1 GWh or 9,100,000 kWh of Electric Mountain.

But only 674,074 batteries would need to be fitted in the UK to be able to store the same amount of electricity as Electric Mountain.

The big benefit of batteries in buildings is that they shift usage from the Peak times to overnight

So they will reduce domestic demand in the Peak.

Conclusion

Government should give incentives for people to add batteries to their houses and other buildings.

Could Hydrogen Work As Energy Storage?

Suppose you had a hydrogen-fired 500 MW hydrogen-fired CCGT with a hydrogen tank that was large enough to run it at full power for an hour.

That would be a 0.5 GWh storage battery with a discharge rate of 500 MW.

In an hour it would supply 500MWh or 500,000 kWh of electricity at full power.

In Hydrogen Economy on Wikipedia, this is said, about producing hydrogen by electroysis of water.

However, current best processes for water electrolysis have an effective electrical efficiency of 70-80%, so that producing 1 kg of hydrogen (which has a specific energy of 143 MJ/kg or about 40 kWh/kg) requires 50–55 kWh of electricity.

If I take the 40 KWh/Kg figure that means that to provide maximum power for an hour needs 12,500 Kg or 12.5 tonnes of hydrogen.

Under a pressure of 700 bar, hydrogen has a density of 42 Kg/cu. m., so 12.5 tonnes of hydrogen will occupy just under 300 cubic metres.

If I’ve got the figures right that could be a manageable amount of hydrogen.

Remember, I used to work in a hydrogen factory and I had the detailed guided tour. Technology may change in fifty years, but the properties of hydrogen haven’t!

Gas-Fired Versus Coal-Fired Power Stations

Consider.

  • The problem of the carbon dioxide is easier with a gas-fired power station, than a coal-fired power station of the same generating capacity, as it will generate only about forty percent of carbon dioxide.
  • Gas-fired power stations can be started up very quickly, whereas starting a coal-fired power station probably takes all day.
  • Coal is much more difficult to handle than gas.

Using hydrogen is even better than using natural gas, as it’s zero-carbpn.

Conclusion

I believe we can use our unique geographic position and proven technology to increase the resilience of our power networks.

We need both more power stations and energy storage.

 

 

August 12, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Dutch Plan For Hydrogen

The Dutch Plan For Hydrogen

I have cut this out of The Train Station At The Northern End Of The Netherlands, so don’t read if if you’ve read it before.

Searching Google for hydrogen around Groningen, I found this document on the Internet, which is entitled Green Hydrogen Economy In The Northern Netherlands.

It is a fascinating read about what you can do with hydrogen generated from wind and biomass.

This is a sentence from the document.

Large scale green hydrogen product.ion together with harbor transport and storage facilities will be located at Eemshaven, with green chemicals production in Delfzijl

It is an ambitious statement.

Eemshaven

It also appears that Eemshaven will be the main connection point for electricity from offshore wind farms. This is said.

In the Eemshaven an offshore electricity cable from Norway, the NorNed cable with a capacity of 700 MW, comes on land. The Cobra cable, with a capacity of 700 MW, from Denmark is foreseen to connect at the Eemshaven to the onshore grid. The Gemini wind farm is connected to the grid in the Eemshaven with a capacity of 600 MW. Within 10 years it is foreseen that another 4.000 MW offshore wind will have their electricity cable to the Eemshaven.

Does all this explain, the building of a station at Eemshaven? Delfzijl station was built in 1883 and has its own connection to Groningen.

The following proposed actions are from the document

Build A 1,000 MW Electrolysis Plant

This is an extract from the  of the document.

A 1.000 MW electrolysis plant that runs 8.000 hours a year, uses 8 billion kWh and 1,5 million m3 pure water to produce 160 million kg Hydrogen. A reverse osmosis plant has to produce the 1.5 million m3 pure water, using sea water or surface water as input. If an electricity price of 2‐2,5 €ct/kWh and a total investment between 500 million and 1 billion Euro with a 10 year life time is assumed, a green hydrogen cost price around 2‐3 €/kg will be the result. This is about competitive with present hydrogen prices, produced from natural gas by steam reforming.

How much energy is contained in a Kg of hydrogen?

This page on IdealHY says the following.

Hydrogen is an excellent energy carrier with respect to weight. 1 kg of hydrogen contains 33.33 kWh of usable energy, whereas petrol and diesel only hold about 12 kWh/kg.

At three euros for a kilogram of hydrogen, that works out at nine euro cents for a kWh.

Build A 1000 MW Biomass Gasification Plant

The title is a section in the document and this is an extract from the section.

Green hydrogen can be produced by electrolysis using green electricity, but can be produced also from biomass via gasification. Biomass gasifiers use solid biomass as an input and deliver a green syngas, a mixture of hydrogen, carbon‐monoxide (CO) and carbon‐dioxide (CO2), and char as an output. The CO could be used, together with water (H2O), to produce extra hydrogen. The resulting products from biomass gasification are green hydrogen and CO2. However, from CO2 and green hydrogen every chemical product could be produced. Therefore, the combination of green hydrogen and CO2 or green syngas creates the opportunity for a fully green chemical industry in the Northern Netherlands.

The process is still being developed. My first question, is can you use animal manure as a feedstock? It should be noted that The Netherlands used to have a very large and smelly manure problem.

Offshore Hydrogen Production From Far Offshore Wind Farms

The title is a section in the document and this is an extract from the section.

Offshore wind farms produce electricity which can be brought onshore via an electricity cable. Such an offshore electricity cable is expensive. The farther offshore the wind farm is located the more expensive the electricity cable cost. At the North Sea, an alternative solution for these wind farms is to convert the electricity into hydrogen at an existing oil/gas platform and to transport this hydrogen eventually mixed with gas via an existing gas pipeline. Onshore the hydrogen is separated from the natural gas and cleaned to be transported via pipeline, ship or truck to the markets.

I think that the technology and existing infrastructure could be made to work successfully.

  • Europe has over fifty years experience of handling offshore gas networks.
  • Recent developments have seen the emergence of floating wind turbines.
  • Would it be easier to refurbish redundant gas platforms and use them to collect electricity and create hydrogen, rather than demolish them?
  • Hydrogen is only produced when the wind blows.
  • There is no need to store electricity and we’ve been storing gas since the Victorians.

There will be problems, like the integrity of an ageing pipeline, but I suspect that the expertise to solve them exists.

Will there be a North Sea, where every part has a large wind farm?

Note that the Hornsea Wind Farm has an area of 1830 square miles and could generate around 6 GW, when fully developed.You could fit 120 wind farms of this size into the North Sea. Even if only a small proportion could be developed, a sizeable amount of hydrogen could be produced.

A Market For 300,000‐tonnes Green Methanol + 300,000‐tonnes Green Ammonia

The title is a section in the document and this is an extract from the section.

Hydrogen (H2) and Carbon‐dioxide (CO2) can be used in chemical processes to produce a wide variety of chemical products. Two of the main building blocks in chemistry are methanol and ammonia. Methanol can be produced from H2 and CO2. Ammonia is produced from H2 and nitrogen (N2), captured from the air.

Wind power and biomass have been used tp create the basic chemicals for the petro-chemical industry.

The Construction Of Green Hydrogen Fuel Cell Balanced Data Centres

The title is a section in the document and this is an extract from the section.

Google builds a very large data center in the Eemshaven, see picture below. The reasons for Google to choose for the Eemshaven are the existence of an offshore data cable, enough space and green electricity. Google as well as other companies that install and operate data centers wants to run on green electricity. Therefore, Google has signed a power purchase agreement with Eneco to buy green electricity for 10 years. For this reason, Eneco builds an onshore wind farm nearby. On a yearly average this wind farm produces enough electricity to meet the data center demand.
However, supply and demand are not at every time in balance. At moments that there is no wind, other power plants must take over the electricity supply. Now, these are fossil fired power plants.

In future, these power plants will be closed and supply and demand needs to be balanced in another way. And of course, that needs to be done with renewable electricity. This can be done by fuel cells fueled with green hydrogen. Fuel cells can follow demand and supply variations very fast with high efficiencies. Fuel cells are quiet and have no emissions, except very clean, demineralized, water.

I like this concept.

Surely, we could build a few data centres in places like Lincolnshire.

Build A Pipeline to Rotterdam And Germany

The Dutch have ambitious plans to export the hydrogen.

Other Ideas

The report is full of clever ideas and I suggest you take the time to read it fully!

Hydrogen Trains In The Northern Netherlands

The document says this about trains powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

In the Northern Netherlands, 50 diesel trains are daily operated on non‐electric lines. These trains, operated by ARRIVA have two or three carriages and a power of 450‐600KW supplied by Diesel‐Electric engines. Fuel cell‐electric hydrogen trains could replace these diesel trains. Alstom is a company that builds these fuel cell hydrogen trains and will perform a test next year on the line Groningen‐Bremen. Because the depreciation time for trains is 25 years, not all trains will be bought new. Some trains may need to be retrofitted with fuel cell‐electric power supply, which is technically feasible. When all these 50 diesel trains are replaced an investment in new and retrofitted trains of about …? Million Euros is needed. The total hydrogen consumption of these trains is about 5,000 ton.

These points are shown in a table.

  • Total (diesel) trains in the Northern Netherlands is 50 units
  • Hydrogen consumption approximately 25 kg H2/100km
  • Train operations average 6 days per week. Train is operated approximately 1.200 km per day, based on two times per hour per trajectory of 50km.
  • Train operations average 6 days per week. 330 days per year.
  • Capital expenditure per train approximately …. ? 50 Units  …? Million Euro
  • 50,000 tonnes of hydrogen will be needed.
  • The fuel bill at three euros a Kg will be 150 million euro.

Would this be economic?

From various comments, I suspect that Stadler are working on a hydrogen-powered GTW.

But failing that, as Stadler are developing a diesel/electric/battery Flirt for the South Wales Metro and some of the routes from Groningen are only about 30 km, I wouldn’t be surprised to see diesel/electric/battery GTWs running across the flat lands of the North.

Battery trains could be fitted with pantographs and recharge in Groningen, where most of the platforms are electrified.

There are a lot of possibilities and engineers will come up with the best solution with regards to operation and economics.

Conclusion

Thr Dutch have big plans for a hydrogen-based economy in the North of the Netherlands.

Where is the UK Government’s master plan for hydrogen?

April 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ovo Partners With Glen Dimplex To Deliver Smart Heating

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

If you read the article, you will find out how the humble electric storage heater could be joining the smart electricity grid.

This is a paragraph.

It says the facility to store excess energy can lower the cost of electrification by reducing the need for backup generation and investment in the power grid to increase its peak capacity. Analysis by Imperial College London has indicated that deploying smart flexible heating could cut decarbonisation costs by £3.9 billion per year.

This is going to be technology to watch.

Especially, if your heating needs are best met by some form of electric storage heaters.

March 1, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | 2 Comments

The Old Order Changeth Yielding Place To New

Two dinosaurs; the Labour Party and the motor industry, got big shocks yesterday.

But both are trying to live in the past with CEOs, who still think that we’re in the 1960s.

This morning, my message read out on Wake Up To Money was this.

I don’t drive any more, but the future is electric and the UK is blessed with a position and a climate to become one of the first countries to power most vehicles with renewables. Vehicle manufacturers must change or die!

Our renewable electricity generation infrastructure is growing apace and in the last few days, the world’s largest offshore wind farm opened, as reported in this article on the BBC, which is entitled First Power From World’s Biggest Offshore Wind Farm.

The Hornsea Wind Farm will have a generating capacity of 6 GW. This is nearly twice as large a capacity as the troubled Hinckley Point C nuclear power station.

But whereas Hinckley Point C will produce continuous power, Hornsea will only produce power when the wind blows.

The National Grid are tasked with keeping the lights on and I agree with them, that energy storage is the solution.

  • There are 25,000,000 homes in the UK. If every house in the UK was fitted with a 10 kWh storage battery, that would be a capacity of 250 GWH.
  • There are 30,000,000 cars in the UK. If every car in the UK was electric and had a 30 kWh battery, that would be a capacity of 900 GWH.

These are very large numbers and just as the Internet passes data all around the UK and the world, the UK’s National Grid will access all these batteries to store energy, when perhaps the wind is blowing at night and retrieve it when there is a high demand.

On a domestic level, you may have an electric car and a battery in your house, with perhaps solar panels on the roof.

  • At night and on sunny days, your batteries will be charged.
  • At times of high demand, your stored energy may be sold back to the grid.
  • Controlling it all would be an intelligent computer system, which would make sure that your car always had enough charge and you had enough energy for the house.

The problem is that nearly all of our houses and cars don’t fit this model.

The proposed closure of the Honda plant is Swindon, is the first of the many casualties in car manufacturing, that will surely happen.

More by luck, than judgement, when I moved to London after my stroke, I bought a house with the following features.

  • Low energy consumption.
  • A flat roof, that is now covered in solar panels.
  • A garage, that would be suitable for an electric car. Although, I don’t drive, the next owner of this house, probably will.

Millions of houses in this country should be demolished and the land used for new houses that fit the modern age.

The Labour Party is living in the 1960s and Corbyn and McDonell still believe that the Robin Hood approach of stealing from the rich and giving it to the poor, is still the way to go.

But these days, most people want to be responsible for themselves. This is why there has been such a growth in people in the gig economy like Uber, Deliveroo and County Lines.

Everybody wants to take control of their lives and their own micro-economy. That is why I left a safe job at ICI in 1969, at the age of just twenty-two.

Like me, those who start their own successful business don’t want government to come along and use it on pet projects that always seem to fail.

Most politicians and especially Labour ones have never done a real job in their lives and Labour’s defections will hopefully be the first of many from all political parties.

I hope that February 18th 2019, will be remembered as the day when two dinosaurs realised they needed to change their spots.

But they won’t change willingly!

However!

  • Companies and individuals will soon be buying electric vehicles in large numbers and only buying diesel and petrol ones, where there is no alternative.
  • Voters will not vote for policies that stink of the past, that don’t fit their micro-economy.

There will also be a lot of unsaleable houses and second-hand cars!

 

February 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Drax Becomes First Wood-Burning Power Plant To Capture Carbon

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

This news has been treated in a more sensationalist way by other news media and sites, but the FT gives it very straight.

Drax power station is running an experiment, that removes a tonne of carbon dioxide a day.

But that is only the start of the process and most of it is released to the atmosphere.

They are currently, looking for profitable and environmentally-friendly ways of disposal, including selling it to beer manufacturers.

Didn’t we have a carbon-dioxide shortage a few months ago?

 

February 8, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

Building Under The Wires At Barking Riverside

I went to Barking Riverside yesterday, where they are building over 10,000 housing units and took these pictures where the EL1 buses from Barking station turn round.

As the pictures show, there are a lot of high voltage cables running over the site.

The East London Transit

The EL1, EL2 and EL3 buses  of the East London Transit connect the area to Barking station.

When I last came to this area, the buses weren’t to the high standard of New Routemasters.

February 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Combined Car Park And Storage Battery

I don’t drive these days, but I did for well over forty years.

If I was still driving now and still lived in Suffolk, I’d be looking seriously at an electric car as an everyday runabout, as rarely in the last twenty years, have I had the need to do a long journey, that I couldn’t do by train.

So my electric car would probably sit in a car park space at Cambridge North station, attached to a charger, a lot of the time. But with better batteries and vehicle-to-grid systems, there will come a time, when you will park your battery vehicle and tell it you’ll be returning in a few hours or days and you’ll need say four hours of charge on return. Obviously, if your circumstances change, you will have an app on your phone to make adjustments.

Suppose your average car had a 30 kWh battery, this would mean that the 450 space car park at Cambridge North station, if say 300 spaces were for electric cars would have a electricity storage capacity of around 0.9MWh.

So if the wind wasn’t blowing or the sun wasn’t shining, then there’s probably about half a MWh of electricity that can be borrowed and still allow drivers to get home.

It may all sound terribly complicated, but electricity put into batteries at night or other quiet times, gets used when it’s needed.

Batteries and other forms of energy storage will be everywhere; in houses, offices, public buildings, wind and solar farms, and in every electric vehicle.

There are 31.,6million cars alone in the UK and how many are quietly sitting in car parks and garages or at the side of the street, for most of the day.

The Car Park As A Power Station

There will be multi-story car-parks reserved for electric cars.

  • Each parking space will have a charging point.
  • The roof will of course have solar panels.
  • I would expect that in a few years time the connection between car and charger will be automatic.
  • The parking charge would be based on a mixture of time parked and energy passed to or from the battery.
  • Car parks would probably also be paid by National Grid dependent on how much energy they can make available automatically.

The control system for all this lot, would do my head in! But it would mean that all generated energy was either used or stored!

In some ways a car pack for electric cars would become a small power station.

Examples Of Car Parks

These car-parks would have some interesting applications.

Airports

Airports like Heathrow have a pollution problem and it’s not just the planes, but masses of diesel and petrol vehicles.

  • To encourage more passengers to drive electric vehicles to an airport, why not make the closest car parks electric car only?
  • Long-term car parks for electric vehicles could be a massive storage battery, which would be used to help power the airport.
  • Car parks for electric cars would be less polluted.
  • Car parks for electric cars could be under the ground with runways and taxiways on top.

Everyone would be a winner.

  • Passengers’ electric cars would be earning an energy storage charge from the National Grid.
  • The Airport would have a reliable back-up power source.
  • There would be much less pollution at the Airport.
  • National Grid would gain additional much-needed energy storage.

There will be a lot of thought going in to making airport parking more efficient and affordable for electric cars.

Business Parks And Offices

Much of the logic for airports would apply.

But I do feel, that companies with medium and large-sized fleets of vehicles will go electric, as they can then integrate energy management across their premises and fleet.

Town And City Centres

Towns and cities with a pollution problem like London, will surely use the best car parks as bribes to get more electric vehicles into the centre.

Residential Developments

The mind boggles at what could be done in residential developments.

  • Cars could go to and from parking automatically.
  • Every house would come with energy storage plus that in the car.
  • The development would appear car-free.
  • Cars could be in shared ownership with the development.
  • There could be automatic trolleys running through the development delivering parcels.

The market will determine what is needed.

Conclusion

Creating car parks solely for electric cars will create energy storage units at points of employment, living, shopping and transport.

January 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

EDF Energy Targets Solar Homes With Discounted Battery Offer

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

The title shows the way things are going. Although, I doubt, I would use EDF, as they are one of the companies who have ripped us off for a long time.

I have said that I will fit a battery in this house to go with the solar panels on my roof. I will also fit an electric car charging point in the garage, so that when I sell the house in a few years, the house will have more buyer appeal.

At around seven thousand pounds, the 8.2 kWh battery mentioned in the article, would be within my price range, but I suspect that price will decrease.

November 30, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

World’s Largest Wind Farm Attracts Huge Backing From Insurance Giant

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the Business pages of yesterday’s copy of The Times.

It is not often that three words implying something big appear in the same sentence, let alone a headline! Such repetition would more likely appear in a tabloid to describe something sleazy.

Until recently, wind power was just something used by those in remote places. I remember a lady in Suffolk, who had her own turbine in the 1980s. She certainly lived well, although her deep freeze was in the next door farmer’s barn.

Now, with the building of the world’s largest wind farm; Hornsea, which is sixty miles off the coast of East Yorkshire, wind farms are talked of as creating enough energy for millions of homes.

Hornsea Project 1 is the first phase and Wikipedia says this about the turbines.

In mid 2015 DONG selected Siemens Wind Power 7 MW turbines with 154 metres (505 ft) rotor turbines for the project – around 171 turbines would be used for the wind farm.

Note that the iconic Bankside power station, that is now the Tate Modern had a capacity of 300 MW, so when the wind is blowing Hornsea Project 1 is almost four times as large.

When fully developed around 2025, the nameplate capacity will be around 6,000 MW.

The Times article says this about the funding of wind farms.

Wind farms throw off “long-term boring, stable cashflows”, Mr. Murphy said, which was perfect to match Aviva policyholders and annuitants, the ultimate backers of the project. Aviva has bought fixed-rate and inflation-linked bonds, issued by the project. While the coupon paid on the 15-year bonds, has not been disclosed, similar risk projects typically pay an interest rate of about 3 per cent pm their bonds. Projects typically are structured at about 30 per cent equity and 70 per cent debt.

Darryl Murphy is Aviva’s head of infrastructure debt. The article also says, that Aviva will have a billion pounds invested in wind farms by the end of the year.

Call me naive, but I can’t see a loser in all this!

  • Certainly, the UK gets a lot of zero-carbon renewable energy.
  • Aviva’s pensioners get good pensions.
  • Turbines and foundations are built at places like Hull and Billingham, which sustains jobs.
  • The need for onshore wind turbines is reduced.
  • Coal power stations can be closed.

The North Sea just keeps on giving.

  • For centuries it has been fish.
  • Since the 1960s, it has been gas.
  • And then there was oil.
  • Now, we’re reaping the wind.

In the future, there could be even more wind farms like Hornsea.

Ease Of Funding

Large insurance companies and investment funds will continue to fund wind farms, to give their investors and pensioners a return.

Would Aviva be so happy to fund a large nuclear power station?

Large Scale Energy Storage

The one missing piece of the jigsaw is large scale energy storage.

I suspect that spare power could be used to do something useful, that could later be turned into energy.

  • Hydrogen could be created by electrolysis for use in transport or gas grids.
  • Aluminium could be smelted, for either used as a metal or burnt in a power station to produce zero-carbon electricity.
  • Twenty-four hour processes, that use a lot of electricity, could be built to use wind power and perhaps a small modular nuclear reactor.
  • Ice could be created, which can be used to increase the efficiency of large gas-turbine power plants.
  • Unfortunately, we’re not a country blessed with mountains, where more Electric Mountains can be built.
  • Electricity will be increasingly exchanged with countries like Belgium, France, Iceland, Norway and The Netherlands.

There will be other wacky ideas, that will be able to store MWHs of electricity.

These are not wacky.

Storage In Electric Vehicles

Consider that there are three million vehicles in the UK. Suppose half of these were electric or plug-in hybrid and had a average battery size of 50 kWh.

This would be a total energy storage of 75,000 MWh or 75 GWH. It would take the fully developed 6GW Hornsea wind far over twelve hours to charge them all working at full power.

Storage In Electric And Hybrid Buses

London has around 8,500 buses, many of which are hybrid and some of electric.

If each has a 50 kWh batttery, then that is 425 MWh or .0.425 GWH. If all buses in the UK were electric or plug-in hybrid, how much overnight electricity could they consume.

Scaling up from London to the whole country, would certainly be a number of gigawatt-hours.

Storage In Electric Trains

I also believe that the average electric train in a decade or so could have a sizeable battery in each coach.

If we take Bombardier they have an order book of over four hundred Aventra trains, which is a total of nearly 2,500 coaches.

If each coach has an average battery size of 50 kWh, then that is 125 MWh or 0.125 GWH.

When you consider than Vivarail’s two-car Class 230 train has a battery capacity of 400 kWh, if the UK train fleet contains a high-proportion of battery-electric trains, they will be a valuable energy storage resource.

Storage in Housing, Offices and Other Buildings

For a start there are twenty-five million housing units in the UK.

If just half of these had a 10 kWh battery storage system like a Tesla Powerwall, this would be a storage capacity of 125 GWH.

I suspect, just as we are seeing vehicles and trains getting more efficient in their use of electricity, we will see buildings constructed to use less grid electricity and gas.

  • Roofs will have solar panels.
  • Insulation levels will be high.
  • Heating may use devices like ground source heat pumps.
  • Battery and capacitors will be used to store electricity and provide emergency back up.
  • Electric vehicles will be connected into the network.
  • The system will sell electricity back to the grid, as required.

Will anybody want to live in a traditional house, that can’t be updated to take part in the energy revolution?

Will The Electricity Grid Be Able To Cope?

National Grid have been reported as looking into the problems that will happen in the future.

  • Intermittent power from increasing numbers of wind and solar farms.
  • Charging all those electric vehicles.
  • Controlling all of that distributed storage in buildings and vehicles.
  • Maintaining uninterrupted power to high energy users.
  • Managing power flows into and out of the UK on the various interconnectors.

It will be just like an Internet of electricity.

And it will be Europe-wide! and possibly further afield.

Conclusion

The UK will have an interesting future as far as electricity is concerned.

Those that join it like Aviva and people who live in modern, energy efficient houses will do well.

 

November 27, 2018 Posted by | Finance, World | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Spark Energy Supply Ceases Trading

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

The important thing in the BBC’s post is this section.

Ovo Energy has confirmed it has entered into a conditional agreement to buy the company and take on its customers.

Ofgem said the energy supply for Spark’s 290,000 customers would continue as normal.

It advised customers to take meter readings, and said outstanding credit balances would be protected.

It appears that the safety-net is working.

Incidentally, I am a customer of OVO and I have had no problems, except with getting my smart meter installed.

I also have several friends, who chose OVO independently of me, who don’t seem to be having problems.

So hopefully, Spark Energy Supply’s customers will be looked after professionally.

Conclusion

My advice to anybody affected by the failure of Spark Energy or any other energy company, is make sure you have all your information with the meter numbers together.

Then sit tight for a few weeks and see how it all goes, before choosing a new supplier if you feel you need one.

It might also be a good idea to listen to Paul Lewis on Radio 4’s Moneybox today.

November 24, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , | 2 Comments