The Anonymous Widower

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 | , , , | Leave a 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

Batteries On The Boil As Fund Attracts Investors

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the Business section of today’s Times.

This is the first two paragraph.

Investors have sunk £100million into a new listed company that aims to use shipping containers packed with lithium-ion batteries to buy, store and sell electricity.

Gresham House Energy Storage Fund claims that it will make a return of 15 per ceent a year by providing electricity when surges in demand coincide with periods when the wind is not blowing  or the sun is not shining.

Gresham House Energy Storage Fund is the second listed energy storage fund in London, after Gore Street Energy Storage Fund , launched in May.

I think we’ll see more of these funds and use of the technology.

Suppose you were a farmer with a windy hill top farm, that had a heavy electricity bill.

Realistically, sized, priced and financed a  wind-turbine and a container full of batteries, might be just what your finances wanted.

All you’d need now would be an electric Range-Rover and a fleet of electric tractors!

November 10, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , , | 2 Comments

Large Hydropower Dams ‘Not Sustainable’ In The Developing World

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

This is the first four paragraphs.

A new study says that many large scale hydropower projects in Europe and the US have been disastrous for the environment.

Dozens of these dams are being removed every year, with many considered dangerous and uneconomic.

But the authors fear that the unsustainable nature of these projects has not been recognised in the developing world.

Thousands of new dams are now being planned for rivers in Africa and Asia.

I think the report has a sound basis and we should think much deeper before we build a large dam.

Storing energy and preventing of floods are probably good reasons, whereas others are not, considering, that solar and wind power are becoming more affordable.

November 6, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Britain Powers On Without Coal For Three Days

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

This is the first paragraph.

Britain has not generated electricity from coal for more than three days – the longest streak since the 1880s.

Let’s hope we keep out our commitment to phase out coal completely by 2025!

April 24, 2018 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment