The Anonymous Widower

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

OVO Energy Drops 4 Product Bombshells, Including New Vehicle-to-Grid Charger

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

This is the first paragraph.

n London yesterday, OVO Energy took to the stage and dropped not one new product but four product bombshells that are aimed at creating a new energy ecosystem that is accessible to residential energy consumers.

The products are.

  • A Vehicle-to-Grid Charger for the Masses
  • 7kW Smart Charger
  • One Ring To Rule Them All
  • Residential Energy Stoage

The article discusses them in detail.

If I still drove, I’d be very interested in the vehicle-to-grid charger, as I’d fit one in my garage.

The amount of car use, I would have would probably be fairly minimal, so most of the time the car would be sitting in the garage, acting as a storage battery for the National Grid.

Suppose ten million homes in the UK, had a vehicle-to-grid charger and an electric car with a 30 kWh battery. that would be 300 MWh of energy storage, which would be ideal for storing wind energy generated at night.

April 20, 2018 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

Existing EVs Could Steer Energy To 300,000 Homes

The title of this post, is the same as this article on the Utility Week web site.

This is the opening two paragraphs.

Existing electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK could contribute more than 114MW to the National Grid, enough to power over 300,000 homes.

Research commissioned by Ovo Energy suggests the figure could be achieved based on the current 19,000 Nissan Leaf EVs registered in the UK using new vehicle-to-grid (V2G) chargers.

The article goes on to discuss this in detail.

So what is vehicle-to-grid?

Wikipedia has this summary.

Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) describes a system in which plug-in electric vehicles, such as electric cars (BEV), plug-in hybrids (PHEV) or hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV), communicate with the power grid to sell demand response services by either returning electricity to the grid or by throttling their charging rate.

Vehicle-to-grid can be used with gridable vehicles, that is, plug-in electric vehicles (BEV and PHEV), with grid capacity. Since at any given time 95 percent of cars are parked, the batteries in electric vehicles could be used to let electricity flow from the car to the electric distribution network and back. This represents an estimated value to the utilities of up to $4,000 per year per car.

If you are thinking about buying an electric car or van, read the article and other sources. Wikipedia seems a good start.

At its simplest, it would appear that if you buy an electric vehicle, it would be prudent to fit a V2G charger in your garage or parking space.

I would expect, that the charging system is sophisticated, so that if you want to use the car, there is sufficient charge and the power hasn’t been sold back to the grid.

It will be very interesting to see how this technology develops.

March 17, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

My Main Electricity Supply

This may be a strange thing to post, but the company installing my smart meter needs a serties of pictures, so this way they will be easily available.

The pictures are in top to bottomn down the wall.

December 21, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

BBC Click On Batteries

This weekend’s Click on the BBC is a cracker and it’s all about batteries.

Electric Mountain

It starts with pictures of the UK’s largest battery at Dinorwig Power Station or Electric Mountain, as it is colloquially known.

The pumped storage power station was completed in 1984 and with a peak generating capacity  of 1.6 GW, it was built to satisfy short term demand, such as when people make a cup of tea in advert breaks in television programs. Under Purpose of the Wikipedia entry for Dinorwig Power Station, there is a very good summary of what the station does.

To build Dinorwig was a wonderful piece of foresight by the CEGB, over forty years ago.

Would environmentalists allow Dinorwig Power Station to be built these days?

That is a difficult question to answer!

On the one hand it is a massive development in an outstanding area of natural beauty and on the other Dinorwig and intermittent power sources like solar and wind power, is a marriage made in heaven by quality engineering.

As solar and wind power increase we will need more electric mountains and other ways of storing considerable amounts of electricity.

Close to Electric Mountain, another much smaller pumped storage power station of 100 MW capacity is being proposed in disued slate quarries at Glyn Rhonwy. This article on UK Hillwalking, is entitled Opinion: Glyn Rhonwy Hydro is Causing a Stir.

The article was written in 2015 and it looks like Planning Permission for the new pumped storage power station at Glyn Rhonwy has now been given.

The UK’s particular problem with pumped storage power stations, is mainly one of geography, in that we lack mountains.

However Electric Mountain is in the top ten pumped storage power stations on this list in Wikipedia.

I doubt in today’s economy, Electric Mountain would be built, despite the fact that it is probably needed more than ever with all those intermittent forms of electricity generation.

The Future Of Pumped Storage Technology

But if you read Wikipedia on pumped-storage technology, there are some interesting and downright wacky technologies proposed.

I particular like the idea of underwater storage, which if paired with offshore wind farms could be the power of the future. That idea is a German project called StEnSea.

Better Batteries

Click also talks about work at the Warwick Manufacturing Group about increasing the capacity of existing lithium-ion batteries for transport use by improved design of the battery package. Seventy to eighty percent increases in capacity were mentioned, by a guy who looked serious.

I would reckon that within five years, that electric vehicle range will have doubled, just by increments in chemistry, design and manufacture.

Batteries will also be a lot more affordable.

Intelligent Charging

Warwick Manufacturing Group are also working on research to create an intelligent charging algorithm, as a bad charging regime can reduce battery life and performance.

I rate this as significant, as anything that can improve performance and reduce cost is certainly needed in battery-powered transport.

The program reclons it would improve battery performance by ten percent in cars.

Surely, this would be most applicable to buses or trains, running on a regular route, as predicting energy use would be much easier, especially if the number of passengers were known.

In Technology Doesn’t Have To Be Complex, I discussed how Bombardier were using the suspension to give a good estimate of the weight of passengers on a Class 378 train. I suspect that bus and train manufacturers can use similar techniques to give an estimate.

So a bus or train on a particular route could build a loading profile, which would be able to calculate, when was the optimum time for the battery to be charged.

As an example, the 21 bus, that can be used from Bank station to my house, is serviced by hybrid new Routemasters. It has a very variable passenger load and sometimes after Old Street, it can be surprisingly empty.

Intelligent charging must surely offer advantages on a bus route like this, in terms of battery life and the use of the onboard diesel engine.

But is on trains, where intelligent charging can be of most use.

I believe that modern trains like Aventras and Hitachi’s Class 800 trains are designed to use batteries to handle regenerative braking.

If you take a Class 345 train running on Crossrail, the battery philosophy might be something like this.

  • Enough energy is stored in the battery at all times, so that the train can be moved to a safe place for passenger evacuation in case of a complete power failure.
  • Enough spare capacity is left in the battery, so that at the next stop, the regnerative braking energy can be stored on the train.
  • Battery power would be used where appropriate to reduce energy consumption.
  • The control algorithm would take inputs from route profile and passenger loading.

It may sound complicated, but philosophies like this have been used on aircraft for around forty years.

Reusing Vehicle Batteries In Homes

Click also had detailed coverage about how vehicles batteries could be remanufactured and used in homes. Especially, when solar panels are fitted.

Other Batteries

On the on-line version, the program goes on to look at alternative new ideas for batteries.

Inside Electric Mountain

The on-line version, also gives a tour of Electric Mountain.

Conclusion

The future’s electric, with batteries.

 

 

 

 

October 1, 2017 Posted by | Travel, World | , , , | Leave a comment

The Wind Of Change Blowing All Over The UK

This has nothibg to do with Brexit or even politics, but the UK and in addition our friends in Denmark, Germany, Ireland and The Netherlands seem to be investing to reap the wind.

To many of my generation, Hornsea is a town on the Yorkshire coast famous for dull ethnic pottery. But now it will the name of the Hornsea Wind Farm, which will have a generating capacity of up to 4 GigaWatt or 4,000,000 KiloWatt. It will be sited around 40 kilomwtres from the nearest land.

To put the size into context, Hinckley Point C, if it is ever built will have a power output of 3.2 GigaWatt.

You may day that wind is unreliable, but then Hornsea will be just one of several large offshore wind farms in the UK.

The electricity produced can be used, stored or exported.

Storage will always be difficult, but then there are energy consumptive industries like aluminium smelting, creating steel from scrap or the electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen, oxygen and ither gases, that could probably be based around an interruptible supply backed-up by a biomass or natural gas power station.

Hydrogen As A Fuel

Hydrogen could be the fuel of the cities for buses, taxis and delivery vehicles. Suppose they were hybrid, but instead of a small diesel engine to xharge the battery, a small hydrogen engine or fuel cell were to be used.

Remember that the only product of burning hydrogen is water and it wouldn’t produce any pollution.

Each bus garage or hydrogen station could generate its own hydrogen, probably venting the oxygen.

Enriched Natural Gas

We can’t generate too much hydrogen and if because of high winds, we have hydrogen to spare it can be mixed with natural gas, ehich contains a proportion of hydrogen anyway.

September 12, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

My Meter Installation

This may seem an odd post, but I want to have the pictures easily available, as fitting a smart meter to my house seems to be an obstacle course.

Let’s hope it means, that I don’t take any more pictures!

 

 

March 14, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

How Norway Will Keep Britain’s Lights On

This is the title of an article in today’s Times about the building of the North Sea Link, which is described like this in Wikipedia.

The North Sea Link (also known as North Sea Network Link or NSN Link, HVDC Norway–Great Britain, and Norway–UK interconnector) is a 1,400 MW subsea high-voltage direct current electricity cable under construction between Norway and the United Kingdom. It is a joint project of the transmission system operators Statnett and National Grid plc and is due to be completed in 2021.

To put the size of the North Sea Link into context Hinckley Point C nuclear power station will generate 3,2000 MW, so we get 44% of the power reliably for as long as Norway’s hydro-electric power system functions.

The Times article also lists other interconnectors in which National Grid are involved.

  • 160 MW system (1961) – 100 MW – co-owned with the French.
  • 2000 MW system (1986) – 2000 MW co-owned with the French.
  • IFA2 – 1000 MW co-owned with the French
  • BritNed – 1000 MW co-owned with the Dutch.
  • NemoLink – 1000 MW co-owned with the Belgians.
  • Viking Link – 1400 MW co-owned with the Danes.
  • ICELink – A possible 1000 MW link to Iceland.
  • A possible second connection to Norway
  • A possible second connection to the Netherlands.

In addition, there are other links like FABlink and NorthConnect, where National Grid don’t have an interest.

It’s not all importing of electricity, as recently because of troubles with their nuclear plants, we’ve been exporting electricity to the French.

As a control engineer, I think all of these interconnectors are sound investments, as Europe can mix the erratic sources of wind, wave, tidal and solar with the steady outputs of nuclear, coal and hydro.

This Wikipedia article called Wind power in the United Kingdom says this.

The United Kingdom is one of the best locations for wind power in the world, and is considered to be the best in Europe. Wind power contributed 11% of UK electricity generation in 2015, and 17% in December 2015. Allowing for the costs of pollution, particularly the carbon emissions of other forms of production, onshore wind power is the cheapest form of energy in the United Kingdom In 2016, the UK generated more electricity from wind power than from coal.

So back wind up by steady sources from the UK and Europe like nuclear and hydro-electric, when the wind stops and all is well with the lights.

And of course, as many of these interconnectors are bi-directional, when we have excess power, countries in Europe who need it can import it.

Who sits like spider in the middle of this web? – National Grid of course!

All those, who think that coal is a good idea, should be made to sit on the naughty step.

 

 

 

February 20, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Keeping Your Wiring Tidy

I have form in this area.

  • One of my first jobs was designing and building small pieces of control electronics for industrial plant.
  • I built small tuners for a company in Felixstowe.
  • Later at ICI, I built instruments for installation on chemical plants.

So I learned from about sixteen, that your wiring always has to be neat and colour-coded.

I also remember at ICI, how Neil Saville developed a computerised design program in the late 1960s,  to layout and colour-code the wires in a chemical plant.

So I was drawn to this article in Rail Engineer, which is entitled Safety, sustainability and security polymer cable troughing.

The article is about Trojan Services, based in Hove, who have developed various cable troughs and other products for the rail industry, made out of recycled polypropylene.

The article is very much a must-read, which shows how good design can transform the most mundane of products.

The pictures show some typical cable ducts.

November 1, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Jerry’s Wonderful Wiring

In sorting out my kitchen, I need to adjust the wall between the kitchen and the living area.

Jerry's Wonderful Wiring

Jerry’s Wonderful Wiring

Jerry obviously thought he was a very competent electrician.

But my experienced Hungarian handyman and myself think otherwise.

April 19, 2016 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment