The Anonymous Widower

Sizewell C: Nuclear Power Station Plans For Suffolk Submitted

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

A few points from the article.

  • It will provide enough electricity for six million homes.
  • It will create 25,000 jobs during construction.
  • Sizewell C will be a near replica to Hinckley Point C.
  • It will generate 3.2 GW of electricity.
  • It will be low-carbon electricity.

As a well-read and experienced engineer, I am not against the technologies of nuclear power.

But I do think, by the time it is completed , other technologies like wind and energy storage will be much better value. They will also be more flexible and easier to expand, should we get our energy forecasts wrong.

  • We will see higher power and more efficient wind farms, further out in the North Sea.
  • Massive energy storage systems, based on improved pumped storage technology and using new technology from companies like Highview Power, Zinc8 and others will be built.
  • Wind and solar power an energy storage are much easier to fund and financial institutions like L & G, Aberdeen Standard and Aviva have invested in the past for our future pensions.
  • If you want to go nuclear, small modular reactors, look to be much better value in the longer term.
  • I also don’t like the involvement of the Chinese in the project. History tells me, that all pandemics seem to start in the country!

It is my view that the biggest mistake we made in this country over energy was not to built the Severn Barrage.

My preferred design would be based on the ideas of Sir Frederick Snow.

There would have been a high and a low lake, either side of a central spine, behind an outer barrage.

  • Reversible turbines and pumps between the lakes would both generate and store electricity.
  • When proposed in the 1970s, it would have generated ten percent of the UK’s electricity.
  • A new road and rail crossing of the Severn, could have been built into the outer barrage.
  • A lock would have provided access for shipping.
  • It would have controlled the periodic, regular and often devastating flooding of the River Severn.

Some versions of the original design, even incorporated an international airport.

  • The runways would be in the right direction for the prevailing wind, with regard to take-off and landing.
  • Take-off would be over open sea.
  • High speed trains could speed travellers to and from London on an updated Great Western Railway.

I believe a modern design could be even better.

  • The central spine and the outer barrage would be the foundations for a large wind farm.
  • There would also be a large number of powerful floating wind turbines to the West of the outer barrage in the Severn Estuary.
  • A giant electrolyser on the central spine would produce hydrogen, that could be used to decarbonise the UK’s gas network.
  • A power interconnector could be built into the outer barrage to connect Wales to the nuclear power stations at Hinckley :Point.
  • A cluster of small nuclear reactors could be built on the central spine.
  • In the intervening fifty years, we have probably learned how to build a barrage like this, so that it can benefit birds and other wildlife.

I believe, it will never be too late to build a Severn Barrage.

 

May 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

New Zinc-Air Battery Outperforms Lithium-Ion Battery On All Levels

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

There’s a new battery in town and it’s a game-changer. The novel battery, is cheaper, safer and significantly longer laster-lasting, than lithium-ion batteries reports Recharge.

It does seem that Zinc8 is getting noticed.

I wonder, if the web-site gets read in Cambridge, where I was once told that use of the word Interesting, is very much to be discouraged.

May 26, 2020 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

New Zinc-Air Battery Is ‘Cheaper, Safer And Far Longer-Lasting Than Lithium-Ion’

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

A new type of battery is coming onto the market that can store multiple days’ worth of energy, that doesn’t degrade, can’t possibly explode and is up to five times cheaper than lithium-ion, claimed its developer as it prepares to pilot the technology in New York state.

The zinc-air hybrid flow battery developed by Canadian company Zinc8 has the potential to disrupt the entire energy-storage market — making wind and solar farms baseload and even replacing the need for transmission grid upgrades in many places.

The article then gives an in depth review of Zinc8, its technology and its future prospects.

  • The Chief Executive is a former Canadian MP. Political connections help!
  • The company has $100million of funding.
  • Zinc8 energy storage systems are made larger by fitting and bigger storage tank and adding more electrolyte.
  • The capital cost of an eight-hour Zinc8 storage system is about $250/KWh, but this falls to $100/KWh for a 32-hour system and $60/KWh for a hundred-hour system.
  • Lithium-ion systems ttpically cost $300/KWh for any duration over eight hours.
  • The cost of Zinc8 systems is expected to fall as manufacturing increases.

The article finishes with a detailed description of how the technology works.

It also details the company’s growth strategy.

Conclusion

This technology looks like it will give lithiujm-ion batteries a good run for its money in grid storage applications and it could be one of those technologies that help the world to embrace renewable energy, like wind, solar and wave power.

It has various advantages.

  • Lower cost of installation.
  • Falling manufacturing cost.
  • Easily scalable.
  • No exotic or hazardous materials, just zinc, water and air, which are recycled.

My only worry, is that Zinc8, sounds too good to be true! But having met researchers at ICI, who were concerned in the birth of polythene, this could be a normal cynical reaction.

 

 

 

May 22, 2020 Posted by | World | , , | 2 Comments

Battery Storage Trialled To Provide Upward And Downward Flexibility To UK’s National Grid

|The title of this post, if the same as that of this article on Energy Storage News

This is the introductory paragraph.

Battery software company Arenko has teamed up with the Electricity System Operator (ESO) arm of National Grid in the UK to provide upward and downward reserve flexibility in a “first of its kind trial”.

So what do Arenko actually do?

This is the home page of their web site.

It has this title across the page.

Automation Technology For Batteries

 

Beneath it is a mission statement.

Our vision is to be the preferred software platform to unlock value for batteries worldwide.

Finally you get this explanation.

Arenko is a world leading battery software and controls platform building a differentiated position in the multi-billion dollar battery controls and automation market.

Batteries are software defined assets which are only as valuable as what controls them.

Arenko’s enabling software platform uses our proprietary and proven automation technology for batteries to asset owners, utilities and battery system integrators unlocking and capturing substantially higher returns and protect your battery assets.

Arenko’s automation technology connects and optimises both the battery’s technical and commercial performance using AI, enhanced analytics and deep learning algorithms.

I would think, this could be my kind of company.

  • Software-based
  • Ambitious
  • All about control engineering.
  • I suspect they constantly simulate what is happening to batteries and the electricity network.

If they get it right, they could go a long way.

 

May 21, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Eos To Install 4MWh Of ‘Safe’ Zinc Battery Technology – At Giant Oil Refinery

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Energy Storage News.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Eos Energy Storage will deploy a megawatt-scale, behind-the-meter zinc hybrid cathode battery energy storage system for a large oil refinery in Greece, claiming it be a validation of the safety and environmental benefits of the novel technology.

 

EOS Energy Storage seem to have developed a zinc battery, that could work along similar lines to the zinc battery produced by zinc8, that I wrote about in Zinc8 Seem To Be A Surprisingly Open Company.

The Energy Storage News article gives more details on the battery and its design.

  • This battery is rated at 1 MW/4 MWh, so compared to some, it is quite small.
  • It uses a zinc-halide oxidation/reduction cycle to store and output energy.
  • The battery is made from five components, all of which are abundant, ethically sourced and recyclable.
  • An order for a 40 MWh system has been placed.
  • EOS claim to have numerous pilots and demonstrators in use.

Could it appear that using zinc batteries are a feasible method of storing energy, as two companies both appear to be successful at delivering systems?

 

 

May 19, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Hawaii’s Renewable Tender To Deliver Major Solar And Storage Push

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The largest renewable tender in Hawaii’s history has chosen its winners, contracting a solar and storage pipeline that exceeds anything the US state has ever seen.

The article gives a lot of information about the order and Hawaii’s energy.

  • A fleet of 400 MW of solar panels and 3 GWh of energy storage will be installed, with some running in 2022.
  • Another fleet of 260 MW of solar panels and 1 GWh of energy storage is in the pipeline, for delivery in 2021.
  • The strike price appears to be 9.38 US dollar cents per KWh or $93.80 per MWh. We’re paying £92.50 per MWh for electricity at Hinckley Point C nuclear power station.
  • Hawaii aims to be full-powered by renewable energy by 2045.
  • Two fossil-fuel plants will shut by 2024.

From this document on the Hawaii State Energy Office, I have found that in 2018, these renewable energy sources contributed to the state’s electricity.

  • Geothermal sources – 2.9%
  • Wind – 4.9%
  • Hydro – 0.9%
  • Biomass – 2.8%
  • Small-scale solar – 9.3%
  • Utility-scale solar – 3.9%

These add up to 24.7%.

I’ll be interested to see, what the percentage will be in 2024!

May 19, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

What Exactly Is Upside Energy?

On Friday, August 9th, 2019, there was a massive power cut in the South of England, that is described in this article on the BBC, which is entitled Lightning Strike ‘Partly To Blame’ For Power Cut.

This is the introductory paragraph.

A lightning strike and the sudden loss of two large electricity generators caused nearly a million people to lose power in England and Wales earlier this month, an interim report has found.

So what exactly happened?

This article on Wired is entitled How Batteries Stopped The UK’s Power Cut Being A Total Disaster, was written after the report into the cut had been written.

This is the third paragraph of the article.

But it could have been even worse. Within seconds of problems hitting the grid, a fleet of batteries dotted around Great Britain were able to pump power into the system, preventing a rapid drop off in transmission frequency.

Is fleet the right collective noun for storage batteries? But it will do for the time-being.

This is the next two paragraphs.

Upside Energy is one firm that lent a helping hand by supplying six megawatts (MW) from five large lithium-ion batteries located on a solar farm near Luton Airport. “Those batteries responded immediately – actually it was sub-second,” says the firm’s chief executive Devrim Celal.

Six megawatts may not sound like much. It’s about the same capacity as a single medium-sized wind turbine, but in the context of national electricity supply that can make a difference, says Tim Green, co-director at Imperial College London’s Energy Futures Laboratory. “A home on average is consuming about two kilowatts – six megawatts gets you 3,000 homes maybe.”

But every little helps!

So who are Upside Energy?

If you look at their web site, this is the headline on the home page.

Smart Energy Management Systems

There is also this description.

Our award-winning cloud-based platform provides our customers with a way to capitalise on new opportunities, while supporting an acceleration in the use of renewable technologies, and overall helping to create a more sustainable and efficient power network.

From what I can gather with further reading, it almost looks like a peer-to-peer network for energy, akin to how Zopa is one for money.

  • If you or your company, built a battery or a solar farm, then Upside Energy would control it, in the most efficient way.
  • As the Wired article states, they also have a few batteries of their own.

On another page they describe the system as a cloud-based platform can connect with a multitude of devices across commercial, industrial and domestic sites. They give the following examples of devices.

  • Battery storage systems.
  • \electric-vehicle charging points.
  • Uninterruptible power supplies
  • Heating and cooling systems.

They then say a bit about how it works.

It uses advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence to match energy demand with the available supply, helping the electricity grid deal with fluctuations and times of peak usage. Supporting the grid in this way, opens the doors to additional revenue streams for our customers, who also benefit from significant reductions in energy costs and carbon emissions.

The platform can manage demand response for more than 100,000 devices running in parallel.

As a Control Engineer, whose friend went on to manage ICI’s power networks in the North West, I know management of these complex networks was difficult even in the 1970s.

It is interesting to look at their funding page.

Funding would appear to be typical for a company like this.

Conclusion

If I was a farmer, who was investing in a solar farm on a piece of land, I would check out Upside Energy.

But I’m not!

Over eight years ago, I wrote Stability in Financial Systems, where I used my Control Engineering and mathematical experience to postulate that Zopa might have found a way to create a system with an equilibrium between saving and borrowing, that responded to politics, the economy and unforeseen circumstances.

Could Upside Energy have created a system that balances energy production, storage and use, which navigating the perils of the modern world?

 

 

 

 

May 17, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , , | 1 Comment

Zinc8 Seem To Be A Surprisingly Open Company

Several energy storage companies, that I have looked at for this blog are secretive companies.

In The Mysterious 150-hour Battery That Can Guarantee Renewables Output During Extreme Weather, where I pointed at an online article of the same name, the secrecy is in the headline. Look at the web site of the company involved; Form Energy and it reminds me of a term used in the 1970s and 1980s to refer to non-existent software – vapourware. Or one of my older favourite phrases – All fur coat and no knickers.

I have developed disruptively innovative software and other products and understand, the need for secrecy. But there is a need for a balance between secrecy and information.

As an example, one of the products, I have highlighted here, could be ideal for one of the followers of this blog. They will be investigating the product, as I have found enough information to enable them to decide, that contacting the company will not be a waste of time.

Some companies in innovative energy storage development like Highview Power and Hydrostor have posted informative YouTube videos about their technology, but others just rely on the same endlessly repeated phrases.

When I looked at the Zinc8 web site, I thought they were another company dealing in the same phrases, as there are two on the home page.

  • Zinc8 is redefining long-duration energy storage.
  • The leader in zinc-air battery technology.

But they are a lot more open, than the home page might suggest.

Looking up zinc-air battery on Wikipedia, gives a lot of information, that is understandable. This is the introductory paragraph.

Zinc–air batteries (non-rechargeable), and zinc–air fuel cells (mechanically rechargeable) are metal–air batteries powered by oxidizing zinc with oxygen from the air. These batteries have high energy densities and are relatively inexpensive to produce. Sizes range from very small button cells for hearing aids, larger batteries used in film cameras that previously used mercury batteries, to very large batteries used for electric vehicle propulsion and grid-scale energy storage.

I instantly thought, if a technology can be both non-rechargeable and rechargeable and useable in applications from hearing aids to vehicle propulsion and grid-scale energy storage, the technology must have something. I also worked in a non-ferrous metals factory as a teenager and know that zinc is easy to handle.

I then looked at their technology page

  • There is a detailed explanation of the technology.
  • They stress their patents and certification.
  • They show how a system can be expanded.
  • They list the major technological advantages of the system. Robust, safe, scalable etc.
  • They claim 20,000 operating life hours and 8+ operating hours.

They also finish off by giving an energy capacity cost of $45 per kWh.

I tend to think, that they have found a quirk in zinc-air technology, that they are exploiting, by some good old-fashioned innovative engineering.

I shall be watching Zinc8 and the other zinc-air battery start-ups.

May 16, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , , | 1 Comment

Siemens Gamesa Begins Operation Of Its Innovative Electrothermal Energy Storage System

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Siemens Gamesa.

This is the introductory paragraph.

In a world first, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) has today begun operation of its electric thermal energy storage system (ETES). During the opening ceremony, Energy State Secretary Andreas Feicht, Hamburg’s First Mayor Peter Tschentscher, Siemens Gamesa CEO Markus Tacke and project partners Hamburg Energie GmbH and Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) welcomed the achievement of this milestone. The innovative storage technology makes it possible to store large quantities of energy cost-effectively and thus decouple electricity generation and use.

This second paragraph gives a brief description of the system.

The heat storage facility, which was ceremonially opened today in Hamburg-Altenwerder, contains around 1,000 tonnes of volcanic rock as an energy storage medium. It is fed with electrical energy converted into hot air by means of a resistance heater and a blower that heats the rock to 750°C. When demand peaks, ETES uses a steam turbine for the re-electrification of the stored energy. The ETES pilot plant can thus store up to 130 MWh of thermal energy for a week. In addition, the storage capacity of the system remains constant throughout the charging cycles.

This system is a pilot plant and will test the system thoroughly.

They state that the long term aim is to store energy in the gigawatt range and be able to provide the enough power for the daily electricity consumption of around 50,000 households.

The method of energy storage would appear to be inherently simple.

  • Heat rocks to a high temperature using a gigantic electric heater and blower.
  • Use the heat when required to boil water to create steam.
  • Pass the steam through a conventional steam turbine.

I can envisage a clever computer system, controlling the hot air and water flows into the vessel to get the correct level of steam out, as needed for the amount of electricity required.

I suspect the biggest problem is where do you keep a thousand tonnes of hot rock?

The answer is given in this article on the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, which is entitled Heated Volcanic Rocks Store Energy.

This paragraph describes the storage.

A key finding from an earlier, smaller project proved greater efficiency of a round shape for the container holding the rock. It has an increasing diameter on both ends, where inflow and outflow openings are located. It has a total content of 800 cubic meters of rock with a mass of 1,000 tonnes, covered with a one-meter-thick layer of insulation.

I estimate that the diameter of a 800 cubic metre rock sphere would be just 11.4 metres, so perhaps around fourteen with the insulation.

The sphere would need to be a pressure vessel, as it would contain high-pressure steam.

The process looks to be simple, efficient and scalable.

The article also makes the following points.

  • Eighty percent of the components are off-the-shelf.
  • There are no hazardous materials involved.
  • High efficiencies are claimed.
  • Siemens Gamesa are aiming for a 1 GWh system.
  • The German government has provided development funds.

It is being built on the site of an old aluminium smelter, so I suspect, the site has good connections to the electricity grid.

In the early 1970s, I was involved in the design and sizing of chemical plants for ICI. In one plant, the process engineers and myself proposed a very large pressure vessel, that would have been larger than the one, Siemens Gamesa are using in Hamburg. But then the domes of pressurised water reactors, like this forty-six metre diameter example at Sizewell B are even larger.

 

I very much believe, that design and construction of the pressure vessel to hold the hot rocks for Siemens Gamesa’s system could have been performed by the team I worked with in 1972

How Big Would The Sphere Be For A One Gigawatt-hour System?

  • The current pilot system has a 130 MWh thermal capacity and uses a thousand tonnes of volcanic rock.
  • The rock occupies 800 cubic metres.

I estimated that the pressure vessel with insulation could have a diameter of fourteen metres.

A system with a 1 GWh thermal capacity would be 7.7 times larger.

  • It would need 7,700 tonnes of volcanic rock.
  • The rock would occupy 6,160 cubic metres.

I esimate that the pressure vessel with thermal insulation would have a diameter of twenty-five metres.

How Much Power Could Be Stored In A Sizewell B-Sized Dome?

Out of curiosity, I estimated how much power could be stored in a pressure vessel, which was the size of the dome of Sizewell B power station.

  • The dome would have a diameter of forty-two metres if the insulation was two metres thick.
  • This would store 39,000 cubic metres of rock.
  • This would be 48,750 tonnes of rock.

Scaling up from the pilot plant gives a 6.3 GWh thermal capacity.

I would suspect that Siemens know an engineer, who has worked out how to build such a structure.

  • A steel pressure vessel wouldn’t be any more challenging than the dome of a pressurised water reactor.
  • It would be built in sections in a factory and assembled on site.
  • Rock would probably be added as the vessel was built.

I can certainly see one of these energy stores being built with a multi-gigawatt thermal capacity.

Would This System Have A Fast Response?

Power companies like power stations and energy storage to have a fast response to sudden jumps in demand.

This section in the Wikipedia entry for Electric Mountain, is entitled Purpose and this is said.

The scheme was built at a time when responsibility for electricity generation in England and Wales was in the hands of the government’s Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB); with the purpose of providing peak capacity, very rapid response, energy storage and frequency control. Dinorwig’s very rapid response capability significantly reduced the need to hold spinning reserve on part loaded thermal plant. When the plant was conceived the CEGB used low efficiency old coal and oil fired capacity to meet peaks in demand. More efficient 500 MW thermal sets were introduced in the 1960s, initially for baseload operation only. Dinorwig could store cheap energy produced at night by low marginal cost plant and then generate during times of peak demand, so displacing low efficiency plant during peak demand periods.

Given that we are increasingly reliant on intermittent sources like wind and solar, it is surely getting more important to have energy storage with a fast response.

Consider.

  • Gas turbine power stations are very quick to start up, which is a reason why, they are liked by power companies.
  • As Wikipedia says pumped storage systems like Electric Mountain usually have a fast response.
  • Lithium-ion batteries have a very fast response.

I think the Siemens Gamesa ETES system could have a medium-fast response, provided there was enough heat in the rocks to raise steam.

Could This System Be Placed In A Town Or City?

Consider.

  • The system doesn’t use any hazardous materials.
  • The footprint of a 1 GWh system would probably be football pitch-sized.
  • The system could probably be designed to blend in with local buildings.

This picture shows the Bunhill 2 Energy Centre in London, which extracts waste heat from the Underground and uses it for district heating.

When I took the picture, the system wasn’t complete, but it shows how these types of developments can be fitted into the cityscape.

 

 

May 15, 2020 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

The Mysterious 150-hour Battery That Can Guarantee Renewables Output During Extreme Weather

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

The article talks starts by talking about Form Energy, who I wrote about in 150 Hours Of Storage? Company Says That’s True To Form.

As to Form Energy’s technology, they say that there is speculation, that sulphur is the main ingredient.

The article, then lists other technologies, that are under development to store energy.

There’s certainly no lack of entrants for the contest to provide long-term energy storage.

The article is a summary of both Form Energy and the others in the field.

May 15, 2020 Posted by | World | , , | 3 Comments