The Anonymous Widower

Energy Vault Receives $110 Million From SoftBank For Gravity-Assisted Power Storage

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

Energy Vault is a company, that is developing gravity-assisted power storage.

You don’t invest £110million in a company, even if you are as rich as Softbank, unless you are certain, that you’ll get a return!

So I suspect Energy Vault may have a working system for storing energy

Read the article and see what your think! It also links to a video.

This is an interesting quote from the company.

We knew we needed to be around three to four cents levelized cost per kWh ($30 – $40 per MWh) to add to PV or wind in order to be competitive below fossil.  This took a lot of innovation.

I shall be following the company.

September 1, 2019 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

British Start-Up Beats World To Holy Grail Of Cheap Energy Storage For Wind And Solar

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

If you think it sounds too good to be true, then watch this video from the company behind the technology; Highview Power.

These engineers have taken several pieces of readily available industrial equipment, put it together in a novel way. to create an energy storage system.

I believe that this definitely is the Holy Grail of energy storage!

Why?

In World’s Largest Wind Farm Attracts Huge Backing From Insurance Giant, I discussed how Aviva have invested a billion pounds in wind farms, as it gives them the sort of long-term return they need to provide pensions and pay out insurance claims.

But if you own a Gigawatt-sized wind farm in the North Sea, one thing is missing; the ability to store that energy in an affordable way.

So by investing in this type of energy storage and coupling it with their own wind farms, Aviva can control the output of the wind farms to what the National Grid needs.

All it needs is some more money, that needs a home. And Aviva have lots of that!

It’s also an investment with an ethical and green profile.

  • No polluting technology.
  • Proven technology.
  • Zero-carbon technology.
  • Non-toxic technology.
  • No use of exotic and scant resources.
  • No expensive or dangerous fuel
  • Affordable technology

Systems can also be distributed to where they are needed or where there is surplus electricity.

If you want to know more, watch the video and then look at other videos for Highview Power.

How Much Energy Can Highview Power’s Systems Store?

The biggest energy storage system in the UK is Electric Mountain, which has a power output of 1,728 MW and an energy storage capacity of 9.1 GWh.

In a video it is claimed that Highview Power are designing a storage system, which has a power output of 200 MW and an energy storage capacity of 1.2 GWh.

You would only need to build nine and you’ve got another Electric Mountain!

Perhaps to maximise security of supply and obtain a fast response, the systems could be placed in Cumbria, Essex, Humberside, Kent, Merseyside, Norfolk, Suffolk, Thurso and Yorkshire.

Would We Need Nuclear Power?

Probably not!

For the same amount of money as a large nuclear power station, you’d get an awful lot of offshore wind farms and the storage thrown in.

Conclusion

This technology could solve the world’s energy problems.

 

 

I

 

August 26, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

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

Airport Plans World’s Biggest Car Parks For 50,000 Cars

The title of this post, is the same as that of an asricle in Wednesday’s copy of The Times.

This is the first two paragraphs.

The biggest car parks in the world will be built as part of a £14 billion expansion of Heathrow amid fresh claims that the scheme will be an “environmental disaster”.

Parking for almost 53,000 vehicles will be built as part of a 30-year masterplan, even though the airport insists that expansion can be achieved without any extra cars on the road.

This sounds to be contradictory, as why would you need to build extra car parking, if there were no more extra cars on the road?

Perhaps there is a clue later in the article, where this is is a paragraph.

Heathrow said that the overall number of parking spaces would “not change materially from today”, insisting that spaces were simply being consolidated on bigger sites. It pointed out that car parks would allow for 100 per cent electric vehicle usage in the future. In total, the number of parking spaces, including those for staff and spaces at nearby offices, will grow from 64,000 today to 67,000.

Admittedly, it only says allow, but Heathrow are future-proofing themselves for the day when everyone is driving electric cars.

Heathrow and others are also planning to do the following.

  • Charge a congestion charge of up to £15 a day will be imposed by 2026 to dissuade passengers from travelling to the airport by car.
  • A “green loop” — a 12-mile pedestrian and cycle network — will also circle the airport.
  • Finish Crossrail.
  • Improve Heathrow Express.
  • There will be a rail link to Reading.
  • There will be a second rail link to Waterloo via Clapham Junction.
  • There will be a rail link to Basingstoke, Guildford and Woking, possibly by extending Heathrow Express.

Will these measures nudge travellers in one of two positive directions?

  • Using public transport to get to the Airport.
  • Cycling or working to the airport.
  • Using an electric car to get to and from the Airport.

I am a Control Engineer, who spent a working life of nearly fifty years analysing data and doing mathematical calculations, hopefully to improve little bits of the world.

So What Would I Do?

It is absolutely essential that it is known, where all the vehicles to the airport are travelling to and from.

No-one is going to get out of their car, if there is no creditable alternative

The ultimate aim must be that, all transport within a certain distance of the Airport must be zero carbon.

  • All vehicles used by travellers and workers to get to and from the Airport.
  • All vehicles bringing supplies to the Airport.
  • All airside vehicles.

What will happen to those that lived in the zone?

This Google Map shows Hanwell Village to the South-West of the Airport.

Will all those residents pay the congestion charge?

But suppose Heathrow could get ninety percent of all cars travelling to  the Airport and using the car parks, to be electric vehicles.

This would be 45,000 vehicles, each with a battery of between 30-60 kWh. Let’s call it, 30 kWh.

This would mean that the total of energy storage on a typical day at the Airport would be 1.35 GWh.

Compare that to the 9.1 GWh capacity of Electric Mountain.

Electric Mountain would be bigger, but intelligent control of the batteries of these electric cars could create a massive electricity storage resource at the Airport.

  • Cars would be connected to a two-way charger, when the driver went about their business at the Airport, after telling the car when they would return.
  • On return to the car, it would have enough charge for the next journey.
  • The driver would also have an app on their phone, so they could alter their return times.
  • Whilst the driver was away, the grid would borrow electricity as required.

All the technology exists and National Grid are looking at ways to use electric car batteries for energy storage.

The grid might even pay for the use of your battery.

I suspect that all car parks for electric cars will work using something like this model.

Note the following calculation.

In December 2018, there were 31.5 million cars and four million light goods vehicles in the UK.

In a few years time, suppose half of these vehicles are electric with a 20 KWh battery.

That works out at an astronomical 355 GWh or nearly forty Electric Mountains.

  • Electric Mountain cost £425 million in 1984.
  • Applying a web inflation calculator means it would cost around £1350 million today.
  • So forty Electric Mountains would cost £54 billion.

That is a lot of money and we have no place to put them.

But we have this massive storage capability in the millions of electric vehicles, that will be on the roads in a few years.

Conclusion

All future large car parks must be built to be large storage batteries, when drivers plug in their electric cars.

If you were to be paid for the use of your car’s battery, would that ease the exense of owning an electric car?

 

 

 

June 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Shape Of Solar Farms To Come

This article on Renew Energy is entitled Gannawarra Battery-Integrated Solar Farm – Australia’s Largest – Officially Opened.

These are the first two paragraphs.

The Gannawarra solar and energy storage project near Kerang in western Victoria has had its official launch on Friday, to mark the largest pairing of a solar farm and a grid-scale battery system in Australia.

State energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio officially anointed the landmark project, which has combined 60MW of PV panels and a 25MW/50MWh battery system – Tesla’s second-biggest battery in the country so far.

Form the video in the areticle, it appears that there are 120 hectares of solar panels and the farm provides enough electricity for 25,000 homes.

It is an interesting concept and I’m sure it will be repeated around the world.

Ausralia has lots of sun, but there is no reason, why a similar system can’t be developed with tidal, wave or wind power.

June 18, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heathrow Plans Runway Over M25 In 30-Year Expansion

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

This picture, which I downloaded from this page on the Heathrow web site, shows the proposed expansion.

For comparison this Google Map shows the Airport recently.

These are some of my thoughts.

The Position Of The Third Runway

As can be seen, the new third runway is to the North-West of the North Runway.

  • It will extend all the way to the M25.
  • The M25 will be lowered and the new runway and two parallel taxiways will cross the road on a series of bridges.

This enlargement from the first image shows the crossing of the M25 and two other roads.

Note.

  1. The runway is on the left, which increases the spacing with the North Runway
  2. How openings between the runway and the taxiways will allow natural light onto the motorway.
  3. In the picture you can see five angled taxiways joining the runway from the two taxiways. Does this design mean that aircraft spend a minimum of time queuing for take-off? Similar but not so extreme layouts can also be seen on the two existing runways.

What intrigues me, is what looks to be a hole in front of the ends of the taxiways.

Could it be rail or road access to the airport?

This map from Network Rail shows the route of the proposed Western Rail Approach To Heathrow.

It looks like the dark holes could be the railway, between Langley and Terminal 5.

This section of the rail link is supposed to be in tunnel, but I wonder if costs could be saved if it is in a buttressed cutting, designed in cooperation between Heathrow and Network Rail.

Obviously, it will need to be in tunnel to cross under the M25.

I think that rather cleverly, the runway has been slotted in with the best use of the limited land available.

A Phased Construction Program

The Times says this about the construction program.

Only the runway would be built by the opening date of early 2026.

Other facilities such as new terminals, car parks, hotels and transit systems would open from 2030, with an expansion of Terminal 5 the priority

This means that the extra runway capacity can be used initially to better accommodate the same number of flights.

If Heathrow get it right passengers. should see the following.

  • They would suffer less from construction.
  • Fewer taxi delays on the ground.
  • Less long fuel-burning taxiing between gate and runway.
  • More flights leaving on time.

It might also enable air traffic controllers to allocate aircraft noise in a fairer manner.

Car Psrking

Two huge new car parks are to be built North and South of the Airport, which in conjunction with new hotels would be connected to the terminals by an underground transit system.

This article on International Airport Review is entitled Heathrow To Launch First Airport Ultra Low Emission Zone.

So doesn’t the building of large car parks contradict this policy.

It would unless, the car parks are designed for the future.

  • Electric cars only.
  • Intelligent chargers for every parking space.
  • Whilst the cars are parked and connected, they would be a massive energy storage battery for the National Grid.

When you arrived back to your car after a week in Greece, there would be enough power in the battery for your next journey.

By 2030, there will be a substantial need for parking for electric cars at railway stations and airports. Parking solutions like this will help reduce the carbon footprint of airports.

Conclusion

2030 is ten years away and Heathrow will have to work hard to build an airport fit for those times.

June 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Different Energy Storage Technology

Recently, two articles on the web have been caught in my Google alerts.

Both articles are about energy storage using a Vanadium Redox Flow Battery.

This is a paragraph from the Bushveld article.

The project will be implemented in two phases for a total of 1 400 MWh of energy storage capacity – 800 MWh in Phase 1 and an additional 600 MWh in Phase 2.

When you consider that with lithium-ion technology battery capacity is normally talked about in kWH, these are impressive amounts of stored energy.

Reading the Wikipedia post shows that the batteries rely on toxic chemicals like sulphuric acid and vanadium oxide, which would probably rule out mobile applications.

Conclusion

Having read all the two articles and the Wikipedia entry, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some form of technology like this emerge for large scale energy storage to back up intermittent power sources like solar, wind and wave.

 

May 7, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Cambridge Going To Save The World From Global Warming?

Watch this video!

And then visit Superdielectrics web site.

It does appear to be a  bunch of mad scientists in Cambridge, who’ve come up with the bizarre idea of using the material in soft contact lenses as an energy storage medium.

Link Up With Rolls-Royce

And then there’s this press release on the Rolls-Royce-Royce web site, which is entitled Rolls-Royce Links Up With UK-based Superdielectrics To Explore Potential Of Very High Energy Storage Technology.

Conclusion

I have been observing technology since the 1960s.

This is either one of those scientific curiosities , like cold fusion, that appear from time-to-time and then disappear into the scientific archives or a game-changer

I suspect we’ll know in a couple of years.

But even if it is isn’t the solution to affordable and massive energy storage,, that will save the world, I believe that one of the teams of men and women in white coats, somewhere in the world will crack the problem.

 

May 2, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Battery Storage Backers Energized By Prospect Of New Tax Credit

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Bloomberg Tax

  • Thirty percent tax relief would be provided for energy storage.
  • It might also stand a chance of becoming law in the US.

Read the article and question as I did, that tax relief may be the best way to get investors to build energy storage to keep the lights on, when the wind’s not blowing and the sun’s not shining.

April 20, 2019 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

How Many Welshmen And Welshwomen Can You Fit In A Million Pound Park-And-Ride?

This article on Insider Media, which is entitled Work On £1m Park-And-Ride Site Completes.

The Park-and-Ride facility is at Abercynon station, which is the station, where the Merthyr Line splits into two branches to Metryr Tydfil and Aberdate stations.

  • The facility has 310 parking spaces.
  • It has been built in six months after a November start.
  • Bus access will be provided at the original car park.
  • I hope they’ve increased cycle capacity for the Geraint Thomas effect.

My only worry is that with eight trains per hour to start between Abercynon and Cardiff in 2023, will the facility be big enough?

Economics

This is obviously and a much-needed scheme and each parking space has cost around £3,000. If on 250 working days, each generate around five pounds in revenue, that must mean that the car park should be viable.

Conclusion

If this Park-and-Ride facility has been built so quickly and should be viable, why is it that so few similar parking schemes are proposed for railway stations?

Especially, where at Abercynon station, there will be a massive improvement in capacity and quality of the train service.

  • A doubling of frequency
  • Faster, electric tram-trains.
  • Trains that can hold more passengers.

How many other stations are getting this improvement?

as to finance, I think this could be the sort of investment, infrastructure funds, run by the like of L & G and Aviva will be looking at..

  • Not a large investment.
  • Could be constructed to n efficient design.
  • Guaranteed return.

But in the future, when electric vehicles make up say half of all those on the road, it could become a large energy supply and storage facility.

April 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment