The Anonymous Widower

‘World-First’ As Bunhill 2 Launches Using Tube Heat To Warm 1,350 Homes

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

A new energy centre using heat from Northern Line Tube tunnels can now provide warmth and hot water to 1,350 Islington homes.

These are some of my pictures of the centre.

If you want to go and see the Bunhill 2 Centre, walk down City Road from the Angel.

March 6, 2020 Posted by | World | , , | 2 Comments

ITM Power signs deal with AEG Power Solutions

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Energy storage and clean fuel company ITM Power has signed a deal with AEG Power Solutions.

The agreement means that Sheffield-based ITM Power will integrate its electrolyser technology, which produces hydrogen gas from electricity and water, with AEG’s power control electronics.

ITM Power are a company that certainly has some well-known friends.

Initially, they will be working together on five projects.

February 25, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

The Times Had A Hydrogen Saturday

The Times had a feature on Saturday about converting our gas grid to hydrogen and especially about using hydrogen boilers in our homes.

I believe that perhaps in ten years, our gas grid will be full of hydrogen and our central heating boilers will be powered by hydrogen.

The carbon emissions saved with be massive

I don’t know about cooking, but my Michelin-starred Scottish friend and chef, says that we’ll all cook on an electric induction hob.

A Large Collateral Benefit?

I think there will be a large collateral benefit.

At present there are only two feasible methods to power a vehicle without producing carbon emissions; battery or hydrogen.

  • Battery vehicles need to be recharged and we need an enormous number of charging stations.
  • Hydrogen vehicles need to be filled up from a hydrogen filling station.

It should be noted that the current Hyundai ix35 FCEV has a range of 369 miles on hydrogen.

But as you have a hydrogen gas supply to your house, could you fit a compressor in your garage to pump up your car’s hydrogen tank, when it needs it?

The technology is well-proven.

The only problem, that I can see, is that how will the Government tax it?

The future’s not orange it’s hydrogen.

 

 

January 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , | 6 Comments

The Power Of Battery Storage

This article on Fastmarkets is entitled Neoen To Expand Li-ion Battery Capacity at Hornsdale Plant.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Australia’s Hornsdale Power Reserve, the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery plant, is set to expand capacity by 50% to 150 megawatts, according to Neoen SA, the French power producer that owns and operates the site.

If you read the article and the Wikipedia entry for Hornsdale Power Reserve (HPR), you’ll see why it is being expanded.

This paragraph is from Wikipedia.

After six months of operation, the Hornsdale Power Reserve was responsible for 55% of frequency control and ancillary services in South Australia.[11] By the end of 2018, it was estimated that the Power Reserved had saved A$40 million in costs, most in eliminating the need for a 35 MW Frequency Control Ancillary Service.

Somewhat surprisingly, the power is mainly generated by the associated Hornsdale Wind Farm.

These are some statistics and facts of the installation at Hornsale.

  • There are 99 wind turbines with a total generation capacity of 315 megawatts.
  • HPR is promoted as the largest lithium-ion battery in the world.
  • HPR can store 129 MWh of electricity.
  • HPR can discharge 100 MW into the grid.
  • The main use of HPR is to provide stability to the grid.

HPR also has a nice little earner, in storing energy, when the spot price is low and selling it when it is higher.

It certainly explains why investors are putting their money in energy storage.

Wikipedia lists four energy storage projects using batteries in the UK, mainly of an experimental nature in Lilroot, Kirkwall, Leighton Buzzard and six related sites in Northern |England.  One site of the six  has a capacity of 5 MWh, making it one of the largest in Europe.

But then we have the massive Dinorwig power station or Electric Mountain, which  can supply ,1,728-MW and has a total storage capacity of 9.1 GWh

Coinsider.

  • Electric Mountain has seventy times the capacity of Hornsdale Power Reserve.
  • Electric Mountain cost £425 million in 1984, which would be a cost of £13.5 billion today.
  • Another Electric Mountain would cost about £1.6 billion per GWh of energy storage.
  • Hornsdale Power Reserve cost $ 50 million or about £26 million.
  • Hornsdale Power Reserve would cost about £0.2 billion per GWh of energy storage.

So it would appear that large batteries are better value for money than large pumped storage systems like Electric Mountain.

But it’s not as simple as that!

  • There aren’t many places, as suitable as North Wales for large pumped storage systems.
  • Omce built, it appears pumped storage system can have a long life. Electric Mountain is thirty-five years old and with updating, I wouldsn’t be surprised to see Electric Mountain in operation at the end of this century.
  • Battery sites can be relatively small, so can be placed perhaps in corners of industrial premises or housing developments.
  • Battery sites can be built close to where power is needed, but pumped storage can only be built where geography allows.
  • Pumped strage systems can need long and expensive connections to the grid.
  • I think that the UK will not build another Electric Mountain, but will build several gigawatt-sized energy storage facilities.
  • Is there enough lithium and other elements for all these batteries?
  • Electric Mountain is well-placed in Snowdonia for some wind farms, but many are in the North Sea on the other side of the country.

In my view what is needed is a series of half-gigawatt storage facilities, spread all over the country.

Highview Power looks to be promising and I wrote about it in British Start-Up Beats World To Holy Grail Of Cheap Energy Storage For Wind And Solar.

But there will be lots of other good ideas!

 

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

Renewable Energy Outperforms Fossil Fuels For A Whole Quarter

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Wind and solar farms and other sources of renewable power have produced more electricity than fossil fuels for the first time in a three-month period.

This is a good figure, but how do we compare with the rest of the world.

This Wikipedia entry  is entitled List Of Countries By Electricity Production Prom Renewable Sources.

These are some example percentages of renewable energy production.

  • Albania – 100 %
  • Australia – 14.5 %
  • Belgium – 16.6 %
  • Brazil – 80.4 %
  • Canada 65.0 %
  • China – 24.5 %
  • Denmark – 60.5 %
  • Egypt – 8.2 %
  • Ethiopia 93.6 %
  • France – 17.5 %
  • Germany – 29 %
  • Hungary – 10.1 %
  • Iceland – 100.0 %
  • India – 16.88 %
  • Indonesia – 15.9 %
  • Iran – 5.8 %
  • Iraq – 6.4 %
  • Ireland – 24.7 %
  • Israel – 2.5 %
  • Italy – 37.3 %
  • Japan – 15.0 %
  • Kuwait – 0.1 %
  • Libya – 0.0 %
  • Malaysia – 13.7 %
  • Netherlands – 12.1 %
  • New Zealand – 83.9 %
  • Norway – 97.2 %
  • Poland – 13.7 %
  • Qatar – 0.3 %
  • Pakistan – 32.7 %
  • Russia – 16.9 %
  • Saudi Arabia – 0.0 %
  • South Africa – 3.2 %
  • South Korea – 2.8 %
  • Spain – 38.1 %
  • \sweden – 57.1 %
  • Switzerland – 59.8 %
  • Taiwan – 4.2 %
  • Turkey – 32.9 %
  • UAE – 0.3 %
  • United Kingdom – 27.9 %
  • United States – 14.7 %

Figures are for 2016

October 14, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

North Sea Wind Power Hub

I have just found the web site for the North Sea Wind Power Hub.

The Aim

This introductory paragraph details the aim of the project.

A coordinated roll-out of North Sea Wind Power Hubs facilitates an accelerated deployment of large scale offshore wind in the North Sea required to support realizing the Paris Agreements target in time, with minimum environmental impact and at the lowest cost for society (urgency & cost savings), while maintaining security of supply.

There is a lot to read on the site, however this article on the Daily Mail gives a good summary with lots of drsawings.

This is the sub-headline.

The world’s biggest wind farm? ‘Crazy’ artificial power island in the North Sea that could supply renewable energy to 80 million people in Europe is set to open in 2027.

Crazy comes from this paragraph of the article.

In an interview at the time, Torben Glar Nielsen, Energinet’s technical director, told the Independent: ‘Maybe it sounds a bit crazy and science fiction-like but an island on Dogger Bank could make the wind power of the future a lot cheaper and more effective.’

Another quote sums up the engineering problems as the Dutch sea it.

Addressing the engineering challenge ahead, Mr Van der Hage said: ‘Is it difficult? In the Netherlands, when we see a piece of water we want to build islands or land. We’ve been doing that for centuries. That is not the biggest challenge.’

Having spoken to one of the engineers, who planned and developed the Dutch sea defences after the floods of the 1950s, I’ll agree with that statement.

September 21, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear Option Has Been Blown Away

The title of this post is the main title of Alistair Osborne’s Business Commentary of today’s copy of The Times.

He is referring to the government’s announcement about new wind farms, that I discussed in Climate change: Offshore Wind Expands At Record Low Price.

I particularly liked his final paragraph.

And nuclear’s not even green: it comes with a vast clean-up bill. True, it brings baseload energy that wind can’t yet match. But storage technology is advancing all the time. So why’s the government persisting with last century tech that comes at a radioactive price? Yes, offshore wind might endanger a seabird that’s forgotten its specs. But, luckily, it’s a bigger threat to another species: nuclear white elephants.

Climate change is so serious, people won’t believe it’s happening and take action unless the medicine is delivered with a spoonful of humour.

September 21, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , | 2 Comments

United Downs Deep Geothermal Project Confident On Potential Power Generation

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

This is the first paragraph.

With initial tests of the well drilled, the United Downs Deep Geothermal Project (UDDGP) suggests that the project will be able to generate electricity of as much as 3 MW in power generation capacity.

Two holes have been bored to a depth of 5 km.

If the project is successful, up to three MW of heat could be brought to the surface, which can be used to generate electricity or heat buildings.

A Look At Possible Costs

This page on Wikipedia is entitled Cost Of Electricity By Source.

It gives these for the capital cost of power stations for various zero-carbon energy sources.

  • onshore wind – $1600/kW
  • offshore wind – $6500/kW
  • solar PV (fixed) – $1060/kW (utility) $1800/kW
  • solar PV (tracking)- $1130/kW (utility) $2000/k
  • battery storage power – $2000/kW
  • conventional hydropower – $2680/kW
  • geothermal – $2800/kW

Geothermal has one big advantage over wind and solar power in that it is a continuous power source like nuclear, hydropower and some fossil fuels, so it doesn’t need to be backed by energy storage.

 

September 15, 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

Drax Secures £500,000 For Innovative Fuel Cell Carbon Capture Study

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article on the Drax web site, that was published in June 2019.

This is the first paragraph.

Drax Group will explore the feasibility of using molten carbonate fuel cells as a technology for capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) having secured £500,000 of funding from the UK Government.

These objectives are listed.

  • Fuel cell FEED study to assess the feasibility of building a second carbon capture pilot at Drax Power Station will help position the UK as a world leader in the fight against climate change
  • The technology used will produce power at the same time as capturing carbon dioxide from Drax’s flue gases
  • Neighbouring horticultural site will use the COto improve yields and demonstrate how businesses working together in clusters can deliver climate solutions

I am glad to see, that the \Government is supporting initiatives like this.

The Drax Paradox

I have seen strawberries in a supermarket, labelled as coming from a farm at Drax in Yorkshire.

Were they grown using carbon dioxide from the power station?

They probably weren’t labelled as organic, but can you grow organic strawberries in a carbon-dioxide-rich atmosphere and label them as Organic?

Conclusion

I don’t think these and other technologies will lead to any massive revival of coal-fired power stations, as mining coal is a very disruptive and dasngerous process compared to extracting gas or growing bio-mass.

But I do think that they are needed fpr application to the following plants, that produce a lot of carbon dioxide.

  • Gas-fired power stations.
  • Biomass power stations.
  • Cement-making
  • Steel-making

The two last processes are probably the most important, as improvement in renewable energy generation, should make the first two redundant.

August 3, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment