The Anonymous Widower

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

Aberthaw Power Station Set To Close, Risking 170 Jobs

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

This is first two paragraphs.

Wales’ last coal-fired power station looks set to close in March due to “market conditions”, putting about 170 jobs at risk.

RWE said it was proposing closing the 1.56-megawatt Aberthaw B Power Station in Vale of Glamorgan on 31 March.

Read the section called Oerations in the Wikipedia entry for Aberthaw power station.

This is a sentence from that section.

Coal now mainly comes from the Ffos-y-fran Land Reclamation Scheme in Merthyr Tydfil.

I may be very much against, the burning of coal for the generation of electricity or heat, but surely an exception should be made, when it is part of a process to clear up the considerable mess left by coal mining. As Aberthaw power station can use the Welsh coal in conjunction with bio-mass, perhaps there could be an argument to mothball one of the later coal-fired power stations.

Carbon Capture And Storage or a sensible use for the carbon dioxide, will be developed within the next ten years and in conjunction with one of the more modern coal-fired power stations, it could be used to help clean up the detritus of coal mining.

If nothing else, we could plant a lot of trees on the sites being reclaimed.

Bare in mind, that carbon dioxide produced by a coal-fired power station or cement factory is all in one place and can probably be collected using well-established engineering processes. On the other hand try collecting the carbon dioxide produced by a large fleet of diesel trucks.

 

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

Schroders Unveils Global Energy Transition Fund

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

This is the first paragraph.

Schroders has launched global energy transition fund in order to harness the global shift towards a low carbon energy system and meeting growing client demand for actively-managed exposure to this fast-evolving and ground-breaking sector.

Read the rest of the article  about their new fund.

I pick out this paragraph, that defines the strategy.

The strategy will not invest in companies with exposure to nuclear or fossil fuels. It will harness three significant global trends; the decarbonisation of power generation, the electrification of energy use and increased energy efficiency for its investment process.

This is the first sentence in the Wikipedia entry for Shroders.

Schroders plc is a British multinational asset management company, founded in 1804. The company employs over 5,000 people worldwide in 32 different countries around Europe, America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Headquartered in the City of London, it is traded on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

I think that launch of this global energy transition fund by one of the City of London’s most respected institutions, will eventually be one of many similsr and related funds launched by companies and institutions and that these funds will play a big part in decarbonisation of the planet.

Investment from the big boys is going green.

 

 

July 22, 2019 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Engie Partners Innovate UK For £4 Million Energy Transition Competition

The title of this post is the same as this article on Current News.

  • This is an interesting link-up between the UK Government Agency; Innovate UK and the French energy giant; Engie.
  • Wikipedia defines energy transition as a long-term structural change in energy systems.
  • It is the first time Innovate UK has secured overseas private funding.
  • It aims to fund the very best of \british innovation in clean growth innovation.
  • Grants of between £100,000 and £1.2 million will be awarded.
  • There appears to be no mention of Brexit!

It looks to me, like a very strong endorsement of British innovation and the British energy industry by the French.

I also think, that if there is one industry where the British and the French should be linked, it is energy.

The UK has the following energy sources and resources.

  • Offshore and onshore oil and gas.
  • Redundant gas fields for carbon capture and storage.
  • Offshore and onshore wind.
  • Large areas of sea for offshore wind.
  • We have 8,183 MW of installed offshore wind capacity, which is the largest in the world.
  • The possibilities of tidal and wave power from a long Western coast.
  • Vast experience in building off-shore structures in some of the worst weather on the planet.
  • Interconnectors to Norway and Iceland to import their surplus geothermal and hydroelectric energy.

Could we become a renewable-energy powerhouse?

The French have the following.

  • Nuclear power, some of which will need replacing.
  • Only 500 MW of offshore wind.
  • More solar power than we have.
  • Easy connection to North Africa for solar power.

But in some ways, most important is the several interconnectors between the UK and France, with more planned.

Conclusion

Between the UK and France, with help from Ireland, Spain and Portugal, can develop a massive Western European renewable energy powerhouse, backed  by the following, non-renewable or external sources.

  • French nuclear power.
  • North African solar.
  • Icelandic geothermal power
  • Icelandic hydro-electric power
  • Norwegian hydro-electric power

It should be noted that in a few years, the UK will have joined Iceland, Norway and North Africa outside of the European Union.

I believe that Sovereign Wealth Funds, Hedge Funds, Pension Funds, Insurance Companies and other individuals, groups and organisations will increasingly see renewable energy as good places for long-term investment of their funds.

The two big problems are as follows.

  • What happens when all these renewable energy sources are producing more energy than we can use?
  • What happens when there is an energy deficit?

Energy storage is the solution, but the amount needed is massive.

In Airport Plans World’s Biggest Car Parks For 50,000 Cars, I looked at the mathematics in using car parks for electric cars for energy storage.

These are a few figures.

  • Electric Mountain is the UK’s largest electricity storage scheme with a capacity of 9.1 GWh.
  • The largest battery in the world is the Bath County Pumped Storage Station with a capacity of 24 GWh, which works on similar principles to Electric Mountain.
  • Building another Electric Mountain would cost £1350 million, if we could find somewhere to put it.

But supposing half the 35.5 million cars and light goods vehicles in the UK were replaced by new electric vehicles containing a battery of around 20 kWh, that would be a total storage of 355 GWh or nearly forty Electric Mountains.

Conclusion

Harnessing all of these batteries will be an enormous challenge, but it will be ideas like this, that will enable the world to go carbon neutral by 2050.

But I don’t think we’ll ever see Trump or Xi Jinping in an electric limousine..

 

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

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