The Anonymous Widower

Fracking Has a Bad Rep, but Its Tech Is Powering A Clean Energy Shift

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

It shows how former frackers are developing their techniques to do the following.

  • Extract heat and energy from shale using water.
  • Store energy safely underground.
  • Drill deeper and better geothermal wells.

One of the companies; Quidnet has been backed by Bill Gates and his friends. I wrote about Quidnet Energy a couple of years ago in How Do You Save Clean Energy? This Company Plans To Pump It Underground.

And all in environmentally-friendly ways, that would get a seal-of-approval from a committed anti-fracker.

It’s the best article I’ve read this week.

February 19, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Development Of The Foyers Pumped Storage Scheme

This leaflet from SSE Renewables probably gives as good a record as any others about the development of the Foyers Pumped Storage Scheme.

This is the introduction.

The Foyers Scheme is a 300 Megawatt (MW) combined conventional hydro and pumped storage scheme. 1896 saw the British Aluminium Company commission Foyers for the smelting of aluminium. The plant was in continuous operation for 70 years until it’s closure in 1967. The scheme was promoted by NOSHEB in February 1968 and after receiving statutory approval in April 1969 work started that autumn and was commissioned in 1975 . The high level reservoir is Loch Mhor which was formed under the original development by enlarging and joining Loch Garth and Loch Farraline.

The full catchment area of Loch Mhòr today is now 207 sq km.

Note that NOSHEB stands for North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board.

This Google Map shows Loch Mhòr.

Note.

  1. Loch Ness is in the North West corner of the map.
  2. Loch Mhòr is the loch running diagonally across the map.
  3. Loch Mhòr was originally two separate lochs; Loch Garth in the South-West and Loch Farraline in the North-East.
  4. The power station is on the shores of Loch Ness.

I have found a document on the Internet, that says that the current storage capacity of Loch Mhòr is 10 GWh. That figure, if it is correct, would make the Foyers pumped storage scheme a small amount bigger than Electric Mountain.

The Original Scheme

The original scheme appears to have been a straight hydro-electric scheme with the water running from Loch Mhòr into Loch Ness through turbines. I don’t know how big it was and if anybody does, the figure needs to be inserted in this post. So if you know it, please tell me!

This gazetteer gives the figure at 3750 kW and also this history.

The British Aluminum Company development at Foyers was the first large-scale use of hydropower in Scotland. The scheme was highly influential, proving not only the viability of the technology to produce electricity with water driven turbines, but also that the power could be successfully applied to industrial processes. The British Aluminum Company went on to develop two large smelters in Scotland at Kinlochleven and Lochaber.

The original scheme generated electricity for seventy years.

The Current Scheme

There are effectively two parts of the current scheme, which was created in the early 1970s.

  • The original 3.7 MW turbines have been replaced by a 5 MW turbine in the old power station.
  • A new separate pumped storage power station has been built with two 150 MW pump/turbines.

This paragraph from the leaflet from SSE Renewables, gives brief details of the engineering.

When the station is generating, water flows from Loch Mhor through 2 miles of tunnels and shafts to the power station. When pumping, energy is drawn from the main transmission system at times of low load to drive the two 150 megawatt machines in the reverse direction and pump water from Loch Ness up to Loch Mhor. The existing gravity dam at the outlet of Loch Mhor (231.7m long and 9.14m high) was retained by NOSHEB . Remedial work was carried out on subsidiary earth embankment dams. The waters of the River Fechlin are diverted into Loch Mhor by a tunnel and the channel of the river.

From the complete description in the leaflet, it looks to be sound engineering.

Did Modern Project Management Enable This Scheme?

As someone, who was involved in writing project management software from about 1972, I do wonder if the arrival of ,odern project management around the mid-1960s was one of factors that prompted NOSHEB to carry out this scheme.

Other factors would have been.

  • The original turbines were on their last legs after seventy years of generating electricity.
  • There was a need for more pumped storage.
  • This scheme was feasible.

I would very much like to meet one of the engineers and talk the scheme through.

Conclusion

This power station and its rebuilding as a pumped storage scheme has been carried out to an excellent standard and I wonder if similar techniques can be used to create new pumped storage systems around the world.

February 15, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , | 7 Comments

Glendoe Hydro Power Station

When I think of hydro-electric power stations in the UK, I generally, think that most of the hydro-electric power stations were built years ago by organisations like the North of Scotland Hydroelectric Board. These power stations were one of the staples of the Meccano Magazine, of which I was a long-term subscriber in the 1950s.

But Glendoe hydro-electric power station is relatively new having been opened in 2009. At only 100 MW, the power-station may not be large in comparison to others around the world, but it does show what can be built in the Highlands of Scotland.

This Google Map shows the layout of the power station.

Note.

  1. The red arrow indicates the location of Glencoe power station, which is underground.
  2. To the North of the power station, is the Southern end of Loch Ness.
  3. In the South-Eastern corner of the map there is the lake from which the power station draws its water.
  4. The dam is at the Western end of the lake.

According to this article on Power Technology, the project cost £160 million.

This extract from a page on the SSE Renewables web site, describes the layout of the tunnels and the operation of the power station.

Engineers began planning the Glendoe project as far back as October 2001. Formal construction work at the site started over four years later, in January 2006. It involved constructing a 960 metre-wide dam on the River Tarff to create a new reservoir some 600 metres above the power station, giving it the greatest head of any hydro electric power station in the UK.

An 8.6 kilometre tunnel connects the reservoir to the power station that is built 250 metres below ground level, about two kilometres from the banks of Loch Ness. Although some of the tunnel was created using traditional drill and blast techniques that would have been familiar to the Tunnel Tigers of the last century, much of its length was bored out using a massive tunnelling machine named Eliza Jane by local schoolchildren.

The SSE page also describes the working and living conditions of those who built the scheme.

Most lived in specially constructed camps high in the hills above Loch Ness, braving brutal weather conditions in winter, and the fearsome Scottish midges in the summer.

The SSE page also gives the main use of the power station.

Today, the main operating feature of Glendoe is its ability to react quickly to changing demand for electricity, being able to reach full output in just 90 seconds.

So when there is an important football or rugby match on the television, it is ideal to supply the surge of electricity, when everybody puts on the kettle at half time.

Could This Power Station Have A Pumped Storage System Added?

Consider.

  • There is a large lake six hundred metres above the power station.
  • Loch Ness is a large source of water at the bottom of the mountain.
  • Every tonne or cubic metre of water pumped into the upper lake would store 1.63 kWh of electricity.
  • The world’s and the UK’s tunneling engineers are getting better and more ambitious.
  • When this power station was built in the early years of this century, there wasn’t the large amount of wind turbines in Scotland, that there are now.

I suspect, it’s an idea that’s been looked at, but the costs or the distance to pump the water might kill it.

If a second project was the same size as the first, it would cost £210 million based on inflation.

But.

  •  It wouldn’t need another dam or a substation to connect to the National Grid.
  • There would probably be a need for extra excavation at the power station to put in the pumps.
  • I suspect it would need an extra tunnel to get the water uphill.
  • One tunneling engineer told me, as with sex, digging a second tunnel is easier.

The main benefit, would be that it would be hidden infrastructure.

As to the energy storage capacity, I estimate from maps that the top reservoir at Glendoe is about half the size of Loch Mohr at Foyers power station, but the head is 600 metres as against 197 metres. As Foyers can store 10 GWh, it looks to me, that Glendoe could store around 15 GWh.

Also, as Glendoe power station was designed and built after the successful conversion of Foyers to a pumped storage station, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Glendoe was designed, so that the station could be converted to pumped storage at a later date.

Conclusion

This scheme will be seriously looked at for extension with a pumped storage facility.

 

February 12, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Offshore Service Facilities

Some years ago at a wedding in The Netherlands, I got talking to a Dutch engineer, who had a lot to do with the creation of the Delta Works.

Also in The Netherlands, I visited the Watersnoodmuseum, which describes the floods in the Netherlands, that brought about the Delta Works.

So I was not surprised to see the spectacular offshore construction ideas talked about on the Offshore Service Facilities web site.

The site talks about a project to create a four GW wind farm, eighty kilometres off the coast, all serviced from an artificial island.

This is their overview of what they call the IJVER project.

IJmuiden Ver (IJVER) is one of the designated wind farm areas under the Dutch offshore wind road map 2030. With a capacity of at least 4 GW and a distance to shore of approximately 80 km, it is currently the largest foreseen Dutch wind farm zone, and the furthest from shore. The area also includes legacy oil & gas asset, including several gas pipelines that can be retrofitted to transport other gasses such as hydrogen or for CCS-purposes.

Note.

  1. 80 km. is not far offshore, when you consider the UK’s Dogger Bank C wind farm is 196 km from Teesside.
  2. There are depleted gas fields for storage and pipelines to transport gases to and from the shore.

This page describes the concept, starting with this introductory paragraph.

A multi-purpose island provides additional benefits over fixed offshore platforms (so-called jackets). It stimulates the energy transition, drives down the costs of the renewable energy transition, creates room for nature inclusive island design, facilitates Research & Development (R&D) and innovation, creates a safe working environment, as well as additional economic opportunities.

One feature they are proposing is an interconnector to the UK.

In Is There A Need For A Norfolk-Suffolk Interconnector?, I suggested that Bacton, Sizewell and Felixstowe could be places, where wind power from the North Sea were to be landed.

Distances to the IJVER island would be as follows.

  • Bacton – 85 miles
  • Sizewell – 77 miles
  • Felixstowe – 92 miles

These distances are feasible for an interconnector.

There is this explanatory video.

Conclusion

My experience of the Dutch, their civil and marine engineers and their creations, indicates to me, that the Dutch could build an island like this.

Once you have built the island and it can stand up to the weather, you could of course fit it out how you want. Even with a football pitch, as shown in the video.

As with many ideas, the realisation of this concept will depend on the costs involved.

It should be noted, that some UK wind farms have been built with offshore substations, but nothing appears to be as ambitious as this idea and is probably based on proven oil and gas platform technology.

The Dutch also have plans with the Germans and the Danes to create the North Sea Wind Power Hub in the middle of the North Sea.

  • This would probably connect to the UK’s Dogger Bank wind farms.
  • It would feed electricity as required to the countries around the North Sea.
  • Hydrogen could be created on the hub.
  • Over a hundred GW of electricity could be generated according to some forecasts.

I like the concept of the North Sea Wind Power Hub and suspect that the Dutch will see it built.

February 9, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, World | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fortescue Buys Williams Engineering In Major Push Into High Performance Batteries

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

This is the opening paragraph.

Fortescue Future Industries has made its first major push into battery storage and high performance batteries with the $A310 million purchase of Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE), the offshoot of the Formula 1 specialists Williams Grand Prix Engineering.

Andrew Forrest certainly has a wide-ranging plan.

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled Formula 1 Technology Company To Support Development Of Battery Train, was published later and gives more details.

This is the first paragraph.

Fortescue Metals Group’s green technology division Fortescue Future Industries is developing what it says is a ‘world leading’ battery electric train concept.

It will be interesting to see what technologies are at the heart of the ‘world leading’ concept.

If you are controlling a complex chemical or nuclear plant, you will often have a model of the plant inside the control system, so that the operating strategy can be consistently optimised.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see techniques like this and other advanced techniques be used to reduce the carbon footprint of rail transportation of iron ore and other minerals.

Perhaps, the ideal power for one of these heavy haul trains would consist of a master battery-electric locomotive up front with the crew, assisted by up to three hydrogen-, diesel- or battery-powered slaves.

  • All braking would be regenerative to battery.
  • Power would be called for from the slave locomotives as required.
  • Modelling would determine, if some sections needed electrification to charge the batteries.

I suspect there are opportunities to optimise round trips, as returning the empties will surely need less power.

 

 

 

January 24, 2022 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tees Newport Bridge – 16th December 2021

My train from Middlesbrough To Huddersfield passed the Tees Newport Bridge.

Notice that it is a different colour in this picture from 2010.

The Newport Lifting Bridge

In The Tees Bridges and Barrage, I wrote about Middlesbrough’s bridges.

December 18, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Alstom And Liebherr Sign A Collaboration Agreement, In Order To Optimise Hydrogen Fuel Cells

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

The press release starts with these points.

  • Liebherr is developing air management technology that is particularly well suited to hydrogen fuel cells.

  • Alstom’s hydrogen strategy is part of its ambition to innovate by pioneering smarter and greener mobility solutions for all.

This paragraph then gives the basic outline of the agreement.

Alstom has signed a collaboration agreement with Liebherr – Aerospace & Transportation SAS, a France-based company specialising in the manufacture of compressors for fuel cells. This agreement is aimed at optimising hydrogen systems, including improving the reliability and durability of fuel cells, increasing their power density and reducing the cost of such solutions.

The press release gives a lot more details about Alstom’s hydrogen collaborations with other companies

Alstom seem very serious about hydrogen-powered trains.

November 30, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Box Structure’ Flyover Saves £70m And Six Months For East West Rail

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release on Network Rail.

This is the first paragraph.

Engineers have saved £70m of taxpayers’ money by using creative new methods to build a railway flyover as part of the East West Rail project.

This Network Rail picture shows how the new flyover rests on a concrete box, that spans the West Coast Main Line (WCML).

Note that the press release contains a video that explains how the flyover was replaced and why the method of construction saved all the money and time.

The main cost savings came about because of the following.

  • Construction could go on above the WCML without having to stop the trains.
  • Components for the flyover were made in a factory, with subsequent cost reductions and quality increases.

Anybody, who’s ever poured a concrete slab in typical British weather will understand the second point.

According to the press release, the method of construction gives a hundred and twenty year life span for the structure.

For comparison, this 3D Google Map visualisation shows the Hitchin flyover, which was opened in 2013.

Note the columns supporting the single-track railway.

If this was being built today, would a box be used as at Bletchley?

November 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Will JCB Dig The Whole World Out Of A Hole?

JCB and the Bamford family in general have form, where hydrogen is concerned.

  • JCB have developed internal combustion engines, that will run on hydrogen.
  • Jo Bamford owns Wrightbus and they are building hydrogen-fuelled buses in Northern Ireland.
  • JCB were an early investor in hydrogen electrolyser company; ITM Power.
  • JCB have signed a large contract for the delivery of hydrogen with Fortescue Future Industries.

I have just watched this amazing video, where Lord Bamford explains his philosophy on hydrogen.

November 13, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, World | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How To Build A Liverpool-Style Optical Bench

When I worked at ICI in Runcorn, one of the guys had developed a very accurate instrument for measuring trace chemicals in a dirty process stream. I remember one of these instruments was used to measure water in parts per million in methyl methaculate, which is the misnomer or base chemical for Perspex.

All the optical compliments needed to be mounted on a firm base, so a metre length of nine-inch C-section steel beam was chosen. The surface was then machined flat to a high accuracy.

In the end they found that instead of using new beams, old ones decades-old from the depths of a scrap yard gave better accuracy as the steel had all crystallised out. Machined and spray-painted no-one knew their history.

But they were superb instruments and ICI even sold them abroad.

October 14, 2021 Posted by | World | , , , , , , | Leave a comment