The Anonymous Widower

Rishi Sunak To Reimpose Fracking Ban

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

This is the first paragraph.

The new PM made the commitment during his first session of PMQs on Wednesday, reversing Liz Truss’s controversial decision to overturn it.

I think it is the right call.

Here’s why!

Cerulean Winds Massive Decarbonisation Project

Consider.

  • At present ten percent of our gas is used to power the oil and gas rigs in the seas around our coasts. The gas is fed into gas-turbines to generate electricity.
  • One simple way to increase gas production by this ten percent, would be to decarbonise the rigs by powering them from nearby wind farms with green electricity and green hydrogen as the Norwegians are proposing to do.
  • A British company; Cerulean Winds has proposed under the Crown Estate INTOG program to decarbonise a significant part of the oil and gas rigs, by building four 1.5 GW wind farms amongst the rigs.
  • The majority of the energy will be sold to the rig owners and any spare electricity and hydrogen will be brought ashore for industrial and domestic users.
  • This massive project will be a privately-funded £30 billion project.
  • And when the oil and gas is no longer needed, the UK will get another 6 GW of offshore wind.

We need more of this type of engineering boldness.

This page on the Cerulean Winds web site gives more details.

INTOG

This document on the Crown Estate web site outlines INTOG.

Other Projects

Decarbonisation has also attracted the attention of other developers.

I can see Rishi Sunak being offered several projects, that will increase our oil and gas security, by some of the world’s best engineers and most successful oil companies.

Rishi Sunak’s ban on fracking will only increase the rate of project development.

We live in extremely interesting times.

 

 

October 26, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Are The Tories Bluffing About Fracking?

I’ve just listened to a Treasury Minister (Chris Philp (?)) on the BBC and he didn’t mention fracking.

But he did mention more oil and gas in the North Sea, where there is a project agreed between the British and Scottish governments called INTOG, which aims to innovatively cut carbon emissions in the North Sea and possibly extract smaller amounts of gas and oil from existing wells.

As you know, I think fracking is irrelevant. It will take a few years to deliver substantial amounts of gas and we can extract more from the North Sea and by repurposing existing wells.

We might even find one or two existing wells, that could be converted to much-needed gas storage.

I also believe that the cash flow in taxes and leases from offshore wind will be astronomic and it can be used to finance borrowing. We did the same with Artemis to finance the company against future sales. But we were only borrowing millions. We used to parcel up all our leases from companies like Shell, NASA and BP and effectively sell them to Lloyds Bank at a discount.

I’m sure that a clever banker could find a mechanism, that converts future income from offshore wind into a magic money tree for today. Is that what Kwasi Kwarteng has done, in order to cut taxes?

The one problem with offshore wind with the public, is that putting in the cables arouses the NIMBYs. It should also be born in mind, that a lot of the grid connections, go through Tory seats, where NIMBYs are very much against more cables.

So I do wonder, if Moggy has announced the start of fracking to give the NIMBYs a target, so they allow the efficiency of offshore oil and gas to be improved and offshore wind farms to be built without hindrance.

Perhaps Moggy should concentrate on the most important thing that our offshore wind industry needs. This is an innovative pricing mechanism for energy storage, that does the following.

  • Allows investors to get a similar return on energy storage to that that they get for offshore wind farms, onshore solar farms and interconnectors.
  • Encourages the building of more energy storage.
  • Assists in the development of novel energy storage ideas.

As one estimate says we need 600 GWh of energy storage in the UK, sorting this pricing mechanism, can’t come soon enough.

The previous government was talking about this, as I wrote in Ministerial Roundtable Seeks To Unlock Investment In UK Energy Storage.

So continue the conversation, Moggy!

September 24, 2022 Posted by | Energy Storage, Energy | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Maximising Space In North Sea Essential To Tackling Energy Security And Net Zero Targets

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Eastern Daily Press.

These two paragraphs introduce the article.

Reviving wells in the Southern North Sea, powering oil and gas platforms with wind turbines, capturing and storing CO2 and hydrogen systems, starting work on world-class offshore wind farms off the coast and consent for Sizewell C nuclear power station – the East of England is ripe with opportunity for companies ready for the challenge.

The industrialised North Sea is becoming supercharged in the name of UK energy security – so much so that a spatial planning exercise is under way to optimise the seabed for energy security and make everything fit for maximum efficiency.

This is an article, that must be read fully.

These are some topics that are discussed.

  • Looking at old wells to see if more oil and gas can be extracted.
  • Electrification of oil and gas facilities, where economic and possible.
  • Powering oil and gas facilities with offshore wind.

This is also said about the Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas (INTOG) leasing round.

The Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas (INTOG) leasing round is open for developers to apply for the rights to build offshore wind farms specifically to provide low-carbon electricity to power oil and gas installations in Scotland. It offers the opportunity to enable small scale (less than 100MW) innovation projects, including alternative outputs such as hydrogen.

It looks like mopping up the oil and gas in the North Sea could be promoted as a possible alternative to fracking.

I shall be interested to see how INTOG progresses.

At worst, it will mean that oil and gas installations will be powered by zero-carbon electricity, but in addition it could recover worthwhile amounts of oil and gas.

September 23, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thoughts On The Mini-Budget

This article on the BBC is entitled At A Glance: What’s In The Mini-Budget?.

If nothing else KK has whipped up a storm, with the most tax-cutting budget in decades.

But!

According to my calculations in Will We Run Out Of Power This Winter?, the planned offshore wind that will be installed between 2022 and 2027 will be at least 19 GW. About 3 GW of this offshore wind is already producing electricity.

To this must be added 3.26 GW for Hinckley Point C, 2 GW for solar and 0.9 GW for onshore wind in Scotland, which will be developed by 2027.

So we have 25.2 GW for starters.

Following on from this is the 27.1 GW from ScotWind, about 4 GW from the Celtic Sea, 3 GW from Morecambe Bay and 10 GW from Aker’s Northern Horizons. All of these are firm projects and some are already being planned in detail.

These wind and solar farms are the collateral for KK’s borrowing.

The corporate tax changes will hopefully attract world class energy and manufacturing companies to set up UK-domiciled subsidiaries to develop more offshore wind farms and manufacture the turbines and the electrical gubbins close to where they will be installed.

As more wind farms are built, many GW of electricity and tonnes of hydrogen will be exported to Europe.

Note that 1 GW for a day costs around £ 960,000 and for a year costs £350.4 million.

A big benefit of all this electricity, will be that we won’t need to frack.

Technologies like green hydrogen, that will be created by electrolysis will reduce our need for gas.

We might develop a gas field like Jackdaw, to give us gas for a backup with a few gas-fired power stations, for when the wind doesn’t blow, but gas will only have a minor roll.

The force of the maths is with KK!

September 23, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Have We Missed The Boat On Fracking?

I have just re-read my post from October 2019, which was entitled Fracking Hell…Is It The End?, where these were my conclusions.

  • Fracking for hydrocarbons is a technique that could be past its sell-by date.
  • The use of natural gas will decline.
  • INEOS could see hydrogen as a way of reducing their carbon footprint.
  • The heating on all new buildings should be zero carbon, which could include using hydrogen from a zero-carbon source.
  • There are reasons to think, that electricity from wind-farms creating hydrogen by electrolysis could replace some of our natural gas usage.

So will the Government’s lifting on the ban on fracking make any difference?

The announcement is detailed in this article on the BBC, which is entitled Fracking Ban Lifted, Government Announces.

These are my thoughts.

Fracking Is Not A Quick Fix

My personal view is that to achieve any significant amounts of gas from fracking will take some years, so it is not something that will be available in the short term.

Opposition To Fracking Won’t Help

There are very few inhabitants of the UK, who are enthusiastic about fracking.

Opposition to fracking will make it less likely to be the feasible short term fix we need in the UK.

Suppose There Was An Earthquake Near To A Fracking Site

Fracking also has the problem, that if there were to be a small earthquake near to a site, even if it was very likely to have not been caused by fracking, it would result in massive public uproar, which would shut down all fracking in the UK.

This to me is a big risk!

Would The Jackdaw Oil And Gas Field Be A Medium Term Solution?

I believe that with other gas field developments and imports, Jackdaw could keep us supplied with enough gas until the end of the decade.

Future Renewable Electricity Production

In Will We Run Out Of Power This Winter?, I summarised the likely yearly additions to our offshore wind power capacity in the next few years.

  • 2022 – 3200 MW
  • 2023 – 1500 MW
  • 3024 – 2400 MW
  • 2025 – 6576 MW
  • 2026 – 1705 MW
  • 2027 – 7061 GW

Note.

  1. Ignoring 2022 as it’s going, this totals to 19.2 GW.
  2. Hopefully, by the end of 2027, Hinckley Point C will add another 3.26 GW
  3. According to Wikipedia, there are currently 32 active gas fired combined cycle power plants operating in the United Kingdom, which have a total generating capacity of 28.0 GW.

I think it is not unreasonable to assume that some of the electricity will enable some of our gas-fired power stations to be stood down and/or mothballed.

Gas consumption would be reduced and some power stations would be held in reserve for when the wind was on strike!

Using Hydrogen To Eke Out Our Gas

Consider.

  • In Lime Kiln Fuelled By Hydrogen Shown To Be Viable, I wrote about how hydrogen can be used instead of or with natural gas to fuel a lime kiln.
  • There are other processes, where hydrogen can be used instead of or with natural gas.
  • Using more hydrogen will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted.

Perhaps we should strategically build a few huge hydrogen electrolysers, so that some large industrial users can cut back on their natural gas.

Will Energy Storage Help?

Energy storage’s main use is to mop up all the surplus electricity when demand is low at a low price and sell it back, when demand is high.

If we waste less energy, we will use less gas.

Will District Heating Schemes Help?

Consider.

More schemes like this should be developed, where there is a readily-available source of heat or electricity

Conclusion

As we add more renewables to our energy generation, it appears to me, that our gas usage will decline.

If we were to go fracking, we should have done it a lot earlier, so we can bridge the short term gap.

 

 

 

 

September 22, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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

Basil Crop Hits The Roof At Scunthorpe Vertical Farm With Artificial Sun

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in The Times.

It is a fascinating article about how basil is farmed vertically in Scunthorpe.

  • Much of the crop goes to UK supermarkets.
  • The grower has now teamed with Ocado to build the largest vertical farm in the world.
  • The grower is also growing rosemary, chard and spinach. Although the latter looked a bit sad.
  • He has also experimented with turnips and carrots and hopes to move on to soft fruits and cut flowers.

Surely, the only way is Up!

Is the farmer feeding the crops carbon dioxide captured from the massive Keadby gas-fired power-stations in the area?

That way we can generate our electricity with added CO2 and eat it.

I know of a tomato grower, who uses a gas-powered combined heat and power boiler to heat his greenhouses, where the CO2 is fed to the tomatoes and any electricity he doesn’t need is sold to local consumers.

If we can eat all the CO2, why not go fracking for the gas? The only losers would be the Qataris and Putin.

 

October 21, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Food | , , , | Leave a comment

Fracking Hell…Is It The End?

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in yesterday’s Sunday Times.

The article is an interesting read.

These two paragraphs are key.

Activism by Extinction Rebellion and growing public concern about climate change have weakened the chances of an industry once expected to create 64,500 jobs ever getting off the ground.

Cuadrilla Resources, the fracking company most active in Britain, has in recent days been removing equipment from its sole operating site in Lancashire. Petrochemicals tycoon Sir Jim Ratcliffe has vowed to pursue shale gas exploration overseas because of “archaic” and “unworkable” regulations at home.

But I think it’s more complicated than that!

I sometimes go to lectures at the Geological Society of London and two stand were about fracking.

Two were about fracking.

Fracked or fiction: so what are the risks associated with shale gas exploitation?- Click for more.

This is a video of the lecture.

What Coal Mining Hydrogeology Tells us about the Real Risks of Fracking – Click for more.

This is a video of the lecture.

This is a must-watch video from a good speaker.

I have also written several posts about fracking, with some of the earliest being in 2012-2013.

I have just re-read all of my posts.

  • In the posts I have tried to give information and at times, I have said we should start fracking.
  • But we should only start if we know what we’re doing.
  • In several places I ask for more research.

However, there are some interesting facts and inconvenient truths about fracking and natural gas in general.

  • Russia earns about €300billion a year or twenty percent of its GDP from gas exports to Europe. See Should We Nuke Russia?.
  • Putin backs the anti-fracking movement. See Russia ‘secretly working with environmentalists to oppose fracking’.
  • Fracking techniques  is used in the Scottish Highlands to obtain clean water from deep underground. See the second Geological Society of London video.
  • About forty per cent of gas usage is to heat housing. See the second  video.
  • The eighteen percent of the UK population, who don’t have a gas supply are more likely to be in fuel poverty. See the second  video.
  • Scotland has more need for energy to provide heat. See the second  video.
  • Natural gas with carbon capture and storage has a similar carbon footprint to solar power. See the second video.
  • Cowboy fracking, as practised in the United States, would not be allowed in the UK or the EU. See the second  video.
  • We have no historic earthquake database of the UK, which would help in regulation and research of fracking. See the second video.
  • Fracking has brought down the price of gas in North America.
  • In the United States fracked gas is cutting the need to burn coal, which produces more pollution and carbon dioxide to generate the same amount of energy. See A Benefit Of Fracking.

The article in the Sunday Times says pressure against fracking has started the shutdown of the industry in the UK.

But there is another big pressure at work.replacement of natural gas with hydrogen.

  • This would reduce carbon emissions.
  • It can be used as a chemical feedstock.
  • It could be delivered using the existing gas network.
  • The gas network could be changed from natural gas to hydrogen on a phased basis, just as the change from town to natural gas was organised around fifty years ago.

But it would mean that all gas users would need to change their boilers and other equipment.

Put yourself in the position of Jim Ratcliffe; the major owner and driving force behind INEOS.

INEOS needs feedstocks for chemical plants all over the world and affordable natural gas is one that is very suitable, as it contains two of the major elements needed in hydrocarbons and many useful chemicals; carbon and hydrogen.

If local sources are not available, then liquefied natural gas can be shipped in.

The Hydrogen Economy

It is possible to replace natural gas in many applications and processes with hydrogen.

  • It can be used for heating and cooking.
  • Important chemicals like ammonia can be made from hydrogen.
  • It can be transported in existing natural gas etworks.
  • Hydrogen can also replace diesel in heating and transport applications.

There is also a possibility of measures like carbon taxes being introduced, which using hydrogen would reduce.

There’s more in the Wikipedia entry for Hydrogen economy.

Have Jim Ratcliffe and others done their predicting and decided that the demand for locally sourced natural gas will decline and that the hydrogen economy will take over?

But there will need to be a readily available source of large amounts of hydrogen.

I used to work in a hydrogen factory at Runcorn, which was part of ICI, that created hydrogen and chlorine, by the electrolysis of brine. In some ways, the hydrogen was an unwanted by-product, back in the late 1960s, but similar and more efficient processes can be used to convert electricity into hydrogen.

The latest idea, is to cluster offshore wind farms around gas rigs in the seas around the UK. The electricity produced would be used to electrolyse water to extract the hydrogen, which would then be piped to the shore using existing gas pipelines.

It would be a way of reusing infrastructure associated with gas fields, that have no gas left to extract.

There would be no need to build an expensive electricity cable to the shore.

The Dutch, Danes and the Germans are proposing to build the North Sea Wind Power Hub, which is described like this in Wikipedia.

North Sea Wind Power Hub is a proposed energy island complex to be built in the middle of the North Sea as part of a European system for sustainable electricity. One or more “Power Link” artificial islands will be created at the northeast end of the Dogger Bank, a relatively shallow area in the North Sea, just outside the continental shelf of the United Kingdom and near the point where the borders between the territorial waters of Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark come together. Dutch, German, and Danish electrical grid operators are cooperating in this project to help develop a cluster of offshore wind parks with a capacity of several gigawatts, with interconnections to the North Sea countries. Undersea cables will make international trade in electricity possible.

Later, Wikipedia says that ultimately 110 GW of electricity capacity could be developed.

So could these planned developments create enough hydrogen to replace a sizeable amount of the natural gas used in Western Europe?

I suspect a lot of engineers, company bosses and financiers are working on it.

Conclusion

I have come to the following conclusions.

  • Fracking for hydrocarbons is a technique that could be past its sell-by date.
  • The use of natural gas will decline.
  • INEOS could see hydrogen as a way of reducing their carbon footprint.
  • The heating on all new buildings should be zero carbon, which could include using hydrogen from a zero-carbon source.

There are reasons to think, that electricity from wind-farms creating hydrogen by electrolysis could replace some of our natural gas usage.

 

 

October 15, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Government Has ‘Double Standards’ For Allowing Drilling In Devon

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

This is the first paragraph.

The Government has been accused of “blatant double standards” for allowing drilling in Cornwall that is able to cause stronger tremors than fracking.

This is at the United Downs Geothermal Project in Devon.

It certainly looks like one rule for geothermal energy and another for fracking.

But then in a lecture in London, I heard a Professor of Engineering from Glasgow University, say that fracking was used in the Highlands of Scotland to obtain clean water.

May 5, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Get Fracking

In Fracked Or Fiction, I talked about my attitude to fracking. These two paragraphs, were my conclusion.

My overwhelming conclusion after the lecture was that before we can embrace fracking in earnest, we must collect a lot more information. For example, we don’t know the background levels ofearthquakes and natural gas seepage in this country. So if say it is thought, that fracking had caused a small earthquake, can we be sure that that isn’t one that we habitually get in this country.

A secondary conclusion, is that my engineering knowledge indicated that there are several very fruitful areas for the development of new technological solutions to mitigate some of the possible problems of fracking.

But things have changed a bit in the over three years, since I attended the lecture at the London Geological Society.

We still get gas from the North Sea and a few smaller fields, but we have to buy in gas from places like Algeria, Russia and Qatar.

I suspect too, that we can always ship liquefied natural gas from the United States.

The Green Party would say that we shouldn’t burn natural gas, but what do we do about?

  1. People do with gas boilers who keep themselves warm in winter?
  2. Businesses that use gas as part of their industrial processes.
  3. In 2015, thirty percent of our electricity was produced from gas.

Renewables such as solar and wind are increasing, but for the forseeable future, we wil still need gas.

But how would you feel, if the Government said, that you must change your boiler for an electric one, as you can’t have any more gas?

We can continue to get our gas from those shining democracies of Algeria, Russia and Qatar or buy it from Trumpland, which would probably not be acceptable to everybody.

There is also the problem, that countries like Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland and The Netherlands are also short of gas and are relying increasingly on the Russians.

Surely, the best solution to avoid the cold and loss of employment in industries reliant on gas, is to extract the gas from our own fields, using fracking in a professional and engineeringly-sound manner.

We have form in the extraction of hydrocarbons in this way from land in the UK. The is the first paragraph, from the Wikipedia entry for Wytch Farm.

Wytch Farm is an oil field and processing facility in the Purbeck district of Dorset, England. It is the largest onshore oil field in western Europe. The facility, recently taken over by Perenco was previously operated by BP. It is hidden in a coniferous forest on Wytch Heath on the southern shore of Poole Harbour, two miles (3.2 km) north of Corfe Castle. Oil and natural gas (methane) are both exported by pipeline; liquefied petroleum gas is exported by road tanker.

Is there is an onshore oil-field in a more sensitive environment? Wikipedia says this under Environment.

Most of the field is protected by various conservation laws, including the Jurassic Coast world heritage site, Purbeck Heritage Coast and a number of sites of special scientific interest, areas of outstanding natural beauty and nature reserves (including Studland and Brownsea Island), so the gathering centre and most of the well sites are small and well screened by trees. Directional drilling has also contributed to reducing the impact on the local environment, with extended reach drilling from the Goathorn Peninsula attaining distances in excess of 10 km.

Note the reference to directional drilling, which according to a friend, who was associated with the development of the project, was very much pioneered at Wytch Farm.

Directional drilling is often very much part of the fracking process, prior to the actual hydraulic fracturing. I’m very much of the opinion, that to be a successful fracker, you need to have very good directional drilling capabilities.

I’ve heard it on good authority, that fracking is used in the Highlands of Scotland to extract drinking water. But the F-word is so sensitive, there is nothing about it on the Internet. I did find this web page from a company called Clearwater Drilling Company in Tennessee, which is entitled Hydrofracturing -A procedure designed to increase the amount of water in existing dry and low yield water wells.

Would you prefer to give money to dodgy regimes or build on the Wytch Farm experience and develop the World’s best fracking industry to keep us warm in winter and preserve jobs?

It may seem a stark choice to some, but I believe in the competence of engineers, as demonstrated at Wytch Farm!

Let’s get fracking!

June 8, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment