The Anonymous Widower

What Happens When The Wind Doesn’t Blow?

In Future Offshore Wind Power Capacity In The UK, I analysed future offshore wind power development in the waters around the UK and came to this conclusion.

It looks like we’ll be able to reap the wind. And possibly 50 GW of it! 

The unpredictable nature of wind and solar power means that it needs to be backed up with storage or some other method.

In The Power Of Solar With A Large Battery, I describe how a Highview Power CRYObattery with a capacity of 500 MWh is used to back up a large solar power station in the Atacama desert in Chile.

But to backup 50 GW is going to need a lot of energy storage.

The largest energy storage system in the UK is Electric Mountain or Dinorwig power station in Wales.

  • It has an output of 1.8 GW, which means that we’d need up to nearly thirty Electric Mountains to replace the 50 GW.
  • It has a storage capacity of 9.1 GWh, so at 1.8 GW, it can provide that output for five hours.
  • To make matters worse, Electric Mountain cost £425 million in 1974, which would be over £4 billion today, if you could fine a place to build one.

But it is not as bad as it looks.

  • Battery technology is improving all the time and so is the modelling of power networks.
  • We are now seeing large numbers of lithium-ion batteries being added to the UK power network to improve the quality of the network.
  • The first Highview Power CRYObattery with an output of 50 MW and a capacity of 250 MWh is being built at Carrington in Manchester.
  • If this full size trial is successful, I could see dozens of CRYOBatteries being installed at weak points in the UK power network.
  • Other battery technology is being developed, that might be suitable for application in the UK.

Put this all together and I suspect that it will be possible to cover on days where the wind doesn’t blow.

But it certainly will need a lot of energy storage.

Gas-Fired Power Stations As A Back Up To Renewable Power

Last summer when the wind didn’t blow, gas-fired power stations were started up to fill the gap in the electricity needed.

Gas-fired power-stations normally use gas turbines similar to those used in airliners, which have a very fast startup response, so power can be increased quickly.

If you look at the specification of proposed gas-fired power stations like Keadby2, they have two features not found in current stations.

  • The ability to be fitted in the future with carbon-capture technology.
  • The ability to be fuelled by hydrogen.

Both features would allow a gas-fired power-station to generate power in a zero-carbon mode.

Carbon Capture And Storage

I am not in favour of Carbon Capture And Storage, as I believe Carbon Capture and Use is much better and increasingly engineers, researchers and technologists are finding ways of using carbon-dioxide.

  • Feeding to tomatoes, salad vegetables, soft fruits and flowers in greenhouses.
  • Producing meat substitutes like Quorn.
  • Producing sustainable aviation fuel.
  • An Australian company called Mineral Decarbonation International can convert carbon dioxide into building products like blocks and plasterboard.

This list will grow.

Using or storing the carbon-dioxide produced from a gas-fired power station running on natural gas, will allow the fuel to be used, as a backup, when the wind isn’t blowing.

Use Of Hydrogen

Hydrogen will have the following core uses in the future.

  • Steelmaking
  • Smelting of metal ores like copper and zinc
  • As a chemical feedstock
  • Natural gas replacement in the mains.
  • Transport

Note that the first four uses could need large quantities of hydrogen, so they would probably need an extensive storage system, so that all users had good access to the hydrogen.

If we assume that the hydrogen is green and probably produced by electrolysis, the obvious place to store it would be in a redundant gas field that is convenient. Hence my belief of placing the electrolyser offshore on perhaps a redundant gas platform.

If there is high hydrogen availability, then using a gas-fired power-station running on hydrogen, is an ideal way to make up the shortfall in power caused by the low wind.

Conclusion

Batteries and gas-fired power stations can handle the shortfall in power.

January 2, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , | 21 Comments

Is Carbon Dioxide Not Totally Bad?

To listen to some environmentalists, there views on carbon dioxide are a bit like a variant of George Orwell’s famous phrase Four legs good, two legs bad from Animal Farm, with carbon dioxide the villain of the piece.

I have just read the Wikipedia entry for carbon dioxide.

For a start, we mustn’t forget how carbon dioxide, water and sunlight is converted by photosynthesis in plants and algae to carbohydrates, with oxygen given off as waste. Animals like us then breathe the oxygen in and breathe carbon dioxide out.

Various web sites give the following information.

  • The average human breathes out 2.3 pounds of carbon dioxide per day.
  • As of 2020, the world population was 7.8 billion.

This means humans breathe out 17.94 billion pounds of CO2 per day

This equates to 6548.1 billion pounds per year or 2.97 billion tonnes per year.

And I haven’t counted all the other animals like buffalo, cattle, elephants and rhinos, to name just a few large ones.

Wikipedia also lists some of the Applications of carbon dioxide.

  • Precursor To Chemicals – Carbon dioxide can be one of the base chemicals used to make other important chemicals like urea and methanol.
  • Foods – Carbon dioxide has applications in the food industry.
  • Beverages – Carbon dioxide is the fizz in fizzy drinks.
  • Winemaking – Carbon dioxide has specialist uses in winemaking.
  • Stunning Animals – Carbon dioxide can be used to ‘stun’ animals before slaughter.
  • Inert Gas – carbon dioxide has several uses, as it is an inert gas.
  • Fire Extinguisher – Carbon dioxide is regularly used in fire extinguishers and fire protection systems.
  • Bio Transformation Into Fuel – It has been proposed to convert carbon dioxide from power stations  into biodiesel using a route based on algae.
  • Refrigerant – Carbon dioxide can be used as a refrigerant. It was used before CFCs were developed and I know of a large Victorian refrigeration system on a farm in Suffolk, used on a store for apples, that still is in regular use that uses carbon dioxide.
  • Dry Ice – The solid form of carbon dioxide has lots of applications, where cooling is needed.

Other important applications are under development.

  • Agriculture – Carbon dioxide is piped to greenhouses to promote growth of crops. It is also used at higher concentrations to eliminate pests.
  • Low Carbon Building Products – Companies like Mineral Carbonation International are developing ways of creating building products from carbon dioxide.
  • Synthetic Rubber – Research is ongoing to create replacements for synthetic rubber.

I can only assume, that the demand for gaseous carbon dioxide will increase, as scientists and engineers get more innovative about using the gas.

Solving A Shortage Of Carbon Dioxide

At the present time, there is shortage of carbon dioxide, that I wrote about in Food Shortages Looming After Factory Closures Hit Production.

In the related post, I said this.

Perhaps we should fit carbon capture to a handy gas-fired power station, like SSE are planning to do at Keadby and use this carbon dioxide.

Consider.

  • The Keadby complex of gas-fired power stations is close to a lot of depleted gas fields, some of which are in Lincolnshire and some are of-shore.
  • Some gas fields are already being used to store natural gas imported from Norway.
  • SSE plan to fit the later power stations with carbon capture.

I talk about SSE’s plans in Energy In North-East Lincolnshire.

If SSE were to build four large gas-fired power stations at Keadby, I calculated that they would produce 5.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

It could be used or stored in depleted gas fields according to demand.

But the complex at Keadby would not release any carbon emissions.

Could Carbon Capture Be A Nice Little Earner?

If demand for carbon dioxide continues to rise, I could see power companies installing carbon capture on gas-fired power stations to generate an extra income stream.

Incidentally, there are 55 operational gas-fired power stations in the UK, that can generate a total of 30 GW, which are owned by perhaps ten different companies.

Development of carbon capture systems could be helped by Government subsidy.

Conclusion

I have long forgotten all the calculations I did with gases, but I do know that when one molecule of methane combusts it produces two molecules of water and one of carbon dioxide.

So I am fairly convinced that if you took X cubic kilometres of natural gas out of a gas field, after combustion there wouldn’t be anything like as much volume of carbon dioxide to put back, specially if a proportion could be used profitably in other processes.

If we are going to use gas to generate zero-carbon power, we probably need to do it with gas fields under our control either onshore or in the seas around our coasts. This is because the depleted gas fields can be used to store the carbon.

Gas-fired power stations with carbon capture supporting industries that need supplies of carbon dioxide will become a large part of our energy economy.

 

September 18, 2021 Posted by | Energy, World | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Food Shortages Looming After Factory Closures Hit Production

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

This is the first paragraph.

Acute food shortages were feared last night after high gas prices forced most of Britain’s commercial production of carbon dioxide to shut down.

In some ways, this is rather ironic, when on the one hand we are trying to stop the emission of carbon dioxide and on the other we haven’t got enough for important uses in the food industry.

Perhaps we should fit carbon capture to a handy gas-fired power station, like SSE are planning to do at Keadby and use this carbon dioxide.

If the shortage continues, there’ll be no dry ice for the pantomimes this Christmas.

September 17, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Food, World | , , , , | 3 Comments

Rye House Power Station

Rye House power station is gas-fired and I took these pictures as I passed today.

The 715 MW power station is nearly thirty years old and it will be interesting how it is replaced.

August 4, 2021 Posted by | Energy | , , | Leave a comment

Plans Announced For ‘Low Carbon’ Power Stations In Lincolnshire

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Hundreds of jobs could be created after plans were announced to build two “low carbon” power stations in North Lincolnshire.

Last year, I only had one night away from home and that was in Doncaster, from where I explored North East Lincolnshire and wrote Energy In North-East Lincolnshire, where I made a few predictions.

These are my thoughts on my predictions and other points made in the BBC article.

Keadby 1

Keadby 1 is a 734 MW gas-fired power station, that was commissioned in 1996.

Keadby 2

  • Keadby 2 will be a 840 MW gas-fired power station.
  • It will be possible to add Carbon Capture and Storage technology to Keadby 2 to make the plant net-zero carbon.
  • Keadby 2 will be able to run on hydrogen.

Keadby 2 is under construction.

Keadby 3 And Keadby 4

I predicted that two new power stations would be added to the Keadby cluster.

  • When I wrote the other post, SSE were still designing Keadby 3, but had said it would be a 910 MW station.
  • This would mean that Keadby 1, Keadby 2 and Keadby 3 would have a combined capacity of 2484 MW of electricity.
  • Adding a fourth station, which I called Keadby 4, which I proposed to be the same size as Keadby 3 would give a combined capacity of 3394 MW.

This will be more than the planned capacity of the under-construction Hinckley Point C nuclear power station will be able to generate 3200 MW.

The BBC article says this about the plans for Keadby.

One plant would burn natural gas and use carbon capture technology to remove the CO2 from its emissions. The CO2 would then be transported along pipelines before being securely stored in rocks under the North Sea.

The hydrogen power station would produce “zero emissions at the point of combustion”, its developers claimed.

It looks like Keadby will have the power of a Hinckley Point nuclear station, but running on gas.

Carbon Capture And Storage

From what I read on the sseThermal web site and published in Energy In North-East Lincolnshire, it looks like Keadby 2 and Keadby 3 will use carbon capture and storage and Keadby 4 will use hydrogen.

There are plenty of depleted gas fields connected to the Easington terminal that can be used for carbon-dioxide storage.

The Zero Carbon Humber Network

The Zero Carbon Humber is going to be a gas network along the Humber, that will distribute hydrogen to large industrial users and return carbon dioxide for storage under the North Sea.

This map shows the Zero Carbon Humber pipeline layout.

Note.

  1. The orange line is a proposed carbon dioxide pipeline
  2. The black line alongside it, is a proposed hydrogen pipeline.
  3. Drax, Keadby and Saltend are power stations.
  4. Easington gas terminal is connected to around twenty gas fields in the North Sea.
  5. The terminal imports natural gas from Norway using the Langeled pipeline.
  6. The Rough field has been converted to gas storage and can hold four days supply of natural gas for the UK.

I can see this network being extended, with some of the depleted gas fields being converted into storage for natural gas, hydrogen or carbon dioxide.

Enter The Vikings

This article on The Times is entitled SSE and Equinor’s ‘Blue Hydrogen’ Power Plant Set To Be World First.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The world’s first large-scale power station to burn pure hydrogen could be built in Britain this decade by SSE and Equinor to generate enough low-carbon energy to supply more than a million homes.

This second paragraph explains the working of the production of the blue hydrogen.

The proposed power station near Scunthorpe would burn “blue hydrogen”, produced by processing natural gas and capturing and disposing of waste CO2 in a process that has low but not zero emissions. Equinor is already working on plans for a blue hydrogen production facility at Saltend in the Humber.

This may seem to some to be a wasteful process in that you use energy to produce blue hydrogen from natural gas and then use the hydrogen to generate power, but I suspect there are good reasons for the indirect route.

I believe that green hydrogen will become available from the North Sea from combined wind-turbine electrolysers being developed by Orsted and ITM Power, before the end of the decade.

Green hydrogen because it is produced by electrolysis will have less impurities than blue hydrogen.

Both will be zero-carbon fuels.

According to this document on the TNO web site, green hydrogen will be used for fuel cell applications and blue hydrogen for industrial processes.

Blue hydrogen would be able to power Keadby 2, 3 and 4.

I can see a scenario where Equinor’s blue hydrogen will reduce the price of hydrogen steelmaking and other industrial processes. It will also allow the purer and more costly green hydrogen to be reserved for transport and other fuel cell applications.

Using The Carbon Instead Of Storing

The document on the TNO web site has this surprising paragraph.

Hydrogen produced from natural gas using the so-called molten metal pyrolysis technology is called ‘turquoise hydrogen’ or ‘low carbon hydrogen’. Natural gas is passed through a molten metal that releases hydrogen gas as well as solid carbon. The latter can find a useful application in, for example, car tyres. This technology is still in the laboratory phase and it will take at least ten years for the first pilot plant to be realised.

This technical paper is entitled Methane Pyrolysis In A Molten Gallium Bubble Column Reactor For Sustainable Hydrogen Production: Proof Of Concept & Techno-Economic Assessment.

This may be a few years away, but just imagine using the carbon dioxide from power stations and industrial processes to create a synthetic rubber.

But I believe there is a better use for the carbon dioxide in the interim to cut down the amount that goes into long-term storage, which in some ways is the energy equivalent of landfill except that it isn’t in the least way toxic, as carbon-dioxide is one of the most benign substances on the planet.

Lincolnshire used to be famous for flowers. On a BBC Countryfile program a couple of weeks ago, there was a feature on the automated growing and harvesting of tulips in greenhouses.

There are references on the Internet to  of carbon dioxide being fed to flowers in greenhouses to make them better flowers.

So will be see extensive building of greenhouses on the flat lands of Lincolnshire growing not just flowers, but soft fruits and salad vegetables.

Conclusion

The plans of SSE and Equinor as laid out in The Times and the BBC could create a massive power station cluster.

  • It would be powered by natural gas and hydrogen.
  • Blue hydrogen will be produced by an efficient chemical process.
  • Green hydrogen will be produced offshore in massive farms of wind-turbine/electrolysers.
  • It would generate as much electricity as a big nuclear power station.
  • All carbon-dioxide produced would be either stored or used to create useful industrial products and food or flowers in greenhouses.

Do power stations like this hasten the end of big nuclear power stations?

Probably, until someone finds a way to turn nuclear waste into something useful.

 

April 9, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Keadby 3 Low-Carbon Power Station

This article on Business Live is entitled Huge Green Power Station Proposed By SSE As It Embraces Hydrogen And Carbon Capture.

SSE Thermal is working on a low-carbon 910 MW gas-fired power station to join Keadby and Keadby 2 power stations in a cluster near Scunthorpe.

A spokesman for SSE is quoted as saying they will not build the plant without a clear route to decarbonisation.

On this page of their web site,  SSE Thermal, say this about Keadby 3.

As part of our commitment to a net zero emissions future, Keadby 3 will only be built with a clear route to decarbonisation, either using hydrogen as a low-carbon fuel, or equipping it with post-combustion carbon capture technology. The project is at the early stages of development and no final investment decision has been made.

It should also be noted that SSE Renewables have also built a wind farm at Keadby. The web site describes it like this.

Keadby Wind Farm is England’s largest onshore wind farm. This 68MW renewable energy generation site can power approximately 57,000 homes.

There are a lot of good intentions here and I think that SSE haven’t disclosed the full picture.

It would seem inefficient to use hydrogen to power a gas-fired power station to achieve zero-carbon power generation.

  • If you are using hydrogen created from steam reforming of methane, this creates a lot of carbon-dioxide.
  • If you are using green hydrogen produced by electrolysis, then, why don’t you store the electricity in a battery?

Perhaps, SSE are trying out a new process?

This Google Map shows the area of Keadby to the West of Scunthorpe.

Note.

The River Trent meandering through the area.

  1. Althorpe station is in the bend of the River,
  2. I’m fairly certain, that I remember an old airfield in the area.
  3. Keadby power station is a bit to the North of the waterway running West from the River and close to where the railway crosses the waterway.

This second Google Map shows a close-up of the power station.

This visualisation from SSE Thermal shows how the site might look in the future.

For me the interesting location is the village of Althorpe, where C and myself had friends.

They were always getting tourists arriving in the village looking for Princess Diana’s grave!

Carbon Capture And Storage At Keadby

If SSE have three large power stations at Keadby, a shared carbon capture and storage system could be worthwhile.

  • There are numerous gas fields in the area and a big gas terminal at Theddlethorpe, to where they all connect.
  • I was surprised to see, that one of thee fields; Saltfleetby is owned by President Putin’s favourite gas company; Gazprom.
  • Some of these fields are actually on-shore.
  • The power stations probably get their gas from the same terminal.

Some of these gas fields that connect to Theddlethorpe could be suitable for storing the carbon dioxide.

As there is masses of space at Keadby, I can see more gas-fired power stations being built at Keadby.

All would feed into the same carbon capture and storage system.

If gas was needed to be imported in a liquified form, there is the Port of Immingham nearby.

Absorption Of Carbon Dioxide By Horticulture

Consider.

  • Increasingly, horticulture is getting more automated and efficient.
  • Automatic harvesters are being developed for crops like tomatoes and strawberries.
  • Instead of storing the carbon-dioxide in worked-out gas fields, it can also be fed directly to fruit and vegetables that are being grown in greenhouses.
  • Keadby is surrounded by the flat lands of Lincolnshire.

How long will it be before we see tomatoes, strawberries, peppers and cucumbers labelled as British zero-carbon products?

Offshore Hydrogen

I’ll repeat what I said in ITM Power and Ørsted: Wind Turbine Electrolyser Integration.

This is from a press release from ITM Power, which has the same title as the linked article.

This is the introductory paragraph.

ITM Power (AIM: ITM), the energy storage and clean fuel company, is pleased to share details of a short project sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), in late 2019, entitled ‘Hydrogen supply competition’, ITM Power and Ørsted proposed the following:  an electrolyser placed at the wind turbine e.g. in the tower or very near it, directly electrically connected to the DC link in the wind turbine, with appropriate power flow control and water supplied to it. This may represent a better design concept for bulk hydrogen production as opposed to, for instance, remotely located electrolysers at a terminal or platform, away from the wind turbine generator, due to reduced costs and energy losses.
Some points from the remainder of the press release.

  • Costs can be saved as hydrogen pipes are more affordable than under-water power cables.
  • The proposed design reduced the need for AC rectification.

After reading the press release, it sounds like the two companies are performing a serious re-think on how wind turbines and their links to get energy on-shore are designed.

  • Will they be using redundant gas pipes to bring the hydrogen ashore?
  • Will the hydrogen come ashore at Theddlethorpe and use the existing gas network to get to Keadby?

It sounds inefficient, but then the steelworks at Scunthorpe will probably want masses of hydrogen for carbon-free steel making and processing.

Boosting Power Station Efficiency

There is also a section in the Wikipedia entry for Combined Cycle Power Plant called Boosting Efficiency, where this 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.

So is the location of the site by the Trent, important because of all that cold water?

Or will they use surplus power from the wind farm to create ice?

The Proposed North Sea Wind Power Hub

The North Sea Wind Power Hub is a proposed energy island complex on the Eastern part of the Dogger Bank.

  • The Dutch, Germans and Danes are leading the project.
  • Along with the Belgians, we have been asked to join.
  • Some reporting on the Hub has shown, airstrips in the middle of the complex to bring the workforce to the site.
  • A Dutch report, says that as much as 110 GW of wind power could be developed by 2050.
  • We are also looking at installing wind farms on our section of the Dogger Bank.

Geography says, that one of the most convenient locations to bring all this electricity or hydrogen gas ashore is North Lincolnshire

A Very Large Battery

I would also put a very large battery on the site at Keadby.

One of Highview Power‘s proposed 1 GWh CRYOBatteries would be a good start. This will be four times the size of the 250 MWh CRYOBattery, which the company is currently designing and building at Carrington in Greater Manchester.

Conclusion

The three power stations at Keadby are the following sizes

  • Keadby 1 – 734 MW
  • Keadby 2 – 803.7 MW
  • Keadby 3 – 010 MW

This adds up to a total of 2447.7 MW. And if they fit carbon capture and storage it will be zero-carbon.

Note.

  • Hinckley Point C is only 3200 MW and will cost around £20 billion or £6.25 billion per GW.
  • Keadby 2 power station is quoted as costing £350 million. or £0.44 billion per GW.

These figures don’t include the cost of carbon capture and storage, but they do show the relatively high cost of nuclear.

 

 

 

July 11, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Air-Powered Energy Storage Knocks Out Coal & Gas — Wait, What?

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

After reading, this must read article, it could have had a title with Knocks Out Coal, Gas and Nuclear.

It makes a passionate article for Highview Power’s long term air-powered energy storage and other systems with a similar energy profile like Form Energy.

It also showed this good graphic from Highview Power, which shows how their system works.

This paragraph gives Highview’s view on what their CRYObatteries will do.

Grid operators are turning to long-duration energy storage to improve power generation economics, balance the grid, and increase reliability. At giga-scale, CRYOBatteries paired with renewables are equivalent in performance to – and could replace – thermal and nuclear baseload power in addition to supporting electricity transmission and distribution systems while providing additional security of supply,” enthuses Highview.

The author then chips in with the attitude of the US Department of Energy.

Don’t just take their word for it. The US Department of Energy is eyeballing long duration energy storage for the sparkling green grid of the future despite all the hot air blowing out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

In an interesting twist, the Energy Department’s interest in long duration storage was initially connected to its interest in at least preserving, if not growing, the nation’s aging fleet of nuclear power plants.

Will renewables be able to see off nuclear in a country with plenty of sun and/or wind like the United States?

Conclusion

With a lot of help from their friends in the long term energy storage business, the answer must be yes!

 

June 20, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage | , , , , , , | Leave a comment