The Anonymous Widower

Exciting Renewable Energy Project for Spennymoor

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the Durham University web site.

This is the first paragraph.

In January 2016, local residents Alan Gardner, Cllr Kevin Thompson and Lynn Gibson from the Durham Energy Institute at Durham University, met a team of academics to explore the advantages renewable energy and specifically the use of geothermal resources could bring to Spennymoor.

And this is the last.

Durham University is one of the world leaders in this research field. Spennymoor now has an opportunity to be at the forefront of that research. What the outcomes will eventually be is unknown at this stage but being able to explore the opportunity by the best in the business is encouraging.

Charlotte Adams mentioned in the article is the academic, who did the presentation I saw yesterday and talked about in Can Abandoned Mines Heat Our Future?.

Everybody, who lives in a mining area, should read this article and show it to everyone they know.

 

 

December 7, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can Abandoned Mines Heat Our Future?

The title of this post, is same as that of the title of a public lecture I attended at The Geological Society this afternoon.

This page on the Geological Society web site, gives a summary of the lecture and details of the speaker; Charlotte Adams of Durham University.

The Concept

The basic concept is simple.

  • Abandoned coal mines had their pumps turned off when they are closed and the worked areas have flooded with water, that is now at temperatures of around 12 to 20°C.
  • As fifteen billion tonnes of coal have been extracted from UK coalfields, that is a lot of space to flood. An estimate of around two billion cubic metres is given.
  • This means that the water holds somewhere between 27.9 and 46.5 GWH of energy in the form of heat.
  • Heat pumps would be used to upgrade the temperature of this water, to provide hot water at useful temperatures for space heating.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of a heat pump, Wikipedia gives a good explanation, of which this is the first paragraph.

A heat pump is a device that transfers heat energy from a source of heat to what is called a heat sink. Heat pumps move thermal energy in the opposite direction of spontaneous heat transfer, by absorbing heat from a cold space and releasing it to a warmer one. A heat pump uses a small amount of external power to accomplish the work of transferring energy from the heat source to the heat sink.

In connection with this project, the heat source is the warm water in the mines and the heat sink is the water that is circulated to heat the buildings.

Wikipedia goes on to say this.

In heating mode, heat pumps are three to four times more effective at heating than simple electrical resistance heaters using the same amount of electricity. However, the typical cost of installing a heat pump is also higher than that of a resistance heater.

Wikipedia also has a section, which descries the use of heat pumps in district heating.

It should also be noted, that as with lots of technology, heat pumps are much improved, from the one I installed in a swimming pool in the 1980s.

Gas Is Replaced By Renewable Energy

The electricity to drive the heat pumps could be derived from renewable sources such as hydroelectric, solar, wave or wind.

Effectively, the system is using intermittent sources of electricity to create a constant source of heat suitable for space heating.

Would The Mines Run Out Of Heat Or Water?

As I understand it, the water in the mine will continue to be heated by the heat in the mines. The father of a friend, who came with me to the lecture was a coal miner and my friend confirmed it was hot in a coal mine.

The water will of course continue to flood the mine and the water pumped to the surface will probably be returned.

So the system will continue to supply heat for space heating.

How Long Will The System Supply Heat?

The system has the following characteristics.

  • It is electro-mechanical.
  • It is powered by electricity.
  • Water is the heat transfer medium.
  • Additives like anti-freeze will probably be applied to the water used for heat transfer.

There is no reason the system can’t be designed, so that it supplies heat for many years with regular maintenance and updating.

How Does The System Compare To Bunhill 2 Energy Centre?

In Bunhill 2 Energy Centre, I described Islington’s Bunhill 2 Energy Centre which uses heat generated in the Northern Line of the London Underground to provide district heating.

I am fairly sure that a lot of similar technology will be used in both applications.

This page on Wikipedia is entitled London Underground Cooling.

There is a section, which is entitled Source Of The Heat, where this is said.

The heat in the tunnels is largely generated by the trains, with a small amount coming from station equipment and passengers. Around 79% is absorbed by the tunnels walls, 10% is removed by ventilation and the other 11% remains in the tunnels.

Temperatures on the Underground have slowly increased as the clay around the tunnels has warmed up; in the early days of the Underground it was advertised as a place to keep cool on hot days. However, over time the temperature has slowly risen as the heat sink formed by the clay has filled up. When the tunnels were built the clay temperature was around 14ºC; this has now risen to 19–26ºC and air temperatures in the tunnels now reach as high as 30ºC.

So one big difference is that the Underground is warmer than the mine and this should make it a better heat source.

I feel that engineers on both projects will benefit from the ideas and experience of the others.

Would Infrastructure Funds Back This Technology?

In the UK, there are several infrastructure funds set up by companies like Aberdeen Standard, Aviva, Gresham House and L & G.

In World’s Largest Wind Farm Attracts Huge Backing From Insurance Giant, I explained why Aviva had invested nearly a billion pounds in wind farms to support pensioners and holders of their insurance policies.

Comparing the risk of using abandoned mines to heat buildings and that of offshore wind turbines generating electricity, my engineering knowledge would assign a greater risk to the turbines, providing both were built to the highest possible standards.

It’s just the onshore and offshore locations and the vagaries of the weather!

I think it is true to say, that infrastructure funds will back anything, where there is an acceptable long-term income to be made, commensurate with the costs and risk involved.

But then Government or any public or private company or organisation should not pay over the odds for the energy delivered.

Conclusion

Charlotte Adams in her lecture, asked if abandoned mines can heat our future.

The answer could well be yes, but there are other sources of heat like the London Underground, that can also be used.

 

 

 

 

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Drilling Starts For ‘Hot Rocks’ Power In Cornwall

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

For as long as I can remember, there have been plans to tap the ‘hot rocks’ under Cornwall for heat and convert it into electricity.

Geothermal power is used in many places around the world.

The Wikipedia entry is worth a read and the Utility-Grade Stations section has this paragraph.

The largest group of geothermal power plants in the world is located at The Geysers, a geothermal field in California, United States. As of 2004, five countries (El Salvador, Kenya, the Philippines, Iceland, and Costa Rica) generate more than 15% of their electricity from geothermal sources.

This is also said.

Enhanced geothermal systems that are several kilometres in depth are operational in France and Germany and are being developed or evaluated in at least four other countries.

As the Cornish project appears to have a degree of EU funding, it looks like Cornwall is one of the four other countries.

The BBC also had a report on the Cornish drilling this morning. They made a point to say that this project has nothing to do with fracking.

Fracking is an emotive project, but we seem to forget that a lot of the engineering and drilling techniques used in the process are also used in other applications, like obtaining fresh water and drilling very deep holes, as is proposed in Cornwall.

It is also enlightening to look at this Wikipedia entry, which describes geothermal power in Germany.

This is said about the sustainability of the power source in Germany.

n the same year (2003) the TAB (bureau for technological impact assessment of the German Bundestag) concluded that Germany’s geothermal resources could be used to supply the entire base load of the country. This conclusion has regard to the fact that geothermal sources have to be developed sustainably because they can cool out if overused.

Based on this, I can understand the enthusiasm for using the technique in Cornwall.

On the BBC this morning, it was said that the Cornish borehole could produce enough electricity for 3,000 homes.

A page on the OVO Energy website, says this.

Household electricity use in the UK dropped under 4,000kWh for the first time in decades in 2014. At an average of 3,940kWh per home, this was about 20% higher than the global average for electrified homes of 3,370kWh.

At 4,000 kWh a year, a home would use an average of 0.46 kW per hour.

This means that to run 3,000 houses needs 1.4 MW per hour.

A typical price of a kWh of electricity is thirteen pence excluding VAT, which means that this plant could earn around £178 per hour or £1.6million a year.

A Project Video

Access the project video here.

Conclusion

I feel that geothermal power could have a promising future in Cornwall.

 

 

 

 

 

November 6, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , | 2 Comments

The Eden Project, Geothermal Energy And Fracking

In Iceland last summer, I saw the benefits of geothermal energy, with one of the most spectacular being the amazing Blue Lagoon.

We don’t have any volcanoes in the UK, but in places like Cornwall and London Bridge station, projects are starting to test the feasibility of using heat from deep in the ground.

According to this article in the Glasgow Herald, the Eden Project is investigating geothewrmal energy. This is an extract.

Given the prominence of Friends of the Earth in the shale gas debate it often comes as a nasty surprise to local anti-fracking groups that most green groups do actually support drilling and fracking for deep geothermal projects. Only yesterday, the famous Eden Project in Cornwall announced such a project.

Today though, I read in The Times, that this £35million project is now under threat from an anti-fracking amendment in a bill in Parliament.

I suspect that the problem is if you wrote down all the science known by Members of Parliament, it would just about fit on a small postage stamp.

I wonder what will happen when politicians find out about the ground source heat pump at London Bridge could use fracking techniques, to enable it to be built properly and run efficiently.

February 2, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Crazy Hot Water Pipes

On the way back to Reykjavik, the road was lined with these large pipes for quite a way.

They carry the hot water that is used to heat the city from the various geothermal sources.

July 14, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Geothermal Power And The New Island Of Surtsey

I was on a tour which was called the South Shore Safari. The first real stop was in an area of geothermal power stations, which gave good views of the new island of Surtsey

I can remember the formation of the island of Surtsey being shown on the television in 1963. It was a well-reported news story of the time.

Geothermal power is important in Iceland and contributes nearly 600 MW of electricity, which makes up about thirty percent of what they need. The Icelanders have by no means fully developed the maximum amount of power available, but they do generate a lot of hot water to heat Reykjavik and other towns. For comparison, our large nuclear power station, Sizewell B generates 1,200 MW.

I think the geothermal power station we saw is Nesjavellir. Wikipedia says this about the capacity of the power station.

Plans for utilizing the Nesjavellir area for geothermal power and water heating began in 1947, when some boreholes were drilled to evaluate the area’s potential for power generation. Research continued from 1965 to 1986. In 1987, the construction of the plant began, and the cornerstone was laid in May 1990. The station produces approximately 120 MW of electrical power; it also delivers around 1,100 litres (290 US gal) of hot water (82-85°C) per second, servicing the space heating and hot water needs of the Greater Reykjavík Area.

I woiuld have loved to have a tour of the power station.

What surprised me about geothermal power, was that the Phillipines are very large users of the technology, which is described as a geothermal success story in this article in Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia, twenty seven percent of their power comes from geothermal sources.

I suppose the only drawback with geothermal power is that for the generation of large amounts of energy, you are generally in an area prone to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

It may seem strange, but even in Cornwall, a company is trying to use geothermal energy to generate electricity. Read about the United Downs project on Wikipedia. Whether it will ever work as planned, will be down to the skill of the engineers and probably the will of politicians.

 

July 13, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment