The Anonymous Widower

Scotland’s Mines To Be At Centre Of Green Energy Renaissance

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

The article is a good explanation of the pros and cons of using the heat stored in disused coal mines, to heat hones and businesses.

September 22, 2020 Posted by | Energy | , , , | Leave a comment

Why Canada’s Geothermal Industry Is finally Gaining Ground

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

When I think of Canada, I don’t think hot rocks and volcanoes.

But read the article and this Wikipedia article, which is entitled Geothermal Power In Canada, that adds more flesh.

This is an interesting paragraph.

At present, Canada remains the only major country in the Pacific Rim that is not producing electricity from its geothermal resources. This is despite the fact that the colder it is outside, the more electricity a geothermal power plant can produce. This is because the larger the temperature differentials between the geothermal resource and the ambient air temperature, the more efficiently geothermal plants operate. This makes geothermal power ideal for cold northern countries.

Iceland is certainly blessed, with mountains, volcanoes, hot rocks and cooler weather.

In 2016, sixty-five per cent of Iceland’s electricity and space heating was from geothermal sources.

I took the pictures on a summer holiday In July.

It looks like if the articles on the Narwhal and Wikipedia are to be believed, Canada could exploit a lot of geothermal energy resources.

Canada though will have the advantages of not being first.

The technology has already developed in countries like Iceland, the United States and the Philippines.

A lot of the skills needed is available in Canada’s oil industry.

We’re even seeing oilfield services companies like Schlumberger moving into geothermal energy. I wrote about that in Schlumberger New Energy And Thermal Energy Partners Form Geothermal Development Company STEP Energy.

We shouldn’t forget the potential for geothermal energy in the UK. We’re looking seriously in Cornwall and already extracting heat from the Underground in Islington, using similar techniques.

See Drilling Starts For ‘Hot Rocks’ Power In Cornwall and Bunhill 2 Energy Centre.

Conclusion

Geothermal energy would appear to have a high capital cost, but should return a fixed income year-on-year.

For this reason, I believe that funding for viable geothermal schemes, will be easier to obtain, as we improve the engineering and the returns increase.

So expect more geothermal schemes in the future.

 

September 16, 2020 Posted by | Energy | , , , , | Leave a comment

Schlumberger New Energy And Thermal Energy Partners Form Geothermal Development Company STEP Energy

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Schlumberger New Energy, a new Schlumberger business, and Thermal Energy Partners (TEP) have entered into an agreement to create STEP Energy, a geothermal project development company. STEP Energy will leverage its partners’ expertise to develop efficient and profitable geothermal power generation projects, providing an opportunity to support a reliable supply of clean energy.

Schlumberger are one of the big beasts of the oil industry and are generally described as an oilfield services company.

This agreement could be significant as from my knowledge of the geothermal and oil extraction businesses, they have a lot of technology in common.

The last paragraph of the article is definitely significant.

The new company’s first project is the 10-MW Nevis Geothermal Power Project on the Caribbean island of Nevis, which will enable the island to transition to 100% zero-emission renewable energy for its power supply. STEP Energy has additional opportunities to expand production in the Eastern Caribbean and in North and South America.

How many other places in the world can follow the example of Nevis?

Geothermal Power

The Wikipedia entry for Geothermal Power is worth a read.

These points are from the first paragraph.

  • Geothermal electricity generation is currently used in 26 countries.
  • Geothermal heating is in use in 70 countries
  • As of 2015, worldwide geothermal power capacity amounts to 12.8 GW.
  • 3.55 GW are installed in the United States.
  • Countries generating more than 15 percent of their electricity from geothermal sources include El Salvador, Kenya, the Philippines, Iceland, New Zealand, and Costa Rica.
  • The greenhouse gas emissions of geothermal electric stations are on average 45 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour of electricity, or less than 5 percent of that of conventional coal-fired plants.
  • As a source of renewable energy for both power and heating, geothermal has the potential to meet 3-5% of global demand by 2050.
  • With economic incentives, it is estimated that by 2100 it will be possible to meet 10% of global demand.

There is also an informative section on the Economics of geothermal power, where this is said.

Drilling accounts for over half the costs, and exploration of deep resources entails significant risks.

That sounds like areas, where Schlumberger have lots of expertise and experience.

Geothermal Power In The UK

The Wikipedia entry for Geothermal Energy In The United Kingdom is also worth a read.

In a section named Potential, these points are made.

  • The resource is widely spread around the UK with ‘hotspots’ in Cornwall, Weardale, Lake District, East Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Cheshire, Worcester, Dorset, Hampshire, Northern Ireland and Scotland;
  • Cost reduction potential is exceptionally high;
  • Deep geothermal resources could provide 9.5GW of baseload renewable electricity – equivalent to nearly nine nuclear power stations – which could generate 20% of the UK’s current annual electricity consumption;
  • Deep geothermal resources could provide over 100GW of heat, which could supply sufficient heat to meet the space heating demand in the UK;
  • Despite this significant potential, the UK support regime is uncompetitive with other European countries.

Perhaps, we should get our act together?

Conclusion

It looks to me, that Schlumberger are doing the right thing for the planet.

Will they be followed by the other oilfield services companies, who in the next decades could see their traditional market shrinking?

August 28, 2020 Posted by | Energy | , , | 1 Comment

Hawaii’s Renewable Tender To Deliver Major Solar And Storage Push

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The largest renewable tender in Hawaii’s history has chosen its winners, contracting a solar and storage pipeline that exceeds anything the US state has ever seen.

The article gives a lot of information about the order and Hawaii’s energy.

  • A fleet of 400 MW of solar panels and 3 GWh of energy storage will be installed, with some running in 2022.
  • Another fleet of 260 MW of solar panels and 1 GWh of energy storage is in the pipeline, for delivery in 2021.
  • The strike price appears to be 9.38 US dollar cents per KWh or $93.80 per MWh. We’re paying £92.50 per MWh for electricity at Hinckley Point C nuclear power station.
  • Hawaii aims to be full-powered by renewable energy by 2045.
  • Two fossil-fuel plants will shut by 2024.

From this document on the Hawaii State Energy Office, I have found that in 2018, these renewable energy sources contributed to the state’s electricity.

  • Geothermal sources – 2.9%
  • Wind – 4.9%
  • Hydro – 0.9%
  • Biomass – 2.8%
  • Small-scale solar – 9.3%
  • Utility-scale solar – 3.9%

These add up to 24.7%.

I’ll be interested to see, what the percentage will be in 2024!

May 19, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , | 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

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

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 | , , , , , | 3 Comments

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 | , , , , , , , | 5 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 | , , , | 3 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