The Anonymous Widower

Thoughts On Last Week’s Major Power Outage

This article on the BBC is entitled Major Power Failure Affects Homes And Transport.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Nearly a million people have been affected by a major power cut across large areas of England and Wales, affecting homes and transport networks.

National Grid said it was caused by issues with two power generators but the problem was now resolved.

This second article on the BBC is entitled UK power cut: Why it caused so much disruption, and gives these details.

It started with a routine blip – the gas-fired power station at Little Barford in Bedfordshire shut down at 16:58 BST due to a technical issue.

Then, a second power station, the new Hornsea offshore wind farm, also “lost load” – meaning the turbines were still moving, but power was not reaching the grid.

These are my thoughts on the incident.

Power Stations Do Fail

Any complex electro-mechanical system like Little Barford gas-fired power station or Hornsea offshore wind farm can fail.

  • Little Barford gas-fired power station was built in 1994 and is a 746 MW gas-fired power station.
  • Hornsea offshore wind farm obtained planning permission in 2014 and is being built in phases. It will eventually have a maximum capacity of 8 GW or 8,000 MW.

Compare these figures with the iconic coal-fired Battersea power station, which had a maximum output of 503 MW in 1955.

I will not speculate as to what wet wrong except to say that as the Hornsea wind-farm is relatively new, it could be what engineers call an infant mortality problem. Complex systems or even components seem to fail in the first few months of operation.

Why Do We Have Gas-Fired Stations?

According to this page on Wikipedia, there are around forty natural gas fired power stations in England.

Most gas-fired stations are what are known as CCGT (Combined Cycle Gas Turbine), where a Jumbo-sized gas-turbine engine is paired with a steam turbine powered by the heat of the exhaust from the engine.

This form of power generation does produce some carbon dioxide, but to obtain a given amount of electricity, it produces a lot less than using coal or ioil.

By combining the gas turbine with a steam turbine, the power station becomes more efficient and less carbon dioxide is produced.

Power stations of this type have three various advantages.

  • They have a very fast start-up time, so are ideal power stations to respond to sudden increases in electricity demand.
  • As they are a gas-turbine engine with extra gubbins, they are very controllable, just like their cousins on aircraft.
  • They are relatively quick, easy and affordable to build. The Wikipedia entry for a CCGT says this. “The capital costs of combined cycle power is relatively low, at around $1000/kW, making it one of the cheapest types of generation to install.”
  • They don’t need a complicated and expensive transport infrastructure to bring in coal or nuclear fuel.
  • They can also be powered by biogas from agricultural or forestry waste, although I don’t think that is a comm practice in the UK.

The carbon dioxide produced is the only major problem.

Gas-Fired Power Stations In The Future

If you read the Wikipedia entry for combined cycle power plants, there is a lot of information on CCGTs, much of which is on various ways of improving their efficiency.

I believe that one particular method of increasing efficiency could be very applicable in the UK.

Under Boosting Efficiency in the Wikipedia entry, the following 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.

The UK is the world’s largest generator of power using offshore wind and as we are surrounded with sea and wind, the UK is only going to produce more of the power it needs in this or other way.

This  method could be used to store the wind energy produced when the demand is low and recover it, when it is needed.

Could The UK Develop A Chain Of Carbon-Neutral Gas-Fired Power Stations?

In parts of the UK, there is a unique mix of resources.

  • A plentiful supply of natural gas, either from offshore fields or interconnectors to Norway.
  • Large amounts of electricity generated by offshore wind, which will only get larger.
  • Worked out gas-fields still connected to the shore, through redundant platforms and pipes.
  • Closeness to agricultural areas.

Technologies under development or already working include.

  • Offshore creation of hydrogen using electricity generated by offshore wind and then using the redundant gas pipes to bring the hydrogen to the shore.
  • Using a hydrogen-fired CCGT power station without producing any carbon-dioxide.
  • Feeding carbon dioxide to plants like salad and fruit to make them grow better.
  • Using excess electricity from renewable sources to cool the air and improve the efficiency of CCGT power stations.

I can see all these technologies and development coming together in the next few years and a chain of carbon-neutral gas-fired power stations will be created

  • Hydrogen produced offshore on redundant gas platforms, using electricity from nearby wind farms, will be turned back into electricity, where it is needed by onshore hydrogen-fired power stations.
  • Redundant gas platforms will be refurbished and reused, rather than demolished at great expense.
  • Some natural gas will still be used for power generation
  • I’m not quite sure, but I think there could be dual-furled CCGTs, that could run on either hydrogen or natural gas.
  • Any carbon dioxide generated will be stored in the worked out gas fields or fed to the crops.
  • Gas storage onshore will ensure that the gas-fired power station can respond quickly.

I also believe that there is no technological and engineering challenges, that are too difficult to solve.

This strategy would have the following advantages.

  • It should be carbon-neutral.
  • Because there could have as many as two hundred individual power stations, the system would be very reliable and responsive to the loss of say a cluster of five stations, due to a tsunami, a volcanic eruption or a major eathquake.
  • If power from renewable sources like offshore wind is low, extra stations can be quickly switched in.
  • It is not dependent on fuel from dodgy dictators!
  • It would probably be more affordable than developing nuclear power stations.

There is also the possibility of bringing more hydrogen onshore to be used in the decarbonisation of the gas-grid.

Conclusion

A chain of carbon-neutral gas-fired power stations, linked to hydrogen created offshore by wind farms is very feasible.

Last week, after the double failure, extra stations would have immediately been switched in.

Energy Storage

The fastest response system is energy storage, where a giant battery holds several gigawatt-hours of eklectricity.

Electric Mountain

The biggest energy storage facility in the UK is Dinorwig Power Station.

This is the introduction to its Wikipedia entry.

The Dinorwig Power Station , known locally as Electric Mountain, is a pumped-storage hydroelectric scheme, near Dinorwig, Llanberisin Snowdonia national park in Gwynedd, northern Wales. The scheme can supply a maximum power of 1,728-megawatt (2,317,000 hp) and has a storage capacity of around 9.1-gigawatt-hour (33 TJ)

It is large and has a rapid response, when more electricity is needed.

We probably need another three or four Electric Mountains, but our geography means we have few suitable sites for pumped-storage, especially in areas, where large quantities of electricity are needed.

There are one other pumped-storage system in Wales and two in Scotland, all of which are around 350 MW or a fifth the size of Electric Mountain.

In the Wikipedia entry entitled List Of Power Stations In Scotland, this is said.

SSE have proposed building two new pumped storage schemes in the Great Glen; 600 MW at Balmacaan above Loch Ness, and 600 MW at Coire Glas above Loch Lochy, at £800m. Scotland has a potential for around 500 GWh of pumped storage

I’m sure the Scots will find some way to fill this storage.

If all else fails, there’s always Icelink. This is the description from Wikipedia.

Icelink is a proposed electricity interconnector between Iceland and Great Britain. As of 2017, the project is still at the feasibility stage. According to current plans, IceLink may become operational in 2027.

At 1000–1200 km, the 1000 MW HVDC link would be the longest sub-sea power interconnector in the world.

The project partners are National Grid plc in the UK, and Landsvirkjun, the state-owned generator in Iceland, and Landsnet, the Icelandic Transmission System Operator (TSO)

Plugging it in to Scotland, rather than London, probably saves a bit of money!

Conclusion

Increasing our pumped-storage energy capacity is feasible and would help us to survive major power failures.

Batteries In Buildings

Tesla have a product called a Powerwall, which puts energy storage into a home or other building.

This was the first product of its kind and there will be many imitators.

The Powerwall 2 has a capacity of 13.5 kWh, which is puny compared to the 9.1 GWh or 9,100,000 kWh of Electric Mountain.

But only 674,074 batteries would need to be fitted in the UK to be able to store the same amount of electricity as Electric Mountain.

The big benefit of batteries in buildings is that they shift usage from the Peak times to overnight

So they will reduce domestic demand in the Peak.

Conclusion

Government should give incentives for people to add batteries to their houses and other buildings.

Could Hydrogen Work As Energy Storage?

Suppose you had a hydrogen-fired 500 MW hydrogen-fired CCGT with a hydrogen tank that was large enough to run it at full power for an hour.

That would be a 0.5 GWh storage battery with a discharge rate of 500 MW.

In an hour it would supply 500MWh or 500,000 kWh of electricity at full power.

In Hydrogen Economy on Wikipedia, this is said, about producing hydrogen by electroysis of water.

However, current best processes for water electrolysis have an effective electrical efficiency of 70-80%, so that producing 1 kg of hydrogen (which has a specific energy of 143 MJ/kg or about 40 kWh/kg) requires 50–55 kWh of electricity.

If I take the 40 KWh/Kg figure that means that to provide maximum power for an hour needs 12,500 Kg or 12.5 tonnes of hydrogen.

Under a pressure of 700 bar, hydrogen has a density of 42 Kg/cu. m., so 12.5 tonnes of hydrogen will occupy just under 300 cubic metres.

If I’ve got the figures right that could be a manageable amount of hydrogen.

Remember, I used to work in a hydrogen factory and I had the detailed guided tour. Technology may change in fifty years, but the properties of hydrogen haven’t!

Gas-Fired Versus Coal-Fired Power Stations

Consider.

  • The problem of the carbon dioxide is easier with a gas-fired power station, than a coal-fired power station of the same generating capacity, as it will generate only about forty percent of carbon dioxide.
  • Gas-fired power stations can be started up very quickly, whereas starting a coal-fired power station probably takes all day.
  • Coal is much more difficult to handle than gas.

Using hydrogen is even better than using natural gas, as it’s zero-carbpn.

Conclusion

I believe we can use our unique geographic position and proven technology to increase the resilience of our power networks.

We need both more power stations and energy storage.

 

 

August 12, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Drax Secures £500,000 For Innovative Fuel Cell Carbon Capture Study

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article on the Drax web site, that was published in June 2019.

This is the first paragraph.

Drax Group will explore the feasibility of using molten carbonate fuel cells as a technology for capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) having secured £500,000 of funding from the UK Government.

These objectives are listed.

  • Fuel cell FEED study to assess the feasibility of building a second carbon capture pilot at Drax Power Station will help position the UK as a world leader in the fight against climate change
  • The technology used will produce power at the same time as capturing carbon dioxide from Drax’s flue gases
  • Neighbouring horticultural site will use the COto improve yields and demonstrate how businesses working together in clusters can deliver climate solutions

I am glad to see, that the \Government is supporting initiatives like this.

The Drax Paradox

I have seen strawberries in a supermarket, labelled as coming from a farm at Drax in Yorkshire.

Were they grown using carbon dioxide from the power station?

They probably weren’t labelled as organic, but can you grow organic strawberries in a carbon-dioxide-rich atmosphere and label them as Organic?

Conclusion

I don’t think these and other technologies will lead to any massive revival of coal-fired power stations, as mining coal is a very disruptive and dasngerous process compared to extracting gas or growing bio-mass.

But I do think that they are needed fpr application to the following plants, that produce a lot of carbon dioxide.

  • Gas-fired power stations.
  • Biomass power stations.
  • Cement-making
  • Steel-making

The two last processes are probably the most important, as improvement in renewable energy generation, should make the first two redundant.

August 3, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Air Travellers To Be Hit By Carbon Charge On All Tickets

The title of this post is the same as that of an article on the front page of today’s copy of The Times.

  • The charge would be added to air tickets on an opt-out basis.
  • London to New York would have £30 added or £15 with the most fuel-efficient airline.
  • London to Madrid would have £25 added.

It is envisaged the charge would also be added to trains, buses and ferries.

These are some of my first thoughts.

  • There will be a lot of opposition to any Government trying to enact this policy, as to most people two weeks in the sun in Spain or a long flight to Australia, are more important than the planet.
  • Some nations would never enact a policy like this anyway.
  • How would a Government force airlines like Air NeckEnd based in some far-off land to show the charge?
  • Trumkopf would consider it anti-American

But I believe that the airline industry, airports and the most of the plane and engine builders are brighter than Donald Trump.

  • If you look at the vehicle industry, belatedly it is starting to move towards cars with a lower carbon footprint.
  • Innovation is also helping to provide alternative solutions, that are bringing vehicles towards a zero-carbon future.
  • Companies like Airbus and Rolls-Royce are spending millions of Euros and pounds to design the airlines of the future.
  • New entrants into aviation like Eviation with their Alice electric aircraft are on the verge of flying.
  • Airliners are getting more efficient with time.

As a simple example take Ryanair with Boeing 737s and easyJet with Airbus A320s.

  • Suppose, one airliner had a higher carbon charge on the London to Madrid route.
  • Would this make you choose one airline over the other?
  • Possibly! But it would certainly make the plane-maker with the least efficient airliners get its act together, or it wouldn’t sell planes.

I believe that a carbon charge could hasten airliners becoming more efficient!

What About Airports?

I have read articles about airports, where they are aiming to make all their ground operations zero-carbon.

This is possible now with electric vehicles and even electric tugs, that can tow a Boeing 747.

So surely, the carbon generated at the airports involved in a flight should also be taken into account and offset.

What About Getting To And From The Airports?

In the UK, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester, Newcastle, Southampton, Southend and Stansted are connected by electric transport systems, but Bristol, East Midlands, Glasgow, Leeds and Liverpool are not!

This should generate an appropriate carbon charge.

Surely too, if you are driving your petrol or diesel car to and from the airport, this should be taken into account.

Conclusion

A fairly-applied carbon charge based on the flight, the airport and getting to the airport would help to drive down carbon emissions due to the application of better technology.

 

July 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Schroders Unveils Global Energy Transition Fund

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

This is the first paragraph.

Schroders has launched global energy transition fund in order to harness the global shift towards a low carbon energy system and meeting growing client demand for actively-managed exposure to this fast-evolving and ground-breaking sector.

Read the rest of the article  about their new fund.

I pick out this paragraph, that defines the strategy.

The strategy will not invest in companies with exposure to nuclear or fossil fuels. It will harness three significant global trends; the decarbonisation of power generation, the electrification of energy use and increased energy efficiency for its investment process.

This is the first sentence in the Wikipedia entry for Shroders.

Schroders plc is a British multinational asset management company, founded in 1804. The company employs over 5,000 people worldwide in 32 different countries around Europe, America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Headquartered in the City of London, it is traded on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

I think that launch of this global energy transition fund by one of the City of London’s most respected institutions, will eventually be one of many similsr and related funds launched by companies and institutions and that these funds will play a big part in decarbonisation of the planet.

Investment from the big boys is going green.

 

 

July 22, 2019 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Climate Change ‘May Curb Growth In UK Flying’

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

This is an extract.

The advisory Committee on Climate Change (CCC) recently said the UK’s planned increase in aviation would need to be curbed to restrict CO2.

Now a senior civil servant has told a green group that means ministers may have to review aviation strategy.

The green group now feels that Parliament should reconsider Heathrow expansion.

It seems a compulsive argument.

My belief, is that if we restrict flying, that other countries like Chjina, India, Russia and the United States won’t so we’ll be the loser in terms of tourism and jobs making products for export, as we’ll be increasingly isolated.

But we must make the carbon footprint of flying as small as possible.

Things we should do include.

Make Airside At All Airports Carbon Free

Some airports are going this way by using electric vehicles on the air-side.

It is most certainly possible and even battery electric tugs, that can more the largest aircraft are becoming available.

I also believe that doing this will be in an advantage to an airport, as where travellers have a choice, they may be more likely to use a low-carbon airport.

Calculate And Publish Carbon Footprints For All Airports

Included would be the carbon-dioxide and other emissions, generated by the following.

  • Air-side vehicles
  • Travellers going to and from the airport
  • Workers going to and from the airport
  • Airport and aircraft supplies going to the airport
  • Waste coming from the airport.

I have not considered the aircraft deliberately.

Provide All Airports With A Rail Link

It is a scandal that some airports do not have a rail link to their nearest towns and cities, so travellers often have to drive.

The technology now exists to build a train, tram or tram-train link to most of those airports that lack a decent low-carbon link.

Complete High Speed Two

High Speed Two must be completed to Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield and Leeds

Links to lines like the East and West Coast Main Lines must also be added, so that journey times are reduced and capacity is increased from London and Southern England to Northern England and Scotland.

Extend Crossrail To Ebbsfleet For Trains To And From Europe

Crossrail’s big design fault is that it doesn’t serve trains to and from Europe.

Extending Crossrail to Ebbsfleet will make it easier for those travelling between the Greater South-East of England and the Near Continent to use a direct train.

More Cross-Channel Train Services

I have taken Eurostar to Amsterdam three times and the four-hour journey is a much more pleasant and less stressful experience, than the flight of a  shorter duration.

Currently, Eurostar are looking at services between London and Bordeaux, Geneva, Colgne and Frankfurt.

These are probably the only current services that would be viable, but if they are successful, I can see others added to the list.

Should Extra Platforms Be Built At Ebbsfleet?

St. Pancras International station has six International platforms and a departure hall that gets very crowded at times.

I believe that as more services are added between St. Pancras and the Continent, that there will come a time in the next ten years, where serious expansion will be needed.

Would it be easier to add extra capacity at Ebbsfleet?

Travellers would use an extended Crossrail for connecting journeys.

Build A Rail Bridge To Northern Ireland And Link It To The West Coast Main Line

After High Speed Two opens to Crewe, this would enable a rail journey between London and Belfast in four hours, with Dublin in five.

Turn-Up-And-Go Services On All High Speed Lines

At the present time, most rail journeys have to be planned in advance.

But we now live in an I-Want-It-Now society!

Say a client phones up from Burnley with a problem with your product that needs a visit, they would often expect you to get there as soon as possible.

At the present time you would drive.

But once High Speed Two is running to Preston from Euston, it would surely be quicker to use the train.

If trains were four trains per hour (tph) to Preston and ticketing was as simple as London’s current contactless system, you might drop everything and go immediately.

If this type of service were to be made available on High Speed Two, I can’t see any reason, why it should not be available on the UK’s other high speed routes.

  • London to York, Newcastle and Edinburgh on the East Coast Main Line.
  • London to Leeds on the East Coast Main Line.
  • London to Bristol and Cardiff on the Great Western Main Line.
  • London to Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance on the Great Western Main Line.
  • London to Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield on the Midland Main Line
  • London to Paris and Brussels via the Channel Tunnel.
  • Liverpool to Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle on Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  • Liverpool to Manchester, Sheffield, Doncaster and Hull on Northern Powerhouse Rail.

I am using the definition that a high speed line is one capable of running st a speed of at least 125 mph for much of the time.

I also think that some other lines will be upgraded to 100 mph-plus lines and given four tph and higher operation speeds.

  • London to Exeter via Newbury.
  • London to Exeter via Basingstoke
  • London to Portsmouth on the Portsmouth Direct Line.
  • London to Southampton and Bournemiuth
  • London to Chester and Holyhead on the West Coast Main Line and the North Wales Main Line.
  • London to Banbury, Warwick and Birmingham on the Chiltern Main Line.
  • London to Kings Lynn on the East Coast Main Line.
  • London to Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich on the Great Eastern Main Line
  • Ashford to Brighton, Portsmouth, Southampton and Bournemouth on the East and West Coastways.
  • Peterborough to Lincoln and Doncaster on the Great Northern Great Eastern Joint Line

The drive to faster services will be enabled by the following.

  • The availability of affordable 125 mph bi-mode trains from manufacturers like Bombardier, Hitachi, Stadler,and others.
  • Trains capable of fast stops at stations.
  • Relaying of tracks for higher speeds.
  • Removal of historic bottlenecks.
  • Digital signalling throughout the country.

As an example, Greater Anglia expect their new Class 745 trains to go between London and Norwich in ninety minutes. I feel these trains could be capable of higher speed and I would expect ten minutes to be shaved off this route by running faster North of Colchester.

Step-Free Access At All Stations

This must encourage more travellers.

Intelligent Car Parking For Electric Cars

At a station car park, you would leave your electric car plugged in to the parking space.

  • You will have told the car by means of an app or a voice recognition system, when you will be returning and how much charge you want in the car at that time.
  • Whilst you are away, your car’s battery will become part of the UK’s energy storage, just as it does at home during the night.
  • If the wind and sun are behaving, your car’s battery like millions of others will be used to store excess power.
  • In times of need, the grid will borrow your power, but still ensuring you have enough power for your next journey.

Get the system right and I believe that lending of your energy storage will reduce the cost of parking.

Integrated Rail, Road And Air Ticketing

Let’s say for an example you want to go from Chelmsford in England to Orleans in France. Currently, you have to look up rail and air journeys on separate web sites. But suppose a site said it would be xx pounds and yy hours by rail,road or air or a combination of any two and the journey would create cc kilos of carbon dioxide, it would surely be easiest to book what is best for you, your wallet and your ecological conscience.

Always Travel Like James Cameron

James Cameron, the illustrious BBC journalist, said that you should make two piles of the clothes you are taking on a trip, with half your trousers, shirts, jumpers etc in each pile. Then pack them in separate cases and leave one behind. He also said you should work out how much money you will need and double it.

These days, I travel very light and haven’t put anything in the hold of an aircraft for nearly ten years. My late wife; C was the same and on a week’s trip to say Italy we only needed one small case between us, that was below the Ryanair cabin baggage limit at the time.

I see people flying with cases, that are big enough for a small person to live in.

If I was in charge of the world, I would impose an excessive baggage tax.

Duty-Free Should Be Banned From Flights

I never buy anything from duty-free, except perhaps a very small present for my granddaughter, that fits in a jacket pocket.

If all passengers on a two hundred seat aircraft bought a litre bottle of gin on their return flight from Spain, that adds a fifth of a tonne to the payload.

  • How much extra carbon dioxide and other pollutants are produced by the pointless benefit of duty-free?
  • There are also other reasons that duty-free should be banned. For a start, if passengers have to be evacuated from an aircraft, they tend to create havoc by recovering their duty-free.
  • If there were no duty-free, the space saved could be used for more worthwhile purposes.

So let’s ban this silly practice!

It would be better to buy it on entry to a country!

An Interim Conclusion

We could do lots more things like this to reduce the carbon footprints of airports and travel to and from the airport. I will add more in the future.

My choice of actions are designed to do the following.

  • Persuade travellers to use rail instead of flying for shorter journeys.
  • Get to and from the airport in a low-carbon manner.
  • Reduce the cost of shorter distance travel and getting to and from the airport.
  • Nudge travellers to prepare themselves for flying, such that the planes use less fuel.

I obviously haven’t said anything about the actual flying.

Low-Carbon Flying

These are a few thoughts.

Electric Aircraft

To get any aircraft into the air needs a lot of power. People, who say that electric aircraft are possible, are probably living in a fantasy world, as the batteries will add more weight to the aircraft, that would mean more energy would be needed to get the plane into the air.

Airliners Must Be Well-Designed Lightweight Structures

All sailplanes are built out of lightweight plastic or carbon fibre, as flying without an engine is even more difficult.

This section called Design, is from the Wikipedia entry for the Airbus A320 aircraft.

The Airbus A320 family are narrow-body (single-aisle) aircraft with a retractable tricycle landing gear and are powered by two wing pylon-mounted turbofan engines. After the oil price rises of the 1970s, Airbus needed to minimise the trip fuel costs of the A320. To that end, it adopted composite primary structures, centre-of-gravity control using fuel, glass cockpit (EFIS) and a two-crew flight deck.

Airbus claimed the 737-300 burns 35% more fuel and has a 16% higher operating cost per seat than the V2500-powered A320.[87] A 150-seat A320 burns 11,608 kg (25,591 lb) of jet fuel over 2,151 nmi (3,984 km) (between Los Angeles and New York City), or 2.43 L/100 km (97 mpg‑US) per seat with a 0.8 kg/L fuel.[88] Its wing is long and thin, offering better aerodynamic efficiency because of the higher aspect ratio than the competing 737 and MD-80.

Note how much more fuel-efficient the early A320 was compared to the best 737 at the time.

Quite frankly, the fifty-year-old design of the Boeing 737 is not fit for the modern world and all of these aircraft should be retired.

Boeing’s troubles with the 737 MAX 8 are a symptom of trying to stretch an obsolete design to match the lightweight engineering of Airbus.

In fact Boeing’s management must be totally stupid, as they have the success of the lightweight Boeing 787 staring them in the face.

Lighter Aircraft Mean Less Power And Less Fuel

There is a virtuous circle with aircraft.

  • Make an aircraft lighter and more aerodynamics and it needs less power to get it into the air and keep flying.
  • A less powerful aircraft will need less fuel to fly a given distance.
  • If a plane needs less fuel, it can carry more passengers or freight.

Airbus with their A320 and Boeing with their 787 seem to be going round this circle, and they will get better with each improvement.

Boeing need to get a modern design of smaller aircraft in this virtuous circle, so they can compete.

Old Inefficient Aircraft Must Be Phased Out

Airlines are flying a lot of aircraft like 737s and 747s, that probably make a lot of money, but in terms of carbon dioxide and other pollutants emitted for each passenger-mile are way above average.

All these inefficient aircraft should be retired and replaced as soon as possible.

New Engine Technology

When I was at University in the 1960s, one of the big stories was Rolls-Royce and their development of the RB-211 engine with its carbon-fibre fan blades.. The carbon-fibre fan blades are now history, but the design of the RB-211 lives on in the successful Trent engine.

Note that the Trent can power all versions of the Boeing 787.

Rolls-Royce have succeeded because they have been able to continuously develop their unique three-spool design, which offers a shorter and more efficient engine.

The Wikipedia entry of the Rolls-Royce Trent engine shows the company has developed engines to fit each new aircraft in turn.

There is also a section on Future Development, where this is said.

On 26 February 2014, Rolls-Royce detailed its Trent future developments. The Advance is the first design could be ready from the end of the 2010s and aim to offer at least 20% better fuel burn than the first generation of Trents. Next is the UltraFan, which could be ready for service from 2025, a geared turbofan with a variable pitch fan system, promising at least 25% improvement in fuel burn.

I doubt the rival companies to Rolls-Royce are sitting queitly, twiddling their thumbs. Although being American, they may be following Boeing’s lead on air-frames and hoping that the old technology is good enough.

In my view, if they don’t come up with new more efficient engines, they’ll go the way of the dinosaurs.

Carbon-Emissions Per Passenger-Mile Will Drop

As new and better aircraft are developed, the amount of carbon-emissions and other pollutants will drop per passenger-mile.

But all older polluting airlines will have to be properly retired and not passed on to those third rate carriers; Air Neck End and Air Suicide.

 

Aviation Fuel Should Be Taxed

Aircraft use a lot of jet fuel and it is not taxed on a world-wide basis.

Do Eurostar and LNER pay tax on the electricity they use?

  • So does this give airlines a cost advantage, when offering services on a route like London to Edinburgh, where trains and planes compete.
  • Looking at flying easyJet to Edinburgh tomorrow morning, the flight is about half the rail fare.
  • What would the difference be if easyJet and LNER had the same fuel tax regime?

The airline industry maintains that tax on fuel would make flying too expensive for a lot of travellers.

But they would say that wouldn’t they!

Government Help

In the UK, these routes are some shorter routes, where train and plane can compete.

  • London and Edinburgh
  • London and Glasgow
  • London and Newcastle
  • London and Cornwall

Government can help to create a level playing field.

  • It can create a fair and equal tax regime.
  • It can fund rail improvements, so there are sufficient paths for extra trains.
  • It can fund better links to airports from city centres.
  • It can allow airport expansion if needed.
  • It could make it compulsory for airlines to offer carbon offsetting, when buying a ticket.
  • Could we see Governments banning flights of under four hundred miles?

I suspect that the aviation industry might not like some decisions.

The Eurostar Effect On Shorter Flights

Eurostar have been very successful in attracting passengers on their original routes away from airlines.

Wikipedia says this about their market share in 2007.

n 2007, it achieved record market shares of 71% for London–Paris and 65% for London–Brussels routes.

But I can see a time, when many passengers on flights of about 400 miles or less, will use high speed rail.

In Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service, I talked about FirstGroup’s new London-Edinburgh service.

  • London to Edinburgh is 400 miles.
  • The service will be run by new trains.
  • The new service will also serve Morpeth, Newcastle and Stevenage.
  • The time between city centres are probably comparable.
  • FirstGroup have said they are targetting low cost airlines.

It will be interesting to see how the low-cost airlines react and perform!

London-Edinburgh And Berlin-Munich Compared

I am comparing these two routes because they are both within a smidgen of four hundred miles.

  • The fastest trains on both routes take around four hours.
  • The UK route has a directnine-car  train every half-hour and this frequency will get higher.
  • The German route has a directsix-car  train every few hours.

In From Berlin To Munich In Four Hours By Train, I describe a trip on the German route.

In the next few years, many countries will follow the lead set by China, France, Italy, Japan and Spain and develop high speed lines between cities a few hundred miles apart.

Even the USA is getting in on the act, although Trump doesn’t give any support. I wonder, if he’s ever been on a train!

What Passengers Will Do!

I say will do, but some are already doing these things.

Take The Train On Shorter Journeys

I have noted that some of my friends, who used to always fly from London to Brussels, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Paris are increasingly taking the train.

As more and more city-pairs have a direct and convenient rail service, passengers will look seriously at it, as an alternative.

But it has to be convenient! I have gone three times to Amsterdam on Eurostar, but I’ve always come back by another route, as customs are not convenient, when returning from the Netherlands.

Fly Direct From Your Local Airport

Several respected web sites say that if you fly direct, rather than change, this is a more environmentally-friendly way to fly.

Passengers Will Choose Their Aircraft Carefully

\safety will be the main reason and I doubt, I would ever fly in a Boeing 737 MAX.

But if say I was flying between London and Boston, I would choose a Boeing 787 over a Boeing 747, as I suspect the older aircraft has a bigger carbon footprint.

Use An Airport With Good Public Transport Connections

Why spend a fortune to park your car at the airport, when you could get there in the same time using a train from a local station?

Carbon Offseting Your Journey

All ways of booking airline tickets must be mandated to offer carbon offsetting for any flights booked.

I would also make it illegal to give frequent flyer points to travellers, who didn’t add carbon offsetting!

I’ve met so many travellers, who consider their frequent flyer points are more important than anything else when they fly.

Conclusion

The aviation industry won’t like it, but with some clever worldwide legislation, flying can be made a lot more environmentally friendly.

 

 

 

 

May 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

DfT Urged To Make Operators Reveal If Trains Are Electric Or Diesel Due To Carbon Concerns

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on |Engineering And Technology.

This is the first paragraph.

Nearly half of rail passengers would like to know how their trains are powered according to a new poll of 1,025 regular rail users from train ticket retailer Loco2.

I think that loco2 are on the right track.

London And Birmingham

For instance take the route between London and Birmingham, where you have three different train operators.

  • Virgin Trains – 125 mph electric trains between London Euston and Birmingham New Street stations – Fast, cramped and the most expensive
  • West Midland Trains – 110 mph electric trains between London Euston and Birmingham New Street stations – Slower, more space and reasonably priced
  • Chiltern Railways – 100 mph diesel trains between London Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street stations – Slower, most comfortable and reasonable priced

If I need to get to Birmingham in a hurry, a use Virgin, but if I want a comfortable journe at a lower pricey, where I can spread my paper on a large table, I take Chiltern.

Those that pay the money make their choice.

Knowing the carbon footprint might persuade some passengers to take a particular train operating company, but I think it would have an effect on train operating companies, if they were perceived to have a low carbon rating.

In my example, the only diesel operator of the three; Chiltern Railways, probably can’t switch to electric traction, as electrifying the route would be prohibitively expensive.

  • They can offset their carbon footprint, by perhaps planting trees.
  • There will also be technology that will cut their diesel consumption.

After that it’s down to the strength of their marketing.

London And Scotland

The competition for trains between London and Scotland is the airlines.

Publishing carbon footprints would favour the trains, as there is a lot of electrification on Scottish routes.

The Man In Seat 61 gives his view on this page of his web site.

 

February 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

How UK Carbon Emissions Tumbled

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

This is the first paragraph.

Amid the doom and gloom, there is thankfully one piece of good news today. The amount of carbon dioxide the UK pumps into the atmosphere through its power generators, car exhausts, wood burners and industry has dived by 38 per cent since 1990. A statistic that’s even more impressive when you consider the population has grown by nearly 10 million during that period.

So how has this happened?

  • The reduction in the number of coal-fired power stations.
  • We are using less energy, because of more efficient electrical equipment and devices.
  • There is less heavy engineering.

Let’s hope this downward trend continues.

 

February 4, 2019 Posted by | World | , | 2 Comments

Severn Toll Change

The title of this post is the same as that of a short article in the February 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

There are concerns that the removal of toll charges on the M4 Severn Crossings on 17 December could result in a loss of rail freight traffic to road. The toll, for westbund vehicles only, was £16.70 per Heavy Goods Vehicle last year. It had been reduced from £20 in January 2018, when VAT ceased to be levied because the motorway bridges had passed from private to public ownership.

It now appears that it is now cheaper to get wine from Felixstowe to a warehouse in Avonmouth, by using a train to Cardiff and then using trucks, than by using a train to Bristol and a shorter truck journey.

Surely, the longer journeys by both diesel truck and probably diesel train, creates more carbon dioxide.

Obviously, the UK and Welsh Governments didn’t assess the carbon emission consequences of abolishing the tolls on the Severn Bridges.

I also wonder, if more people will now drive between South Wales and England, because of the incentive of a toll-free crossing, which will further increase carbon-dioxide emissions.

 

January 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Climate Change: The Massive CO2 Emitter You May Not Know About

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

This is the first three paragraphs..

Concrete is the most widely used man-made material in existence. It is second only to water as the most-consumed resource on the planet.

But, while cement – the key ingredient in concrete – has shaped much of our built environment, it also has a massive carbon footprint.

Cement is the source of about 8% of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, according to think tank Chatham House.

Read the whole article.

January 2, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , | 2 Comments

Climate Change: Report Warns Of Growing Impact On US Life

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

This is the first paragraph

Unchecked climate change will cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars and damage human health and quality of life, a US government report warns.

So what is Donald Trump’s reaction?

This is another paragraph.

During a blast of icy weather in Washington this week, Donald Trump tweeted, “whatever happened to global warming?”

The sooner he has to leave the US Presidency to someone with an unprejudiced brain, that understands how things actually work, the better!

November 24, 2018 Posted by | World | , | 1 Comment