The Anonymous Widower

SSE Goes Global To Reap The Wind

The title of this article on This Is Money is Renewable Energy Giant SSE Launches Plan To Become Britain’s First Global Windfarm Business As it Invests Up To £15bn Over Next Decade.

The title is a good summary of their plans to build wind farms in Continental Europe, Denmark, Japan and the US, in addition to the UK and Ireland.

I can also see the company developing more integrated energy clusters using the following technologies.

  • Wind farms that generate hydrogen rather than electricity using integrated electrolysers and wind turbines, developed by companies like ITM Power and Ørsted.
  • Reusing of worked out gasfields and redundant gas pipelines.
  • Zero-carbon CCGT power stations running on Hydrogen.
  • Lots of Energy storage.

I talked about this type of integration in Batteries Could Save £195m Annually By Providing Reserve Finds National Grid ESO Trial.

In the related post, I talked about the Keadby cluster of gas-fired power stations, which are in large part owned by SSE.

Conclusion

I think that SSE could be going the way of Equinor and Ørsted and becoming a global energy company.

It is also interesting the BP and Shell are investing in renewable energy to match the two Scandinavian companies.

Big Oil seems to be transforming itself into Big Wind.

All these companies seem to lack grid-scale energy storage, although hydrogen can be generated and stored in worked-out gas fields.

So I would expect that some of the up-and-coming energy storage companies like Gravitricity, Highview Power and RheEnergise could soon have connections with some of these Big Wind companies.

 

 

February 14, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crown Estate’s Auction Of Seabed For Wind Farms Attracts Sky-High Bids

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

This is the opening paragraph.

An auction of seabed rights to build offshore wind farms around England and Wales has attracted frenzied bidding that could be worth hundreds of millions of pounds a year to the Treasury and the Queen.

I don’t find this surprising.

Bigger Seems Better Offshore

Wind turbine technology is getting better and much larger. It also seems that the new larger floating turbines are much more efficient and generate power for a greater proportion of the day.

My project management software helped to harvest North Sea Oil and I have been told by many in the industry, that North Sea Oil really took off when platforms and the equipment like cranes used to build them got truly enormous.

I feel, we could be seeing the same size effect happening as we harvest the wind!

Hydrogen And Wind Power

The latest development is not to generate electricity, but to use it in the turbine to generate hydrogen, which is then piped to the shore.

  • The UK Government is funding this technology in part with a grant to ITM Power.
  • I wrote about the technology in ITM Power and Ørsted: Wind Turbine Electrolyser Integration.
  • Existing gas networks can be reconfigured to bring the hydrogen to the shore.
  • Piping hydrogen costs less than cabling electricity.
  • Hydrogen networks are being built at several places in the UK, to fuel homes, power stations and industry like steel-making and petrochemicals.

Could all this explain Big Oil’s involvement?

Do they want to exchange fossil fuels for green hydrogen?

They certainly know how to distribute it.

Energy Storage

For my own investments, I’m looking at energy storage, where the UK has at least three promising new ideas, all of whom have had Government grants.

  • Gravitricity
  • Highview Power
  • ReEnergise

The Government has also indirectly-backed Cornish Lithium

 

February 6, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Companies Have New Take On Old Energy Storage Tech

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

According to Spectrum, several companies are poised to make a splash storing energy with gravity. That sounds fancy and high tech at first, but is it, really? Sure, we usually think of energy storage as some sort of battery, but there are many energy storage systems that use water falling, for example, which is almost what this new technology is all about. Almost, since instead of water these new systems move around multi-ton blocks.

The article gives a review of Energy Vault, Gravitricity and another company called Gravity Power.

This is the article’s take on Gravity Power.

The scale of the weights is hard to imagine. Another company, Gravity Power, claims they could deliver 400 megawatts for 16 hours using an 8 million metric ton piston. There’s no word on how long it takes to bring that piston back to the charged position after the 16 hours, though. A Boeing 757-200, for example, weighs about 100 tons when loaded with fuel and passengers. So imagine 80,000 giant airplanes melted down. It makes Energy Vault’s 35-ton weights seem much more reasonable.

Looking at the Gravity Power web site, their technology is described on this page, where this is the first paragraph.

The GPM (Gravity Power Module) uses a very large piston that is suspended in a deep, water-filled shaft, with sliding seals to prevent leakage around the piston and a return pipe connecting to a pump-turbine at ground level. The piston is comprised of reinforced rock and in some cases concrete for low cost. The shaft is filled with water once, at the start of operations, but is then sealed and no additional water is required.

This graphic from the page explains the technology.

My worry would be water leakage past the piston.

This does sound like an idea from William Armstrong, who was responsible for many things including the hydraulic accumulator.

The picture shows the hydraulic accumulator at Limehouse in London.

I visited the Limehouse Accumulator during Open House in 2012 and wrote about it in Open House – The Limehouse Hydraulic Accumulator.

 

 

 

January 9, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , | 1 Comment

Could A Gravitricity Energy Storage System Be Built Into A Wind Turbine?

On Thursday, I watched the first programme in a BBC series called Powering Britain. This programme was about wind power.

The program had close-up views of the inside of a turbine tower in the Hornsea Wind Farm in the North Sea. The spacious tower enclosed a lift for engineers to access the gubbins on the top.

In the Wikipedia entry for wind turbine, there is a section, with is entitled Most Powerful, Tallest, Largest And With Highest 24-Hour Production, where this is said.

GE Wind Energy’s Haliade-X is the most powerful wind turbine in the world, at 12MW. It also is the tallest, with a hub height of 150 m and a tip height of 260m. It also has the largest rotor of 220 m and largest swept area at 38000 m2. It also holds the record for the highest production in 24 hours.

Two certainties about wind turbines are that they will get larger and more powerful, if the progress over the last few years is continued.

So could a Gravitricity energy storage system be built into the tower of the turbine?

A lot would depend on the structural engineering of the combination and the strength of the tower to support a heavy weight suspended from the top, either inside or even outside like a collar.

To obtain a MWh of storage, with a height of 150 metres, would need a weight of 2,500 tonnes, which would be over three hundred cubic metres of wrought iron.

Gravitricity are talking of 2,500 tonnes in their systems, but I suspect the idea of a wind turbine, with a practical level of storage inside the tower, is not yet an engineering possibility.

 

October 31, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , | 3 Comments

Megawatt Charging System Set To Rapidly Reduce Fuelling Time For Commercial EVs

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Electric Autonomy Canada.

This is the sub-title.

An international task force says their recent high power “charge-in” event has yielded promising results with successful testing of novel connector prototypes that could overhaul the long-haul industry.

The problem of charging heavy freight trucks is a big market in North America and it seems that the event attracted some big players, like ABB, Daimler and Tesla.

  • In the trucking industry, speed and range count for a lot.
  • Trucks need to be charged during a driver’s rest break of about thirty minutes.
  • In the U.S., transport made up 28 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Charging lots of trucks on typical state-of-the-art car chargers would probably crash the system.

The Megawatt Charging System aims to solve the problems.

How Would It Work?

This paragraph from the article, outlines the problems.

But how, one may ask, could such a massive electrical draw — as much as 4.5 megawatts — be supported by a grid, especially when the usage scale is not just one truck charging up, once a day, but thousands of 18-wheelers rolling and charging across the country.

The MCS Task Force seem to be suggesting that these systems will work as follows.

  • A large battery or energy storage system will be trickle charged.
  • The truck will be connected and the electricity will flow into the truck.
  • It could all be automated.

It sounds very much like Vivarail’s Fast Charge system, which uses batteries as the intermediate store.

As an Electrical and Control Engineer, I would use a battery with a fast response.

I think I would use a Gravitricity battery. This page on their web site describes their technology.

Gravitricity™ technology has a unique combination of characteristics:

  • 50-year design life – with no cycle limit or degradation
  • Response time – zero to full power in less than one second
  • Efficiency – between 80 and 90 percent
  • Versatile – can run slowly at low power or fast at high power
  • Simple – easy to construct near networks
  • Cost effective – levelised costs well below lithium batteries.

Each unit can be configured to produce between 1 and 20MW peak power, with output duration from 15 minutes to 8 hours.

 

October 30, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So, What Exactly Is Long-Duration Energy Storage?

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

This is the sub-title.

Everyone’s talking about it, and Californians are buying in. Here’s what you need to know about this emerging grid sector.

It describes what California is doing and the sector, with particular reference to Hydrostor, Form Energy and Highview Power.

The article finishes with a section entitled What’s The Catch?

This is the first two paragraphs.

The obvious barrier to a thriving long-duration storage industry is convincing generally conservative power plant customers that emerging technologies quite unlike anything the grid currently uses are safe bets for decades of operation.

Lab tests can reduce the risk, but nothing beats operational, megawatt-scale installations for proving that something works. That’s why the Form deal with Great River Energy is so crucial, as are early projects by Highview Power and Hydrostor. The big exception to technology risk is pumped hydro, which has been used at scale for decades. Those projects grapple instead with high capital expense and environmental concerns.

The article is a must-read and hopefully, this and more articles like it, will convince conservative energy company owners, regulators and governments, that long duration energy storage is the missing link between renewable power and electricity consumers.

At least, the current UK Government has backed two of the most promising British long duration energy storage companies; Gravitricity and Highview Power.

October 27, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , | Leave a comment

Energy Storage Takes On Weird New Forms As Sparkling Green Future Takes Shape

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

The first section is entitled Gravity-Enabled Energy Storage Tested By Scotland’s Gravitricity and explains it well.

It then writes an interesting aside about pairing a Gravitricity system, with an idea from GE, in a section, which is entitled A Wind Power & Energy Storage Twofer, Maybe.

GE were proposing a lattice-style wind-turbine tower, so why not put a Gravitricity system inside?

Hence the maybe in the section title!

I can imagine an office or residential tower with a Gravitricity system built into the lift core in the centre of the building. Top the building with solar panels or wind turbines and you’re going some way towards a building that could be self-sufficient in energy.

Putting two and two together, so they add up to five, is the best way to improve efficiency.

The last section is entitled How To Do Energy Storage Without Any Energy Storage.

As I have never played a computer game, I don’t understand it, but it is based on research at two reputable universities; Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands and Northwestern University in the US.

Conclusion

We will be seeing weirder and weirder ideas for energy generation and storage in the future.

September 5, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , | Leave a comment

Generating Clean Energy From The Coal Mines

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

With a number of the UK’s abandoned coal mines being repurposed for green energy projects, Jon Excell asks whether the legacy of Britain’s polluting industrial past could hold the key to its low carbon future?

A few points from this must-read article.

  • We spend £2.4 billion every year dealing with the water in abandoned mines.
  • The huge volumes of mine water – heated by geological processes to temperatures as high as 40˚C – could actually help power the UK’s shift to a zero-carbon economy.
  • The Coal Authority now has around thirty different projects.
  • there is an estimated 2.2 million GWh of annually renewing zero carbon geothermal energy held within the mines.
  • Heat can be extracted using boreholes, heat pumps and heat exchangers.
  • The mines can be used to store energy as waste heat.
  • I particularly liked the use of a mine shaft as a thermal flask, which is being developed at Shawfair in Scotland.

The article then talks about Gravitricity.

This is an extract.

According to Gravitricity project development manager Chris Yendell, the potential for the technology is huge.

Research carried out for the company by KPMG identified 60,000 vertical shafts of 200m or greater in Germany alone. Indeed, many of these shafts as deep as 1000m. Meanwhile, following discussions with the Coal Authority, the team believes that in the UK there are at least 100 potentially viable deep vertical mineshafts. “Based on that you could look at a future portfolio in the UK of 2.4GWh of capacity, based on a 10MW peak system with a capacity of 24MWh” said Yendell.

The article finishes on an optimistic note, by outlining how in the former mining areas, there is lots of expertise to maintain and run these new green energy systems, that will replace coal’s black hole.

Conclusion

Coal could be the future! But not as we know it!

September 4, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , | Leave a comment

Work Underway On Gravitricity Storage Demo

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Winch specialists Huisman have begun on the fabrication of Gravitricity’s €1.1m energy storage demonstrator, which is due for trial in Edinburgh early next year.

The article also gives a few details of the system.

  • It uses a 16 metre lattice tower.
  • Two twenty-five tonne weights are raised and lowered.
  • An output of 250 kW is quoted.

Unless they are using a deep hole to increase the height, Omni’s Potential Energy Calculator says that the stored energy is only 2.18 kWh.

So it will only supply 250 kW for about half a minute.

But as it’s a demo, that is probably enough to validate the concept.

Coal mines with shafts around a thousand metres deep are not unknown in the UK and a system with two twenty-five tonne weights would be able to store a very useful 136 kWh.

But that is still very small compared to Highview Power‘s liquid air battery being build in Manchester, that I wrote about in Climate Emission Killer: Construction Begins On World’s Biggest Liquid Air Battery. That battery has these characteristics.

  • The size of the battery is 250 MWh.
  • It can delivery up to 50 MW of power. which translates to five hours at full power, if the battery is full.
  • If it was already working, it would be the ninth biggest battery of all types, except for pumped storage, in the world.
  • It will be double the size of the largest chemical battery, which was built by Tesla in South Australia.

Both Gravitricity and Highview Power technologies are being backed by the UK government.

Conclusion

I don’t believe that the two battery systems will compete directly.

In terms of size in Explaining Gravitricity, I state that in the UK, 2.2 MWh of storage might be possible for Gravitricity. This is very small compared with Highview Power’s 250 MWh in Manchester.

I suspect though, that capital and running costs may well be in Gravitricity’s favour and the system will be ideal for some applications, where space is limited.

Gravitricity’s systems may also be an innovative way of capping dangerous mine shafts.

August 31, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , | 3 Comments

Beeching Reversal – South Yorkshire Joint Railway

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

This railway seems to have been forgotten, as even Wikipedia only has a rather thin entry for the South Yorkshire Joint Railway.

The best description of the railway, that I’ve found is from this article in the Doncaster Free Press, which is entitled South Yorkshire Railway Line, Which Last Carried Passengers 100 Years Ago Could Be Reopened.

This is said.

The line remains intact, and recently maintained, runs from Worksop through to Doncaster, via North and South Anston, Laughton Common/Dinnington and Maltby.

I jave got my helicopter out and navigating with the help of Wikipedia, I have traced the route of the South Yorkshire Joint Railway (SYJR) between Worksop and Doncaster.

Shireoaks Station

This Google Map shows the Southern end of the SYJR on the Sheffield and Gainsborough Central Line between Shireoaks and Kiveton Park stations.

Note.

  1. Shireoaks station is in the East.
  2. Kiveton Park station is in the West.
  3. The SYJR starts at the triangular junction in the middle of the map.
  4. Lindrick Golf Club, where GB & NI, won the Ryder Cup in 1957 is shown by a green arrow to the North of Shireoaks station.
  5. The original passenger service on the SYJR, which closed in the 1920s, appears to have terminated at Shireoaks station.

The line immediately turns West and then appears to run between the villages of North and South Anston.

Anston Station

This Google Map shows the location of Anston station.

Note that the SYJR goes between the two villages and runs along the North side of the wood, that is to the North of Worksop Road.

Dinnington & Laughton Station

This Google Map shows the location of the former Dinnington & Laughton station.

Note that the SYJR goes to the west side of both villages, so it would have been quite a walk to the train.

Maltby Station

This Google Map shows the location of the former Maltby station.

Note.

  1. The SYJR goes around the South side of the village.
  2. The remains of the massive Maltby Main Colliery, which closed several years ago.

I wonder if they fill the shafts of old mines like this. if they don’t and just cap them, they could be used by Gravitricity to store energy. In Explaining Gravitricity, I do a rough calculation of the energy storage with a practical thousand tonne weight. Maltby Main’s two shafts were 984 and 991 metres deep. They would store 2.68 and 2.70 MWh respectively.

It should be noted that Gravitricity are serious about 5.000 tonnes weights.

Tickhill & Wadworth Station

This Google Map shows the location of the former Tickhill & Wadworth station.

Note.

  1. Tickhill is in the South and Wadworth is in the North.
  2. Both villages are to the West of the A1 (M)
  3. The SYJR runs in a North-Easterly direction between the villages.

The station appears to have been, where the minor road and the railway cross.

Doncaster iPort

The SYJR then passes through Doncaster iPort.

Note.

  1. The iPort seems to be doing a lot of work for Amazon.
  2. The motorway junction is Junction 3 on the M18.
  3. The SYJR runs North-South on the Western side of the centre block of warehouses.

This is Wikipedia’s introductory description of the iPort.

Doncaster iPort or Doncaster Inland Port is an intermodal rail terminal; a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange, under construction in Rossington, Doncaster at junction 3 of the M18 motorway in England. It is to be connected to the rail network via the line of the former South Yorkshire Joint Railway, and from an extension of the former Rossington Colliery branch from the East Coast Main Line.

The development includes a 171-hectare (420-acre) intermodal rail terminal to be built on green belt land, of which over 50 hectares (120 acres) was to be developed into warehousing, making it the largest rail terminal in Yorkshire; the development also included over 150 hectares (370 acres) of countryside, the majority of which was to remain in agricultural use, with other parts used for landscaping, and habitat creation as part of environment mitigation measures.

It ;looks like the SYJR will be integrated with the warehouses, so goods can be handled by rail.

Onward To Doncaster

After the iPort, the trains can take a variety of routes, some of which go through Doncaster station.

I have some thoughts on the South Yorkshire Joint Railway (SYJR).

Should The Line Be Electrified?

This is always a tricky one, but as there could be a string of freight trains running between Doncaster iPort and Felixstowe, something should be done to cut the carbon emissions and pollution of large diesel locomotives.

Obviously, one way to sort out Felixstowe’s problem, would be to fill in the gaps of East Anglian electrification and to electrify the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line between Peterborough and Doncaster via Lincoln. But I suspect Lincolnshire might object to up to fifteen freight trains per hour rushing through. Even, if they were electric!

I am coming round to the believe that Steamology Motion may have a technology, that could haul a freight  train for a couple of hours.

These proposed locomotives, which are fuelled by hydrogen and oxygen, will have an electric transmission and could benefit from sections of electrification, which could power the locomotives directly.

So sections of electrification along the route, might enable the freight trains to go between Felixstowe and Doncaster iPort without using diesel.

It should be said, that Steamology Motion is the only technology, that I’ve seen, that has a chance of converting a 3-4 MW diesel locomotive to zero carbon emissions.

Many think it is so far-fetched, that they’ll never make it work!

Electrification of the line would also enable the service between Doncaster and Worksop to be run by Class 399 tram-trains, which are pencilled in to be used to the nearby Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

What Rolling Stock Should Be Used?

As I said in the previous section, I feel that Class 399 tram-trains would be ideal, if the line were to be electrified.

Also, if the line between Shireoaks and Kiveton Park stations were to be electrified to Sheffield, this would connect the South Yorkshire Joint Line to Sheffield’s Supertram network.

Surely, one compatible tram-train type across South Yorkshire, would speed up development of a quality public transport system.

A service could also be run using Vivarail’s Pop-up Metro concept, with fast charging at one or two, of any number of the stations.

Conclusion

This seems to be a worthwhile scheme, but I would like to see more thought on electrification of the important routes from Felixstowe and a unified and very extensive tram-train network around Sheffield.

 

July 5, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments