The Anonymous Widower

Could Rolls-Royce SMRs Be The Solution To Europe’s Gas Shortage?

Of all the offshore wind farms, that I’ve looked at recently, I find Magnora’s ScotWind N3 wind farm the most interesting.

I wrote about it in ScotWind N3 Offshore Wind Farm.

I said this.

In any design competition, there is usually at least one design, that is not look like any of the others.

In the successful bids for the ScotWind leases, the bid from Magnora ASA stands out.

  • The company has an unusual home page on its offshore wind web site.
  • This page on their web site outlines their project.
  • It will be technology agnostic, with 15MW turbines and a total capacity of 500MW
  • It will use floating offshore wind with a concrete floater
  • It is estimated, that it will have a capacity factor of 56 %.
  • The water depth will be an astonishing 106-125m
  • The construction and operation will use local facilities at Stornoway and Kishorn Ports.
  • The floater will have local and Scottish content.
  • The project will use UK operated vessels​.
  • Hydrogen is mentioned.
  • Consent is planned for 2026, with construction starting in 2028 and completion in 2030.

This project could serve as a model for wind farms all round the world with a 500 MW power station, hydrogen production and local involvement and construction.

I very much like the idea of a concrete floater, which contains a huge electrolyser and gas storage, that is surrounded by an armada of giant floating wind turbines.

These are my thoughts.

Floating Concrete Structures

To many, they may have appear to have all the buoyancy of a lead balloon, but semi-submersible platforms made from concrete have been used in the oil and gas industry for several decades.

Kishorn Yard in Scotland was used to build the 600,000-tonne concrete Ninian Central Platform,in 1978. The Ninian Central Platform still holds the record as the largest movable object ever created by man.

The Ninian Central Platform sits on the sea floor, but there is no reason why a semi-submersible structure can’t be used.

Electrolysers

There is no reason, why a large electrolyser, such as those made by Cummins, ITM Power or others can’t be used, but others are on the way.

  • Bloom Energy are working on high temperature electrolysis, which promises to be more efficient.
  • Torvex Energy are developing electrolysis technology that used sea water, rather than more expensive purified water.

High Temperature Electrolysis

High temperature electrolysis needs a heat source to work efficiently and in Westinghouse And Bloom Energy To Team Up For Pink Hydrogen, I described how Bloom  Energy propose to use steam from a large nuclear power station.

Offshore Nuclear Power

I’ve never heard of offshore nuclear power, but it is not a new idea.

In 1970, a company called Offshore Power Systems was created and it is introduced in its Wikipedia entry like this.

Offshore Power Systems (OPS) was a 1970 joint venture between Westinghouse Electric Company, which constructed nuclear generating plants, and Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock, which had recently merged with Tenneco, to create floating nuclear power plants at Jacksonville, Florida.

Westinghouse’s reactor was a 1.150 MW unit, which was typical of the time, and is very similar in size to Sizewell B.

The project was cancelled before the reactors were towed into position.

Nuclear Knowledge Has Improved

Consider.

  • In the fifty years since Offshore Power Systems dabbed their toes in the water of offshore nuclear power, our knowledge of nuclear systems and engineering has improved greatly.
  • The offshore oil and gas industry has also shown what works impeccably.
  • The floating offshore wind industry looks like it might push the envelop further.
  • There has been only one nuclear accident at Fukushima, where the sea was part of the problem and that disaster taught us a lot.
  • There have been a large number of nuclear submarines built and most reached the planned end of their lives.
  • Would a small modular nuclear reactor, be safer than a large nuclear power plant of several GW?

I would suggest we now have the knowledge to safely build and operate a nuclear reactor on a proven semi-submersible platform, built from non-rusting concrete.

An Offshore Wind Farm/Small Modular Reactor Combination Producing Hydrogen

Consider.

  • A typical floating offshore wind farm is between one and two gigawatts.
  • A Rolls-Royce small modular reactor is sized to produce nearly 0.5 GW.
  • The high temperature electrolyser will need some heat to achieve an optimum working temperature.
  • Spare electricity can be used to produce hydrogen.
  • Hydrogen can be stored platform.
  • Hydrogen can be sent ashore using existing gas pipes.
  • Hydrogen could even be blended with natural gas produced offshore to create a lower-carbon fuel.
  • It would also be possible to decarbonise nearby offshore infrastructure.

A balance between wind and nuclear power can be obtained, which would provide a steady output of energy.

Conclusion

There are a large numbers of possibilities, to locate a Rolls-Royce small modular reactor close to a wind farm to use high temperature electrolysis to create green hydrogen, which can be used in the UK or exported through the gas network.

June 23, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nuclear-Enabled Hydrogen – How It Helps To Reach Net Zero

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

Nuclear enabled hydrogen is zero carbon, has low cost energy input, is large scale and offers co-location synergy and energy system connectivity.

With the revival of interest in nuclear energy, interest is growing in the potential for nuclear-enabled hydrogen, otherwise sometimes known as ‘pink’ hydrogen, to meet the anticipated demand for hydrogen at scale.

The article is certainly a must-read.

Topics covered include.

  • Co-location of pink hydrogen production with industrial clusters, where heat can also be provided.
  • The production of hydrogen on a large scale.
  • The use of high temperature electrolysis, using steam from the nuclear plant.

I particularly like the idea of combining a small modular nuclear reactor with high temperature electrolysis to generate hydrogen for local industry like a steelworks or chemical plant.

June 17, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vast Australian Renewable Energy Site Powers BP’s Ambitions

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

BP is to lead the development of a $36 billion wind, solar and hydrogen project in Western Australia in its latest foray into green energy.

The oil company has bought a 40.5 per cent stake in the Asian Renewable Energy Hub in the eastern Pilbara region and will become operator of the project, one of the biggest such developments globally.

The Wikipedia entry for the Asian Renewable Energy Hub, starts like this.

The Asian Renewable Energy Hub (AREH) is a proposal to create one of the world’s largest renewable energy plant in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. It was first proposed in 2014, with plans for the project concept changing several times since then. As of November 2020, the project developers Intercontinental Energy, CWP Global, Vestas and Pathway Investments were planning to build a mixture of wind power and solar energy power generators which would generate up to 26 gigawatts of power.

Up to 1,743 wind turbines of 290 metres (950 ft) in height would be accommodated in 668,100 hectares (1,651,000 acres) of land, and 18 arrays of solar panels each generating 600 megawatts would cover 1,418 hectares (3,500 acres). It is to be located in the Shire of East Pilbara, about 30 km (19 mi) inland from 80 Mile Beach, with the nearest settlement on the map being Mandora Station. The total size of the scheme would be about 666,030 ha (1,645,800 acres).

It is a gigantic project and this Google Map of Western Australia shows its location.

It is no more than a pimple on the huge area of Western Australia.

I have my thoughts about BP getting involved with this project.

The Power Of Research

Around 1970, I spent four years in ICI applying mathematical methods to some of their processes, that were in research or development. I also worked for a time on their hydrogen plants. Some of the projects I heard about, were pretty wacky and some of these appear to have never been commercialised.

When I left ICI, I built a few mathematical models for other research organisations.

So I do wonder, if BP have found something, that will enable the process of making hydrogen from water a lot more efficient. There is an American startup called Bloom Energy, who have teamed up with Westinghouse to use steam from the nuclear reactor to do electrolysis more efficiently at a high temperature.

I wrote about this partnership in Westinghouse And Bloom Energy To Team Up For Pink Hydrogen, where Bloom Energy Vice President of Hydrogen Business Rick Beuttel, is quoted as saying this.

We are proud Westinghouse has turned to Bloom and our solid oxide technology to supercharge the clean hydrogen economy. Solid oxide technology is well suited for nuclear applications, efficiently harnessing steam to further improve the economics of hydrogen production. High temperature electrolysis is already garnering attention and accolades as a cost-effective and viable solution to create low-cost, clean hydrogen, which is critical to meeting aggressive decarbonization goals.

It sounds that by integrating the nuclear power station and the electrolyser, there are cost savings to be made.

Why not use solar power to create steam, which is called solar thermal energy and is used in various hot places in the world and then use high temperature electrolysis?

I suspect that BP are up to something, that is very similar to Fortescue Future Industries in the Australian company’s back yard.

So will they be selling the hydrogen to FFI, so they can market it together all over the world?

This BP deal is one to watch.

June 16, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , | Leave a comment

Westinghouse And Bloom Energy To Team Up For Pink Hydrogen

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Hydrogen Fuel News.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Westinghouse Electric Company and Bloom Energy Corporation have announced that they have signed a letter of intent together for the production of pink hydrogen in the commercial nuclear power market.

Note.

  1. Westinghouse Electric Company is an American builder of nuclear power stations.
  2. Bloom Energy Corporation make a solid-oxide electrolyser.
  3. Pink hydrogen is green hydrogen produced using nuclear power.

Figures on the Bloom web site, claim that their electrolysers could be upwards of twelve percent more efficient than PEM electrolysers, as produced by companies like ITM Power.

Bloom Energy Vice President of Hydrogen Business Rick Beuttel, is quoted as saying this.

We are proud Westinghouse has turned to Bloom and our solid oxide technology to supercharge the clean hydrogen economy. Solid oxide technology is well suited for nuclear applications, efficiently harnessing steam to further improve the economics of hydrogen production. High temperature electrolysis is already garnering attention and accolades as a cost-effective and viable solution to create low-cost, clean hydrogen, which is critical to meeting aggressive decarbonization goals.

It sounds that by integrating the nuclear power station and the electrolyser, there are cost savings to be made.

Conclusion

I think this could turn out to be a significant development.

Some countries, like Iceland, Indonesia, New Zealand, Philippines and the United States, who can generate large amounts of electricity and steam from geothermal energy, Bloom’s technology must surely be a way of electrolysing hydrogen.

June 11, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments