The Anonymous Widower

Have We Missed The Boat On Fracking?

I have just re-read my post from October 2019, which was entitled Fracking Hell…Is It The End?, where these were my conclusions.

  • Fracking for hydrocarbons is a technique that could be past its sell-by date.
  • The use of natural gas will decline.
  • INEOS could see hydrogen as a way of reducing their carbon footprint.
  • The heating on all new buildings should be zero carbon, which could include using hydrogen from a zero-carbon source.
  • There are reasons to think, that electricity from wind-farms creating hydrogen by electrolysis could replace some of our natural gas usage.

So will the Government’s lifting on the ban on fracking make any difference?

The announcement is detailed in this article on the BBC, which is entitled Fracking Ban Lifted, Government Announces.

These are my thoughts.

Fracking Is Not A Quick Fix

My personal view is that to achieve any significant amounts of gas from fracking will take some years, so it is not something that will be available in the short term.

Opposition To Fracking Won’t Help

There are very few inhabitants of the UK, who are enthusiastic about fracking.

Opposition to fracking will make it less likely to be the feasible short term fix we need in the UK.

Suppose There Was An Earthquake Near To A Fracking Site

Fracking also has the problem, that if there were to be a small earthquake near to a site, even if it was very likely to have not been caused by fracking, it would result in massive public uproar, which would shut down all fracking in the UK.

This to me is a big risk!

Would The Jackdaw Oil And Gas Field Be A Medium Term Solution?

I believe that with other gas field developments and imports, Jackdaw could keep us supplied with enough gas until the end of the decade.

Future Renewable Electricity Production

In Will We Run Out Of Power This Winter?, I summarised the likely yearly additions to our offshore wind power capacity in the next few years.

  • 2022 – 3200 MW
  • 2023 – 1500 MW
  • 3024 – 2400 MW
  • 2025 – 6576 MW
  • 2026 – 1705 MW
  • 2027 – 7061 GW

Note.

  1. Ignoring 2022 as it’s going, this totals to 19.2 GW.
  2. Hopefully, by the end of 2027, Hinckley Point C will add another 3.26 GW
  3. According to Wikipedia, there are currently 32 active gas fired combined cycle power plants operating in the United Kingdom, which have a total generating capacity of 28.0 GW.

I think it is not unreasonable to assume that some of the electricity will enable some of our gas-fired power stations to be stood down and/or mothballed.

Gas consumption would be reduced and some power stations would be held in reserve for when the wind was on strike!

Using Hydrogen To Eke Out Our Gas

Consider.

  • In Lime Kiln Fuelled By Hydrogen Shown To Be Viable, I wrote about how hydrogen can be used instead of or with natural gas to fuel a lime kiln.
  • There are other processes, where hydrogen can be used instead of or with natural gas.
  • Using more hydrogen will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted.

Perhaps we should strategically build a few huge hydrogen electrolysers, so that some large industrial users can cut back on their natural gas.

Will Energy Storage Help?

Energy storage’s main use is to mop up all the surplus electricity when demand is low at a low price and sell it back, when demand is high.

If we waste less energy, we will use less gas.

Will District Heating Schemes Help?

Consider.

More schemes like this should be developed, where there is a readily-available source of heat or electricity

Conclusion

As we add more renewables to our energy generation, it appears to me, that our gas usage will decline.

If we were to go fracking, we should have done it a lot earlier, so we can bridge the short term gap.

 

 

 

 

September 22, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

How Clean Energy And Jobs Can Flow From Morocco to The UK

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

  • The article has been written by Simon Morrish, who is the founder and CEO of Xlinks.
  •  The article is about his plans to build a 10.5 GW solar and wind power complex in Morocco and connect it to the UK, by an undersea power cable running up the coasts of Morocco, Spain, Portugal and France.
  • This page on the Xlinks web site gives details of the project.

These are some points from the article.

Relationship With The Exchequer

He makes these points about the projects relationship with the Exchequer.

  • The company will be a net contributor.
  • The project will not require government subsidy of finance.
  • Energy will be delivered under the Contract for Difference (CfD) price of £48/MWh.
  • This compares with a CfD price of £92/MWh for Hinckley Point C.

Simon Morrish also claims they will be energised before Hinckley Point C.

That sounds good to me.

Finance

I wonder if at the CfD price quoted in the  article, could this mean that this is a project that could be financed in the City of London or from a Sovereign Wealth Fund?

As Simon  is confident the project can be completed before Hinckley Point C, I suspect that the finance might be in place, even if it hasn’t been signed off.

The 20GWh/5GW Battery

Simon says this about the battery.

Alongside the consistent output from its solar panels and wind turbines, a 20GWh/5GW battery facility will ensure power generated can be delivered every day, resulting in a dedicated, near-constant source of flexible and predictable renewable energy, designed to complement renewable energy generated in the UK.

In Moroccan Solar-Plus-Wind To Be Linked To GB In ‘Ground-Breaking’ Xlinks Project, I forecast that the battery would be from Highview Power, but given the delivery date before Hinckley Point C, I would suspect that Xlinks have a battery supplier in mind.

Employment Benefits

Simon says this about employment benefits.

Thousands of jobs will be created in Morocco and also at home.

If the project goes ahead, given its size, I don’t think many would disagree with that.

Simon also claims the project will create 1350 permanent jobs by 2024. Sites mentioned include Hunterston, Port Talbot and the North East of England.

Simon’s Conclusion

This is Simon’s conclusion about the project.

I love the idea of clean electricity flowing, all the way from Morocco to the UK. I hope it may inspire other ambitious renewable energy projects too — which, together, will provide clean, secure and stable energy, at affordable prices, for businesses and households to rely on and help to protect this special planet.

If you can, I suggest you read the full article on The Times.

Conclusion

The more I read about this project, the more I tilt towards it being feasble

Engineering is the science of the possible, whereas politics is dreads of the impossible.

September 29, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Finance | , , , , | 1 Comment

Denmark To Build ‘First Energy Island’ In North Sea

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

This is the first three paragraphs

A project to build a giant island providing enough energy for three million households has been given the green light by Denmark’s politicians.

The world’s first energy island will be as big as 18 football pitches (120,000sq m), but there are hopes to make it three times that size.

It will serve as a hub for 200 giant offshore wind turbines.

It seems to follow the bigger-is-better offshore principle, I talked about in Crown Estate’s Auction Of Seabed For Wind Farms Attracts Sky-High Bids.

The BBC article says this about the energy generation of the island and its turbines.

The new island would supply an initial 3 gigawatts, rising to 10 over time.

For comparison the coal-fired Fiddlers Ferry power station on the banks of the Mersey near Widnes was a 2 gigawatt station and the nuclear Hinkley Point C will hopefully generate 3.2 GW.

These are my thoughts.

The Location Of The Island

According to the BBC, the Danes are being secretive about the location of the island, but the BBC does say this about the location of island.

While there is some secrecy over where the new island will be built, it is known that it will be 80km into the North Sea. Danish TV said that a Danish Energy Agency study last year had marked two areas west of the Jutland coast and that both had a relatively shallow sea depth of 26-27m.

According to Wikipedia, Denmark has a sizeable offshore gas industry and I did wonder, if the island would be built near to a large worked out field, so that the field could be used for one of the following.

  • Store hydrogen produced on the island from surplus electricity.
  • Store carbon dioxide produced on the mainland.

But the gas fields are further than 80 km. from the shore being closer to where Danish, German, Dutch and British waters meet.

Hydrogen And The Island

In ITM Power and Ørsted: Wind Turbine Electrolyser Integration, I talked about a joint project between, electrolyser company; ITM Power of the UK and turbine manufacturer and developer; Ørsted of Denmark.

The post was based on this press release from ITM Power.

These were points from the press release.

  • Costs can be saved as hydrogen pipes are more affordable than underwater power cables.
  • It also stated that wind turbines produce DC electricity and that is ideal for driving electrolysers.

So will the island be connected to the mainline by a hydrogen gas line?

  • Cost will play a big part.
  • I don’t like the concept of electrical cables on the sea floor,
  • Gas pipes have been laid everywhere in the North Sea.
  • A hydrogen connection might better support different types of future turbines.
  • If there is a worked-out gas-field nearby, the hydrogen can be stored offshore until it is needed.

I think it is a distinct possibility.

Hydrogen could be generated in one of two ways.

  • Wind turbines based on the ITM Power/Ørsted design could generate the hydrogen directly and a gas network could deliver it to the island.
  • Conventional turbines could generate electricity and an electrical network could deliver it to the island, where a large electrolyser would convert water into hydrogen.

Both methods would be better suited to a hydrogen connection to the mainland.

Connection To Other Islands

The Dutch are already talking about a North Sea Wind Power Hub on their section of the Dogger Bank.

So could we see a network of islands in the Southern North Sea?

  • Some like the Danish island would support a network of wind turbines.
  • Some would store energy as hydrogen in worked-out gas fields.
  • Some would store captured carbon dioxide in worked out gas fields.
  • Some would supply hydrogen to onshore hydrogen and carbon dioxide networks like HumberZero.
  • Islands could be linked by electrical cables or gas pipelines.
  • Gas pipelines would allow both hydrogen or carbon dioxide to be stored or moved

The North Sea could become the largest power station in the continent of Europe, or even the world.

 

 

 

February 6, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sizewell C: Nuclear Power Station Plans For Suffolk Submitted

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

A few points from the article.

  • It will provide enough electricity for six million homes.
  • It will create 25,000 jobs during construction.
  • Sizewell C will be a near replica to Hinckley Point C.
  • It will generate 3.2 GW of electricity.
  • It will be low-carbon electricity.

As a well-read and experienced engineer, I am not against the technologies of nuclear power.

But I do think, by the time it is completed , other technologies like wind and energy storage will be much better value. They will also be more flexible and easier to expand, should we get our energy forecasts wrong.

  • We will see higher power and more efficient wind farms, further out in the North Sea.
  • Massive energy storage systems, based on improved pumped storage technology and using new technology from companies like Highview Power, Zinc8 and others will be built.
  • Wind and solar power an energy storage are much easier to fund and financial institutions like L & G, Aberdeen Standard and Aviva have invested in the past for our future pensions.
  • If you want to go nuclear, small modular reactors, look to be much better value in the longer term.
  • I also don’t like the involvement of the Chinese in the project. History tells me, that all pandemics seem to start in the country!

It is my view that the biggest mistake we made in this country over energy was not to built the Severn Barrage.

My preferred design would be based on the ideas of Sir Frederick Snow.

There would have been a high and a low lake, either side of a central spine, behind an outer barrage.

  • Reversible turbines and pumps between the lakes would both generate and store electricity.
  • When proposed in the 1970s, it would have generated ten percent of the UK’s electricity.
  • A new road and rail crossing of the Severn, could have been built into the outer barrage.
  • A lock would have provided access for shipping.
  • It would have controlled the periodic, regular and often devastating flooding of the River Severn.

Some versions of the original design, even incorporated an international airport.

  • The runways would be in the right direction for the prevailing wind, with regard to take-off and landing.
  • Take-off would be over open sea.
  • High speed trains could speed travellers to and from London on an updated Great Western Railway.

I believe a modern design could be even better.

  • The central spine and the outer barrage would be the foundations for a large wind farm.
  • There would also be a large number of powerful floating wind turbines to the West of the outer barrage in the Severn Estuary.
  • A giant electrolyser on the central spine would produce hydrogen, that could be used to decarbonise the UK’s gas network.
  • A power interconnector could be built into the outer barrage to connect Wales to the nuclear power stations at Hinckley :Point.
  • A cluster of small nuclear reactors could be built on the central spine.
  • In the intervening fifty years, we have probably learned how to build a barrage like this, so that it can benefit birds and other wildlife.

I believe, it will never be too late to build a Severn Barrage.

 

May 27, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments