The Anonymous Widower

Are The Office Of Rail And Road (Or Their Lawyers) Too Risk Averse?

An article in the April 2022 Edition of Modern Railways is entitled Uckfield Third Rail Is NR Priority.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Electrification of the line between Hurst Green and Uckfield in East Sussex and the remodelling of East Croydon are the top Network Rail investment priorities south of the river, according to Southern Region Managing Director John Halsall. He told Modern Railways that third rail is now the preferred option for the Uckfield Line, as it would allow the route to use the pool of third-rail EMUs in the area. This is in preference to the plan involving overhead electrification and use of dual-voltage units put forward by then-Network Rail director Chris Gibb in his 2017 report (p66, September 2017 issue).

NR has put forward options for mitigating the safety risk involved with the third-rail system, including switching off the power in station areas when no trains are present and section isolation systems to protect track workers. ‘The Office of Rail and Road hasn’t yet confirmed third rail would be acceptable, but we are working out ways in which it could be’ Mr Halsall told Modern Railways. He added that bi-mode trains with batteries were not a feasible option on this line, as the 10-car trains in use on the route would not be able to draw sufficient charge between London and Hurst Green to power the train over the 25 miles on to Uckfield.

As an Electrical Engineer, who’s first real job in industry at fifteen was installing safety guards on guillotines nearly sixty years ago, I don’t believe that an acceptable solution can’t be devised.

But as at Kirkby on Merseyside, the Office Of Rail And Road, do seem to be stubbornly against any further third-rail installations in the UK.

I wonder what, the Office Of Rail And Road would say, if Transport for London wanted to extend an Underground Line for a few miles to serve a new housing development? On previous experience, I suspect Nanny would say no!

But is it more than just third-rail, where the Office Of Rail And Road is refusing to allow some technologies on the railway?

Battery-Electric Trains

I first rode in a viable battery-electric train in February 2015, but we still haven’t seen any other battery-electric trains in service on UK railways running under battery power.

Does the Office Of Rail And Road, believe that battery-electric trains are unsafe, with the lithium-ion batteries likely to catch fire at any time?

Hydrogen-Powered Trains

The hydrogen-powered Alstom Coradia iLint has been in service in Germany since September 2018.

But progress towards a viable hydrogen train has been very slow in the UK, with the only exception being demonstrations at COP26.

Are The Office Of Rail And Road still frightened of the Hindenburg?

Although hydrogen-powered buses have been allowed.

A Tale From Lockheed

When Metier Management Systems were sold to Lockheed, I worked for the American company for a couple of years.

I met some of their directors and they told some good American lawyer jokes, such was their disgust for the more money-grabbing of the American legal profession.

At the time, Flight International published details of an innovative landing aid for aircraft, that had been developed by Lockheed. It was a suitcase-sized landing light, that could be quickly setup up on a rough landing strip, so that aircraft, like a Hercules, with an outstanding rough field performance could land safely.

I read somewhere that a Flying Doctor service or similar had acquired some of these landing aids, so they could provide a better service to their clients.

But Lockheed’s lawyers were horrified, that they would get sued, if someone was seriously injured or even died, whilst the aid was being used.

Apparently, in the end, the aids were marked Not For Use In The USA.

Conclusion

I do wonder, if third-rail electrification, battery-electric trains and hydrogen-powered trains have come up against a wall created by over-cautious lawyers.

 

May 6, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gilbarco Veeder-Root Prepares For The Hydrogen Transport Revolution

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Gilbarco Veeder-Root today announces a strategic mission to become a pioneer in enabling future hydrogen-powered transportation.

It is making available a suite of compression, dispensing and software solutions, allowing the creation of a network of renewable or low-carbon hydrogen refuelling stations around the world.

Two statements from the article.

  • According to most industry experts, hydrogen is better suited for heavy-duty commercial vehicles than pure electric power, due to the rapid refuelling time, their weight, and duty cycles.
  • Hydrogen fuel cell trucks and buses are currently being developed by most of the leading global truck manufacturers and it’s predicted that 15% of commercial fleets will be hydrogen powered by 2030.

It looks like Gilbarco Veeder-Root have decided to join the hydrogen party.

I find this significant, as having a good hydrogen refuelling network, that operators know they can trust, will surely encourage them to decarbonise, by changing to hydrogen fuel.

May 5, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

A Planned Trip To Belfast

I’m thinking about going over to Belfast for a couple of days to have a look at the transport systems in the city and the wider Northern Ireland.

I have several things, I would like to do.

  • Ride in the latest Wrightbus hydrogen and battery-electric buses.
  • Ride in a Glider. I also intend to go to Pau to ride in a hydrogen-powered version of these Van Hool Equicity articulated buses, but Belfast is nearer.
  • Perhaps, if I have enough time, I’ll visit a few touristy bits.
  • Do a bit of research into offshore wind farms in Northern Ireland.

Has anybody got any advice?

 

April 25, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

West Midlands To Run ‘Largest Hydrogen Bus Fleet’ Due To New Funding

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

These are a few points from the article.

  • The region is set to get 124 new hydrogen vehicles.
  • The West Midlands is set to run the UK’s largest hydrogen bus fleet after securing new funding.
  • The region will get 124 new buses after it won £30m from the Department for Transport to fund a switchover.
  • Twenty four of the new vehicles will be articulated tram-style buses set to run on a new bus priority route between Walsall, Birmingham and Solihull.

Does the last statement mean, that they will buying a hundred double-decker hydrogen buses?

A few thoughts.

Riding Birmingham’s New Hydrogen-Powered Buses

These are a few pictures from Riding Birmingham’s New Hydrogen-Powered Buses.

They were excellent buses from Wrightbus.

The Tram Style Buses

The Belgian firm; Van Hool have a product called Exquicity. This video shows them working in Pau in France.

These tram buses run on rubber types and are powered by hydrogen.

Similar buses running in Belfast are diesel-electric.

Could these be what the article refers to as tram-style buses?

It should be noted, that the West Midlands and Pau have bought their hydrogen filling stations from ITM Power in Sheffield.

So has there has been a spot of the Entente Cordiale between Pau and the West Midlands?

Will The West Midlands Buy The Other Hundred Buses From Wrightbus?

There doesn’t seem to be any problems on the web about the initial fleet, so I suspect they will.

It should also be noted that Wrightbus make the following types of zero-emission buses.

These would surely enable the West Midlands to mic-and-match according to their needs.

 

March 29, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments

UK On Track To Reach 4,000 Zero Emission Bus Pledge With £200 Million Boost

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from the Government.

These are the main points of the press release.

  • Nearly 1,000 more zero-emission buses to be funded in towns and cities across the country, bringing the total funded in England to 2000 so far under this government.
  • A further 600 zero-emission buses have been funded in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Comes as consultation launched on ending sale of all new non-zero emission buses from 2025 to 2032.
  • Government continues taking unprecedented action to hit net zero and level up transport across the country.

Areas to get the new buses include.

  • Blackpool
  • Greater Manchester
  • Hertfordshire
  • Norfolk
  • North Yorkshire
  • Nottingham
  • Oxfordshire
  • Portsmouth
  • South Yorkshire
  • West Midlands
  • West Yorkshire
  • York

I would also like to see the government fund trials for the conversion of suitable buses to zero carbon. I certainly believe that London’s New Routemaster buses could be converted to hydrogen.

 

 

March 27, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , | 7 Comments

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Trucks And H2 Infrastructure Could Benefit From New Legislation

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

Politicians from both main parties in the United States are promoting a Hydrogen for Trucks Act, to support the conversion of domestic trucking from diesel to hydrogen.

These are the three main parts of the Act

  • Provide incentives for adopting hydrogen fuel cell trucks by covering the difference in cost between them and conventional diesel-powered vehicles.
  • Encourage tandem fueling station and vehicle deployment, to ensure that one doesn’t need to exist before the other is in place, solidifying the overall fueling infrastructure.
  • Collect data and establish benchmarks for various forms of fleet operation, helping to accelerate deployment by incentivizing private investment.

We could do with an Act like this in the UK.

But whereas the United States would start with hydrogen for trucks, we would probably start with hydrogen for buses.

March 25, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Aberdeen City Council And BP Sign Joint Venture Agreement To Develop City Hydrogen Hub

The title of this post, is the same as this article on Renewable Energy Magazine.

The title is a good description of the project and these are a few details.

  • Production will start in 2024.
  • The hub will produce 800 kilograms of green hydrogen per day.
  • That will be enough for 25 buses and 25 other vehicles.
  • Further investment would provide hydrogen for rail, freight and marine uses.

I don’t think this is a small project, as they are talking about potentially exporting the hydrogen.

These are a few thoughts.

Electricity Supply

In Can The UK Have A Capacity To Create Five GW Of Green Hydrogen?, I said the following.

Ryze Hydrogen are building the Herne Bay electrolyser.

  • It will consume 23 MW of solar and wind power.
  • It will produce ten tonnes of hydrogen per day.

The electrolyser will consume 552 MWh to produce ten tonnes of hydrogen, so creating one tonne of hydrogen needs 55.2 MWh of electricity.

Scaling those figures mean that to create 800 kilograms of hydrogen will need 44.16 MWh of electricity or if it is a 24/7 operation, the electrolyser will need a feed of 1.84 MW.

Currently, there are two offshore wind farms close to Aberdeen.

That would provide enough electricity to provide a starter of under 2 MW.

I can see a lot more wind farms off the coasts around Aberdeen, as on all my visits to the city it has been windy and there is a lot of empty sea.

I don’t think providing enough renewable electricity for a very large electrolyser in Aberdeen will be a problem.

Hydrogen Exports

I would expect, that the hydrogen would go to Germany, as the Germans are backing BP in their wind farm ambitions and they are building a large hydrogen import terminal at Wilhelmshaven on the North-West German coast. The distance for a ship is under 500 miles.

BP’s Future Hydrogen Plans

This is a quote from Louise Kingham CBE, BP’s UK head of country and senior vice president for Europe.

Partnering with cities and corporates as they shape their paths to net zero is a core part of BP’s strategy. BP expects to partner with 10-15 cities globally by 2030 to provide innovative, integrated, ‎and decarbonized energy solutions at scale to help them achieve their goals of net zero emissions. BP also aims to capture 10% of the low carbon hydrogen market in key geographies by 2030.

BP is investing across all the energy transition growth areas in the UK. In fact, we have committed to spend £2 in the UK for every £1 generated here out to the middle of this decade.

“Today’s announcement is evidence of that commitment in action and is supported by other ambitious plans to produce clean energy from UK offshore wind, develop carbon capture in Teesside and grow the country’s electric vehicle charging network.

BP would be in part using their expertise in providing oil and gas to the production and delivery of hydrogen to end users, be they large or small.

I can also see BP repurposing a few gas and oil production platforms into offshore hydrogen production hubs, as this could be a better financial route, rather than demolishing the platforms.

Conclusion

Birmingham is building a hydrogen hub at Tyseley Energy Park to fuel hydrogen buses and other vehicles.

Where is the plan for London’s hydrogen hubs?

 

 

March 12, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

106 Solaris Zero Emission Buses Headed To ÖBB Postbus’ Fleet In Austria

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

This is the body of the story.

Up to 106 zero emission buses are headed to Austria, where ÖBB Postbus is going to deploy them starting from 2022 – 2025. Solaris has signed another framework agreement with the Austrian bus company Österreichische Postbus AG. It stipulates a possibility to deliver up to 106 battery-electric and hydrogen buses that would be deployed throughout Austria. The models offered include Urbino 9 LE electric and Urbino 12 hydrogen buses.

Solaris Bus and Coach is a Polish company, that is a subsidiary of CAF.

March 5, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Norfolk Wind Farms Offer ‘Significant Benefit’ For Local Economy

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

This is a comprehensive article, which looks at the benefits of the huge Norfolk Boreas and Norfolk Vanguard wind farms will have to the economy of Norfolk.

The last section is devoted to Norfolk Nimby; Raymond Pearce.

This is the section.

Following the re-approval of the decision by the government, Mr Pearce says he is considering a new appeal over what he calls “a very poor decision”.

He is also sceptical of claims the two new wind farms will bring the economic gains promised by Vattenfall.

“It’s renewable energy at any cost and the cost here is to the environment in Norfolk,” he says.

“I don’t blame them for being positive about it, it’s their industry but they’re not looking at it holistically.”

He says he is not against renewable energy but thinks a better plan is needed to connect the offshore windfarms and minimise the number of cables and substations onshore.

It’s his money if he appeals, but we do need more wind, solar and other zero-carbon energy to combat global warming and its effects like the encroachment of the sea around Norfolk.

I believe, that building wind farms off the coast of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk is a good move, as in the future, if we have spare electricity, it will be easy to export energy to Europe, through existing interconnectors.

But I do agree with him, that a better plan is needed to connect the offshore windfarms and minimise the number of cables and substations onshore.

A Norfolk Powerhouse

This map from Vattenfall, the developer of the two wind farms, shows the position of the farms and the route of the cable to the shore.

Note.

  1. The purple line appears to be the UK’s ten mile limit.
  2. Norfolk Boreas is outlined in blue.
  3. Norfolk Vanguard is outlined in orange.
  4. Cables will be run in the grey areas.
  5. Both wind farms are planned to have a capacity of 1.8 GW

Landfall will be just a few miles to the South of the Bacton gas terminal.

Bacton Gas Terminal

Bacton gas terminal is much more than a simple gas terminal.

With the need to decarbonise, I can’t help feeling that the Bacton gas terminal is very much on the decline and the site will need to be repurposed in the next few years.

Blending Hydrogen With Natural Gas

If you blend a proportion of hydrogen into natural gas, this has two beneficial effects.

  • Gas used in domestic and industrial situations will emit less carbon dioxide.
  • In the near future we will be replacing imported natural gas with hydrogen.

The hydrogen could be produced by a giant electrolyser at Bacton powered by the electricity from the two Norfolk wind farms.

At the present time, a research project call HyDeploy is underway, which is investigating the blending of hydrogen into the natural gas supply.

  • Partners include Cadent, Northern Gas Networks, the Health and Safety Executive, Keele University and ITM Power and Progessive Energy.
  • A first trial at Keele University has been hailed as a success.
  • It showed up to twenty percent of hydrogen by volume can be added to the gas network without the need to change any appliances or boilers.

Larger trials are now underway.

A Giant Electrolyser At Bacton

If hydrogen were to be produced at Bacton by a giant electrolyser, it could be used or distributed in one of the following ways.

  • Blended with natural gas for gas customers in Southern England.
  • Stored in a depleted gas field off the coast at Bacton. Both Baird and Deborah gas fields have been or are being converted to gas storage facilities, connected to Bacton.
  • Distributed by truck to hydrogen filling stations and bus and truck garages.
  • Greater Anglia might like a hydrogen feed to convert their Class 755 trains to hydrogen power.
  • Sent by a short pipeline to the Port of Great Yarmouth and possibly the Port of Lowestoft.
  • Exported to Europe, through one of the interconnectors.

Note.

  1. If the electrolyser were to be able to handle the 3.6 GW of the two wind farms, it would be the largest in the world.
  2. The size of the electrolyser could be increased over a few years to match the output of the wind farms as more turbines are installed offshore.
  3. There is no reason, why the electrical connection between Bacton and the landfall of the wind farm cable couldn’t be offshore.

If ITM Power were to supply the electrolyser, it would be built in the largest electrolyser factory in the World, which is in Sheffield in Yorkshire.

A Rail Connection To The Bacton Gas Terminal

This Google Map shows the area between North Walsham and the coast.

Note.

  1. North Walsham is in the South-Western corner of the map.
  2. North Walsham station on the Bittern Line is indicated by the red icon.
  3. The Bacton gas terminal is the trapezoidal-shaped area on the coast, at the top of the map.

I believe it would be possible to build a small rail terminal in the area with a short pipeline connection to Bacton, so that hydrogen could be distributed by train.

How Much Hydrogen Could Be Created By The Norfolk Wind Farms?

In The Mathematics Of Blending Twenty Percent Of Hydrogen Into The UK Gas Grid, I said the following.

Ryze Hydrogen are building the Herne Bay electrolyser.

  • It will consume 23 MW of solar and wind power.
  • It will produce ten tonnes of hydrogen per day.

The electrolyser will consume 552 MWh to produce ten tonnes of hydrogen, so creating one tonne of hydrogen needs 55.2 MWh of electricity.

Each of the Norfolk wind farms, if they were working flat out would produce 43.2 GWh  of electricity in a day.

Dividing the two figures gives a daily production rate of 782.6 tonnes of hydrogen per day.

But what happens if the wind doesn’t blow?

This is where the gas storage in the Baird, Deborah and other depleted gas fields comes in.In times of maximum wind, hydrogen is stored for use when the wind doesn’t blow.

Conclusion

I believe a plan like this, would be much better for Norfolk, the UK and the whole planet.

Using the existing gas network to carry the energy away from Norfolk, could mean that the electricity connection across Norfolk could be scaled back.

 

 

February 17, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Does London Need High Capacity Bus Routes To Extend Crossrail?

If Crossrail has a major problem, it is that some areas of the capital will find it difficult to access the new line.

Up to the age of sixteen, I used to live half-way between Oakwood and Cockfosters stations on the Piccadilly Line.

There are a large number of people who live along the Northern reaches of the Piccadilly Line, who might want to use Crossrail to perhaps go to Heathrow or places in East London.

But the journey will need a double change as there is no interchange between the Piccadilly Line and Crossrail.

I suspect that many will link to Crossrail by taking the Piccadilly Line to Wood Green, Turnpike Lane or Manor House and then get a 141 bus to Moorgate. It is a route, I use if I want to go to Southgate or Cockfosters from my house, which has a 141 stop opposite.

But then as a child to go to Harringay, where my father had an uncle, my mother would use a 641 trolley bus from Wood Green or Turnpike Lane.

Do people follow the public transport habits of their parents?

I know I do!

My father never went on a deep tube. As he several times mentioned the terrible Bank station bombing in the Blitz, which killed 56 people, I always thought that was his problem. But now living as I do along the Northern and Northern City Lines, I suspect it was more to do with air quality, as we were or are both bad breathers.

I suspect that when Crossrail opens, the 141 bus will be heavily used by travellers going between the Northern reaches of the Piccadilly Line and Crossrail at Moorgate.

The 141 bus goes between London Bridge station and Palmers Green and it has a route length of about nine miles.

Currently, buses run every fifteen minutes or so, but I doubt it will be enough in future as Transport for London are rerouting the closely-related 21 bus.

I suspect any route seen as an extension of Crossrail needs to have the following characteristics.

  • High frequency of perhaps a bus every ten minutes.
  • Interior finish on a par with the Class 345 trains.
  • Wi-fi and phone charging.

I would also hope the buses were carbon-free. Given that some of these routes could be quite long, I would suspect hydrogen with its longer range could be better.

Other Routes

According to me, the 141 bus route needs improvement!

But how many other routes could need similar improvement?

February 16, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 5 Comments