The Anonymous Widower

Strawberries From Dyson

With my supper tonight, I had some strawberries from Marks & Spencer.

I regularly eat strawberries and raspberries, when they are available.

But, these were particularly nice.

So I checked the label and found that they had been grown by Dyson Farming in Lincolnshire.

This page on the Dyson Farming web site describes their Strawberry Production.

  • The aim is to help the UK to be self-sufficient in food and cut air miles associated with imported soft fruit.
  • The strawberries are grown in a 15-acre greenhouse.
  • The greenhouse is heated by waste heat from a nearby anaerobic digester.
  • The greenhouse contains 700,000 strawberry plants.
  • Every year 750 tonnes of strawberries will be produced.
  • The website talks of in future using robotic picking and LED lights to prolong the growing season.

Is this the way strawberries will be farmed in the future? You bet, it will!

Dyson Farming seems to be innovating in the growing and marketing of Barley, Oilseed Rape, Peas, Potatoes and Wheat.

Use Of Carbon Dioxide

I wonder if carbon dioxide captured from a gas-fired power station could be added to the greenhouses to aid the production of strawberries. There certainly are a lot of serious research papers on the Internet looking at the effects of carbon dioxide on strawberry production.

Dyson Farm’s location in the South of Lincolnshire, is probably not a good location, as the large power-stations are in the North of the county.

Robotic Picking

I first saw it said in the 1960s, that at some point in the future no fruit will be grown unless it could be harvested by machines

Dyson states they are going that way with strawberries.

Could it also be one of the reasons for large strawberries, which we increasingly see in the shops, is that they ar easier for robots to pick?

LED Lighting To Prolong The Growing Season

This is surely logical, if you have enough electricity.

The Anaerobic Digesters

Their two anaerobic digesters seem to be able to produce a total of around 5 MW of electricity. This is said on the web site.

The anaerobic digesters produce gas which drives turbines producing enough electricity to power the equivalent of 10,000 homes. This green energy also powers the farming operation.

There are two by-products from this process:

Digestate, which is applied to nearby fields as an organic fertiliser to improve soils and crop yields. It is expected that strawberries will be grown in the digestate in future as well.
Heat is captured and used to warm the glasshouse and encourage the strawberries to grow at a time of year when traditionally it has been too cold.

In some ways, the farming operation is run more like an efficient integrated chemical plant, than a large farm.

Conclusion

Anybody with an interest in farming or the environment should read the Dyson Farming web site.

I can envisage a farmer with a sunny but unproductive twenty-acre field contacting Dyson to install their own strawberry greenhouse.

Farming will certainly change.

I shall certainly, be buying Dyson strawberries again.

And I suspect we all will be buying strawberries grown in this way in a few years.

 

April 16, 2021 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Plans Announced For ‘Low Carbon’ Power Stations In Lincolnshire

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Hundreds of jobs could be created after plans were announced to build two “low carbon” power stations in North Lincolnshire.

Last year, I only had one night away from home and that was in Doncaster, from where I explored North East Lincolnshire and wrote Energy In North-East Lincolnshire, where I made a few predictions.

These are my thoughts on my predictions and other points made in the BBC article.

Keadby 1

Keadby 1 is a 734 MW gas-fired power station, that was commissioned in 1996.

Keadby 2

  • Keadby 2 will be a 840 MW gas-fired power station.
  • It will be possible to add Carbon Capture and Storage technology to Keadby 2 to make the plant net-zero carbon.
  • Keadby 2 will be able to run on hydrogen.

Keadby 2 is under construction.

Keadby 3 And Keadby 4

I predicted that two new power stations would be added to the Keadby cluster.

  • When I wrote the other post, SSE were still designing Keadby 3, but had said it would be a 910 MW station.
  • This would mean that Keadby 1, Keadby 2 and Keadby 3 would have a combined capacity of 2484 MW of electricity.
  • Adding a fourth station, which I called Keadby 4, which I proposed to be the same size as Keadby 3 would give a combined capacity of 3394 MW.

This will be more than the planned capacity of the under-construction Hinckley Point C nuclear power station will be able to generate 3200 MW.

The BBC article says this about the plans for Keadby.

One plant would burn natural gas and use carbon capture technology to remove the CO2 from its emissions. The CO2 would then be transported along pipelines before being securely stored in rocks under the North Sea.

The hydrogen power station would produce “zero emissions at the point of combustion”, its developers claimed.

It looks like Keadby will have the power of a Hinckley Point nuclear station, but running on gas.

Carbon Capture And Storage

From what I read on the sseThermal web site and published in Energy In North-East Lincolnshire, it looks like Keadby 2 and Keadby 3 will use carbon capture and storage and Keadby 4 will use hydrogen.

There are plenty of depleted gas fields connected to the Easington terminal that can be used for carbon-dioxide storage.

The Zero Carbon Humber Network

The Zero Carbon Humber is going to be a gas network along the Humber, that will distribute hydrogen to large industrial users and return carbon dioxide for storage under the North Sea.

This map shows the Zero Carbon Humber pipeline layout.

Note.

  1. The orange line is a proposed carbon dioxide pipeline
  2. The black line alongside it, is a proposed hydrogen pipeline.
  3. Drax, Keadby and Saltend are power stations.
  4. Easington gas terminal is connected to around twenty gas fields in the North Sea.
  5. The terminal imports natural gas from Norway using the Langeled pipeline.
  6. The Rough field has been converted to gas storage and can hold four days supply of natural gas for the UK.

I can see this network being extended, with some of the depleted gas fields being converted into storage for natural gas, hydrogen or carbon dioxide.

Enter The Vikings

This article on The Times is entitled SSE and Equinor’s ‘Blue Hydrogen’ Power Plant Set To Be World First.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The world’s first large-scale power station to burn pure hydrogen could be built in Britain this decade by SSE and Equinor to generate enough low-carbon energy to supply more than a million homes.

This second paragraph explains the working of the production of the blue hydrogen.

The proposed power station near Scunthorpe would burn “blue hydrogen”, produced by processing natural gas and capturing and disposing of waste CO2 in a process that has low but not zero emissions. Equinor is already working on plans for a blue hydrogen production facility at Saltend in the Humber.

This may seem to some to be a wasteful process in that you use energy to produce blue hydrogen from natural gas and then use the hydrogen to generate power, but I suspect there are good reasons for the indirect route.

I believe that green hydrogen will become available from the North Sea from combined wind-turbine electrolysers being developed by Orsted and ITM Power, before the end of the decade.

Green hydrogen because it is produced by electrolysis will have less impurities than blue hydrogen.

Both will be zero-carbon fuels.

According to this document on the TNO web site, green hydrogen will be used for fuel cell applications and blue hydrogen for industrial processes.

Blue hydrogen would be able to power Keadby 2, 3 and 4.

I can see a scenario where Equinor’s blue hydrogen will reduce the price of hydrogen steelmaking and other industrial processes. It will also allow the purer and more costly green hydrogen to be reserved for transport and other fuel cell applications.

Using The Carbon Instead Of Storing

The document on the TNO web site has this surprising paragraph.

Hydrogen produced from natural gas using the so-called molten metal pyrolysis technology is called ‘turquoise hydrogen’ or ‘low carbon hydrogen’. Natural gas is passed through a molten metal that releases hydrogen gas as well as solid carbon. The latter can find a useful application in, for example, car tyres. This technology is still in the laboratory phase and it will take at least ten years for the first pilot plant to be realised.

This technical paper is entitled Methane Pyrolysis In A Molten Gallium Bubble Column Reactor For Sustainable Hydrogen Production: Proof Of Concept & Techno-Economic Assessment.

This may be a few years away, but just imagine using the carbon dioxide from power stations and industrial processes to create a synthetic rubber.

But I believe there is a better use for the carbon dioxide in the interim to cut down the amount that goes into long-term storage, which in some ways is the energy equivalent of landfill except that it isn’t in the least way toxic, as carbon-dioxide is one of the most benign substances on the planet.

Lincolnshire used to be famous for flowers. On a BBC Countryfile program a couple of weeks ago, there was a feature on the automated growing and harvesting of tulips in greenhouses.

There are references on the Internet to  of carbon dioxide being fed to flowers in greenhouses to make them better flowers.

So will be see extensive building of greenhouses on the flat lands of Lincolnshire growing not just flowers, but soft fruits and salad vegetables.

Conclusion

The plans of SSE and Equinor as laid out in The Times and the BBC could create a massive power station cluster.

  • It would be powered by natural gas and hydrogen.
  • Blue hydrogen will be produced by an efficient chemical process.
  • Green hydrogen will be produced offshore in massive farms of wind-turbine/electrolysers.
  • It would generate as much electricity as a big nuclear power station.
  • All carbon-dioxide produced would be either stored or used to create useful industrial products and food or flowers in greenhouses.

Do power stations like this hasten the end of big nuclear power stations?

Probably, until someone finds a way to turn nuclear waste into something useful.

 

April 9, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Batteries Could Save £195m Annually By Providing Reserve Finds National Grid ESO Trial

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

The title gives the findings of the Arenko-led trial.

What Is The National Grid Reserve Service?

It’s all about providing capacity for the National Grid Reserve Service, which is described in this Wikipedia entry. This is the introductory paragraph.

To balance the supply and demand of electricity on short timescales, the UK National Grid has contracts in place with generators and large energy users to provide temporary extra power, or reduction in demand. These reserve services are needed if a power station fails for example, or if forecast demand differs from actual demand. National Grid has several classes of reserve services, which in descending order of response time are: Balancing Mechanism (BM) Start-Up, Short-Term Operating Reserve, Demand Management and Fast Reserve.

The Wikipedia entry is very comprehensive.

A Collateral Benefit

This is a paragraph from the article.

Additionally, unlike CCGT plants, batteries do not need to be producing power in order to provide Reserve as they can charge when there is abundant renewable energy on the grid, and then wait to react when needed. As CCGT’s need to be producing power to provide this service, it can led to renewables switched off in favour of the more carbon intensive fossil fuel generation, to ensure Reserve is available if needed.

The article concludes that Reserve from Storage could help National Grid ESO’s reach their target of net-zero operation by 2025.

Could We Replace CCGT Plants With Batteries?

CCGT or combined cycle gas-turbine power plants are efficient ways to turn natural gas into electricity.

  • Typical sizes are around 800 MW.
  • They are reasonably quick and easy to build.
  • As their fuel comes by a pipeline, they don’t need to be connected to the rail network, unlike biomass and coal power plants.

Because they burn methane, they still emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide, although levels much less than an equivalent coal-fired power station.

In Energy In North-East Lincolnshire, I described the three Keadby power stations.

  • Keadby – In operation – 734 MW
  • Keadby 2 – Under construction – 840 MW
  • Keadby 3 – In planning – 910 MW

In total, these three power stations will have a capacity of 2484 MW.

By comparison, Hinckley Point C will have a capacity of 3200 MW.

Add Keadby 4 and the four CCGTs would provide more electricity, than Hinckley Point C.

I think it would be very difficult to replace a cluster of CCGT gas-fired power stations or a big nuclear power plant with the sort of batteries being deployed today. 2.5 to 3 GW is just so much electricity!

I do believe though, that instead of building a 3200 MW nuclear power plant, you could build a cluster of four 800 MW CCGTs.

But What About The Carbon Dioxide?

Using the Keadby cluster of CCGTs as an example.

  • Keadby 2 and Keadby 3 are being built to be upgraded with carbon-capture technology.
  • The HumberZero gas network will take the carbon dioxide away for  storage in worked-out gas fields in the North Sea.
  • Some carbon dioxide will be fed to salad vegetables and soft fruits in greenhouses, to promote growth.
  • Keadby 2 and Keadby 3 are being built to be able to run on hydrogen.
  • The HumberZero network will also be able to deliver hydrogen to fuel the power stations.

I’m certain we’ll see some of the next generation of wind turbines delivering their energy from hundreds of miles offshore, in the form of hydrogen by means of a pipe.

The technology is being developed by ITM Power and Ørsted, with the backing of the UK government.

  • Redundant gas pipelines can be used, to bring the hydrogen to the shore
  • The engineering of piping hydrogen to the shore is well-understood.
  • Redundant gas pipelines can be used if they already exist.
  • Gas networks can be designed, so that depleted gas fields can be used to store the gas offshore, in times when it is not needed.

But above all gas pipelines cost less than DC  electricity links, normally used to connect turbines to the shore.

I can see very complicated, but extremely efficient networks of wind turbines, redundant gas fields and efficient CCGT power stations connected together by gas pipelines, which distribute natural gas, hydrogen and carbon dioxide as appropriate.

Could Offshore Hydrogen Storage And CCGTs Provide The Reserve Power

Consider.

  • Using a CCGT power station  to provide Reserve Power is well understood.
  • Suppose there is a large worked out gasfield, near to the power station, which has been repurposed to be used for hydrogen storage.
  • The hydrogen storage is filled using hydrogen created by offshore wind turbines, that have built in electrolysers, like those being developed by ITM Power and Ørsted.
  • One of more CCGTs could run as needed using hydrogen from the storage as fuel.
  • A CCGT power station running on hydrogen is a zero-carbon power station.

Effectively, there would be a giant battery, that stored offshore wind energy as hydrogen.

I can see why the UK government is helping to fund this development by ITM Power and Ørsted.

Could We See Cradle-To-Grave Design Of Gas Fields?

I suspect that when a gas field is found and the infrastructured is designed it is all about what is best in the short term.

Suppose a gas field is found reasonably close to the shore or in an area like the Humber, Mersey or Tees Estuaries, where a lot of carbon dioxide is produced by industries like steel, glass and chemicals!

Should these assessments be done before any decisions are made about how to bring the gas ashore?

  • After being worked out could the gas field be used to store carbon dioxide?
  • After being worked out could the gas field be used to store natural gas or hydrogen?
  • Is the area round the gas field suitable for building a wind farm?

Only then could a long-term plan be devised for the gas-field and the infrastructure can be designed accordingly.

I suspect that the right design could save a lot of money, as infrastructure was converted for the next phase of its life.

Conclusion

It does appear that a lot of money can be saved.

But my rambling through the calculations shows the following.

Wind Turbines Generating Hydrogen Give Advantages

These are some of the advantages.

  • Hydrogen can be transported at less cost.
  • Hydrogen is easily stored if you have have a handy worked-out gas field.
  • The technology is well-known.

Hydrogen can then be converted back to electricity in a CCGT power station

The CCGT Power Station Operates In A Net-Zero Carbon Manner

There are two ways, the CCGT station can be run.

  • On natural gas, with the carbon-dioxide captured for use or storage.
  • On hydrogen.

No carbon-dioxide is released to the atmosphere in either mode.

The Hydrogen Storage And The CCGT Power Station Or Stations Is Just A Giant Battery

This may be true, but it’s all proven technology, that can be used as the Power Reserve.

Power Networks Will Get More Complicated

This will be inevitable, but giant batteries from various technologies will make it more reliable.

 

 

 

February 12, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Network Rail’s Big Push

The title of this press release on the Network Rail web site is 11,000 Tonne Tunnel To Be Installed On The Railway In First For UK Engineering.

They have also released this aerial photograph of the tunnel, before it is pushed into place.

Note.

  1. The tunnel, which is just a curved concrete box is in the middle of the picture.
  2. To its left is the double-track Peterborough-Lincoln Line.
  3. Running across the far end of the tunnel are the multiple tracks of the East Coast Main Line.
  4. Peterborough is a few miles to the left, with the North to the right.

This Google Map shows the same area from directly above.

Note.

  1. The double-tracks of the Stamford Lines closest to the South-West corner of the map.  These link the Peterborough-Birmingham Line to Peterborough.
  2. Next to them are the triple tracks of the East Coast Main Line.
  3. The third rail line is the double-track of the Peterborough and Lincoln Line.
  4. The new tunnel can be seen at the top of the map.

This map from Network Rail, shows the new track layout.

The map shows that the Stamford Line will divide with two tracks (1 and 4) going North to Stamford as now. Two new tracks (2 and 3) will dive-under the East Coast Main Line to join the  existing Peterborough and Lincoln Line.

The tracks will run through the tunnel in the pictures, after it has been pushed under the East Coast Main Line.

  • This will mean that the many freight trains between Peterborough and Lincoln will not have to cross the East Coast Main Line on the flat.
  • This in turn could allow faster running of trains on the East Coast Main Line, that are not stopping at Peterborough.

This second Google Map shows the area to the North of the first map.

Note.

  1. The East Coast Main Line in the South-West corner of the map.
  2. The Peterborough and Lincoln Line curving from North-South across the map.
  3. A bridge would appear to be being constructed to take the A15 road over the new tracks, that will go through the tunnel.
  4. Another bridge will be constructed to take Lincoln Road over the new tracks.

It is certainly not a small project.

That is emphasised by this third Google Map, which is to the North of the previous map.

This map would appear to show space for more than a pair of tracks.

It looks to me, that space is being left for future rail-related development.

  • Could it be for a small freight yard, where trains could wait before proceeding?
  • If it were electrified, it could be where freight trains to and from London, switched between electric and diesel power.
  • Could it be passing loops, so that freight trains can keep out of the way of faster passenger trains?
  • Would it be a place for a possible new station?

If it is to be a full rail freight interchange, I can’t find any mention of it on the Internet.

The Big Push

Summarising, what is said in the press release, I can say.

  • Major works to occur over nine days between 16 and 24 January
  • It will be pushed at 150cm per hour.
  • A reduced level of service will operate.
  • It will take several weekends.

I hope it’s being filmed for later broadcasting.

Thoughts On Services

I have a few thoughts on passenger services.

London And Lincoln Via Spalding And Sleaford

Consider.

  • Peterborough and Lincoln is 57 miles.
  • The route has lots of level crossings.
  • Much of the route between Peterborough and Lincoln has an operating speed of 75 mph
  • There is a 50 mph limit through Spalding. Is this to cut down noise?
  • Trains between Peterborough and Lincoln take a shortest time of one hour and twenty-three minutes, with four stops.
  • Peterborough and Lincoln is 57 miles.
  • This is an average speed of 41 mph.

I wonder what time a five-car Class 800 train would take to do the journey.

  • At an average speed of 50 mph, the train would take 68 minutes and save 15 minutes.
  • At an average speed of 60 mph, the train would take 57 minutes and save 26 minutes.
  • At an average speed of 70 mph, the train would take 49 minutes and save 18 minutes.

As the fastest London Kings Cross and Peterborough time is 46 minutes, this would mean that with an average speed of 60 mph, a time between London Kings Cross of one hour and forty-three minutes could be possible.

  • There could be additional time savings by only stopping at Peterborough, Spalding and Sleaford.
  • The Werrington Dive Under looks to be built for speed and could save time.
  • If the 50 mph limit through Spalding is down to noise, battery electric trains like a Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train might be able to go through Spalding faster.
  • Could some track improvements save time between Peterborough and Lincoln?

As the fastest journeys via Newark to Lincoln take one hour and fifty-six minutes, it looks to me, that LNER might be able to save time by going via Spalding and Sleaford after the Werrington Dive Under opens.

London And Skegness

If there were a fast London train from Sleaford, it will take under an hour and thirty minutes between London Kings Cross and Sleaford.

  • Currently, the connecting train between Skegness and Sleaford takes an hour for the forty miles.
  • The service is currently run by Class 158 trains.
  • With some 100 mph trains on the Skegness and Sleaford service, it might be possible to travel between London and Skegness in two hours and fifteen minutes with a change at Sleaford.

There would appear to be possibilities to improve the service between London and Skegness.

Lincoln And Cambridge

I used to play real tennis at Cambridge with a guy, who was a Cambridge expansionist.

He believed that Cambridge needed more space and that it should strongly rcpand high-tech research, development and manufacturing all the way across the fens to Peterborough and beyond.

I listened to his vision with interest and one thing it needed is a four trains per hour express metro between Cambridge and Peterborough.

  • Ely and Peterborough should be electrified for both passenger and freight trains.
  • March and Spalding should be reopened.
  • Cambridge has the space for new services from the North.

Extending the Lincoln and Peterborough service to Cambridge could be a good start.

Conclusion

The Werrington Dive Under will certainly improve services on the East Coast Main Line.

I also feel, that it could considerably improve rail services between London and South Lincolnshire.

It certainly looks, like Network Rail have designed the Werrington Dive Under to handle more traffic than currently uses the route.

Towns like Boston, Skegness, Sleaford and Spalding aren’t going to complain.

 

 

 

 

 

January 11, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Work Begins On New Substation For World’s Longest Electricity Cable Between Denmark and Lincolnshire

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

This is the sub-title.

Britain and Denmark will be able to share enough clean energy to power 1.5 million homes.

The Viking Link is a 1400 MW at 525 KV electricity interconnector between Bicker Fen in Lincolnshire and Revsing in Jutland, Denmark.

This Google Map, shows the location of Bicker Fen, about halfway between Boston and Sleaford.

This second map shows an enlarged view of the Bicker Fen area.

Note.

  1. The village of Bicker in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. In the North-West corner of the map is Bicker Fen Wind Farm.

This third map shows the wind farm.

Note the thirteen wind turbines between the two sub-stations full of wo electrical gubbins.

This sentence from the Wikipedia entry for Bicker, gives more details of the wind farm and the future plans for the area.

North of the main line of 400 kV pylons is the Bicker Fen windfarm consisting of 13 turbines producing 26 MW (2 MW each), enough for 14,000 homes. The construction of the windfarm met some local objection. The windmills sit north from Poplartree Farm and were built in June 2008 by Wind Prospect for EdF. They are of the type REpower MM82, made in Hamburg. Bicker Fen substation is also the proposed landing site for a 1,400 MW power cable from Denmark called Viking Link, as well as the proposed offshore wind farm Triton Knoll.

Triton Knoll is a big wind farm, with a planned capacity of 857 MW and should start producing electricity in the next couple of years.

Conclusion

The Viking Link and Triton Knoll are obviously a good fit, as the UK will be able to exchange energy as required.

But it would appear that there’s one thing missing from this setup – energy storage.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a large battery built at Bicker Fen. Something, like one of Highview Power‘s CRYOBatteries might be ideal.

December 3, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , | 2 Comments