The Anonymous Widower

Small Nuclear Power Plants To Replace Gas In Quest For Net Zero

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

I was very much involved in the writing of project management software in the last three decades of the last century and if there’s one thing we’re generally good at in the UK, it’s complex project management.

Usually problems arise because of political or ignorant senior management meddling.

Our Energy Saviours

I believe our two energy saviours will be floating offshore wind and small nuclear reactors (SMRs) and both need good project management to be built successfully on production lines.

So I don’t see any reason, why we can’t build large numbers of floating offshore wind farms to supply our electricity.

They are also complimentary, in that the fleet of SMRs back up the wind.

Floating Wind First

Floating wind is likely to be developed at scale first, as certifying anything involving nuclear will take an inordinate time.

The electricity from floating wind farms will keep us going, but it is also starting to develop a nice line in exports.

This press release from Drax is entitled Britain Sending Europe Power Lifeline – Report, where this is the sub-title.

For the first time in over a decade, Britain became a net exporter of electricity to its European neighbours, making around £1.5bn for the economy in three months.

Note.

  1. The report was written by Imperial College.
  2. Two new interconnectors; Viking Link and NeuConnect between the UK and Europe are under construction.
  3. Several large wind farms are under construction and will be commissioned in 2023/24 and could add over 4 GW to UK electricity production.

Exports will only get better.

A Sprint For Wind

So we must have a sprint for wind, which will then provide the cash flow to allow the SMRs to roll in.

Or will that be too much for the ultra-greens, who would object to cash-flow from GWs of wind being used to fund SMRs?

November 26, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

National Grid’s North Sea Link Strengthens Electricity Supply And Repays Its Carbon Cost In Just Six Months

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

These are three bullet points from the press release.

  • World’s longest subsea electricity cable has been in operation since Oct 2021.
  • 5.7 terawatt (TWh) hours of clean power have been shared between GB and Norway, strengthening security of supply for consumers in both countries.
  • It has saved 800,000 tonnes of carbon in the first year, paying off its carbon cost after only six months of operation.

This must surely be considered a good start.

These two paragraphs describe the operation in the first year.

During its first year of operation, the link has imported 4.6 TWh of clean electricity – enough to power 1.5 million British homes for a year.

North Sea Link has also exported 1.1 TWh to Norway, demonstrating the vital role that interconnectors play in strengthening energy security and maximising the benefits of clean energy sources for consumers across the UK and Europe.

In The Monster In The Mountains That Could Save Europe’s Winter, I describe what makes the North Sea Link so important.

It gives the UK access to the Norwegian Bank Of Electricity or Ulla-Førre, which is a complex of five hydroelectric power stations and a massive lake in the Norwegian mountains to the East of Stavanger.

  • The power stations have a total generating capacity of 2.1 GW.
  • Lake Blåsjø is able to hold enough water to generate 7800 GWh of electricity.
  • Ulla-Førre can also supply electricity to Germany, through the 1.4 GW NordLink.

If Ulla-Førre has a problem, it is that if Norwegian weather is dry, the filling of Lake Blåsjø could be difficult, which is where the interconnector comes into its own, as excess UK wind power or the 1,185 MW Hartlepool nuclear power station, can be used to send electricity to Norway for storage.

In An Update To Will We Run Out Of Power This Winter?, I predicted we will add the following capacity to our renewable generation in the next three years.

  • 2023 – 2925 MW
  • 3024 – 3726 MW
  • 2025 – 6476 MW

This is a total of 13,127 MW.

As a Control Engineer, I can see the following happening.

  • Several of the UK’s gas-fired power stations will be mothballed.
  • Some of the UK’s gas-fired power stations will be fitted with advanced control systems so they can supply more precise amounts of electricity.
  • Some UK electricity is stored in Ulla-Førre for onward sale to Germany.
  • Some UK electricity is stored in Ulla-Førre for withdrawal back to the UK, when needed.

One of Ulla-Førre’s main tasks could be to ensure that no UK electricity is wasted.

Conclusion

With all these wind generated electricity and electricity transfers, the Crown Estate, National Grid and the Treasury should be coining it.

The Germans are already building the 1.4 GW NeuConnect between the Isle of Grain and Wilhelmshaven to import more electricity.

But I do believe that another interconnector will be needed.

 

 

 

October 20, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Can We Move The Equilibrium Point Of The Energy Market?

Equilibrium In Systems

As a Control Engineer, I believe that most systems eventually end up in a state of equilibrium.

How many football batches have you watched between two evenly-matched teams that have ended, where the statistics are even and the match has ended in a nil-nil draw or a win by one goal.

Now suppose one manager makes an inspired substitution, one important player gets injured or one player gets sent off.

One team will have an advantage, the statistics will no longer be even and one team will probably win.

The equilibrium point will have been shifted.

Zopa’s Stable Peer-to-Peer Lending System

I used Zopa’s peer-to-peer lending system for several years and found it a very stable system, that over the years paid a steady return of between four and five percent before tax.

I even developed a method to maximise my savings income, which I wrote about in The Concept Of Hybrid Banking.

It was a sad day for me, when Zopa closed its ground-breaking peer-to-peer lending system.

As a Control Engineer, I believe that Zopa’s strength was a well-written computerised algorithm, that matched lenders and borrowers and spread the risk.

  • There was no bias in the system, introduced by personal prejudices.
  • The algorithm was agnostic and judged all borrowers on their profiles and credit ratings alone.
  • Money was allocated under fair rules for borrowers.
  • I never borrowed from Zopa, but from my experience of owning half of a finance company, their terms were the most customer-friendly I’ve ever seen.

Someone will go back to the basics of peer-to-peer lending and it can’t be soon enough for both savers and borrowers.

Zopa In Troubled Times

Over the years that I invested in Zopa, my returns stayed very much the same, as the algorithm seemed to be able to maintain sufficient difference between lenders’ returns and borrowers’ rates. I also suspect the dynamics of savvy lenders and borrowers helped to stabilise both the system and the difference between rates.

It even worked through the Banking Crisis of 2008 and other mini-hiccups along the way.

My Conclusion About Zopa

As someone, who knows computing well, I would rate Zopa, one of the best computer systems, I’ve ever seen.

But it showed how a large transactional system can work well.

One of the keys to its success and smooth operation was that the computer was totally in control and it took all transaction decisions without direct human intervention.

The Energy Market

The energy market is a network of energy providers and users.

It is controlled by complicated rules and it has settled into an equilibrium, which involves.

  • Importation of energy, which I suspect is not at a low price
  • Some high priced energy generators, based on gas, which has a high-price, due to Putin’s war.
  • Waste of wind energy due to lack of energy storage.
  • The intermittency of renewable sources.
  • A  lack of gas storage, means that we probably get the wrong end of fluctuations in the gas price.

This results in a high price to consumers.

Can We Move The Equilibrium Point Of The Energy Market?

And we also need to move it quickly to a more favourable place, which benefits everybody!

As a Control Engineer, I believe that there are five ways to move the equilibrium point.

  • Stop Putin’s war.
  • Increase gas storage.
  • Generate more low-cost electricity.
  • Increase electricity storage.
  • Improve the control algorithm.

I will now look at each in more detail.

Stopping Putin’s War

Giving in to Putin’s ambitions, would be an easy way to solve our energy crisis. But at what cost?

My parents generation, watched as Nazi Germany took over Austria and Czechoslovakia, whilst the world did nothing.

  • We mustn’t repeat that mistake.
  • We must not flinch in our support of the Ukraine.
  • We must be ready to support Moldova, Finland and the Baltic States if Putin expands his ambitions.

I do wonder, if Boris will turn up with Churchillian-style anti-Putin rhetoric all over Eastern Europe.

Increasing Gas Storage

The major gas storage facility is Rough, which is handily close to the Easington gas terminal.

The facility needs maintenance and this paragraph from the Wikipedia entry gives the current status.

In May 2022, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kwasi Kwarteng, began talks with the site’s owners with a view to reopening the site to help ease the ongoing cost-of-living crisis in the United Kingdom. In June 2022, owners Centrica submitted an application to the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), the licencing authority for the UK Government, to reopen the facility. Approval was granted in July. Subsequently, Centrica indicated that they are working hard to restore storage operations at Rough which would depend on securing subsidies from the British government. Centrica was aiming to have some capacity available for the winter of 2022/23 against an overall plan to increase storage capacity gradually over time.

Note.

  1. Rough can store around 2832 million cubic metres of gas.
  2. This article on Energy Live News is entitled Reopening Of Rough Storage Gets The All-Clear.

Less well-known is SSE and Equinor’s Aldborough Gas Storage.

These three paragraphs from SSE web site, describe the gas storage.

The Aldbrough Gas Storage facility, in East Yorkshire, officially opened in June 2011. The last of the nine caverns entered commercial operation in November 2012.

The facility, which is a joint venture between SSE Thermal (66%) and Equinor, has the capacity to store around 330 million cubic metres (mcm) of gas.

SSE Thermal and Equinor have consent to increase the storage capacity at the Aldbrough site (Aldbrough Phase 2) and during the last couple of years have been working to involve the local community where appropriate to refine aspects of this project, which has not been progressed to date due to market conditions.

Future plans for the facility, may include converting it to one of the world’s largest hydrogen stores.

In the grand scheme of things, Rough and Aldborough, when you consider that the UK uses 211 million cubic metres of gas every day, will only keep us going for a few days.

But it should be noted, that the Easington gas terminal is connected to the Norwegian gas fields, by the Langeled pipeline.

So Yorkshire and Humberside will be alright.

Generating More Low-Cost Electricity

The only low-cost electricity of any size to come on stream will be wind-power.

This article on Renewables Now is entitled UK Hits 25.5 GW Of Wind Power Capacity.

These wind farms seem to be coming on stream soon or have been commissioned recently.

  • Dogger Bank A – 1200 MW – Commissioning 2023 expected
  • Dogger Bank B – 1200 MW – Commissioning 2024/25 expected
  • Dogger Bank C – 1200 MW – Commissioning 2024/25 expected
  • Hornsea Two – 1386 MW – Commissioned 2022
  • Moray East – 950 MW – Commissioning 2022 expected
  • Neart Na Gaoithe – 450 MW – Commissioning 2024 expected
  • Seagreen – 1075 MW – Commissioning 2023 expected
  • Triton Knoll – 857 MW – Commissioning 2022 expected

That is expected to be over 5 GW of offshore wind by the end of 2023.

In case there is some double counting, I’ll only say that wind power capacity could be near to 30 GW by December 2023, with perhaps another 3 GW by December 2024.

Other large wind farms in the future include.

  • Berwick Bank – 4100 MW – Commissioning 2028 expected
  • East Anglia Two – 900 MW – Commissioning 2026 expected
  • East Anglia Three – 1400 MW – Commissioning 2027 expected
  • Inch Cape Phase 1 – 1080 MW – Commissioning 2027 expected
  • Hornsea Three – 2800 MW – Commissioning 2027 expected
  • Moray West – 294 MW – Commissioning 2027 expected
  • Morgan and Mona – 3000 MW – Commissioning for 2028 expected
  • Morven – 2900 MW – Commissioning for 2028 expected
  • Norfolk Boreas – 1400 MW – Commissioning 2027 expected
  • Norfolk Vanguard – 1400 MW – Construction start planned for 2023
  • Sofia – 1400 MW – Commissioning 2026 expected

That is over 14 GW of wind power.

I should also take note of solar and onshore wind power detailed in this document from the Department of Business, Industry and Industrial Strategy that lists all the Contracts for Difference Allocation Round 4 results for the supply of zero-carbon electricity.

It gives these figures and dates.

  • Solar – 251 MW – Commissioning 2023/24 expected
  • Solar – 1958 MW – Commissioning 2024/25 expected
  • Onshore Wind – 888 MW – Commissioning 2024/25 expected

I can now build a yearly table of renewables likely to be commissioned in each year.

  • 2022 – 3193 MW
  • 2023 – 2275 MW
  • 2024 – 701 MW
  • 2025 – 5246 MW
  • 2026 – 2300 MW
  • 2027 – 6974 MW
  • 2028 – 11400 MW

Note.

  1. Where a double date has been given, I’m taking the latter date.
  2. I have assumed that Norfolk Vanguard will be commissioned in 2028.
  3. I have ignored Hinckley Point C, which should add 3.26 GW in mid-2027.
  4. I have only taken into account one of the Scotwind wind farms in Scotland, some of which could be commissioned by 2028.
  5. I have assumed that BP’s Mona, Morgan and Morven will all be commissioned by 2028.

This is a total of 32 GW or an average of nearly 5 GW per year.

Increasing Electricity Storage

Big schemes like the 1.5 GW/ 30 GWh Coire Glas and 600 MW Cruachan 2 will help, but with 32 GW of renewable energy to be installed before 2028 and energy prices rocketing, we need substantial energy storage in the next couple of years.

One feasible plan that has been put forward is that of Highview Power’s CEO; Rupert Pearce,, that I wrote about in Highview Power’s Plan To Add Energy Storage To The UK Power Network.

The plan is to build twenty of Highview Power’s CRYOBatteries around the country.

  • Each CRYOBattery will be able to store 30 GWh.
  • Each CRYOBattery will be one of the largest batteries in the world.
  • They will have three times the storage of the pumped storage hydroelectric power station at Dinorwig.
  • They will be able to supply 2.5 GW for twelve hours, which is more output than Sizewell B nuclear power station.

Note.

  1. The first 30 GWh CRYOBattery is planned to be operational by late 2024.
  2. 600 GWh distributed around the country would probably be sufficient.

I believe that as these batteries are made from standard proven components, they could be built fairly quickly.

Paying For The Energy Storage

This press release from Highview Power is entitled New Analysis Reveals Extent Of UK Renewable Energy Waste, which makes these three bullet points.

  • Enough renewable energy to power 500,000 homes a day wasted since the energy crisis began.
  • 8 out of 10 Britons want more investment in boosting Britain’s energy resilience.
  • UK spent £390 million turning off wind farms and using gas since September 2021.

Note.

  1. As the press release was published in July 2022, was the £390 million for ten months.
  2. Will this level of spend continue, as we’re not creating any electricity storage or building any factories that will start in a year or so, that will need large amounts of electricity?
  3. The Germans are at least building the NeuConnect interconnector between the Isle of Grain and Wilhelmshaven.
  4. As we’re adding up to 5 GW per year to our renewable energy systems, this problem will surely get worse and we’ll spend more money switching off wind turbines.

We have the money to build a very large amount of energy storage.

Improving The Control Algorithm

A better control algorithm would always help and politicians should only be allowed to set objectives.

Conclusion

There is a chance we’ll have an oversupply of electricity, but this will have effects in the UK.

  • Gas-fired power-stations will be retired from front-line service to produce electricity.
  • Some will question the need for nuclear power.
  • Gas may even be used selectively to provide carbon dioxide for agricultural, scientific and industrial processes.
  • Industries that need a lot of electricity may build factories in the UK.
  • We will have a large supply of green hydrogen.

But it should bring the price of electricity down.

 

September 5, 2022 Posted by | Computing, Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Renewable Power’s Effect On The Tory Leadership Election

I wouldn’t normally comment on the Tory Leadership Election, as I don’t have a vote and my preference has already been eliminated.

But after reading this article on the Telegraph, which is entitled Britain Will Soon Have A Glut Of Cheap Power, And World-Leading Batteries To Store It, I feel I have to comment both about this election and the General Election, that will follow in a few years.

These two paragraphs from the article illustrate the future growth of offshore wind power.

It is a point about the mathematical implications of the UK’s gargantuan push for renewables. Offshore wind capacity is going to increase from 11 to 50 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 under the Government’s latest fast-track plans.

RenewableUK says this country currently has a total of 86GW in the project pipeline. This the most ambitious rollout of offshore wind in the world, ahead of China at 78GW, and the US at 48GW.

If we assume that there is eight years left of this decade, that means that we should install about 4.9 GW of offshore wind every year until 2030. If we add in planned solar and onshore wind developments, we must be looking at at least 5 GW of renewable energy being added every year.

We have also got the 3.26 GW Hinckley Point C coming on stream.

I think we can say, that when it comes to electricity generation, we will not be worried, so Liz and Rishi can leave that one to the engineers.

If we have an electricity problem, it is about distribution and storage.

  • We need more interconnectors between where the wind farms are being built and where the electricity will be used.
  • National Grid and the Government have published plans for two interconnectors between Scotland and England, which I wrote about in New Electricity ‘Superhighways’ Needed To Cope With Surge In Wind Power.
  • We need energy storage to back up the wind and solar power, when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.

I think it is reasonable to assume, that we will get the interconnectors we need and the Telegraph article puts forward a very feasible and affordable solution to the energy storage problem, which is described in these two paragraphs from the article.

That is now in sight, and one of the world leaders is a British start-up. Highview Power has refined a beautifully simple technology using liquid air stored in insulated steel towers at low pressure.

This cryogenic process cools air to minus 196 degrees using the standard kit for LNG. It compresses the volume 700-fold. The liquid re-expands with a blast of force when heated and drives a turbine, providing dispatchable power with the help of a flywheel.

The article also talks of twenty energy storage systems, spread around the UK.

  • They will have a total output of 6 GW.
  • In total they will be able to store 600 GWh of electricity.

The first one for Humberside is currently being planned.

Surely, building these wind and solar farms, interconnectors and energy storage systems will cost billions of pounds.

Consider.

  • Wind and solar farms get paid for the electricity they generate.
  • , Interconnectors get paid for the electricity they transfer.
  • Energy storage systems make a profit by buying energy when it’s cheap and selling it, when the price is better.
  • In World’s Largest Wind Farm Attracts Huge Backing From Insurance Giant, I talked about how Aviva were funding the world’s largest wind farm at Hornsea.
  • National Grid has a history of funding interconnectors like the North Sea Link from large financial institutions.

I believe that the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and the waters around our combined shores will become the largest zero-carbon power station in the world.

This will attract engineering companies and financial institutions from all over the world and we will see a repeat of the rush for energy that we saw for oil and gas in the last century.

If we get the financial regime right, I can see a lot of tax money flowing towards the Exchequer.

The big question will be what do we do with all this energy.

  • Some will be converted into hydrogen for transport, the making of zero-carbon steel and cement and for use as a chemical feedstock.
  • Industries that use a lot of electricity may move to the UK.
  • A large supply of electricity and hydrogen will make it easy to decarbonise housing, offices and factories.

The Telegraph article also says this.

Much can be exported to the Continent through interconnectors for a fat revenue stream, helping to plug the UK’s trade deficit, and helping to rescue Germany from the double folly of nuclear closures and the Putin pact. But there are limits since weather patterns in Britain and Northwest Europe overlap – partially.

I suspect that more energy will be exported to Germany than most economists think, as it will be needed and it will be a nice little earner for the UK.

Given the substantial amount of German investment in our wind industry, I do wonder, if Boris and Olaf did a deal to encourage more German investment, when they met in April this year.

  • BP have been backed with their wind farms by a German utility company.
  • RWE are developing the Sofia wind farm.
  • Only last week, the deal for the NeuConnect interconnector between the Isle of Grain and Wilhelmshaven was signed.
  • Siemens have a lot of investments in the UK.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more German investments in the next few months.

The Golden Hello

Has there ever been a Prime Minister, who will receive such a golden hello, as the one Liz or Rishi will receive in September?

The Tory Leadership Election

Some of the candidates said they would reduce taxes , if they won and Liz Truss is still saying that.

I wonder why Rishi isn’t saying that he would reduce taxes, as he must know the cash flow that is coming. It may be he’s just a more cautious soul.

 

 

 

July 30, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

UK-German Energy Link Reaches Financial Close

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

These are the three introductory paragraphs.

A multibillion-euro 725 km interconnector between the UK and Germany has reached financial close, paving the way for construction works to begin in the coming months.

The £2.4bn (€2.8bn) NeuConnect interconnector will form an “invisible energy highway” with subsea cables allowing up to 1.4GW of electricity to flow in either direction between the UK and Germany and will help deliver a more secure and resilient energy supply, particularly as more renewable generation is added.

Independent analysis shows the project will create over £1.7bn in UK consumer benefits over 25 years.

Other points about NeuConnect include.

  • It has been privately funded by a consortium of over twenty national and international banks.
  • It will run between the Isle of Grain and a the new Fedderwarden substation in Wilhelmshaven.
  • It should be operational in 2028.

Although, it is bi-directional, it appears that one of its major uses will be to provide Germany with UK wind energy to compensate for the loss of Putin’s bloodstained gas.

July 21, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , | Leave a comment

UK Energy Exports To Europe At Record High

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Britain has exported record amounts of gas to Europe so far this year as its liquefied natural gas terminals receive shipments destined for the Continent.

Electricity exports also have surged to unprecedented highs in recent weeks after an unexpected glut of gas pushed down short-term gas prices and resulted in gas-fired power plants generating more for export.

Who’d have thought it, that all those gas pipelines and electricity interconnectors between the UK and the Continent of Europe would be part of the replacementliqui for Russian gas.

According to Wikipedia, we have three liquified natural gas terminals; two at Milford Haven; South Hook and Dragon, and Grain on the Isle of Grain.

Note.

  1. South Hook is Europe’s largest liquified natural gas terminal and is owned by a partnership of the Qataris, ExxonMobil and Elf.
  2. South Hook and Dragon together can provide 25 % of the UK’s natural gas needs.
  3. Grain is owned by National Grid and according to Wikipedia, is in terms of storage capacity it is the largest LNG facility in Europe and the eighth largest in the world.
  4. Grain can supply 20 % of the UK’s natural gas needs.
  5. Grain has a reloading facility, so that gas can be exported.
  6. Grain seems to be continually expanding.
  7. Both Milford Haven and the Isle of Grain have large gas-fired power-stations.

Politicians say we don’t have enough gas storage, but we do seem to have world-class LNG terminals.

I have a couple of extra thoughts.

Blending Natural Gas With Hydrogen

HyDeploy is a project investigated blending hydrogen natural gas to cut carbon emissions. The project is described in this post called HyDeploy.

Surely, these terminals could be places, where hydrogen is blended with our natural gas supply.

  • The terminals are connected to the UK gas network.
  • Both Milford Haven and the Isle of Grain should have access to large amounts of offshore wind energy in the next few years, which could be used to generate green hydrogen.
  • The terminals would need electrolysers to generate the hydrogen.

The Isle of Grain already has a blending capability.

NeuConnect

NeuConnect is an under-development interconnector between the Isle of Grain in Kent and Wilhelmshaven in Germany.

  • It will have a capacity 1.4 GW.
  • All the planning permissions seem to be in place.
  • Prysmian have won a € 1.2 million contract to deliver the interconnector.
  • Arup and German engineering firm Fichtner have formed a joint venture to provide project services for the interconnector.
  • Construction could start this year.

It looks like the Germans will be replacing some of Putin’s bloodstained gas with clean zero-carbon energy from the UK.

Should We Develop More Gas Fields?

There are some gas fields in the seas around the UK, like Jackdaw, that could be developed.

Suppose, we extracted the gas and sent it to the reloading terminal on the Isle of Grain through the gas transmission network, where it could be exported by ship, to the Continent.

The UK would not be increasing its carbon emissions, as that would surely be the responsibility of the end-user.

Should We Develop More Gas Fired Power-Stations?

I believe it is possible to develop carbon-capture technology for gas-fired power stations.

The carbon dioxide would be either used in a beneficial way or stored in perhaps a worked-out gas field under the North Sea.

So long as no carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, I don’t see why more gas-fired power stations shouldn’t be developed.

What is happening at Keadby near Scunthorpe would appear to be one model for zero-carbon power generation.

Keadby Power Station

 

This is an existing

Conclusion

We will be exporting more energy to the Continent.

May 20, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NeuConnect Awards Two Major Contracts

This page on the NeuConnect web site is entitled NeuConnect Awards Over £1.5 billion Of Major Contracts As First Ever UK-German Energy Link Moves An Important Step Closer.

NeuConnect is a proposed interconnector between England and Germany.

  • It will have a capacity of 1.4 GW.
  • The interconnector will be around 450 miles long.
  • It will be HVDC, like many similar undersea power cables.
  • As the title says, it will be the first-ever UK-German energy link.

Wikipedia describes the route like this.

The cable will run between the Greystones substation on the Isle of Grain, in Kent in England to the new Fedderwarden substation in Wilhelmshaven in the Lower Saxony region of Germany. Landfall will be next to Grain Coastal Park, in Kent, and at Hooksiel, near Wilhemshaven in Germany.

Two contracts have been awarded.

  • The contract to design, manufacture, install, test and commission the 725km interconnector has been awarded to Prysmian Group.
  • The contract to design and build two converter stations in the UK and Germany has been awarded to Siemens Energy.

This sounds like a very simple plan to add an important interconnector between the UK and Germany.

I have some observations and thoughts.

The Isle Of Grain

The Isle of Grain is described in Wikipedia like this.

Isle of Grain (Old English Greon, meaning gravel) is a village and the easternmost point of the Hoo Peninsula within the district of Medway in Kent, south-east England. No longer an island and now forming part of the peninsula, the area is almost all marshland and is a major habitat for diverse wetland birds. The village constitutes a civil parish, which at the 2011 census had a population of 1,648, a net decrease of 83 people in 10 years.

Apart for the birds, over the last few decades it has been home to the following.

  • Until 1982, it was the location of a BP oil refinery.
  • In the 1990s, the isle was used to make the segments for the lining of the Channel Tunnel.
  • Following completion of the Channel Tunnel, the site is now part-occupied by Thamesport, the UK’s third largest container port.
  • Next to the former BP site is Grain Power Station, built in the 1970s, which previously burnt oil.
  • This power station was demolished in the 2015 and replaced with a 1.275 GW gas-fired power station.
  • Another major installation is a new Grain Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) import facility, which takes heat from the gas-fired power station.
  • The Isle of Grain is the landing point for the BritNed undersea power cable between The Netherlands and the UK.

The Google Map shows the Isle of Grain.

Note.

  1. Thamesport is in the South-West corner
  2. To its North is the LNG import facility.
  3. To the North-East of Thamesport is the 735 MW Medway power station.
  4. There is a rail connection to Hoo Junction on the North Kent Line.

This second Google Map shows the Eastern side of the Isle.

Note.

  1. Grain Coastal Park, where NeuConnect will make landfall, is marked by the green arrow at the top of the map.
  2. Towards the South-Eastern corner of the map is the 1.275 GW Grain gas-fired power station.
  3. To the East of the power station, there is more switchgear than you see in a bad Frankenstein film.
  4. The smaller square at the bottom with the two white squares could be the converter station for the BritNed interconnector.

I am sure there is space on the island for a connection for NeuConnect.

There is also a total of 2.01 GW of gas-fired power stations on the Isle of Grain.

Wind Power In The Thames Estuary

This Google Map shows the Thames Estuary.

Note that the red arrow indicates the Isle of Grain.

This map from Wikipedia shows the wind farms in the area.

These are the ones that are operational.

  • 2 – East Anglia Array – 714 MW
  • 8 – Greater Gabbard – 504 MW
  • 9 – Gunfleet Sands – 184 MW
  • 13 – Kentish Flats – 140 MW
  • 15 – London Array – 630 MW
  • 27 – Thanet – 300 MW

Note.

  1. The Isle of Grain is just above the second o in London.
  2. I have ignored the Ramplion wind farm (21!), as it is too far from the Isle of Grain.
  3. This is a total of nearly 2.5 GW.

Planned extensions in the area include.

  • East Anglia Array – 3.1 GW – Completion date of 2026

But the Wikipedia entry for the East Anglia Array says this about the wind farm.

The target capacity for the entire East Anglia Zone is 7200 MW which could require up to 1200 turbines.

Could we see one of the following?

  • A connector from the East Anglia Array to the Isle of Grain.
  • One or more new wind farms in the Thames Estuary connected to the Isle of Grain.
  • German investment in a wind farm or farms connected to the Isle of Grain.

The Isle of Grain could become an island of energy providing power for London, the South-East of England, Germany and The Netherlands.

An Electrolyser On The Isle Of Grain

Consider.

  • There will be plenty of renewable electricity.
  • As there is a liquified natural gas terminal, there is plenty of gas storage.
  • One or both of the gas-fired power stations can be converted to run on hydrogen.
  • As more and more trucks are converted to hydrogen, there will be a large demand for hydrogen for heavy transport.

This must surely make a large electrolyser on the Isle of Grain a possibility.

The BritNed Interconnector

The BritNed interconnector is described like this in Wikipedia.

BritNed is a 1,000 MW high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) submarine power cable between the Isle of Grain in Kent, the United Kingdom; and Maasvlakte in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

The BritNed interconnector would serve as a link for the foreseeable European super grid project.

Up to now, most of the electricity flow has been to the UK.

But surely, as more wind farms are developed power will flow the other way.

Wilhelmshaven Will Be A German Hub For Green Hydrogen

In Uniper To Make Wilhelmshaven German Hub For Green Hydrogen; Green Ammonia Import Terminal, I described plans by the Germans for a hydrogen hub at Wilhelmshaven.

The original story came from an article with the same name on Green Car Congress.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Under the name “Green Wilhelmshaven,” Germany-based international energy company Uniper plans to establish a German national hub for hydrogen in Wilhelmshaven and is working on a corresponding feasibility study.

Plans include an import terminal for green ammonia. The terminal will be equipped with an ammonia cracker for producing green hydrogen and will also be connected to the planned hydrogen network. A 410-megawatt electrolysis plant is also planned, which—in combination with the import terminal—would be capable of supplying around 295,000 metric tons or 10% of the demand expected for the whole of Germany in 2030.

As I said in the original post, I’m not happy about green ammonia, but the 1.4 GW NeuConnect interconnector has more than enough power to run a 410 MW electrolyser plant at full capacity.

It could even run three electrolysers of this size.

Hooksiel And Wilhelmshaven

NeuConnect will make landfall at Hooksiel.

This Google Map shows Hooksiel and Wilhelmshaven.

Note.

  1. Hooksiel is the village outlined in red.
  2. The water to the right of the map is the Jade Bight.
  3. The square block sticking out into the bight appears to be a container port.
  4. There appears to be chemical works or oil refineries North of the port.
  5. Wilhelmshaven is the town to the South of the port.

There would appear to be plenty of space for Uniper to construct Green Wilhelmshaven.

German And UK Wind Power Production

According to this page on Wikipedia, which is entitled Wind Power By Country, in 2020, these were installed wind power in various countries.

  • Germany – 62,184 MW
  • Spain – 27,089 MW
  • UK – 24,665 MW
  • France – 17,382 MW
  • Italy – 10,389 MW
  • Netherlands – 6,600 MW

In 2020 we were 37.5 GW behind Germany.

It looks like we’ll commission 3.3 GW this year and 6.1 in 2023, with Wikipedia saying that 12.9 GW is under development, which should close the gap to a certain extent.

In ScotWind Offshore Wind Leasing Delivers Major Boost To Scotland’s Net Zero Aspirations, I described how Scotland will add 15.1 GW of floating and 9.7 GW of fixed foundation offshore wind.

It looks like initially, we’ll be buying German wind-generated electricity, but in the future the direction could easily change around.

Boris And Olaf

There were mumblings from Boris, that energy was talked about in their meeting in Downing Street last week.

It does appear there is a lot of ways that the UK and Germany can co-operate in the future with respect to energy.

  • German finance can be used to build wind farms in UK waters.
  • German companies can build the turbines and the interconnectors we need to develop vast offshore wind farms.
  • We can supply surplus energy to Germany through the NeuConnect interconnector.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Boris and Olaf had signed a very comprehensive energy co-operation agreement.

 

April 11, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments