The Anonymous Widower

UK National Grid In Talks To Build An Energy Island In The North Sea

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

This is the first paragraph.

UK company National Grid has revealed it is in talks with two other parties about building an “energy island” in the North Sea that would use wind farms to supply clean electricity to millions of homes in north-west Europe.

These are my thoughts.

An Artificial Island on the Dogger Bank

The idea of the North Sea Wind Power Hub in the area of the Dogger Bank has been around for a few years and has a comprehensive Wikipedia entry.

Wikipedia says that it would be an artificial island on the Dutch section of the Dogger Bank and the surrounding sea could eventually host up to 110 GW of wind turbines.

North Sea Wind Power Hub Programme

The Dutch and the Danes seems to have moved on and there is now a web site for the North Sea Wind Power Hub Programme.

The home page is split into two, with the upper half entitled Beyond The Waves and saying.

The incredible story of how the Netherlands went beyond technical engineering as it had ever been seen before. Beyond water management. To secure the lives of millions of inhabitants.

I have met Dutch engineers, who designed and built the Delta Works after the North Sea Floods of 1953 and I have seen the works all over the country and it is an impressive legacy.

And the lower half of the home page is entitled North Sea Wind Power Hub and saying.

Today, climate policy is largely national, decoupled and incremental. We need a new approach to effectively realise the potential of the North Sea and reach the goals of the Paris Agreement. We take a different perspective: harnessing the power of the North Sea requires a transnational and cross-sector approach to take the step-change we need.

Behind each half are two videos, which explain the concept of the programme.

It is a strange web site in a way.

  • It is written totally in English with English not American spelling.
  • The project is backed by Energinet, Gasunie and TenneT, who are Danish and Dutch companies, that are responsible for gas and electricity distribution networks in Denmark, Ger,many and The Netherlands.
  • There are four sections to the web site; Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and North Sea.

It is almost as if the web site has been designed for a British company to join the party.

Hubs And Spokes In North Sea Wind Power Hub Programme

If you watch the videos on the site, they will explain their concept of hubs and spokes, where not one but several energy islands or hubs will be connected by spokes or electricity cables and/or hydrogen pipelines to each other and the shore.

Many electrical networks on land are designed in a similar way, including in the UK, where we have clusters of power stations connected by the electricity grid.

The Dogger Bank

The Dogger Bank is a large sandbank in a shallow area of the North Sea about 100 kilometres off the east coast of England.

Wikipedia says this about the geography of the Dogger Bank.

The bank extends over about 17,600 square kilometres (6,800 sq mi), and is about 260 by 100 kilometres (160 by 60 mi) in extent. The water depth ranges from 15 to 36 metres (50 to 120 ft), about 20 metres (65 ft) shallower than the surrounding sea.

As there are Gunfleet Sands Wind Farm and Scroby Sands Wind Farm and others, on sandbanks in the North Sea, it would appear that the engineering of building wind farms on sandbanks in the North Sea is well understood.

The Dogger Bank Wind Farm

We are already developing the four section Dogger Bank Wind Farm in our portion of the Dogger Bank and these could generate up to 4.8 GW by 2025.

The Dogger Bank Wind Farm has its own web site, which greets you with this statement.

Building the World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm

At 4.8 GW, it will be 45 % larger than Hinckley Point C nuclear power station, which is only 3.3 GW. So it is not small.

The three wind farms; Dogger Bank A, B and C will occupy 1670 square kilometres and generate a total of 3.6 GW or 0.0021 GW per square kilometre.

If this density of wind turbines could be erected all over the Dogger Bank, we could be looking at nearly 40 GW of capacity in the middle of the North Sea.

Interconnectors Across The North Sea

This Google Map shows the onshore route of the cable from the Dogger Bank Wind Farm.

Note.

  1. Hull and the River Humber at the bottom of the map.
  2. The red arrow which marks Creyke Beck sub station, where the cable from the Dogger Bank Wind Farm connects to the UK electricity grid.
  3. At the top of the map on the coast is the village of Ulrome, where the cable comes ashore.

The sub station is also close to the Hull and Scarborough Line, so would be ideal to feed any electrification erected.

I would assume that cables from the Dogger Bank Wind Farm could also link the Wind Farm to the proposed Dutch/Danish North Sea Wind Power Hub.

Given that the cables between the wind farms and Creyke Beck could in future handle at least 4.8 GW and the cables from the North Sea Wind Power Hub to mainland Europe would probably be larger, it looks like there could be a very high capacity interconnector between Yorkshire and Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands.

It almost makes the recently-opened North Sea Link to Norway, which is rated at 1.4 GW seem a bit small.

The North Sea Link

The North Sea Link is a joint project between Statnett and National Grid, which cost €2 billion and appears to have been delivered as planned, when it started operating in October 2021.

So it would appear that National Grid have shown themselves capable of delivering their end of a complex interconnector project.

Project Orion And The Shetlands

In Do BP And The Germans Have A Cunning Plan For European Energy Domination?, I introduced Project Orion, which is an electrification and hydrogen hub and clean energy project in the Shetland Islands.

The project’s scope is described in this graphic.

Note that Project Orion now has its own web site.

  • Could the Shetlands become an onshore hub for the North Sea Power Hub Programme?
  • Could Icelink, which is an interconnector to Iceland be incorporated?

With all this renewable energy and hydrogen, I believe that the Shetlands could become one of the most prosperous areas in Europe.

Funding The Wind Farms And Other Infrastructure In The North Sea

In World’s Largest Wind Farm Attracts Huge Backing From Insurance Giant, I described how Aviva were funding the Hornsea wind farm.

I very much believe that City of London financial institutions will be able to finance a lot of the developments in the North Sea.

After all National Grid managed to find a billion euros in a sock drawer to fund their half of the North Sea Link.

Electrifying The North Sea: A Gamechanger For Wind Power Production?

The title of this section, is the same as that of this article on Engineering and Technology Magazine.

This article in the magazine of the IET is a serious read and puts forward some useful facts and interesting ideas.

  • The EU is targeting offshore wind at 60 GW by 2030 and 300 GW by 2050.
  • The UK is targeting offshore wind at 40 GW by 2030.
  • The article explains why HVDC electricity links should be used.
  • The major players in European offshore wind are the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark.
  • The foundations for a North Sea grid, which could also support the wider ambitions for a European super-grid, are already forming.
  • A North Sea grid needs co-operation between governments and technology vendors. as well as technological innovation.
  • National Grid are thinking hard about HVDC electrical networks.
  • By combining HVDC links it can be possible to save a lot of development capital.
  • The Danes are already building artificial islands eighty kilometres offshore.
  • Electrical sub-stations could be built on the sea-bed.

I can see that by 2050, the North Sea, South of a line between Hull and Esbjerg in Denmark will be full of wind turbines, which could generate around 300 GW.

Further Reading

There are various articles and web pages that cover the possibility of a grid in the North Sea.

I shall add to these as required.

Conclusion

I am coming to the conclusion that National Grid will be joining the North Sea Wind Power Hub Programme.

  • They certainly have the expertise and access to funding to build long cable links.
  • The Dogger Bank wind farm would even be one of the hubs in the planned hub and spoke network covering the North Sea.
  • Only a short connection would be needed to connect the Dogger Bank wind farm, to where the Dutch and Danes originally planned to build the first energy island.
  • There may be other possibilities for wind farm hubs in the UK section of the North Sea. Hornsea Wind Farm, which could be well upwards of 5 GW is surely a possibility.
  • Would it also give access to the massive amounts of energy storage in the Norwegian mountains, through the North Sea Link or Nord.Link between Norway and Germany.

Without doubt, I know as a Control Engineer, that the more hubs and spokes in a network, the more stable it will be.

So is National Grid’s main reason to join is to stabilise the UK electricity grid? And in turn, this will stabilise the Danish and Dutch grids.

 

October 9, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Uniper To Make Wilhelmshaven German Hub For Green Hydrogen; Green Ammonia Import Terminal

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

I can’t help feeling that there is some bad thinking here.

The Wikipedia entry for ammonia, says this about green ammonia.

Even though ammonia production currently creates 1.8% of global CO2 emissions, a 2020 Royal Society report claims that “green” ammonia can be produced by using low-carbon hydrogen (blue hydrogen and green hydrogen). Total decarbonization of ammonia production and the accomplishment of net-zero targets are possible by 2050.

So why is green ammonia imported rather than green hydrogen, which may have been used to manufacture the ammonia?

Green ammonia would appear to have two main uses in its own right.

  • As a feedstock to make fertiliser and other chemicals.
  • As a possible fuel for large ships, which could also be powered by hydrogen.

The only thing, I can think of, is that as liquid hydrogen boils at -253 ° C and liquid ammonia at -33 ° C, ammonia may be easier to transport by ship.

It may make a better fuel for large ships for the same reason.

This policy briefing from The Royal Society is entitled Ammonia: Zero-Carbon Fertiliser, Fuel And Energy Store.

This is the introductory paragraph.

This policy briefing considers the opportunities and challenges associated with the manufacture and future use of zero-carbon or green ammonia.

It is an excellent explanation of green ammonia and a must read.

Hydrogen for Wilhelmshaven

On the other hand, Wilhelmshaven, which is situated on Germany’s North West Coast would be in a good position to be a terminal for a hydrogen pipeline or electrical interconnector from the Dogger Bank, where both the Netherlands and the UK have plans for some of the largest windfarms in the world.

The UK’s Dogger Bank Wind Farm, which is being developed by SSE, looks to have an initial capacity of 4.8 MW, whereas the North Sea Wind Power Hub, being developed by the Danes, Dutch and Germans on their side of the Dogger Bank could be rated at up to 110 GW.

Wikipedia says this about how the two huge projects could be connected.

The power hub would interconnect the three national power grids with each other and with the Dogger Bank Wind Farm.

We could be seeing a 200 GW power station in an area of the sea, generally only known to those who listen to the shipping forecasts and fans like Marti Caine.

Under a section in the Wikipedia entry for the North Sea Wind Power Hub, which is entitled the North Sea Wind Power Hub Consortium, these points are made.

  • It is hoped that Norway, the United Kingdom, and Belgium will join the consortium.
  • Dutch gas-grid operator Gasunie has joined the consortium, suggesting converting wind power to gas and using near offshore gas infrastructure for storage and transport.
  • The Port of Rotterdam became the fifth member of the consortium.

This looks like a party, where some of our North Sea gas fields and infrastructure, lying in the triangle of the Humber, Teesside and the Dogger Bank could add a lot of value.

We could even sea hydrogen generated in the European Eastern part of the Dogger Bank, stored in a worked-out gas field in the UK sector of the North Sea and then when needed, it could be pumped to Germany.

A 410 Megawatt Electrolyser

Ryse 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.

This would produce just 5.6 percent of the hydrogen of the Wilhelmshaven electrolyser

In H2 Green Steel Plans 800 MW Hydrogen Plant In Sweden, I wrote about a 800 MW electrolyser, that would produce 380 tonnes of hydrogen per day.

It looks like the Wilhelmshaven  electrolyser is very much a middle-sized one and would produce around 65,000 tonnes per year.

Conclusion

It looks like the Germans will be importing lots of green ammonia and green hydrogen from the North Sea.

 

April 18, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Keadby 3 Low-Carbon Power Station

This article on Business Live is entitled Huge Green Power Station Proposed By SSE As It Embraces Hydrogen And Carbon Capture.

SSE Thermal is working on a low-carbon 910 MW gas-fired power station to join Keadby and Keadby 2 power stations in a cluster near Scunthorpe.

A spokesman for SSE is quoted as saying they will not build the plant without a clear route to decarbonisation.

On this page of their web site,  SSE Thermal, say this about Keadby 3.

As part of our commitment to a net zero emissions future, Keadby 3 will only be built with a clear route to decarbonisation, either using hydrogen as a low-carbon fuel, or equipping it with post-combustion carbon capture technology. The project is at the early stages of development and no final investment decision has been made.

It should also be noted that SSE Renewables have also built a wind farm at Keadby. The web site describes it like this.

Keadby Wind Farm is England’s largest onshore wind farm. This 68MW renewable energy generation site can power approximately 57,000 homes.

There are a lot of good intentions here and I think that SSE haven’t disclosed the full picture.

It would seem inefficient to use hydrogen to power a gas-fired power station to achieve zero-carbon power generation.

  • If you are using hydrogen created from steam reforming of methane, this creates a lot of carbon-dioxide.
  • If you are using green hydrogen produced by electrolysis, then, why don’t you store the electricity in a battery?

Perhaps, SSE are trying out a new process?

This Google Map shows the area of Keadby to the West of Scunthorpe.

Note.

The River Trent meandering through the area.

  1. Althorpe station is in the bend of the River,
  2. I’m fairly certain, that I remember an old airfield in the area.
  3. Keadby power station is a bit to the North of the waterway running West from the River and close to where the railway crosses the waterway.

This second Google Map shows a close-up of the power station.

This visualisation from SSE Thermal shows how the site might look in the future.

For me the interesting location is the village of Althorpe, where C and myself had friends.

They were always getting tourists arriving in the village looking for Princess Diana’s grave!

Carbon Capture And Storage At Keadby

If SSE have three large power stations at Keadby, a shared carbon capture and storage system could be worthwhile.

  • There are numerous gas fields in the area and a big gas terminal at Theddlethorpe, to where they all connect.
  • I was surprised to see, that one of thee fields; Saltfleetby is owned by President Putin’s favourite gas company; Gazprom.
  • Some of these fields are actually on-shore.
  • The power stations probably get their gas from the same terminal.

Some of these gas fields that connect to Theddlethorpe could be suitable for storing the carbon dioxide.

As there is masses of space at Keadby, I can see more gas-fired power stations being built at Keadby.

All would feed into the same carbon capture and storage system.

If gas was needed to be imported in a liquified form, there is the Port of Immingham nearby.

Absorption Of Carbon Dioxide By Horticulture

Consider.

  • Increasingly, horticulture is getting more automated and efficient.
  • Automatic harvesters are being developed for crops like tomatoes and strawberries.
  • Instead of storing the carbon-dioxide in worked-out gas fields, it can also be fed directly to fruit and vegetables that are being grown in greenhouses.
  • Keadby is surrounded by the flat lands of Lincolnshire.

How long will it be before we see tomatoes, strawberries, peppers and cucumbers labelled as British zero-carbon products?

Offshore Hydrogen

I’ll repeat what I said in ITM Power and Ørsted: Wind Turbine Electrolyser Integration.

This is from a press release from ITM Power, which has the same title as the linked article.

This is the introductory paragraph.

ITM Power (AIM: ITM), the energy storage and clean fuel company, is pleased to share details of a short project sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), in late 2019, entitled ‘Hydrogen supply competition’, ITM Power and Ørsted proposed the following:  an electrolyser placed at the wind turbine e.g. in the tower or very near it, directly electrically connected to the DC link in the wind turbine, with appropriate power flow control and water supplied to it. This may represent a better design concept for bulk hydrogen production as opposed to, for instance, remotely located electrolysers at a terminal or platform, away from the wind turbine generator, due to reduced costs and energy losses.
Some points from the remainder of the press release.

  • Costs can be saved as hydrogen pipes are more affordable than under-water power cables.
  • The proposed design reduced the need for AC rectification.

After reading the press release, it sounds like the two companies are performing a serious re-think on how wind turbines and their links to get energy on-shore are designed.

  • Will they be using redundant gas pipes to bring the hydrogen ashore?
  • Will the hydrogen come ashore at Theddlethorpe and use the existing gas network to get to Keadby?

It sounds inefficient, but then the steelworks at Scunthorpe will probably want masses of hydrogen for carbon-free steel making and processing.

Boosting Power Station Efficiency

There is also a section in the Wikipedia entry for Combined Cycle Power Plant called Boosting Efficiency, where this is said.

The efficiency of CCGT and GT can be boosted by pre-cooling combustion air. This is practised in hot climates and also has the effect of increasing power output. This is achieved by evaporative cooling of water using a moist matrix placed in front of the turbine, or by using Ice storage air conditioning. The latter has the advantage of greater improvements due to the lower temperatures available. Furthermore, ice storage can be used as a means of load control or load shifting since ice can be made during periods of low power demand and, potentially in the future the anticipated high availability of other resources such as renewables during certain periods.

So is the location of the site by the Trent, important because of all that cold water?

Or will they use surplus power from the wind farm to create ice?

The Proposed North Sea Wind Power Hub

The North Sea Wind Power Hub is a proposed energy island complex on the Eastern part of the Dogger Bank.

  • The Dutch, Germans and Danes are leading the project.
  • Along with the Belgians, we have been asked to join.
  • Some reporting on the Hub has shown, airstrips in the middle of the complex to bring the workforce to the site.
  • A Dutch report, says that as much as 110 GW of wind power could be developed by 2050.
  • We are also looking at installing wind farms on our section of the Dogger Bank.

Geography says, that one of the most convenient locations to bring all this electricity or hydrogen gas ashore is North Lincolnshire

A Very Large Battery

I would also put a very large battery on the site at Keadby.

One of Highview Power‘s proposed 1 GWh CRYOBatteries would be a good start. This will be four times the size of the 250 MWh CRYOBattery, which the company is currently designing and building at Carrington in Greater Manchester.

Conclusion

The three power stations at Keadby are the following sizes

  • Keadby 1 – 734 MW
  • Keadby 2 – 803.7 MW
  • Keadby 3 – 010 MW

This adds up to a total of 2447.7 MW. And if they fit carbon capture and storage it will be zero-carbon.

Note.

  • Hinckley Point C is only 3200 MW and will cost around £20 billion or £6.25 billion per GW.
  • Keadby 2 power station is quoted as costing £350 million. or £0.44 billion per GW.

These figures don’t include the cost of carbon capture and storage, but they do show the relatively high cost of nuclear.

 

 

 

July 11, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

What Does the Future of Offshore Wind Energy Look Like?

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Real Clear Energy.

These topics are covered.

  • Improved efficiency
  • Aerodynamic blades
  • Sturdiness and durability
  • Big data, the cloud and artificial intelligence
  • Drones
  • Floating turbines and deeper waters
  • Complicated coastal climate zones of which North America has eight.

Some topics weren’t covered.

The author finishes with this statement.

The integration of wind energy, in any form, can ultimately benefit all 50 states in the US by 2050 if it starts now.

In 1962, Bob Dylan, wrote this famous phrase.

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.

Fifty-eight years later he’s been proven right, in a big way!

 

July 2, 2020 Posted by | Energy | , , , | Leave a comment

Fracking Hell…Is It The End?

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in yesterday’s Sunday Times.

The article is an interesting read.

These two paragraphs are key.

Activism by Extinction Rebellion and growing public concern about climate change have weakened the chances of an industry once expected to create 64,500 jobs ever getting off the ground.

Cuadrilla Resources, the fracking company most active in Britain, has in recent days been removing equipment from its sole operating site in Lancashire. Petrochemicals tycoon Sir Jim Ratcliffe has vowed to pursue shale gas exploration overseas because of “archaic” and “unworkable” regulations at home.

But I think it’s more complicated than that!

I sometimes go to lectures at the Geological Society of London and two stand were about fracking.

Two were about fracking.

Fracked or fiction: so what are the risks associated with shale gas exploitation?- Click for more.

This is a video of the lecture.

What Coal Mining Hydrogeology Tells us about the Real Risks of Fracking – Click for more.

This is a video of the lecture.

This is a must-watch video from a good speaker.

I have also written several posts about fracking, with some of the earliest being in 2012-2013.

I have just re-read all of my posts.

  • In the posts I have tried to give information and at times, I have said we should start fracking.
  • But we should only start if we know what we’re doing.
  • In several places I ask for more research.

However, there are some interesting facts and inconvenient truths about fracking and natural gas in general.

  • Russia earns about €300billion a year or twenty percent of its GDP from gas exports to Europe. See Should We Nuke Russia?.
  • Putin backs the anti-fracking movement. See Russia ‘secretly working with environmentalists to oppose fracking’.
  • Fracking techniques  is used in the Scottish Highlands to obtain clean water from deep underground. See the second Geological Society of London video.
  • About forty per cent of gas usage is to heat housing. See the second  video.
  • The eighteen percent of the UK population, who don’t have a gas supply are more likely to be in fuel poverty. See the second  video.
  • Scotland has more need for energy to provide heat. See the second  video.
  • Natural gas with carbon capture and storage has a similar carbon footprint to solar power. See the second video.
  • Cowboy fracking, as practised in the United States, would not be allowed in the UK or the EU. See the second  video.
  • We have no historic earthquake database of the UK, which would help in regulation and research of fracking. See the second video.
  • Fracking has brought down the price of gas in North America.
  • In the United States fracked gas is cutting the need to burn coal, which produces more pollution and carbon dioxide to generate the same amount of energy. See A Benefit Of Fracking.

The article in the Sunday Times says pressure against fracking has started the shutdown of the industry in the UK.

But there is another big pressure at work.replacement of natural gas with hydrogen.

  • This would reduce carbon emissions.
  • It can be used as a chemical feedstock.
  • It could be delivered using the existing gas network.
  • The gas network could be changed from natural gas to hydrogen on a phased basis, just as the change from town to natural gas was organised around fifty years ago.

But it would mean that all gas users would need to change their boilers and other equipment.

Put yourself in the position of Jim Ratcliffe; the major owner and driving force behind INEOS.

INEOS needs feedstocks for chemical plants all over the world and affordable natural gas is one that is very suitable, as it contains two of the major elements needed in hydrocarbons and many useful chemicals; carbon and hydrogen.

If local sources are not available, then liquefied natural gas can be shipped in.

The Hydrogen Economy

It is possible to replace natural gas in many applications and processes with hydrogen.

  • It can be used for heating and cooking.
  • Important chemicals like ammonia can be made from hydrogen.
  • It can be transported in existing natural gas etworks.
  • Hydrogen can also replace diesel in heating and transport applications.

There is also a possibility of measures like carbon taxes being introduced, which using hydrogen would reduce.

There’s more in the Wikipedia entry for Hydrogen economy.

Have Jim Ratcliffe and others done their predicting and decided that the demand for locally sourced natural gas will decline and that the hydrogen economy will take over?

But there will need to be a readily available source of large amounts of hydrogen.

I used to work in a hydrogen factory at Runcorn, which was part of ICI, that created hydrogen and chlorine, by the electrolysis of brine. In some ways, the hydrogen was an unwanted by-product, back in the late 1960s, but similar and more efficient processes can be used to convert electricity into hydrogen.

The latest idea, is to cluster offshore wind farms around gas rigs in the seas around the UK. The electricity produced would be used to electrolyse water to extract the hydrogen, which would then be piped to the shore using existing gas pipelines.

It would be a way of reusing infrastructure associated with gas fields, that have no gas left to extract.

There would be no need to build an expensive electricity cable to the shore.

The Dutch, Danes and the Germans are proposing to build the North Sea Wind Power Hub, which is described like this in Wikipedia.

North Sea Wind Power Hub is a proposed energy island complex to be built in the middle of the North Sea as part of a European system for sustainable electricity. One or more “Power Link” artificial islands will be created at the northeast end of the Dogger Bank, a relatively shallow area in the North Sea, just outside the continental shelf of the United Kingdom and near the point where the borders between the territorial waters of Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark come together. Dutch, German, and Danish electrical grid operators are cooperating in this project to help develop a cluster of offshore wind parks with a capacity of several gigawatts, with interconnections to the North Sea countries. Undersea cables will make international trade in electricity possible.

Later, Wikipedia says that ultimately 110 GW of electricity capacity could be developed.

So could these planned developments create enough hydrogen to replace a sizeable amount of the natural gas used in Western Europe?

I suspect a lot of engineers, company bosses and financiers are working on it.

Conclusion

I have come to the following 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.

 

 

October 15, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Windfarms Will Not Cost Billpayers After Subsidies Hit Record Low

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

This is the first paragraph.

The UK’s next wave of offshore wind farms will generate clean electricity at no extra cost to consumers after record low-subsidy deals fell below the market price for the first time.

I have deliberately chosen to print this report from the Guardian, as they generally research carefully what they print and wouldn’t print anything that was parroting government PR.

Until they or another trusted source says otherwise, I’ll believe that we’ll be getting cheap wind-generated electricity.

There is another fact about this announcement; the timing!

Did the government deliberately time, something that even The Guardian would feel is good news to appear on the day when everyone is travelling to the Labour Conference in Brighton?

September 21, 2019 Posted by | World | , | 2 Comments

North Sea Wind Power Hub

I have just found the web site for the North Sea Wind Power Hub.

The Aim

This introductory paragraph details the aim of the project.

A coordinated roll-out of North Sea Wind Power Hubs facilitates an accelerated deployment of large scale offshore wind in the North Sea required to support realizing the Paris Agreements target in time, with minimum environmental impact and at the lowest cost for society (urgency & cost savings), while maintaining security of supply.

There is a lot to read on the site, however this article on the Daily Mail gives a good summary with lots of drsawings.

This is the sub-headline.

The world’s biggest wind farm? ‘Crazy’ artificial power island in the North Sea that could supply renewable energy to 80 million people in Europe is set to open in 2027.

Crazy comes from this paragraph of the article.

In an interview at the time, Torben Glar Nielsen, Energinet’s technical director, told the Independent: ‘Maybe it sounds a bit crazy and science fiction-like but an island on Dogger Bank could make the wind power of the future a lot cheaper and more effective.’

Another quote sums up the engineering problems as the Dutch sea it.

Addressing the engineering challenge ahead, Mr Van der Hage said: ‘Is it difficult? In the Netherlands, when we see a piece of water we want to build islands or land. We’ve been doing that for centuries. That is not the biggest challenge.’

Having spoken to one of the engineers, who planned and developed the Dutch sea defences after the floods of the 1950s, I’ll agree with that statement.

September 21, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Climate change: Offshore Wind Expands At Record Low Price

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

These are the first paragraphs.

A record amount of new offshore wind power has been announced in the UK – at record low prices.

The new projects will power more than seven million homes for as little as £39.65 per megawatt hour.

Compare this price with the £92.50 per MWh for the nuclear Hinckley Point C.

Note that all prices are in 2012 prices.

I have no argument with the engineering of nuclear power stations, but they do have issues that must be addressed.

  • They shouldn’t be built in possible earthquake zones.
  • They have a very high cost.
  • They can be an eyesore in parts of the UK.

But they do provide a good power zero-carbon baseload, once they are constructed.

Dogger Bank Wind Farm

The Dogger Bank Wind Farm would appear to be the centrepiece of the energy developments South of the Scottish Border.

It will be three separate 1.2 gigawatt wind farms developed on the relatively shallow seas around the Dogger Bank.

  • Creyke Beck A
  • Creyke Beck B
  • Teesside A

Wikipedia says this about the first two wind farms.

They would connect to the existing Creyke Beck substation near Cottingham, in the East Riding of Yorkshire.[6] The two sites lie 131 kilometres (81 mi) from the East Yorkshire coast.

Both have an area of around two hundred square miles.

Teeside A is further North and would be connected to a substation near Redcar.

North Sea Wind Power Hub

The three fields I’ve listed are all in UK waters and according to Wikipedia will or could be joined by more wind farms in the same area.

But just across the maritime border between the United Kingdom and the European Union, Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands have plans to develop the North Sea Wind Power Hub.

Wikipedia introduces the project like this.

North Sea Wind Power Hub is a proposed energy island complex to be built in the middle of the North Sea as part of a European system for sustainable electricity. One or more “Power Link” artificial islands will be created at the northeast end of the Dogger Bank, a relatively shallow area in the North Sea, just outside the continental shelf of the United Kingdom and near the point where the borders between the territorial waters of Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark come together. Dutch, German, and Danish electrical grid operators are cooperating in this project to help develop a cluster of offshore wind parks with a capacity of several gigawatts, with interconnections to the North Sea countries. Undersea cables will make international trade in electricity possible.

These points are also made.

  • Six square mile islands will be built surrounded by thousands of wind turbines.
  • The Dutch have estimated that 110 gigawatts of wind power could be produced at the Dogger Bank location.
  • We are not a member of the consortium, but it is hoped that Norway, Belgium and the UK will join.
  • The Dutch have suggested converting some of the electricity produced to hydrogen.
  • Completion date is set for 2050.

I am excited by this project.

We may not be part of the North Sea Wind Power Hub consortium and in a month or so, we may or may not be part of the European Union, but today’s announcement of new wind power projects in our section of the Dogger Bank  is effectively a substantial marker, that compliments the European plan.

Consider.

  • We are putting 3.6 GW of wind turbines on the Dogger Bank.
  • We are connecting it to the UK electricity grid. at Creyke Beck.
  • It would be easy to create another bi-directional electricity interconnector between the UK’s planned and the EU’s possible wind farms.

This is the sort of project that works, whether Brexit happens or doesn’t!

Six Scottish Wind Farms

.There is also a second article on the BBC, which is entitled Six Scottish Wind Farms Awarded Contracts.

These are the first paragraphs.

Six Scottish wind farm projects are set to go ahead after being awarded UK government contracts to sell the electricity they would produce.

The schemes include Forthwind and SSE Renewables’ Seagreen Phase 1, which are both proposed for the Firth of Forth.

Four onshore wind farms – Muaitheabhal and Druim Leathann in Lewis and Hesta Head and Costa Head in Orkney – have also secured contracts.

All farms are expected to be built by 2025 and provide enough energy for 265,000 homes.

Price Summary For Offshore Wind

This page on Offshore Wind gives the strike prices for the six offshore wind farms.

Creyke Bank A – £39.65 per MWh – 1200 MW

Creyke Bank B – £41.61 per MWh – 1200 MW

Teeside A – £41.61 per MWh – 1200 MW

Teeside B (Sophia) – £41.65 per MWh – 1400 MW

Forthwind – £39.65 per MWh – 12 MW

Seagreen Phase 1 – £41.61 per MWh – 454 MW

The size of each farm is also given.

Conclusion

The lights will stay on and we will need to develop more energy storage.

September 20, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , | 1 Comment