The Anonymous Widower

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