The Anonymous Widower

A Planned Trip To Belfast

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

I have several things, I would like to do.

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

Has anybody got any advice?

 

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

Longer Duration Energy Storage Demonstration Programme, Stream 1 Phase 1: Details Of Successful Projects

The title of this post, is the same as that of this document from the UK Government.

This is the introduction.

Stream 1 aims to accelerate commercialisation of innovative longer duration energy storage projects through to actual demonstrations. During Phase 1, projects will be expected to mobilise their proposed technologies to prepare for potential deployment on the UK energy system.

These are the projects.

Ballylumford Power-to-X

This is the description of this project in Northern Ireland.

B9 Energy Storage will receive £986,082 to mobilise a 20MW membrane free electrolyser green hydrogen project. Using otherwise curtailed wind power, hydrogen produced will be stored in local underground salt caverns for later use as a fuel in transport and electricity sectors, creating a full-cycle hydrogen economy (production, storage, distribution and usage) on site.

Note.

Ballylumford power station is a 600 MW gas-fired power station, that provides half of Northern Ireland’s electricity.

A 20 MW electrolyser will produce just under nine tonnes of hydrogen per day.

This Google Map shows the location of the power station opposite the port of Larne.

Note.

Ballylumford power station is clearly visible to the East of the channel towards the bottom of the map.

Ballylumford is also the Irish end of the HVDC Moyle interconnector from Scotland, which has a capacity of 500 MW.

Ballylumford would appear to have enough power for a large electrolyser.

Salt Beds In Northern Ireland

This document on the British Geological Survey web site is entitled Geological Storage In Northern Ireland.

The document discusses Irelands energy needs and gives a good description of using compressed air energy storage in salt caverns.

Then these two paragraphs describe the salt bed in Northern Ireland compare them to other deposits under Great Britain.

Thick halite deposits, found both onshore in Northern Ireland and immediately offshore in the North Channel, offer potential for salt cavern storage facilities. The salt deposits occur as bedded deposits with minor halokinesis (geological movement of salt) forming salt swells rather than pillows or domes so that the height of any cavern may be restricted by bed thickness. Pure salt beds tend to be thin (approximately 100-250 metres maximum thickness) compared to those used elsewhere and the presence of significant insoluble impurities and minor intrusive dolerite dykes or sills may reduce their suitability.

The Larne and Carrickfergus area of County Antrim is the only part of the whole island where thick salt beds occur. Elsewhere in the UK parts of Cheshire, Lancashire, Teesside, Humberside and Dorset have similar, or thicker, developments of salt beds and gas storage facilities are either in construction, or are already in operation.

It would appear that the thick salt beds in the Larne and Carrickfergus area could be suitable for gas storage.

Ballylumford might actually be on top of the salt beds, as Carrickfergus is a few miles to the South.

On a personal note, I used to work for ICI Mond Division and during that time and immediately afterwards, I met many people, who had been into the salt mines and worked with boreholes extracting the salt and the one thing everybody said about the salt mine, was that water must not get in.

Membrane-Free Electrolysis

I saw this in operation when I worked at ICI Mond. Most of their hydrogen and chlorine was produced using the main Castner-Kellner process at Castner-Kellner works in Runcorn. That is a nasty process that uses a lot of mercury, which got into the air and plant operators’ bodies.

But ICI also had a much smaller plant, where they used simple electrolysers, that had a metal cell, with a concrete top, with the anode and cathode going through the concrete into the brine. I seem to remember that its main purpose was to provide mercury-free hydrogen, chlorine and sodium hydroxide. I can remember seeing workers rebuilding the cells, as was done on a regular basis.

These were membrane free electrolysers and had been running successfully for many years.

Searching the Internet for “membrane free electrolyser” I found a company in Doncaster called CPH2.

The home page on their web site declares

Clean Power Hydrogen are the manufacturers of the unique Membrane-Free Electrolyser

Turning to the About page, this is said.

Being passionate about hydrogen as clean energy for the future, we wanted to find an alternative to PEM electrolysers as these had barriers to adoption. We realised that the cleanest way to produce hydrogen was by membrane-free water electrolysis, and in doing so, it would be a less expensive and more robust technology.

Dr. Nigel Williamson and Joe Scott established CPH2 (Ireland) in 2012 with the ambition to help clean up the environment for our children and future generations. Entering the green technology sector; a high growth and profitable market, they developed a Membrane-Free Electrolyser™ to produce hydrogen faster, more reliably, and more cost-effectively than other electrolysers.

They also have the ambition to be leading developer and manufacturer of green hydrogen technologies and an Irish connection.

My experience says that their technology will work. Especially, with the application of modern materials.

Have the Government backed the Ballylumford Power-to-X project, as they can back two promising technologies with one grant?

GraviSTORE

This is the description of this project.

Gravitricity Limited will receive £912,410.84 to design their multiweight energy store demonstrator project, which will store and discharge energy by lifting and lowering multiple weights in a vertical underground shaft.

Note.

  1. I like the Gravitricity concept and have invested through crowdfunding.
  2. The project will be based on a brownfield site in Northern England.
  3. Gravitricity’s current demonstrator in Edinburgh, which I wrote about in Gravitricity Celebrates Success Of 250kW Energy Storage Demonstrator, only uses a single weight, but this project talks about multiple weights.

According to other sources on the Internet, the demonstrator will have a storage capacity of 4 MWh and will be built on a brownfield site.

Will we see Gravitricity coming to a disused deep coal mine near you?

Long Duration Offshore Storage Bundle

This is the description of this project.

Subsea 7 Limited and FLASC B.V. will receive £471,760.00 to further develop the Long Duration Offshore Storage Bundle which will store energy as a combination of pressurised seawater and compressed air, using an innovative hydro-pneumatic technology.

Note.

  1. Subsea 7 Limited are a subsea engineering, construction and services company serving the offshore energy industry, domiciled in Luxembourg with headquarters in London.
  2. According to their web site, FLASC B.V. is a spin-off of the University of Malta, established in The Netherlands in 2019.

On the page on the FLASC web site, which is labelled The Technology, this is said.

FLASC is an energy storage device that can be integrated directly into a floating offshore platform. Energy is stored using a hydro-pneumatic liquid piston, driven by a reversible pump-turbine.

Charging Mode: electricity is used to pump water into a closed chamber containing pre-charged air.

Discharging Mode: the pressurised water is released through a hydraulic turbine to generate electricity.

FLASC leverages existing infrastructure and supply chains, along with the marine environment itself as a natural heatsink, resulting in a safe, reliable and cost-effective solution.

There is also this video.

The news page on the FLASC web site is a comforting read.

My knowledge of modelling vessel systems for chemical plants, tells my brain to like it.

Vanadium Flow Battery Longer Duration Energy Asset Demonstrator

This is the description of this project.

Invinity Energy Systems will receive £708,371 to demonstrate how a 40 MWh Vanadium Flow Battery could deliver long duration storage-enabled power on demand from UK-based solar generation.

Note.

  1. I wrote about Invinity Energy Systems in UK’s Pivot Power Sees First Battery On Line By 2021.
  2. Invinity Energy Systems was formed by a merger of RedT and Avalon Battery.
  3. The project appears to be located at Bathgate in Scotland.

This picture from EdF shows a large vanadian flow battery.

Invinity Energy Systems flow battery at Energy Superhub Oxford

If this project works out, vanadium flow batteries would be a good replacement for lithium-ion batteries.

Cheshire Energy Storage Centre

This is the description of this project.

io consulting will receive £1 million to enable its consortium to develop an electricity storage facility which could use mothballed EDF gas cavities in Cheshire utilising Hydrostor’s Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage technology

Note.

  1. This is another project based on salt caverns.
  2. I wrote about Canadian company; Hydrostor in Gigawatt-Scale Compressed Air: World’s Largest Non-Hydro Energy-Storage Projects Announced.
  3. Hydrostor have received at least one large order for their system.

I have put Hydrostor on my list of tecnologies that should make it.

Conclusion

This is a well-balanced list of projects.

I would rate success as follows.

  • Ballylumford Power-to-X – 60 %
  • GraviSTORE – 80 %
  • Long Duration Offshore Storage Bundle – 60 %
  • Vanadium Flow Battery Longer Duration Energy Asset Demonstrator – 70 %
  • Cheshire Energy Storage Centre – 80 %

But then all these projects are a bit of a gamble

 

February 24, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Finance | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Northern Ireland Spends £100m On Clean Buses

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

If Wrightbus can’t rely on the Northern Irish government to buy their buses, who can they?

November 12, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Call For Major Investment In Hydrogen Hub To Help Sector Thrive In Northern Ireland

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Northern Ireland is ready to become a global leader in a future hydrogen economy but needs investment of at least £15m from government, politicians have said.

The article makes points about Northern Ireland and hydrogen.

  • Hydrogen-powered buses are built in Ballymena.
  • There is plenty of wind and water to create the hydrogen.
  • Hydrogen could improve export potential and create skilled jobs.

The proposals certainly have good political support.

 

April 19, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Think Britain To Belfast Is A Bridge Too Far? Try Tunnelling Across Instead

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

It is a well-written article, with good graphics and maps, which fills out the descriptive title.

This paragraph sums up the overall objective.

For the rail industry, it is part of a long-term ambition to reduce journeys by rail between London and Glasgow and Edinburgh to below three hours, which it is also advocating in the review. Trains to Belfast would turn west near Carlisle, around the Scottish border, and lorries bound for Ireland could be loaded there.

The article also predicts London and Belfast in four hours, with Dublin in six.

In a A Glimpse Of 2035, I looked into the future and left London at eight in the morning on the first train between London and Dublin and arrived at 13:30.

My predictions were thirty minutes less than The Times.

But I also predicted, that eventually, times will be three hours to Belfast and four to Dublin.

A Deep Water Port At Shannon And Its Consequences

One thing not mentioned in the Times article, is that the Irish Government and the EU have a plan to develop a deep water port at Shannon.

It would have a rail link to any rail link to the UK and would speed goods between Germany and North America, avoiding the increasingly congested ports of Rotterdam and Hamburg. Time savings of as much as a day are predicted.

I should say, that I part-grew up in Felixstowe in the 1950s and 1960s and I can remember a sleepy little dock with a giant crane to lift seaplanes out of the water, before the massive container port we know today. There are now something like forty container trains per day, going along the sleepy branch line to Ipswich and then to the rest of the UK mainland. If anybody had predicted that in 1960, they’d have been laughed at.

If the Shannon Port is built, I can see twenty high-speed freight trains per day between Shannon and the Channel Tunnel. There will probably need to be massive improvements to the freight network in the South East of England, to get all those freight trains through or around London.

Standard Or Irish Gauge

If the EU develops the deep water port at Shannon, this would surely be rail connected to the new tunnel.

But the EU only likes to build standard gauge railways, so everybody can use them. I would expect that all new tracks in the Republic of Ireland would be standard gauge.

If you look at Spain, all their high-speed railways are standard gauge and they have both narrow and Spanish gauge railways as well.

Some of the awkward squad in Ireland will object to the standard gauge railways, but he who pays the piper calls the tune.

As the UK will be paying from London to the place where the tunnel emerges and the EU from South of the Irish border, it would be much cheaper to make all the route standard gauge. But some diehards would be against it!

February 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Covid-19 Vaccination On The Island Of Ireland

Every day, The Times publishes a table of how many people in various countries have been vaccinated against the Covids.

Today’s figures included.

  • UK – 11 %
  • Ireland – 3 %

Out of curiosity, I calculated today’s figure for Northern Ireland. It was 10.4 %.

As the people of Ireland form a rich pattern of families, commerce and employment on both sides of the border, will these figures cause tensions in the Republic?

January 29, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , | 4 Comments

Ireland’s First Green Hydrogen Project To Come On Stream ‘In Weeks’

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Belfast is set to receive Ireland’s first hydrogen-powered double-decker buses in coming weeks using fuel coming from wind energy generated in nearby north Antrim.

The initiative is the first “green hydrogen” project on the island of Ireland and the first step to decarbonise Northern Ireland’s public transport by 2040, according to Mark Welsh, energy services manager with Energia, which is generating the hydrogen at its wind farm near Ballymena.

Green hydrogen is produced by an electrolyser powered by renewable electricity.

The article gives a good summary of the use of hydrogen in Ireland in the future.

But isn’t all hydrogen created and used on the island of Ireland green?

November 4, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wrightbus Boss Eyes All-Island Green Transport Plan

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

THE new owner of manufacturer Wrightbus says 12,000 buses on the island of Ireland as well as trains could be replaced with hydrogen engines to usher in a new era of environmentally friendly transport.

These points are made in the article.

  • Jo Bamford, who is the owner of Wrightbus, plans to decarbonise all buses and trains on the island.
  • A hydrogen infrastructure would need to be setup.
  • The Enterprise train between Belfast and Dublin would be run by hydrogen.
  • Jo Bamford has yet to talk to the Irish Government.
  • Wrightbus is seeking a £500m subsidy from the UK Government to built 3,000 hydrogen-powered buses by 2024.
  • This would bring 1,500 jobs to Ballymena.
  • The ydrogen-powered buses, will be the same price as diesel.
  • New Whightbus hydrogen buses will be on the streets of London and Aberdeen later this year.

This is one of the last paragraphs of the article.

He (Jo Bamford) said that the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the environment, with a clearer sky and cleaner air resulting from the fall in traffic, could be an inspiration for greener transport.

It may be an ambitious plan, but then you would expect ambition to be flowing in large quantifies in the veins of someone from the family, that gave us JCB.

Will Hydrogen Double-Deck Buses Become Commonplace?

There are now three different designs of hydrogen-powered double-deck bus in design, if not production.

There is also the hydrogen-powered version of the Van Hool ExquiCity tram-bus, that I wrote about in Ballard-Powered Fuel-Cell Tram-Buses From Van Hool Now In Revenue Service In France.

There are some big players making large investments in hydrogen-powered buses. I suspect at least three and possibly all four will succeed.

Designing A Hydrogen-Powered Vehicle

Two hydrogen-powered vehicle designs have impressed me this week.

Both designs use the existing electric transmission and seem to have been relatively straightforward for experienced engineers who are working in the field.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see other suitable vehicles redesigned for hydrogen power.

April 29, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

JCB Heir And Wrightbus Owner Jo Bamford: ‘We Can Sell Our Hydrogen Bus Around The World’

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

The sub-title is.

The Wrightbus boss has a dream: using JCB skills, he hopes to turn its iconic red ‘Boris bus’ green.

The article is hope for the future of Northern Ireland.

Remember that hydrogen buses like diesel buses need an appropriate fuel, so where do they get hydrogen from?

Step forward ITM Power, who are the UK’s  hydrogen company, based in Rotherham.

They are backed by a variety of companies and Government agencies including JCB.

March 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

A Fixed Link To Northern Ireland

The title of this post is the same as an article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, that has been written by Jim Steer, who is a well-known rail engineer.

It is very much a must-read and he is in favour of the link.

  • It’s all about reducing carbon footprint of travel between the UK and Ireland.
  • The bridge would be rail-only.
  • Goods currently sent by truck, would go by rail.
  • There would be a 125 mph rail link across Galloway between the bridge and HS2/West Coast Main Line.
  • A London and Belfast time of three-and-a-half hours would be possible.
  • A frequent Edinburgh and Belfast via Glasgow service would be provided.
  • He believes the Northern Ireland rail network should be converted to standard gauge and expanded, so that large areas of Northern Ireland will benefit.

Increasingly, serious people are coming behind this project.

February 17, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 8 Comments