The Anonymous Widower

Are Floating Wind Farms The Future?

Boris Johnson obviously thinks so, as he said this about floating wind farms at the on-line Tory conference today.

We will invest £160m in ports and factories across the country, to manufacture the next generation of turbines.

And we will not only build fixed arrays in the sea; we will build windmills that float on the sea – enough to deliver one gigawatt of energy by 2030, 15 times floating windmills, fifteen times as much as the rest of the world put together.

Far out in the deepest waters we will harvest the gusts, and by upgrading infrastructure in such places as Teesside and Humber and Scotland and Wales we will increase an offshore wind capacity that is already the biggest in the world.

Just because Boris said it, there is a large amount of comment on the Internet, describing everything he said and floating wind turbines as utter crap.

Wikipedia

The Wikipedia entry for floating wind turbines is particularly informative and gives details on their history, economics and deployment.

This is a paragraph from the Wikipedia entry.

Hywind Scotland has 5 floating turbines with a total capacity of 30 MW, and operated since 2017. Japan has 4 floating turbines with a combined 16 MW capacity.

Wikipedia also has an entry for Hywind Scotland, which starts with this sentence.

Hywind Scotland is the world’s first commercial wind farm using floating wind turbines, situated 29 kilometres (18 mi) off Peterhead, Scotland. The farm has five 6 MW Hywind floating turbines with a total capacity of 30 MW. It is operated by Hywind (Scotland) Limited, a joint venture of Equinor (75%) and Masdar (25%)

Wikipedia, also says this about the performance of Hywind Scotland.

In its first two years of operation the facility has averaged a capacity factor in excess of 50%.

That is good performance for a wind farm.

Hywind

There is more about Hywind on this page of the Equinor web site, which is entitled How Hywind Works.

This is the opening paragraph.

Hywind is a floating wind turbine design based on a single floating cylindrical spar buoy moored by cables or chains to the sea bed. Its substructure is ballasted so that the entire construction floats upright. Hywind combines familiar technologies from the offshore and wind power industries into a new design.

I’ve also found this promotional video on the Equinor web site.

Note that Statoil; the Norwegian government’s state-owned oil company, was renamed Equinor in 2018.

Balaena Structures

In the early 1970s, I did a lot of work for a company called Time Sharing Ltd.

At one point, I ended up doing work for a company in Cambridge started by a couple of engineering professors at the University, which was called Balaena Structures.

They had designed a reusable oil platform, that was built horizontally and then floated out and turned vertically. They couldn’t work out how to do this and I built a mathematical model, which showed how it could be done.

This is said about how the Hywind turbines are fabricated.

Onshore assembly reduces time and risk of offshore operations. The substructures for Hywind Scotland were transported in a horizontal position to the onshore assembly site at Stord on the west coast of Norway. There, the giant spar-structures were filled with close to 8000 tonnes of seawater to make them stay upright. Finally, they were filled with around 5500 tonnes of solid ballast while pumping out approximately 5000 tonnes of seawater to maintain draft.

It sounds like Statoil and Equinor have followed the line of thinking, that I pursued with the Cambridge team.

My simulations of oil platforms, involved much larger structures and they had some other unique features, which I’m not going to put here, as someone might give me a nice sum for the information.

Sadly, in the end Balaena Structures failed.

I actually proposed using a Balaena as a wind power platform in Could a Balaena-Like Structure Be Used As a Wind Power Platform?, which I wrote in 2011.

I believe that their designs could have transformed the offshore oil industry and could have been used to control the Deepwater Horizon accident. I talked about this in The Balaena Lives, which again is from 2011.

Conclusion

It is my view, that floating wind farms are the future.

But then I’ve done the mathematics of these structures!

Did Boris’s advisors, as I doubt he knows the mathematics of oblique cylinders and how to solve simultaneous differential equations, do the mathematics or just read the brochures?

I will predict, that today’s structures will look primitive to some of those developed before 2030.

October 6, 2020 Posted by | Energy | , , , , | Leave a comment

Newcomer Broad Reach Power To Deploy Increasingly Large Battery Systems In Texas

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Energy Storage News.

This is the introductory paragraph.

US-based independent power producer (IPP) Broad Reach Power has said it will build 15 projects in Texas in 2020, each of them just under 10MW / 10MWh, with construction on six of them set to begin this summer.

The article then goes on to describe the electricity industry in Texas and where the battery storage fits in.

It’s all a far cry from the Texas portrayed in soaps like Dallas.

Wind Power In Texas

Wind Power in Texas has its own Wikipedia entry and this is the first paragraph.

Wind power in Texas consists of over 40 wind farms, which together have a total nameplate capacity of over 28,000 MW (as of 2019). If Texas were a country, it would rank fifth in the world: The installed wind capacity in Texas exceeds installed wind capacity in all countries but China, the United States, Germany and India. Texas produces the most wind power of any U.S. state.

But then everything in Texas, is famed as being the biggest in the world.

Their installed capacity of 28 GW compares with 17.64 GW of installed wind power in the UK.

Solar Power In Texas

Solar Power in Texas also has its own Wikipedia entry and this is the first paragraph.

Solar power in Texas, along with wind power, has the potential to allow Texas to remain an energy-exporting state over the long term. The western portion of the state especially has abundant open land areas, with some of the greatest solar and wind potential in the country. Development activities there are also encouraged by relatively simple permitting and significant available transmission capacity.

The Wikipedia entry also says that in 2019, Texas had 4.32 GW of installed solar power.

By comparison, the UK has 8.1 GW of installed solar power. Who’d have thought that?

As Texas is 2.87 times geographically larger than the UK, if Texas had the same solar panel density as the UK, Texas would have an installed capacity of 23.2 GW.

The Need For Energy Storage In Texas

With all this installed wind and solar energy in Texas and its potential for expansion, there would appear to a massive demand for energy storage in the state.

Conclusion

What would JR think?

June 11, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage | , , , , | Leave a comment

After Coronavirus, What’s Next? China: More Coal, US: More Oil, EU: More Renewables

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

The title says it all, but read the article to get the detail.

June 2, 2020 Posted by | Health, World | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Global Oil Storage Close To Being ‘Overwhelmed’

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Ships, pipelines and storage tanks holding surplus oil could be “overwhelmed” within weeks as the coronavirus pandemic causes unprecedented drops in fuel usage, the International Energy Agency warned yesterday.

So what are we going to do?

I can’t see Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States cutting oil production.

But that is what must happen!

April 16, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , , | 5 Comments

UK Listed Energy Storage Fund Seeks 182MW Battery Project Pipeline

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Energy Storage News.

This is the first paragraph.

UK investment management firm Gresham House has confirmed it is to launch a fresh fund raising drive as it sets its sights on a new, 182MW pipeline of battery storage projects.

It is my belief as a Control Engineer, that if we move to renewable energy, like geothermal, hydro, solar, tidal, wave and wind, that the generating capacity must be backed up with large massive of energy storage.

  • The energy storage captures excess electricity when nobody needs to use it and feeds it back when consumption exceeds supply.
  • I suspect that the National Grid have done extensive simulations of the UK’s energy needs and that they have a model of how much energy storage is needed to support particular mixes and capacities of renewable energy.
  • Most of the storage will be lithium-ion or perhaps some of the newer developments, that are creeping into the renewable dictionary.
  • The cost of storage, its working life and performance must be well-known, which means that the investors can get a return, that satisfies their needs to fund pensions and insurance policies.

So it would appear that Gresham House have done their sums and come up with a mathematical model, where all are winners.

  • UK industry and consumers get enough electricity for their needs.
  • Insurance companies and pension funds get a return to fulfil their contractual commitments.
  • UK pensioners get a reliable pension.
  • UK taxpayers don’t have to fund the much-needed energy storage.
  • Our electricity will increasingly be generated by renewables.
  • I do suspect that Gresham House will take an appropriate fee.

There may even be an opportunity for the public to invest directly in the future.

For all these winners, there will be losers.

  • Oil companies. In Writing On The Wall For Oil Say Funds, I wrote about the opinion of fund managers on oil companies.
  • Despots, dictators and religious maniacs, who control much of the world’s oil resources.

I shall cry not one tear for the second group!

I’ll be very interested to see the way that these energy storage funds develop!

Conclusion

These funds will develop in parallel with renewable energy and the energy storage it needs.

As the demand for energy storage will grow significantly, these funds will grow as well to provide the capacity needed to keep the lights on.

 

 

April 30, 2019 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Finance | , , , | Leave a comment

Writing On The Wall For Oil Say Funds

The title of this post is the same as that of an article on page 37 of today’s copy of The Times.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Several big fund managers believe that oil companies should shut themselves down because soon they will be impossible to invest in as the world switches to tenewable energy.

A survey of 39 fund managers with $10.2 trillion under manaement found that 24 per cent wanted the oil industry “to wind down their businesses and return cash to shareholders” All but two of the funds  said that oil stocks would not be attrative investments within ten years if they failed to respond to climate risks.

It’s pretty strong stuff.

So could we see a reduction in the use of oil and gas as a fuel?

In some countries including Denmark, Iceland, the United Kingdom and the United States, renewable energy is growing at a good rate.

The UK did draw the full set, in being blessed with the full set of coal, oil, wind, wave and tidal. We also have a bit of geothermal, hydro and solar.

We will still extract coal, gas and oil, but not for fuel.

  • Very high quality coal is needed for steel-making, where carbon-capture could be used.
  • Gas and oil are used as chemical feedstock for plastics, everyday chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

Hydrogen gas, produced by electrolysis for use as fuel,  a chemical feedstock and central heating.

Shell have already purchased First Energy, who are a domestic energy supplier in the UK, so are they getting out of oil?

Are fund managers and oil companies starting to go in the same direction, with a lot of the world’s drivers sticking slavishly to petrol and the dreaded diesel?

April 29, 2019 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Surrey Has A Budget Crisis

This article on the BBC is entitled Conservative-led Surrey County Council plans 15% council tax hike.

This is said.

A Conservative-run council wants to raise its tax by 15% in the next financial year, blaming government cuts and increased demand for social care.

Surrey County Council leader David Hodge said the government had cut its annual grant by £170m since 2010.

Surrey definitely has a budget crisis.

An old friend of mine was a senior executive in a FTSE-listed mining and resources company.

We were having lunch and he said that of all the areas in the UK, Surrey was the most likely to find a sizeable oil-field.

He also said, that Oil Exploration would be transformed if there was a Local Extraction Tax.

So why aren’t Surrey encouraging the Oil Companies to foind the black gold to pay for all those services that the County needs?

In fact, if you type “fracking Surrey” into Google, you’ll find nothing but hostility..

After all they’ve already found one sizeable field recently at Horse Hill, as I wrote about inThe Oil Find That Will Settle The Result Of The Election.

I’m afraid, you can’t have your cake and eat it!

January 20, 2017 Posted by | Health, World | , | Leave a comment

Wytch Farm And Horse Hill

I couldn’t resist looking at the Google Earth images of the two sites.

This is Wytch Farm

Wytch Farm

Wytch Farm

The processing plant for the field is the two squares in the bottom-left or south-west corner of the map and the wells fan out for upwards of 10 km. The field even goes under the upmarket area of Sandbanks, so if anybody would complain, the residents from there would.

And this is the area of Horse Hill

Horse Hill

Horse Hill

It is marked by the yellow circle. Note the sprawl of Gatwick at the bottom.

Both sites are surrounded by a lot of green field and woods, so I feel that a similar camouflage job could be done in Surrey to that done in Dorset.

Although as Wytch Farm is now forty years old, I suspect we’ll do a better job today of hiding it. It might be that directional drilling is used from a site near the railway through Gatwick, so that the processing plant could be well hidden and oil could be removed by train.

April 9, 2015 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

The Oil Find That Will Settle The Result Of The Election

I’ve believed for some time, that which ever party wins the election in a few weeks time should win the next election in 2020.

This belief is based on the fact, that so many large rail and other transport projects are due for completion in the later years of this decade.

The report on the BBC of the large oil find at Horse Hill in Surrey, is one of many that describe the find as of national significance. This is said in the BBC’s report.

“We think we’ve found a very significant discovery here, probably the largest [onshore in the UK] in the last 30 years, and we think it has national significance,” Stephen Sanderson, UKOG’s chief executive told the BBC.

Many will worry that developing an oil field in rural Surrey could be an environmental disaster.

A friend of mine had a lot to do with the development of the last major onshore oilfield in the UK at Wytch Farm, which is the largest onshore oil-field in Western Europe. The new field could be bigger, but all reports get their millions and billions mixed up.

Wytch Farm is not your average oilfield, as it is in the heart of rural Dorset by Corfe Castle. Wikipedia says this about the environment of the field.

Most of the field is protected by various conservation laws, including the Jurassic Coast world heritage site, Purbeck Heritage Coast and a number of sites of special scientific interest, areas of outstanding natural beauty and nature reserves (including Studland and Brownsea Island), so the gathering centre and most of the well sites are small and well screened by trees. Directional drilling has also contributed to reducing the impact on the local environment, with extended reach drilling from the Goathorn Peninsula attaining distances in excess of 10 km.

But the field would appear to have been an impeccable neighbour, more conspicuous by its absence in the media.

So I think the UK has good form in the development of oilfields in sensitive areas and there is no reason to expect that the development of Horse Hill will be any more disruptive than that at Wytch Farm.

The field’s biggest effect will be on the UK economy, if as reports are saying, production will start in a few years time, it will be producing revenues and cutting imports by the next election in 2020.

Circumstances have left the incoming government with a very large dowry.

They will have to be really stupid to lose in 2020. But then that’s normal for politicians.

April 9, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

Should We Embrace Fracking?

As an engineer, I have come to some conclusions about fracking.

There is certainly a lot of gas and possibly oil, buried in the ground, that can be accessed using advanced techniques like fracking in the UK.

Countries like the United States have certainly benefited from fracking with low gas prices and increased manufacturing activity.

There have been problems, as there were in Blackpool in the UK with fracking.

But are we throwing the resources of our great engineering universities, like Newcastle, Surrey, Southampton, Aberdeen, Manchester and Liverpool at the problem? I’ve left out universities that aren’t close to oil and gas reserves.

I doubt it!

Knowing engineering and engineers as I do, I suspect they could come up with better methods, that would benefit the UK and perhaps other countries, who have large difficult gas reserves and are nervous of using fracking and other methods.

So should the major oil and gas companies, be spending a few hundred millions investing in the future?

August 12, 2013 Posted by | News, World | , , , | 2 Comments