The Anonymous Widower

Is This The World’s Most Ambitious Green Energy Solution?

In the 1970s and 1980s, when I was developing Artemis, which was the first desk-sized project management system, we were heavily involved in North Sea Oil, with dozens of systems in Aberdeen.  As Norway developed the oil business on the other side of the North Sea, the number of systems there grew to at least twenty.

Increasingly, I became aware of a Norwegian company called Kværner, which seemed to have large numbers of Artemis systems.

In 2002, Kværner merged with Aker Maritime and this eventually led to the formation of Aker Solutions in 2008, which is a company that is headquartered in Oslo and employs nearly 14,000.

According to Wikipedia, the Kværner name was dropped somewhere along the way, as non-Scandinavians have difficulty pronouncing Kværner.

Aker Solutions appears to be wholly Scandinavian-owned, with Aker ASA owning a third of the company.

They are a very respected company, when it comes to offshore engineering for oil and gas and wind projects.

Aker ASA also have a subsidiary called Aker Horizons, which has this web site, where they call themselves a planet-positive company.

This page on the Aker Horizons is entitled Northern Horizons: A Pathway for Scotland to Become a Clean Energy Exporter.

These first two paragraphs outline the project.

A vision to utilise Scottish offshore wind resources in the North Sea to make the country an exporter of clean energy has been unveiled at the COP 26 climate change conference in Glasgow.

The Northern Horizons Project has been unveiled by Aker Horizons’ portfolio companies Aker Offshore Wind and Aker Clean Hydrogen, who have the technical know-how and expertise to realise the project, and DNV, the independent energy expert and assurance provider.

Various targets and ambitions are listed.

  • 10 GW of renewable energy in the North Sea.
  • 5 GW of green hydrogen.
  • Giant turbines nearly as tall as the London Shard on floating platforms more than 130km from Shetland.
  • Enough liquid hydrogen will be produced to power 40 percent of the total mileage of local UK buses.
  • Enough synthetic fuel to make 750 round trips from the UK to New York.

A completion date of 2030 for this project is mentioned.

This article on The Engineer is entitled Northern Horizons Plans Clean Energy Exports For Scotland.

The article is dated the 4th of November 2021 and starts with this sub-heading and an informative video.

Aker Horizons’ new initiative, Northern Horizons, aims to make Scotland a clean energy exporter by utilising offshore wind resources in the North Sea.

There is an explanatory graphic of the project which shows the following.

  • Floating wind turbines.
  • A floating DC substation.
  • A floating hydrogen electrolyser.
  • An onshore net-zero refinery to produce synthetic aviation fuel and diesel.
  • A hydrogen pipeline to mainland Scotland.
  • Zero-carbon energy for Shetland.

It is all very comprehensive.

These are some other thoughts.

Project Orion

Project Orion how has its own web site and the project that seems to have similar objectives to Northern Horizons.

The title on the home page is Building A World-Leading Clean Energy Island.

There is this statement on the home page.

Orion is a bold, ambitious project that aims to transform Shetland into the home of secure and affordable clean energy.

We will fuel a cleaner future and protect the environment by harnessing the islands’ renewables potential, using onshore and offshore wind, tidal and wave energy.

The graphic has similar features to that Northern Horizons in the article on The Engineer, with the addition of providing an oxygen feed to Skyrora for rocket fuel.

German Finance

I feel very much, that the Germans could be providing finance for developments around Shetland, as the area could be a major source of hydrogen to replace Vlad the Mad’s tainted gas.

In Do BP And The Germans Have A Cunning Plan For European Energy Domination?, I described how BP is working with German utilities and finance to give Germany the hydrogen it needs.

NorthConnect

The NorthConnect (also known as Scotland–Norway interconnector) is a proposed 650 km (400-mile) 1,400 MW HVDC interconnector over the floor of the North Sea.

  • It will run between Peterhead in North-East Scotland and Norway.

This project appears to be stalled, but with the harvesting of more renewable energy on Shetland, I can see this link being progressed, so that surplus energy can be stored in Norway’s pumped storage hydro.

Icelink

Icelink is a proposed electricity interconnector between Iceland and Great Britain.

  • It would be the longest undersea interconnector in the world, with a length of 620 to 750 miles.
  • It would be a 800–1,200 MW high-voltage direct current (HVDC) link.
  • National Grid is part of the consortium planning to build the link.
  • Iceland has a surplus of renewable energy and the UK, is the only place close enough for a connection.

I believe that if Icelink were to be built in conjunction with energy developments on and around Shetland, a more powerful and efficient interconnector could emerge.

Conclusion

This ambitious project will transform the Shetlands and the energy industry in wider Scotland.

This project is to the North-East of Shetland, but the islands are surrounded by sea, so how many other Northern Horizons can be built in a ring around the islands?

March 22, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Germany Weighs Norway Hydrogen Pipeline To Avoid Russian Energy

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

This the introductory paragraphs.

Germany and Norway are considering building a hydrogen pipeline linking the two nations to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian energy supplies.

The countries plan to soon conduct a feasibility study on the project that would eventually transport green hydrogen from Norway to Germany, they said after a meeting between German Economy Minister Robert Habeck and Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store.

There is a joint statement that gives more details.

Developments like this and lots of wind power in the North Sea and around the UK, are the sort of actions, that could seriously reduce the size of Russia’s oil and gas industry and the money it pays to that group of war criminals like Vlad the Mad and his friends.

March 21, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ukraine: Anger Over Russian Oil Tanker Due In Orkney

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Russian ships could have their access to UK ports restricted, under plans being considered at Westminster.

It follows concerns that a Russian-owned tanker is due at an Orkney oil terminal within days.

The tanker is going to pick up oil.

I can understand the anger, but as we are led to believe that the Russians have plenty of oil and gas does it matter that we sell them a tanker full, provided the cheque or transfer doesn’t bounce?

We should sell the Russians anything that has nothing to do with the war, but things like luxury goods will not help them in their takeover of Ukraine.

The list would include goods like expensive cars, but not trucks or 4 x 4’s, Scotch whisky, jewellery, chocolates and expensive clothes.

February 27, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Thoughts On The Cambo Oil Field

There is an article in The Times today which is entitled Sturgeon Faces Backlash After Shell Pulls Out Of North Sea Oilfield.

I have been following the technology of Carbon Capture and Use and some very good ideas have come forward in the last couple of years.

  • Carbon dioxide is becoming increasingly important in the growing of flowers, salad vegetables, soft fruits and tomatoes in greenhouses.
  • At COP26, Australian company, Mineral Carbonation International won an award for their process that turns carbon dioxide into building materials like blocks and plasterboard.
  • A big investment was also made recently in an Italian company, who are using the properties of liquid and gaseous carbon dioxide to store energy.
  • Carbon dioxide has for years made a good fire extinguisher, which can’t be said for some chemicals currently used.
  • I suspect that some clever chemists are working on using carbon dioxide to create sustainable aviation fuel.

If the number of ideas for the use of carbon dioxide continues to increase, I can see gas-fired power stations being built, that are also used to produce much-needed high-quality carbon dioxide.

It should also be noted, that many like me, live in houses that are unsuitable for the fitting of heat pumps at an economical cost.

So we must wait for better technology or for hydrogen to be piped into our houses.

In the meantime, we will have to rely on gas. Or freeze!

I don’t know whether Cambo will produce any gas, but if it doesn’t, I can’t see much point in developing it.

Perhaps, Shell would prefer to develop a gas field.

December 3, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crossrail: Report Finds Not Enough Money To Finish Project

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

The cost of completing Crossrail exceeds available funding, the government spending watchdog has found.

The National Audit Office (NAO) estimates the cost of the new rail link will be between £30m and £218m above the current funding.

After such a good start with the tunneling and surface line going well, how did we get here?

My main business for nearly forty years was writing project management software and that gave me a deep insight into the dynamics and mathematics of large projects.

The software, I created in the 1970s; Artemis was deeply involved in the most important project of the time; North Sea Oil.

But then more by luck, than any judgement on my part, it was well suited to solving the management problems of North Sea Oil.

The software ran on a small Hewlett-Packard mini-computer with an attached display and a printer, whose footprint, gave Artemis an advantage over competitors who needed a mainframe, for which there was no office space in Aberdeen.

I had first got involved in scheduling resources at ICI about five years earlier and because from previous experience I knew resources would be critical, I gave the program extensive resource aggregation and scheduling capabilities.

I have been told that the latter proved invaluable in successfully developing North Sea Oil. People may have been flattering me, but I do know that Shell used to ensure that all their suppliers used Artemis, so they could check easily if they were being told the truth.

I suspect that Shell and others used the aggregation capability to see that they weren’t overloading the pool of available labour.

Artemis definitely proved itself capable of handling the various projects in the North Sea.

We have now moved on forty years, but has project management moved on to cope with the advances in technology of the modern world?

As with North Sea Oil in Aberdeen, in the 1970s, Crossrail and other large projects like Berlin’s new Brandenburg Airport will always have a need for large numbers of resources, be they men, materiel or machines.

I have some questions.

  • Do all contractors working on Crossrail use the same software?
  • Does Crossrail have the right to inspect the contractors project management systems?
  • Is the upward reporting what it needs to be?
  • Does the software the contractors use, have an aggregation capability?
  • Do Crossrail track and predict the resources needed?

Someone I respect told me, that a lot of modern project management software doesn’t even have an aggregation capability- Enough said!

I must admit, aggregation and scheduling software is difficult to write, so it might be easier to cut it out and let your clients muddle through!

But The Tunnels Were Built On Time And On Budget!

It all started so well, with the first part of the project, which was the boring of the tunnels being completed on time and on budget.

Observing the project, as I did and picking up information from engineers working on the tunnels and various magazines and television programs, I have to come to the conclusion, that the credit for the on time and budget completion must be down to excellent planning.

  • I don’t remember any delays or problems reported in the tunneling. Was that good planning and surveying or luck?
  • There were few if any articles on the BBC or in the Standard complaining about the problems the tunneling was inflicting on Londoners.
  • The planners realised there could be a shortage of workers qualified to work underground, so they built the Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy at Ilford, which I wrote about in Open House – TUCA.

Certainly, St Barbara, who is the patron saint of tunnellers looked after the project and its builders.

Worsening The Resource Problem

Crossrail, the Greater London Authority and the Boroughs should have been monitoring this growing resource problem, but I doubt they were in anything other than a perfunctory way!

Instead the politicians were giving planning permission to anybody with money, who wanted to build a shiny new development close to a station.

These projects would need more men, materiel or machines.

As many of these new developments are backed by companies or funds with bottomless pockets to get their developments finished they were prepared to pay more for their labour.

So labour has been deserting Crossrail in droves, thus further delaying the project.

Senior politicians in the Greater London Authority and the boroughs should accept some responsibility for Crossrail’s delay.

They didn’t need to withhold the planning permission, just say that construction of the other projects couldn’t commence until an appropriate phase of Crossrail was open.

In some parts of the world, brown envelopes will have changed hands, but it would be nice to know how many mayors and senior politicians have had holidays in places, they would not normally visit.

Senior project managers tell me, that they would not be surprised if developments along Crossrail had delayed the project.

The Covid Problem

No-one saw Covid coming, except possibly the Chinese.

But good project management is all about negotiating the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

There is the story of the miniMetro production line.

The first body shells coming out of the automated welder were crooked and it turned out that the machine had hit a motorway bridge in Germany. But by good project management using Artemis, British Leyland engineers were able to get the second line working correctly before the first and the car was launched on time.

With Covid, the Mayor shut construction, and it was some months before it restarted again.

I am certain, that with good project management we could have done better.

Covid is also a good excuse for lateness.

On the other hand good project management got the vaccines developed, manufactured and delivered into arms.

Covid also blew a big hole in Transport for London’s finances.

But then so did Sadiq Khan’s Fare Freeze, that brought him to office.

Could Crossrail Have Part-Opened Earlier?

I often ponder this and others ask me if it would be possible.

The Victoria Line was built with crossovers and it was able to open in phases.

Crossrail has crossovers in the following places.

  • Either side of Custom House station
  • To the West of Whitechapel station
  • Between Farringdon and Tottenham Court Road stations

Note.

  1. It doesn’t appear to have been built for part opening.
  2. From media reports, it appears Whitechapel station is the basket case in the East.

The answer is probably that Crossrail can’t be part-opened, but there are good reasons, why it should be opened earlier.

  • To generate a small amount of revenue.
  • To give travellers and Londoners in general a lift.

The only practical service would be a few trains turning at Farringdon.

Conclusion

I blame politicians for Crossrail being late and over budget.

July 10, 2021 Posted by | Finance, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Editorial: Our jobs Are Bound Up With The Future Of Four Hydrogen Atoms And One Carbon

The title of this post, is the same as that of this long and reasoned editorial on the Houston Chronicle.

It is definitely a must-read.

This is the last few paragraphs.

As this editorial board has argued before, the energy transition to address climate change offers opportunities that Houston should embrace. Hydrogen’s potential for the Houston region is to give new life to infrastructure we have, to take the emissions out of fossil fuel, to spur a revolution in materials and to sustain the jobs of well-paid oil and gas workers.

It won’t be easy to realize that promise. But few big things are.

“I am an American scientist brought up in the Midwest during the Sputnik era,” Smalley, with less than a year to live, told Congress in his 2004 speech, “and like so many of my colleagues in the U.S. and worldwide, I am a technological optimist. I think we can do it.”

Richard Smalley was a joint winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the discovery of buckminsterfullerene.

I suspect Buckminster Fuller himself, who is very much one of my heroes, would have been a believer in renewable energy.

April 12, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , | Leave a comment

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 | , , , , | 1 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 | Energy, 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