The Anonymous Widower

Ukraine Tender Would Pair Hydroelectric Plants With Large-Scale Battery Storage

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

This is a must-read article, as it outlines the damage that Russia is doing to Ukraine’s energy generation.

It also reports how the World Bank is trying to help.

November 30, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , | Leave a comment

University Of Manchester And National Grid Team Up To Develop SF6-Free Retrofill Solution For Electricity Network

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from National Grid.

This is the introductory paragraph.

National Grid and the University of Manchester are to collaborate on a four-year project to develop a full-scale demonstrator at the Deeside Centre for Innovation, designed to test at scale how the UK can retrofill sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) across its network of high-voltage equipment.

Note.

  1. Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) is a gas commonly used in the power industry to provide electrical insulation and arc interruption.
  2. Eighty percent of sulphur hexafluoride is used in the electricity industry.
  3. According to Wikipedia, sulphur hexafluoride has several important applications, including a medical one in eye surgery.
  4. But sulphur hexafluoride is a is a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential that is 25,200 times greater than CO2.

It certainly looks to be a good idea to see if the sulphur hexafluoride can be eliminated from electrical equipment and other uses, that may release the gas into the atmosphere.

These paragraphs from the press release outline the project.

The £1.9m project will see experts at Manchester help determine how National Grid can develop a retrofill solution to replace SF6 with an environmentally friendlier alternative without having to replace or otherwise modify the existing equipment.

This solution – to be demonstrated at National Grid’s test facility the Deeside Centre for Innovation – will mean National Grid can avoid the environmental impact and cost of replacing equipment otherwise fit for many more years’ service.

It is not the first time National Grid and the University of Manchester have teamed up on a project exploring SF6 alternatives – a previous initiative which concluded in 2020 is now up for an IET Engineering & Technology magazine innovation award for ‘Best Innovation in Net Zero and Sustainability’.

The press release also says this about the Deeside Centre for Innovation.

National Grid’s Deeside Centre for Innovation in North Wales is the first of its kind in Europe, where electricity network assets can be tested under real life conditions, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It certainly seems that National Grid and Manchester University are on top of the problem and have the resources to achieve success in the project.

The Russian Attack On Ukraine

You may wonder what this has got to do with improving transformers and switchgear in Manchester and Wales.

Recently, the Russians have been targeting the Ukrainian electricity network. Are Ukrainian transformers and switchgear insulated with sulphur hexafluoride and if they are how of this potent global warming gas has been released into the atmosphere?

November 20, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Health | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

An Expedition To Muswell Hill To Get Some Lovely Liver

After my plea in Need To Regularly Eat A Large Plate Of Calves’ Liver, I got a recommendation to try The Cilicia at Muswell Hill.

It was delicious and just what my body wanted. The liver had been cooked in sage butter with tomatoes, mushrooms and potatoes.

I shall return!

The only problem is that Dalston and Muswell Hill is not the easiest journey to make by public transport.

My route was as follows.

  • I took by taking a 141 bus from close to my house to Manor House station.
  • I then got a Piccadilly Line train to Turnpike Lane station.
  • From there it was a 144 bus to Muswell Hill Broadway.

It took about 45 minutes.

But it might be quicker to take a 102 bus from Bounds Green station.

Or go to the Angel Islington and get a 43 bus from there to Muswell Hill Broadway.

But my route could all have been so different.

This map shows the Muswell Hill branch which was closed by British Rail and has since been mainly built over.

The Muswell Hill branch would have been part of the comprehensive Northern Heights Plan.

  • The Northern Line would have been extended from Edgware to Bushey Heath.
  • The Mill Hill East branch would have been extended to Edgware.
  • If you look at the maps in Wikipedia, the Northern Line would be very different through London.
  • The Muswell Hill branch would have given better access to the magnificent Alexandra Palace.

But Austerity after World War II meant the extension never happened.

I can see a case could be made for some parts of the Northern Heights plan, but it is too late now, as viaducts have been demolished and routes have been built over.

My feeling is that if there was a need for the Northern Heights plan in the 1930s, then as London has expanded, that need will need to be fulfilled in the future.

So when Austerity hits as it did after World War II and as it is happening now due to Covid-19 and Vlad’s war in Ukraine, we should make sure we don’t compromise our plans for the future.

I believe that with a small amount of safeguarding in the 1960s, the Northern Line would now have a useful branch to Alexandra Palace and Muswell Hill.

November 19, 2022 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How Did The Ukrainians Attack The Crimea Bridge?

No-one seems to know what happened on the Crimea Bridge, which appeared to catch fire.

  • Was it the Ukranians?
  • Was it some of Putin’s enemies in Russia?
  • Was it an accident?
  • Did a battery in an electric car explode?
  • Was it a suicide bomber?
  • Was it a drone strike?
  • Was it a drunken lorry-driver, who hit something?

We just get more and more questions.

But here’s two questions, that can be answered.

Was the train going from Russia? For my theory to be feasible, it must have been going from Russia into Crimea.

Did more than one part of the train catch fire? Someone said it did.

The Track Layout

I have been looking at the track layout over the bridge on OpenRailwayMap, which shows everything. It appears a couple of kilometres. to the South (Russian) side of the bridge there is a set of sidings and/or freight loops.

This OpenRailwayMap shows the sidings in relation to the bridge.

Note.

  1. The main line is shown in orange.
  2. The bridge is in the North-West corner of the map.
  3. The sidings are shown in black alongside the main line in the South-East corner of the map.

This second map shows the loops and sidings in more detail.

Note.

  1. Trains in Russia run on the right track, whereas the UK runs on the left.
  2. There are actually two sets of loops; one has extra sidings and the other doesn’t.
  3. Both loops can be accessed from both tracks and directions.

Unfortunately, the Google Map of the area shows the construction phase.

Did the freight train stop overnight in these sidings and proceed at first light? After all it might be going a long way and drivers needed time for sleep, some food, vodka and a few ciggies.

Whilst it was stopped did Ukrainian saboteurs sneak in and fix bombs with timers to the train? After all kids sneak into our sidings at night and graffiti the trains.

The timers could even have been fitted with GPS, so they went off on the most vulnerable part of the bridge.

This could explain the timing and how the train appeared to have been hit more than once!

For a raid, it would be much easier than say what the Norwegians did in WW2 to blow up the heavy water plant at Telemark, where they didn’t lose a man.

A Picture Of The Train Fire

This picture shows the train fire.

Note.

  1. It appears that the carriageway nearest to the camera has collapsed.
  2. If we assume, the break point is now lying on the seabed, it points to the pier with the light-coloured rectangle on top being the failure point of the road bridge.
  3. According to OpenRailwayMap, who handily show carriageway directions, that is the carriageway to Crimea.
  4. The rail bridge is double-track and appears to be reasonably intact.
  5. The train also appears to be intact, except for some fire damage.
  6. If the train was going to Crimea, it would be on the track nearest to the camera.

I do think, that if it was explosions on the train that caused the bridge collapse, there would be more damage on the other carriageway and on the railway.

The Collapse Of The Crimea-Bound Carriageway

This reminds me very much of the collapse of the Cleddau Bridge in Wales, during construction in 1970.

Wikipedia says this about that collapse.

Errors in the box girder design caused the collapse during construction in 1970. The bridge became operational during 1975.

If I remember correctly, during construction, the bridge was effectively overloaded. I can certainly remember lots of discussion about the failure in the office, where I worked in ICI at Runcorn.

I am not suggesting, that there were errors in the Russian calculations, but that something happened to take the bridge outside of its safety limits.

Suppose, there was a large explosion near the pier, where the break occurred, could it have caused the bolts holding the sections of the bridge to shear and allow the bridge to fall, as the pictures show.

It is certainly looking that a major truck bomb, is the cause.

CCTV pictures have been shown, that purport to see a truck exploding.

Was It A Suicide Attack?

I don’t think that the type of traditional suicide attacks, as practiced by the Islamic State and others would be carried out by either Ukraine or Russia. Although Chechens did use suicide attacks in their war against Russia.

But I do think it would be possible for a driver to stop a truck, put out warning triangles or whatever is the law in Russia and then be picked up by a friendly driver.

Alternatively, they could wait until the truck exploded and then make a getaway under cover of the fire. They could even jump into the water and be picked up by a boat.

If the Russians were behind it, they would have the ability to use a hired driver from perhaps a local agency.

Suppose, a hired driver were to be told to take a truck load of watermelons to Sebastopol and bring the truck back. A quick look would confirm the watermelons, but I doubt, the driver would find the bomb underneath.

If the driver was killed would the Russians mind.

The Ukrainians might not either, but they’d have the problem of getting the truck deep into Russian territory, without being detected.

The Truck On The Bridge According To The BBC

This article on the BBC is entitled Crimean Bridge: Who – Or What – Caused The Explosion?.

The article says this about the truck.

Security camera footage released on social media showed a truck – allegedly from the Russian city of Krasnodar, an hour’s drive from the crossing – moving west across the bridge at the time of the explosion.

Russian officials named a 25-year old Krasnodar man, Samir Yusubov, as the owner of the truck, and said an older relative, Makhir Yusubov, was the driver.

But close examination of the footage seems to show that the truck had nothing to do with the explosion.

Note.

  1. If the truck was going West it was going from Russia to Crimea, this meant it was on the carriageway furthest from the railway.
  2. The truck was on the carriageway that collapsed.

Does that rule out a truck bomb?

The View Of A British Army Explosives Expert

The BBC article also says this.

“I’ve seen plenty of large vehicle-borne IEDs [improvised explosive devices] in my time,” a former British army explosives expert told me. “This does not look like one.”

A more plausible explanation, he said, is a massive explosion below the bridge – probably delivered using some kind of clandestine maritime drone.

“Bridges are generally designed to resist downwards loads on the deck and a certain amount of side loading from the wind,” he said. “They are not generally engineered to resist upward loads. I think this fact was exploited in the Ukrainian attack.”

That sounds feasible to me, but the BBC article also has this paragraph.

If this is how Ukraine managed to attack the Kerch Bridge, hundreds of miles from Ukrainian-controlled territory, then it’s one of Kyiv’s most ambitious operations so far.

If that is true, it certainly is an ambitious operation, that ranks alongside the St Nazaire Raid in World War II.

A Structural Engineer’s Thoughts

This article on New Civil Engineer is entitled How The Crimean Bridge Explosion Caused Multiple Spans To Collapse.

It is the thoughts of Andrew Barr at the University of Sheffield and it well worth a read.

Conclusion

We’re still a long way from the truth.

 

 

October 8, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , , , | 5 Comments

‘A Gift For Putin’: Czech E-shop Sells Tanks And Grenades To Support Ukrainian Army

The title of this post, is the same as that of this story on expats_cz.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The Czech Republic has been among the most active countries in supporting the Ukrainian military with donations and sales of weapons and ammunition, including shipments of Soviet-era tanks, multiple rocket launchers, howitzers, infantry fighting vehicles, and anti-aircraft weapons.

I hope the gift, will calm Vlad the Mad.

October 3, 2022 Posted by | World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are These Two Stories Related?

These are two stories recently published in Railway Gazette.

Deutsche Bahn Sells Arriva Businesses To Private Equity Holding Company, which starts with this paragraph.

Deutsche Bahn has reached agreement to sell its Arriva local transport activities in Denmark, Poland and Serbia to München-based private equity holding company Mutares SE & Co KGaA.

That is fairly clear and is probably related with the German government’s desire for DB to concentrate on its core business.

RENFE Looks At Entering UK Rail Market Through Open Access Partnership, which starts with this paragraph.

Open access passenger service developer Grand Union Trains is working with Spain’s national operator RENFE and private equity firm Serena Industrial Partners on a proposed service between London and Wales.

That also is fairly clear and would bring competition to services to South Wales.

The article also says the following.

  • RENFE seem to be expanding into partnerships to run services outside Spain.
  • A parkway station at Felindre will be build to avoid the reverse at Swansea, that would save 20 mins.
  • It will be a high quality service with new electro-diesel trains.
  • Four trains will be needed.
  • A 2025 start is envisaged.

Will this partnership with Grand Union Trains proceed with the development of Grand Union Trains’ London and Stirling service?

I have some thoughts and questions.

Will Deutsche Bahn Sell Other Arriva Businesses?

I think this is a reasonable question to ask, especially, as Deutsche Bahn owns two Open Access Operators in the UK; Chiltern Railways and Grand Central Trains.

  • Both operators have a good reputation.
  • Both operators need to decarbonise, either by updating their current stock or buying new trains.
  • Both operators have solid niche markets, where they are often responsible for the stations.
  • Both operators have expansion plans.

Would RENFE and Serena Industrial Partners be interested in taking over Arriva UK and developing the business?

The Talgo Factory At Longannet

I believe that there is reason to believe that one of Talgo’s reasons for a factory in Scotland, is that it could have been used to build Russian and dual-gauge trains for Eastern Europe. The trains would have been delivered by ferry from Rosyth.

There is also the not-small matter of the fleet for Rail Baltica, for which Talgo will surely be a bidder.

But Russia’s attack on Ukraine has scuppered that plan, or at least delayed it for a few years. But now, there could be a much larger market for trains in Eastern Europe and especially Ukraine.

If RENFE Acquire Open Access Operators In The UK, They Will Need New Trains

They will certainly need new trains for the South Wales operations, if they go ahead, but if they were to decarbonise Chiltern and Grand Central, the order could be substantial.

With one Spanish train factory in the UK and another a possibility, I would suspect any train order would go to a Spanish train-builder.

If the orders fell right, could we see Talgo’s factory at Longannet built after all?

October 1, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Putin Burns $10m Of Gas A Day In Energy War With The West

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

This is the first paragraph.

Russia is burning off an estimated $10 million of natural gas a day from a single plant, leading to accusations that President Putin is deploying his country’s vast energy reserves as a weapon against Europe.

It just showed the sort of idiot we’re dealing with!

  • He doesn’t care about the planet.
  • He’s effectively burning his country’s cash reserves.
  • He’s spurring Western engineers on, to on the one hand find ways to beat him and on the other to find ways to make our gas go further, so we don’t need to buy his bloodstained gas.
  • If he thinks, that he might provoke a war with Finland, I suspect the Finns are too bright for that.

They’ll be waiting and if the Russian Army should invade, they’ll get the kicking of a lifetime, just like Stalin’s thugs did in the Winter War of 1939-1940.

I

August 27, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Should The World Call A Halt To Large Nuclear Power Stations?

When I left Liverpool University in the 1960s with an engineering degree, my fellow graduates and myself felt that nuclear power would be a sensible way to provide the electricity we need. Aberfan and other disasters had ruined coal’s reputation and not one of my colleagues joined the National Coal Board.

Over the intervening years, nuclear power has suffered a greater proportion of adverse events compared to other forms of electricity generation.

Large nuclear has also suffered some of the largest time and cost overruns of any energy projects.

My optimism for nuclear power has declined, although I do hope and feel, that small modular factory-built reactors, like those proposed by Rolls-Royce and others, might prove to be as reliable and economic as gas-fired, hydro-electric and tidal power stations, or solar and wind farms.

The smaller size of an SMR could be advantageous in itself.

  • Smaller factory-built power stations are more likely to be built on time and budget.
  • The amount pf nuclear material involved is only about twenty percent of that of a large nuclear station.
  • A smaller site would be easier to protect from terrorists and Putinistas.
  • Would the risk of a serious accident be reduced?
  • SMRs would be less of a blot on the landscape.
  • SMRs would not need such a high-capacity grid connection.
  • An SMR integrated with a high temperature electrolyser could be the easiest way to generate hydrogen for a large customer like a steelworks.

Overall, I believe an SMR would be involve less risk and disruption.

Zaporizhzhya

Zaporizhzhya is probably the last straw for large nuclear, although the incident isorchestrated by an evil dictator, who is much worse, than any of James Bond’s cruel adversities.

I doubt Putin would get the same leverage, if Zaporizhzhya were a gas-fired or hydroelectric power station.

Conclusion

I feel, the world must seriously question building any more large nuclear power stations.

August 26, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sizewell C Nuclear Plant Campaigners Challenge Approval

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

These three paragraphs introduce the article.

Campaigners against the Sizewell C nuclear power station have written to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to legally challenge his decision to give the scheme the go-ahead.

The £20bn project for the Suffolk coast was given government approval in July.

However, the decision was against the advice of the Planning Inspectorate and those against the scheme said the consent was therefore “unlawful”.

I summed up my attitude to nuclear power in Sizewell C: Nuclear Power Station Plans For Suffolk Submitted, where I said this.

As a well-read and experienced engineer, I am not against the technologies of nuclear power.

But I do think, by the time it is completed , other technologies like wind and energy storage will be much better value. They will also be more flexible and easier to expand, should we get our energy forecasts wrong.

I wrote that in May 2020, which was before Vlad the Mad started his war in Ukraine. So our energy forecasts are totally wrong! Thanks for nothing, Vlad!

In Plan To Build £150m Green Hydrogen Plant At Felixstowe Port, I talked about ScottishPower’s plan to build a large electrolyser at Felixstowe.

The Port of Felixstowe has in the past talked of using electricity from Sizewell C to create hydrogen.

So is the port backing another horse or just playing safe?

August 12, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The EuroAsia Interconnector

The Wikipedia entry for the EuroAsia Interconnector, introduces the project like this.

The EuroAsia Interconnector is a proposed HVDC interconnector between the Greek, Cypriot, and Israeli power grids via the world’s longest submarine power cable (310 kilometres (190 mi) from Israel to Cyprus and 898 kilometres (558 mi) from Cyprus to Greece, for a total of 1,208 kilometres (751 mi)). Connecting Kofinou, Cyprus to Hadera, Israel and Korakias, Crete, Greece and stated to finish construction in 2023.

When completed it will have a capacity of 2 GW.

From Wikipedia, it appears that at least initially, Israel will export electricity produced in gas-fired power stations from their own more than adequate supplies of natural gas.

In Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Future Industries Inks Deal With Kingdom of Jordan For Green Hydrogen Study, I published this Google Map of Jordan.

Surely, in the future, the EuroAsia interconnector could be carrying solar generated green electricity from Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to Cyprus and Greece.

As, according to Reuters, Greece covers about 40% of its annual energy needs with Russian gas, this can’t be good for Vlad the Mad and his bloodstained gas.

 

 

July 25, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments