The Anonymous Widower

Solar Power Could Make Up “Significant Share” Of Railway’s Energy Demand

The title of this post is the same ass this article in Global Rail News.

This is the first three paragraphs.

Solar panels could be used to power a sizeable chunk of Britain’s DC electric rail network, a new report has suggested.

Climate change charity 10:10 and Imperial College London’s Energy Futures Lab looked at the feasibility of using solar panels alongside the track to directly power the railway.

The report claims that 15 per cent of the commuter network in Kent, Sussex and Wessex could be powered directly by 200 small solar farms. It suggested that solar panels could also supply 6 per cent of the London Underground’s energy requirements and 20 per cent of the Merseyrail network.

In another article in today’s Times about the study, this is said.

Installing solar farms and batteries alongside lines also could provide the extra energy needed to power more carriages on busy routes that otherwise would require prohibitively expensive upgrades to electricity networks.

Note the use of batteries mentioned in the extract from The Times. This would be sensible design as power can be stored, when the sun is shining and used when it isn’t!

If you want to read the full report, click here!

I will lay out my thoughts in the next few sections.

Is This Technique More Applicable To Rail-Based Direct Current Electrification?

All of the routes mentioned for application of these solar farms,; Southern Electric (Kent, Sussex and Wessex), London Underground and Merseyrail are electrified using one of two rail-based direct current systems.

Consider the following.

Powering The Track

In the September 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled Wires Through The Weald, which discusses electrification of the Uckfield Branch in Sussex, as proposed by Chris Gibb. This is an extract.

He (Chris Gibb) says the largest single item cost is connection to the National Grid, and a third-rail system would require feeder stations every two or three miles, whereas overhead wires may require only a single feeder station for the entire Uckfield Branch.

It would appear that as rail-based direct current electrification needs a lot of feeder stations along the line, this might be better suited for solar power and battery electrification systems.

Consider.

  • Most of the feeder stations would not need a connection to the National Grid.
  • Solar panels generate low direct current voltages, which are probably cheaper to convert to 750 VDC than 25 KVAC.
  • In installing electrification on a line like the Uckfield Branch, you would install the extra rails needed and a solar farm and battery system every two or three miles.
  • With the situation mentioned in the extract from The Times, you might add a solar farm and battery system, to a section of track, where more power is needed.
  • For efficiency and safety, power would only be sent to the rail when a train was present.

I trained as an Electrical Engineer and I very much feel, that solar power and battery systems are better suited to powering rail-based electrification. Although, they could be used for the overhead DC systems we use in the UK for trams.

Modular Design

Each of the solar farm and battery systems could be assembled from a series of factory-built modules.

This would surely make for a cost-effective installation, where capacity and capabilities could be trailored to the location.

Regenerative Braking

Modern trains use regenerative braking, which means that braking energy is converted into electricity. The electricity is handled in one of the following ways.

  1. It is turned into heat using resistors on the train roof.
  2. It is returned through the electrification system and used to power nearby trains.
  3. It is stored in a battery on the train.

Note.

  1. Option 1 is not efficient.
  2. Option 2 is commonly used on the London Underground and other rail-based electrification systems.
  3. Option 2 needs special transformers  to handle 25 KVAC systems.
  4. Option 3 is efficient and is starting to be developed for new trains and trams.

If batteries are available at trackside, then these can also be used to store braking energy.

I believe that using solar farm and battery systems would also enable efficient regenerative braking on the lines they powered.

But again, because of the transformer issue, this would be much easier on rail-bassed direct current electrification systems.

Could Wind Turbines Be Used?

Both solar farms and wind turbines are not guaranteed to provide continuous power, but putting a wind turbine or two by the solar farm would surely increase the efficiency of the system, by generating energy in two complimentary ways and then storing it until a train came past.

Wind energy could also be available for more hours in the day and could even top up the battery in the dark.

In fact, why stop with wind turbines?

Any power source could be used. On a coastal railway, it might be wave or tidal power.

Could Hydrogen Power Be Used?

I think that hydrogen power could be another way to create the energy needed to back up the intermittent power of solar farms and wind turbines.

I put a few notes in Hydrogen-Powered Railway Electrification.

 

Would The Technique Work With Battery Trains?

Most certainly!

I haven’t got the time or the software to do a full simulation, but I suspect that a route could have an appropriate number of solar farm and battery systems and each would give the battery train a boost, as it went on its way.

Would The Technique Work With 25 KVAC Electrification?

It would be more expensive due to the inverter involved to create the 25 KVAC needed.

But I feel it would be another useful tool in perhaps electrifying a tunnel or a short length of track through a station.

It could also be used to charge a train working a branch line on batteries.

Would The Technique Work With Dual Voltage Trains?

Many trains in the UK can work with both third-rail 750 VDC third-rail and 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

Classes of trains include.

  • The Class 319 trains built for Thameslink in the 1980s.
  • The Class 345 trains being built for Crossrail.
  • The Class 387 trains built for various operators.
  • The Class 700 trains recently built for Thamelink.

There are also other classes that could be modified to run on both systems.

Provided they are fitted with third-rail shoes, there is no reason to stop dual-voltage trains running on a line electrified using solar farms and batteries.

The technique could surely be used to electrify a branch line from a main line electrified using 25 KVAC.

Consider Henley Branch Line.

  • It is four-and-a half miles long.
  • It is not electrified.
  • It connects to the electrified Great Western Main Line at Twyford station.
  • The line can handle trains up to six-cars.
  • All services on the line are worked by diesel trains.

Services consist of a shuttle between Henley-on-Thames and Twyford, with extra services to and from Paddington in the Peak and during the Regatta.

Network Rail were planning to electrify the line using 25 KVAC overhead electrification, but this has been cancelled, leaving the following options for Paddington services.

  • Using battery trains, possibly based on the Class 387 trains, which would be charged between Paddington and Twyford.
  • Using Class 800 bi-mode trains.
  • Using Class 769 bi-mode trains.

All options would mean that the diesel shuttle continued or it could be replaced with a Class 769 bi-mode train.

An alternative would be to electrify the branch using third-rail fitted with solar farm and battery systems.

  • All services on the line could be run by Class 387 trains.
  • Voltage changeover would take place in Twyford station.

There are several lines that could be served in this way.

Installation Costs

I’ll repeat my earlier quote from the Modern Railways article.

He (Chris Gibb) says the largest single item cost is connection to the National Grid, and a third-rail system would require feeder stations every two or three miles, whereas overhead wires may require only a single feeder station for the entire Uckfield Branch.

If you were going to electrify, the twenty-four non-electrified miles of the Marshlink Line, with traditional Southern  Electric third-rail, you would need around 8-12 National Grid connections to power the line. As the Romney Marsh is probably not blessed with a dense electricity network, although it does have a nuclear power station, so although putting in the extra rails may be a relatively easy and affordable project, providing the National Grid connection may not be as easy.

But use solar farm and battery systems on the remoter areas of the line and the number of National Grid connections will be dramatically reduced.

Good National Grid connections are obviously available at the two ends of the line at Hastings and Ashford International stations. I also suspect that the electricity network at Rye station could support a connection for the electrification.

This could mean that six to eight solar farm and battery systems would be needed to electrify this important line.

I obviously, don’t have the actual costs, but this could be a very affordable way of electrifying a remote third-rail line.

Which Lines Could Be Electrified Using Solar Farm And Battery Systems?

For a line to be electrified and powered by solar farm and battery systems, I think the line must have some of the following characteristics.

  • It is a line that is suitable for rail-based direct current electrification.
  • It is not a particularly stiff line with lots of gradients.
  • It is in a rural area, where National Grid connections will be difficult and expensive.
  • It has a connection to other lines electrified by rail-based systems.

Lines to electrify are probably limited to  Southern Electric (Kent, Sussex and Wessex), London Underground and Merseyrail.

I also suspect there are several branch lines that could be reopened or electrified using rail-based electrification.

Conclusion

It’s a brilliantly simple concept that should be developed.

It is well suited to be used with rail-based direct current electrification.

It would be ideal for the electrification of the Uckfield Branch.

 

December 6, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

This Is What I Call A MOAB

Jamestown is a small Australian town of a few over fourteen hundred souls, probably home to several million flies and some of the most venomous spiders and snakes known to man.

I have never visited the town, but I must have flown nearly over it, when I flew a Piper AQrrow around Australia with C.

Just to the North of the town is the Hornsdale Wind Farm, which consists of 99 wind turbines with a generating capacity of 315 MW.

But this is not what brought the wind farm to my attention in an article in today’s Times under a headline of Biggest Ever Battery Plugs City’s Energy Gap.

This is said.

The battery array was built after a high-stakes bet by Elon Musk, 46, the US technology billionaire behind Tesla electric cars, that he could meet a 100-day building deadline or he would give the system away.

Wikipedia has a section on this battery.

This is said.

South Australia received 90 proposals and considered 5 projects. Tesla, Inc. is building the world’s most powerful lithium ion battery adjacent to the wind farm. It has two sections; a 70 MW running for 10 minutes, and a 30 MW with a 3 hour capacity. Samsung 21700-size cells are used.

It will be operated by Tesla and provide a total of 129 megawatt-hours (460 GJ) of storage capable of discharge at 100 megawatts (130,000 hp) into the power grid. This will help prevent load-shedding blackouts and provide stability to the grid (grid services) while other generators can be started in the event of sudden drops in wind or other network issues. It is intended to be built in 100 days counting from 29 September 2017, when a grid connection agreement was signed with Electranet, and some units were operational. The battery construction was completed and testing began on 25 November 2017. It is owned by Neoen and Tesla, with the government having the ability to call on the stored power under certain circumstances.

It certainly seems to be the Mother-Of-All-Batteries! Hence MOAB!

The Times is reporting that the battery system has cost £30 million.

This works out at about £233,000 to store each Megawatt-Hour stored.

When you consider that we have five offshore that are bigger than the Hornsdale Wind Farm, surely it is only a matter of time before we add a battery to one.

These MOABs are an intriguing concept!

 

November 27, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Hydrogen A Viable Fuel For Rail Applications?

Perhaps a good place to start is this article on Global Rail News, which is entitled In depth: What you need to know about Alstom’s hydrogen-powered Coradia iLint.

The article starts with this summary of where we are at present.

The global rail industry’s major players are competing to establish an affordable and green alternative to diesel.

Electric traction has been rolled out extensively but electrification can be very expensive – as the UK has learned – and a large part of Europe’s network remains unelectrified. In countries where the provision of electric services is patchy, bi-mode trains are a popular alternative.

I certainly believe that all trains should be powered by electricity, but then we have had diesel-electric locomotives in regular use pn the UK network since the 1950s.

The article mentions two alternatives to diesel.

Bombardier’s modified Class 379 train, which is now called an IPEMU, which I rode in public service in early 2015 is mentioned. I found this train impressive, as I reported in Is The Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) A Big Innovation In Train Design?. This was my conclusion.

Who’d have thought that such a rather unusual concept of a battery electric multiple unit would have so many possibilities.

I think I’ve seen the future and it just might work!

I still agree with that conclusion.

The second alternative has just arrived in the shape of the Alstom Coradia iLint, which is powered by hydrogen and just emits little more than steam and condensed water.

The Coradia LINT is a family of one and two car diesel trains.

Wikipedia has a section on the Coradia iLint and this is said.

The Coradia iLint is a version of the Coradia Lint 54 powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.[6] Announced at InnoTrans 2016, the new model will be the world’s first production hydrogen-powered trainset. The Coradia iLint will be able to reach 140 kilometres per hour (87 mph) and travel 600–800 kilometres (370–500 mi) on a full tank of hydrogen. The first Coradia iLint is expected to enter service in December 2017 on the Buxtehude-Bremervörde-Bremerhaven-Cuxhaven line in Lower Saxony, Germany. It will be assembled at Alstom’s Salzgitter plant. It began rolling tests at 80km/h in March 2017.

That sounds impressive.

The Global Rail News article gives a bit more detail, including the following.

  • The train has no need for overhead catenary.
  • The train has lithium-ion batteries to store generated energy.
  • The train has a intelligent energy management system.
  • Alstom propose to use wind energy to generate hydrogen in the future.

It also includes this promotional  video for the Caradio iLint.

Some points from the video.

  • The train has similar performance to comparable regional trains. Do they mean the Lint 54 on which it is based?
  • The train captures regenerative braking energy.
  • The train has been developed in co-operation with a Canadian company! Do they mean Ballard?

So what are my views about trains hydrogen power?

Hydrogen Power In Road Transport

London bus route RV1 has been run by hydrogen-powered buses since 2010.

Note Ballard on the side of the bus!

There are also a number of hydrogen-powered cars including the Honda Clarity.

The latest Clarity has these characteristics.

  • 4-door saloon.
  • 366 mile range.
  • 130 kW electric motor.

That seems very reasonable. But the car is only available in California, costs a lot and refuelling points are not everywhere.

The competition for the Honda and other hydrogen-powered cars  is the electric car powered by batteries, where charging is getting much faster and easier and the price is getting more competitive.

I think that on the current technology, you’d have to be a very special individual to invest in a hydrogen fuel-cell car.

But use of hydrogen on a city-centre bus is more suitable.

  • Pollution is often a problem in city-centres.
  • Politicians like to show off their green credentials.
  • Buses run fixed routes.
  • Bus working schedules can be arranged, such that after a number of trips, they can return to a nearby garage for refuelling.

According to this fuel-cell bus entry in Wikipedia, there have been several trials with varying degrees of success.

My view is that with the current technology, there may be a niche market for hydrogen fuel-cell buses in city centres and environmentally-sensitive areas on defined routes, but that practically and economically, hydrogen fuel-cell cars are a non-starter.

There will be, improvements in current technology in the following areas.

  • Vehicle design will result in lighter-weight vehicles and better aerodtnamics.
  • Charging systems for electric vehicles will get more numerous and innovative.
  • Batteries or energy storage systems will get smaller, lighter and will hold more energy.

Although these developments will also help hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles like buses, they will also help battery-powered vehicles a lot more.

So I would not be surprised to see hydrogen fuel-cell buses not being very successful.

The Advantage Of Rail Over Road

You can’t disagree with the laws of physics, although you can use them to advantage.

Rolling resistance is well described in Wikipedia. This statement starts the third paragraph.

Any coasting wheeled vehicle will gradually slow down due to rolling resistance including that of the bearings, but a train car with steel wheels running on steel rails will roll farther than a bus of the same mass with rubber tires running on tarmac. Factors that contribute to rolling resistance are the (amount of deformation of the wheels, the deformation of the roadbed surface, and movement below the surface. Additional contributing factors include wheel diameter, speed, load on wheel, surface adhesion, sliding, and relative micro-sliding between the surfaces of contact.

Also, as a tram or train system has control of the design of both  the vehicle and the rail, it is much easier to reduce the rolling resistance and improve the efficiency of a rail-based system.

One factor; wheel load, is very important. Increasing the load on steel wheels running on steel rails can actually reduce the rolling resistance. So this means that a rail vehicle can better handle heavy components like perhaps a diesel engine, transformer, battery or hydrogen fuel-cell and tanks.

Hydrogen Power In Rail Transport

As Alstom appear to have shown, hydrogen fuel-cells would appear to be able to power a train at 140 kph. Although, there are no reports, that they have actually done it yet! But there has been an order!

The Coradia iLint

I will attempt to answer a few questions about this train.

How Much Power Will The Train Need?

The train is based on a Lint 54.

This document on the Alstom web site, is the brochure for the Coradia Lint.

This is said about the Lint 54.

Ideal for regional or suburban service: The two-car diesel multiple unit with four entrances per side combines all the advantages of its smaller brothers while offering space for up to 170 seats. The vehicle measures 54 m in length. Thanks to its powerful engines, the Lint 54 reaches a maximum speed of up to 140 km/h. With its three powerpacks, the vehicle has a performance of about 1 MW.

Does the iLint have a similar power of about 1 MW?

Could Ballard Power The Train?

If Ballard are Alstom’s Canadian partner could they power the train?

Searching the Ballard web site, I found a product called FCveloCity-HD, for which this document is the data sheet.

The data sheet shows that a 100 kW version is available.

I also found this press release on the Ballard web site, which is entitled Ballard Signs LOI to Power First-Ever Fuel Cell Tram-Buses With Van Hool in Pau, France.

The press release says that 100 kW versions of the FCveloCity-HD, designated FCveloCity-HD100, are used on the tram-buses.

All these applications lead me to believe that Ballard could meet the requirements of enough power for the train.

The video appears to show, that the fuel-cell charges the battery, which then drives the train.

This is not surprising, as most diesel-powered hybrid buses work the same way.

How Big Is The Fuel-Cell?

A Ballard FCveloCity-HD100 is 1200 x 869 x 506 mm. in size and it weighs 285 Kg.

The hydrogen tanks are probably bigger.

Would The Fuel-Cell Provide Enough Power For The Train?

Not on its own it wouldn’t, but adding in the lithium-ion battery and intelligent power management and I believe it would.

  • The fuel-cell would generate a constant 100 kW assuming it’s a FCveloCity-HD100.
  • The generated electricity would either power the train or be stored in the battery.
  • The battery would handle the regenerative braking.
  • Air-conditioning and other hotel functions for the train would probably be powered from the battery

The intelligent power management system would take the driver’s instructions and sort out how the various parts of the system operated.

  • Moving away from a station with a full train would mean that the train used fuel-cell and battery power to accelerate up to line speed.
  • Stopping at a station and the regenerative energy from braking would be stored in the battery.
  • Running at 140 kph would need an appropriate power input to combat wind and rolling resistance.
  • Any excess energy from the fuel-cell would go into the battery.
  • Whilst waiting in a station, the fuel-cell would charge the battery, if it was necessary.

That looks to be very efficient.

How Big Would The Lithium-Ion Battery Need To Be?

I don’t know, but given the appropriate figures, I could calculate it. So Alstom have probably calculated the optimum battery size, based on the routes the train will serve.

Is The Coradia iLint A Battery Train With A Hydrogen-Powered Battery Charger?

I think it is!

But then many hybrid buses are battery buses with a diesel-powered charger.

In Arriva London Engineering Assists In Trial To Turn Older Diesel Engine Powered Buses Green, I wrote about a diesel-hybrid bus, that with the use of geo-fencing, turns itself into a battery bus in sensitive or low-emission areas.

How Would The Train Be Refuelled With Hydrogen?

The video shows a maintenance depot, where the train is topped up with hydrogen, probably after a day’s or a shift’s work.

The first iLint trains have been ordered for the Bremerhaven area, which is on the North Sea coast. So will the depot make its own hydrogen by electrolysis using local onshore or offshore wind power?

Some of that wind power could be used to charge the battery overnight in the depot.

It’s  an excellent green concept.

What About The Hindenberg?

But then the very explosive use of hydrogen in the Space Shuttle External Tank never gave any trouble.

Does Alstom Have Any Plans For The UK?

This article on the Engineer web site is entitled Alstom Eyes Liverpool Hydrogen Train Trials.

It would appear to be a good chjoice for the following reasons.

Location

Alstom’s UK base is at Widnes, which is in the South-East of the Liverpool City Region.

Test Partner

Merseyrail have shown in recent years, that they can think out of the box, about using trains and would be a very able partner.

Test Route

The article suggests that Liverpool to Chester via the Halton Curve could be the test route.

  • The route is partly electrified from Runcorn to Liverpool.
  • The route passes close to Alstom’s base.
  • The section without electrification from Runcorn to Chester is probably about twenty miles long, which is a good test, but not a very difficult one.

There would also be good opportunities for publicity and photographs.

Availability Of Hydrogen

Hydrogen is available locally from the various petro-chemical industries along the Mersey.

Incidentally, I used to work in a chlorine plant at Runcorn, where brine was split into hydrogen and chlorine by electrolysis. There were hydrogen tankers going everywhere! Does the industry still exist?

Where’s The Train?

Are Alstom going to build a new train as the Coradia iLint is not built for the British network? Or are they going to modify an existing train, they manufactured a few years ago?

Conclusion

Hydrogen would appear to be a viable fuel for rail applications.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 29, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

OVO Offers Solar Panels And A Battery

There are a couple of reports on the Internet, that the smaller energy supplier; Ovo Energy, is now offering deals on solar panels and a battery.

I have been thinking of adding a battery for some time, but I don’t think the time is quite right yet, as the price of batteries is becoming more affordable.

However, I do think that Ovo’s move is the first of many we will see in the next few months and years.

This march towards solar and batteries could have various consequences for the UK.

  • Many house builders will add solar panels and a battery to new houses.
  • Domestic electricity needs will reduce.
  • Solar panels and batteries may have some interesting effects on the property market.

Battery owners could also charge up overnight on low-price electricity, so the daily operation could be something like.

  • Overnight the battery is charged on low-price electricity.
  • Morning ablutions and breakfast, thus uses low-price electricity.
  • Hopefully, the sun charges the battery during the day.
  • Evening electricity would in part be what has been stored during the day.

One overall effect of the battery is to smooth the energy needs of a property.

So as the proportion of houses with batteries increases, the National Grid will see a reduction in the spikes of electricity demand, as evetybody makes a cup of tea in the advert breaks.

But the biggest effect will be on how the UK would generate its electricity.

I am not against nuclear power for any technical or environmental reasons, but I do think that the cost of new nuclear power stations like Hinckley Point C are not good value for money compared with other methods of generation. On the other hand, if we are going to have much smoother electricity needs, then we do need the nuclear power station’s ability to produce a steady baseload of power.

I am against inappropriate on-shore wind in many locations, but I am not against off-shore wind or perhaps a few large turbines in an industrial estate.

I feel that solar, batteries and off-shore wind could give the UK very affordable electricity, but they need to be backed by some form of baseload power stations, which at the moment can only be nuclear.

Conclusion

Following my logic, I believe, that as more batteries are installed in the UK, the following will happen.

  • Those who install a battery will save money whether they have solar panels or not!
  • Batteries will be allowed to be charged on low-cost overnight electricity.
  • As more batteries are installed in the UK, the UK power needs will be smoother.
  • Overnight off-shore wind could be used to charge all these batteries.

This leads me to the conclusion, that the Government should create incentives for homes to install batteries, which would be charged with low-cost overnight electricity or solar panels.

October 7, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Wind Of Change Blowing All Over The UK

This has nothibg to do with Brexit or even politics, but the UK and in addition our friends in Denmark, Germany, Ireland and The Netherlands seem to be investing to reap the wind.

To many of my generation, Hornsea is a town on the Yorkshire coast famous for dull ethnic pottery. But now it will the name of the Hornsea Wind Farm, which will have a generating capacity of up to 4 GigaWatt or 4,000,000 KiloWatt. It will be sited around 40 kilomwtres from the nearest land.

To put the size into context, Hinckley Point C, if it is ever built will have a power output of 3.2 GigaWatt.

You may day that wind is unreliable, but then Hornsea will be just one of several large offshore wind farms in the UK like Dogger Bank(4.8 GW), Greater Gabbard(504 MW), Gwynt Y Mor(576 MW), London Array(630 MW), Race Bank(530MW), Thanet(300 MW), Yriton Knoll(600-900 MW) and Walney Extension (659 MW).

The electricity produced can be used, stored or exported.

Storage will always be difficult, but then there are energy consumptive industries like aluminium smelting, creating steel from scrap or the electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen, oxygen and ither gases, that could probably be based around an interruptible supply backed-up by a biomass or natural gas power station.

Hydrogen As A Fuel

Hydrogen could be the fuel of the cities for buses, taxis and delivery vehicles. Suppose they were hybrid, but instead of a small iesel engine to xharge the battery, a small hydrogen engine or fuel cell qere to be used.

Remember that the only product of burning hydrogen is water and it wouldn’t produce any pollution.

Each bus garage or hydrogen station could generate its own hydrogen, probably venting the oxygen.

Enriched Natural Gas

We can’t generate too much hydrogen and if because of high winds, we have hydrogen to spare it can be mixed with natural gas, ehich contains a proportion of hydrogen anyway.

September 12, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Scotland’s Floating Wind Farm

This article on the BBC is entitled World’s first floating wind farm emerges off coast of Scotland.

In the early 1970s, I worked on a unique concept for a reusable oil platform called a Balaena.

I wrote about using a Balaena for a wind turbine in Could a Balaena-Like Structure Be Used As a Wind Power Platform?.

There is also a brief description of the idea in The Balaena Lives.

I have a strong feeling that revisiting all of the work done for a Balaena over forty years ago, could enable a better way to build a floating wind farm.

I would build my Baleana-based floating wind-power turbine like this.

  • A steel cylinder is built, which will form the tower, horizontally in a dry dock.
  • It is floated out horizontally to some very deep water perhaps in a fjord.
  • It is then raised to a vertical position by letting a calculated amount of sea water into the tank.
  • It will float vertically, if the weight profile is right and by adjusting water levels in the tank, the top can be raised on lowered.
  • The tower is adjusted to a convenient height and the turbine is placed on the top.
  • It would then be towed vertically into position.

Note that Balaenas were designed to sit on the sea-bed using a skirt and a gum-boot principle to hold them to the bottom, with extra anchors and steel ropes.

 

July 24, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

An Appropriate Story For Today

On Page 58, The Times has an article entitled Frictionless Flywheels Hold Balance Of Power.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Flywheels will be used to balance supply and demand on Britain’s electricity grid in a £3.5million project that could help the country to cope with more wind and solar power.

Sophisticated flywheels that can store electricity for long periods of time are to be installed next to the University of Sheffield’s battery storage facility at Willenhall near Wolverhampton, in the first project of its kind in the UK.

By using batteries and flywheels together, this makes a responsive battery that can fill in demand and overcome the degradation problems of lithium-ion batteries.

It looks a promising way of creating an affordable and reliable energy storage system.

Who needs coal? Trumkopf obviously does to buy votes!

In the United States, with its massive mountain ranges, it would be better to create construction jobs by creating hydro-based energy storage systems, as we did in the 1970s at Dinorwig and the Americans, themselves did at Bath County Pumped Storage Station a few years later.

To gauge the size of these plants, Bath County has about the same generating capacity as the UK’s largest power station at Drax, with Dinorwig being about 55% of the size.

Bath County and Dinorwig are big bastards, but their main feature, is the ability to pump water to store the energy.

Energy is like money, the best thing to do with excess is to put it in a secure storage facility.

 

June 2, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Amber Rudd Puts Onshore Wind Out Of Its Misery

I don’t like onshore wind farms so I was pleased to see this announcement by Amber Rudd on the BBC, which is titled Earlier end to subsidies for new UK onshore wind farms.

Onshore wind blights the countryside and you have to use a lot of subsidy to make a development viable.

But, I mainly don’t like the concept of wind power, because it is too mechanical, as opposed to solar, where you put up a panel and its control system and you get electricity.

Solar’s other big advantage is just emerging and that is the ability to link it to an intelligent battery such as the Tesla Powerwall to provide an independent power system for a building or something remote that needs good clean energy.

In a few years time, I predict that all new houses will have solar panels on the roof and the next generation of storage battery in the garage. Coupled with increases in insulation quality, I also think, we’ll see the likes of Barratt advertising houses with no external gas and only a stand-by  electricity connection, for use on the dullest days.

The big energy companies won’t like it! But surely this is the sign of a good idea?

My energy usage isn’t high, but when the solar/battery powerplant drops in price sufficiently, I’ll fit one!

June 18, 2015 Posted by | World | , , | 2 Comments

Altaeros

At a brief glance, the idea of a flying wind turbine, is akin to putting cows and pigs in the sky.

But enter a company called Altaeros Energies.

Look at their press release and video here.

It may seem wacky and totally off the wall, but the designers could have something.

When I did my electrical engineering degree in the 1960s, power was generated by either water from dams or steam generated by burning coal or oil or from nuclear.

There was no natural gas in the UK, and using it to generate electricity wasn’t in anybody’s book of ideas.

Now a good proportion of our electricity is generated directly from gas.

So don’t make any predictions about how we will generate electricity in ten or twenty years time.

The only certainty, is that a good proportion of our electricity will come from an unexpected source, that is totally discounted or even unheard of at the present time.

 

April 19, 2014 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Are Wind Turbines Not What They’re Cracked Up To Be?

The news this morning that RWE Innogy are not going ahead with the Atlantic Array of 240 wind turbines is to some surprising.

The developers cite engineering difficulties and that it is not the right time for the project, although others are saying that there are financial problems with the project.

If we are going to have wind turbines, which I’ll admit, I think are an eyesore in the British landscape, then offshore is probably the best place for them.

I think that this array might well be built at some time, but only after new and better technology has arrived.

It would be wrong to increase the subsidy for the project to get it built.

If subsidies go anywhere they should go into energy research.

1. We should try to find better ways of getting the gas out that is there, that would otherwise use crude fracking techniques.

2. Our buildings are notoriously badly insulated and research should be directed to find better ways of cutting energy use.

3. Research could also be directed towards better ways of generating heat and power, to widen some of the techniques used at places like the Bunhill Energy Centre.

Just using subsidies to put up wind turbines, is like giving an alcoholic or drug addict, money to fund their habit. It might give some a good feeling, but it does nothing for the overall good of society.

 

, insulating buildings

November 26, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment