Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

Streamer: a bird in flight that burns to death

Posted: August 18, 2014 by Andrew in Energy, flames
credit: M. mcClany

credit: M. McClany

Every year a number of new words are added to the English Dictionary. As renewable energy spreads across the world, they will add their own unique terminology. Wind turbines are well known for chomping their way through thousands of birds and bats each year. While photovoltaics are relatively benign, while they are intact, solar plants that use hundreds of mirrors to focus the Sun’s energy, are far from environmentally friendly. Now they have supplied their own unique and grim word.

“Streamer” a bird that burns as it flys through the concentrated solar rays generated by a solar plant’s mirrors.

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All is fair in love and renewables

Posted: August 13, 2014 by Andrew in Energy, wind

imageIn any ecosystem, the survival of two similar carnivorous species depend on at least two fundamentals, food and space. If food is plentiful but space is at a premium, then conflict between the two species is inevitable. The same applies to always hungry and fast spreading renewable energy developers.

A wind farm developer Seagreen, and a solar farm developer Tealing Park Solar Ltd, are at war over a former WW2 RAF base.

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Heysham power station [image credit: Belfast Telegraph]

Heysham power station
[image credit: Belfast Telegraph]


Lurking in a NYT report on the recent shutdown of four nuclear reactors (three in the last week, one in June) for ‘safety checks’ is this sobering analysis:

‘The reactor problems highlight that most of Britain’s nuclear installations, which generate about 20 percent of the country’s electricity, are approaching the end of their lives. The four EDF reactors under investigation were commissioned in 1983 and are officially scheduled to be removed from service in 2019.’

Then comes the bombshell:
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Airport scene [image credit: Wikipedia]

Airport scene
[image credit: Wikipedia]


The New York Times reports on one advantage of owning a large block of land:

‘With a single well, drillers can bore down a few thousand feet, turn sideways and drill lateral wells up to two miles long. In other areas of Pennsylvania, that can mean having to secure permission from hundreds of property owners. The airport, though, is 9,000 acres with a single landlord.’

“It’s like finding money,” said Rich Fitzgerald, the county executive of Allegheny County, which owns the airport. “Suddenly you’ve got this valuable asset that nobody knew was there.”

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Propeller power [image: BBC]

Propeller power [image: BBC]

Another technology hoping to make a splash on the renewable energy scene is tidal power. But can it be anywhere near to economically viable? Installation is known to be expensive, but tides are predictable and never take the day off.

My limited understanding of these things is that they work best where the tide is channelling water into a narrow passage so the rate of flow is higher than the open sea, so the number of suitable sites may be limited.

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davey-taxes

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Words fail me. Hopefully talkshop comments will be witty, erudite and stay within the bounds of legality.

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We need to talk about Russia

Posted: August 2, 2014 by Andrew in Energy, government

image“It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” (W.S.Churchill)

From the perspective of the European Union at least, the most important export Russia supplies is of course gas, about 130 Billion cubic meters per year. That is one third of the EU’s total consumption. So important that Germany has its own pipeline.

So, how do you deal with an enigma that has such a bargaining chip, when they appear intent on invading your neighbours. This is the quandary that Europe faces here and now. The test case is Ukraine.

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Ferrybridge power station fire

Posted: July 31, 2014 by Andrew in Energy, Uncategorized

imageThe BBC broke the news earlier that the power station near Knottingly, West Yorkshire was on fire. Some fifty firefighters attended the blaze that was centred on one of the flue gas desulphurisation units. The power station is being adapted to generate some electricity from biomass, so was shut down. As of time of publication there are no casualties reported.

When the power station will be able to restart is now in doubt. By winter, now seems doubtful, so will be a test of the generation network

The Bishop Hill blog is running the story HERE

Blackout_britain

Visit Cartoons by Josh and buy something

From RT.com

The UK risks sweeping electricity blackouts unless it increases the state’s capacity to balance infrequent supply from renewable energy sources, a prominent engineer who carried out government-funded research has warned.

While British authorities are under legal obligation to source almost a third of their electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind by 2020, they require immediately deployable gas-fuelled power stations to cater for inevitable lulls in sun and wind energy output.

Hugh Sharman, a British engineering consultant, was commissioned to work on a government-sanctioned report examining how UK authorities could sustain the nation’s energy demands in an era of mandatory renewable energy use.

Tendered to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) last year, the research went unpublished.

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From New Scientist:

As sanctions deepen, just how crucial is Russian gas?
17:00 24 July 2014 by Jon Excell

Russian-bear-cartoonEurope gets around 30 per cent of its gas from Russia, but some countries are more dependent on it than others: the Czech Republic and Finland, for example, import at least 80 per cent of their gas from the country, while Germany, which has been treading particularly carefully in its dealings with Putin, imports around 36 per cent of its natural gas and 39 per cent of its oil from Russian suppliers.

The situation in the UK is less clear. Gas imports account for around 70 per cent of supply, but because of the complex European network of pipelines and interconnectors that we rely on, it’s difficult to say exactly how much of that imported gas is Russian. Some reports claim that Russia supplies around 15 per cent of that total and others put this figure much lower. Russian energy giant Gazprom estimates that it sends 11 to 12 billion cubic metres to the UK each year, out of an overall UK consumption of around 84 billion cubic metres.

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Matt Ridley article for the Times, reposted from the GWPF, because as many people as possible need to read it and think. Then act by using your vote sensibly.

ANOTHER RENEWABLE MYTH GOES UP IN SMOKE
Date: 28/07/14 Matt Ridley, The Times

wind-costsIf wood-burning power stations are less eco-friendly than coal, we are getting the search for clean energy all wrong
On Saturday my train was diverted by engineering works near Doncaster. We trundled past some shiny new freight wagons decorated with a slogan: “Drax — powering tomorrow: carrying sustainable biomass for cost-effective renewable power”. Serendipitously, I was at that moment reading a report by the chief scientist at the Department of Energy and Climate Change on the burning of wood in Yorkshire power stations such as Drax. And I was feeling vindicated.

A year ago I wrote in these pages that it made no sense for the consumer to subsidise the burning of American wood in place of coal, since wood produces more carbon dioxide for each kilowatt-hour of electricity. The forests being harvested would take four to ten decades to regrow, and this is the precise period over which we are supposed to expect dangerous global warming to emerge. It makes no sense to steal beetles’ lunch, transport it halfway round the world, burning diesel as you do so, and charge hard-pressed consumers double the price for the power it generates.

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H/T to Oldbrew for this story via GWPF from the Sunday Times. I hope this haste doesn’t mean we’ll lose a lot of the benefit of developing a home grown shale gas extraction industry, with the benefits of boosting UK engineering and providing much needed indigenous employment and training in worthwhile skills.

FAST-TRACK FRACK LICENCES ‘VITAL TO PROTECT BRITAIN’
Date: 27/07/14 Tim Shipman, The Sunday Times

Blackpools-Shale-Gas-Dril-007Fracking for shale gas is to be fast-tracked because it will give Britain greater energy security and protect it from Russian aggression, the new Tory energy minister has revealed.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Matthew Hancock said the government would make it “much quicker” for companies to get approval to drill for shale gas.

At present firms that want to frack have to wait about six months for permission through a 15-stage process. Hancock hopes to slash that in half. Calling shale the “holy grail” of energy policy, he said:

I want to speed up shale. It takes too long at the moment. We have to ensure that instead of an array of complicated permissions we have very firm but very clear rules.

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Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

“CCS is the only way we can reduce carbon dioxide emissions and keep fossil fuels (coal and gas) in the UK’s electricity supply mix” (DECC), and so say many other countries around the globe. Catch the CO2 and push it back underground. Just like waste water from fracking, but on an epic scale, so where are all the protests?

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eu-justiceFrom a memo put out by the unelected EU commissars, compelling evidence for why we should demand an EU referendum before our remaining industries are forced to flee to less oppressive regimes.

What is the Energy Efficiency Communication?

The Communication on “Energy Efficiency and its contribution to energy security and the 2030 Framework for climate and energy policy” (onwards, the Energy Efficiency Communication) does two things:

  1. It assesses whether the EU is on track to reach its 2020 target to increase energy efficiency by 20% and outlines what is necessary to ensure that the target is achieved.

  2. It proposes a new energy saving target of 30% by 2030. This completes the 2030 Framework on Climate and Energy which was adopted by the European Commission on 22 January 2014. The Framework called for a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels and for a renewable energy share of at least 27% of energy consumption, and indicated that the cost-effective delivery of the greenhouse gas emissions reduction target requires increased energy savings (http://ec.europa.eu/energy/2030_en.htm). That is what today’s communication is delivering on. When setting the target, the Commission aims to strike the right balance between expected benefits and costs.

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Reblogged from Euan’s excellent site, Energy Matters.

“The Scottish Government’s targets are for renewable sources to generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s gross annual electricity consumption by 2020.” What will the consequences be for the Scottish People?

This post models Scottish electricity production and consumption in 2020 and compares this with 2012. It is assumed that Scotland’s two nuclear power stations remain operational in 2020. The reader is asked to always recall that the numbers are based on models and the conclusions therefore carry uncertainty. The consequences of this energy policy may be:

  • A large electricity surplus of about 15 TWh may be produced in 2020, worth about £2.5 billion at 17p / KWh.
  • There are currently many ideas but no certainty about where this surplus might go. It seems possible that a large part may simply be wasted.
  • Assuming that marine renewables remain negligible and hydro output remains unchanged in 2020 then the bulk of the expansion in renewables to meet the target will most likely be met by wind that will require a 5 fold increase relative to 2012.
  • In an independent Scotland the subsidy payments currently made to renewables companies by 63 million UK citizens would fall pro rata on the shoulders of 5.3 million Scottish citizens. This, combined with the 5 fold increase in wind capacity may mean a 25 fold increase in the level of renewable subsidy born by Scottish electricity consumers. Electricity bills may double.

In summary, the Scottish Government energy plan may result in a large electricity surplus that at present has nowhere to go, the number of wind turbines may increase 5 fold and electricity bills may double.

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Australia repeals carbon tax

Posted: July 19, 2014 by Andrew in climate, Energy, Politics

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Note from the co-moderator. We welcome Andrew as a new Talkshop contributor.

The biggest story in energy and climate politics, by a mile this week, is the news that at 11:15 EST Thursday the Australian Senate voted 39-32 to repeal the Climate Tax.

Following the vote, Prime Minister Tony Abbott declared it a “Useless destructive tax, which damaged jobs, which hurt families’ cost of living & which didn’t actually help the environment”. Tony Abbott made removing the bill the key promise of his election campaign.

Not everything has run smoothly for supporters of the repeal. In the days before the Senate vote Clive Palmer, leader of the PUP with 3 key senators, stood next to Al Gore while apparently discussing an emissions trading scheme. He then prevented the first attempt to repeal the bill. After the vote Opposition leader Bill Shorten described Abbott as an “environmental vandal”. This comes on the eve of Australia hosting the G20.

The reaction has been global. The Guardian is not amused, Graham Readfern writes “Science denial, so-called “free market” ideology and the interests of the fossil energy industry are the termites chewing away at the base all efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions”.

Slate ” In Australia, as the Simpsons joke goes, the water goes down the toilet counterclockwise . Now with its government voting to repeal the country’s tax on Carbon – in the process killing it’s most significant means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions – it seems that Australia’s new Prime Minister Tony Abbott, is determined to take the country in the same direction”. While some on Twitter hope for other countries to punish Australia.

On the other hand The Wall Street Journal headline simply  reads ” Tony Abbot shows that climate absolutists have a problem : democracy”. There is an Emission Reduction Fund White Paper as consolation for the supporters of the bill, but the Abbott Government seems intent on further cuts to the Green gravy train.

H/T to ‘intrepid Wanders‘ for this repost from the Uni of Reading meteorology section. No settled science here, and lab model derived from far IR wavebands used in climate models and energy budget diagrams rests on a bunch of assumptions. Who knew? Obviously not Trenberth, who has no error bounds on his energy budget. So along with cloud microphysics getting the predicted absorption of energy by clouds wrong by a large margin, we have big uncertainty in the spectral absorption lines of water vapour. Ho hum. Business-as-usual in climate science land.

Water vapour continuum

  In addition to the spectral lines, it has long been recognized that water vapour possesses a continuum absorption which varies relatively slowly with wavelength and pervades the entire IR and microwave spectral region. This has a marked impact on the Earth’s radiation balance with consequences for understanding present day weather and climate and predicting climate change. It is also important for remote sensing of the Earth and its atmosphere.

  Discovered by Hettner (1918) as a low-frequency component of water vapour absorption in atmospheric transparency window 8-14 mcr, this phenomenon remained unexplained for 20 years, until Elsasser (1938) suggested that the continuum is an accumulated far-wingcontribution of strong water vapour spectral lines from neighbour bands. This hypothesis was generally accepted until the end of 70th years when the strong quadratic pressure dependence of the continuum absorption (which could not be explained by Lorentz (1906) line profile) as well as the strong negative temperature dependence have been detected (Bignell et al.,1963;Penner and Varanasi,1967). In this connection Penner and Varanasi (1967) and Varanasi et al. (1968) suggested that the main contribution to the self-continuum could be caused not by far wings of water monomer lines but rather by water dimers. Similar assumption was made also by Viktorova and Zhevakin (1967) for microwave spectral region.

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There has been some progress in the greenhouse. On the ‘toy planet’ thread, physicist Tim Folkerts now agrees with me that longwave infra-red radiated from the air towards the surface doesn’t directly heat the ocean but makes it harder for the ocean to cool. In my view this is due to IR radiation from the ocean making the air warm, reducing the temperature differential between ocean and air, slowing the rate of the Sun warmed ocean’s heat loss. Tim says:

LWIR is indeed incapable of “heating” the oceans in the strict sense of the word (net transfer of thermal energy). The best it can do is aid in making it “a far more difficult task escaping” for the energy.

But it’s hard for him to let go of ingrained notions, so his next comment is full of ambiguities, which I have tried to deal with in my followup comment:

Tim Folkerts: The DWIR DOES amount to ~ 330 W/m^2.

Fine, no problem.

This energy DOES get absorbed by the ocean.

In the top few microns, and is soon re-emitted along with an additional ~60W/m^2 IR, upwards.

The ocean IS warmer than it would be without this DWIR from the atmosphere.

But not because it is absorbed and re-emitted from the top few microns of ocean. The thermalisation of IR in the bulk air helps keep the air warm and that warm air slows the sun warmed ocean’s heat loss.

But the reason the air is warm is because the ocean warms it with the energy it emits into it which is absorbed and re-emitted, or conducted to the O2 and N2 in the air, by water vapour (from the ocean) and co2 (mostly from the ocean). Air has very little heat capacity of its own, and is nearly transparent to incoming solar short wave radiation. And this ocean warmed air is usually convecting upwards.

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From the Guardian

Pipes and pylons operator says failure to invest more in local gas production would leave country 90% dependent on imports

The price of electricity could double over the next two decades, according to forecasts published on Thursday by the National Grid, the company responsible for keeping Britain’s lights on.

The current price of wholesale electricity is below £50 per megawatt hour but could soar to over £100 by 2035 under a “high case” example used in the Grid’s UK Future Energy Scenarios report.

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The mainstream climatologists are fond of telling us that additional co2 increases the ‘Effective Height of Emission’ of radiation to space by ‘Greenhouse Gases’, and that this must cause a rise in surface temperature because the lapse rate from the average temperature of 255K at the ‘EEH’ to the surface will mean a higher temperature. That lapse rate is what is shown by the slanting red line from surface to tropopause in Fig 1 below.

atm-temp-profile

Figure 1: The atmospheric temperature profile of Earth

But there are some problems with this theoretical scenario.

The 255K figure is derived from the 240W/m^2 solar shortwave radiation incoming to the Earth’s climate system AFTER a proportion has been removed to account for reflection by clouds. But the models underestimate the amount of solar radiation absorbed by clouds because the fundamental physics of light scattering in clouds is poorly understood.

Although we are told a change in the EEH ‘must’ change the surface temperature, no viable mechanism is offered to explain how this imperative ‘must’ will be enforced.  The more rational proponents of the enhanced greenhouse effect hypothesis long ago abandoned trying to claim ‘downwelling longwave radiation’ heats the ocean, since nearly all LW emitted in wavelengths absorbed by water vapour and co2 is absorbed with a kilometre of the surface, all downwelling longwave from above a kilometre above the surface will be absorbed, converted to sensible heat, and convected back  upwards before reaching the surface too. In any case, the 10% of LW reaching the surface from on high can’t penetrate the ocean surface by more than a few nanometres.

So much for radiative theory, but what can a look at the data for the vertical temperature profile shown in Fig 1 tell us that might be really useful?

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