Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

German power grid at risk of widespread blackouts

Posted: September 25, 2014 by oldbrew in Energy, Uncertainty, wind

[image credit: Wikipedia]

[image credit: Wikipedia]


Pierre Gosselin at Notrickszone reports:

‘There was a time when Germany’s power was mostly generated by the traditional sources of coal, nuclear, oil, natural gas and hydro. These sources were reliable and keeping the power grid under control was a routine matter. Germany’s power grid was among the most stable worldwide. But then came Germany’s renewable energy feed-in act, and with it the very volatile sources of sun and wind.’

‘As a result, today’s German power grid has become a precarious balancing act, and keeping it from collapsing under the load of wild fluctuations has become a real challenge.’

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Coal, There’s Just No Alternative

Posted: September 14, 2014 by tchannon in Analysis, Energy, Incompetence, Politics

Tony Thomas mentions he has an opinion piece up on Quadrant about the reality of electricity and human wealth in all the ways not so obvious, but also right on the past cries of environmentalists deeming the undeveloped world must not get wealth.

Thomas discusses US author and energy specialist Robert Bryce

Bryce didn’t discuss the merits of the catastrophic human-caused global-warming hypothesis. He just delineated the irrationality of draconian global and national targets to cut CO2 emissions, given the developing world’s determination to use electricity to lift its people from poverty:

“I’m a resolute agnostic about the climate issue. Tell me CO2 is good, tell me it’s bad. I’m bored with the nastiness.

“The question that too few people are willing to ask is this one: where, how, will we find the energy equivalent of 27 Saudi Arabias and have it all be carbon-free?”

Oh yes, nastiness, a hallmark of forcing others to do your bidding…

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Given a winter of disconnect is mooted by some, any introduction of a real power station is news but not just yet.

3 The Order, if made, would grant development consent for the construction and operation of a thermal generating station that would operate either as a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) plant or as an Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) plant, with a total electrical output of up to 470MWe at North Killingholme, Lincolnshire. The generating station would only be able to burn other types of fuel such as coal and biomass[1]  if the full Carbon Capture Storage chain is in place. A separate Environmental Permit, controlling emissions from the plant, will also be required from the Environment Agency before the generating station can be operated.
http://infrastructure.planningportal.gov.uk/projects/yorkshire-and-the-humber/north-killingholme-power-project/

Combined Cycle Gas Turbine is one of those over-egged technologies with party trick claims. As sustained base load the thermal efficiency is good but part load is dreadful, becomes a gas turbine, one of the less bright inventions which has a redeeming feature of great power in a small space. A lot to do with heat engines is counter intuitive. A weakness is always a sharp drop in thermal efficiency with power reduction, how rapidity it drops varies greatly with the technology.

And IGCC? That is where things get bad.

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Ferrybridge Power Station fire [image credit: Sky News]

Ferrybridge Power Station fire [image credit: Sky News]


It’s no secret that UK electricity supplies are likely to be stretched at peak times in the coming winter, and probably a few more winters after that, as some coal generation is phased out to meet EU rules, and most of the existing nuclear reactors become obsolete.

The pressure to ensure adequate service is increasing and in response new schemes are in the pipeline. The great unknown of course is: will it be enough?

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Feds: California Fracking is Safe

Posted: August 30, 2014 by oldbrew in Energy, Politics

Gas drilling rig [image credit BBC]

US gas drilling rig
[image credit BBC]


How much effort has to be put in by how many ‘authorities’ to determine whether hydraulic fracturing is an acceptable technique for recovering gas?

Surely the wisdom doesn’t vary that much from one region to another. While each federal state or country agonises over its decision, the industry as a whole continues to advance and make a big impact on the energy business worldwide.

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Biomass CO2 Emissions More Than Burning Coal

Posted: August 28, 2014 by oldbrew in Energy, Politics

oldbrew:

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Bubble bursts for Britain’s biomass burning boom

Is there any good news? Yes – biomass subsidies are due to end in 2027.

Originally posted on NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT:

By Paul Homewood

image

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-28457104

Back in May, I reported on a letter sent to Ed Davey by a group of American scientists, attacking UK subsidies for biomass plants. They pointed out that burning biomass could actually increase CO2 emissions, as well as causing other environmental problems.

DECC were so alarmed that they had to commission a report.

It seems that even the BBC, belatedly, have picked up on this problem. In July they reported:

Burning wood to fuel power stations can create as many harmful carbon emissions as burning coal, according to a government report.

UK taxpayers subsidise energy firms to burn wood to meet EU renewables targets.

But the report from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) shows sometimes much bigger carbon savings would be achieved by leaving the wood in the forests.

This suggests power firms may be winning subsidies for inadvertently making climate change even…

View original 887 more words

Fukushima Unit 1 [image credit: Wikipedia]

Fukushima Unit 1
[image credit: Wikipedia]


How far does liability go for nuclear power plant operators after accidents? A Japanese court has ruled it can extend to suicide in some circumstances.

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Does coal-to-gas power in China make sense?

Posted: August 23, 2014 by oldbrew in Energy

Chinese smog [image credit: BBC]

Chinese smog
[image credit: BBC]


The go-ahead was given recently for 50 coal gasification plants in China. It makes economic sense to them:

‘Due to lower coal prices and higher natural gas prices, coal gas is currently enjoying relatively high profit margins. He Zuoyun, deputy general manager of Sinopec Great Wall Energy and Chemical Co. Ltd, said at a meeting in September 2013 that one-third of natural gas consumption could come from coal gas by 2020.’

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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

image

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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