Generating off-grid energy for industry – a critique of the UK electricity system

Posted: October 28, 2018 by oldbrew in Critique, Energy
Tags: ,

Drax power station [credit:]

Unpredictable supplies, increasing prices and threats of blackouts are not good news. Even allowing that the author has a related product to sell, the comments about UK electricity policies and their effects should make uncomfortable reading for its residents.

There’s no getting away from the fact that our energy infrastructure in the UK is inadequate, writes Duncan McPherson, CEO of CooperOstlund, at PEI.

The National Grid is dated, inefficient and widely considered unfit for purpose.

Demand – especially in peak times – regularly overtakes supply availability.

What’s more, with a ban now announced on coal power generation and an already-heavy reliance on power supplied from overseas countries, we’re clearly unprepared for what the future will bring.

But the consequences of this could be devastating. Companies are already offered financial incentives to stop working when power is in short supply, and blackouts are a real threat, potentially grinding operations to a halt and irreparably damaging reputation with suppliers and customers alike.

The unpredictability of energy prices can also lead to spiralling facilities management costs, hitting a company’s bottom line hard.

Considerable work is already underway to find an effective solution for the future, but a number of techniques are emerging to support industry in the short-term. From peaking plants and on-site energy generation solutions, to blended energy programmes, off-grid generation is quickly becoming the stop-gap.

Indeed, it’s predicted that decentralised energy will grow 130 per cent 2030, representing 14 per cent of the UK’s total generation capacity. And with this growth comes benefits, with the same study finding that on-site energy generation could help UK businesses save around £33 billion by 2030.

Combined heat and power (CHP) and energy from waste are predicted to deliver the greatest savings of £20bn.

Effectively a mini power station, CHP engines are almost twice as efficient than traditional grid connectivity… and much more secure. By generating both heat and power (in one single process) at the point of consumption, users benefit from lower energy costs compared to sourcing electricity and gas independently from the grid.

Continued here.

  1. JB says:

    CHP point-of-consumption generation is waaaaaaaaaaaaay overdue.That approach is what I came to in college and finally in a position to implement 20 yrs ago, on the heals of reading the Italians were starting to do it. Almost got there, then lost the house. At the time NG was 48¢/Therm.

  2. pochas94 says:

    What is needed is a uniform construction standard for nuclear power plants, so that the costs are not overburdened by the whims of regulators and the fantasies of environmentalists.

  3. nickreality65 says:

    Greenhouse Bookkeeping 101

    If you can balance your checkbook you can dismantle the greenhouse effect.

    Run the numbers.

    Why upwelling BB LWIR energy is not possible.

  4. saighdear says:

    Huh, Seen tonight’s German Election Results? The Greens gaining momentum over there, despite the effects of their policies – Energie Wende, etc. ….

  5. J Martin says:

    Can’t access their website on my tablet or its impossibly slow to open. Flow energy were set to offer a dchp boiler but then that seemed to go and they were bought by the coop. No one does a sensible price domestic dchp unfortunately. I’d like one. Viesmann do one for silly money.

    If I lived in France I’d be considering a heat pump considering that most of their electricity supply is from nuclear, though political posturing towards expensive and unreliable wind and solar would be a worry.

  6. John MacDonald says:

    Being cynical, I could say this is a rather self-serving puff piece. However, such pieces are common in the trade magazines, where the objective is to inform as well as expose your company to customers.
    My bigger problem is that CHP plants have been around a long time. They used to be called cogen plants. Lots of them in power systems, refineries, food plants, etc. So nothing really new here, except for a push to relatively small plants, say < 5Mw.
    The problem is, as the piece doesn't very well admit, that cogen is most suitable when there is a sink for the low pressure, low temperature steam left after the HRSG. there's a great fit in refineries where both HP Nd LP steam is needed, but harder to fing in most other industries.
    I would have like the article better if the author had provided real life examples.

  7. Graeme No.3 says:

    CHP looks like a solution for industries, if any, planning to stay in business in the UK. So long as the Greens don’t penalise you for generating your own electricity.
    Yes, heat and power at the same time, I wonder why business didn’t think of it before; oh! they did.
    I worked in the sugar industry in the 60’s and 70’s (mill and refineries) and they used marine steam engines driving DC generators (DC being the best method of variable speed control for the large motors installed in the 1920’s). The exhaust steam (10-15 p.s.i.) was used for evaporators, sugar kettles etc.

  8. oldbrew says:

    Every Big Bit Helps
    Posted on October 25, 2018 by Euan Mearns

    Let’s say you and I need to move 1 million tons of sand. You show up to the site with a backhoe and a dump truck, and I show up with a teaspoon. Naturally you ask me what the heck I’m planning to do with that teaspoon. I answer seriously with “Every little bit helps.”

    Would you think me rational?
    . . .
    The big deal is this – an SCCD [supercritical carbon dioxide] turbine is, potentially at least, the magic device I discussed above, able to squeeze more power from any thermal power plant (solar thermal, coal, natural gas, nuclear, geothermal, even shipboard boilers).

  9. ivan says:

    There are a few problems with that article you site oldbrew. The guy that wrote it appears to be obsessed with reducing CO2 emissions and doesn’t have a very good grasp of the engineering involved.

    For a start the small turbine will need to spin way above the 3000 rpm that most 2 pole alternators need to produce 50 Hz output. Therefore its output could well be in the 1000 to 5000 Hz range that would require electronic manipulation to get the required 50Hz for domestic use. The moment you add electronics you drop any efficiency gains and reliability heads for a deep six.

    The other thing is the fact that Supercritical CO2 is corrosive makes a mess of the rotor blades.

    Yes, there is some research being carried out on this and it has generated several papers that are not encouraging. It is not the technology any country should be using to replace coal generators in the near future – HELE coal plants run at about the same efficiency as this is supposed to have and they have the advantage their generators don’t require electronic manipulation of the supplied frequency or voltage.

    A nice idea but more research and refinement required.

  10. Russ Wood says:

    Commenting on Graeme No 3’s “So long as the Greens don’t penalise you for generating your own electricity.” Well, in South Africa, due to a combination of incompetence and corruption, the power generation and supply organisation (ESKOM) cannot supply power continually for the whole country. This is made worse by the local (political) distributor failing to maintain and upgrade its reticulation. So, in a suburb of the the major financial hub of SA, Johannesburg, we have blackouts of one to four hours every few weeks (or every few DAYS when ‘load shedding’ is in effect). So, to keep in business, many shops and shopping centres have their own generators. (And so do some homes). But SHOCK HORROR! Those generators aren’t LICENSED! So, right now, there are provincial bills in the works to force all those shops who want to trade, and those householders, to pay an annual licence fee (depending on the size of the generator).
    This isn’t ‘green’ stuff, it’s good old South African criminal incompetence at work. I.e. “Something we’ve done is going wrong! How can we make money out of it?”.