Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

Battered by virus and oil slump, biofuels fall out of favour

Posted: November 27, 2020 by oldbrew in Energy
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Another battering looms as electric cars are soon to be forced on many car buyers by legislation. Maybe agriculture will get some of its lost land back for food production.
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Hit by the coronavirus pandemic and a sharp drop in oil prices, biofuel demand has declined for the first time in two decades and may struggle to recover, according to experts.

“The collapse of oil prices has had a very negative impact on biofuels,” rendering them uncompetitive, Olivier Lemesle, director of studies at Xerfi, told AFP (via TechXplore.)

The production of biofuels for transport in 2020 is expected to decline 11.6 percent on 2019 levels, the first fall in 20 years, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) annual report, published in early November.

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At an estimated $500 billion it’s an expensive model, but ties in with the equally hyperbolic ‘Saudi Arabia of wind’ rhetoric. But neither bears much resemblance to reality.
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JEDDAH — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has touted Saudi Arabia’s NEOM city as a model for a “greener future,” warning G20 leaders that the world risks failing future generations if states do not take bold steps to reduce carbon emissions, reports the Saudi Gazette.

“And if we were in Saudi Arabia today … what I would have loved to have done was to visit the exciting new city of NEOM, whose origins I was able to inspect a couple of years ago,” he said in a pre-recorded address at Saudi Arabia’s virtual G20 summit on Saturday.

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Solar power stations in space – part 2

Posted: November 19, 2020 by oldbrew in Energy, ideology, innovation
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Credit: NASA


Re our recent article on the idea of space-based solar power stations, a new article at The Conversation tells us the European Space Agency is also looking at this. Another day, another distant green dream, as these extracts from the article suggest. But at least they’re openly admitting renewables alone will never cut the mustard, either in scale or reliability of supply.
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How solar power stations in orbit could become a reality in the coming decades.

Solar power stations in space could be the answer to our energy needs.
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Renewable energy technologies have developed drastically in recent years, with improved efficiency and lower cost. But one major barrier to their uptake is the fact that they don’t provide a constant supply of energy.

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Credit: IEEE Spectrum


Does this by any chance suggest that wind and solar power may not quite be the wondrous energy future our leaders keep trying to hoodwink the public with? No word on costs so far.
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It is thought that energy could be beamed anywhere on the planet, save for the poles, according to the UK Space Agency.

From an idea first mooted in 1941, the UK has launched research into whether solar power in space could be beamed back to Earth as a sustainable energy source, reports Sky News.

The concept was first thought up by science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov; now the UK Space Agency and UK government are aiming to make the idea a reality.

Space-based solar power (SBSP) stations would capture the solar energy emitted by the sun that never makes it to Earth, and beam it back down using lasers to meet energy demands.

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Bardsey island


Cost per head: over £100,000. Four of the eleven (2019 data) even reside there in winter, when they should be able to enjoy the output of a turbine each with one to spare, in theory. The island is only one mile long.
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The Welsh island of Ynys Enlli could ditch its dependency on diesel to become the world’s first ‘blue energy island’ thanks to a new tidal energy project, reports the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

Nova Innovation has secured an investment of £1.2m from the Welsh government through the European Regional Development Fund for its Enlli project in north Wales.

The installation will generate electricity from the natural ebb and flow of the tide between Ynys Enlli – also known as Bardsey Island – and the mainland of the Llŷn Peninsula.

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Image credit: thecount.com


May – or may not? Electricity users will need to be re-educated to show ‘responsibility’, it seems, and to submit to ‘demand side control’ in future. So the power provider may decide when, or which, items of plug-in electrical equipment can or cannot be used in your local area at any given time, or vary its charges, as already happens in some contracts. The idea of having adequate resources of electricity generation is no longer put forward as the desired standard. Into this new set-up they want to bring millions of electric vehicles and abolish domestic gas heating systems, straining credibility.
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Power plants generate electricity and send it into power lines that distribute energy to nodes, or sites, where it can be used, says TechXplore.

But if the electricity load is more than the system’s capacity, transmission can fail, leading to a cascade of failures throughout the electric grid.

This domino effect was responsible for the largest blackout in U.S. history in 2003, which left 55 million Americans and Canadians without power at an estimated cost of $6 billion.

An even larger blackout in 2015 affected 57 million people in Italy.

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Windfarm objection in Galloway


The suspicion may exist that the ruling Scottish Nationalist Party never seems to win in this sparsely populated region, so is not inclined to much sympathy for its residents when making decisions on the many windfarm applications.
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Residents are moving away from parts of south-west Scotland because they are losing much of the local landscape to wind farm developments, it has been claimed.

Now Trevor and Elaine Procter, who live at Knockvennie, near Dumfries, are urging people to contact local councillors to object to the “tsunami” of planning applications for such developments, reports The National (via Wind Watch).

They have lived in their current home for 12-years, and Trevor said the effect on locals was comparable to the Highland Clearances.

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Power lines in Victoria, Australia [credit: Wikipedia]


Come the next potential blackout situation, the battery could give Victorians up to an hour to find a way out of trouble. But making the wind blow harder or the sun shine more won’t be among their options, of course.
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Australia is poised to construct one of the world’s largest batteries, using Tesla’s technology for lithium-ion batteries, reports TechXplore.

The football-field sized battery will provide up to 300 megawatts of power output and 450 megawatts-hours of storage in a country that has been struggling to meet energy demands during skyrocketing power usage triggered by record-breaking temperatures.

Last year, Australia suffered its hottest and driest year ever, with temperatures topping 121 degrees Fahrenheit last December.

The battery, known as the Victorian Big Battery Megapack, will be located in the state of Victoria, Australia’s second most populous region.

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UK energy plant to use liquid air

Posted: November 7, 2020 by oldbrew in Energy, innovation
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Liquid air energy storage: Highview’s 5 MW pre-commercial demonstrator [credit: ModernPowerSystems]


Under the heading ‘Cool air technology for a cooler planet’, the firm behind the scheme says:
‘Our CRYOBattery can deliver anywhere from 20 MW/80 MWh to more than 200 MW/1.2 GWh of energy and can power up to 200,000 homes for a whole day. We do this at half the cost of lithium-ion batteries and release zero emissions in the process.’
The system is intended to run on surplus night-time output from wind farms, but as ever, converting electricity to some form of storage and then back to electricity again is adding yet more costs and complexity to the system.

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Work is beginning on what is thought to be the world’s first major plant to store energy in the form of liquid air, reports BBC News.

It will use surplus electricity from wind farms at night to compress air so hard that it becomes a liquid at -196 Celsius.

Then when there is a peak in demand in a day or a month, the liquid air will be warmed so it expands.

The resulting rush of air will drive a turbine to make electricity, which can be sold back to the grid.

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Design concept


Another attempt to play the imaginary ‘human-caused climate’ game gets underway. This time it’s ammonia (NH3), a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen, used as fuel to appease the legions of carbophobes in power today.
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An enormous engine, the height of three floors, growls loudly at a test centre in Copenhagen.

Nearby a team of engineers supervise it from a control room resembling a ship’s bridge.

Usually such an engine would be propelling a large ship across the sea, but this one is being prepared to take part in a ground-breaking project, says BBC News.

Engineers want to see if they can make it run on liquid ammonia.

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Some extraordinary claims are being made, or at least suggested, here. The idea of charging a battery in a few seconds, especially a lithium one, using microwaves (not the kitchen version) sounds a bit hairy to say the least.
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A team of researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) has discovered a new method that makes it possible to transform electricity into hydrogen or chemical products solely using microwaves — without cables and without any type of contact with electrodes, reports TechXplore.

This represents a revolution in the field of energy research and a key development for the process of industrial decarbonisation, as well as for the future of the automotive sector and the chemical industry, among many others.

The study has been published in the latest edition of Nature Energy, where the discovery is explained.

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China has invested heavily in pumped storage in recent decades. But the worldwide difficulty is clear: ‘Outside China, the world’s largest pumped storage producer, year-on-year installed capacity growth has been just 1.5% since 2014.’ Developed countries have usually already taken advantage of many of their best locations for such projects, so rapidly increasing existing capacity is highly problematic for them. Once again we see the folly of aiming to rely heavily on intermittent and/or weather-dependent renewables for power generation. Brace for power outages.
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The International Hydropower Association (IHA) and the US Department of Energy (DOE) are leading the International Forum on Pumped Storage Hydropower this week, reports PEI.

The forum is a global, multi-stakeholder initiative of 11 governments and more than 60 organisations aimed at addressing the urgent need for clean and reliable energy storage.

Premiered on 3 November 2020, the week-long forum brings together the governments of the USA, Austria, Brazil, Estonia, Greece, India, Indonesia, Israel, Morocco, Norway and Switzerland, as well as international financial institutions, non-profit organisations and leading energy companies such as EDF, GE Renewable Energy, Voith and Hydro Tasmania.

Keynote speaker and former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urged governments and industry to move quickly to develop projects at the scale needed to support the rapid roll-out of variable renewables.

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Investments in what, exactly? Certainly not in reliable electricity supply – quite the opposite in fact. And where will all the retired turbines, solar panels, lithium batteries etc. go after their short lifetimes?
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30% of the EU’s €1.8 trillion budget and recovery plan for 2021-2027 will be made available for the green transition, reports Euractiv.

That amount is no longer up for negotiation and the focus must now shift to spending it well, said Kadri Simson, the EU’s energy commissioner.

“Naturally I understand the wish to have an even greater pool of funds available,” said Simson, who spoke at a EURACTIV event on Thursday (29 October).

“However, I think now it is important to have a rapid agreement on the recovery package and that the money is used well,” she added.

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Reliable Electricity? Bah Humbug!

Posted: November 2, 2020 by oldbrew in Big Green, Energy, opinion
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Green energy means: pay more, get less. But you already knew that, or if not, where have you been?

PA Pundits - International

By Kenneth Green~

In a refreshingly honest article in the Boston Review, David McDermott Hughes confirms something that we energy evangelists have been saying for some time: Environmentalists do not simply want people to transition to “green energy,” they want humanity put on energy rationing, for the good of the planet. Now, apparently, they’ve also decided that we need to add intermittent fasting to our energy diet because, gosh darnit, electricity in developed countries like the United States is just too darn reliable for our own good! It needs to go out once in a while, or, well, the planet is doomed.

According to Hughes, “For those seriously concerned about climate change, the inverse—the demand for electrical continuity—may be the real problem.” Yes, you read that right, the desire to have electricity available 24/7 is the cause of our global climate catastrophe, and we need to learn to live…

View original post 588 more words

Nyngan solar plant, Australia [image credit: Wikipedia]


This sounds every bit as inefficient as the UK importing wood pellets from North America on an industrial scale, to generate electricity. How the hydrogen might be sent across the world in a ‘green’ way is not mentioned.
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A bilateral agreement aimed at increasing German imports of hydrogen produced from solar power plants in Australia could set a milestone in efforts to establish a global hydrogen market, says Euractiv.

Australia said it wants to become “a powerhouse in hydrogen production and exports” after signing what it described as “a landmark agreement” with Germany on 11 September.

The agreement initiated a joint feasibility study that will look into establishing a green hydrogen supply chain between the two countries.

Australia’s partnership with Germany came in addition to similar deals on green hydrogen made with other countries like Japan, South Korea and Singapore, the Australian trade minister said in a statement.

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The UK intends to have many more expensive wind turbines scattered all over the place, often in remote areas or offshore. How best to prevent, or deal with, fires is a question that can’t be swept under the carpet to maintain a false image.
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Why the wind industry cannot afford the financial and reputational damage that even a single turbine fire can bring.

The wind industry has underestimated fire risk for decades, says Angela Krcmar @ Power Engineering International.

Even now, statistics around fire losses are based on estimates and incomplete datasets.

For a time, the industry could get away with not fully managing fire risk, as the size and number of assets per owner were low enough for many to not experience a fire in their portfolio.

However, as turbines begin to scale up and wind takes on a greater share of national energy mixes across Europe and North America, the industry cannot afford the financial and reputational damage that even a single turbine fire can bring.

Wind turbines catch fire primarily due to electrical or mechanical faults leading to ignition which spreads to the surrounding plastics and fibreglass nacelle.

Turbine fires tend to originate in the nacelle at one of three points of ignition – converter and capacitor cabinets, transformer or the brake.

Converter and capacitor cabinets are necessary for the wind turbine to translate the variable frequency and amplitude of generated energy into a constant frequency and voltage that can be fed into the grid.

However, an electrical fault at these components can produce arc flashes or sparks, which can surround plastics in the cabinet and result in a fire. Transformers, which similarly convert energy into an appropriate voltage for the grid, can also be a point of ignition due to electrical faults.

Nacelle brakes are utilised in an emergency along with blades pitching to stop the turbine blades from spinning in seconds. This generates an enormous amount of friction and heat, and a mechanical fault at the nacelle brake can easily result in a fire.

Financial risk of fire

The rate of fires has remained consistent over the past decade according to available data – typically one in every 2000 turbines will burn down every year.

While technologies which are less susceptible to fire such as electric braking systems have been developed, many of the key ignition points are necessary for electricity generation and as such, cannot be designed out of the turbine.

While the frequency of fires has remained constant over the years, the financial risk of fire has increased with the size and complexity of turbines.

As turbines are getting increasingly bigger and therefore more expensive, a single fire can have a much greater impact.

Full article here.

Existing Sizewell B nuclear power station


The cost would be a drop in the bucket compared to proposed spending on non-nuclear ‘green’ energy, in futile attempts to influence the weather.
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The government is close to giving the green light to a new nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk, says BBC News (via The GWPF).

The BBC has learned that talks with the Sizewell contractor, EDF, have intensified in recent weeks.

This comes after the collapse of projects in Anglesey and Cumbria when Japanese firms Hitachi and Toshiba pulled out.

Government officials are insisting that it “remains committed to new nuclear”.

This commitment to new nuclear may be included as part of a 10-point government plan to be published in early November.

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[credit: green lantern electric]


Would it be churlish to ask what is powering this contraption? ‘Hunting for clean energy’ implies you want to use it exclusively. Now they try to justify the thing as potentially ‘tackling the climate crisis’, which looks like two illusions rolled into one. It took seven years just to build it.
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A pioneering nuclear fusion experiment based in Oxfordshire has been switched on for the first time, reports BBC News.

Mast Upgrade could clear some of the hurdles to delivering clean, limitless energy for the grid.

Fusion differs from fission, the technology used by existing nuclear power plants, because it could release vast amounts of energy with little associated radioactivity.

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Risky business [image credit: safetysource.co.nz]


It’s the climate propaganda that’s mounting, not the concern about it, judging by opinion polls that put climate change last as an issue. But recycling of lithium batteries is considered to be uneconomic and can be dangerous.
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As concern mounts over the impacts of climate change, many experts are calling for greater use of electricity as a substitute for fossil fuels, asserts The Conversation (via TechXplore).

Powered by advancements in battery technology, the number of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles on U.S. roads is increasing.

And utilities are generating a growing share of their power from renewable fuels, supported by large-scale battery storage systems.

These trends, coupled with a growing volume of battery-powered phones, watches, laptops, wearable devices and other consumer technologies, leave us wondering: What will happen to all these batteries once they wear out?

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The mythology of human-caused climate change is leading the world up the garden path, and renewables are at the forefront of the visible evidence of that. The hardware itself is expensive, resource-hungry, obviously not renewable, and difficult or impossible to recycle.

H/T Climate Change Dispatch
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A study done by Irish and U.S.-based researchers is calling into question the efficacy of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar in dealing with the so-called climate crisis, says the New American.

In fact, the study found that such energy sources are extremely costly and may be causing as much climate change as they purport to mitigate.

Entitled Energy and Climate Policy — An Evaluation of Global Climate Change Expenditure 2011-2018, the study raises grave questions about the feasibility and cost of switching to an energy grid powered mainly by wind and solar farms.

The study also points out several of the flaws of wind and solar energy, including the negative impacts on local environments they present.

Despite spending jaw-dropping amounts of money on wind and solar power globally since 2011, the study shows that climate alarmists and the nations that defer to them have definitely not gotten their money’s worth.

“Since 2010, the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) has been publishing the annual Global Landscape of Climate Finance reports.

According to these reports, US$3660 billion has been spent on global climate change projects over the period 2011-2018.

Fifty-five percent of this expenditure has gone to wind and solar energy. According to world energy reports, the contribution of wind and solar to world energy consumption has increased from 0.5% to 3% over this period.

Meanwhile coal, oil, and gas continue to supply 85% of the world’s energy consumption with hydroelectricity and nuclear providing most of the remainder.”

The study’s lead author Coilin OhAiseadha points out: “It cost the world $2 trillion to increase the share of energy generated by solar and wind from half a percent to three percent, and it took eight years to do it. What would it cost to increase that to 100 percent? And how long would it take?”

At the same time, the world was spending these ghastly amounts of money on green projects that have proven to be about as useful as a scuba diving suit in the desert, only five percent of global climate spending was used for adapting to extreme weather events and other alleged results of anthropogenic climate change.

Moreover, the study also found that wind and solar farms and other green energy schemes are contributing to the problem they were meant to solve or otherwise damaging the environment.

Continued here.