Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

Go-ahead for mini reactors as energy crunch looms

Posted: September 10, 2017 by tallbloke in Energy, Nuclear power
nuke-powerFrom the Sunday Times: By Alan Tovey

MINISTERS are ready to approve the swift development of a fleet of “mini” reactors to help guard against electricity shortages, as older nuclear power stations are decommissioned.

The new technology is expected to offer energy a third cheaper than giant conventional reactors such as the ongoing Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Industry players including Rolls-Royce, NuScale, Hitachi and Westinghouse have held meetings in past weeks with civil servants about Britain’s nuclear strategy and development of “small modular reactors” (SMRs).

A report to be published by Rolls-Royce in Westminster this week claims its consortium can generate electricity at a “strike price” – the guaranteed price producers can charge – of £60 per megawatt hour, two thirds that of recent large-scale nuclear plants.

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Lots of coal in Australia


Some say the ‘soaring prices and increased black outs’ mentioned in the report are at least partly due to over-hasty substitution of fuel-powered generation by expensive and intermittent renewable energy, mainly wind and solar. Now the argument is that Australia needs early action to try and prevent the situation getting even more serious.

Alan Finkel, Australia’s chief scientist, believes the country would be better off extending the life of existing coal-fired power plants, rather than investing in clean coal technology, as PEI reports.

Finkel says the move would increase Australia’s energy security in an affordable manner.

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This may go some way to counter complaints that it’s mostly the better-off who can afford to buy solar power and benefit from its subsidies. On the other hand even council tenant subsidies have to be paid from utility bills in the end.

Andrew James

Solar panels are to be installed in 800,000 low-income homes across England and Wales over the next five years, as part of a new government scheme.

The Dutch firm, Maas Capital is investing £160m in the project.

The panels are expected to save 100,000 tenants living in social housing hundreds of pounds, according to the UK firm Solarplicity.

The first tenants to benefit from the scheme include residents of a sheltered retirement home in Ealing, west London.

Speaking at the site, International Trade minister Greg Hands said, “This initial £160m capital expenditure programme will deliver massive benefits to some of the UK’s poorest households.

“As well as creating 1,000 jobs and delivering cheaper energy bills for up to 800,000 homes, it shows yet another vote of confidence in the UK as a place to invest and do business.”

The firm providing the panels, Solarplicity, will partner with more than 40…

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German wind farm [image credit: Dirk Ingo Franke / Wikipedia]


If the flood of subsidies looks like turning to a trickle, the backers of renewables soon get cold feet – in Germany at least, as Pierre Gosselin explains (via GWPF).

While Germany likes to fancy itself as being among the “global leaders” in tackling climate change by expanding green energies, the country has in fact taken very little action recently to back up the appearances.

If anything, Germany is more in the green energy retreat mode. There are good reasons for this.

German flagship business daily “Handelsblatt” reported yesterday how Germany’s wind energy market is now “threatening to implode” and as a result “thousands of jobs are at risk”.

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Energy costs on the rise


This is the official admission that ‘green energy’ costs due to ideologically-based policies are a significant portion of, and reason for, fast-rising UK domestic energy bills.

Poorer customers could be exempted from paying ‘green’ energy taxes included in bills and pay just for what they use under plans being drawn up by leading power firms, says the GWPF.

Energy regulator Ofgem is consulting consumer groups and power companies on proposals for a ‘safeguard’ tariff, which would protect 2.2 million customers.

This follows on from Prime Minister Theresa May’s pre-Election pledge to cut £100 from 17 million family energy bills.

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As stopthesethings sums it up: ‘Third World outcomes with First World costs’. But will other renewables-mad governments take any notice?

STOP THESE THINGS

Diesel-fuelled jet engines: what promises to power
SA this summer and next summer and ..

If South Australia were a novel, it would find itself a place amongst the classic tragic comedies.

For a while the bromance between its vapid Premier, Jay Weatherill and Californian carpetbagger, Elon Musk might’ve earned a place in the ‘rom/com’ category, as well.

However, now that Jay Weatherill is determined to keep the lights on this Summer and beyond using diesel fuelled jet engines – instead of powering SA with sunshine and breezes captured and stored lovingly in Musk’s mega-batteries – that romance is clearly at an end.

South Australia generating electricity from rubbish and diesel powered jets, if they could only burn government regulations instead
Jo Nova Blog
Jo Nova
9 August 2017

A little update on our favourite green state.

SA tries to fix a Big-Government mess with a Bigger Government: Man-made regulations created…

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Credit: inhabitat.com


Another green dream has crumbled in the face of inconvenient reality, defeated by biology, as Yahoo News reports. Research shows it is neither commercially nor environmentally sustainable, unless the equivalent of three Belgiums and a mountain of fertilizer can be found.

Modern biofuels have been touted as a greener alternative to petrol and diesel since the early 1900s. It seems like a good idea on paper, and they do work – but their use and production doesn’t come without problems.

The first generation of biofuels – mainly ethanol made from plant crops – and second generation, derived from plant and animal waste streams, both had environmentalists and others concerned about the competition for land and nutrients between biofuels production and food production.

It was with a lot of hope, and hype, that production of the third generation of biofuels was started. Unlike their predecessors, these biofuels are derived from algae, and so in theory the food vs fuel dilemma of crop-based biofuels would be solved.

Fossil fuel oil and gas originated from ancient algae in large measure, so the concept here is to replicate the essence of the creation of fossil fuels, albeit accelerated and optimised with modern chemical engineering. It was claimed that using algae would be much more efficient than creating biofuels from terrestrial plants and that the technology would make use of poor quality land not able to grow other crops.

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Goldman Sachs, the merchant bank, calls cobalt ‘the new gasoline’ but there are no signs of new wealth in the DRC, where the children haul the rocks brought up from tunnels dug by hand.

Adult miners dig up to 600ft below the surface using basic tools, without protective clothing or modern machinery. Sometimes the children are sent down into the narrow makeshift chambers where there is constant danger of collapse.

Cobalt is such a health hazard that it has a respiratory disease named after it – cobalt lung, a form of pneumonia which causes coughing and leads to permanent incapacity and even death.

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The Catch-22 of Energy Storage

Posted: July 27, 2017 by tallbloke in Analysis, Energy, Maths, wind
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H/T @hockeyschtick1 for this great article on the non-viability of wind/solar as large-scale replacement for fossil/nuclear. Now can we scrap the CCA please?

 

Brave New Climate

Pick up a research paper on battery technology, fuel cells, energy storage technologies or any of the advanced materials science used in these fields, and you will likely find somewhere in the introductory paragraphs a throwaway line about its application to the storage of renewable energy.  Energy storage makes sense for enabling a transition away from fossil fuels to more intermittent sources like wind and solar, and the storage problem presents a meaningful challenge for chemists and materials scientists… Or does it?


Guest Post by John Morgan. John is Chief Scientist at a Sydney startup developing smart grid and grid scale energy storage technologies.  He is Adjunct Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at RMIT, holds a PhD in Physical Chemistry, and is an experienced industrial R&D leader.  You can follow John on twitter at @JohnDPMorgan First published in Chemistry in Australia .

Several recent analyses of the…

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Former Tilbury power station


If this goes ahead it’s likely to be finished years before the troubled Hinkley Point nuclear plant.

German utility RWE has commenced the planning process for the construction of a 2.5 GW gas-fired power plant in Essex, England, reports Power Engineering International.

If the development is to proceed it would be a big boost for the UK energy system, as old coal and nuclear plants are being taken out of the equation.

RWE is starting the planning process to build a 2.5 GW gas power plant in Tilbury, Essex on the site of a former biomass station in what could be a potential boost to the UK energy system.

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Credit: NASA

The report at Phys.org explains that “Even though the moon blocking the sun during a solar eclipse and clouds blocking sunlight to Earth’s surface are two different phenomena, both require similar mathematical calculations to accurately understand their effects.”

It was mid-afternoon, but it was dark in an area in Boulder, Colorado on Aug. 3, 1998. A thick cloud appeared overhead and dimmed the land below for more than 30 minutes. Well-calibrated radiometers showed that there were very low levels of light reaching the ground, sufficiently low that researchers decided to simulate this interesting event with computer models.

Now in 2017, inspired by the event in Boulder, NASA scientists will explore the moon’s eclipse of the sun to learn more about Earth’s energy system. On Aug. 21, 2017, scientists are looking to this year’s total solar eclipse passing across America to improve our modelling capabilities of Earth’s energy.

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Excerpt from an open letter to the head of MIT:

Professor Reif of MIT says, “In 2016 alone, solar industry employment grew by 25 percent, while wind jobs grew 32%.” These numbers are highly misleading. In fact, they underscore how deficient these energy sources are as job creators.

Growing jobs by subsidy is easy, provided that one cares nothing for the far greater number of jobs destroyed by the additional taxation, energy price hikes or public borrowing necessary to pay for the subsidy. Several studieshave shown that the creation of one “green” job results in the loss of two to four jobs elsewhere in the economy. In Spain the estimated ratio was two jobs lost for each one created by renewable energy, prompting the government to finally end most renewable subsidies.

And yet, despite all those subsidies, wind and solar power generation expensively and unreliably account for 5.6% and 0.9% of total U.S. electricity production, respectively. On its own, electricity provides only a small fraction of total energy consumption, including transportation, industrial processes, heating and electricity generation, so these numbers actually exaggerate the contribution of wind and solar facilities to overall energy consumption.

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trump-zap

If you go by the mainstream media’s lockstep ‘coverage’ of the US president’s first six months, he is no more nor less than a tweeting buffoon. A comforting narrative for cant-addicted newsroom hacks and groupthinkers, it handily avoids any and all mooting of Australia’s need to follow his lead.

Our federal and state politicians scuttle about looking for innovative new ways to strangle the Australian energy sector. But across the Pacific, America is unleashing a world-changing energy revolution. The world’s energy fundamentals are in transition. Donald Trump is liberating American coal, gas, oil and nuclear industries from eight years of Obama’s harassment and restrictions.

The consequences for us as a player in energyexport markets are dire. In an officially supportive environment, Australian energy could hold its share – intrinsically, it has  global competitiveness. But politics here involves ‘renewables’ targets and other sacrifices to please the climate gods,  bans  such as Victoria’s on normal and fracked gas exploration, official and green lawfare against every new energy project (think Adani), impromptu Turnbull restrictions on LNG exports, Sargasso seas of red tape, and  on-going fatwas against nuclear proposals.

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Governor on the wind power fiasco: ‘Decisions made now will affect, and perhaps destroy, our state government financially over the next 14 years.’

You couldn’t make it up.

STOP THESE THINGS

As Mark Twain put it: “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” And, even when the dupe accepts his folly, sorry seems to be the hardest word.

Frank Keating was governor of Oklahoma 1995-2003 and is responsible for its wind power calamity, as he calls it.

Uncharacteristically of a modern politician, Keating taps into that fast disappearing virtue – grace – not only admitting that he was fooled, but sincerely apologising for the harm caused to Okies and their State.

Frank Keating: I signed wind industry tax breaks, and I was wrong
Tulsa World
Frank Keating
25 February 2017

In 2001, when I served as governor of Oklahoma, I signed legislation creating the Zero Emissions Tax Credit for industrial wind energy. The tax credit was designed to give a jump-start to a wind industry in its infancy in Oklahoma at the time. It was…

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The dash for renewables in South Australia has gone so badly wrong that crisis measures are now called for, as PEI reports.

A large-scale temporary power solution is being considered, as South Australia struggles to ensure its energy security.

A 250 MW ship-based power station is under consideration as a solution to the crisis for the Australian state, which has seen a lot of investment in renewable power over recent years, while old fossil stations were retired.

The Turkish ship could be operational by the end of the year for less than the $360m budgeted for a new state-owned gas-fired power plant of the same capacity.

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There’s the wind, water, and solar (WWS) vision promoted by a few academics, and then there’s economic and technical reality – with a seriously large chasm in between.

Friends of Science Calgary

Contributed by Robert Lyman © 2017

A new paper prepared by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Earth System Laboratory and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is drawing attention in policy circles in the U.S. The paper critiques the claims of a study by Mark Jacobson et. al. that it is feasible, at low cost, to achieve 100% conversion of the U.S. electricity generation system to wind, hydroelectricity and solar energy by 2050 (the “WWS Vision”).

The authors of the critique include experts in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, who could not be accused of being “climate sceptics”. Indeed, they have previously authored reports in which they concluded that an 80% decarbonisation of the U.S. electrical grid eventually could be achieved at “reasonable” cost, assuming that a broad suite of generation options and other technologies are employed. Their critique of the Jacobson…

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Credit: Kite Power Systems [click to enlarge]


It may be hard to imagine large scale use of kites to generate electricity, but this is the concept being tested in Scotland with some big name backers behind it.

Kite Power Systems (KPS) has secured £2 million equity investment from the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB) says Utility Week.

The Scottish economy secretary, Keith Brown confirmed the news yesterday (22 June), following a visit to Kellwood Engineering in Dumfries, where KPS’s latest 500kw demonstration model is being built. Brown said the company’s approach to wind energy “shows great promise”.

“The company has recently relocated from Essex to Glasgow and this £2 million investment from the SIB will enable it to expand further and demonstrate the latest iteration of its kite power technology in Scotland,” he added.

KPS has developed a power system that features two kites, which fly up to an altitude of 1500 feet. Both kites are attached by tethers to a winch system, which generates electricity as the winch spools out. 

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Planned nuclear power station at Hinkley Point


For some reason the UK has chosen to pay a lot more for its new nuclear power than anywhere else, using untried and complex technology, and now even the country’s own auditors are complaining about it. The fear seems to be that it could prove to be a vastly expensive pig in a poke.

UK government plans for a new £18bn nuclear power station have come under fire from public auditors, who call it “a risky and expensive project”, BBC news reports.

The case for the Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset was “marginal” and the deal was “not value for money”, according to the National Audit Office (NAO). The NAO said the government had not sufficiently considered the costs and risks for consumers.

The government said building the plant was an “important strategic decision”. The report comes nine months after the government granted final approval for the project, which is being financed by the French and Chinese governments.

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Biomass on the move [image credit: Drax]


Are we nearing the end of the road for further large-scale wood pellet burning at UK power stations? Cheaper gas from either US or UK fracking must now be influencing business plans.

PEI reports the UK’s biggest power producer Drax is considering the conversion of its remaining coal-fired power units to gas, instead of biomass power, as originally planned.

Management believe a gas-fired power conversion would allow the company to qualify for 15-year contracts in the country’s capacity market auctions. As the government has already changed its stance on renewable energy subsidies which had made biomass conversion attractive, this would be a logical step for Drax.

The company has already converted half of its Yorkshire coal plant to burn wood pellets, but plans to switch the remaining units to biomass have since halted due to the government decision.

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Some day UK leaders might work out that the energy policies of recent years have cost far too much for no good reason. But nobody’s holding their breath waiting for that day. Reducing bills while driving up costs does not compute.

The U.K.’s search for 100 billion pounds ($127 billion) to maintain electricity supplies is likely to become tougher after the Conservative government lost its parliamentary majority in an election last week, says the GWPF.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who is leading a minority government, will need to focus more than ever to get consensus from lawmakers on Britain’s exit from the European Union. That leaves little time for setting new policies that could bolster the case for investing in new energy infrastructure, industry officials said.

“There’s not going to be an energy policy,” Guy Madgwick, managing director of Northern Europe for wind turbine manufacturer Senvion SA, said in a phone interview. “It’s nowhere near the top of their list.”
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