Posts Tagged ‘electricity’

China’s BYD F3DM plug-in hybrid [image credit: Mariordo]


Scare stories about man-made global warming or even city pollution cut little ice with Chinese car buyers. The high cost of battery power and/or fear of running out of it on their journeys – range anxiety – seem more of a concern.

Automakers face a dilemma in China’s huge but crowded market: Regulators are pushing them to sell electric cars, but buyers want gas-guzzling SUVs, says Phys.org.

The industry is rattled by Beijing’s proposal to require that electric cars make up 8 percent of every brand’s production as soon as next year. Consumers are steering the other way: First-quarter SUV sales soared 21 percent from a year earlier to 2.4 million, while electric vehicle purchases sank 4.4 percent to just 55,929.

“It’s tough for someone with an EV to come and take away market share from SUVs,” said Ben Cavender of China Market Research Group.
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Enthusiasm fading for renewables targets?


This could put a bit of sanity back into UK electricity generation policy, if it happens.

Britain is preparing to scrap EU green energy targets which will add more than £100 to the average energy bill as part of a bonfire of red tape after Brexit, says the GWPF.
 
Government sources told The Daily Telegraph that the target, under the EU Renewable Energy Directive, is likely to be scrapped after Brexit.

The UK is currently committed to getting 15 per cent of all energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2020. Ministers have long been critical of the targets because they exclude nuclear power, carbon capture or gains from energy efficiency.

The UK is currently on course to miss the target and incur millions of pounds in fines from the European Union.
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Experimental E-plane [image credit: Siemens]


In the longer term they’re hoping this e-plane research will lead to ‘hybrid-electric airliners’.

Siemens has just announced that an electric aerobatic plane powered by its latest motor has nabbed two world speed records, as New Atlas reports.

The Extra 330LE aircraft is now the fastest e-plane under 1,000 kg, and also – after a few mods – the quickest above 1,000 kg, too. The electric test plane also became the first in the world to tow a glider up into the skies.

The Extra 330LE aerobatic plane powered by the lightweight electric motor announced by Siemens in 2015 made its first flight in July 2016.
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Credit: citymetric.com


And that’s on a good day. To call it a failed experiment would be an understatement.

An expensive solar road project in Idaho can’t even power a microwave most days, according to the project’s energy data.

The Solar FREAKIN’ Roadways project generated an average of 0.62 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per day since it began publicly posting power data in late March, reports The Daily Caller. To put that in perspective, the average microwave or blow drier consumes about 1 kWh per day.

On March 29th, the solar road panels generated 0.26 kWh, or less electricity than a single plasma television consumes. On March 31st, the panels generated 1.06 kWh, enough to barely power a single microwave.
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Knottingley is next door to the recently closed Ferrybridge C coal-fired power station [credit: Google maps]


If (as stated below) the UK’s electricity reserve margin fell to a feeble 0.1% this winter, now seems like a good time to get some new reliable power generation organised.

The ESB is planning a $1bn (€1bn) power plant in the UK and seeking an equity partner to help build the huge 1,600 megawatt facility, reports PEI.

The plant earmarked for Knottingley in Yorkshire would be one of Britain’s biggest, if it goes ahead. The company has already secured planning permission on the 50-acre site.

The Irish Independent reports that investment bank Nomura has been hired by the ESB to find a partner for the new gas-fired power station development, code-named Project Knight Rider.
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View from Titan [artist’s impression]


‘The grains that cover Saturn’s [largest] moon act like clingy packing peanuts.’ An obvious question might be: where is Titan’s electrical charge coming from?

Experiments led by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology suggest the particles that cover the surface of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, are “electrically charged.”

When the wind blows hard enough (approximately 15 mph), Titan’s non-silicate granules get kicked up and start to hop in a motion referred to as saltation. As they collide, they become frictionally charged, like a balloon rubbing against your hair, and clump together in a way not observed for sand dune grains on Earth — they become resistant to further motion.

They maintain that charge for days or months at a time and attach to other hydrocarbon substances, much like packing peanuts used in shipping boxes here on Earth. The findings have just been published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

“If you grabbed piles of grains and built a sand castle on Titan, it would perhaps stay together for weeks due to their electrostatic properties,” said Josef Dufek, the Georgia Tech professor who co-led the study. “Any spacecraft that lands in regions of granular material on Titan is going to have a tough time staying clean. Think of putting a cat in a box of packing peanuts.”

The electrification findings may help explain an odd phenomenon. Prevailing winds on Titan blow from east to west across the moon’s surface, but sandy dunes nearly 300 feet tall seem to form in the opposite direction.
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You couldn’t make it up. Insisting on spending a fortune when much cheaper and better options are available makes no sense, but climate obsessives plough on regardless.

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If what Australia’s political brains trust has done to its once reliable and affordable power supply had been done by external agents, it would have been branded an act of terrorism.

The so-called ‘wind power capital’ of Australia, South Australia has become an international laughing stock: statewide blackouts, routine load shedding and rocketing power prices might be enough, you would think, to make its Labor government see sense.

Far from it, it is now looking to spend $150 million on a giant battery that will return power to the grid and ‘power’ SA for all of four minutes and to set up somewhere between 200 and 250 MW of diesel generation capacity to keep the lights on, whenever the wind stops blowing.

The absurdity of throwing $550 million at a perfectly avoidable problem, when Jay Weatherill had the option of paying a mere $30 million to Alinta to keep its…

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Credit: wheels.ca


But where will the hydrogen come from? As the report says: ‘Questions remain over how to supply hydrogen in a low-carbon cost-effective manner’. The trouble is these questions have been around for ever and show no sign of going away. Producing electricity, converting it into hydrogen then back to electricity seems unlikely ever to be a cheap process.

The UK government has revealed plans to pump £23 million into “cutting edge” infrastructure to accelerate the uptake of hydrogen powered vehicles, reports Utility Week.

The Department for Transport has invited hydrogen fuel providers to bid for match funding from the government for high-tech infrastructure projects, including fuelling stations, in a competition launching over the summer.
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What could possibly go wrong? Like all pumped storage, every ‘refill’ uses more electricity for the pumping than is generated by its water release. The UK is also looking to develop similar schemes. The motivation is the intermittency of renewables.

The German state of North-Rhine Westphalia is set to turn its Prosper-Haniel hard coal mine in Bottrop into a 200 MW pumped-storage hydroelectric plant reports PEI.

The facility will act like a battery and will have enough capacity to power more than 400,000 homes, according to state governor Hannelore Kraft.

Other mines may also be converted after Prosper-Haniel because the state needs more industrial-scale storage as it seeks to double the share of renewables in its power mix to 30 per cent by 2025, she said. North-Rhine Westphalia generates a third of Germany’s power.
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UK taxpayers paid a high price to ensure the government didn’t get egg on its face over its agenda-driven electricity generation policies, as Utility Week reports.

The supplemental balancing reserve (SBR) cost a total of £180 million over the three years it was in operation but was “never once used”, a new report by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit has found. 

The think tank raised concerns that “fearmongering” about the “overblown” risk of blackouts led ministers to purchase an expensive insurance policy that was not needed. It has urged them not to spend “billions” more to bolster the UK’s capacity margin.

“The clear message from this report is that paying to boost spare capacity in Britain’s electricity system can be very expensive, and potentially unnecessary,” said Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) energy analyst Jonathan Marshall.
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Could UK electricity supply follow the postage model?


This looks more than a little like a warm-up act to the unveiling of the true role of smartmeters, preparing us to be ‘flexible and squeezed’. First or second class electricity? Just tick the box, thank you. That kind of thing.

A senior figure at Ofgem has called for a public debate on how consumers pay for and make use of the UK’s electricity networks, Utility Week reports.

Moves to increase flexibility and squeeze the most out of existing infrastructure could otherwise allow “one group of customers to outbid another group of customers for access”.

“When we consider that capacity may be at a premium – it is increasingly expensive to provide on a marginal basis,” said Ofgem senior partner Andrew Wright, “allowing everyone to charge their vehicles and power their heat pumps without constraint could turn out to be prohibitively expensive for everyone and increasingly difficult to manage on the system.
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The UK is struggling to get any reliable power generation built under its existing energy policies, as Utility Week explains. Meanwhile subsidies to renewables, and old coal-fired plants (as emergency back-up) roll on, making the future uncertain.

The capacity market has failed to deliver flexibility and reliable new-build generation, a new report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) has argued.  Existing generation should be exiled from the mechanism and support reserved for flexible new-build capacity, according to the think tank.

“While the goal of the capacity market was to drive investment in reliable new generation, the scheme—with £3.4 billion in awarded contracts to date—has yet to incentivise a single large new power plant,” the report said.

“This support for existing generation is distorting energy markets and has subsidized outdated investment, including more than £450 million for existing coal-fired power plants.” This was despite government intervention to increase the volume of new generation contracted by increasing the procurement target in the most recent four-year-ahead (T-4) auction.

“The enlarged T4 auction took place in December 2016, but achieved only a tiny increase in new generation as a proportion of the total contracted capacity, from four per cent to seven per cent,” the report said. It noted that the only new build combined-cycle gas turbine to secure a contract was a 370MW replanting of an existing power station in King’s Lynn.

The government should instead “repurpose” the capacity market and hold “smaller, targeted capacity auctions solely for flexible, new-build generation, including gas peakers, demand-side response and storage”.

The report continues here.

Electricity usage - one of these may cause a shock.

Electricity usage – one of these may cause a shock.

A woman has spoken of her surprise when her smart meter quoted thousands of pounds for a day’s usage of gas and electricity, due to a system error, reports BBC News.

Jane Allen was one of many confused customers who posted the strange readings from their SSE smart meters on social media. One customer’s display showed more than £30,000 for a single day.

SSE apologised and said no customers would be charged “the extra amounts resulting from errors”.

Smart meters send information on energy usage back to the supplier. They let the customer know how much electricity or gas they are consuming each day – and how much it’s costing them – in real time.

But for some customers, the readings have been somewhat higher than usual over the past week.
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Electric car charging station [credit: Wikipedia]

Electric car charging station [credit: Wikipedia]


The battery can be made from ‘earth-friendly materials’ like sodium, which can be extracted from seawater.

A new longer-lasting battery technology that can’t catch fire has been developed by a team of engineers led by 94-year-old Professor John Goodenough, the co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery, the Daily Mail Online reports.

Lithium-ion batteries are one of the most popular types of rechargeable batteries used in many mobile devices, but they can sometimes explode and catch fire – as was the case for Samsung’s Galaxy 7 exploding battery fiasco.

But this new battery technology could increase the distance electric cars can drive for between charges, and recharge within minutes rather than hours.
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Reality is catching up with wind power dreamers in South Australia as the public wake up to the truth – via power failures.

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alice_in_wonderland17 Fantastic in theory, but reality is another place.

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It’s been barely 5 months since South Australia experienced a state wide blackout on 28 September, when a typically vigorous spring storm delivered wind speeds in excess of 90km/h, causing the majority of turbines operating at its 18 wind farms to automatically shutdown to avoid self-destruction. The ensuing collapse in wind power output overloaded the interconnectors with Victoria, which tripped automatically; and thereafter South Australia suffered what is now known as a ‘system black’ (see our post here).

With a string of blackouts during December (see our post here) and mass load shedding during a heat wave when, yet again, wind power output plummeted (see our post here), humour among South Australians is now a rare and treasured commodity.

Inversely related to South Australians’ fury at their power pricing and supply calamity, is the battle that the wind…

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Vertical axis wind turbine [credit: Challenergy]

Vertical axis wind turbine [credit: Challenergy]


‘Wind power on steroids’ or another madcap ‘sustainability’ scheme that never gets off the ground? No mention of storage, and typhoons are far from everyday events.

In what could be the ultimate clean energy, Japan is set to start harnessing the energy of typhoons, with wind turbines that are able to withstand intense storms – and turn them into power, reports the IB Times.

Typhoon turbines, also known as the Magnus Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT), were first thought up by Atsushi Shimizu, chief executive of Challenergy Inc. After seeing the widespread destruction caused by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, he wanted to find a way to provide a safe and sustainable source of energy.
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Channel Tunnel [image credit: BBC]

Channel Tunnel [image credit: BBC]


The project is described as ‘vital’, which may raise questions about the present state of these two national grid systems. The idea that it will help support increased electric car use – that’s one of its claims – is a bit weak as so few people want them.

A major new project to install an interconnector linking the electricity markets of Britain and France via the Channel Tunnel has just put down its foundations, reports PEI.

The foundation stone of the Folkestone Converter Station was laid on Thursday by Jesse Norman, UK Minister for Industry and Energy. The ElecLink 1 GW Direct Current link is expected to cost around £580m.

The project will generate approximately 300 new jobs during the construction phase together with ongoing jobs needed for the operations and maintenance throughout the life of the project.
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Note the output from the cooling towers is NOT black - no trick photography here.

Note the output from the cooling towers is NOT black – no trick photography here.


For some reason (‘de-carbonisation’) the UK government’s actions on electricity supply are usually opposite to its stated policy of ‘secure, affordable’ energy. Expensive and often unreliable power sources are given priority most of the time, apparently in pursuit of climate illusions.

Interventions in the energy market by successive governments have pushed up prices, but not secured supplies, peers found. A House of Lords committee said the interventions have led to an opaque, complicated and uncompetitive market, reports BBC News.

The peers blame “poorly designed government interventions in pursuit of decarbonisation” that they say have put pressure on energy supply and bills. The government said its priority was ensuring secure, affordable energy.
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abracadabra-515x396The biomass problem, or fallacy, is well-known and media like The Times are finally catching up.

Britain is wasting hundreds of millions of pounds subsidising power stations to burn American wood pellets that do more harm to the climate than the coal they replaced, a study has found.

Chopping down trees and transporting wood across the Atlantic Ocean to feed power stations produces more greenhouse gases than much cheaper coal, according to the report.

It blames the rush to meet EU renewable energy targets, which resulted in ministers making the false assumption that burning trees was carbon-neutral.
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South Australia has found out the hard way that relying too much on wind turbines is bad news for everyone, including the politicians who ordered it.

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jay weatherill Jay Weatherill’s political future all but blacked-out.

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While the power pricing and supply calamity that is South Australia is down to the subsidies awarded to wind power under the Federal government’s Large-Scale RET, the state Labor government has done plenty to create the unfolding disaster and nothing to mitigate it.

It’s vapid Premier, Jay Weatherill must know that, as a wind power champion, he’s yesterday’s ‘hero’ and, as a so-called political leader, today’s fool.

Third world beckons as Weatherill plays the fool
The Australian
Nick Cater
14 February 2017

It would be wrong to give Mike Rann and Jay Weatherill all the credit for turning South Australia into wackadoodle windmill world. We should recognise the contribution of those who egged the premiers on, like Al Gore, auteur of An Inconvenient Truth. When it came to showing leadership on renewable energy, said Gore, South Australia was “one of best examples…

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