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Author Topic: Aberthaw Power Station and Decarbonisation  (Read 40918 times)
stuving
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« Reply #240 on: September 20, 2021, 10:17:14 am »

What I note from https://www.electricitymap.org/map is that the 'greenest' areas are mostly powered by hydro. This is an energy source that never gets talked about here. Do we not have any suitable rivers?

Suitable for what? Power (kW) = flow rate (m3/s) x vertical drop (m) * 9.81 (g), and very few rivers have enough of both flow and verticality. There are some in the obvious places, so SSE(resolve) Renewables (descendant of the old North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board) claims a total of 1,459MW, but that includes pumped storage. So not a big contributor.

Somebody must believe in their value in the English plains, though, as hydro generator has just been installed at Caversham weir. According to their website, the current power output is -0.9 kW, and I can't see any historical data. The weir currently (9 am BST) has a head of 1.46 m and a total river flow of 7.95 m3/s, so using all of its flow at 100% efficiency would yield 113.85 kW.

In reality ... a fraction of that, though the plans are (obviously) pretty optimistic. They have two Archimedes screws with total rated output of 47 kW, and expect 320 MWh/year. That averages out at 36 kW, or more than 18 hours of full power per day all year. It will be interesting to see how much they do get out of it. But, as a potential major source of power ... not really.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2021, 01:04:11 pm by stuving » Logged
Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #241 on: September 20, 2021, 11:14:48 am »

So it seems we don't have large enough rivers, mostly.

Hydro storage is marked differently on that map, and that seems sensible as it's releasing stored energy.
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« Reply #242 on: September 20, 2021, 11:16:22 am »

I've taken a look at the very modest sized hydro units at Radyr on the river Taff in Cardiff and Totnes on the Dart.  Both, I recall, use the Archimedes Screw as the turbine mechanism.  Both of these are quite unobtrusive and fit in with existing river weirs.  I'm not suggesting for a moment that they alone present a solution to our energy needs but I there are plenty more substantial rivers with reliable flows that have weirs that could yet be utilised.
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Witham Bobby
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« Reply #243 on: September 20, 2021, 11:30:44 am »

As a kid, I lived with family for a few years in the wilds on North Devon.  There was a plan, which got abandoned after we'd moved to Worcestershire in 1967, to build a dam and flood a valley near us (not far from Bradworthy) and to use unwanted "free ( Cheesy)" off-peak electricity at night time which would be released back into the river in the day to spin turbines and make electricity.  Pumped storage.  As at Dinorwig and some other locations.  I've often wondered what happened to that idea.  The land loss is dreadful, of course.  But linked with nuclear power plants with relatively un-variable output, it would seem like a winner

The only online reference I can find with a quick search refers to the CEGB having engineering problems

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/1966-11-29/debates/273a51a0-6ed5-4970-8b3b-8b1a62f1ee57/NorthDevonPumpedStorageScheme
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TonyK
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« Reply #244 on: September 20, 2021, 12:41:07 pm »

As a kid, I lived with family for a few years in the wilds on North Devon.  There was a plan, which got abandoned after we'd moved to Worcestershire in 1967, to build a dam and flood a valley near us (not far from Bradworthy) and to use unwanted "free ( Cheesy)" off-peak electricity at night time which would be released back into the river in the day to spin turbines and make electricity.  Pumped storage.  As at Dinorwig and some other locations.  I've often wondered what happened to that idea.  The land loss is dreadful, of course.  But linked with nuclear power plants with relatively un-variable output, it would seem like a winner

The only online reference I can find with a quick search refers to the CEGB having engineering problems

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/1966-11-29/debates/273a51a0-6ed5-4970-8b3b-8b1a62f1ee57/NorthDevonPumpedStorageScheme

You will find some more about hydropower on Exmoor here.

One major reason the planned pumped storage scheme didn't go ahead was the cutting back of the planned nuclear expansion programme. Dinorwig remains the biggest, at least for the moment. That cost £400 million - I can't imagine what it would cost if built today, which could explain why little is heard of plans for new pumped hydro.

This is what one hydroelectric plant looks like.



I took the picture in May 2016. It is Goat Lake in Alaska. At the bottom end of the pipe to the right of the waterfall, there is a 4 MW plant that powers the town of Skagway. The pipe is a lot less slender than it looks. I don't think it ruins the aesthetics, especially when the benefit is so large. The lake at the top is fed by a glacier. I have no idea if this is under threat - I saw one glacier on my travels there from a point that a few years previously was under many metres of ice, but although many glaciers in Alaska and Canada are shrinking, a few are still growing.

Getting back to the hydroelectric plant, it looks a wonderfully clean source of energy. I can't think of any similar site around where I live, but 800 of these would provide the equivalent of Hinkley C. It works very well for Skagway, but would make minimal difference in a big city.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2021, 09:14:24 pm by TonyK » Logged

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ellendune
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« Reply #245 on: September 20, 2021, 12:50:56 pm »

Small scale hydro like this 100kW project using an existing weir on the river Calder at Whalley in Lancashire has potential. I recall that the CEGB closed a number of small hydro plants in the 1970's because they were considered uneconomic to run.  I suggest that some of these could now be reopened. 
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Witham Bobby
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« Reply #246 on: September 21, 2021, 11:02:40 am »


You will find some more about hydropower on Exmoor here.

Thank you
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Rhydgaled
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« Reply #247 on: September 23, 2021, 04:09:14 pm »

I am genuinely puzzled by the non-appearance of wave power. I don't subscribe to the usual conspiracy theories about the oil companies suppressing it, as surely they would have nobbled wind and solar, unless they thought they were not a threat to their existence (which they aren't - quite the opposite). I am beginning to think that there is some major natural or engineering obstacle in the way, that we haven't been told about because it might cause funding for research to dry up. If so, it could well be that the financiers and insurance companies are reluctant to get involved. Suppose they spent £100 billion on the Severn Barrage, and it wrecked the ecological balance of the whole of South Wales, Gloucestershire, Bristol and Somerset?  Maybe it is too big an unknown risk for them in a way that nuclear isn't.
You start by asking about 'wave power' and finish with 'Severn Barrage' (which would be tidal power, not wave power); so which are you asking about? There are also different sorts of tidal power plant too - barrages and lagoons (both known as 'tidal range' I believe) and 'tidal stream' (which are like underwater wind turbines). I've heard of a number of small-scale wave and tidal stream demonstrators, but don't know much about them. Maybe it's just that nobody has been willing to take the risk in investing the significant sums needed to bring something to production scale when wind and solar are established and are therefore safer bets?

The one issue I have heard (relating to one of the tidal stream demonstrators I think) was one that also impacts proposals for wind turbines in mid Wales. That issue is the distribution network - there is a double-row of horribly ugly pylons across south Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire* but in the rural areas where you might put a wind farm or (on the coast) tidal stream turbines there are just wooden poles holding up two or occasionally three wires. We don't want the pylons and the cost of installing them is probably rather significant.

* I'm not sure if that's taking electricty from Pembroke Power Station (gas-powered) to England or bringing electricity from England to power the Pembroke oil refinery
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Don't DOO (Driver-Only Operation (that is, trains which operate without carrying a guard)) it, keep the guard (but it probably wouldn't be a bad idea if the driver unlocked the doors on arrival at calling points).
TonyK
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« Reply #248 on: September 23, 2021, 09:28:21 pm »

You start by asking about 'wave power' and finish with 'Severn Barrage' (which would be tidal power, not wave power); so which are you asking about? There are also different sorts of tidal power plant too - barrages and lagoons (both known as 'tidal range' I believe) and 'tidal stream' (which are like underwater wind turbines). I've heard of a number of small-scale wave and tidal stream demonstrators, but don't know much about them. Maybe it's just that nobody has been willing to take the risk in investing the significant sums needed to bring something to production scale when wind and solar are established and are therefore safer bets?

The one issue I have heard (relating to one of the tidal stream demonstrators I think) was one that also impacts proposals for wind turbines in mid Wales. That issue is the distribution network - there is a double-row of horribly ugly pylons across south Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire* but in the rural areas where you might put a wind farm or (on the coast) tidal stream turbines there are just wooden poles holding up two or occasionally three wires. We don't want the pylons and the cost of installing them is probably rather significant.

* I'm not sure if that's taking electricty from Pembroke Power Station (gas-powered) to England or bringing electricity from England to power the Pembroke oil refinery

You caught me out there, Rhydgaled, although in my defence, I struggle with wind panels and solar turbines too. Helpfully, you have looked at the question I meant to ask, which would have included both wind and tide. It seems that like myself, you don't know the answer. The risk of causing completely irreversible damage to a large area may have put the money men and the government off the idea. I haven't ruled out the possibility that the scientific and engineering communities know already that there are problems that cannot be resolved with our current (no pun intended) technology, but are keeping schtum for fear of finding protestors sellotaping themselves to the front lawn.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2021, 08:06:49 pm by TonyK » Logged

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ellendune
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« Reply #249 on: September 23, 2021, 09:33:58 pm »

There is some wortk going on of tidal and wave power in Orkney at the http://www.emec.org.uk/
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stuving
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« Reply #250 on: September 23, 2021, 11:30:26 pm »

The one issue I have heard (relating to one of the tidal stream demonstrators I think) was one that also impacts proposals for wind turbines in mid Wales. That issue is the distribution network - there is a double-row of horribly ugly pylons across south Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire* but in the rural areas where you might put a wind farm or (on the coast) tidal stream turbines there are just wooden poles holding up two or occasionally three wires. We don't want the pylons and the cost of installing them is probably rather significant.

* I'm not sure if that's taking electricty from Pembroke Power Station (gas-powered) to England or bringing electricity from England to power the Pembroke oil refinery

The big power lines across the Severn and along the south coast are, of course, feeding power to wherever it's used - people and all kinds of businesses. There are also lines across the north, but no national grid lines between the two. The grid was built where it was needed at the time, and lasts a long time, so it's bound to be out of date when requirements change.

As you sort of pointed out, even people who are in favour of wind turbines in theory (less so if they come too close) can be opposed to the power lines they need crossing their especially pretty fields and mountains. In most cases these will be part of the distribution network, and it probably doesn't help that south Wales is Western Power Distribution's and the north has SP Energy Networks.

With no coal or nuclear power produced in Wales, what's left is almost all gas. I think (if it's all available) there's enough for Welsh demand, but when gas is not needed nationally there is too little wind capacity to make up for it. So then wind, nuclear, and imports will all come in via ... Melksham, mostly.
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TonyK
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« Reply #251 on: September 24, 2021, 01:09:40 pm »


I am concerned that we are getting a bit complacent on this since we haven't had a major incident from a UK (United Kingdom) reactor since 1957.  As we change our technology in the way Tony describes we the potential for new types of failure. (for example molten salt sounds like it could have challenges for materials). 

I forgot to mention that point earlier. Uranium fluoride at 700°C is indeed a bit rough on other materials, and especially welds. That wasn't what did for the research though, which began when the US heard a (false) rumour that the USSR had a nuclear aircraft that could fly indefinitely. The powers that be threw their weight behind the competing technology, at least so far as funds were concerned, the Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor (LMFBR). Molten salt reactors would work today, as the problems are understood and materials have been developed that cope with them perfectly. The design has advantages, with the need for high pressures associated with light water reactors being completely avoided. The fuel is the coolant, and if anything goes wrong, it simply spills into a safety vessel and goes cold. It can't do the hydrogen explosion thing we saw at Fukushima, nor go critical. Our own government hasn't supported research with any enthusiasm (or money), and the British firm Moltex Energy has begun work on a molten salt reactor in Canada.

Speaking of our own government, it has clearly been following our debate here from a distance, and has decided that the way forward is the one expounded by myself, Red Squirrel, and others. Business Live tells us:

Quote
A US nuclear sector consortium “has a plan” to build a large nuclear plant at Wylfa - with UK Government saying “exploratory” talks were taking place.

Westinghouse says the Anglesey site is the “perfect location” for a new nuclear site while partner Bechtel, a US engineering giant, has a proposal in place.

It would be based on a nuclear scheme in Georgia in the United States - although that project has been dogged by long delays and doubled in price from the original cost estimate.

Talking at the Welsh Affairs Committee a senior Government official said initial discussions were taking place with consortiums interested in building a nuclear plant at Wylfa.

The Times has a bit more detail, and hints at the design being Westinghouse's AP1000. I am not sure that pressurised water was top of my list, but it will do. It would seem that the Prime Minister and some members of the cabinet have been warming to nuclear over a period, rather than having something of a Damascene conversion when the gas bill arrived.
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stuving
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« Reply #252 on: September 24, 2021, 01:24:39 pm »

Then there's the plan to build a nuclear fusion plant at Aberthaw ...
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« Reply #253 on: September 24, 2021, 01:30:08 pm »

I remain opposed to chinese built or financed nuclear reactors on both quality control and national security grounds.

I would be more relaxed about an American design. Provided that it can be delivered on time and within budget. In practice I am rather doubtful about any new nukes getting beyond studies, reviews, consultations, and planning appeals and counter appeals. And any change of government deciding that the previous lot did not do the above correctly and that the process needs to be done again.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
broadgage
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« Reply #254 on: September 24, 2021, 01:32:15 pm »

Then there's the plan to build a nuclear fusion plant at Aberthaw ...

In about thirty years when the technology has been perfected.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
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