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Author Topic: Aberthaw Power Station and Decarbonisation  (Read 7309 times)
Red Squirrel
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« Reply #60 on: November 16, 2020, 09:09:29 am »

The image I've attached shows they breakdown by generation type for last month, which was fairly typical.

Wind power, shown in blue, varies between almost nothing and 10GW; nuclear (grey) quietly chugs out a steady 6GW and gas (brown) takes up most of the slack at between 6 and 20GW. The other significant component is the international interconnects, of which up to 2GW comes from France and is therefore presumably nuclear. Coal crops up from time to time; for example during a recent period when there was very little wind for several days; at the time of posting we've had 5 coal-free days of power generation.

Image taken from gridwatch.co.uk

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TonyK
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« Reply #61 on: November 16, 2020, 02:01:35 pm »

The image I've attached shows they breakdown by generation type for last month, which was fairly typical.

Wind power, shown in blue, varies between almost nothing and 10GW; nuclear (grey) quietly chugs out a steady 6GW and gas (brown) takes up most of the slack at between 6 and 20GW. The other significant component is the international interconnects, of which up to 2GW comes from France and is therefore presumably nuclear. Coal crops up from time to time; for example during a recent period when there was very little wind for several days; at the time of posting we've had 5 coal-free days of power generation.

Image taken from gridwatch.co.uk

That swing between "almost nothing and 10 GW" is the alarming bit really, especially as it often happens unpredictably. The more wind turbines go up, the more apparent it becomes that the old adage "It's always windy somewhere" isn't going to save us. The installed capacity of wind power in the UK, the one that gets used to calculate how many houses will be powered in the blurb, is almost 24 GW, which in theory would provide all of our power today, and a bit to spare. In practice, today's offering is a little under half of that, and it is pretty blowy out there. We have had a couple of spells of three days each of calm weather in the past two or three weeks. If we lose renewable energy, it has to be replaced, a task which falls primarily to gas, but there are farmers on Exmoor and plenty of other places who eke a bit of extra cash by having diesel generators on standby for when times get really tough.

The renewables lobby extols the virtues of storage of the excess renewable energy. There isn't any, but just suppose that there was. If we have 10 GW of wind power going for a full day, we will get 240 GWh of energy (II, ET and others - please correct me quickly if I am wrong). If we have to replace that energy for a full day, we will obviously need to find that 240 GWh from the storage plants that we will have built. The UK's biggest at present is 50 MWh, or enough to keep the lights on for about 18 seconds. The biggest in the world would see us right for just over a minute. (I know - we couldn't power the whole grid from one central point in reality). To keep the whole thing balanced, we would need to install 10  GW of permanently charging and discharging batteries which, if they are like my son-in-law's tools, will need replacing every year at least, but which would only be used a few times per year. I know the idea of using electric vehicle batteries for mass storage, but I think that is a good example of something that looks wonderful on a blackboard, yet less likely to translate into real life. When I buy an electric car, I don't fancy waking up of a morning to find that I've been running the local hospital, and won't get to Barnard Castle on what is left in the "tank". Motorists don't currently park for the night with a pipe in the tank borrowing and replacing the petrol, and will probably play safe by unplugging the electric car when it is full.

Battery storage has a part to play to even out momentary fluctuations and keep the frequency steady, and to be ready for a black start. If the real end result is that we import  power to fill them via the interconnectors, with Germany digging more lignite to provide it, then we will have done the usual trick of merely exporting the pollution. I shall feel a lot happier when the grey part takes up more of the graph, with our base load covered by nuclear. I am happy to have the processed waste attributable to my house buried in my back garden, and we can rely on wind to provide the rest with the odd spurt of gas now and then, and - yes - some of the surplus wind power stored.

I haven't mentioned solar. It tends to be best when our needs are least, in the middle of summer, and not much cop on cold, shorty cloudy winter days when we could do with it most. Stick panels on all public buildings by all means, or maybe build all new houses with a solar panel (like mine) or with roof tiles that look like clay but are photoelectric cells. But I think that if someone shuts the lobbyists out of the room and has a deep look into all this from a neutral scientific stance, the idea of paying foreign companies to cover thousands of hectares of land in solar panels in a country with our climate will look a little bizarre.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2020, 08:14:23 pm by TonyK » Logged

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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #62 on: November 16, 2020, 02:46:11 pm »

I'm not sure wind is as unpredictable as all that... didn't they put out an alert before the recent becalming? It is in any case distinctly unusual for all of Western Europe to have so little wind.

We don't actually have an interconnector with Germany, so you needn't worry about that. The French one has the highest capacity; French energy is over 70% nuclear and 20% renewable.

Rolls-Royce, I notice, are interested in building small modular nuclear power stations with an output of 440MW; these seem to be based on their tried-and-tested submarine PWRs. One of these would be enough to power a smallish city: https://www.rolls-royce.com/media/press-releases/2020/11-11-2020-nuclear-power-stations-will-create-6000-uk-levelling-up-jobs-by-2025.aspx . Seems like a good idea to me!

Battery grid storage, as you imply, very useful for a very limited set of purposes. The race is on to find viable ways of storing a massive amount of power. There are many runners and riders.

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broadgage
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« Reply #63 on: November 16, 2020, 04:24:53 pm »

Wind is not consistent, but it is very predictable in the short term. The wind does not suddenly drop without this being accurately forecast. The forecast of calm conditions gives ample time to ready other generating plant. The challenge will come when we no longer have fossil fueled generating capacity.

Battery storage is showing great promise and very considerable expansion is planned.
Liquid air energy storage is also showing considerable promise.
Pumped storage works fine, but has limited potential for expansion due to lack of suitable locations.

The relatively small nuclear reactors proposed by Rolls Royce sound a good idea if they can be delivered affordably and on time. One such reactor would meet about 1% of peak demand, a dozen would help significantly. I remain opposed to Hinkley C due to the ballooning cost.
I remain opposed to Chinese involvement in nuclear power for both national security reasons and due to concerns about build quality.
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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 is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
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« Reply #64 on: November 16, 2020, 04:57:39 pm »

I'm not sure wind is as unpredictable as all that... didn't they put out an alert before the recent becalming? It is in any case distinctly unusual for all of Western Europe to have so little wind.

We don't actually have an interconnector with Germany, so you needn't worry about that. The French one has the highest capacity; French energy is over 70% nuclear and 20% renewable.

German energy policy has elephant-sized contradictions in it, such as closing down nuclear, then coal, and relying on natural gas and wind but still getting CO2 emissions down by 55% in 2030 and 70% in 2040. They already can't shift all their wind-sourced electricity from the north to the industry further south, and in effect use their neighbours to do that for them - paying the Danes to not use their turbines while pulling big flows from France further south. The capacity of the links with France is enough for the within-day shifts of Germany between huge surplus and deficit to call for all France's balancing capacity. That all has implications for our ability to rely on our continental interconnectors. And the same German citizens who want no nuclear stations don't want the new grid lines they need either.

So a calm as big as Germany could be enough on its own to give at least some of its neighbours a reliability problem. How likely is one of those, or bigger? Rare, yes, but it all comes down to how worried you are and what you'll pay (i.e. give up) to mitigate it. There's a paper here from IOPscience  Environmental Research Letters, which assess the frequency of such events from wind and power records, not by doing meteorology.
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We synthesize three key results from the analysis. First, LWP events are generally most frequent in summer and least frequent in winter. Nonetheless, substantial events occur in all months of the year, and also in winter. The most persistent LWP event in the dataset occurred in March.

Second, while short events with a duration of up to around half a day are relatively frequent, very long events are much rarer5. Every year, the German energy system has to deal with a period of around five consecutive days during which average wind power generation is below 10% of the installed capacity. Every ten years, a respective period of nearly eight days is to be expected. Looking only at winter months, the durations of these expected events decrease to less than three days every winter and around five days every tenth winter. The most persistent low-wind event in the entire dataset has a duration of nearly ten consecutive days of average wind power generation below a 10% capacity factor.

Third, the spatial patterns of LWP events may be very different from the ones of average wind power resources. During the most persistent LWP event, we find average generation to be particularly low in several regions which have some of the best wind resources.

Apparently there is a German word - Dunkelflaute -specifically for windless days in winter. That'll be useful!

Most of the time we (collectively) don't think much at all about rare threats. It may be that a cold house for a few days is less of a worry than a flooded one, but most people won't even engage with that threat when it's in the future. And of course that risk is all about numbers and probabilities - so scary that people prefer not to think about the scary thing the numbers represent. I've found this when talking to residents on Lower Caversham, a lot of whom seem quite happy with a flood risk of 1 in 100 years - or 1% per year - or 10% per ten years - etc. I'll bet they'll be a lot less happy when it happens!
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #65 on: November 16, 2020, 08:10:08 pm »

We need to take action before power cuts become common to limit or regulate use of diesel generators. In places with frequent cuts, like parts of Asia, every shop has one chained up on the street; very noisy, terrible air pollution.
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TonyK
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« Reply #66 on: November 16, 2020, 08:13:43 pm »

All very good points.

Wind is predictable to varying degrees. Over a whole year, the industry experts could give a reasonable estimate of what would be produced, although they did report a couple of years back that it hadn't been as windy as expected. Over a period of a week, you can make reasonable assumptions about how much wind will blow. But electricity is the ultimate in "just in time" products, and you can't say what will be happening in the next five minutes with certainty.

We don't import directly from Germany, but Germany imports from, and exports to, countries that we do import from. We also import from and export to Ireland, and you will see occasionally that we are importing from Europe and exporting to Ireland. This is why I mentioned Germany, still Europe's dirty secret, as well as our offshore nuclear capacity. Even if the windy north of Germany isn't very well connected to the industrial south, Europe is still reasonably well connected. Incidentally, Ireland is having its own expansion of wind capacity. Originally, this was envisioned as a means to export electricity to us, but has gained impetus with the arrival of a google data centre. Very recently, works to construct a new windfarm are alleged to have caused a "peatslide", with the surreal effect seen in this video.

Rolls Royce's reactors are the, er, Rolls Royce standard. I remember seeing a Vanguard submarine captain on TV, saying the PWR2 models they used were perfectly safe, even if you seal one in a steel tube with 16 space rockets and up to four dozen nuclear bombs and sink it in the ocean. It's amazing what can count as "Normal" in some jobs. The modular Stable Salt Reactor being developed by Moltex shows promise, too, even using existing waste in one variant and Thorium in another. Their blurb suggests using the heat to produce hydrogen as well as electricity.

Germany isn't the only place mit ein Elefant im Zimmer. Our own so-called biomass industry looks like a good example of the power of lobbying. The idea of burning waste wood instead of coal to make electricity sounded brilliant on paper. It becomes absurd when it involves shipping 8 million tonnes of specially cut wood from European, US and Canadian forests per year. That's over 3 times the domestic production of timber. The replanting efforts to justify it have been described as "planting Birmingham, but clearing London".
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #67 on: November 16, 2020, 08:18:14 pm »

Biomass is, as you say, plainly a Bad Idea.

Mind you, there's bad ideas and then there's Ponzi Schemes. Have you heard of 'fracking'?
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #68 on: November 16, 2020, 09:01:16 pm »

Rolls Royce's reactors are the, er, Rolls Royce standard. I remember seeing a Vanguard submarine captain on TV, saying...
I'm confused. It's a Rolls Royce engine in a Standard Vanguard?  Grin
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« Reply #69 on: December 03, 2020, 11:56:20 am »

Here's another large-scale attempt to put - not sunbeams, but small gales - into your petrol tank. The promoters are Porsche and Siemens, but other are involved. From Porsche:
Quote
Porsche, Siemens Energy and a lineup of international companies are developing and implementing a pilot project in Chile that is expected to yield the world?s first integrated, commercial, industrial-scale plant for making synthetic climate-neutral fuels (eFuels).

Siemens has a more detailed description of this - and pictures!

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Siemens Energy, alongside several international companies, is developing and implementing the world?s first integrated and commercial large-scale plant for the production of climate neutral e-fuel. Introducing the Haru Oni project (Highly Innovative fuels (HIF) pilot project), which is harnessing the strong and steady winds in the Magallanes, Chile?s southernmost region.

 How the Haru Oni project works:


Clean wind energy will be used in the project to initially produce green hydrogen.

First, Electrolyzers use wind power to split water into its components, oxygen and hydrogen. Siemens Energy's PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) electrolysis with its high efficiency and flexibility is ideally suited to harness the volatile wind and solar energy.

Next, CO₂ is captured from the air and combined with the green hydrogen to produce synthetic methanol: The basis for climate-neutral fuels like e-diesel, e-gasoline or e-kerosene, that can be used to power cars, trucks, ships or aircrafts.

In a third process step, approximately 40% of the methanol is then converted into synthetic gasoline.
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #70 on: December 03, 2020, 01:00:31 pm »

It's technologically impressive but it does sound a bit like an excuse to keep on running fossil fuels, albeit diluted with some expensively made methanol.
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« Reply #71 on: December 03, 2020, 01:11:39 pm »

It's technologically impressive but it does sound a bit like an excuse to keep on running fossil fuels, albeit diluted with some expensively made methanol.

Yes, that's one way of looking at it, though I think the aim is to convert methanol into a wider range of hydrocarbons. Alternatively, decarbonising the world is a Big Job, and we (the world) are not getting on with it very fast - even electricity generation, which we pretty much know how to do. So any parallel decarbonisation that allows the continued use of existing investment (e.g. in handling liquid fuels) is a help, whether it turns out to be for the short or long term.
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TonyK
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« Reply #72 on: December 03, 2020, 08:16:20 pm »

It's technologically impressive but it does sound a bit like an excuse to keep on running fossil fuels, albeit diluted with some expensively made methanol.

I think that's about the long and short of the matter. For aircraft, it will be a practical alternative until someone comes up with something the size of an A330 with enough battery power for 5,000 miles. But for road transport when most of the rest is electric? Nah. Time to say farewell to the reciprocating engine, by and large. There is also the matter of whether the said green power driving this process is being used in such a way as to have someone else burn coal for their electricity further down the road, or whether the process could stop with hydrogen, and find some other way to recycle the CO2. I like the picture though - it's like a very clean new refinery, with a windmill.

The Magallenes seems slightly odd for a first plant - it has wind to spare, but is hardly well connected to anywhere. Punta Arenas, the biggest city, has a population of about 100,000 and is 2,000 miles from Santiago. It's a very nice place, though, with good looking police officers and an impressive statue of Bernardo O'Higgins, and my wife still wears the hat she bought in the market there when the weather gets a bit nippy.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2020, 08:23:17 pm by TonyK » Logged

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stuving
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« Reply #73 on: January 22, 2021, 10:23:34 am »

Apparently, the latest cross-channel interconnector "launched" today - i.e. it has just started its commissioning. This is IFA-2; the oldest link is IFA (for Interconnexion France-Angleterre), and both were built by the two electricity network operators jointly (NG and RTE). This end of it is partly at Solent Airport (was Lee-on-the-Solent, or Daedelaus to its friends) and partly just along the coast at Chilling near Warsash.

It adds another 1 GW to the existing 2 GW of IFA, and 1 GW each for Nedlink (Netherlands) and NEMO (Belgium). But more capacity linking to France is being built, in the form of Eleclink (1 GW via the tunnel), and in planning are FAB Link (1.4 GW via Alderney to Exeter) and AQUIND (2 GW into Portsmouth). AQUIND is currently with the planning inspectors, and was recently in the news for wanting to dig a trench through part of the city for its cables - which, oddly, wasn't popular.

For IFA2's friends following its progress, today it is due to go on line in service at 11:00. The BBC's story has this internal picture of the converter building ("valve hall").


Funny-looking stuff, isn't it? Being for very high voltages does that to designs.
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broadgage
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« Reply #74 on: January 22, 2021, 03:58:19 pm »

These interconnectors are IMHO a good thing. They provide valuable flexibility to obtain the cheapest electricity under normal conditions, and to provide electricity at almost any price in an emergency such as a breakdown of generating plant.

My only concerns are that TPTB regard more interconnectors as being a subsititute for building enough UK generating capacity. I feel that we may be becoming too reliant on near continual imports, rather than also exporting power.

In my view, we should aim to export electricity on a significant basis, with exports being broadly similar to imports. At present we are largely importing power with only limited exports.
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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 is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
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