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Author Topic: Aberthaw Power Station and Decarbonisation  (Read 7307 times)
broadgage
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« Reply #90 on: January 26, 2021, 04:20:27 am »


... until I thought a 44 gallon drum full of rubbish, 30 C African sun, a cup of petrol, and a match was a solution to a problem. That, taught me nature Shocked

A potentially very painful lesson!

Did you hear about poor old Fred ?
No, what happened to old Fred ?
He struck a match to inspect the level in his petrol tank.
You would think that would be the last thing he would do !
It was.
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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.
stuving
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« Reply #91 on: January 28, 2021, 11:19:51 pm »

Two reports just out say that last year, for the first time, renewables provided more energy that fossil fuels in the UK and the EU (now 27). The UK one is from Ember (a think tank that was called Sandbag until last October), the EU one Ember with Agora Energiewende.

I'm not sure how Covid affected overall demand for the whole year, and even after looking at the data file they make available I'm still not sure. For one thing the data table does include the UK, though the report doesn't. Presumably if demand dropped, and wind (in particular) had enough priority to displace gas and coal, that alone would push the renewables percentage up. On the other hand, nuclear (which counts as neither) fell quite a bit (due mainly to closures in France, some temporary some not) which would have the opposite effect.
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TonyK
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« Reply #92 on: January 29, 2021, 12:36:32 am »

Two reports just out say that last year, for the first time, renewables provided more energy that fossil fuels in the UK and the EU (now 27). The UK one is from Ember (a think tank that was called Sandbag until last October), the EU one Ember with Agora Energiewende.

I'm not sure how Covid affected overall demand for the whole year, and even after looking at the data file they make available I'm still not sure. For one thing the data table does include the UK, though the report doesn't. Presumably if demand dropped, and wind (in particular) had enough priority to displace gas and coal, that alone would push the renewables percentage up. On the other hand, nuclear (which counts as neither) fell quite a bit (due mainly to closures in France, some temporary some not) which would have the opposite effect.

Renewables provided more electricity than fossil fuels, but certainly not more energy. Don't forget all the heating, hot water, motive power etc provided by gas, oil and coal, accounting for some 75% of energy consumption in this country. The figures for renewable energy also include biomass, which in turn includes Drax power station's burning of 8 million tonnes of wood annually, much of it sourced by clearing forests in Europe and North America. That constitutes a scandal in my book, not renewable energy.

Nuclear is not renewable energy, because there is a finite supply of the fuel, and they ain't making no more*. That said, there is plenty around, and better ways of using it and disposing of the waste are coming along. The original purpose of atomic piles was to produce plutonium for bombs, with electricity a by-product to get rid of the vast heat generated. We have enough of that however you care to measure it, and could use it and the existing waste for fuel. Fusion power is only 10 years away, as it has been since I was a kid.

Stories like this come out regularly. While the reduction in fossil fuel use is to be welcomed, the spin is not particularly helpful. A better measure would be of how much of our total energy use is renewable, and that might concentrate minds a bit more than a few good news stories designed to urge governments to pay for more wind turbines, and promises of vast arrays of batteries and hydrogen plants to use up all the excess renewable energy that doesn't exist.

The pandemic certainly did suppress our electricity use, with so many places closed and travel reduced. The scorchio weather in summer helped too, although if temperatures like that become standard, we Brits will follow our cousins in warmer climes, and install aircon at home.  Electricity consumption was otherwise falling for other reasons - we are getting more efficient at using it. If I switched on every light in my house, they wouldn't use as much power as the two 4 x 50W GU10 reflector units in my kitchen at the previous house. The 43" smart TV uses a lot less power than did the family's first Baird 14" black and white telly. The induction hob, microwave oven and fan oven use an awful lot less than the electric hobs still found in many homes. The cuckoo in  the nest seems to be the ever-growing demand from data services, with the maintenance of Bitcoin alone using more electricity than many countries - about the same as Panama, or double that of Cyprus. (I'm not making this up - read Bitcoin's own news site). That will change abruptly when the bubble bursts.

You have spotted the truth about the effect of renewables on forms of generation - when the sun shines and the wind blows, we can turn the gas down a bit. Not a lot of people seem to grasp that particular point - there is never a moment in time when electricity in this country is not being generated by fossil fuels. Stories about spending a week without burning coal or renewables outstripping fossil fuels tend to obscure that very inconvenient truth. So we still have to replace about 60% of our electricity generating capacity, a lot more if we follow Germany down the "no more nukes" path, to get to carbon neutral without the use of accounting trickery. Then we have to provide for all the cars, buses, trains, central heating, industry, etc etc to run on electricity.

(* Alright, I know, physiciists are busy doing this as we speak, and nuclear power stations do it fleetingly all the time, but it's not on general sale.)
« Last Edit: January 29, 2021, 10:28:10 am by TonyK » Logged

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broadgage
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« Reply #93 on: January 29, 2021, 01:08:10 am »

Agree, the UK has made good progress WRT to renewably generated electricity, but transport and fuel burning heating has been rather neglected.

It would be rather optimistic to expect a journalist or a politician to know the difference between electricity and total energy.

The other "fly in the ointment" is the fact that generating half our electricity from renewables is relatively easy, but renewably generating ALL our electricity is a much greater challenge. Politicians tend to assume that we are "half way there" and that achieving the second half will be as easy.

Likewise with energy saving, some savings are easy, but we have largely already done the easy bits. Future savings will be more challenging.
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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.
Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #94 on: January 29, 2021, 10:12:23 am »

The point about energy use, as opposed to generation, is well made.
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Waiting at Pilning for the midnight sleeper to Prague.
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« Reply #95 on: January 29, 2021, 10:40:16 am »

It would be rather optimistic to expect a journalist or a politician to know the difference between electricity and total energy.

Maybe, but I should have spotted the sneakily-worded titles of those reports and not just copied them.

But I hope that was said with an edge of sarcasm - and it was a factor in the 2007 French presidential election. There was just one TV debate, between the two rounds of voting, between Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal. She'd surprised many people by her successful "glamour" makeover, and was also trying to show she could be forceful. Sarkozy had already shown a quick temper, but in the debate adopted the - rather bizarre - persona of a polite schoolboy. Maybe that was a technique to stay calm, in which case it worked; she didn't.

That was the one thing most reports mention now, but what struck me at the time was an exchange on the amount of French electricity coming from nuclear. He said it was half, she corrected him with 17%, and he insisted (politely) he was right while she dug in her heels ... four times! Then they moved on, but it was picked up in the next day's analyses. The true figure was 78% (17% was for all energy use), so by some reports Sarkozy was wrong too - but I understood "half" as much less exact than "50%", and implying "at least" too.
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TonyK
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« Reply #96 on: January 29, 2021, 11:26:35 am »

There are lies, damned lies, and statistics. The French version of Gridwatch is interesting when compared to the UK figures. 70% of French electricity comes from nuclear as we speak, but they have a lot more wind energy today than we have, too. French demand for electricity is huge compared to ours, at 67GW vs our own 25.6GW, but with a slightly smaller population. I'm not sure what they do with it all, especially if 70% of electricity by nuclear equates to just 17% of energy. That suggests broadly the same proportion of energy consumed via generated electricity as in the UK. We are using 1.5GW of it via the interconnector, which is why I refer to our offshore nuclear facility, and the railway is a lot more electric than ours, but I struggle to understand fully.

Seems that Ségolène Royal had understood the difference between electricity and energy better than M Sarkozi, but didn't know that she understood it.
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« Reply #97 on: January 29, 2021, 11:41:34 am »

French demand for electricity is huge compared to ours, at 67GW vs our own 25.6GW...

Right now, the UK is consuming 38GW and France is consuming 67GW - so not quite as different as your snapshot. And 2GW of our consumption is being generated in, er, France. Makes you wonder though: are they a bit more profligate they have so much nuclear power to play with?
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stuving
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« Reply #98 on: January 29, 2021, 11:56:42 am »

There are lies, damned lies, and statistics. The French version of Gridwatch is interesting when compared to the UK figures. 70% of French electricity comes from nuclear as we speak, but they have a lot more wind energy today than we have, too. French demand for electricity is huge compared to ours, at 67GW vs our own 25.6GW, but with a slightly smaller population. I'm not sure what they do with it all, especially if 70% of electricity by nuclear equates to just 17% of energy. That suggests broadly the same proportion of energy consumed via generated electricity as in the UK. We are using 1.5GW of it via the interconnector, which is why I refer to our offshore nuclear facility, and the railway is a lot more electric than ours, but I struggle to understand fully.

Seems that Ségolène Royal had understood the difference between electricity and energy better than M Sarkozi, but didn't know that she understood it.

That would depend on the context, and particularly what led up to that exchange, which I can't remember now. But with hindsight gained from her subsequent pronouncements, you wouldn't expect too much correctitude.

Having all that "cheap" electricity from the 70s did lead to a lot of French housing being ell-electric, with a government push behind it. It was gas that was squeezed out, seeing nothing like the big growth that happened here (replacing coal) once North Sea gas landed. As a result, gas didn't reach as far out of town as here, and oil heating is much bigger as a result. (As an aside, I remember in the 70s playing darts with a boiler fitter, who was so busy replacing oil boilers with gas ones in quite rural places he'd stopped doing anything else.) Recent plans to ban new oil boilers soon, and replacement ones maybe not long after, have led to much screaming and shouting from a non-metropolitan demographic similar to the gilets jaunes.
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TonyK
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« Reply #99 on: January 29, 2021, 03:27:49 pm »


Right now, the UK is consuming 38GW and France is consuming 67GW - so not quite as different as your snapshot. And 2GW of our consumption is being generated in, er, France. Makes you wonder though: are they a bit more profligate they have so much nuclear power to play with?

That's odd. I took my numbers from a version of Gridwatch recommended to me by a certain squirrel:


rather than the one I was then accustomed to:


which I thought were merely different representations of the same source data. I thought our consumption figure seemed a little light, and shall revert.


Having all that "cheap" electricity from the 70s did lead to a lot of French housing being ell-electric, with a government push behind it. It was gas that was squeezed out, seeing nothing like the big growth that happened here (replacing coal) once North Sea gas landed. As a result, gas didn't reach as far out of town as here, and oil heating is much bigger as a result. (As an aside, I remember in the 70s playing darts with a boiler fitter, who was so busy replacing oil boilers with gas ones in quite rural places he'd stopped doing anything else.) Recent plans to ban new oil boilers soon, and replacement ones maybe not long after, have led to much screaming and shouting from a non-metropolitan demographic similar to the gilets jaunes.

Living in that non-metropolitan bit, I wonder how much of the shouting of spite comes from the consumers, and how much from the fuel merchants who see their cosy cartel at risk. There are often gripes about oil prices and availability, and quite a few people I know have given up oil for bottled gas. Our village is blessed with mains gas, but my other village, which is bigger, is not. For years, there was a quiet campaign to get the gas network extended from only a couple of miles away, but it was accepted glumly a few years back that it will never happen. We are all electric there, with an open fire. Wood, coal, and bottled gas are the most popular add-on fuel, with a few still stuck with oil. They are not as noisy as les gilets jaunes, writing stiff letters to the newspaper while the other chaps blockade motorways and burn effigies.

The French relationship with government is different to ours in my limited experience, something de Gaulle put down to the cheese. That could be part of the answer. Electricity had a bureaucracy all of its own at the time, and I am guessing that would have been the same for any mains gas supplies too. 

I worked in a few places out in the sticks in France long ago, and never saw mains gas. France does not have the great reserves of gas that we enjoyed until recently, and I have no idea how it worked in the cities. Hot water, even then, was often solar powered in the south, with logs providing the heat in the autumn on the farm where I first worked, as well as fuel to roast rabbits and fowl. Happy days.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2021, 04:08:15 pm by TonyK » Logged

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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #100 on: January 29, 2021, 06:00:40 pm »

...merely different representations of the same source data.

I rather think they are. At the moment,

https://gridwatch.co.uk/

...and

https://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

...both show total UK consumption as 42.726GW. I still think https://gridwatch.co.uk/ shows the data more clearly, but to each their own! Smiley
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eightonedee
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« Reply #101 on: January 29, 2021, 08:27:18 pm »

Quote
Having all that "cheap" electricity from the 70s did lead to a lot of French housing being ell-electric, with a government push behind it. It was gas that was squeezed out, seeing nothing like the big growth that happened here (replacing coal) once North Sea gas landed. As a result, gas didn't reach as far out of town as here, and oil heating is much bigger as a result.

For what it is worth, I think this is the key difference. If there is one key difference between out two nations, it is that France is a much larger and more thinly-populated country that was not well endowed with coal resources when it industrialised. Our gas network was largely established when the exploitation of coal and its distribution around the country by rail and canal established a widespread of local town gas networks. This was then the base from which the nationalised network fuelled by the natural gas that replaced "town gas" developed.

Another factor may be that in addition to a much wider use of electricity for space heating in homes, standards of insulation in French housing might not be that good. I am afraid that as someone who has worked for most of his career in a professional capacity working for the housing industry, when we go abroad I cannot resist browsing estate agents' windows. I have been struck by how often even quite new housing has poor energy performance ratings (E or F). Perhaps a side effect of abundant cheap electricity from EDF?
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TonyK
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« Reply #102 on: February 01, 2021, 11:20:09 am »


For what it is worth, I think this is the key difference. If there is one key difference between out two nations, it is that France is a much larger and more thinly-populated country that was not well endowed with coal resources when it industrialised. Our gas network was largely established when the exploitation of coal and its distribution around the country by rail and canal established a widespread of local town gas networks. This was then the base from which the nationalised network fuelled by the natural gas that replaced "town gas" developed.


I think you can take it back another step. Steel making in the industrial revolution required vast quantities of coke, as it does now. The gas produced in the process of making coke from coal was something of an awkward by-product until someone hit on the clever idea of lighting streets with it. The network quickly grew to cover homes too, with a wonderful relatively clean fuel, so much more flexible than coal or wood.
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« Reply #103 on: February 07, 2021, 03:46:50 pm »

Meanwhile, The Times reports that anybody buying their electricity from one of the bigger companies on a "Green Tariff" could have trouble renewing it because of Brexit. The REGOs (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin) certificates that are the successor to the ROCs (Renewable Obligations Certificate) are about to be in short supply. Trade in the certificates wasn't covered in the  withdrawal agreement, and the EU has now stopped companies from buying them from British generators. Britain is likely to respond by banning trade in the opposite direction, meaning that British Gas, the biggest purchaser, will struggle to obtain the 20 million REGOs that it bought last year,  upon which its six "green" tariffs are based.

BG could be forced to either drop the tariffs and go back to the normal cheaper ones, as it will no longer be able to count on the dubious efforts of a Swedish wood-burning power station to provide the £1.09 worth of pieces of paper it needs to describe its electricity as "green". The alternative would be to start generating its own real renewable electricity at huge cost, or try to buy stiffcuts from British generators of real green energy. The trouble is, there isn't much to spare. People who want the real green deal seem happy to pay the extra couple of hundred quid annually to buy from the likes of Ecotricity as compared to a tariff based on buying REGOs from solar plants in the Greek islands or whatever. so using up what they produce.

The good news for worried consumers is that the TV is unlikely to go blank halfway through "Bargain Hunt" as a result*. What comes through the meter will continue to be the same mix of about 40% renewable, 40% fossil and the rest nuclear. But they might not have a picture of a wind turbine on the next bill to leave lying around for the neighbours to see.

You may, like me, sit back and read the full article a couple of times, wondering how we ever got to a situation where the green revolution became so distant from the idea of actually producing renewable energy, and so utterly reliant on accountancy and trading in certificates. Something similar happened in silver long ago, with markets trading in certificates of ownership. One enterprising chap realised that the emperor's new clothes were wearing a bit thin, and noted that silver also had uses in photography and, more recently, computers. He started to buy silver, but instead of taking the certificates, asked for the metal itself to be delivered to his secure storage place. After a while, panic set in, as the markets realised that there was a lot less actual silver than was being traded. The value of silver rose, but the value of the certificates plummeted. Our man did very well. We shall see how it goes with the green electricity market, whilst wondering why one company alone should have six different prices for something it doesn't actually produce.

(* This isn't really good news. It's arguably the worst programme ever shown on TV.)

Edit: 08/02 Typo
« Last Edit: February 08, 2021, 01:05:24 pm by rogerw » Logged

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broadgage
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« Reply #104 on: February 07, 2021, 06:43:33 pm »

I have always been rather doubtful about renewable energy certificates, carbon offsetting and related schemes that claim to reduce carbon emissions by moving around money and pieces of paper.

Such procedures remind me of the former Church practice of selling indulgences, whereby sins could be forgiven for a suitable payment.

Far preferable would be to physically reduce carbon emissions by greatly reducing combustion of fossil fuels. More wind turbines, more PV modules, and less gas, oil, and coal use.

There seems to be a view that we can trade or offset our way out of doing much on the ground.
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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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