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UK Power Industry - a turning point?

Discussion in 'Speaker's Corner' started by PlacidCasual, May 12, 2016.

  1. Rroff

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 13, 2006

    Posts: 61,184

    Could we not go off-shore and build mixed tidal assisted/solar arrays that pumped water into elevated off-shore structures? not sure if the scale something like that could be built at would come close to generating a significant fraction of our needs though.
     
  2. Angilion

    Man of Honour

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    Location: Just to the left of my PC

    Maybe we could, but the scale required would be horrifyingly expensive. The largest pumped storage facility in the world (Bath County Pumped Storage) can generate 3GW and sustain it for 10 hours, but it requires 80 million cubic metres of reservoirs. The difference in height is also a big factor, so those off-shore structures would have to be very elevated. For example, the difference in height between the reservoirs at the Bath County plant is 380 metres.

    Pumped storage is also quite lossy. You're wasting ~20% of the power if it's done as efficiently as possible.

    It might be possible to implement your suggestion, but I think it isn't practical.
     
  3. Rroff

    Man of Honour

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    Posts: 61,184

    I had a feeling it might be the case.
     
  4. Angilion

    Man of Honour

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    Location: Just to the left of my PC

    As far as I know, there isn't even a theoretical way to fuse hydrogen-1 with hydrogen-1 on Earth in a controlled manner. Stars do it by bulk, i.e. there's so much hydrogen in suitable conditions that even at the very low rate of fusing it happens often enough. As far as I know. I'm no expert on this.
     
  5. Sliver

    Capodecina

    Joined: Dec 27, 2011

    Posts: 10,833

    Location: Darlington

     
  6. PlacidCasual

    Soldato

    Joined: May 13, 2003

    Posts: 5,693

    Well I got shown a presentation yesterday that is broadly applicable to all the big six except EDF and excluding renewables.

    It suggested as of 2018 about 1/3 of all income in electricity generation would be from capacity market subsidies. 1/3 from ancillary services, black start capability, frequency response, market balancing and MVAR support. 1/3 from generation. Which is frankly an amazing place to be.

    It suggested that by 2025 (end of coal generation) this would be 3/5 capacity payments (subsidies), 1/5 ancillary services, 1/5 generation. Which is even more unbalanced.

    The energy market has been well and truly broken.

    The presentation on general market trends suggested 60+% of electricity generated by TWh would be renewable estimating 200TWh a year by 2035.

    Now last week for instance the UK's wind fleet peaked at an output of 25% installed capacity, there were many days when it was below 10% and one day when it was below 3% for a few hours. If 60% of our annual electricity usage is going to be renewable the amount of storage required in the winter for the very coldest days is going to be staggering. Maybe several TWh will be needed to cope with an extended cold windless spell.

    Our energy bills are being co-opted as non tax revenue to pay for the enormous costs this will involve with very little explanation or discussion of the implications.
     
  7. Sliver

    Capodecina

    Joined: Dec 27, 2011

    Posts: 10,833

    Location: Darlington

    More on Fusion reactors:



    Basically there appears to be two games in town. The Spherical Tokamak and the Wendelstein 7-x.

    You can read about them both here:

    [Spherical Tokamak]

    [Wendelstein 7x]

    The Sperical Tokamak has been able to achieve 6.5 minutes of uptime where as the Wendeletein 7x when first turned on, briefly contained plasma at 80 million degrees for one quarter of a second. That's about 20 million degrees short of where the technology needs to be for sustained power production.

    So both technologies have potential and it's nice to see the science advancing at a brisk rate.

    Hydrogen is the abundant element in the Universe. So having hydrogen fuelled reactors would certainly solve our impending energy crisis. Plus it's green energy with no toxic waste.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2016
  8. Amp34

    Caporegime

    Joined: Jul 25, 2005

    Posts: 28,494

    Location: Canada

    Out of interest where are you getting those figures for wind costs? They appear way out.

    For example taking the London Array - that cost £1.8 billion to install for 630MW (nameplate). Taking the capacity factor into account (which is high for UK wind farms) you're looking in the region £20B, not £5B.

    That's broadly in line with the calculated costs for offshore wind in this article as well http://www.windpowermonthly.com/article/1380738/global-costs-analysis-year-offshore-wind-costs-fell

    It's also interesting to note that offshore wind (which really is the only way to go for the UK now for large capacity wind farms) has been going up over recent years, quite possibly because we are moving into deeper water - leading to more expensive installs and longer cables.

    If you consider storage for 3GW costing around £8 billion then it still ends up lower than nuclear if the £33B mentioned was just upfront costs, rather than lifetime costs.

    Edit: So lifetime costs for Hinkley are estimated at £37B. So what is the lifetime cost of the wind turbines and storage? I'm guessing there is going to have to be significant replacements over 60 years (predicted lifespan of Hinkley C), especially for the storage solutions.

    Edit 2: lifespan of a turbine is around 20-25 years (with possible extensions after that) http://www.renewableenergyfocus.com/view/43817/the-end-of-the-line-for-today-s-wind-turbines/ and current battery tech is around 10-15 years to 3/4 capacity so you'll need another set at least for the entire 60 year period. At today's prices that means for the same capacity over the predicted lifespan of Hinkley C then wind with storage is will cost you around £56B - £19B more than Hinkley C.

    Obviously that's back of a fag packet calculations as there is no maintenance costs for the turbines in there, or reduced costs over time for various techs, and assumptions that cost predictions are broadly accurate. But it does show that wind certainly ISN'T the obviously cheaper option.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2016
  9. Amp34

    Caporegime

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    Location: Canada

    IMO tidal barrages should go the way of megadams. My bet is they will never live up to their costs/promises and alongside the significant environmental damage and upfront costs they really aren't a good option. Great vanity projects (like Hinkley in a way), but IMO not the best option.

    A more distributed system of seabed current, wave and distributed tidal systems may cost a bit more overall but will be significantly less damaging to the environment and significantly less likely to become giant white (or should that be grey) elephants.
     
  10. scotty365

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Nov 25, 2009

    Posts: 1,035

    Location: Rotherham Need: GHz

    The energy companies can 'inject' a signal into the supply to switch on and off appliances - I have heared of 'economy 5' type of systems being managed this way. So I guess the next step could be having electrical appliances have mandatory circuits to react to the signal and stop using power during high demand periods - I guess it would be expensive and take some time to roll out and also there may well be people who simply disable the feature. As a solution I guess it can be managed to help through heavy power periods but I guess the energy companies would simply have an over reliance on using it and mostly negate the advantage of having the option heading into the future?
     
  11. b0rn2sk8

    Mobster

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    Posts: 3,946

    Your thinking too hard about how they could do it. The more simple way is to control via the internet. Appliances do not really put that much load onto the grid, its things like electric cars and heating that do and turning them off for a few minutes while everyone puts the kettle on at half time in the FA cup final will be not have a tangible effect.
     
  12. PlacidCasual

    Soldato

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    I really like the idea od sea current turbines but the more I learn about them the less likely I think they will ever be deployed. The water velocities required are just too high and so only a few locations have them. Although the UK is blessed in this regard.
    The civil engineering challenge of bolting them to the floor is really tough and limits the available locations.
    Finally cost, they will always be expensive to build because of duty and environment, they will always be expensive to maintain for the same reason and installing the cable to feed the electricity will be very expensive too. It's a shame.
     
  13. cosmogenesis

    Mobster

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    this all down to Paris andCO2 emissions. Coal was always doomed and will be the first to go.
     
  14. Mr Badger

    Soldato

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    According to Donald Trump coal is the fuel of the future - let's get those miners back to work!
     
  15. ubersonic

    Capodecina

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    I know you're joking, but the problem would still exist that it's cheaper to import coal and pay UK miners dole than to pay UK miners to retrieve coal.
     
  16. platypus

    Caporegime

    Joined: Jul 25, 2003

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    Location: Rhône-Alpes+Cambridge

    Selling off our infrastructure to foreign powers that will hold us to ransom is going to hurt, massively.

    Systems like Tesla powerwall aren't the answer for the country's power generation needs, but they are probably a good idea for those of us who can afford to have them installed.
     
  17. PlacidCasual

    Soldato

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    Bit of a thread necro but the AGR fleet has shown a worrying trend of graphite black cracking which may prevent the planned life extensions. Given the continuing rapid closure of coal stations and the first gen gas stations if this risk came to fruition it could lay bare the folly of current energy policy with its headlong pursuit of intermittent sources of supply.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-47485321
     
  18. Rroff

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 13, 2006

    Posts: 61,184

    I'm sure the experts will say it is fine but I'm not at all OK with them extending the life of nuclear facilities like that - though we do learn more about tolerances over time with stuff like this largely nothing good has come from running nuclear facilities beyond their original designed lifetime.
     
  19. PlacidCasual

    Soldato

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    Posts: 5,693

    The rate of degradation has really accelerated over the last few years if memory serves. So the safety case may not last if the rate continues its upward trend. I’m generally confident in the UK nuclear regulator to keep us safe I have greater concern for the sudden loss of generation may come to fruition after we lost the current slack in the system compounding our problems.
     
  20. b0rn2sk8

    Mobster

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    The problem with not extending the nuclear plants is that it puts a massive hole in the UKs ‘green’ energy plans.

    All the new plants bar one are up in the air and likely to be cancelled. Not to mention absurdly expensive.

    They are also relying on gas with carbon capture (which is then buried...) which is also expensive and doesn’t yet really exist at scale. Gas is just going to get more expensive regardless as it becomes more difficult to produce/import.

    That leaves wind, solar. As other have said they are intermittent and will need storage built to smooth that out. Tidal is looking promising but again doesn’t exist at scale and it has 2 short periods a day where it doesn’t generate (slack water) so will need storage to smooth that out.