Sign in to follow this  
SteamyTea

GB manages a day without coal

Recommended Posts

Heard this on the news on way home from work last night:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39668889

I have made a chart of the domestic fuel mix from GridWatch (http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/download.php)

I tripped out the interconnects, Oil generation, OCG, Pumped and Other, as they were either so tiny or not really relevant to domestic generation (who knows what the Dutch are really burning).

Easy enough to look those figures up if you want to as they are part of the download.

 

Now the really interesting thing is the solar production.  It can now peak at nuclear levels, though the yield over a day is a lot lower.  Due to the high pressure over the UK at the moment we have had pretty clear skies, and wind production is down.

Gas still makes up the lion's share of our generation, not ideal environmentally and politically, but so much better than coal.

 

What did occur to me is that if we can continue down this low carbon route, and there is no reason why we cannot do so for the next decade (there are technical limitations eventually), we may need to rethink our house building from an emissions viewpoint (that DER, TER stuff).

There is still a good argument to reduce usage because of cost (Gas is about £40/MWh, Nuclear about £95/MWh, Solar and Wind about £150/MWh), but it shows that with a serious reduction in usage the price need not be prohibitive (maybe a 25% rise in overall electricity costs, I would need to look at figures a bit more on that to get a truer picture).

 

Now the 'Spot the Coal line' chart.

 

GB Grid demand and generation.jpg

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very interesting @SteamyTea Wonder how the solar figure is derived, IE is it just the grid connected large farms or does it include exported domestic, where this is implemented. Also if it does not include small domestic installations then the figure must be distorted because demand will be depressed by people using their own solar and not then drawing off the grid. One thing is clear - what we need is a set of highly focused tracking mirrors out in space to keep the solar farms, and just the farms, illuminated for much longer, perhaps 24/7 in cloudless times. Wonder what the unintended consequences of such a system would be!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Blue sky thinking and in an ideal world, should energy production be a non-political party subject. I could say much more but I would end up sounding like a drone for a political party. Thank you @SteamyTea for this post.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it is from large solar installations, domestic just shows a drop in other generation, but hard to get a clear picture.

But as we know the amount of small and large scale installed, we could take a stab at working out what is happening on the domestic side.

 

The main consequences of a space mirror is someone like Trump.  Thankfully it is not really a viable idea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, SteamyTea said:

Thankfully it is not really a viable idea.

They said we would never get to the moon - ideas are just that, designed to stretch the intellectual envelope, agree it is not a viable idea but only with the proviso 'yet' and it might be overtaken by other developments that make it irrelevant, such a nuclear fusion, wonder where we are with that?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had a quick look at the DECC PV figures and using the criteria of below 50 kWp is not metered i.e. domestic and over is metered, then we have 903,513 MWp as domestic and 4,084 MWp commercial.

So if that commercial generated  48,788 MWh on the 19th April 2017, 12 MWh per 1 MWp installed, that seems a bit high to me

Domestic would be 11,000 MWh.

I may have misread the units of the DECC spreadsheet (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/603803/Solar_photovoltaics_deployment_March_2017.xlsx)

But I am in a hurry to get to the food festival.

Others can look at it and put me right. There is a bit in the spreadsheet about where the money comes from i.e. FiT or CfD, that may help clarify it.

 

Edit: Just relaised those calculations above a nonsense, so shall try and have a better look later if no one else does.

Edited by SteamyTea

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I spotted this yesterday, too.  It's quite impressive just how much has been achieved in such a relatively short period of time.  I think one of the reasons is down to how quickly things like large PV arrays can be built.  I watched one going in at a farm a couple of years ago and it was less than two months from starting work to the whole solar farm finished and generating.  That's massively quicker than building a power station. 

 

If we can sort out a viable and economical storage solution, we could almost certainly get a heck of a lot more utilisation from the installed renewable generation capacity we have now.  Our house switched from being a net importer to being a net exporter about a month ago; we're unlikely to be a net importer again until around October/November.  If I could fit an affordable storage solution I reckon I could knock around two more months off the year when we're a net importer, and that's for a house that only has a PV array.  Sadly, I could never, realistically, stop being a net importer during December and January, as the cost and size of that much storage capacity would be just too great.

Edited by JSHarris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, SteamyTea said:

I think it is from large solar installations, domestic just shows a drop in other generation, but hard to get a clear picture.

 

I was reading one analysis of this and the commentator said that the generators have no accurate means of collecting stats on solar or wind input so the reported "demand" is just the sum of the major non-renewable sources that they get realtime data on: gas, nuclear, coal, hydro.   You can see this because the individual component curves simply don't add up to the demand; and the demand paralles the largest variable on-demand supply: ccgt (gas and pellets).  What the midday solar peak does is to drop the otherwise midday peak below the early evening peak.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, JSHarris said:

Sadly, I could never, realistically, stop being a net importer during December and January, as the cost and size of that much storage capacity would be just too great.

Only today Jeremy this will be solved, just not quite yet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, MikeSharp01 said:

Only today Jeremy this will be solved, just not quite yet.

 

I think you're right.  I'm very seriously watching the development of Redflow battery storage systems right now.  The technology is robust (very long cell lifetime, near-zero power loss over time, no reduction in capacity through life), but cost seems to be the main sticking point.  They are cheaper than systems like the Tesla Powerwall, in terms of whole life cost, but seem to have the potential to come down in cost a great deal more as the technology matures and manufacturing capacity increases.  It's a near-perfect technology for home energy storage, but not at all well matched to use in vehicles, something that I'm sure will slow development.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In terms of the chemistry and mechanical stuff, then yes, I'd say they could be DIY'able.  The core technology isn't new, it's a basic zinc/bromine flow battery, with the energy stored in the deposited zinc plate on the anode.  Redflow seem to have tweaked the chemistry to better control the zinc deposition process, but most of the work they have done seems to be in engineering the electrolyte tanks and pumps, together with the control systems.

Edited by JSHarris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re: space-based mirrors for increasing the output of PV arrays on the ground.

 

Never say never, but I just can't see how this stacks up. The mirror has to be considerably larger than the area of arrays on the ground, to make up for all the losses involved (albedo of the reflective material, angle of incidence, beam divergence).

 

Keeping the beam parallel and aimed at the ground array would be a serious feat of engineering, especially considering the space element would presumably be a huge lightweight mylar sheet, perhaps spin-stabilised to maintain tension. It would have to be extremely lightweight for its size, due to launch costs (currently around £20,000 per kg, although this could fall by a factor of ten if Elon Musk's plans work out. Still pricy).

 

From a safety point of view, a tiny degree of convergence in the beam could cause it to focus all that energy on a small area with harmful consequences- although it would probably be quite unlikely to happen by accident. However if we have the technology to keep the beam parallel, we probably can also focus it accurately. A scary thought.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

May be easier to just put up a large thermo-nuclear power station and beam the power down via microwave.

 

 

I think any space based system has a cost issue.  I had a 70gm package come from China (5000 miles away) delivered for a fiver, and that included the goods, so about  0.03p/kg.mile.

It currently cost around £17,000 to get a kilo of cargo to the space station (£68/kg.mile).

So about 24,000 times more expensive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My personal wish is that we had more investment in appropriate small scale energy storage.  Lithium-based cells are a poor choice for this, but are being used because of the massive amount of money being spent on electric vehicles (where Lithium-based chemistry is a very good  match to the requirement).  Being able to actively peak-shave generation demand at a local level, would significantly reduce the peak generation requirement, and so allow events like "zero coal day" to become more frequent.  Very often it seems to be peak generation requirements that shape how the grid operates, and being able to level out demand seems to me to be a very good thing, for a number of reasons.  It takes stress off the distribution network, by reducing peak demand, it reduces the need for expensive (and dirty) short term grid stiffening generation (fields full of diesel generators) and would allow better generation planning for the slow to ramp up generation sources.  It could well improve utilisation of renewables, too, by reducing, or removing the need to shut down wind turbines at times of excess generation capacity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do hope that the future involves distributed generation and storage, linked to the use of electric vehicles as part of that storage solution. Most private cars spend the vast majority of the time not actually going anywhere. So you just need to grid connect them whenever they are parked up.

Smart appliances that can run whenever the grid has excess capacity should also be part of the solution. People can be incentivised by the correct pricing structure, but it will take a bit of a culture shift to get people to really plan ahead and do things like load their dishwasher and washing machine ahead of time. And personally I'm not a huge fan of using price incentives to achieve these sorts of aims, as people don't change their behaviour based on small costs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interestingly, I've found that having an energy display that shows whether we're importing or exporting, and by how much, is all that's really needed to change behaviour a fair bit.  Mine's a very simple home-made affair:

 

58b1f16367e3f_Internalimportexportdisplay.thumb.JPG.aaa4828db963626ca48d5d18f13b2073.JPG

 

but is plenty good enough to give as much info as you need.  I tend to use it at the moment to decide when to charge the car (I could make this automatic, and probably will one day), but equally it's a good enough indicator as to whether to turn on the washing machine, etc.  There's no real need for anything more complex, I think.  If it were more complex then the chances are it would be more confusing for some.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If we forget the dream of being self-sufficient in energy at the domestic level, then you really only need very small scale storage per household e.g. <1kWh

This would be enough to run a kettle till it boils (0.2 kWh) , smooth out the peak of a washing machine heating water (1.1 kWh), half an hour vacuuming (0.8 kWh), fridge (0.1 kWh).  Those figures are per 'cycle'.

What it would not help with is things like cooking, resistance space heating, resistance water heating i.e. showering or vehicle charging.

I would need a bit of education to learn to use equipment sequentially with a little bit of recovery time between usage (or circuitry to manage some of it e.g. fridge cannot start if kettle just boiled), but I don't think that is too complicated.  It would stop me turning the kettle on as soon as I get in from work and then having a shower while it boils, but I could live with that.

Edited by SteamyTea

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Surely the key is to simply stop WASTING the energy by upgrading existing housing stock and enforcing new builds meet passive standards?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes it is, but is it is slow and expensive.

Thursday on Inside Science (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08m8z38)

They had a bit about diesel car scrapage.  One reason that it may happen is that the product development lifecycle is very fast for cars at around 5 years.  Trains are about 20 years.

I would hate to think what housing is, 40 years? and a very low replacement rate.

 

I mentioned over at the other place that if we get very low carbon generation, then the DER-TER standard will need updating as it will be irrelevant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DER/TER is a complete joke for our new build as it is.  The system can't cope well with a house that has CO2 "emissions" of -0.9 tonnes per year...................

 

(to put that into perspective, it's about the same, in CO2 terms, as having well over 40 mature trees on our plot, instead of the house.  It would be physically impossibly to grow 40+ mature trees in the space available...................)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Point of use hydrogen generation is the answer. Of course suss that and you'd disappear or have an accident..... :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dead easy to do, electrolysis is about as simple a process as you can get, and reasonably efficient.  The snag is finding a way to store the hydrogen and, ideally, the oxygen, too.  If you could store both and then feed them into a fuel cell you have a pretty efficient energy storage system.

 

Dangerous as hell, mind................

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Point of use hydrogen generation is simple - it just needs electricity ..! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this