Monthly Archives: May 2015

Blowout week 74

The usual mix below the fold, including shale oil, the coal crisis in Germany, Austria now to sue the Czech Republic over nuclear, the doomed city of Hull, Exxon’s CEO speaks out on renewables, a solution to the energy storage problem, biofuels and water use, vanishing glaciers on Everest, an ice cream that increases climate change awareness and immediately following, are the EIA’s oil production numbers reliable? Continue reading

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Estimating Storage Requirements At High Levels of Wind Penetration

In recent posts and comments there have been a number of back-of-the-envelope estimates – including some from yours truly – of how much pumped hydro storage would be needed to bridge some of the low-wind periods that have been registered in the UK. Here I take a closer look at the question of how much wind power storage would be needed at the high-penetration grid scale. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , | 39 Comments

A Trip Round Swansea Bay

Tide power is a technology that Energy Matters hasn’t looked into in any detail, so here I will briefly review its potential as an energy source (I ignore its recreational benefits) using Swansea Bay and the “pipeline” of larger tidal lagoon projects that are scheduled to follow it as examples of the approach that tide power in the UK seems destined to follow. Is this approach really transformational? Or is it just another green pipe dream going nowhere? Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , | 55 Comments

Blowout week 73

Building on the recent interest in energy storage and the potential for going off-grid, this week we feature the latest offering from the fertile imaginations of the sustainable living enthusiasts – the Ecocapsule:

Stories below the fold on the Ferrybridge closure, Scotland demanding a veto over UK energy decisions, NOPEC – a rival for OPEC, Saudi Arabia to become a renewables powerhouse, nuclear in South Africa and China, coal in India, the Large Hadron Collider sets a new energy record, job losses in the European renewables industry, conflicting views on melting Antarctic ice, how climate change threatens football and immediately following, an interesting contrast in the way two media outlets report what the CEO of Shell said last week:

Continue reading

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The Loch Ness Monster of Energy Storage

The UK had splendid weather in April. With high pressure over the North Sea we had 8 days of splendid weather at the beginning of the month (2nd to 9th of April) and 10 days of splendid sunshine during the second half (15th to 24th April) (Figure 1). This of course left our massive fleet of wind power stations idling. 12 GW of installed capacity produced less than 1 GW for much of that time and less than 0.2GW for some of the time. This affords the opportunity to put some numbers on the energy storage requirements to survive lulls such as these. Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , | 127 Comments

A Potential Solution to the Problem of Storing Solar Energy – Don’t Store It.

In How Much Battery Storage Does a Solar PV System Need? I assumed that the rooftop PV system would generate just enough power to fill annual domestic demand and that the surplus power generated in summer would be stored for re-use in the winter in Tesla batteries. The result was an across-the board generation cost of around $35/kWh. Clearly the Tesla battery storage option isn’t economically viable, or at least not under the scenario I chose.

As Phil Chapman and others pointed out in comments, however, this is not the only way a domestic solar PV system can generate enough year-round power to allow a household to go off-grid. Another is to overdesign the system so that it’s large enough to fill demand in winter when solar output is at a minimum and simply curtail the excess power generated in summer. How does this “no storage” option pan out? Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , | 69 Comments

Blowout week 72

This week we focus on the squabble between the UK and Austria over Hinkley Point, which threatens to escalate into a full-blown confrontation that could have far-reaching effects on UK energy security and on the future of nuclear power in Europe. Certainly if an EU member state can delay or stop construction of a nuclear plant in another EU member state simply because it doesn’t like nuclear then the future of nuclear in the EU is gloomy indeed . Continue reading

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What’s Really Wrong With the Global Surface Temperature Record

Recently there has been much discussion as to whether the homogeneity adjustments applied to raw surface air temperature records by GISS, NCDC, CRU and BEST might not have manufactured a lot of the global warming allegedly caused by man-made greenhouse gases. Here I look briefly into this question, but more deeply into into the question of whether the published “surface temperature” time series that are presently used to evaluate global warming, such as HadCRUT4, GISS LOTI and NCDC land & ocean, are fit for purpose. Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Comments

The Thermodynamic and Economic Realities of Audi’s E Diesel

In summary 1) converting the whole of Europe’s vehicle fleet to run on e diesel would double the energy used by the transport sector 2) the cost of e diesel is likely in the range 2.7 to 4.5 times more expensive than conventional diesel, 3) it would require a 12 fold increase in the current wind and solar deployment to provide the necessary “carbon free” electricity and 4) governments would unlikely be able to levy taxes on the new fuel and would therefore lose significant revenues that flow into their coffers from the fossil fuel industries. At the end of the day it makes more sense to put renewable electricity into a Tesla battery. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , | 23 Comments

How Much Battery Storage Does a Solar PV System Need?

Blowout Week 70 featured Tesla’s new 7 kWh and 10 kWh lithium-ion battery storage units. Will they allow households with rooftop solar PV systems to store enough surplus solar power to fill domestic demand throughout the year without the need to import grid power when the sun isn’t shining? It all depends on how much storage is needed and how much it costs, and in this post I present ball-park estimates of storage requirements and costs for domestic rooftop solar installations calculated using the following simplifying assumptions: Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , | 62 Comments

Blowout Week 71

This week we give OPEC a rest and focus – inevitably – on the UK election and its potential impacts on UK energy policy:

More post-election predictions and perspectives below the fold, plus German coal causing air pollution in France, US coal is either dead or it isn’t, rationing UK internet use to keep the lights on, Scotland’s green energy vision, a record trade deficit in Canada, Australia squabbles over renewables targets, Iran determined to sell more oil, jet fuel from fungus, CO2 exceeds 400ppm, how Americans can fight global warming by eating insects and the US Army promises not to invade Texas.
Continue reading

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Understanding the Scottish Landslide

The SNP landslide came about because Labour, the Lib Dems and the Tories have all become unelectable in Scotland for different reasons. Labour and the Lib Dems seem destined to walk the wilderness for years as the rich veins of political talent they once had has run dry. The Conservatives alone held their ground in Scotland this week and that at least may provide a fragile foundation upon which to build. Continue reading

Posted in Political commentary | Tagged , , | 40 Comments

UK to be Ruled by English Conservative Party

Rarely have we witnessed three party leaders resigning so swiftly in the wake of an election. Nick Clegg, Nigel Farage and Ed Milliband have all fallen on their swords. In his resignation speech Nick Clegg mentioned how green the Lib Dems were several times, and while this may not have figured high in the mind of the electorate, it clearly is not a huge draw for most Brits. The Green Party won a single seat. Former Secretary of State for Energy, Ed Davey lost his seat – good riddance to that anti capitalist Green. Continue reading

Posted in Political commentary | Tagged , , | 29 Comments

Global Production Up One Million bpd in March

Global oil production rose sharply in March by 1 Mbpd and we have a new peak in global total liquids production of 95.24Mbpd. But with the oil price currently resilient, it seems likely that surge in production may have reversed.
The plunge in US oil rig count has resumed. Oil plus gas rig count stood at 905 on May 1, just above the low point reached in the post financial crash period.
I anticipate that the price bottom may be in but that price will bounce sideways along bottom for several months until we see significant falls in OECD production. There is as yet little sign of a significant drop in US production.
The current action appears to be demand driven, the low price raising demand more than it is suppressing supplies. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Blowout Week 70

This week we feature Tesla and its new energy storage battery. Is it a game changer, or just another battery?

More below the fold, including a predicted oil price rebound, OPEC’s civil war in Yemen, Luxembourg and Austria to file suit against Hinkley, the EOn/Uniper spinoff, German miners march, the Church of England puts coal in the sin bin, a solar powered aircraft that flies when the wind isn’t blowing, Richard Muller on the need for temperature adjustments and how climate change triggered the Nepal earthquake. Continue reading

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