Category Archives: Energy

Latest El Hierro reservoir images

Rainer Strassburger is back on El Hierro and has downloaded more Gorona del Viento reservoir images on his Cloud site, which is now accessible via the El Hierro portal . Here we take a quick pictorial look at what has changed since he took his last photographs in April. The main changes are a) two flexible pipelines are now delivering water to the Upper Reservoir from the island pipeline network and b) three long graduated poles presumably intended to measure water levels have been installed in the Upper Reservoir, suggesting that GdV may finally be planning to fill it. Otherwise GdV has continued to work with the ~100,000 cu m of water that the reservoirs contained in April. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , | 53 Comments

The Bingham Canyon pumped hydro project – by far the world’s largest, but still much too small.

Some of the larger-scale options (pumped hydro, CAES, FLES etc.) presently being considered for storing intermittent renewable energy rely on the existence of holes in the ground, often man-made ones, to make them work. In this post I take as a hypothetical example the world’s biggest man-made hole (the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine, Utah, shown as viewed from space in the inset) and fill it with water from the Great Salt Lake 25km to the north to get an idea of how much untapped hydro storage potential Bingham and other holes like it might offer. I find that Bingham has the potential to store about 3TWh, which would make it by far the largest pumped hydro facility in the world. 3TWh of storage, however, is nowhere near enough to support an all-renewables world, and there just aren’t that many more big man-made holes like Bingham around. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , | 68 Comments

Solar power on the island of Ta’u, a preliminary appraisal

A 1,400kW(p) solar PV array backed up by 6,000kWh of battery storage and a smart grid has been installed on the island of Ta’u in American Samoa. It’s widely reported that this system already allows Ta’u to obtain 100% of its electricity from renewable sources for 100% of the time, and this brief review suggests that it will in fact be capable of delivering 100% electricity for almost 100% of the time if and when it reaches full operation. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , | 113 Comments

The Glenmuckloch Pumped Storage Hydro Scheme

Scotland is to get a new pumped storage hydro scheme, not in the Highlands but in the Scottish Borders. With a capacity of 400 MW and an estimated 1.7 GWh of storage this plant can make a meaningful 4 hour contribution to peak generation every day. But wooly arguments made about smoothing intermittent renewables makes it unclear if this commendable strategy is the intended use. Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , | 92 Comments

Oil Production Vital Statistics November 2016

In October, global total liquids production hit a new record high of 97.84 Mbpd led by OPEC and Russia! This was caused largely by the scramble to boost production ahead of production cuts with a datum on October 2016. The US rig count continues to rise and US production has stopped falling. The rest of the oil production world outside of OPEC, N America and Russia continues to suffer under the weight of low oil price. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

OPEC Production Data and the Feeble Deal

OPEC largely wrong-footed markets and expectations by announcing their first production cut since the financial crisis of 2008 last week. This sent Brent front month “soaring” toward $55 / bbl. This is certainly good news for producers and at face value bad news for consumers everywhere. But the deal and the way it is structured is far from straight forward. For example there is a 285,000 bpd “typographical error” in the record of Iranian production in October in the OPEC press release, equivalent to about one quarter of the whole feeble deal. This is the stuff of dispute and of feeble deals unwinding. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , | 39 Comments

Oil and Gas UK 2016 economic report: “a sobering picture”

Guest post by Alan Foum who is a geophysicist with 26 years industry experience with a major operator. He has a BSc in geology from Imperial College London, and an MSc in geophysics from Birmingham University.

The 2016 Oil and Gas UK 2016 economic report is a sobering picture of the current state of Britain’s oil and gas industry. The full report is available here . A distillation and commentary on its key points is posted below. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

UK Electricity Part 3: Wind and Solar

Part 1 of the series on 2050 electricity demand provided a “high electrification” scenario where the average electricity demand was approximately 72GW, but peak demand on exceptionally cold days could reach 121GW.

Part 2 described how this demand could be fulfilled with a nuclear supply model. In Part 3 we have used the same demand model to show how this could be substantially fulfilled with wind and solar power; though relying on significant amounts of storage to match supply and demand, and gas (or biofuel) capacity to operate when storage is insufficient. A number of different scenarios are explored, with the preferred scenario laid out below, adjacent to the nuclear scenario for comparison. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , , , | 115 Comments

Blackout: the sequel

Reactor 1 (600 MW) of the Torness nuclear power station in Scotland tripped at 09:00 on 22nd November whilst reactor 2 was on half load for refuelling. Since then Scotland has been dependent on electricity imports from England for every hour of every day peaking at 2552 MW at 20:00 on 23 Nov as the mercury plunged towards -5˚C. At that point, Scotland was dependent on England for half of its electricity. In the past, Scotland was always 100% reliant on home-grown power. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , | 78 Comments

The European Blackout Risk

At 2000 hours Central European Time on February 8, 2012 combined electricity demand in the UK, France and Germany peaked at a historic high of 231GW during a winter cold snap. This caused no serious problems at the time, but the UK, France and Germany could have a combined total of as little as 210GW of capacity on-line this winter, and if another 231GW demand peak coincides with 210GW of available capacity, demand management will undoubtedly come into effect somewhere. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , | 66 Comments

The Aramco IPO and the Black Art of Estimating Oil Reserves

Saudi Arabia has announced that 5% of state owned Aramco is to be put up for sale perhaps as early as 2018. As part of the process, the country’s oil reserves will be subject to audit by western consultants, presumably to OECD standards. Given that Saudi Arabia has not adjusted oil reserves for production since 1980 there is a widely held view that the official figure of 267 billion barrels is a gross overstatement of reality. The audit will be interesting to say the least, especially since Iraq, Iran, Kuwait and UAE are all guilty of the same malpractice. Deducting the 156 billion barrels produced since 1936 leaves 110 billion bbls remaining. Only time will tell where reality lies. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , , | 26 Comments

France’s nuclear “crisis” and UK energy security

France’s electricity generation since June has been running 5-10GW below normal because of nuclear plants being shut down for inspection. France has made up this shortfall by reducing electricity exports – generation from oil, coal, gas, hydro and renewables has stayed about the same. Exports to UK have decreased to the point where overall the UK now exports more power to France than it imports. The exports, however , occur dominantly during periods of low UK demand. The UK still imports up to 2GW of power from France during peak periods, although it’s unlikely that it would be able to do so should there be a protracted cold spell in Europe this winter. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , | 50 Comments

Playing the Trump Card: a Tale of Golf, Wind Turbines and Political Expediency

To say that US President elect Donald Trump is a controversial character would be an understatement. Not so widely known, he is also 50% Scottish, his mother Mary Anne Macleod being born in Stornaway on the Island of Lewis on May … Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 61 Comments

Blackout

Last week I gave a talk at The Scottish Oil Club in Edinburgh that was well received. The slide deck can be down loaded here. Since then we have been on high blackout alert since the UK weather has turned cold, wet and snowy with little wind at times. And there are 20 nuclear power stations closed in France creating an import shortage. This post summarises my talk using 14 out of 36 slides. Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Political commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , | 83 Comments

Oil Production Vital Statistics October 2016

The post-November 2015 production decline was accentuated by the Fort McMurray wild fire in Canada in May 2016. But overprinting all this is Iran coming back to full production with a YOY rise of 760,000 bpd combined with large rises in Saudi and Russian production.

The oil price is pressing on its $51 / bbl resistance. With OPEC spare capacity approaching lows and global production fast approaching balance, we can look forward to a rally in the oil price towards $65 / bbl (perhaps higher) some time in 2017. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

The BN-800 Fast Reactor – a Milestone on a Long Road

The BN-800 fast breeder reactor was commissioned in Russia this week. This guest post by Russian commenter Syndroma provides an overview and history of the Russian fast breeder reactor program. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , | 23 Comments

El Hierro October 2016 performance update

During October the hybrid wind-hydro Gorona del Viento (GdV) plant achieved 19.8% renewables generation that compares with the 58.2% achieved in August 2016. The cause was an abrupt mid-month fall in the wind. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , | 89 Comments

UK Electricity 2050 Part 2: A High Nuclear Model

Guest post by Energy Matters’ commentators Alex Terrell and Andy Dawson. In part 2 of their trilogy, Alex and Andy examine how the UK 2050 electricity demand may be met by a nuclear dominated supply model. It requires 85 GW of nuclear capacity in the UK. The model is founded on existing technology and existing UK nuclear sites. But as the decades pass goes on to include new UK nuclear sites previously occupied by coal fired power stations and clusters of small modular reactors (SMRS) that have yet to be built, licensed and tested. It concludes by introducing the concept of nuclear islands built in very shallow water off the English coast. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , | 41 Comments

LCOE and the Cost of Synthetic Jet Fuel

The technology to make liquid fuel from CO2 and H2 has existed for nigh on 100 years. The main barrier to wide-spread deployment is the uncompetitive cost of fuel that is produced. The main cost centre is the electricity consumed where, for example using onshore wind as the source would lead to Jet A1 costing over $200 / bbl compared with $62 / bbl today. This is a show stopper.

The cost of synfuel can be attacked from two directions. The first is to make the process more efficient to reduce the amount of energy consumed. But this will inevitably at some point meet a thermodynamic barrier that cannot be crossed. The other approach is to tackle the cost of the electricity consumed. < $20 / MWh is the magic number that would make Audi's e diesel and Extra Virgin Jet Fuel competitive with fossil fuels. High altitude wind power is the only show in town that holds out this promise. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , , , | 92 Comments

UK Electricity 2050 Part 1: a demand model

Guest post by Energy Matters’ commentators Alex Terrel and Andy Dawson. Alex Terrell is a business consultant in the area of Vehicle Telematics. He has also consulted in Energy and Manufacturing, and has a degree in Engineering. Andy Dawson is an energy sector systems consultant and former nuclear engineer.

This lengthy post is in three parts and aims to provide greater sophistication to a UK 2050 electricity model than can be achieved using the DECC 2050 calculator. Part 1 (below) presents the demand model. Parts 2 and 3 (to follow) will look at how demand may be met by a high nuclear option and from a renewables option. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | Tagged , , , , , , , | 48 Comments