back to article Blighty's 'leccy power plant reform deals gas a winning hand

The most significant reforms to the electricity market in 30 years will include measures designed to provide "long-term certainty" to gas investors, the government has said. Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey, who plans to publish a new gas generation strategy in the autumn, said that the announcement reflected the " …

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Didn't they say the same thing about solar panels once?

See title.

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Anonymous Coward

Gas - only good for the Premier League

If we don't invest in gas, where will Russian billionaires get the money to pay for football?

Gas; the gift that keeps on giving (to Russia)!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Gas - only good for the Premier League

Investing in gas means fracking and obtaining our own supply, independent of Russian billionaires.

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That statement in full...

"We've been fannying about for 25 years and completely missed the boat to replace our ageing power stations with something that is either clean or dependable, and the North Sea is just about empty, so we're going to abandon all our carbon targets and base our medium term economic prosperity on the whims of foreign gas suppliers. Please don't expect us to think about this again within our lifetime. Energy minister is a very minor job, politically speaking, and I'd much rather spend my time playing politics and trying to unseat my more senior colleagues.", the Minister said.

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Joke

Re: That statement in full...

You forgot a bit:

"We thought about nuclear but we don't understand it and frankly that gives us the willies. Anyway this nice bearded man wearing tatty clothes told it was bad. So did some Daily Mail readers so we're going to drop the whole idea."

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Re: That statement in full...

You forgot another bit:

"Nuclear power is not a priority as it would take too long to develop the industry to a point where I can walk into a hugely salaried directorship with a suitably pork barreled multinational when I retire from politics after a few short years of feathering my nest"

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Shame about coal

Carbon Capture and Storage is most likely a pipedream. I mean why take a 45-50% efficient new super critical power station and drag it's thermal efficiency down to 35-37% with all the CCS gear and emissions abatement tech requiring a multi-billion investment when you can build a new gas station at a fraction of the cost.

The shame about losing coal from the mix is the loss in energy security. A coal station can sit next to a few million tonnes of coal which will provide many months of generation, no such opportunity exists for gas.

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Re: Shame about coal

If you can hit 30%+ with a coal station you're doing ridiculously well. Gas is a lot better in that regard. Even dropping to 37-40% you're still doing much better than coal.

Agree about the coal heaps - always nice to know you can run for a month or so without new fuel deliveries. There were costs with them though - you need to run the euclids over them all day, everyday otherwise they have an unfortunate tendency to spontaneously ignite.

Coal just got too darned expensive though, even without carbon capture on the stacks. There's less of it left in the UK, and what coal is left is harder to get a hold of and thus more expensive. Plus the NUM et al made the government look at how secure coal really is (why do you think we had the massive coal heaps :)

The best solution is a mixture - gas is unbeatable for surge demand, but the generators are piddling little things. Some aren't even 1MW stations. Your more laggy generators like coal, nuclear are good for base loading. If you can get "free" power from the tides etc then that's great - saves having to burn as much other fuel.

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Meh

Re: Shame about coal

What exactly caused the end of life for the coal power stations?

I thought the furnaces had fire-brick linings that got replaced every now and then.

Even with a plant melt-down a few welders could replate the things in a week or two, couldn't they?

With modern techniques the idea of picks and shovels is a bit old hat. Some bods have come up with the idea of macerating coal seams and dredging them up with nobody sub-surface. That can't be a bad idea. Should that take off the whole concept of not having enough oil to ruin the planet also dies in the womb.

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Re: Shame about coal

> What exactly caused the end of life for the coal power stations?

Cost.

Coal is really expensive right now, and the price has been rising for a long time. Add on the requirement to add carbon capture to the stacks and there's more cost.

Coal fired stations are also physically limited on their thermal efficiency. All generators are, but coals limit is low. You generally aim for 25%, if you can hit 30% you're doing really well. That means at least 70% of the energy from the coal you burn doesn't go to the grid, it goes out the stack/cooling tower/into the river. When you're paying a lot for fuel, that hurts.

You also need to run desulphuring at some stage (either on the raw fuel, or on the spent exhaust gases). Both cost money and can reduce thermal efficiency. All the cheap coal is high sulphur, so you've got more expense in either needing to do more processing on the cheap fuel, or spending more on buying low sulphur fuel.

If you live in China/India and don't really care about CO2/SOx emissions then coal is awesomes. Here in Blighty it's getting too expensive.

Finally, the capital costs are so much lower with gas as the generators are much smaller. That means you can build them as you have the money to do so, whereas coal stations are beasts and you need a lot of money in one lump to build them. Same issue for nuclear to be fair. Big up front costs.

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This post has been deleted by its author

FAIL

"Carbon capture and storage promises..."

are likely to remain just that, given the government's record so far (NAO report):

"Carbon capture and storage: lessons from the competition for the first UK demonstration"

This competition was launched in 2007 with insufficient planning and recognition of the commercial risks and cancelled four years later. With commercial scale carbon capture and storage technology still to be developed, DECC must learn from the failure of this project.

http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/1012/carbon_capture_and_storage.aspx

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seriously: go nuclear....finally let GE start building the prism reactor, and then build 20 more....

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Megaphone

"Twice as clean" or only half as dirty

These new gas fired power stations are needed not so much "to cope with peaks and troughs in demand" but in order to cope with the increasing variability on the supply side which the introduction of PV and wind-power is causing.

Rather than replacing aging coal-burning plant with nuclear we will have gas plus a bit of wind when it blows (70%/30% at best); underwritten by government for decades like the feed-in-tarrif. Rather than clean power we will have a supply which is half as dirty but will last for twice as long. Even those unconvinced about AGW will agree that gas is better saved for the chemical industry and transport; and that dependency on Russia is not such a good idea.

As for "gas-fired power stations" being "relatively quick to build", why can't we build nuclear plant in 42 months like the Chinese, at £1,000 per kW output capacity?

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Ok...

I admit that gas is better. However, from what I've read in the past, We only have enough storage to last about two weeks with current usage. It would have been nice to seen some indication of forethought on this in the inital stages. Instead of what seems like undue haste in rushing things through.

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