Very worthwhile tour that one. Some very impressive engineering!
Photos never give the scale justice!
From the outside, Elidir Mountain looks like an old industrial site that has returned to nature. The slopes facing the Llyn Peris reservoir have been hacked into terraces by slate quarrying – this was once the second-biggest quarry in the world, with 3,000 workers – but they are now peaceful. Only a few buildings at ground …
My summer house in Eastern Europe is at a similar facility built at about the same time. Bigger too. In fact big enough to be one of the primary elements in balancing the grid so you do not burn expensive gas to compensate for spikes.
There is a different way of looking at the Electric Mountain - it is a sad testament of what we could achieve if it was not for the misconceived NIMBY and "historical preservation" attitude. Historically, the Lake District in its current form was created in the 18th and 19th century to provide the industry in the North of England with energy and water for all the metal works. It is not a natural feature (at least most of it).
It could and should have been converted into one giant hydro-accumulation facility - a giant Electric Mountain. If it did, the UK would have balanced the grid without resorting to any gas burning. This would have fit its original purpose too. However, anyone daring to harbor such thoughts is likely to see a lynch mob carrying National Trust membership cards within 15 minutes after speaking it out in public.
AC, I'll have two of whatever you're smoking. I think
"Historically, the Lake District in its current form was created in the 18th and 19th century"
is a slight overstatement - yes, Thirlmere, Haweswater and Simpson ground were for Manchester, Kentmere was for mills in Kendal, and there are two other reservoirs, but there are over 60 bodies of water that were nothing to do with mankind - or did the 18th/19th century mill owners send steam-punk robots back in time to use glaciers to carve out the lake district for them?
@ John Hughes
I was wondering about it too.
Perhaps this in Ukraine, started long ago.
"While only 3 are currently operational, the power station will contain 7 324 MW reversible Francis turbine generators. Its installed capacity will be 2,268 MW when generating and during pumping". (In 2017).
And not that surprisingly "The first use of pumped storage was in the 1890s in Italy and Switzerland." you need a mountain after all.
I was lucky enough to go to Electric Mountain in a work related capacity. I still have a hand drawn diagram of the way it works and a (very) professional document detailing what the generators are capable of. The turbine hall sports 2 X 200T overhead cranes that have to be used in tandem to remove a turbine (weighing 350T).
It is also one of the grids "Black Start" power stations, used to restore the grid if there is a regional or national blackout. The generation of the AC phase (50Hz) is very precise as other stations coming on need to be "pulled" into phase by the reference station.
Fantastic bit of kit and amazing engineering
I remember being taken to see that station during its construction. My Father's friend was one of the Project Engineers, so he was able to show us around. I still remember being awestruck at the sheer size of the artificial cavern that they had created!
I went there as a kid (my dad's a sparky so he liked going of tours of various power stations, from hydro to nuke and everything in-between) and the generating hall is just something else. It just looks on a scale that seems outrageously wrong, that something so massive could be hidden underground.
"It just looks on a scale that seems outrageously wrong, that something so massive could be hidden underground."
I just couldn't help humming Hall of the Mountain King while in there :-)
Also, anyone planning a visit, if you go too early or late in the season and want to ride the train up Snowdon, you might not get all the way. The snow might still be blocking the tracks to the terminus well after what we lesser folks might think of as a beautiful warm late spring day.
I went here many, many years ago, a very good tour, but at the time none of the turbines were running.
I went a couple of years ago, same very good tour, but now one of the turbines was actually running before our very eyes.
Curious, I asked why. It wasn't FA cup half time or anything, so why was it running?
The answer was quite worrying. We're so short of generating capacity that the grid will even buy Electric Mountain's very expensive electricity on a regular basis during normal daylight hours to add a little more to the grid. Of course they can't run all the turbines continuously (hence just one running), and the water still has to be pumped back up again at night.
But no longer is the place purely a way of meeting peek demand. It's meeting normal demand conditions too.
We're paying a huge price in this country (bills, economic output) in chasing such a large proportion of renewables. No one wants to build and run a trusty coal / gas / oil plant because it's hard to make money out of it given that the renewables get their electricity bought first (or worse, paid to not operate at all). No one is paying the coal / gas / oil guys enough money to be there for us on standby for that cold, damp, cloudy and windless day in the middle of winter.
Pumped storage is ideal for renewable energy. When the wind blows you use the power from wind turbines to pump the water back up. That is why Scotland is enlarging our pumped storage and retroftting hydro systems with pumped storage to handle the increase in our wind capacity (provided enough power for 75% of domestic power recently). When wave and tidal comes on stream to augment wind there will be base level generating capacity there that will generate power even when the wind is not blowing. The tides are also very predictable. The Pentland Firth between the Scottish mainland and Orkney is having tidal turbines installed. The Atlantic flows into the North Sea there, massive amounts of water move regular as clockwork.
Scotland has LOTS of tidal races, large and small. Look at a sailing guide some time, it gives tidal speeds for every passage. Necessary if you are kayaking about, no point trying to kayak between two islands if the water is flowing faster than you can paddle. Time your trip so the tide is flowing the other way or haul out and have elevenses while you wait for the tide to change. Turbines in even a significant fraction of such places could generate serious amounts of reliable power.
Though we might leave the Gulf of Corryvreckan as it is ;-)
While travelling I met a Californian who had discovered the "Amazing electric fast water boiling jug!!!" for the first time in his life.
Seems he'd never seen a real kettle before because:
240v x 13 amp ~ 3kW
110v x 15 amp ~ 1.6kW
While 3kW is more than enough to boil a litre of water during a commercial break, 1.6kW simply isn't. Gotta feel sorry for the yanks sometimes.
True, we have 110 at 15 or 20 amps. However, not all of us are bound to using electric heat for cooking. Barf! I've had it and it sucks ass. Impossible to regulate with any accuracy. We have natural gas at my home. Not sure about BTU conversion on what we have vs electric, but it still takes a bit to boil in a closed kettle. Still, we must be a patient lot, because it isn't a big deal to just turn on the stove and then go back to watching a movie or something else until the whistle blows. Then we - gasp! - get up and fill our cups.
Our family is not typical Americana though. We don't watch much broadcast TV, and even then, it is mainly a Winter activity. Summer evenings are very long in the North West so outdoor activities rule.
It's not just Yanks, Canadians have very similar standards and the same power grid system. 20 amp circuits are a new standard and only for kitchens, Most legacy houses have 15 amp breakers in the kitchen and will for some time. It seems catering to the lowest common denominator means there will be few or no kettles that draw more than 13-15 amps at 110 volts. Pity.
Yup. A 20A 120V plug has the neutral prong rotated 90 degrees to prevent it being plugged into a 15A outlet. 20A circuits usually get outlets with a T-shaped neutral slot to accommodate both plugs. So far I've only seen 20A plugs on server rack PDUs and some especially large wall A/C units.
If you think about it, being able to deliver 240 volts for large appliances, while still having no point in the system be more than 120 volts above ground, is actually pretty clever. It has the effect of reducing the shock hazard, even though it wasn't originally planned with that in mind.
I never realized just how bad the commercial breaks had gotten until I switched to a TiVo last year. They have a lovely "jump 30 seconds" button when you're watching a recorded show, so as soon as the commercial starts it's usually at least 8 presses, and sometimes10, to skip the commercial break.
Movies are the absolute worst - sometimes it's 11 or 12 jumps - yes, really, six minutes breaks, and they do this at least three or four times per hour. It's quite a horrible viewing experience, routinely turning a two hour movie into three hours of interrupted agony.
The latest TiVo masterpiece is "skip mode", where they've already determined where the breaks are and one press of the "D" key gets you back to the show. Not available on all shows, but for the ones where it is, the breaks are even less intrusive.
I keep wondering where the absolute pain point is for watchers - seven minute breaks, eight minutes, more? I would have though anything over two or three minutes would have caused immediate switching, but clearly not. All I know is that I completely stopped watching "live" TV, other than sports, since the TiVo arrived.
I recently recorded a couple movies on BET, and there were a few breaks that required, I shit you not, 22 presses of the 30 second skip to get by. I can't fathom anyone sitting through an entire movie if they didn't have a DVR, you could make a quick run to the grocery store in that amount of time!
Including trailers it's up to 10 mins an hour now - more or less - so they're wasting half an hour of your time if you watch 3 hours a night. If you multiply that up, even at minimum wage, that's well over £1300 per year that they owe you - and of course, you pay for the making and screening of the adverts as well (much more than the licence fee!!). And there are some on here who still want toabolish the BBC!!!
Our home alternative is TV capture cards in a system running Mythbuntu. Myth TV packaged up with Ubuntu. It isn't flawless but is perfectly capable and seems to run on an old 3GHz Athlon with 8GB of RAM. That comes with 30s skip forward which makes skipping adverts easier. It can also flag adverts and, optionally, auto skip them but this can be a bit hit and miss so best to manually skip the time it thinks is an ad break when the ads start.
Added bonus - TV shows can be kept as it simply saves the MPEG data to the HDD.
"Gotta feel sorry for the yanks sometimes."
Most of us prefer coffee anyway.
...though the quality varies. My daughter, for example, drinks the instant stuff. Can't stand it, myself. Still, it uses hot water, so would benefit from your faster kettles.
Me, I drink tea, so I'm left standing and waiting. Guess I need to move to England so I can get a faster cuppa. During commercial breaks that I don't get because I don't watch TV. ...And that's where it all falls apart. :)
Got one -- and I'm a Californian.
One of the US's little secrets is that the domestic electricity supply is actually 230 volts. Its two phase, split around ground (earth), hence the 110v outlets you see everywhere. The higher voltage appears in the kitchen to power the range (cooker) so there's many a 'merkan of foreign origin who has a 220 volt outlet in the kitchen (or, in our case, one that leads to a couple of 13 amp sockets -- the Belkins used over here are beyond primitive). We use one for the kettle, another for the toaster.
The 1.6kW needs to be watched carefully. Big Sister (aka the EU) is coming for your high wattage appliances because they're 'inefficient' (although how a kettle could be inefficient escapes me....).
1) I don't watch much TV, so I usually have no limitations on how long I need to boil a pot.
2) I don't try to boil the ocean, or even a full liter. I boil a cup, or maybe two if my wife wants one too.
It's true, we do have ignoramuses who haven't ever seen an electric kettle. FWIW, if I really wanted a 240v kettle, I could have a 240v outlet installed. Now queue the chorus of Limey ignoramuses that don't realize we actually have 240v to our houses. Yes, it really is true, although it's usually only used for clothes dryers, water heaters, and cooking; not for tea kettles and televisions.
>> "Now queue the chorus of Limey ignoramuses"
> Oh, you were doing so well and then you spoiled it with queue :-(
> I still upvoted you though.
I do know this. But I've been touch typing for so long my fingers type the words as I think them without a lot conscious effort. E.g. often I think 'their' but they type 'there'.
Usually I catch it, but not this time. Thanks for the up vote.
Most houses in the US are connected to two 110V supplies that are 180° out of phase. If you know a competent electrician you can wire across the two phases and get 220V.
I live in the U.S. and my tumble dryer and electric cooker use this two phase 220v supply as standard, as does my hot tub. They're on dedicated circuits though as they each can draw up to 50A.
With an isolating transformer of capable rating, you can create a properly grounded 220V supply to an outlet in the kitchen, and then run a 3kW or similar european kettle. You would just have to have a very knowledgeable electrical inspector to sign off on that wiring.
> Most houses in the US are connected to two 110V supplies that are 180° out of phase. If you
> know a competent electrician you can wire across the two phases and get 220V.
*All* houses in the US are connected with a *single* 240v supply. It's split phase using a transformer on the pole, two hot, one ground (earth). Hopefully all the licensed, pro electricians are competent. They should all be able to wire a basic 240v outlet.
> With an isolating transformer of capable rating, you can create a properly grounded 220V
> supply to an outlet in the kitchen, and then run a 3kW or similar european kettle. You would
> just have to have a very knowledgeable electrical inspector to sign off on that wiring.
You don't need a transformer, you just need to understand electricity basics to wire a simple 240v outlet. Any building inspector that signs off on something using a transformer should be fired for being incompetent.
I rest my case about Limey ignoramuses. Queued, cued, or kewed, the chorus begins.
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