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.
I disagree. I think most elReg readers understand the difference between a battery and a capacitor, and many will argue the toss about which is more valid in this case.
For what it's worth, I think the way this system delivers it's power is more like that of a capacitor than a conventional battery.
" I think most elReg readers understand the difference between a battery and a capacitor, and many will argue the toss about which is more valid in this case."
I don't. That's hardware. I use hardware, but I don't pretend to understand it - or necessarily know the right term for it.
I'll get my wind protection skin.
"What word does the man in the street understand?"
If we shy away from using words because we fear people won't understand them we'll just reduce the number of words that people do understand. Worse than that, we'll reduce the number of ideas that people can hope to understand. Let's keep using the right words for the job and work on helping people to comprehend them.
"If we shy away from using words because we fear people won't understand them we'll just reduce the number of words that people do understand. Worse than that, we'll reduce the number of ideas that people can hope to understand. Let's keep using the right words for the job and work on helping people to comprehend them."
Exactly. If you can spare the time, re-read 1984. IMO that's the main point Orwell wanted to make. Changing the language can change the ability to think. In 1984 the party works towards the point where no-one is able to say or even think anything dissenting from the party line - because there are no words to do so. As horrible as it is, the mass surveillance is trivial in comparison.
It is absolutely nothing like a capacitor in the way it works. Neither, for that matter, is it anything like a battery either. The common term for all these storage systems, whether it's flywheel, batteries, compressed air, liquefied air etc. is grid energy storage system. Such systems are (world-wide) responsible for the vast majority of temporary storage capacity (albeit distributed storage systems in the form of electric vehicles could make a big dent in that lead).
Impressive as this facility is in engineering terms, it's positively Victorian in concept (the method dates from the 1890s). Something rather more compact and not limited by local terrain is going to be needed as we increasingly rely on intermittent power sources.
> It is absolutely nothing like a capacitor in the way it works.
If you look at the equations, you'll see the _exact_ equivalence. Identify voltage with pressure, charge with water volume, and current with, well, current. Then work from there. I used this to teach people who could not for their life understand basic concepts regarding electricity. Fun project: find more systems governed by the exact same equations.
Excellent pun Sir, have an upvote. Minor pedantry: I believe Dai Electric would be the correct Welsh spelling.
I recall my Dad taking me to Dinorwig many years ago when I was just a wee lad. Can't remember too much of it as time has clouded my memory, but I do recall that it was cold, wet (duh, it's North Wales) and yet very impressive.
@itzman - "a capacitor displays a falling voltage as it discharges"
And a reservoir displays a falling water level (gravitational potential energy) as it discharges.
Sure, the grid voltage stays pretty constant, but it's a regulated output, and see what happens if you let the water level fall to half the height between the upper and lower reservoir (i.e., the upper reservoir and part of the feed pipe is dry)...
Something rather more compact and not limited by local terrain would be be needed if we had to increasingly rely on intermittent power sources.
However since no such technology exists, nor even the possibility of it, and we dont have to rely on intermittent power sources, we will continue to rely on non intermittent power sources.
PS the stated efficiency of 76% is as good as or better than any other storage facility of similar capacity, and its not Victorian technology. Its Edwardian (Heath) technology IIRC.
Great Scott, how many Gigawatts ?
I notice that the article doesn't say how long it can maintain that sort of output...
we need a facility to up / down vote the article the same way as comments
We used to have exactly that. It was removed. I suspect certain authors got more downvotes than they liked...
The answer is that "it depends". There are multiple turbines in there so it depends how many they spin up as to how long the water lasts. Apparently there is always one turbine undergoing maintenance too.
Its re-charge method of reversing the turbine to make them pumps is a good party trick - powered by nuclear generated electricity, which is cheap at night due to low demand.
I'll +1 to it being a really good day out, particularly if they open a valve when you are in the water inlet room. One odd recollection I have is that whilst wandering along some of the upper walkways with dripping water and strange machinery below does make it feel a bit like Doom IRL.
'Battery' comes from the Latin 'the act of beating', and so organised groups of artillery became known as batteries. This usage was extended to other arrays of similar things, so a group of power cells became known as a battery. In fact today we often use 'battery' for mere single cells, as 'AA' often are - by contrast, square 9V 'PP3's are batteries of lower voltage cells. This power station is a battery of valves and turbines.
And should you be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time, it would certainly batter you, like an egg in a food blender!
I don't think it has changed much. Viewing times are linked to the family/work schedule more than anything else and I haven't noticed any significant evolution in the last decade. Personally it's a 2-3 hour window between "back from work" and "go to bed", a little more on weekends.
What you've listed has given people more control over what to watch, not when to watch it.
"I don't think it has changed much...
What you've listed has given people more control over what to watch, not when to watch it."
But the point is that when everyone's watching isn't important, it's when they stop watching and turn the kettle on. Streaming services might not change the time people have available to watch TV, but they do mean that people are free to pause and make a cuppa or go to the toilet at any time they like rather than having the entire country perfectly synchronised by advert breaks. It's the spike that is important here, not the total usage, and the more popular streaming gets the less of a spike there's likely to be.
It's also the fact that the UK loves using water to boil kettles. There's even hilarious reg writers who, when faced with a gas supply and shoddy electric supply refuse to boil a kettle on gas or make popcorn on a stovetop instead of a microwave.
I'd rather my slightly slower boiling gas kettle coming in at 1/3rd the cost of boiling it in the 'leccy kettle. Plus we have hard water around here, so cleaning out the stovetop one is easy, de-caking an element is tricky, usually ending up with the choice of white bits of vinegar flavor in your tea.
Pumped storage and flywheel generators are both really cool, existing load balancing/energy storage solutions, and perfect examples of why "invention xyz will revolutionise power supply/distribution" are often bollocks. Real world engineering is tough, and you can't wave away the laws of thermodynamics because they don't suit your political agenda.
I'm also a huge fan of using the existing water engineering that was used to run mills etc to be used for running micro hydro, since many of the large scale costs/works are already done, and most of the environmental impact has also already occurred.
Indeed, it was enough of a thing that I remember when I was a kid often seeing the lights dim a bit in the evenings - it didn't mean a great deal to me at the time because we didn't have TV, but I learned later that it was due to this exact phenomenon. It gradually disappeared from my consciousness as I grew up, probably because the country's infrastructure was being modernised and techniques improved.
had a look around there back in 1990 as part of our college (BTEC Engineering) piss up trip around Wales, it was disguised as an educational trip. We did some really good field trips.
Goonhilly private tour
Devonport Dockyard, lecturer was ex chief engineer on aircraft carriers
Geothermal Hot rocks project
Some blokes (An ex navy mate of our lecturer) house up on Dartmoor who powered his house with his own hydroelectric system.
And the best one. St Austell Brewery tour (the brewery was just across the road from the college) Free bar tasting session after but the 1h college bus trip home wasn't quite as much fun!
the Plessy site has gone through several owners since back in the day. It might be called Plessy now but its nothing to do with the old Plessy (apart from being run by ex-original Plessy people) It now makes LED lighting, ad its a leader in it.
The hot rocks was a good trip, very much before its time. Goonhilly was really cool had a special behind the scenes tour with an old BT lag
There's been a really good documentary about Devonport dockyard on Quest (I think) its still bleedy massive!
And as for the brewery, well that's still there but the college has moved its no longer at Palace Rd I think its over at John Key house the old EEC HQ. The brewery was great the smell of it wafting over campus of a morning.
The good news is that Goonhilly isn't gone, although BT tried. It's not open to the public at the moment unfortunately,
Four years or so ago, my wife and I took a Segway tour around a (quite small) part of the Goonhilly campus; didn't get to see the infrastructure stuff up close, unfortunately.
Ahhhh well the Welsh piss up was an end of year effort. The other trips were spread over a 2 week period during the term. Normally you would do 2 weeks work experience but we all agreed after the first year that it was a waste of time (2 weeks working in a clay pit didn't impress me too much) so we did lots of field trips instead
The flux capacitor will be fine, you simply use the additional energy for the acceleration up to 88mph, which should take about a tenth of a second*
* Delorean = 1230kg therefore approx 1.5 tons with a couple of passengers and extra time travel equipment.
Terms and conditions apply, internal organs may be affected.
I was part of the team that produced the original computer based monitoring system (based on a PDP 11/34 with 2 RK05 disks (2.4MBytes each!!)).
To get the main overhead cranes into position, large mobile cranes were used which had about 6 inches of clearance coming down the main access tunnel - the crane driver was superb.
Dinorwig pumped storage power station is an answer to metering out erratic and unpredictable renewables like wind and solar. Unfortunately, few people want to knuckle down to build such large, expensive installations and seem to be looking for smaller storage options like batteries or ammonia fuel cells they can expand gradually, pacing the renewables and their revenues.
Sorry, folks, you wanted wind and solar to power nations. You need power storage that can match those demands and there's no simple, cheap solution.
Dinorwig was built to make best use of the nuclear stations
I'm familiar with Dinorwig's origins. It was following in the footsteps of other pumped storage facilities balancing nuclear output, like Ludington. My comment was directed at its current use and value in balancing renewables, and that renewables aren't going to sweep in to save us all without even more expense.
but you can lose wind for a couple of weeks and it would take a fair size pond to balance that out.
Hence my preference for nuclear power. Since nuclear plants have been designed with and have demonstrated load-following capabilities (e.g., the boiling water reactors around Chicago sometimes run in load-following mode), you don't even have to limit nuclear power to base load.
Sorry, folks, you wanted wind and solar to power nations.
No, I never did, because it cant.
You need power storage that can match those demands and there's no simple, cheap solution.
There's no solution at all, even complex and expensive. Especially in terms of storing summer solar energy for winter usage.
Renewable energy is pretty much dead in the water as any competent electrical engineer can calculate for you. It doesn't work now and it never will.
Largely its there to make money out of stupid consumers and to buy stupid green votes with.
On those terms its been a spectacular success. It just fails to generate useful net amounts of energy at costs exceeding even the most ill-conceived nuclear plant...
"So given fossil is rapidly diminshing , are we all doomed or do you have any ideas?"
I think the informed green analysis is that fossil isn't diminishing and that's the problem. We have enough filthy coal to last for another century or two and these oil shaley thingies could keep us in CO2 for the rest of your lifetime.
For those who think this is a problem, might I recommend some nice nukes and a few facilities such as this one to balance the load? For those who don't think this is a problem, might I recommend the same, just so that there isn't a difficult decision to be made? For those who think this is a great opportunity to create a political bandwagon to ride on for a few years, might I suggest lots of renewables that neatly combine "appearing to do something" with "not actually solving the problem, thereby keeping the bandwagon rolling indefinitely".
Speaking of bandwagons...
"most democratic politicians seem to think that the way to close a stable door is to create a market in permits-to-leave-doors-open. So, if we conform to the dogma that climate change should be solved through markets, what’s the market-based way to ensure we achieve our simple goal [...]"
Professor Sir David Mackay FRS, FInstP. RIP.
So given fossil is rapidly diminshing , are we all doomed or do you have any ideas?
I'd start by quibbling about "rapidly diminishing." Larger coal reserves, like those of North America, have some centuries of life in them. And we haven't really tapped methane clathrates.
But there are lots of ways to replace fossil fuels. They just cost more than ready made fossil fuels sitting in the ground. Options include:
1) Oil synthesis from water and coal or methane
2) Oil synthesis from water and carbon dioxide
3) Ammonia fuel synthesis from water and nitrogen
4) Hydrogen synthesis from water
(I'm not touching biofuels because they tend to compete with farming. The bioethanol craze in the US hurt food prices globally. Give me ammonia or propane synthesized with nuclear energy.)
To replace fossil fuels all you need is lots of energy, more money, and the common feedstocks. And a convenient storage method in the case of hydrogen.
"Sorry, folks, you wanted wind and solar to power nations.
No, I never did, because it cant."
Indeed, this needs more repeating. Some separation of the renewables into things that are grid level supply (like hydro), grid level but part time (big wind, solar concentrators), and stuff that is effectively small scale demand reduction (rooftop solar, micro wind/hydro, insulation).
I've got some of the things that "count" as renewables, but I'm under no illusions that my dozen solar panels and three batteries would do anything other than allow me to scrape by and involve scheduling my power usage in ways that would drive me nuts. Good as a money saver, but not replacing the grid anytime soon. Hell, even if I ran a diesel generator it'd still be more hassle than just paying for the grid.
While I do agree with your sentiments about generation, but nuclear seems an odd comparison, since there hasn't been a nuke built in the UK for ~30 years, so calcualting it's costs are pretty bunk as a comparison. Gas, waste, bio fuel and mini hydro (in about that order) are what the UK appears to have built, and while I <3 mini hydro it's never going to be viable* for the UK as a generation source.
* based on NZ, which has masses of hydro, has mothballed and abandoned working hydro plants, and has 1/20th the population, hydro only does 50-60% of the base load, or 5-6% of the UK, if the UK had an equivalent to the mighty Waikato.
Hey, MonkeyCee the hydro plants in New Zealand that have been mothballed or dismantled were all old and small and most were closed down over 60 years ago and were under 1 MW. Most of the current shutdown plants were thermal.
5452 MW Hydro
2413 MW Thermal
1014 MW Geothermal
685 MW Wind
68 MW Bio
3400 MW Wind
1000 MW Thermal
285 MW Hydro
250 MW Geothermal
210 MW Tidal
The solar panels on my roof charge my leccy car and send power to the grid. As soon as things like the Tesla Powerwall come down from their frankly stupidly silly price to something more affordable, going off grid will become a real possibity.
Even on a cloudy day in winter it will give me 60-80% of a charge for the car.
If that's not the future, then what is eh?
> Renewable energy is pretty much dead in the water as any competent electrical engineer can calculate for you. It doesn't work now and it never will
A brave prediction sir.
Hydro has been with us for a long time. You can make many complaints about its environmental impact and the good sites are already taken, but there is no escaping that it works. It is usually a lot cheaper than coal or nuclear and can be classified as baseload. Also as mentioned in the article, it has by orders of magnitude the fastest cold boot times of any current baseload.
I can completely understand that solar has a somewhat limited benefit in the UK but in other parts of the world we even get sun from time to time.
The price of solar has dropped by orders of magnitude over the past decade. That trend is only going one way. The question longer term isn't whether some baseline can be replaced but rather how much is needed to maintain reliability. With pumped storage as illustrated here, that number can go much further north. Remember that solar doesn't require ongoing fuel costs so there will be a running cost advantage. Once those graphs cross over, it will be nigh impossible to get funding for new projects.
Another important point is that not all demand is inelastic. We just haven't had the levers to discourage behaviour in real time until recently. Whilst lighting, cooking, air con or heating and of course warm beverages are a given, much industrial uses like smelters can be paid to partially shutdown for peak periods.
Time of use "smart meters" are a longer term demand management opportunity. Each EV has a battery pack between about 10 and 60 kWh which again in a longer term can handle fluctuations.
Whilst it isn't all going to change tomorrow, the writing is on the wall.
There's another (smaller - only 360MW) pump storage in North Wales at Ffestiniog (http://www.fhc.co.uk/ffestiniog.htm), not far from Dinorwig. It's an older design that uses separate pumps and turbines, rather than the reversible pump/tubines like Dinorwig.
The history of both of these are tied in with the nuclear power stations in the area. Ffestiniog was built to complement the Trawsfynydd station, and Dinorwig to complement the Wylfa station on Anglesey.
"[...] and Dinorwig to complement the Wylfa station on Anglesey."
Wylfa was also responsible for the nearby location of an aluminium smelting works. That formed Wylfa's essential base load to avoid stand-by periods. Being symbiotic - when Wylfa closed so did the smelter.
The smelter closure was annouced around the same time as the Wylfa closure was first announced, for the reason you mention - cheap reliable electricity is important to smelters.
Then there were extensions to the Wylfa lifetime. The smelter had been closed, but Wylfa was still operating. Oh well.
Then some bright spark found some fuel at Wylfa that allowed an extra few months operation.
Generation finally ceased on 30 Dec 2015:
The plant is currently being de-fueled, which will be followed by de-commissioning.
This *might* be followed by the building of another nuclear plant nearby. But the UK nuclear program seems to be in just as much of a mess now as it has been for the last decade or more. Still, there's no risk of lights going out, is there...
Or is there? Did anyone notice there was another gridco Notice of Insufficient Margin a week ago? (the third NISM since 2009, the previous one being November 2015). It was reported in the FT on Tuesday (paywall, go via Google may get you there for free):
I thought the Grid themselves listed these things somewhere but can't quickly find it.
I went for a visit many years ago. It was great fun but I remember one thing - hitting the sheep/cattle grid at the entrance at only about 4mph and the car rattling so hard it ejected the CD and broke the main dashboard mountings! The woman showing us around said "Oh yes, it is vicious but it still doesn't keep the sheep out." :-)
I wonder what our energy industry would look like today if the wanton vandalism of dismantling the foresighted CEGB had never happened?
Ah lovely Dinorwig, I recall endless episodes of Blue Peter visiting it when it was under construction, and realising this was a. very. big. thing. indeed.
Bollocks. Some of the world’s largest engineering countries are all EU member states. They are doing fine, not only building their own stuff but also exporting engineering prowess like there is no tomorrow. That is why German and Italian companies build our trains and French companies build our power plants.
The problem is that the UK doesn’t value engineering. While in Germany it is a criminal offence to call oneself an engineer without the five-year university degree, in the UK some bloke who has followed a one-day course on installing broadband modems calls himself an engineer.
Alas, people rather do Media Studies (or its posh equivalent, History) and want to become journalist.
It's not *quite* that simple (a few decent graduate engineers can get a decent wage in the City so long as they don't mind life on the Dark Side) but it's not far off.
The real killer degree is not Media Studies but PPE at Oxford (Politics Philosophy and Economics, aka the three year doss, allowing plenty of time to develop the early stages of a career in politics). Look at how many senior UK politicians (and others) have been there, and what the results are:
The Oxford four year engineering degree used to be worth something, but half the UK-origin graduates went straight into working for accounting companies. Probably more than half these days :(
"in the UK some bloke who has followed a one-day course on installing broadband modems calls himself an engineer."
And the Institution of Engineering and Technology doesn't even seem to care; its monthly 'professional journal' is now a pale imitation of something like T3, but wins awards for its graphic design. Hopeless.
Some obscure "Media Studies" type courses at lower levels are worth 5 times as many credits as more difficult engineering courses - no wonder no one does engineering.
At NVQ level, it is even more ridiculous; you can do a NVQ3 in Childcare over a week (if you could get the mentor teacher to turn up), yet the same in many engineering courses take 1-2 years.
Check out Snowy Hydro, it's really awesome. They used (IIRC) up to 60 thousand workers. They had to build the infrastructure in the first place!
Let me add a "thank you" for the article. I'll surely go through those fine articles on the Reg before I visit the UK (admittedly no concrete plans yet).
For those of you so inclined - there is an awesome Triathlon in this are called The Slateman. I have done it a few times and the run element involves running past the station itself and then trekking up said mountain and through some truly stunning scenery. The whole event has some beautiful views - well worth a look. The 2016 event is actually this weekend.
@massivelySerial: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.
I'd hold on to that "sorry" for a bit; if the rumours are true the EU Commission is itching to reduce the rating of kettles within the EU, much as it did with the size of vacuum cleaner motors. Just wait to see what happens after the June referendum.
Does the name Revd Adrian Kennard mean anything to you? He's a geek and he runs a boutique ISP and leads the BT fan club (not) and he has a personal blog. He wrote about kettles a few days ago. Conclusion: misreporting. What a surprise.
"I'd hold on to that "sorry" for a bit; if the rumours are true the EU Commission is itching to reduce the rating of kettles within the EU, much as it did with the size of vacuum cleaner motors. Just wait to see what happens after the June referendum."
Yes, they already did it to toasters! (Well, someone did anyway) FFS it takes bloody ages to get that first portion of toast out nowadays and the next lot isn't that much quicker. My feeling is that since so much heat rises up out of the toaster that having a lower heat for longer is more wasteful than a fast "blast" of high heat.
the last time, when we did a trip to Dinorwig, we were woken at 5am by the farmer coming round and banging on the tents saying "Everyone up! The river's rising... higher ground, people." And the time before that, which was after a charity trek up and down Snowden, the farmer didn't bother to get us up, and we awoke to water lapping over the top of the the bucket sewn-in.
Everybody going on about 110/220 V please get with the program. It's been 120/240 V nominal at the entry into the house in the USA for simply ages. It's actually only spec'ed +-5%, so anything in the range 114-126 V is in spec for the supply. Equipment must be capable of working without appreciable handicap anywhere from 110-130 V. Most computers and TVs are perfectly happy working with 90 V or less, up to at least 130 and very often over 240 without any circuit switching.
I am informed that the UK is 230 V, so the ratio is not "over 2.0"; not even exactly 2.0, but rather less than 2.0.
I have a very strong memory of reading that the nominal voltage in the US used to be 110/220, but that was at least 50 years ago. I cannot now locate any trace of information on the web to that effect.
pumping - generating - pumping - generating. Each time, what, 30% efficiency?
Pumped storage hovers in the 70-80% efficiency range between storing electricity (pumping with some efficiency loss through the 90%+ efficient electric motors) and generating (releasing water through the 90%+ efficient electric generators.) There are additional losses, like turbulence, heating, friction in pipes, etc. that bring you a bit below 80%.
It's much better than, say, batteries. The only competitor on a similar scale is underground compressed air storage, though I might be forgetting another GW-scale power storage system.
"I've pumped a lot of scuba cylinders in my time, and the losses due to adiabatic compression heating were *enormous*..."
Losses might well be proportionally enormous on that scale and for that purpose.
If someone was using compressed gas for grid-scale energy storage it wouldn't be done quite the same way:
"Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES), also referred to as Cryogenic Energy Storage (CES), is a long duration, large scale energy storage technology that can be located at the point of demand. The working fluid is liquefied air or liquid nitrogen (~78% of air). LAES systems share performance characteristics with pumped hydro and can harness industrial low-grade waste heat/waste cold from co-located processes.
Size extends from around 5MW to 100s+MWs and, with capacity and energy being de-coupled, the systems are very well suited to long duration applications."
The engineering is tried tested and proven. The big snag is getting market pricing today (quarterly profits to be made, or else) to reflect a problem/solution a year or four down the road (no money to be made this quarter from stopping the lights going out in four years time).
See also: Highview, Linde etc, e.g.
[Linde is a company which, amongst other things, supplies high volume industrial gases, e.g. liquid nitrogen produced on-site by liquefying air]
Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES), also referred to as Cryogenic Energy Storage (CES)
OK that's not actually a compressed-air storage system as mentioned earlier. Rather interesting, though.
Efficiency without scavenged heat/cold seems to be about 60% - which is higher than I had expected, TBH.
No, the efficiency is much higher than 30%. You also have to factor in that the National Grid has to switch off a lot of wind power at night due to over supply. Coal and Nuke plants don't like to be turned on and off frequently. If the excess power can be stored even partially, it's a good investment. The 12 second turn on time is very handy for accommodating peak loads. There isn't any other system that can do that.
Eventually, it may be possible to supplement and then replace pumped storage with electric cars that can move power in both directions as needed. The business model will need to be worked out and there will be a need for people to be able to opt-out from time to time if they are planning on a long trip and need a full charge in their cars.
While it's quite impressive that the power generated is sufficient to keep Wales going for five and a half hours, I'm afraid we need a little more than that to be able to get all our power from renewable sources. To cover a spell of windless dark days in mid winter would need about five and a half weeks power for the whole of the UK.
Getting back to the subject of the article, I noticed a small 1-paragraph report in the Times last Saturday, to the effect that '...no coal was burned last week for generating electricity in the UK. It all came from hydro or wind power.' (I'm not sure I actually believe that last bit). Due to many coal-fired power stations having been shut down, and the rest all down for maintenance, apparently. There was no mention of how much was imported from nuclear France, etc., but the report struck me as hugely significant. Worth far more than 5cm below the fold on page 5.
In case anyone ever tries arguing with you that lower powered kettles are more efficient... Please apply the following simple bits of physics: convection, radiation, evaporation.
The longer the kettle spends getting from 30°C to 100°C, the more these sources of heat loss will come into effect, therefore low power kettles are better at heating the air, and less efficient in heating the water.
(The icon is for a nice efficient way of heating /lots/ of water.)
PS. Would someone like to test how hot a 25W fish tank heater (without a working thermostat) will actually get a typical fish tank? My guess is somewhere around 50°C, but I don't have a fish tank to test it these days.
No sensible person should try to argue that there's much of an 'efficiency' difference between kettles, in the same way that no sensible person will try to argue that there's much of an 'efficiency' difference between various forms of electric heating of the usual kinds (yes Rointe and similar, I'm looking at your garbage arguments).
What might well be argued, and is valid, is that lower power kettles are more likely to motivate people to **only heat the water they need, when they need it** rather than heating a kettlefull, using a cupful, and wasting the rest. Because it takes longer (just in case anyone hasn't worked it out).
Robert Llewelyn has a video posted of a tour of the plant on his "Fully Charged Show" YouTube channel.
Amazing tech and a perfect compliment to wind power. Natural gas doesn't make sense as a back up for wind. To get a minimum start time for the NG plant, one has to use combustion turbines and it's much less expensive (more efficient) to just use combined cycle NG turbines all of the time and skip putting up the wind turbine. With pumped storage, it's a simple thing to push some water uphill when there is excess capacity in the grid.
I haven't been to Electric Mountain, but I have been to the Helms and Castaic pumped storage plants in California, and the one way up by Birney California, who's name I forget.
They can be a bit hard on the local environment, because they take a lot of water and chew up a lot of fish life in the upper and lower reservoirs, but they are still a very useful option for peak and intermediate load generation. It's good to diversify generation sources anyway.
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