The Future of Power Generation in Great Britain

The Future of Power Generation in Great Britain

Author
Discussion

98elise

18,925 posts

125 months

Friday 19th May 2017
quotequote all
Biker 1 said:
Yep - fusion. I read the South Koreans were getting close to 'ignition', but is one thing proving it works, quite another thing to build an economical power plant, so could be a while. Meantime, fracking seems to be the only solution.
As I understand it we can create fusion reactions in a Tokamak, but they need more energy than is released.

llewop

3,295 posts

175 months

Friday 19th May 2017
quotequote all
sampsan said:
Diverse mix of generation with storage playing a huge future role.

mixed generation is the logical path:

nukes (fission) are great for base load
wind/solar are so variable, must be a nightmare for supply management?
carbon based: seems inevitable for the foreseeable future so gas/fracking based seems logical, but in UK at least: getting a fracking site off (under?) the ground seems a tricky task!
hydro seems to me amazingly disappointing for an island nation that we're not better at it! I can remember being at school and talk of the Severn barrage being a great idea for power generation.... and its still being talked about!
Similarly: I can only see fusion happening if there is a fundamental step change in the science/technology: tokomaks seem to be very hard work to get to levels where there could be a power return. I remember visiting JET under construction when I was at school; the promise of fusion has been '30 years away...' for probably over 50 years!

On the other side of the coin the constant reminders of 'save power, turn your TV off of standby' seems somewhat like pissing in the wind when you look at every major city lit up with neons etc 24/7!

feef

5,184 posts

147 months

Friday 19th May 2017
quotequote all
XM5ER said:
feef said:
Something that's worth pointing out for those that don't know about solar,

Full-Spectrum Photovoltaic Material draws power from the full spectrum (as it's name suggests) which includes UV, the visible spectrum and IR (infra-red which is what is the feeling of warmth).
With more than half the 'power' of solar coming from UV and visible light, the lack of heat/IR isn't a big deal.

Existing photovoltaic and amorphous cells use only the visible spectrum, so less than 10% of the solar 'power' is useful, but again, don't use IR so the lack of heat is a red herring

As solar gets more and more efficient, we need less and less direct sunlight to make it more useful

I agree that it'll never solve all the problems, but I don't think it should be written off just yet
I'm aware of that FEEF, I was being facetious. Once full spectrum PV material becomes viable then the landscape will change, however like fusion, that always seems to be 20 years away. Worth posting though for the less informed.
Not everyone IS aware of that, however, and to those who know nothing about solar, a comment from someone who has written a thesis on alternative energies talking about IR in terms of solar power COULD be misconstrued. I just added my comments for clarity and completeness

loafer123

12,117 posts

179 months

Friday 19th May 2017
quotequote all

Other than the dream of fusion, I think tidal could be a way forwards, giving reliable energy.

rxe

4,813 posts

67 months

Friday 19th May 2017
quotequote all
98elise said:
Unless my sums are wrong you could easily change a Tesla (for an average driver) from a decent home PV system. The main problem would be that if your an average driver then your car is probably at work during the day, however that PV would be available on the grid.
You cant, apart from a few days in the summer. Even then you don't get much. Using real data from my SSE facing 4 kW array, which is about as good as it gets in the SE of England:

Jan average - 4 kW/h. Jan peak - 11 kW/h Total 125 kW/h
Feb average - 5 kW/h Feb peak - 14 kW/h Total 207 kWh
.....
May average - 9 kW/h May Peak - 25 kW/h Total so far 237 .... likely to be 400.

Now it looks pretty good. You could charge your Tesla maybe twice in the whole of Jan, and maybe 5 times in May (so far). But - this is simple generation by the array. Whatever load you have in the house blunts this, and creating hot water using the immersion wipes it out completely in the winter. We probably export about 4 kW/h a day at the moment - and that is on a good day. It would take a long time to charge your Tesla if you were using it.

Now sure, if you didn't use any PV for hot water and the rest of the domestic daytime load, you could charge a Leaf as long as you were pottering to the local village to go shopping. But not much more than that.

XM5ER

Original Poster:

5,080 posts

212 months

Friday 19th May 2017
quotequote all
rxe said:
98elise said:
Unless my sums are wrong you could easily change a Tesla (for an average driver) from a decent home PV system. The main problem would be that if your an average driver then your car is probably at work during the day, however that PV would be available on the grid.
You cant, apart from a few days in the summer. Even then you don't get much. Using real data from my SSE facing 4 kW array, which is about as good as it gets in the SE of England:

Jan average - 4 kW/h. Jan peak - 11 kW/h Total 125 kW/h
Feb average - 5 kW/h Feb peak - 14 kW/h Total 207 kWh
.....
May average - 9 kW/h May Peak - 25 kW/h Total so far 237 .... likely to be 400.

Now it looks pretty good. You could charge your Tesla maybe twice in the whole of Jan, and maybe 5 times in May (so far). But - this is simple generation by the array. Whatever load you have in the house blunts this, and creating hot water using the immersion wipes it out completely in the winter. We probably export about 4 kW/h a day at the moment - and that is on a good day. It would take a long time to charge your Tesla if you were using it.

Now sure, if you didn't use any PV for hot water and the rest of the domestic daytime load, you could charge a Leaf as long as you were pottering to the local village to go shopping. But not much more than that.
This is exactly the kind of real world actual figures we never see. Thanks for that.

Rovinghawk

13,300 posts

122 months

Friday 19th May 2017
quotequote all
Europa1 said:
However, whilst I accept that PV panels are much more productive than they used to be, taking arable land out of production to install PV arrays seems bonkers to me. Windfarms seem tremendously inefficient in terms of how many turbines you need to produce an appreciable amount of power.
I'm curious why the ground around the turbines doesn't have PV panels; the ground isn't usable for much else & the cables to take the power to grid are right there.

XM5ER

Original Poster:

5,080 posts

212 months

Friday 19th May 2017
quotequote all
Just throw some additional data into the mix that people may have missed the first time around

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/11/21/renewable...

http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/renewables/what-it...

I don't want the CO2 stuff to be discussed on this thread if at all possible but as a proxy for affordability it is relevant to the discussion.

It is interesting as was noted above, that we built 10 fission reactors in the 1950's but don't seem to be able to now. What has changed in the intervening 50 years.

Willy Nilly

12,511 posts

131 months

Friday 19th May 2017
quotequote all
I normally put my washing machine on last thing at night before I go to bed so it uses off peak power. But when it's very sunny and or windy, does it matter as much of here are plenty of wind turbines and PV panels in use?

mcdjl

4,612 posts

159 months

Friday 19th May 2017
quotequote all
XM5ER said:
It is interesting as was noted above, that we built 10 fission reactors in the 1950's but don't seem to be able to now. What has changed in the intervening 50 years.
We got all the weapons grade plutonium we needed and are still wondering what to do with the left overs.

XM5ER

Original Poster:

5,080 posts

212 months

Friday 19th May 2017
quotequote all
mcdjl said:
We got all the weapons grade plutonium we needed and are still wondering what to do with the left overs.
sad but true.

grantone

640 posts

137 months

Friday 19th May 2017
quotequote all
Read this article a couple of days ago about a proposed North Sea wind power hub, no idea if it's cost effective and hopefully this thread can help, but it certainly sounds like an epic engineering project. Building new islands in the North Sea is bond villain stuff.

https://arstechnica.co.uk/science/2017/05/north-se...

Taita

6,613 posts

167 months

Friday 19th May 2017
quotequote all
This is a very interesting thread - enjoying it smile

Would someone be able to answer a pretty simple question?

Nuclear facilities construction companies - do they have a 'product' or fixed design of reactor that they can build wherever required? Eg all the safety systems and mitigations are already accredited etc. As the layman it seems like each one seems to be custom built? I get that tech moves on and there will be slight variations but assuming the supply chain of construction materials can keep up (another issue!) why can't they almost be thrown up? Surely the design etc is known and all the boxes ticked so you can just metaphorically 'photocopy the blueprints'




IrateNinja

752 posts

142 months

Friday 19th May 2017
quotequote all
Taita said:
This is a very interesting thread - enjoying it smile

Would someone be able to answer a pretty simple question?

Nuclear facilities construction companies - do they have a 'product' or fixed design of reactor that they can build wherever required? Eg all the safety systems and mitigations are already accredited etc. As the layman it seems like each one seems to be custom built? I get that tech moves on and there will be slight variations but assuming the supply chain of construction materials can keep up (another issue!) why can't they almost be thrown up? Surely the design etc is known and all the boxes ticked so you can just metaphorically 'photocopy the blueprints'
Nope. The design mooted for Hinkley Point has never been successfully constructed and operated anywhere. Sites in France and Finland have been in manufacturing for literally years. Similar issues have plagued the Yank design of this type of reactor resulting in the issues Westinghouse are facing (who have been designing and building these things for 50 years).

There are Korean, Japanese and Canadian options out there. However they have barely begun to seek regulatory approval for the designs (years away from approval).

Likes Fast Cars

2,588 posts

129 months

Friday 19th May 2017
quotequote all
XM5ER said:
J.....

It is interesting as was noted above, that we built 10 fission reactors in the 1950's but don't seem to be able to now. What has changed in the intervening 50 years.
Too much unenlightened political interference. Scaremongering of the masses by the uneducated political classes. There, that should cover all smile

Likes Fast Cars

2,588 posts

129 months

Friday 19th May 2017
quotequote all
IrateNinja said:
Taita said:
This is a very interesting thread - enjoying it smile

Would someone be able to answer a pretty simple question?

Nuclear facilities construction companies - do they have a 'product' or fixed design of reactor that they can build wherever required? Eg all the safety systems and mitigations are already accredited etc. As the layman it seems like each one seems to be custom built? I get that tech moves on and there will be slight variations but assuming the supply chain of construction materials can keep up (another issue!) why can't they almost be thrown up? Surely the design etc is known and all the boxes ticked so you can just metaphorically 'photocopy the blueprints'
Nope. The design mooted for Hinkley Point has never been successfully constructed and operated anywhere. Sites in France and Finland have been in manufacturing for literally years. Similar issues have plagued the Yank design of this type of reactor resulting in the issues Westinghouse are facing (who have been designing and building these things for 50 years).

There are Korean, Japanese and Canadian options out there. However they have barely begun to seek regulatory approval for the designs (years away from approval).
It's actually a very difficult question to give a straightforward answer to. As Irate Ninja says reg approvals are needed, each country has its own nuc regs., etc. I think IrateNinja also infers the costs of R&D are almost prohibitive, there are (were) technologies in past years which are mature but not as efficient, hence the newer technologies which are as he says not yet fully "developed" or out of the box market ready, unlike a conventional turbine.

Westinghouse and Toshiba are a financial basket case, their nuclear businesses have screwed the entire company.

At the end of the day it is a giant political trade game, the final decisions are made at the top level of government; dangerous in the case of a country like Turkey who are building a Russian reactor near Antalya, it frightens the crap out of me, it could become a political football, not to mention a terrorist's wet dream.

NinjaPower

12,698 posts

144 months

Friday 19th May 2017
quotequote all
Bear with me here... I think solar is the future.

Sort of.

I was excited to read recently about the new Tesla solar roof tiles. They look exactly like ordinary roof tiles available in slate, concrete, or terracotta 'villa' styles.

They have just bought up a huge solar installation company and signed a manufacturing partnership with Panasonic to produce them.

They have already fitted numerous homes with them as a test, and will be in full production by 2018 with all styles of roof tile available.

Now, I think this is a huge step forward. You can completely cover every inch of your house and garage roof with solar panels to maximise energy collection, and your roof will look just like a normal tiled or slate roof. The tiles have been tested to withstand 100mph large hailstone impact, and are said to last in excess of 30 years.

Tesla are aiming to get house builders to install these solar roofs as standard on newbuild houses, and also tempt owners of older houses when they re-roof.

The price is apparently going to be such that an entire 'average sized' roof will only cost about £7000 more to completely reroof in Tesla tiles than to cover in conventional solar panels on top of your existing roof.

Imagine if most new houses, and most re-roofed houses were fitted with Tesla tiles or similar, the drain on the national grid would be significantly reduced.

I believe our future lies in as many private houses, offices and factories as possible covered in solar tiles and panels, and the whole system just being topped up by nuclear and gas turbine running at greatly reduced capacity during daylight hours.

mcdjl

4,612 posts

159 months

Friday 19th May 2017
quotequote all
IrateNinja said:
Nope. The design mooted for Hinkley Point has never been successfully constructed and operated anywhere. Sites in France and Finland have been in manufacturing for literally years. Similar issues have plagued the Yank design of this type of reactor resulting in the issues Westinghouse are facing (who have been designing and building these things for 50 years).

There are Korean, Japanese and Canadian options out there. However they have barely begun to seek regulatory approval for the designs (years away from approval).
In part because they poured the wrong concrete in Finland and didn't get the correct metal for both. Or possibly just couldn't prove they'd done it right.

EliseNick

208 posts

145 months

Friday 19th May 2017
quotequote all
There's live graphs for solar's contribution to the UK energy mix here;

https://www.solar.sheffield.ac.uk/pvlive/

NinjaPower

12,698 posts

144 months

Friday 19th May 2017
quotequote all
EliseNick said:
There's live graphs for solar's contribution to the UK energy mix here;

https://www.solar.sheffield.ac.uk/pvlive/
In addition to that, the following link is really interesting, showing the real-time status of the grid and the energy mix:

http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk