How To Handle 40 GW Offshore Wind (Or Not!)–Drax


JANUARY 9, 2021

Guest Post By Joe Public

Click to access 201126_Drax_20Q3_005-1.pdf

Drax’s latest Quarterly Bulletin has a section on storing excess wind power:


I have picked out these particular claims for observation:


1. Why no mention of those electricity storage systems’ capacity and discharge rates? Britain’s 4x pumped hydro stations have a total storage capacity of 26.7 GWh and discharge rate of 2.86GW.

2. “…28 TWh of storage … comparable to the total natural gas storage the UK has in the form of underground salt caverns.”

2.1 Not quite correct. It is comparable to the total natural gas storage Gt Britain has in the form of underground salt caverns plus LNG storage facilities. We have ~18,000GWh of conventional storage plus ~13,000GWh of LNG storage.

2.2 The Gross Calorific Value of hydrogen is just 3.3kWh/m^3 vs approx 11.1kWh/m^3 for Nat Gas, so low energy-density H2 has less than 30% the energy content of Nat Gas per unit volume at STP.

Consequently our energy storage capacity for hydrogen is not 28TWh, but just 8.4TWh at the same pressures.

3. “….Perhaps some of these wind farms should produce something other than electricity. Electrolysers can be used to turn electricity and water into hydrogen. The excess electricity production in 2030 could be used to make 670 million kg of hydrogen. That would be enough to fill 133 million fuel tanks in fuel cell vehicles such as the Toyota Mirai, or to heat nearly 2 million homes.”

3.1 It’s disappointing to see the deliberate obfuscation caused by mixing units – (the weight of hydrogen produced) denying readers the opportunity to easily compare relative figures. Why did the report’s authors not continue to use electricity-industry units of TWh/GWh they’ve already used in their article?

1 kg of hydrogen contains 33.33 kWh of usable energy.

3.2  The “37 TWh of excess electricity” production in 2030 could be used to make 670 million kg of hydrogen.”

So the “37 TWh of excess electricity” produces 670,000,000 kg hydrogen. But that mass of hydrogen has only 22.3 TWh of usable energy. i.e. it takes 66% more electrical energy input to make one unit of energy available via hydrogen output.

3.3 We’re told “…. (670,000 tonnes of H2) would be enough to fill 133 million fuel tanks in fuel cell vehicles…”

No mention is made of the energy needed to compress low energy-density H2 into those 133 million fuel tanks.

Approx 4kWh of energy would needed to compress 1 kg (33.3kWh) of H2 to 700bar.

This means (4/33.3) 12% of the available “37 TWh of excess electricity” is needed simply to compress the H2 into those 133 million fuel tanks. That then means that just 33TWh available to produce the H2, so only (22.3 TWh x 88% =) 19.6TWh of useable H2 is available when stored at 700bar.

Consequently, 37TWh of initial electrical energy input results in just 19.6TWh of hydrogen being available at the input of the vehicles’ fuel cells.

1.89 units of energy input to obtain 1 unit of energy into the fuel cell.

The fuel cell is then only 40% – 60% electrically efficient. This means end-to-end process efficiency requires approx 3.78 units of energy input to obtain 1 unit of energy OUTPUT from the fuel cell.

4. The authors consider “Hydrogen could potentially be hauled to shore at lower cost, piggy backing off the existing oil and gas pipelines, which will see limited use as the North Sea fields start to wind down.” yet don’t explain what they consider to be ‘piggy-backing’.

4.1 Do they consider it to be feasible to inject hydrogen into an operational oil pipeline? Do they realise that natural gas imports have to comply with National Grid’s strict quality-control standards that hydrogen doesn’t meet?

4.2 Regarding steel pipelines – both those to be ‘piggy-backed’ undersea, and on land – the authors might not be aware of hydrogen’s chemical effect:

“Conversion of the UK gas system to transport hydrogen” explains:

“At ambient temperature and pressures below 100 bar, the principal integrity concern for high-strength steel is hydrogen embrittlementHydrogen will diffuse into any surface flaws that occur due to material defects, construction defects or corrosion, resulting in a loss of ductility, increased crack growth or initiation of new cracks. These will ultimately lead to material failure. Higher pressures are thought to increase the likelihood of material failure although no threshold value has been defined independently of other factors …”

 Paul’s Additional Comments.

  • Their calculation that we need 1000 times more storage than we currently have sums up why storage can never be the answer to long term intermittency ( as opposed to intra-day needs), particularly since pumped storage accounts for about 95% of current storage, something which cannot be easily increased.
  • These projections are based on 40 GW of offshore wind, so the problem of surpluses will become much more acute as more wind capacity is added later.
  • The surplus wind power, 37 TWh, equates to about a quarter of total wind power. If this excess had to be thrown away, it would effectively increase the costs of wind power by a third.
  • As Joe rightly points out, the capacity of salt caverns is not 28 TWh, as far as hydrogen is concerned. It is less than 8 TWh, meaning that most of the surplus cannot electricity cannot converted to hydrogen and stored.
  • Claims of enough hydrogen to fill 133m fuel tanks, would imply maybe 3 million hydrogen cars. In reality, there are unlikely to be more than a few thousand on the road in 2030, and little prospect of many more in 2050. There may be a market for fuel cells in lorries and buses, but that will in all likelihood be decades away. (Apart from anything else, where will cars and lorries get their hydrogen from in winter, when there is no surplus wind power?)
  • It is good to see they confirm that when wind power is in surplus here, it will also be on the continent, and equally so when wind power is low.

But I’ll leave the final comment to Drax!

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Ben Vorlich
January 10, 2021 6:20 am

What has happened to UK Biomass? Up until  2021-01-08 21:20:41 it was over 3GW or close to. Since then it’s been much lower and less 2GW currently, at the same time coal has been around 3GW and gas has been supplying half the needs. Very puzzling at a weekend when I’d expect that the last thing the greens want is lots of fossil fuel electricity

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
January 10, 2021 7:40 am

Ask Drax, it looks like one boiler/2 generator sets are out from the three/six

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Leo Smith
January 10, 2021 8:21 am

That’s a bit inconvenient

Reply to  Leo Smith
January 11, 2021 2:16 am

Drax is perfect example of unintended consquences of ill-informed green ideology.
It used to be a coal burning station and coverted to “biomass”: behind this nice eco-frendly term is that massive destruction of N. Am oak forest, electrically dried and shipped across the Atlantic in fossil fuel powered ships.

Total insanity.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
January 10, 2021 7:54 am

Ben, Joni Mitchell gave the answer to your question quite well in her song “Big Yellow Taxi”:
They took all the trees put ’em in a tree museum
And they charged the people a dollar an’a half just to see ’em
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone
They paved paradise, put up a parking lot

Chris Bright
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
January 10, 2021 8:45 am


“They paved paradise and put up a solar array,
And a huge wind farm, and told us we all had to pay.
Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone
They paved paradise and put up a solar array,
They took all the trees, for use as biomass,
And put them in a boiler, and burned them all to ash.
Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone
They paved paradise and put up a solar array.

Hey farmer, farmer with your big green subsidy, now
Give me nice countryside, and leave me the views and the trees,
Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone
They paved paradise and put up a solar array.
Late last night, I heard my neighbor shout
Her power was off, and all her lights were out.
Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone
They paved paradise and put up a solar array.
I said
Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone
They paved paradise and put up a solar array.
And put up a solar array.”

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris Bright
Reply to  Chris Bright
January 10, 2021 10:24 am

Excellent, you nailed it, my wife is wandering what the hell I’m laughing at.

Reply to  Chris Bright
January 10, 2021 10:25 am

Thanks, excellent.

Reply to  Chris Bright
January 10, 2021 10:33 am

Brilliant Chris, hope you dont mind, just reposted this.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Chris Bright
January 10, 2021 12:23 pm

Some months ago I had a go at a revision of Joni Mitchell’s song, related to wind farms and the trees chopped down for them. Yours is much better.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
January 10, 2021 8:37 am

The”greens” hate biomass:

Rod Evans
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 10, 2021 10:21 am

The Greens simply hate. That is their core feeling about everything.
They hate secure energy supply. They hate people constantly flaming there are too many people. They hate freedom claiming people must not be allowed to make their own decisions and choices. They hate protein claiming everyone must eat non protein rich foods and certainly no meat.
They hate the expansion of food security brought about by increases in CO2.
Can anyone think of anything the Greens like that does not involve reducing humanity and freedom?

Reply to  Rod Evans
January 11, 2021 3:24 am

They seem to like frequent flyer miles and climate conferences in holiday destination countries.

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
January 10, 2021 3:32 pm

Possible maintenance issue?

January 10, 2021 6:21 am

I drove by some of these unreliables in Iowa the other night with a northerly breeze and I would estimate that 20% weren’t turning. They all had blinking lights on top of them. For the one’s not turning where does the power come from for the light?

Reply to  Derg
January 10, 2021 7:34 am

It’s not only the ones not moving that don’t work. They keep many of the non-working ones turning just to keep them “loose.”

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  J.P. Travis
January 10, 2021 8:01 am

Actually, to minimize Brinelling the heavily loaded shaft roller bearings.

Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
January 11, 2021 5:37 am

It also prevents the main shaft from bending. Machinery this large cannot sit idle. The overhanging weight of the blades bends the shaft all the time. If left idle for a long time the sag is permanent to that side.

There is a terrible story from India which is about the +$500 million gas fired generating plant that the government bought from Bechtel. When ordered, natural gas was cheap. By the time it was built gas was expensive. They were not going to use it and refused to pay. Bechtel sued and after several years won – the largest successful international law suit in history.

While this was in process Indian engineers did not rotate the enormous main shaft – something that was possible by hand, one hand. It had to be rotated at least every three weeks. As a result of this ineptitude, the main shaft sagged rendering the whole unit worthless. It had never operated by the time it was ruined. Utter waste.

Steel is not that strong but it is cheap. The wind turbines are rotated to maintain their shape using a few KW drawn from the grid.

They are also heated electrically – something not so well known. The oil has to be kept warm. It is not unknown in winter for a turbine to use more power than it generates. There was a report here on WUWT about this in NE of the UK a few years ago.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Derg
January 10, 2021 7:57 am

The answer: batteries.

Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
January 10, 2021 8:25 am

Thanks Gordon. Do they have to change the batteries ever year like a smoke detector?

Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
January 10, 2021 9:25 am

How many double A’s would that be?

dan no longer in CA
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
January 10, 2021 9:42 am

Batteries? No, they are connected to the grid and use grid power for several things, one of which is the FAA required aviation anti-collision lights. They also use grid power to point them into the wind during startup.

Reply to  dan no longer in CA
January 10, 2021 11:00 am


Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  dan no longer in CA
January 10, 2021 11:20 am

Is it OK with the FAA if the anti-collision lights go off when the grid, or the wind turbine’s/windfarm’s connection to it, goes down? I don’t think so.

Reply to  dan no longer in CA
January 10, 2021 12:18 pm

While I am ignorant on the engineering, the article I mentioned about secret grid usage claimed that, from published specification, all the needed control mechanisms could account for perhaps 30% (?) of generation. Is it their own generation or not-paid-for Grid current?

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  AndyHce
January 10, 2021 12:42 pm

30% of generation is an big exaggeration. This plot shows every wind farm and significant grid connected generator in South Australia during a wind lull last winter:

You can see that a number of the wind farms drew 1MW (give or take rounding) at times. You can click through the listing (scroll down) to see more detail on the output from each generator. Don’t forget to check out the Hornsdale Power Reserve Battery – although to see the full action you need to see the charging and use (for air conditioning etc.) as well as the discharge side – there are recorded separately for the battery.

Reply to  It doesn't add up...
January 10, 2021 7:21 pm

They don’t consume the power when they are not producing power, just to energize the fields and control the huge mass in the wind. The hypothesis was that they are not selling net power but are paid for gross power generated, getting another free ride (subsidy) by using grid power for everything involved in extracting power from wind.

A Steam or hydro generator needs some significant amount of power for control but, to my understanding, once it is running it selling the electricity need to function but, possibly, the wind turbines are. The article admitted this is an unknown because, while engineering specifications are available, showing where and for what power is consumed, the actual is a closly held secret in the real world. Maybe just paranoia. Also, I know the figure quoted as possible was large but I don’t remember the specifics.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  dan no longer in CA
January 10, 2021 12:26 pm

…and also for the MVArs needed in startup, when they consume a lot of reactive power (i.e. current and voltage are out of phase)

Reply to  dan no longer in CA
January 10, 2021 9:53 pm

To operate them in extremely cold environments, you have to purchase cold-weather options such as heated blades, heated gearboxes, etc. Guess what powers those heaters?

Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
January 10, 2021 7:50 pm

I’ve got a better solution than batteries: store excess power in the wind itself. If a wind farm is generating more electricity than can be taken up by demand, then use that electricity to turn the turbines even faster, thus putting the excess energy back into the wind. You can then harvest it later on when you actually need it.

I think this argument has every bit as good a scientific basis as the arguments so often put forward that renewables can satisfy all our energy needs.

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Mike Jonas
January 11, 2021 4:30 am

I lived in Southern California for 28 years, beginning in 1980. My first (obviously ex) wife and I often drove from Redlands to Palm Springs. The wind in the Banning Pass was constantly strong enough to make driving more challenging than it was anywhere else, and every time we did it, I “quipped” that “if only they didn’t have all those damned fans* running, there wouldn’t be this much wind!”

That’s one reason, I’m sure, that she’s my ex-wife.

*The vast fields of tax-shelter wind mills.

Last edited 1 year ago by Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Mike Jonas
January 12, 2021 12:01 am

Careful what you say! If an alarmist reads you joking about turning the turbines into fans, they might get into their heads that they can “solve” global warming by using the turbines to cool the Earth!

Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
January 10, 2021 10:27 pm

The real answer:

Scrap the wind farms, the pipelines, the batteries, and pump stations….

And go nuclear energy. The real reason it’s so expensive is because it’s in the state’s interest to keep it expensive.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Derg
January 10, 2021 8:39 am

big candles? 🙂

Robert of Texas
Reply to  Derg
January 10, 2021 10:55 am

They import giant Texan lightning bugs and glue them to the top of the windmills.

Reply to  Robert of Texas
January 10, 2021 11:01 am

Lightning bugs? I thought that was how they keep the solar cells producing at night.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  MarkW
January 10, 2021 8:55 pm

They really work their lightning bugs hard in Texas … they do double duty.

Reply to  Derg
January 10, 2021 12:14 pm

Are they not all connected to the grid? Apparently, according to some investigation, probably reported on WUWT but I don’t recall, the total grid energy USED by wind turbines is a closely guarded secret.

Reply to  Derg
January 10, 2021 12:21 pm

I found one paper one time that reported that the 30% or so capacity factor for wind should be reduced another 8% for the unmetered power taken from the grid to reduce shaft bending rotation, deicing, initial rotation torque load for bringing the propeller up to speed etc.. Note: The fact that this power is not metered points to the corruption supporting this worth less than nothing junk. Don’t believe for one second the BS that it’s too small to bother with. Lie # 6256 about wind “power”.

Reply to  Dennis
January 11, 2021 3:34 am

It’s reported in the article above …read it again. UK was doing better than it’s neighbours by 50% but still terrible.

Mad Mac
Reply to  Derg
January 10, 2021 2:02 pm

I lived near the Altamont pass a low mountainous area between Tracy Calif and Livermore Calif. I cycled thru there many times and at any one time I estimated ~25% were not turning. One Christmas time there was a lull in the wind that lasted ~two weeks. Of course none were turning. At the Banning pass near Palm Springs Calif most appear to be turning most of the time but some not and some obviously broken. I got to talking to a young guy who had a job maintaining those and I asked if he had to climb them when the wind (and sand) was really blowing..Yes!

Reply to  Derg
January 10, 2021 3:36 pm

I don’t know for sure but I heard it said at one time or another that the top lights on wind turbines are kerosine lanterns.
They say it’s more reliable than electric.

Last edited 1 year ago by tommyboy
January 10, 2021 6:25 am

“At other times, there is 37TWh of excess electricity that can be used for other applications. So what can be done to balance out this surplus..”

Well if lots of folks bought EVs right now they could charge them pretty cheap at times but unfortunately they’d be listening carefully to the experts and putting off buying them until at least 2024 as you do with sage market advice-
Electric cars ‘as cheap to manufacture’ as regular models by 2024 | Electric, hybrid and low-emission cars | The Guardian

Reply to  Mark L
January 10, 2021 8:31 am

I assume you mean ‘subsidies”. If for no other reason than clear reason, I agree with you. All forms of subsidy is corruption of the economy. All forms. Uttering the word “subsidy” should be declared a crime against humanity.
Know how I would measure my own success as a national leader? The number of orphanages that close down, because the population can afford to look after their own, instead of stealing their taxes to subsidise paedophiles and their concentration camps for underage prostitutes and sex slaves.
Back to subject: Energy storage is a great idea, but decentralising it as close to the consumer as possible will spread risk, cost and efficiency more equitably. With the right tech, we may even achieve equality of opportunity to use energy!

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  paranoid goy
January 10, 2021 12:50 pm

Best forms of energy storage:

1) Nuclear fuel rod (can last 18 months)
2) Pile of coal at a power station (Easily 6 months)
3) Oil tanks and caverns (and in extremis, ship tankers) (one power station I knew ran with 5 months storage in the 1970s)
4) Natural gas (LNG) tanks and methane caverns
5) Pile of dried wood under cover

Lee L
Reply to  observa
January 10, 2021 7:59 am

Massive adoption of electric cars means massive transfer of currency to CHINA.
Is this safe?

Shanghai Dan
Reply to  Lee L
January 10, 2021 8:24 am

Why not?

We just transferred our Government to them, what’s a little money and energy as well?

Reply to  observa
January 10, 2021 10:28 am

Hahaha. The Guardian…..

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  observa
January 10, 2021 7:26 pm

I find it interesting that GB paid £274m for 3.7TWh of wind curtailment in 2020 – £74/MWh. Already 10% of the Drax figure, and no-one has a use for it. An average of over 10GWh a day – more than the capacity of Dinorwig pumped storage, which was in any case storing some of the otherwise surplus power: it manages about 2.5TWh a year of dispatch, which implies about 3.3TWh used for pumping.

January 10, 2021 7:29 am

Risky business: build high cost unreliable electricity source and demand/storage/grid problems will work themselves out eventually at low cost.

January 10, 2021 7:30 am


Robert of Texas
Reply to  kybill
January 10, 2021 10:57 am

Why are you yelling at me??? I didn’t vote for them!

Reply to  kybill
January 11, 2021 3:31 pm

Yesterday in an interview, AOC made the claim that the lives of half of the members of congress were in serious danger due to the riots.

January 10, 2021 8:06 am

Well, the excessive energy stored has negative price.
The only problem with H2 is that it is 🧨.
One should transform H2 to methane or smth similar.
Even if it costs other excess energy

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Alex
January 10, 2021 3:17 pm

The excess energy may have a negative value, but it has a positive cost. It did not come without spending a lot of money on being able to generate it. It is a fallacy to pretend that it is “free”. Alternatively you can say that as energy surpluses become more common, the price for energy during periods of no surplus must rise to pay for the surplus and even the energy actually used during a period of surplus that earns no income or even a negative income in the market (which easily happens when subsidised).

Reply to  It doesn't add up...
January 11, 2021 3:12 am

Yes, you have to pay for the energy surplus.
We do that.
The suplus energy must be destroyed – for money.
Thus, it makes sense to use it producing smth useful instead of simply switching off the windmills.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Alex
January 11, 2021 5:47 pm

No, there is no guarantee it makes any kind of sense at all. In fact, the guarantee is that it makes no sense. Storage costs money to create. It costs money to hook it up. It costs money to convert electricity input to something stored. It costs more money to extract it from store and provide energy in useful form. Storage can only generate an income through the difference between what it costs to fill it and maintain it and how much it earns through redispatch, which are affected by the round trip efficiency and the frequency with which the storage is turned over. If you can turn over your storage daily, that’s 365 stock turns a year. If it is a seasonal store that falls to just 1 – or less on average, since your store needs to handle a worst case, and most years won’t be worst cases requiring all the storage be used.

It’s virtually certain to be much cheaper to cover deficits in generation in other ways than through seasonal storage. I walk you through the calculations here:

Reply to  Alex
January 12, 2021 12:17 am

It only makes sense if the storage is cheap and it’s not. Over the short life of the batteries, the stored electricity costs more than double the original cost of the electricity. And anyone calling themselves an environmentalist should be ashamed of recommending solutions that use toxic chemicals like cobalt, or promote flooding and destroying natural areas like pumped storage. Seems like the slightest harm can not be tolerated from oil and gas production, but they seem out-to-lunch if something is labeled ‘sustainable’ or green. Realistically, the most ‘green’ solution right now is combined cycle natural gas plants and high efficiency 4 cylinder cars.

Brooks Hurd
January 10, 2021 8:15 am

Hydrogen storage is not that simple. Compression is expensive, as are high pressure storage containers. Storage as a liquid (20 K) provides the highest energy density, but the production of liquid hydrogen is expensive and complex. The temperature of liquid hydrogen limits the engineering materials which can be used. Typically, the inner tank and cryogenic piping are 300 series stainless steel.

One can’t dismiss the safety issues of hydrogen. H2 is the second smallest molecule behind He (excuding atomic hydrogen). As such, it will leak through tiny paths. Hydrogen ignites with ease. This means that electrical components for use in hydrogen environments have their own NEC classification: Class 1 Division 1 Group B. I would not expect your typical residential electrical contractor to have much experience installing this sort of a classified electrical system.

Then there is the fact that a hydrogen flame emits energy in the near ultraviolet spectrum. This has two key safety impacts:
1. The flame is essentially invisible in daylight. In darkness, one can see hydrogen burning as a pale blue flame.
2. Since hydrogen flames emit in the near ultraviolet, there is no infrared radiation which our bodies detect as heat radiating from a hydrogen flame. All the heat from a hydrogen flame is convective. It goes up. The danger is that there is no warning that you are approaching a hydrogen flame until you are in it.

These are not insurmountable problems, but they should not be glossed over. The DRAX article seems to do that. They mention 700 bar compressors in passing. Let’s see, is that a 4 stage or a 5 stage compressor? Downstream, the piping system would be welded seamless 300 series stainless steel. Valves and fittings would need to be in enclosures with hydrogen monitors. Some fire marshals might require double containment of all indoor hydrogen piping.

Reply to  Brooks Hurd
January 10, 2021 9:38 am

Agreed Mr Hurd.

I used to be responsible for our interest in Syncrude Canada, and we had the world’s largest hydrogen plants as part of our upgrading complex. After a major explosion early in project life, we became quite competent at operating them, but as Mr Hurd states, it’s quite a challenge to do it perfectly – every second of every minute of every day of project life.

We also got quite good at operating sour gas plants, running them for decades without incident. When I was GM Engineering for our Canadian O&G Division, we operated two sour gas plants producing from a critical sour (H2S) field close to eastern suburbs of the City of Calgary. The wells were initially distant from the city limits, but the “brain trust” at City Council allowed the City Limits to expand to within one mile of the producing sour gas wells – far too close. Sour gas (40% H2S in this case; 0.1% H2S is instantly fatal) is heavier than air so it does not dissipate, but drifts along the ground killing every animal in its path.

After I left the company, they sold the Mazeppa (southern) project to Compton Petroleum. which went bankrupt, and a group of Chinese thugs bought the project. I learned quite by accident that the Chinese were saving money by no longer injecting anti-corrosion chemicals into the sour gas pipelines – a fatal error. I reported this major operating breach to the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) and the project was immediately shut down. I later learned that small leaks in the sour gas pipelines were already occurring. Had a major sour gas leak occurred, the death toll was estimated by the ERCB (precursor to the AER) at ~25% of Calgary’s total population, about 300,000 deaths.

The ability to safely operate such challenging technologies is certainly not universal – fatal industrial disasters around the world attest to the difficulty of being not just perfect, but perfect for every second of project life. Not everyone can do it safely – far from it – especially in our current age when education, judgement and competence appear to be vanishing attributes.

January 10, 2021 9:44 pm


As an uninvolved citizen and a Professional Engineer, I was advised in May 2016 of an extremely dangerous situation. Following the Professional Engineers’ Code of Ethics, I investigated, established the facts and reported to the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER). I followed-up to ensure proper action was taken, and the project was shut down and made safe by the AER.
This shutdown and subsequent actions by the AER (Receivership, Bankruptcy and fines and sanctions against company management) comprised the most severe reprimand against any company in the long history of the Alberta energy industry.

It was pure luck that someone contacted me about this situation – my confidential informant called me because he did not know what to do and needed to talk to someone. He and other professionals at the project were afraid of physical retaliation by the new Chinese thug owners.

Among many problems, he told me the new owners had not injected anti-corrosion chemicals into the sour gas pipelines for about seven months. I guess that he did not fully understand how dangerous that was – he only mentioned it about 15 minutes into our conversation.

The wild coincidence was that my informant did not know that several decades earlier, I was GM of Engineering for our company’s Canadian O&G Division, at a time when we had owned and operated the Mazeppa project, among many others. I therefore understood the huge danger involved in lack of critical sour gas pipeline maintenance.

Monthly injection of anti-corrosion chemicals in every inch of every sour gas pipeline was our strict operating standard. Mazeppa was producing 40% H2S sour gas within one mile of populous SE Calgary suburbs and 0.1% H2S or less is instantly fatal. I later learned that the project had recently experienced several minor pipeline leaks due to internal corrosion. Potential loss of life from a major H2S discharge could have totaled 300,000 souls – equivalent to one hundred 9-11’s, or six Hiroshima’s or four Nagasaki’s.

I still think what might have happened if my informant had not called me, or I missed his call, or we ended the call after ten minutes had passed. Some people have attributed this sequence of events to improbable coincidence, others to divine intervention – I just say the result was a lot better than the alternative.

January 10, 2021 8:16 am

I initially condemned wind power in an article I co-authored in 2002. This post was published ten years later in 2012:

As a professional engineer. I confess that I don’t think that wind power farms are as esthetically ugly as some other people do. Engineers tend to like large pieces of equipment – you know, “big toys for big boys”.

1. Wind farms produce essentially no useful, economic energy;
2. Wind farms are probably net-energy-value-negative over their project life;
3. Wind farms require essentially 100% active standby backup from conventional power generation plants;
4. Wind farms require huge life-of-project subsidies;
5. Wind farms needlessly increase the cost of electricity for all, including those who can least afford it, contributing to “energy poverty”;
6. Wind farms can de-stabilize the electric power grid, due to the huge peaks and lulls in their power generation profile;
7. Wind farms kill millions of birds and bats worldwide, including some seriously endangered species.
8. Wind farms may be one of the most useless, counterproductive devices ever invented by humankind.
So wind farms are economically ugly and environmentally ugly, and in summary are just plain old ugly.

“Wind Power – It Doesn’t Just Blow – it Sucks!”

January 10, 2021 9:14 am

All of the reasons you mention are precisely why the self loathing Marxists love them.

January 10, 2021 9:29 am

Is that all?

alastair gray
January 10, 2021 9:39 am

UK demand right now 44 GW Wind 6.9 Gas 21GW and other renewables about 3 Peak demand in about half an hour

Robert of Texas
January 10, 2021 11:09 am

Just to be a bit more precise: Wind turbines kill a greater *proportion* of large birds like raptors (eagles, vultures, hawks, falcons) then any other technology. As for bats, it’s any that get too close who live in the area. Birds and bats do not have to collide with a blade, just get close enough that the pressure wave destroys their insides.

Many areas selected for wind turbine farms in western Texas and Oklahoma have lots of convenient gypsum caves where bats roost. Those not being decimated by “White Nose Syndrome” are being slaughtered by wind turbines. Fossil Fuel power stations never created this kind of problem. “Environmentalists” seem to just ignore it as it is just too inconvenient to talk about.

(White Nose Syndrome is believed to have been introduced into American caves by cavers that had visited European caves. The fungus likely made the trip in dried mud on their boots and was first detected in eastern United States where us eager cavers then tracked it all over the place. Some may have been introduced into “protected” caves by the very scientists that study them…it’s all very ironic and tragic)

January 10, 2021 12:31 pm

wind turbines are therefore monuments of human stupidity.

January 10, 2021 8:16 am

The amount of wind available is forecastable 24 hours in advance, to a high degree of accuracy. So what happens if there will be a lot of it? The price of electricity goes down and it is shipped across Europe in preference to fossil fuel. There is no problem in Denmark or anywhere else with this, even now when we don’t have the batteries or renewable hydrogen to soak up any excess production.

this is just a ridiculous puff piece for Drax (who ought to have their non green wood burning shut down)

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  griff
January 10, 2021 8:45 am

“The price of electricity goes down and it is shipped across Europe in preference to fossil fuel.” Assuming its needed there.

“Drax (who ought to have their non green wood burning shut down)”
Wood is renewable and provides base load power. This market for wood helps in the mgt. of forests. Most comes from the American southeast- where it amounts to only 3% of the wood cut there, so it’s not going to cause forests to be wasted, as the critics ignorantly say.

Reply to  griff
January 10, 2021 8:50 am

See Allan Macrae’s post above. Rebut if you can.

Reply to  Graemethecat
January 11, 2021 3:34 pm

He won’t, but he will repeat the same claim many times.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  griff
January 10, 2021 9:02 am

You are setting up a juggling act and one day it will collapse
It is inevitable, the conditions will arise

And then people will pay

Dave Andrews
Reply to  griff
January 10, 2021 9:12 am

Yes Griff and its no problem for Germany when the wind does’nt blow. They just ask their friends in Poland to ramp up their lignite burning coal stations even as they continue to burnish their supposed green credentials

Reply to  griff
January 10, 2021 9:17 am

griff, Nonsense. Complete nonsense. Denmark sends much of their excess wind power to Norway (at a very, very low price). Norway can handle the excess because they have a large amount of hydro that can easily throttle down (and back up when the wind isn’t blowing). Denmark still has to run fossil fuel plants when the wind isn’t blowing because buying power from its neighbors is very expensive. You apparently didn’t comprehend that when it’s windy in GB, its windy on the continent. There’s nowhere for Britian to go with the excess power. Why in the world do you think they were talking about using the excess power to make hydrogen? You’re either a brainwashed “green” dupe or a dishonest (unreliable) renewable energy promoter with a financial interest..

Reply to  Meab
January 10, 2021 12:38 pm

Griff, is like joe Biden who famously said, “we’re not interested in facts only the truth”.

David A
Reply to  Meab
January 11, 2021 4:40 am

Also Griff appears not to comprehend how wind also drives up the cost of conventional base load power.

Perhaps if Griff had a business operating along in a very profitable manner, open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, producing income and jobs, and a regulator came to him and said ” NOW, BY DECREE, YOU CAN ONLY OPERATE 20 PERCENT OF THE TIME, I WILL NOT TELL YOU IN ADVANCE WHEN YOU OPERATE, BUT YOU MUST ALWAYS BE READY AND STAFFED TO BECOME FULLY OPERATIONAL, AND ALWAYS READY TO SHUT DOWN WHEN I SAY!”.

HUM? would Griff have to raise the price of his product? And how much?

Last edited 1 year ago by David A
alastair gray
Reply to  griff
January 10, 2021 9:27 am

I agree with you on Drax and wood so welcome Unlikely Bedfellow. As far as Danes in time of surplus the Norwegians take all they’ve got at knock down prices, put it into hydro storage and flog it back to the Danes at whatever the market will bear when the wind is not blowing. Canny lads the Noggins Viking spirit alive and well an teh one country that I can think of where renewable electric vehicles and heating make sense because of hydro for base power load ,storage and exploiting gullible neighbours

Reply to  griff
January 10, 2021 9:32 am

There is no lie so refuted, that griff won’t repeat it over and over and over again.

They can predict that tomorrow will be more or less windy than today. That’s about it.

For wind power to be usable, they would have to be able to predict wind speeds to within 1kph on a minute by minute basis 24 hours in advance.

They are not doing that, they won’t be able to do that anytime in the next 100 years. They probably will never be able to do that.

griff, once again completely ignores the many problems caused by trying to rapidly ramp up and down fossil fuel power in order to load follow unpredictable wind and solar.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  MarkW
January 10, 2021 2:44 pm

The actual forecasts come with some fairly wide uncertainty bands. For example, look at the forecasts on page 3 here:

The 90% confidence interval spans from 2 to 12 GW at the peak.

Reply to  griff
January 10, 2021 10:36 am

comment image

Jan 8, Europe

Last edited 1 year ago by Krishna Gans
Reply to  Krishna Gans
January 10, 2021 2:49 pm

A better graph
comment image

Robert of Texas
Reply to  griff
January 10, 2021 11:19 am

You seem to be conveniently ignoring all the complicating factors.

1) Denmark is tiny – you can make wind work in a tiny peninsula where wind is fairly steady and you have interconnections to landlocked areas that need power. It is a very bad choice for use as an “average” situation.

2) You have to make the assumption that there are areas all over Europe that need the power WHEN it is being over-produced.

3) You have to make the assumption that the interconnects can handle the loads.

4) You seem to completely ignore what happens when the wind is not producing enough electrical power – hense the need for base power plants whether they are running or not – and that greatly increases the cost of the power. Why use wind if you have already built good reliable base power production facilities?

5) Forecasting wind 24 hours in advance is not the same as meeting electrical demand. You can forecast both with some margin of error, but if you cannot meet the demand then you are going to be left with blackouts. Interconnects NEVER fail, there will NEVER be a case when multiple areas need reserve power from the same producer who cannot meet both demands. Predict those events.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Robert of Texas
January 10, 2021 2:39 pm

There’s actually been a partial blackout in Romania and some neighbouring countries just a couple of days ago: supposedly part of the European supergrid. Information is scant on the cause so far, but it will be interesting to see what emerges. ENTSO-E (The Europe wide transmission operators body) remain tight lipped about it.

Reply to  griff
January 10, 2021 12:33 pm

Let’s look how Germany wind is going
Here is the supply/demand for Jan 7,8,9

Notice the size of the grey CONVENTIONAL supply Solar and wind are TINY amounts at the bottom

comment image

And just so there is no confusion as to what “conventional” means
….. here is the graph for that supply.
Some Nuclear along the bottom, but mostly COAL and GAS.

comment image

wind and solar are just a YAWN !!!

Reply to  griff
January 10, 2021 12:52 pm

What’s the uncertainty of that forecast, what happens if the forecast is not met, and who pays for it?

Reply to  Lrp
January 10, 2021 1:06 pm

and who pays for it?


Last edited 1 year ago by fred250
Reply to  griff
January 10, 2021 1:40 pm
Reply to  griff
January 10, 2021 2:58 pm

Disturbance in the power grid: Europe misses the blackout
According to the Austrian Power Grid (APG), there was a fault in the synchronized European high-voltage power grid, which on Friday afternoon led to an underfrequency in Europe with a short-term frequency deviation of around 260 mHz. Experts say that Europe just barely missed a blackout.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Krishna Gans
January 10, 2021 5:18 pm–640149

<blockquote>”No one so far knows what the incident’s causes are. A European commission has been set up to find out the circumstances of the incident,” the sources said.

“This is an interconnection system breakdown. We don’t know the exact causes yet, but we will analyze them. It is a zonal problem in the northwest of the country. The power supply has been meanwhile entirely restored,” officials of the national electricity transmission company Transelectrica said.

“An incident that occurred on Friday at 15:05 in the interconnected European electric transmission grid caused equipment in Romania’s electric transmission grid and in other countries to go off. The northwestern part of Romania was affected. Romania’s electric transmission grid was restored to normal operating parameters around 16:00, the power supply was restored to all affected consumers around 16:45,” the company’s release reads.

The European Network of Transmission System Operators (ENTSO-E) announced that the synchronous area of Continental Europe was split into two separated grid regions for an hour in the afternoon of January 8, and that an area in the south east region of the interconnected grid was separated from the rest of Continental Europe during that period. A temporary frequency drop of approximately 250 mHz was also registered</blockquote>

Dave Fair
Reply to  griff
January 10, 2021 5:26 pm

Jaysus, Griff. The price of electricity goes down under heavy wind generation because it is worth less at those times. You should study at different economic schools rather than Marxist.

John Shotsky
January 10, 2021 8:35 am

This renewable energy business is about Co2, and nothing else. Co2 isn’t a problem, but that doesn’t change the ambition to get away from ‘fossil’ fuel. The way to solve the windmill energy storage system may be as simple as erecting reservoirs and using the windmills to simply fill the reservoirs with salt water. At the exit of the reservoirs would be generators to feed power to the grid. So the windmills would only need to refill reservoirs with salt water when there was wind present. There could be multiple generators in the exit line, each working with the same water. Coupled with tidal energy generation, the tides could provide additional water to the gravity powered system. Not cheap, but reliable.

Reply to  John Shotsky
January 10, 2021 9:36 am

The problem with pumped storage, is that most of the good spots are either already in use, or so far from population centers and power sources that transmitting the power to and from them would use up most of the energy you are trying to save.

Who in their right mind would use salt water? Have you spent any time thinking about the problems that would create?

Tidal energy is one of those things that makes sense, so long as you don’t spend any time actually thinking about it.

Reply to  MarkW
January 10, 2021 4:46 pm

Good comment Mark.

Following is my reply to Griff from ~2 years ago. Slow learner.


Green energy does not even reduce CO2 emissions, because of the need for almost 100% conventional spinning reserve. There is no current grid-scale “super-battery” technology that can economically solve the intermittency problem, except for Pumped Storage that requires special siting that exists in only a few places in the world. My home province of Alberta covers 662,000 sq. km in area, larger than many countries, and we have exactly ZERO sites suitable for pumped storage – we have no sites suitable for hydro dams with a large reservoir at the bottom of the dam.

Dave Fair
Reply to  John Shotsky
January 10, 2021 9:42 am

John, I initially thought your comment was sarcasm. Then I realized you were breathtakingly ignorant and innumerate. Just a single example: One cannot add a hydro generator “in line” and use the same water as the earlier generator; the energy potential of the water was extracted by the first generator.

Reply to  Dave Fair
January 10, 2021 11:08 am

Liberals with liberal arts educations trying to do “engineering” for a technical, industrial society is why we are in this mess.

Last edited 1 year ago by joelobryan
Dave Fair
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 10, 2021 4:59 pm

No, Joel. It is that the politicians are listening to crony capitalists and wealthy Leftist NGOs is the reason we are in this mess. Beleaguered taxpayers and consumers will lead us out of the insanity through their votes.

Reply to  John Shotsky
January 10, 2021 11:07 am

Location, location, location.
Where the few sites available are located, NO ONE with common sense would allow them to be salt water reservoirs for engineering reasons (high corrosion) and environmental reasons (salinization of soils).

Reply to  John Shotsky
January 10, 2021 12:27 pm

Gravity feed isn’t so useful over a level plain.

Reply to  John Shotsky
January 10, 2021 12:37 pm

Pumping salt water to land reservoirs is a REALLY bad idea.

Reply to  John Shotsky
January 10, 2021 12:42 pm

Good luck getting your salt water reservoirs built here in southern California, I’m sure the Greenies will love it.

January 10, 2021 8:38 am

You can see how dumb it is to install unreliable power generation. The future of energy will NOT be renewables, which are intrinsically expensive due to their need for backup/storage, etc Small Modular Molten salt reactors are jut around the corner. Quickly mass produced in factories and deployed quickly, these reactors can load follow, eliminating most needs for peak backup capacity.
They will be commercially available before the end of the decade. Only fools believe that a system as complicated and expensive as has been promoted using large amounts of so-called “renewable generation” (it’s not really renewable makes any sense.

Chris Bright
January 10, 2021 8:43 am

A 10 GWh lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS) would occupy the same volume as the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt and would meet British electricity demand for about 20 minutes.

BESS includes the batteries themselves, connections, AC/DC/AC conversion, switchgear, transformers.

This figure is based on the Buzzard Battery, a 10 MWh BESS installed at Leighton Buzzard UK, with the dimensions scaled proportional to energy stored.

Reply to  Chris Bright
January 10, 2021 9:38 am

When you get the facility that large, you need to start calculating in the offices needed to house the maintenance staff.

Smart Rock
January 10, 2021 8:49 am

“<i>Simply plugging massive numbers of wind farms into the existing grid and hoping for the best is much less likely to be a successful approach.</i>”

Drax, while profiting hugely and hypocritically from the green dreams of our fearless leaders, is an actual operator, and as such has to face practical considerations. As the dates for total greenisation (“zero emission by 2030” and similar policy decrees) get closer, to the point that planning, budgeting and permitting need to start today, and construction needs to start in the next couple of years, this question leads to very practical questions that demand answers NOW. Yet answers do not really exist beyond platitudes like “batteries will be bigger and cheaper” and “hydrogen blah blah blah”.

Now that we’ve had the best part of a year in lockdown-land, the solution to intermittent energy supplies is becoming obvious. There’s no need to try and match supply to demand; simply reduce demand to match supply. Here’s a few ideas for how that might be done:

  1. Cut off supply to those who can’t afford to pay their electricity bills. There’s an easy 10% to 20% reduction in maximum demand. And if they protest, arrest them. They are poor people, they don’t count, so screw them. The more humane version of this policy might be to use smart meters to only cut them off when demand reaches a certain threshold (“Tyranny with a human face”).
  2. Government inspectors will come to your house and confiscate your microwave oven. toaster, tumble dryer, etc. etc. Under lockdown v.16, you will have plenty of time to do things without labour-saving devices.
  3. Using technology that exists today, reduce the thermostat settings on residential and commercial central heating systems throughout the country. Manual override will no longer be possible. Nobody needs to suffer; if your government turns your thermostat down to 5°C, you can wear long underwear, three sweaters and an overcoat and be grateful that you’re saving the planet.
  4. If your government still can’t get demand low enough,there’s always the Soylent Green option.

A year ago this comment would have just been my usual sick humour; now it seems like a plausible vision of the near future.

Reply to  Smart Rock
January 10, 2021 11:50 am

Without the sarcasm, this is actually what ‘green believers’ propose. Power for things like water heating, home heating and washer/driers would be limited to when windmills are milling and the sun is shining. And, we are supposed to be happy about this as the way of the future. It is all about no pain, no gain, and a ‘new’ lifestyle.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Fran
January 10, 2021 5:07 pm

Woke people are writing about the spiritual benefits of a bucolic lifestyle. Or, in political-speak: “You WILL be happy with less.”

David A
Reply to  Dave Fair
January 11, 2021 4:58 am

“Almost like, “You will be happy when I tell you to be happy.”

Will anyone enforce the right to be LEFT ALONE?

Reply to  Fran
January 10, 2021 7:02 pm

For some reason, those who are writing about the advantages of such a lifestyle, never voluntarily adopt that lifestyle for themselves.

Reply to  Smart Rock
January 10, 2021 1:08 pm

“They are poor people, they don’t count, so screw them.”

They can buy a tent and sleep on the sidewalk.

Becoming highly desirable “property” in L.A.

Last edited 1 year ago by fred250
Dave Fair
Reply to  fred250
January 10, 2021 5:07 pm

Wrong-o! They will be given the tent.

Reply to  Dave Fair
January 10, 2021 9:49 pm

And sidewalk property rights ?

Dave Fair
Reply to  fred250
January 10, 2021 11:47 pm

In practice, if not in law, the urban squatters already have those property “rights.”

No rational society allows shit to accumulate in common areas. It is demonstrably true that no jurisdiction that allows violations of quality-of-life rules will be able to enforce felony rules. Rudy Giuliani’s stewardship of NY City in the 1990s proved that. There is only individual justice, not social justice.

Chris Bright
January 10, 2021 8:51 am

THE renewable rover:

“I’ve paid for renewables for many a year,
But the problems they pose are becoming quite clear,
Uncertain and fickle, expensive for sure
And I never will pay for renewables no more 

So it’s no nay never, no nay never no more,
Will I pay for renewables, no never no more.

I went to an alehouse I used to frequent,
Where the landlord complained that he can’t pay the rent.
The tourists have gone and the visitors too,
‘Cos all the wind turbines are spoiling the view.

So it’s no, nay, never…etc.

The weather in winter is cloudy and grey,
The Sun only shines with a weak feeble ray,
Then why all this money we all have to pay,
To subsidise solar for day after day? 

So it’s no, nay, never…etc.

I went to my boss to confess what I’ve done:
I’d relied far too much on the wind and the Sun.
He told me demand should be met hour by hour,
And for that we will need more reliable power.

So it’s no, nay, never…etc.”

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Chris Bright
January 10, 2021 2:31 pm

You could do a whole revue! Try some Flanders & Swann

T’was on the Monday morning, the gas man came to call,
He came to turn the gas off, (I’m supposed to insulate the wall);
He tore out all the skirting boards to try and find the main,
And I had to call a carpenter to put them back again!

Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do…

T’was on the Tuesday morning, the carpenter came round:
He hammered and he chiseled and he said “Look what I’ve found!
Your cavity’s not got rockwool, and you don’t have LED lights!”
Then he nailed right through a cable and made us dark at nights!

Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do…

T’was on a Wednesday morning, the electrician came:
He called for triple glazing, which isn’t quite the same;
He couldn’t reach the fuse box without standing on the bin,
And his foot went through a window, so I called the glazier in!

Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do…

T’was on the Thursday morning, the glazier came along
With his blowtorch, and his putty, and his merry glazier’s song;
He put three more panes in, it took no time at all
But I had to get the man to come and insulate the wall!

Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do…

T’was on the Friday morning the insulator made a start,
With Celotex and Reynobond he covered every part,
Every nook and every cranny; but I found when he was gone
He’d covered over the gas tap and I couldn’t turn it on!

Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do…

On Saturday and Sunday they do no work at all;
So it was on the Monday morning that the gas man came to call!

Rich Davis
January 10, 2021 9:20 am

Not that I really want to help these loons, but I had a thought that I’d like to throw out there to see if it has been considered and what would make it impractical.

It seems to me that one thing that could help with EV adoption and several of its issues would be to have a standardized battery pack that is interchangeable in every car model from every OEM. Every car would have one or more standardized receptacles. They would be designed to be routinely swapped out at charging stations. Some cars might also have fixed storage that could be customized to fit in available space to provide extended range.

In this way, charging stations could maintain an inventory of standard battery packs that are fully-charged when the customer arrives. The packs could be swapped out in a time comparable to filling a tank in an ICE car, possibly even faster.

The standardized receptacle would hold the battery pack horizontally and would be located within a fixed height tolerance above the pavement in every car to facilitate a robotic system for removing the spent pack and installing the charged pack. (I’m assuming that to be viable, these packs would need to be too heavy for customers to safely swap out manually).

Since the charging no longer occurs at the time when the car has run out of “juice”, the pack recharging can be performed mostly at times when there is surplus power on the grid. Recharging could be done either at a charging station, or at the customer’s home.

Electricity would need to be metered with a variable price, to incentivize the charging stations and all consumers to use surplus power when it is available. Meters, at least for the “filling stations” and ideally for all power customers would need to be internet-connected and programmable (“smart meters”) that can signal the instantaneous price to appliances such as a home car charger which would be programmable to operate when the price is below a set point.

Car owners would still plug in at home and be able to opt to charge there, or if the cost would be prohibitive, opt instead to operate on replaceable packs obtained at charging stations.

When traveling long distances, there no longer would need to be long delays to charge (or fast charging stations that stress the grid infrastructure and reduce battery life).

Some cars could operate with just standard packs, which could reduce the cost of the car and potentially increase the useful life of the vehicle.

Because the EV batteries would be standardized, some of the costs of recycling old packs would likely be reduced and could be centralized for economies of scale.

As battery technology advances, it may be possible to retain the standardized form factor, but achieve a higher energy density (increased range). This could then benefit any car on the road that has standardized receptacles.

Curious to hear thoughts about this idea. Let me be clear that this is not justified in my mind by any perceived need to eliminate fossil fuels. It’s just an interesting engineering problem.

Reply to  Rich Davis
January 10, 2021 12:49 pm

Those batteries you want to flip around weigh a 1000 lbs or more, not like a flashlight.

Reply to  Rich Davis
January 10, 2021 12:54 pm

Every few months, somebody who has never bothered to think through the many, many, mostly insurmountable obstacles will put forth this notion, as if nobody had ever thought of it before.

Problem one. Battery packs are large and heavy. Equipment designed to move such things are also large and heavy. Which also makes them slow and hideously expensive.

Problem two. How do you compensate someone who drops off a brand new battery pack and gets as a replacement one that is at the end of it’s life expectancy?

Problem three. Service station cost. Let’s our service station owner has opted for the deluxe battery changer that can swap a battery in only 10 minutes. An ICE car can refill in less than 5 minutes. Just for a starting point, let’s say that it takes twice as long to swap a battery as it does to fill a tank. In order to handle the same number of cars in hour, this would mean that a station with 12 pumps would need 24 battery swapping stations. (You begin to see how costs quickly get astronomical already.)
24 stations, each of which can swap 6 batteries per hour, that’s 124 batteries per hour for the entire station. Now let’s assume that it takes 10 hours to recharge a battery.
This means that in order to always have fully charged batteries available, the station will need to have on hand 1240 batteries. At around $20,000 per battery, that comes to $24,800,000 in batteries alone. Now you need someplace to store those batteries, and equipment to move the batteries from the charging station to and from the cars. (I didn’t include the time to move batteries to and from the car in the swap time.)
Moving equipment takes a lot of maintenance to ensure that it moves the way you want it to, and only at the times you want it to.

Problem Four. Charging 1240 batteries at the same time. Your station owner is going to need to build and maintain his own electricity sub-station in order to supply enough power for all those batteries.

Problem five is similar to problem three in that it’s about cost. However this time we are talking about the amount of land needed. Twice as many stations and a building to house and protect 1240 batteries means your station is going to need at least 4 or 5 times as much land as does a gasoline service station. And don’t get me started on property taxes, land and batteries.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Rich Davis
January 10, 2021 2:05 pm

Let’s take a look. A standard Tesla battery module of 5kWh capacity weighs 26kg and occupies 27x12x3 inches:

You’d need at least 10 of them for a viable car, so that’s say a 54x60x3 inch block weighing 260kg, probably plus some extra space for ventilation etc. and a floorpan chassis structure capable of taking them, and means of protecting them from road dirt and wet (can you drive through a ford or a deeper puddle?). It’s easy to understand why Tesla build their batteries into the chassis in a not easy to remove fashion and sealed the underbody. Centre of gravity considerations more or less dictate that too. The whole has to meet safety standards. Connections must be close to zero resistance.

It’s an idea that has been frequently mooted, but no-one has found a way to make it work.

Reply to  It doesn't add up...
January 10, 2021 7:06 pm

I can just imagine what what will happen a few miles down the road, when the automated battery swapper fails to make perfect electrical connection between the battery and the car.
Imperfect connections result in heat, lots of heat.
Or the battery swapper fails to close and latch the access door properly, and your $20,000 dollar battery falls out and goes bouncing down the road.

Last edited 1 year ago by MarkW
David A
Reply to  It doesn't add up...
January 11, 2021 5:11 am

And we must add in the environmental cost of producing all those batteries, and then replacing them with new ones and disposing the old ones. And then running out of batteries in a five day wind outage, and… and.

Yet a fairly asked question.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Rich Davis
January 10, 2021 5:14 pm

What’s not to like? Your “Five Year Plan” sounds as good as any other. Any complicating, real-world factors you haven’t considered really don’t matter, anyway.

David A
Reply to  Dave Fair
January 11, 2021 5:14 am

It was a fairly asked question, and politely asked as well.

Dave Fair
January 10, 2021 9:23 am

I don’t see why everyone is so worried about electric supplies in the UK. With the reasonably expected high cost of energy from current government policies, there won’t be enough industry needing a supply of electricity. Without industry, British poverty will increase, thusly decreasing electric demand further (not to mention killing off old people). With industry and job opportunities moving overseas, much of the British population will move, reducing electricity demand further. [Everyone will again begin moving to America, as has happened in the past.] NO PROBLEM! [/s]

David A
Reply to  Dave Fair
January 11, 2021 5:17 am

It is quite possible that America will be rushing to duplicate the same failed policy, and forced immigrating millions of other folks, less educated then you, and culturally biased against the nation they are immigrating to.

January 10, 2021 10:23 am

Electrolysers can be used to turn electricity and water into hydrogen.

Completely useless.

Robert of Texas
January 10, 2021 10:53 am

Produce hydrogen gas as a form of energy storage? Nothing can go wrong with that… It is incredibly less energy dense then say diesel, hydrogen tends to make metals brittle, and it loves to leak out through tiny cracks that oil cannot traverse. So if you are losing 1% of your natural gas to leaks, it’s going to be 2 or 3% when using hydrogen. The only way to safely use hydrogen gas today using pipelines in existence is to mix it with natural gas!

What happens to all this offshore wind power when a large wind storm tears through it? Say one generating huge waves filled with debris from a coast? Or a huge ice storm? Nothing can go wrong here either.

What happens in a time of war when your power infrastructure is so spread out over the ocean you cannot protect it? All the enemy has to do is blow up a few electrical cables and suddenly your country is in a blackout for weeks or months. Far easier to protect a well built centralized power station then distributed wind power. Even terrorists could target power cables under the ocean. It’s not like they are not well marked on a map.

So between winds too high, winds too low, freezing events, and risk of attack, I can’t think of any reason that wind won’t work.

Meanwhile, countries like China will be long on their way of developing advanced nuclear power that can actually be useful.

The U.S.? – we will be busy trying to impeach the last president again…we don’t have time for tackling real problems, just running around in circles hysterically screaming because our feelings got hurt.

January 10, 2021 10:54 am

The steel enbrittlement issues with pure forms of hydrogen (gas or liquid) cannot be overcome affordably for wide-scale adoption. And liquid hydrogen is the only form that contains useful energy density for storage, and then that brings in cryogenic issues that make liquid nitrogen and LNG look trivial.
For comparisons:
Liquid hydrogen: -252.87°C, rho= 71 kg/m3.
Liquid nitrogen: −160°C
Liquid Natural gas (CH4): -162.2°C, 470 kg/m3

So LH2 is 90 K colder, causes enbrittlement of steels, and has only a small fraction of the energy per volume of LNG. Each one of those is serious limitations to wide-spread LH2 adoption in transportation. Together all three makes LH2 wholly unsuited for wide-spread commercial or common consumer transportation use.

I think it is worth noting that Wikipedia refuses to update their world-wide LNG usage charts from 2009-2010 to current numbers which have exploded both in the US and in Asia with the importation by China, Japan, and Korea of LNG. It is no accident that China supports the climate scam in order to destroy reliable, affordable electricity production supporting industrial economies in Western nations.

Note: propane (C3H8) and butane (C4H10) are commercially viable as very clean burning compressed and liquefied hydrocarbon fuel sources. They are used extensively in agricultural machinery, and home heating and transportation.

Last edited 1 year ago by joelobryan
David A
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 11, 2021 5:25 am

You mean that orange man bad who said CAGW was a policy to benefit China was right, again???

“You don’t know what you got till it’s gone, they paved Paradise, and put up a China lot.”

Last edited 1 year ago by David A
Kevin kilty
January 10, 2021 11:06 am

Makin’ hydrogen with seawater…ahem… hydrogen chloride and caustic soda more likely.

Peta of Newark
January 10, 2021 11:18 am

Electric cars…
Let’s have 30 million of them, covering 12,000 miles per year each
With inefficiencies in distribution. charging & discharging, lets give them 3 miles per kWh
(Probably closer to 2.5)

From that, I get nearly 14GW of generation, 24/7/365 to feed that

Hydrogen fuel cells – where is all the Platinum coming from for those cells?

Home Heating...
The thread on the UK renewable forum is still going and from that, let’s say 40kWh per home (30 million again) per day across the whole year.
(Assume they run flat-out half the time (Autumn & winter) and are off the rest of the year)
I get that to be 50GW of required generation

So that is 64GW of 24/7/365 new demand that Boris and his Princess are demanding, by year= 2030, and these people are worried about a paltry 37G

Even before Boris wants 300,000 new homes every year from now until infinity

Last edited 1 year ago by Peta of Newark
Jim Gorman
Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 11, 2021 8:01 am

I mentioned some of this on another thread some time ago. The environmental wacko’s and career politicians have never built nor operated physical plant to the extent of what they are proposing happen by 2030. Folks, that is 9 years away!

1. Residential transformers, intermediate transformers, and substation transformers plus larger cables between all of them are going to come from where? Are they currently on order? Have PUC’s allowed the costs to start being recovered?

2. Residential breaker boxes. A good percent of houses are going to need to expand to 200 or even 300 amp service panels. Where are these going to come from and who is going to install them? Are orders currently being placed on manufacturers? Are young folks being pushed into vocational training for carpentry and electricians to expand the pool of installers.

3. Similar to 1 and 2, businesses are going to need updating to handle auto charging stations for their employees and visitors. Is the grid update and building upgrade equipment on order right now?

4. Land and right of way purchases must be negotiated for additional generation facilities. Has any of this started? Design of grid connections can’t begin until the engineers know where, how, and what geography will need to allowed for.

If the politicians at all levels want this to happen by 2030 they need to be making decisions NOW that industry and citizens can use to start planning and purchasing the needed equipment and installation. This won’t be a one or two year project that can start in 2028.

What I have listed is only SOME of the big ones. Think about eliminating natural gas. Water heaters, furnaces, kitchen ranges and ovens, yard lights, etc. Where are all the electrical appliances going to come from and who will install them?

Manufacturers of all this can’t just spin up in overnight! They will need time to expand production and supply lines. They will need concrete orders to obtain financing for their expansion. If the politicians want it done, it must start now.

The politicians and environmentalists will have to accept the blame if it isn’t done by 2030. A project must start with the approval process and it is incumbent upon them to make the beginning decisions post haste.

If they can not assume the responsibility immediately, then one must question the actual imminent danger they say we are in.

There is now one party in control of the U.S. government. There will only be 8 years left after the 2021 session of Congress. Push all of the Democratic Representatives and Senators to step up to the plate and make the decisions necessary in this next Congressional session. If they are unable to do what they promised let everyone know that they have been suckered into electing carpet baggers and con men.

January 10, 2021 12:11 pm

As hydrogen has a much smaller molecule size than natural gas, would expect more leakage at all joints, valves, etc. if being transported in the pipelines designed for NG. Hopefully someone with experience in this could expand on this.

January 10, 2021 12:35 pm

Rube Goldberg had nothing over today’s politicians.

Paul C
January 10, 2021 12:56 pm

I thought it would be interesting to illustrate the problem of large scale energy storage by converting to tonnes (metric tons) of TNT. So, looking up the conventional conversion rate of 1.162 TWh per megaton, I was surprised to find that the 28 TWh storage requirement comes out as the equivalent of 24.1 megatons of TNT. Now, you may call me a NIMBY, but I would prefer not to have that energy storage anywhere near the same county as me.

January 10, 2021 1:35 pm

If you have many hours with a large excess of power, the efficiency of storage becomes less important. Often the grid operators want to cut-off wind&solarPV when they can’t use/export the excess. The electricity generation would just be wasted if it couldn’t be used.
The cost for 28TWh of BESS would be of the order of 10’000 Billion British pounds (land cost, ignoring input losses, losses while idle, output losses & maintenance costs). Gas peaking construction could be <55 Billion British pounds (ignores fuel and maintenance) for 40GW capacity.
At the end of the day, what is the average cost for energy supply (per kWh) of the total system to consumers using various scenarios? What is the LCOE when you add the extra costs of required backups, storage, transmission & interconnects when dealing with more wind&solarPV or whatever inefficient storage method they come up with?

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  tygrus
January 10, 2021 3:07 pm

I disagree. Unless storage is efficient and cheap it simply isn’t worth doing, the more so as the amounts of surplus build up, and therefore the frequency of storage turnover falls from the seconds and minutes of today’s grid batteries balancing wind gusts and peak shaving from pumped storage lasting perhaps several hours, and likely operating on at least a daily cycle with added income from ancillary services that depend on only very short term storage and are paid even when the underlying arbitrage between the cost of charge and value of discharge is otherwise unprofitable.

Once you start trying to save for a spell of low renewables generation, the frequency of the events starts dropping sharply, yet the volumes of storage required to make a difference increase rapidly. Losses in storage start to be significant. Storage earns a round trip income that depends on the cost of filling up and the efficiency of redelivery and the price of sale of redelivered volume. If efficiency is low, the price difference must be correspondingly greater. The number of round trips per year is also significant. Seasonal storage gets just one bite of the cherry to earn its keep.

Here’s a quantitative example that illustrates the points:

Reply to  It doesn't add up...
January 10, 2021 5:59 pm

What’s to disagree?
“At the end of the day, what is the average cost for energy supply (per kWh) of the total system to consumers using various scenarios?”
I never said big batteries are a good idea for now.
The cost for BESS to cover anything more than 3 hrs of full load doesn’t look good, the cost of storing just a weeks worth is astronomical. Idle batteries with monitoring & control electronics saps power. Practical solutions with clear economics have not been presented & are still wishful thinking as you know.

Some options are technically possible but are costly or not practical as you, others & I have highlighted. Compare spending of 5’500 Billion on BESS or other fancy storage versus <55 Billion for LNG. That’s not the total picture for relative costs but shows the scale of the problem. It comes down to economics.

Some claim that renewable energy generation are the cheapest but this is contradicted by the fact they keep asking for green subsidies & fossil fuel penalties. Then they come back another 20 years later & ask again to replace most of what was built (eg. in Germany & US mothballing old wind&solar farms then asking for more subsidies).

These companies can make their own calculations for economics and how the grids & storage work. I’m happy to wait, continue using fossil fuels until the economics of other options are better. Why make any change now when it would make <0.01C later on? Save the money now and spend it later when it could make more of a difference in the future (if tech improves & prices come down as promised & if CO2 matters). I’m more pragmatic & sceptical. We have a long way to go.

James Snook
January 10, 2021 3:17 pm

The simple fact is that the U.K. can’t have 40GW of wind turbines. This report offers the usual hand waving solutions to overcapacity and we can’t afford the constraint payments that would make the extra farms ‘viable’ for the operators when these wild ideas fail to materialise, as they surely will.

It doesn't add up...
January 10, 2021 5:06 pm

A big problem with the Drax analysis is that it fails to account for the intermittency and duration curve of surplus wind production.

It is easy to see that the instantaneous amount of surplus varies as the wind strengthens and weakens, and as the level of demand changes. Thus overnight in the small hours when demand is low you are likely to see the highest surpluses – but only when it is also particularly windy. But you will also see much lower surpluses, and also plenty of nights with no surplus at all. As the level of wind capacity installed increases, surpluses will also start to appear during the day at weekends, again when it is windy. They will tend to be smaller, but the overnight surpluses will be come larger because of the extra capacity. Yet still most of the time there will be no surplus at all, which means that any power used for electrolysis has to be replaced by other backup during those times – backup that will become increasingly expensive as it hours of use reduce. Of course, Drax do partly acknowledge that in reality in these circumstances electrolysis would be halted as completely uneconomic.

But that still leaves a problem: to utilise the surpluses you must have the instantaneous capacity to do so (and the ability to feed it via a grid beefed up for the purpose – another layer of cost). Now, a record surplus from a windy night is a rare event, occurring perhaps 1% of the hours of the year. You are not going to build capacity in order to capture the full extent of that surplus, remaining 99% unused. In fact, you are probably not going to build capacity that doesn’t achieve a rather higher rate of utilisation – say at least 20%, which would normally be way below what would make economic sense for plant that operates at its best in continuous operation.

I have produced a series of surplus duration curves for different levels of wind capacity on top of an assumed baseload of “nuclear” that is largely there to provide inertia (National Grid have recently announced they are suggesting that they should maintain a minimum of 140GVAs in response to the blackout of August 9th 2019, where inadequate inertia contributed to the problems), based on hourly demand and wind generation data, scaled up to reflect different additional capacities. I expressed the time dimension in percent of a year, or equivalently capacity factor for the electrolysis plant. When I did this, the installed capacity was about 22GW, so the factor multiples are relative to that level. Adding 40GW of offshore wind takes us roughly to the Factor 3 level.

If we read off the maximum amount of capacity that could be sure of 20% utilisation, it’s about 4GW. But none of it gets much more than 25% utilisation, which means the average plant utilisation is about 22.5%, or about 0.9GW, which works out to less than 8TWh a year – and that is as input to the process. The rest of the surplus is still wasted.

January 10, 2021 11:59 pm

Hydrogen is a road to nowhere.
With some deadly and expensive accidents on the way.

January 11, 2021 3:29 am

You could much easier and more cheaply resolve the problem. Start an education program , like a detoxifying program for the brainwashed population. Explain how the global warming hysteria has been grossly exaggerated and that renewables just won’t cut it. Explain that the transition being forced upon people will be extremely costly and make the electricity supply much less reliable. Then you can create a huge competitive advantage helping local industry and creating jobs. It’s the false premise upon which the policies are based which is the problem. What needs to be explained is that Renewables is a solution being pushed by a global elite that’s looking for a problem to solve and because they didn’t have one they made up global warming.

Rainer Bensch
January 11, 2021 5:39 am

…670 million kg of hydrogen…would be enough to fill 133 million fuel tanks in fuel cell vehicles…

What? 5 Kg of hydrogen per tank? Are they joking?

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Rainer Bensch
January 11, 2021 9:06 am

Just like an EV, plans are you’ll be range limited!

Pat Smith
January 13, 2021 10:56 am

The UK site Gridwatch provides a download of hourly figures of electricity demand and contributions from the various sources. A summary of wind contributions for 2020 (up to end Nov – Dec not available yet).

Average wind contribution – 22% of demand
Minimum contribution – 0.4% on one hour during the year
Max contribution – 61%
Sorting the table from the lowest – 10% of the time, the contribution is less than 5.2%; 20% of the time, less than 8.3%; 30% of the time, less than 12%.

So, if offshore capacity is increased 13.5 to 40GW by 2030 and assuming that onshore increases from 10.5 to 27.5GW (some plans exist), then capacity will increase by a factor of three. So the minimum will now be 1.2%, 10% = 15.6%, 20% = 25% and 30% = 36%.

So, for a third of the time, wind will account for less than 36%. (Demand is due to grow by 2030, of course, so the numbers will be less than this by some way.) All coal will be gone by then, most nuclear still (we may have some new nuclear on the drawing boards). Stuffed.

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