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Low-carbon Strategy Will Raise Household Energy Bills By £200 A Year


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No one but you mentioned a perpetual motion machine.

No machine is 100% efficient but adding a sterling engine to an air conditioning unit would make it more efficient, would it not? (That was my the question in my original post).

What are you - an apologist for the fossil fuel industry?

It would make the air condition less efficient by drawing heat into 'the cold' (it has to do that to exploit a diferential)

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As an idea, a 2GW gas plant sitting idle costs about £800,000 a day, if it is producing it costs about £1.5m a day (but produces about £1.8m worth of electricity).

So we would need about 5 of these plants as backup. Or we would need to pay £4m a day as a country to provide the backup power just in case. A huge cost.

And that is if we have 10-15GW wind.

Small periods of excess or shortage may not be a problem. We are talking 12 hours to 24 hours. But with wind, you may find excess of a month or a shortage of a month.

We have no way to dump 20GW of excess. Well we can easily dump that electricity but we have no way to use it constructively.

The only real way to deal with excess is to try and ramp down your coal/gas electricity (but that also adds cost). That might provide say 5GW-10GW of leeway.

However the only real option is to export the electricity when we have excess wind. That would be to France and beyond and hopefully to import from France and beyond when we have a shortfall.

But again that adds lots of costs and is not easy. Dumping 20GW to France would fry her; we are looking at dumping that energy across 5 or more large European countries.

However it is much more feasible than trying to store it which is nearly impossible.

Why would we export it to France ? Do they export their excess to us ?

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We have no way to dump 20GW of excess. Well we can easily dump that electricity but we have no way to use it constructively.

'Immersion Heaters To Help Renewable Energy':

http://www.reuk.co.uk/Immersion-Heaters-to...able-Energy.htm

Currently in the UK electricity demand fluctuates between around 20GW and 60GW. 19 million standard 3kW immersion heater elements would take 55GW if all switched on at the same time. By remotely controlling these immersion heater elements, excess renewable capacity could be used to heat water, and then later on when the renewable supply falls, demand for electricity would also be less since people would already have the hot water they need in their tank.

[...snip...]

Dr Barrett proposes that the immersion heater elements be turned on and off remotely using ripple control -- a communication system with transmissions sent through the mains electricity supply as high-frequency pulses. These signals would be received by small electronic switches fitted to every immersion heater element to turn immersion heaters on and off as supply and demand dictates.

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Essentially a Sterling Engine converts temperature differentials into mechanical energy.

I was immediately struck that if that were the case why aren't they in widespread use? They most certainly are in submarines, but why not in common applications - anywhere temperature diferentials can be found.

Cool Energy, a US company, are developing a solar thermal powered system that uses a Stirling engine to generate electricity...

Cool Energy Technology:

http://www.coolenergyinc.com/technology.html

The Cool Energy SolarFlow System

Brings together progressive and mature technologies to provide homes and buildings with renewable sources of hot water, space heat and electric power from a single system. The components of the SolarFlow System include the SolarHeart Engine which incorporates Stirling engine technology, solar thermal collectors, thermal storage, a hot water & space heater, and the SolarSmart Controller, a powerful control system to create the highest value from the system to the owner. The SolarFlow System provides the lowest cost of energy (heat and electricity) of any renewable energy system.

modelr.jpg

[...snip...]

The main innovation to the SolarFlow System is Cool Energy’s proprietary SolarHeart Engine, a low temperature Stirling engine which incorporates advanced materials to most cost effectively convert alternate heat sources to electricity. The SolarHeart Engine also has applications with geothermal and waste heat sources of low to mid temperature heat.

'Solar for Dark Climates':

http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/22965/

The system is designed to provide almost all of a house's heating needs. But the generator, which will produce only 1.5 kilowatts of power, won't be enough to power a house on its own. The system is designed to work with power from the grid, although the power is enough to run a refrigerator and a few lights in the event of a power failure.

The company's key innovation is the Stirling engine, which is designed to work at temperatures much lower than ordinary Stirling engines. In these engines, a piston is driven by heating up one side of the engine while keeping the opposite side cool. Ordinarily, the engines require temperatures of above 500 °C, but Cool Energy's engine is designed to run at the 200 degrees that solar water heaters provide.

The success of the technology, however, hinges on achieving the efficiency targets, says Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway, who is developing high-temperature Stirling engines for other applications, including transportation. "We need data," he says. The company's second prototype was only 10 percent efficient at converting heat into electricity. Its engineers hope to reach 20 percent with a new prototype.

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No need because this level of variability is completely outside the observed ranges of wind fluctuations over any given month since records began.

You are creating hurdles for the renewables industry that simply do not exist.

maybe not:

http://kwag.co.uk/whenthewindstops.htm

In October 2007, based on our data, there were 19 days when average wind turbine output in the UK would have been at 8% of capacity or below and certain days when output would have been close to zero; the overall average output for October was 8%. In Germany, of the 16,368 of theoretically maximum GWh that could have been produced in October (calculated by taking the 22GW of installed German wind turbine capacity x 31 days x 24 hours ), only 1,318 GWh were actually produced, an overall average output of 7%; output in Germany was also, like the UK, at 8% or below on 19 days.

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maybe not:

http://kwag.co.uk/whenthewindstops.htm

In October 2007, based on our data, there were 19 days when average wind turbine output in the UK would have been at 8% of capacity or below and certain days when output would have been close to zero; the overall average output for October was 8%. In Germany, of the 16,368 of theoretically maximum GWh that could have been produced in October (calculated by taking the 22GW of installed German wind turbine capacity x 31 days x 24 hours ), only 1,318 GWh were actually produced, an overall average output of 7%; output in Germany was also, like the UK, at 8% or below on 19 days.

But this is over a period of days not the sudden swing in a couple of hours that Cells was suggesting.

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No need because this level of variability is completely outside the observed ranges of wind fluctuations over any given month since records began.

You are creating hurdles for the renewables industry that simply do not exist.

i thought there were months where the wind seldom blows. So instead of getting an expected 10GW you would have say 2GW.

Then there were times you got near the peak.

Apparently Spain came quite close to frying some local grids because of too much wind energy at one point.

Either way, even if the swing is 5GW, how do you store 5GW of power over a month? That is 3.6TWH!!

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'Immersion Heaters To Help Renewable Energy':

http://www.reuk.co.uk/Immersion-Heaters-to...able-Energy.htm

not enough to buffer production changes of weeks perhaps months..

plus we would be using high quality electricity into low quality hot water.

i was thinking how you could buffer slight changes in output of a few GW over say 30mins or so.

that can possibly be done by having the countries swimming pools electrically heated. a broadband live connection tells a computer at the pool to draw power when the grid has too much electricity.

a 25m by 15m by 2m pool has 750 tonnes of water. a swing of 3 centigrade would take about 2.6 MWH of energy. if we have 1000 pools in the country we would have a way to draw an excess 2.6GW for an hour. (or double that for 30mins).

i think that is more realistic than 25m homes with immersion heaters.

However, far more likely is selling the energy to Europe.

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But this is over a period of days not the sudden swing in a couple of hours that Cells was suggesting.

I was talking about days, weeks maybe months. Not sudden swings of minutes or even a few hours, which we can buffer with hydro in the uk.

How do you store the difference in a slow wind month vs a high wind month?

Slow wind month might be 8% while high wind might be 65%. On average your expecting 25-30%.

So you need a way to store or use or sell the difference between the low and average. Or some 30% of capacity (so if capacity is 30Gw you need to be able to store or sell 9GW over perhaps weeks). On the other hand you need the ability to have a backup to provide the shortfall of perhaps 6GW for weeks.

The only real option is to import/export that power. There is no real way in the uk we could store 9GW excess for weeks. Nor can we produce 6GW more for weeks without VERY VERY costly fossil fuel backup (costly due to only operating a small amount of time).

So we need to be able to dump 9GW to Europe. Not an easy task. You’re looking at 5 big European countries to accept that power. And to draw an excess 6GW or so you’re looking at drawing power from 3-4 large European countries.

You have big losses in transmitting all that.

Plus your producing wind power at 10p per kWh but selling it to France at 2.5p per kWh when you have excess. When you need more as the wind isn’t blowing your paying perhaps 4p instead of producing it yourself with nuclear or coal at 3p.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Does anyone here know about Sterling Engines?

I saw a TV documentary about four months ago that showed a kit-form the presenter held in his hand.

The heat generated by the palm of his hand was enough to cause the engine to work.

Essentially a Sterling Engine converts temperature differentials into mechanical energy.

I was immediately struck that if that were the case why aren't they in widespread use? They most certainly are in submarines, but why not in common applications - anywhere temperature diferentials can be found.

I figured that perhaps they could be used to make air-coniditioning or domestic heating units more efficient as the could both be used to exploit the difference between inside and outside temperatures.

Can any engineers among you point out a flaw in my thinking or are Sterling Engines the great invention that the VI's in the fossil fuel industry smothered?

Here's a company making tiny demonstration kit-form Stirling Engines.

And here are their demonstration videos. The best is fourth one down showing you a Stirling Engine running on nothing but the heat from the person's hand.

Stirling Engines produce power by exploiting temperature differences between two regions - for example your skin and the air around it.

The bigger the engine and the bigger the temperature difference the more power the engine produces.

I was thinking this could be a useful addition to any building using air-conditioners especially in hot places like Asia.

Anyone who has been to Asia knows the locals like building interiors quite chilly whereas the outside is sweltering.

Fit a Stirling Engine in such a way as to exploit the temperature differences and you're getting free energy (sucking it out of the air that the sun heats up).

Many large buildings are fitted with industrial size air conditionerds and throw out immense amounts of heat from the top of the building. That could be exploited.

Many industrial installations get rid of fumes and heat through chimneys - there's no reason I can think why Stirling Engines couldn't be fitted to their chimneys.

Drax20Power20Station20Image204.gif

Also there's no reason why steel plants couldn't become medium size power stations. The steel company would make a tidy income from one of its own by-products.

What I don't get is why no-one is doing this. I can only assume vested interests have ensured to suppress this clean revolution.

If you want other instances of clean technology suppression read points 8 and 11 in this blog article from yesterday.

Edited by Dave Spart
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I was talking about days, weeks maybe months. Not sudden swings of minutes or even a few hours, which we can buffer with hydro in the uk.

How do you store the difference in a slow wind month vs a high wind month?

Slow wind month might be 8% while high wind might be 65%. On average your expecting 25-30%.

So you need a way to store or use or sell the difference between the low and average. Or some 30% of capacity (so if capacity is 30Gw you need to be able to store or sell 9GW over perhaps weeks). On the other hand you need the ability to have a backup to provide the shortfall of perhaps 6GW for weeks.

The only real option is to import/export that power. There is no real way in the uk we could store 9GW excess for weeks. Nor can we produce 6GW more for weeks without VERY VERY costly fossil fuel backup (costly due to only operating a small amount of time).

So we need to be able to dump 9GW to Europe. Not an easy task. You’re looking at 5 big European countries to accept that power. And to draw an excess 6GW or so you’re looking at drawing power from 3-4 large European countries.

You have big losses in transmitting all that.

Plus your producing wind power at 10p per kWh but selling it to France at 2.5p per kWh when you have excess. When you need more as the wind isn’t blowing your paying perhaps 4p instead of producing it yourself with nuclear or coal at 3p.

Wind power in the right locations doesn't cost anything near that - you are just making these figures up or extrapolating the costs relating to a few badly placed turbines.

Wind power is comparable in cost to coal although I except there is a premium for coal due to its dispatchability.

The point is every kwh of wind power delivered to the grid is approximately 340 grammes less of coal that we have to import.

Seen our balance of trade figures lately ;)

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Here's a company making tiny demonstration kit-form Stirling Engines.

And here are their demonstration videos. The best is fourth one down showing you a Stirling Engine running on nothing but the heat from the person's hand.

Stirling Engines produce power by exploiting temperature differences between two regions - for example your skin and the air around it.

The bigger the engine and the bigger the temperature difference the more power the engine produces.

I was thinking this could be a useful addition to any building using air-conditioners especially in hot places like Asia.

Anyone who has been to Asia knows the locals like building interiors quite chilly whereas the outside is sweltering.

Fit a Stirling Engine in such a way as to exploit the temperature differences and you're getting free energy (sucking it out of the air that the sun heats up).

Many large buildings are fitted with industrial size air conditionerds and throw out immense amounts of heat from the top of the building. That could be exploited.

Many industrial installations get rid of fumes and heat through chimneys - there's no reason I can think why Stirling Engines couldn't be fitted to their chimneys.

Drax20Power20Station20Image204.gif

Also there's no reason why steel plants couldn't become medium size power stations. The steel company would make a tidy income from one of its own by-products.

What I don't get is why no-one is doing this. I can only assume vested interests have ensured to suppress this clean revolution.

If you want other instances of clean technology suppression read points 8 and 11 in this blog article from yesterday.

Good idea Dave but thermo dynamics limits the amount of energy that can be extracted.

Lets take Drax which I believe the Power station in the picture.

Its gross electrical out put is 4000 MW which means its thermal output is about 11400mw

Sterling engines can typically extract about 10% of the heat energy and concert this into electrical energy.

So at best Drax might produce another 1140MW

Still pretty useful and improves the efficiency by approx 25%

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Good idea Dave but thermo dynamics limits the amount of energy that can be extracted.

Lets take Drax which I believe the Power station in the picture.

Its gross electrical out put is 4000 MW which means its thermal output is about 11400mw

Sterling engines can typically extract about 10% of the heat energy and concert this into electrical energy.

So at best Drax might produce another 1140MW

Still pretty useful and improves the efficiency by approx 25%

Thanks for that.

That meaning burning significantly less fossil fuel to produce the same amount of electrical energy and hence a huge reduction in carbon emissions - just by fitting Stirling Engines.

I reckon there is massive potential for this concept.

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Thanks for that.

That meaning burning significantly less fossil fuel to produce the same amount of electrical energy and hence a huge reduction in carbon emissions - just by fitting Stirling Engines.

I reckon there is massive potential for this concept.

Whether it is commercially viable of course depends on the cost of the sterling engines to install and maintain.

I think sterling engines have the most potential in commercial applications with a lot of demand for process heat (meat processors, laundry's, hospitals, hotels). Why not skim off 10% as electrical energy which then offsets the leccy bill (and all that waste heat at the power station)

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Actually hasn't this problem been deferred for a couple of years by the depression? With all those unemployed people and factories not at full production and less cars to work, and a reduction of consumption of goods made just the same on the other side of the world, I think that the air will be a lot cleaner for the next couple of years.

That and a variant swine flu and the planet will survive quite nicely for another 10,000 years.

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Actually hasn't this problem been deferred for a couple of years by the depression? With all those unemployed people and factories not at full production and less cars to work, and a reduction of consumption of goods made just the same on the other side of the world, I think that the air will be a lot cleaner for the next couple of years.

That and a variant swine flu and the planet will survive quite nicely for another 10,000 years.

So what you're saying is we're too busy fighting a financial crisis to look at ideas that might help ease it.

By the way the planet will be here for billions of years to come but man-made climate change will make life difficult unless we act.

We fit Stirling Engines to heat-intensive installations to generate extra electricity for free. WTF possible objection could you have to that?

Cost? Take a look at the videos. Its simple technology to solve a major problem.

Perhaps you object to this too:

Times: New power system spells the end of wires

Edited by Dave Spart
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Here's a company making tiny demonstration kit-form Stirling Engines.

And here are their demonstration videos. The best is fourth one down showing you a Stirling Engine running on nothing but the heat from the person's hand.

Stirling Engines produce power by exploiting temperature differences between two regions - for example your skin and the air around it.

The bigger the engine and the bigger the temperature difference the more power the engine produces.

I was thinking this could be a useful addition to any building using air-conditioners especially in hot places like Asia.

Anyone who has been to Asia knows the locals like building interiors quite chilly whereas the outside is sweltering.

Fit a Stirling Engine in such a way as to exploit the temperature differences and you're getting free energy (sucking it out of the air that the sun heats up).

Many large buildings are fitted with industrial size air conditionerds and throw out immense amounts of heat from the top of the building. That could be exploited.

Many industrial installations get rid of fumes and heat through chimneys - there's no reason I can think why Stirling Engines couldn't be fitted to their chimneys.

Drax20Power20Station20Image204.gif

Also there's no reason why steel plants couldn't become medium size power stations. The steel company would make a tidy income from one of its own by-products.

What I don't get is why no-one is doing this. I can only assume vested interests have ensured to suppress this clean revolution.

If you want other instances of clean technology suppression read points 8 and 11 in this blog article from yesterday.

More perpetual motion machines.

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