The Death Of Fossil Fuels

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Boustrophedon » Tue Jan 31, 2023 10:34 pm

I have three friends who have recently bought electric cars; one has already traded theirs in for a hybrid and the other two are in the process of doing the same. OK so N is small, but all three give as a reason the difficulty of charging the car away from home. I have been tempted but not yet I think.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Grumble » Tue Jan 31, 2023 10:39 pm

Boustrophedon wrote:
Tue Jan 31, 2023 10:34 pm
I have three friends who have recently bought electric cars; one has already traded theirs in for a hybrid and the other two are in the process of doing the same. OK so N is small, but all three give as a reason the difficulty of charging the car away from home. I have been tempted but not yet I think.
EVM (Electric Vehicle Man) on YouTube has said it’s harder to recommend an electric car now than at any time in the last few years because the installation of chargers, although ramping up, isn’t keeping pace with uptick in ownership.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by bjn » Tue Jan 31, 2023 10:59 pm

Coal isn’t economically dispatchable, and so has problems dealing with intermittency of demand. Same as nuclear. As renewables gain more traction and intermittently flood the grid with extremely cheap energy, they will destroy the margins of coal generators. This leads to a death spiral for old school “baseload” generators. They need to charge more for the periods where they can sell their energy, which makes them less attractive and less profitable. You see this already in the South Australian grid.

Yes “something” needs to deal with periods of intermittency on a renewables heavy grid. But that isn’t going to be coal or nukes and doesn’t yet need to be fully solved. We can still decarbonise a whole chunk of generation before we get on to the last 20% or so.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by FlammableFlower » Wed Feb 01, 2023 9:53 am

Boustrophedon wrote:
Tue Jan 31, 2023 10:34 pm
I have three friends who have recently bought electric cars; one has already traded theirs in for a hybrid and the other two are in the process of doing the same. OK so N is small, but all three give as a reason the difficulty of charging the car away from home. I have been tempted but not yet I think.
On the other hand, I just traded in my 2018 Zoe (type 2 charging only) for a 2022 Zoe (CCS) and I don't have a charger at home. I got the first one just before Renault were doing a deal with BP to fit home chargers and the second after the deal had finished. However, I can charge at work for free - although that's now getting competitive to find a space as more people get EVs. However, however, It's a 32 mile round trip commute, so I only really need to charge near the beginning and end of the week and I can cover my normal needs.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by jimbob » Wed Feb 01, 2023 10:57 am

EACLucifer wrote:
Mon Jan 30, 2023 11:26 pm
dyqik wrote:
Mon Jan 30, 2023 7:38 pm
There seems to be some progress being made with electric interisland hop type flights, with electric hydrofoil/wing in ground effect ekranoplans being funded by airlines in Hawaii and Japan, among others.

https://beatofhawaii.com/japan-airlines ... der-fleet/
Ekranoplans are a fantastic bit of technology, and one that will potentially benefit a lot from modern computing and fly-by-wire. It's also possible to build an aircraft that functions as an ekranoplan when it can, but is also capable of more conventional flight if necessary, which could be useful for short hops between bodies of water, or to allow them to operate from conventional airfields.
I think the Soviet experience is that if they cannot fly outside ground effect they are less useful than one would suppose
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by IvanV » Wed Feb 01, 2023 11:39 am

bjn wrote:
Tue Jan 31, 2023 10:59 pm
Coal isn’t economically dispatchable, and so has problems dealing with intermittency of demand. Same as nuclear. As renewables gain more traction and intermittently flood the grid with extremely cheap energy, they will destroy the margins of coal generators. This leads to a death spiral for old school “baseload” generators. They need to charge more for the periods where they can sell their energy, which makes them less attractive and less profitable. You see this already in the South Australian grid.

Yes “something” needs to deal with periods of intermittency on a renewables heavy grid. But that isn’t going to be coal or nukes and doesn’t yet need to be fully solved. We can still decarbonise a whole chunk of generation before we get on to the last 20% or so.
They are dispatchable enough to be able to earn capacity market payments. You can't fire up a coal power station from nothing to full power in a couple of hours like you can with a typical CCGT. But they have learned to be a lot more flexible about swinging their output from low to high, and from off to on, than they used to be, to take best advantage of the market.

In the later days of substantial coal generation, up to about 5 years ago, they became the main swing generator. And even now when there isn't much left in this country, what remains seems quite adept at swing. You can track them on gridwatch and watch them swing by a factor of 4 from trough to in just a few hours. Whilst if they are generating tomorrow they will generally stay on at that low level overnight, but they do also switch off entirely for some days, and back on again a few days later. So, not as dispatchable as gas, but a lot more dispatchable than nuclear, wind or solar.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by nekomatic » Fri Feb 17, 2023 12:05 am

Move-a… side, and let the mango through… let the mango through

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Grumble » Fri Feb 17, 2023 7:17 am

nekomatic wrote:
Fri Feb 17, 2023 12:05 am
There may be a whole load of hydrogen under the ground
If we can produce clean hydrogen without using renewable energy then so much the better. All the usual caveats about transporting it still apply as does the hydrogen ladder. If they make ammonia/fertiliser in Mali then great
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by bjn » Fri Feb 17, 2023 9:18 am

nekomatic wrote:
Fri Feb 17, 2023 12:05 am
There may be a whole load of hydrogen under the ground
There’s a whole lot of ifs in that article. Be lovely if it does work and there is continual natural production that can be tapped. However as Grumble said, H2 ain’t going to be used (directly) for transport and there are much more pressing uses for H2.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by nekomatic » Fri Feb 17, 2023 2:50 pm

Grumble wrote:
Fri Feb 17, 2023 7:17 am
the hydrogen ladder
Thanks, I hadn’t seen that before and it seems well thought through and clearly argued.

I do think in some places he’s not quite wriggled free of the technological fallacy that the optimum thing to do will necessarily be the thing that happens - when he says to ‘just’ use catenary for long distance trucks, for example, that ‘just’ Is doing some heavy lifting - but then I would say that, pocketing as I do a monthly pay cheque from Big (Amongst Other Things) Using Hydrogen For Stuff.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by lpm » Mon Mar 13, 2023 11:35 am

Only 6% gas in UK mix right now. >50% wind

Average CO2 45g/kWh.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Grumble » Thu Mar 23, 2023 12:24 am

Fascinating interview on Cleaning Up partly about hydrogen powered aviation. Seems it might be a possibility. Producing the hydrogen is possibly more of a problem than making the theory work.
https://overcast.fm/+fkixAMPi0
https://youtu.be/zqMHiyyWlZo
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Grumble » Thu Mar 23, 2023 11:16 am

Grumble wrote:
Thu Mar 23, 2023 12:24 am
Fascinating interview on Cleaning Up partly about hydrogen powered aviation. Seems it might be a possibility. Producing the hydrogen is possibly more of a problem than making the theory work.
https://overcast.fm/+fkixAMPi0
https://youtu.be/zqMHiyyWlZo
Just to highlight a couple of points:
Volume will increase, but mass can go down.
Wings can be lighter and smaller because they don’t contain tanks.
Fuselage will be longer, but total mass will reduce. The weight advantage over using Jet-A increases the longer the range is because of the tanker effect.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by IvanV » Thu Mar 23, 2023 1:55 pm

Grumble wrote:
Thu Mar 23, 2023 12:24 am
Fascinating interview on Cleaning Up partly about hydrogen powered aviation. Seems it might be a possibility.
Most of the issues in decarb are not about technical feasibility. I have little doubt that hydrogen-powered planes are technically feasible. Hydrogen is fine as rocket fuel.

The issues tend to revolve around cost, and the engineering challenges of moving to scale. The implication of what you are saying is that you don't retrofit planes to be hydrogen powered, you have to build it in. That will increase the challenges of cost and transition, if all the hydrogen planes are yet to be built.

Green hydrogen as a fuel is expensive. Roughly speaking, it takes about 6kWh of (proper*) green electricity to get 1kWh of useful power from green hydrogen, because of the losses in electrolysis, compression and combustion. The other implication is that you need a lot of green electricity if you are going to be making green hydrogen at scale. We already have a challenge getting enough green electricity for less lossy usages, like direct use of electricity and EVs. Something like 99% of the world's hydrogen supply is still non-green hydrogen, because conversion isn't happening because of the cost and engineering challenges.

*As opposed to the greenwashed electricity sold as green today.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by Grumble » Thu Mar 23, 2023 2:20 pm

IvanV wrote:
Thu Mar 23, 2023 1:55 pm
Grumble wrote:
Thu Mar 23, 2023 12:24 am
Fascinating interview on Cleaning Up partly about hydrogen powered aviation. Seems it might be a possibility.
Most of the issues in decarb are not about technical feasibility. I have little doubt that hydrogen-powered planes are technically feasible. Hydrogen is fine as rocket fuel.

The issues tend to revolve around cost, and the engineering challenges of moving to scale. The implication of what you are saying is that you don't retrofit planes to be hydrogen powered, you have to build it in. That will increase the challenges of cost and transition, if all the hydrogen planes are yet to be built.

Green hydrogen as a fuel is expensive. Roughly speaking, it takes about 6kWh of (proper*) green electricity to get 1kWh of useful power from green hydrogen, because of the losses in electrolysis, compression and combustion. The other implication is that you need a lot of green electricity if you are going to be making green hydrogen at scale. We already have a challenge getting enough green electricity for less lossy usages, like direct use of electricity and EVs. Something like 99% of the world's hydrogen supply is still non-green hydrogen, because conversion isn't happening because of the cost and engineering challenges.

*As opposed to the greenwashed electricity sold as green today.
Yes, no retrofitting, all new design from ground up because the fuel is fundamentally different.

Worth listening to/watching the podcast because there are also other things discussed such as the effect of contrails which are also interesting.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by bolo » Thu Mar 23, 2023 2:26 pm

Looks like the latest Check Six podcast (from Aviation Week) is about hydrogen aircraft
https://aviationweek.com/podcasts/check ... rogen-hype
but I haven't listened to it yet.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by FlammableFlower » Thu Mar 23, 2023 2:54 pm

IvanV wrote:
Thu Mar 23, 2023 1:55 pm
Grumble wrote:
Thu Mar 23, 2023 12:24 am
Fascinating interview on Cleaning Up partly about hydrogen powered aviation. Seems it might be a possibility.
Most of the issues in decarb are not about technical feasibility. I have little doubt that hydrogen-powered planes are technically feasible. Hydrogen is fine as rocket fuel.

The issues tend to revolve around cost, and the engineering challenges of moving to scale. The implication of what you are saying is that you don't retrofit planes to be hydrogen powered, you have to build it in. That will increase the challenges of cost and transition, if all the hydrogen planes are yet to be built.

Green hydrogen as a fuel is expensive. Roughly speaking, it takes about 6kWh of (proper*) green electricity to get 1kWh of useful power from green hydrogen, because of the losses in electrolysis, compression and combustion. The other implication is that you need a lot of green electricity if you are going to be making green hydrogen at scale. We already have a challenge getting enough green electricity for less lossy usages, like direct use of electricity and EVs. Something like 99% of the world's hydrogen supply is still non-green hydrogen, because conversion isn't happening because of the cost and engineering challenges.

*As opposed to the greenwashed electricity sold as green today.
Well, it keeps some of my colleagues in research income...

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by bjn » Thu Mar 23, 2023 2:55 pm

Listened to the latest Cleaning Up episode while painting a bedroom. Professor Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith* goes into his model for decarbonising UK generation, they looked at historic weather data going back decades, added head room to that longer periods of calm dark winters than exist in that data set, and modelled wind and solar as generation, with hydrogen stored in salt domes used to cover slack periods. The H2 contributes about 15% of overall generation, and the wind and solar is charging that about 60% of the time. The wind and solar is overbuilt as well.

His worst case model estimates costs ‘at the gate’ average cost of £80/MWh in 2023 money, distribution costs are on top of that. The whole thing scales pretty easily as well. The grid would need upgrading, but it needs upgrading regardless.

The UK has enough salt domes to store orders of magnitude more H2 than we need in this model. Weirdly, his model has H2 powered four stroke engines as being viable generators. No role for H2 in heating or transport either, it’s an electrify everything you can model.

You can add more on top as well, short term storage in batteries or compressed air/CO2, ‘free’ energy when the overbuilt generation has nowhere to. send its power, biomass, interconnects to some extent.

He doesn’t see nuclear as a big part of it. You can’t use them intermittently as the ‘back up’ to renewables, because that is a huge waste of capital sitting idle waiting for dark and windless winter nights. You can’t use them as ‘baseload’ as they displace cheaper renewables and drive up average cost. Possibly maybe a use as there is some modelling he hasn’t done around SMRs + H2 generation.

*Physicist, contributor to the Standard Model, former Director General of CERN, oversaw building of the LHC. All round very clever chap.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by lpm » Thu Mar 23, 2023 3:45 pm

I think he's vastly underestimating how much overbuild of wind and solar there will be.

It's so cheap. People are installing their own solar in Edinburgh. Ordinary people are clubbing together for a wind turbine. The offshore areas are barely tapped yet.

There will be better things to do with the surplus than store it as hydrogen.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by IvanV » Thu Mar 23, 2023 5:03 pm

bjn wrote:
Thu Mar 23, 2023 2:55 pm
Listened to the latest Cleaning Up episode while painting a bedroom. Professor Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith* goes into his model for decarbonising UK generation, they looked at historic weather data going back decades, added head room to that longer periods of calm dark winters than exist in that data set, and modelled wind and solar as generation, with hydrogen stored in salt domes used to cover slack periods. The H2 contributes about 15% of overall generation, and the wind and solar is charging that about 60% of the time. The wind and solar is overbuilt as well.

His worst case model estimates costs ‘at the gate’ average cost of £80/MWh in 2023 money, distribution costs are on top of that. The whole thing scales pretty easily as well. The grid would need upgrading, but it needs upgrading regardless.

The UK has enough salt domes to store orders of magnitude more H2 than we need in this model. Weirdly, his model has H2 powered four stroke engines as being viable generators. No role for H2 in heating or transport either, it’s an electrify everything you can model.

You can add more on top as well, short term storage in batteries or compressed air/CO2, ‘free’ energy when the overbuilt generation has nowhere to. send its power, biomass, interconnects to some extent.

He doesn’t see nuclear as a big part of it. You can’t use them intermittently as the ‘back up’ to renewables, because that is a huge waste of capital sitting idle waiting for dark and windless winter nights. You can’t use them as ‘baseload’ as they displace cheaper renewables and drive up average cost. Possibly maybe a use as there is some modelling he hasn’t done around SMRs + H2 generation.

*Physicist, contributor to the Standard Model, former Director General of CERN, oversaw building of the LHC. All round very clever chap.
Well there have been plenty of very clever people going outside their area of expertise, or just getting past their sell-by date.

I think the most plausible use for hydrogen at scale is precisely storing it in salt domes for dealing with intermittency. That's despite the fact I'm not convinced by a cost of £80/MWh. All other methods of long-term energy storage seem to require a lot of land and civil works, such that they are hard to believe in at a scale you could relatively easily achieve with salt cavern storage.

If you believe in £80/MWh for stored electricity, then it does look cheap in comparison to nuclear, at least as nuclear is being cocked-up in Europe at the moment. I've been around "why I don't believe £80/MWh" before - it needs you to believe in very cheap renewable energy, as well as cheap electrolysers you can afford to run at much less than 100% of the time. Things are getting cheaper, for which we can be grateful. But that cheap seems unlikely from here, without some large technical gains. And so I won't go around the detailed arguments again.

If we believe that nuclear is materially cheaper than stored electricity, then the "can't turn nuclear up and down" is a mistaken argument against it. You don't need to be turning nuclear up and down. Nuclear can cover the base load. Covering the base load with nuclear means that we need less storage, otherwise during dim calms you have to take stored electricity for some of the base load. It is easy to look at the fact that already on many nights we can cover the entire demand with wind, and think that nuclear is unnecessary, because we'd be spilling all that wind. But it is better to have that night time low covered by nuclear, spilling all the wind, so that we have that we have more secure supply during dim calms, and what we have to take from storage to top it up is less. Well there will be some optimal trade-off, but it is with a material amount of nuclear. I find nuclear easier to believe in than carbon capture and storage from here, if we really are to get very far towards decarbonisation by 2050.

Btw, what do people think of Sabine Hossenfelder, who has a channel on youtube? Mostly it seems to be popularisation, and not an over-popularisation, of solid science. But when I put a comment on one of her videos, not disagreeing with her, but making some side points, she blocked me. So it seems she didn't want anything other than praise in her comment stream, which tends to make me suspicious.

The reason I'm asking because she had a video pointing out a potentially important difference between thermal and non-thermal methods of low-carbon generation Thermal methods still cause global warming, even if there is no carbon emission, through the heat they emit. Much of that heat gets absorbed by the earth, and it takes a long time to lose it. Nuclear is a thermal method, in contrast to wind and solar. At the moment, the thermal forcing (largely from coal and gas) is under 1% of the greenhouse gas forcing. But she was arguing (this time quoting a source) that with exponential growth in demand for energy, it can become large. If I'd still been allowed to comment, I'd have been saying that believing exponential growth will go on for a long time requires a plausibility test.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by lpm » Thu Mar 23, 2023 5:14 pm

Exponential growth! I mean come on.

Efficiency in the past 20 years has meant reduced electricity requirements not more. The problem in 2050 is going to be using the renewables surplus, not trying to cover the deficit. On a chart the minimum production line would meet the demand peak, nothing like the maximum production line meeting the demand peak.

My vision is automated factories that switch on for a few hours to produce fertiliser or something, then switch off again when the surplus disappears.
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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by IvanV » Thu Mar 23, 2023 5:59 pm

lpm wrote:
Thu Mar 23, 2023 5:14 pm
Efficiency in the past 20 years has meant reduced electricity requirements not more. The problem in 2050 is going to be using the renewables surplus, not trying to cover the deficit. On a chart the minimum production line would meet the demand peak, nothing like the maximum production line meeting the demand peak.
Calms can be calm and extensive enough that the whole nation's wind generation can fall to about 2% of its nameplate capacity. It happens regularly, more often in summer, but also in winter. It's not just short dips. I once did an exercise, of how often and for how long can wind generation remain below x% of capacity (as an absolute level, not an average). I think I found a period 3 days when it stayed below about 7%, and at 12% it could stretch to 10 days. So minimum production covering demand peak means an extraordinary level of redundancy. You can say that we only expect average 30% overall average output from wind, and multiply these low numbers by 3.3, to compare them with average output rather than nameplate output if you like. But it is still suggesting the requirement for large redundancies, if you don't want to have storage for more than a few days.

Wind is going to get a cheaper, but not the order of magnitude cheaper that justifies 5-fold or 10-fold redundancy. And the size of build out to that level is enormous. There is potential for solar getting a lot cheaper, cheap enough for 10-fold redundancy. But solar needs to work alongside storage technology as getting dark happens without fail every night, before we even think about clouds.

One of best hopes for the future is that both PV and electrolysers get really cheap, cheap enough for large redundancy. Then we can make lots of hydrogen cheaply. We can then begin to believe in £80/MWh. We cannot exclude such large cost reductions, based on the history of technical progress, but can't say they will happen or any time soon. Whereas is we can just exclude the possibility of really large cost reductions in wind generation.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by bjn » Thu Mar 23, 2023 6:03 pm

Deleted, I was talking arse.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by bjn » Thu Mar 23, 2023 6:09 pm

His slides are here....

https://www.era.ac.uk/write/MediaUpload ... 3_3_20.pdf

Haven't looked at them yet because I have stuff to do.

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Re: The Death Of Fossil Fuels

Post by IvanV » Thu Mar 23, 2023 7:31 pm

bjn wrote:
Thu Mar 23, 2023 6:09 pm
His slides are here....

https://www.era.ac.uk/write/MediaUpload ... 3_3_20.pdf

Haven't looked at them yet because I have stuff to do.
This guy is appointed by serious people to run a serious study, which is examining just the right kind of things. This is not in the category of Nobel Prize Winner Gone Potty.

As a study of how much is the storage requirement and what technologies can provide it, it looks about right to me. Considering the detailed power requirements and hour by hour wind and solar available, and what the shortfalls and over what periods of time in various scenarios. Exactly what you have to do.

Only minor criticism is that he believes in biomass as at Drax, and their even more ridiculous proposal called "BECCS" to be carbon negative. No serious people believe in this, apart from straw-clutchers. Maybe he was told to believe in it.

Didn't see anything about costing. What it does do, like all sorts of other studies repeatedly do in this area, is quietly make clear the enormous size of the task, far beyond what the government is thinking of doing.

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