Port Talbot Blog
Sequestration Generating Network
An ITV News Report on the 31 May 2018 at 6:58pm informed us that, proposed American steel tariffs were a further body blow to the Port Talbot steel plant’s viability.
American tariffs are yet another challenge to both Tata, the owners of the plant, and the UK steel industry in general. Steel as an industry employs large numbers locally, with services for those employees, supporting a parity, in numbers, of public and private sector jobs within the area. An economically healthy steel sector also supplies skills training directly and indirectly, for short and long term expansion. As well as being essential in the UK’s Adaption ambitions for the remainder of the 21st century.
Port Talbot provides about 4,000 Welsh jobs directly, (about 0.4% of the non-public sector Welsh jobs), but the constrained area from which the employment is drawn affects at least another 4,000 jobs in both the public and private sector. Skills training in this area of South Wales is almost totally dependent on the viability of Port Talbot steel. The other factors affecting Port Talbot, and the rest of the British Steel Industry, are undercapitalisation, UK energy costs and a totally ineffective EU carbon initiative. An initiative which achieves nothing in atmospheric carbon reduction, but manipulated by the EU, for the preservation of EU jobs.
The factors which sparked the, “Save our Steel,” campaign organised by the workers at Port Talbot, and similar constrained UK plants, was Chinese ‘dumping’, and now, apparently, American steel tariffs render the plant unviable once again, while the issues of undercapitalisation, and UK energy costs remain. A, ‘no deal,’ leave would absolve Tata of the EU carbon tax with immediate effect.
How Can a Mitigation-Adaption-Sequestration (MAS) Energy System help?
Many will be saddened by the recent death of Sir David Mackay, Regius Professor of Engineering at Cambridge (obituary April 21). His expertise on energy supply earned him international fame and a well-deserved knighthood.
A few weeks before his death I suggested to him that gas-fired power was now a viable alternative to Hinkley Point C, although carbon dioxide emissions would have to be eliminated. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) would solve this problem, is proven (in Canada) though is not yet cheap.
He firmly agreed with my pro-CCS sentiments and added: “The Hinkley arrangement involves absurdly large interest payments over the life of the project. If only government were willing to fund it directly (instead of promising to pay three times as much in the future), then nuclear power would be much cheaper.”
Founder, GE Energy Sondex
For validation of the MAS proposal a copy of this letter, which is used in chapter one of, “Mining Our Renewable Energy,” is repeated here.
Sir David Mackay, 1967 – 2016, Regius Professor of Engineering in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge. At this point I should say I have never met Mr. Hunt-Grubbe, and he may well want to be disassociated with this book and its philosophy. However, Sir David Mackay was Regius Professor of Engineering at Cambridge, and in my opinion one of the UK’s truly great experts on both Renewable, Nuclear and Fossil Fuel energy generation. “Mining Our Renewable Energy,” quotes him extensively, and this letter validates his belief of the efficacy of gas energy generation as a viable power source, providing it is produced without the accompanying atmospheric carbon pollution, or, “A Greenhouse Gas,” as climate scientists more accurately term atmospheric CO2 pollution.
Consider this, “In August 2018 a group of International scientists published, (in the journal, “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”), a report, updating the predictive behaviour of the planet. The prognosis is for irreversible tipping points occurring within decades, unless we undertake immediate remedial action, both Nationally and Internationally. Professor Johan Rockstrom of the University of Stockholm, described the tipping point process, likening it to a row of dominoes, he said, “These tipping elements can potentially act like a row of dominoes. Once one is pushed over it pushes planet Earth towards another. It may be very difficult, or impossible, to stop the whole row of dominoes from tipping over.” These tipping elements are carbon sinks and the UK have many of these, “natural,” sources, as well as potentially massive manufactured, (anthropogenically constructed), artificial ones.”
The report of the, “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” tells us, “Avoiding Hothouse Earth would require ‘deep cuts’ in greenhouse gas emissions, as well as concerted efforts to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, both by preserving natural carbon sinks, and using technology, (to create anthropogenic sinks).”
“Decades,” was accentuated above, as a reminder that the meteorological clock is a real and threatening presence, rather than Michel Barnier’s Cuckoo variety, which only has the power of a, ‘project fear,’ an enemy already trounced by the EU referendum.
In Port Talbot we have the opportunity to fulfil Professor Mackay’s predictions, as well as meeting the ambitions of the National Academy of Sciences. Of course, we also have to address the chronic underinvestment in steel, brought about by successive UK governance since the seventies and eighties.
This proposal, which addresses both climate change and the viability of Port Talbot Steel would be: -
Rather than encumbering the industry with a fickle, “Financial White Knight,” we provide a practical and progressive gas, “Power Generating Knight.” This, ‘good knight,’ would stable the gas generator on the steel site, (or immediately adjacent to it). This arrangement would allow Port Talbot Steel energy to be supplied in its entirety, “off grid,” at ‘mates rates,’ because of course the, “Power Generating Knight”, (as a shareholder and partner), needs Port Talbot to succeed and grow.
Geographically Port Talbot is placed on the coast, where Carmarthen Bay meets the Bristol Channel. A sub sea bed maritime area already recognised as being suitable for CCS, (Carbon Capture and Storage, or Sequestration, dependent on your word choice). Much of the ‘extra’ cost Mr. Hunt-Grubbe referred to in the ‘Mackay’ letter is in transmitting the captured carbon to its storage area, and Port Talbot is ideally placed to keep this to a minimum. So, the energy supplied by the, “Power Generating Knight,” is ‘clean,’ whether it goes to the steel plant, or onto the grid.
But this gets better, in the definition of sequestration supplied by the United States Environmental Protection Agencies description of effective CCS, (Step 1).
Step 1} Capture of CO2 from power plants or industrial processes.
The, “Power Generating Knight,” is capturing the carbon from his gas fired power plant, but as environmentalists we can’t ignore the opportunity for the Port Talbot CO2 from the industrial process, (which steel making is), being subject to capture too. Both power generation and steel manufacturing can have their respective pollutants stored in the communal sub sea bed store, either in perpetuity, or until some bright guy or gal comes up with a method of making the pollutant a by-product of an advanced material. Port Talbots steel now has a unique selling point, (USP), in that it is a high quality product with a low carbon footprint.
To make our, “Power Generating Knight’s,” investment worthwhile in both the short and long term and to environmentally take maximum advantage of this bountiful supply of ‘clean’ energy, the gas generator would operate at maximum output 24 7. This is because the generator is at its maximum efficiency when it is operating at its design output, and the unit cost of energy per KW is at its lowest when operated at design output.
In effect we are treating our gas generator as though it were a nuclear generator, providing a constant output, within its design capability. This utilises the fuel to provide the maximum electrical output per litre of gas, and because output is a constant, then so is fuel consumption. The same amount of fuel will be consumed daily, monthly, yearly, for the design life of the unit. This predictability will allow the most economic purchasing and storage of fuel, planned maintenance, and computer aided design parts replacement; all further enhancing the cost benefits.
All energy not consumed by ‘off grid’ options is sold to the grid at a price set by the energy watchdog, (Port Talbot is in Wales, where energy is devolved, so a Welsh energy watchdog would set the algorithm for energy price calculations). The grid also operates at design capacity
Extremely effective Gas generators are available today, but to be most effective a small design tweak is needed on output efficiency; all gas generators to date have had to have switchable outputs, to meet old fashioned National Grid design and a symbiotic relationship with daily demand and prioritising renewables. The old National Grid operated a system which tried to mimic our daily needs, by turning down, turning up, or turning off generators, all at extremely high fiscal and efficiency costs; it was worsened with the addition of generators with intermittent outputs, (wind, solar, tidal etc.), to an already outdated distribution system.
The new distribution system requires its generators to not have their efficiency constrained by pre-twenty-first century technologies. The 100% output would be balanced by shared on and off grid activities, pretty much like a juggler keeping 5 or 6 balls in the air at the same time, these balls would be called energy sectors, and our juggler is a computer network. The human juggler will often amaze the crowd by sending some balls higher than others, but still catching them, our computer network can do the same. Say the transport sector needs more energy for a time, then that’s OK, our network throws the ball higher, but certain sectors, which don’t need constant input will balance the load by going a little lower.
The Port Talbot generator would be part of a South Wales grid centres of similar units. Some partnered with other steel plants, bigger industrial estates, glass plants, smelting operations, Universities, Regional Authorities, or Large NHS Hospitals. A South Wales grid would be a regional electrical grid. The control, (a circumscribed computer network), would be located at the generation centres. The old definition of base and peak load will disappear, much of the old peak will be absorbed in the off grid activities, (which are fully detailed in chapter 4), so the grid itself would run at fairly constant, but full capacity, at all times. This enormous amount of CO2 free energy demands a market place, of course it could, (and to some extent may be sold to a neighbouring devolved area, or country), but there is an enormous market place on Port Talbots doorstep. A market which burns fossil fuels, produces greenhouse gases, and which is more expensive per KW than the Port Talbot product. Most of us call this the ‘dual fuel bill’ for central heating and hot domestic water.
Our geographic position in the North Atlantic demands a source of heating and cleaning for human habitat, which far from being a luxury, (you can define a luxury item as something limited by an individuals ability to purchase said item). Heating is, (disgracefully), the fuel poor’s normal bill regulator. Provision of affordable energy which is pollution free is as important to the individual, as the NHS.
Because Port Talbot would be producing a constant energy source over a 24 hour period, the cost of that energy is the same at midnight, as midday, there are no need for switching schemes, special rates, special tariffs, the extended market will pay for what the domestic consumer is not using. Domestic, Industrial, Municipal, and Service sectors would pay the same rate for consumption at any point, (in the same way we purchase beans from a 24 hour supermarket); and there would be absolutely no need for Renewable Energy subsidies, the question would be, “Can wind, solar, their unproven battery backup, and extensive overland distribution compete per unit with sub surface CCS gas, or SMR nuclear, without extensive subsidies which are paid by every Welsh family?
Subsidised Renewables have no place on a domestic, municipal and manufacturing grid. But importantly, in other non-grid applications, selected, non-subsidised renewables will be invaluable to both the UK economy, and to meet the reductions in atmospheric CO2 demanded by our own met office data, and International Environmental Scientists, (see Adaption example, and chapters 2 & 3 of this book). Port Talbot steel has a key role in both Mitigation, Adaption and Sequestration, steel is a key industry in delivering MAS energy, and adaptions worldwide.
The Extended Market for CO2 free energy goes beyond domestic and industrial hot water and heating. We already know transport is destined to become more electric dependent, and while some of this will be battery reliant, batteries need to be charged. Looking at the populations of large cities and agglomerations of Industry and Domestic housing, (both of which should be expanding in a world growth situation), the scale of energy need begins to come into perspective, and we can see that rather than our CCS generators providing oversupply, they will actually fall short of our true daily needs.
It’s a common misconception, garnered by a cartel of, ‘Green Politics,’ Liberal Politics, the Renewables Industry, (and strangely the BBC), that if the existing grid requirements are met by renewable generation the UK will be a low carbon economy. Nothing could be further from the truth, grid energy barely scrapes into 10% of our energy needs, and grid energy always was ‘cleaner’ than ‘off grid.’ We have barely addressed 10% of the problem with a MO energy policy, and spent £billions more than if we adopt MAS.
Cities, large domestic and industrial agglomerations must adopt as many ‘inner city’ renewable and clean energy projects as possible, MAS thinking encourages linkage between projects to achieve synergetic efficiencies which far outstrip the polar reasoning of the EU MO policies. To quote one of the worlds leading thinkers on linkage.
“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth... these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women's empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.”
Ban ki Moon Secretary General of the United Nations 2007-2016
Inner city clean renewables and energy are exampled by, air and ground source heating, solar water heating, inner city solar power, CHP systems, diesel elimination etc. The prolific CCS electric available would be used as back up for the intermittent clean projects, maximising our penetration into the 90% ‘off grid’ pollution sources. Inner cities are the most polluted, and most polluting sources of greenhouse gas/ atmospheric pollution worldwide. Only the technophobe supports the ‘pre industry’ notion of everything was hunky dory then; cities are the premier polluters, and have been, probably since Nero emitted CO2 burning Rome, or the careless baker, from Pudding Lane, flambéed London.
The CCS Grid
Port Talbot is uniquely placed, so that it is immediately adjacent to a carbon sequestration sink. Not a natural sink, but a anthropogenic one; The National Academy of Sciences, in their 2018 report said, “---both preserving natural carbon sinks, and using technology, to create anthropogenic, (manmade), sinks.” Wales is able to do both. Port Talbot will pioneer the manmade sequester. But the Cambrian mountains and multiple areas in North Wales need protection for the Natural Carbon sources, resident to some degree in all our ‘wilderness’ areas. The priority is to adopt a science backed modification to TAN14, which is about flood control and advocates positively keeping water on the mountains. Linkage to Natural Carbon Sinks will upkeep the moisture levels in those vulnerable areas. Wales’s natural carbon sinks, if allowed to ‘dry out’ will become carbon generators. Drought summers like 2018 are the extreme weather types our Carbon sinks need protection from.
However, a worse threat to our natural ‘sinks’ is the MO policies which ignore the desperate ‘drying’ threat and favour industrialising the wild areas with millions of tonnes of concrete, Chinese metal and civil engineering compaction, to erect pointless wind generators, which are more than a hundred miles from the energy targets, and require brand new grid servicing, which in itself will attack Natural Carbon Sinks.
Only, anthropogenic sinks can operate within a sub-surface grid system. This grid reaches out to CCS generators which don’t have the Port Talbot location benefits. The grid will be dedicated to transferring sequestered carbon to anthropogenic sinks, but will also be able to accept carbon captured from processes which have CO2 as a waste product, presently discharged into the atmosphere. This is an atmospheric carbon relief which cannot be supplied by intermittent renewable energy, and there is no solution in a MO energy policy, other than closing the operation down.
Sub surface pipeline grids are the most efficient method of transferring gases. The most efficient sub surface piped grid in the UK transfers aviation fuel between major airports, and was commenced during the second world war.
Biomass Energy, Biomass energy is regarded as carbon neutral because the wood fuel has stored CO2 during its life cycle, and the release on burning equals its life store. This only can be regarded as true if burning takes place adjacent to the place of timber growth, and the timber comes from managed forestry.
Drax power station in Yorkshire is capable of producing about 6% of the UK’s present energy needs, (under the outdated grid control system). Under a MAS system, which disallows output reduction except for planned maintenance this would be substantially more. However, Drax obtains its wood supplies from Canada and America, and healthy forests are being decimated for them. Biomass in Europe works on similar principles, or lack of principles. So, it’s pointless closing Drax, however, we can apply the carbon capture chimney technology to the biomass generation, (Drax also has some gas generation), and feed the resultant pollutants into the CCS grid. Drax has many heavy industries adjacent to the plant who would be ideal off grid buddies.
The Power Generating Knights Investment
On the surface, it may seem the power generating knight is doing great, after all his generator runs 24 7 at design output. But, to keep consumer prices down a MAS system takes over Power Generating Knights traditional honey pots, that’s direct marketing of energy, and the no longer existing dual fuel bill. Not out of spite, not to make future knights tremble in their boots, before they put a hand in their pockets; but for the simple reason that the health and wellbeing of the population is dependent on a adequate supply of energy, both for their day to day needs and for their present and future health. Industry in the UK needs energy at a price level which allows it to compete in a global market, in big business, at the same level as the rest of the EU, America and China. Energy is a facilitator, and the prime component in our working and leisure lives. In the early 21st century we also require it to have the minimum level of pollution to the atmosphere and our terrestrial habitats.
So, while the unit cost algorithm, (worked out with Ofgem), provides running costs, and a small fixed profit, it provides nothing for growth, and every business needs growth; both for the good of the company, its well waged staff, and the country. The power Knights growth would be provided by his ‘off grid’ opportunities.
The power generating Knight could provide investment growth by marketing the low CO2 emission steel, with their partners Tata and investing in the Port Talbot areas growth, would, with other business opportunities, provide, “Power Generating Knight Ltd.” an ample year on year growth, without dependency on a domestic sector of poorly paid Welshmen and financially displaced people from Eastern Europe.
Energy generated would be free of atmospheric CO2 pollution. 100% operation would allow other sectors to be ‘cleaned’ and dramatically reduce UK emissions. Energy networks operated in a MAS manner would reduce fossil fuels required overall; and give consistent day on day demands
Networking CCS gas generation would give a ‘clean’ time window of 40 to 60 years to allow development and production of, (particularly SMR’s), nuclear energy; new building materials and devolving population for health and well being.
Operating CCS would allow development of a grid which would ‘clean’ generators and industrial processes of CO2 emissions and create many anthropogenic carbon sinks.