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Old 11th August 2019
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Re: Do We Rely Too Much on Electricity?

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I will have to check to see if my Em1 ii will run on gas...………….
Forums run on hot air, so who knows
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Re: Do We Rely Too Much on Electricity?

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Or you could point your lens at the sun to recharge?

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I will have to have a look at that one Harold,...…….

Na, can't see anything at all...…………………...
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Re: Do We Rely Too Much on Electricity?

I know someone who works for National Grid and I spoke to him today about the power outage last week and about capacity planning in general. Contrary to what many have posted here, he would not agree that we have a lack of strategy. There is a lot of thinking being put into long term energy availability and it includes modeling for things like the expected uptake of EVs.

However, he did say that unlike in the days of the CEGB, where the emphasis was on large, expensive and highly redundant generators and distribution, the new highly privatised system is more dynamic and runs closer to capacity than in days of old. However, at the same time it has led to cheaper electricity and more diversity in generation types. It not necessarily worse - just different.

It reminds me of discussions about the supply chain in NYC (or other large US cities). It's not centrally coordinated and there's no "master plan", but the ceaseless activities of a large number of individuals and organisations somehow manage to successfully supply one of the world's largest conurbations with fresh food of breathtaking variety, all delivered "just in time" and managing to continue in the face of climatic adversity and all manner of other impediments.

Yet look at any one of the links in the chain and it seems alarmingly fragile, but there is always someone else or some alternative route that springs up if a link fails. It's a classic example of how chaotic but directed behaviour at the low level can somehow yield something looking like a well-oiled machine at the macro level. Of course there are hiccups from time to time, but all-in-all, it works. Some might call it the market economy .
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Old 11th August 2019
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Re: Do We Rely Too Much on Electricity?

I would agree that our electricity network is generally very reliable and has become increasingly efficient over the years. Storms occasionally cause widespread power cuts but infrastructure failures of the type seen last week are quite rare - about once every ten years it seems. Of course redundancy in the electricity grid usually means waste which I fully accept should be avoided.

There is increasing reliance on both nuclear and wind power, and with good reason; but it seems the latter is proving to be even less reliable than we thought.

As I understand it, failure of the offshore wind farm was caused by too much wind. If this was the case why were the weather warnings not heeded and conventional power stations fired up ready?

However, the real problem seems to be that we take the reliability of our electricity supplies too much for granted, so not only do we not plan for the eventuality of power cuts, but our systems are unable to cope with them when they happen. As an example there were many reports of electric trains being stranded for hours after the power had been restored because each train needed to be 'reset' by a Mechanic before it could run again. (The overhead pantographs rely on compressed air, which soon runs out without power.) In practice this meant that electric trains had to be rescued by diesel locomotives to either haul them or provide electric power to reset the pantographs. (I am not sure if they can be hand pumped nowadays.)

Surely we can design more resilient systems than this?
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Re: Do We Rely Too Much on Electricity?

If these electric trains need a mechanic to start them, them the system has failed. I shuddered to see passengers walking along rail lines, with all of the potential hazards there. I suppose the main hazard of a moving train had been eliminated tho'...……….

Thank goodness they ran out of money to electrify the last 50 miles of train track to Swansea...…………….
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Re: Do We Rely Too Much on Electricity?

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As I understand it, failure of the offshore wind farm was caused by too much wind. If this was the case why were the weather warnings not heeded and conventional power stations fired up ready?
That has been denied. It was said to be a generator failure which is a hardware, not wind, issue.

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Re: Do We Rely Too Much on Electricity?

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I suppose the main hazard of a moving train had been eliminated tho'
So unlikely as to be rated as a very low risk!

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Old 12th August 2019
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Re: Do We Rely Too Much on Electricity?

Just as an add in to Paul's post.

I've been party to a series of R&D projects that are going on at Distribution Network level, which are planned to assist local resilience as well as move the load around the National Grid as demand fluctuates.

Some of the interesting odd's and ends:

One issue the local distributors have is imbalance of the loads around the network, so on a street by street level a small box is installed with a few electronics and a pile of batteries, this allows for the street load, which may be imbalanced to be evenly distributed across the three phases of the supply, the batteries allow for smoothing of the load and a degree of resistance to power cuts.

If a whole town is connected up in this manner, the distribution network becomes more evenly loaded and more efficient, so that an existing network which could be in need of upgrade to cope with the current imbalance suddenly has spare capacity. The batteries also allow for some small shifting of the load in time, so for example at the end of a football match the batteries can take the peak load which is then distributed in time for the re-charge cycle.

This is in metropolitan size trials at the moment around the Swindon area.

Electric vehicles are a blessing and a curse - obviously everybody wants their car fully charged ready for work in the morning, however, by allowing the car to be used by the grid, the batteries could be charged and discharged as required to smooth out the generation and demand fluctuations, while still allowing proper charging of the vehicles. This is an opt-in style arrangement, so EV owners can make cash for allowing their car to be used in this way, the down side is the batteries have a defined number of full recharge cycles they can go through (10,000 or so) so there can be a limit on the number of times this is done.

Currently on trial at Campus level for some R&D facilities with EV fleets of busses and cars/vans. Also at R&D level for electric lorries!

NB there are two network types, the transmission network which moves power from a power station to a series of distribution networks which distribute that power to the users.
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Re: Do We Rely Too Much on Electricity?

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Originally Posted by pdk42 View Post
I know someone who works for National Grid and I spoke to him today about the power outage last week and about capacity planning in general. Contrary to what many have posted here, he would not agree that we have a lack of strategy. There is a lot of thinking being put into long term energy availability and it includes modeling for things like the expected uptake of EVs.

However, he did say that unlike in the days of the CEGB, where the emphasis was on large, expensive and highly redundant generators and distribution, the new highly privatised system is more dynamic and runs closer to capacity than in days of old. However, at the same time it has led to cheaper electricity and more diversity in generation types. It not necessarily worse - just different.

It reminds me of discussions about the supply chain in NYC (or other large US cities). It's not centrally coordinated and there's no "master plan", but the ceaseless activities of a large number of individuals and organisations somehow manage to successfully supply one of the world's largest conurbations with fresh food of breathtaking variety, all delivered "just in time" and managing to continue in the face of climatic adversity and all manner of other impediments.

Yet look at any one of the links in the chain and it seems alarmingly fragile, but there is always someone else or some alternative route that springs up if a link fails. It's a classic example of how chaotic but directed behaviour at the low level can somehow yield something looking like a well-oiled machine at the macro level. Of course there are hiccups from time to time, but all-in-all, it works. Some might call it the market economy .


As the person works for the National Grid, of course, they would say they have a strategy and they have "thought a lot" about EVs and the changes coming. Be nice of them to perhaps share that strategy and get outside critical review. My guess is their strategy is simply to make as much short term profit as possible without investing in replacing any old infrastructure.

If they can't handle two small generators going out without huge areas of the UK losing power for hours we are in trouble.

Delivering power is a little bit more critical than delivering a variety of foodstuffs. NYC had a major power outage a few days ago which lasted more than a whole day. This was when the temperatures were in the high 90's F so they suffered even more than us.

Did you ask your contact what they have invested in the last 15 or so years and what they plan to invest in the next 15?

If we have a long term strategy has your contact claims how come that for the base level supply, the UK has no company capable of building a nuclear power station! We should be ashamed of that fact given our history. But eh oh all is well.

Sitting back and saying its all fine trust us is typical of a fat cat business whose overpaid senior management are incompetent. What a demanding life they lead.
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Last edited by wornish; 13th August 2019 at 06:51 AM. Reason: Corrected false statement
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Old 12th August 2019
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Re: Do We Rely Too Much on Electricity?

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Originally Posted by Walti View Post
Just as an add in to Paul's post.

I've been party to a series of R&D projects that are going on at Distribution Network level, which are planned to assist local resilience as well as move the load around the National Grid as demand fluctuates.

Some of the interesting odd's and ends:

One issue the local distributors have is imbalance of the loads around the network, so on a street by street level a small box is installed with a few electronics and a pile of batteries, this allows for the street load, which may be imbalanced to be evenly distributed across the three phases of the supply, the batteries allow for smoothing of the load and a degree of resistance to power cuts.

If a whole town is connected up in this manner, the distribution network becomes more evenly loaded and more efficient, so that an existing network which could be in need of upgrade to cope with the current imbalance suddenly has spare capacity. The batteries also allow for some small shifting of the load in time, so for example at the end of a football match the batteries can take the peak load which is then distributed in time for the re-charge cycle.

This is in metropolitan size trials at the moment around the Swindon area.

Electric vehicles are a blessing and a curse - obviously everybody wants their car fully charged ready for work in the morning, however, by allowing the car to be used by the grid, the batteries could be charged and discharged as required to smooth out the generation and demand fluctuations, while still allowing proper charging of the vehicles. This is an opt-in style arrangement, so EV owners can make cash for allowing their car to be used in this way, the down side is the batteries have a defined number of full recharge cycles they can go through (10,000 or so) so there can be a limit on the number of times this is done.

Currently on trial at Campus level for some R&D facilities with EV fleets of busses and cars/vans. Also at R&D level for electric lorries!

NB there are two network types, the transmission network which moves power from a power station to a series of distribution networks which distribute that power to the users.
Thanks, That's one of the most interesting things I have read recently.

Harold
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Re: Do We Rely Too Much on Electricity?

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As the person works for the National Grid, of course, they would say they have a strategy and they have "thought a lot" about EVs and the changes coming. Be nice of them to perhaps share that strategy and get outside critical review. My guess is their strategy is simply to make as much profit as possible without investing in replacing any old infrastructure.

If they can't handle two small generators going out without huge areas of the UK losing power for hours we are in trouble.

Delivering power is a little bit more critical than delivering a variety of foodstuffs. NYC had a major power outage a few days ago which lasted more than a whole day. This was when the temperatures were in the high 90's F so they suffered even more than us.

Did you ask your contact what they have invested in the last 15 or so years and what they plan to invest in the next 15?

If we have a long term strategy has your contact claims how come that for the base level supply, the UK has no company capable of building a nuclear power station! We should be ashamed of that fact given our history. But eh oh all is well.

Sitting back and saying its all fine trust us is typical of a fat cat business whose overpaid senior management are incompetent. Apparently, all of them are on holiday at the moment so no one can be contacted. What a demanding life they lead.
The Grid do share their strategy. I no longer have access to the information having retired, but I regularly got updates on what issues were seen for the short medium and long terms of the networks, both at transmission and distribution levels.

One of the complexities is the desire to do the correct thing is often compromised by political meddling to do the "green policy Du Jour" which can undo some of the work in place to date...

As a major consuming customer, we managed to reduce our demand on the electricity networks nationally by roughly 400,000,000kWh/annum and we were one user... this style of reduction changes the way in which the networks plan their strategies, and they also are encouraging consumers to look at supporting technologies for their consumptions, as I left 2 years ago the negotiations to install several 3GWh battery networks into the business were well under way. - I'm not interested enough to find out if they're installed and operational yet!
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Re: Do We Rely Too Much on Electricity?

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The Grid do share their strategy. I no longer have access to the information having retired, but I regularly got updates on what issues were seen for the short medium and long terms of the networks, both at transmission and distribution levels.

One of the complexities is the desire to do the correct thing is often compromised by political meddling to do the "green policy Du Jour" which can undo some of the work in place to date...

As a major consuming customer, we managed to reduce our demand on the electricity networks nationally by roughly 400,000,000kWh/annum and we were one user... this style of reduction changes the way in which the networks plan their strategies, and they also are encouraging consumers to look at supporting technologies for their consumptions, as I left 2 years ago the negotiations to install several 3GWh battery networks into the business were well under way. - I'm not interested enough to find out if they're installed and operational yet!

Your second para sums it up perfectly. "green policy Du Jour". That's certainly a major challenge to keep up with the latest fashion.

With that size of load the company was I am guessing either in the Steel, Aluminium or Glass industry or ? How did they make such a huge saving? I would be very interested to know.
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Re: Do We Rely Too Much on Electricity?

Are all the power stations involved in this owned by one company (National Grid) or is there a mix of private companies involved? How does power stations going off line cause seemingly random outages in different part of the country, miles away from the failure point(s)?
Bring on affordable battery storage and ‘vehicle to home’ tech.
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Old 12th August 2019
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Re: Do We Rely Too Much on Electricity?

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That has been denied. It was said to be a generator failure which is a hardware, not wind, issue.

Harold
Hmm. I'm not sure what to believe here. According to Wiki:

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Hornsea 1 began supplying power to the UK national electricity grid in February 2019,[37][3] with full completion expected in the first quarter of 2020.[38] The final monopile foundation was completed in April 2019 and as of 3 May 2019, 28 turbines out of 174 had been installed.
To date there are 28 or so wind turbines, each of which is a generator. Even if all 28 turbines failed simultaneously I wouldn't expect the grid to fall over. The projected power for all 174 turbines is 1.2 GW, so about 80 KW each. Given the size of the full Hornsea project surely the turbines would have more than one substation connecting them to the grid?
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Re: Do We Rely Too Much on Electricity?

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Hmm. I'm not sure what to believe here. According to Wiki:



To date there are 28 or so wind turbines, each of which is a generator. Even if all 28 turbines failed simultaneously I wouldn't expect the grid to fall over. The projected power for all 174 turbines is 1.2 GW, so about 80 KW each. Given the size of the full Hornsea project surely the turbines would have more than one substation connecting them to the grid?
I’m sure you’re right but if there are less than 20% up and running then they possibly all aggregate at maybe one substation then if that fails it counts as Hornsea rather than a part of Hornsea (should another fail when all 174 are eventually online)
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