Tag Archives: renewable energy

Renewable Energy; Declining Costs

Solar is getting more efficient and lower cost. Wind turbines are, in terms of energy pay-back a better bet. But we need tidal and wave power, and other renewables, too, in a balaced mix of sources.

The cost of renewable energy has declined precipitously. Between 2009 and 2014, the cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules declined by 75 percent, while the cost of wind turbines dropped by 33 percent. Furthermore, the cost of residential solar PV has been declining significantly in recent years: in 2015, it was competitive with natural gas generation in India and nearly so in China. Battery storage is also becoming less expensive, which will make distributed energy even more affordable. Between 2008 and 2014, battery costs have declined 20 percent each year. (Credit to World Resources institute)

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd 6 November ’18

 

AD Insanity

 

Putting “waste” into an AD plant to make “renewable ” energy can make sense, despite the energy cost of the plant. However, growing crops to feed the plant is both insane and immoral.

The energy cost of the steel, plastics used in the construction of an AD plant, plus the energy involved in construction, can sometime make environmental sense and make a small contribution to energy security, However, it is as well to remember that 1 tonne of Nitrogen fertiliser nutrient, made in a modern and efficient USA fertiliser factory, according to UN-sponsored research, typically takes 21,000 (yes, twenty one thousand!) kWh to produce and deliver.  N fertiliser produced in eastern block countries may use as much as 20 tomes more power. So, using fertilisers, to grow crops, to harvest using diesel to cut and transport to an AD plant, to digest to produce methane, to burn in an engine to drive a generator to produce even less electricity is insanity based on ignorance. What is more, that land could be used to produce food and we need food security and so do 100,000,000 people in central Africa which the UN reports are on the edge of starvation death.  That is immorality on a global scale sanctioned by ignorant government. in Brussels and Whitehall.

(There is a chapter on renewables in general and AD in particular in “Survival”.)

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 31 July 18

 

 

Shale gas and the NHS

This can pay for more of ………….

……. this. (and in-patients, too!)

Cut the discussion and get down to the raw facts.  The NHS certainly has its faults and can be improved without the addition of cash BUT the NHS and the social services which can take people out of hospital beds for care after treatment ARE short of cash.  The NHS really is a national gem and needs significant and on-going extra cash.  If we want it to care for us, we have to care or it.

It does not have to be supported by extra taxes.  We are sitting on enormous energy reserves of shale gas.  We are importing shale gas in specially made ships from the USA and Arab countries. We are importing natural gas from Russia which owns part of Centrica which, of course, owns British Gas. THIS IS INSANE. The UK has the best shale gas technology in the world and, yes, we can do it safely. In terms of environmental balance, it is better to do shale gas here in the UK and use the revenues to build the NHS and develop renewable energy sources.

Bill Butterworth, Member of the British Society of Soil Science

Land Research Ltd, 24th June 18

 

 grid batteries – farming

Batteries are changing the way we will employ renewable energy sources.

The problem with solar and wind turbines is that they are never 24-7. To make matters worse, the human race tends to use a lot more power first thing in the morning and in early evening (at “peak”) than the rest of the day. Now we have the technology to produce batteries to take in power from the grid at off peak times and feed it back in during the peak demand – economically.

For farmers, as a rough guide, 1 acre = 30MW and typically sites will be 10-49 MW sites. As a very rough guide, 1 MW of battery would earn £2000 pa, index linked, for 20 years. So, if you have from half to one and half acres (allowing for access), give me an e-mail on bill@landresearchonline.com

 

Solar farm up-date economic

 

Solar is on the edge of economic without government support. This is potentially an important source of dependable, long term income for landowners.

The cost of solar panels is coming down and “solar farms” are on the edge of becoming economic without government support.I f you are a land owner, you might be offered £750 to £1400 per acre in rent for 25 years, plus an RPI escalator, to cover a hundred acres or so with solar panels.  That is pension fund stuff. However, is it environmentally sustainable and does it matter anyway?

 It is almost certainly true that the energy put into making all the solar panels so far manufactured will not be recovered in the productive life of those panels.  If the energy put into manufacture, packaging, transport by sea (most are made in China), in road transport, in mounting on frameworks, in making the frameworks (all the same actions over again), and maintenance, and decommissioning, …  All of a sudden, it does not seem possible that “PV”, photovoltaics, or just “solar panels”, could possibly be genuinely environmentally sustainable.

There is at least some research which gives a useful guide. Much of that research suggests an energy payback period, on the panels themselves, of 2 to 10 years.  The US Department of Energy quotes in one of its published documents several pieces of research from all over the world where researchers of some academic standing looked at the question and showed a wide range of results but they were all presented by the Department as positive.  The summary of research indicated that crystalline modules were significantly better than a few years ago and their efficiency would improve still more.  The conclusions were also that thin-film technology was currently more efficient than crystalline and would continue to keep its lead over crystallines.  Further, as new technologies develop, this is very likely to increase efficiencies again.  For example, the sun emits a much wider range of energy wavelengths than just the visible spectrum.  New panel technologies will collect infrared and ultra violet and maybe wider.

Nevertheless, reading between the lines, most of the quoted research appeared to be limited to the energy cost of manufacture of the panels themselves. There was limited or no indication that the total energy cost of a working installation had been taken into account. One of the bits of research even admitted that they had not even included the thin frame that surrounds the panel before putting into its packaging. So, there is some doubt about whether the research figures cover all the energy costs, not just of manufacture, but also of packaging, shipping, land transport, installation, site infrastructure, site works, supporting frame construction, commissioning, maintenance, cleaning and failures.

DOES PAY-BACK MATTER?

Maybe not.  It depends on where you sit. If it makes money for everyone involved; maybe that is good enough?  Only the taxpayer might not agree.  One thing “renewable” (but not necessarily sustainable) might be seen to deliver is less reliance in future on imported oil, gas and electricity. (Yes, we import significant amounts of electricity from France.)  There is another plus.  Whatever the energy cost, it is paid for at today’s cost.  The energy produced over the life of the installation pays back at tomorrow’s energy values; it is an investment in tomorrow.

What it comes down to is, as usual, money.  If a detailed financial study says it makes cash, then read the small print, cover the “what ifs” over the next 25 years and go ahead.  However, tone down the environmental benefit; you might be on thin film, sorry, ice.

 

 

Je suis le Roi de la mairde

 

A normal pond? Not quire – note the white colouration of the water, This is spent drilling fluid from drilling through chalk to bring cables off the North Sea wind farms.

 

 

The attached below link is to the Dutch drilling company, VSH website. The pictures (scroll down a bit) are of the drilling operation bringing cables off the North Sea wind farms to the site at Holt in North Norfolk.  This brings renewable energy to the UK consumers.  What Land Research does is to take the cuttings and spent fluids from such operations and re-use them, usually on agricultural land to replace the 2.5 million tonnes of top soil which the UK loses by wind and rain erosion, down into the sea, every year. Renewable energy with zero waste from such construction operations.

http://www.vshanabdrilling.com/en/projects/detail/landfalls-for-the-dudgeon-offshore-wind-farm.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ltd, 22 June 17

 

Farming, the utilities and UK economic life

Dom Arnold’s JCB Fastrack and 360 excavator on its way to assist in laying cables from the North Sea wind farms under farmland in Norfolk to the National Grid to supply the economicm life of the UK.

Farming is not just food production, it is the back-bone of the economic life of the UK. It is not just the food chain which is integrated with so much of UK industry, it is the land itself.

The land is what the whole lot stands on, even the City of London and all its financial activity. It is the land across which we travel and which carries the life blood of economic activity.  It is the land across which the water, electricity and gas are channelled to carry energy to the people and their businesses.

Bill Butterworth, Land Research Ld. 7th June 17