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This is welcome news, but no mention is made of matching supply and demand! What happens when the wind blows strongly at night, when there is low demand? Where is the excess electricity used or stored? Perhaps it is exported to England, and then Scotland buys electricity back when the wind does not blow in the Highlands... A partial story, I''m afraid. A good headline, but one that leaves a lot of crucial questions unanswered.
"and thousands of houses suffered subsidence." The same thing happened in 1976, but the spell of hot dry weather was uninterrupted between May and September. Not broken by rain as this year. The damaged houses had inadequate foundations. A friend of mine took notice and had a concrete raft for his new build, made to better specifications, in order to avoid this situation. Seems that all builders did not do the same. Computer models are fine; as long as ALL variables are modelled. The IPCC today have ceased to consider variations of solar activity. The output only reflects the input. Example; the Mann Hockey stick, three times found by official US statisticians to be based on a fraudulent programme, (it gave a hockey stick prediction even when random number data was used as input!!). I have yet to see an official explanation, at molecular level, on the mechanism whereby CO2 is able to punch so much above its weight. But there is huge amount of money at stake, and it is not just talking, it''s shouting at the top of its voice!!! Richard Phillips
Our principal renewable power source is wind, followed by solar in daylight. Both are variable and beyond any control. Biomass at about 4GW maximum, is dispatchable. It would be interesting, but I suspect impossible, to know whether all the electricity supplied as Renewable, and paid for as such, is actually being generated at the time of supply, or are we back to the old MWhour deceptions? What official control, or even monitoring, is there upon the supply and charging for this power? Richard Phillips
So, can you provide an address to send crisp packets to? Is there a specific Freepost address to use? It would be good to start spreading full news about the facility here and now in this article. I''ll pull a few packets out of my bin to send straight away! I looked at Terracycle''s web site previously and found no mention of this following your previous article.
Thanks for those details Torstein. There was talk of similar problems burning pelletised "leafy" material in furnaces, leaving deposits on the heat exchangers. All clouded in mystery!!! I still prefer nuclear fission, PWRs, with CCGT, about 80:20 And in the future we should have fast reactors, we have fuel in the cupboard, 115 tonnes of plutonium. Richard Phillips
@ Richard Phillips "Why not pelletise the grass on the spot, ready for direct combustion as a domestic or industrial fuel???" Torrefaction before pelletization or briquetting makes the fuel less sticky, something about the fibers, it gets brittle enough to be able to be crushed into "dust bombs" that ignite at maximum efficiency in combustion chambers. Like coal do now, and regular pellets do not. Torrefied pellets/briquettes are also water resistant, like coal, while regular pellets are not (making transport and storage cheaper). Regular pellets can only work as fuel in a co-firing situation, while torrefied briquettes are so alike coal that they can be used as the only fuel. Regular pellets leaves a residue in the combustion chambers that make them somewhat unconvenient to use, it requires more maintenance and is thus more expensive. Regrettably I can''t give a meaningful response to your other points that I''m sure are valid, because I simply don''t have enough knowledge in chemistry. I suggest you contact the company directly, hopefully someone with technical knowledge can answer your questions, and if they do, please post what you learned here. You can contact them here: https://nextfuel.com/contact-us
No, Torstein, I had not wondered at all! A major constituent of all such plant matter is cellulose (C6 H10 O5)n. Upon roasting, a great deal of the H10 O5 part will be driven off as water, leaving just the carbon, the only combustible part of the molecule. You are quite correct, this residue is just where the heat potential resides. In pure cellulose, over half the weight is "water", not as such, but evolved as water upon heating. Upon combustion of pure cellulose, all the heat comes from carbon, the H and O are evolved as water (and incidentally as steam, the heat of evaporation coming from the carbon, but wasted as it seldom industrially recovered ), this is common to all "carbohydrates", like sugar. The wood fired Drax power station does not operate heat recovery from the flu gas, but you must have a condensing gas central heating boiler!! Why not pelletise the grass on the spot, ready for direct combustion as a domestic or industrial fuel??? As industrial fuels, biomass or biofuel, I am extremely cynical; ethanol has only half the calorific value of petrol, its addition to vehicle fuel reduces he mpg. But politicians rarely have any scientific knowledge, or the desire to acquire it. Richard Phillips
Correction: The output is 5.51 MWH, not 5.05 MWH.
@ Richard Pillips Maybe you also wondered why the briquettes were at 23-28 gigajoule per ton while elephant grass itself has an energy content of approximately 18 gj/t.? To produce 1 ton of NextFuel, you need 1.56 ton of elephant grass. Basically the torrefaction process gets rid of all the unimportant stuff in the grass, and the end result is a very energy dense briquette. Only 2.5% of the energy content of the briquette originates from the use of electricity in the briquette production process, the rest originates from the grass itself!
It seems as if the Welsh have gone completely mad, and I just hope they won''t come running to England for help when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow and their nuclear power station is being serviced. The Germans decided to abandon nuclear power and bought their electricity from France - 80% nuclear generation - and then used lignite - much worse than coal for CO2. FoE Wales quotes David Attenborough in Katowice: The Times carried the story at the bottom of page 17 - and got the importance about right. We will all wake up soon and realise that the impending catastrophe has been oversold...
@ Richard Phillips "Dry elephant grass contains, per unit mass, a certain amount of heat energy, released upon complete combustion with oxygen. [...] No amount of completing the process by a variety of paths can give more energy." Now I understand your concern, of course you are correct. But the "carbon negativity" claim is not based on pseudo-scientific claims like this, that somehow you get more energy output than energy input. On the contrary, there is of course less energy coming out of the process than going in, 7.07 MWH is going in, while 5.05 MWH is coming out. The "carbon negativity" claim rests upon basically three factors, 1.) carbon is deposited in the roots and soil below the plants, 2.) the briquette processing itself is very efficient, and 3.) if the fuel is grown and used in relatively close proximity to each other, the transport is also very energy efficient. Basically, factor 1, the depositing of carbon in the soil ("natural" CCS) outweighs the energy use of factor 2 (fuel production) and factor 3 (transport). If you grow your fuel locally, and have access to this new efficient processing technology, you get a CO2 negative fuel.
Dry elephant grass contains, per unit mass, a certain amount of heat energy, released upon complete combustion with oxygen. No more, no less. It is a founding principle of thermochemistry. There is no free lunch. No amount of completing the process by a variety of paths can give more energy. In fact the greater the complexity of the process, the less efficient the heat recovery becomes. There is nothing new in the concept of roasting complex organics; the Gas Light and Coke Company were doing this on a huge scale at the Beckton Gas Works a century ago using coal. They produced coke, town gas, and a variety of organic materials. The science is quite absent from this report. Richard Phillips
The problem with this knee jerk "good intention" is it ignores the fact that the majority of the hydrocarbons produced are NOT used for fuels but for petrochemicals including fertilisers, pharmaceuticals, plastics, synthetic fabrics and a thousands other essential everyday products. I happen to agree that we can not continue to waste this essential resource by burning it, be that in a power station or a vehicle, but that does not mean we will stop extracting it safely and utilising it
I have invested in this company and the following is just what I have managed to dig up doing my due diligence. So, I''m not an expert, I''m just giving you my opinion based on what I have managed to understand until now. @ John Mathias "What about the emissions resulting in transporting the fuel to Africa and South America? Would it not be better to grow and produce the fuel in these countries rather than transporting it 1,000''s of miles?" You are correct, and that is indeed the plan. The Austria factory is mainly to test that the technology works in scale. So before ships can use NextFuel as fuel, or use electricity, it is indeed better to grow and produce the fuel locally, as of now this is one of the main reasons the fuel is carbon negative. @ Peter Haslop "Where exactly are we proposing to grow this elephant grass?" Everywhere really, but some climates are better, especially parts of Africa, South America and Asia. Generally where there is lots of sun and enough rain. @ Colin Matthews "Rather suspect you get more energy out by AD of elephant grass than by this fuel... Can elephant grass be grown in Africa climatically?" Have not heard about this AD process (I guess you mean anaerobic digestion). What I can tell you is that the energy content of NextFuel is 23-28 gigajoule per tonne, above brown coal and just below black coal/anthracite. Elephant grass grows like crazy in Africa :-) I talked to a girl I know that visits Kenya often and she says everybody knows about it down there. @ Richard Phillips Didn''t quite understand all your comments, but understood this: "Besides the fuel emissions from transportation, there is the question of the heating process, (perhaps this is nuclear heat!?!?) There is even the CO2 breathed out by the workers in the process, solely due to their exertions in the process." The heat comes from the surplus gases driven out of the grass in the torrefaction process. Only a small amount of electricity is needed in addition to this "free" heat. In the process of producing 1 ton of NextFuel, the surplus gases produce 0.85 MWH in the form of heat, while the electricity needed in addition to this, amounts to only 0.13 MWH. Total energy input is 7.07 MWH (chemical energy in the grass plus that small amount of electricity), total energy output is 5.05 MWH (chemical energy in the briquettes only, not counting the 0.85 MWH of usable heat). The CO2 breathed by the workers is only a very very small amount. Regarding fuel emissions from transportation, that is more of an issue. The longer you transport something, the more CO2 you release, so transport better get green fast.. I think it is safe to say that you can''t transport this fuel around the world and still expect the whole process to be carbon negative. It is when you both produce and use the fuel in a reasonably close distance from each other the process is CO2 negative. How close are we talking? I don''t know, but I think it is logical to expect research papers about this. This is really the million dollar question, what we all want to know. @ Ian Byrne: "Do they never rot down, releasing CO2 (or worse, methane) back to the atmosphere?" The carbon in the roots also moves to the soil around the roots. Some of it will eventually mineralize. If you do plow, "some" CO2 and methane will release back into the atmosphere, this is the same problem everywhere, both for forests and agriculture in general. If you don''t plow however, it will take a long time to leak, many decades, and nobody really knows how much is leaked and how much stays. We basically need to stay on top of this by continually planting. "Can you plant more miscanthus rhizomes in the same field that you have used before infinitely often?" Not infinitely often of course, but many times should be doable. Also, there is research on seed-based planting now. "there will be associated emissions from fertiliser, transportation and processing." You are correct. See above for the energy balance of the processing. I don''t have any numbers regarding fertiliser use and transportation. I know however that fertiliser is not very effective on miscanthus, that it grows also on marginal land without fertilizer, and that transportation at least is "in the process" of going green. For instance, I do think it is possible to power ships with NextFuel.
The carbon-negative aspect appears to be Elephant grass needs a lot of CO2 to grow, and also stores some of this in its roots below ground. In that way, it captures so much carbon from the atmosphere that it can make our entire process carbon-negative in a matter of months. So what happens to the carbon sequestered in the roots? Do they never rot down, releasing CO2 (or worse, methane) back to the atmosphere? Can you plant more miscanthus rhizomes in the same field that you have used before infinitely often? I suspect not... Colin Matthews and Richard Phillips correct, also, in that there will be associated emissions from fertiliser, transportation and processing. This article looks like greenwash to me.
All germane comments, brushed aside by business talk. Besides the fuel emissions from transportation, there is the question of the heating process, (perhaps this is nuclear heat!?!?) There is even the CO2 breathed out by the workers in the process, solely due to their exertions in the process. So much of this nonsense disregards entirely any science or the consideration of the process in its entirety. And what is the molecular mechanism whereby CO2 exerts this "forcing effect" on water vapour, some sixty times the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere? Richard Phillips
The first Carbon negative fuel? What about Biomethane from the A.D. of manure? Would be interesting to see the energy balance between AD of elephant grass versus the calorific value of this fuel. Rather suspect you get more energy out by AD of elephant grass than by this fuel... Can elephant grass be grown in Africa climatically?
Where exactly are we proposing to grow this elephant grass?
What about the emissions resulting in transporting the fuel to Africa and South America? Would it not be better to grow and produce the fuel in these countries rather than transporting it 1,000''s of miles?
Hi This is a nice summary. But government leadership is really lacking at the moment with little actual policy implementation and not much it appears will change in the rest of the current parliament. In particular, low carbon heating requires a whole raft of new policy support since decarbonisation of heat through the RHI will only be about half the target expected to be delivered by 2020 (6 instead of 12%). Also it won''t be possible to fit lots of heat pumps in draughty and poorly insulated buildings. If we don''t keep a clear and strong focus on retrofitting low carbon heating we aren''t going to make much progress. New policies are promised for spring next year following the Framework for Heat consultation last spring but these will it seems not be implemented until after the RHI ends or the new building regs come into force. Remember that 1.1 million homes off the gas grid (mostly heated by oil or conventional electric) will need to be retrofitted with low carbon heating systems by 2030 (Committee on Climate Change) which is something like 80,000 per year if we started now! Steffi Harangozo
Is growing and transporting quantity of elephant grass needed feasible?
There seems, upon viewing the technical qualifications of a number of the speakers, that basic knowledge of climate science is somewhat lacking among the advocates of the disaster scenario. Let us quote from a little science, a study of the influence of the variation of solar radiation upon the Earth. It is, after all, our only natural source of heat and light, we just do not compete, From "Whatsupwiththat": DR WILLIE SOON By Dr. Jeffrey Foss December 2, 2018 Willie just happened to choose solar science as a career and, like many solar scientists, after nearly three decades of scientific research in his case, came to believe that changes in the sun''s brightness, sunspots and energy output, changes in the orbital position of the Earth relative to the sun, and other powerful natural forces drive climate change. In brief, our sun controls our climate. Even the IPCC initially indicated agreement with him, citing his work approvingly in its second (1996) and third (2001) Assessment Reports. That later changed, significantly. Sure, everyone agrees that the sun caused the waxing and waning of the ice ages, just as solar scientists say. However, the sun had to be played down if carbon dioxide (CO2) was to be played up - an abuse of science that makes Willie sick. Unfortunately for the IPCC, solar scientists think solar changes also explain Earth''s most recent warming period which, they point out, began way back in the 1830s - long before we burned enough fossil fuels to make any difference. They also observed the shrinking of the Martian ice-caps in the 1990s, and their return in the last few years - in perfect time with the waning and waxing of Arctic ice caps here on Earth. Only the sun - not the CO2 from our fires - could cause that Earth-Mars synchronicity. And surely it is no mere coincidence that a grand maximum in solar brightness (Total Solar Irradiance or TSI) took place in the 1990s as both planets' ice caps shrank, or that the sun cooled (TSI decreased) as both planets'' ice caps grew once again. All that brings us back to Dr. Soon''s disagreements with the IPCC. The IPCC now insists that solar variability is so tiny that they can just ignore it, and proclaim CO2 emissions as the driving force behind climate change. But solar researchers long ago discovered unexpected variability in the sun''s brightness - variability that is confirmed in other stars of the sun's type. Why does the IPCC ignore these facts? ... It sure looks like the IPCC is hiding the best findings of solar science so that it can trumpet the decreases in planetary warming (the so-called "greenhouse effect") that they embed in the "scenarios" (as they call them) emanating from their computer models. Ignoring the increase in solar brightness over the 80s and 90s, they instead enthusiastically blame the warmth of the 1990s on human production of CO2. ... Surely Willie and solar scientists are right about the primacy of the sun. Why? Because the observable real world is the final test of science. And the data - actual evidence - shows that global temperatures follow changes in solar brightness on all time-scales, from decades to millions of years. On the other hand, CO2 and temperature have generally gone their own separate ways on these time scales. Global temperatures stopped going up in the first two decades of this century, even though CO2 has steadily risen. The IPCC blames this global warming "hiatus" on "natural climate variability," meaning something random, something not included in their models, something the IPCC didn''t see coming. ... Unlike the IPCC, Willie and I cannot simply ignore the fact that there were multiple ice ages millions of years ago, when CO2 levels were four times higher than now. And even when CO2 and temperature do trend in tandem, as in the famous gigantic graph in Al Gore's movie, the CO2 rises followed temperature increases by a few centuries. That means rising CO2 could not possibly have caused the temperature increases - an inconvenient truth that Gore doesn''t care about and studiously ignores. DR WILLIE SOON Time for a little science, and less alarmism. Richard Phillips
"Average yearly carbon footprint of 5kg per person"? Really? https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.ATM.CO2E.PC?view=map
Well said Kieron The total installed wind power has a headline value of 20GW. If we could have that 14.5GW as a reliable power source it would be valuable. However, if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride!!!! As it is, it a highly unreliable, variable power source over which we have no control. In fact it is worse than that. Wind has priority in the grid over gas and coal. When plentiful, in high winds, gas and coal are required, and are able, to reduce output to match requirements. And in times of high demand and low winds, gas and coal step in to make good the inevitable deficiency. This obligation to pander to wind power is costly, and requires financial support, customer pays. The cost of onshore wind power is only less than conventional sources if subsidies are ignored, and note that off-shore is excluded from the "cheaper than" slogan. The life of turbines is considerably shorter than fossil and nuclear plant, requiring "repowering and blade change in 12-15 years, nuclear plant is designed for 60 years, and experience with our own, now old rectors has been to exhibit their trustworthiness. I would have more confidence in the technical statements in these matters by Emma Pinchbeck if she were to have technical qualifications in power generation or science; Classics and English from oxford, excellent in their field, do quite fill the slot. I did have an FRIC in 1971, and did spend 35 years in nuclear energy research at the AERE at Harwell. And I keep up to date . Richard Phillips
Hi Carolina, Thank you! I appreciate the connection with finance/risk with SDG''s, but was unaware of the TCFD until now. Kind regards. Tony Anthony Sellin Energy Manager & Carbon Accountant University of Canterbury