Thursday, 18 December 2014

Response to Ernest & Young

Ernest & Young, the accountancy firm, made a submission on the Green Paper, which I found interesting, as apart from the financials aspect, I'm not sure what expertise they have in the energy sector and specifically, electricity generation.

Over time, encouraging the acceleration of electric vehicles will increase the load for variable generation at times where theremay be surplus wind generation (i.e., at night), thus providing additional benefits to the electricity system and simultaneously driving down transportation costs.

This is a common misconception. Firstly, wind is a product of the sun, so the best wind generation tends to occur during the day. Secondly, they fail to mention that transportation costs may go down but electricity costs will increase. Costs are simply transferred from one sector to the other.  But the main problem with this is that it would lead to demand for additional dispatchable capacity*. One night there might be high levels of wind generation. The next night there might be zero levels of wind generation. On the second night, dispatchable plant will be required equal to every MW of wind generation capacity. So a duplicate system would need to built and funded by the consumer instead of one. I shudder to think of what our electricity bills will look like then.

Over time and as technology solutions evolve, allowing electric vehicles to inject surplus electricity onto the grid (i.e., whenparked), will provide additional ancillary services to the system.
I am completely baffled by this concept. Perhaps someone can enlighten me ? Surely if I want to drive from Dublin to Cork tomorrow morning, the last thing I want to do, as I leave my car parked outside the night before, is to have it exporting electricity to the grid ?

Replacing Moneypoint as a baseload generator when it reaches the end of its useful life will be a key challenge to the market.The options will be to convert to other fuel types, upgrade it to include carbon capture facilities, or ensure that there is sufficient diversification and availability of other types of generation such that it does not need replacing. This latter option would be the ideal from an energy security and sustainability perspective but will require significant innovation around the operating and design of the future electricity system.

The latter option would not be ideal from a stability and reliability point of view as the Grid Regulations states:
There must be at least one Moneypoint unit on load at all times. Required to support the 400kV network. 
So Moneypoint most definitely needs to be replaced. It simply is not an option to do otherwise unless one wants to create blackouts in West Ireland. Biomass, SMRs (small nuclear reactors) or indeed cheap coal power are some of the options. It is a cop out to try to say otherwise. In economic terms, its like saying that we don't need to increase taxation or reduce spending when there is a budget deficit. Friends of the Earth made a similar suggestion regarding Moneypoint - it might sound nice and fluffy but the laws of physics do not respond well to emotions.

However, I don't disagree with everything in their submission:
Natural gas is the friendly fossil fuel with least environmental impact. The [Compressed Natural Gas] technology is well tested as there are over 14 million natural gas vehicles (NGVs) worldwide with around 11% growth per annum in Europe. The use of CNG as a transport fuel will have a positive impact on the energy security as it will reduce the dependence upon oil imports. Also, supply of natural gas through pipelines connected with the UK beneath the Irish Sea is more stable than oil supply from the Middle East. The national grid infrastructure can be used to ensure effective distribution. The option of blending CNG with bio methane will provide additional diversification of fuel mix and therefore additional energy security. NGVs produce about 13–21% fewer GHG emissions than comparable gasoline and diesel vehicles.If bio methane is blended with natural gas in a 10/90 ratio,the carbon emissions reduce further. Using pure bio methane reduces carbon by roughly 90%

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), is certainly something worth looking at. In Delhi, India, all city buses operate on CNG resulting in less city pollution. For those interested, a summary of Delhi's transition from diesel to CNG can be found here:

By 1st December 2002, the last diesel bus had disappeared from Delhi’s roads, as part of a programme to improve public transport by offering more busses, and only busses running on CNG.
How was this achieved? Companies could either buy new CNG busses, at a cost of 1’600’000 Rupees (16 lakh), replace the engines of existing busses at a cost of 700’000 Rupees, or convert the diesel engine of existing busses to CNG, at a cost of 400’000 Rupees.
The majority of business went for the option of buying expensive new CNG busses; 2’800 opted for the cheapest solution of engine conversion; no existing busses were equipped with new CNG engines.
It is interesting to note that only 3’000 busses are operated by the Delhi Transport Corporation, the majority of the busses in Delhi are run by private operators. Approximately one thousand additional busses that link Delhi with neighbouring States still run on diesel; they are allowed to enter Delhi for a distance of 16 km maximum.
With the introduction of CNG came problems of conversion quality and maintenance quality; 12 busses caught fire. Foreign experts were called in to examine the problem[2], and a new regulation on CNG safety was published. One main problem was the absence of stress relief loops on CNG installations – a problem not limited to CNG and India, which led to the banning of LPG cars in Europe not equipped with pressure relief equipment.

Apparently, some city bus fleet in Cork have already been tested with encouraging results :

If only all new energy concepts were carried out on a trial basis.......

*Dispatchable plant is plant that can be switched on or dispatched when required to do so and includes fossil fuel, biomass and nuclear sources of generation.

1 comment:

  1. Electric vehicles simply transfer the emissions from the car exhaust to the power station chimney. They involve too much energy conversions to be efficient. An electric car causes more emissions than an equivalent fuel car. The addition of wind in the system must be controlled because the power is used for everything, even delicate equipment, so a majority of wind cannot be allowed in, Direct charging with wind would be novel, but not much use.