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IET POWER AND ENERGY SERIES 55
Distributed generation of heat and power
Other volumes in this series:
Volume 1 Volume 4 Volume 7 Volume 8 Volume 10 Volume 11 Volume 13 Volume 14 Volume 15 Volume 16 Volume 18 Volume 19 Volume 21 Volume 22 Volume 24 Volume 25 Volume 26 Volume 27 Volume 29 Volume 30 Volume 31 Volume 32 Volume 33 Volume 34 Volume 35 Volume 36 Volume 37 Volume 38 Volume 39 Volume 40 Volume 41 Volume 43 Volume 44 Volume 45 Volume 46 Volume 47 Volume 48 Volume 49 Volume 50 Volume 51 Volume 52 Volume 53 Volume 905 Power circuit breaker theory and design C.H. Flurscheim (Editor) Industrial microwave heating A.C. Metaxas and R.J. Meredith Insulators for high voltages J.S.T. Looms Variable frequency AC motor drive systems D. Finney SF6 switchgear H.M. Ryan and G.R. Jones Conduction and induction heating E.J. Davies Statistical techniques for high voltage engineering W. Hauschild and W. Mosch Uninterruptible power supplies J. Platts and J.D. St Aubyn (Editors) Digital protection for power systems A.T. Johns and S.K. Salman Electricity economics and planning T.W. Berrie Vacuum switchgear A. Greenwood Electrical safety: a guide to causes and prevention of hazards J. Maxwell Adams Electricity distribution network design, 2nd edition, E. Lakervi and E.J. Holmes Artiﬁcial intelligence techniques in power systems K. Warwick, A.O. Ekwue and R. Aggarwal (Editors) Power system commissioning and maintenance practice K. Harker Engineers’ handbook of industrial microwave heating R.J. Meredith Small electric motors H. Moczala et al. AC–DC power system analysis J. Arrillaga and B.C. Smith High voltage direct current transmission, 2nd edition J. Arrillaga Flexible AC Transmission Systems (FACTS) Y-H. Song (Editor) Embedded generation N. Jenkins et al. High voltage engineering and testing, 2nd edition H.M. Ryan (Editor) Overvoltage protection of low-voltage systems, revised edition P. Hasse The lightning ﬂash V. Cooray Control techniques drives and controls handbook W. Drury (Editor) Voltage quality in electrical power systems J. Schlabbach et al. Electrical steels for rotating machines P. Beckley The electric car: development and future of battery, hybrid and fuel-cell cars M. Westbrook Power systems electromagnetic transients simulation J. Arrillaga and N. Watson Advances in high voltage engineering M. Haddad and D. Warne Electrical operation of electrostatic precipitators K. Parker Thermal power plant simulation and control D. Flynn Economic evaluation of projects in the electricity supply industry H. Khatib Propulsion systems for hybrid vehicles J. Miller Distribution switchgear S. Stewart Protection of electricity distribution networks, 2nd edition J. Gers and E. Holmes Wood pole overhead lines B. Wareing Electric fuses, 3rd edition A. Wright and G. Newbery Wind power integration: connection and system operational aspects B. Fox et al. Short circuit currents J. Schlabbach Nuclear power J. Wood Condition assessment of high voltage insulation in power system equipment R.E. James and Q. Su Power system protection, 4 volumes
Distributed generation of heat and power
The Institution of Engineering and Technology
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3.3.1 Coal 2.5 Combined heat and power 1 1 2 3 4 6 6 7 9 10 12 13 13 14 17 17 17 18 18 18 19 20 20 21 24 25 26 29 30 30 31 32 32 2 3 .Contents 1 Developing the UK’s energy infrastructure 1.9 The effect of competition Panel 1.3 Transformers Panel 1.4 The balancing market 2.3 Coordinating the supply 1.2 Support for heat and power 3.4 Centralizing power stations 1.4 Hydropower 18.104.22.168 Energy crops 3.3.7 Monopolies and private companies 1.1 Energy use in the UK 3.8 Breaking up the monopoly 1.2 Gas 2.3 Nuclear 2.5 Distribution network operators 2.3.6 The Central Electricity Generating Board 1.1 The development of electric power 1.5 Managing the expansion 1.5 Wind power 2.1 Supplying and delivering power 2.6 Regulating the markets The heat connection and cogeneration 3.2 AC/DC Panel 1.4 Power units The electricity system 2.2 Generating power for the market 2.1 Generators Panel 1.3 Power-station characteristics 2.4 Domestic heating 3.6 Coping with grid variation 2.2 Regulating the industry 1.
1 Off-grid turbines Panel 4.2 How much energy is there? 6.6 Heat technologies 3.4 Street applications Panel 7.5 Development issues Solar photovoltaics 7.4.vi Local energy 3.2 PowerBuoy 6.4 Rooftop turbines 4.2 Assembling the PV panels 7.3 Distributed generation? 6.2 Assessing the wind resource 4.2 Experience in Grimsby 5 6 7 .6.3 Off-grid applications 7.2 Hydropower in Snowdonia Marine renewables 6.5 Limpet and Osprey 6.6.1 Wind-turbine components 4.6 Stingray 6.3 Installing a wind turbine 4.1 Sustainable Lambeth Panel 7.1 Power from water 22.214.171.124.3 Pelamis 6.5 Adding hydro to the system 5.1 Biomass 3.1 Marine Current Turbines 6.4 The route from research to industry 6.3 Ground-source heat Panel 3.1 Reviving old mills Panel 5.2 Solar water heating 3.4 Fred Olsen 6.1 Photovoltaic power 7.3 Assessing hydro sites 5.4 Environmental effects 5.5 Making the connection Panel 4.2 Wind across the Mersey Hydropower 126.96.36.199 Ground heat in Cornwall 34 34 35 36 38 41 41 43 43 44 46 46 48 51 52 53 54 55 56 56 57 58 61 61 61 62 62 63 64 65 65 66 66 66 69 69 70 71 71 74 75 4 Wind power 4.1 Wave and tidal power 6.4.6 Extracting the energy Panel 5.2 The UK’s hydropower potential 5.
3 Gas storage 10.2 Pumped storage 10.4 Fuel-cell applications 11.4 Developing domestic technologies 8.7 Demand response 12.1 Norway’s hydrogen experiment Panel 10.List of contents 8 Combined heat and power 8.2 Fuel-cell configuration 11.8 Dealing with transients vii 77 77 78 79 80 80 82 83 85 87 87 88 89 90 91 92 95 95 96 98 98 99 99 100 102 103 105 105 106 106 108 109 111 111 111 112 112 113 114 115 115 9 10 11 12 .2 London housing Biomass 9.5 Centrifuges 10.3 Solid-oxide fuel cells 11.4 Reactive power 12.3 Battery powered Fuel cells 11.6 Bringing on the reserve 12.6 What is pyrolysis? Energy storage 10.5 Maintaining the supply quality 12.4 Batteries 10.2 Voltage 12.5 Wood-fuel research 9.1 Biomass fuels 9.1 How fuel cells work 11.3 Wood-energy strategies 9.1 Good projects on paper Panel 8.2 Hydrogen in Iceland Panel 10.6 Moving to a hydrogen economy Panel 10.3 Frequency 12.6 Who would buy? Panel 8.2 EU Directive support 8.1 Voltage and frequency 12.2 Heating programmes 9.1 Diverse energy in the network 10.3 Domestic CHP 8.5 Developing the industry Interacting with the electricity grid 12.4 Wood for Wales 9.5 Development issues 8.1 The UK CHP programme 8.
8 Distribution and private wires Panel 13.5 DEFRA support 16.3 Step 3: Install suitable metering 15.4 Grants 16.1.5 New charging regimes 15.1.viii Local energy 12.2 Step 2: Get a connection agreement 15.4 Step 4: Install a ROC meter 15.4 Shallowish connection 15.4 Small generators 14.1 Costs 14.3.2 Planning progress 13.9 Transmission/distribution interaction 12.3 New incentives 14.1 Renewables Obligation 16.5 A microgeneration strategy 13.1.5 Step 5: Arrange a tariff with your electricity supplier 15.2 The connection agreement 15.6 DTI grants 14 15 16 .6 Constraining connection? Finance and local generation 16.2 Registered power zones 14.1.1 Step 1: Decide on your system 15.7 Licensing 13.2 Embedded benefits 14.1 Innovation funding incentive 14.2 Electricity trading arrangements 16.1 Connection standards 15.6 Re-examining the remaining barriers 188.8.131.52 How planning works Embedded benefits 14.10 Adding microgeneration 117 119 121 121 122 124 125 126 128 129 129 130 135 135 136 137 137 137 138 138 141 141 141 142 142 142 143 143 144 145 146 147 149 150 152 153 154 155 156 13 Making progress on policy 13.3 Climate Change Levy 16.1 Government strategy 13.3 Rethinking the network 15.3 Domestic changes 13.5 Consolidation Connecting and exporting power 15.4 Scotland and Wales approach 13.
4 MicroCHP for homes 18.2 The 28-day rule 17.6 Thameswey 17.1 Baywind Panel 17.5 The CHP scheme 17.4 Making the case for local energy Panel 19.1 Greenpeace’s wish list ix 159 159 159 162 162 162 163 163 164 164 165 165 166 167 169 169 170 171 171 172 173 174 174 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 189 18 19 Bibliography Index .5 Small-CHP for business 18.9 Incorporation 17.List of contents 17 Changing the industry: ESCos and cooperative power ownership 17.11 Full cooperation Panel 17.3 The affinity deal 17.1 Load factors and variability 18.2 Trading outside Europe 19.6 Replacing generation? 18.1 The EU Emissions Trading Scheme 19.10 Not-for-profit 17.2 Micropower efficiency 18.7 Saving carbon 18.1.3 Carbon trading for commerce and industry 19.1.7 The legal framework 17.8 Community Interest Companies 17.2 Setting up the ETS Phase 2 19.3 Progress of the field trial 18.1 Results from Phase 1 19.4 The energy club 17.8 Changing energy patterns Putting a price on carbon 19.1 Energy-services companies 17.2 Cooperative wind Output and generation 18.
a method that had been directly used for centuries to move grindstones for milling flour. an electric current flowed in the wire. for example. Michael Faraday. an electric current and movement. In fact. ponds and adjustable gates or sluices. This might be water. in its very early days. Of course. in sheds or cellars. Experimenters had been investigating the phenomena of static electricity and magnetism for more than 200 years up to that point and had reported on a variety of interesting results. One way would be to attach the conductor directly to an object moved by some other force. Their names are commemorated in some of the units used to measure the effects they discovered – the ohm. tesla and ampere. allowing water to be conserved so that it was available at times when the river would otherwise have too little water to allow the water-wheel to operate. if he moved a magnet through a loop of wire. equally.Chapter 1 Developing the UK’s energy infrastructure 1. Any two of these components together will produce the third. He found that. once it was clear that electric current was a useful tool and could be employed in an electric circuit to produce light or heat. This is the basic principle of electricity generation: the three ingredients are a magnetic field. there are mills still in existence with nineteenth-century electricity-generation apparatus. and. used to direct the water and provide a reliable supply for grindstones. As a result. passing an electric current through a conductor in a magnetic field will make the conductor move – the principle by which an electric motor works. could be equally effective at ensuring electricity generation was reliable. falling through a mill wheel. Alternative motive . to generate electricity in a reliable way it was necessary to find a force to move the conductor within the magnetic field. With these three components electricity can be generated – or an electric motor set up – using very simple apparatus and at small or large scale. The IET commemorates one of the most important scientists. The current also flowed if the loop was moved over a stationary magnet. it was produced domestically.1 The development of electric power Scientists first began to understand fully and make use of electricity generation in the late nineteenth century. Dams. so that moving a conductor in a magnetic field will produce a current. first experimenters and then industry quickly began to make use of it and. who explored electromagnetic induction during a series of experiments begun in 1831. Using a mill was particularly valuable because many had millponds in place.
could be used to boil water and produce steam under high pressure. This arrangement can be very efficient. companies or local authorities. private and . the most attractive motive force to use to generate electricity was steam. because additional sets of turbine blades can be added. Parsons’s first model was connected to a dynamo that generated 7. used to drive pistons. But for industry. Measured in amps. with each set sized according to how far the steam has expanded. while the voltage (measured in volts) describes how much energy each unit of charge has – similar to the difference between the number of cars travelling along a road (current) and the speed at which each is travelling (voltage). but by 1914 there were hundreds of independent undertakings. In some cases they are used in conjunction with a gas turbine – known as a combined-cycle plant. where the steam is produced using the heat from nuclear fission. Steam turbines are still by far the most common method of generating power. which wanted a 100 per cent reliable source if it was to use electric power. in Newcomen’s and Watt’s engines. The entire steam turbine is in a cylindrical casing. Most were dedicated for use by a single industrial concern.2 Regulating the industry Generation began to come under legislative regulation in the 1880s and 1900s. and within Parsons’s lifetime turbines were built with generating capacity thousands of times bigger. The steam turbine was far more useful for the fledgling electric-power industry than the earlier steam engines because the result is a rotating shaft ideal for using in a stationary magnet to produce an electric current. The relative simplicity of the electricity-generation process and the use of the steam turbine meant they were quickly employed in both industrial and domestic applications. The steam turns the blades as it expands through them. or in nuclear stations. A further Act in 1909 regulated planning consent for new power stations. but mainly coal or wood. turning the centre shaft. or domestically were used for a few customers of a single site. But in 1884 Charles Parsons proposed a steam turbine in which vanes rather like those of a windmill (the turbine blades) are connected to a central shaft. The first Electricity Act in 1882 allowed the setting up of supply systems by persons.2 Local energy forces for electricity generators could include wind (‘harvested’ by windmills). Almost any kind of fuel. Initially there was no consistency between the different generators: each operated at its chosen current and voltage. That first turbine was soon scaled up. or in configurations where waste steam is captured at some point in the process and used for direct heat in a so-called combined-heat-and-power plant. whether in so-called ‘thermal’ stations. The names of Parsons and his US competitor George Westinghouse are still to be seen in the companies active in the power industry. where the steam is produced by burning coal or biomass fuel. 1. The steam engine had been invented and developed by Thomas Newcomen and James Watt. and amendments in 1888 made such new enterprises easier to set up. and was already used by many industries. which was originally. current describes the amount of electric charge moving in the electric circuit.5 kW of electricity. In fact.
Local authorities owned 264 stations and companies owned 215. A high current. It also had powers to control power stations’ operations and to establish a ‘grid’ of high-voltage transmission lines. but went ahead with other proposals to set up an Electricity Commission under the Ministry of Transport and a series of regional Joint Electricity Boards. as the war machine swung into gear and factories switched to full-scale production of munitions and machinery. the Central Electricity Board. It established a public body. has a much greater heating effect than a high voltage. but transmitting electricity along electric wires can mean that much of the energy is dissipated – depending on the type of wire. generated by 478 power stations with a total capacity of 4 422 MW. which had a remit to standardize electricity supply across the country. 1. among other things.3 Coordinating the supply In 1926 the new Electricity Act not only provided for existing undertakings to maintain control of distribution. and it was not until 1919 that legislation was passed aimed. Although there were 600 or so generators. By 1926 total sales of electricity were 5. when lots of charge is moving in the wire. The lack of connecting wires was not the only problem: the different companies still provided their power to different specifications and used different technical standards. if . at correcting this. this is the principle by which the traditional incandescent light operates. the rate at which energy is dissipated varies depending on the voltage and current measured in the wire.Developing the UK’s energy infrastructure 3 public. demand increased sharply. however. the biggest of which had more than 100 MW of plant installed. Another result of this relationship is that. were ineffective. which were intended to coordinate development. This allowed for economies of scale. but also provided for the coordination of new power-station planning and the control of power stations. in operation. A government committee set up by the Board of Trade and chaired by Sir Archibald Williamson had recommended that the electricity supply companies be nationalized. and at the same time companies who were producing more than required by their customers could not export the power. while others produced direct current. more efficient power stations that served hundreds or thousands of users. energy can be lost as heat. for example. At this stage there were few connections between local undertakings. During the First World War. they were unable to be fully effective because they were not interconnected. meeting demand of nearly 2 TWh over the year.8 TWh. The government rejected this proposal. Some generators were producing alternating current. The total energy is a product of the voltage and the current. The Commissioners regulated the industry but the joint boards. Power stations remained unlinked. They sold electricity for power and for lighting. and many technical differences. 24 different voltages and 10 different frequencies. However. Generators that for one reason or another had to stop producing power were unable to make up the shortfall by importing power from other suppliers. London alone had 50 electricity supply systems. The ‘grid’ was required because small domestic power generation was steadily being replaced by larger.
For steam turbines. from many suppliers worldwide. more step-down transformers are used to reduce the voltage to a level suitable for domestic users. The transformer could be used to vary the voltage and current to produce a very high voltage and therefore a very low current – ideal when power had to be transported long distances – and a second transformer could be used to reduce the voltage and increase the current to the levels used to power appliances. although recently the UK voltage has been standardized at 230 V to be consistent with the rest of the European power network. Finally. At the same time. One of the valuable characteristics of coal is that it can be bought. and vice versa. the need to transmit power longer distances was growing. Steam turbines could be made to work more efficiently as the size of the boiler and turbine increased. once again reducing the capital cost per unit of electricity.4 Centralizing power stations Why was it necessary to develop the high-voltage grid? Even back in 1926 it was clear that. Other pressures also drove the trend for larger power stations sited further from the areas where electricity was used (the ‘load’ centres). At lower current. one reason for the shift was the need to transport huge amounts of fuel to the big new stations. Large industrial energy users may take power from the network at higher voltage levels depending on their requirements. so the cost of a unit of electricity produced decreased.3) – an arrangement known as a transformer.4 Local energy the energy remains the same. unattached. as the electricity industry was developing. along with another well-known property of electricity: the fact that a changing electric current passing through a coil of wire that generates a magnetic field could induce an electric current in a second. Domestic power supply was standardized at 240 V for many years. a higher voltage must result in a lower current. Power designers took advantage of this relationship in designing electricity transport networks. economies of scale could be made. coiled wire (see Panel 1. Transformers are used to ‘step up’ power to high voltages for transmission and to ‘step down’ the voltage to feed it into the local network. and a network of local connections that carry electricity at 110 kV for local distribution. This was not just to allow power to be transferred between neighbouring companies among the 400 or so selling electricity: it also enabled the network as a whole to take advantage of economies of scale. and transported. less energy is dissipated and there is potential to transport much more power. If the power station owner is willing to link the plant closely to a single mine. But the downside is that there can be huge financial and environmental costs in transporting coal from the mine to the power station. it is much more efficient to build so-called ‘mine mouth’ power stations to minimize the distance that . 1. Now there is a national grid with some long-distance lines operating at 440 000 V (440 kV) and others at 275 000 V (275 kV) that is used to transfer ‘bulk’ supplies from major power plants to the major load centres. The result was the complex ‘grid’ that began to take shape after the 1926 report and has been expanding ever since.
so the electricity system in these areas tends to be on a relatively small scale and low in capacity – built to serve a few small users. Mountainous terrain is where suitable hydropower sites are most often found. The UK is a windy country. Norway. such as Wales and the far north of Scotland. has to transport most of its electricity from the north of the country to the major cities in the south. Instead. There are other potential benefits to the ‘mine mouth’ plant. the amount of electricity that can be generated depends on the amount of energy available from the moving water. It is thought that Lewis alone could host several hundred wind turbines providing electricity equivalent to a couple of the UK’s largest power stations. the plant operator can contract for long-term fuel supplies and. for example. other types of power-generating plant may have less flexibility in deciding on a site. But good winds ‘on average’ are not necessarily good enough for a wind farm to make economic sense. While for coal-fired power stations choice of site is a balance between transporting power and transporting fuel. Traditional water (hydro) power. which can vary considerably from deposit to deposit. . These areas tend to be those where fewer people live and where farming or other low-density activities are more common than industry. which usually requires either a significant drop. is immediately restricted to sites on a suitable river or near enough to allow water to be diverted or stored. powergenerating companies have to search out the sites that offer the best possible wind speeds on the maximum number of days each year – maximizing ‘fuel’ availability. the country announced a ‘coal-by-wire’ policy to site power generation closer to the mines and build high-voltage transmission lines instead. China has come up against this issue recently. Instead of choking the country’s train system by transporting millions of tonnes of coal each day. during its rapid growth in the last two decades and resulting need to supply power to its burgeoning industries. and average wind speeds are favourable for building wind farms in many areas of the country. The Western Isles of Scotland and the island of Lewis are a good example. While most of the country’s coal deposits are in the north and west of the country. But transmitting the electricity to places where it will be used in England requires some new high-capacity transmission lines to be built – ‘wind by wire’. What is more. which are seldom the areas where major load centres are found. which meets upwards of 90 per cent of its electricity needs from hydropower plants. for example.Developing the UK’s energy infrastructure 5 the coal has to be transported. First. the fast-growing industrial centres and cities of the southwest. These areas have among the UK’s best wind resources but have in the past been home to farming and fishing communities. The recognition that power stations can cause local environmental degradation and emit pollutants that affect its immediate surroundings has also tended to aid the shift towards using sites far away from centres of population and hence areas where the power load is highest. That tends to drive major wind-farm development to particular parts of the country. That can lead to significant power-management requirements in countries that are heavily reliant on water power. or a large volume of water moving through the turbines. the detailed design of the plant can be optimized to fit with the characteristics of the coal. the major load centres were. second. and still are.
However. For it to work successfully. 1. At that time the installed capacity of power stations was 9 712 MW. power-plant operators had to accept that part of their own supply could be diverted to other parts of the network as required. For these power sources it will be a matter of finding the best possible sites and costing the transport of power back to shore. 1. it requires transmission lines to be installed across both public and private property. Wave-powered devices will also be less constrained. to a varying extent. for example for power stations that had to shut down. the chosen sites will be an economic balance between the two. already a public board) was nationalized when the assets of 200 . Building new lines is always contentious. By 1939 it was 486 kWh. The fact of the grid’s existence meant that all electricity generators and electricity users were connected. In 1914 electricity sales per head of population had been 77 kWh. which is typically a channel between two areas of sea where the effect of the tide is very pronounced. so that the water moves much faster through the channel. These are of course entirely restricted on their location. in return for access to supplies from the grid. But the overall effect of the increasing scale of electricity generation and interconnected systems steadily reduced the cost of electric light and motive power. some other tidal devices will have much broader application and could be used to abstract some energy from less dramatic tides along the coast and in river estuaries. What is more.6 The Central Electricity Generating Board In April 1948 the entire industry in Great Britain (except the North of Scotland HydroElectric Board. Some devices rely on a so-called ‘tidal race’. the power stations could no longer operate entirely independently.5 Managing the expansion Building ever-larger and more complex networks to subdivide and deliver the electricity output to users did carry significant cost. The National Grid was developed rapidly after the 1926 recommendations. In 1939 this was formalized when the grid became a nationally integrated network with a National Control Centre under the CEB’s direction. and. What is more. they had to be willing to accept a measure of control from the grid. But. most new generators being 30 or 50 MW capacity. But it signalled a radical shift in managing the electricity supply.6 Local energy New types of water power will also have the problem of location. Part of the intention of the grid was to allow electricity to be moved around the network to meet users’ needs and to provide backup. what was more. and still does. By 1933 some 4 000 miles of transmission lines had been completed and by 1935 the grid was regarded as complete. power generators had to supply (‘export’) power to the network within strictly controlled current and voltage limits. Rated at 110 kV. The savings arising from the grid were large and demand grew rapidly. it was much smaller and operated at a lower voltage than the grid in operation today.
The CEGB inherited 262 power stations with a capacity of 24. A power-generating company had . At this time power-station sizes were increasing. The power stations and transmission network were run by a central authority within the BEA. following examination of the industry by the Herbert Committee and legislation.3 TWh and it split the country into five operating regions. 1. and some of the country’s largest coal-fired and nuclear stations came on line. In the 1970s the increasing demand and the larger power stations in operation required still more power to be transferred around the country. the CEA was replaced by an Electricity Council. Within each power station there may be several ‘generating sets’ or units. The largest single-turbine generating set on the grid is currently at Sizewell B. a coal-fired station in the north-east with a total rating of 2 000 MW from its six units. In January 1958. each producing several hundred megawatts of power.7 Monopolies and private companies From its earliest days the electricity supply system was seen as a ‘natural monopoly’ and it was still being described in this way in the 1980s. But bigger power stations meant more customers were required. and in this decade the 400 kV supergrid was completed. The area distribution boards accepted bulk supply from the supergrid and stepped it down to provide power to domestic properties. Economies of scale meant that building large power stations was more cost-efficient for the electricity generator. which came on line in 1994 and is rated at 1 200 MW. but there were several sites pumping over 1 000 MW into the grid. The industry was capital-intensive: building the generating stations and the network was relatively expensive. with ever-greater costs for installing and maintaining an extensive fixed network of wires. while producing and delivering the product once the infrastructure was in place were relatively cheap. owning such assets as the power stations and the grid. At this time work started on building the 275 kV high-voltage grid (known as the supergrid) that operates today. and annual sales of 40. whose function was to act as a central policy-making body for the whole of England and Wales.34 GW. By 1971 the CEGB owned 187 power stations with a total capacity of 49. and a Central Electricity Generating Board. which was to be responsible for generation and main transmission in England and Wales.28 GW and had annual sales of 184 TWh.Developing the UK’s energy infrastructure 7 companies. This assumption was both a cause and effect of the industry’s development. The largest power station of all was Drax. Output increased rapidly in the 1960s and was catered for by a huge programme of power-station and transmission-line construction. 369 local authority undertakings and the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) were brought together under the British Electricity Authority (BEA) – which was known as the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) after 1954 – and 14 area distribution boards.
From fridges and irons. A similar development had been under way in the supply of gas. in any case. In the UK. to PlayStations and home cinemas. including the gas network. while also powering all kinds of other appliances. to meet their customer needs. there was no restriction on domestic electricity use. appliances could be developed to make use of it. As with the electricity network. while suppliers with large service areas tended to invest in everlarger power-generating stations. generally near the fuel source and away from population centres. a series of publicly owned industries had already been sold to private investors. In the UK. In some cases – notably in the USA – power companies were privately owned. Within these power monopolies were generating stations. their investments and customer pricing were overseen by the government. and build them at the most economic site. a high-voltage transmission network and local ‘area boards’ that operated the low-voltage network and supplied power to domestic customers. but their ability to decide investment and set customer prices was limited by independent Public Utility Boards. The result was that it was assumed that power companies should be awarded monopoly supply rights within their areas. With an electricity supply in place the arguments for a gas supply become still less favourable. This industry structure was largely replicated worldwide. electricity supply was quickly seen as a ‘public good’. but also partly because once an electricity supply is in place it can provide the heat that the gas would supply. a state-owned monopoly – British Gas – was set up to procure gas and supply it to domestic and industrial customers. The monopoly structure helped determine the industry’s development. The UK’s gas network is still less extensive than the electricity network. and a requirement almost as basic as a water supply. It worked extremely well and customers – especially domestic customers – could assume that a reliable and unlimited supply of electricity was available at all times. Demand could grow ever higher. Nevertheless. The monopoly paradigm began to change at the end of the 1980s. both for space heating and for cooking. Once a reliable supply of electricity could be assumed to exist in every house. thanks partly to the high cost of burying pipes to serve small groups of isolated customers. and this is an important factor in electricity decentralization. Since they were monopolies. The CEGB was next on the list. Local or national monopolies generated and supplied electricity within a defined area and many were owned by the national or local government corresponding to their service area.8 Local energy to be able to rely on customers over terms of many years to make a return on the capital invested – and. that meant a single supplier over the whole of England and Wales – eventually known as the Central Electricity Generating Board – and two other monopoly suppliers in Scotland: the South of Scotland Electricity Board and the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. the UK’s gas network is very extensive. who scrutinized utilities’ work and investment programmes and agreed what prices were allowable. . supplied at first by local ‘gas works’ and later direct from North Sea and other reserves. A network of pipes had been installed.
Similarly. low-voltage networks are owned and operated by so-called distribution network operators (DNOs). rail. The supply companies. These local. there would be limited areas where competition was possible: building new wires alongside those already existing and inviting customers to switch between them was no efficiency improvement. products are transferred from manufacturer to retailer to customer via road. other freight infrastructure. in the so-called ‘deregulated’ electricity industry. Bulk power is transmitted across the high-voltage ‘motorways’ – owned (in England and Wales) and operated by a company now called National Grid Electricity Transmission (or just National Grid) – and is then stepped down on to the distribution network. focused on providing services for thousands or millions of customers. In this model. Electricity generation and supply to customers were two areas where competition could be introduced. At that time the strategy was not very successful. etc. In the 1990s this reinvention as ‘home service’ companies led them to expand into other services. and customers can switch between them without needing to make physical changes to their supply. transmission. are the industry face that domestic users see. or electricity retailers. They sell their electricity in bulk to supply companies with thousands or millions of small customers (or sometimes direct to very large users such as heavy industry). on the grounds that competition would be more efficient. the Conservative government under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher also wanted to shake up its monopoly supply function. the road network.. whose income is from ‘tolls’ paid by the generating and supply companies and who supply various other services to keep the network running. a group of generating companies build and operate electricity-generating plants to manufacture electricity. The result was a split into generation. Instead. using. but not owning. post. the government split the industry by function. say. billing and collecting payment. would lower prices and encourage innovation. Clearly. This model conceives the industry not as unique. such as providing vehicle-breakdown cover or financial services.Developing the UK’s energy infrastructure 9 1.8 Breaking up the monopoly As well as privatizing the CEGB. Nor could the government achieve its aims by simply splitting the CEGB geographically: that would result in a patchwork of monopoly suppliers instead of just one.and low-voltage networks constituted monopoly activities and would remain so. The electricity networks play the role of. Operating the high. except in closely related industries so . The companies that retail electricity are more like other major consumer companies such as banks. distribution and supply that has been widely copied among other countries that have also been changing the operating model of their power industries. The result is that what were parts of the same industry now have very different functions and operate in very different ways. but as very similar to other industries where manufacturers sell their products wholesale to retailers who supply individual customers. Among their major functions as companies are managing their customer information. The National Grid and the DNOs are monopolies. which step down the power still further and distribute it to individual premises and houses.
1. a fixed network and are paid via tolling fees that are governed by an independent regulator. as we will see (Chapter 5). as other consumer companies such as supermarkets have begun to offer electricity supply deals. however. but the market in which they operate is very different. One continuing complaint against the company. leaving little margin for emergencies. Building generating plants under a monopoly supplier was a low-risk activity. Although companies are required to keep activities in the different parts of the industry separate. giving companies more surety over their long-term return. but by the winter of 2005–6 generating capacity was very near demand. for example. Now generators compete on price to sell their supplies to retailers. The transmission operator National Grid has additional roles in balancing supply and demand and managing an active network. Now. and prices had risen to record levels.9 The effect of competition The industry privatization was successfully completed in the early 1990s. A stake in the generating sector ensures that companies will have sufficient electricity to meet their customers’ needs even in times of shortage. and their investment is driven by a market that may provide very little information about trading conditions over the life of any new plant built. The transmission and distribution companies remain superficially similar as businesses. as planned. the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem). .10 Local energy that most energy retailers supplied both gas and electricity. the industry tends to swing from boom to bust and back again. and competition did. With a customer base of millions and guaranteed income in perpetuity. the reverse happened. They maintain. take effect in the generating and retailing of electricity. whereas power stations are immense capital investments that require customers over two to four decades to provide their owners with a return on investment. and where appropriate expand. Both are seen as relatively stable industries with low risk and relatively low returns on investment. centrally planned and with assured customers for the life of the plant. Since a number of companies are making investment decisions in response to similar market conditions. the CEGB had an enormous research budget and could – in theory – invest in new forms of generation that might not provide an economic return for many years. So-called ‘forward prices’ give some indication of whether the electricity price is likely to rise (responding to a shortage of power stations) or fall (in response to overcapacity). the model has been revived. The UK generating market was described as ‘bust’ by one generating company in 2002. many large utility companies now have interests in both retail and generating sectors. and the peaks and troughs of retail and generating businesses will be different. whereas the local networks are passive. What it did not do was open the industry to different forms of generation and models of electricity supply – in fact. The generation companies have operations that are still rather similar to those of the corresponding section of the CEGB. But this indication extends only a few years ahead.
and gradual linkages forming between local areas to exchange supply and supply backup where necessary. was that public-sector inertia and an institutional belief in the existing model of ever-larger central power stations combined to stifle innovation. with local electricity generation for local use. requiring ‘cleanup’ technologies to be fitted to the plant and both incurring new capital costs and reducing the plant efficiency. . offered clean generation and minimal running costs. The result was a so-called ‘dash for gas’ during the 1990s. that were the subject of increasingly stringent regulations. electricity systems tended to be able to link. but also because oversupply drove prices down further. so it could start earning income for the company immediately. for example. with standards in place across the developed world. their domestic customers traditionally had little interest in or understanding of how or where their electricity was generated.Developing the UK’s energy infrastructure 11 however. an alternative model for electricity generation was being explored that went right back to the UK’s early electricity industry. But for private electricity generators gas was ideal. Investment decisions were driven not by the possibility of changing the power system but by the need to build any new power-generating capacity as fast as possible. once planning permission had been obtained – so they began paying back on their investment very fast. that could be employed at very small scale and without the drawbacks of previous technologies. new forms of electricity generation were being developed. As with the electricity generators. and this was borne out by the experience of so-called ‘green’ tariffs. and old ones updated. and it was very vulnerable to high gas prices. First. but had never been favoured – in fact was under a moratorium – under the CEGB. This ‘distributed’ model was somewhat different from the early days in the UK. Solar photovoltaic panels and battery storage. compared with using a diesel generator. The retailers were unlikely to find much take-up for different supplies. This drove down electricity prices for the whole of the late 1990s and the early years after 2000. so it was possible to stop operating them at times of oversupply when electricity prices were low. including sulphur dioxide and particulates. which offered customers access to electricity produced from renewable sources – but at a higher price. Elsewhere. What was more. The gas-turbine stations could be built extremely quickly – within 18 months. The proportion of customers taking up the option was vanishingly small. Gas-fired electricity generation was very well understood. so with the retailers. But when the private electricity generators took over. They compete on price. as gas-fired stations were cheap to build. gas was a ‘clean’ fuel: it did not produce the emissions associated with coal-fired plants. and at as low a capital cost as possible. what is more. It was true that running costs of gas plant could be high. the basis on which they could compete for customers among the retail companies was mainly the price of the electricity they supplied. and. Countries where there was no electricity infrastructure already existing were developing one that looked rather like the UK’s early industry. but the plants could be started up and switched off fairly quickly. which considered that gas was far too expensive and useful in direct supply to be converted to electricity. Second. partly because efficiency improvements meant there were savings to be made. The investment was relatively low.
The moving electrons transmit electrical energy from one point to another. One way to get electricity flowing is to use a generator. the excess heat that would otherwise have to be dissipated via a cooling tower or other ‘heat sink’ could be used. . such as a steam turbine. spring-loaded graphite blocks that press against two copper ‘slip rings’. or it could be used to supply heat to local buildings. there would be electricity fed into the system from a huge variety of local projects ‘embedded’ into the lower-voltage parts of the network. Electricity needs a conductor in order to move. What is more. That would mean that. There also has to be something to make the electricity flow from one point to another through the conductor. A turbine turned by steam pressure. the same as the grid supply (‘synchronized’). The loose electrons make it easy for electricity to flow through these materials. In practice the coils are wound in a soft iron cylinder known as an armature. falling water. They conduct electricity. wind.1 Generators Most metals have electrons that can detach from their atoms and move around. Neither the UK’s privatized system nor its power market supported this type of local generation. This type of combined-heat-and-power (CHP) plant was overall much more efficient. is used to provide the rotation. more reliable and cheaper to operate – but it would clearly require government intervention and financial incentives to make the shift. which in large power stations can be at 50 turns per second. Because the coil is rotating. A generator works by electrical induction. Panel 1. and instead the magnetic field is rotated around it and is referred to as the rotor. but also to shift the balance in the UK away from a centralized system so that electricity could be generated at whatever scale and site it was most efficient. known as an alternating current. It could make the network more efficient. if some were or could be sited near the power plant. etc. at high or low voltage. so that the frequency of the current equals the number of revolutions per second made by the coil. It was available for industrial processes. necessarily involves significant energy loss through the wires. as well as central power stations. By 2000 it was clear that government intervention would be needed to change the market structure to force it to invest not only in new types of generation such as renewables. In an AC generator the current is supplied to the external circuit by two so-called ‘brushes’. it produces an electric current that varies regularly. As the coil makes one revolution. one cycle is produced. Using the electricity at or near the generation point could balance out the economies of scale and be more efficient. if a heat process was used. It consists of a coil of wire rotated between the poles of a magnet. so they are known as electrical conductors.12 Local energy There was a second benefit to generating and using electricity locally: transmission. In a power station the armature containing the coils remains stationary and is known as the stator. which rotate with the axle.
which is known as a three-phase supply.Developing the UK’s energy infrastructure In power stations the stator coils are in three sets and the rotor coils are in three sets at 120 degrees to each other. This effectively produces three varying supplies that when superimposed provide a steadier power supply. Electricity substations generally house transformers that are stepping down the supply for domestic or commercial use. When necessary AC can be ‘rectified’ to produce DC. AC would be the better choice. and the powerdistribution grid depends on transformers. 13 Panel 1.3 Transformers A transformer changes an alternating voltage from one value to another using the mutual-inductance principle. it results in a fluctuating magnetic field. so conversion to DC would involve an extra step. It can be used to increase (step up) or decrease (step down) the voltage and current. secondary. such as the heat and light produced by the current in a wire. The amount of voltage induced in the secondary coil depends on the number of turns in the two coils. then the voltage induced will be Continues . electricity is more usually generated and transmitted as an alternating current (AC). If the number of turns in the secondary coil is twice that in the primary. for example. The drift can be in one direction. In a transformer two coils called the primary and secondary windings are wound around an iron core. which is known as direct current (DC). so. When an alternating current passes through one coil. Panel 1. the direction of movement of the electrons is not important. and is produced. known as the primary. AC has at least three advantages over DC in a power-distribution grid: • Large electrical generators generate AC naturally. • Transformers must have alternating current to operate. • It is easy to convert AC to DC but expensive to convert DC to AC. coil.2 AC/DC Current describes the drift of electrons (and in some cases other charged particles) under the influence of an electric field. by a battery in a circuit. the voltage induced in the secondary coil is equal to that in the first. If they have equal numbers of turns. For many of the electrical effects we require. if you were going to pick one or the other. However. which induces an alternating current in the other.
3 Continued ‘stepped up’ and will be double that in the primary coil. Similarly. Another way of looking at power is not how much is being used at any one second. A watt is a fairly small unit – there are around 750 W to the horsepower. although it may have been easier to understand when it was referred to as horsepower. This is also the ‘unit’ on your electricity bill – kWh. Local renewable-energy projects are often sized at a few thousand watts. the power available depends on two characteristics: the ‘current’ through the wires. 1 W (calculator) 40 W (light bulb) 100 W (TV) 1 000 W (iron) 1 000 000 W (factory) 80 000 000 W (UK capacity) .4 Power units How much work can you get done in a second? If you are a car. you need to know both. It’s a measure of the total electricity you have used – and how much you are paying. For electricity.14 Local energy Panel 1. power is defined as the energy available to get work done in each second. A low-energy light bulb doesn’t seem to draw much less power than an old-fashioned one. what kind of appliance could you run? For an engineer. you can calculate electrical power by multiplying the voltage and the current together. If the number of turns in the secondary coil is half that in the primary coil the voltage induced in the secondary coil will be ‘stepped down’ to half that of the primary coil. which measures how much ‘push’ it has. and the ‘voltage’. The amount of power that can be provided by an electric generator varies hugely. how far can you drive? If you are an electric current. where k is just shorthand for 1 000. Compare it to the traffic on its way around the M25: the current is more or less the number of cars passing at a single instant and the voltage is more or less their speed. while new wind turbines are up to a million watts. consider the examples here. so it’s something to remember when you want to save energy. The large power stations that dot British coalfields are each sending several hundred million watts into the grid. Panel 1. To get an idea of how much power you are using. Now we refer to it in watts (shortened to W). To get an idea of the amount of power available. But multiply that by the number of hours it operates and you will see significant savings over a year. which measures how much electricity is flowing. but how it adds up over time.
it becomes fairly easy to work out that 1 kg is 1 000 grams.Developing the UK’s energy infrastructure In scientific text there is a standard shorthand. and so on. so it is barely big enough. 1 MW is 1 000 000 watts. . Mega is the one representative of this group that has infiltrated nontechnical speak to any extent. p n µ m 0 k M G T pico nano micro milli kilo mega giga tera trillionth billionth millionth thousandth thousand million billion trillion 15 Once you start to pick it apart. accompanied by a standard symbol. the UK uses several hundred terawatt hours of electricity every year and the USA uses nearly 3 500 TWh. And although tera may seem like a lot. so that engineers and researchers from Moscow to Manchester can be quite confident that they are talking about the same size.
and there is a smaller peak in the early morning.. Retailers (‘suppliers’) buy the bulk power and sell it on to domestic and commercial customers.m. major repair and maintenance projects were planned for the summer months.m. making dinner and using domestic appliances.2 Generating power for the market The generators and retailers operate in a competitive market. In July 2006. In the past. to whom it is supplied via a low-voltage local network operated by a distribution network operator (DNO). Although there are heavy industries that require large amounts of power continuously. .1 Supplying and delivering power The UK’s electricity supply system works in much the same way as the supply of any other commodity. the National Grid had to warn that the system was dangerously close to its limit and appeal for demand reductions. high-voltage network operator (National Grid). The generators. and 9 p. The amount of electricity that is required can vary markedly. making contracts directly with one another to buy and sell power. this may require generating companies to alter their traditional maintenance strategies. 2. when demand for electricity was traditionally low. electricity demand increased dramatically in response to a weekslong heat wave. it is usually domestic use that governs the peak load. Electricity is ‘manufactured’ at power stations. as homes and businesses turned up existing air conditioning and stripped DIY stores of new air-conditioning units and electric fans. DNOs and retailers are very different companies. and bulk supplies are transported across the high-voltage transmission network. Generally the highest demand is in the winter. so they are using more appliances. So the highest peak is on winter evenings between 6 p. when most people are arriving home. With available capacity at its summer low. when people tend to be inside and it is dark for longer. This has important implications for the way the UK electricity system is managed. so some plants could be out of action for weeks or months.Chapter 2 The electricity system 2. The overall load in summer is lower than in winter but the increase in hot summers and the growing use of air conditioning have meant that the summer peak is increasing. In the long term.
2. nitrogen oxides. the coal can be stockpiled so there is a reserve in case of need. It is attractive to power companies for several reasons. So-called thermal power stations are those that rely on burning to turn a gas or steam turbine.3. as they reduce operating efficiency.1 Coal Coal was for many years the most common thermal fuel and still provides up to a third of the UK’s power generation and around half of all the electricity generated worldwide. it is a relatively flexible form of generation. They have been less flexible than coal plants once in operation. if necessary. as it means the system as a whole does not rely on a single fuel such as gas. as it helps the system to meet the varying demand. The gas turbine is much more efficient than a steam turbine. However. Fuel is fed in constantly during the operation. produces the most carbon dioxide emissions of all generating types. and there is some protection from price rises of a single fuel. mercury and particulates. A second attribute valuable for generating companies is that coal can be bought from a wide variety of suppliers and transported by ship and rail. It is also an economic benefit. 2. First.3. This diversity is generally regarded as a benefit. What is more. and the amount of fuel burned and the electricity output can be varied from hour to hour to follow changing demand. Coal. which works on the same principle as a steam turbine. New coal plants will include additional systems to reduce most of those emissions. both because it is operating at a much higher temperature and because there is no ‘steam raising’ where energy can be lost. however. Gas turbines can be started up and shut down. and similar cleanup systems have been ‘backfitted’ to existing stations. being started up and shut down twice each day. over a period of several hours to less than an hour. along with other harmful emissions such as sulphur dioxide. the amount of electricity being supplied to the system is also changing.3 Power-station characteristics Different types of power station have different characteristics.18 Local energy While the electricity being used varies dramatically. connected directly to a generator. and in fact some are used specifically to meet peak loads. meaning that most plants can operate at less than their full capacity if required (at ‘part load’).2 Gas The UK generators began building gas-fired turbines in the 1990s. although more recent versions are being designed . from up to 60 GW on a winter’s evening to around 30 GW at low-demand periods. Gas and compressed air are combusted directly into a turbine. and gas now meets nearly half of UK electricity demand. 2. they do affect the economics of running the plant. so they can be brought on line to meet peak loads. meaning that more coal has to be burned to produce each unit of electricity.
the gas being expelled is hot enough to produce steam that. In practice. wood and straw). or where there are neighbouring markets where oversupply can be exported. They require constant fuel feed-in during operation. as happens with France’s large nuclear capacity. What is more. 2. Power plants are often set up to detach automatically from the grid if there are large disturbances in the grid supply. In practice. can be used in a steam turbine. This issue of ‘power quality’ is discussed in Chapter 8. The UK has around 20 per cent nuclear on the system. in . These plants make use of the ‘waste’ heat from a gas turbine. In recent years so-called ‘combined cycle’ gas-fired plants have been used. as far as possible. because the conventional gas turbine burns gas at such a high temperature (the turbine inlet temperature is around 1 000 ◦ C). There is some loss of flexibility in operation as there are more processes to manage. so they can allow mid-scale additions or removals of capacity from the system. they can provide that power over a long period. electricity flows through the grid at a steady frequency of 50 Hz and maintains a constant voltage. is rated at 1 400 MW – so they provide an enormous input of power. these parameters are maintained thanks to painstaking management and balancing actions.g. They can operate for one or two years between shutdowns. and by ensuring that. so combined cycle plants are generally used in constant operation (known as base load). This dramatically increases the power available from the plant. and at very predictable cost as the fuel is a relatively minor part of their operating cost. the largest. or methane gas produced from sewage or abstracted from landfill. it is technically and economically undesirable. Although it is possible in some cases to vary their output slightly. In theory. not just by new loads or generators connecting to or disconnecting from the grid but also by any number of disturbances on various scales.The electricity system 19 to operate more economically at part-load. Nuclear plants are also the slowest option to bring into operation.3 Nuclear Nuclear stations vary in size but some are among the largest power stations on the grid – Sizewell B. the flow of electricity is frequently changed. as fuel loading is infrequent. as they can take several days to bring up to full power. It is a favourable option in countries where there are energy-intensive industries with continuous high demand. Disconnection. Thermal and nuclear generators include large rotating machinery (the turbine) that produces the electricity. In recent years other fuels have been used to produce thermal power. The result can be sudden changes in frequency or voltage and they can affect large power equipment as much as domestic-scale appliances such as PCs (computer shops sell sockets with built-in protection against such ‘spikes’ and disturbances in the supply). all the generators and loads connected to the system tend to return to that steady state after any disturbance. including biomass (e. depending on the operating regime. this means they add stability to the operation. Although it is referred to as waste. such as Sweden and Finland. But they are extremely inflexible in operation.3. but they can be sized at between one and several hundred megawatts. in its turn. as a self-protection measure. in the context of the grid.
but far more important in countries such as Norway that have a very high reliance on hydropower. as wind penetration is very low and wind forecasting is very good. This is a mainly financial decision in a mixed system such as the UK’s. predicting whether the wind farm will operate over days.3. The power has to be accepted on to the grid whenever the wind blows. it can provide an extremely fast response to changes in demand on the grid over the short term.5 Wind power Wind power now provides a small proportion of the UK’s power. it is impossible to guarantee that power is available when it is most needed (at peak times. and over such timetables short-term prediction is extremely reliable.3. and generation is available within seconds to minutes. Wind farms can offer fast response in some circumstances: if a large wind farm is in operation and expected to be so for the next hour. weeks or months is progressively less reliable. In that case the wind farm would be gradually ‘turned down’ in advance of an expected peak by altering the pitch of the blades so less wind is ‘caught’. Elsewhere it has led to accusations that hydro companies are ‘gaming’ the market – holding back water supplies unnecessarily to exacerbate a power shortage and force up the price of electricity. or save it for a later date when it may be needed more. Since it is available only when the wind is blowing. then kept there as slower-response forms of generation such as coal stations are brought up to power. 2. creates a new disturbance. and other forms of generation have to be cycled up or down to adapt. from a ‘fuel’ point of view. 2. but there are frequent periods when smaller regions have no wind. In the UK this is easily accepted on to the grid. Recent work has confirmed that there is almost never a situation when there is no wind blowing anywhere in the UK. As a result. and released to generate at peak times. However. so faults can propagate and the effect can spread. the heavy rotating machinery in thermal and nuclear plants has a certain amount of momentum that will carry them through grid disturbances (this is known as fault ride-through) and this adds stability to the grid as a whole.20 Local energy turn. However. not least because in the current market decisions on how much power is available and required are calculated within an hour of dispatch. There is no fuel to burn. and then turned up quickly by returning the blades to maximum pitch. However. so as long as there is water in the associated reservoir or river it is only a matter of opening the gates within the plant. Operators of hydro plants with water stored in reservoirs have to decide whether to use their stored water to generate now. for example). so water passes through the turbines.4 Hydropower Hydropower has among the fastest responses in the system. over the year there are periods when water levels are low and this can force so-called run-of-river plants – those where there is no reservoir – out of operation. This is the attribute employed by pumped-storage plants: water is pumped uphill to a reservoir at times when there is excess power available on the grid. there is a limit .
but can vary from a few days to a few weeks if there is major work to be done.6 Coping with grid variation The UK’s power system is well placed to cope with all these different sources. although the ‘fault ride-through’ of conventional generation can now be replicated using electronic systems. The effect is marked when the surrounding air temperature is above 30 ◦ C. Wind is the most obviously affected: it does not generate if the wind does not blow. When the weather gets hotter. for example. problems inside the power station or in the switchyard (which connects the station to the power lines) could shut the plant down. although the natural variability of wind power would eventually add to the cost of operating the UK system. Power plants do not operate continuously. as the variability is barely detectable within the natural variability of the mixed system as a whole. Gas turbines.The electricity system 21 to how much conventional generation they can replace on the system and. which also means that the total amount of electricity available to the system at such times is much lower. There are other types of planned closure: they have to be shut down at regular intervals to allow maintenance work to be carried out.3. its value may begin to decrease above 10 to 20 per cent wind. and indeed their diversity gives system operators a useful set of different options to meet the system’s varying needs. plants can suffer unplanned shutdowns for a number of reasons. some are designed to operate only during peak periods and are expected to shut down twice a day. the mass rate of the compressed air decreases because warmer air has a lower density. This can mean demand surges are difficult to meet. they also have different operating characteristics depending on local conditions. . As well as plants coming in and out of service. They may be shut down as a self-protection measure if there are disturbances on the grid that could affect the power station. Alternatively. If surrounding temperatures are above 40 ◦ C – unlikely in the UK but common in other countries – power supplied can drop by 35 per cent. are greatly affected by the external temperature. so a turbine’s power output is directly proportional to the mass rate of the compressed air that enters the system. Most of these maintenance ‘outages’ are currently planned for the low-demand periods in the summer. 2. As well as planned outages. even though the surge is still much lower than the winter peak: this was the case in summer 2006. although estimates vary depending on other grid characteristics. Maintenance shutdowns vary in frequency and length depending on the type of plant involved. Grid stability may also be affected at high wind penetration because wind is generally designed to disconnect in the event of a fault. But it is not the only plant where weather has an important role to play. so the turbine’s power output decreases. for example. the technical effect of the variability is insignificant up to at least 10 per cent wind penetration. As we have seen. In recent years the National Grid has estimated that. when demand for air conditioning during July’s hot weather meant the system operator had to send out an emergency call for more power. They work by burning natural gas or a fuel oil with a fixed volumetric rate of compressed air.
Electricity can be bought and sold up to an hour before the start of the half-hour in question – known as gate closure. The bilateral-contract markets for firm delivery of electricity allow contracts to be signed from a long time – a year or more – in advance of dispatch (i. traders and customers. Protection takes the form of a spray that is released when the salt burden gets too big. suppliers. accept a risk that. Extreme weather events also place stresses on the system. In hot weather and especially at times of low river flow. Lightning strikes are relatively frequent. and their effect can be partly designed out by using autoreclosers. Similar temperature-dependent effects are felt throughout the system. high ice loads. Managing these faults requires investment in the high-voltage transmission system. so companies who are able to draw most of their power at other times can negotiate a discount. the actual point in time at which electricity is generated and consumed) to as close as 24 hours ahead of real time. which can trip and then reclose either automatically or on instructions from the control room. The weather may also have indirect effects. As National Grid explains. This includes long-term contracts between the generators and the large users or retailers. In just two examples. The markets provide the opportunity for a seller (generator) and buyer (supplier) to enter into contracts to deliver or take delivery of. which means that it is managed in half-hourly time slots.22 Local energy This characteristic of combustion turbines is very unattractive for the power producers because they have less power to sell. Electricity is bought and sold in the UK through a system known as the British Electricity Trading and Transmission Arrangements (BETTA). Buyers that are willing to accept ‘interruptible’ contracts.e. a given quantity of electricity at an agreed price. low temperatures (and consequent fog and icing). if demand exceeds supply. it may not be possible to add any heat at all without breaching the upper permissible limit. across a series of markets operating on a rolling half-hourly basis. Faults on the grid can also interrupt supply. in . Contracts may also take account of the time at which electricity is used: filling demand outside peak periods is much cheaper. just when the increase in outside temperature creates more power demand for air conditioning and the market price of power is also high. they will stop receiving electricity to reduce demand. Some protection is built in. In 2004 and 2007 several of France’s large power stations were unable to operate for this reason. in any paired combination. the west coast is subject to salt pollution from high winds. heavy rain. for example. on a specified date. and National Grid identifies high winds (in excess of 40 knots). Power stations that abstract water from neighbouring water sources such as rivers to provide cooling are strictly limited in the heat they can release to the river. There are three stages to the wholesale market. when the river’s ambient temperature is high. lightning and salt pollution as likely to contribute to weather-related faults. the arrangements are based on bilateral trading among generators. the capacity of the transmission line alters depending on the temperature because the high-tension cables expand and sag more at higher temperatures – a 400 kV line currently has a capacity of 2 190 MVA in summer and 2 720 MVA in winter. For example. These contracts may include special conditions that give generators flexibility in return for a discount.
It exists to ensure that supply and demand can be continuously matched or balanced in real time. The mechanism is operated with the system operator acting as the sole counterparty to all transactions. and. On a summer’s day a shift from clear sky to thick cloud adds an additional 5 per cent demand – requiring power from. It is known as the balancing market and is managed by National Grid in its role as Great Britain System Operator (GBSO). demand rose by 2 800 MW. This market is required because demand and supply on the system are changing all the time. Changes in consumption require the grid to bring extra power onto the system and it can be very sensitive. To assess demand it looks at the substation level and the individual grid supply points. The third timeframe operates from between gate closure and the second-by-second dispatch of electricity on to the system. which will add to both peak and 24-hour demand. But that does not mean National Grid can leave questions of load to the DNOs. An increase in wind adds 2 per cent to winter and 0. The game went to penalties.7 per cent to summer demand. and certainly in timescales shorter than half an hour. There is also a short-term market. sometimes known as the spot market. This kind of ‘TV pickup’ typically means that people leaving their sofas to turn on the kettle during the mid-programme break for Coronation Street can increase demand by 800 MW. which may supply a small town or half a larger city. As local temperatures change and more extreme weather events occur. Power exchanges enable generators and buyers to fine-tune their rolling halfhour trade contract positions as their own demand and supply forecasts become more accurate as real time is approached. That has a resolution of a 5–15-mile radius. That means that. human behaviour changes and the electricity supply system has to be able to respond. say. These are screen-based exchanges whereby participants trade a series of standardized blocks of electricity (e. National Grid has to know about the load in far more detail.g. four 500 MW gensets. The high-voltage grid that National Grid manages reaches very few of the country’s individual users. which operates through power exchanges. Some of the biggest changes happen when domestic consumers are all watching the same TV programme and there are commercial breaks. One big effect in the long term will be from additional air-conditioning loads. although the DNOs each supply an area with around a twelfth of the UK users. National Grid saw growth of 5 per cent in air conditioning in the commercial sector in the five years to 2002 and expects to see a further 6 per cent in the period to . In theory they can operate over long timescales of up to a year but in practice most trading is done in the last 24 hours before gate closure as companies check their supply and demand positions. dishwashers. etc. within minutes of their finishing. during low load times when power was cheaper. The biggest TV pickup ever recorded was on 4 July 1990 following a semifinal World Cup football game between England and Germany.The electricity system 23 much the same way as the Economy 7 domestic tariff offered cheaper electricity over the nighttime period to encourage users to run washing machines. the delivery of a specified number of units over a specified period of the next day).
essentially thermal stations operating in a similar way to a car in neutral. To this end. at the day-ahead stage. The magnitude of any imbalance between participants’ contractual positions (as notified at gate closure) and the actual physical flow is then determined. This was an important change from the previous market structure. for example. but are an important tool in matching demand and supply. Partial . meeting one objective in the market design. Other sources of short-notice power may be ‘spinning reserve’. The cost of buying or laying off power. such as the interruptible contracts mentioned above. or paying for demand reductions.24 Local energy 2010. As the government wishes to encourage both wind and CHP. and some appliances double their energy use when external temperatures increase from 18 ◦ C to 26 ◦ C. However. its position with regard to BETTA and the balancing market is under discussion. and was designed specifically to encourage participants to match closely their demand and supply. Power flows are metered in real time to determine the actual quantities of electricity produced and consumed at each location. Since the market structure was introduced the amount of power bought and sold on the balancing market has decreased. Often overlooked is that a 1 per cent rise in external temperatures increases the requirement for refrigeration – it increases cold-appliance consumption by 1. but it also includes CHP plant operators. and is known as the system buy price (SBP) or system sell price (SSP) depending whether the system needs to add or subtract power. which can then be released to generate power when required. which take advantage of low electricity demand and low price period to pump water to a high reservoir. and on the cost of power during the half-hour timeslot concerned. for whom the electricity available to be sold may vary depending on how much heat is sold. This may be hydropower.m. National Grid has offers to supply electricity into the balancing market that can be made available at extremely short timescales. National Grid also has offers for short-notice demand reduction. Such plants are net energy users overall. when they become the final physical notifications (FPNs). 2. varies depending on how far out of balance the system is. National Grid manages the system through another market known as the balancing market. These are continually updated until gate closure. This includes companies operating wind farms. In that case National Grid has offers in the balancing market from generators who will cut off their plant. submitted at 11 a. whose ability to predict is limited.8 per cent.4 The balancing market As demand and supply fluctuate. In some cases the system may have too much electricity available. in penalizing generators who do not match their supply and demand accurately. from the pumped-storage plants at Dinorwig and Ffestiniogg in Wales. The cost is charged back to suppliers whose physical supply was either more or less than they had contracted for and informed National Grid in their FPNs. it takes in those generators whose supply is partly beyond their control. all market participants are required to inform National Grid of their net physical flows in all the forward markets in so-called initial physical notifications (IPNs). There is also likely to be a rise in the residential market.
In company and investor terms. and the regulator provides for a return on the capital invested and efficient operating costs. and in the grid itself. Because they do not operate under competitive pressure. It is at the DNO level that most of the network development must take place that will allow embedded generation to become a significant component of the electricity supply network. The companies hold separate licences for each area and are governed by the terms of their distribution licences. their costs and profits are examined by Ofgem to ensure that their financial returns are reasonable. the DNOs are low-risk businesses. Reducing costs may mean an improvement in operations. and depends on how much work has to be done to maintain and extend the infrastructure. They are under a statutory duty to connect any customer requiring electricity within a defined area and to maintain that connection and they have other statutory duties to facilitate competition in generation and supply. Embedded generation refers to the fact that these relatively small sources of power are ‘embedded’ within the low-voltage network. and how much profit is allowed by the regulator. The BSC is administered by a non-profit-making entity called Elexon. as well as a variety of targets on customer service. or in some cases can be the result of introducing new technologies that make a step change in efficiency. 2. as work programmes and pricing are set on a five-yearly basis with Ofgem. subject to certain outputs being achieved. the regulator (in this case Ofgem) tries to mimic the effect of competition on the business.1). That has implications for the way the DNOs manage their business. rather than supplying power from the high-voltage grid through a grid supply point. network development and other ‘hardware’ operations. They have well-determined income and expenditure for several years. Companies known as consolidators offer this service. Since the DNOs are monopolies within their own area. to develop and maintain an efficient. The DNOs can make additional profit by reducing their costs. coordinated and economical system of distribution and to be nondiscriminatory in all practices. The structure of the DNOs is not very friendly towards embedded generation because they are ‘regulated’ businesses. and these extensive changes will be required in both company structure and financing. The amount of income that DNOs are allowed to receive is set by the regulator. . Each DNO can manage its own operating methods and capital structure.5 Distribution network operators The distribution companies (which may be a subsidiary of a utility with generating and supply businesses) operate in defined areas (see Panel 2. provided they meet their commitments to the regulator on maintenance.The electricity system 25 protection from the costs of being out of balance is most often gained at present from joining other generators and acting as a single trader: this should mean the unpredictability of the group is less than that of each individual member. or substation. The Balancing and Settlement Code (BSC) provides the framework within which participants comply with the balancing mechanism and settlement process.
First. or how much will be used. It is designed to accept power from the local substation and transmit it to domestic users. As we have seen. National Grid balances varying input from generators as their power plants start up and shut down. In areas where competition is not possible. But the returns are relatively low – high returns accompany high risk – and will continue to be limited by the regulator. It is managed with constant feedback from all parts of the system. if the expected generation does not appear as predicted. The changes that must be made to the DNO’s local grid are extensive. The effect of this is twofold. if the existing connection at that point has very low capacity. the investment will be wasted – and the DNO is unlikely to be allowed to charge the cost back to its customers. The low-voltage network is much simpler. however. in the generation and retail market. while the supply along the high street will be through relatively high-capacity components to provide power for commercial premises. so the DNO must take a very cautious approach to new investment. Remote areas are often the most attractive as potential sites for embedded generation.26 Local energy so investors have a reliable return. such as the distribution and transmission networks. Ofgem ensures that the market is operating effectively. on the high-voltage network. but. with demand from the buyers that alters throughout the day and across the country. and this can be reflected in operations as simple as working on a single-network connection – once the connection is broken a maintenance technician assumes there is no possibility of power from the household side. So. No DNO wants to take the gamble of upgrading part of its network to accept embedded generation under the current regulatory framework because. 2. day-to-day operation on the network is carried out on the assumption that flow is one way. what type of generation will be added. For functions where there is a competitive market. the cost of upgrading it may make the embedded generation uneconomic. Ofgem has no role in setting prices: it is assumed that the effect of the market will be that customers can seek out the most economic product. But the system is designed on the assumption that flow will be one way and will be sized for the likely load. as it is not clear where embedded generation may be added to the system. This is clearly a high-risk activity. The way in which it regulates varies depending on the type of activity involved and the market structure. single premises smaller still. licenses companies to trade within the market and helps arbitrate disputes. The other effect is on the network capacity. residential street wires will be smaller and the supply to remote.6 Regulating the markets Ofgem is the organization that regulates the UK’s energy markets and the companies involved in them. so that. work is required on the system. for example. To encompass the changes that will be required to include significant embedded generation. the nature of the DNOs’ networks must be completely changed. In some areas there are links between neighbouring areas. which allows flow to be transferred if. Ofgem scrutinizes the monopoly suppliers and sets how much return .
taking account of the needs of vulnerable customers. and its other priorities as helping secure Britain’s energy supplies by promoting competitive gas and electricity markets. those with disabilities and those on low incomes. Provided the companies meet their performance standards and are within their price limits. As part of this process it examines what investment is required to maintain or extend each network and what the operating costs are. and how these developments should be funded at reasonable cost to users and retail customers. consisting of a chief executive and managing directors. Ofgem also administers some of the government’s support and regulation schemes. such as developing them to accept embedded generation. The allowed prices and performance targets are set in five-yearly distribution price control reviews and it is at this point that the operators and the regulator decide on likely major developments in the networks. the distribution price control review that came into effect on 1 April 2005 included a specific incentive mechanism for the connection of generation to distribution networks. as an incentive. they can make efficiencies in operation and improve their level of profits. An additional development changed the basis on which generators pay to connect and use the distribution system. along with nonexecutive members who bring various other types of experience to the authority. particularly older people. Ofgem itself describes its first priority as ‘protecting consumers’. There were two additional incentive mechanisms – the Innovation Funding Incentive and Registered Power Zones – that encourage innovation in the connection and operation of distributed generation (DG). Ofgem is funded by the energy companies who are licensed to run the gas and electricity infrastructure. It then sets a broad range of performance standards for companies. including the Renewables Obligation and exemptions from the Climate Change Levy. Ofgem is governed by an authority. and how much they are allowed to charge to customers. The authority determines strategy. and regulating so that there is adequate investment in the networks helping gas and electricity markets and industry achieve environmental improvements as efficiently as possible. takes all major decisions and sets policy priorities.The electricity system 27 on their investment the companies are allowed to make. . For example.
Chapter 3 The heat connection and cogeneration So-called ground-source heat allows heat from beneath the earth’s surface to be abstracted. .
So far we have discussed the UK’s electricity supply industry, how it works and its major players, and how embedded generation fits into that system. However, this refers entirely to the electricity we produce and use, and it should not be overlooked that this is only part of the UK’s energy industry.
Energy use in the UK
When the UK’s Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) – formerly the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) – publishes its regular ‘Digest of UK Energy Statistics’ (‘DUKES’), it examines how much energy in the form of oil, gas, coal, etc. has been imported into the UK, and how much has been produced here, again as gas or oil (from the North Sea) or coal, but also from home-grown sources such as wind power, hydropower, nuclear power and smaller sources such as waste gases from landfill and energy crops. DUKES figures also examine the fate of these primary energy sources. Some of the gas, oil and coal is used in generating stations to produce electricity, but even when added to the hydro, nuclear and wind power generated domestically this represents only around 40 per cent of the total energy used. A large part of the oil import is used as petroleum for transport, but oil, gas and coal are also used to provide heat, and this is as important a part of the UK’s energy balance as is the electricity industry. Gas is a very important heat provider, for example. The UK’s domestic gas network is not as extensive as that for electricity but nevertheless has been expanding since the 1960s and now serves nearly 20 million domestic users – more than 80 per cent of the whole. This network is almost entirely dedicated to heating and cooking and there is also a market in gas canisters for those who do not have access to the network. A high-pressure gas network delivers gas to large-scale industrial users to provide process heat to industrial customers, as well as to the gas-fired electricity generators. The heat and electricity markets are intimately connected, because some fuels are used for both purposes and, equally, because electricity is also used to provide heat, although domestically electric space or water heating is often the most expensive option.
Support for heat and power
The heat factor has seldom received much notice from UK policymakers, despite its importance and the efforts of, for example, advocates of renewable energy and CHP, which often provide energy as heat. The largest support programmes for embedded or renewable energy are in practice available only for renewable-sourced electricity. The largest, the Renewables Obligation, requires electricity suppliers to source a growing proportion of the electricity they sell (the ‘aspiration’ is to reach 20 per cent of the electricity supplied by 2020) from renewable sources or pay a fine. Efforts to persuade the government to introduce a similar ‘heat obligation’ have fallen on stony ground, as the government has argued that the market is too complex
The heat connection and cogeneration
and there is no small group of providers, similar to the electricity supply companies, on whom the obligation could be placed. Why is heat an important issue for embedded generation? There are two reasons. Of more direct concern is that, as we have seen (Chapter 1), heat and power are often produced together. Sometimes this is deliberately planned, with a use for each product, in the CHP plants we have discussed, and sometimes the heat is simply regarded as a waste product that must be dissipated in a way that does not cause problems elsewhere. The second, broader, reason is one of policy. Embedded generation is encouraged because it allows energy to be generated as close as possible to where it is used, reducing the losses incurred in transporting it long distances and giving customers a far better understanding of how much energy they use and why. Together, this should greatly improve the efficiency of our energy use, both because there are fewer losses in the system and because greater customer understanding is seen as likely eventually to translate into lower consumption. This can hardly happen effectively if the energy being used for heat is left out of the equation. Because policies on renewable and small-scale energy have focused almost entirely on electricity, huge opportunities to switch to different forms of energy production and, in the process, reduce the energy – and carbon dioxide – bill of the country as a whole have been lost.
Take for example the opportunities to plant and sell energy crops. These crops are grown not for food, but to provide energy. There are a number of reasons why energy crops may be encouraged. They can be combusted to provide electricity or heat in preference to fossil fuels such as coal and gas. Burning the energy crops does release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but it is carbon that was absorbed by the crop while it was growing. Over the cycle the carbon balance is not zero, as there are some emissions from processing and transporting the crop and so forth, but the total emissions are far smaller than they would be if coal, oil or gas were used. Energy crops are also interesting as a new opportunity for farmers and agriculture in general: it is a relatively small step from providing energy crops to using energy crops to provide heat and/or power for local businesses. The government has attempted to promote energy crops but was most interested in using them to generate electricity, and at the turn of the century it invested millions in an experimental power station that would use a new process called gasification as the basis of a wood-fuelled power station. The National Farmers’ Union joined other wood-energy organizations to argue that the project was too ambitious: the technology was unproven, while the willow fuel would require farmers to take a seven-year gamble on replacing arable land with coppice. Opponents argued that developing both an energy-crop industry and a new generating plant together introduced too many uncertainties and it would be better to use energy crops in wood-fuelled heating boilers, replacing gas- or oil-fired boilers, until the industry was more developed.
But there was a long-term support mechanism already in place for electricity from renewables, so the project went ahead but was halted within a year or two by technical problems, setting back development of embedded generation from energy crops by several years.
Domestic heating is another example. Gas is currently regarded as one of the most efficient ways of heating the average domestic property in the UK, but although the gas network reaches more than 80 per cent of properties, that still leaves up to 5 million properties without access to gas. Those properties may use oil or electricity to meet their heating needs – both expensive options. There are small heat-generating technologies that can be used to fulfil the need for space heating or hot water, such as ground-source heating and solar water heating. Neither provides electricity, but both displace electricity or primary fuels such as oil, and they generate the heat directly on site with no transport requirements. Although individual projects of both types can apply for partial grants, the funding available to support these and other heat projects is very limited in extent and in the application window, being allocated every few years as part of the government departmental budget. The Renewables Obligation, which supports power projects, however, is expected to provide a subsidy for each unit of electricity generated until at least 2027.
Combined heat and power
The disparity is revealed most clearly in projects designed as highly efficient CHP plants. Well-designed CHP where there is an adjacent heat requirement to make use of otherwise ‘waste’ heat can raise efficiencies dramatically, increasing the overall efficiency of a steam turbine from less than 40 per cent to nearer 90 per cent, for example. This is clearly beneficial and policymakers have argued that CHP should be much more widely employed, with a government target of 10 GW. In practice, CHP is often employed where heat is the ‘premium product’. Industrial processes where there is a high and continuous requirement for heat, such as paper manufacturing, have generally installed their own boilers or turbines on site to provide heat directly and these projects can be as large as tens of megawatts. At a smaller scale, commercial or office buildings have a continuous demand for heat to warm buildings in winter and to drive chillers or air coolers in summer, which can be provided by an on-site CHP at the kilowatt level. Public buildings such as sports centres, hospitals and schools also clearly have a very large heat demand. In all these cases, heat would be the major product of the CHP plant, with electricity produced as a by-product either for use on site, or to be sold back to the local electricity company. CHP clearly offers huge potential for improving energy efficiency, yet the government’s 10 GW target has been receding. The policy focus on supporting embedded generation of electricity is one reason, and so is a UK electricity market that penalizes generation that is unpredictable.
The heat connection and cogeneration
CHP operators face considerable burdens if they want to supply their electricity to the grid. In most cases their output would be sold to an electricity retail company, since supplying electricity directly to customers requires the generator to meet stringent conditions to qualify for a licence and sign up to the BSC, the agreement under which electricity companies settle their contracts and reconcile them with the amount of electricity physically delivered. These administrative measures are generally too costly for companies with relatively small amounts of electricity to sell, and this is usually the case for CHP plant operators, since for most CHP the heat is the most important product and the amount of electricity produced is governed by the needs of the heat customer. The supply of electricity can be variable and at times of very high heat demand the electricity production may be very low. This means first that under the BETTA electricity market structure CHP plant owners would be in danger of being ‘out of balance’ on contracts to supply electricity, supplying either too much or too little to their customers, and would therefore be at risk of being charged balancing costs by the National Grid. Selling to an electricity retailer means this risk is somewhat reduced, as the retailer will be trading electricity constantly and will have a variety of sources of power and demand reduction, so it can balance its own supply and demand and will seldom be out of balance on its contracts. This makes the risk more manageable but it does not remove it, and of course the electricity retail company has to bear the costs of managing the risk. That is reflected in the price paid to the CHP plant owner for its exported electricity: slightly discounted if the potential exports are well defined and largely guaranteed, but much lower if the export is less predictable. The cost of exporting power into the market was recognized by the government when BETTA was introduced and in response it allowed for companies known as consolidators, who would bring together supply from a number of smaller generators. Several such companies exist but they have found trading conditions difficult in a market dominated by a few major electricity-generation and retail companies. The result of this penalty on unpredictability is that it is difficult to obtain a good price for electricity being exported from CHP. There is an exception, if the CHP plant is fuelled by biomass and is therefore providing renewable energy. This means that it receives a subsidy via the Renewables Obligation for each unit of electricity produced. Once again, however, this is not free of charge. Qualifying the CHP plant as a renewable generator and proving that the electricity qualifies for the Renewables Obligation again involve significant and continuing administration costs, which in some cases have been high enough to convince operators that the available subsidy from small export does not outweigh the cost of qualifying. Calculating the cost and benefit of being able to export electricity, and the income available from doing so, more and more potential CHP operators seem to be deciding that the scale falls on the cost side. The added expense of producing and exporting electricity is not justified by the price available for the electricity, and operators are more likely to use a very simple boiler with a relatively low capital cost but lower potential efficiency over its lifetime. Heat advocates argue that this problem could be solved if the production of heat at high-efficiency sources such as CHP or from renewable fuels received an additional
A plantation could be viable for up to 30 years before replanting becomes necessary. and there are potential problems in removing it because it is spread both by rhizome and through seed dispersal. Willow is cut back in the first year and then harvested every three to four years. On most sites it will take around two years to produce a stable crop. 3. Switchgrass – also known as prairie grass – is a native of the USA. and there are now several thousand hectares of these crops under cultivation – mostly willow. Willow (and sometimes poplar) is planted as short-rotation coppice (SRC) – densely planted. canary grass is a rather less attractive crop than willow or miscanthus. Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) describes as ‘offering a new opportunity for rural areas’.6. many potential embedded generation projects that could be generating heat and electricity at very high efficiency have been cancelled in favour of traditional boilers and electricity supplies that are much less efficient over their lifetimes and offer the electricity system none of the benefits of DG. for example).34 Local energy subsidy. In the UK a R&D programme has been started. After that time it can be harvested annually for at least 15 years. Miscanthus is a woody. But other fuels can be substituted for these fossil fuels that are carbon-neutral over their life cycle. Willow and miscanthus are at the stage of commercial availability and they are being grown now. Five dedicated types of biomass are at various stages of development. As it stands. with grants available both for planting and for developing producer groups. . which cannot seed. They are a renewable source of energy that the UK’s Department for Environment. relying instead on electricity from the grid. In Scandinavia. It has a lower yield and a shorter productive life. Reed canary grass may be next in line for development.1 Biomass Burning coal or oil to provide heat and electricity depletes a nonrenewable resource and produces carbon dioxide. rhizomatous grass. Work on using willow and miscanthus has been under way for some time and the two crops are being promoted by DEFRA. but some miscanthus. perennial. high-yielding varieties where the rootstock or stools remain in the ground to produce new shoots after harvesting. It is native to the UK and it is already planted as game cover. Miscanthus is not native to the UK – it comes from South East Asia – and the current lines being planted in the UK are sterile hybrids. where it is the most interesting energy grass. So far.6 Heat technologies What are the heat technologies that could be used in the UK to reduce the requirement for oil or cut electricity usage? 3. reed canary grass is being used both as an energy crop and to produce fibre (for paper making. although this depends on the productivity of the stools.
This is a ‘passive’ system – it has no moving parts and does not require electricity or other external power. The solar absorber plate is then installed in an aluminium-framed box surrounded on the bottom and sides with insulation and covered with tempered glass. The solar storage tank connects to the existing hot-water heater and feeds the preheated solar water into the gas or electric hot-water heater as hot water is used. Spanish reed and Provence cane. Biomass may also refer to various types of wood waste. this plant’s main claim to fame has been that it is the source of reeds for woodwind instruments. but there are mechanical and technical problems to be overcome. Danubian reed. The solar collectors and feed lines are protected from freezing by automatic drain-down controls. has to be very carefully selected. and are larger than buckets. 3. These ‘batch’ collectors are black-coated containers or tanks that are housed in an insulated metal box and covered with a solar glass or glazing material. giant reed. In fact.2 Solar water heating Energy from the sun warms water left in a bucket on a sunny day. All the new energy crops could be grown on set-aside land. or one of various other kinds of fluid that may have better heat-transfer characteristics or are not prone to freezing. Usually batch collectors are filled with pressurized water.6. Flat-plate solar panels require a constant flow of fluid through the panels. Until now. The ‘fins’ increase the heat absorption. Italian reed. so during cold weather they may have to be drained. also known as solar thermal systems (and not to be confused with solar photovoltaic systems. Water.The heat connection and cogeneration 35 Described as ‘having potential. Open-loop systems directly heat the water. The solar pump is activated by a differential thermostat controller that senses when heat is available in the solar collectors. which in turn heats the water. most of the extra warmth in the water does not come directly from the sun but via the bucket itself: the sun heats up the bucket. such as bark chippings. or recycled wood from urban areas. Also. which . Circulation of the fluid through the solar collector is accomplished via a small pump mounted on a solar storage tank. The simplest solar hot-water systems. they can be the cheapest system to purchase or build. This type of recycled wood. because they don’t have many parts. A black bucket will heat the water up faster because it is better at trapping the heat from the sun and passing it on. There are two types of panel setup. and they are at risk of freezing. the final energy crop under investigation is Arundo donax – known variously as bamboo reed. But their effectiveness is limited. which produce electricity directly – see Chapter 4) are pretty close to being black buckets. but still furthest from the market’. so they don’t need much maintenance. Batch collectors operate without the need of ‘active’ pumps or controls. It offers high yield. is circulated through the tubes. as if it is contaminated it will come under EU directives on waste incineration and must be burned in a dedicated and qualified incineration plant. The efficiency of the collectors was increased by using flat plates. donax cane. usually made out of a set of parallel copper pipes on a thin copper ‘fin’ that runs the length of the tubes. however.
allowing the system to operate during periods when there is the greatest temperature difference between cold incoming water. 3. The circulation continues until the temperature at the bottom of the storage tank is about the same as the temperature of the outlet pipe at the top of the solar collector. the efficiency and reliability of solar heating systems and collectors have increased greatly and costs have dropped. since they do not have to be drained and maintained.3 Ground-source heat In the winter. these systems will not corrode or scale the passageways in the solar collectors and pipes. Another small circulator pump may be used to circulate the water through the potable side of the heat exchanger. The system can have the greatest performance benefits at this time. the cooler water at the bottom of the storage tank is thermally siphoned to the hotter water near the solar collector by the rising temperature and volume of the warmer water. That energy is stored in the earth’s huge mass. scraping ice off the car and seeing frost on the grass. Active solar hot-water heating systems can also employ the use of heat exchangers that circulate heat-exchange fluids through the panels and feed pipes. Since the early 1970s. but can work more and longer when it is risky to operate open-loop systems. because the solar exchange fluid is closed off from the external atmosphere or isolated from the potable water through utilization of a heat exchanger. while the surface may be frosty in winter or cracked and . The heat from the solar fluid transfers to the potable water within the solar storage tank.6. One is that the anti-freeze heatexchange fluids can withstand freezing temperatures. The solar panels are usually mounted at a lower elevation than the storage water to be heated. Also. other than passive systems. This type of system is called a closed-loop system. Thermosiphon systems can circulate potable water or utilize a heat exchanger and heat-exchange fluid. but they tend to have the highest installation cost. initiating a circulation of the storage water through the collector’s fluid passageways back into the top of the storage tank. They heat water slightly less efficiently than direct open-loop systems.36 Local energy allow the water in the pipes and panels to fall safely back out of the solar collectors and feed pipes. In a closed-loop system the heated solar fluid is pumped through the solar collectors. and temperatures reached in the solar collectors. The heated solar fluid flows through a copper or stainless-steel heat exchanger located near the solar storage tank. Thermosiphon systems are a kind of ‘passive’ solar hot-water heating that employs flat-plate solar collectors. Low-iron. These types of system get the description ‘open-loop’ because the energy-collection loop is not separate from the rest of the hot-water system – i. There are several advantages to these systems.e. it is ‘open’ to using the same water. it is hard to think of the ground as a source of heat. tempered glass is now used instead of conventional glass for glazing. if maintained properly. For potable water systems. Improved insulation and durable selective coatings for absorbers have improved efficiency and helped to reduce life-cycle costs. so. But in fact the earth is being bombarded with energy from the sun all day – even in winter – and it absorbs much of it. Closed-loop systems tend to have the lowest overall operating costs.
Typically 1 kW of electricity used to drive the equipment will produce between 3 and 4 kW of heat output – very energy-efficient. Air ducts that can be used for heating or cooling flows are another possibility. concentrating the energy to increase the temperature. In this case an ‘open’ system can be installed. depending on where you are on the earth’s surface. It varies. But generally the energy required to run the system is only a quarter of the energy that can be produced – and that may be supplied by PV cells or a turbine. turning it from cold to icy inside and ‘dumping’ the energy as heat at the back of the fridge.The heat connection and cogeneration 37 dry in summer. it uses a property of gases as they are compressed and vaporized. The heat inside the building is reduced and is ‘dumped’ through the underground pipes. The heat pump can ‘step up’ the heat that comes from the ground. but vertical tubes are likely to have better performance because. the pipework is buried horizontally or vertically. Cold water in the tubes is warmed by the surroundings and pumped back to the house. In some cases horizontal tubes need be only 2 m or so under the surface. the heat pump. even at depths of just a few feet the temperature is fairly constant all year round. between 5 ◦ C and 28 ◦ C. it consists of loops of pipe in which water is circulated. Warm water from the aquifer is pumped up through one tube. Ground-source heat takes advantage of this constant temperature – and very often it can be used all year round. To do this. so that it helps keep a building cool in summer and warm in winter. The system does require an energy input for pumping and the heat exchanger. The principle is similar to the systems used to extract heat from inside a refrigerator. and cooled water is pumped back to the aquifer through a second pipe. Ground-source heating has three main components. The internal and external systems are joined by the third part of the system. . Sometimes another fluid with better heat-transfer properties is used. In the summer the system can work in reverse (and exactly like the fridge). in wells bored for the purpose. Outside the building is the heat-exchange system. This transfers the energy between the water pumped through the earth and the internal distribution system. the temperature is more stable. at greater depth. In some areas there is free water deep below the ground – known as an aquifer. If this is a so-called ‘closed’ system. Horizontal tubes are cheaper to install. Depending on the characteristics of the site and the requirements of the building. Within the building there is a heat-distribution system. which can be very similar to the radiators that distribute hot water around the house in a conventional heating system.
In any case. The site was carefully chosen. and it is traditionally a messy operation. . and. Then a plumber took over to install Calorex heat pumps supplied by Powergen as part of its HeatPlant kits. Of particular concern was installing geothermal boreholes in the gardens. while affordable. and had an energy policy aimed at providing affordable warmth for all its tenants. storage heaters) does not provide affordable warmth. a heat pump and a hot-water cylinder matched to suit the heat pump.38 Local energy Panel 3. have quite high heating requirements. This sort of space can be difficult to find in a small home. It was felt that it would be better to start with homes that have a lower heating requirement that would match the 3.g. and recent legislation on fuel tanks has increased installation costs. However. it took on many homes in need of renovation. In part this was because on new-build sites drilling uses a big rig. This allowed easy connection to the ground loops and a simple connection of the heating pipes through the wall to the plumbing inside. however. Some 14 homes at Chy An Gweal formed one of several sites that had small. These kits include ground loop components.6). There were concerns about whether the technology could be installed in these existing buildings. Trials of ground-source heating came about because it was a practical option for the Association’s pattern of small groups of housing. and the large amount of mains electricity used is responsible for quite high levels of carbon dioxide. low-carbon dioxide heating can be provided with gas-condensing boilers. PHA’s first experience with ground-source heating was in 1998 on a newbuild project – four bungalows for elderly people. Oil-fired heating is becoming more expensive as fuel costs rise. reasonably well-insulated bungalows that lacked efficient modern heating. A drilling rig around 2. mains gas is not always available. Cornwall had begun to build solid experience in renewables projects and PHA wanted to build on this. The heat pump is similar in size to a small fridge. A more ambitious project to fit the system to existing houses was initiated when the government’s Clear Skies grant programme started up in 2003 (see 16. particularly because the position must be accessible to the ground loop pipes. so the heat pumps were installed in a purpose-built timber enclosure fixed to the external wall of the properties.5 kW or 5 kW output of the type of heat pump to be used in the project.1 Ground heat in Cornwall When Penwith Housing Association (PHA) took over the housing stock of Penwith District Council in 1994. PHA has many existing homes in outlying areas with no mains gas that require central-heating systems.5 m high drilled two holes in each garden that are 200 mm wide and 40 m deep. Many of these. Conventional electrical heating (e. the association had still to deal with small groups of houses with ageing heating systems.
The heat connection and cogeneration Inside the house there was also some work required. The PHA project was made possible by the Clear Skies grant and additional funding from the local authority. 39 . Geothermal heat is often combined with underfloor heating but that could not be installed in the existing homes. and the latest components are designed for that approach. By and large. like radiators with low water content that heat quickly to provide a ‘quick hit’. it emerged that radiators were the best solution. With a heat pump. So the new radiators had the highest possible water content to provide thermal storage and there were fewer thermostatic valves because of the lower temperature. of which the Clear Skies Community Programme provided £47 000 and Penwith District Council £25 000. The householders were delighted to get rid of their old coal-fired heating. temperatures are more like 60 ◦ C instead of 80 ◦ C and it is better for it to run longer. which was fairly expensive and dusty. There are some changes in operation: a conventional boiler wants to deliver heat quickly and then turn off. The total contract cost was £136 861.
Chapter 4 Wind power Wind turbines are becoming a familiar sight. Thousands of turbines of this style have . 4. wind has been the most visible form of embedded generation. from single houses to large industrial users. So far. But wind power has many other guises that make it fit a variety of embedded generation needs. as here. as small-scale wind farms have been developed across the UK in the last five years. both as large wind farms and singly.1 Wind-turbine components The wind farms generally being installed share a three-bladed design that has become the standard offering from major suppliers.
so as to extract most power from a single site. Orange and T-Mobile. the rotor hub turns a low-speed shaft at about 20–30 revolutions per minute. With this sort of power you can power about six or seven typical three-bed houses in the UK. sized at a few hundred kilowatts. in contrast. is 1. Proven’s largest turbine. At the top. so it faces the wind. This drives an induction or asynchronous generator that produces the electrical power. light commercial and agricultural use.42 Local energy been installed worldwide. Driven by the wind turning the blades. However. a ‘yaw’ mechanism turns the tower head. Smaller turbines. and this acts to slow the blade down. The main components are as follows: • Tower. which relies on the aerodynamics of the blade. is described by the company as being the same height as a telegraph pole. In most cases the wind conditions improve with tower height. More commonly however. which starts the turbine operating when there is enough wind. or two or one – most often three – made of fibreglass-reinforced polyester or wood epoxy. As the wind speed increases. A long-lived UK supplier. often in remote locations where it is expensive or not physically possible to connect to a mains power supply. were more usual in the 1990s and are seen in their thousands in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe. Blades can be from 30 to 65 m long. the nacelle contains the electrical components. The British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) notes that small wind turbines have traditionally been used to generate electricity for charging batteries to run small electrical applications. BT. Proven Energy. The amount of energy produced by the turbine depends on the length of the blade and the area it ‘sweeps’ as it turns. for example. island . along with the rotor and nacelle. Rotor. • • • Wind farms and industrial users will usually install larger turbines. operates the yaw mechanism and controls the electrical equipment. In most cases this is connected via a gearbox to a high-speed shaft. on the 1 MW scale. The blades rotate around a horizontal hub that is connected to the electrical equipment in the nacelle (see below). turbines are available in smaller sizes aimed at the domestic and small commercial market. so does the turbulence behind the blade. Nacelle. Anemometer.5 kW and is aimed at light industrial. rated at 600 W. supplies a range of turbines. The smallest. This instrument attached to the nacelle measures wind speed and direction. New designs are increasingly using blades reinforced with carbon fibre. Staff enter the nacelle to maintain these components. Made of cylindrical steel sections or open steel lattice. There are three rotor blades. which turns at about 1 500 rpm. the tower can be from 25 to 75 m high. providing enough electricity to power lighting circuits in a standard three-bed house in the UK. The power output from the turbine can be controlled by adjusting the angle of the blades as the wind changes – this is called pitch control. At the top of the tower. the 600 W is used by telecoms companies to feed power into batteries for telecoms repeater/booster stations and has been used by the MOD (Ministry of Defence). This provides information to the computer controller. and it has undergone many refinements and been scaled up to as large as 5 MW. Such examples include rural farms. More common is stall control.
html (accessed 21. 3 Try to have a clear. smooth fetch to the prevailing wind. small electric pumps.5–4 m/s and their rated optimum wind speed is 10–12 m/s. assumes a wind resource averaging 5 metres per second (m/s).com/noabl). and foundations for the tower may be needed depending on the size and tower type. can be found on a web page called ‘Small Wind Technologies’ at http://www. 4.com/small/ technologies.3 Installing a wind turbine The BWEA’s guide. small-scale wind turbines start to generate electricity in wind speeds of approximately 2. 1 Get a reliable estimate of the wind speed at the proposed site.bwea. The ideal site would be on top of smoothly rising ground and away from trees or other obstructions – both characteristics will reduce wind turbulence and improve output. and ideally a year – by installing an anemometer. in general.g. ‘Installing a Small Wind Turbine – in a nut shell’. To assess the average wind speed at a particular site. a general indication can be established by using the UK wind-speed database (which can be accessed via the BWEA’s website at www.10. or to a point where it can be connected to the low-voltage grid. The generator must get acceptance for connection to the electricity distribution network. Turbine manufacturers should be prepared to help. a 6 kW turbine at a wind speed of 5 m/s will generate an average of 11 000 units of electricity a year. The BWEA notes that the electricity produced by a wind turbine over a year depends critically on the annual mean wind speed at the site – higher wind speeds produce more energy. over open water. for example. Typical applications are electric livestock fencing. if connected directly. This returns an estimated annual mean speed for a given Ordnance Survey grid reference. The effect of location can be dramatic.07). an instrument that records wind speed mounted at the planned turbine height. (if applicable). Proven Energy. Easy access will be required for erection. For instance. It says that. e. including security systems.Wind power 43 communities. 2 Mount the turbine on as high a tower as possible and well clear of obstructions. and sites just a quarter-mile apart may have very different characteristics. It is also important to ensure that the wind turbine can be easily lowered for inspection and maintenance. .bwea. lighting or any kind of small electronic system needed to control or monitor remote equipment. Location is also important for the turbine connection: it should be as close as possible either to the house. If the wind characteristics appear favourable they must be assessed over as long a period as possible – several months at least.2 Assessing the wind resource The first stage of any wind-energy project is finding out the available wind resource base. smooth ground or on a smooth hill. but do not go to extremes. boats and caravans. 4. This is how it summarizes the steps.
which is usually the most viable site for it. 5 Consult your local council as to whether you need planning permission. Field tests conducted at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory showed that placing the wind turbines between the building’s two towers. Appropriately placed. at the time of writing. wind turbines can benefit from the ‘venturi’ or concentrator effect created by buildings. Once the machine is under construction. considered a nuisance in rural areas. and it will be helpful to inform your neighbours of your plans at an early stage.4 Rooftop turbines Integrating wind turbines into the built environment poses some formidable challenges. acting as a concentrator. and REGOs [Renewable Energy Generation of Origin] and what type of onsite and/or export metering they require you to have (if applicable). The project is along similar lines to an aerodynamically shaped building called the WEB Twin Tower Building. The kidney-shaped towers also directed wind into the fixed yawed turbine even when the wind was coming in at a 90-degree angle to the towers. You should try to minimize the environmental impact of the turbine. Tall buildings funnel wind. In urban areas generally. Ambitious plans for another residential scheme in west London anticipated wind turbines installed not only on the roof of two lozenge-shaped tower blocks.44 Local energy 4 Use cable of adequate current carrying capacity (check with the turbine supplier. because it was believed the scheme would fail at the planning stage. But these effects are smaller for the tops of buildings that are taller than their surroundings. again you should find this out by consulting your local council. Noise and flicker. The results suggested that a scaled-up version of the WEB design would produce a . more turbulent and show greater directional variation than in rural areas nearby. Undeterred. London has a particularly low average wind speed of about 4 m/s. pursuing a scheme to install small 6 kW wind turbines on the roof of a 22-storey residential block. winds are slower. But a building’s shape can be used to force the wind through a turbine. 4. which has three 30-m-diameter integrated wind turbines suspended between kidney-shaped twin towers designed by the University of Stuttgart in 2000 as part of the EU-funded Wind Energy in the Built Environment (WEB) project. the council was. produced considerably more power than mounting them conventionally at the same height on an open site. will not be tolerated at all in towns. Hammersmith Council recently shelved a project to build an Enercon E66 turbine on a site adjoining Wormwood Scrubs. It increased wind speed by a significant 1 m/s. and architects have to keep this within acceptable limits if people are present. ask your chosen supply company whether they need you to be accredited for ROCs [Renewables Obligation Certificates]. and is unlikely to be the first-choice location for wind turbines. and vibration can threaten the integrity of a building if a turbine is placed inappropriately on a rooftop. This is particularly important for low-voltage machines). but some have already appeared and in the long term may contribute significantly to its energy needs. 6 For larger machines you may have to pay rates. Cable costs can be substantial. but suspended between them. which produces higher wind speeds. This can make a big difference to the economics of the installation. LECs [Levy Exemption Certificates].
if the project is successful. Charlie Silverton and David Anderson. The Wind Dam system uses the inherent strength of a building to intercept and collect wind energy using a vertical-axis turbine. from Edinburgh-based Renewable Devices. It is this design that BT has chosen to mount on its exchanges in Cornwall. the CATT’s three rotors are enclosed. BT. Developed by the University of Strathclyde in 1999. Research on the design began in 2002. stand-alone machine without the building. plans to replicate it at other sites. In recent years new designs for small-scale turbines have been developed. The insurance company CIS has also invested in roof-mounted turbines for its flagship CIS Tower in Manchester.5 m/s. The unit is caged for safety. . The patented combined augmented technology turbine (CATT) from Stratfordupon-Avon-based FreeGEN is another British design that has been designed specifically for use in the built environment. but now a new generation of turbines has been designed specifically for buildings. One of the main problems with installing propeller wind turbines on a rooftop had been vibration. The system can be incorporated into a large number of building types and also has considerable retrofit potential. Advanced aerodynamics make the rotor more efficient.5 kW Swift Rooftop Energy System. which consumes some 1. which start to generate electricity at wind speeds of 4. Developed in 1979 by Risto Joutsiniemi. One of the most exciting designs is the 1. complementing one of the largest PV installations in Europe. while reducing the noise emissions significantly.Wind power 45 50 per cent increase in annual energy yield in a typically urban setting over a freely yawing. The Wind Dam concept has completed a UK Smart feasibility study. but in this instance with a short aerodynamic duct. CIS is using small Windsave turbines. hot water.8 per cent of the non-domestic electricity generated in the UK and is struggling to reach its renewable-energy targets. the wind rotor of which is rotated by two spiral-formed vanes. Renewable Devices has also developed an electronic control system that safeguards the turbine in high winds and ensures efficient power extraction under normal operating conditions Renewable Devices won a Scottish Power Green Energy Trust Award to fit Swift Rooftop Wind Energy Systems to five primary schools in the Fife area to provide electricity. Windside turbines have been made to order since 1982. for example. while a circular rim around the outside of the blades holds on to the radial flow of air at the tip of each blade that creates a ripping noise with conventional turbines. The company also won the Scottish Green Energy Award for Best New Business in 2003. is planning to install rooftop turbines on one of its telephone exchanges in Cornwall and. Like the Swift. which works with an air-flow controller to boost the energy potential of wind speeds of less than 5 m/s. on the back of a DTI Smart Award. The Swift’s design engineers. the ducted-wind Windside is another vertical wind turbine based on sailing engineering.0 m/s and reach the rated output of 1 kW at 12. intended for rooftop installation on domestic and commercial buildings. There are other innovative designs. claim it is the world’s first truly silent wind turbine. lighting and computing equipment.
which are designed to have up to 80 per cent of their charge removed and repeatedly replaced over a period of 5–15 years (or 1 000 to 2 000 times). A battery-charging system provides you with a continuous power source for your house via an inverter. The estate also has working farms: two 200-cow production dairies. Although the Partnership produces few of its goods for itself. it may be connected directly into the house’s main distribution board or connected via a battery.46 Local energy mainly for use at sea.1 Off-grid turbines The supermarket chain Waitrose is part of the John Lewis Partnership. Depending on the wind turbine’s size and the demand for power at the property. Panel 4. This is the company that operates the distribution network in your area.and undercharging. ‘deep cycle’ batteries are used. Battery-charging wind turbines normally operate at low voltages such as 12 or 24. An inverter transforms the low-voltage DC power produced by a wind turbine into high-voltage AC power that meets the quality requirements of the electricity network. Their spiral construction makes them able to utilize winds of 1–3 m/s. 4. orchards. and need to be protected from over.5 Making the connection For a small or domestic installation. but are expensive and will deteriorate over time. although other types are available. and may not be your electricity supplier. If you have an off-grid site. wind-turbine connection is relatively simple. which makes the power from the turbine usable. To install a grid-connected system. Lead-acid batteries are the most costeffective. you will need permission from the local DNO. Grid-connected turbines do not operate when the mains supply is interrupted: they are designed to shut down for electrical protection reasons. a mushroom . DNOs have different policies when it comes to connecting small-scale renewablegeneration systems to their networks. in rural Hampshire the founder’s private estate is still part of the company’s portfolio. For a renewable-energy system. Batteries are usually essential in off-grid systems. The inverter converts the DC power provided by the turbine to the AC on which most household appliances and the domestic electricity system are designed to operate. They store low-voltage DC electricity. you would have a diesel generator on standby to cover periods when you had no wind at all for a few days (because batteries are typically sized to provide around 2–3 days’ worth of storage).
the turbine and solar panel cost around £1 500 to buy and install. The answer was to combine wind and solar power to run the sheds. The power supply is very simple. of that. that would not always be the case. Another farmer might want to use a similar system in an area where there was no power connection. The turbines are around 10 m high and can be easily moved along with the sheds. As the birds grow they require less light. Each shed is supplied by a single turbine and solar panel combination. when they are fully feathered. The shed is on skids. and the company wanted a demonstration project. and allow the grass to recover. which feeds an array of six standard 12 V batteries. so that it could be moved to fresh ground if necessary – to help avoid disease build-up. as the chicks tend to flock and can be crushed if they are in darkness. and. although at only 10 m above ground the wind is gusty and even within a single field the 13 turbines can be turning at different speeds. The birds arrive as day-old chicks and for the first six weeks they are housed in the shed. The wind turbines operate more or less continuously. The turbines and the solar panel trickle-feed the batteries. and the company found that it got power from the solar panels for about 15 hours in midsummer and about 4 hours even in midwinter. although there was a power connection running down the field that would be suitable. the company did not need any kind of planning permission. The 13 sheds were installed in mid-2001 and the first birds were installed in October of that year. The simple renewable-energy installations are a small proportion of the setup cost. The company produced a shed that opened at the sides. so that the chickens could move freely in and out. The company put this into practice when it decided there was a market for chickens that were free-range. traditionally reared and maize-fed. The energy requirement is fairly small. so the power requirement remains fairly stable over the 12-week cycle. Then the issue of heat and light arose. The birds also require heat. both in production and in developing the supply chain. The total cost of each shed was around £21 000. Because they are portable. but that is supplied from propane burners. The shed is lit at low level for 24 hours a day during the first six-week period. The farm also acts as a test bed for new methods. They have a 12-week life cycle and at six weeks. but more food.Wind power farm. a milk-processing plant and a plant-propagation nursery as well as cereal production. A small motor is required to transfer feed from an exterior hopper to feeding points in the shed. Each shed houses 1 250 chickens and draws 26 A. they can move in and out of the shed during the day and are closed up at night. 47 . and. and the sheds are moveable.
Its principal risk at that time (before the Renewables Obligation was implemented) was the selling price. serial construction and commissioning took up most of that time. There was also a concern about local wildlife. Mersey Docks decided to develop its own wind cluster. but it was eventually awarded a contract under the NonFossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO). so they can restart. but in fact feelings before the turbines were installed were very mixed. But the issue was resolved by altering the spacing of the turbines either side of the flats. As Mersey Docks was managing the project itself. as waves . The company says they have operated with hardly any problems. The flats have become a nature reserve and more recently a site of special scientific interest. sent a letter of support as it thought the turbines would improve the environment. as it is experienced in the project-management process and it felt the wind cluster was a small project by Mersey Docks standards. The turbines are installed on a road along reclaimed land on the shore and reclaiming that land had created artificial mud flats. Instead. Mersey Docks was the project manager. Uniquely. As for the local councils. with the conditions that turbine positioning and colour had to be approved. interference with TV reception and bird strike on the turbines. In practice. dust. who were concerned over noise. which gave it a 15-year contract for electricity sales at an index-linked fixed price. each turbine had to stand inoperative for two weeks. Objections came from a group of houses that are about three-quarters of a mile along the coast. The turbines are right on the sea wall and very exposed. because Sefton feared the perceived risk of bird strike. To reduce the inevitable risks in any construction project the company chose well-proven technology in the form of 600 kW Vestas turbines. on the opposite bank of the Mersey. But the planning authority was Sefton Borough Council and it denied planning permission when it was sought in 1995.2 Wind across the Mersey Mersey Docks and Harbour Company’s site had been identified in the early 1990s as having a good wind resource. Wirral. Permission was granted on appeal. Mersey Docks approached the wind cluster as it would any industrial project. but the wind company that first approached the docks did not take up the option. External grid faults sometimes shut them down – it is an automatic protection system – but the company’s own electrical engineer can reset them. The company decided to go ahead with six turbines. Vestas-supplied V44600s with a 50 m hub height and a blade diameter of 44 m. Construction began in late 1998 and – bird-education period notwithstanding – the turbines were in operation by March 1999. it used its own expertise in the installation.48 Local energy Panel 4. The Mersey Docks is a 2 000-acre site and obtaining planning permission for the centre of this highly industrial area might be thought relatively simple.
Mersey Docks is planning this next phase at a likely cost of around £7 million without a long-term NFFO contract. The company was so pleased with its turbines that it is planning to install larger ones in another part of the dock. The manufacturers are concerned about turbulence so they need to be away from buildings in an open area.5 million. if a transformer needs replacing it can be removed through the access door. It also needs extra protection against corrosion. downtime for the cranes and so on. and Mersey Docks is already considering what to do when it ends. The control gear that would normally be at the base has been raised to a mezzanine level. not be used at the docks.Wind power frequently break over the road. the turbines generated slightly more than expected. The turbines would be 1. which is connected to the DNO’s mediumvoltage system. The fixed-price contract is not for the life of the turbine. Mersey Docks estimated that during the first year they produced 10 per cent more than was predicted and the second year produced 15 per cent less. The price of ROCs means the power from the turbines will be exported. The dock as a whole has a good sense of wind because it also affects shipping delays. The connection was made simpler. They must get the spacing right. That included £1. 49 . which has a maximum power demand of about 35 MW. where normally it would be left unpainted. because it was entirely within the docks area. The project cost around £2. Although the delays in getting planning permission lost it about six months of the contract. The company expects to get payback on the turbines in about ten years. Its NFFO contract runs for 15 years. They are designed so that. Maintenance requirements are estimated at about a half-day each quarter for each turbine. The result is downtime in windy years – just the opposite to the turbines – and variability from year to year was anticipated. but Mersey Docks sited them in the base of the tower.8 MW or more but they must be optimized around the site. £400 000 for civil works and £300 000 for electrical works. But the prediction was slightly conservative. Mersey Docks dealt with the maintenance risk by taking out a fixed-price contract with the manufacturer that includes performance guarantees. Connecting to the grid was relatively straightforward for a large user such as Mersey Docks as the local grid is sized for large industry and the company has electrical works on site and regular discussions with the local DNO. The power the turbines have generated has varied a lot over the first two years. as Mersey Docks has its own substation at the port entrance. Normally the transformers would be in a separate building.8 million for the turbines. so there is a marine-grade coating on the outside and the inside is painted. That called for some additional weather protection.
Chapter 5 Hydropower Small hydropower plants use falling water to generate electricity. .
a reaction turbine is used. for example. because for some rivers records of river levels are available over several decades or even longer. slow-moving rivers. High-head schemes generally use Pelton turbines (named after the American engineer L. making the UK’s many weirs and sluices potential hydropower plants. Alternatively. Propeller-type schemes can be used for heads as low as 1 or 2 m if there is enough flow volume.1 Power from water The power available from a hydro-turbine depends on two things: the distance the water falls to the turbine (known as the head) and the amount of water flowing through the turbine. wind turbines. They may have a storage or settling pond similar to a millpond. hydro plants are several times more efficient than solar or wind power and with regular maintenance some may operate for up to 100 years. Between the Pelton turbine and the propeller.A. These bear some resemblance to water-wheels. Once installed. but they cannot be used for low-head schemes. turning the turbine and a central shaft that is attached to a generator. two other types of turbine known as Francis and Turgo turbines allow mid-range head and flows to be used efficiently. in that the water flows into a series of vessels (known as buckets). as developers have tried to abstract power efficiently from a variety of watercourses. Pelton). In this system. combined with rainfall measurement in the river’s catchment area. What is more. they can operate as so-called ‘run of river’ with no storage at all. 5. Pelton turbines can range from several centimetres to several metres across. They are described as impulse turbines: the impulse is transferred directly from the falling water. . their operation can be predicted with some accuracy.52 Local energy Water power has been a familiar sight for thousands of years. It also means that hydro-generation equipment has become far more varied than. The water turns the propeller as it passes through it. and this. The combination of these factors means that power can be generated from many types of river. Most people in the UK probably know an old water mill – whether or not it still has its water-wheel – that has been converted to another use. Small hydro schemes are unlikely to require a dam of any size to be built. allows drought or low flows to be anticipated. The skill of the hydro engineer lies in assessing which type and size of turbine are appropriate for each site. from small but fast-flowing hill streams to large. Instead. the water is passed through a pipe containing a turbine shaped like a propeller. and protects the turbines from damage from solids in the water by allowing them to settle out. which evens out the flow rate at the plant intake. But the water that powered a threshing machine or grindstones can be used equally well to generate electricity. depending on head and flow.
These issues are all considered in the design. Halving the head means that just a third of the power output can be produced. The total volume of water flow is also important. spending more on the turbine may save the cost of civil works. diggers and ready-mix lorries). the total flow may be very different from the amount that can flow through the turbine. access to the site (for cranes.e. The study rejected all sites under 2 m head and less than 25 kWe projected installed capacity – even where an on-site demand existed. Those 13 had a joint projected installed capacity of 3. sites that later came under serious consideration for development. as a siphon or submersible turbine would require less building work. because it has the biggest effect on the amount of energy that can be produced. for the same capital cost. For example. but rejected all but 13 as uneconomic. the power rating of the installation) is largely dictated by economics. debt funding generally requires a payback of 7–10 years. However. and decisions on one area of the design will affect other areas. whereas the middle.and low-cost bands tend to be companies whose major business is small hydro. or water drop. because of physical constraints and environmental requirements. extensive works would be needed to divert flow through a narrow channel. Its rejections included such sites as Sonning Lock and Whitchurch Silk Mill. Most small hydro schemes have lifetimes of more than 50 years. but. Low-head hydropower equipment in Europe generally falls into three cost bands. A 1989 study – ‘Small Scale Hydroelectric Generation Potential in the UK’ – by the Energy Technology Support Unit (ETSU) illustrates how past hydro assessments have been made. In general. The most important factor affecting the economics is the head. A smaller scheme will allow the turbines to run flat out for more of the time and so may lead to a quicker return on the investment. for example.186 MWe. But there are new sites that can be considered and there are many mill sites – some dating back a thousand years – in various stages of decay. the high-cost band can be attributed to large-hydro manufacturers scaling their sophisticated equipment down for small hydro. The choice of design capacity (i. It picked out 157 sites in the south-east. There are also existing weirs where it may be possible to install turbines to take advantage of the fall. In a wide but shallow river. fish-screening requirements and disposal of trash. The investment cost per kilowatt is generally lower for a larger installation.Hydropower 53 5. . There are also European manufacturers specializing in micro-hydro technology who have developed simple and robust technologies that can bring down costs for small-scale schemes.2 The UK’s hydropower potential How much small hydro can be developed in the UK? The general impression from assessments of renewable options is that almost all the UK’s capacity has been exploited. Other issues that can greatly affect the economics are the cost of grid connection and its distance. but sizing the turbine to the maximum may mean it cannot operate during low-water periods.
But the biggest environmental constraint is fish protection. almost all the low-head schemes are micro-hydro-sized (below 500 kW and exploiting less than 3 m of available head). flood-control measures and planning issues. In addition. TV Energy calculated a technical potential for low-head hydropower in the south-east of 13.3 Assessing hydro sites Estimates of the power that can be tapped vary enormously. TV Energy calculated that the technical potential encompassed 400 sites totalling 9 088 kWe.54 Local energy 5. but not the faster flow required for hydro-turbines. Access was often a problem on private land. In the first stage. of which 29 have a head of 1.0 m head (half that of the ETSU study) since anything less than this was likely to have a potential installed capacity of less than 3 kW and this was considered nonviable. The south-east is a good example: studies of the potential capacity of the Thames have varied from 5 MWe up to 25 MWe. Screens and barriers will be required and bypass routes (so-called fish ladders) may have to be built so migrating fish are not caught in the turbine. there are high levels of trash in the water that could foul the turbine and must therefore be collected and disposed of. TV Energy considered the sites first as a technical resource – looking purely at the physical options and the machinery required – and then a practical resource. During operation. possible electricity consumers within 500 m. Their technical potential was 4 118 kWe. or because it was obvious that there was insufficient flow – enough to turn a water-wheel and drive a millstone or other slow-moving machinery. The group’s report illustrates the difficulties in harnessing the energy from watercourses. . That means the turbine machinery will be relatively large and must have high flows to achieve a reasonable power. The group then assessed the practical potential. This was either due to a low head (in some cases weirs were only a few hundred millimetres high). having decided that a more detailed understanding of the resource in the southeast was required if it was ever to be mobilized. several hundreds of potential sites were identified from maps and other information. there are 45 weirs on the River Thames. considering environmental mitigation. then extrapolating the results across the region. Sites would need to have a potential grid connection within 500 m.606 MWe. the flow likely to be available for power. Thames Valley energy consultancy TV Energy examined the resource in more detail. Head is reduced during high-flow (flood) conditions. The remaining sites were assessed to consider: the degree to which silt from the river bottom could become a problem. largely because the results depend very much on the assumptions made at the start. A lower cut-off point was defined at 1. Together. restrictions on flow. In the south-east. After visiting more than 100 of the sites and examining 50 in detail.4 m or greater. but many of the sites were discounted. and other potential problems. the turbine/generator location.
producing some 5 320 kWe.024 MWe for low-head hydro in the south-east of England. In the past. especially in the case of a plant that is on a small river. TV Energy calculated that the practical accessible resource in the short term may be 1. 5. while a realistic view of the Thames weirs would be five of the schemes with the greatest economic potential giving an installed capacity of 900 kWe. The Environment . river plants and flow levels were likely to represent a significant proportion of the project budget. It is also likely to require a discharge licence for the water return – a dual licence requirement. and the feasibility studies and surveys required to assess the impact of a project on the fish and smaller species. the plant can affect the river flow and flora and fauna. Even in run-of-river plants where there is no storage or diversion. contributing 900 kWe. five had most potential. some mill owners appear motivated by a desire to rebuild and regenerate old sites and may invest in sites that do not apparently meet the standard criteria. TV Energy concluded that there may be a short-term practical resource of 2. poor economic potential and site access. planning. A further estimate was made of the likely short-term realisable resource that might be mobilized to meet the 2010 regional renewables target. some hydro developers have found the requirements of the Environment Agency to be onerous. many potential sites belong to the Environment Agency or private landowners who do not wish to develop them.4 Environmental effects Although the water used in a small hydro plant is returned to the river. Of the Thames weirs. Each hydro station where water is diverted requires an abstraction licence from the Environment Agency – even if all the water that was taken from the river is returned to it a few yards downstream. there may be potentially costly requirements. The project may also be restricted in when it can operate. What is more.064 MWe. such as so-called ‘fish passageways’ to allow migrating fish to pass by the turbine. Taking these constraints into account. In addition to the general sites and Thames weirs. Expert opinion in the hydro industry says that only sites above 15 kWe are likely to be developed. which means some plants do not operate in summer. On the other hand. These sites also number in the hundreds but the group considered that only around 10 per cent had technical potential and considered there may be a resource of some 276 kWe. TV Energy estimated that 120 sites had economic potential. to ensure river flow levels are maintained. TV Energy examined mill sites using records from historical societies.Hydropower 55 Taking into account such factors as the effect of nontechnical constraints such as sites where the environmental impact is likely to be an overriding issue. Before it will grant an abstraction licence the Environment Agency also has to be convinced that diverting part of the water will not change the character of the river.
The water source for our taps may be high upland areas that have high rainfall and a wide catchment area. According to the British Hydropower Association (BHA). the head may be hundreds of metres. The treatment works have to run constantly so there can be no shutdown when the turbine is installed or maintained.e. There are slots in our extensive water supply network where a turbine would be a positive aid to the system. they have to ensure that there is no possibility of contamination by paint. so there will usually be very tight physical constraints on the site. it must not create surges in the system. and in many cases the existing pipework is very old. All electrical components in the water-supply system have to conform to very strict. For many years hydro engineers have looked at the energy wasted in pressure-reducing valves and considered how best to extract it. Once it is in operation. A bypass system will be used if the turbine needs to be shut down for maintenance. hydro plants are welcome additions to the system because they have mostly predictable power generation and controllability. Once in operation. At this point the water may be under too much pressure and it has to pass through special pressure-reducing valves. The turbine is being added to an existing system. 5. For example.5 Adding hydro to the system Small hydro is not just about dedicated plants in remote areas. overall. the BHA says the potential nationwide is likely to be around 100 MW.6 Extracting the energy Energy from the water system may seem like easy pickings. 5. This usually requires a sophisticated control system for the turbine and special control arrangements that allow water to be switched to bypass the turbine when necessary. But there are priorities to be considered. internationally agreed standards to ensure they do not adversely affect the water.56 Local energy Agency said it would ‘take a positive view of reasonable and well-designed proposals for hydro power schemes’. or during normal operation to ensure that the flow is constant. The water is piped from its source to the water-treatment works near the users and that means that at the treatment works it is under high pressure – in hydro terms. i. the water flow must be tightly controlled so that water quality is maintained. oil or grease. . They are also extremely long-lived – at least 50 years of reliable life is expected if the plant is well maintained and some have had much longer lives. But head and flow are the components for hydropower and the effect of a hydropower turbine is to remove energy from the water and turn it into electricity. schemes already in operation in the water system provide over 25 MW of electricity capacity and. Why not replace the pressure-reducing valve with a hydro-turbine? This idea is not new. Switching between the turbine and bypass route must be ‘bumpless’.
That is a technical challenge because solids in the wastewater can foul or degrade the turbine. With the help of a further £2 000 from the EST. The energy available from each site varied. That tall order was thought most likely to be met by wind turbines. Each pledged £100. or falling into disuse. while some produced less than a kilowatt of power and were thought to be too small to pursue. The Energy Saving Trust (EST) stepped in with a grant for the feasibility study. were also too expensive. including two at Clapton. The group won the maximum grant from the Trust – some £88. In the end. who dropped out of the project. Panel 5. In some the leat (which carries water from the river to the mill wheel) was still in existence. and with matching funding from the district council the next step was to carry out a feasibility study to look at the sites and the finances. The varied capital costs and energy available meant that payback time for each mill was different. The study looked at the catchment area of each river. and by dealing with the Environment Agency. researching the best technology. South Somerset District Council decided they wanted 10 per cent of the energy used within the district to be generated from renewable sources within the district. the potential design output and the total energy capture that would be possible. At one mill a 19-year payback period was likely and that was too long for the owner.000 – which will cover around 30 per cent of Continues .1 Reviving old mills Mill owners in Somerset combined with the district council to investigate electricity generation. while some needed to be recut. water companies have installed turbines at reservoir outlets and have examined the possibility of including them at the inlet to water-treatment works where gravity-fed wastewater arrives. 11 mills went forward to the implementation phase. the flow. Other mills. although each has remnants of a mill building and some are in good condition. and bring the owners additional income. The council began to investigate the mills at the beginning of 2001 and found around 15 potential sites. At this stage South Somerset District Council and the mill owners went back to the EST for an implementation grant. All the sites are different. and.Hydropower 57 Elsewhere in the water system. for example. that could be used to generate electricity. the amount of work required at each site was different. and a new turbine design may be required. and all the other aspects. but owners were daunted by the planning process. that led to the development of a business plan for each mill. The answer was to bring the mill owners together. But the region also has many historic water mills that were now simply picturesque tourist features.
Since it is sited in a national park.1 Continued the project implementation. whether in cash or in kind. liverworts. the site was mostly in a commercial conifer forestry area. by 2010 they should all be reaping the rewards. Eventually. took several years to come to fruition. The group negotiated with several electricity companies to get the best price for the electricity that mill owners will feed onto the grid. There were very few embedded generators in the region. as well as planners. there were several powerful organizations to convince. The owner is expected to read the meter every six months and a six-monthly payment for export will be made. sited near Dolgellau. or accept the generator privately installing their own meter. Nevertheless. but several project owners invested their own time and did some of the works themselves.2 Hydropower in Snowdonia Developing small hydro in a National Park called for sensitive design and construction. While some had work to do to get their mills working again. A detailed environmental assessment was carried out using experienced ecologists. the price on offer from the utilities was slightly higher than the mill owners assumed in their calculations. planning for this project required careful assessments in an area so dependent on tourism. in the case of Ty Cerig. That means most of the owners will be moving into profit earlier than they had anticipated. Ty Cerig is a small hydro plant built in the Snowdonia National Park by Wales-based renewable-energy specialist Dulas Ltd. Panel 5. But by the time Dulas got around to Ty Cerig several of the other projects were well under way and the company says it had built up a good relationship with all the stakeholders. so they have not had to put in place a standard arrangement for export. Consultations were required with the RSPB and the Welsh archaeology service Cadw. The payment for the electricity exported will depend on the size of the generator. including the Snowdonia National Park. fish and invertebrates. so it is not a high-grade habitat and there was less conservation interest. Luckily.58 Local energy Panel 5. The rest will come from the owners themselves. At present they will either make an annual payment based on an estimate of the kilowatt hours exported. Finally there were the landowners: Forest Enterprise and a private landowner. to demonstrate that there would be negligible impact. The Ty Cerig scheme. Loan financing would be available from banks. . The main area of concern was the potential impact of the abstraction on populations of mosses.
in summer. It has timber walls and the roof is turf – this blends in and native species can grow on the roof. The cables were buried to reduce visual intrusion. abstraction cannot commence until a high flow of 189 l/s is present in the river. But at Ty Cerig the grid connection is only about 150m. depending on how far the project is from the connecting point – and a hydro plant cannot be relocated closer to the connection. The field at the bottom is a wildflower meadow and has significant conservation interest. these limits are quite easy to work with. The biggest problem was the abstraction regime. so 25 per cent of the flow always remains in the river and never less than a minimum threshold of 20 l/s. The maximum abstraction is 75 per cent of the river flow. The pipeline runs down a forest track so it was fairly easy to bury it. A pipeline carries water from the river to the powerhouse. 59 . Electricity from the plant is being sold to the grid. Furthermore. and weir and powerhouse structures are small and unobtrusive.Hydropower Visual-impact issues are usually of less concern on small run-of-river schemes such as these. the powerhouse had to be carefully designed to be as unobtrusive as possible. The cost of connection of such projects varies considerably. Similarly. the powerhouse is in a slightly more sensitive area. Turf was cut by hand and replaced to ensure fast regeneration of the vegetation over the route of the pipeline. At the bottom. where pipelines are buried. the scheme will effectively abstract less than 30 per cent of the total yearly flow volume. to give protection to the mosses and liverworts in times of higher temperatures and lower humidity. and the fact that limit on turbine maximum flow means that it cannot make use of the high river flows. Technically. so the powerhouse build was planned to allow the surroundings to recover quickly. using electronic controls. where the turbine is housed and the electricity is generated. Due to these restrictions.
Wave and tidal power
So-called marine renewables encompass devices that tap the energy of either tides or waves. The term is also used sometimes to refer to offshore wind as they share some development issues, such as making the equipment sufficiently robust to withstand the marine environment or transporting the power from an offshore generation site to the users on land. This chapter focuses on the wave and tidal sectors. Although the possibility of generating power from these natural resources has been recognized for decades, it is only in the last decade or so, with the growth of interest in renewables in general, that large-scale deployment has been regarded as more than a remote possibility. In the last few years, however, the view has changed. A large number of devices have been proposed that could abstract power from waves or from either the regular movement of the tides or so-called tidal races, where the tide forces seawater through a narrow channel between two areas of sea.
How much energy is there?
The UK has been investing in this developing sector for several years, driven by the large energy resources that are almost certainly available to be tapped from areas in the North Sea. The region has been an energy powerhouse for the UK for several decades, thanks to its extensive gas and oil reserves, but the end of production is already in sight: in the next few years the majors will begin to abandon worked-out sources, and the remainder will be the preserve of minor companies able to make returns on smaller or less accessible deposits. As oil and gas production begins to taper off, the UK’s aim is to transfer the extensive offshore expertise to new energy industries, and especially those that will abstract power from the wave and tidal resources in the region. Wave and tidal streams hold tremendous energy potential – but abstracting the power and getting it to shore call for significant engineering development. That means estimates of the usable energy from these sources vary widely. In Scotland, for example, Professor Ian Bryden, based at Robert Gordon University’s Centre for Environmental Engineering and Sustainable Energy, put some preliminary estimates on the energy available from the North Sea. With the caution
that estimates could vary widely depending on the assumptions made, he said his own estimate put the North Sea’s annual potential at 18–25 TWh of power from wave resources and 40–50 TWh from tidal currents, along with 60–400 TWh from offshore wind. Around the UK, the North Sea is not the only potential source of power. The Atlantic waves that beat along the south-west coasts are of interest to a number of wave-energy developers, and, apart from the strong tides in the area, there are also tidal races in some sites around Cornwall and Portland.
Is wave and tidal energy distributed generation (DG)? It is clear that in some cases this type of energy is highly concentrated in widely separated areas – the tidal races of the Pentland Firth, for example. If these areas were exploited fully, it is likely that large devices or arrays would be required in the area, and would likely be linked to the electricity grid through a single connection that could be rated at tens of megawatts. At the moment we are far from that situation, and the number of such sites is relatively small. In most cases, and for some time to come, the technologies being proposed are composed of arrays of individual units each rated at less than 1 MW, and arrays of less than 20 MW. If, as is hoped, the unit price of the technologies decreases as more are manufactured, they are likely also to be deployed in near-shore situations singly or in small groups. Many or most projects will be ‘distributed generation’, not because they are spread across the country, but because they will be rated far below the average 50 MW level at which projects will be directly linked to the transmission grid, so they will feed into the distribution grid. And these technologies will be ‘local energy’ and potentially have local ownership, when deployed in small numbers to serve coastal industries or communities.
The route from research to industry
UK industry has felt for many years that it ‘lost the lead’ on wind power: it was at the forefront of development in the 1950s, but it currently is only a component supplier. It is determined to remain at the forefront of wave and tidal exploitation, and the UK government has been willing to help support new facilities that are intended to shift technology from the research phase to development and ultimately application. The first centre is at Blyth on the coast of north-east England, close to the UK’s first offshore wind farm. It will house the UK’s most sophisticated wave simulation tank. While onshore development takes place in north-east England, Scotland’s Western Isles will be home to offshore work in seas that are ultimately likely to have wave and tidal generators in commercial operation. The £5.65 million European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) on Orkney is a one-stop facility for the industry to test wave-energy generators and other devices
and measure their potential output in realistic conditions. Its aim is to stimulate and accelerate the development of marine-power devices in Scotland, providing home-based companies with a head start in exploiting wave- and, later, tidal-energy technologies. EMEC is centred on two main sites on Orkney. One is a control and switchgear centre at Billia Croo, which is connected to both the UK electricity grid and four offshore testing berths, while EMEC’s main offices and data centre are situated in the Old Academy, in Stromness. EMEC offered several offshore test berths for wave-energy converters, along with connections to onshore laboratory and analysis facilities. The wave test area is now being followed by an area to test tidal-energy devices off the nearby island of Eday. The step from research to deployment of full-scale devices at near-commercial scale is a daunting one for any developer, but in the absence of new initiatives from the UK central government it was a local enterprise agency in the far south-west of the country that took the initiative. The South West Regional Development Agency proposed to install an offshore connection for wave and tidal projects that would enable several arrays of different devices to be operated for a restricted period that would enable them to prove their commercial viability. Although it is far from the northern shores where wave and tidal projects were initially demonstrated, the southwest has some of the country’s most energetic tidal and wave areas, and the project is consistent with an existing commitment in the region – one traditionally ill served by the existing power network – to develop renewable energy expertise. Wavehub, as the project is known, would enable developers to install demonstration arrays at a much lower capital cost, because one of the major costs – connection between the array and the shore-based power offtaker – would be removed. Instead, the projects had only to make a connection to Wavehub. The proposal would also greatly reduce other barriers to deployment, notably the requirement for timeconsuming and costly environmental-impact reports, and the need to wrestle with the UK’s notoriously obstructive planning process. Instead, Wavehub would carry most of the burden of these two processes, and the projects themselves would provide limited environmental-impact statements and would not require planning permission for any dedicated onshore facility. Preliminary work began on Wavehub in 2007, and the government pledged to provide a quarter of the necessary £20 million investment, subject to planning permission. It is expected to be in operation by 2010. Here are some of the devices where work is most advanced.
Marine Current Turbines
The tidal-stream generators under development by Marine Current Turbines function similarly to windmills. They will be installed in areas with high tidal current velocities, which the company notes have the advantage of being ‘as predictable as the tides that cause them, unlike wind or wave energy’. The technology under development consists of axial-flow rotors 15–20 m in diameter, each driving a generator via a gearbox. The power unit of each system is mounted
The Northern Ireland government hopes that in the long term arrays of turbines can eventually be deployed in the open sea off the coast of the province.2 PowerBuoy Ocean Power Technologies plans to install a 5 MW project at Wavehub. will be grouped in arrays or ‘farms’ under the sea. The company has also announced plans to investigate the potential for a commercial tidal-energy farm in waters off the Anglesey coastline. which will generally be rated at from 600 to 1 000 kW. Compared with wind turbines. in 2002 at Lynmouth off the North Devon coast. in turn. so the company says they have little land use or other environmental impact. The PowerBuoy system consists of a floating buoy-like device loosely moored to the seabed so that it can freely move up and down in response to the rising and falling of the waves. The submerged turbines. 6. There will be larger PowerBuoy . The company also has plans for a 12 MW array off the North Devon coast.64 Local energy on a tubular steel monopile some 3 m in diameter. marine-current turbines of a given power rating are smaller and can be packed closer together. The 40 kW PowerBuoy system has a maximum diameter of a little under 4 m (12 feet) near the surface. and is around 16 m (52 feet) long. drives the electrical generator. It benefited from being adapted from well-known wind-turbine designs and from the ability to raise the turbine above the sea’s surface to carry out maintenance. A seven-turbine energy farm in waters off Anglesey should produce 10 MW. The rotors turn slowly (10–20 rpm) – around one-tenth the speed of a ship’s rotors. The power-takeoff device converts the movement into rotational mechanical energy. it will then be removed. Marine Current Turbines has won support from Northern Ireland and from Wales for Seagen. the mechanical movement drives a hydraulic pump that forces hydraulic fluid through a rotary motor connected to the electrical generator. The sealed unit also contains a power-takeoff device. rated at 300 kW. In Northern Ireland. based on its PowerBuoy wave-energy converter. Marine Current Turbines completed its first grid-connected marine-current turbine. a power electronics system and a control system. an electrical generator.4. which is set into a hole drilled into the seabed from a jack-up barge. an undersea turbine rated at over 1 MW. As the buoy’s float moves up and down on the central spar. This is a research project involving a single-monopile-system tidal turbine to be installed for a period of between two and five years. the company is planning to install a 1 MW experimental turbine in Strangford Lough Narrows in the spring of 2006. with approximately 4 m (13 feet) of the system protruding above the surface of the ocean. which. The project has received £700 000 of grant support from the Welsh Assembly Government’s Objective 1 programme. at places with high currents. The risk of impact from the rotor blades is extremely small. The company has dealt with the problem of maintaining undersea turbines by a hoist system: the turbines will be lifted clear of the water to enable maintenance to be carried out from surface vessels.
4.3 Pelamis Ocean Power Delivery’s Pelamis system is described by the company as a semisubmerged. 6. 3i and Zurichbased Sustainable Asset Management for its first full-scale preproduction prototype. .5 m (18 feet) protruding above the ocean surface. But the Obligation was designed to bring the most developed technologies – in practice. onshore wind – on stream as quickly as possible: there is no incentive to use newer options that will be necessarily more expensive before they have achieved economies of scale and passed the uncertainties of new deployment. a planned 500 kW system. which forces electricity suppliers to source a growing proportion of their power from renewable generators or pay a per-megawatt hour fine. Power from all the joints is fed down a single umbilical cable to a junction on the seabed. The wave-induced motion of these joints is resisted by hydraulic rams.4 Fred Olsen The third berth at Cornwall’s Wavehub will be taken up by Fred Olsen Ltd. Several devices can be connected to shore through a single seabed cable. The Wavehub connection will allow it to demonstrate the technology in UK waters. tested at the UK Marine Energy Test Centre on Orkney (see below).4. The hydraulic motors drive electrical generators to produce electricity. which pump high-pressure oil through hydraulic motors via smoothing accumulators. A number of floating buoys attached to a light and stable floating platform manufactured in composites convert the wave energy to electricity. OPD secured £6 million funding from an international consortium of venturecapital companies that included Norsk Hydro Technology Ventures. The UK’s biggest stumbling block is the support it provides for new technologies making the jump from demonstration to commercial technologies. Oceanlinx has installed a prototype of its device. an Australian company. In theory. once developed and manufactured. is expected to have a maximum diameter of 13 m (42 feet) and be approximately 19 m (62 feet) long with approximately 5.5 m in diameter and have an output of 750 kW. which will install a multiple point-absorber system for energy extraction. The Obligation was supported by tradable electronic Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) generated along with each megawatt hour of renewable electricity. 6. articulated structure composed of cylindrical sections linked by hinged joints. at Port Kemble in Australia. will trial up to ten Pelamis P750 devices developed by Ocean Power Delivery of Edinburgh at Wavehub. Ocean Prospect Ltd. A typical full-scale Pelamis machine would be 150 m long and 3.Marine renewables 65 systems. For example. which uses an oscillating water column driven by the waves to generate power. all renewable-energy technologies are supported by the ‘technology-blind’ Renewables Obligation. The fourth will be Oceanlinx. a Bristol-based company and subsidiary of the Wind Prospect Group.
using the new test facilities on Orkney. be used as a prime power source for remote island communities. a company that provides equipment and services to offshore businesses including submarine cabling. Stingray consists of a hydroplane that moves in an approaching tidal water stream. Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) to support the development and demonstration of a series of three Osprey devices. would be rated at 150 kW. Wavegen won a £2. It rests directly on the seabed and is designed to operate in the near-shore environment in a nominal mean water depth of 15 m. it is expected to feed into an existing grid or. . use a partially submerged shell. 6. The Osprey 2000 is Wavegen’s offshore version of the oscillating-water-column technology. Following a feasibility study on the design. In May 2007.6 Stingray Stingray was developed by the Engineering Business. known as Limpet and Osprey. A larger version using two 250 MWe generators – known as the Limpet 500 – was installed in 2000. which in turn forces hydraulic cylinders to extend and retract. UK developers complained that. using a hydroplane some 15 m across. This causes the supporting arm to oscillate.4.3 million grant from the UK’s DTI (now the Department for Business. is alternately compressed and decompressed by this movement to generate an alternating stream of high-velocity air. which turns in the same direction regardless of which way the air is flowing across the turbine blades. As the water enters or leaves the shell. which began in August 2001.4. and the oil and gas industry. the DTI awarded the company a £1. 6. Rated at 2 MW.5 Development issues Stingray is one tidal power design whose development has been halted. although the UK government has provided support for wave and tidal technologies at the research-and-development phase. its support in making the leap to a commercial technology was inadequate. The air passes through a Wells turbine. A 75 kW demonstration device was in successful operation for 10 years and is now decommissioned. the level of water in the chamber rises or falls in sympathy. The Limpet version of the technology is sited on the shoreline. which will be sited off the Western Isles of Scotland. contained above the water level. A column of air. where a current meter installed on the seabed showed a peak spring-tide velocity in excess of 5 knots.5 Limpet and Osprey Two similar devices developed by Wavegen. At this site a Stingray 24 m high. The site chosen for the project was at Yell Sound. with a standby support. The high pressures are used to drive a generator.6 million grant to allow a demonstration project to be carried out.66 Local energy 6.
especially in the light of other changes planned for the Obligation that would maintain ‘headroom’ between the amount of renewables available in the UK and the Obligation (target) that had to be met by electricity suppliers. however. because of the structure of the Renewables Obligation the value of a ROC could vary considerably. What is more. although welcome. One problem was that the ROC payment was simply not high enough to support these technologies. may not be enough to convince potential project developers. Achieving economies of scale. wind and wave technologies in Portugal receive a guaranteed ‘feed-in’ tariff. . better performance means a better return. will give additional ROCs for each megawatt hour of electricity generated by the wave and tidal projects – double ROCs if the Scottish Executive’s model is followed fully. In contrast to the UK. Developers. Consistent lobbying for additional support in the UK was successful. What is more. following a proposal taken forward by the Scottish Executive. but it is not clear how effective the extra support will be. That change should maintain the value of a ROC. have argued that such a change.Marine renewables 67 The UK initially offered limited capital grants and ROCs – the UK’s major support programme for renewables – for all energy exported. and it must be accompanied by higher capital grants. It is an arrangement that is popular in several countries because it provides the developer with a fixed and certain return – provided that the project generates successfully. This should double the amount of subsidy provided for generation. would not come in the first commercial deployments but when they were being installed in the hundreds or thousands. In addition. and therefore lower prices. Developers argued that this was inadequate for this phase. making financing more difficult. most technologies would provide relatively low amounts of power from each single device. The UK government.
But if you want to generate electricity you need photovoltaics – PV for short. .1 Photovoltaic power PV panels turn sunlight directly into electricity. If what you want is heat – for warm rooms or hot water – you need solar thermal as described in Chapter 3. Solar power sometimes causes confusion because there are two ways of using the sun’s energy directly.Chapter 7 Solar photovoltaics Solar power can be used both for water heating. as at this project. 7. and to produce electricity directly. thanks to a property of their major component – silicon. the most abundant element on earth.
The bottom is coated with aluminium and fired. multicrystalline panels are generally square or rectangular. It is then laminated using a specially hardened. generators and other equipment. These assemblies are the ‘cells’. and to use the same principle in a variety of different forms. The array is framed and connectors are attached. Instead of the circular silicon wafers. so when light shines on it some electrons are freed. Development is moving very quickly. but turning a few stray electrons into usable electricity requires some complex engineering. the characteristic circles seen inside many PV panels. Multicrystalline panels are much cheaper to produce.70 Local energy Metals conduct electricity if the outer electrons on each atom are attached to the atom so lightly that they can drift away under the influence of a magnetic field. both to reduce the cost of familiar singlecrystal panels. PV cells have been described as an expensive technology reliant on very expensive materials and clearly the manufacturing is a complex process. whereas PV can be set up and connected directly into your supply.2 Assembling the PV panels The principle is fairly simple. and each forms the basis of a PV cell. Once the electrons are freed they can flow around a circuit – and that is an electric current. Once installed. highly transparent glass in front of the cells and layers of foil behind the cells. from the sun that enables the electricity to flow. Between 36 and 72 cells are connected into a ‘mat’ and then embedded in a plastic material that protects the cells against damage from humidity and UV light. the wafer is printed with a fine metal grid and then covered with an antireflection coating. to take the best advantage of silicon’s PV property it is best grown as a single crystal. but close up it can be seen that the substrate is made of small pieces of silicon. . This electron drift is the electric current. because ‘growing’ large silicon crystals is energy-intensive. Silicon atoms hold on to the electrons that surround them. Note that it is the light. it can last for decades and maintenance is almost nonexistent. It is sometimes placed on a second material – a substrate that improves its photovoltaic properties. All the indirect ways of turning the sun’s energy into electricity need turbines. but some are held less tightly than others and the right-sized hit of energy can knock them loose. Usually the wafer is treated to improve its photovoltaic property (known as doping). so photovoltaics are just as effective in cold countries as in hot – provided there are long hours of sunlight. The crystal is cut into very thin wafers. not the heat. An early step was to use cheaper multicrystalline silicon instead of single crystals in some panels. 7. Sunlight provides that energy hit. To extract the electricity. But they have many advantages. First the silicon: although it is available almost everywhere in rock form.
removing materials where necessary. on the other hand. – of traditional power generation. there are a huge variety of small applications where it is extremely valuable. as devices can be sized to match the application. etc. Both multicrystalline and thin-film PV are less efficient at converting light into electricity than single-crystal cells. 7. The process uses an automated production line to apply a ‘thin solar coating’ to rolls of flexible foil.3 Off-grid applications Because. thin-film PV can be used to coat curved or irregular surfaces. when PV is retrofitted on an existing building. small panels are used to power isolated items of equipment by the roadside or along railway track. or provide street lighting or bus-shelter lights. This too is being addressed: Solarcentury. for example. footpath lighting and traffic warning systems. which can be used to replace standard roof tiles and can be installed in an array of any size. it can be moved if the occasion demands. This situation makes PV an economic choice. In this context.4 Street applications Solar-powered street and transport infrastructure is making a real impact up and down the country in the form of solar-powered bus stops. too. once assembled. and disruptive if cables need to be buried. The real opportunities for photovoltaics are beginning to arise now that new PV technologies are considered from the early stages of designing a building. fixing the PV. etc. Cabling an illuminated street sign to be powered from the electricity network is an expensive business. or in rural areas and sometimes with small wind turbines to work alongside the panel. the fact that individual PV devices may provide very small amounts of power is a positive benefit. on louvres and in cladding. A short journey reveals many devices in operation to illuminate signs. Installing a PV panel on the post.Solar photovoltaics 71 Also of growing interest is thin-film PV. Many local authorities are experimenting with the installation of one or two solar-powered footpath lights or traffic signs in areas where there is no mains connection and the cost and disruption of cabling to the nearest grid point . Unlike the rigid panels. is very simple and easy to accomplish. What is more. generators. 7. This dramatically reduces the costs of installing PV because it can replace other materials such as cladding. using amorphous silicon – far cheaper than the crystalline silicon now used – as the substrate. More and more. but their lower cost and greater flexibility make them suitable for many different types of installation. What is more. Obvious areas for their use are in atriums. has developed ‘solar tiles’. PV is so simple to connect and does not require the moving parts – turbines. The key to many of these applications is that they are off-grid – they are not connected to the electricity-distribution system. much of the cost arises from the installation – scaffolding.
It is hard to dismiss the benefits of the Sepco Solarlite shelter. no connection charges. The solar panels have been supplied by Solarcentury. no waiting period for connection. which give a better output than 11 W fluorescents. Nottingham and Leicester are soon to follow suit. A big issue in Plymouth is safety. This is all controlled by an energymanagement system. which includes a display that tells you when your next bus is coming. and no workmen digging up the road for weeks – a Sepco shelter goes up in a few hours. This is all set to change. More than 40 bus stops in the capital are using solar power as part of a trial by Transport for London (TfL). and supplies around 33 per cent of that in the UK. The battery can be stored in the frame of the shelter or below the panel. No city suffers the misery of roadworks like London.72 Local energy would be prohibitive. a ‘fitand-forget’ system that requires no maintenance and incurs no costs until the battery needs replacing after five years: • • • • • • no excavation costs. which can take around six months in some areas. no electricity charges ever. and the panel provides security and timetable lighting in a vandalproof panel. The UK’s first solar-powered illuminated bus shelter was actually supplied by Sepco. saving £3–5 a metre. saving around £50 a metre. Sepco has gone on to install almost a thousand units nationwide. The company has now installed a real-time solar bus stop. Manchester. Plymouth’s is the biggest installation of its kind in the world. Some of the bolder designs on our streets are thanks to JCDecaux. The company has worked with the architect Norman Foster and the designer Philippe Starck to come up with streamlined and user-friendly street furniture. saving between £300 and £800. Power gathered during the day is stored in batteries and released during the hours of darkness to illuminate the timetable and flag. . Stoke. Each stop has a canopy fitted above the flag to gather sunlight. Light is a great companion when one is standing at a bus stop at night. Sepco and a Canadian company. and the shelters by the UK engineering firm Trueform. until the Plymouth contract. Solarcentury’s lighting controller drives 6 W LEDs. total 300 and each takes only four weeks to build. no cabling costs to run a line from the nearest grid point to the shelter. The shelters. supplied by Solarcentury in partnership with the street furniture company JCDecaux and using technology provided by Uni-Solar. For this reason the city has some 200 bus shelters that remain unlit because of the cost and disruption that would be caused by connecting them to the mains. in November 1999. Solarcentury had installed around 100 solar-powered bus shelters. including stops. Carmanah Technologies. Plymouth is currently rolling out some 300 solar-powered bus shelters and 40 are on trial in London.
Further west. footpath lighting and traffic warning lights to more than 100 public authorities throughout the country. as stated in the mayor’s transport strategy. The signs. It is the first grid-tied system in the UK. which will make the installation and maintenance easier. The company says that every light exchanged for a solar-powered light saves approximately £20 a year in electrical costs. Western Isles Council is piloting two solar-powered street lamps provided by SolarGen. compared to the 4 000 hours of a conventional lamp. which will provide staff with revenue data and alert engineers whenever a terminal needs attention. again in Plymouth. but company car parks. Other local authorities are experimenting with solar power on a smaller scale. located in Stornoway town centre. TfL hopes to install lighting in the remaining 200 bus shelters. and has secured a further contract for solar terminals. have a PV panel on the top to power up a rechargeable battery. The Edinburgh machines will be centrally monitored by a communications and database programme. airport car parks and so on. warning motorists of traffic signals ahead. amounting to several thousands. Ceredigion saves around four times that amount with each solar-powered light it installs. based in Newport. has provided solar-powered bus stops. Further stages of development could assess the possibilities of utilizing solar power for real-time passenger information and also for commercial advertising. The only downside with solar-powered pay-and-display terminals is that they won’t function in underground or poorly lit multistorey car parks. Ceredigion County Council estimates that opting for a SolarGen traffic warning system saved it some 60 per cent in installation costs. Newcastle has also installed its first solar-powered traffic signs. As the panel does not require direct sunlight to charge the battery it can easily cope through overcast days in winter. plus the disruption of digging up the road to put in cabling. . Newcastle plans to install similar signs on the central motorway and coast road. Solar is also powering many of the pay-and-display machines that have come to replace the antiquated parking meters installed in the 1950s. And when night falls a photoelectric cell switches on the 50 light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to illuminate the sign internally. One is a stand-alone in the Lochs area of Lewis and the other is connected to the grid. as it is seeing huge growth in the area. where the reduced installation costs should bring considerable cost benefits. By opting for solar traffic warning systems there is no need for channelling cables. as it encompasses not only local-authority parking zones. The LEDs have a life expectancy of 100 000 hours. Schlumberger Sema has installed around half of all the pay-and-display parking machines in the country.Solar photovoltaics 73 In order to enhance passenger safety. It has just installed 456 solar-powered pay-and-display terminals in Edinburgh. South Wales. The company is turning over half of its manufacturing capability to solar-powered machines. But the potential market for the units is huge. SolarGen.
Warwick House incorporates high insulation. It spends around £50 million on construction every year. This extensive regeneration project has been under way for many years and residents support a sustainable agenda for the project. passive stack ventilation and condensing boilers. where the energy strategy officer. PV was installed along with solar thermal to reduce carbon emissions and energy costs. Lambeth Housing’s first integrated PV roof is a much larger project at Warwick House on the Angel Town Estate. with the conversion of seven flat roofs to pitched roofs. Solarcentury. Feedback from residents has been good and 25 further installations now have secured funding under the Clear Skies programme. the project aims to introduce sustainable construction techniques and the housing department plans to use solar shingles. while the solar thermal will feed into a project that will give residents better and more controllable heating. is the preferred PV supplier for the council. a sheltered housing block with 43 dwellings. Lambeth’s third project is part of a £600 000 refurbishment at Langholm Close. The housing department spent around £30 000 on the PV panels and installation and leveraged a further £20 000 to fund the solar thermal from other sources. The system is likely to cost £160 000 and is likely to generate in the region of 238 000 kWh/year. which means there is enormous potential to integrate renewables. Lambeth Housing has had very positive publicity from sustainable construction and this was another best-practice element to the programme. The PV panels. A local company. The array at Warwick House. called Tomkyns House. supplied by Solarcentury. the Housing Directorate has taken a lead on sustainability. . provided by Solarcentury. The PV has been partly funded by a £71 614 grant from the (former) Department of Trade and Industry’s Major PV Demonstration Programme. incorporated into the roof’s safety guardrail. now power communal areas. and it promotes good practice in construction. Communal lighting within Warwick House will be powered from the PV array on the building’s pitched roof. This project has an unusual design. Colin Monk. Lambeth allocated £50 000 each year from the Lambeth capital fund – seed funding that enabled the team to start planning projects and bid for a PV grant.1 Sustainable Lambeth The London Borough of Lambeth thinks councils play an important role in getting renewables into all the UK’s streets. Once again. The first project to benefit from this approach was at a sheltered housing scheme with 45 dwellings. provides 11 775 kWh/year. owned by the council.74 Local energy Panel 7. It fits with the council’s sustainable construction strategy and climate-change agenda. roughly equivalent to the communal lighting load. is expanding a scheme to install solar thermal as part of a project to provide central heating for older residents. Major solar PV schemes are being backed up by thermal projects under the council’s Health and Housing scheme. In Lambeth.
but was a small addition to the total cost of the development. If the grid falls away it stops – it doesn’t operate in ‘island’ mode. so B&Q knew it would work. The panels can be seen from the A16 so the company had to consider whether they would cause dazzle. B&Q said that it had to answer the DNO’s concern for the safety of its own employees. as it happened. which made installation easier. The photovoltaics peak at 5 kW. and asked the company to generate as much power as would be used to light the plants in the garden-centre area. At less than 5 kW. the company was already discussing its connection agreement with the distribution network operator over a substation problem. The panels installed at B&Q are single-crystal versions. BP had used the same technology on its filling stations. potentially suffering a back-feed from any small localized generation. who could be making repairs when the normal supply has failed. but had to think about how to install it and calculate the energy balance.2 Experience in Grimsby The DIY chain B&Q had been in discussions with BP about its solar cells. It had recently given planning permission to another garden centre with the same provisions.Solar photovoltaics 75 Panel 7. and the garden centre was to be on its north side.2 m high. It installed an inverter that is synchronized with the grid. The company described it as a ‘considered experiment’ – it was expensive. because in practice the company knew it would never export electricity. and thought there was little chance that the panels would be hit. the panels are rated ‘domestic’. The company’s interest in DG was mainly in on-site microCHP. But in 2002 the company did not see photovoltaics as financially viable for a long while. But. The company was also worried about vandalism – bricks being thrown at the panels and so on. The rainwater-harvesting system. in comparison. The PV panels cost about £20 000 to buy and install. But it relied on an existing security fence that was 4 m high. 35 m long by 1. The question of metering the PV for export did not arise. One benefit of the panels is that they incur hardly any operation and maintenance costs. and it did not want to delay the opening of the store while negotiating the amendment to allow for the PV. uses three filtration stages and an ultraviolet scrubber. the local authority asked if the company could install photovoltaics and rainwater harvesting. The PV panels had to be on the south side of the building. but the angle is too steep for that to be a problem. and not because of the store’s location in the north-east but because the building already existed. The store’s base-load demand is 40 kW and it peaks at 319 kW. During the planning application for a garden centre at B&Q. and maintenance expenses are significant. There were some practical issues. as B&Q had taken over a developer’s shell. However. the building was perfectly lined up for it. The company was cautious. . But at Grimsby the planning department took the lead.
But heat is a basic requirement for both industrial and domestic uses – in fact. even though there are plenty of existing projects that could take account of its opportunity. which it turns to produce electrical power.Chapter 8 Combined heat and power A common method of generating electrical power involves a process known as the Rankine cycle. The fluid is heated. Progress has been extremely slow. A working fluid (often water) is placed in a system at high pressure and is passed through a boiler. some 40 per cent of the UK’s energy requirement is for heat. and equally in housing developments. but most of the heat generated to drive the process is wasted – for power stations dispersing this waste. . by piping hot water to local homes and businesses in a district heating scheme – makes very little difference to the operation of the power station but can increase the proportion of the fuel that is transformed into usable energy from 30–40 per cent to upwards of 80 per cent. Using the heat from the power station – for example. The UK government’s strategy for CHP development is managed by the Department for Environment. The superheated liquid is then expanded through a turbine. The process produces electricity. has been of most interest to industry that has a high heat demand (see Panel 8. or DEFRA. heat is a real problem and requires cooling towers or large heat sinks such as rivers or the sea. 8. but the potential has often been disregarded in the UK. but. The resulting gas is then condensed into a liquid and returned to the circuit.1 The UK CHP programme The idea of regarding both the potential heat and power outputs of a power station as useful products is neither new nor unusual. It has huge potential for smaller organizations in the industrial and commercial sectors. partly because of changes in electricity-trading arrangements that did not favour CHP plants and made them less attractive to commercial companies. Combined heat and power. Food and Rural Affairs. In 2004 the government published a target to achieve at least 10 000 MW of ‘good-quality’ CHP by 2010.1). because of the high pressure. or CHP. it does not boil but instead becomes ‘superheated’.
emphasizing CHP benefits when planning or sustainable development guidance is reviewed or introduced.78 Local energy Since 2000. business-rates exception for CHP power generation plant and machinery. . 8. and a number of other support schemes have also been proposed. reviewing procedures on power-station consents applications to ensure full consideration of CHP. Climate Change Agreements to provide an incentive for emissions reductions. eligibility for Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECAs) to stimulate investment. In 2006. Take-up was extremely low and the government decided to set an example by setting a new target.2 EU Directive support CHP received additional impetus after the EU passed the Directive on the Promotion of Cogeneration (Combined Heat and Power) in the EU. to source 15 per cent of energy at government offices from CHP. included: • • • • • exemption from the Climate Change Levy for all good-quality CHP fuel inputs and electricity outputs. and a reduction in VAT on certain domestic microCHP installations. Both are now closed to applicants. The main measures contained within the Directive are: • • a ‘guarantee of origin’ to be readily available for electricity produced from cogeneration. These measures. DEFRA also lists a series of supporting easures in the regulator framework: • • • • • • changes to the licensing regime. and encouraging the take up of CHP through the building regulations. benefiting smaller generators. Grant support was available from the Community Energy programme to encourage CHP in community heating schemes and the bioenergy capital grants scheme. to ensure level playing field under the British Electricity Trading and Transmission Arrangements (BETTA) for smaller generators. exploring opportunities to incentivize CHP under any future Energy Efficiency Commitment (EEC). obligations on member states to analyse national potentials for high-efficiency cogeneration and barriers to their realization. the government also commissioned Cambridge Econometrics to assess the potential for a CHP Obligation. including CHP. the government has introduced a package of measures to support CHP. as reported on in the CHP Strategy. The overall objective of the Directive is to create a framework to facilitate and support the installation and proper functioning of cogeneration where a useful heat demand exists or is foreseen. working with Ofgem.
Combined heat and power • • • 79 provisions for evaluating different support mechanisms for cogeneration used by member states. Similarly. The European Commission’s 1997 Cogeneration Strategy set an indicative target of doubling the share of electricity production from CHP in total EU electricity production from 9 per cent in 1994 to 18 per cent by 2010. When it moves back to the cold side it contracts. The purpose of the Directive is to promote high-efficiency CHP wherever an economically justified potential is identified in order to save energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. If you heat air in a rigid container the pressure inside increases as the hot gas tries to find more space. But in the time since then there has not been a significant increase in the share of CHP in the EU. provisions laying down the principles for the interaction between cogeneration producers and the electricity grid. pulling the piston on that side. helium or hydrogen) is moved by a mechanism from the hot side to the cold side. gas is moved backwards and forwards in a sealed system between two cylinders with pistons in them. The Directive came into force on 21 February 2004. The Stirling engine was invented over a hundred years ago and for many years has been used in specialist applications. the Stirling engine has attracted lots of attention as a potential method of using waste heat to generate electricity.3 Domestic CHP The Rankine cycle is not the only available method of generating electricity from heat. and provisions requiring member states to evaluate current administrative procedures with a view to reducing the administrative barriers to the development of cogeneration. until it can find a way out (like steam from a whistling kettle) or burst the container. Stirling engines are efficient and quiet but in most cases it is an unhurried technology. at different temperatures. When the gas is on the hot side it expands and pushes up on a piston. Like all engines. which takes a while to build up to full speed and almost as long to slow down without extensive braking systems. the Stirling engine works because hot air expands. The need for policy action was reinforced in the European Commission’s 1997 Cogeneration Strategy and its Communication on the implementation of the European Climate Change Programme. It does this by creating a framework that can support and facilitate the installation and proper functioning of CHP where a useful heat demand (heat produced in a CHP process to satisfy an economically justifiable demand for heat or cooling) exists or is foreseen. In a Stirling engine. Since 2000. The working gas inside the engine (which may be air. hot gas shrinks as it cools and tries to pull the sides of its container inwards. 8. but proposed further action in a consultation at the end of 2006. . The government said its CHP Quality Assurance (CHPQA) strategy meant the UK was largely compliant with the Directive.
8. It is unlikely that capital cost and installation charges will ever be as low as standard boilers. if the power from the pistons was transferred to a rotary motion by a traditional crank type of mechanism. Whispertech says its version combines four piston-cylinder sets in an axial arrangement. . while putting very little side load on the piston seals and guides. except that the piston is pushed back up by the crankshaft as it continues to turn. The New Zealand company Whispertech began work on Stirling engines in 1989 and released its first commercial DC units in 1998. 8.4 Developing domestic technologies Over the last few years companies such as BG Group have been investigating Stirling engines as combined-heat-and-power plants for domestic and commercial uses. But the company explains that. Two products based on very different applications of the cycle were investigated. Some Stirling engines can run on very small temperature differences – American Stirling Company offers educational versions that can be run on a cup of coffee. as the flywheel is storing energy and it takes a few revolutions to get it started. so customers will have to be convinced that the benefit of lower electricity bills over time will outweigh the upfront cost.80 Local energy Once the gas has expanded into the hot side it would stay put. but that means reducing its size to fit a standard kitchen spacing. The wobble-yoke mechanism connects the pistons to a single rotating shaft and alternator. So the best versions use high temperatures – such as gas burners – on the hot side. This is also the reason why Stirling engines are slow to start up. And it continues to turn because it is attached to a heavy ‘flywheel’. But the grid structure in England and Wales is notoriously unprepared for such small-scale export. The CHP unit is started up in synchronization with the grid and a planar spring acts with the control system to maintain its frequency at 50Hz. The opportunity to export excess power to the grid could be a major selling point for such products. as the temperature difference becomes smaller. the size of the Stirling engine that would be needed to get them to do anything useful becomes unfeasibly large. it would put considerable side loading on the pistons and cause rapid guide and seal wear – traditionally a life-limiting factor in Stirling engines. Instead. which are sealed into the compact housing. The target is a tough one: it is hoped the technology will replace conventional boilers.5 Development issues Development of both microCHP units has been problematic. The Microgen microCHP was based on a design by US-based Sunpower and based on a linear-free motor. The company says that. with the hot end of one cylinder attached to the cold end of the adjacent cylinder. it has developed a ‘wobble-yoke’ system to convert the linear motion of the engine’s four pistons into the rotary motion necessary to drive a generator.
and many are far less efficient. with all of them generating at peak times. it doesn’t matter too much. ‘there is merit in being able to measure import and export’. The best gas-fired generating stations convert around 60 per cent of the energy in the gas to electric power. rather than in providing large quantities of power for export. since in every case a new meter would be required. One significant victory has already been won: the requirement to pre-notify the DNO and obtain agreement for a microCHP installation would be replaced by a ‘fit and notify’ arrangement.Combined heat and power 81 As late as November 2001. BG Group already had nine microCHP prototype units in operation in UK houses. for permission to connect. That would mean lower peak prices and reduced requirements for reserve capacity. but the industry regulator Ofgem has consistently opposed this approach. for example. the country’s winter peak demand would be significantly reduced. If microCHP proved popular. its most significant effect is likely to be on the country’s load profile. ‘If you don’t export much. noting that when heating demand disappears in the summer all those customers will once again need to meet their demand from the grid. The microCHPs would be generating power at times when they are producing hot water and that also coincides with peak electricity consumption. Then it is helpful to know the import/export profile. A second issue is metering output from the microgenerator. connection requirements are not uniform across the UK. Using gas to generate electricity in a power station and then transmitting the power overall has a fairly low efficiency.’ However one important development has been made in metering: microgeneration has been exempted from the requirement for half-hourly metering normally mandatory for potential exporters. and the DNO sets the conditions. when most domestic users are consuming more than the kilowatt or so that they can generate. But in most cases the power available for export will be limited. More of the power is dissipated . But say you have a development of three or four hundred houses and a distributed CHP plant. and says that. Microgen pointed out that there are some users who may have significant exports. As distributed generators of all sizes have found. In the past. The original requirement would have made it almost impossible to install microCHP ‘on the spot’ – for example to replace a broken-down boiler – and removed a major opportunity. New generation coming onto the system usually has to apply to the local DNO. highlighting the old. which operates as a regulated monopoly. a framework document for design and planning of low-voltage networks in greenfield housing estates referred to PV generation as a possibility but said that domestic generation was unlikely in greenfield estates – by then. You have a considerable amount of generation on the network and at certain times not much of it is being used. Companies involved in domestic generation have lobbied for bidirectional meters that would simply record the net import of generation. Up to 13 million homes in the UK could use gas-fuelled microCHP and. Ofgem’s distributed-generation coordinator has pointed out. But once again Ofgem has counselled caution. who have constant heat demand throughout the winter and little power consumption. The units also offer greatly improved efficiency.
British domestic consumers have proved to be fairly resistant to new technology of this type. Instead it is for heat or for cooling. these small units can claim efficiency percentages in the high nineties. but in fact other pressures on the UK market may mean that far-thinking suppliers become its best advocates. relatively expensive electricity and a good domestic gas network. for example.6 Who would buy? The market potential is tempting. that is a huge improvement. and electricity is a useful by-product. That makes Western Europe a core market (Microgen is also investigating connecting its system to a furnace for the US market. indeed. . when BG Group. Condensing boilers. Even without allowing for the energy required to transmit the gas to the point of use. There are problems to be solved at the domestic scale. The big question is whether domestic consumers – and installers – will accept microgeneration. In late 2006 it seemed that the potential for microCHP would remain just that. Some observers have suggested that microCHP may be blocked by supply companies. which would supply heat to all consumers and produce electricity as a by-product. withdrew from microCHP development. citing problems with reducing the size of the unit. Whispertech is selling its products at this scale. there will be 8 million new installation opportunities by 2010. 8. have been very slow to penetrate the domestic market – their higher capital cost weighing more with consumers than their higher efficiency. That means acknowledging that the customer’s real need is seldom for electricity. and providing energy services rather than kilowatts. But because all the heat produced by a microgenerator is used in the house. or look forward to competing in a shrinking market. MicroCHP suppliers see a potential market for their products anywhere there is a significant heating season. Development has not stopped: major boiler supplier Baxi has taken over development of Microgen and at the time of writing it was planning to bring a domestic product to market at the end of 2008. So far. The government’s increasing focus on energy efficiency and demand reduction means that supply companies are already under pressure to become more than simple electricity suppliers. This scale of technology is no longer constrained by domestic requirements and is generally housed in a dedicated room or a basement. Since each year 6 per cent of boilers are replaced. The likely first market now is groups of apartments or houses that are served at the moment by a single boiler. parent of the leading energy supplier Centrica. and.82 Local energy as it is transmitted through the power network. This would be replaced by a large microCHP unit. so noise restrictions are not so onerous. along with noise. but larger versions of the technology are thought to be ready for deployment. where forced-air heating is more common than water-based heating systems). for example.
industrial and public sectors given carbon dioxide emissions allocations in a trading scheme intended to parallel that used for large emitters across the EU (the Emissions Trading Scheme. Since 2000. along with 5 MW of electricity to export to the power grid at favourable rates. Panel 8. bark and other residuals backed up by wood from local forests. switched to CHP in exactly this fashion (see panel). upwards of half the UK’s 300 or so local councils have added new requirements to their planning standards that make it mandatory for new developments to include energy-efficient or renewable-energy sources that would cut carbon emissions by up to 20 per cent (see Chapter 13). but it does require understanding from those who own and manage properties. would be balanced by the potential for extra income from reducing carbon dioxide emissions and selling excess allowances. At the start of the ETS several companies. or ETS – see Chapter 19). In that case CHP is a well-proven step on from boilers. First is the work of local councils. Once again. In the UK it is a relatively rare arrangement but far from unique. It will be fuelled with sludge. That would also make CHP an attractive option because any additional cost for the CHP. says manager Erich Feldbaumer. The mill currently uses a variety of sources for its heat and steam supply. Switching is not necessarily technically complicated. CHP is an option at the moment that is easy to ignore or dismiss in the commercial sector as not offering a return on investment. that supplies steam at 75 t/h. The new CHP plant will replace the four steam blocks. around 1 per cent of Britain’s housing is served by joint heating and hot-water systems. notably in the pulp and paper industry. Replacing these with CHP would make a real contribution to cutting energy use and therefore carbon dioxide emissions. the capital cost is almost certainly higher.Combined heat and power 83 This type of arrangement is common in apartment blocks in many European countries. running on heavy fuel oil or gas. proposed in 2006. but whole-life costing makes the CHP option more attractive. Four additional fossil-fuelled steam blocks provide 30 t/h and a reheat boiler has 1. Two major policy changes may shift that perception. In fact.1 Good projects on paper A new CHP plant at M-real’s Hallein mill in Austria will provide it with 21 MW of process heat in the form of steam. would see energy users in the smaller commercial. Fuelling the new plant will require the plant to process some 250 000 m3 of residuals Continues . and it seems the carbon dioxide ETS tipped the balance.5 t/h available as backup. compared with a standard boiler. The main boilers produce steam at 100 t/h using process liquor and these are augmented by a dual-fuel plant. The decision to build the new plant was an economic one. The other new policy.
UPM has invested during the past few years in the utilization of biofuels. in France. The new sludge boiler at Shotton Mill in the UK will combust all sludge produced in the recovered-paper recycling process. UPM wants to ensure that its mills are supplied with energy that has the least possible environmental load. forest residues. ‘so it is no big site change. and the new unit will reduce the amount that has to go to landfill as waste. tops and stumps from logging operations) available in the region and all the sludge produced in its recovered-paper recycling process. As a major energy user. At UPM most of the heat and power is consumed by its pulp and paper mills. At UPM’s Rauma paper mill on the west coast of Finland the plant will produce electricity. with the wood transported from as far away as 70 km. but Feldbaumer points out that the residuals would be handled on site in any case. Chemical pulp mills burn black liquor that forms during the pulping process. ‘Our production is 2 million m3 a year in any case. Mills strive to utilize the by-products from the pulp and paper processes as efficiently as possible.84 Local energy Panel 8.1 Continued and wood fuel each year.’ Operation and maintenance will be performed by Hallein’s existing utilities department. In Finland the use of biofuels has increased and five new CHP plants have been built. biomass fuels will be co-combusted. The investment will increase Shotton’s self-sufficiency in heat by up to 90–95 per cent and in power by up to 25 per cent. To support the combustion of mill sludge. whose 36 members already manage the existing steam units and other auxiliary processes. providing a round-the-clock service in five sixmember shifts. Meanwhile. steam for the paper mill and district heat for Rauma city. Now such fuels account for 60 per cent of the company’s total fuel consumption. Where the new CHP plant will change operating philosophies is in the ranking of power units: the new plant will be ranked second and will be used in preference to the dual-fuel unit to reduce fossil-fuel use. In the spirit of this principle. fibre residues and solids from de-inking and effluent-treatment plants.’ he says. After this investment the production process at Chapelle Darblay will be carbon-dioxide-free. the latest investment is at Chapelle Darblay. Here a new power plant will annually combust 160 000 tonnes of energy wood (branches. Power plants at paper mills burn bark. Reducing the amount of residues and increasing recovery are key targets at all UPM mills. .
Combined heat and power 85 Panel 8. The CHP unit provides hot water and electricity to 540 households on the estate. as well as the local school and leisure centre. which has the potential to supply 1 000 houses.4 MWe CHP unit. because the scheme is set up as an energy-services company (or ESCo – see Chapter 18). the council will receive a share of the profits every second year to invest in energy-saving measures on the estate. which it built and operates in partnership with London Electricity Services (part of EDF). The scheme received Private Finance Initiative (PFI) funding of more than £6 million and a grant of £12 500 from the Energy Saving Trust (EST) to investigate legal issues. is in a refurbished substation on the estate. . After the third year of operation. The partnership will operate and manage the Barkantine project for 25 years. The 1.2 London housing The London Borough of Tower Hamlets says it has nearly alleviated fuel poverty on the Barkantine housing estate thanks to the Barkantine CHP project.
clean by-products and offcuts from wood processing. 9.1 Biomass fuels Wood fuel can come from conifer forests. urban and roadside trees. It may be purpose-grown as short-rotation coppice (SRC). . where high-yielding species such as willow and poplar are planted at high density and harvested at three. the side branches and tops of trees harvested for their stem wood. poor-quality crops. broadleaved woodlands. A wide variety of forest products can be used: early thinnings. small-dimension roundwood.to five-year intervals.Chapter 9 Biomass Wood is one of the oldest biomass fuels and still has an important role to play.
which looks at the obstacles to developing a wood-energy industry and outlines ways to overcome them. The Commission has produced a draft wood-fuel policy. Finally. a fuel market for currently unsaleable small roundwood could bring many small and derelict woodlands back into active management with benefits for wildlife and rural employment. after which large-district heating. automated central-heating systems underpinned by capital-grant schemes were used to develop the markets. Britain’s Forestry Commission exports timber for this purpose. In Britain. the Commission will seek to stimulate and promote markets for wood fuel by focusing on existing or low-risk technologies. where levels are unsustainable. Wales. pyrolysis and ethanol production). Phase 3 will build on pilot projects by introducing the most successful technologies and systems identified at the pilot stage. which will in turn lead to a reduction in costs and an increase in profitability. In northern Europe. woodburning technology is widely used and markets are large and well developed. Wood has provided heat for millennia. with the West Midlands close behind. potential customers and government departments to identify opportunities for wood fuel. but the Commission has also outlined a broad three-phase framework strategy as a guide for moving forward.2 Heating programmes In Britain there are comparatively few (perhaps a hundred) automated. In northern Europe and North America. It hopes that development of markets for heat and co-firing with coal for electricity generation will demonstrate that a market for wood fuel exists and improve the knowledge base and operating systems. Phase 2 will attempt to develop wood-fuelled production of CHP. 9. . Wood now accounts for up to 40 per cent of space heating in rural areas in some countries. evaluate new technologies and systems (especially co-firing with gas. East Anglia and the south-west of England are out in front. but only recently has modern technology increased efficiency and automation. A handful of wood-fired-power or CHP schemes were also in operation as of mid-2002. mostly in businesses that produce considerable volumes of waste wood that they can use themselves. the sustainability of various levels of wood-fuel removal will be monitored and. practices adjusted to ensure sustainable forest management. medium-sized. burning wood from sustainably managed forests – that is. The Commission recently supplied 2 000 tonnes of timber via a merchant from its North York Moors forests to Denmark for use in wood-burning power plants. England. and improve perceptions of wood fuel. or on large rural estates. Scotland.88 Local energy From an environmental point of view. wood-fired central-heating systems. Wales and Scotland are developing their own wood-fuel strategies to meet their particular pressures and conditions. At the same time. combined heat and power (CHP) and power schemes were built. The Forestry Commission is working with private forest owners. In Phase 1. forests where harvested trees are replaced – has little net impact on carbon dioxide emissions. Indigenous suppliers of both fuel and burners are small and few in number.
It involves a broad partnership with local estates.00–22. Marches Energy began the Marches Wood Energy Network (MWEN) in January 2002. including the college. The partnership has established a not-for-profit renewable-energy company. one of 12 community forests nationally.50/green tonne with a 50 per cent moisture content). It is now ready to support installations and keen to start an ESCo. The potential supply of wood in the West Midlands much exceeds present demand. schools and other public buildings received more than £6 million in direct . A similar strategy is being developed in the south-west. ReNU has already secured DTI and New Opportunities Fund (Lottery) funding to subsidize the installation of 4 MW of wood-fired boilers to operate under energyservices contracts. These sources include wood from sustainably managed local forests and woodlands. The initial tranche of boilers is being funded through the Public Sector Agreement Initiative and ReNU will secure fuel of sufficient quality and quantity under a fuel-supply agreement. A school and the project offices have been heated with wood and an action plan for extending wood-fuel use has been produced.00/ovendry tonne delivered (equal to £20. the woodland resource is a valuable one of over 1 million hectares. and another at Garibaldi School in Mansfield. Herefordshire Sustain Project was started in February 2001 by the Small Woods Association. Renewable Nottinghamshire Utilities (ReNU).Biomass 89 9.4 per cent of the total land area. The network has run workshops and built a network of at least 70 organizations and individuals wanting to use wood heat. In England. Worcestershire County Council has installed a 700 kW wood-fired central-heating system at County Hall. Holme Lacy College. New energy-efficient schemes to heat homes.00–45. The council works via a contract with a private-sector ESCo and there is no public subsidy. with plans to replicate on eight other sites.3 Wood-energy strategies Distinctive regional wood-fuel strategies are being developed across the UK. so acting as an educational resource on sustainability courses. Figures quoted for wood fuel have been in the region of £40. clean recycled waste wood. DEFRA’s Energy Crops Scheme encourages landowners in England to diversify their business by setting up producer groups and planting energy crops. The creation of a national forest will provide a significant extra and growing resource. with around 500 ha of new woodland per year. but currently there is a surplus of low-grade material that could be used. and potentially short-rotation coppice. Bulmers and others and has plans to use wood from the estates to heat local buildings. Foreseeable demand can be met from woodlands and clean waste from wood processing and manufacture. With an investment from the government of £100 million. The Forest of Mercia. although the total cost will be a little higher over the next ten years than an equivalent gas-fired system. although fuel supply is seen as a key constraint. Cost will be a critical factor. started in 1990 with local-authority and other partners and has trialled wood heating (pellets and logs). representing 8. new dedicated energy forestry.
adding to another tranche of £22 million already handed out to projects under the government’s Community Energy Programme. to businesses able to provide a detailed business case for a wood-fuelled system of between 80 kW and 2 MW capacity.4 Wood for Wales Since it is facing a decline in the home-grown timber market. WEBS will provide appropriate projects with grant support to facilitate the installation and operation of wood-fuel-powered heating and power generation plant. Forestry Commission Wales has agreed to allocate 100 000 tonnes of small roundwood from its own felling programme in the initial years of the scheme. but will be potentially as high as 50 per cent. hospitals and leisure centres. the local authority and the Forestry Commission explored the . This in turn provides a real incentive for landowners to bring woodland back into management. These could produce enough heat and electricity to meet the needs of more than 90 000 homes – equivalent to a city the size of Southampton. and the Objective 2 area of Powys. It has been established by Forestry Commission Wales on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government. By doing so it will provide the pump-priming impetus for development of a viable supply infrastructure. 9. The Forestry Commission in Wales launched a Wood Energy Business Scheme (WEBS) to foster the development of a wood-fuel industry in Wales by providing capital grants for wood-fuelled boilers and ancillary equipment. with European funding through both Objective 1 and 2 mechanisms. In 2000 Powys Energy Agency was consulted on replacing the boiler to heat a school and community centre at Ysgol Vyrnwy.90 Local energy grants. Montgomeryshire. and equipment for the initial processing of roundwood into chip and pellet form. After realizing that the school and community centre could be heated with locally sourced wood fuel. In order to ensure that sufficient supplies of fuel are available before the privatesector supply comes on stream. and potential rural employment prospects. drying facilities and wood-chipping/pelleting machinery. Wales already has a community wood-heating project. typically boiler systems. The investment has prompted plans for five large biomass power stations and seven small-scale biomass heating projects in England. It will also support district heating or CHP installations that supply heat to a number of buildings and power to the National Grid. The scheme will provide grants towards the initial capital cost of relevant plant and equipment. This will typically be small to medium public buildings. The percentage grant available will depend on the strength of the case for support and the actual location. such as schools. WEBS is a support programme for businesses in the Objective 1 areas of West Wales and the Valleys. with associated environmental benefits. developing a domestic wood-fuel market is a key objective of the Welsh Assembly’s Strategy for Woods and Trees.
Antur Vyrnwy.). At present. intended to help existing and potential growers as well as the policymakers. the tender process and selection of energy supply company took place between December 2002 and March 2003. harvesting operations and approximate costs to help the evaluation of these types of crop as sources of renewable biomass. purpose-grown energy crops and other sources. It was installed. 9. The system is owned by Powys County Council and Powys Energy Agency. when there is little demand for space heating. The boiler was installed in August 2003 and commissioned in November 2003. The school and community centre now receive heat from the 520 kW Compte woodchip. education. the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland and industrial members of British Biogen. It also pulls together practical information on cultivation and on grant support. remote-automated boiler. Hot water will continue to be available in the summer. by Dulas Wood Energy. Following two years of project development. The houses are connected to the boiler by a hotwater pipe referred to as a heat main. indicative yields. the results of which showed interest from 30 local households. Forestry Commission Wales. Fast-growing willow and poplar are among the most promising tree species for SRC. etc. The costs of felling. The network of trial sites is funded in partnership with the predecessors of BERR and DEFRA (the DTI and MAFF). and in Europe. community development. and is now operated and maintained. Powys Energy Agency and Dulas Wood Energy. the Forestry Commission has scientists at the government-funded research body Forest Research working on a study to quantify the volume of wood fuel available from woodlands. of poplar and willow species grown as crops for the provision of biofuels. A feasibility study funded by the EST showed this to be viable. Powys County Council (legal. Forest Research Board. Severn Trent Water. The study summarizes existing information to give temporary guidance on establishment. Llanwddyn Community Council. economic and logistical factors are the main constraints to the successful development of Britain’s wood-fuel industry. transporting and drying wood fuel mean that current prices for wood fuel do not offer much in the way . and the website shares the results of research trials. The project is the largest field trial in the UK. Results from the trial are posted on the Forest Research website.Biomass 91 possibility for a community heating system. The idea was presented to the community through open meetings and a questionnaire. The programme has established a UK-wide network of more than 50 trial sites and aims to produce definitive data on the SRC yield of more than 30 varieties of energy crop. planning. The project involves a number of partners including Ysgol Vyrnwy. There is a 350 kW backup oil boiler. Its main aim is to develop models that will forecast growth and yield performance in different climates and sites.5 Wood-fuel research As part of its broader nationwide strategy.
and large-scale markets have not yet been proven. as when charcoal burners heated wood in insulated burners over a slow fire. Fast pyrolysis for liquid production is currently of particular interest. as the liquids are transportable and storage is relatively simple. Moreover. The charcoal is light to carry and has good clean-burning characteristics. the potential market for wood fuel is as yet undeveloped. The regional availability of resources is also uncertain.92 Local energy of a profit margin to the producer. Although some companies in a few locations have found niches where they can operate at a profit. During the process a variety of smaller organic compounds are produced and then broken down further. they may be available as replacements. Pyrolysis is always the first step in combustion and gasification processes. What the charcoal burners did not know was that the natural gases and oils produced during the process could also be burned. pyrolysis converts biomass to products that can replace those used in our conventional fossil-based processes. Britain does not currently have enough biomass to generate the expected proportion of the government’s renewable-energy targets (about 1 GW by 2010). Liquid. As a result. 9. including low temperature. Fast pyrolysis occurs in a time of a few seconds or less. solid or gas forms are all potential products and share many characteristics with gas and liquid (e. National figures estimate that by 2010 available wood-fuel resources will be around 4 million m3 . these developments are still at an early stage. In order to increase supply. In some aspects it is a process that has been known for hundreds of years.6 What is pyrolysis? When biomass breaks down it does not transform directly from wood into carbon dioxide. favour the production of charcoal. or to mix with fossil equivalents. At some points in the process the intermediate products can be abstracted. Logistical constraints may be a larger obstacle to development. oil or diesel) produced from fossil fuels. In effect. but it is more difficult to say what is available in a particular area and at a particular price. That means that developing it as an industrial process requires work not only on the chemical reaction but also on transporting the feedstock to the reaction process and on removing the heat produced. as we use fossil-sourced gas and oil. and this will hopefully emerge from the trial results. In pyrolysis the first stage of the breakdown involves heat but no oxygen. Moderate temperature and short vapour-residence time produce liquid oils. new planting – either for wood fuel alone or for mixed objectives of wood fuel and timber – is essential. The reaction takes place at a temperature of around 500 ◦ C and residence times of typically less than 2 s. High temperature and longer residence time increase the biomass conversion to gas.g. Some process conditions. potentially in a more usable form than the initial biomass. . A detailed breakdown of present and future resources is therefore needed to determine what is available within a realistic radius of a potential wood-fuel development point. where it produces a gas that can be used to operate gas turbines.
A fast-pyrolysis process includes drying the feed to typically less than 10 per cent water in order to minimize the water in the product liquid oil (although up to 15 per cent can be acceptable). a dark-brown liquid is formed that has a heating value about half that of conventional fuel oil. so there are no waste streams other than flue gas and ash. There are a range of chemicals that can be extracted or derived.Biomass 93 In fast pyrolysis. quenching and collection of the liquid product (bio-oil). pyrolysis reaction. While most work has been carried out on wood due to its consistency. grinding the feed (to around 2 mm in the case of fluid bed reactors) to give sufficiently small particles to ensure rapid reaction. although technically feasible. olive pits and nut shells to energy crops such as miscanthus and sorghum. While it is related to the traditional pyrolysis processes for making charcoal. bio-oil. separation of solids (char). which are used within the process to provide the process heat requirements. including food flavourings. furnaces. The main product. engines and turbines. agrichemicals. and comparability between tests. Bio-oil can substitute for fuel oil or diesel in many static applications. with carefully controlled parameters to give high yields of liquid. Upgrading bio-oil to transportation fuels is not economic. biomass decomposes to generate mostly vapours and aerosols and some charcoal. is obtained in yields of up to 75 per cent wt on a dryfeed basis. resins. forestry wastes such as bark and solid wastes such as sewage sludge and leather wastes. together with by-product char and gas. . fast pyrolysis is an advanced process. nearly 100 different biomass types have been tested by many laboratories ranging from agricultural wastes such as straw. including boilers. Virtually any form of biomass can be considered for fast pyrolysis. specialities. After cooling and condensation. fertilizers and emission-control agents.
It tends to go up and down depending on the time of day and of year. as it will come on to the grid in regular peaks whose timing varies in a predictable way with the tides. The biggest peak is generally on a winter evening.1 Diverse energy in the network A mixed system makes the best use of the different types of generation. Finally. when domestic demand for heating. Wind energy is predictable in broad terms over a few days and in more detail over a few hours. Since it is not possible to store electricity. Some forms of generation are slow to start up and have little flexibility in operation. lighting and other uses is highest. power would be added from very flexible generation to supply morning or evening peaks. If a peak in demand is on the way. Tidal power is very predictable but not constant. maybe 30 per cent of the average load.Chapter 10 Energy storage Part of the reason why the electricity system requires such careful management is that electricity is not a storable commodity. the aim for an electricity supply company has to be to invest in a diverse range of generation that will give it the best opportunity to match supply and demand. A summer night has the lowest energy use. The grid operator cannot predict demand in perfect detail. but is also a function of the physical landscape. as different groups’ electricity requirements begin and end. Within this scenario different forms of renewables also have different characteristics. or may be on the way. This has important implications for managing the electricity grid. it is not possible to store up a pile of electricity and release it at the right moment. or instantly available power such as hydropower – has to be available to feed into the system at any moment. Forms of generation that can be started up within minutes or hours and cycled up and down to provide more or less power would be brought on to the system as load increases during the daytime and the industrial load increases. These plants would typically be operated continuously to supply ‘base load’ – the electricity required even on a summer’s night. but in continuous generation they are cost-effective. This is one reason why a large proportion of a single form of generation can be costly for the . Wave energy relies in part on the weather and so is affected by expected weather patterns over days and hours. 10. Electricity demand is not constant. so ‘spinning reserve’ – effectively plants operating in neutral.
in a millpond. reservoirs are filled during the spring by snowmelt and receive little additional water during the year. the alternative is to store a proxy – for example. France. at smaller scale. In fact. Then. Pumping is done at times when there is excess power on the system and low demand. which are alleviated by selling excess power at times of low French demand to its neighbouring countries. But the pumped-storage system adds so much to the overall efficiency of the electricity supply system that it is almost always worth the investment. it may be difficult to see the benefit of a pumped-storage plant. 10. any form of energy storage is beneficial in managing such a system.96 Local energy system. for example. the avoided cost of generation is very . If it is not necessary to generate at full capacity. has an extremely high proportion – some 77 per cent – of nuclear generation operating at base load. water can be allowed to collect in the reservoir or pool until the power is needed. in tropical countries. so other forms of generation are taken out of supply. On first glance. when demand peaks. Countries with high proportions of wind power sometimes find that additional spinning reserve is used. These characteristics have led to the development of pumped-storage plants. Since the electricity cannot be stored. for example. Similarly. the stored water is released. In this type of plant there are two (or more) water reservoirs at different elevations and one (or more) generation/pumping station. And it may be expensive to build – requiring two sets of water-storage capacity and some very robust hydro pumps/turbines in between. because other generators are meeting the system needs. monsoon rains annually fill the reservoir. either because more wind than expected results in additional wind generation. where water is stored behind a dam or. or at all. and in a privatized industry there are plenty of opportunities to operate the plant at a profit. Water is pumped up to the higher reservoir and released when necessary to flow down through the hydrogenerator to the bottom reservoir. and water can be moved from one area to another by pumping. Hydro-turbines can be brought into operation within seconds or minutes when necessary. And. or to be ready for a potential loss of wind generation if wind speeds are forecast to drop in the next few hours. Clearly. The biggest form of energy storage used worldwide is water. reducing the spinning-reserve requirement. in some countries this is an important feature of the projects. One of hydro’s great strengths is that it starts up in seconds. although it may have high capital costs. by charging a battery. In Norway. This has inconveniences for the French grid operator. are already offering an opportunity to store energy in the form of water. It is immediate. and especially one where large amounts of renewable energy may become available at times when the system cannot use it. It is a net energy user: it always takes more energy to pump the water up to the top reservoir than can be gained from generating on the way down.2 Pumped storage Hydropower plants. soaking up base-load power and the intermittent generation.
allowing Hydro Tasmania to conserve its water so that it has maximum capacity available when the price is high. In this market base prices are low. . as we have seen. It is also beginning to develop another of its natural resources: the high wind speeds that arise because of its position in the latitude of the so-called ‘roaring forties’. sees prices ten or a hundred times higher in peak hours than it does at low load. The company will save its water reserve at times when prices are low. They fulfilled that role until privatization of the industry at the start of the 1990s. but summer peak prices are much higher and have been known to hit thousands of dollars for some short periods. With some 2 260 MW of installed capacity and a peak load of only 1 600 MW. but now they pump and generate up to 100 times a day. The wind turbines will feed into the grid whenever they are generating. where price differentials between times of low and peak demand are very clear. Hydro Tasmania estimates that wind speeds on its west coast average 8–9 m/s – a ‘world-class wind resource’ – and it believes it has 1 000 MW of wind potential in the area. It may not be classical pumped storage. and electricity bought and sold in half-hourly slots offers many opportunities to buy or sell. an awareness that rainfall to feed the reservoirs could vary by 30 per cent from year to year. like many others. These are large-scale projects. But the peak demand of the island’s half-million population is growing fairly slowly and Hydro Tasmania is anticipating deregulation and looking for new markets to grow its business. and the reason is the new marketplace for electricity. but it uses the concept in a way that allows the company to get all the energy management and economic benefits of pumped storage without having to invest in the real thing. described the combination of the hydro reserve. Roger Gill. The economic potential of pumped storage has been fully realized in deregulated markets. which has huge hydropower and wind resources and a volatile privatized market across the Bass Strait in mainland Australia.Energy storage 97 low and it knocks carbon dioxide-producing gas. and the same is true in pumped storage. expected to pump and generate on a twice-daily cycle to meet peak demand. The answer is to ship power across the Bass Strait to the national electricity market to feed the growing needs of Victoria and South Australia. At Australian peak times it will generate up to 2 000 MW to supply its own customers and the Australian market. The UK built two pumped-storage plants in Wales in the 1970s. providing perhaps 600 MW and importing power from Australia to meet demand. Hydro Tasmania now plans to install an undersea cable across the strait so it can operate what will effectively be a pumped-storage system without the pumping. Hydro Tasmania hopes to arbitrage this market. small hydro offers many of the benefits of large hydro. the export link and the wind capacity as a ‘quasi-pumped storage system’. Tasmania has a more than comfortable reserve margin – the result of a long-term view that led to the creation of reservoirs far in excess of needs. oil or diesel plants out of the rankings at peak times. The UK’s market. and a recognition that long-term storage may be required. general manager of Hydro Tasmania’s generation division. Similar possibilities have been picked up by Tasmania. But. thanks to the ready availability of coal.
10. Buncrana. water companies have made most of the running in this. and to review the main benefits that this system would offer. Meanwhile. the compression and decompression process is a net energy user. where in the past there would have been a pressure-reducing valve or settling pond to remove the energy from the water.3 Gas storage A situation analogous to pumped-water storage also exists in the gas transmission and distribution network. which oversees the management of Sorne Hill Wind Farm. The analysis of the feasibility of using an energy-storage system showed that combining the turbine with a battery system could support an uninterrupted supply of wind-generated electricity to the National Grid and significantly improve the efficiency of the energy produced. . 10. When fed into the network. because almost all the components for small-scale pumped storage are already on the system. It only remains for the water companies to operate them as such for the benefit of the electricity system – something that water companies are increasingly taking on board. The study. These are the components of a pumped-storage system. which was jointly funded by SEI and Tapbury Management Limited. examined the costs and benefits of integrating a battery-based power storage system with a 6 MW wind farm.98 Local energy As might be expected. The report concluded that the optimum battery is a 2-MW-capacity battery delivering six hours of electricity storage. rivers or other sources into the reservoirs. gas has to be pressurized for transport. Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) published the results of a feasibility study for the implementation of a wind-energy storage facility at Sorne Hill Wind Farm. The feasibility report provided an initial technical and economic validation for a number of the key revenue streams that had previously been identified in relation to the integration of wind power and storage. Once again. The purpose of the report was to determine the optimum size for such a system in order to deliver an optimum return on investment. water companies are increasingly installing hydro-turbines in the outfall from reservoirs. Maintaining supplies often requires water to be pumped from aquifers.4 Batteries In many cases simply using a battery storage system in conjunction with an intermittent electrical source may provide enough control. Water companies have a large number of reservoirs where water is stored before it is sent out to users. It has been proposed that turbines installed at decompression stations can recover some of the energy from the system by generating electricity. and on arrival that pressure has largely to be released for delivery. Donegal. But it allows energy that would otherwise be lost to be at least partially recovered.
reinforcing the voltage of the test track during testing of the new trains being supplied to New York City Transit.and energy-management problems encountered in applications such as wind farms. In this mode. The hydrogen can be stored and used for fuel cells or other types of generation at times when demand is higher than generation. mining. The design comprises a tubular rotor 900 mm long and with an external diameter of 330 mm. including voltage dips. heavy lifting gear and mass transit. it provides a bridge between mains power and backup generation. although work on developing systems has proceeded very slowly. It can also act as a power-levelling device. or as an energy sink. The system is able to supply the changes associated with varying loads while maintaining this constant voltage. Oki island. as well as of the adjacent revenue line during normal operation. energy storage can be combined with power-quality management. the system has been used to improve operation at a wind farm at Mount Obu. It offers protection from a range of disturbances. Other applications include a 1 MW system installed on New York City Transit’s test track to support track voltage and save energy. The system consists of 10×100 kW machines and has now been operational for 10 000 hours. The bore of the rotor is lined with a patented magneticloaded composite. In Japan. . in contrast to battery systems. In its basic configuration. A single 200 kW unit has been fitted to a 600 kW wind turbine to smooth the output. with a surface speed equal to 1 400 mph. This potential role for hydrogen has found much favour among policymakers. where the output voltage decreases with increasing load and as the battery discharges. the control system operates in such a way as to maintain a constant voltage at the DC bus. KESS offers an alternative to large battery banks used in UPS systems. At the heart of the system is a patented high-speed composite flywheel. which takes advantage of the basic physical laws whereby kinetic energy is proportional to the square of the speed. uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs). and more closely associated with the end-user than pumped-storage projects. to produce the poles of the motor generator and the passive magnetic bearing.6 Moving to a hydrogen economy An alternative method of energy storage is to use excess electricity at times of low demand to produce hydrogen. impulse magnetized. 10. The reason is the possibility that hydrogen could eventually replace gas or petroleum products and be used in the transport industry. short blackouts and brownouts.Energy storage 99 10.5 Centrifuges At a medium-voltage scale. The overall variability of the turbine output (due to wind gusting and the pitching and yawing of the blades) has been significantly reduced. For users requiring continuous operation. The top speed is 630 Hz. which is made up of carbon-fibre and glass-fibre composite weighing 110 kg. Urenco Power Technologies’ kinetic-energy storage system (KESS) is being selected to resolve a range of power.
or biological methods. It also depends on how direct electrical technologies such as batteries develop and whether the costs of the new infrastructure would be justified. Whether it will ultimately replace fossil fuels as the energy carrier of choice depends partly on whether simple and safe methods can be found to transport the hydrogen. where it may be used to generate electricity or heat. their electricity is supplied solely from two 600 kW wind turbines and hydrogen.100 Local energy This proposal helps untie one of the biggest knots in plans to ‘decarbonize’ the world’s economy. became part of an experiment in new energy systems. Panel 10. Here. It may be produced by electrolysis (see above).1). Its role is storage and conversion of energy. But in the longer term there is another reason: the scarcity of fossil fuels. Hydrogen can then be pumped or transported in another form to the point of use.1 Norway’s hydrogen experiment In summer 2004 ten households on the island of Utsira. for example. Researchers have experimented with chemical storage systems. More ambitious projects to build a hydrogen infrastructure that would rival the existing gas or electricity networks have also been proposed. not least in the energy cost required. This may be useful in the same way as rechargeable batteries. . as in theory it could be used in the same ways as gas. 20 km from the coast of Norway. where hydrogen is held on a solid substrate in a different chemical form. The aim of switching from fossil fuels to fuels that do not produce carbon dioxide has been driven by the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to halt manmade climate change. or as transport fuel. especially gas. the idea is to use free or cheap energy to produce the hydrogen – possibly renewable-energy-generating facilities that are generating during low-demand periods. Of course the transfer and reconversion of the hydrogen will require energy as well. Hydrogen has equally important potential for replacing gas in electricity generation. As with pumped storage. hydrogen could be produced on an enormous scale – for example. There are technical issues to be overcome here in piping and transporting the hydrogen. and in each case energy is required to produce it. In a pioneer project. Hydrogen has already been used in demonstration projects as transport fuel or for heat and electricity production via fuel cells (see Panel 10. using wind farms far offshore. The hydrogen plant on Utsira started producing electricity in April 2004. means that a replacement will be needed in any case over the next several decades. which is less amenable than gas to a pipeline infrastructure. being produced overnight by a wind turbine. Producing hydrogen is expensive. It should be clear that in this context hydrogen is not an energy source. It is hard to see where investment in converting electricity to hydrogen and in a network to transport it would be financially viable if direct sales of the electricity were as successful for the end user. Hydrogen is seen as the most likely source. with the hydrogen-storage modules refilled at local energy schemes where hydrogen is.
netstabilizing equipment and the control system. One of the challenges in earlier hydrogen projects has been delays caused by problems with fuel-cell deliveries. When there is too little or too much wind the turbines will not run. but the stored hydrogen will ensure that sufficient renewable power can be generated at any time – even when consumption is high and wind activity is minimal. The excess power from the turbines is sold on the electricity market. and the wind turbines installed will produce a significant excess of power under optimal conditions. Haugeland Kraft is the net owner for the ten households in the project. Kraft also points out that the hydrogen engine and the fuel cell are the only components that the partners Hydro and Eneron have no experience of. But on Utsira. and these variations have to be met despite the fact that the wind is unpredictable. The necessary infrastructure in the form of roads. a hydrogen engine and a fuel cell will convert the hydrogen back to electricity. The demand for electricity varies both through the year and through the day. It has financial support from Enova (a government body set up to promote environmentally friendly energy consumption and production in Norway). the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT) and the Research Council of Norway. when it is calm. On windy days electrolysers produce hydrogen for storage. Hydro Technology and Projects. Hydro’s project organization. The power consumption of the islanders varies. The most innovative aspect of this project is the way it puts it all together in a system. Norsk Hydro is leading the project. The Utsira project is outstanding in that ten households will receive all their electricity from renewable sources in a closed system. and. water and electricity supply and the foundations for the wind turbines was set up in 2003. is responsible for the development. including electrolysers and the hydrogen-storage facility. The windy situation makes Utsira and its 240 inhabitants a natural choice for wind-power production. Enercon contributes both technology and a considerable workload. contracts and coordination of technical solutions. The German wind-turbine company Enercon is also a partner in the project and the supplier of the wind turbines.Energy storage 101 The rough weather at Utsira plays an important role in the process of supplying the island with power. The hydrogen plant is dimensioned to produce enough electricity for two days with no wind at all – circumstances that are extremely rare on Utsira. excess power is being stored as chemical energy in the form of hydrogen. Hydro’s power production department will be responsible for day-to-day operations of the whole plant. One of the challenges is the number of interfaces between the autonomous system and the rest of the net system. Hydro Electrolysers will deliver the hydrogen plant. The hydrogen that will ensure stable power supply is produced from water and the electricity from one of the wind turbines by means of an electrolyser. and has signed an agreement with the project on the handling of electricity supply for customers and the use of the ordinary net. Continues .
INE’s goal is to promote opportunities for the production and use of hydrogen and fuel cells for different purposes in Iceland. which will be operated on a commercial basis in Reykjavík by the municipal transport company Straeto. Iceland has an abundant supply of geothermal energy. Private hydrogen vehicles are expected to follow in the future. said that. there has been a discussion in Iceland regarding the possibility of producing hydrogen renewably for the European market. with a stake of 51 per cent. will be used to fuel three DaimlerChrysler buses. Panel 10. EURO-Hyport is a project pre-study looking into opportunities for large-scale hydrogen production. however. the technology has not yet advanced sufficiently to allow this. green export to Europe. Iceland. based on electrolysis and renewable power production. the hydrogen is being supplied from geothermal and hydroelectric energy sources. as the fuel currently used by the fleet adds greatly to the country’s carbon dioxide emissions. The Icelandic Allting committed itself to making Iceland the world’s first hydrogen-based society. the Utsira plant has already achieved production 97 per cent of the time. in its first period of operation.2 Hydrogen in Iceland Commercial hydrogen filling stations in Reykjavík. INE will also look into the possibility of the use of hydrogen by Iceland’s fishing fleet. Norsk Hydro and Shell Hydrogen.102 Local energy Panel 10. In addition. At present. Robin Kirkhus. INE). As hydrogen is stored energy. plus DaimlerChrysler. plus considerable hydroelectric resources. Icelandic New Energy (Islensk NyOrka. He is hoping the project will become a permanent energy solution for the island.1 Continued The island’s chief councillor. in 1999 to spearhead the programme. used for power production and heating. However. becoming fossil-fuel-free between 2030 and 2050. and the Icelandic authorities have already issued all the permits necessary for the station to operate on a commercial basis. and how this can become a new. It set up a limited company. there are excellent opportunities for exploiting wind energy. . The company is jointly owned by the Icelandic VistOrka.
75 kW is used to charge the battery bank. a high available performance even at very low states of charge. who lives on the island all year round. and sustained efficiency even at high or low temperatures. The system voltage of 48 V DC is converted to 12 V DC before being fed into the house. The modules are connected by a 100-m cable to the batteries in a battery room next to the park ranger’s house. A Rutland Furlmatic 1800 wind generator with a nominal power of 0.45 kW. . a television and a 1 kVA inverter for a few small appliances that need AC power. The electricity powers lighting. a refrigerator and freezer. This was upgraded in 1996 with more PV modules and a new combined regulator and monitoring system.Energy storage 103 Panel 10. minimal self-discharge rates. a radio. Instead. The nickel-cadmium batteries installed on Bullerö Island are designed specifically to meet key requirements in this type of application.25 kW is installed on a mast at the back of the house. The PV modules are mounted on an old air force tower and have an installed peak power of 1. The battery bank comprises Saft Sunica rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries with a nominal capacity of 571 Ah at 48 V. uses Saft Sunica batteries to provide a reliable supply of electricity. a low-cost combined PV and wind system was installed. was estimated at around US$100 000. Photovoltaic systems require efficient batteries with a long cycle life and a potential for both shallow and deep cycling. a backup petrol generator with a nominal power of 0. Bullerö Island is remote from the nearest electricity grid and in 1986 the cost of installing an undersea cable to provide power for the visitor facilities and the park ranger. The Sunica batteries are designed specifically for photovoltaic applications. the main island of a national park in the archipelago of Stockholm. During the short periods when there is little sun or wind.3 Battery powered A hybrid PV (photovoltaic) and wind-power system on Bullerö. namely: • • • • • constant charging efficiency over time. continuous operation at any state of charge. in 1988.
the electrons move around the circuit. a team led by Harry Ihrig built a 15 kW fuel-cell tractor for Allis-Chalmers using potassium hydroxide as the electrolyte and compressed hydrogen and oxygen as the reactants. If a carefully chosen reaction is made to take place in an electrical circuit. with a source of electrons at one ‘pole’ and a substance that absorbs the electrons to complete the reaction at the other ‘pole’.Chapter 11 Fuel cells Fuel cells can provide heat and power. The principle of the fuel cell was discovered by the German scientist Christian Friedrich Schönbein in 1838. As a result it ‘runs down’ as the constituents are consumed. In 1959. but the fuel cell does not contain the chemicals that react: they are fed in during the reaction so the fuel cell can continue to produce electricity and heat as long as fuel is supplied. in which the two poles are gradually consumed as a chemical process creates electricity. In the 1960s. Bacon and his colleagues demonstrated a practical 5 kW unit capable of powering a welding machine. In contrast. a fuel cell provides the site for a chemical reaction that produces electricity and water. leaving one positively charged and the other negatively charged. 11. Based on this work. using similar materials to today’s phosphoric-acid fuel cell. Chemical reactions often involve the transfer of electrons from one atom to another. It was in 1959 that the British engineer Francis Thomas Bacon successfully developed a 5 kW stationary fuel cell. and a huge variety of fuel-cell devices currently being tested and demonstrated are likely to hit the market in the next decade.1 How fuel cells work Unlike other electricity generators discussed in this book. . fuel cells produce their power as a result of a chemical reaction. Pratt and Whitney licensed Bacon’s US patents for use in the space programme to supply electricity and drinking water (hydrogen and oxygen being readily available from the spacecraft tanks). the first fuel cell was developed by the Welsh scientist Sir William Robert Grove in 1843. A fuel cell operates a little like a battery. But a battery is a sealed unit containing its own fuel. Later in 1959.
The waste products with these types of fuel are carbon dioxide and water. same as the short form for proton exchange membrane fuel cell). The platinum-coated side of the catalyst faces the PEM. On the cathode catalyst. To create enough voltage. but the electrons are forced to travel in an external circuit (supplying power) because the membrane is electrically insulating. The catalyst is the material that helps the reaction of oxygen and hydrogen to take place. there are hydrocarbon fuels for fuel cells. It may be made of platinum nanoparticles very thinly coated on to carbon paper or cloth. methanol and chemical hydrides. where it later dissociates into protons and electrons. oxygen molecules react with the electrons (which have travelled through the external circuit) and protons to form water. It conducts the electrons that are freed from the hydrogen molecules so that they can be used in an external circuit. In this example.2 Fuel-cell configuration The reaction that generates the power in a fuel cell will happen whenever the components are brought together: the key to producing useable power and heat from the cell is to manage the steps of the reaction so the products can be tapped at the right point. has several jobs. The cathode. A typical fuel cell produces a small voltage. The protons are conducted through the membrane to the cathode. 11. unlike normal fuel cells. the membrane must be hydrated in order to function and remain stable. It also conducts the electrons back from the external circuit to the catalyst. In addition to pure hydrogen.106 Local energy 11. yet. has channels etched into it that distribute the oxygen to the surface of the catalyst. the cells are layered and combined in series and parallel circuits to form a fuel-cell stack. • The anode. The membrane blocks electrons. This specially treated material conducts only positively charged ions. There are relatively few components in a fuel cell. including diesel. One of the most common types uses a ‘proton exchange membrane’ (PEM). where they can recombine with the hydrogen ions and oxygen to form water. the negative post of the fuel cell. The hydrogen/oxygen PEMFC used to be called a solid polymer electrolyte fuel cell (SPEFC) and is now known as a polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEFC or PEMFC. For a polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC). The electrolyte is the proton exchange membrane. the only waste product is water. The catalyst is rough and porous so that the maximum surface area of the platinum can be exposed to the hydrogen or oxygen. the positive post of the fuel cell.3 Solid-oxide fuel cells A solid-oxide fuel cell (SOFC) is a fuel cell that generates electricity directly from a chemical reaction. an SOFC is composed entirely of . • • • Hydrogen fuel diffuses to the anode catalyst. It has channels etched into it that disperse the hydrogen gas equally over the surface of the catalyst.
propane. Because the interconnect is exposed to both the oxidizing and reducing side of the cell at high temperatures. The ceramics used in SOFCs do not become electrically and ionically active until they reach very high temperature and as a consequence the stacks have to run at temperatures ranging from 700 to 1 200 ◦ C. The anode is commonly the thickest and strongest layer in each individual cell. Like the cathode. typically ceramics. Hundreds of these cells are then stacked together in series to form what most people refer to as a ‘solid-oxide fuel cell’. it must be extremely stable. A metallic or ceramic layer sits between individual cells. it must conduct electricity. but the most common are zirconium-oxide-based. the geometry of an SOFC can be more varied. is that it must be able to conduct oxygen ions from the cathode to the anode. They are mainly used for stationary applications with an output between a few kilowatts and 1 MW. so that the electricity each cell generates can be combined. Research is focusing on lower-temperature SOFCs. butane. oxygen ions are transferred through a solid-oxide electrolyte material at high temperature to react with hydrogen on the anode side. the electrolyte must also be electrically insulating so that the electrons resulting from the oxidation reaction on the anode side are forced to travel through an external circuit before reaching the cathode side. which will allow metal layers to be used. however. where either air or fuel is passed through the inside of the tube and the other gas is passed along the outside of the tube. Its purpose is to connect each cell in series. In these cells. SOFCs have so far been operated on methane. Typically. so the gases produced can be used in a turbine to improve electrical efficiency. The most important requirement of the electrolyte. fermentation gas. Besides being air-tight. The most common material used is made of nickel mixed with the ceramic material that is used for the electrolyte in that particular cell. typically between 700 and 1 000 ◦ C. An SOFC is made up of four layers. Unlike with most other types of fuel cell. Their composition also allows SOFCs to operate at much higher temperatures than conventional fuel cells. SOFCs can also be made in tubular geometries. Ceramics are most useful but are extremely expensive. The high operating temperature of SOFCs promotes the fuel-cell reaction so they have less need for catalysts (the platinum in the cell described above). which are stacked. The ceramic anode layer must also be very porous to allow the fuel to flow to the electrolyte. A single cell consisting of these four layers stacked together is typically only a few millimetres thick. There are many ceramic materials that are being studied for use as an electrolyte. gasified biomass and paint fumes. eight hours or more are to be expected. gas-tight layer of each cell that acts as a membrane separating the air on the cathode side from the fuel on the anode side. and is often the layer that provides the mechanical support. The ceramic cathode layer must be porous. Thermal expansion demands a uniform and slow heating process at startup. They work at very high temperatures.Fuel cells 107 solid-state materials. so that it allows air flow through it and into the electrolyte. . The electrolyte is the dense.
Fuel cells generally run on hydrogen. although its fuel supply would need to be replenished. In such areas they would offer alternatives to conventional generators. from solar or wind power. Among them are the following. The first is known as reforming.108 Local energy 11. The only drawback. Battery replacement. A second method uses bacteria and algae to generate hydrogen. renewable energy. liquid propane and gasified coal. Hydrogen is then separated out using membranes. This process is particularly interesting for the renewable-energy industry: it would answer objections that renewable energy is inefficient because the . In this manner. One method is endothermic steam reforming. and are unlikely to require the special disposal treatment required by many batteries. hydrogen becomes an energy carrier – able to transport the power from the generation site to another location for use in a fuel cell. petroleum distillates. • Power generation. natural gas. Finally. oil and natural gas. Portable power applications include small generators and battery replacements. as fuel-cell proponents concede. This type of reforming combines the fuels with steam by vaporizing them together at high temperatures. Cyanobacteria can grow in the air or water. Fuel-cell power sources are being developed for portable electronic devices. is that hydrogen is still more expensive than other energy sources such as coal. in a package of lighter or equal weight per unit of power output. In these applications. • Fuel-cell developers claim a higher efficiency than traditional combustion technologies. This is extremely useful where stored hydrogen is not available but must be used for power. thus producing hydrogen. the fuel cell would provide a much longer operating life than a battery would. such as diesel generators.4 Fuel-cell applications As a route to generate electrical power at the point of use. Three main methods are being investigated to provide inexpensive hydrogen generation. The cyanobacterium. Fuel cells could be used in grid-connected locations for emergency backup and directly in the many areas where access to the electricity grid is not available. One drawback of steam reforming is that it requires energy input. In any case the fuel cell itself would not require recharging or replacing. but any hydrogen-rich material can serve as a possible fuel source. and contain enzymes that absorb sunlight for energy and split the molecules of water. fuel cells potentially have a huge number of applications. on a fuel-cell-powered vehicle. that would allow power to be produced without noise or on-site pollutants. Fuel cells provide a higher power density. ethanol. an abundant single-celled organism. for example. could be used to electrolyse water into hydrogen and oxygen. Domestic generator products are currently nearing commercialization. Portable devices offer great potential as backup power supplies. produces hydrogen through its normal metabolic function. The hydrogen is produced from these materials by this reforming process. including fossil fuels such as methanol.
European boiler manufacturers are developing fuel-cell units that can provide heat and power on a near-domestic scale. by using excess power to produce hydrogen that can be used when. for example. Elsewhere. have announced an agreement to develop commercial fuel-cell-based cogeneration systems for the Japanese market. The companies. The transport industry has been particularly interested in the technology and has been backed by government funding. which include Rolls-Royce Fuel Cell Systems from the UK and Italy’s SOFC Power. from biomass technologies or from hydrogen compounds containing no carbon. wind power is becalmed. In Japan. 11. Nuvera Fuel Cells and Takagi Industrial Co. A total of 45 companies from across Europe have joined forces to push for the creation of a Joint Technology Initiative (JTI) for fuel cells and hydrogen technology. That is why both the US and EU are investing in developing fuel cells. have formed an association called the JTI Industry Grouping as a first step to creating a JTI. offering on-site generation for an apartment block or small commercial or industrial units. America’s President George W.5 Developing the industry Fuel cells are unlikely to reduce overall energy consumption – the generation and delivery of hydrogen fuel have their own energy requirement – but they do offer the possibility of using that energy more efficiently. over the five years to 2010. as are potential users. Nuvera’s Avanti system uses natural gas to generate hot water and electricity.Fuel cells 109 resource is not necessarily available when power is required. Using both the heat and power output makes such units extremely efficient. Bush announced that the US Department of Energy was investing more than $350 million in hydrogen research projects. Demonstration units have been in operation for several years. Takagi’s heat-management system will store the hot water and interface it with the end customer’s thermal demand. The group is now pressing the European Commission to accelerate plans to create the JTI (a public–private partnership) on fuel cells and hydrogen. The European Commission has also launched a thematic call for proposals in the area of component development and systems integration of hydrogen and fuel cells for transport and other applications. and manufacturers believe they will be commercially available in the next decade. . along with $225 million in private-sector cost share. such as ammonia or borohydride. The call covers fuel-cell and hybrid-vehicle development and the integration of fuel-cell systems and fuel processors for aeronautics. Hydrogen can be extracted from novel feed stocks such as landfill gas or anaerobic digester gas from wastewater treatment plants. waterborne and other transport applications.
is maintained at 110 V and 60 Hz.2 Voltage Voltage can be considered as the force that pushes electrons through an electrical circuit. for example. This is known as a load. The power provided by the generator moves electrons that carry charge through a circuit but the charge encounters various . sound. the quality of the grid supply has become still more important as customers at all scales from the domestic to heavy industry use electronic equipment that can be sensitive to disturbances in the supply that last a fraction of a second. 60 Hz supply. All appliances for use in the UK are designed to operate at 230 V and 50 Hz. Similarly. power-generation equipment is manufactured in different versions so that it can be used in grids that operate at 50 Hz or 60 Hz.1 Voltage and frequency The voltage and frequency of the network are the characteristics most often relevant for domestic users. Special converters are required to use US appliances in the UK and vice versa. light. but the standard was changed to bring the UK into line with mainland Europe).Chapter 12 Interacting with the electricity grid Managing the electricity supply across the grid is not simply a case of generating enough electricity to meet the needs of all the customers connected to it. 12. The US system. Whatever the function of an electrical appliance at whatever scale. It measures the potential difference between two points. Gravity moves water down the pipe and enables it. What is more. The supply frequency is 50 Hz. it is converting some part of the power provided by the generator into other forms of energy – heat. In some ways it is similar to the hydrostatic pressure in a water pipe that is higher at one end than the other. to turn a water-wheel. Wherever customers tap into the power network it has to be able to supply power that has welldefined characteristics and that is supplied with minimal disturbances or interruptions. etc. 12. and in fact was once known as electromotive force (EMF). in contrast. The UK system at the domestic level is maintained at a voltage of 230 V (originally 240 V. The voltage is provided by a generator. while US-marketed appliances require a 110 V.
This is a very useful material property: the heat and light caused when a charge passes through a high-resistance material are the basis of the light bulb. these fields are constantly changing and reversing along with the current. Generators using rotating machinery produce this pattern and it means the voltage and current ‘cycle’ from zero to a maximum. At some points the current and voltage are exactly out of phase (i. 12. This has the effect of reducing the current – a measure of the amount of current being moved – and the heating effect. 12. heating elements and so on. instead of being pushed steadily along the circuit as they would be by a DC (direct current) source such as a battery. instead of alternating in step. and by stepping up the voltage when transfer is over long distances. the current is increasing to a maximum while the voltage is decreasing to a minimum) and the effect is that there is no net power flow – although energy is flowing backwards and forwards. reversing their flow (in the UK system) 50 times a second. This has important effects on the power available in the circuit. In such situations the electrical energy provided by the generator is converted into usable heat and light.4 Reactive power In an alternating current the voltage and current are constantly changing. and because of that they help to maintain the frequency across the network. . and. the voltage and current start to drift apart. electric-field effects result. The UK’s grid operates at 230 kV or 450 kV for bulk transport of electricity across long distances and this reduces losses. As a current passes through a circuit component that has resistance. because at any instant the power available is a product of the voltage and the current.112 Local energy levels of resistance. The circuits used to supply commercial and light-industrial premises must be of lower voltage and those at the domestic scale are at 230 V. some part of its energy is dissipated as the wire warms. The consequence for the alternating current is that. This can be minimized by choosing the best material for the cables or wires. back through zero to a minimum. This provides a regular ‘pulse’ 50 times per second. but the supply is too large for most purposes except direct supply to some high-energy industries. But no material is entirely free of electrical resistance.e. When the current is alternating. ‘Synchronous’ generators operate at a steady frequency locked into that of the grid. and back to zero again. so a three-phase supply is used in which there are three supplies going up and down in sequence to give a near-constant output.3 Frequency In an AC (alternating current) circuit the electrons are effectively being shunted back and forth. This is not ideal for large equipment such as motors. as current flows along a wire or cable. Long circuits at this voltage can experience significant voltage drops along their length as users tap into the supply.
reactive power has to be supplied to the system. In practice.5 Maintaining the supply quality The transmission system operator National Grid comments that power flows. The concept of reactive power is a complex one but at bottom the effect of injecting reactive power is to force the voltage and current parts of the alternating supply back into step.Interacting with the electricity grid 113 This is reactive power and it must be carefully controlled in the circuit. The variation in demand over each 24-hour period has a basic pattern whereby demand is lowest during the night and higher during the day. dedicated equipment can be added to the system at vulnerable points. most loads on the system are consumers of reactive power. and is also affected by the prevailing system network arrangements. To compensate. inductive loads such as motors are said to ‘consume’ reactive power. Those that consume reactive power – for example. But. But not all forms of generation are able to inject reactive power. the supply is affected by more than just the demand: the nature of the demand is also important. During dispatch this is typically done automatically by switching inductors or capacitor banks in and out. as we have seen. industrial sites with a large number of motors. must be carefully controlled for a power system to operate within acceptable voltage limits. Alternatively. This function may be performed by adding a generator to the system at a vulnerable point. there is an immediate demand surge as people put on kettles. Standby power is required for such events. and the operators of the low-voltage distribution network have the same responsibility for local networks. for example. Soccer matches in which England are playing are a typical example: at half-time and full-time. This is a crosscountry aggregate and it varies with events where a significant proportion of the population are involved. will have a varying requirement for power and for reactive power. and other means. In power transmission and distribution. There are also financial incentives on customers and suppliers to the system. Reactive power flows can give rise to substantial voltage changes across the system. National Grid is obliged to secure the transmission network to closely defined voltage and stability criteria. both actual and potential. but the voltages experienced at points across the system form a ‘voltage profile’ that is uniquely related to local generation and demand at that instant. significant effort is made to control the reactive power flow. by adjusting generator excitation. which means that it is necessary to maintain reactive power balances between sources of generation and points of demand. and increases to a morning and evening peak when domestic customers are at home. System frequency is consistent throughout an interconnected system. 12. An industrial site with a high demand to run motors. This also happens when storylines in long-running soap operas reach a peak episode and in fact is a good way of assessing viewing figures. . which are inductive – are penalized in their tariff. In the UK there is a market for reactive power. which allows suppliers to offer reactive power to the National Grid (or local distribution networks). By convention.
it will be there in an hour. The ideal situation from one point of view would be if the backup generation never operated.6 Bringing on the reserve In the UK there is a market for such services. The cost is more than simply the capital cost of the engine. grid operators can ensure the transition is smooth. or the regular demand of an industrial user. But. Although these are very efficient.1) – power generators operating ‘in neutral’ – that can be brought on to the system within minutes or seconds. because the power being produced at any time can be modulated by altering the angle of the turbine blades to catch more or less wind – a matter of a few seconds. In the UK. nevertheless. other supplies can be brought to bear. there is spinning reserve (see 10. 12. generally in the form of diesel engines. So. some loads can be modulated to compensate for a loss of generation. If demand surges the wind farm is modulated up and if demand stays at the higher level it continues operating at full power until. over several hours. when the Danish operator expects a sudden surge of power. Denmark’s power supply is largely composed of CHP plants. The UK is not unique in this: in recent years interesting examples of demand and supply response have been developing. For example. the income from the reserve function may be enough to cover the maintenance costs of the engines. over a period of hours or minutes. where wind patterns can be more easily predicted.114 Local energy If the changes are planned or expected. the importance of their heat loads and some regulations intended to support CHP mean that the system operator has very little control over the way they are operated. Many different industries have to have backup generation immediately available. These vary from large power stations to small backup generators. for example. It is certainly true that it becomes more difficult to predict wind supply over longer timescales. The fastest response available on the Danish system is the Horns Rev wind farm. often on industrial sites. has to be ready. However. in which the system operator National Grid periodically invites offers from companies who are able to operate flexibly. Offering that generator in the reserve market means it may be called on a few times each year for periods up to a few hours. depending on their characteristics. It must also be maintained and started up on regular occasions to ensure that it is available – with the resulting use of diesel fuel. That means test startups are no longer required. such as the startup of an additional power station. if there is a good supply of wind now. Similarly. and it removes the need for dedicated backup engines to be installed somewhere. companies with backup power supply have found the short-term reserve market a useful one. power supply. In any system. Water companies . operators can be pretty confident that. that can provide power or reactive power at the medium voltage level. That has allowed Denmark to use its offshore wind farm at Horns Rev for this type of ‘secondary regulation’. This is particularly true in the offshore sector. the Horns Rev farm is held at an appropriate point below its maximum capacity. wind power is often decried as an unpredictable and intermittent form of generation. especially over the hours or minutes required to help balance the grid.
with some power generated on their sites using waste methane from sewage treatment. The service company acts as an intermediary between the shopping centre and the power company. At peak times electricity is in short supply and the price – in the half-hourly trading slot – can ramp up to many times the average price. . 12.7 Demand response An interesting response on the demand side has been employed in several US cities. which have air conditioning. the size of the ripples. They have a large power demand spread across many sites. not just for demand response but for the total system cost.Interacting with the electricity grid 115 have found this particularly interesting and have the possibility of extending it and combining it with management on the demand side. when there is little demand for power and prices are low. nonessential power users – in practice this has often been shopping malls. heating and many other mixed loads. As with water. These may be the least efficient stations. largely for pumping. Experience so far has shown that a shopping centre can reduce its energy consumption by about 15 per cent effectively and continuously without customers being aware of any difference. But in most cases water is pumped from a source into a water-treatment plant. reserve power. The income from the demand reduction is shared between the shopping centre and the energyservices company. buying power but also offering demand-reduction services at various levels. it causes ripples in the supply. This is the time at which generators that are most expensive to operate have to be brought on to the system.8 Dealing with transients When a new demand or load is added or subtracted from the system it affects the supply: continuing our occasional water analogy. Water companies can switch between using their power. That means that at most times water companies have flexibility about exactly when water is pumped into the water-treatment plant: anything from a continual. Over short periods much bigger reductions are possible: for example. or it may be that power stations are built and connected to be used just a few times each year at peak times. refrigeration. 12. Being able to reduce demand reliably at peak times – known as peak lopping – reduces the need for such plants. etc. The generation system as a whole has to be sized to accommodate the highest likely demand peak – plus a reserve in case a generator is unavailable or for an unforeseen extra peak. chilling or heating loads can be cut for minutes or hours. which generally includes water storage. using grid power and selling their own generation depending on payments available for load-shedding power generation. how far they extend and their effect depend on the size of the pebble and the size of the pool. steady supply to pumping all the water overnight. but such a system’s usefulness is far greater than it appears. Energy-services companies take on power management of large. lighting. The demand response is small in comparison with the total load across the system.
Generators (and loads) also ideally have some ability to ‘ride through’ faults. or trees and other vegetation can be blown against the line. generators can help even out faults and add stability to the grid. containing such an incident is easier if there are more connections and an extensive grid: having a lot of transmission and distribution lines gives the operators different options for switching power around so that no one part of the system becomes overloaded. Some forms of conventional thermal and nuclear generation are valuable in this respect. In the USA in August 2003 the loss of a transmission line in the north required power to be switched to transport across another part of the network. In this case there is no loss of power (or a loss of only a few seconds) but the effect is to send more ripples across the network. As computer operators know. equipment connected to the distribution or transmission networks has to be protected against transients or faults in the grid supply. The unanticipated extra load caused several power stations to ‘trip’. which counter transient changes in the supply. Similarly. A few months later. similar effects caused blackouts in Italy. In both cases. Large disturbances in the grid can affect any generating plant and. For electricity-system operators. Power cuts extended up to Canada. Because they include heavy rotating machinery. A short circuit is one example caused by an impact on the cable or in the switchyard.116 Local energy Other disturbances can also produce transient or short-lived effects on the transmission or distribution grid. A brief fault is not enough to interrupt the turning . but relatively common on the distribution network. since they are higher. eventually causing blackouts that lasted several hours in New York and many of the surrounding states. most will automatically disconnect from the grid to limit the damage to the plant. the original event was a short circuit on one power line caused by a tree striking the line. so they are less likely to disconnect and cause the problem to cascade. beyond set limits. This is unlikely in the case of transmission cables. in certain circumstances. the network is equipped with automatic circuit breakers that switch in the event of a short circuit and automatically reclose a few seconds later to bring the line back into operation. Which transients have to be managed depends on how sensitive your computer is. Lightning strikes are also frequently to blame – one effect that is important for the transmission network. so most computer shops sell socket sets that include surge arrestors. In some cases it can cause a voltage or frequency ‘collapse’. In many cases now. especially small climbing creatures such as squirrels. power electronics systems are very vulnerable to them. and the characteristics of each type of generation determine how much protection is required and when. Such transients have an effect. There are regular examples of agricultural or industrial equipment striking overhead lines if their drivers misjudge their relative heights. Animals are also a frequent cause. But. as we have seen. Two such events happened within a few months of each other a few years ago. the plant has huge mechanical momentum. and faults quickly cascaded throughout the interconnected system in the north-east USA. the sudden removal of supply from the system can create its own fault: the result can be a domino effect that propagates faults far beyond the original area and jeopardizes the running of the system.
lighting demand will rise because of apparent darkness. have in the past been designed not to ride through faults but to disconnect immediately. if it happens in a group of cyclists. DNOs know. of course. the cumulative effects of changes in the distribution network. National Grid has a view of the electricity network that resolves down to around 8 km (5 miles). voltage. frequency and reactive power have also to be managed. 12.Interacting with the electricity grid 117 generator and it will take several seconds before a fault develops that will cause it to separate from the network. for example. even if the temperature is relatively pleasant. But. at the moment. Elsewhere the situation has begun to develop somewhat differently. When a cyclist wobbles as he hits a pothole. frequency and reactive power. This approach was taken because turbines were relatively small and separated generators even in networks where they were widely used. This varies as load switches between consumer. if there is rain and wind at the time people are travelling home from work they will tend to switch on additional heating when they arrive. Wind turbines. industry and commercial users. and a major reason has been the introduction of DG. for example. and meet the other requirements of supply. In practice.9 Transmission/distribution interaction In order to manage voltage. These changes are managed at the DNO level. because the turbine characteristics are such that the turbine risked being damaged by the connection. The effects of the weather are well known. At this point. that. and this is likely to be cost-effective in a system where faults and unavailability are penalized. it is not too important (except to the cyclist) whether he rides through it or falls off. for large wind farms. If a sunny day clouds over. but are changing over time. Some other forms do not have this effect. fault levels. electronic management systems can be incorporated that allow the wind farm to mimic the ride-through ability of a generator with large rotating machinery. There are few points at which DG feeds in and no trading between different parts of the network. The situation changed somewhat when wind started to be installed in much bigger quantities and in wind farms with a single connection that represented an important input to the grid. equally variable at the low-voltage level. Thanks to the feed-in tariffs that guarantee . of course. fault ride-through became an important issue for wind. and so the effect of disconnecting one small turbine from the network was very small. Aggregate demand (the total from consumers in a region) is. It has to take into effect not only the load and demand on its own network but. as we have seen. But. where. the level of management is relatively light because the system is largely unidirectional – from the National Grid feed-in points from the transmission system through the medium voltage used by industry and commerce and then the low-voltage domestic network. although the ambient light levels are still high. the resulting pile-up could bring traffic to a halt for miles. frequently in areas where the grid itself was spread thin and had little other capacity around to share the burden.
preventing the dispatchers in both areas from managing the situation. being out of the TSOs’ [transmission system operators’] control. As this happens it will also require the interface between the distribution and transmission networks to be carefully managed. But. certain TSOs in the North-Eastern area were not able to reduce the power output from generation connected to the transmission and distribution grid in a sufficiently short time necessary for the frequency restoration. Recovering the frequency to its nominal value required an increase of generation output in the Western area and a decrease of generation output in the North-Eastern area. The assumptions previously used by the transmission operator to track and predict demand and supply at the distribution network may no longer be valid. Similarly.e. wind farms were automatically reconnected to the grid. The report adds. i. This will ultimately make it necessary to operate distribution networks in a much more active way. Additionally. The transmission line was an interconnector – a line that joins the grids of two countries. they are disconnected at a smaller frequency deviation. where there were large cross-border flows. This worsened the situation in one of the blackout areas.118 Local energy export. In November 2006 grid operators on the German border cut power to a transmission line that passed over a river to allow a large ship to pass underneath on its way from a shipyard to the sea. The TSO control usually applies to generation connected to the transmission grid since traditionally the generation connected to the distribution grids has not had a significant impact on the . but in this case the result was a local blackout that triggered blackouts centring on Germany and France and lasting only a couple of hours. German networks are required to accept all the power generated by wind turbines. Danish networks are required to accept wind power and electricity from CHP plants. The line had been depowered many times before for very similar reasons. the Union for the Coordination of Transmission of Energy (UCTE) noted that lack of information between distribution and transmission network operators had made it more difficult for operators to bring the system back on line quickly. more closely allied to the way in which the transmission network is managed. It highlighted well-known inadequacies in the extent of interconnection between European countries. in its report on the incident. especially in areas such as this. This unexpected reconnection had a very negative impact. The problem was traced to a lack of information passing between the grid operators in the two countries and poor operating practices. The report said: The requirements for disconnection of generation units connected to the distribution grid (especially wind generation and CHP) are usually less strict than for the units connected to the transmission grid. they are automatically disconnected from the grid. but whose effects were felt far further afield and for far longer. These are examples of insufficient TSO control over the generation behavior. solar photovoltaics and other renewable-energy systems. When the frequency deviation reaches the threshold values of the units’ protection. After a few minutes. This was the case when the blackout happened: distribution units tripped when the frequency dropped below set limits. This is not an insoluble problem but in countries such as Germany and Denmark it is one where the need to address it is moving rapidly up the agenda.
without overspecifying the generator and making it unnecessarily costly. However. no real-time knowledge of generation started in DSO grids and possible impact on grid congestion in the high voltage grid. is a balance that will have to be struck. or to start and stop the units). 119 In its recommendations. and said this could lead to ‘serious power balance problems especially in over-frequency areas’. It also pointed out that at present the TSOs have no control over distribution-level generation. but managing import and export from the grid as millions of microgeneration units switch in and out presents its own challenges. However. . this has multi-dimensional consequences: • • • no real-time knowledge of the total national balance between supply and demand. It may have an important role to play in reducing peak loads. it made three recommendations that would give transmission system operators far more knowledge of.Interacting with the electricity grid power system as a whole. In response. In view of the rapidly growing share of such generation.10 Adding microgeneration What will be the effect on grid management of adding extensive microgeneration to the mix? Optimistic projections have suggested that domestic-scale generation could meet up to 40 per cent of household electricity consumption. generation connected to the distribution network. UCTE pointed out that most TSOs do not have available real-time data on the power generated in the distribution grids. Generation units connected to the distribution grid should have the same requirements. Developing control and oversight that provide enough management capability for the distribution network. 12. no real-time knowledge of the generation started in DSO [distribution system operator] grids and possible tripping/reconnection in case of a frequency or voltage drop. • • • The regulatory or legal framework should be changed so that TSOs can assert control over generation output (allowing them to change schedules. mainly wind farms. The wind generation in some areas significantly influences the operation of the power system due to its high share in the generation and intermittent behavior dependent on weather conditions. has changed the situation dramatically. Any such recommendation would likely impose requirements appropriate to the scale of differently sized DG. and control over. the cumulative effect of aggregating large numbers of similar systems should not be overlooked. as we have seen on the demand side. TSOs should receive data on a per-minute basis on the generators connected to the distribution system. as units connected to the transmission network. the recent rapid development of dispersed generation. The effect of connecting or disconnecting a domestic system is very different from that of an industrial generator inputting tens of megawatts into the grid. in terms of behaviour during frequency and voltage variations.
the Carbon Trust says that trial data shows that for most of the time demand is much lower than the average and also lower than typical microCHP output. not just in aggregate but in individual houses. The Trust warns.’ Modelling used for some purposes assumes that typical electrical demand in homes during a half-hour is similar to the average demand in that half-hour. fridges and freezers. videos. Added to this are intermittent. .120 Local energy The problem is that domestic demand varies. Typically a base-load of 100 to 500 watts is present much of the time due to equipment including clocks. The short-term export/import balance from buildings with any form of microgeneration is critical as electricity demand and supply must be balanced second by second. televisions on standby. ‘The reason for this appears to be related to forecasting assumptions about electrical loads in homes during heat demand periods. By averaging over a half-hour or longer these peaks are blurred into an average value of around 1 kW that ignores the significance of peaks and troughs. This is consistent with event-based modelling which builds up total electrical load from the predicted operation of electrical equipment. The Carbon Trust said that the amount of electricity exported from microgeneration trial sites was considerably higher than forecast. The reality of the situation is that low-voltage networks will have to be designed to cope with potentially high levels of export in addition to full load import when the units are not running and this needs careful consideration. as the Carbon Trust highlighted in a report on early field trials of domestic CHP. electric showers (7 kW to 10 kW) and hair dryers (500 watts to 2 kW). However. short duration peak loads such as kettles (2 kW to 3 kW). Superimposed on this low demand are short periods of very high demand.
in part from medium to small local/community power plant. or possibly from local wave and tidal generators. he said. This will also generate excess capacity from time to time. fuelled by locally grown biomass. DNO investment planning would be more demanding and take on more commercial dimensions. Plant will also increasingly generate heat for local use. 13. the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem). in a White Paper titled Our Energy Future. which will be sold back into the local distributed network. ‘Today a DNO might have 300 embedded generators within its entire network. said that government targets on renewables and CHP would require the biggest revolution in the distribution network for 50 years. New homes will be designed to need very little energy and will perhaps even achieve zero carbon emissions. from locally generated waste. These will feed local distributed networks.1 Government strategy In 2003 the government set out a strategy for developing the energy sector. There will be much more local generation. 1 000 CHP plants and up to 3 million domestic CHP installations. that would give local energy projects and microgeneration an important role in the UK’s energy provision. He told distribution network operators (DNOs) they must ‘bring these issues to the top of the senior management agenda’ and said that for Ofgem. financially. affecting both the means of supply and the control and management of demand. then chief executive of the regulator. passive local networks would have to become active managers – and.Chapter 13 Making progress on policy The need to rethink the UK’s electricity network to accommodate local energy projects was already exercising the minds of the industry at the start of the new century.’ McCarthy said. it was ‘emphatically not business as usual’. which can sell excess capacity into the grid. The existing building stock will increasingly adopt energy efficiency . In 2001 Callum McCarthy. Technically. If the government’s targets are to be met. by 2010 a DNO could have 300 generators connected to every substation. fuel cells in buildings. Even then. We envisage the energy system in 2020 being much more diverse than today. too. or photovoltaics. At its heart will be a much greater mix of energy. meeting the 2010 targets – 10 per cent renewable generation and 10 GW of CHP – would require 3 000 new renewable installations. It said. for example from CHP plant. especially electricity sources and technologies. There will be much more microgeneration. from local wind sources.
Regional planning bodies and local planning authorities should recognise the full range of renewable-energy sources. • • Renewable-energy developments should be capable of being accommodated throughout England in locations where the technology is viable and environmental. if not to generate electricity to sell back into the local network. particularly renewables. It said. The wider environmental and economic benefits of all proposals for renewableenergy projects. Planning had been a huge barrier for projects from domestic systems and up. In 2004. whatever their scale. • • • • • . 13. metering systems and regulatory arrangements that were created for a world of large-scale. Planning authorities should not reject planning applications for energy projects simply because the level of output is small. Regional spatial strategies and local development documents should contain policies designed to promote and encourage the development of renewableenergy resources. Regional planning bodies and local planning authorities should not make assumptions about the technical and commercial feasibility of renewable-energy projects. In order to achieve that vision. Local planning authorities. complemented by a planning system that is more helpful to investment in infrastructure and new electricity generation. Over the last half-decade changes have been made that were intended to help promote local energy projects. Planning Policy Statement 22 (PPS22) for the first time set a positive planning framework for renewable energy. including local wind farms. But progress has been mixed. distributed electricity generation.2 Planning progress There has been progress on making it easier to get planning permission for renewableenergy projects. are material considerations that should be given significant weight in planning decisions. Many buildings will have the capacity at least to reduce their demand on the grid. planning authorities should set out the criteria that will be applied in assessing applications for planning permission for renewable-energy projects. economic and social impacts can be addressed satisfactorily. At the local level.122 Local energy measures. for example by using solar heating systems to provide some of their water heating needs. centralised power stations will need restructuring over the next 20 years to support the emergence of far more renewables and small-scale. the White Paper noted that the nationwide and local electricity grids. Planning policies should not rule out or constrain the development of renewable-energy technologies. regional stakeholders and local strategic partnerships should foster community involvement in renewable-energy projects. Gas will form a large part of the energy mix as the savings from more efficient boiler technologies are offset by demand for gas for CHP (which in turn displaces electricity demand). the future energy system will require greater involvement from English regions and from local communities.
local planning authorities ‘should assess their area’s potential for accommodating renewable and low-carbon technologies. PPS1 said in its ‘Key Planning Guidance’ that all planning authorities should prepare and deliver spatial strategies that make a full contribution to delivering the government’s climate-change programme and energy policies. the government published additional guidance to underpin and extend its support for local energy generation. and it should not require applicants to demonstrate either the overall need for renewable energy or for a particular proposal for renewable energy to be sited in a particular location. In preparing a regional spatial strategy. and fostering the development of new opportunities for decentralized energy from renewable and low-carbon energy sources to supply proposed and existing development’. . and • ‘set regional targets for renewable energy in line with PPS22’. and with regional targets on climate change’. commercial or industrial development and pay particular attention to opportunities for utilizing and expanding existing decentralized energy supply systems. PPS1 said that planning authorities should ‘ensure that a significant proportion of the energy supply of substantial new development is gained on-site and renewably and/or from a decentralized. RPBs ‘should work with all stakeholders in the region and alongside their constituent planning authorities to develop a realistic and responsible approach to addressing climate change’. renewable or low-carbon. energy supply and should consider the potential for on-site renewable energy supplies to meet wider needs’. based on ‘average units/amounts of floor space’. In an important development. PPS22 insisted that the environmental benefits of renewables and local energy projects were a good in themselves and should have a positive impact on the planning decision. The planning authority should look favourably on proposals for renewable energy. It would also require regional planning authorities to: • ‘ensure opportunities for renewable and low-carbon sources of energy supply and supporting infrastructure are maximised’. That would include ‘ensuring the spatial strategy is in line with applicable national targets. Published in 2007. including not just renewable-energy projects but all local energy generation that would reduce carbon emissions overall. including microrenewables to be secured in new residential. As a result. What is more. PPS1 – on planning and climate change – took low-carbon generation principles more fully into account. This PPS encourages regional planning bodies (RPBs). making it a fundamental requirement for all new development in a revision of Planning Policy Statement 1 (PPS1).Making progress on policy 123 For the first time. The guidance was helpful but local energy projects hit frequent barriers in gaining planning permission. in particular for cutting carbon emissions. to produce regional trajectories for the expected carbon performance of new residential and commercial development. as part of their approach to managing performance on carbon emissions.
for example. which started selling domestic micro wind turbines that could be mounted on a house. But an early showcase is a new office building planned for the site of the Odeon Cinema in Wimbledon Broadway. The first building in Merton to be designed and built to comply with the policy was a 3 000-m2 light-industrial and storage unit in Durnsford Road. Similar policies have already been adopted by upwards of 50 councils and the provisions of PPS1 will require a similar provision by all planning authorities. i. changes that can be made without requiring planning permission. 13. The policy emerged from the council’s review of its Unitary Development Plan. The idea quickly began to spread. In spite of challenges from objectors who claimed that the policy would make it too costly for developers to construct commercial buildings in the borough. B&Q.e. especially at the domestic scale. For such projects the cost of applying for planning permission was enough to stop a potential purchase. finally took forward plans that would allow domestic energy projects to become ‘permitted development’. . wind. And. Here the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development has been granted permission to develop 5 000 m2 of office space for its own use. council planners will expect photovoltaic panels.124 Local energy This change arises from the pioneering work of the London Borough of Merton. provided that it installs renewable-energy systems of sufficient capacity in the building. In 2007 the government department now known simply as Communities and Local Government (CLG). although it had received several thousand enquiries. although developers initially argued that it was impossible and of dubious legality. The proposals covered solar. Merton Council was first to introduce a new planning policy that required developers to build renewable energy or energy efficiency into the fabric of new factories. warehouses and offices. so long as the installation meets building codes. it was strongly supported by the appointed inspector. the policy came successfully through all its challenges. reported that. solar water heaters or other energy-producing equipment to be installed. The council will expect this equipment to reduce the occupant’s carbon footprint by 10 per cent. The Mayor of London included a similar policy in his Plan for London. CHP. biomass and heat pumps.3 Domestic changes The support of PPS22 was useful at larger scale but of little help for the smallest projects. around one-third of all potential sales had been halted by the cost of planning permission – which it said had shown huge variation from £150 up to over £1 000 – or the opposition of planning committees. The London Borough of Merton was applauded by Friends of the Earth for ‘most innovative action’ in its introduction of the policy. which has jurisdiction over planning policy. If the proposed building is larger than 1 000 m2 and is not located in a conservation area. This will also give the building engineers an incentive to minimize the energy use of the building. and several other London boroughs redrafted their Unitary Development Plans to follow Merton’s lead.
and is a key part of meeting the Assembly Government’s targets for renewable electricity production. domestic or community-based wind turbine developments may be suitable within and without SSAs. All heat pumps would be subject to noise restrictions. subject to material planning considerations. . The principal restriction would relate to both solar on building and solar stand-alone technologies and reflect the potential visual impact that could occur in a conservation area or a World Heritage Site.4 Scotland and Wales approach The devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales have planning responsibilities and both have produced planning policies to support renewables and local energy generation. on the basis of substantial empirical research. TAN8 said. Therefore. It also proposed there should be no limit on the roof area involved. 13. are considered to be the most appropriate locations for large scale wind farm development. no part of the installation should be higher than the highest part of the roof (which will generally be the ridge line). They would be subject to noise and vibration restrictions. TAN8 discussed all forms of renewable energy but focused on wind farms. It recommended that solar technologies should be permitted. subject to their projecting no more than 150 mm from the existing roof plane or standing off no more than 150 mm from a wall. Development of a few large scale (over 25 MW) wind farms in carefully located areas offers the best opportunity to meet the national renewable energy target.or water-source heat pumps would require assurance from the Environment Agency that no contamination of groundwater was possible. In 2006 the then Department of Trade and Industry and Ofgem jointly consulted on the barriers to DG that had still to be tackled.Making progress on policy 125 Solar: CLG suggested that there should be a general presumption in favour of the domestic installation of solar microgeneration equipment – photovoltaic or solar thermal. Heat pumps: Ground. Wind turbines: Micro wind turbines would be permitted with blades 2 m in diameter at a height of 3 m above the roof or 11 m above ground level (for stand-alone turbines). The Welsh Assembly identified areas in Wales that. small or medium sized (up to 25 MW) developments may be appropriate. the need for wind turbines is established through a global environmental imperative and international treaty. the land use planning system should actively steer developments to the most appropriate locations. In addition. Smaller (less than 5 MW). It added a 1 m flue for such boilers to the permitted development scheme but did not extend the permit to a store for biomass fuel. On urban/industrial brownfield sites. these areas are referred to as Strategic Search Areas (SSAs). CHP and biomass: The CLG recognized that most biomass installation occurs inside the property in the form of new boilers etc. reflecting the contentious nature of such projects in Wales. Wales set out its approach to renewables in a planning Technical Advice Note (TAN8) published in 2005. in order to ensure that the visual impact is minimized.
13. saying. and to promote renewable energy and efficient energy and water supplies. The objective of the strategy was to ‘create conditions under which .5 A microgeneration strategy In March 2006 the then DTI (now called the Department for Business. In the meantime.126 Local energy It went on to say. But the DTI said that at that point there were only 82 000 microgeneration installations in the UK. It noted that studies had suggested that microgeneration could provide 30–40 per cent of domestic electricity needs by 2050 and reduce household carbon emissions by 15 per cent. Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Local planning authorities should include within development plans a policy requiring major developments to reduce their predicted CO2 emissions by a minimum of 10 per cent (from the current baseline required by building regulations) through improvements to the energy performance of buildings. Carwyn Jones. below the 500 sq metres threshold. Scotland’s planning policy on renewable energy was published in March 2007. The expectation should be that all future applications proposing development with a total cumulative floorspace of 500 sq metres or more should incorporate on-site zero and low carbon equipment contributing at least an extra 15 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions beyond the 2007 building regulations carbon dioxide emissions standard. It said that new developments must maximize opportunities to reduce energy and water use. the Assembly’s Environment. and whether higher standards can be secured for particular developments. Local planning authorities should seek opportunities to integrate energy efficiency and conservation objectives into the planning and design of new development in their areas. It takes the Merton policy further forward. It acknowledged that ‘there are a number of emerging policy issues related to climate change that necessitate further advice for local planning authorities. efficient supply of heat. The intention is for national targets to increase through the Action Plan that will be prepared to implement the Energy Efficiency and Microgeneration Strategy. launched a new planning policy on climate change at the end of 2006. the development plan process should be used to consider whether local circumstances justify going beyond 15 per cent. Planning and Countryside Minister. including the potential for decentralised energy supply systems based on renewable and low-carbon energy. or BERR) released a strategy for microgeneration. Local planning authorities should facilitate the development of all forms of renewable energy and energy efficiency and conservation measures which fit within a sustainable development framework…. To back up TAN8. It also adopted the approach pioneered by the London Borough of Merton. saying that ‘development plans must include policies on the provision of low carbon and renewable sources of energy which complement the increasingly high levels of energy efficiency required by building regulations’. cooling and power and/or on site renewable energy. landowners and developers and the community in Wales’. In local development plans. it says.
In 2007 it also reduced stamp duty for the purchase of zero.or low-carbon housing. distributed network operators and Ofgem to ensure that network and market systems are able to cope with growing numbers of microgenerators exporting electricity. • The department will lead work with other government departments and local authorities to publish a report on measures that local authorities can take to improve energy efficiency and levels of microgeneration installations. if not. • It will work in partnership with the energy-supply companies. including the benefits of each and how to claim them. The DTI pointed out that it had already supported the microgeneration sector by reducing the VAT level applicable to most microgeneration technologies to 5 per cent and by its grant programmes (see Chapter 17). assess whether these are being met adequately and. LECs and REGOs. . so that take-up even of the cheapest technologies had been slow. along with inadequate promotion. The government blamed cost constraints and the high price of microgeneration technologies. • Energy suppliers will develop a scheme that will reward those microgenerators exporting excess electricity. develop a communications pack.Making progress on policy 127 microgeneration becomes a realistic alternative or supplementary energy generation source for the householder’. The microgeneration strategy promised a range of additional measures. • It will work with CLG and planning officers to identify their information needs. • It will undertake a thorough review of existing activity in this area to assess effectiveness and identify gaps. connection to the distribution network and balancing and settlement arrangements that could be preventing widespread takeup of electricity-generating technologies. and the DTI cited a range of issues surrounding metering. It could also help reduce fuel poverty for those with hard-to-heat homes that could not be insulated. • DEFRA will consider whether electricity-generating technologies (other than microCHP) could be included within the framework of the Energy Efficiency Commitment. • There will be research into consumer behaviour and what drives early-adopter purchase decisions. • The department will actively investigate the possibilities for microgeneration on its own estate. the distribution network operators. • It will continue to work with Ofgem. • DTI and Ofgem will produce a clear guidance document covering ROCs. energy suppliers and the microgeneration industry to ensure that existing contracts between domestic customers and their electricity suppliers are not hindering the take-up of microgeneration. There were also technical issues. and there were regulatory issues such as planning. • The department will develop an accreditation scheme for all microgeneration technologies.
128 Local energy • • • It will work with Ofgem. DG was defined broadly. Some argue that Government should do more to promote DE primarily because of its potential to reduce carbon emissions. small installations of solar photovoltaic panels or wind turbines that supply one building or small community. such as CHP plants using fossil fuels. The department and elements of the old DfES – the Department for Innovation. • microgeneration. and • non-gas heat sources such as biomass (particularly wood). generating both electricity and heat for the home. It cautions that growth and investment in distributed electricity generation will not avoid the need for continued investment in the transmission system. energy suppliers and the microgeneration industry to ensure that wiring regulations do not form an unnecessary barrier to take-up of microgeneration. geothermal energy or heat pumps – which generate heat from renewable sources for use locally. industrial site or community. the document says.or community-level CHP plants. as will preserving the integrity of electricity networks. It will investigate field trials that bring together smart meters and microgeneration. but the heat is used locally). rather than near demand. the distribution network operators. • building. Cost implications of any changes will be a key consideration. as: • all plant connected to the distribution network rather than the transmission network. i. However. For example. • large CHP plants (where the electricity output feeds into the higher-voltage distribution network or the transmission network. The report said. Universities and Skills (DIUS) – will work with industry and other key stakeholders to develop a scheme for installing microgeneration technologies in schools. • microCHP plants that effectively replace domestic boilers. • small-scale plant that supplies electricity to building. again potentially selling any surplus.e. For such plants there may be diversity and efficiency benefits. the Government has to ensure that the interests of electricity consumers are properly taken into account. but also on grounds of reliability and cost…. 13. potentially selling surplus electricity back through the local distribution network. It also includes plants that are not necessarily low-carbon. wind farms sited where wind conditions are favourable. It was pointed out that this definition included many plants whose output was not used locally – for example. solar thermal water heaters. In this document. The transmission system will continue to play a role longer term.6 Re-examining the remaining barriers In late 2006 the regulator Ofgem and the then DTI jointly published a new call for evidence on the barriers still remaining for DG. investment will be needed for the foreseeable future .
Making progress on policy 129 to ensure we have continued interconnection between the distribution networks to provide backup and security of supply. away from centres of demand. That meant they had to be party to the BSC and had to enter into an agreement with the transmission system operator National Grid Electricity Transmissions (NGET) for using the system. The DTI asked whether this should continue unchanged. There are significant costs associated with both. Small generators have been accommodated in this system by becoming unlicensed generators. Some large distribution-connected sites have to meet transmission standards. By purchasing this output from a distributed generator. including the Renewables Obligation. Some argue that exports should be valued close to the retail price and that suppliers should have an obligation to purchase. Unlicensed distributed generators also potentially have access to what are known as embedded benefits. Moreover.8 Distribution and private wires Redeveloping distribution networks so they can accommodate widespread local energy projects is still ‘a real dilemma’.7 Licensing Most electricity generators previously had to become licensed to operate in the UK electricity supply industry. Energy suppliers can choose to pass back some of these savings to distributed generators or pass them on to consumers in the form of lower prices. an unlicensed generator is effectively treated as negative demand on the system and the electricity it generates is not subject to NGET’s charges. Under current arrangements. whether privatewire networks should have measures to encourage them. an energy supplier reduces the overall charges it faces from NGET. said the DTI. supplied by unlicensed suppliers and with up to 2. which is an unwarranted cost. the Climate Change Levy and the Energy Efficiency Commitment. it could become a ‘stranded asset’ with no function that still has to be paid for by customers.5 MW of demand. Others argue that the export value should be linked to the wholesale price of electricity. or whether a new regime is necessary. These reflect the fact that distributed generators have a shorter delivery path to consumers. alternatively. 13. Some of these savings can be used to help the financial viability of the often lowercarbon DG that connects into these private-wire networks and partly passed on to . The DTI noted that the unlicensed operator is able to avoid a number of costs that would usually apply to a licensed energy supplier. many of the renewable projects that will be built in the coming years will necessarily be sited in remote areas. 13. as well as some costs associated with the use of the transmission and distribution systems. The then DTI noted in 2007 – in a programme taken on by BERR – claims that these embedded benefits are not sufficient to recognize the value of DG. One option is to use so-called private wires – a local energy network with a single unlicensed operator. Expanding the network in areas where DG is expected could promote new projects.
In the longer term. its policies determine all planning applications. Development plans have to be prepared in accordance with the regional planning guidance Regional Spatial Strategies (RSSs) within their region. A development plan is prepared and. borough or city councils. The DTI added.1 How planning works The planning system is central to the delivery of the government’s climate change policy targets. Privatewire networks operate independently. guides the contents of development plans. including renewable energy projects. Also. covering areas with common interest and straddling existing local-authority boundaries. Hence the government is ultimately responsible for setting the regional planning framework. can be adopted only by the government. The development plan constitutes the two documents taken together. devolved planning systems. Private-wire customers experiencing unreliable supply or a poor quality of service would have no route of redress and might not be able to switch to another energy supplier. the DTI pointed out that the licensing regime’s purpose is to protect the interests of the consumer. Planning applications themselves are determined mainly by local planning authorities (LPAs). At the same time. Panel 13. taking advice from planning officers. The system is in a state of flux. The British planning system is ‘plan-led’. Local plans will be replaced with local development documents. in turn. but rely on the transmission grid for backup power. which. there may be concerns about ensuring private networks are adequately maintained and about safety issues. although some officers have delegated powers. once adopted.130 Local energy customers. But the DTI noted that ‘customers supplied by licensed energy suppliers are in effect subsidising the electricity costs of those linked into the private wire network’. Patchworks of private networks may make it increasingly difficult to coordinate power flows efficiently.’ But the department pointed out that there are countervailing arguments. importantly. usually the local council for the area concerned. Scotland and Wales have. Decisions are made by elected council members of the council planning committee. Councils will be expected to cooperate in preparing subregional spatial strategies. . In two-tier local-authority areas a structure plan is prepared by the county council and a local plan by the district. RSSs are prepared by regional assemblies but. and therefore they should pay charges that reflect this dependence. it is there to ensure that development serves the public interest. ‘Some argue that by exploiting these exemptions and associated financial benefits private wire networks could provide an important boost to the development of a larger base of distributed generation in the UK. to all intents and purposes.
Applications for power plants over 50 MW are dealt with directly by the secretary of state and are known as Section 36 applications. The development plan in force in an area will indicate whether a proposal is likely to be acceptable. so it is always worth talking to a planning officer at the council before submitting an application. A planning consultant will be aware of local land issues and can make the application for you. it is advisable to consult any neighbours who might be affected by your proposal. The planning officer will tell you how many copies of the form you will need to send back and how much the application fee will be. It is not necessary to make the application yourself. access to the development. and images of what the development will look like. layout and appearance of the proposed structures. Some councils are now operating an online applications service. Central government in each of the administrations of the UK (England. and often decided by. If there are difficulties. inspectors’ recommendations following local-plan inquiries will be binding on local planning authorities. you may wish to see what the council thinks of the building work you intend to carry out before you go to the trouble of making detailed drawings (but you will still need to submit details at a later stage). and the local parish. Scotland. Consultations Before making an application for a renewable-energy project. size. In an attempt to speed up and make the development plan’s preparation process more certain. Be as open and Continues . inspectors or recorders appointed by the central administration. Applications may be ‘called in’ for determination by the relevant administration. Points that will be considered include the number. Try to arrange a face-to-face meeting for this discussion. Outline applications may require a different form. In most cases this will be a full application but there are a few circumstances when you may want to make an outline application – for example. Appeals against refusal of planning permission are heard. Planning applications are decided in line with the development plan unless there are very good reasons not to do so. Provide information about predicted noise levels.Making progress on policy 131 The system is administered by planning officers within the LPAs. town or community council. The application The construction of a new building or structure nearly always needs an application for planning permission. officers may be able to suggest ways to make your proposal more acceptable. Decide what type of application you need to make. landscaping and impact on the neighbourhood. Wales and Northern Ireland) has retained for itself the ultimate power to determine planning applications.
if the local authority fails to determine your application. such as the Environment Agency or the local water and sewerage company. you can appeal. it should obtain your written consent to extend the period. The revenue from fees contributes to the cost to the council of handling applications and the fee is not refundable unless the application is invalid.132 Local energy Panel 13. or where you withdraw it before it has been determined. The results of this consultation will be used in the planning process. refused or withdrawn. What does it cost? The amount varies according to the type of development proposed. If it cannot decide your application within eight weeks. It enables decisions to be taken with full knowledge of the environmental consequences that would result. water or flooding problems. It is usually required for renewable-energy projects. one further application by the same applicant for the same type of development on the same site can generally be made free of charge within 12 months. and/or the highway authority (usually the county council in non-metropolitan areas or the local council in metropolitan areas) to discuss road safety and traffic issues (some wind-farm developments have failed to get planning permission because they have been considered a distraction to passing motorists). in both rural and urban areas. The planning process Planning staff at the council should acknowledge your application within a few days. the fee will not be refundable. Your council should be able to give you an idea about the likely timetable. However. to discuss any potential sewerage. The EIA is a study using scientific and other information about an area to be developed. How long does it take? The council should decide your application within eight weeks. They will place it on the planning register at the council offices so that it . You should also consult other bodies who might have an interest. Environmental-impact assessment The local authority will let you know if an environmental-impact assessment (EIA) is needed for your proposal.1 Continued informative as possible. Large or complex applications may take longer. When a previous application has been granted. Where the local planning authority fails to determine your application.
Making progress on policy 133 can be inspected by any interested member of the public. The appeal route is also available if the council does not issue a decision within eight weeks. if you think the council’s decision is unreasonable. Your local council will assess the relevance of comments and. town or community council will usually be notified. other bodies such as the county council. The planning department may prepare a report for the planning committee. which will generally include the comments of consultees. They will also either notify your neighbours or put up a notice on or near the site. In certain cases. Or the council may give a senior officer in the planning department the responsibility for deciding your application on its behalf. the Environment Agency and the ODPM may also need to be consulted. objectors and supporters that are relevant to the determination of your application. it must give written reasons. This gives the public the opportunity to express views. talk to the planning department. You are entitled to see and have a copy of any report submitted to a local government committee. Alternatively. . applications are also advertised in a local newspaper. The parish. Refusals and delays If the council refuses permission or imposes conditions. in the light of them. it is possible to consider appealing. may suggest changes to the application to overcome any difficulties. If you are unhappy or unclear about the reasons for refusal or the conditions imposed. Anyone can comment on your proposals. if your application has been refused. you may be able to submit a modified application free of charge within 12 months. which is made up of elected councillors. As we saw above. along with any background papers used in its preparation. The council grants/refuses planning permission by sending you a letter notifying you of its decision. Such material should normally be made available at least three working days before the committee meeting.
and pay a proportion of the general costs of administering and managing the BSC. These charges are paid to cover the costs of keeping the system in electrical balance and maintaining the quality and security of supply.Chapter 14 Embedded benefits Generators and electricity suppliers (retailers) directly connected to the electricity transmission grid pay a series of charges for using the network that can be avoided by using local generation. 14. These losses increase with the distance the electricity has to travel. as well as their own participatory costs. measured at the three half-hours of highest system demand (known as the triad). Up to 2 per cent of the electrical energy generated in England and Wales is lost in the transmission system. which include financial reserves. and this is costly. Generators and suppliers connected to the transmission network also have to sign the Balancing and Settlement Code (BSC). There is also a charge for transmission losses.1 Costs Transmission network use-of-system (TNUoS) charges are paid by generators and suppliers directly connected to the electricity transmission grid. . BSUoS charges are paid by suppliers and generators based on the energy taken from or supplied to the transmission network in each half-hour period. cables and transformer windings is dissipated through heating effects. since it requires them to meet certain standards. The charges vary for both generators and suppliers according to their geographic location and the demand for grid usage at that location. So. These costs are divided between generators and suppliers on a 45/55 split. TNUoS charges relate to the costs of managing and maintaining the transmission network. Signatories to BSC also incur other related charges including Balancing Services Use of System (BSUoS) charges. This happens because a proportion of the current flowing in transmission lines. Supplier charges vary by location and are levied on the supplier’s peak demand. generator TNUoS charges vary by location and are based on the generator’s capacity.
However. have also been small. transmitted. The benefit they gain from this is known as embedded benefits. (Electrical output from centralized generators has to be transformed up to a high voltage. In addition. Another might be avoiding the cost of reinforcing the network. as might be expected since the transmission network is designed for bulk power transport. so they are not subject to these charges. . Generators have normally expected to receive 70 per cent to 90 per cent of the total value. where they have been offered. as it may alter or even reverse the flows down their wires. New generation near the demand could mean bigger cables were not required. Suppliers can pass on these savings to distributed generators (subject to bilateral negotiation). In fact they are higher. They point out that wrongly placed generation can actually increase their costs. the use of locally generated electricity reduces the extent to which the supplier has to use the transmission system and the energy-balancing services offered by the grid. especially if there is already substantial embedded generation in the area. But the triad charge will be levied on the supplier’s demand only net of the embedded generation. The extent to which embedded generators help avoid distribution losses will vary according to their location. The result is a reduction both in TNUoS and BSUoS charges. Triad benefit has been potentially the most substantial of the embedded benefits. simply by reducing demand on the day in which triad costs are determined. and an embedded generator will have to claw it back through its energy contract with the supplier. Embedded generation can be used to reduce a supplier’s triad demand (and thus its TNUoS charges). where a generator is embedded within the distribution system. there are also losses as power is transported in the distribution network. In some cases there are savings but it is also possible that an embedded generator could increase distribution losses. and then transformed back down to the lower voltage). where increased demand would normally require increased flow down a part of the network that would therefore need the cables reinforcing. sometimes requiring replacement of equipment. Thus the benefit accrues to the supplier. The electricity is also delivered either at or closer to the correct voltage for distribution.2 Embedded benefits Smaller generators that are embedded in the distribution network are neither connected to the transmission grid. One would be an increase in the availability and security of supply due to the increased diversity of generation sources. which is why payments for embedded benefits. both the generator and the associated demand it supplies benefit from avoiding scaling for transmission losses. if they exist at all.136 Local energy 14. There are other perceived benefits less easy to quantify. nor signatories to the BSC. As with transmission network losses. Around 7 per cent of electricity is lost in the distribution network. DNOs argued that embedded benefits are small. When transmission-connected suppliers use power from distributed generators.
arguing that the risk of over.or undersupply outweighs the embedded benefits. it may not mean the price paid is comparable to the retail or even wholesale energy prices. For many small local generators it is difficult to get a financial benefit from the financial and strategic benefits of embedded generation. 14. In addition. and can offer low prices. the less market power the generator is likely to have to negotiate a reasonable export price. 14. they point out that they are obliged to provide 99. Embedded generation brings most benefit where the transmission and distribution grid is weak. supply quality.3. Where it has been possible to negotiate an increase in the price for electricity exported.2 Registered power zones RPZs are intended to encourage DNOs to develop and demonstrate new. A DNO is allowed to spend up to 0. environmental or safety) to end consumers. operation. This occurs in areas that are remote from centralized generation plants. IFI projects can embrace any aspect of distribution-system asset management from design through to construction. This is because suppliers buying the exported power are not obliged to buy it. The primary aim of these two incentives is to encourage the DNOs to apply technical innovation in the way they pursue investment in and operation of their networks. Ofgem introduced two new incentive mechanisms: the innovation funding incentive (IFI) and registered power zones (RPZs). Ofgem introduced a new incentive mechanism for connecting DG intended to ‘encourage DNOs to invest efficiently and economically in the provision of distributed generation connections and to be generally proactive in responding to connection requests’. 14. The smaller the likely export. whereas individual embedded generators are unlikely to exceed 95 per cent. more costeffective ways of connecting and operating generation that will deliver specific benefits to new distributed generators and broader benefits to consumers generally. .Embedded benefits 137 Even where generation is placed in a location convenient to the DNO’s network requirements. commissioning.99 per cent availability of supply.3 New incentives As part of its 2005–10 Distribution Price Control Review.3. on the strength of the embedded benefits.5 per cent of its combined distribution-network revenue on eligible IFI projects. DNOs will have to report their IFI activities openly on an annual basis. maintenance and decommissioning. DNOs may therefore feel obliged to reinforce the network regardless of embedded generation.1 Innovation funding incentive The IFI is intended to provide funding for projects focused on the technical development of distribution networks to deliver value (whether financial.
Its solution was to invite companies to become consolidators. it can seek to register the connection scheme with Ofgem as an RPZ. An incentive package of a maximum of £500 000 per year during the price-control period is allowed to each DNO for RPZ projects. Good Energy. National Grid Co. Consolidation has been of very limited benefit so far. There is a certain amount of competition: in the same way domestic consumers can choose their electricity supplier. Aggregating suppliers. It is possible to sell directly – strike a contract with an electricity user and sign up to the electricity market. for example. not necessarily in the same area. Ofgem will decide whether the scheme qualifies as an RPZ. buys power generated from small generators and microgenerators. SmartestEnergy. although its main business is power supply. although some other companies in effect use a modified form of consolidation. and the counterparties to your supply contracts. interfacing with Elexon (the nonprofit entity that administers the BSC). They simply sign a contract with a local electricity supplier. so generators should have more opportunity to negotiate better prices.4 Small generators The government recognized early on that the small generators were likely to find export costly and difficult. But that incurs costs that are generally too much for a small company to bear. . should reduce the variation in supply and offer larger amounts of power. The basis of consolidation is that you take on the risk of a portfolio of unpredictable generation. who would allow groups of small generators to sell their electricity together. Getting access directly to the market is an expensive business. a small generator can offer power to different suppliers and compare prices. Most small generators do not take on any of these issues.50/kW/annum for new generation connections for a 15-year period. This would build to a chunk of power that is more predictable and could be sold on to the market. which agrees to take whatever power is generated for a fixed price. There are the costs of signing up to the BSC. This element is increased to £4. The consolidator can use its several sources of power to manage the risk of not meeting its commitment. Even the cost of employing regulatory specialists who understand the BSC is substantial. operated in the original stand-alone model by only one company. The capacity-related element allows a DNO to recover £1. The RPZ incentive mechanism combines pass-through and capacity-related elements.138 Local energy If a DNO employs genuine innovation in the way that it connects generation.50/ kW/year in an RPZ for the first five years. Power can be sold to a consolidator – a specialist trading company that buys power from a variety of sources and sells it on.5 Consolidation Generators have to sell their power. But there is another option. 14. 14.
but in new projects generators are looking for a contract of at least two to three years. It is typically 12 months. and that they can take on some of the risk to get a better price. metering and so on. But that can vary: it may be broken down into seasons. . SmartestEnergy says it will trade for sites with anything from 500 kW to 100 MW. That may cost a few hundred pounds. weeks or even time of day. for a return of just a couple of hundred pounds. The length of the contract can vary. Projects in development looking for finance in the form of bank loans may need a contract for five or ten years. predictable supply to offer. months. Very small suppliers are better off looking for a nearby customer that can buy the power directly. Some generators may decide that they have a very stable.Embedded benefits 139 A consolidator may work by offering a fixed price for power supplied. quarters. Once you get below that level the cost of entry is the physical connection. but would seriously consider units as small as 200 kW or groups of five 100 kW generators.
15. reduce the need to make expensive reinforcements to the grid when new demand in the form of new housing or business arrives in the area.Chapter 15 Connecting and exporting power How do you export power from your local energy installation to the electricity grid? Until recently. Another issue is DNO income: they receive financial penalties if there are too many ‘faults’ in supply and they argue that more generators on the system mean that faults are more likely. for engineers. the question of safety is paramount: staff working on electrical cabling need to be sure that. once the main supply is off.1. depending not only on your installation and whether you hope to get some income from the export. photovoltaics. as have new regulations that determine the price paid for the connection and that will force DNOs to offer export tariffs to new generators. the safety and reliability of the DNO’s network. At bottom is a new attitude that acknowledges that. connecting large numbers of small generators to the network is very new and it has a number of implications. rather than being a nuisance or a sideshow. However. For example. a new connection standard designed for the job has simplified matters considerably. connection was a notoriously complex business.1 Step 1: Decide on your system Local energy depends on local resources. the cable is not ‘live’ due to power input from a small generator. 15. Are you planning a small hydro-turbine. local energy projects can strengthen existing energy-supply arrangements. introduce efficiency and persuade people to use energy with more care. the safety of engineers working on the generator and the DNO network. a wind turbine or a combination? Is biomass available and would it be . For DNOs. but also on regulations that were intended for very different electricity generators and distribution network operators (DNOs) whose procedures and attitudes vary widely.1 Connection standards Connection standards are designed to achieve several things: • • • the safety of electric appliances and people in the home. Here are the steps you should take if you wish to connect your generation system to the network.
142 Local energy best used to provide heat or power – or both? Consider the alternatives: if you are far from the gas network the cost of using biomass for heating may not be very different from the cost of oil or electrical heating. Assess how much energy will be produced and whether it is required as heat or electricity, and look for other local users with whom you could combine to have a more favourable profile of needs. Look carefully at your demand to see whether, in practice, you are likely to have any electricity to export to the grid.
Step 2: Get a connection agreement
If you are working towards a small project of less than 1 MW your system supplier will probably be able to deal directly with the DNO on a connection agreement in exchange for a flat fee. Completion may take up to two months under the old G59/2 standard but should be much swifter under the new G83/1 standard (see below).
Step 3: Install suitable metering
When you calculated how much electricity you would have to export, you may have found only a few kilowatt hours. In that case, you may decide you would be paying out more in metering and administration than you can make from electricity sales, and in this case it may suit you to ‘dump’ those kilowatt hours on to the grid. In this case, since you won’t be exporting much energy and you do not want to be paid for it you do not need a meter to record exported power. Your existing meter will continue to record imported units. However, bear in mind that some meters have antifraud features and may assume that electricity passing the ‘wrong way’ through the meter is an indication of attempted meter fraud. Meters vary in their reactions but in some cases may disconnect, so check your meter first, as you may need to get a new one installed. Once the connection is complete you will continue to be billed for any power you import and can change your electricity supplier in the normal way. The next step is to install a meter that records imported and exported electricity. This can be obtained from your electricity supplier or their meter operator. If you are exporting at a small power level (less than 16 A per phase, or 3.68 kW) you may use a so-called non-half-hourly (NHH) meter. This simply records the totals for export and import and will cost £50–100. It will have two meter identification numbers (MPANs), for export and import registers, even if there is a single physical meter. The alternative is to keep your existing import meter (and its MPAN number) and fit one new single-direction meter to count the export and get one new MPAN for it. If you are exporting at a higher level, a half-hourly (HH) meter will be required, with substantial running costs. The renewables industry is currently lobbying to raise the generator size limit for NHH metering, as the high cost of HH metering is an insurmountable barrier to many small generators.
Step 4: Install a ROC meter
If you want to qualify for ROCs you will need to install a new meter to record the total output from your generator.
Connecting and exporting power 143
Step 5: Arrange a tariff with your electricity supplier
Research electricity suppliers and choose the one that offers the best deal. Don’t forget that you may be offering ROCs and Climate Change Levy (CCL) exemption along with power.
The connection agreement
Written agreement is required from the DNO before the generator can be started up and connected. In the past, generators were connected under a standard known as G59/2. But this was written many years ago to connect large power stations (over 5 MW) and it was designed mainly for plant with rotating turbines, not inverters. In practice, this means the standard does not fit well with small and renewable sources. Previous applicants report that connecting small-scale projects often comes up against a similar lack of experience among DNO staff, as in the past the numbers of small generators connecting to the network have been small. It is up to the applicant to demonstrate that its scheme complies with G59/2 and with the associated guidance document, known as ETR113, and to convince the DNO that the operating conditions are safe. Each distribution network operator has its own application form and its own format. The applicant will have to provide scale drawings of earthing arrangements, an electrical schematic and a description of operation under normal and network fault conditions. Some DNOs may insist on a site visit to witness tests (costs vary from zero to several hundred pounds, depending on the DNO). A new standard – G83/1 – was released in September 2003 and is designed to make connection easier. It is valid for domestic CHP, photovoltaics and small hydro, but at present it is not valid for wind. This is because the upper size limit is set very low, at 16 A (approx. 3.7 kW) per phase. This is too low for many small wind turbines and the industry is protesting. The Energy Networks Association indicates that DNOs will accept G83/1 as a valid connection standard for schemes that produce more than 16 A, but this is at its discretion and it has not been tried yet. G83/1’s main features are a simplified application form and appendices giving special requirements for the technologies mentioned above. It assumes that the interface between the grid and the generator (a grid connect inverter) has undergone ‘type testing’ and passed. Once the paperwork is complete, the DNO must be notified that the project is being installed – this can be as simple as a letter to the DNO. A third standard, designated G77, that was in place for PV arrays has now been withdrawn, as G83/1 replaces it. Any devices that were type-approved under G77 are also approved under G83/1. Since G77 allowed up to a 5 kW connection, that level has been carried over to G83/1 and it allows PV installations up to 5 kW. More recently, there has been particular focus on connecting domestic generation. This has been led by a surge in interest in such projects, grant programmes and the
144 Local energy easy availability at least of photovoltaic panels or solar thermal panels and domestic wind turbines in DIY shops such as B&Q. At one time these had also to be processed with the DNO by completing a connection agreement, but now the requirement is simply to inform the DNO that the installation has been made, so long as no exports are expected. Getting an agreement and tariff for the small amounts of electricity exported by such projects is more problematic and often will not be worth the trouble. In February 2004, for the first time, a standard guide to connecting small generating plants to the distribution network was published. The ‘Technical guide to the connexion of generation to the distribution network’ does not describe in detail the requirements for individual projects, which are specified with the appropriate DNO. Instead, it provides background information and a ‘route map’ of the connection process. The new guide is just one result of work done by the then DTI’s Distributed Generation Group to improve the position for small generators who want to connect to the low-voltage electricity system. Describing the new guide to a Renewable Power Association (RPA) briefing on DG, Stephen Andrews of the consultants Ilex noted that, in the past, DNOs’ response to requests for connection had been very different and there had been no consistent approach. But now any potential generator could be sure the DNO should have a copy of the new guide and could work from the same document. The document was created by just one of the technical work streams being undertaken under a joint process and a combined ‘Distribution code review panel’ with members from generation and distribution, who will work on developing connection standards.
Rethinking the network
The UK regulator has published proposals that should speed the deployment of embedded generation. Times are changing for the DNOs: increasingly, electricity is being generated by local schemes that supply power direct to the local network. Overall, the change is generally agreed to be a useful one: an extensive series of local power-generation projects helps strengthen the network, and areas with their own generation are largely protected against the consequences of a failure in the grid. What is more, they increase the overall efficiency of the network, as up to 3 per cent of the power generated at large remote stations can be lost during the long-distance transmission process. But, while generation projects ‘embedded’ in their networks should ultimately be beneficial to DNOs, developing the networks to accept such projects is far from straightforward. The DNOs have a statutory duty to offer connection to new projects, but in most cases they also set the price of connection. For developers working on embedded generation projects, such as small onshore wind farms, some DNOs have in recent years gained a reputation for reluctance and obstruction in connecting their projects.
Connecting and exporting power 145 Because DNOs are local monopolies, their terms of business and financial reward are laid down by the industry regulator Ofgem. In a five-yearly distribution price review, after consultation with the DNOs and others, Ofgem sets out the investment to be made in the system and the costs that can be passed through to customers in the form of price rises. It also sets out a range of penalties for poor performance. The DNOs argue that their difficulties with connecting DG arise because their financial constraints are also not designed for the purpose. It may be that a local project will benefit their network overall, but, because they cannot recover the cost of grid reinforcement from consumers, it has to be charged to the project. What is more, the DNOs say that the price involves more than just the cost of connecting a cable: there are practical implications to accepting generation on to the local network, from potential faults elsewhere as electricity flow patterns change, to changed working practices for engineers working on the system. As a result, DNOs previously imposed so-called ‘deep’-connection charges, where the new project bears all the network upgrade costs, rather than ‘shallow’connection charges, which cover just the connection. The resulting capital costs have halted many embedded generation projects. Part of the problem was that it was hard to predict how much reinforcement might be required to complete the connection. The most obvious aspects, such as the distance of the new project from the nearest connection point, may mask other reinforcement required not only in cabling and substations on the immediate circuit but also at distances up to several miles. Also at stake were the other loads and generators already on the system or due to join, and whether the new installation would be the point at which the circuit would have to be stepped up to a new supply-and-demand level. Projects were expected not only to take on reinforcement costs but also to put aside financing at an early stage in the proceedings. And, thanks to the slow process of accepting new projects on to the grid, projects in the queue for connection could easily fail to proceed, changing the requirements for reinforcement elsewhere. Ofgem and the DNOs began work on the charging structure for the operating period 2005–10 with this in mind. The fourth distribution-price review (known as DPR4), which set financial terms for the DNOs from April 2005, contained proposals specifically designed to make connection of embedded generation simpler and cheaper, along with proposals intended to help begin developing more active networks. Ofgem said in its proposals for DPR4 that there is ‘a general recognition that investment to replace network assets and to improve network performance needs to increase …[and] this will require investment in the distribution networks and changes to the regulatory regime’.
To respond to embedded generators, Ofgem proposed revised connection-charging arrangements for connecting to the distribution network and incentives on DNOs to respond ‘proactively’ to requests from generators to connect to their network.
The networks were not expected to use the same methodology – Ofgem recognized that conditions in each area vary considerably and in any case the regulator’s aim is generally not to impose schemes on the DNOs but to enable them to be developed by the operator. In the bulk power system these benefits are quantified and rewarded. the new scheme would help reduce the costs of being a ‘pioneer’ project. was aiming for April 2009.e. into fully active networks. The benefit to the project is that these payments are not made until the power plant is operating. maintaining frequency and voltage. which owns and manages the networks in south-west England. with networks in London and eastern England. But it said that. which operates networks in north-west England – Central Networks. EDF Energy. . the effect is unlikely to be significant. but part would be paid as a toll on each unit of electricity exported. Its methodology for higher voltage networks on its system was implemented on 1 April 2007. This appears as an addition to the distribution use-of-system charge paid by all users of the network per unit of electricity transported. until 2010). was the first to develop a new charging methodology. for example. DNOs were required to develop ‘enduring’ charging schemes that would be able to develop in a predictable and fair way as the distribution networks develop. United Utilities. Their power input can help keep the supply in order where the network is weak. while CE. Previously.146 Local energy ‘Deep’-connection charging would be replaced by a ‘shallowish’ system. Embedded generators have long argued that. Here. Ofgem said that. In addition. 15. A Distribution Charging Methodologies Forum was set up in May 2007 to enable the distribution companies to work together to deal with new problems as they arise and as their networks change. Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern Energy – expected to introduce new charging methodologies in April 2008. Instead. as the level of DG penetration increases and the management of the distribution networks becomes more active. as expected. expected to make the change at some of its networks in April 2008 and some in April 2009. the new project would still be required to pay the costs of upgrading the system but the payment would be split: part would be paid as a capital sum before construction. to the extent to which these opportunities will arise over the next period of DPR4 (i. Western Power Distribution. far from being a burden to DNOs. there may be opportunities for the DNOs to utilize ancillary services from generation (as well as demand) to help operation of the network. later projects had a ‘free ride’. taking advantage of upgrades made to accommodate the first project. which has networks in Yorkshire and the north-east. New arrangements will allow some of the reinforcement charges to be recouped from later projects that benefit from the strengthened network. they offer benefits in operating the network.5 New charging regimes The DNOs operated a temporary ‘shallowish’ charging regime from the DPR4 start date in April 2005 but it was not intended to be permanent. once one project had borne the cost of deep connection.
In the medium term. The DNO would be able to take the entire output when it was possible.(and benefit-) reflective charging. • • • 15. there was 12. Ofgem said the existing charging models for HV and LV generators are simplistic and the new models developed for EHV cannot readily be extended to cover the full HV or LV network on the same basis. This has also resulted in extensive connection queues in areas where there is little or no capacity on the existing network. but had not taken the work forward.e. Methodology statements. Work on the connection methodology will be taken forward in consultation with Ofgem’s Electricity Connections Steering Group (ECSG). A common format for each of the connections and useof-system methodologies could be used by all electricity distributors. But Ofgem said those generators’ decisions may have an effect in future on network costs. These generators connected under a ‘deep’-connection-charge regime and were not currently paying use-of-system charges. when there was capacity on the wires. Existing generators expected. It is DNOs who are now responsible for proposing how to resolve all these issues.9 GW of generation capacity connected to distribution networks. when DNOs switched to interim charging arrangements on a ‘shallowish’ basis for the first time. . There is therefore a need to extend some of the concepts now being developed to provide more cost. The distribution companies recognized that there is scope to align definitions of the charging product (e. The new methodologies being developed have focused on high-voltage levels in the distribution networks. Existing generators: On 31 March 2005. Charging products and structures. it might be valuable to develop tariffs reflective of costs at voltage levels rather than by predetermined customer profile/class. On occasions when the capacity of the wires was fully utilized the generator would be unable to export power and would be paid an agreed fee by the DNO. that Ofgem would return to the issue.6 Constraining connection? One reason why connection costs have been so high is that grid rules say that new generators should be able to connect in an ‘unconstrained’ way.Connecting and exporting power 147 Among the early issues identified by Ofgem as likely to require discussion by the new forum were the following: • HV/LV generator charging.g. Ofgem said it had explored various options for introducing charges for these generators. capacity) and their approaches to charging for reactive power. however. which means that the full theoretical output from the plant can be exported at any time. with or without compensation. i. Ofgem said there was scope for better reflection of costs of usage at different times and potentially for longer-term or more flexible products. especially in the case of small or local projects. including charges to prospective generators. An alternative would see new projects connected on a ‘constrained’ basis. But it has been argued strongly that ‘unconstrained’ connection is unnecessary.
. for example. in Norway – has shown that with some forms of generation the constraint is much less than might be expected. But wind farms of course operate only when there is wind. where power can be used if it is not exported. have to pay for grid reinforcement that would enable it to export 1 000 kW at any time. Wind is a useful example. which may be anything from 60 to 90 per cent of the time. When the wind is not at the optimum speed the wind turbine generates a proportion of its rated power. and since it does this only when the wind blows it is clear that it is hardly ever producing the maximum-rated capacity. constrained connections have not found favour in the UK. however. A wind farm rated at 1 000 kW would. the outcome depends on local circumstances. under the UK system. Over an average year a turbine generates around 30 per cent of its theoretical maximum over the year. but experience from Norway has been that the constrained connection has been very beneficial. This can be still more beneficial if it is operated in conjunction with a nearby demand. It has brought new capacity on line much more quickly and has led to very few constraint payments. Obviously. So far.148 Local energy It has been argued that experience from other countries – the system is used.
That effort has been made more difficult because the options for distributed . it may simply have had a different cost structure from more conventional choices. so it is more expensive. The government response has been to try to pump-prime the market with subsidies and grants that will eventually increase the market size to a point when unit costs begin to fall. with high capital costs eventually balanced by low operating or fuel costs.Chapter 16 Finance and local generation Using the waste heat from the electricity-generation process. There are a number of reasons for this: the equipment is relatively new or supplied in small volumes. plants like this one at Ludlow can convert fuel to power and heat at very high efficiencies. so alterations are required in existing buildings to allow for it. The capital cost of local power and heat projects is often rather higher than providing power or heat conventionally. the technology may be new to its location.
whereby the purchasing and installation costs are assessed in conjunction with fuel and maintenance – and often removal at the end of the plant’s lifetime – is more likely to favour distributed energy. the plant is awarded one ROC for each megawatt hour of power it produces. or by paying a ‘buyout’ (fine) for each megawatt hour where non-renewable (often called ‘brown’) power was supplied instead. which administers the RO. either by presenting ROCs to prove that they have used the required proportion of renewable power. The cash in the buyout fund is repaid. so that renewables project developers can rely on receiving buying cash. A renewables power project must first be certified by providing information about the plant to Ofgem. One problem at mid-scale is that companies often require payback on new capital investments within a few years. and many retailers are forced to pay some buyout fees to fulfil their obligation. It places an obligation on all retailers of electricity to source a proportion of their electricity from renewable sources. The Obligation will remain in place until 2027 and the renewable proportion grows each year. Developing a volume market for the domestic scale is probably more achievable than it is at mid-scale. 16. . Many European countries have favoured fixed tariffs (often known as feed-in tariffs). These three components provide the elevated power price required to make a renewables project financially viable. A switch to so-called ‘life-cycle’ costing. The generator can sell the power. To prove that the retailer has complied with the obligation. At the end of each financial year the amount of each retailer’s obligation is determined by Ofgem. a system of electronic ROCs is employed. and in fact is designed to be so: the Obligation level is increased each year to ensure that there is a shortfall in the generation achieved.1 Renewables Obligation The government’s biggest support scheme for renewable energy is known as the Renewables Obligation (RO). The upshot is that each ROC has a value equal to at least the buyout fine. where energy will always have to be tailored both to the resources available and to the particular needs of the customer. But the UK favoured ‘market’ instruments.150 Local energy energy are so varied and apply at such different scales. nor exactly how much subsidy generators will receive. This has been the case every year. to the retailers who presented ROCs. whereby the government’s role was not to distinguish between technologies but to allow the market to bring forward the most competitive. The Renewables Obligation differs from many support schemes used in other countries because it does not specify which renewables technologies should be employed. with a different tariff set for each form of renewable energy and paid for each megawatt hour generated for a specified number of years. Once it is accepted. pro rata. the ROC and the likely benefit from the buyout fund. and potentially considerably more if there is a shortfall in renewables generation. The scheme was put in place in 2001. The retailers can then discharge their obligation. from around 3 per cent in the first year to reach 20 per cent of supply.
Systems over 50 kW in size require still more information. meters and the cost could outweigh any benefit from ROCs. It has been proposed that. retailers have not been obliged to offer export deals to small generators and often declined them. generators at the domestic level should have a ‘deemed’ figure for the average likely generation of their installation and receive ROC benefits on that basis.and tidal-power projects have highlighted. so power retailers who offer fixed prices to distributed generators will pitch it very low. Registering as a renewable power source is just the start: although Ofgem has simplified the forms required for this process for microgenerators. for example. the structure of the subsidy means that it is far less useful in bringing newer technologies forward. it is necessary for generators to prove how much power they have generated and to make returns to Ofgem on a regular basis. ramped up installation rates. more sophisticated. especially those whose business is not power generation but who have an interest in a local power project for other reasons – to provide on-site power. but so far this has not been implemented.Finance and local generation 151 This was partly because of a general government preference for market instruments. below 50 kW. at the time of writing. they are still 20 or more pages long and necessarily address technical issues that could be difficult for this group – who are generally installing domestic systems – to get to grips with. as anyone with an electricity bill knows. at the lowest possible price. but just 20 months to install the next 1 000 MW. particularly wind power. and the value of the renewables certificate can also vary because. for example. It also has very limited usefulness for small and distributed power generators. Companies are more likely to have half-hourly meters already in place. but will have an additional administrative burden that could mean significant costs. so nor is the full value of the ROC. with a new requirement on the horizon that would force retailers also to offer export tariffs. but. What is the problem? First of all ROCs are cumbersome and costly to administer. Some party has to bear the risk of this unknown price. The cost and complexity of the export process have meant that small generators who may have had power available have sometimes decided not to export. However. and partly because the avowed intention of the Obligation was to bring renewable energy on to the grid as quickly as possible. notes that it took 14 years for the UK to install 1 000 MW of wind power. which is mainly that the price offered is likely to be very low and if the installation is very small no price may be on offer. Once they are registered. For micro or domestic users this will probably require new. The base electricity price can vary considerably. although the buyout price is fixed in advance. In practice. this seemed likely to change. as a community project. something developers of wave. many small generators will rely on an agreement with their electricity retailer to manage their electricity production. In this it has been successful as well-developed technologies. For this reason. instead. or who have a very small source such as PV panels. This has its own disadvantage. the amount of buyout fund likely to be recycled is not known. The British Wind Energy Association. as the costs . Companies argue that the contingent nature of the Renewables Obligation is the reason why they offer small generators low prices for the power they have available to export.
An interesting variant of the RO that has been used in Australia for several years calculates an average lifetime generation for a small renewable energy source such as domestic PV and calculates the number of ROCs that would be generated over the life of the scheme. And. heating in commercial premises. this has never been successful. That puts even large biomass CHP owners in a similar position to small generators: they have a few megawatt hours of power to generate. unlike for electricity and transport fuel. intended to provide a simpler route to market for small generators. saying that. 16. CHP has huge potential in all kinds of projects. For domestic PV. even in a large product. which often offer greatly improved efficiency.2 Electricity trading arrangements The system by which electricity is bought and sold by power-generation companies and retailers also does not favour renewable energy. The current system was put in place across England and Wales in 2001. often unpredictably. is low – and often not enough to justify investing in an efficient CHP plant instead of a simple boiler that provides only heat. may be relatively small and production can vary dramatically depending on the heat needs of the site. But in most projects heat is the most important product – for process heat in industry. A similar system has been proposed in the UK.152 Local energy are far greater than the benefits. even with ROCs. and it was renamed the British Electricity Transmission and Trading Arrangements (BETTA) when it was extended to cover Scotland in April 2005. The government had previously resisted the idea of a renewable-heat obligation. who translates them by an agreed formula into a discount on the purchase price. This clearly means that heat-only sources are excluded but it also dramatically reduces the amount of subsidy available for mixed sources. CHP projects using fossil fuel would not be eligible for ROCs in any case. where there was a defined group of retailers. where both heat and power are required. commercial and largescale domestic. etc. although the RO always included an option of selling ROCs to a consolidator. There was a precedent for this: the government had already decided to introduce a renewable-transport-fuels obligation that would require transport-fuel suppliers to mix a proportion of biomass-derived fuel with petrol and diesel. in the Australian version. An Act of Parliament on climate change passed in 2006 required the UK government to investigate the possibility of a renewable-heat obligation to run in parallel with the RO. so the price they can get for the power. but some could use local biomass for fuel and in theory many would be eligible as renewable-energy generators. the lifetime ROCs are awarded to the PV supplier at the outset. Finally. – whereas electricity is a by-product. The amount of electricity produced. . such as combined heat and power. No benefit or subsidy is available for heat production using this route. it would be extremely difficult to identify a group of heat suppliers to be charged with the obligation. under the name New Electricity Trading Arrangements (NETA). industrial. a major problem with the RO for many local energy projects is that it is entirely focused on electricity production.
Forecasting of wind output has become much more exact. they could accept even low prices. Under NETA and then BETTA. it was thought that the pool allowed some electricity companies to manipulate the market and produced electricity prices that were too high. . As the halfhour arrived. The new arrangements were intended to ‘discover’ lower prices if they were available and to penalize unpredictable generation. The cost of balancing is charged back to generators or retailers who were ‘out of balance’. there would always be minor balancing actions required (see Chapter 14). what BETTA adds to the situation for distributed generators is another layer of risk. in selling wholesale to a power company. especially as ‘gate closure’ – the point at which final contracts have to be made for each half-hourly dispatch slot – has moved to just one hour in advance of dispatch. it was more effective to bid a zero price and become a ‘price taker’: they would be called on whenever they had power to supply – i. The offers were known as the pool. In most cases. It was hugely successful at both. In practice.Finance and local generation 153 Before BETTA. Since the system went live the situation has eased somewhat. In practice now.e.3 Climate Change Levy A further subsidy available to most renewable-energy generators is via the Climate Change Levy (CCL). Companies have become more used to matching their supply and demand and the system as a whole has seen much less balancing required. electricity generators and retailers made bilateral contracts for whatever period suited them. but this is managed by the system operator. However. Also. electricity generators made offers of electricity supply at a certain price for each half-hour of the day. 16. That means that. when the wind was blowing – and. and all those called on to generate would receive the price bid by the highest bid used. Prices dropped by more than 10 per cent and operators of unpredictable power such as wind generators and CHP operators selling their excess power found that they were paying balancing charges that in some cases outweighed the entire income from their site. there was no penalty if they were unable to supply for a period in which they had made a bid. forecasting is very reliable at this scale. because the cost to run was minimal and there were no fuel costs. For others. but the underlying assumption was that the sum of the contracts should mean the electricity supply and demand were in balance. Generators have different amounts of flexibility over how they operate and different constraints such as fuel price. the system operator would call on the cheapest offers first until demand was met. who called on previously agreed demand and supply ‘top-ups’ or reductions. with appropriate payments. which was inefficient. so for some it was beneficial to bid a high price and generate only when the price was high enough to cover fuel costs. The power was still dispatched by the system operator in half-hourly slots as it had been before. such as wind farms. the price is likely to be discounted again because the power company is taking on the market risk.
That means that a huge variety of energy sources have to be encompassed within a support scheme that may have very different investment and return profiles and be at very different stages of development. That means that using gas or electricity attracts a lower rate of levy than using coal. The levy is intended to encourage efficient energy use and to provide an incentive for industry to move towards energy supply that has lower carbon dioxide emissions. the support scheme must be usable by a wide range of potential suppliers and the benefits must be translatable to all the members of a group involved in a scheme. generators can receive a fixed CCL payment for each megawatt hour they generate. under the Kyoto Protocol. have been most successful in persuading the existing power-generation industry to invest in renewables. groups or individuals who propose setting up local energy schemes.4 Grants As we have seen above. because renewable energy is exempt from the CCL. where a range of boilers is available off the shelf in domestic or industrial versions that can be fitted. Administration is relatively simple. alongside a volume industry for equipment.154 Local energy The CCL has been in operation since 2001. It was set up in response to the UK’s commitment. 16. and the energy is used locally. An important distinction between the CCL and RO. is that good-quality CHP. however. where standard technologies can be simply connected – a far more extensive version of the current heating market. by local tradespeople. at the domestic scale. on the assumption that the result should be price reductions. at scales from domestic to major industry. With sources as diverse as small hydro and microCHP to support. since ‘off-the-shelf’ technologies are mass-produced. the support schemes by which the UK has attempted to promote the large-scale use of renewable energy. . especially for those generators who are already qualifying as renewable-energy sources. but. No levy is paid if renewable energy is used. That approach will always be complicated by the need to assess and make use of natural sources such as wind. and its underlying aim is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. a similar volume industry for services such as wind assessment and designing mixed systems should develop. The CCL is also administered by Ofgem. The nature of distributed energy supply does present problems for policymakers. The government has taken the view that eventually local energy will be a ‘volume’ industry.5 per cent compared with 1990 levels. In practice. They have done little to help companies. however it is fuelled. the government has fallen back on grant programmes intended to allow suppliers to build a volume business. Local energy is best served when local energy sources are used. qualifies for the CCL. which has worked hard to try to combine the paperwork for the two schemes. commerce and the public sector. What is more. to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 12. and persuade industry to switch to more efficient and possibly site-based forms of generation. It is a tax on the use of energy paid by industry.
Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).4 million of the funds available. DEFRA added. There was no direct replacement.Finance and local generation 155 The diversity of the potential market has been a problem for the industry and government because it means that responsibility extends across more than one government department. It has offered planting grants for biomass crops such as willow and miscanthus.’ The programme was said to have spent just £22. which may eventually provide support for domestic generation. Similar problems have been encountered in dealing with organizational and legal issues (see Chapter 13). Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) – while Communities and Local Government (CLG) has some responsibility for buildings. The high dropout rate for larger schemes is the main reason for the limited estimate of spend. for example. and so. and a further grant programme for producer groups that aims to help farmers make the switch to these crops by helping them form cooperatives and companies that can jointly market their crop. administered by the Energy Saving Trust (EST). experience has shown that many larger schemes under the initial programme could not complete within the 31 March 2007 spend deadline and did not go ahead. DEFRA is also responsible for the Energy Efficiency Commitment (EEC). although the Low Carbon Buildings Programme. However. and DEFRA committed a further £10 million to the Community Energy Programme in 2004. As a result. and although it had brought around 28 MWe of CHP capacity online this was just 22 per cent of the programme’s original target. Elsewhere. such programmes do have to be designed with reference to CLG. has been the community-energy heating scheme known as the Community Energy Programme. however. in some cases after 2010. has come from the Department for the Environment. This provided grants for CHP projects and ‘innovative’ heating. but decided that it would end in 2007. The largest grant scheme by far. although it may not be involved in grant programmes. ‘The situation would not improve appreciably if we extended the spend deadline. The EEC is . which has also had responsibility for trying to support the growth of the biomass supply industry. and are sometimes unwieldy and in danger of allowing important potential projects to fall between schemes. 16. which often meant using biomass fuel instead of gas or oil for heating purposes.5 DEFRA support DEFRA’s main area of support is the biomass industry. This was announced with a £50 million funding commitment in 2001. Electricity supply support schemes have to come from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) – now the Department for Business. encompassed some similar projects. as these larger schemes cannot complete within a timescale suitable for government funding. Support for heating schemes. grant schemes have been slow to materialize. The smaller schemes that can complete tend to be expensive in relation to their outputs. DEFRA said the decision to extend the programme was based on initial strong demand and a number of larger schemes with significant outputs.
That programme was replaced by a broader-based scheme known as Clear Skies. . where large energy savings are available. and energy crops. or reducing the price of efficient appliances. The scheme focused on flagship and community projects.6 DTI grants The former Department of Trade and Industry’s programme of support to small-scale renewables began with the solar PV demonstration programme. and it spent £12. The Scottish Executive put up £3. microgeneration would be a suitable addition to the range of measures available. There are also questions over the appropriateness of including energy generation in the programme at all. etc. with a second stream that provided one-off grants for householders. The proposal is the subject of some debate: there is a question.156 Local energy a duty placed on electricity retailers to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by helping their customers use energy more efficiently. Clear Skies was widely seen as a successful scheme. or giving grants for insulation. of micro wind turbines or solar water heaters. in future phases of the EEC. It has been proposed that.7 million to fund its own parallel scheme. for example. a small-scale hydropower project in a school. At the time of writing. such as willow or poplar. At the time. that question had still to be resolved. to provide heat for a community farm. where water-heating panels are fitted to the roof of every house in a street. for example. including loft and cavity wall insulation. There are a range of measures within the commitment. This long-awaited capital-grant scheme to encourage UK homeowners. with shared website and criteria. wind and small hydro among the projects it supported. 16. hoping that their high visibility would act to promote renewables more generally. It and the Major PV Demonstration programme were replaced by a single scheme known as the Low Carbon Buildings Programme (LCBP). low-energy lighting. by offering cheap low-energy lamps. schools and communities to take the initiative in developing and installing their own renewableenergy schemes was launched by the then energy minister Brian Wilson at the beginning of 2003 with an initial £10 million funding. the DTI said suggestions for local projects could include: • • • • a solar street.5 million before it was ended in 2006. For the first time the scheme encompassed projects that provided renewablesourced heat as well as power and it included solar water heating. over how beneficial it would be to install such technologies on uninsulated houses. Retailers could provide grants towards the cost. a wind turbine to provide electricity to a hospital. more energy-efficient appliances such as fridges and boilers. Retailers can choose how they meet their commitment. which eventually provided £31 million in grants to PV installations.
for community schemes. housing associations. In March 2006’s budget statement. The LCBP was due to end in 2008. Stream 2 for medium and large microgeneration projects by public. this programme had £30 million to spend and four main aims: • • • • to support a more holistic approach to reducing carbon emissions from buildings by demonstrating combinations of both energy-efficiency measures and microgeneration products in a single development. it was announced that there would be a further £50 million for the programme. Stream 1 for householders. and of the following technologies: solar PV.Finance and local generation 157 Launched in May 2006. not least because of additional funding. It is not open to private households or businesses. by which time it was hoped that the industry could ‘stand on its own feet’. purchase and installation of technologies must be from a specific shortlist of suppliers. to see demonstrated on a wider scale emerging microgeneration technologies (with a focus on building integrated technologies). and to raise awareness by linking demonstration projects to a wider programme of activities including developing skills and communicating the potential of microgeneration to change the attitudes and behaviour of consumers (larger-scale projects will seek to engage the construction industry in project replication by demonstrating the business case for developing low-carbon buildings). In March 2007 the government decided to provide a further £6 million for that part of the scheme but also to suspend it temporarily so it could be ‘reshaped’. schools and other public-sector buildings and charitable bodies. This became the LCBP Phase 2 – a £50 million capital-grant stream for the installation of microgeneration technologies by organizations including local housing authorities. but the industry was not confident that the programme as it stood would do enough to pump-prime the market and called for more support over a longer period. The second stream. Funding was offered in two streams. not-for-profit and commercial organizations. Grants were initially available in monthly tranches but take-up was so enthusiastic that funding ran out within minutes each month. solar hot water. ground-source heat pumps. wind. to measure trends in costs of microgeneration technologies (it is expected that these costs should reduce over the lifetime of the programme against a 2005 baseline). Under Phase 2. has been less problematic. The response to the LCBP from the household sector was immediate and far greater than the government had anticipated. and biomass. .
1 Energy-services companies The ESCo business model is of great interest to traditional utilities.2 The 28-day rule Utilities have also been freed to operate in this way by the ending of the so-called 28-day rule for domestic customers.Chapter 17 Changing the industry: ESCos and cooperative power ownership At the moment. and so will the risk that they will be forced to buy more power than expected at peak times and absorb the cost. That means it is perceived as complicated and of dubious benefit to make energy savings – customers want to be sure they will have the services they want. Energy-services companies (ESCos) can operate to take advantage of the mismatch between what customers are buying now and what they really want. For example. meant that any domestic customer had to be able to terminate their supply contract and switch suppliers at 28 days’ notice. buying power at peak times is expensive and. many customers are still using extremely inefficient old boilers for . But they are also of interest because utilities also want to manage their power supplies better. 17. if companies can reduce that requirement. as the market has changed it has limited the abilities of companies to develop new supply contracts that would benefit both company and customer. and are not necessarily convinced that that can be achieved if less energy is used. partly because they are customer-service companies whose business grows by offering new products to their customers. lighting. But electricity and gas are not what they really want: in reality they want services such as heat. energy customers buy gas and electricity from their energy suppliers. especially services that distinguish them from their competitors. refrigeration or entertainment. their costs will be reduced. applied from the start of the competitive market. However. This rule. For example. 17. In the process. The initial aim was to promote a competitive market and make sure customers could switch in response to power-price hikes. it is hoped that providing services rather than energy could make it possible to make big energy savings – not least because for most customers energy is an alien concept.
while the ESCo makes a profit. could recoup the cost over several years of energy bills. unless it knew the customer would stay with their energy supplier for long enough for the cost to be recouped. the range of tariffs is likely to expand to something more like the mortgage market. and eventually the bills would drop. . and. Once the terms have been agreed. The difference between the old cost of heating and the new cost should mean bills would not rise although the boiler was being paid off. air conditioning and/or refrigeration. or seeks ‘pools’ of buildings such as the collective stock of a local authority or perhaps a street or village. the mortgage company offers various fixed-rate or fixed-period discount schemes. instead of charging an upfront fee. etc. Replacing them would reduce energy costs and the capital cost might be paid back after two or three years but nevertheless the capital cost might be too high for the customer. over a specified period of years. lighting and power. The 2003 White Paper Our Energy Future laid out government’s view of how ESCos would work. or even in lower-cost measures such as insulation. But no supplier could invest in a new boiler. the ESCo offers an energy-delivery contract with attractive terms for the delivery of low-emission heating. too. Indeed many industrial companies use these types of service company. lighting. they were illegal. It is possible to remain on the mortgage company’s variable rate with complete freedom to switch lenders. the ESCo organizes and oversees all necessary works (which may include energy-efficiency measures) and the energy supply. In one form an ESCo would act as intermediary between energy suppliers and customers. Our Energy Future suggested several ways in which ESCos could work at the community level. enter into a contract with customers to realize potential cost savings by reducing energy use. because they provide a structure for selling services such as heat. Alternatively.160 Local energy heating. Now that has changed. The ESCos manage the electricity contract with the supplier. Energy companies could offer to supply new boilers and. The ending of the 28-day rule makes it possible for energy companies to act as ESCos. There may have been customers who would welcome such deals but. Most would not have had to follow the 28-day rule but the situation in some cases would have been ambiguous. will not have to be free to switch suppliers on 28 days’ notice. ESCos can tailor their offering to cut emissions as well. at the same time. installing insulation. The benefits are shared so that the customer pays less for energy services such as heating. Now that carbon dioxide emissions are a major cost for many businesses. under the 28-day rule. It also makes it much easier for independent suppliers or local energy projects to be set up. power. which may be the energy project’s main product. whereby customers have to pay a penalty if they switch suppliers during the term of the deal. Now it is clear that local energy project customers. ESCos are also of interest for local energy generators. • Once it has assessed a potential client’s needs. • An ESCo either agrees energy-delivery partnerships with individual companies or housing developers.
But this does not prevent some local authority involvement in a scheme that delivers full energy services. these would be for cavity wall/loft insulation along with hotwater tank jackets. The cost of providing an energy service is guaranteed by the ESCo. at no expense to the customer. From a social-housing perspective ESCos are set up in one of three formats: as an affinity deal (one authority makes agreement with an energy supplier). The ESCo installs a microgenerator in the customer’s building. draught-proofing and so on. The basis of an ESCo (for non-CHP-related companies) is essentially for the authority or club to buy electricity as a bulk purchase. even in the private sector. By undertaking initial energy-efficiency measures in the building – improving insulation. depending on the technologies used. It also suggested ways they could work at an individual level. Most commonly. In particular. These payments can then be used to offer discounts on energy-efficiency measures. but there are a number of legal issues specific to local authorities that affect their participation in the provision of energy services. the microgenerator and all other equipment necessary to fulfil its obligations under the contract. The level of involvement a local authority has varies greatly from part owning the ESCo and operating a billing/metering service to a passive role with some verbal input. local authorities are prohibited from supplying gas or energy-efficiency measures to private households. The ESCo maintains. and if necessary replaces. as are emissions to an extent. or to sign over void properties to a specified provider. The microgenerator remains the property of the ESCo. depending on the terms of the contract. Setting up an ESCo can help a local authority meet its responsibilities under the Home Energy Act. but also have a standard rate. A CHP-based ESCo offers heat and power at standard rates for all the customers in a particular area. Some ESCos are already operating at the community level. Energy costs to a property are thereby minimized.Changing the industry: ESCos and cooperative power ownership 161 • • • The client pays for the energy services. Some authorities are also offering discounts or loans for solar water heating. advice. in exchange for commission payments. offering a range of energy-efficiency measures. no matter which payment option is being used. thus increasing its own profits. energy supply and access to grants and financing. fridges and other measures. This means that it can offer rates that are competitive. a social housing club. and the financial risk to the ESCo ensures a focus on delivering energy by the most efficient and/or low-emissions means. while the ESCo focuses on how to deliver those services as efficiently as possible to maximize profits and/or environmental benefits. or as part of a CHP district heating system. • • • • The ESCo and the customer enter into a contract under which the customer undertakes to procure power and/or heat from the ESCo over a specified period of time. so the client cannot lose out. for example – the ESCo can minimize the required output capacity of the supplied microgenerator. .
The CHP unit provided hot water and electricity to 540 households on the Barkantine housing estate. independent advice on the use of existing heating systems. which dates back to the turn of the twentieth century and was used until the 1960s.4 The energy club A social-housing energy club offers a competitive energy supply. which has the potential to supply 1 000 households.or part-funded energy-efficiency measures. affinity deals are a relatively simple concept. ScottishPower paid the club a commission for each new customer. access to full. as well as the local school and leisure centre. for which it gained around £60 000 a year in commission. accessible to all partners. the supplier may offer residents special services or other benefits (including targeted energy-efficiency offers). which the local authority can use to fund energyefficiency programmes.4 MWe CHP unit. Black Country Energy Services Club had a partnership agreement with ScottishPower that did not tie either party into long-term arrangements. and access to low-interest finance for new measures and appliances.162 Local energy 17. Black Country Energy Services Club was set up by Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council plus six housing associations in 1999. is located in a refurbished substation on the estate. with a grant of £50 000 from the EST.5 The CHP scheme The Barkantine CHP project in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets was built and operated in partnership with London Electricity Services (part of EDF Energy). Aberdeen City Council established preferred supplier arrangements with ScottishPower for the supply of gas and electricity to empty council properties. 17. which also provided low-cost fluorescent light bulbs and insulation to users. and receives all the members’ void properties. In return for the local authority’s support in promoting the supplier to its residents. 17.3 The affinity deal Also known as preferred-supplier arrangements or marketing alliances. Fuel was supplied by ScottishPower. a range of payment options. . The club offered fuel supply and discounted or grant-funded measures to the member tenants and service users. Income from commission payments of £40 000–50 000 a year is paid into a community fund. Following an evaluation process. The supplier may also offer payment to the local authority for every resident who signs up. plus advice on the availability of social security benefits and a system of payment through the Post Office. The 1. a local authority identifies a licensed supplier of gas or electricity (or both) that it is willing to support. to fund energy-efficiency projects.
builds and operates sustainable-energy services both within and outside the Borough of Woking. cooling and particularly electricity to the customer.7 The legal framework There are a number of legal issues that affect organizations wishing to establish an ESCo. The local authority ownership must be less than 20 per cent. It has taken on the running of the borough’s existing energy-efficiency schemes and plans to expand them on behalf of the council.6 Thameswey One of the largest community heating and cooling networks in the UK has been developed by Woking Borough Council in an unregulated public–private joint venture with the Danish energy company Esco International. The energy-services prices agreed at the start of the long-term contract are index-linked annually so the customer maintains the benefits of the contract throughout its duration. 17. The public–private joint venture allows Thameswey Energy to escape capital controls that would be imposed on a purely government company. which is recycled with every Thameswey project. Esco International owns and operates a CHP plant and district energy network. The council owns 19 per cent and the Danish company 81 per cent. Thameswey provides residential customers with sustainable-energy services at less cost than their previous energy suppliers. A nonresidential customer’s current electricity unit price is normally matched and the energy-services costs are assimilated into the heat and chilled-water unit prices. despite the higher cost of the energy plant. provides customers with energy services at less cost than their previous supplier. with the council’s initial capitalization shareholding coming from the council’s energy-efficiency recycle fund. • Consumer-credit law requires drawing up credit agreements for sales involving loans or deferred payments and a licence for issuing credit. The customer’s electricity consumption will be reduced since electricity is no longer needed to generate cooling. while the council looks after the metering and billing of civic buildings. otherwise Thameswey would be caught by central government’s capital controls. finances. After the third year of operation the council will receive a share of the profits every other year to invest in energy-saving measures on the estate. Thameswey Energy.Changing the industry: ESCos and cooperative power ownership 163 The partnership will operate and manage the Barkantine project for 25 years. due to the payback from the plant by the sale of heating. Share of any profits is recycled into other energy and environmental-service projects under its articles of association. Thameswey Energy’s projects are financed with shareholding capital and loan finance. The organization formed by the partnership. 17. Thameswey Energy designs. . This means it can implement large-scale projects primarily with private finance.
One obstacle has been the lack of a straightforward legal structure that will foster the entrepreneurial spirit of a project. The government announced plans in 2003 for a new company structure for social enterprises. Existing social enterprises take on a variety of organizational forms that share common values or ways of working such as cooperatives. the Competition Act and Public Sector Regulations require an open and fair selection process. The way round this restriction is to set up a partnership with an energy company. they are specifically prohibited from supplying gas or energy-efficiency measures to private households. People on whom data are to be collected have to give their consent in advance. but keep the assets in the community. many organizations will want to use a bespoke Memorandum and Articles of Association to ensure that their constitution reflects the governance structure and non-profit nature of the organization. They also use a variety of legal structures under the Companies Acts and Industrial and Provident Society legislation. especially if you use standard forms of Memorandum and Articles of Association. there are a number of legal issues specific to local authorities.164 Local energy • • The Data Protection Act 1998 restricts the extent to which databases can be used to identify and contact potential customers. development trusts or social firms. or indeed any social enterprise that wishes to reinvest its profits in the community. For instance. and free energy-efficiency advice. In the appointment of a private-sector partner. The appointing local authority cannot require the charging of uniform or minimum prices for specified works. local authorities are empowered to supply electricity and heat generated by CHP schemes. Local authorities in England are restricted to 20 per cent of any joint venture company.8 Community Interest Companies Community development and investment in renewable energy projects to date have been slow. but.2 above. The government defines a social enterprise as ‘a business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community. . as we saw in 17. rather than being driven by the need to maximize profit for share holders and owners’. 17. However. In addition to these general issues. which will lock in the assets of an enterprise so that they cannot be transferred out of the public interest. The CIC fills a gap in the legal forms that are currently available for the development of a community renewables project. the Community Interest Company (CIC).9 Incorporation Incorporating a renewable-energy project as a company limited by shares (CLS) or a company limited by guarantee (CLG) can be very simple. 17.
and audited accounts. However. the guarantee is nominal. But it should be remembered that. However. it could register as a cooperative. etc. and administered by the Financial Services Authority (FSA). 17. It is for this reason that the CIC has been proposed as a way of setting up a company whose assets are locked into the public interest. but has members who are guarantors instead of shareholders. A company limited by guarantee can be established so that its Memorandum states that it cannot distribute its profits to its members. A guarantee company does not have a share capital. CLGs are increasingly used in the not-for-profit world as a flexible and easyto-establish model. An applicant organization must be able to show why it should be registered as an IPS rather than a company limited by guarantee. if it has exclusive charitable objects it will need to apply for charitable status. its constitution can be changed to make it for-profit and the assets distributed to shareholders. . The price payable for limited liability is public disclosure. Members’ liability is limited to the amount unpaid on the purchase of the shares. due to its association with the commercial world. it may be desirable to have them audited anyway to give assurance to external supporters. it does not have to produce audited accounts. Legal forms that enshrine cooperative principles can be established either as Industrial and Provident Societies (IPSs) or limited companies.11 Full cooperation If an organization wishes to be democratically controlled and avoid the requirements of company law. If a company’s turnover is less than £1 million per annum (or £250 000 for a charitable company). A CLG is the type of incorporation used primarily for not-for-profit organizations that require corporate status. which has absolute discretion in deciding which organizations are eligible to register.Changing the industry: ESCos and cooperative power ownership 165 Once a constitution is agreed.10 Not-for-profit The image of a CLS rarely suits the spirit of a community venture. which have to be filed with the Registrar within ten months of the end of the financial year. if the organization does not have charitable status. normally being limited to £1. which has to be forwarded to the Registrar within 42 days of the annual general meeting. In this case. An IPS is a membership organization in which each member agrees to buy one or more shares. IPSs are governed by the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1965 to 1978. and will not be affected by the lack of a charity number. The key disclosures are an annual return. The guarantors give an undertaking to contribute a nominal amount towards the winding up of the company in the event of a shortfall upon cessation of business. a section of the Treasury. financiers. 17. an application to incorporate is submitted and is processed by Companies House within seven days.
Baywind has a minimum shareholding of £300 and a maximum (by law) of £20 000. although it can call itself a charity exempt from registration. All profits derived from electricity generation are paid back to the shareholders. It must have a minimum of seven members and rules that forbid the distribution of its assets among members.1 Baywind Baywind Energy Cooperative is an Industrial and Provident Society formed in 1996 on the lines of cooperative models pioneered in Scandinavia. Baywind’s first share offer in 1996–7 raised £1. and 43 per cent of existing Baywind shareholders live in either Cumbria or Lancaster with a wider number from the north-west region. such as the Inland Revenue. trade or industry for the benefit of the community. it is not subject to scrutiny by the Charity Commission. Since the formation of Baywind in 1996 members have received a competitive return on their investment: between 5. The IPS shares some features of a limited company. In 1998–9 the second share offer raised a further £670 000 to buy one turbine at the Haverigg II site. The co-op currently has more than 1 300 shareholders throughout the UK and abroad. namely the acquisition of a distinct legal identity and the consequent limit on liability of its management committee. banks. The first two projects enabled a community in Cumbria to invest in local wind turbines. and for bona fide cooperative societies. But the relative unfamiliarity of IPSs may make it difficult to persuade official bodies. Under the government’s Enterprise Investment Scheme. who is also a director. most members . with 8 500 members.6 per cent gross. Middelgrunden. the regulations and formalities governing an IPS are less onerous and complex and more flexible than those imposed by Companies House.2 million to buy two turbines at the Harlock Hill wind farm. The original board of directors included seven members of the community from Ulverston and Barrow. the largest of which is a 40 MW offshore wind farm. in Denmark. In general. But registration as any type of IPS is slow and quite expensive. The board is elected by the whole membership at an AGM and is supported by a full-time paid administrator. local authority officers and members of the public that the IPS is charitable. The seven members who currently make up the board of directors draw on a range of skills and experience to conduct the business of the cooperative. As such. Preference is shown for local investors. it does not have to comply with most charity legislation and. although eligible for the tax advantages of charitable status.6 per cent and 6. Panel 17. unlike a charitable company. A charitable IPS.166 Local energy The IPS structure is appropriate for voluntary organizations carrying on a business. cannot register as a charity with the Charity Commission (it registers with the Inland Revenue).
useful both for planning the project and in practical terms. Andy Rowland had recently taken on an EU-funded project to develop community renewable energy. The centre did not want to incur a capital cost at this point and it was considering purchasing electricity from the grid. Project partners include Powys Energy Agency. seizing the opportunity to operate its own wind turbine and sell the power to CAT. The turbine was partly funded by grants. EcoDyfi. Capital and setup costs to install the turbine totalled £85 000. Construction costs were £45 000 and future annual maintenance costs are estimated at £2 320. But the community stepped in. The area has a fair concentration of renewables companies. It enabled BroDyfi to buy a turbine under 300 kW and one that met a size condition on the planning permission. Forest Enterprise and the Baywind Energy Cooperative. Continues . The co-op has a minimum shareholding of £300 and a maximum of £20 000. The European Regional Development Fund provided £19 000 via Ecodyfi.2 Cooperative wind The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) at Machynlleth in Wales is powered by renewable energy but in 1998 it decided its 85 kW wind turbine. put up in 1985. and ScottishPower’s Green Energy Trust provided £10 000. Now the project is seen as a model for community wind-power schemes for other parts of the UK. The Energy Saving Trust invested £18 000. each paying £10 to join. it depended on it for much of its funding. thus increasing the return to between 7 per cent and 8. called BroDyfi Community Renewables Ltd. This provided some development funds and a strong core of support. Panel 17. The Dyfi Eco Valley Partnership (Ecodyfi) coordinated the whole scheme.Changing the industry: ESCos and cooperative power ownership 167 can claim back 20 per cent tax on their initial investment in the co-op. had to be replaced – leaving a gap in its supply. and at one of them. providing both grant funding and buying shares. As the project solidified the group set up a company – structured as an Industrial and Provident Society on the Baywind model. The proposal to build a turbine owned by the community was put to local people at a series of meetings.2 per cent. It was particularly important that the project got general agreement: as a community project. That included just £15 000 for the 85 kW turbine because BroDyfi went to Denmark to buy a turbine that had been operated for ten years. Following the meetings a steering group was set up with around 90 members.
CAT takes on the rights to the renewables obligation certificates (ROCs) generated with the electricity. The price for the lowest level is the highest. The centre has signed an agreement to buy the power generated (around 163 MWh/year) for 15 years and will use 34 MWh/year to supply its site with electricity and hot water. The 15-year agreement means the wind group has a fairly secure return on its investment. with the price for the next two bands set progressively lower. The remaining electricity will be exported to the local grid. All the power from the turbine will be sold to CAT.2 Continued When shares were offered to the 90 members of the development group the offer was oversubscribed. Those investors are hoping to average an 8 per cent return on their investment over 15 years.168 Local energy Panel 17. Under this power purchase agreement the output from the turbine is split into three levels. .
or the power output varied over time. for example. depending on the needs of the customer. so power stations operate differently. for example. the week and the year. whereas if it is shut down to meet the demands of the grid it will not affect the figures. A power station that shuts down unexpectedly in summer may stay out of operation for longer than necessary to complete outstanding maintenance work while demand – and hence prices – is low. an ambiguous term as it is not clearly defined. In response. This is one reason why measurements of load factor have to be used cautiously: power stations that are operated at part load to meet the demands of the network will record a lower load factor. implying that it measures how much of its total capacity the plant is supplying. If a plant suffers an unexpected shutdown it will be reflected in the availability. because it means that there are a number of options available to balance supply with demand as it varies during the day. Even devices with no moving parts and continuous supplies of fuel – such as a fuel cell supplying heat and power – may be stopped. . In the winter an unexpected shutdown would be kept to the minimum possible. but this may also be referred to as ‘capacity factor’. Caution should also be used when comparing load factors or availability at different times. Load factor is generally the amount of power produced by the plant compared with its theoretical maximum output. or between tides (for tidal power). In the case of rotating machinery. The demands of the grid are very different at different times. even if fuel is continuously fed into the power-generating plant then regular stops are scheduled to allow the plant to be maintained. the industry sometimes uses an ‘availability’ measure instead: this records what proportion of the time the plant is ‘available to generate’.1 Load factors and variability No form of generation will generate power or heat continuously. different definitions of availability do or do not allow the equipment to be ‘available’ when there is no sun or wind. There are many reasons why a generator has a load factor of less than 100 per cent. say. This variability in generation sources is of benefit to grid operators. A diverse electricity supply industry with a variety of sources of electricity supplying the industry at different scales is the most robust. They stop generating in the case of renewable energy if there is no ‘fuel’ – it is dark (in the case of photovoltaics). Utilities use the term load factor to compare the different outputs of powergeneration plants. Availability is. For photovoltaics and wind.Chapter 18 Output and generation 18. however.
In the UK this varies but may mean the PV array produces peak loads only for 10–20 per cent of the time – although the array is generating at a lower level at other times. • Wind-turbine load factors depend almost entirely on how much wind is available. Over the course of a year. and two minima at ‘slack water’ as the tide turns. and whether the major load is for the heat or power fraction of the output. they may be used for load following. What is not clear is how much . Since thermal plants can be operated at part load depending on grid demands and started up quickly. Conventional thermal plants are halted for planned or unplanned maintenance at least once per year and may be halted by unplanned maintenance at any time. and. A modern wind turbine produces electricity 70–85 per cent of the time. For CHP plants both availability and load factor depend on how the plant is set up. Photovoltaic plants should be available 100 per cent of the time that the sun shines. The performance of the photovoltaic array is therefore partly determined by the siting of the PV panels to ensure they receive maximum sunlight for the longest possible time. Tidal power plants will generate on a cycle with two peaks as tides rise and fall. with some short maintenance halts. Hydro plants with storage in the form of a reservoir or millpond may have more control over when they operate.170 Local energy Renewables sources have a very different profile of load factors. but can be required to release water (and generate power) at times when river flow is low. This is also moderated by the fact that high temperatures can reduce performance by up to 20 per cent.2 Micropower efficiency The availability and load factors of power stations that export power to the grid at large or middle scales are fairly well understood. according to the British Wind Energy Association. but they will generate the rated power only during so-called ‘peak solar hours’. This depends entirely on the state of the river. and that is its load factor. but it generates different outputs dependent on wind speed. and the effect can vary. may also be affected by the tide as it interacts with the wind. The amount of halted time is a function of the age of the plant. Wave-power plants will be affected by the wind that is forming the waves. Availability could be as high as 90 per cent for the best stations but much lower in those that are poorly maintained. how well it has been maintained and so on. it will generate about 30 per cent of the theoretical maximum output. depending on whether their site is near the coast. Hydropower plants sited on a river can operate almost continuously while the water level in the river is high enough. from a situation where the plant stops generating during the summer entirely to one where the plant is halted at unpredictable intervals when flow drops. the condition of the equipment. so load factors may be considerably lower than availability. • • • • • • 18. Strict restrictions placed on hydro stations by the Environment Agency limit the use of plants if the host river has a low flow in summer.
The carbon-saving potential of small and microCHP depends on: • • • overall thermodynamic efficiency. This group of devices. Data from trial units installed in representative homes in the UK suggest that the modelled predictions of carbon saving published to date are not being supported. the amount of electricity generated.Output and generation 171 electricity will be available for export from domestic-scale microgenerators. Electricity exported out of the building is considerably higher than expected. including the following: • • The actual.3 Progress of the field trial The Carbon Trust initiated the trial in February 2003. There are several reasons for this. It compared the data with information from 40 homes with conventional boilers. By late autumn 2003. fuel cells and internal-combustion engines. By August 2004. while small-CHP is mature. there is less experience in the microCHP area. real-world efficiencies of the units are lower than assumed by existing technology modelling exercises. and a few fuel-cell devices are emerging as ‘beta’ test units from several manufacturers. Very early findings for microCHP indicate that its performance is not as encouraging as had been hoped. there were only 7 installed. when 74 units had been contracted for installation. which has been sold as a low-voltage DC unit for remote heat and power on yachts and other off-grid installations for some years. and the carbon intensity of the electricity displaced from the grid. The amount of electricity generated is much lower than forecast. is expected to be a major new influence in the market: government hopes that they will eventually be used by millions of homes. 18. A trial by the Carbon Trust investigated how much electricity was exported to the grid as it examined field trials of microgeneration projects. It looked at the progress of devices with a range of electrical output up to about 25 kW and included Stirling engines. organic Rankine-cycle machines. One of the most mature microCHP technologies is the WhisperGen Stirling engine unit. 31 microCHP and 9 small-CHP. which include microCHP systems to replace household boilers. The Carbon Trust points out that. The Carbon Trust sought more widely and in the end carried out the trial with 40 units. . five suppliers of small and microCHP equipment had joined the trial but all the suppliers experienced significant difficulty in supplying units for the trials. 18.4 MicroCHP for homes The findings from the trial indicate that the different technologies exhibit different performance characteristics in different environments.
where a number of installations appear to offer material carbon savings. building and occupancy’. most of which cannot be usefully recovered (this is especially true for units installed outside the living/working areas of a house/business). This includes notably high electricity consumption by the units during some phases of operation and the sensitivity of the units to poor installation. the emerging trial data indicate there is unlikely to be a significant carbon emissions reduction opportunity from wide deployment of the technology at this stage in its evolution. The reasons for the poorer-than-expected efficiency appear to be related to the design and operation of the units at their current stage of development. However. While it is still relatively early in the trial. the impact of this would be very small. However.172 Local energy • In addition. Ideally. little if any electricity is generated. maintenance and use. during warm-up periods units do not generate electricity. A microCHP unit must reach a fairly high operating temperature before it can generate electricity. at the current state of development of microCHP. In some sites units are called to start up as many as five times a day. as might have been assumed in modelling. carbon savings are in the range of plus or minus 18 per cent.5 Small-CHP for business The performance of small-CHP in businesses seems to be much stronger. In such circumstances the repeated warm-ups absorb a significant amount of energy. From the results of the trial to date. ‘If this trend continues for the full trial. In this circumstance. in many properties heat demand is intermittent and is required for only short periods. This is particularly relevant for summer operation. possibly negligible. thus resulting in reduced efficiency. The technologies . The reasons ‘appear to relate to the interaction of the devices with the heating system. It is also instructive to note that these effects are also apparent to some degree in the findings relating to boilers and should be considered in any future support for efficient boilers. There is less electricity generated than expected simply because the data show that running hours are lower than previously modelled. as the water tank can reach the desired temperature before the microCHP has generated a material amount of electricity. the microCHP industry needs to design units with the ability to modulate electrical output much more widely than currently. a number of other concerns have been raised during the trial. when the units need to provide only hot water.’ 18. warming up the mass of the unit to operating temperature absorbs energy. which is not re-released in a useful way. In addition. If the unit was started only once a day and then ran steadily for many hours. but at this stage no electricity is being generated. as heated water is pumped through the heating system. there will be a material risk of an increase in emissions if microCHP is deployed at scale without regard to the different performance characteristics of specific technologies and the circumstances of their installation. During its warm-up period it will provide some heat to the building.
continuous run hours with few or no starts during a 24-hour period. efficient plant may defer construction. First. sudden rises in demand when TV programmes end or the unplanned shut-down of a centralised generating . This tends to be based on a higher level of analysis than in a home and on long. It is by virtue of electricity generated that any CHP saves carbon because the heat element will be no more efficient than a boiler. Overall it appears that worthwhile carbon emissions reductions can be foreseen from the range of internal-combustion engine devices monitored in the trial to date if they are installed and operated properly. then the effect may be to increase the rate of rise that occurs later. These results from the field trial support existing modelling results and there are two main factors that explain the enhanced performance compared with microCHP. the proportion of fuel input converted to electricity is found to be higher in the small-CHP units (20–25 per cent) than in microCHP (5–15 per cent) due to their design at this electrical output. which contributes to carbon-saving potential. which have been found in the trials.6 Replacing generation? The Carbon Trust also raised some larger issues over how widespread microCHP might affect grid operation and what that might mean for reducing carbon emissions.Output and generation 173 being monitored in the Carbon Trust’s field trial appear to have better performance than the microCHP units. a greater capacity of inefficient open cycle gas turbine plant may be called on to operate. It should be noted that the sample size for small-CHP is small at this stage and therefore this picture may change as more units come on stream within the trial. This may cause problems for managing the grid and. Second. Running hours are also longer than for microCHP and less intermittent and so startup and shutdown losses are much reduced. The net result will be old. ahead of the main rise in demand. for example. This is because they are the only plant capable of operating part-loaded to provide for the sudden changes in demand/supply balance seen due to. If Micro-CHP units begin to operate early in the morning. small-CHP units are installed in business premises on the basis of an economic business case. Under these conditions. based on current grid carbon emissions. together with additional electrical loads such as fans being added in boiler rooms when the CHP unit is installed 18. the units operate in steady-state and hence warm-up losses are negligible. inadequate maintenance and poorly controlled operation. for example. and consequently the small-CHP units will tend to save more carbon than microCHP. inefficient plant will continue to generate with high carbon emissions. Many of the plant operating at the margin are steam-raising coal plant. If substantial numbers of Micro-CHP units are installed to deliver a capacity of over 1 000 MW then investors in new. Evidence from the trial also demonstrates how carbon savings from small-CHP can be very low due to poor installation. This is due to the efficiencies of the technologies employed in the units and the laws of physics governing their operation. Current data suggest that the electricity-generating efficiencies are considerably higher and that overall thermodynamic efficiencies are good. In such circumstances the units can be expected to exhibit high levels of thermodynamic efficiency through good design.
Frost days have declined . Published market predictions for Small and Micro-CHP suggest potentially 400. The question is not easy to answer. it is likely that grid carbon intensity will have reduced. The UK Climate Impact Programme estimates that ‘by the 2020s our annual average temperature would be between 0.8 Changing energy patterns Changes in the climate are likely to change electricity requirements over the long term. 18. It is similar for all forms of generation: a lifetime measurement of carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired generation includes not only the emissions from coal being burnt but from other activities such as the coal mining and transport and plant construction.8 ◦ C higher’. Concrete manufacture is highly energy-intensive and it is an important component of most power-plant construction. the construction and erection of the turbines do entail emissions. should the emissions involved in constructing coal-transport ships also be included? Interested parties will argue over where those lines should be drawn. By the 2080s. they also require carbon dioxide emissions in the form of peaking power. But what that means in practice is not a slightly warmer environment throughout the country. has become a pressing issue.1). any potential carbon savings from small and micro-CHP will reduce accordingly. Although it has no carbon dioxide emissions at the point of generation. but a drier and hotter south-east and wetter northern areas. for example. etc. in carbon dioxide emissions. What is clear is that combining biomass fuels with carbon capture and storage offers the only opportunity to produce a negative carbon dioxide life-cycle balance – that is.000 per year (in a total market of around 1. to remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than is emitted.174 Local energy station occurs. Consequently. The basic message is that the changes are expected to accelerate. These may be the only plant available to provide this service and microCHP will neither replace them nor reduce their output. 18. including removal of the power station at the end of its lifetime.1 million) might be installed from about 2010 onwards …The CHP units are intended to have a lifetime of 10 to 15 years and hence many will be operating beyond 2020. the south-east could have summer temperatures as much as 6 ◦ C higher than we experience now – with perhaps 60 per cent less rain. along with more extreme weather events. Take wind power. spinning reserve. The European Commission is one organization that has tried to quantify the carbon emissions associated with each form of generation for its entire life cycle (see Table 18.2 ◦ C and 0.7 Saving carbon As the problem of global climate change becomes more urgent. to meet climate-change obligations. By 2020. As all forms of generation interact within the electricity supply system. since judgements have to be made on where it is assumed that the activities end: if coal transport is included. nevertheless the EC estimate is one attempt to produce a basis for comparison. the life-cycle cost of activities.
Table 18.1 The advantages and disadvantages of different sources of electrical energy Energy sources Efficiency 40% 57% 40–55 400 50% 84% Very high 55–85 440 Technology considered for the cost estimate GHG emissions (kg CO2 eq/MWh) Fuel price sensitivity Source IEA Projected cost 2030 2005 cost (e/MWh with (e/MWh) 20–30/tCO)2 EU-27 import dependency 2005 2030 Proven reserves/annual production 45–70 Natural gas 64 years Open-cycle gas turbine CCGT (combined cycle gas turbine) 80–95 45–60 39% 50–65 800 800 59% 40–45% 550 82% 93% 30% 40–45% 35–45 Oil Diesel engine 70–80 Very high 42 years 30–40 Coal Medium 155 years 35–45 PF (pulverized fuel with fluegas desulphurisation) CFBC (circulating fluidized bed combustion) IGCC (integrated gasification combined cycle) 55–70 750 Output and generation 175 40–50 48% Continues .
176 Local energy Table 18.1 Continued Energy sources Efficiency 33% 30–60% 95–98% 95–98% Nil Nil 95–98% 95–98% Nil Nil Low Medium 40–45 25–75 28–170 28–80 30 Nil 10 20 5–25 100 50–150 40–120 25–90 40–80 55–260 30 Nil 15 Almost 100% for uranium ore Technology considered for the cost estimate GHG emissions (kg CO2 eq/MWh) Fuel price sensitivity Source IEA Projected cost 2030 2005 cost (e/MWh with (e/MWh) 20–30/tCO)2 EU-27 import dependency 2005 2030 Proven reserves/annual production Reasonable reserves. 85 years Renewable Nuclear Light water reactor 40–45 Biomass Biomass generation plant 25–85 Wind Onshore 35–175 35–110 Nil Renewable Offshore 50–170 60–150 Hydro 25–95 Large Small (<10 MW) 45–90 Renewable Renewable Solar Photovoltaic 140–430 Source: European Commission. .
First is the response of its equipment to more extreme weather patterns. where the network is more extensive. four 500 MW gensets. Changes in the country’s weather patterns affect the electricity supply system in two ways. There is also likely to be a rise in the residential market. compressors sending the gas down the pipelines have to work harder at higher temperatures. The operators start with a thermal rating based on ambient temperatures for the last 10–20 years. National Grid has already seen a growth of 5 per cent in air conditioning in the commercial sector in five years to 2005 and it expects to see a further 6 per cent in the period to 2010. For example. the natural variation in the UK’s weather means that National Grid and the Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) have to deal with all kinds of temperature and weather effects. high ice loads.’ The UK’s infrastructure was built for the weather pattern of the last 30 years and companies operating it have to prepare for change. second is the potential change in patterns of demand. In just two examples. Changes in consumption require the grid to bring extra power on to the system and it can be very sensitive. That means that. heavy rain. One big effect in the long term will be from additional air-conditioning loads. There is an impact in day-to-day management where equipment is affected by the temperature. the west coast is subject to salt pollution from high winds and protection takes the form of a spray that is released when the salt burden gets too big.50 ◦ C over the past century and we have seen less rainfall in the summer but a higher proportion of heavy rain in the winter. The effects of extreme weather conditions were graphically demonstrated in 2002. Similar equipment is increasingly required at the distribution level. because the high-tension cables expand and sag more at higher temperatures – a 400 kV line currently has a capacity of 2 190 MVA in summer and 2 720 MVA in winter. human behaviour changes and the electricity supply system has to be able to respond. When it comes to hardware. Similar temperature-dependent effects are felt throughout the system. Some protection is built in. the capacity of the transmission line alters depending on the temperature. which can be used to forecast performance. An increase in wind adds 2 per cent to winter and 0. low temperatures (and consequent fog and icing). and then on a daily basis a table is constructed for MVAr against temperature. Managing these faults requires investment in the high-voltage transmission system. Temperature is not the only issue. which will add to both peak and 24-hour demand.Output and generation 177 as temperatures have risen by 0. depending on the external temperature.7 per cent to summer demand. lightning and salt pollution as likely to contribute to weather-related faults. drawing more power. In the gas network. which gives guidance. and National Grid identifies high winds (in excess of 40 knots). Extreme weather events also place stresses on the system. National Grid has to know about the load in far more detail. Transformer cables have different ratings in summer and winter. say. although . when storm damage to the electricity network left thousands without power – some for weeks. although the DNOs each supply an area with around one-twelfth of the UK users. On a summer’s day a shift from clear sky to thick cloud adds an additional 5 per cent demand – requiring power from. As local temperatures change and more extreme weather events occur.
178 Local energy that is speculative at the moment, because it also depends on complex socioeconomic factors. Similarly, a 1 per cent rise in external temperatures increases the requirement for refrigeration – it increases cold-appliance consumption by 1.8 per cent, and some appliances double their energy use when external temperatures increase from 18 ◦ C to 26 ◦ C. That could be very much increased by the onset of a couple of hot summers, and a change in temperature is just one way in which climate change may have an effect. If air quality deteriorates people tend not to use natural ventilation. Instead they close the window and put on the air conditioning. Averages suggest that climate change will average just 1–2 ◦ C over the country, and it is likely that the pattern of demand will stay broadly constant. But it is on the smaller scale that large changes will take effect. With the south-east drier than the north, socioeconomic effects will be different in different parts of the country. On that scale, small perturbations affect the system and the grid suggests it may have to use the infrastructure differently. Most customers don’t take much account of their consumption. They use fans for cooling in the summer months – it’s a small item for one customer but for NGC it is a noticeable cooling load.
Putting a price on carbon
The European Commission’s emissions-trading scheme should impose a cost on energy generators that produce carbon dioxide, favouring renewable generation. In July 2005 Greenpeace set out a list of changes that would have to be made to support and encourage DG in the UK. Among its proposals were changes to building regulations that would ensure that distributed energy was used in new homes and business premises, changes in the rules on network access and export tariffs that would support the export of excess power from small generators, and tax changes that would give a financial incentive for installing distributed energy. Progress in some of these areas has been significant, as is described elsewhere in this book. Many believe, however, that all progress on distributed energy must be underpinned,
180 Local energy and will be given much more impetus, if the effect of carbon dioxide emissions is fully assessed and costed. Greenpeace raises this possibility in its wish list as a tool to make visible the effects of carbon dioxide emissions from large fossil-fuel-generating stations and impose a financial penalty accordingly. But many believe that ‘discovering’ a price for carbon dioxide emissions will be fundamental to shifting the balance of our energy industry. When the price of carbon dioxide emissions is factored into the energy price, it should reward companies and individuals who switch to the most efficient forms of energy generation, as well as those who use sources that, like renewables, do not produce carbon dioxide emissions.
The EU Emissions Trading Scheme
The European Union has attempted to develop, and impose, a price for carbon dioxide emissions with its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). In January 2005 the ETS commenced operation as the largest multi-country, multi-sector greenhouse-gas emission-trading scheme worldwide. The scheme is based on Directive 2003/87/EC, which came into force on 25 October 2003. It is a cap-and-trade scheme that is intended to give incentives to all participating companies to reduce their emissions, but also to ensure there are ‘easy wins’ and that the easiest and cheapest emission-reduction activities are completed first. The ETS requires each of the EU’s now 27 member states to set a so-called National Allocation Plan (NAP) – an annual ‘budget’ for carbon dioxide emissions from the installations in sectors covered by the scheme. In each period, or phase, each of the installations in each of the participating countries has its own annual emissions allocation. The scheme includes both heat- and power-based carbon dioxide emissions, based as it was on all combustion installations that produced more than 20 MW of thermal energy, whether or not that was used to produce electric power. In the first phase (2005–7), the ETS includes some 12 000 installations, representing approximately 45 per cent of the EU’s carbon dioxide emissions. This phase encompassed energy activities (combustion installations, mineral-oil refineries, coke ovens), production and processing of ferrous metals, mineral industry (cement clinker, glass and ceramic bricks) and pulp, paper and board activities. Because it included combustion installations it took in industrial sites, but also heating and incineration plants such as those used in large commercial buildings and even social organizations such as hospitals. The emissions allocations granted to each installation were calculated in the UK by so-called ‘grandfathering’ – taking an average of emissions in previous years. Once allocations were made, an electronic register of allocations was maintained in each country. This made the trading part of the cap-and-trade approach possible: companies or organizations that had emitted less carbon dioxide than had been expected would be rewarded, by being able to sell their extra allowances to companies that had emitted more carbon dioxide than their allocation allowed.
Putting a price on carbon 181 In the UK a reserve allocation was added to the NAP so that new plants starting up in the first phase would not have to buy their allowances. This approach was also taken elsewhere, although some environmental groups had argued that all new plants should be required to buy allowances to ensure they had strong incentives to invest in the most efficient plant and reduce their emissions – indeed, many groups had argued that even existing installations should have to buy all the necessary allowances, possibly through an auction method.
Results from Phase 1
The first phase of the EU TS had mixed success. The principle of the programme was firmly established: all countries presented NAPs, companies were given allowances, trading platforms were introduced and allowances were traded. However, it had been argued from the start that the allowances granted in this phase had been too generous. The consultants Ecofys, for example, as early as 2004, were noting that the NAPs were not ambitious enough (in limiting emissions). The power-generation sector was seen as most favoured by the NAPs. Ecofys suggested that the caps for Phase 1 were lenient. In most countries, the power sector would not need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions as much as the country as a whole. In other words, the other sectors must make more ambitious emission reductions than the power sector under the scheme. More strikingly, a few countries (such as the Netherlands) gave more allowances than Ecofys estimated to be needed under a business-as-usual scenario, implying that no ‘real’ efforts to reduce emissions would be required. When it became clear by 2006 that NAPs had indeed been too generous and there would be an oversupply of carbon dioxide emission allowances, the price of allowances fell dramatically, from around e30 per tonne of carbon dioxide in April 2006 to e1–2. In addition, the generous allowances given to power-generating stations came under fire. Power companies had passed on the supposed cost of participating in the scheme to their customers, but, as Ecofys – among others – had suggested, far from being short of allowances, had found themselves with allowances to sell. Nevertheless, the fact that the ETS existed meant that emitting carbon dioxide had a price. And although that price had fallen dramatically in the course of the first phase of the ETS it was clear that the European Commission would be more ambitious in future about setting tight limits, so it was likely that the price of emitting could only increase. This has clearly influenced decisions on energy. Large pulp and paper suppliers have in some cases already switched to using biomass fuel instead of gas or oil (see Chapter 11) and major power generators, such as the UK’s largest coal-fired station at Drax, have pursued plans for co-firing with biomass and for efficiency improvements that would produce less carbon dioxide for each megawatt of power generated. It could be argued that such switches were on the agenda for those plants anyway, and in some cases, far from bringing them forward, they could have been held back by the ETS. Knowing the ETS would be implemented, holding back any improvements until after ‘grandfathering’ had been used to calculate the site’s allowance would
35 203. .8 246.15 3.4 Proposed cap 2008–12 32.3 Source: EU press release IP/07/459: ‘Emissions trading: Commission adopts decision on Austria’s national allocation plan for 2008–2012’. requiring further cuts in the allocation. The European Commission aims eventually to include all emitting sectors.5 86. That will depend on how the second phase of the ETS is managed.96 90.33 101.7 2. the EC was determined to impose stricter limits in Phase 2.8 174. ETS supporters can argue in response that there will be only one opportunity to benefit from the introduction of the ETS.08 97.3 8.3 8.8 63.9 19.3 22.6 7.7 58.6 1.3 22.9 8.182 Local energy give it the maximum possible allowance which could then be traded when upgrades had been completed after the ETS was in operation.8 453.8 208.9 132. maritime and land-transport emissions.1 21.2 Cap allowed 2008–12 30. lasting from 2008 to 2012.9 6.1 30.4 284.0 62.3 4.6 2.4 55. including aviation.3 474 71.7 25.2 Member state Austria Belgium Czech Republic France Germany Greece Ireland Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Poland Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden United Kingdom 1st period cap 33.1 Suggested carbon dioxide emissions allowances by country for the second phase of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme 2005 verified emissions 33.1 69.1. Following the collapse in carbon prices in the first phase.2 246.3 152.8 132. That may be so.2 8. 19.7 182. However.9 95.6 41.6 12.5 499 74.8 482 75. 02/04/2007.4 22.6 3.1 85.7 16.5 22.98 80.6 156.5 8. It sent back almost all the National Allocation Plans submitted by the member states.95 2.4 22. but early plans to include aviation in the second phase have been delayed.4 2.3 242. Table 19.3 3.2 Setting up the ETS Phase 2 The second phase of the Emissions Trading Scheme is longer than the first.8 2.4 2.5 30.1 25.9 245.58 82. The larger picture is that the ETS has indeed done its job of altering the balance of the decision-making on how energy is produced. and its weight in the decision can only increase as the cost of carbon dioxide emissions increases.3 152.5 131.3 239.
The Environmental Protection Agency already runs cap-and-trade schemes to reduce sulphur dioxide and other pollutants.Putting a price on carbon 183 19.2 Trading outside Europe In Phase 2 the ETS should also begin to trade with similar schemes outside the European Union. This is accomplished through two mechanisms set up under the Kyoto Protocol. The cap-and-trade approach used in the ETS was familiar to US regulators. Instead. and a group of north-eastern states jointly decided to set reductions targets in the mid-2000s. and under a long-running test case was being pushed to declare carbon dioxide a similar pollutant. A JI project is similar to a CDM project. Meanwhile. as it had already been used to address other pollutants. but the JI project must be in a so-called Annex 1 country that has signed up to limit its carbon dioxide emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. US states have considerable autonomy in setting taxes and developing their own environmental policies and. One important target is the USA. has its own plans for emissions reductions. the Bush administration was also under pressure from industry. California. In this phase also. Initially. referred to as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and the Joint Implementation (JI). but not members of. the ETS should also be able to trade with similar schemes elsewhere. That is not likely in the near term. Although the USA has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol and the Bush administration has not supported attempts to develop a global approach to reducing carbon dioxide emissions. the US picture as a whole reveals much more support for the enterprise than might be expected. It is unlikely that such an about-turn will be on the agenda for the Bush administration but an incoming Democrat or even Republican president would have support for taking some measures to fall closer into line with the global consensus on emissions. but Federal organizations have been under pressure to shift their position on carbon dioxide emissions. the ETS will allow companies to take account of carbon reductions made outside Europe. Eventually. and the north-eastern states planned a cap-and-trade system of their own for carbon dioxide. The CDM allows European companies to invest in emissions-reduction projects outside Europe that would not otherwise have taken place. . which would require it to be regulated and reduced in the same way. this will be with European countries closely linked with. In both cases the project and its emissions credits must be validated by a third party. carbon dioxide emissions reductions have been a target. Liechtenstein and Iceland. whose economy is comparable to that of any European country. the European Union – Norway (which began in 2007 to develop its own NAP). By 2007 both groups had taken a more than passing interest in the ETS and had raised the possibility of trades between the US and European schemes. which feared it would be subject to a variety of emission-reduction regulations set by tens of states. or provide funding that will help replace a high-emissions project such as a new power plant with an option that produces lower emissions. industry argued in favour of a single federal scheme. Switzerland. for many.
The revenue raised by the auction would be recycled to participants. so as to reinforce the business case for driving carbon savings and good energy management. this group of organizations have significant potential to achieve cost-effective carbon reductions. in which participants would be required to purchase allowances corresponding to their emissions from energy use (either at an auction or from each other) and then surrender them to a coordinator. The UK also proposes to limit carbon emissions from less energy-intensive organizations. Without new policies. The UK government proposed in 2006 that this system should be used to limit and eventually force reductions in carbon emissions from businesses that fall outside the ETS. It wants to provide ‘Policy instruments [that] can provide an important framework to help organizations overcome the various barriers to investments in energy efficiency that remain. to some extent. large offices.’ The Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) would be a mandatory cap-and-trade proposal covering energy-use emissions. Government would cap total energy-use emissions by deciding on the number of allowances issued for auction. this is likely to be in the 2020 timeframe.’ The new measure would be known as the Carbon Reduction Commitment (known briefly as the Energy Performance Commitment) and would apply to organizations with electricity consumption higher than 3 000 MWh. so the proposal would be broadly revenue-neutral to the Exchequer. Secretary of State David Miliband noted that they ‘would include large retail organizations. The ETS encompasses sites where carbon emissions are produced from heat generators producing 20 MW or more.3 Carbon trading for commerce and industry The European Union’s ETS is in its early days. but. Introducing the proposals. At current energy prices. universities. create individual winners and losers. large local authorities and central government departments. There would also be changes to building regulations. emissions from these types of organization are set to increase over coming years but as explained in the Energy Review. The government also plans to provide more information to the sector about how to reduce energy use and therefore emissions. but the system of cap and trade to reduce emissions of pollutants has a longer history: it has been used to reduce pollutant emissions including sulphur dioxide as well as more recently carbon dioxide emissions. The government estimates that this sector comprises around 5 000 large nonenergy-intensive organizations. this would generally capture organizations with annual electricity bills above £250 000.184 Local energy 19. . and work towards industry-led agreements to reduce emissions. The proposal is for an auction-based cap-and-trade programme. the proposed system for recycling CRC auction revenue to participants overall would. banks. large hospitals. It would be accompanied by a system of voluntary benchmarking and reporting of energy use covering the sector. In addition. since they have recently been revised.
the cost of carbon-emission certificates should add weight to the financial argument for re-examining how energy is provided.Putting a price on carbon 185 19. More broadly. There is still a long way to go before local energy schemes become a familiar sight on most new-build projects and are backfitted to help provide energy for existing buildings. The result should be a much more diverse and reliable network. it appears that much progress has been made since the turn of the century. . there is a new opportunity for ESCos and private power networks to be set up. Nevertheless. The cost of carbon dioxide may tip the scales for companies and organizations considering whether they should invest in local generation for their heat and power needs. As new measures begin to bite we can expect many more local energy projects to be brought into operation using local energy resources. have to be re-examined and in many cases replaced by equipment that is much smarter and more flexible in operation. eventually. These include changes in the method by which the cost of connecting a local energy project to the network is calculated and smart meters that will make it much easier for local energy producers to export their excess power across the network. and to work with their customers to develop new approaches to energy supply and management. Other measures are working towards the same goal: planning documents that require new buildings to incorporate a proportion of on-site low-carbon energy generation to meet their heat and power needs and an EU Directive that requires an energy-efficiency certificate to be displayed in every public building. not least because the thousands of miles of existing wires and the networks that feed the UK’s millions of buildings will all. There are a number of other changes that will act to help ease the development of local energy projects.4 Making the case for local energy The Carbon Reduction Commitment is intended to replicate the effect of the ETS for smaller companies: that is. Still more important. to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions that encourages companies to look for energy-efficient alternatives or to switch to renewables.
1 Greenpeace’s wish list In a 2005 report Greenpeace set out a ‘top ten’ list of actions required to foster the development of DG. The actions were as follows: 1. 2. . 10. 3. along with a statutory requirement for all councils to develop an energy strategy. A nationwide network of biomass or biogas cogeneration plants to be developed. Local government to become a key player in moving to sustainable energy systems. 9. No new fossil-fuel generation to be permitted unless it includes cogeneration. 7. Energy regulation to be completely overhauled. Limits on the export of power from these sustainable local systems should be raised. All electricity suppliers to be required to purchase surplus electricity from domestic power generators. at rates that will ensure the take-off of domestic generation. micro-wind turbines or cogeneration systems. Local sustainable electricity systems to be encouraged through the removal of current limits on the development of private wires. In addition. One way to do this would be to tighten up the European ETS. 6.186 Local energy Panel 19. 5. supplementary fiscal measures could be enacted at UK level. while also transforming the economics of distributed energy by creating economies of scale and cutting installation costs. such as a tax on waste heat. This would steadily cut emissions from the building stock and enable the retirement of power stations. All new buildings to be required to incorporate distributed-energy technologies. Ofgem should be transformed into a sustainable energy regulator with its primary duty being to deliver substantial emission reductions through the encouragement of distributed energy. There should be area-based carbon dioxide reduction targets. 8. with Regional Development Agencies playing a leading role. centralized power stations to be heavily penalized to reflect the damage they cause and to ensure that the most polluting are closed. 4. Inefficient. The publication of a Decentralized Energy White Paper. The government to use the tax system to reward householders and businesses that install distributed-energy technologies such as solar panels.
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2007 .188 Local energy ReFresh (Recent Findings of Research in Economic & Social History). Autumn 1994 Union for the Coordination of Transmission of Electricity. final report. issue 19. Brussels: UCTE. Network industries and the 19th and 20th century British economy. ‘System Disturbance on 4 November 2006’.
157 wind power 166–8 company formation incorporation 164–5 not-for-profit 165 competition 10–11 connecting to the grid: see exporting power to the grid consolidators 25. 98 Baywind Energy Cooperative 166–7 biomass 87–93 life cycle costs 176 planning consent 125 projects 31–2. 33. scheme 103 capital costs 149–50 carbon emissions 179–85 life cycle costs 174 per MWh for different energy sources 175–6 small scale CHP 172–3 Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) 184–5 carbon trading 180–4 Carbon Trust. small scale CHP trials 171–4 Central Electricity Generating Board 6–7. 89–92 types 34–5 bio-oil 93 Black Country Energy Services Club 162 British Electricity Trading and Transmission Arrangements (BETTA) 23–5. 153–4 coal-fired power generation centralized power stations 5 life cycle costs 175 operating characteristics 18 combined cycle gas-fired plants 19 combined-heat-and-power (CHP) 11. 171 metering output 81 potential markets 82–3 projects 83–5 supply management impact 120.Index AC/DC 13. 77–85 Community Energy Programme 155 domestic CHP 79–83 economics 83. 152 contracts CHP operators 33 consolidators 138–9 ESCo’s 160–1 wholesale 22–3. 112 affinity deals 162 B&Q. Grimsby. 32–3. PV scheme 75 backup generation 114 Balancing and Settlement Code (BSC) 25. 173–4 system suppliers 82 technology 77. 177–8 Climate Change Levy (CCL) 143. 33. 24 Barkantine CHP project 162–3 batteries. 8 centrifuges. Sweden. 24 cooperatives 165–6 . energy storage 99 Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) 183 Clear Skies 156 climate change 174. 152–3 Bullerö Island. 135 balancing costs 33 balancing market 23. 79–80 wood-fuelled 88 Community Energy Programme 155 Community Interest Companies (CIC) 164 community projects biomass 90–1 ESCo schemes 160–1 grants 155. energy storage 46. 152 efficiency 171–3 ESCo schemes 162–3 EU support 78–9 government support 77–8 grid connection 81 load factor 170.
80–3 hydoelectric power 67 steps by step guide 141–3 supply management impact 117–20 technical guide 144 fault ride-through 116–17 finance. 119–20. standard 111. 119–20. life cycle costs 175 distributed generation (DG) benefits 10–11 definition 128 distribution network operators (DNOs) 9. 177–8 supply management 23. 143 constraining connection 147–8 distribution system impacts 26.190 Local energy costs compared with conventional projects 149–50 per MWh for different energy sources 175–6 see also economics DEFRA grant support 155–6 demand response 115 demand variation: see load variation deregulation 9 diesel generators. 144. 143–4 distribution networks impact of embedded generation 26. 80–1 connection agreement 143–4 connection charges 145–7 connection standards 141. 119–20. grant support 154–7 . 54–5 Electricity Council 7 electricity demand: see load variation electricity supply industry competition 10–11 before deregulation 2–3. 152 hydoelectric power 53. 11 Energy Efficiency Commitment (EEC) 155–6 energy mix 95–6 energy reserves 175–6 Energy-services companies (ESCos) 159–64 energy sources life cycle costs 175–6 UK energy use 30 energy storage 95–103 EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) 180–5 exporting power to the grid CHP 33. 136–7. 113–15. 25–6. 144–5 export value 33. 129. 24. 112 fuel cells applications 108 development projects 109 types 106–7 fuel price sensitivity 175–6 fuel reserves 175–6 fuels: see energy sources funding. 161–2 gas-fired electricity generation 81–2 ground-source heat 37 heat and power 31 transmission losses 3–4. 117–20 embedded generation 25 benefits 136–7 distribution system impacts 26. 144–5 see also exporting power to the grid emissions trading 180–4 Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) 180–3 energy clubs 162 energy crops: see biomass energy efficiency combined-heat-and-power (CHP) 32 energy-efficiency measures 160. 144–5 private-wire networks 129–30 domestic CHP 79–83 efficiency 171–2 grid connection 81 load factor 171 metering output 81 potential markets 82–3 supply management impact 120 system suppliers 82 domestic heating 32 DTI grants 156 economics 149–50 combined-heat-and-power (CHP) 83. grant support 154–7 Forestry Commission Wales 90–1 forward prices 10 frequency. 151–2 grid connection 46. 6–8 deregulation 9 electricity supply system 17–27 effect of climate change 174. 146.
142. 152–3 Mersey Docks and Harbour Company. 6. CHP project 85 Low Carbon Buildings Programme (LCBP) 156–7 maintenance shutdowns 21–2 marketing alliances 26. 10 effect of competition 11 wholesale contracts 22–3. PV schemes 74 London Borough of Merton policies 124–6 London Borough of Tower Hamlets. 26–7 peak lopping 115 Penwith Housing Association 38–9 photovoltaic power 69–75 chemical reaction 106 hybrid PV / wind-power system 103 load factor 170 panel types 71 street applications 70–3 planning policies 122–4 . 9. 24 generators 12–13 government grants 154–7 government strategy 121–2. 125 hydoelectric power 51–9 assessing hydro sites 53 benefits to the water supply system 56 economics 53. 10 supergrid 7 supply management 23. wind cluster 48–9 metering 81. 24. 109 hydrogen generation 108–9 Icelandic New Energy 102 Industrial and Provident Societies (IPSs) 165–6 Joint Implementation (JI) 183 kinetic-energy storage system (KESS) 99 Kyoto Protocol 183 licensing 129 load factors 169–70 load variation 17–18. 162 market mechanisms 22–5. hydrogen plant 100–2 North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board 8 not-for-profit companies 165 nuclear power generation life cycle costs 176 operating characteristics 19–20 Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) 25.Index 191 gas-fired electricity generation 11 life cycle costs 175 operating characteristics 18–19 gas storage 96–8 gas turbines 18–19 operating characteristics 21–2 gate closure 22 generating companies 9. 23–4 demand response 115 effect of climate change 177–8 standby power 113–14 supply management 23–4 London Borough of Lambeth. 126–8 grants 154–7 grid connection: see exporting power to the grid ground-source heat 36–9 heat generation 29–39 heat pumps 37. 54–5 energy extraction 56 environmental issues 55–6 life cycle costs 176 load factor 170 location factors 5 operating characteristics 20 pumped storage 96–8 short-term reserve market 114–15 small scale 53 turbine types 52 UK’s hydropower potential 53 hydrogen economy 99–102 projects 100–2. 113–15 Norsk Hydro. 151 microCHP 80–3 efficiency 171–2 grid connection 81 load factor 171 potential markets 82–3 supply management impact 120 system suppliers 82 National Control Centre 6 National Grid 3–4.
66 shutdown of plant 21. 174. 142–3. 11 retail market 22–3. 177–8 wholesale contracts 22–3. 113–15 for distributed generation 117–20 supply quality 113–14 Thameswey Energy 163 tidal power 61–7 load factor 170 location factors 6 potential resources 61–2 project 66 trading arrangements 23–5. 152–3 transformers 13–14 transients 115–16 transmission losses 3–4. 114 standards connection 141 frequency 111. 64–6 weather effects 22. 24. wind and solar power 46–7 Wales. hydro power 57–8 spinning reserve 24. 24 wind power 41–9 assessing wind resource 43 community projects 166–8 constraining connection 148 . 27 renewable-heat obligation 30–1. hydrogen plant 100–2 voltage 111–12 standards 4. 169 Snowdonia National Park. Norway.192 Local energy planning system 130–3 power companies: see distribution network operators (DNOs). 112 voltage 4 standby power 113–15 supergrid 7 supply companies: see retailers supply management 23. generating companies. 150–1 reserve power 114–15 reserves of fuel 175–6 retailers 9. planning policies 125–6 waste heat 30–1 watts 14–15 wave power 61–7 government support 66–7 load factor 170 location factors 6 marine current turbines 63–4 plant scale 62 potential resources 61–2 projects 62–3. 33. hydropower 58–9 social enterprises 164 solar power life cycle costs 176 planning consent 125 see also photovoltaic power solar water heating 35–6 solid-oxide fuel cells (SOFC) 106–7 South of Scotland Electricity Board 8 South Somerset District Council. 152–3 Scotland planning policies 126 power companies 8 wave and tidal generation 62–3. retailers power flows 112–13 power stations centralized 4–7 generating characteristics 17–22 life cycle costs 175–6 load factor 170 see also specific types power units of measurement 14–15 preferred-supplier arrangements 162 private-wire networks 129–30 proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) 106 pumped storage 96–8 pyrolysis 92–3 quality of supply 113–14 reactive power 112–13 regulation 2–3. 111 Waitrose farm. 11 transmission networks 6 energy dissipated 3–4 seasonal variation in capacity 22 see also National Grid units of power 14–15 Utsira. 152 Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) 67.
87–92 fuel supply 89–90.Index 193 energy storage 46. 100–3 grid connection 46 life cycle costs 176 load factor 170 location factors 5 operating characteristics 20–1 planning consent 125 short-term reserve market 114 turbines design 41–2 installation 43–4 regulation 114 rooftop 44–6 small scale 42. 45–6 Wood Energy Business Scheme (WEBS) 90 wood fuel 34. 89–92 . 98. 91–2 projects 31–2. 35.
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