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« Look, it's renewable, ok? Josh 227 | Main | Public understanding of climate - the evidence »

The future of UK energy - diesel

This story comes from the BBC:

Two diesel power stations planned in Plymouth will compensate for fluctuations in supplies from green energy, say developers.

Green Frog Power got planning permission last year and Fulcrum Power has made an application for a similar power station.

The Devon-based Regen centre for green energy questioned the use of diesel generators.

Both firms said their power stations supported renewable energy.

I'm speechless. Again.

(H/T Keith)

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Reader Comments (62)

"Isn't this precisely why Denmark's CO2 per capita is so high? Wind, backed up by diesel generators."

No, it's because Denmark's power comes almost entirely from coal. The Wind power is exported to Sweden (at high prices) where it can be used, since Sweden has about 50% hydro power, that can be used to balance unreliable wind.
And of course the danes import Swedish hydro (and nuclear) power (at low prices) to balance their net.

And why this strange state of affairs? Because in Sweden we have something called "green energy certificates" which means that you have to buy (expensive) wind power whether you want or not. So despite having essentially CO2-free power (it is nearly all hydro or nuclear) we still have to subsidize thousands of windmills.

Jun 13, 2013 at 7:52 AM | Unregistered Commentertty

Our Greens do show occasional signs of common sense. As far as I know, none of them have suggested backing up wind turbines with more wind turbines - or am I wrong about that?

Jun 13, 2013 at 9:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

CO2 of course is irrelevant, but diesel fuel is much more expensive than coal, per energy unit. At least twice as much, probably more.

Jun 13, 2013 at 9:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterEdim

Roy - sorry, you are wrong about that. The argument is that the wind is always blowing somewhere so you just need to install more of them over a wider area. It has taken a knock from the evidence of actual production numbers but, as is the way of these things, the meme lives on.

Jun 13, 2013 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

It occurs to me that a modified version of old-fashioned marine diesels could probably be run, in part, on the organic matter recovered from sewage plants. This is, in a very real sense, a shit idea.

Jun 13, 2013 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

This is like those that only eat organic food. Remember that next time you eat a stone tomato. They're real crunchy.

Jun 13, 2013 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

alex/Gras Albert...

Re generators...

Got mine..! 3.2kW jobbie from that weirdest of supermarkets, Aldi...

(Petrol, though...)

Jun 13, 2013 at 2:39 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Dearieme; that idea has been in use for decades. Sewage treatment works can adjust the digestion process conditions to increase the amount of methane given off, which is then used to power gensets. Severn Trent has one system which, if memory serves, started in the 50s.
With the rapid rise in power costs and the various government incentives, there is now a lot of activity in this area. For example, large poultry farms generate power and/or heat from manure.

Jun 13, 2013 at 2:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeH

They will install the generators BEHIND the meters that meter the wind farms, thereby duplicating the 'spanish trick' of collecting solar FITS after dark...or in this case, in flat calms.


Jun 13, 2013 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterLeo Smith

There is a term that some use about the "Green Movement" - the Watermelons.
Should we call our energy policy the watermelon policy - green "renewables", with red diesel generators at the core?
According to a National Grid Report, in 2011/12 the "short-term operating reserve averaged 3230 MW. Much of that will be from diesel generators. This was only for the bids accepted. A bid more research and you will find in that rejected bids for STOR being nearly 6000MW.

Diesel used for non road-transport purposes (e.g. stationary engines) does not have any excise duty, and is dyed red.

Jun 15, 2013 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterManicBeancounter

Being a true beancounter, I did some checking on costs and revenues of this little venture.
The 1.1m litres of diesel would be consumed in just 220 hours by 20MW of diesel generators. That is 5,000 litres per hour. The diesel alone would cost 15p kwh of produced electricity.
This plant would try to be part of the National Grid's STOR (Short Term Operating Reserve). At current rates revenue for 220 hours of running would be about 65p kwh hour equivalent, or £2.2m a year net of diesel cost. Even if it was never used, revenue would be between £1.3m and £2.0m a year. Quite a quick potential payback on "several million pounds" of investment.
My calculations and references are posted here.

Jun 15, 2013 at 9:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterManicBeancounter

"From an emissions perspective today’s High speed diesel are almost zero emission engines. "

Err, yes, except in places like Plymouth, which are still a home for the 35-year-old InterCity125s.
When you see them start up, you'd think they were burning rubber tyres or creosote! But they still need them, especially in winter when the nice new clean diesel engines don't like the winter weather along the Dawlish Sea Wall (see the waves going over and sometimes through the trains)

I think it's called "sweating the assets".

Jun 18, 2013 at 5:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterRudolph Hucker

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