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Saturday, 18 May 2013

That’ll work then.

More green technology ideas. Having realised that wind turbines only supply power when the wind is blowing, a company is trying to imply that they have a solution to the problem.

Gaelectric Holdings Plc, the Dublin- based developer, is in discussions with infrastructure investors for a 300 million-pound ($466 million) project in Northern Ireland to store surplus energy from wind turbines.

Sounds like a good idea. Or does it?

Gaelectric’s plant will use excess electricity from turbines to power a motor that will drive a compressor to store air in an underground salt cavern. When demand is high, the air is released to run a turbine generating power, burning some natural gas at the same time to boost output.

Now air compressors, even low pressure, high volume, require quite a bit of power. So they’re losing some of their wind energy straight away.

Then the laughable fact that they think that they can contain all that semi free air in salt caverns.

When I was a marine engineer in a past life we relied on compressed air for a number of purposes, such as:

Starting diesel engines. (Ship’s don’t have starter motors and huge banks of batteries).

Air operated control systems.

General purpose air, (Power tools etc).

My point that I’m going to make is all that air at different pressures had to be stored for use.

We stored that air in steel pressure vessels fed by steel pipes.  Guess what? We could never, ever, stop that pesky air from escaping. We had automatic air compressors that had to keep them topped up.

So when that article mentioned storing compressed air in SALT caverns I burst out in hysterical laughter.

If steel pipes and steel pressure vessels with their fittings can’t stop leaking, what hope have we with salt caverns. FFS.

Then the article goes on to state that they are going to use that stored air, you’ve guessed it, in driving another wind turbine. It’s ludicrous. When you consider the losses of efficiencies throughout the whole process, then we are in for even more expensive elektrickery than at present.

But that’s alright though, they’ll supplement it with gas.

FFS(again). Why not simply generate power in a combined cycle gas turbine in the first place?


  1. Quite apart from them having NO idea just how much energy is required to run the country, this will waste twice as much energy as it would ever provide, once ALL the losses are taken account of. And what happens when one of these caverns suddenly gives way??? Never mind the piddling earthquakes caused by fracking, just imagine the hole left behind when the odd cubic mile of air breaks free...

  2. What do you think of home CHP?
    Stuff like

    It sounds less stupid than win turbines, and it seems like any gain would be effectively free?

  3. Greater men than you have been embarrassed by their scientific predictions. Oil and gas has been living in reservoirs under the oceans for thousands of years, what to do with all these empty reservoirs that nature made leak proof. I installed a compressed air system in my workshop and it has never ever leaked, my compressor only kicks on when I use tools. You must be of the Bodget and Scarper school of engineering!

    "I can state flatly that heavier than air flying machines are impossible."

    "I have not the smallest molecule of faith in aerial navigation other than ballooning or of the expectation of good results from any of the trials we hear of ... I would not care to be a member of the Aeronautical Society." [Source]

    "The air-ship, on the plan of those built by Santos-Dumont, is a delusion and a snare. A gas balloon, paddled around by oars, is an old idea, and can never be of any practical use. Some day, no doubt, some one will invent a flying machine that one will be able to navigate without having to have a balloon attachment. But the day is a long way off when we shall see human beings soaring around like birds." [TLWT, vol. 2, p. 1168]

    "They never will be able to use dirigible balloons as a means of conveying passengers from place to place. There never was and never can be any commercial value to any such affair. It is all a delusion and a snare. Santos-Dumont is a very bright young man, but an air ship as planned by him is not practicable." [Said to reporters after having arrived in New York on April 19, 1902. Quoted in the New York Times, p.2, the next day.]

    more (

    1. "I installed a compressed air system in my workshop and it has never ever leaked, my compressor only kicks on when I use tools."

      But then you haven't got thousands of feet of pipes and valves to contend with.

  4. You are wrong. It may work very effectively indeed.
    They will get loads of grants from gullible green groups and politicians, the company owners will pay themselves huge salaries, skim money into their bank accounts and provide income for their friends. Then in a few years it will all go bust and be forgotten with the taxpayer having footed the bill.
    You are looking at this from the point of view of an energy scheme - wrong viewpoint - it has nothing to do with energy and it's not meant to 'work' from that aspect. It's the scam aspect that could well work.

  5. Ah, but the profitability should be in the opportunity to sell the waste heat to the local municipal swimming pool ;-)

    As any fool gnoes, compressing air generates a substantial amout of heat - as per Charles's law.

    1. And when it's expanded to power the air turbine we can use the cooling effect to chill my beer.

  6. Whilst reading of an idea using compressed air, I was reminded of a good laugh I once had during my own days at sea.

    1. Nice one. Bye the way a "Pipe spanner", I knew it as a wheel key, was actually an early blacksmith's tool.

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