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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?