Where will the electricity come from?

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Mizzitrain

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So there is going to be this huge increase in electrification. Excellent. But has anybody seen in the small print any details of where all the electricity needed to run this expanded system is going to come from? For the past few years the media has been full of scare stories about energy gaps between what the current power stations (largely old nuclear coming to the end of its life and dirty coal falling foul of new emissions regulations) can provide and what we need to keep the lights burning. We're struggling to build enough renewable energy, and the nuclear programme is way behind schedule. And now another huge source of electricity demand to power large sections of the railway. Is this another example of joined-up thinking?
 
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So there is going to be this huge increase in electrification. Excellent. But has anybody seen in the small print any details of where all the electricity needed to run this expanded system is going to come from? For the past few years the media has been full of scare stories about energy gaps between what the current power stations (largely old nuclear coming to the end of its life and dirty coal falling foul of new emissions regulations) can provide and what we need to keep the lights burning. We're struggling to build enough renewable energy, and the nuclear programme is way behind schedule. And now another huge source of electricity demand to power large sections of the railway. Is this another example of joined-up thinking?

If we all turned our TVs etc off standby, we would save enough energy to power the entire network!!! :)
 

aformeruser

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If we all turned our TVs etc off standby, we would save enough energy to power the entire network!!! :)

Well I never leave mine on standby, so you won't get any spare electricity off me! The spec for my TV mentions 26W of power usage on standby (it's a LCD TV) so you'd need a hell of a lot of TVs completely turned off to power a single train for the day.

Maybe if we shut down the BBC (TV studios, radio studios and online) then we'd have enough spare electricity. (Plus the knock on event of people spending less time spent watching TV, listening to the radio and being online.)
 

142094

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Be interesting to see if electricity usage has fallen during the recession, with the inevitable cut backs and companies going under.
 
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Well I never leave mine on standby, so you won't get any spare electricity off me! The spec for my TV mentions 26W of power usage on standby (it's a LCD TV) so you'd need a hell of a lot of TVs completely turned off to power a single train for the day.

Maybe if we shut down the BBC (TV studios, radio studios and online) then we'd have enough spare electricity. (Plus the knock on event of people spending less time spent watching TV, listening to the radio and being online.)

We don't have to be that drastic!!

When I was living in France a major power station for the Breton area of France was out of action, and they asked customers to economize. They said if everyone in the region switched their TVs off standby it would be equivalent to the power station's output! That must be a lot of 26watts!!
 

eastdyke

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Sooner (preferably for us all) or later UK Government will need to grasp the nettle and ensure that a robust strategic plan is put in place.

Without such a plan we will be at severe risk of power cuts from the mid 2020's if not before.

We could cover the land and sea with wind turbines and still find ourselves at risk from supply/demand mis-match in adverse winter weather either high pressure continental block, extreme cold, no wind over the whole country or low pressure moderate cold, high winds (turbines are switched off in high winds).

But it is complicated, how much extra use can we squeeze out by extending the life of existing generation plant (risky as old plant more likely to fail) how much will the economy require following recession (it won't last forever - unless we have no electricity!) how much can we save by efficiency improvement, how much 'new use' (eg electric cars) etc etc??

India seems to have a current problem!
 
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142094

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Drax were upgrading one of their turbines recently, bringing a better output. Still got a good few years left.
 

fadge

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SRD is the answer to where all the power is going to come from. In the short term, anyway.
 

fadge

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SRD = Spinning Reserve Distribution.

To manage spikes in demand National Grid have to pay for powerstations to sit there generating electricty but not putting it out to the grid so it can be switched in at short notice, "Spinning Reserve". It costs a lot of money to have a power station running just in case it is needed so NG / Gov. have come up with SRD. SRD is also to supliment windfarm supplies when they are not generating to provide a reliable supply.

What SRD actually involves is lots of small generating sites that can be switched on and feeding MW's in to the grid in a matter of seconds "distributed" around the country at strategic locations. These are normally self contained shipping containers with a generator housed inside. These are located in all sorts of places such as distribution depot's, garden centres and adjacent to substations where spare land is cheap to rent by the generating company.

There are quite a few of these sites now and the numbers are set to increase and it may seem strange but are an integral part of the governments "green energy" plans even though they burn fossil fuels!

To be fair though, I think they are "greener" because they are only running when they are needed so not as bad as a whole power station running and not generating.

Hope that explains it a bit better.

Thanks

Fadge
 

JamesRowden

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Electrification of lines should not cause an energy problem because they could simply build diesel power stations to power all the trains that would otherwise be diesel. There will be some energy loss in the grid but I think that you can simply imagine it as one big diesel engine powering all the trains without needing to provide the energy required to move the diesel engine and fuel.

And by powering trains by electricty rather than on-board diesel engines it allows other forms of energy generation to be used (e.g. Nuclear, Coal, Wind, Solar [Solar is more efficient in the UK on a sunny day than in a hot country because so long as the panel points directly at the sun, it does not matter where in the world you are, the amount of light recieved is the same. Heat greatly reduces the efficiency of solar power as I have personally witnessed]).

Electric trains also allow for the possibilty of generator brakes being used (converts the kinetic energy back into electrical energy during braking).

Therefore running electric trains rather than diesel should not cause any issues with regard to energy supply (apart from power cuts stopping trains).
 

MCW

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what they need to do is make all passenger trains pedal powered, so all the passengers pedal which in turn drives a generator which drive traction motors.

Admittedly, journey times may increase a tad.
 

185

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So there is going to be this huge increase in electrification. Excellent. But has......electricity needed to run this expanded system is going to come from? For the past few years the media has been full of scare stories about.......now another huge source of electricity demand to power large sections of the railway. Is this another example of joined-up thinking?

I know of one company where this was a serious message put out to staff....

"Today, can all drivers not put their throttles into the top two notches, and acclerate away from stations using as little power as possible. This is especially important when driving coupled units."
 

eastdyke

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Electrification of lines should not cause an energy problem because they could simply build diesel power stations ...

etc

... Therefore running electric trains rather than diesel should not cause any issues with regard to energy supply (apart from power cuts stopping trains).

:) That's alright then.
 

LE Greys

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New generations of nuclear power stations will come online soon. They will help.

That will take a while, but will be very useful when it happens.

I don't really know how soon marine renewables will be on stream, but the tide is more reliable than the wind. Provided it doesn't develop into massive scale projects that wipe out thousands of birds, then there is potential there.

I could contribute a little myself if I could find a low-energy bulb that works with an old-fashioned dimmer switch. I tried to replace the switch last year, but the replacement wouldn't fit the mountings and there was a gap which left bits of exposed live wires - the dimmer had to go back!
 

jon0844

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If we all turned our TVs etc off standby, we would save enough energy to power the entire network!!! :)

Modern electronic goods are designed to consume just 0.5W on standby I believe. Obviously older goods won't, but I am sure someone could work out whether it's better to hold on to your power hungry TV/set top box/computer for a long time, as against buying a new one that will have consumed a lot of power in its production.

I would say that cutting energy consumption in the home and office, from more efficient electronic goods to LED lighting, will make a big difference to help us cope with the things that aren't likely to be consuming a lot less power for some time, if ever; engines, cookers, microwaves, electric heating etc.

Search and Rescue Dog?

On a treadmill!

:) That's alright then.

One of many first world problems to look forward to in the future.

Look at what happens when a banking system goes down, or a broadcaster stops broadcasting, Twitter goes down, Google Mail runs slow...

We will have to accept that when things go wrong in the future, they'll go wrong in a big way and there's only so much backup you can have in place.
 
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WatcherZero

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Couple of points, last I heard yes electricity usage had fallen due to the recession and we are now exporting energy to France all year round, not just in the Summer.

As to future energy its been rocky with many false starts and delays but slowly a programme of building around 6 new reactors is inching along though the consortium owners/backers keep changing. We are building new grid connections to northern Europe so we can import from there. Renewables mix is generally increasing, Government lost a legal challenge to cut wind/solar subsidies by 25% and now theyve only been cut by 10% boosting the prospects for those industries, wind farms are continuing to be built at a roaring pace. Theres also a new gas power station being built but the Government had to fudge subsidies for north sea exploration to get it built after they ****ed off the industry and almost totally wiped out future investment with their one off £2bn North Sea windfall tax.
 

merlodlliw

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If we all turned our TVs etc off standby, we would save enough energy to power the entire network!!! :)

An interesting quote, most new LCD TVs are less than one watt on standby,the biggest culpit are Sky Boxs that use between 26 & 35 watts on standby to keep the disc rotating, I am a member of Digitalspy, and a thread worked this out,it seems a Sky box on standby alone costs £40 a year in power cost. Part of the agreement is the Sky Box has to be left on standby, with a spy in the Sky phone line attached.

Plus if you want to heat a room get a large Plasma TV.:)

Bob
 

michael769

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the biggest culpit are Sky Boxs that use between 26 & 35 watts on standby to keep the disc rotating, I am a member of Digitalspy, and a thread worked this out,it seems a Sky box on standby alone costs £40 a year in power cost.

The newest boxes use much less power in normal standby (15w) and have a 0.7w shutdown mode - however this prevents the box making recordings so few use it.
 
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As an employee of the power industry - I can safely tell you that in the grand scheme of the National Grid - trains only use a tiny amount of electricity compared with other areas of industry or residential use.

The only problem that could be caused with electrification is local grid power transmission (where the connecting power supply comes from a local power company and not straight off the super grid). However even this is easily fixed by installing being transformers (sub-stations).

National Rail have a Electrical Control Office in certain areas which manage power consumption across its networks but TBH it doesen't even register on National Grid countrol systems even when close to capacity.
 

danielnez1

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Who knows, by the time we have started electrifying, we may have sussed out nuclear fusion :p

Apparently if they jumboised existing tokamak designs like the Joint European Torus then they could produce 50 MW fusion power stations, but they wouldn’t be worth it given the small power output.

Given our appalling track record with nuclear power (look no further than the Dungeness B fiasco) and problems with the European Pressurised Water reactor design, I wouldn’t expect any new nuclear plants for a long time yet.
 

jon0844

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So back to the search and rescue dogs running on a treadmill then.

(A post sure to confuse any new readers who haven't read back through the thread!)
 

HSTEd

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Apparently if they jumboised existing tokamak designs like the Joint European Torus then they could produce 50 MW fusion power stations, but they wouldn’t be worth it given the small power output.

Given our appalling track record with nuclear power (look no further than the Dungeness B fiasco) and problems with the European Pressurised Water reactor design, I wouldn’t expect any new nuclear plants for a long time yet.

EPR is a disaster.

AP1000 and ESBWR are where the future is, combined with a fast fission reactor. (Which they already have in commercial service in Russia).

Granite as fuel.
 

eastdyke

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As an employee of the power industry - I can safely tell you that in the grand scheme of the National Grid - trains only use a tiny amount of electricity compared with other areas of industry or residential use.

The only problem that could be caused with electrification is local grid power transmission (where the connecting power supply comes from a local power company and not straight off the super grid). However even this is easily fixed by installing being transformers (sub-stations).

National Rail have a Electrical Control Office in certain areas which manage power consumption across its networks but TBH it doesen't even register on National Grid countrol systems even when close to capacity.

The quantity of electricity (that the rail industry uses) is not the main issue though is it?

Where is the integrated strategic plan for security of supply to us all? A 23 hour a day railway at times of peak electricity demand is no good to anybody is it?
 
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Nym

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Drax were upgrading one of their turbines recently, bringing a better output. Still got a good few years left.

Drax is one of the cleanest coal power stations in the world, and also one of the most efficent as it can burn the stuff that nowhere else can thanks to it's FGD systems (Flue Gas Desuphurisation) it can burn waste products from the petrochemical industry in it's oil injectors and higher sulphur content woods within the pulverised coal mixture (It burns wood and coal) meaning that it's using waste products in the boilers, FGD also means being able to use lower quality coal and still be well within the SOx output requirements.
 
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