Rain, Wind and Dirty Driving

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

I'm at home (of course) watching the rain pelt down.  I remember such July days from my childhood when rain stopped play in what I really wanted: all day cricket.

It's an airless day, and checking my grid carbon app, I see that wind is only contributing 2.7% to electricity generation today.  Solar is doing well (although not here) contributing even more than nuclear at 12.1%.  Even coal is doing more than wind can today (2.9%).  But let's hear it for gas (49.0%).  Where would we be without it?  Would I even be able to type this?

Gas is always around 50% or so.  Ever reliable.  Such a pity it's made up of carbon atoms (and hydrogen of course).

That 2.7% for wind is a bit of a poser.  Even if we had 10 times the current wind generated capacity it would still be only about 40% of gas's contribution on a day like today.  Blimey!  Suppose we had no gas?  One day we won't.

If we had no gas, and only twice the wind capacity, where are the missing GWs of electricity to come from?

Storage!  Or so we are told and not just from boring old batteries.  Storage will have soaked up all that surplus wind generated electricity from yesterday (when the wind did blow).  So, how much do we need?  About 9GW of battery capacity?  Much more, more like.  And we'll need these GWs for hour after hour, unlike at present when they fill gaps.  Because that's the thing about gas; it keeps on flowing hour after hour, day after day ... .  Unlike batteries which, as we all know, run flat out and then just run flat.

The UK currently has around 1GW of operational battery storage capacity with 3GW more planned.  This is a useful summary of all things storage across the UK.  And here's a Conversation article about this confusing but hugely important issue.

I'm looking forward to when Semington A (on the roof) can be joined by Semington A+ (in the plugged-in electric car) as part of the village super grid.  Sadly my current electric car (the modest but rather fine VW eUp!) won't do, as it's not grid interactive.  It'll happily take power from the grid (or, ideally, from the roof) to store electricity but cannot give it back to the grid.

I'll need a smarter car than that and it's that grid interconnectivity that I'm waiting for before replacing the VW – and the ageing diesel which I bought when driving dirty was still being encouraged by the EU.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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