MARCH 18th This week at The Meadow Barns
we’ve had an unexpected slow-down, because our whole parish seems to have caught Covid. In all the two years since Lockdown 1 this is the most cases we have had locally. The only consolation, while all the humans have been laid low and not performing, is that the PV panels have started really doing well again. I love to hear the little singing sound, which tells me that the i-boost units are receiving and heating the water tanks 😊.
At the end of last week, there was a quite dramatic moment nearby as the Eden Project Geo-thermal drilling caused a small earthquake of 1.6. It was reported on the evening TV news and in local papers, but the best summary came to us personally, by email, since we continue to host the seismic monitoring equipment.
Eden’s representative wrote, ‘from a seismic point of view the Meadow Barns site has performed extremely well, the data has been excellent and it has made an important contribution to the overall monitoring programme.
We’ve had over 300 micro seismic events which the unit at your property has helped pin-point, this data is very useful to us in helping to understand how the well will perform. Unfortunately we did get a ‘felt at surface’ event the other day, again which was picked up by the system. Having the units really helps us in understanding what happened and how we can hopefully stop it happening again. Going forward we’ll continue to use the system to monitor the well during testing and then when the single well system is in operation, which hopefully should be later this year probably November. We’re also currently installing the Heat Main which will transport the Hot water to feed Eden’s Energy Centre and new Plant Nursery.’
PART 2 – Other news, further afield
SCOTLAND – Response to Putin’s Ukraine invasion and effects on energy supplies.
In a week when Boris Johnson has hot-footed away to appeal for more oil to be supplied from Saudi Arabia, the Scottish government has remained determined not to take the backward step of re-opening the Cambo oil field, off Shetland. Nicola Sturgeon has stressed the answer to world reliance on Russian oil and gas operations must be to ramp up renewable forms of energy and the latest one under the spotlight there is called H100 Fife.
An ambitious target of using hydrogen to partly power homes in the UK within three years has been set by the National Grid, say the BBC. On the east coast of Scotland, a small neighbourhood is playing a key role in this energy revolution.
From next year, about 300 homes in Buckhaven, and Methil, in the area of Levenmouth, will be powered by green hydrogen gas in a project called H100. Customers will be offered free hydrogen-ready boilers and cookers in the scheme, which will initially last five and a half years.
For the first time in its history, the National Grid (NG) plans to use something other than natural gas in its distribution network and start blending hydrogen with natural gas in the next three years.
This is a fascinating story, but not universally accepted as workable. Find both sides of the arguments at this link https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-60241966
SOMERSET Nearer home a brand new type of electricity pylon is being installed to run a 35 mile distance between Bridgwater and Portbury. A Danish design company was chosen, on account of the smaller size installation, with much less visual impact than the old wire cage type.
Welcome though the new pylon type may be aesthetically, they are part of what many still consider a highly controversial low carbon energy option – nuclear. But times are changing; now we face such a grim situation in global energy supplies it seems likely we will all be thanking EDF for their commitment in seeing the Hinkley point power station come to fruition. Do you agree?
Their new facility will operate from 2026 to 2083, but what then? A prediction in 2016 said de-commissioning will cost the French and Chinese investors £7.2bn. But pushing the problem 50 odd years down the road doesn’t actually solve it.
An alternative model of nuclear you may have heard about is the SMR or Small Modular Reactor, being developed by Rolls Royce – a unique factory-made module to be transported and assembled on-site.
Nine-tenths of an individual Rolls-Royce SMR power plant will be built or assembled in factory conditions and around 80% could be delivered by a UK supply chain – a unique offering in energy infrastructure in the UK. Much of the venture’s investment is expected to be focused in the North of the UK, where there is significant existing nuclear expertise. A single SMR power station will occupy the footprint of two football pitches and power approximately one million homes. It can support both on-grid electricity and a range of off-grid clean energy solutions, enabling the de-carbonisation of industrial processes and the production of clean fuels, such as sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and green hydrogen, to support the energy transition in the wider heat and transportation sectors.
Yes this looks and sounds more affordable, more flexible and easier to deliver than a standard power station, but I still want to know how risks of leaks may be managed and how the systems will be de-commissioned.
Both the nuclear and the hydrogen experiments, although starting in the UK are being developed with international investments and collaborations. Rolls Royce has cut a deal with Quatar, who will invest £85m and own 10% of the new operations. Other countries with potential involvement are France, USA and Canada. Who else? Well, of course, no one should be surprised that big names are at the front of the race – Argentina, China and Russia.
Conclusion – Clearly we need to explore every avenue, but the Water Source Heat Pumps using the tides (mentioned last week) seem the safest, most promising idea of 2022.