Treasury Blocking electrification plans

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Starmill

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minute editing of the scope, both here (no time to alter the bar chart) and in other sections.
I suspect that you are indeed right that, for a document so long in the making and so intensively resourced, it will turn out to be shamefully inaccurate on details.

It appears that I even managed to misunderstand the scale on the diagram too, although only slightly. Are the ranges project timelines or estimates of possible entry into service dates? If the former the variance between the IRP and Bald Rick's suggestion could be only 2-3 years. If thr later it could be 5-6 years. Or anything in between.
 
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quantinghome

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The railway's not exactly done a great job of proving it can deliver large projects within the promised budget, has it...
Neither have highways projects, or any other construction sector you care to mention. Yet it's the railways that get blackballed when a project goes overbudget.
 

InTheEastMids

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A fully electrified rail network needs only about 50% more electricity than the current electrified network. I’ve seen the maths somewhere - it’s the equivalent of about a third of the annual output of a new offshore wind farm, of which there’s 3 under construction and another 10 or so in planning. So it’s not an issue.
Yes... total electrification would probably increase rail demand from 4 TWh (inc LU) to - I'm guessing - 7-8 TWh by 2050.
Whereas across the most recent National Grid ESO Future Energy Scenarios, electricity consumption from 304 TWh to 553-890 TWh by 2050
So, rail is around 1% of the GB electricity demand...

This could be a clue about why electrification doesn't feel like the #1 priority in the Treasury (in terms of Net Zero at least)

What can help the Net Zero perspective is demonstrable modal shift (helped by longer, faster, nicer electric trains and a higher capacity network for passengers & freight).
A few extra TWh of railway meaning tens of TWh of other transport are avoided.
This is basically the Net Zero business case for HS2...
 

BrianW

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Neither have highways projects, or any other construction sector you care to mention. Yet it's the railways that get blackballed when a project goes overbudget.
I don't have enough info to hand regarding cost over-runs, but regarding time, I've seen over the years many a hording by a road project proudly saying 'Completed x months early'- which of course is more easily achieved if you add months to the declared 'completion due' date ;). Under-promise; over-deliver.

Construction generally- a big problem in that it encourages over-promising. With competitive tendering and the 'winner' being the one who submits the lowest price suggests a lot of underestimating and under-pricing- the 'unsuccessful' bidders didn't think it could be done for that price!

Stop-start doesn't help either.- who can 'gear up'/ 'stand down'/ offer continuity of 'employment' in that circumstance? Nor does 'cost-cutting' along the way- it can take longer and cost to redesign to save little or nothing.

At least with a building there is scope for repetition floor-by-floor once 'out of the ground', whereas when in or on the ground soil conditions, and what's in it eg pipes and wires can change often over short distances- witness GW electrification and the costs paid in truncation etc eg Oxford, MML, ...

What should/ could 'the rail industry' do to get a better press and the ear of government?
 

InOban

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The problem is not making renewable electricity, it's storing it. This weekend it's going to be cloudy and calm. If you follow Gridwatch you can see in real time where our electricity is coming from.
 

A0wen

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A0wen said:
I'm not sure the National Rail network actually needs another contact rail electrification solution. Given the progress of battery / hybrid technology increasingly the areas which are not suited to 25kv OHLE (due to clearances or other factors) will be more than covered by these alternatives.

HSTEd:

Forgive me if I am skeptical that this isn't just desperate accountants seizing on anything that might let them escape the need for electrification.
The bionic duckweed of our time, as it were.

Well given that both battery and hybrids are being ordered for use in other countries, with ranges of up to and over 100 miles, I think your "bionic duckweed" dismissal is a bit misplaced.

And the kind of "in fill" schemes which were being talked about e.g. Marshlink at 26 miles, are absolutely ideal for such technology. A battery / 3rd rail unit with 100 mile range and some form of fast charge potentially is the ideal solution as it avoids installation of 3rd rail, which is undesirable from a safety perspective.
 

Starmill

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The problem is not making renewable electricity, it's storing it. This weekend it's going to be cloudy and calm. If you follow Gridwatch you can see in real time where our electricity is coming from.
Again this is something which the technology is there to support. Electric Mountain and others have been doing it for decades. There's some significant battery storage coming online, there is the possibility of using batteries in vehicles or in homes to provide surge power and there are new heavy fluid pumping systems in development. It's no more difficult than generating renewable electricity, it just needs resources.
 

A0wen

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I don't have enough info to hand regarding cost over-runs, but regarding time, I've seen over the years many a hording by a road project proudly saying 'Completed x months early'- which of course is more easily achieved if you add months to the declared 'completion due' date ;). Under-promise; over-deliver.

Construction generally- a big problem in that it encourages over-promising. With competitive tendering and the 'winner' being the one who submits the lowest price suggests a lot of underestimating and under-pricing- the 'unsuccessful' bidders didn't think it could be done for that price!

Stop-start doesn't help either.- who can 'gear up'/ 'stand down'/ offer continuity of 'employment' in that circumstance? Nor does 'cost-cutting' along the way- it can take longer and cost to redesign to save little or nothing.

At least with a building there is scope for repetition floor-by-floor once 'out of the ground', whereas when in or on the ground soil conditions, and what's in it eg pipes and wires can change often over short distances- witness GW electrification and the costs paid in truncation etc eg Oxford, MML, ...

What should/ could 'the rail industry' do to get a better press and the ear of government?

The problem the rail industry has is that it isn't viewed as essential in the way the other sectors are.

For example if a housing scheme over-runs, nobody is going to deny there is a shortage of housing in many areas. So rather than canning or curtailing the scheme it's accepted the additional capacity is needed.

Many of the road schemes are as much about improving the environment through by-passing towns and villages as they are about adding capacity. Most of the road schemes in my local area in recent times have been about taking volumes of traffic away from villages, thereby improving the quality of their environment.

Whereas with rail, schemes are large and benefit relatively few people. With a modal share of ~10% as a starting point, the % of the population which regularly (i.e. more than once or twice a year) uses the rail network is unlikely to be much more than 1/3rd. So whilst a bypass around a village improves the quality for the whole village 24x7x365, a rail improvement benefits far fewer people.

Simply arguing that means the rail network needs to be used / serve more people is a simplistic argument. And rail schemes, by their very nature, aren't cheap which means any over-run is always going to be a significant cost.
 

quantinghome

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Again this is something which the technology is there to support. Electric Mountain and others have been doing it for decades. There's some significant battery storage coming online, there is the possibility of using batteries in vehicles or in homes to provide surge power and there are new heavy fluid pumping systems in development. It's no more difficult than generating renewable electricity, it just needs resources.
And hydrogen storage. Not very energy efficient, but the marginal price of electricity at times of excess supply will be low.

The problem the rail industry has is that it isn't viewed as essential in the way the other sectors are.

For example if a housing scheme over-runs, nobody is going to deny there is a shortage of housing in many areas. So rather than canning or curtailing the scheme it's accepted the additional capacity is needed.

Many of the road schemes are as much about improving the environment through by-passing towns and villages as they are about adding capacity. Most of the road schemes in my local area in recent times have been about taking volumes of traffic away from villages, thereby improving the quality of their environment.

Whereas with rail, schemes are large and benefit relatively few people. With a modal share of ~10% as a starting point, the % of the population which regularly (i.e. more than once or twice a year) uses the rail network is unlikely to be much more than 1/3rd. So whilst a bypass around a village improves the quality for the whole village 24x7x365, a rail improvement benefits far fewer people.

Simply arguing that means the rail network needs to be used / serve more people is a simplistic argument. And rail schemes, by their very nature, aren't cheap which means any over-run is always going to be a significant cost.
Perhaps we're not comparing the right schemes. Village bypasses are equivalent to a track renewal or bridge replacement project in terms of cost and complexity, and also in terms of the number of people who benefit. A larger road scheme may be comparable to something like the Werrington diveunder. The largest road schemes (e.g. Lower Thames Crossing) are equivalent to major line upgrades. Simpler, cheaper, schemes tend to get done on time and budget in both sectors, as do the medium-large schemes. But the larger schemes have tended to run overbudget in both sectors as well. Just look at the A303 Stonehenge scheme as an example.

Basically the railways need to make a much bigger thing of successful projects.
 
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Mikey C

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Massively impacted by COVID, the government finances are now in a horrendous state, in March the gross debt was 103.6% (GDP).

It's daft to suggest that there's an ideological reason for the Treasury trying to reign in spending, as ANY government would be desperately trying to juggle expenditure, when there's massive pressure to increase the spend on health and social care.
 

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The problem is not making renewable electricity, it's storing it. This weekend it's going to be cloudy and calm. If you follow Gridwatch you can see in real time where our electricity is coming from.
A wide distribution of wind turbines across a country, even better, across a continent, with a suitable high capacity grid linking them is part of the solution. Keep in mind that wind turbines are still being built and installed.

The assumption being that it may well be windy somewhere, hence a percentage of the installed wind turbines will be able to generate power.

Even if this is not the case every day, over a year, as more electricity is generated from wind, hence less electricity is generated from fossil fuel power stations. As a certain supermarket advert puts it, every little helps.

Also, although small in comparison, in summer, solar photovoltaic generation helps a little.

The other point is that with electrical heating systems, due to the possibility of designing in thermal lag, during times of peak electricity demand, these heating systems could be automatically switched off. When demand falls, they would be automatically switched on again.
 

InOban

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Again this is something which the technology is there to support. Electric Mountain and others have been doing it for decades. There's some significant battery storage coming online, there is the possibility of using batteries in vehicles or in homes to provide surge power and there are new heavy fluid pumping systems in development. It's no more difficult than generating renewable electricity, it just needs resources.
Over this calm weekend and beyond, looking at the longer range forecast, the UK is likely to need an average of 25Gw continuous supply of electricity over that from nuclear and other zero carbon sources. I have yet to see any sign of storage systems which can sustain that.
 

Starmill

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Over this calm weekend and beyond, looking at the longer range forecast, the UK is likely to need an average of 25Gw continuous supply of electricity over that from nuclear and other zero carbon sources. I have yet to see any sign of storage systems which can sustain that.
Network capacity is already nearly there:
An additional 6GW of energy storage from liquefied and compressed air, pumped hydro, flywheels and gravity-based technology is operating, under construction or being planned, bringing the total UK energy storage portfolio capacity to more than 22GW.
 

Starmill

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Capacity is, for the tiny amount of time the storage will last.

The future storage system may be called upon to provide those 25GW for weeks during a wind lull.

It has to be orders of magnitude larger than that system is.
But, as I keep saying, the technology to do that is within reach. It is the resources that are needed.
 

Mikey C

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Is the 25GW based on current demand, or does that take into account future demand when far more electricity will be needed to power electric road vehicles, heat homes etc
 

HSTEd

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Is the 25GW based on current demand, or does that take into account future demand when far more electricity will be needed to power electric road vehicles, heat homes etc

Unless you are looking at the heroic energy efficiency and energy consumption reductions in the "Zero Carbon Britain" scenarios from CfAT, 100GW of storage tap out is likely closer to the mark than 25GW
 

Tomos y Tanc

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Massively impacted by COVID, the government finances are now in a horrendous state, in March the gross debt was 103.6% (GDP).

It's daft to suggest that there's an ideological reason for the Treasury trying to reign in spending, as ANY government would be desperately trying to juggle expenditure, when there's massive pressure to increase the spend on health and social care.
That only matters if you subscribe to the discredited monetary theories of the last century with their false anologies between Government and household budgets.

It was always nonsense since Governments are able to create money in a way that households can't.

Many modern economists take the view that there is no financial constraint on government spending, just as long as a country is a sovereign issuer of currency and doesn't tie the value of its currency to another currency.

There is a danger that in the very long term creation of money can lead to inflation but, in current circumstances, there is no urgent need to balance the books. Indeed, many of our current economic difficulties were created by the misguided and simplistic austerity policies of the last decade.
 

Ken H

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In energy storage, GWh is as important as GW. We will need a lot more of the former.
how do we store enough electric to cope with a fortnight of no renewables? Like in a February anticyclone. no wind, no solar (cos its cloudy), damn cold.
 

HSTEd

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Hydrogen storage in a single depleted oil field in the north sea would provide enough seasonal storage capacity for the whole UK:

Offshore Geological Storage of Hydrogen: Is This Our Best Option to Achieve Net-Zero? | ACS Energy Letters
Interesting paper, although the end to end efficiency on this is likely to be awful - and I'm not sure its fair to say you need hundreds of millions of cubic metres of liquid hydrogen then cite boil off losses in 50m3 containers!

There is a danger that in the very long term creation of money can lead to inflation but, in current circumstances, there is no urgent need to balance the books. Indeed, many of our current economic difficulties were created by the misguided and simplistic austerity policies of the last decade.

We almost certainly already have money printing leading to inflation!
We aren't that far from an inflationary spiral at this point - we are already at de-facto full employment, which is the primary prerequisite.
 

Starmill

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I don’t know about you, but I don’t think it would be sensible to put all those eggs into one basket!
It's a good job that the other methods of energy storage I mentioned are in development then, and that many examples already operate on a commercial basis.

As I keep saying the technology isn't the constraint, low electricity prices are (or maybe that should be 'were').
 

quantinghome

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I don’t know about you, but I don’t think it would be sensible to put all those eggs into one basket!
Better than no basket at all, which is our current situation after the Rough gas storage facility closed. A lack of strategic reserve has contributed to our current energy woes.

But yes, you would need other options at an intermediate capacity level - e.g. pump-storage, salt cavern hydrogen storage, to provide shorter duration capacity.

And there are other "baskets" making up system balancing - demand side response and interconnectors. Once electric cars are commonplace their batteries alone would give enough storage to balance energy supply and demand through the day.
 

Nicholas Lewis

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Again this is something which the technology is there to support. Electric Mountain and others have been doing it for decades. There's some significant battery storage coming online, there is the possibility of using batteries in vehicles or in homes to provide surge power and there are new heavy fluid pumping systems in development. It's no more difficult than generating renewable electricity, it just needs resources.
There are batteries coming online of 10's of MW's which are big but they are all short duration largely of 1-2hrs so are mainly being used for frequency management at the moment they won't have capacity to deal with windless days. This is why the CCGTs need to be kept as system reserve and not be decommissioned and destroyed like they've done to coal fired power stations before we've commissioned sufficient replacement renewable plant..
 

Ken H

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There are batteries coming online of 10's of MW's which are big but they are all short duration largely of 1-2hrs so are mainly being used for frequency management at the moment they won't have capacity to deal with windless days. This is why the CCGTs need to be kept as system reserve and not be decommissioned and destroyed like they've done to coal fired power stations before we've commissioned sufficient replacement renewable plant..
What about windless weeks? Lets see how it goes in Feb 2022 shall we?
 

Mikey C

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That only matters if you subscribe to the discredited monetary theories of the last century with their false anologies between Government and household budgets.

It was always nonsense since Governments are able to create money in a way that households can't.

Many modern economists take the view that there is no financial constraint on government spending, just as long as a country is a sovereign issuer of currency and doesn't tie the value of its currency to another currency.

There is a danger that in the very long term creation of money can lead to inflation but, in current circumstances, there is no urgent need to balance the books. Indeed, many of our current economic difficulties were created by the misguided and simplistic austerity policies of the last decade.
We already have rising inflation and a massive current account deficit. And paying hefty interest on the government debt, it's not free money

And somebody has to buy the government debt. If the markets consider that the country is being reckless in issuing debt, then it'll demand higher interest rates to buy it.
 

snowball

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We already have rising inflation and a massive current account deficit. And paying hefty interest on the government debt, it's not free money

And somebody has to buy the government debt. If the markets consider that the country is being reckless in issuing debt, then it'll demand higher interest rates to buy it.
The rich have become vastly richer over recent decades, especially during the pandemic. They also contribute many times their share to carbon emissions. Wealth taxes might be in order.
 
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