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12 Batteries

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12

Batteries

A battery is a device that converts chemical energy to electrical ­energy as required. Grid-connected large-scale batteries have long been desired by utility companies because they could aid the balancing of electrical supply and demand. In the last few years technological advances have made this possible. Batteries are not the only approach used for the storage of energy; another approach is pumped storage (see Chapter 2, this volume). A further approach is energy storage using compressed air; this is not considered further in this book because there are presently only two compressed air storage facilities, one in Germany and the other in

Alabama, USA.

There are a number of battery technologies that have been used for utility-scale storage. The main types are:

• Lead–acid. The standard car battery we are familiar with is lead–acid.

They are of declining interest in terms of large-scale electrical power storage, although large banks of lead–acid batteries are still used for emergency back-up on power plants.

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7 Coal and Oil-Fired Power Plants

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Coal and Oil-Fired Power Plants

Both coal- and oil-fired power stations use steam turbines to generate electricity and therefore need to address all the issues covered in Chapter 5 (this volume). A schematic diagram of a typical coal plant is shown in Fig. 7.2. Large-scale oil-fired generation is no longer common and needs little detailed consideration here.

Many of its polluting characteristics, such as sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions, mirror those of coal. Coal is the dominant energy source for electrical power generation on a global basis, producing about 41% of total production, and it will remain a major energy source for the foreseeable future.

The nature of coal and the waste generated by its combustion create a number of issues that, while not unique to coal combustion, are particularly problematical for coal plants. It is the environmental problems associated with coal handling and combustion that are considered in particular detail in this chapter.

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10 Solar Power

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Solar Power

Solar generators can be divided into two broad types, photovoltaic (PV) solar cells and concentrating solar power (CSP) plants. The scale of PV generation varies greatly from single panel systems to recharge a battery via individual house rooftop PV arrays (Fig. 10.1) to large utility-scale PV and CSP projects. The ecological impacts of solar generation have been reviewed by Tsoutsos et al. (2005).1 As the installed capacity increases and operational experience expands, it is likely that ecological impacts and concerns will also increase.

Photovoltaic Generation

We are all becoming familiar with solar panels fitted on our houses, farm outbuildings, commercial buildings and boats. There is also a steadily growing number of larger-scale facilities. Photovoltaic cells use light to generate electricity. A variety of panel designs are available, including polycrystalline, monocrystalline and thin-film. The technology is rapidly developing and new designs are continually being tested. It is now possible to install PV roof tiles.

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4 Wave Power and Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion

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Wave Power and Ocean

Thermal Energy Conversion

Using the power of waves to generate electricity is an old idea which has never achieved large-scale commercial viability. Because there has been renewed recent interest stimulated by climate warming concerns and the desire for low-carbon electricity generation, a number of test facilities have been established recently. The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), the first marine energy test facility, was established in 2003 in Orkney, Scotland, and has deployed more wave and tidal energy devices than at any other single site in the world (see http://www.emec.org.uk/). At present, North America has shown little interest in wave energy generation. In the USA, there are three experimental sites that each has a single device: Makah Bay, Washington;

Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii; and off the coast of New Jersey. Uihlein and Magagna

(2016)1 review the current state of wave power-generating technologies.

Wave power resources are not evenly distributed. The map of wave power around the United Kingdom (Fig. 4.1) shows the greatest energy is available off the Scottish west coast and far out into the Atlantic Ocean.

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8 Gas-Fired Power Plants

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Gas-Fired Power Plants

A combined-cycle gas-fired power plant is one of the most efficient ways to use fossil fuel for electricity generation. These plants use a gas turbine in conjunction with a heat recovery steam generator and so combine the

Brayton cycle of the gas turbine with the Rankine cycle of the steam turbine (see Fig. 8.2). The thermal efficiency of these plants can reach about

60% compared with around 35% for a traditional coal-fired station. The turbines are fuelled with natural gas, syngas or fuel oil.

Gas-fired power stations are quick to build and can often be placed on industrial sites on the outskirts of towns near to where the power is consumed. Open-cycle gas turbine plants, without a steam cycle, are also occasionally built to meet peak demands. They are less efficient and therefore not favoured for base-load use. Gas turbines can be quickly brought up to load and therefore have distinct advantages when combined with intermittent energy sources such as solar and wind farms.

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