Decarbonising with hydrogen: more hot air?

Hydrogen gas has been mooted as a possible solution to the challenge of decarbonising heating, one of the major sources along with electricity generation and transport, of carbon emissions. Notably, the city of Leeds in the UK is investigating converting its entire gas network from natural gas (which is mostly methane) to hydrogen. The question is…

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Intriguing ideas and energy innovations of the future

  The energy sector is undergoing a period of significant change with the rapid emergence and adoption of renewable technologies, notably solar PV and wind. Developments in storage promise significant disruptions in the medium term, alongside smart grids, and by the mid 2020s we could see new generation nuclear technologies and tidal power adding to…

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Making waves with tidal power

  The idea of tidal power has fascinated me since I was told (by a tour guide) that the tidal range of the Thames at Tower Bridge was 10 metres. In fact it’s “only” 6.6 metres, but watching the daily rise and fall of the river from the window of my Docklands flat, the sheer,…

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Through the looking glass: transparent solar PV

The speed with which solar PV has taken off has surprised most analysts, with the cost curve coming down far faster than expected as materials technology develops. When people think of solar PV, they tend to think about roof-top panels or large installations in fields or deserts, but imagine if you could integrate photovoltaic cells…

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Breaking the ice with thermal energy storage

In the second article in my series on energy storage, I explore the area of thermal energy storage (TES), which involves the collection of excess thermal energy for later use. This and can be achieved through a range of technologies, at an individual building, district or even regional scale. The technologies fall into three broad…

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CCS: is it all just hot air?

Last week I attended an Energy Institute debate on the subject “Meeting the Carbon Budgets – how “disruptive” technologies could be game changers towards a low carbon future.” The eminent speakers gave an overview of the challenges arising from the Paris agreement in 2015 and focused specifically on large-scale nuclear versus small modular reactors (“SMR”s)…

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CAES…an alternative to pumped hydro?

Energy storage is seen by some as the Holy Grail of the energy markets, providing a low-carbon alternative to conventional generation for balancing systems with increasing levels of intermittent renewable generation. Over a series of posts, I will explore some of the technologies under development and assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of the various…

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Nuclear power: is small also beautiful?

In a recent post I outlined some of the challenges facing Hinckley Point C – the flagship next generation nuclear project in the UK. Various commentators have suggested that new nuclear in the UK has missed the boat since the deployment of renewables combined with the problems with the new EPR technology means that there…

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Driving storage innovation

Domestic solar + electricity storage has for some time been seen as a potentially disruptive combination for electricity systems. Add in electric cars and use of recycled EV batteries in those storage systems, and the story becomes even more interesting. Car companies expanding into energy storage have been all over the news recently. Electric vehicles…

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