Non Eco Friendly Very Large Electricity Generating Power Station To Waste Heat

February 23, 2009

What a waste!

The government has given permission for a very large gas powered electricity generating power station to go ahead according to the BBC news website. It will be able to provide power for around 3m homes and employ 2000 jobs over the three years it will take to build - very welcome to the local population. After that though, there will be only a need for around 100 people to man the power station.

I presume it is to be built on the site of an old power station near the Milford Haven liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants so that it will be near where LNG is imported. Unfortunately it is claimed this puts it where it will not be possible to use the waste heat for industrial processes nor for industrial or domestic heating.

This is a big loss. Around 40% or more of the power used to produce electricity in a plant of this type is lost as heat. What a waste! If the power station was sited nearer potential users/customers of the ‘waste’ heat so much more of the energy could be utilised. FoE Cymru director Gordon James is quoted as saying "We have calculated that the heat wasted from the new power station would be equivalent to 40% of Wales' electricity demand."

Instead the heat will be dispersed by heating sea water - possibly causing some harm to the local environment.

Apparently the Energy Secretary looked into using the heat but decided that the distances to neighbouring industrial sites would mean the "the steam would condensate by the time it reached there." I presume this should read: "the steam would condense before it reached the industrial sites."

At first hand at least, this argument seems pretty weak. Why not increase the insulation of the steam/hot water pipes? Alternatively the power station could perhaps be sited nearer the potential consumers of heat; or a new industrial estate could be developed near the power station.

The UK is very poor at using the 'waste' heat from power stations and industrial processes. Using heat that is now just wasted, rather using additional energy sources, would reduce the total amount of carbon dioxide released by significant amounts.

In researching this I came across an interesting book called Clean Energy (ISBN 0-85404-546-5) that you can read on Google that discusses various aspects of electricity power generation.

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