Nuclear and Wind are Officially Stated to be Incompatible

This statement , from E.ON and EDF was in the financial pages of the Guardian on 16th March 2009. Fred Starr and Dave Andrews put in a briefing note to this effect in the Inst of Civil Engineers Journal ” Energy” last year. But  we also pointed out that nuclear cannot exist without back up from fossil, and because […]

Read More

Revealed – how the hybrid car "works"

The hybrid Toyota is a well known and claimed fuel efficient car. We all know its somehow got a battery and an engine.  But what is the idea? Why does this make it more efficient? Essentially the Toyota is more efficient (well a bit) than many similar cars, because the engine operates on what is […]

Read More

Little known (or conveniently forgotten) reason for 1926 miners strike recalled – Dr Fred Starr

If no one has anything better, here is a slightly incomplete table for coal production. This has been compiled from various sources over the past few years.

Peak was 1913 when we were exporting 100 million tons at a price of around £1 per ton. This might be equivalent to £50 per ton today (or higher?).

UK coal exports began to get uncompetitive after WWI, and was one of the main reasons for the 1926 General Strike, when the coal owners wanted to reduce wages.

Coal output was insufficient in WWII (and afterwards) and was one reason for sending one in every ten

conscripted men down the mines

UK coal reserves are now given as somewhere between 400-800 million tonnes. Not the billions that everyone supposes.

If the UK energy system was totally dependent on coal, as it used to be, these would last 2-4 years.

Read More

"would it be practical to store syngas as a method of allowing IGCC-CCS plants to respond to the overnight fall in demand?" Fred Starr responds

Claverton Hydrogen Storage on IGCC Sites

Dear Neil

You asked if it would be practical to store syngas as a method of allowing IGCC-CCS plants to respond to the overnight fall in demand

The prospects of the on-site storage of syngas, to enable an IGCC to vary its output seem limited. The gas that would have to be stored would have to be hydrogen. Otherwise, the processes by which the carbon in the syngas is removed would have continuously vary their throughput. Only the gasifier and air separation unit ( for supply of oxygen) would run at a constant output

Unfortunately, a very large amount of gas is produced when gasifying

Read More

(IGCC) Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle for Carbon Capture & Storage


This paper endeavours to give an objective account of the background to gasification based processes for power generation with carbon capture. Such processes are a development of IGCC plant designs in which coal or heavy fuel oil is first gasified and to produce a fuel gas for a CCGT unit. Although the IGCC concept does lend itself, very well, to high levels of carbon capture, and could lead the way to the hydrogen economy, it does create some important technical challenges. In particular, it restricts the type of gasifier that can be used to the high temperature entrained flow type. Furthermore, because the fuel gas that is produced in an IGCC consists of over 90% hydrogen, this will reduce the efficiency of the plant. Given that the hydrogen economy is some decades away, a more reasonable gasification-type option would be to produce natural gas from coal. This substitute natural gas could be used as a fuel gas in standard gas turbines (with no efficiency penalty) and can be used to supplement the UK and EU fast declining reserves of natural gas. The main drawback is that only about half as much carbon would be captured as in the IGCC “clean coal” systems currently being envisaged.

Read More

Carbon Capture and Sequestration

– Just Another Panic-led “Solution” to Another Energy Crisis?
By Dr F.Starr – FIMMM, C.Eng : Claverton: October 2008. This presentation was given at the Claverton October 2008 Conference and was intended to provoke discussion about one of the main downsides to the concepts of carbon capture. The issue in question is that carbon capture will increase coal demand by at least 20%, over what non-capture plant will require. This is particularly important for the UK since, despite what is commonly thought, the UK coal output has been declining since 1913 and continues to decline. At present UK coal only supplies about 10% of our electricity. There is no prospect of a significant increase.

Read More