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#133097 - 05/02/02 04:30 PM European Grid
CTwireman Offline
Member

Registered: 02/07/02
Posts: 839
Loc: Connecticut, USA
Paul-

I have numerous questions for you.

Is England connected to continental Europe by a cable through the chunnel, or otherwise? Also, is England connected to Scotland, and Ireland as well?


A little story: When my family travelled to England back in '96, we took the train from London to York to visit the viking museum and see the town. I remember seeing what seemed like dozens of power stations on the way up, with their distinctive cooling towers, and most of them appeared to be in the middle of farmland. Do you have any idea what fuel these burn? (what is the primary fuel for generating electricity in Enlgand?) And where do they get their cooling water?

Finally, if memory serves me correctly, England seems to be into trash to energy plants, since I imagine landfill space is hard to come by. Any idea what percentage of trash is turned into power?
FYI: Here in Connecticut, we incinerate 65% of our trash, the highest percentage of any state in the U.S. And a lot of our facilites are waste-to-energy.

Thanks in advance for your answers!

Peter aka CTwireman

[This message has been edited by CTwireman (edited 05-02-2002).]
_________________________
Peter

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#133098 - 05/03/02 02:14 PM Re: European Grid
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
Peter,

You've posed some interesting questions, and I have to confess that I won't be able to answer them fully without some research.

There are most certainly power links between England & Scotland. The U.K. "National Grid" system was developed back in the 1920s/1930s based on a network of 132kV transmission lines around the country (with later additions of 275 & 400kV lines). I would guess that there has been an England/Scotland link since at least that time, although there were probably local distribution networks that crossed the border before the National Grid was set up.

For Britain to Ireland, I seem to recall hearing about an undersea cable being commissioned a few years ago. I would think it connects to Northern Ireland rather than the Irish Republic as the distance would be shorter. I'll see if I can track down some details for you.

I know there has been a cable under the English Channel linking us with France for many years (at the narrowest point, only 22 miles of water separate us). I'm working purely from memory here, but I believe it went into operation in the 1950s and operated at around 2 to 3kV DC. The combination of the 1-hour time difference and the fact that the French tend to work and eat at different times to us means that our peak-demand times are different, so it benefits both countries.

I'm not too familiar with northern England as I've only been up there occasionally, but I know the main London-York line runs up through parts of Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire where there are quite a large number of major power stations. It's one of our big coal-mining areas (or at least it used to be) and also a region of heavy industry (e.g. world-famous Sheffield steel), so the concentration of generating stations there makes sense.

The last figures for electrical generation in the U.K. that I can recall were around 70% conventional coal/oil/gas-fired stations, and about 25% nuclear. The balance is hydro-electric schemes (mostly confined to the mountainous regions of the Scottish Highlands and North Wales), wind-farms, etc. The latter has attracted quite a bit of attention in recent years.

Most of our nuclear stations are located on the coast, but I think you'll find that the other inland plants mostly use local rivers & canals for cooling. We have quite a network of old canals that were one of the mainstays of transport of goods in Victorian times before the railways took over.

For comparison with our neighbors, I know that the Republic of Ireland has no nuclear power, but France gets around 75% of its needs from nuclear. I have a feeling we talked about this in here a few months ago; I'll see if I can find the thread.

I know there has been talk about trash recycling for power over the last few years, but I have no idea of percentages used for energy etc. Again, I'll see if I can track down some details.

By the way, I've never been to York itself, but our National Railway Museum is located there and it's reckoned to be very interesting. Did you see it?

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#133099 - 05/03/02 02:35 PM Re: European Grid
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
I found the thread in question Here

It just so happens that the latest figures I could locate then were for 1996. Here they are again:-

Total annual U.K. production 309.672 billion kWh.
72.28% Conventional
26.33% Nuclear
1.28% Hydro
0.11% Other

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#133100 - 05/06/02 05:09 PM Re: European Grid
CTwireman Offline
Member

Registered: 02/07/02
Posts: 839
Loc: Connecticut, USA
Paul-

Thank you again for your answers.

No, we didn't go to the train museum, though I will keep it in mind if I ever make it back to England (I would like to visit again someday). We did go to the Cathedral there and the view was really good from the top. I have to say I had trouble understanding some of the accents I heard when I was there, though. I mean, I know it was English being spoken, but...... We did make it to an antique steam engine museum that used to be part of the London water authority, or something of that nature, which was the highlight of the trip for me.

Speaking of trains, the train we took up there was really neat, and unlike anything I've seen here. Each car had its own diesel engine underneath, which presumably drove a generator or hydraulics. Are you familiar with these trains?

My dad has quite a few Sheffield lathe chisels and planes, and they're excellent quality.

Yes, it does make sense to me now why I saw so many power stations. It seemed like there was one every 20 minutes. By the way, of the 73% conventional, do you have any idea of what the breakdown is between oil/coal/gas?

Also, you must be using combined cycle/gas turbines there now. I'm working on a brand new 250 MW CCGT plant right now. It seems to be the new wave of power generation in the U.S. and other places.
_________________________
Peter

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#133101 - 05/07/02 03:51 PM Re: European Grid
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
Peter,

Don't worry about not understanding everyone here. Accents can change drastically in under 100 miles in England, and many southerners (such as myself) have trouble understanding the hard northern accents in places like Yorkshire. It not just accents either; they also invent their own words!

I must confess that I'm not sure how CCGT operates or differs from a regular turbine. Care to elucidate?

It sounds as though the train you described was a DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit). At least that's what they used to be called back in the days of British Railways. For about a year I used to ride one to school every day in the 1970s.

We do have big diesel-electric locomotives on the longer Inter-City services, and I know there were diesel-hydraulic locos used at one time, but I'm not sure if any are still in service.

Quite a few of the main lines have been electrified in recent years; the East Coast line from London to Norwich (about 20 mi. from me) is now electric all the way (overhead 25kV AC system).

There's also electric traction (3rd rail, 660V DC) on what used to be the Southern Region, serving the commuter belt just south of London and down to the South Coast. And of course the London Underground (subway) is electric (3rd AND 4th rails).

I've not been able to come up with any figures for the coal/oil/gas split, but I have found one or two links for you.

The Northern Ireland-Scotland link is called the Moyle Interconnector, and has just been officially opened. Some info at the Northern Ireland Electric site here and details of the opening here.

I've also found some statistics on energy from waste and related projects at the DTI site here.

By the way, I know there are some power plants in the Irish Republic that burn peat. I remember seeing a plant in the middle of Co. Mayo while driving across miles of open peat bog. It has to be one of the bleakest places I've ever seen (not at all like most of Ireland which is quite attractive).


[This message has been edited by pauluk (edited 05-07-2002).]

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#133102 - 05/07/02 04:25 PM Re: European Grid
CTwireman Offline
Member

Registered: 02/07/02
Posts: 839
Loc: Connecticut, USA
Paul-

Sorry about throwing jargon around without an explanation as to what it means. In a CCGT plant, the exhaust heat from the jet engines (which drive generators) is recovered and used to generate steam in a specially designed boiler called a HRSG (Heat Recovery Steam Generator) (Pronounced "her-sig"). The steam is then used to drive another turbine/generator setup. CCGT plants are among the cleanest fossil fuel based power available, due to the extensive pollution controls installed on them. They are also versatile, since turbine engines can run on gaseous or liquid fuels.

There are also simple cycle gas turbine plants, where the exhaust heat is just blown up the stack and wasted, although those are much less common than CC.

Thnaks for the info on the trains. I have heard that the train service has deteriorated in the past few years since the industry was privatized. Is this true?
_________________________
Peter

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#133103 - 05/07/02 04:37 PM Re: European Grid
CTwireman Offline
Member

Registered: 02/07/02
Posts: 839
Loc: Connecticut, USA
The Northern Ireland cable sounds quite familiar, since the company I work for is building the substation for a new cable under Long Island sound connecting Long Island to Connecticut.

This system is quite different from other cable projects. From what I have gathered, AC is converted to DC before it goes underwater. Although I dont know much about it, I have heard that the AC/DC conversion is completely solid state. The equipment is made by ABB.
_________________________
Peter

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#133104 - 05/08/02 05:03 AM Re: European Grid
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
Hope you got that info from N. Ireland Electric O.K. as I just checked there and their site is down for updates this morning.

I've still not been able to dig out any more details on the England-France interconnector, but if I turn up anything I'll post it.

Thanks for the info on the CCGT. I think we're going to see a lot more of this sort of thing now everywhere is becoming so much more energy-conscious.

Grumbling about the train service here is something of a national pasttime, and has been for years. The system was nationalized as British Railways in the 1940s, and the general consensus is that throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s it was quite reliable (that's a little before my time as I was born in '66).

Later in the 1960s though, there was a huge program of closing local branch lines, and then in the 1970s service deteriorated badly (not helped by the fact that throughout the 70s we had BIG problems with strikes).

Certainly when I rode regularly around 1977-1978 it wasn't at all unusual to have trains canceled for no particular reason, or to be a half hour late on a 30-mile journey.

I've had little to do with the network since it was privatized again, as out here in the boondocks public transport is something of a joke. But, yes, I know many, many people who complain bitterly about the poor timekeeping, dirty trains, etc., so it doesn't sound as though things have improved.

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#133105 - 05/10/02 08:13 PM Re: European Grid
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
I should have also mentioned that there has been an alarming rise in accidents on our railways recently.

This just happened: BBC News Story


[This message has been edited by pauluk (edited 05-10-2002).]

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