conklinc wrote:Who funded the U Tassie hydrogen project?
It was a project of the University itself assisted financially by Hydro Tasmania.
The Uni looked after the technical side, Hydro focused on the business side. Technically, they got it all working pretty well. From a business perspective, they went as far as planning the development of hydrogen filling stations and the marketing of hydrogen conversion kits for conventional vehicles.
The reason it didn't really progress any further was economics. At present prices it doesn't stack up financially compared to petrol, so apart from the occasional enthusiast there is no realistic mass market potential for a conversion kit or hydrogen filling stations at this point in time.
A later project developed dual-fuel hydrogen-diesel technology with a view to using it for remote power generation. Eg you have a small isolated grid (eg on an island) and use wind as the preferred source of energy, with surplus wind energy being used to produce hydrogen by electrolysis. This hydrogen is then added to the air intake of the diesel engine and use to reduce the amount of diesel fuel used for power generation when the wind isn't blowing. This project was done by the Uni but primarily driven by the Hydro in a financial sense. There was also some external funding from memory.
There have been quite a few other Utas - Hydro research ventures. Among others, Hydro has an interest in the concept of low friction coatings to reduce energy loss in canals and pipelines and quite a bit of work has been done in this direction. There was also some research being done into capturing the energy from water flowing horizontally, effectively a zero head situation but with a horizontal flow in canals etc. Not sure how that one went.
Are there any wind projects in Tassie?
Woolnorth wind farm (far NW of Tas) has a capacity of about 140 MW and was developed in stages beginning 2002. Musselroe wind farm (far NE of Tas) has a capacity of 168 MW and commenced operation earlier this year. Both were developed by Hydro but it doesn't own them as such - they are privately owned although Hydro Tas is the operator.
On average they produce about 115 MW or 9% of grid electricity in Tasmania.
There is also the renewable energy system / smart grid on Kind Island which uses wind as it's major energy source supplemented by solar and the original diesel power station. It's a complex system, more info is here http://www.kingislandrenewableenergy.com.au
As for the incidence of cancer in the Latrobe Valley, I'll give you the "long" answer to that one even though it's way off topic.
To be honest, I don't think it's related too much to the coal as such. A fair bit of it would be due to asbestos - the old Yallourn power stations (A,B,C,D and to a lesser extent E) were full of the stuff to an almost ridiculous extent. With the exception of E station, they were a "range" design which basically meant that the boilers all fed a common steam "range" and the turbines drew from it. That's one hell of a lot of pipes involved, all of them lagged with asbestos, and I'm told by several sources (former employees etc) that at times there was so much dust inside the plant that it was very clearly visible inside. Not only was it on the pipes but it was the actual material used for the walls on part of the plant, it was sprayed on the steel for fire proofing, and workers (unaware of the danger) apparently used to throw the stuff around as a joke (some kind of initiation ritual I think it was - there used to be a similar prank in the paper mills here in Tas but at least having a bucket of wet pulp thrown over you won't do anything beyond making a mess).
Approximately 140,000 people were exposed to asbestos at Yallourn, and plenty have died. The final toll will probably never be calculated, but by most estimates it's easily the single biggest industrial disaster, albeit a very slow one playing out over many decades, in Australia's history. So that would go a long way toward explaining the cancer statistics in the Latrobe Valley.
Yallourn E was of modern design, having two distinct production units each with a boiler, turbine and alternator and no steam connection between them or the rest of the plant. This was the first such plant built in Vic (commissioned 1962) and it's still the way a coal-fired power station is built today. With it's 2 x 120MW units, there was never anything "wrong" with E station as such and the only reason it was closed in 1989 (though actual power generation stopped the previous year) was due to the asbestos riddled nature of the whole site.
Some of the current plants in the Latrobe Valley have asbestos in them, but it's largely contained due to the unitised design (same as E station). Hazelwood and Yallourn W both have some (though it's nothing on the scale of what was at the older Yallourn plants). Not sure about Loy Yang but given that it was being built partly to replace the older Yallourn stations I assume they didn't put asbestos into the new plant. I'd assume that the Morwell plant, which has a complex steam system and dates from the same era as Yallourn C and D, would have quite a bit of the stuff present.
Operating dates and capacity of the old Yallourn plants as follows.
A station (originally 50MW, expanded to 75MW using 12.5MW alternators) 1924 - 1968.
B station (4 x 25 MW alternators) 1938 - 1971 for the boilers, with the turbines being retained to use excess steam available from C and D stations.
C station (2 x 50 MW alternators, 6 boilers each sufficient for 20 MW - basically one of the boilers was a spare given the relatively poor reliability of boilers versus the higher reliability of turbines and alternators. Combined with the ability to move steam between sections of the plant, the extra boiler in C and D stage kept overall output up) 1954 - 1984. There was also a 6MW machine in there too.
D station (2 x 50MW and pretty much identical to C) 1958 - 1986
E station (2 x 120MW each with one boiler as a stand alone system) 1962 - 1988
So the overall period of operation was 1924 - 1988, but it was only 1962 - 1968 that the whole lot was simultaneously in use. Attached is a picture I found on the net (not mine) from the 1960's. From left to right are C, B, A, D, E stations in that order with the mine in the background. The current Yallourn W power station wasn't built at this stage, but it would be well to the right of this lot. The colour of the background masks the smoke to some extent - but there's plenty of it if you look carefully. All the old plants were demolished in the late 1990's.
PS - correction to previous post. Newport C did in fact burn brown coal briquettes.
It's perhaps worth mentioning that for several decades this was the main source of electricity for the whole of Victoria. That was the case even back in the early days with just the "A" station - it ran base load and supplied a big chunk of total demand and continued to do so as it was expanded over the years. But even if it were fully operational today, it would struggle to supply 10% of state's power even on a mild day and with every machine in service (which is impractical given the need for maintenance). Realistically it would manage 7% overall at best, such is the huge extent of demand growth over the years. No way can we continue that growth forever, at least not if it's being fueled by coal, oil or gas.