Sunday, 20 January 2008


Quite simply, geo-pressure is a tried and tested technology that is used to generate carbon free electricity. It provides guaranteed security of supply and could save the UK a minimum of one million tonnes of carbon (1MtC) per year. It is already in use in Europe and North America.

How does it work?

A tiny bit of science; natural gas emerges from the ground under intense pressure and this pressure helps to drive the gas through the distribution network. Before the gas can be safely decentralised to consumers, the gas pressure must be reduced using a pressure reduction station (PRS). We can harness the energy created from this pressure reduction, and use it to generate carbon free electricity, merely by installing a turbine generation system at some of these stations. There are over 2000 potentially suitable PRSs in the UK and the energy created by them is currently entirely wasted.

What difference will geo-pressure make?

If this energy were to be exploited fully, it would add a minimum of 1GW of extra carbon free electricity generating capacity to the UK - equivalent to the production capability of an average sized fossil fuel or nuclear power station. The amount of carbon emissions that geo-pressure could potentially save the UK - 1MtC per year – is equivalent to the amount emitted annually by the whole of the National Health Service and substantially more than the amount emitted annually by the likes of IBM, Kodak, Nissan and Proctor & Gamble worldwide (source The Climate Group). If the generating capacity saved came from a coal fired power station, the figure of 1MtC saved would increase as burning coal emits more carbon than burning gas, by a factor of approximately 1.7.

If the generating capacity came from a nuclear power station, the carbon saved would be one third of the carbon emissions of a gas fired generator; not nil as proponents of the nuclear solution would like us to believe. (Estimate calculated by Professors Smith and Van Leeuwen at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands). This, combined with the many other disadvantages of nuclear power, should make this option even less attractive than it has been traditionally.

Geo-pressure generates electricity at the most useful time, reducing the need for surplus capacity on the grid. This is because more power is generated when more gas travels through the system. As gas demand peaks, geo-pressure generation increases and gas demand is closely linked to electricity demand. In addition, the supply of electricity from a geo-pressure powered generator needs no backup supply in case of failure of either the primary energy source, or of the electricity supply; the only energy needed is the flow of gas through the pipeline.

Geo-pressure and decentralisation Finally, not only is geo-pressure technology able to supplement significantly the UK’s carbon free electricity generating resources, it also fits well with the decentralised energy model being proposed – by Greenpeace and others - as a solution to the problem of how to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions on a permanent and sustainable basis.

Our highly centralised electricity generation model wastes two thirds of the energy contained in the original fuel source. In other words, for every100 units of energy put into the system, only 38.5 units are put into the national grid. A further 3.5 units (9% of the transmitted total) are then lost in transmission around the national grid with only 35 units eventually reaching the consumer.

Geo-pressure on the other hand operates at about 93% efficiency and - with more than 2000 locations potentially able to generate electricity in this way – could already be described as being a decentralised source of energy with the potential to reduce some of the 9% of electricity currently lost in transmission and distribution over the national grid. Thus, where a pressure reduction station is located at the site of a large gas consumer they will be able to use the generated electricity locally. Alternatively, electricity generated from pressure reduction for domestic consumers could be exported to the national grid, or decentralised locally as part of a decentralised energy strategy.

Why is all this important?

It is important because we’re being encouraged by Tony Blair and George W Bush, amongst others, to believe that the problem of climate change will be solved mainly through the emergence of new low carbon or carbon free energy technologies. This isn’t happening nearly fast enough and the UK government is currently predicting a shortfall of 10MtC in their 2010 carbon reduction target; although they currently expect to meet their Kyoto targets.
So, in summary, 2OC is marketing proven technology, known as geo-pressure, able to generate carbon free electricity from any gas distribution network utilising pressure reduction stations. If properly recognised and supported by the UK government, this technology could save the UK a minimum of 1MtC of carbon emissions annually and make a substantial contribution to Britain’s carbon reduction targets, as well as paving the way for a more decentralised approach to energy distribution.

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