Future Power Technology: Issue 88

In this issue: A fusion-fission hybrid, Wales's new nuclear, powering Madagascar, predicting blackouts, blockchains for smartgrids, onshore wind investments, and more


A start-up nuclear company created by Google executive Mike Cassidy is designing a hybrid nuclear reactor which it claims is safer, cheaper and easier to build than conventional nuclear models. But what are these fusion-fission reactors that Apollo Fusion is proposing, how do they work and can they bring us closer to developing full fusion capabilities?

Also in nuclear, Hitachi’s Horizon has applied for a licence to build a new power plant in Wales, making the first nuclear new-build application since Hinkley Point C in 2011. Will it face the same anti-nuclear challenges? We take a look at the plan.

Elsewhere, we explore Madagascar – an island with a growing population and almost no energy grid – to see if private projects could bring power to the people, examine the UK Government’s unsupportive stance on onshore wind power, speak to Prescient Transmission Systems about its predictive software that helps prevent US grid blackouts, and learn how the blockchain tech concept could offer a new business model for energy producers and micro-grid systems.

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In this issue

Pushing for more onshore wind in the UK
Scotland set a new record for wind power output in March, covering 58% of the country’s total electricity demand for the month. While environmental groups are calling for more wind energy capacity, especially onshore, government support is still lacking. So, what will it take to bring the cheapest form of wind energy back into the mainstream?
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New nuclear for Britain on the horizon
Hitachi’s Horizon has applied for a license to build a new nuclear power plant in Wales, marking the first application for a new plant since Hinkley Point C in 2011. We take a closer look at the plan, and ask whether it will face the same anti-nuclear challenges which have plagued Hinkley.
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Fusion-fission reactors: the nuclear alternative?
Apollo Fusion, a start-up nuclear company created by Google executive Mike Cassidy, is planning to build hybrid nuclear reactors it claims are safer, cheaper and easier to build than conventional nuclear. But what are fusion-fission reactors and could they provide a new alternative in nuclear?
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Powering Madagascar
Madagascar is a vast island with a growing population and virtually no electricity grid, a problem that is severely hampering economic growth. Now, Bushveld Minerals and Sinohydro have teamed up to build a 60MW coal power plant and transmission infrastructure to deliver electricity to mining sites and, according to the companies, tens of thousands of people as well. So are projects like this the answer?
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Predicating blackouts with Prescient
A new start-up called Prescient Transmission Systems has analysed more than 50 years of power blackouts and near misses to develop a predictive methodology that can help ensure the US Power Grid doesn’t go down. According to the company the system can identify locations where a single fault could result in a voltage collapse triggering a wide area blackout. We speak to Prescient to find out more about how it works.
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Blockchain: a natural partner for the smart grids of the future
Blockchain technology – a distributed transaction database that maintains continuous records in the form of time-stamped and modification-resistant blocks – is emerging as a key enabler for the current wave of energy innovation. From underpinning a small community energy scheme in Brooklyn to facilitating a trial of utility-scale energy trading in Austria, we investigate the ways in which Blockchain is creating a new future for energy producers and micro-grid systems.
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In the next issue

The North Sea Power Hub concept consists of building a synthetic island to act as a central hub for wind power; potentially providing 100GW of power to Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and perhaps even the UK. With the possibility of linking islands via underwater cables, we find out what this colossal project could offer the countries on the North Sea.

In another long-distance project, we ask why the $1.6bn Northern Pass (a 192-mile transmission line to carry hydroelectric from Québec to New Hampshire) has hit problems with locals, we consider the reality of switching from natural gas to hydrogen, ask if air could be a viable alternative to chemical batteries, and explore Europe’s nuclear market following the appointment of new French President Emmanuel Macron.

Also, we speak to the founders of a digital-only 100% renewable energy provider which claims to supply domestic power with zero mark-up. Is it too good to be true? We find out.

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