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Articles from the Silver Shemmings Ash Team on contractual matters, recent case law changes and items of interest in the construction and property world

The Generation Game – Know Your Plants!

July 26, 2019 | Silver Shemmings

As a firm we are finding ourselves increasingly involved in energy projects and disputes. We have also found that, specialists aside, there tends to be something of a lack of understanding about power generation methods and the surrounding issues

This area is made all the more challenging by the troublesome interface that power generation projects have with the Construction Act. This article is part 1 of 2 discussing a variety of power generation methods, and the first in a series of energy focused pieces

Projects in the field of power generation can be on or off-shore (or, in some cases, both), vary dramatically in size and output and can sometimes span multiple jurisdictions. Below is a summary of the various methods of power generation

Nuclear
When generating nuclear power, plants control nuclear reactions to create heat and electricity. This process begins with the accelerated decay of radioactive materials like uranium, thereby producing heat. The turbines are then driven by steam generated from water boiled by the heat

Around 10% of the world’s energy is generated by nuclear power which is the second largest source of low-carbon power. Although this figure is set to increase, so are operating costs in the sector. These are primarily driven by safety concerns in relating to the operation and decommissioning of the plants, and the disposal (or storage) of the highly radioactive waste

Wind
A form of intermittent energy generation utilising wind to drive a propeller which turns a generator to create electricity. Wind turbines can be placed on or off-shore

Perhaps surprisingly, in 2018 wind power contributed almost 20% of all electricity generated in the UK, surpassing both coal and nuclear power generation. At the time of writing the UK is the fourth largest producer of wind power

Biomass & Waste To Energy
Energy generation from either biomass or waste provides a cleaner alternative to fossil fuel power generation while at the same time addressing the overuse of landfill. Biomass energy can be derived from a variety of organic matter including wood; corn; nut shells; sugar cane; grass; manure; and sewage to name only a few

Direct combustion of this organic matter is the simplest way of exploiting the available energy. Other methods of generating power from biomass include pyrolysis and anaerobic digestion, both of which involve the degradation of matter without oxygen

Crop based biofuel has recently faced criticism due to the environmental and social impact of replanting areas to accommodate the source of fuel

Geothermal
To enable geothermal power generation, wells are drilled into natural fissures in areas of shallow but high temperature water to capture the boiling water or steam that flows up. The viability of this source of power is incredibly location dependant

The plants that benefit from these geothermal wells generate power by using steam to drive a turbine, or water to boil in steam separators when then drives a turbine. Binary geothermal plants employ both methods, injecting the condensed steam and other fluids back into the fissure to heat up further. One downside (apart from only being viable in selected locations) is the likelihood of pollutants in the water

If you would like to know more about the above topic, or want to know how we can help you with an energy project or dispute, please contact Laughlan Steer

Author Laughlan Steer is a Solicitor specialising in Construction and Real Estate law, his experience spans non-contentious as well as contentious matters. He has led a number of adjudications and is well-versed in both Part 7 and Part 8 litigation proceedings and Mediation. Having commenced his professional life on the client side of energy and rail projects, Laughlan’ s advice benefits from this insight. He enjoys servicing a diverse client-base, from sub-contractors, to architects and high net worth individuals and he regularly presents seminars and lectures to the public, local authorities, consultancies and construction companies of all sizes

At Silver Shemmings Ash, we provide seminars and training alongside our core activities in contentious and non-contentious matters. The purpose of these is to facilitate a greater knowledge and understanding of construction and property law. There remains a considerable lack of training in such areas for companies and this is an issue which we are looking to address


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