Observing the world of renewable energy and sustainable living

Protix – Insects Replacing Fish as Protein Source

Over-fishing is a real problem in the modern world. A lot of fish is used for the production of protein, to be used for instance as food for animals. That protein can be obtained from another unexpected source: insects. There are about 1400 edible insects in the world. To name a few: crickets, cockroaches, worms, fruit flies, moths… Are you still there? These insects can produce high quality protein, suitable for humans as well. Europeans currently refuse to eat insects, but Africans and Asian do. Insects are cold-blooded so they don not need food to keep their body temperature high.

A big plus of insect farming: no harmful methane production. Operating farm temperature: 28 degrees Celsius. Regarding efficiency:

Insects are nutrient efficient compared to other meat sources… For every 100 grams of substance crickets contain 12.9 grams of protein, 121 calories, and 5.5 grams of fat. Beef contains more protein containing 23.5 grams in 100 grams of substance, but also has roughly 3 times the calories, and four times the amount of fat as crickets do in 100 grams. So, per 100 grams of substance, crickets contain only half the nutrients of beef

Farming method (crickets):

Crickets are usually housed in small (4′ x 8′) containers, furnished with simple items like egg cartons to provide shelter. Heat is a necessity for breeding crickets as they require temperatures around 90° Fahrenheit. House crickets live up to about eight weeks. Until they are twenty days old they are fed high protein animal feed, most commonly chicken feed, that contains between 14% and 20% protein. In the days before harvesting the crickets at around forty to fifty days old, they are often fed various vegetables, fruits and other plant matter. This is done to improve the taste of the insects and reduce the use of expensive, high protein animal feed. Crickets are normally killed by deep freezing, where they feel no pain and are sedated before neurological death. In some parts of the world crickets are baked or boiled.

[] – Protix home page
[] – Entomophagy (insects as food)
[] – Insect farming
[] – We dare you to eat these 8 insect recipes
[] – Environmental opportunities for insect rearing for food and feed
[] – Article expressing slight skepticism.

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Spectacular Growth Solar Installations in the Netherlands

The Dutch national news reported today that there is a spectacular growth in demand for corporate solar installations in the Netherlands, measured by subsidy applications: 1 billion euro in the 2nd half of 2016 and 3.2 billion so far in 2017.

The demand is so high that China is unable to deliver the required quantity and now the production of solar panels will return to the Netherlands, where it left Europe completely since recently the last German manufacturer SolarWorld went bust. China has always massively supported the buildup of a domestic solar sector, but Europe not so much.

The knowledge of building solar panels has always been present in the Netherlands, that preferred to build solar panel factory lines for export, rather than operating these lines themselves. The Frisian company Powerfield will build a new factory in the Groningen province that will produce 1 million panels per year, half of them for the construction of large “in-house” solar parks.

So far 2% of Dutch electricity production originates from solar, but this is expected to increase rapidly soon. With solar system payback time of 7-9 years, followed by 20 years of free electricity, investing in solar panels gives far more return than leaving money in a savings account.

[] – Straks weer ‘made in Holland’ zonnepanelen
[] – Powerfield home page

Exasun produces solar panels like roof tiles in the Netherlands as as niche product. Works with German and Belgian parts only.

Netherlands – Family Will Test Solar Family Car

Rain and wind are big in the Netherlands and few foreigners will visit the country for a beach holiday. Nevertheless, a family from the city of Eindhoven, home of the Technical University TUE, was invited to test a car, designed and produced at the TUE, entirely driven by solar energy.

A predecessor model of this solar car won the Solar Challenge Race in Australia:

[deepresource] – TU Eindhoven Wins Solar Challenge 2013 (Cruisers)

Bye bye petrol station!

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)

Essence: convert a vertical ocean temperature gradient in electricity

[] – Ocean thermal energy conversion
[] – Blue Rise company home page
[] – TU Delft Ocean Energy department
[] – Blue Rise picture carousel
[Luis Vega OTEC Summary] – OTEC: Electricity and Desalinated Water Production – Luis A. Vega, Ph.D. (pdf, 29p)

Operation: ocean vertical temperature gradient of 25 degrees Celsius. Continuous production of electricity has been demonstrated in pilot projects, like Hawaii 210 kW plant between 1993-1998. Minimum capital cost: 6$/Watt for a 50 MW plant. If only 10 km offshore, $4.2/Watt and $0.07/kWh is achievable. Hawaii could generate 100% of its electricity needs from OTEC.

Global potential

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Desalinization With Elementary Water Makers

[] – Desalinization using renewable energy for affordable fresh water

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Land Life Company – Desert Reforestation With a Cocoon

[] – Land Life Company, restoring ecosystems
[] – Land Life Company

[] – Land Life Company krijgt 2,4 miljoen om nóg meer bomen te planten

The company has collected 2.4 million euro internationally to expand its tree planting business. The biodegradable donut contains 25 liter of water, of which half a cup per day is fed via (capillary) “fuses” to the plant. For a few months the box is a “lifeline” for the plant, after that the plant is on its own. The trick is to plant a few thousand trees that form a “community” that offers shelter to each other. In 2016 50,000 trees were planted, this year it should be several hundreds of thousand. The aim is for hundreds of millions. Expansion of production in Mexico and China is planned, where currently all boxes are manufactured in Germany. Local production is desired though. Price cocoon 8 euro and decreasing. After two years the box is gone. A lot of volunteers use the cocoon from an idealistic motivation. Next three “Central Park sized” projects underway in Mexico, Spain and California. So far 2 billion hectare degraded land (US + China together), with one Greece added to that amount every year, but that can be upgraded again.

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Dutch Sustainability Promo

Projects/companies referred to in the video:

[] – Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC)

[] – Finch Buildings

[] – Protix protein

[] – Desalinization

[] – Land Life Company, restoring ecosystems

Wind Power and Electric Vehicles

A few back-of-an-envelope remarks about powering electric vehicles with wind to get an idea of the scale.

Bitchy European remark: why do we need these ridiculous large cars like the Chevy Volt? With an average occupation rate of 1.25 it makes more sense to work with one or two-seater cars only. When by 2030 the electric self-driving car could very well have replaced a large part of the standard five-seater car fleet, you can order a particular car from the public pool that will suit your needs at that particular point in time.

Take the popular e-vehicle Renault Zoe:

[] – Renault Zoe

Battery: 41 kWh
Range: 400 km (optimal conditions) or 300 km (real world)

So with 2017 technology you will get 75 km from 10 kWh.
Note that even the Renault Zoe is unnecessary big, in a world where most cars travel with a single passenger. Let’s assume that by 2030 single seater cars will be available that travel 120 km on 10 kWh instead of 75 km. Let’s link that number to wind energy for normal usage (Netherlands car distance average: 12,000 km/year = 1000 kWh/year). Yearly electricity production of a 5 MW offshore wind turbine: 22.8 GWh.

[] – Adwen’S 5 MW Wind Turbine Reaches A Yearly Output of 22,8 GWH

This means that this single wind turbine can power 22,800 e-vehicles. The Netherlands currently has a (petrol) car fleet of 8 million. If we assume continued private car ownership of 8 million single seater e-vehicles, merely 320 large 5 MW offshore turbines would suffice to keep this fleet going.

In the coming few years five 700 MW offshore windparks are going to be built in the Dutch part of the North Sea, the five largest wind projects in the world. Two of these windparks would cover the private transportation needs of the Netherlands, where the Dutch rail system is already fully covered by wind energy.

There is no fundamental energy problem.

P.S. Energy efficient cars like these are far more suitable for a self-driving car future:

[deepresource] – Meet the Carver

Floating Wind Turbines

[] – Floating wind turbine

Assessment US Offshore Wind Potential


In September 2016, the US government presented a report about the potential of US offshore wind energy, using wind data at 100 m altitude. Assumed confinement: within 200 nautical miles from shore. Total theoretical potential: 10,800 GW or 44,000 TWh per year. But this potential is not going to be realized. To come to a more realistic assessment, all ocean water depths over 1000 m were ignored as well as depths over 60 m in the Great Lakes (because of ice). Next areas with lower average wind speed were eliminated. Applying these restrictions the study arrived at a offshore wind energy potential of more than 2,000 GW or 7,200 TWh per year. Which is still double the current US electricity consumption.

The colored areas are potential offshore wind turbine installation areas.

It needs to be remarked that apparently most of the offshore wind energy potential will have to be realized with floating wind turbines, a technology not much applied yet. Compare these 2,000 GW with the 1,600 GW potential for the North Sea alone, that can be completely realized with monopile structures.

[] – Computing America’s Offshore Wind Energy Potential
[] – National Offshore Wind Strategy: Facilitating the Development of the Offshore Wind Industry in the United States

U.S. Builds First Offshore Wind Farm

11 Dec. 2016 – In the U.S. today, wind power accounts for about five percent of all electricity generation, but a new project aims to change that. A $300 million installation off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island, takes the renewable energy technology out to sea. Gov. Gina Raimondo anticipates the project is the beginning of a new industry, but some locals are skeptical. Mike Taibbi reports.

Five French made Alstom Haliade 150 6 MW turbines, 30 MW, $300 million. Water depth 23 m. The turbines began producing power in May 2017.

[] – Block Island Wind Farm
[] – Block Island Wind Farm
[Google Maps] – Block Island

Smart Grid Denmark

Inside a Wind Turbine

Denmark – Offshore Wind Power Hub

Dutch Offshore Wind Energy

Transporting Large Rotor Blades

Transporting the world’s longest wind turbine blade on Danish roads: LM 88.4 P

Bolk Transport – Transport of windturbines in The Netherlands

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The Enormous Energy Potential of the North Sea

90% of the world’s offshore wind projects occur in the North Sea

[] – This database gives an overview of all offshore wind park projects, ranging from planned to commissioned. You can see with a glance of an eye that more than 90% of all offshore wind activity takes place in the North Sea area.

How big is the electricity generation potential of the North Sea?


[] – Sustainable Energy

On page 25 it is claimed, quoting from the Czisch book pictured below, that the North Sea area with a depth less than 45 meter encompasses 200,000 km2. In theory the potential for electricity generation is 1600 GW or three times the EU consumption. But there are other European waters, adding 400,000 km2 more. Even if rigorous restrictions are applied it is obvious that huge amounts of electricity can be generated from offshore.

Gregor Czisch – Scenarios for a Future Electricity Supply: CostOptimised Variations on Supplying Europe and its Neighbours with Electricity from Renewable Energies

Offset to the scale of their countries, especially the Dutch and Danes are the lucky ones, who can become major electricity producers and exporters into the EU.

“By 2030 You Won’t Own a Car”

Hoorn, The Netherlands on a sunny day. Without these ugly parked cars, the 17th century idyll would be restored.

UK consultancy firm Rethinkx has no doubts: the car society as we know it, will be history much sooner than you think. Key word: self-driving car. Once governments begin to allow these essentially driver-less taxis on its roads, the death warrant for the global car industry will be sealed. Why? Because this development would eliminate the need for expensive car ownership completely.

A privately owned car in Western Europe is not used for perhaps 95% of the time (Netherlands: 12,000 km/year, average speed 60 kmh or 200 hours = 5% of a year). Instead the car could be driving during those idle hours, making money in the process and help earning itself back much, much quicker. That’s how every bus, train or aviation company thinks. So why not you, dear mr Joe Sixpack? Because the opportunity to do so is around the corner.

Within a decade or two, technology, infrastructure and government regulation will exist that will enable you to travel the same distances, without actually owning the vehicle. Instead you will order a vehicle with your smart phone and after some time, a taxi will stop in front of your house, but without the taxi driver. And dependent on how much money you are willing/able to pay, you will drive away in a vehicle that is something between a small bus you have to share with others, like in the video below, or a luxury car you will have all for yourself.

Driverless bus in Sion, Switzerland

Take-away points from the study as summarized by Reneweconomy:

  • The future is to transport-as-a-service (TAAS).
  • This implies a death spiral for the car & oil industry in terms of demand for their vehicles and fuel resp.
  • By 2030 most people won’t own a car any-more.
  • By 2030 95% of the miles driven will be done in on-demand, autonomous, electric vehicles (US).
  • The car you are buying now could well be your last (privately owned one).
  • This development will begin in the big cities and spread from there.
  • By 2030 40% of the cars will still be privately owned, but drive merely 5% of the miles (upper income segment).
  • By 2030 1 trillion $ will be saved annually on transport cost (US).
  • Travelling in a driverless vehicle will be 10 times cheaper per mile than in a new or 4 times cheaper than in a used privately owned car.
  • Electric vehicles last much longer and require far less maintenance than petrol cars (20 vs 2000 moving parts in power train).
  • Added benefits: unclogging city roads, eliminating pollution (Asia!), less accidents and freeing up parking space (cities!).
  • Anything can be made driverless: from 2-seaters to buses.
  • Why TAAS will prevail: cost savings, speed, increased safety and extra free time will be key factors.

Death-spiral of the car industry in a single picture. Sudden death in a matter of four years (according to Rethinkx ).

[] – UK consultancy company behind the report
[] – Death spiral for cars. By 2030, you probably won’t own one

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Iron Ore Mining for Wind Turbines

World map of countries that matter in iron production. Global annual production 3.3 billion ton. China (1.4), Australia (0.8) and Brazil (0.4) together produce ca. 82% of that amount.

For the global renewable energy transition to work, hundreds of thousands of steel wind towers, monopiles and nacelle’s need to be built. The good news is, the iron is there and currently relatively cheap.

Price iron ore: $85/ton [source]
Price steel plate: $470/ton [source]
(Steel plate can be used to manufacture monopiles and towers, see video at the bottom)

Weight of a large offshore wind turbine:

Tower head mass: 60 ton/MW [pdf]
Monopile 5 MW turbine: 2200 ton [source] (strong correl. with water depth)
Tower 5 MW turbine 100 m: 389 ton [pdf]

Rule of thumb 5 MW offshore wind turbine steel requirements: 300 + 2200 + 400 = 2900 ton

One million 5 MW offshore wind turbines require 2.9 billion ton or 88% annual global steel production.

Total world electricity consumption was 19,504 TWh in 2013. [source]
Annual electricity production 5 MW offshore ind turbine: 15 million kWh or 15 GWh

In other words: with 1.3 million offshore 5 MW wind turbines you have your global 2013 electricity consumption covered, if you ignore for a moment aspects like storage. And this time entirely fossil free, which was the purpose of the operation. But this ‘back-of-an-envelope’ exercise should give you an idea of the scale of the challenge.

[] – List of countries by iron ore production
[] – True giants of mining: World’s top 10 iron ore mines

Offshore wind turbine monopile production from steel plate.

Rotterdam Harbor Flirts With Building 250m High Wind Turbines of 50 MW Each

In a not too distant past (until ca. 2003 after which Asia took over), Rotterdam was the largest harbor in the world, thanks to its very advantageous location in the Rhine and Maas river delta, potentially servicing a European Hinterland of 500 million people. These folks from Rotterdam are no strangers to prestige projects.

In order to cope with the ever growing flow of goods, Rotterdam acquired a new piece of reclaimed land in the North Sea, called “Tweede Maasvlakte” (“Second Maas River Plain”).

Construction Tweede Maasvlakte since 2009

Last year the Rotterdam Greens party proposed to use the Tweede Maasvlakte to realize an extremely ambitious renewable energy project: building 250m high mega-wind turbines of 50 MW each. Note that the largest wind turbines on earth and currently in test phase can generate 8 MW max.:

[] – Mogelijk ‘reuzewindturbines’ in Rotterdam

The Rotterdam municipality accepted the plan. The point is: where to get 50MW windturbines? Enter the University of Virginia and wind-turbine giants General Electric and Siemens. These parties are working on a wind-turbine concept called Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotor (SUMR), see video above. It will take quite a few years though for this concept to mature, no doubt to the relief of the treasurer of the city of Rotterdam.

[] – University of Virginia (UVA) – 50 MW Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotors for Wind Energy
[] – Gigantic Wind Turbine With 650 Foot Blades Will Channel the Power of Hurricanes
[] – Mammoth 50 MW Wind Turbine Blades Could Revolutionize Offshore Wind In US
[Google Maps] – Location “Tweede Maasvlakte”

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