Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Who is First in Denmark, H2 or E?

Dutch language video

Road trip Netherlands-Denmark. Challenge between a Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car and plug-in hybride BMW530e about who is first, taking into account the trouble you need to go through to acquire hydrogen c.q. a charge.

50% Weight Reduction Solar Panels from Solarge

Dutch start-up Solarge from Eindhoven and its 12 employees are working around the clock to get a manufacturing facility up and running that should be able to produce 500,000 m2/year worth of solar panels by Q1-2022.

Their selling point: a solar panel that weighs 50% less, by replacing glass by plastic, but retaining all electrical properties. This opens up the perspective of covering far more roofs with light-weight panels, like 100 km2 (business premises with bitumen roofs, for instance, previously not suitable for conventional heavy panels) or 18500 GWh. Additional benefit: the production of this panel comes with 80% less emissions.

The polymer plastic used is developed by Dutch chemical giant DSM and has several advantageous over other plastics used in Chinese panels, that often contain the hazardous PFAS. The panels are 100% recyclable. The Solarge PV modules have made it into the official Dutch governmental Milieulijst 2020, a list of proven sustainable products.

[] – Duurzaamste zonnepanelen komen uit Nederland
[] – Company site
[] – Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances

TNO-TUE gets 7 Million from the EU to Develop Heat Battery

The TU-Eindhoven and TNO are working on this for quite some time, and apparently the EU finds the results promising enough to fund the project with an extra 7 million euro.

We are talking about a private household thermal storage system, based on phase-change of the salt hydrate K2CO3 ($1/kg), in a container with the size of a fridge. The device is compact, 100% efficient, stable and affordable. The continued development of the heat battery will proceed through the 2020 TNO-spin-off Cellcius, that intends to expand the application realm into the industrial as well.

The first pilots have been launched at three locations in Europe, testing the heat battery technology in the residential environment. The first industrial application will be ready by the end of 2022.

Key data:

Volumetric storage density: 0.35 GJ/m3 (heat equivalent of 10 liter gasoline or 10 m3 natural gas, 3 times better than water)
Lifespan: 20 years+

The energy content is roughly worth a day of space heating for an average apartment in the Netherlands during a cold day. If combined with a heat pump, this will lengthen to 3-4 days. Natural heat sources: solar collectors (PVT!), industrial heat, garden soil + heat pump (charging heat battery at night, offering a 2-step temperature increase, which is advantageous, COP-wise).

onderzoeksreactor voor energie-opslag mbt “zout”, samenwerkingsverband TNO, TU/e (Pim Donkers) en andere partijen

[] – TNO’s spin-off Cellcius is setting up shop in Eindhoven to bring thermal battery technology to the world.
[] – Warmtebatterij voor in huis
[] – Is de WarmteBatterij een oplossing voor je energievraag?
[] – Doorbraak in ontwikkeling warmtebatterij voor woningen
[] – Potassium carbonate
[deepresource] – Heat Battery (2020)
[deepresource] – TNO & TUE Heat Battery (2019)

Read more…

Europe’s 2021 Energy Situation in Charts

[] – Europe’s energy crisis: Five charts to explain why your bills might go up this winter

Small Modular Reactors Explained

This blog is against nuclear energy, but in a pragmatic, non-ideological way. The end goal must be 100% renewable energy, supported by a mature storage system, probably hydrogen-based.

But… if nuclear energy would be required to help us through the transition, either by keeping existing nuclear power stations open for a decade longer, or even by building new capacity to function as base load, until storage really works in sufficient quantities, so be it.

In the end, renewable energy can be trusted to win, because it is the cheapest, both in financial and environmental sense. Nuclear has the advantage of being emission-free and offer predictable output, where nuclear fuel = storage. The world has survived Three Miles Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, and it will survive a possible fourth accident, were that to happen.

Nuclear energy should be phased out, but only if it can be phased out. Chancellor Merkel, for instance, could have ordered the closing down of nuclear reactors prematurely.

I nevertheless have my hopes high that new nuclear reactors will not be necessary, provided storage matures and gets implemented quickly enough, certainly in Europe. Not so sure about the US, Russia, UK or China.

[] – Small modular reactor
[] – The countries building miniature nuclear reactors
[] – Smaller, safer, cheaper: One company aims to reinvent the nuclear reactor and save a warming planet
[deepresource] – Lazard – Renewable Energy Cheapest by Far

Fusion Scientist: No Fusion Power by 2040

Fusion insider making short shrift with any notion that fusion is going to work by 2040. It is not to say that no progress is being made, in notably ITER, but there is no hope that we can rely on fusion any time soon, if ever.

The ESS Iron Flow Battery

We have spent so much time digging into grid energy storage solution, and well this, might be the most promising solution we’ve come across. The ESS Iron Flow Battery requires no lithium, nickel, or cobalt. The only ingredients are water, salt, and iron. Flow batteries aren’t perfect, and they aren’t made for every application, but when it comes to grid energy storage, there’s a LOT to love about the ESS Iron Flow Battery! Let’s dig into it, on this episode, of Two Bit da Vinci!

[] – Company site
[] – Flow battery
[deepresource] – Our flow battery posts

Tidal Energy from the Shetlands

German language video

In the Shetland Islands, the extraction of oil and gas has traditionally been one of the most important sources of income and one of the most important employers. Therefore the “carbon footprint” of the islands is three times as high as in the rest of Great Britain. Last year, however, the Shetlanders declared a climate crisis and they are focusing on renewable energies. There are even the first filling stations where electrical energy is obtained directly and exclusively from the tidal range.

Car Free Cities

Solar Camper Stella Vita Arrives Southern Spanish Destination

The journey could have gone smoother from a technical point of view, but the PR-aspect was successful: several embassies, universities, as well as the European Parliament, were visited. Some 2000 km could be bridged autonomously over public roads, before the end goal Tarifa, near Gibraltar, was reached.

[] – Students’ solar-powered camper van turns heads on 1,800-mile road trip
[] – ‘Zonnecamper’ TU/e bereikt zuidelijkste punt Spanje

Why China Can’t Keep The Lights On

Breathing New Storage Life into Stranded Fossil Power Plants

E2S Power will offer a cost-effective and easy to operate solution for transforming fossil fuel power stations into thermal storage systems for renewable energy.

This ‘drop-in’ solution will be able to feed the plant’s turbo-generator sets – which remain in place – with steam at the exact same conditions and flow rates that the boiler would have provided. The modular design of our product allows for straightforward adaptation to a variety of power plant sizes and layouts. Our unique advantages over other thermal storage concepts are lower price and smaller footprint, enabled by a novel thermal storage material called Miscibility Gap Alloys.

The Company is Swiss-based, but very (Eastern) European.

[] – Company site

Lithium Sulfur Batteries could come with a Sweetener

The lithium–sulfur battery (Li–S battery) is a type of rechargeable battery, notable for its high specific energy. The low atomic weight of lithium and moderate atomic weight of sulfur means that Li–S batteries are relatively light (about the density of water). They were used on the longest and highest-altitude unmanned solar-powered aeroplane flight (at the time) by Zephyr 6 in August 2008.

Lithium–sulfur batteries may succeed lithium-ion cells because of their higher energy density and reduced cost due to the use of sulfur instead of cobalt, which is commonly used in lithium-ion batteries. Some Li–S batteries offer specific energies of the order of 550 Wh/kg, while most lithium-ion batteries are in the range of 150–260 Wh/kg. Li–S batteries with up to 1,500 charge and discharge cycles were demonstrated in 2017, but cycle life tests at commercial scale and with lean electrolyte are still needed. As of early 2021, none were commercially available. The key issue of Li–S battery is the polysulfide “shuttle” effect that is responsible for the progressive leakage of active material from the cathode resulting in low life cycle of the battery. Moreover, the extremely low electrical conductivity of a sulfur cathode requires an extra mass for a conducting agent in order to exploit the whole contribution of active mass to the capacity. Large volume expansion of sulfur cathode from S to Li2S and the large amount of electrolyte needed are also issues to address.

[] – Lithium–sulfur battery
[] – Sugar-doped lithium sulfur battery promises up to 5 times the capacity
[] – A saccharide-based binder for efficient polysulfide regulations in Li-S batteries

The viability of lithium-sulfur batteries as an energy storage technology depends on unlocking long-term cycle stability. Most instability stems from the release and transport of polysulfides from the cathode, which causes mossy growth on the lithium anode, leading to continuous consumption of electrolyte. Therefore, development of a durable cathode with minimal polysulfide escape is critical. Here, we present a saccharide-based binder system that has a capacity for the regulation of polysulfides due to its reducing properties. Furthermore, the binder promotes the formation of viscoelastic filaments during casting which endows the sulfur cathode with a desirable web-like microstructure. Taken together this leads to 97% sulfur utilisation with a cycle life of 1000 cycles (9 months) and capacity retention (around 700 mAh g−1 after 1000 cycles). A pouch cell prototype with a specific energy of up to 206 Wh kg−1 is produced, demonstrating the promising potential for practical applications.

Paris’ Grand Plan to Become Europe’s Greenest City

Today’s Energy Headlines

[] – “Queen ‘irritated’ by world leaders talking not doing on climate crisis”

The queen of Britain (England soon?) throws her considerable moral weight behind the cause of fighting climate change. So did her son, William.

[] – “Hydrogen after all? Opel to produce fuel cell cars”

With massive hydrogen projects coming online this decade, this could be a prudent strategy. Just like we are terminating an era where gasoline and diesel coexisted for decades, future e-mobility could be a mix between batteries and fuel cells.

[] – “China about to launch Petrel SEW11.0-208 11 MW offshore wind turbine”

[] – “Denmark opts for 3 rather than 2 GW near planned energy island”

[] – “Boris will BAN all gas boilers in 2035 and launch a £5,000 grant to replace them… with green alternatives that cost £10,000 or more”

[] – “Blow for Boris as China’s Xi Jinping ‘is set to snub’ COP26 summit with doubts over whether Vladimir Putin and other leaders will bother coming to Glasgow”

[] – It’s easy to feel pessimistic about the climate. But we’ve got two big things on our side

[] – “Australian conglomerate eyes $2/kg hydrogen by 2030”

1 kg hydrogen = 33 kWh, or applying a fuel cell efficiency of 50%, 330/2 km = 165 km e-car range. For $2. Repeat: $2. It is considerations like these that prompts companies like Opel to not write off fuel cell cars completely.

[] – “Iron-ore billionaire plans 2GW hydrogen electrolyser factory that will later build wind turbines and solar panels”

More big Australian plans, provided that Mao’s “lonely continent” won’t be in Chinese hands by 2030.

Not related to energy, but of outstanding importance anyway, and there is more to life than solar panels and wind turbines, like a potential WW3, that could start in the South China Sea and will terminate the post-WW2 Anglo-American order:

[] – “‘Brexit deal is STILL not right’: Lord Frost will tell EU chiefs that more concessions are needed to break Northern Ireland deadlock”

Frost is asking for a trade war and likely will get it, while on the other side of Eurasia, China is preparing for the blow. Watch Sky News Australia to get a sense of the panic there. Oh, and thank you, Dominic Cummings for spilling the beans and openly confirming what we already knew: that the Boris Johnson government is not trustworthy on anything. No need for an EU-Chinese alliance to still set up the world for a conflict Eurasia-Anglosphere. There wasn’t an official alliance USA-USSR either, just a nod in a shady backroom, a mutual understanding. Rest assured that Macron, Merkel, Putin and Xi have a similar shared worldview, namely that the Anglo Era of two centuries, that began in Waterloo-1815, and changed masters in 1945, is about to be terminated.

[This post could be updated throughout the day]

Sustainable and Repairable 5G Phone

The most ethical, repairable smartphone you can buy is back with a new model, this time with 5G and a fresh look but a weak camera.

The new Fairphone 4 costs £499 from the Dutch cooperative of the same name and continues the mission to make phones from materials sourced as ethically as possible that you can take apart and fix without an electrical engineering degree.

The new model has a much more modern design than its predecessors with an aluminium body, Gorilla Glass 5 screen and a removable 100% recycled plastic back.

[] – Fairphone 4 review: ethical repairable phone gets big upgrade

Electricity Price Problems in Germany

German language video

Documentary about German entrepreneurs, complaining about high energy prices, the highest in Europe, but also that the renewable energy transition isn’t going fast enough. Coal and nuclear are phased out at a rate that renewables can’t keep up with.

And then there are problems with grid stability, irrelevant for consumers, but not for companies with sensitive machinery.

Premature closure of nuclear power stations could be a mistake, and the most likely (but by no means certain) left-green-liberal coalition is unlikely to reverse that decision.

Today’s Energy Headlines


[] – Russia has agreed to second gas pipeline to China, via Mongolia, says Putin

That’s gas that won’t be sent to Europe, that’s for sure.

[] – Britain ‘COULD run out of gas this winter’: Billionaire industrialist Sir Jim Ratcliffe warns very cold season would see industry ‘shut down’ and leave homes and businesses without supply

The founder of manufacturing giant Ineos said a lack of gas storage in the UK has led to a vulnerability – with the country having just ten days’ worth in the bank.

[] – Gas price crisis claims TWO more energy firms: Pure Planet and Colorado Energy cease trading leaving 250,000 customers in limbo facing increased bills

Smaller UK energy companies go bust because they are stuck in contracts with consumers, way below the real market price.

[] – Asia’s richest man to build gigafactory to mass-produce Stiesdal’s new low-cost hydrogen electrolyser

This week, he [Stiesdal] signed a deal with the Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries to mass-produce Stiesdal’s ultra-low-cost electrolyser at a new gigafactory in Gujarat state… Reliance managing director Mukesh Ambani — who is said to be Asia’s richest man, with a net worth of $100bn — stated: “In partnership with Stiesdal, we will strive to achieve our stated goal of offering hydrogen energy under $1 per kg in one decade.… The agreement with Reliance comes just two months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a new national hydrogen mission, promising “to make India a global hub for green hydrogen production and export”… Stiesdal’s alkaline electrolyser will cost a fraction of the current price of other electrolysers on the market — at $231 per kW, he says. This is in a market with typical costs in the range of €500-1,000/kW.

[] – The world’s first working nuclear fusion reactor could be coming soon near your town: Five UK sites including Ardeer, Moorside and Severn Edge have been shortlisted for a plant – with operations as early as 2040

What they did was little more than taking 5 darts and throw them on a map of Britain.

[This post could be updated throughout the day]

Aluminium Air Battery – Hype or Solution?

Aluminium–air batteries (Al–air batteries) produce electricity from the reaction of oxygen in the air with aluminium. They have one of the highest energy densities of all batteries, but they are not widely used because of problems with high anode cost and byproduct removal when using traditional electrolytes. This has restricted their use to mainly military applications. However, an electric vehicle with aluminium batteries has the potential for up to eight times the range of a lithium-ion battery with a significantly lower total weight.

Aluminium–air batteries are primary cells, i.e., non-rechargeable. Once the aluminium anode is consumed by its reaction with atmospheric oxygen at a cathode immersed in a water-based electrolyte to form hydrated aluminium oxide, the battery will no longer produce electricity. However, it is possible to mechanically recharge the battery with new aluminium anodes made from recycling the hydrated aluminium oxide. Such recycling would be essential if aluminium–air batteries were to be widely adopted.

Aluminium-powered vehicles have been under discussion for some decades. Hybridisation mitigates the costs, and in 1989 road tests of a hybridised aluminium–air/lead–acid battery in an electric vehicle were reported. An aluminium-powered plug-in hybrid minivan was demonstrated in Ontario in 1990.

In March 2013, Phinergy released a video demonstration of an electric car using aluminium–air cells driven 330 km using a special cathode and potassium hydroxide. On May 27, 2013, the Israeli channel 10 evening news broadcast showed a car with Phinergy battery in the back, claiming 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) range before replacement of the aluminum anodes is necessary

[] – Aluminium air battery

New Dutch Sea Level Data – Rise not Alarming

The Dutch independent research institute Deltares, over the three years before 2019, has elaborated a new method to evaluate sea level data on behalf of the government, and they have come to fairly reassuring results: over the past 128 years sea level rise was linear, with a speed of 1.86 mm/year or 18.6 cm/century. There is no acceleration.

[] – Long-term sea-level rise necessitates a worldwide commitment to adaptation
[] – About Deltares

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