Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the month “March, 2015”

Siemens – Why Wind Parks Are Worth It

80 windturbines over 25 years save the amount of CO2 that would require a forest area of 1,286 km2 to absorb, if the equivalent amount of energy was generated using fossil fuel.

Siemens has published a detailed ecological review of its wind turbines. The key question is how long it takes a wind farm to generate the volume of energy that it consumes during its lifetime, for example for manufacture, installation and disposal. As expected the calculations show that land-based wind farms pay off faster than their more powerful counterparts on the open sea.

Land-based wind farms are ahead when it comes to amortization, or in other words how long it takes a wind farm to produce the volume of energy that it consumes over its entire lifecycle. For an onshore facility, assuming an average wind speed of 8.5 meters per second, the amortization period is only 4.5 to 5.5 months. This figure also takes materials, production, construction, operation, maintenance, dismantling and recycling into account. Offshore wind farms, on the other hand, take a little longer – between 9.5 and 10.5 months – to offset their energy requirements.

[] – Just how green is wind power?

Eine Form aus zwei Teilen / One mold in two parts

Editor: onshore average wind speeds of 8.5 m/s are not very realistic, but assuming a payback time of 1 year, you still have a proud EROEI rate of 25, assuming a 25 year economic lifetime:


Germany’s Renewable Energy Revolution

Gepubliceerd op 11 mrt. 2015 – Renewable energy promotion video.

Germany Trade & Invest presents its short film about Germany’s Renewable Energy Revolution, the so called Energiewende (energy transition).
Voices from science, industry, and politics outline the achievements made so far, next steps, and the opportunities the energy transition offers.

[] – What a nation can achieve, if it has the collective will

Green Light For German-Norwegian Interconnector


On March 19, a contract for a subsea cable named NordLink was signed, under supervision of the Dutch royal couple, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima:

Contracts were signed today in Hamburg between NordLink partners TenneT, Statnett and KfW plus ABB AB for the construction and installation of the German section of the high voltage direct current transmission cable (HVDC cable) for the NordLink project and for the two converter stations. NordLink, the “green cable”, is the first direct connection between the German and Norwegian electricity markets.

NordLink is now being build, another one is planned (NorGer)

[] – Royal glamour for NordLink

Green Light For British-Norwegian Interconnector


As was the case with earlier cable NorNed, the idea is to use Norway as ‘Europe’s battery pack‘: if there is too much renewable energy generated in the UK, for instance wind energy after 24:00, send it to Norway through the interconnector cable and use the energy to pump up water into mountain basins. When energy is required in Britain, let the water flow back to lower altitudes and generate electricity, that can be send back through the same cable. Overall efficiency still ca. 80%.

Completion date: 2021
Length cable: 730 km
Capacity: 730,000 homes or 1,400 MW (both ways)
Investment: 2 billion euro

[] – UK and Norway to build world’s longest undersea energy interconnector

Construct a One Megawatt Power Plant in One Week

Gepubliceerd op 24 mrt. 2015
This 1 MW hybrid solar-diesel plant was delivered, unpacked and fully operational in one week. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency supported Laing O’Rourke to develop this innovative new approach to off-grid power.

Editor: interesting to note what a relatively small area (ca. 15 m * 70 m) you need to generate 1 MW (peak), sufficient to power a few hundred-thousand households. There are absolutely no physical constraints that will stop villages world-wide from having these kind of arrays installed next to them.

Today, even in the least developed areas in Africa, most people use a mobile phone, a development that took 20 years. It is not a big stretch to image that someday, every person will have a few solar panels per capita installed, to cover the most ‘basic’ power needs (lights, WiFi and tablets replacing radio/television, mobile phones, fridge, water pump).

A solution could be that once the US empire is dismantled, Paris-Berlin-Moscow and China craft a global development plan, where both ‘divide the underdeveloped world’ between them and Europe and China ‘adopt’ countries on a voluntary basis (colonialism ultra-lite), where Europe and China can exploit local resources and implement a population limitation program, in exchange for real goods (bicycles, building materials, pumps, solar panels, consumer IT), not money that ends up in the wrong hands anyway.

Oil Apocalypse: Peak Oil – What If the Oil Runs Out?

Saudi Arabia Won’t Rule Out Building Nuclear Weapons

[] – Saudi Arabia says it won’t rule out building nuclear weapons

Editor: Saudi-Arabia clearly feels cornered. It is unlikely that Saudi-Arabia is able to build a bomb without outside help. The US won’t be that stupid, now will they?

Peak Oil with Richard Heinberg and James Hamilton

Gepubliceerd op 28 mrt. 2015
Our lead story: This week Stanford said that it would divest all of its investments in coal-mining companies, becoming the wealthiest US university to pledge divestment from sectors of the.

Recorded February 25th, 2014 in Vancouver, BC Richard Heinberg speaks on his newest book, covering the short-term nature of the recent North American oil boom and the financial bubble that.

Richard Heinberg explaining everything that you need to know about Peak Oil and how to prepare for it, because we are already deep in Peak Oil time!

US: Wind Beats Hydro for the First Time

For the moment this applied to the windy November month only. We’ll be back when the same statistic applies to the entire year as well. Won’t be that long.


Sustainable Energy — Without the Hot Air

Book on renewable energy from 2009, by David JC MacKay, completely online, including 12 MB pdf (370p).

[] – Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air


Driverless Car

Everywhere on the planet there are projects underway to make use of the new possibilities of mapping, GPS and IT (keyword: ‘location awareness’) to develop a ‘driverless car’, both for individual and freight transport. The potential is huge, because for the first time, the need to own a car would disappear and mass-car ownership can be replaced by ‘car on demand’. Additionally, the size of the car can be adapted to the number of people that need to be transported. In most cases, small, energy-efficient scooter-cars like these should suffice for most-often single-person transport:

All you need to do is use your mobile device and check availability and make a reservation. The transporter will drive to your home without a driver and all you need to do is step in and travel to your destination. Maintenance of the transporter is a responsibility of the company, not the individual.

Most commercial airplanes spend more time in the skies than on the ground and this for decades on end, which is unproblematic as long as the maintenance is done properly. With cars that is not different. The big advantage is that the transporter will be used all the time, based on the ‘law of large numbers’. In other words: the same transportation performance can be realized with far fewer transporters.

An additional advantage is that the cities will be freed of cars that spend most of their economic life time in a parked condition. Example: average number of kilometers/year driven in Holland per car is ca. 13,000. With an average speed of say 60 khm, that’s 200 hours, in a year that has 16*365 = 5840 daylight hours. Using supply/demand principle and subsequent pricing, people are encouraged to travel outside the peak hours as much as possible. Public transport can be used to take the brunt of commuting transport. When energy shortages really begin to bite, the number of kilometers/month can be rationed. If you realize that the embodied energy of a car is something like 76,000 kWh (that’s 14 kwh/day on a 15 year lifespan) before it has driven a single kilometer, the energy saving potential is considerable (ratio embodied energy/fuel cost is ca. 15-25%).

But hey, why not expand on the idea of driverless vehicles. Why go to the supermarket, if you can shop from home? Send your order over the wire and a little self-driving robot will come your way and deliver it literally on your door step. Why use a 1000+ kg car to drive to the supermarket to fetch perhaps 5 kg of groceries, if a small vehicle of say 50 kg will give the same result.

[] – Google Driverless Car

Additional advantage of automatic driving: using the driverless principle and accurate computer control, large columns of personal cars and trucks can drive close to each other in a convoy and thus save a substantial amount of fuel.

And again, you don’t need fossil fuel to drive:

The car shown absorbs enough energy from the environment all by itself to transport 4 adult persons over 700 km/day (at least in a sufficient sunny environment like Australia).

Read more…

Cargo Bikes

[] – 5 Reasons Cargo Bikes Are the Perfect Mode of Transportation

Read more…

Meet the Carver

Average occupation rate of your standard 5-seater clunker in Holland is 1.25, probably the same elsewhere, at least in the West. So why keep driving around with a sofa set if nobody is sitting in it anyway? Meet the Carver. In the back there is still plenty of room for at least a 0.25 passenger to sit as well. The result is the comfort of a car, but with greatly reduced fuel consumption because of the narrow profile and less weight.

Carver from ’s-Gravendeel, the Netherlands and went bust in 2009, because nobody was interested in a scooter-car priced 30,000 euro. But now a, surprise, surprise, big Chinese scooter producer Sunra (Xinri) has shown interest in the concept and will start selling the scooter-car later this year, on the Chinese market. Turnover expectations: 60,000-100,000/year. Price tag, a ridiculously low 3,800 euro.

[] – Carver
[] – Carver keert terug op de markt… in China
[] – Vandenbrink Design
[] – Vandenbrink Design

In San Francisco somebody picked up a similar concept in 2010, Lit Motors, albeit with gyroscope stabilizer added, eliminating the need for a third wheel.

[deepresource] – Lit Motors C1

Read more…

Canada’s First CSP Plant

[] – Canada’s first concentrated solar thermal plant

Solar Grid Parity in Germany, Holland, Italy, California and Australia

Notably in Germany and Holland it pays to invest in domestic solar energy

LCOE = Levelised cost of energy [*]

[] – Technology Roadmap, Solar Photovoltaic Energy – 2014

[*] – The LCOE represents the present value of the total cost (overnight capital cost, fuel cost, fixed and variable operation and maintenance costs, and financing costs) of building and operating a generating plant over an assumed financial life and duty cycle, converted to equal annual payments, given an assumed utilisation, and expressed in terms of real money to remove inflation.

Better Together

Plea to combine wind and solar in a single power plant. The key argument is that solar and wind are partially complementary: during the night there is guaranteed no solar power, but perhaps wind. And in certain areas like Europe, wind is stronger during the winter and, obviously, solar stronger during the summer.

Combining wind turbines and photovoltaic systems results in up to twice the amount of electricity being generated across the same surface area, while shading losses caused by wind turbines amount to a mere 1 to 2% – much less than previously thought. As an additional benefit, the construction of hybrid power plants does not require grid expansion because the plants generate wind and solar power at different times of day and during complementary seasons, ensuring the level of energy fed into the grid is more steady than that of wind or photovoltaic power plants alone.

[] – Study Finds Wind-Solar Hybrid Power Plants Are Twice As Efficient

World’s Largest Solar Project Nears Completion (579 MW)


One of the top solar energy companies in the world, SunPower, is close to completing what will be the “world’s largest solar power plant” in Southern California, according to recent reports.

The 579 megawatt (MW) Solar Star project is now mostly online, and is on track for “substantial completion” during Q2, based on recent comments made by SunPower president and CEO Tom Werner during a 2014 earnings presentation.

[] – SunPower Nearing Completion On 579 MW Solar Star Project — “World’s Largest Solar Power Plant”

[Google Maps] – Rosamond, California

Dark Smart Highway in Holland

Gepubliceerd op 19 mrt. 2015 – Nissan drives its unique glow-in-the-dark zero-emission LEAF on the luminous Smart Highway in Oss, Holland. The 100% electric Nissan LEAF is the first glow-in-the-dark car to drive on the glowing motorway.

Fraunhofer: Cost Solar 2 ct/kwh in 2050


“In a few years, solar energy plants will deliver the most inexpensive power available in many parts of the world. By 2025, the cost of producing power in central and southern Europe will have declined to between 4 and 6 cents per kilowatt hour, and by 2050 to as low as 2 to 4 cents.” These are the main conclusions of a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems commissioned by the German think tank Agora Energiewende.

[] – Fraunhofer: Solar power will cost 2 cts/kWh in 2050

Full study:

[pdf] – Agora: Current and Future Cost of Photovoltaics [80p]

Editor: as we have repeatedly said, there is no long-term energy problem and a solar economy is very well possible. But the longer we wait with the transition, the deeper the dip will be.

Oil Price Surges 6%


Good news for Russia, they’ll be back in business very soon. Poor Europe.

[] – Oil surges 6% on Saudi airstrikes in Yemen

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