Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the month “November, 2018”

Japan Could Mine Methane-Hydrates as of 2030

We stopped worrying about “peak oil” a long time ago. Instead we worry that there is too much fossil fuel left and that the world doesn’t move to renewables fast enough.

[] – Why ‘flammable ice’ could be the future of energy
[deepresource] – The Sudden Death of Peak Oil – 4.5 Trillion Barrels of Oil Left

H2Fuel – Hydrogen Powder NaBH4

Dutch language videoGerard Lugtigheid demonstrates his experimental setup with NaBH4, pure water and acid and produced H2 that pushes away the water in the tube.

Dutch inventor Gerard Lugtigheid is proposing a novel way of storing hydrogen in a sodium boron compound (NaBH4), which comes as a powder. So far the NaBH4 cycle came with a round-trip efficiency of 50% (DOE). Lugtigheid claims to have found a method of increasing that number to almost 100% and to have patents in America and Asia. Key is using very pure water. Storage of the powder is trivial.

[] – Company site
[] – New Experiment Makes Hydrogen Usable in Cars
[] – Hydrogen as the key to a sustainable shipping sector
[] – Hydrogen can be stored as a powder
[] – Sodium borohydride
[] – Direct borohydride fuel cell
[] – Tanken we straks H2Fuel?
[] – Test met tankbare waterstof
[] – Hydrogen Storage via Sodium Borohydride (2003)

[] – Is dit de heilige graal? Waterstof in poedervorm
Dutch #1 hydrogen guru prof. Ad van Wijk (who has a horse in this race) doesn’t denounce this technology, but sees some challenges ahead.

Dutch language video

Dutch language video


Jardelund – Largest Battery in Europe

Location: Jardelund, near Flensburg
Date: May 2018
Techology: Lithium-Ion
Capacity: 48 MW / 50 MWh
Purpose: reducing fossil fuel as well as store excess local wind energy
Participants: Eneco and Mitsubishi
Cost: 30 Mio. Euro

Overview Energy Storage Technologies


[] – Energy storage
[] – Electricity Storage and Renewables
[] – Power storage
[] – Europe to experience pumped storage boom

[] – An Overview Of 6 Energy Storage Methods

[] – Technologien des Energiespeicherns– ein Überblick

[] – Wat is grootschalige opslag en waarom hebben we het nodig?
[] – Overzicht van opslagtechnieken voor energie

Overview Battery Technology

[] – Electric battery
[] – List of battery types
[] – Rechargeable battery
[] – Comparison of commercial battery types
[] – History of the battery

[] – Batteries Still Suck But They Are Working On It.
[] – Future batteries, coming soon
[] – A Battery That Could Change The World
[] – The Future of Batteries
[] – Beyond lithium — the search for a better battery

[] – Batterietechnologien

Iron Flow Battery

Battery based on iron and salt water, virtually without negative environmental side-effects.

[] – ESS Company site
[] – Flow Battery
[] – EFE breakthrough in Iron Flow Tech (150 kW, $300/kWh)
[] – UniEnergy Vanadium Flow Battery
[] – Imergy Recycled Vanadium for Flow Batteries
[] – CellCube Vanadium Flow Battery
[] – EnerVault Iron-Chromium Flow Battery
[] – Primus Power Zinc-Bromide Flow Battery

Donald Sadoway on Liquid Metal Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are short-lived, which is fine for phones but not for grid applications. Liquid metal batteries were born from the practice of electrochemical aluminium smelting (electricity in, aluminium from oxide out), but operating in reverse. Electrons come from the lighter metal on top, where the corresponding ions are travelling downwards through the electrolyte in order to recombine with the electrons at the boundary of the heavier liquid metal at the bottom. For the rest, no mixing takes places and the three layers remain separate. During discharge the top layer gets thinner and bottom layer thicker, during charging this reverses. There is no need for membranes. Degrading of the system is nearly absent. Donald Sadoway c.s. formed a company now called Ambri.

P.S. in a latest development, Sadoway seems to be using a membrane after all, see Nature link below.

[] – Inside the race to build the battery of tomorrow
[] – A Low-Tech Approach To Energy Storage: Molten Metals
[] – Donald Sadoway
[] – Molten-salt battery
[] – A new approach to rechargeable batteries
[] – Ambri Still Chasing Its Liquid Metal Battery Dreams
[] – Company site
[] – New battery made of molten metals may offer low-cost, long-lasting storage for the grid. Liquid electrodes solve the problem of degrading solid ones.
[] – Faradaically selective membrane for liquid metal displacement batteries
[] – Solid electrolyte boosts liquid metal battery

Everything molten: lighter metal A, salt electrolyte and heavier metal B.

The green elements are heavier and will sink to the bottom.

Read more…

CAES Plans for Britain and the Netherlands

The British company Storelectric is joining forces with NAM (Shell/Exxon) in exploring the idea of using the existing natural gas infrastructure in the Netherlands for adiabatic compressed air energy storage purposes of renewable electricity. The heat that is generated during compression to ca. 70 bar will be stored and reused during expansion phase. Storelectric believes it can deliver CAES at 70-85% efficiency. Recuperation of stored heat is an essential ingredient in increasing efficiency.

They aim to build underground storage sites in the Netherlands and potentially the North Sea, to store energy from offshore wind farms and onshore solar power plants.

[] – UK’s Storelectric brings compressed air storage to the Netherlands
[] – NAM met Britten in zee voor energieopslag
[] – Business Plan Grid Scale Energy Storage
[] – Storelectric company site
[] – Compressed air energy storage

World’s Largest Solar Park Noor in Morocco

– investment: $9B
– 540 MW peak
– Technology: CSP and molten salt
– Construction begin: 2013
– Commission date: 2016
– Build bij TSK-Acciona-Sener/Spain

[] – Ouarzazate Solar Power Station

Long Term Storage of Heat in Isomers

Chalmers University in Sweden has come up with a novel way of long-term (years) storing (solar) heat, namely in isomers.

– Discharge operating temperature: 63 C
– Storage capacity: 0.25 kWh/kg (2x Tesla Powerwall)
– 125 charge-discharge cycles without detoriation.

Researcher Moth-Poulsen thinks there is a lot of potential for improvement, like operating temperatures of 110 C.

[] – Scientists Develop Liquid Fuel That Can Store The Sun’s Energy
[] – Liquid Norbornadiene Photoswitches for Solar Energy Storage
[] – Emissions-free energy system stores heat
[] – Macroscopic heat release in a molecular solar thermal energy storage system
[] – Isomer
[] – Scientists bottle solar energy and turn it into liquid fuel
[] – Norbornadiene
[] – Quadricyclane

Arlanda Test Results

The idea: mount a metal conductor strip/rail to the road and voila, you have an e-road, a sort of inverted trolley-bus system for cars and trucks. If a country like Sweden would install these rails in the main routes only, ensuring that no home would be further away from a road with such a rail, it would reduce the required size of the battery of e-vehicles enormously. Think 50 kg instead of 400 kg, because the car would charge the battery during driving.

A test route was equipped with a conducting rail earlier this year and the test results are in. And they are encouraging. 200 kW can be delivered, think a truck. The system works good under snow and ice conditions. No need for heating the rail.

Back-of-an-envelope calculation of the cost of an e-road system: The producer Elways claims that the cost per kilometer for 2 lanes is less than 1 million dollar. Go to Google Maps to verify that from Malmö in the South to Gällivare in the North it is 1740 km over road. Two parallel North-South roads exist, that’s 3500 km at a varying distance of 50-150 km. Add some East-West legs to connect these two roads and you arrive at perhaps 5,000 km or less than 5 billion $ to electrify your roads. Sweden has 10 million citizens, so that would be 500 $/capita. That’s very affordable. Note that autonomous driving will relieve the population of the need of owning a car, reducing the per mile cost with a factor of 4-10 according to this study.

More videos below and even more in the elways-link.

[] – Arlanda Test Results
[deepresource] – E-Road, E-Vehicles Breakthrough in Sweden?

Read more…

Sif Terminal Rotterdam

Borssele 1-4 offshore wind parks (1.5 GW) now under construction. For the first time 8 MW and 9.5 MW turbines are being used offshore.


[] – Borssele III & IV to Feature MHI Vestas 9.5MW Turbines, Sif Monopiles
[] – Borssele III & IV Moving to Construction Phase
[] – Borssele III & IV – Blauwwind Offshore Wind Farm
[] – Windpark Borssele

Prof. Begemann Doesn’t Believe in a Man-made Climate Crisis

Dutch language video with no subs.

Prof. Begemann visited the North- and South-poles 6 times and arrived at contrarian conclusions.

[] – Drijfijs

HYBRIT – Fossil Free Steel

Global crude steel production in 2017: 1.69 billion metric ton.
Every metric ton of produced steel comes with 1.83 ton CO2 emission.
Total global CO2 emissions are 3.09 billion metric ton.
Total global CO2 emission are 50 billion metric ton.
In other words, steel production is responsible for ca. 6% of global CO2 emission.

The Swedish HYBRIT program aims at taking out these 6% by switching from coal to hydrogen, replacing CO2 emissions with the harmless output of water.


[] – HYBRIT: Globally-unique Pilot Plant for creating Fossil-free steel
[] – HYBRIT – Toward fossil-free steel
[] – CO2 Emissions in the Steel Industry
[] – List of countries by steel production
[] –

Donald Sadoway

[] – Donald Sadoway

He is a noted expert on batteries and has done significant research on how to improve the performance and longevity of portable power sources. In parallel, he is an expert on the extraction of metals from their ores and the inventor of molten oxide electrolysis, which has the potential to produce crude steel without the use of carbon reductant thereby totally eliminating greenhouse gas emissions… As a researcher, Sadoway has focused on environmental ways to extract metals from their ores, as well as producing more efficient batteries. His research has often been driven by the desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while improving quality and lowering costs. He is the co-inventor of a solid polymer electrolyte. This material, used in his “sLimcell” has the capability of allowing batteries to offer twice as much power per kilogram as is possible in current lithium ion batteries…. In August 2006, a team that he led demonstrated the feasibility of extracting iron from its ore through molten oxide electrolysis. When powered exclusively by renewable electricity, this technique has the potential to eliminate the carbon dioxide emissions that are generated through traditional methods… In 2009, Sadoway disclosed the liquid metal battery comprising liquid layers of magnesium and antimony separated by a layer of molten salt[8] that could be used for stationary energy storage. Research on this concept was being funded by ARPA-E and the French energy company Total S.A. Experimental data showed a 69% DC-to-DC storage efficiency with good storage capacity and relatively low leakage current (self discharge). In 2010, with funding from Bill Gates and Total S.A., Sadoway and two others, David Bradwell and Luis Ortiz, co-founded a company called the Liquid Metal Battery Corporation (now Ambri) in order to scale up and commercialize the technology.

Read more…

Iron Powder as a Fuel

Project SOLID of the University of Eindhoven/the Netherlands. Burning iron from [0:44]

The world of science and technology is wrestling with the question how to power the engines of the future, post fossil fuel. Batteries, hydrogen fuel cells, biomass, exotic fuels like ammonia, methanol and several others. There is one overlooked possibility though: iron. Few people realize that iron can burn, a process also known as oxidation or “rusting”. If you have fine iron powder at your disposal, burning can go really fast:

Researchers at four universities around the world, Eindhoven (NL), Bochum (D), Orleans (F) and McGill (CA), are working on the possibility of metal powder-as-a-fuel, notably iron. The idea is to burn iron powder in an external combustible space and use the generated heat to drive an engine, for instance a Stirling engine or Rankine cycle-based generator, see video at the top of this post:

[] – Stirling engine

Stirling engines have a high efficiency compared to internal combustion engines, being able to reach 50% efficiency. They are also capable of quiet operation and can use almost any heat source.

[] – Rankine cycle

McGill University in Montreal is also busy researching the possibilities of metal powder as fuel:

Fuel Specific Energy MJ/kg Specific Energie kWh/L
Petrol 46.4 12.9
Iron 5.2 11.3
Zinc 5.3 10.6

[] – Energy density

[] – Technical University Eindhoven SOLID project site
[] – Iron powder: a clean, alternative fuel for industry that has to quit natural gas

[] – First System to Use Iron Powder as Fuel Has Been Built

Why is iron so suitable for this process? ‘Firstly, iron has a high energy density, and burns at a high temperature of up to 1,800 °C… Some industrial processes need temperatures of up to 800 or 900 °C, which is way beyond the scope of heating air with electricity via heat pumps’… For example, iron powder can be made with different shapes of grain, but it has not yet been determined which shape is most suitable… Another challenge the team has to deal with when scaling up is handling the emissions generated by the process. NOx is released at such high temperatures, and possibly also particulates, and both will have to be filtered… The most important obstacle is perhaps the unfamiliarity of iron as fuel. Although some four universities around the world are carrying out research into metal fuels, it’s really unknown territory for the students.

[] – Direct combustion of recyclable metal fuels for zero-carbon heat and power

Metals are promising high-energy density, low-emission, recyclable energy carriers…. Metal fuels, produced using low-carbon recycling systems powered by clean primary energy, such as solar and wind, promise energy densities that are competitive to fossil fuels with low, or even negative, net carbon dioxide emissions… This paper proposes a novel concept for power generation in which metal fuels are burned with air in a combustor to provide clean, high-grade heat… The metal-fuel combustion heat can be used directly for industrial or residential heating and can also power external-combustion engines, operating on the Rankine or Stirling cycles, or thermo-electric generators over a wide range of power levels… The energy and power densities of the proposed metal-fuelled zero-carbon heat engines are predicted to be close to current fossil-fuelled internal-combustion engines, making them an attractive technology for a future low-carbon society.

[] – Iron powder clean alternative

On an industrial scale, fuel cost will be double that of fossil fuel. But if the cost of CO2-emissions are factored in, this increased cost could be bearable… The (TUE) students developed a 20 kW installation that burns iron and produces hot water and electricity via a Stirling engine. The next step will be 100 kW installation.


After combustion, of course, you’re left with a pile of rust—iron oxide. The usual way of recycling it into iron is to reduce it with coal in a blast furnace. But that, of course, results in carbon emission. But Bergthorson is hopeful. “There are novel techniques to reduce iron oxide using pure hydrogen, or the use of biomass in chemical looping combustion, using gasified biomass or gasified coal, or by electrolysis, which is not yet commercially developed.”… If you would want to back up power for solar and wind energy, you could stockpile metal fuels and burn them in a retrofitted coal-fired power plant that has the appropriate collection systems for the combustion exhaust on it. The coal power plant infrastructure is already there,” says Bergthorson.

[] – Iron powder as fuel

In the future these so-called metal fuels will provide our coal-fired power stations and cars with the energy they need… The volumetric energy density of iron powder is at least three times higher than that of hydrogen’…‘And you do not have to transport this powder under high pressure or extremely low temperatures.’… by burning it to rust powder in an external combustion engine. You can also use it to store solar energy, according to postdoc Yuriy Shoshin. ‘We can already convert solar energy into hydrogen. Then we use the hydrogen to reduce rust powder to iron powder.’… iron is cheap, easily manageable and reusable. Shoshin: ‘We still have to adjust the reduction techniques to the process, but the reactions are known.’… ‘We expect to be able to reuse the iron for about a hundred times.’… But how can you derive energy from iron powder? ‘You burn it’, says Shoshin. First you distribute the iron powder in the air by means of an electrical field. Then a small spark activates the reaction of oxygen and iron in the air. The iron oxidizes into iron oxide. That reaction warms up the environment, which causes other iron particles to oxidize. ‘This reaction is similar to what happens in coal-fired power stations’, says Shoshin…. The researcher are still looking for a way to collect the rust particles after use, otherwise it will be difficult to reuse them. The Goey is now considering filtering, because with sizes of 1 µm the particles are quite easy to catch… In order to make the combustion easier Shoshin wants to use iron particles in the shape of a sponge in the future. ‘This morphology is generated during the reduction of iron and creates a larger surface. This makes the iron more reactive… Pouring this fuel into a normal combustion engine does not seem to be an option. The powder would get caught between the cylinder and the piston and this friction would cause the engine to break… At this time we are considering an external combustion engine or some kind of steam system similar to those used in the coal-fired power stations.’… Even though the technique still needs to overcome some obstacles, metal fuels are already drawing the attention of companies. De Goey is in contact with a coal-fired power station willing to test whether iron can replace coal. The people from Eindhoven think metal fuels will become indispensable in a few years time. ‘We really have to get rid of the coal, and metals are a good alternative’

[] – Metal particles as the clean fuel of the future?
[] – Metal as fuel? Canadian scientists busy to make it happen
[] – HYBRIT: Pilot Plant for creating Fossil-free steel
[] – Electrolysis may one day provide ‘green iron’ (2006)
[] – Powdered metal: The fuel of the future (2005)
[] – IJzerpoeder: schone brandstof voor industrie die van het gas af moet
[] – Iron powder as fuel
[] – Electrolysis of iron in a molten oxide electrolyte
[] – Donald Sadoway

Site comment: the advantages are obvious: iron powder is very easy to store, handle, trade and transport. One can achieve high temperatures during burning and heavy batteries are not necessary (but iron powder as fuel in a vehicle is rather heavy as well). However, the links above provide only material about the burning of iron oxide. What they don’t do is give information about the required reduction of iron-oxide to iron to make the complete cycle work. The efficiency of that process is crucial to the success of an iron-based fuel cycle. Don’t open that champagne bottle yet though:

[] – Donald R. Sadoway
Sadoway’s molten oxide electrolysis makes liquid iron at 2.5 to 3.5 kWh/kg. Plus tonnage oxygen by-product!

Burning iron powder yields 5.2 MJ/kg or 1.44 kwh/kg, see table above. In other words, electrolysis round-trip efficiency is not that great: 41-57%. Note that this applies to efficiency of transforming molten oxide in molten iron. Additionally you must heat your oxide powder and next somehow convert molten iron into iron powder, which inevitably will come at additional energy cost.

Read more…

Expansion Shoalhaven Pumped Hydro Scheme To 475 MW

[] – Shoalhaven Pumped Hydro Scheme To Double To 475 MW

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