Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the month “February, 2020”

Researchers Produce (a Little) Electricity out of Thin Air


The system is quite straightforward and consists of a thin film of protein nanowire just seven micrometers (sometimes known as a microns) thick which is positioned between two electrodes and exposed to the air. For reference, a human hair is roughly 75 microns across, depending on the person.

This nanowire film absorbs water vapor present in the atmosphere, thus creating a small electrical charge through the diffusion of protons in the material.

“I found that exposure to atmospheric humidity was essential and that protein nanowires adsorbed water, producing a voltage gradient across the device,” Yao said.

Similar experiments have been conducted previously using nano materials like graphene, but they only produced intermittent, short bursts of electricity, rather than a “continuous voltage output” like the Air Gen system.

Air-Gen reportedly produces a sustained voltage of 0.5 volts at 17 micro amperes per square centimeter; in other words, you’d need multiple Air-Gen devices linked together to charge your smartphone, so don’t throw out those solar panels just yet.

0.5 Volt and 17 micro ampere per centimeter, that would be 0.35 Watt/m2 or 0.5 Watt for a surface like that of 300 Watt standard panels.
Indeed, don’t throw away your solar panels. Useless.


[] – Power generation from ambient humidity using protein nanowires
[] – Geobacter
[] – Researchers produce electricity out of thin air
[] – UMass Amherst Generates Electricity ‘Out of Thin Air’
[] – Forscher erzeugen Strom aus Luftfeuchtigkeit

1.42 Eurocent/kWh – New Record Low Solar Electricity


The consortium consisting of French Total and Japanese Marubeni have offered to build for Qatar General Electricity and Water Corp an 800 MW solar park for 1.423ct/kWh. The spectacular price decay can be seen here:

In merely 5 years time, prices of electricity from solar parks in the desert came down with a factor of 4.

Now pray for a similar price erosion in storage technology and the victory of renewable energy is secured.

[] – Record goedkoopste zonnestroom naar Qatar: 1,42 eurocent/kWh

Gravitricity Short Term Energy Storage

Could be used in abandoned mine-shafts.

In theory could be combined with geothermal energy. If you are going to drill a very deep hole of several kilometers anyway, you might as well make it wider and apply a massive concrete or iron “piston” of several tens of meters high and a few decimeter in diameter.

Example: borehole 2 km, diameter 50 cm. Use 10 cm for geothermal, leaving 40 cm. Length piston 30 m. Volume: that’s about 4 m3.
Density concrete: ca. 2.4 ton/m3
Density steel: ca. 8.0 ton/m3
Price steel: $700/ton
We’ll take steel.
Weight of our steel cylinder: 32 ton or $24,000
Energy storage capacity: mgh = 32,000 x 10 x 2,000 J = 640000000 J = 178 kWh
That’s surprisingly little. That’s 4 times the amount of the chemical energy in a car battery.
On an industrial scale we have already battery storage prices of $100/kWh or $17,800 for our 178 kWh “gravitricity”.

Gravitricity is a bad idea and has a 19th century coal mine smell about it.

For seasonal storage of energy, the last remaining missing link to guarantee a total victory of renewable energy, the solution will be either chemical energy storage (like hydrogen) or storage of heat in large water volumes or perhaps CAES.


The Borohydride development is taken so seriously that the Dutch minister of economic affairs Wiebes paid the research club a visit.

What do you do with hydrogen, obtained from electrolysis? You can store it under high pressure or cool and liquefy it.

Alternatively, you can store it in the form of borohydride powder (NaBH4).
Energy density NaBH4: 1 kg contains 9 kWh, that’s almost as good as gasoline.

We reported about this very promising development earlier:

[deepresource] – NaBH4 – The Vice-Admiral Has a Message for Dutch Parliament
[deepresource] – H2Fuel – Hydrogen Powder NaBH4
[deepresource] – Regeneration of Spent NaBH4 From Renewable Electricity
[deepresource] – Production of NaBH4
[deepresource] – Clipper Stad Amsterdam & Hydrogen Powertrain

Meanwhile, H2-Fuel developments proceed:

[] – Update H2-Fuel November 2019 (Dutch)

Circular process:

Inpakproces (storage process)
Uitpakproces (release process)

Status storage proces:

• 5kW installation working for 21 months continuously, stable and with good performance
• Scaling towards 125kW
• Successful tests to replace HCL catalyst

Next steps:

• Build application in ship (via H2SHIPS project)
• Build application in bus
• Evaluate scenario’s with circular process (storage and release process) in ship. A ship that merely needs to refuel water to sail!

Status release process:

• Theoretical modelling and improvement process by several universities (TU Delft/TU Eindhoven/TU Gent)
• On a laboratory scale the process works

Next steps:

• Building small scale power station
• Baseline measurement energy efficiency
• Improve catalyst to increase energy efficiency
• Design test power station for industrial sites
• Find 2 test locations for industrial applications

Dutch Government Unfortunately Allows Canadian Firm to Start Fracking

Frackers will soon be injecting benzene and formaldehyde into the soil under high pressure. A part of it comes back and then counts as chemical waste. Even radioactive substances are added. Plus the greenhouse gas methane. Frackers also use a lot of water. I thought we were enjoying a sustainable energy transition together?

[] – Vermilion legt tijdbom onder De Langstraat
[] – De voor en nadelen van fracking en onconventioneel aardgas
[] – EBN: grootste schaliegasactivist van Nederland
[] – Hydraulic fracturing

Macron Climbing the Month Blanc to Make a Climate Point

7,000 GW Floating Offshore Wind Potential for EU, US & Japan

According to industry estimates, the technical potential for floating wind power is around 7,000 GW for Europe, the US and Japan combined. Among the high potential markets, Japan has set a target of 4 GW to be installed by 2030, followed by around 2 GW in France, US and UK, and 1 GW in Taiwan.

Globally, there are 13 announced floating offshore wind projects (nine in Europe – UK, Portugal and France, three in Asia – Japan and Korea and one in the US). However, currently, the only operational floating wind farm of scale is Hywind Scotland, developed by Equinor and commissioned in October 2017. The farm has five floating turbines with a total capacity of 30 MW.

[] – Floating foundations are the future of deeper offshore wind

Airbus Maveric Demonstrator Aircraft

Airbus has revealed MAVERIC (Model Aircraft for Validation and Experimentation of Robust Innovative Controls) its “blended wing body” scale model technological demonstrator.

At 2 metres long and 3.2 metres wide, with a surface area of about 2.25m², MAVERIC features a disruptive aircraft design, that has the potential to reduce fuel consumption by up-to 20 percent compared to current single-aisle aircraft. The “blended wing body” configuration also opens up new possibilities for propulsion systems type and integration, as well as a versatile cabin for a totally new on-board passenger experience.

Launched in 2017, MAVERIC first took to the skies in June 2019. Since then the flight-test campaign has been on-going and will continue until the end of Q2 2020.

Airbus expects to save fuel up to 20% per passenger-kilometer.

[] – Airbus reveals its blended wing aircraft demonstrator
[] – Airbus reveals futuristic blended wing aircraft design
[] – Airbus stellt neues Konzept für Passagierflugzeuge vor

[deepresource] – KLM Aims to Have Scale Model Wing Plane Flying This Year

World Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2016

Click on image and next on “view full size”.

Sewage as the Heat-pump Cold Side


Homes can be heated much more energy efficient with a heat pump than a conventional CV-with-boiler. Heat-pumps pump heat from a source to the target, your home. That source can for instance be air, or a pipe-grid buried in your garden. The trouble is, in the winter the air is cold, where the heat pump works best with the smallest possible temperature difference between source and target (21 C). The magic formula in the world of heat pumps (and your fridge is one of them) is:


Q is the heat we want to pump in your living room, W is the “Work” (preferably emission-free renewable electricity) we need to get the heating job done.

The relationship between the lower temperature of the source TL and the higher temperature of your living room TH is:


Under good conditions COP values of 4 or higher can be achieved. A COP-value of 4 means that with a heat pump and 1 unit of electricity we can achieve the same heating result as with 4 units of electricity in a electric heater. “Good conditions” means: a as high as possible source temperature. Air in the winter can be 0 C or lower. The soil in temperate climate like NW-Europe is something like 10 C, which is already much better. The point is though that soil is a bad heat conductor, meaning that as you gradually extract heat from the soil, the temperature of the soil decreases, as the surrounding soil is not able to keep the temperature constant fast enough.

That is where the sewage idea comes in. Temperature sewage water: 10-15 C, which is high. And it flows! Meaning, there is a constant supply of (smelly) water of 10-15 C!. Brussels is now contemplating to use the sewage fluids as a heat source. In Raalte in the Netherlands they already have a swimming pool heating system working based on this idea. In Brussels and Raalte they have smelled a rat… err smelled the coffee!

[] – Can we heat buildings without burning fossil fuels?
[] – Sewage water heating pool water
[] – Heat pump and refrigeration cycle

The Raalte swimming pool has been heated with sewage heat since 2013. From the nearby sewage treatment plant, ‘clean’ sewage water with a temperature of 10-15 degrees Celsius is pumped towards the pool. Heat exchangers are installed in the pipes. The pool water is then brought up to temperature with a heat pump.

Sewage in Dutch is “riool”. Hence the word “riothermal”, prompting associations with the Copacobana rather than your toilet. In 2018 three Dutch swimming pools are heated this way (COP 5-6) and claim to be the world’s first. Additionally in Goes they are building a system for 60 homes:

The Goes project. Other pilot schemes exist in Amstetten in Austria, Glasgow in Scotland, and Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Hydrogen Delta

Halleluja videos of the Hydrogen Delta Day, 22 October, 2019 in Vlissingen (“Flushing”) in the Zeeland province of the Netherlands. The Netherlands produces ca. 900,000 ton hydrogen per year from fossil sources, half of which is consumed by industry in Zeeland. Eventually all Dutch hydrogen needs to be produced renewable, with the electricity coming from several GW large nearby offshore wind farms, to be built in this decade and beyond, with the first currently under construction, the Borssele 1.5 GW offshore wind farm.

[] – The Hydrogen Delta Day
[] – Corporations and government want 1 GW electrolyzer by 2030
[deepresource] – The Emerging Dutch Hydrogen Economy

Read more…

Massive Decrease Emissions in the European Union


The renewable energy policy of the European Union is beginning to bear fruits:

Greenhouse gas emissions from the European Union’s electricity sector fell 12% last year, the sharpest drop since at least 1990, due to reduced coal-fired generation, a study has found.

Emissions fell by 120 million tonnes in 2019, largely due to a sharp decrease in generation from hard coal and lignite-fired power plants which fell by 24% across the EU, German policy institute Agora Energiewende and climate think-tank Sandbag said in a report released on Wednesday.

This happened despite the fact that the past decade was a golden one for continental Europe:

[deepresource] – European Golden Decade 2010-2020

Main drivers behind the decrease: increased price for emissions, making coal and lignite less attractive (24% less burning of those in 2019), new record share renewable electricity of 35% in the EU. The use of 50% per unit of energy cleaner natural gas did increase though. Wind increased with 14%, solar with 7%. The EU goal is 33% primary energy renewable by 2030.

Expect further significant decreases if the to-be-expected global economic downturn will gather pace in the twenties, in the wake of the Corona-crisis, Brexit and US-Chinese trade war.

[] – CO2-Emissionen der europäischen Stromproduktion stark gesunken
[] – EU greenhouse gas emissions down 23% since 1990
[] – EU power plant emissions show sharpest fall since 1990 -report

Hydrogen Roadmap Europe

This report makes the case that achieving the energy transition in the EU will require hydrogen at large scale. Without it, the EU would miss its decarbonization objective. The fuel offers a versatile, clean, and flexible energy vector for this transition. While hydrogen is not the only decarbonization lever, it is an essential lever among a set of other technologies.

[] – Hydrogen Roadmap Europe

Read more…

$64 Million to Bring Down Cost Electrolyzer Below $400/kWh

The US Department of Energy has been plowing research dollars into hydrogen and fuel cell technology, and the latest development is all about leveraging wind and solar energy to bring the cost of renewable hydrogen down, down, down.

The primary source of hydrogen today is natural gas, and the market is huge. The US produces 10 million tons of hydrogen annually under the current scheme of things. New applications — including transportation and energy storage among others — could bump up demand even more in the coming years.

With that in mind, check out the Energy Department’s new $64 million round of funding for projects related to the H2@Scale initiative of the Fuel Cell Technologies Office.

[] – $64 Million for: Renewable Hydrogen In, Natural Gas Out
[] – Renewable Hydrogen: Key to a New Civilization

Recyclable Wind Turbine Blades with Arkema-Elium

After 25 years or more service, wind turbine blades of many tonnes need to be taken down and dumped on a landfill. Arkema is working on a solution to make wind rotor blades recyclable.

[] – Arkema Group
[] – Composites innovation: manufacturing of a wind turbine blade in Elium® thermoplastic
[] – Elium® resin: a disruptive innovation in the world of composites?
[] – How to Make Wind Power Sustainable Again

Belgium Integrates Offshore Wind Power Into European Grid

Energy Saving With Mist Showers

[] – Mist Showers: Sustainable Decadence?

Personal note and a little off-topic, but not completely. Ever thought of cold showers? It is not as bad as it sounds and you’ll get used to it. It took the author one month to increase endurance from 5 seconds to 5 minutes. Apart from zero thermal energy use, the habit comes with health benefits, like a stronger immune system, which could prove useful in these Corona times. And you get an energy boost, much stronger than coffee can achieve.

[] – Smash Your Comfort Zone with Cold Showers: How to Boost Your Energy, Defeat Your Anxiety, and Overcome Unwanted Habits
[] – Wim Hof
[] – The Effect of Cold Showering on Health and Work

This pragmatic randomized controlled trial is the first study showing that a routine cold shower has a beneficial effect on health.

[] – Are you brave enough to freeze yourself fitter? KATE SPICER takes the plunge (at 1˚c) with the expert who claims it’s the secret to a healthier mind and body

Energy Cost Webserver

Online LowTech Magazine has a privately-owned dedicated web server to run their sustainable magazine, powered by a 50 Watt solar panel and 0.17 kWh battery.

During the period under study (351 days), the solar powered website received 865,000 unique visitors. Including all energy losses in the solar set-up, electricity use is then 0.021 watt-hour per unique visitor. One kWh solar electricity can serve almost 50,000 unique visitors. This is all renewable energy and as such there are no direct associated carbon emissions.

If there is not enough sunshine, the site is offline. Yet the site was available for 98.2% of the time, with a downtime of only 152 hours over almost a year.

[] – How Sustainable is a Solar Powered Website?

Inventum – Ecolution Solo

It’s difficult to equip an older home with a heat pump, that operates at lower temperatures and as a consequence needs floor heating. A good compromise can be to combine a smaller heat pump in series with an existing boiler and let the heat pump do the preheating. 35% energy reduction is claimed by Inventum.

[] – Warmtepompen
[] – Inventum Ecolution Solo KA01697
[] – Mini-warmtepomp mikt op massa

The input is air from within the home, output hot water in the radiator.

Real review: heat pump installed in the attic. 50% less gas in November, minus the additional electricity cost. The 35% claimed by Inventum could be true.

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