Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the month “March, 2020”

Nr. of Wind Turbines Required to Run a National Rail System?

Time for a back-of-the-envelope calculation. How many 12 MW offshore wind turbines do you need to power the entire Dutch rail system, passenger and cargo, a heavily used rail system for a nation of 17 million citizens?

Yearly electricity consumption Dutch Rail (NS): 1300 GWh

Yearly production of a 12 MW offshore wind turbine = 8766 hour x 12 MW = 105,192 MHh = 105 GWh. Assume a capacity factor of 50% to arrive at a yearly production of 52 GWh.

Number of turbines required = 1300/52 = 25 turbines.

Peanuts. Can be installed by a single installer ship like the Aeolus in a month’s time:

Of course you need to add some extra capacity to factor in storage losses.

Dutch Rail btw has bought up 8 small onshore wind farms that have a combined output that matches its consumption, resulting in the technically dubious, but morally justified slogan that “all Dutch trains run on wind power”:

[] – All Dutch Trains Now Run 100% On Wind Power

Robotics in Dutch Horticulture

The Netherlands is the 2nd agricultural exporter in the world (94B), after the US (150B), a country 235 times bigger and 20 times more people. The reason why the Netherlands is so successful lies in several factors: abundant availability of water, flat land perfectly suitable for horticulture, the Netherlands are surrounded by much larger potent customers (Germany, France, UK), excellent infrastructure, making it easy to transport agricultural produce, extreme openness towards new technologies to increase production.

A large number of agricultural workers are from Eastern Europe, but that supply of competitive labor is receding, now that the economies of Eastern Europe are growing rapidly, offering many new attractive opportunities. Poles, Bulgarians and Romanians increasingly prefer to stay at home. This leaves the Dutch agricultural sector with a new problem, a problem that can be solved though… with robotics. Few economic activities are so repetitive as agricultural activities and hence suitable for automation.

Paprika harvesting

Have a cup of coffee while that driverless potato-harvester brings in tons of produce.

Automated grapes picking in Maastricht, the Netherlands.

Precision agriculture with drones. Every individual plant is analysed from above for nitrogen needs and fertilization is applied if needed on a per plant basis. Additionally soil pH-measurements are carried out for the same purpose: precision fertilization to optimize the yield of a given piece of land.

[source] The Netherlands are not that far behind the US. Secret of success: technology.

First map the fields from the air, next fertilize and/or weed control with a 2 cm precision, all automatic, without human intervention.

[] – Top 10 agricultural exporters
[] – Nederlandse export landbouwproducten in 2019 €94,5 miljard

An important key to the Dutch agricultural success are the large amounts of industrial CO2 that is injected in the greenhouses to enhance growth. CO2 = plant fertilizer.

Philips LED-light replacing the sun in the winter, providing a 365 day/year growing season.

The Orkney Islands Has Hydrogen Working

[] – Orkney

Largest Solar Thermal Project in Ludwigsburg-Germany

20,000 m3 heat storage is being built in Ludwigsburg and is part of the largest thermal-solar project in Germany. Capacity: 9.6 MW thermal solar. Annual output 5,500 MWh from a collector field with a gross area of 14,800 m2. Main contractor: the Danish Arcon-Sunmark company. Completion date: May 2020.

[] – Solarwärme vom Römerhügel
[Google Maps] – Römerhügel, Ludwigsburg
[] – Contractor site
[] – Large-scale solar heat is cost-competitive in Germany

Solar Agriculture

Raspberries and red berries are forest fruits, need relatively little light, can be grown under plastic foil but also under solar panels, providing a dual economic function to the same soil: fruit and energy harvesting.

[] – Himbeeren unter Solarmodulen statt unter Folientunneln
[Google Maps] – Babberich, Emmerichseweg

New Samsung Lithium-Metal Battery

(From left) Yuichi Aihara, Principal Engineer from SRJ, Yong-Gun Lee, Principal Researcher and Dongmin Im, Master from SAIT

Samsung has presented a new study, highlighting it’s next generation lithium metal solid state battery, that will deliver a higher energy density that the traditional lithium-ion batteries and more safety, as liquid electrolytes have become superfluous. The breakthrough is a silver-carbon anode coating, that suppresses anode dendrites growth. New energy density: 900Wh/L.

[] – Samsung Presents Groundbreaking All-Solid-State Battery Technology to ‘Nature Energy’
[] – High-energy long-cycling all-solid-state lithium metal batteries enabled by silver–carbon composite anodes

EAZ-12 10 kW Wind Turbine

The perfect all-year-around renewable energy solution for a farm: wind AND solar. With the proper mix, a relatively constant supply of renewable electricity is guaranteed with minimal storage requirements.

The EAZ wind turbine delivers 10 kW peak and will earn itself back within 6-10 years, depending on location. In contrast with large onshore wind parks, these small turbines enjoy a large sympathy factor.

[] – De kleine windmolen maakt windenergie weer aantrekkelijk
[deepresource] – Energy Autonomy for Farmers

With an optimal mix of solar and wind, electricity supply is relatively even over the seasons, resulting in reduced grid load. Perfect solution for farms and small businesses.

EAZ began producing in 2015 and meanwhile produces 100 turbines per year and can’t meet increasing demand. Price €42.500,- all-in.

UBS – VW to be the First to Make a Profit from E-vehicles

Volkswagen will become the first global automaker to make money selling battery-only electric vehicles (BEVs) with profits kicking in from 2022, according to a report from Swiss investment bank UBS… Sales of battery-only cars and SUVs will accelerate to more than 15% of the global market by 2025, while Tesla’s position as the world’s most desired electric vehicle will come under pressure from German competition, UBS said.

[] – VW Will Be The 1st Mass Market Electric Car Profit Maker: Report

CESAR – Seasonal Energy Storage in Basalt

Cees van Nimwegen (right) in front of his basalt-based storage facility, located at the Gasthuishoeve in St.-Oedenrode, in the South of the Netherlands.

The Dutch electrical engineer Cees van Nimwegen (75) had sold his business and had some money left, he invested in a seasonal heat storage project. The idea is very simple: store electricity from 150 solar panels as heat in cheap basalt and withdraw it again as electricity. The difference with basalt as compared to water as storage medium is that you can achieve much higher storage temperatures than 100 C, like 500 C; basalt doesn’t boil (that easy). On the other hand, the capacity of water to store heat is 5 times higher than basalt:

Specific heat basalt: 0,84 kJ/(kg*K)
Specific heat water: 4,19 kJ/(kg*K)

So the heat storage capacity of a standard volume of water between 20-100 C is comparable to that of the same standard volume of basalt over a temperature range 20-500 C. Van Nimwegen stresses that basalt is available in virtually unlimited quantities and that recycling is a non-issue. This “battery” goes on for ever and ever.

Claimed performance:

Storage volume: 200-250 kWh/m3
Storage cost: 2 cent/kWh
Storage leak: 80% energy still present after 6 months

[source] 500 C basalt in a wooden casing is not a good idea. A minimal leak caused the wood to catch fire. The wood was replaced by steel.

The claim is that with a storage volume of at least 100,000 m3 50% of the original electricity input can be recovered.

In a new development van Nimwegen has been given the green light to build a first real project of 36 homes in ECOdorp Boekel, a sustainable living project, see previous post.

[] – Project site – basalt battery
[] – Uitvinder Cees van Nimwegen bouwde een ‘zonne-accu’ van basalt.
[] – Misschien wel een steengoed idee: energieopslag in basalt
[] – Warmteopslag in basalt voor het ECOdorp in Boekel
[] – BOM and EU invest in basalt battery

In parallel has Siemens in Hamburg-Germany built a storage facility according to the same principles.

[] – Auf der Suche nach dem Superspeicher

ECOdorp Boekel

Ecodorp Boekel is a sustainable living project, consisting of 30 climate-adaptive, climate-positive rental homes, 6 informal care homes, community center, knowledge and education center, workplace and offices, with opportunities for food and energy supply, ecological water treatment and sustainable businesses. The eco-village is being build since 138 days now together with ecological contractor Eco + Bouw and architect Huub van Laarhoven, financially supported by the Noord-Brabant province and the EU.

[] – Project site
[] – Project status
[Google Maps] – ECOdorp Boekel location

Read more…

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