Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the month “April, 2020”

Royal Dutch Shell has Multi-GW Hydrogen Plans for Holland

Shell and Gasunie will cooperate in Europe’s largest renewable hydrogen project in the Netherlands, based on North Sea offshore wind. The intended cooperation will proceed within the NortH2 project in the Groningen province, with Eemshaven to be the projected location to house the electrolyser infrastructure.

The first hydrogen should be produced by 2027 and fed by new, dedicated offshore wind. By 2040 this endeavor could encompass up to 10 GW or 800,000 ton hydrogen annually.

[] – Shell unveils world’s largest offshore wind plan to power green hydrogen


Czech Republic Intends to Build 1.2 GW Nuclear Power Plant

[Existing Dukovany nuclear plant]

The Czech government intends to build a nuclear reactor, that should replace old reactors, as well as existing power stations that run on lignite. The reactor is to be completed by 2036. The government estimates the cost at € 5–6 billion, critics fear it will be much more.

Another issue is who is to build the new reactor. The president Zeman favors the Russian Rosatom, but the security establishment has reserves against Russian or Chinese suppliers. Alternatives would be South Korea’s KHNP, France’s EDF and US group Westinghouse.

[] – Czech gov. intends building new nuclear block
[] – Tsjechische overheid zet plannen voor nieuwe kernreactor door
[Google Maps] – Dukovany

More Solar Price Erosion – Abu Dhabi 2 GW, 1.24 Eurocent/kWh


EDF-France and Jinko-China (panels) won the bid for a new 2 GW solar power plant in Abu Dhabi, to be operational in Q2-2022, for a record low price: 1.24 euro cent/kWh.

The price of “raw electricity” from the desert is no longer relevant as a share of end user price of a stored kWh on world markets. Solar electricity from the desert is almost “too cheap to meter”. Once the international community has a good storage mechanism in place, most likely hydrogen or some derivative, nothing will stand in the way of a total victory of renewable energy in the 21st century.

Sunlit places like Arabia, Africa and Australia will have the perfect solar conditions to become the world’s most prominent hydrogen suppliers. Ironically, especially Arabian countries could play a key role and use their current oil wealth to create the conditions for the continuation of their prosperity into the future and contradict Sheikh’s Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum famous line:

My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel

[] – Abu Dhabi’s 1.5 GW tender draws world record low solar bid of $0.0135/kWh
[] – Goedkoopste zonnestroom nu in Abu Dhabi: 1,24 eurocent/kWh
[] – Stunning record low bid of US 1.35 cents/kWh wins Abu Dhabi solar auction

Waterstof – Kansen voor de Nederlandse Industrie

Werkgeversorganisatie FME heeft in opdracht van het Ministerie van Economische Zaken en Klimaat, de mogelijkheden onderzocht die “waterstof” biedt voor de nederlandse industrie. Link rapport hieronder, pdf, p76. Oktober 2019.

[] – Waterstof: kansen voor de Nederlandse industrie


Nederland heeft het potentieel een waterstofhub te worden, zoals dat nu voor fossiele energie het geval is.

Read more…

Steam Electrolysis and Perovskite


The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) in Idaho Falls-USA has published research results about splitting hydrogen from water through electrolysis and recombining that hydrogen with oxygen and produce electricity. What is relatively new is that the electrolysis is being let loose on steam rather than liquid water and that the ceramic electrode is a mesh-like structure oxide of perovskite. The INL is a nuclear research center, where they are very familiar with high temperature steam. It was already known that electrolysis of water can be done most efficiently in the form of steam. The significance of this research is that it presents a way of reducing the required temperatures from over 800 C to 600 C or below. These lower temperatures bring reduced electrode degradation as an advantage. Additionally lower steam temperatures are an advantage in itself, as the hole point of the renewable energy transition is getting away from fossil and nuclear fuel, not to use the latter as source of steam.

[] – New Technology Improves Hydrogen Manufacturing
[] – 3D Self‐Architectured Steam Electrode Enabled Efficient and Durable Hydrogen Production in a Proton‐Conducting Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cell at Temperatures Lower Than 600 °C

What can Seattle Learn from Dutch Street Design?

[] – Running a car costs much more than people think — stalling the uptake of green travel

MULTIPLHY – Multi-MW High Temperature Electrolyser

Electrolysis of steam rather than liquid water has a much higher efficiency, practically up to 85%, in theory even higher than 100%. Energetically it makes sense to do this if steam is available from an industrial processes, or alernatively from a CSP-plant. In Rotterdam in the Netherlands, a consortium of European organisations is busy building a 2.6 MW plant to electrolyze steam or ca. 65 kg hydrogen/hour. Later they hope to scale that up to 100 MW. The initial project will run until 2024, that is 16,000 operating hours and 960 ton hydrogen produced.

The project involves Neste, worlds’s leading provider of renewable diesel and renewable jet fuel, and as key technology partners the French research organisation CEA, plant builder Paul Wurth, the energy utility ENGIE and the cleantech company Sunfire. The consortium will install, integrate and operate the world’s first high-temperature electrolyser (HTE) system in multi-megawatt-scale. The project consortium led by CEA, as project coordinator, is part of the EU Horizon 2020 FCH2-JU program with an overall funding of EUR 6.9 million.

A group of companies led by French public research organisation CEA plans to install a 2.6-MW high-temperature electrolyser (HTE) to produce green hydrogen in Rotterdam. The capacity could at a later stage be expanded up to 100 MW, according to the announcement on Wednesday.

The project is being developed at Neste’s renewable products refinery in Rotterdam. It will demonstrate the integration of HTE in an industrial refining process. The system will be able to make 60 kg of green hydrogen per hour reaching an electrical efficiency of up to 85% AC to LHV H2.

[] – MULTIPLHY – Green hydrogen for renewable products refinery
[] – Neste to host green hydrogen production
[] – What is Horizon 2020?
[] – Horizon Europe
[] – Consortium launches 2.6 MW Rotterdam green hydrogen project
[] – GrlnHy-2.0 project site (Green Industrial Hydrogen via Steam Electrolysis)
[] – Grüner Wasserstoff für Raffinerie in Rotterdam

Sunfire steam-to-hydrogen electrolyser in a steel factory in Salzgitter, Germany. Capacity 150 kW or 40 Nm3 (40 m3 at 1 bar and 0 C) per hour, with an electrolysis efficiency of more than 80%. In the fuel cell mode, the module in reverse can generate 30 kW.

Hydrogen Europe Announces 2 x 40 GW Electrolyser Plan

The Netherlands is one of the first western countries that has officially embraced the hydrogen economy and intends to play a prominent role in its development. And the most prominent person behind the hydrogen push in the Netherlands is professor-entrepreneur Ad van Wijk.

More than sufficient solar and wind resources in Europe available for a 100% renewable energy system, with hydrogen as storage (power-to-gas)

Although the renewable energy transition has broad public support in Europe, it’s out-role is considerably counteracted by the so-called NIMBY-phenomenon, especially in Germany. Most people are in favor of wind-turbines or high-voltage networks, only “not in my backyard”, mostly because of landscape and private property depreciation. To circumvent this, wind-turbines can increasingly be built offshore, power-lines obviously can’t. However, there is a work-around for that as well: the existing gas-infrastructure in Europe, that can be reused for renewable hydrogen distribution, the energy transmission capacity of which is at least a factor 10 larger than the capacity of the electricity grid.

The existing Dutch natural gas backbone is facing a new lease of life as a hydrogen backbone. The existing electricity grid + 10-15 GW hydrogen come close to a 100% renewable energy transition, without much additional infrastructure investment required.

Core statement Hydrogen Europe report:

We, the European hydrogen industry, are committed to develop a strong and worldleading electrolyser industry and market and to commit to produce renewable hydrogen at equal and eventually lower cost than low-carbon (blue) hydrogen. A prerequisite for that is that a 2×40 GW electrolyser market in the European Union and its neighbouring countries (e.g. North Africa and Ukraine) will develop up to 2030.

Europe has a world-class electrolyser industry (Germany, Britain, Norway, France), that can make the hydrogen economy happen.

[] – Hydrogen Europe project site
[] – Green Hydrogen for a European Green Deal 2×40 GW (pdf, 41p)

[deepresource] – Prof. Ad van Wijk
[deepresource] – NortH2 – The Netherlands Starting the Hydrogen Economy
[deepresource] – The Netherlands is Placing its Bets on the Hydrogen Economy
[deepresource] – Hydrogen Economy Taking Off in Europe
[deepresource] – Hystock Hydrogen Factory Opened in the Netherlands
[deepresource] – The Emerging Dutch Hydrogen Economy
[deepresource] – Hydrogen Delta

VDL-DAF Hydrogen Truck Test-Driving in the Netherlands


With 1.69 miljoen euro EU money from the H2-Share program, a 27 ton DAF truck with VDL drive-train, has started driving in the Netherlands in order to test driving on hydrogen fuel. Partners in this are Breytner transport, Rotterdam and Vlot Logistics. The German company Wystrach has developed a mobile hydrogen filling station to support hydrogen projects like these. It is the first H2-Share demonstration project and dates from 2017.

[] – Breytner Gaat VDL Waterstoftruck Testen
[] – H2Share fuel cell trucks begin tests in NW Europe
[] – H2-Share project site
[] – Breytner test e-truck met brandstofcel
[] – VDL, H2Share, Dynamic Charging, Helsinki (2017)

Milan Using Corona Crisis to Make City More Bike-Friendly

Milan is one of the most polluted cities in Italy, but thanks to Corona, the air in the city has really become cleaner. The city council doesn’t want to waste the Corona-crisis and seize its chance to push-back the use of the car in the city. 55% of the citizens of Milan already use public transport. The average travel distance in the city is 4 km, suitable to bridge with a bicycle or even walk. Milan now wants to re-model the city and make it more attractive for these two more modest modes of private transport, especially since the “6 feet society” will be around for the foreseeable future, giving walking and cycling a distinct advantage over public transport.

[] – Milaan grijpt coronacrisis aan om van autoparadijs een fietsstad te maken

SandTES – Storing Heat in Sand

Volatility of renewable energy generation asks for efficient thermal energy storage systems (TES). The novel TES of Vienna University of Technology (VUT) is based on sand and uses the fluidization principle, thus creating a highly efficient heat exchanger and storing heat at high temperature and large quantity in a cheap and uncritical storage medium.


 very low costs of the storage medium sand
 widely available natural material without hazard issues
 high specific heat capacity and density
 non-corrosive and stable over a very wide temperature range (100-800°C)

Potential Applications:

 Concentrating Solar Power
 Adiabatic Compressed air storage (CAS)
 Industrial Heat recovery (“Ash Cooler” after a fluidized bed combustion chamber)

Development Status:

A cold acrylic glass model allows for experimental testing, a 200kW prototype is under construction

[] – sandTES (link to pdf)
[] – SandTES – Storage System based on Powder Fluidization
[] – SandTES – A Novel Thermal Energy Storage Technology
[] – sandTES (2014)

AMADEUS High Temperature Storage Update

[] – EU project site
[deepresource] – Amadeus & 1414 Degrees Energy Storage

CAES Project in Canada

Youtube text:

And while theoretically, CAES could be a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to batteries, there are still a few things holding it back. But an updated version of this old technology, developed by the Canadian company Hydrostor, could give CAES the boost it needs to succeed.

[] – Hydrostor company site
[Google Maps] – Goderich, Ontaria

High-Temperature Ecovat

A university student studied the possibility and economic feasibility of extending the “low-temperature” warm water Ecovat concept into a high-temperature one, with pebbles as storage medium. As an example could serve an existing pebble bed storage in Ait Baha, Morocco.


Read more…

Ecovat Status Update

Ecovat is one of our favorite renewable energy concepts.

Current portfolio Ecovat (Jan 2020):

Panningen (Peel & Maasland), pre-engineering project, 500-750 homes
– Heerlen 2,000-3,000 homes
– Apeldoorn, pre-engineering, 4,300 homes
– Deventer, Zutphen & Zwolle (“Transform“), pre-engineering, 48,000 homes

Apart from a demonstration, the first real project has yet to be built. We hope this happens soon.

Come on Dutch municipalities, stick your neck out and help a Dutch potential key-technology to get launched.

[] – Voortgang & update Ecovat projecten (Jan 2020)
[] – Arnhem-Siza (“Het Dorp”) Ecovat afgeblazen (Jul 2019)
[deepresource] – Our Ecovat posts
[] – Ecovat missing link voor duurzame energie
[] – Ecovat zoekt geld voor expansie (Apr 2019)
[] – 1613 – 02 Hijsframe design (voor Ecovat)
[] – ‘Vergeten’ besparing Ecovat (Jul 2018, link to 16p pdf)
[] – Ecovat voorbeeld van energietransitie naast de deur
[] – Huizen verwarmen met een reuzethermosfles (Jul 2019)
[] – Ecovat verhuist naar de Poort van Veghel (Okt 2017)

Over drie jaar wil De Groot een leidende rol in Europa in thermische energieopslag. Het team van Ecovat betrekt daarom de hele zesde verdieping van Toren I, het pand direct aan de A50.

[] – Warmteopslag in basalt voor het ECOdorp in Boekel

Het voorgestelde Ecovatsysteem voor de Trekvlietzone in Den Haag voorziet een vat van 40.000 m3, goed voor 2500MWh, voor investeringslasten van 6 a 7 miljoen. Zit dus ergens rond de 2,5 cent/kWH, maar er is dus een kant en klaar plan, duizend keer zo groot. ECovat werkt met water van 90C en oogt iets beheersbaarder. De energiedichtheid bij ECovat zit op ongeveer 0,22GJ/m3 . Na een half jaar is nog ruim 90% van de opgeslagen warmte over.

Gasunie Joins World’s First Offshore Hydrogen Project

Since it is cheaper to transport hydrogen through an existing offshore pipeline grid rather than transporting the equivalent amount of electricity through submarine cables, the business case exists to install electrolyzers at sea, since an extensive oil & gas grid does exist at the North Sea floor. This is the essence of the PosHYdon project and today the Dutch natural gas giant Gasunie has decided to join that offshore hydrogen effort. The pilot project will be located on the Neptune Energy managed Q13a-A platform, 13 km out of the coast from Scheveningen, an existing oil platform. The hydrogen will be obtained from electrolysis of seawater.

Storing Dutch renewable energy will be inevitable as of 2030, hence the preparations need to start now. The fact that Gasunie has joined the project implies a big boost for the hydrogen ambitions of the Netherlands. Other participants: TNO, NAM and Total.

*** UPDATE 29-04-2020 *** Eneco joins as well.

[] – Gasunie
[] – PosHYdon eerste pilot voor groene waterstofproductie op zee
[] – Gasunie joins PosHYdon
[] – Gasunie Joins PosHYdon Pilot Project
[] – Neptune Energy company site

Hannover Messe 2019 – Hydrogen & Fuel Cells

Below a number of video presentations from the Hannover Messe 2019, “Hydrogen & Fuel Cells”.

Read more…

Playing Billiard With Photons

From your student days you might remember that, if you hadn’t been drinking too much, it was fairly easy to hit the billiard ball with the cue. In case you were sober, you might even have succeeded in hitting a second ball with the original one. If you really had talent, you regularly managed to hit a third ball as well, the purpose of the game, at least in the European version.

If you replace the first ball with a photon and the other two with electrons, we have a perfect analogy for a new branch of renewable energy sport, namely hitting and exciting two electrons with a single photon. Researchers at MIT are engaged in this sport for some time now and are finally able to report results, the upshot being that the theoretical upper efficiency limit for silicon solar cells of 29.1% could be broken with a few percentage points.

The key to splitting the energy of one photon into two electrons lies in a class of materials that possess “excited states” called excitons, Baldo says: In these excitonic materials, “these packets of energy propagate around like the electrons in a circuit,” but with quite different properties than electrons. “You can use them to change energy — you can cut them in half, you can combine them.” In this case, they were going through a process called singlet exciton fission, which is how the light’s energy gets split into two separate, independently moving packets of energy. The material first absorbs a photon, forming an exciton that rapidly undergoes fission into two excited states, each with half the energy of the original state.

This has been showing to work in organic (“plastic”) solar cells, with lower efficiency than silicon. Silicon however is not “excitonic”. The key to find a method that works for silicon as well, lies in treating the silicon surface rather than underlying bulk. The solution finally was adding a layer of a few atoms thick of hafnium oxynitride:

This trick increases the theoretical upper efficiency limit from 29.1% to 35%.

[] – An exciting boost for solar cells
[] – Two-for-One Deal for Photovoltaics
[] – Experiments show dramatic increase in solar cell output
[] – The Solar Cell That Turns 1 Photon into 2 Electrons

Underwater Solar Cells – Up to 65% Efficiency


As for solar cells relying on wide band-gap semiconductors operating underwater, the scientists estimated that their maximum theoretical efficiency stands between around 55% at two meters to more than 63% at 50 meters. “The large increase of the solar cell efficiency beyond the Shockley-Queisser limit, even in shallow waters (two meters), is due to the narrowing of the transmitted solar spectrum reaching the solar cell,” they explained. “An additional boost in efficiency can be achieved when the solar cells are operated in cold waters.”

Obviously you lose a lot of solar power, absorbed in the water body above the submerged panel. At least the panel won’t get overheated. And, finally your energy autonomous WW3 underwater doom-stead bungalow you always dreamed about, is now finally within reach.

[] – How do solar cells work underwater?
[] – Efficiency Limits of Underwater Solar Cells
[] – More efficient underwater PV cells with wide-band gap semiconductors

Organic Solar Cells Research Progress

New flexible organic cell that degrades by less than 5 percent over 3,000 hours in atmospheric conditions and has an efficiency of 13 percent.

If people think of solar cells, they probably think of blue, silicon-crystalline structures, commonly installed on roofs as part of a panel. These cells excel in high efficiency. There are however other types of emerging solar cells that can compete with conventional silicon-based cells on much lower cost, lower EROI and increased physical flexibility, even if they come with lower efficiency. So much so that if space is not scarce, like in a desert, they could out-compete conventional solar cells.

An international team has reported progress in terms of durability (less than 5% degradation over 3000 hours) and efficiency (13%).

[] – New Flexible, Efficient and Durable Ultrathin Organic Solar Cell
[] – Organic solar cell
[] – Over 16% efficiency organic photovoltaic cells
[] – 14.7% Efficiency Organic Photovoltaic Cells
[] – Ultrathin, flexible solar cell
[] – Organic solar cells: what you need to know
[] – Organic Solar Cell Breakthrough
[] – Characterization of perovskite and organic solar cells

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