Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the month “October, 2020”

Dutch Brewery Fueled by Iron Powder

The 100 kW iron fuel installation at the Swinkels brewery

During an incubation period, a team of students of the Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands, known under the project name “Team Solid”, build a 25 kW installation to test the concept of burning iron powder in order to drive a Stirling engine. Now the technology has left the laboratory stage and went prime time in a brewery near the university.

[] – Project site
[] – TU/e demonstrates iron fuel at brewery Bavaria: a new circular and CO2-free fuel for the industry
[deepresource] – Iron Powder as a Fuel
[deepresource] – TU-Eindhoven Gets Grant to Further Develop Metal Fuels
[deepresource] – Metal Fuel Gets a Subsidy Boost

Pictures of the installation at the Swinkels brewery in Lieshout

The ambition level is high: 10 MW installations in 2024, by 2030 retrofitting an existing coal power plant (think 1 GW).

Some doubts remain regarding the efficiency of this energy storage type:

[] – Energieopslag in ijzerpoeder bij Bavaria, innovatief maar inefficiënt

Response project leader Tim Spee to this “wattisduurzaam” article: estimated efficiency complete iron fuel cycle ca. 65%. 85-90% of the combustion heat can be converted in useful process heat. For a complete cycle the efficiency of converting renewable electricity into process steam for brewing beer is 55-59%.

How to reduce iron oxide back to iron powder? This is a problem the metal fuel people have in common with people running a steel plant, with iron ore as input:

Energy Quay Walls

The Netherlands are an extremely water-rich country, with more than 5,000 km navigable waterways/canals. They come with more than 10,000 km quay walls (Dutch: kademuren).

Many of them made from steel.

Typical Dutch situation: canals demarcated by steel plates, that can serve as “energy walls”

Steel is a very good thermal conductor, much better than soil. Here is the idea: mount steel pipes to the steel quay walls and ensure good thermal conductivity. Pump a suitable fluid through the pipe-network and use it to extract heat from the canal and use it as input to heat pumps. The energy harvesting potential is considerable. Estimated COP values: up to 5-6 and can be used for both heating and cooling. Power: 500 Watt/m2. The quay walls are existing infrastructure and can be upgraded at relatively low cost.

[] – Energie winnen uit stalen damwanden
[google maps] – De Zweth
[] – Contractor Crux BV
[] – German partner and patentholder
[] – Gooimeer BV produces quay wall in license

Read more…

UK Probably Opts for New Nuclear Power Station

It’s official, the French state-owned company EDF is going to build a new nuclear power station in Sizewell, Suffolk, UK. Price tag £20bn (€22.2bn) and it will take about 10 years to build. Capacity: 3.2 GW. 25,000 new jobs.

Earlier Hitachi withdrew from a nuclear project in Wylfa on Anglesey.

[] – New nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk is set to be given the green light after government talks with energy giant EDF
[] – Sizewell nuclear power stations

Cessna Converted into e-Plane

Students of the Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands converted a standard Cessna into an e-plane in a matter of two years. And since the electro motor is much lighter than the old kerosene engine, spare capacity for batteries is automatically created. First flight planned for later in 2021. The range will be less than with fossil fuel. Replacing the batteries with hydrogen and fuel cell is a long-term aim.

[] – Van e-auto’s naar e-vliegtuigen: de TU/e vliegt er al mee

Germany About to be Ready for Autonomous Driving Level 4

French Renault Symbioz had level 4 autonomous driving as early as 2017

Germany could be the first country in the world to allow SAE Level 4 autonomous driving on its roads. Rumored first date: summer 2021.

[] – German law aims to be first for driverless cars
[] – Explaining Level 4 And Level 5 Of Self-Driving Cars In Plain English
[] – Deutschland will bis 2021 Regulierung verabschieden
[] – Daimler – Bau von massenhaft selbstfahrenden Taxis ab 2021 geplant

Daimler-Benz intends to have 10,000 autonomous driving taxis on Germany’s roads.

[deepresource] – “By 2030 You Won’t Own a Car”

Autonomous driving has the potential to push back private car ownership and distribute an already declining need for transport capacity over far fewer cars. Most cars/vans could become taxis, owned by corporations. The typical situation of cities full with parked cars, standing by idle, could become history.

[] – Vroom, vroom, automated cars ready to zoom

China not very far behind.

French Renault Symbioz in 2020

Solar Farm Material Input per Unit of Energy

Australian nuclear lobby club “Bright New World” came with figures to diss solar power plants. The real numbers from the Kentucky Solar Farm (KSF) were offset against BNW figures.

[] – Material Input per Unit of Energy
[] – Bright New World site

Local Storage to Combat Grid Capacity Limits

Boer (farmer) in Wintelre in the South of the Netherlands. Wants to install solar panels on his large stable roofs, but gets no permission, because the grid capacity is maxed-out.

What to do if you as a Dutch farmer have money burning in your pocket, ready to invest in renewable energy infrastructure, but you won’t get permission because the local grid has not (yet) any spare capacity to absorb all that renewable electricity. Are you stuck? Not really. How about using that electricity for thermal storage, either in cold ice or hot water?

A few facts about Dutch farmers: there are about 54 thousand of them, exploiting ca. 2/3 of all Dutch lands, each farm having on average a balance sheet of +3.5 million euro. Modern day Dutch farmers are entrepreneurs and are pretty successful at that. They are not afraid to maintain relations with banks and to invest substantial amounts of money if they see an advantage. And since the Netherlands is so densely populated, that the country almost can be seen as a city-state, where communities are never far away. No big deal to lay a cable between an electricity-producing farm and local consumers of that electricity… in the form of heat and thus avoid the grid.

Here the idea:

Farmers, banks and municipalities cooperate in a financing scheme, where farmers use their stables and perhaps parts of their land to generate electricity with solar panels, per definition mostly in the summer and use that electricity to power heat-pumps that will “charge” large underground water vessels with heat, to be discharged in the winter to heat homes. Note that in this scheme, solar intermittency will have become a non-issue as solar electricity supply maybe be unreliable on an hourly, daily or even weekly basis, it is rather reliable on a season basis. On top of that, by using smart thermal charging strategies and using incremental heating (low temperature differences between input and output), a heat pump can usually operate at a high COP-value, like close to 4.5, making this energetically a very advantageous scheme.

[] – There’s a Simple Way to Store Renewable Energy, And We Already Have The Technology

[] – Panelen op dak van de stal? Helaas, het stroomnet zit vol

Producing Green Hydrogen Using Thermolysis

Renewable energy generation has arrived at a stage where the issue of storage no longer can be ignored. A major storage candidate is hydrogen or one of its many derivatives. Key technology for producing green hydrogen is electrolysis. However, there is another technology waiting in the wings to be explored: thermolysis.

Thermochemical water splitting uses high temperatures—from concentrated solar power or from the waste heat of nuclear power reactions—and chemical reactions to produce hydrogen and oxygen from water. This is a long-term technology pathway, with potentially low or no greenhouse gas emissions… Thermochemical water splitting processes use high-temperature heat (500°–2,000°C) to drive a series of chemical reactions that produce hydrogen. The chemicals used in the process are reused within each cycle, creating a closed loop that consumes only water and produces hydrogen and oxygen.

[] – Hydrogen Production: Thermochemical Water Splitting
[] – Thermal decomposition
[] – Water splitting

A “Solar Water Cracker” with a concentrator of about 100 m² can produce almost one kilogram of hydrogen per sunshine hour.

EU-funded project in Spain, Hydrosol-2, is a 100 kW project in Spain, where solar thermal heat is transformed into hydrogen production through splitting of water.


The German Aerospace Center DLR has built the largest “artificial sun” on earth in order to optimize hydrogen production. The DLR is able to reach temperatures of up to 3000 C.

[] – Synlight

UK to Build 1400 MW Wind Park at Dogger Bank

The German energy company Innogy intends to use 100 SG-14 Siemens-Gamesa 14 MW turbines for a new offshore wind park called “Sofia” at Dogger Bank in the North Sea, on behalf of the British government.

[] – Project site
[] – Sofia CfD success for innogy

Airbus AlbatrosOne Flapping Wingtips Plane

[] – How the albatross is inspiring next generation of aircraft wings
[] – Airbus past spanwijdte Albatross One aan
[] – Airbus has a plane with flapping wingtips

Exeger Powerfoyle

[] – Company site
[] – Dye-sensitized solar cell

Renewable Share Dutch Electricity Production

Solar and wind in 2020 represent 20% share total electricity production. In 2019 it was 15%, in 2018 12%.

In 2030 it will be 70%, if national climate accord targets will be met.

[] – Martien Visser grafiek van de dag

The Netherlands Sets Another Crucial Decarbonization Step


The Dutch grid operators have announced a rigorous renewal and reinforcement of the national grid to the tune of 40 billion euro until 2030, to deal with larger amounts of (renewable) electricity.

[] – Netbeheerders presenteren definitieve investeringsplannen: elektriciteitsnet wordt rigoureus verzwaard

Why Leave All Solar Panel Production to China?

The Dutch and German research institutes TNO and ISC Konstanz have combined technologies (“backcontact-technology”) and introduced a new solar panel, produced by the Dutch manufacturer Energyra.

This development is in line with EU ambitions to increase production of solar panels in Europe, become less dependent on Asia and reduce onerous environmental shipping overhead.

[] – Energyra en TNO lanceren uniek Europees Zonnepaneel

[] – Company site

[] – Doorstart voor failliete Nederlandse zonnepanelenfabriek

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