Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the month “September, 2021”

Stella Vita Solar Camper On its Way to Spain

Students from the TU Eindhoven in the Netherlands have developed a solar-powered camper van, named Stella Vita.

[] – The future of road trips? Students develop a ‘completely self-sufficient’ solar-powered electric CAMPER VAN that generates enough energy to drive, take a shower, watch TV, charge a laptop and even make coffee

Read more…

Navarra Irrigation Canal to host 160 MW Solar Panels

Similar projects have already been implemented in India.

[] – Canal in Spain may host 160 MW solar plant

Hydrogen or Batteries?

Dutch language video

If it comes down to weight, hydrogen still beats batteries, certainly for mobile applications. One such hydrostik of 19 gram contains almost 1 gram pure hydrogen under 30 bar, or 0.03 kWh.

A comparable lithium-ion battery has 0.003 kWh (800 mAh * 3.7V), a factor of 10 less energy, also at 19 gram weight.

A lot of progress has been made lately on the battery front, but the hydrogen car isn’t beaten yet.

[] – Hydrostik

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Henrik Stiesdal Into Grid Storage

The Godfather of the modern wind turbine, Henrik Stiesdal, is concentrating his efforts on solving the energy storage problem. His company has developed a system called GridScale, a pumped thermal energy storage system, that provides a significant part of the “missing link” in the green transition, aiming at expanding the typical buffer time from the Li-ion hours range to 10 days.

[] – Stiesdal Storage Technologies
[] – Henrik Stiesdal
[] – Grid-scale energy storage

World’s Oldest CSP Plant Retired

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

Most of SEGS’s 1984 356 MW CSP thermal solar plants in the Californian desert are, or are to be retired. Some units have been replaced by PV-parks. In the US, solar power generation consisted of 3.3% solar thermal power, with the remaining 96.7% utility-scale solar PV. In 2015 the last US solar thermal plant was built. CSP enjoys more interest outside the US.

[] – World’s Longest-Operating Solar Thermal Facility Is Retiring Most Of Its Capacity

Break-even Price Natural Gas and Green Hydrogen in Sight

At current natural gas prices of 65 euro/MWh and 60 euro per ton CO2-tax, green hydrogen becomes competitive.

In all the misery of the high (import) gas price, there is also consolation: the break-even price for green hydrogen is now 3 €/kg. Almost all analysts expect that we will be able to produce this alternative to natural gas ourselves for 1-2 €/kg in the not too distant future.

The cumbersome and somewhat random process of looking for new sources of fossil fuel could be almost over and can be replaced by merely sticking a wet finger up in the air, so to speak.

[] – Martien Visser

China on the Verge of Testing a Thorium Reactor

China is about to start up a thorium reactor in the desert in the North of China. The output of the prototype is sufficient for merely 1000 homes. If the test delivers the desired results, an upscaled model will be designed to power 100,000 homes. In the long run, China intends to export this technology.

A few key data points concerning thorium: no plutonium, waste radio-active for 300, rather than tens of thousands of years, half-life 30 years, far more thorium reserves than uranium (think thousands of years), 1 gram thorium = 2500 liter gasoline. China and others think that commercial thorium reactors could be operational by 2040.

Is everything rosy? Perhaps, perhaps not. The main concern is that intense radiation and corrosive salts, combined with high temperatures, could damage the reactor over a few years. Only time will tell. But the world will be watching the developments in China with great interest.

[] – China prepares to test thorium-fuelled nuclear reactor
[] – China is gearing up to activate commercial nuclear reactor
[] – Why China is developing a thorium-fuelled nuclear reactor
[] – Thorium-based nuclear power
[] – Occurrence of thorium
[] – China een stap dichter bij een thorium reactor
[Google Maps] – Wuwei, location thorium reactor

Perovskite Solar Cells Could be the Future of Energy

First Officially Inhabited Printed Home in Europe

3D-printed homes aren’t new, but in the Netherlands an exemplar has been released for official habitation. This 94 m2 ground-level space is a co-production of the TU-Eindhoven and the Vesteda housing corporation. Four more printed homes are to follow. If all works properly (it didn’t the first time, which was to be expected), the job could have been done within 120 hours, as printing robots don’t need rest. Rent commercial market: ca. €1600/month.

The main environmental upshot is that less cement will be required per m2 living space.

[] – Project site
[] – First tenants move into 3D-printed home in Eindhoven
[] – Dutch couple become Europe’s first inhabitants of a 3D-printed house

Wijk aan Zee Staycation Pictures

Ran unexpectedly into this visible aspect of the Dutch renewable energy transition during a recent sea-side holiday: grid operator TenneT laying the cable that will connect future offshore wind farms near the coast of Wijk aan Zee and the Dutch national grid, see map below. The to be connected wind farms “Hollandse Kust Noord (HKN)” and “Hollandse Kust West-Alpha” are planned to be up-and-running in 2023 and 2024 resp. For that purpose, 69 Siemens-Gamesa turbines will be deployed in this HKN 759 MW project, developed by Shell and Eneco; installer: van Oord:

Total Dutch offshore wind capacity is planned to be 11 GW by 2030.

[] – Shell-Eneco Consortium Wins Hollandse Kust (Noord) Tender
[] – Siemens Gamesa Turbines for Hollandse Kust (Noord)
[] – Waar ligt de netaansluiting Hollandse Kust (noord) en (west Alpha)?
[] – Net op zee Hollandse Kust (noord) en (west Alpha)
[] – Windmolenproject voor kust van Wijk aan Zee naar volgende fase

The pictures were taken at location WKT1.

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Gravity Battery

Commercial Demonstration Unit August 2020 – Arbedo-Castione

With wide-spread hydropower facilities, constant threats of avalanches and mud slides, as well as trains having to bridge altitude differences all day, Alpine country Switzerland knows a thing or two about potential energy: the energy that can be won by lowering big masses of matter and converting it into kinetic energy.

But now they might be pushing it a little too much, as they are embarking on an uphill-struggle, pun intended.

Reuters – Energy Vault, a developer of utility-scale battery storage technology backed by SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T) and the venture arm of Saudi Aramco (2222.SE), has raised $100 million in a funding round, its chief executive told Reuters on Tuesday (21 Aug 2021).

Energy Vault offers a design of a gravity storage systems that stacks 35 ton concrete blocks upon each other with cranes to build towers, converting excess electricity from regardless which source, into potential energy. The density of concrete is about 2.4 times that of water. If electricity is required, the tower is torn down in a (hopefully) controlled manner. Round-trip efficiency 90%. In Switzerland, the concrete blocks can be produced locally. Intended max. tower height: ca. 130 meter, a large church tower. Capacity: 35 MWh.

To illustrate the point, here my holiday pictures of 2012:

[deepresource] – Mattmark Hydro Power Plant

This is a medium-sized storage, able to produce 130 MW for merely a couple of hours. Total storage capacity of the lake: 77,500,000 m3 or 77,500,000 tonnes at a height difference of almost 1500 m or 254.5 GWh in energy terms. In other words, the midsized mountain lake of Mattmark contains 7300 times more energy than the proposed concrete tower. Switzerland has 556 hydroelectric power plants.

The gravity battery could be ideal to illustrate the concept of potential energy to students, but one of those suffice for that purpose. To solve the energy storage problem, they are merely a gimmick. 35 MWh, that’s the equivalent of 1000 kg hydrogen, that can be stored as NH3 or methanol or borohydride in a container of a few m3.

[] – SoftBank-backed storage developer Energy Vault raises $100 mln
[] – Energy Vault
[] – Energy Vault company site
[Google Maps] – Arbedo-Castione Energy Vault

LeydenJar Battery Startup Collects €22 million

A little physics excursion to 1745 and the invention of de Leidse Fles (Leyden Jar).

LeydenJar Eindhoven has collected €22 million, which could enable the company to go public quickly, on the basis of a SPAC IPO, with a technological battery innovation. Their selling point: by applying a 100% silicon anode, they achieve a spectacular energy density of 1.35 kWh/liter. This technology could increase the efficiency of lithium-ion batteries with 70%. Additionally, the CO2-emissions, tied to the production of lithium-ion batteries, could be reduced by 85%. LeydenJar aims at deals with large battery manufacturers, like Tesla.

Financial stakeholders: ING, Invest-NL and the BOM. The workforce, currently at 20, should be expanded to 70 in the coming few years.

Yet another nail in the coffin of the gasoline/diesel car.

[] – De Eindhovense accustartup LeydenJar haalt €22 miljoen op en mikt op een beursgang via een SPAC
[] – Company site
[] – Technology white paper
[] – Leyden jar
[] – Silicon anode startup Leydenjar raises money for the home stretch
[] – Proeffabriek van Leyden Jar in Eindhoven haalt doel met superbatterij

1 GW Electrolyser in Esbjerg

The port of Esbjerg, bustling with offshore activity.

Esbjerg, the unofficial capital of North Sea offshore wind, will harbor a 1 GW electrolyser to produce green hydrogen from North Sea offshore wind, the largest in Europe. Estimated hydrogen production: 90,000 mt/year. Planned production start date: 2024. Project developer, the Swiss company H2 Energy Europe. The company has experience with producing green hydrogen in Switzerland and fuels a local fleet of 50 trucks, a number that will grow to 1600 in the coming years. H2 Energy partners with the Norwegian electrolyser company Nel Hydrogen.

[] – H2 Energy’s 1 GW Danish green hydrogen project to supply trucks, stations, industry
[] – Large-Scale Offshore Wind-to-Hydrogen Project in Denmark
[] – Major green hydrogen power-to-x facility planned in Esbjerg
[Google Maps] – Esbjerg

Danish Energy Island Design

The design of a Danish renewable energy in the middle of the North Sea is taking shape.

[] – Energy islands with minimal environmental impact
[] – Why use sand over hard structures to protect energy islands

Dutch Renewable Electricity Share 2015-2021

Dutch 12-month moving average share renewable electricity

[] – Martien Visser

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