Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “Australia”

Water Desalinization With Sunlight

A global research team has been able to transform brackish water and seawater into safe, clean drinking water in less than 30 minutes using metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and sunlight.

In a discovery that could provide potable water for millions of people across the world, researchers were not only able to filter harmful particles from water and generate 139.5L of clean water per kilogram of MOF per day, but also perform this task in a more energy-efficient manner than current desalination practices.

[] – Breakthrough technology purifies water using the power of sunlight
[] – ‘Light responsive’ technology turns seawater into clean drinking water in less than 30 minutes
[] – Metal–organic framework (MOF)

3D-Printed Houses Update

Westerlo, Belgium

3D-house printing could mean the end of the misery of all these shanty towns around the world. As a rule-of-thumb, a family can afford and finance a home that costs 3 times the yearly income. For $4000,- that means almost everybody on the planet. By the turn of the century, all people around the world living in a 3D-printed home, with a flat panel, space-based internet and solar panels on the roof, is a positive and realistic vision, something to work towards.

[] – 3D-printed model home by Kamp C in Westerlo
[] – Grand Design: How 3D Printing Could Change Our World
[deepresource] – 3D-Printed Home for $4000,-
[] – How 3D Printing Can Help Power the Energy Industry


[] – This building in Dubai is the largest 3D-printed structure in the world — and it took just 3 workers and a printer to build it

Australia to Become Renewable Energy Super Power

Australia has discovered ammonia as a potential carrier of hydrogen fuel. Australia has what wealthy, densely populated Asian countries like Japan and Korea haven’t: large amounts of empty, sunlit desert spaces, that all of a sudden could play a major role in the developing global hydrogen economy. Spaces that could be used to build huge solar panel arrays, the electricity output of which could be converted into hydrogen and ammonia, to be sold on global energy markets.

What the Australian institute CSIRO achieved is a novel way how to gain hydrogen back from storage medium ammonia, using metal membrane technology:

[] – CSIRO Demonstrates Ammonia-to-Hydrogen Fueling System
[] – Hydrogen fuel breakthrough could fire up massive new export market
[] – Metal membrane for hydrogen separation
[] – Hydrogen Could Power Australia’s Next Export Boom

Read more…

Yara Green Ammonia

The French multinational electric utility company ENGIE and the Norwegian chemical company Yara International ASA are combining forces, together with the Australian government, to study the production of green ammonia from renewable hydrogen, intended to be used as a raw material fertilizer and as a means to store renewable energy. The intention is to set up a plant in Pilbara, Western Australia.

Independently, the Australian government has allocated $44m for a green hydrogen project, with an electrolyzer capacity of at least 10MW.

[] – Yara and ENGIE to test green hydrogen technology in fertilizer production
[] – Yara to study ammonia production with green hydrogen
[] – Australia opens $44m funding round for green hydrogen
[] – Yara International
[] – Engie

Growing Crops in the Australian Desert with Seawater

All you need to create a vegetable oasis in the middle of the desert is a pipeline to the sea, a CSP-power station and simple thermal-based desalinization installation. No need for fossil fuel or ground water extraction. It is difficult to come up with a more sustainable solution than this. In this century we don’t need oil pipelines, we need sea-water pipelines to bring life to the desert.

Sundrop Farms is a developer, owner and operator of high tech greenhouse facilities which grow crops using methods which reduce reliance on finite natural resources when compared to conventional greenhouse production. Sundrop Farms opened its first pilot facility in Port Augusta, South Australia, in 2010 (operating as Seawater Greenhouse Australia Pty Ltd). This facility was originally designed as a Seawater Greenhouse. However, significant technology changes led to the Sundrop System, and the dissolution of the joint venture with Seawater Greenhouse Ltd. Sundrop Farms commissioned an expanded 20 ha facility south of Port Augusta in 2016. Sundrop Farms has offices in London, UK and Adelaide, Australia. In October 2016, Sundrop Farms was operating greenhouses in Portugal, the United States and had another facility planned in Australia.

At that point [2008] Sundrop Farms was just a “two-person business”, involving now chief executive and German-born former investment banker Philipp Saumweber and Dutch civil engineer and chief technical officer Reinier Wolterbeek, and a theory of integrating solar power, electricity generation, fresh water production and hydroponics to grow crops in non-traditional conditions.

Project data:

– Officially launched in October 2016, after 6 years incubation
– Production ca. 15,000 tonnes of tomatoes/year (15% Australian market)
– Tomato plants are grown hydroponically (without soil)
– Sea water pipe: 45 cm diameter, 5 km long, flow 1,000 m3/day
– CSP plant of 23,000 mirrors for electricity (39 MW) and desalinization
– CSP tower 115 m
– Farm can operate pesticide-free
– Left-over brine is transported back to the sea
– Size greenhouse 20 hectare (200,000 m2)
– The CSP plant is Danish, the greenhouse Dutch
– Price 134 million euro

[] – Sundrop Farms project site
[] – Sundrop Farms
[] – Hydroponics
[] – These farms use sun and seawater to grow crops in the arid desert
[] – New owners for Sundrop Farms
[] – Sundrop Farms
[] – Sundrop Farms pioneering solar-powered greenhouse
[] – Nederlander kweekt 17.000 ton zoete tomaten op zeewater

Lithium-Sulfur Battery Breakthrough

Researchers from Monash University in Australia have presented a lithium-sulfur (Li-S) battery that they claim will enable mobile phone batteries with a charge that lasts five days or car batteries with a range of 1,000 km. The battery cells have been produced in Germany at the Fraunhofer Institute and were tested and patented in Australia.

[] – ‘World’s Most Efficient Battery’ Can Power a Smartphone For Five Days
[] – World’s most efficient lithium-sulfur battery
[] – Supercharging tomorrow: Monash develops world’s most efficient lithium-sulfur battery

Solar Team Eindhoven Wins World Solar Challenge in Australia

The World Solar Challenge has resulted in a broadly supported startup called “Lightyear One“, that has begun producing solar powered cars for the market. Perhaps this car can participate as a non-competing guest in WSC-2021?

Solar Team Eindhoven won for the fourth time in a row the World Solar Challenge in Australia in the cruiser class (family car). The Low Countries dominated anyway, with Team Agoria of the the University of Leuven winning the speed racing class, when Delft University had to abandon at 90% of race at pole position when their vehicle burned out completely.

Dutch PM Mark Rutte congratulates Solar Team Eindhoven

The 2019 innovation was the autonomous driving aspect, enabling the car to find a sunny spot all by itself.

[] – Lightyear One company site
[] – It’s Cruise Control All The Way From Solar Team Eindhoven
[] – Bridgestone guarantees another decade of WSC sponsorship
[] – Dutch company develops partly solar powered car

Australia’s Booming Renewable Energy Industry Starts Hitting Hurdles

Up to 530,000 Potential Pumped Hydro Storage Locations


The best way to store large amounts of renewable energy in order to be able to bridge a couple of hours, for instance during the night, is still pumped hydro storage, currently covering more than 90% of the world’s electricity storage capacity. For this you don’t need a river, it suffices to have two nearby reservoirs, like lakes, at a different altitude. If you have excess renewable energy you can use it to pump water from the lower to the more elevated reservoir. If you have not enough renewable energy, you can release water from the higher reservoir into the lower and use the falling water to drive turbines and generate electricity. The round-trip efficiency is something like 80%.

Researchers from the Australian National University have identified 530,000 sites that could serve as a potential pumped hydro storage site. In reality that number will be lower, because of a lot of factors that were not considered in this study. But, the university stresses that the world only needs of fraction of that 530,000 locations to achieve a 100% renewable energy base.

Takeaway point: there is more than enough potential for pumped hydro storage.

[] – ANU finds 530,000 potential pumped-hydro sites worldwide
[] – Geographic information system algorithms to locate prospective sites for pumped hydro energy storage

Australian University Turns CO2 Back Into Coal Again

With fluid metal as catalyst, Australian scientists from the RMIT university succeeded in turning CO2 back in coal again at room-temperature.

[] – Forscher wandeln Kohlendioxid wieder in Kohle um
[] – Room temperature CO2 reduction to solid carbon species on liquid metals featuring atomically thin ceria interfaces

Expansion Shoalhaven Pumped Hydro Scheme To 475 MW

[] – Shoalhaven Pumped Hydro Scheme To Double To 475 MW

Solar Driving – State of the Art

Darwin-Adelaide 3021 km (Stuart Highway)

Available data World Solar Challenge 2017:

[] – The 41 teams
[] – Dashboard, timing

Speed racing

Nuna Solar Team TU Delft: 3021 km, 14:10:41, average speed 81.2 km/h


Solar Team TU Eindhoven: average speed 69 km/h, 6 charges, 10197 person-km, 45.7 kWh external energy, average passengers: 3.4, energy efficiency (person-km/kWh) 223.2

Note that the external energy was necessary due to the long distance of 3021 km in merely 6 days. If the available time would have been 12 days, no extra electricity would have been required. In other words, the daily range without external (grid) charging (but “24h” solar charging) under Australian conditions in October would be ca. 250 km with 5 persons.

Eindhoven btw drove with 5 persons until a major technical malfunction occurred, after which no risks were taken and a single driver-passenger completed the race alone, which pressed down the passenger average. If you offset these 250 km with a daily average distance of merely 37 km in an industrialized country like Holland, you can verify that an energy-autonomous car is not a pipe-dream at all.

[] – Stuart Highway

Read more…

2015 World Solar Challenge Award Ceremony Closing Video

One month to go to the Solar Challenge 2017 in Australia.

Dutch participants:

Technical University Eindhoven

Technical University Delft

Technical University Twente

Global LNG Trade 2016

Australia replaced Qatar as the largest exporter.

[] – Natural Gas 2017 – overview
[] – Global LNG trade continued to increase in 2016, with Australia replacing Qatar as largest LNG supplier to OECD Asia

Amadeus & 1414 Degrees Energy Storage

Amadeus is a EU project that investigates the potential to store large amounts of energy in high-temperature molten materials, like silicon and boron.

1414 °C is the melting point of silicon. A company in Adelaide, Australia, has named itself 1414 Degrees and claims to have achieved a breakthrough in energy storage by bringing down storage cost per kWh with a factor of 10 compared with lithium-ion. Based on the latent heat in molten silicon. Energy is fed to containers with silicon in order to melt it. Due to the high latent heat capacity of silicon, much energy is stored during the phase change from solid to fluid silicon. A cube with a rib of 70 cm is said to be able to store 500 kWh. Silicon has a density of 2.33 ton/m3. One tone or 429 liter silicon would suffice to power 28 homes for a day. That would amount to 36 times the capacity of a 14-kWh Tesla Powerwall-2 lithium-ion battery. The company however doesn’t target individual households and doesn’t aim to compete with batteries but instead is aiming at “district heating, major industry, electricity producers and suburb-scale residential developments”. At a large scale the claim is that 1 MWh can be stored at the cost of $70,- or 7 cent/kWh. The number of charge/discharge cycles is said to be virtually unlimited.

[] – EU Amadeus project
[] – Extremely high-temperature TES prototype development in Europe
[] – Thermionic emission
[] – Hybrid thermionic-photovoltaic converter
[] – What is Horizon 2020?
[] – Next GenerAtion MateriAls and Solid State DevicEs for Ultra High Temperature Energy Storage and Conversion
[] – Europe to Lead Research Project for Energy Storage in Molten Silicon
[] – Innovative molten silicon-based energy storage system

1414 Degrees
[] – Official site
[] – Molten silicon used for thermal energy storage
[] – Latent heat
[] – Silicon Energy Storage Technology Scales Up for Commercial Production
[] – Startup Says Molten Silicon Will Make Lithium-Ion Storage ‘Uneconomic.’
[] – Molten Silicon thermal energy storage system has higher energy density and ten times lower cost than lithium ion batteries for utility storage

Read more…

“Don’t Worry About Intermittency Under 30-40% Renewable Energy Share”

Paul Graham, Chief economist, CSIRO energy, studied the Australian electricity grid

The Australian government’s chief scientific body says there is no apparent technical impediment to reaching 100 per cent renewables for the national electricity grid, and levels of up to 30 per cent renewable energy should be considered as just “trivial” in current energy systems… Graham said the challenges could start to emerge when the penetration of wind and solar move above 40 per cent –as it has in South Australia, which explains why it is focusing on storage and is finally getting traction on its call for changes to energy market rules.

“When we do modelling where we increase the renewable penetration above around 40 per cent of the energy delivered (where South Australia is now) that starts to force out some of that existing dispatchable generation, and then we find that you need to add other technologies to support renewables,’ Graham said.

[] – CSIRO says Australia can get to 100 per cent renewable energy
[] – Paul Graham, CSIRO
[] – CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation)
[] – Paul Graham, Australians can have zero-emission electricity, without blowing the bill
[] – Baseload power is a myth: even intermittent renewables will work

Solar Team Twente Presents “Red Shift”

This year the University of Twente in the Netherlands will again participate in the World Solar Challenge in Australia.

The students have presented their new solar car called “Red Shift” at the Twente Airbase in the presence of the Australian ambassador, who returned home with a bottle of “Twent’s bier” [0:57]. In 2015 Twente ended second. Twente is confident that they will win this year.

[] – Official site
[] – Solar Team Twente
[] – Solar Team Twente presenteert Red Shift-zonneauto



Weight 139 kg and achieves 90 kmh with the energy of a small water-cooker.

Musselroe Wind Farm Tasmania

Configuration: 56 Vestas V90-3MW wind turbines, with a generating capacity of 168 MW. Commission date 2014.

[] – Musselroe Wind Farm
[Google Maps] – Location Musselroe wind farm
[] – Abel Tasman

Abel Tasman

Iron Ore Mining for Wind Turbines

World map of countries that matter in iron production. Global annual production 3.3 billion ton. China (1.4), Australia (0.8) and Brazil (0.4) together produce ca. 82% of that amount.

For the global renewable energy transition to work, hundreds of thousands of steel wind towers, monopiles and nacelle’s need to be built. The good news is, the iron is there and currently relatively cheap.

Price iron ore: $85/ton [source]
Price steel plate: $470/ton [source]
(Steel plate can be used to manufacture monopiles and towers, see video at the bottom)

Weight of a large offshore wind turbine:

Tower head mass: 60 ton/MW [pdf]
Monopile 5 MW turbine: 2200 ton [source] (strong correl. with water depth)
Tower 5 MW turbine 100 m: 389 ton [pdf]

Rule of thumb 5 MW offshore wind turbine steel requirements: 300 + 2200 + 400 = 2900 ton

One million 5 MW offshore wind turbines require 2.9 billion ton or 88% annual global steel production.

Total world electricity consumption was 19,504 TWh in 2013. [source]
Annual electricity production 5 MW offshore ind turbine: 15 million kWh or 15 GWh

In other words: with 1.3 million offshore 5 MW wind turbines you have your global 2013 electricity consumption covered, if you ignore for a moment aspects like storage. And this time entirely fossil free, which was the purpose of the operation. But this ‘back-of-an-envelope’ exercise should give you an idea of the scale of the challenge.

[] – List of countries by iron ore production
[] – True giants of mining: World’s top 10 iron ore mines

Offshore wind turbine monopile production from steel plate.

Solar Challenge 2015

[] – World Solar Challenge

[] – Results “Challenger Class”:

1. Netherlands Delft University [video]
2. Netherlands Twente University [video]
3. Japan Tokai University [video]

[] – Results “Cruiser Class”

1. Japan Kogakuin University [video]
2. Netherlands Eindhoven University [video]
3. Australia University of New South Wales [video]

Post Navigation