Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “Austria”

International Attention for Ecovat

It’s wonderful, all these new developments with photo-voltaic solar panels, wind turbines and hydrogen storage, but space heating is still the largest chunk of a national energy budget, at least in Europe. The biggest decarbonization gains can be, and will have to be made, here.

Hence, it is to be greeted that an Austrian periodical pays attention to a promising Dutch startup Ecovat, that offers a solution for seasonal storage of heat in the soil.

[] – Attention for Ecovat in Austrian magazine
[] – AEE – Institut für Nachhaltige Technologien (1988)
[deepresource] – District Heating with Seasonal Storage in Vojens Denmark
[deepresource] – Our Ecovat posts

“2226” – Heating with Light, Humans and Devices Only

German language video, Lustenau, Austria.

Passive heating in Austria. Temperature all-year around guaranteed to be between 22-26 C, hence the qualifier “2226”. Office building with 100 work places. Humans themselves are “hot” and serve as heat sources of 80 Watt. And so are devices like computers, lights, coffee machines, printers, etc. The trick is to keep this modest amount of generated heat inside the walls, that are no less than 76 cm thick.

The windows are deep inside, to prevent that too much solar heat will penetrate into the building in the summer, eliminating the need for cooling with energy devouring air conditioners. If inside, the temperature gets too hot or the air too stuffy, valves in the outer walls are simply opened. No complicated network of pipes and pumps is installed. The resulting building is cheap and simple and hence low-maintenance.


So where’s the catch? An important point is to let go of the superfluous wish to completely control the temperature at say 22 C. By tolerating the temperature to vary between 22 and 26 C, you gain a lot of freedom to eliminate both heating and cooling and leave it to inhabitants to decide to work in a t-shirt or pullover. Another important point is the relatively large thermal mass inside the building, that acts as a buffer and temperature stabilizer.

German language video with English subs. Example Luzerne, Switzerland.

[] – Keine Heizung, trotzdem 26 Grad – das System „2226“ macht Bauen einfacher
[] – Lochziegel

German language video, Burgenland, Austria. If works for detached homes too.

[source] Building elements for a 2226 building

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)

Green Hydrogen in European Steel Production

[] – World’s largest “green” hydrogen pilot facility successfully commences operation
[] – Hydrogen In, Fossil Fuel Out For Leading Steelmaker, Eventually
[] – The project is carried out within an EU-framework
[] – Targeting a future without CO2

Thermal Solar Wood Chips Drying

Total collector size: 348 m2, used to dry 4,000 m3 wood chips per year.

Note how thin the collector really is

[] – Hackschnitzeltrocknung

Power to Gas: That’s how Wind Power is Stored

Technology has matured enough to produce effective wind turbines. The next technological challenge is how to store intermittent electricity generated by these wind turbines. The most promising technology is power-to-gas: use electricity from wind to split water in H2 and O2 molecules and burn (reunited) them at a later point in time.

This project produces 163 bar hydrogen, without the need of an external compressor. The resulting hydrogen can be directly fed into the existing natural gas network.

[] – Hydrogen technology
[] – Renewable energy? Let’s store it!

Nord Stream Pipeline to be Doubled


The Austrian oil company OMW has signed a memorandum of understanding that it wants to participate in the construction of two further legs of the existing Nord Stream pipeline Viborg-Greifswald. Additional partners: Royal-Dutch Shell, E-ON and Gazprom (51%).

Extra capacity: 55 billion m3/year.

[] – OMV will bei Gasprom-Pipeline „Nord Stream“ einsteigen
[] – Gazprom baut zwei neue Leitungen für Ostseepipeline
[] – Russia’s Gazprom to expand Nord Stream gas pipeline with E.ON, Shell, OMV

There is still a little problem though:

[source] Needs permission from the Americans

Time to go, Angie. This job is not for you. Hand over to Steinmeier or Gabriel, no elections needed.

Güssing, Austria – Fossil Fuel Free


Güssing, 100 miles south of Vienna, population 4000. In 1988 the annual fossil fuel bill amounted to $8.1 million. The community wanted to keep that money in town and started to look for ways to save energy and replace it with local sources. Answer: biomass, fueling a district heating system and in 1996 covered the entire town and generated electricity as well, all based on an area with 5 km radius. The city’s power plant produces on average 2 megawatts of electricity and 4.5 megawatts of heat, more than enough energy for the town’s needs, while only consuming one-third of the biomass that grows every year. In 2007 the NYT reported about the town, now they have a research institute focusing on ‘thermal and biological gasification and production of second-generation fuels’. Additionally 850 MW worth of solar panels are produced in Güssing, as well as several other photovoltaic and solar thermal companies. The town meanwhile earns $17 million per year due to locally produced renewable energy sales.

[google maps]

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