Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “projects”

Citizen Renewable Energy

It’s possible to have energy without big government or big corporations.

A film about the citizen-led community-energy movement in Europe and the visionaries lighting the way.

Imagine upending the traditional energy system and giving the power of clean electricity production back to your neighbors. We the Power follows friends, families and visionaries as they break down legislative barriers and take power back from big energy companies to put it in the hands of locals and strengthen their towns. The film chronicles local cooperatives from deep in Germany’s Black Forest to the streets of ancient Girona in Spain and the urban rooftops of London, England, as they pave the way for a renewable energy revolution and build healthier, financially stable communities.

Floating Solar in the Netherlands

Tynaarlo, 6 hectares, 23,000 solar panels, 8.4 MW, 2,300 households.

[] – A big stepping stone towards the energy transition
[Google Maps] – Tynaarlo floating solar park

Solar Air Heater

Private preparations for a ‘sustainable future’ are progressing satisfactorily:

– Solar panels gave me 1450 kWh in the first year on a household consumption of 1550 kWh; that’s almost full coverage.
– Three seasons of running a vegetable garden, making substantial progress every season. Coming season the full garden will be available, providing 100% of potatoes and vegetables. Additionally a greenhouse will be installed in February after the last tree stubs will have been removed and 100 m2 will be available for gardening, enough for two persons.
– Freezers and generator backup are in place.

Motivation: anticipating a global financial “Big Reset“, as well as creating a pension plan not (entirely) based on paper assets. “Peak oil” is of secondary concern only.

The last item on the prepper todo list is space heating support. For that purpose 10 m x 1.6 m garden fence facing South-West is available. The idea is to construct a huge solar air heater, consisting of a large black plate, covered by double glass, so that during the day, air hotter than 21 C (if any) can be pumped into the living room. At a later stage, air from the collector can serve as input for an electric heat pump for temperatures < 21 C. Ideally the black backside solar radiation absorber will consist of black solar panels to gain extra electricity, to be used for the electric heat pump. In the Summer the glass cover needs to be removed to prevent over-heating of the solar panels. At a later stage a heat storage, like a vessel of 1 m3 filled with pebbles, could be added to the system.

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Solar Energy in Plants Retail

2,000 panels producing 520,000 kwh/year and reducing the energy bill to almost zero.

[google maps] – Celieplant Aalsmeer
[] – Celieplant Aalsmeer
[] – Celieplant met 2000 zonnepanelen duurzaamste gebouw Aalsmeer en regio

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New Apple HQ Proposed With Solar Array

Youtube, published 21 Oct 2013 – Apple’s Senior Director of Real Estate & Facilities, Dan Whisenhunt, provides a presentation on the Apple Campus 2 project at the October 1, 2013 Joint Study Session of the Cupertino City Council and the Cupertino Planning Commission.

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European Supergrid Submarine Cables – Inventory & Plans

An essential part of the solution to Europe’s energy problems is the European Supergrid. It means that all European countries will be interconnected to even out demand and supply patterns. Most countries in continental Europe are already strongly interconnected. A missing link though are connections to the country that could serve as ‘Europe’s battery pack‘: Norway.

purple – existing connections
yellow – planned connections

The first subsea connection was between Norway and The Netherlands: NorNed. Others followed like BritNed.

The Germans also have plans to link Germany with Norway: NorGer and NORD.LINK. NorGer plans got concrete by December 2012.

Siemens to increase power transmission capacity between England[source]
Siemens has won a 1.1 billion euro contract to connect England and Scotland (420 km, 2200 megawatts bi-directional, late 2015).

SSE’S Norway Interconnector Project. Meanwhile, SSE has withdrawn from the project. NorthConnect‘s other partners, Sweden’s Vattenfall and Norwegian companies E-CO Energi, Agder Energi and Lyse, said it would not affect their plans. NorthConnect has the support of Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland, the man pushing for Scottish independence.

[] – NorthConnect Won’t Cancel Plan for U.K.-Norway Electricity Cable.

Iceland is considering building the world’s longest subsea power cable by around 2020 to take advantage of its abundant geothermal energy to supply Britain with green power, the head of the state-run electricity producer said. “We can serve as a green battery for the U.K.,” Hordur Arnarson, the chief executive of Landsvirkjun said in an interview… Landsvirkjun expects to make a final investment decision on the 1,000 kilometre subsea cable by 2015-2016… McKinsey & Co. estimates it (Iceland) is harnessing only 20 to 25 per cent of its hydro and geothermal energy potential… Mr. Arnarson declined to cite a figure for the costs of construction, which would take five years and would entail laying cable 3,000 metres underwater in some areas. The longest subsea cable currently in operation is the 580-kilometre NorNed link from Norway to the Netherlands, which was completed in 2008 and cost €600-million ($784-million U.S.).

[] – Iceland revives plans for world’s longest subsea power cable, Jan 9, 2013.

Now even Israel wants to get connected to Europe (Greece), to start with Cyprus.
The cable’s total length measures 870km (540 miles) and its depth is over 2,000 meters (656 feet). Between Israel and Cyprus, the cable will be 270km long. Electricity will flow in both directions at a capacity of up to 2,000MW. Another cable will connect Cyprus and Crete which forms part of the Greek electricity grid. As a result, Israel will be connected to the European electricity grid.


Is Europe on Renewable Energy Target?

eu-targets[source, p30]
With seven more years to go to 2020, how far are individual EU countries away from implementing the ageed upon renewable energy targets for 2020? The usual suspects Sweden and Germany are doing fine. Denmark is not even listed, but is doing fine, no surprises here. Positive suprises from Spain, Italy and Portugal, disapointing results from the Netherlands and UK so far, but it needs to be mentioned that both countries recently announced ambitious plans to catch up on time [Netherlands, UK].

[] – Renewable energy Targets by 2020.
EU will reach a 20% share of energy from renewable sources by 2020 and a 10% share of renewable energy specifically in the transport sector… On 31 January 2011, the European Commission (EC) presented its Communication showing that the 2020 renewable energy policy goals are likely to be met.

In the European Union, Member States are subject to Directive 2009/28/EC on renewable energy, implemented by Member States by December 2010 which sets ambitious targets for all Member States, such that the EU will reach a 20% share of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Abengoa’s 280 MW Solana CSP Plant

Abengoa’s 280 MW Solana CSP Plant, located about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, Arizona, nears completion. Uses molten salt solar for thermal storage capacity (6 hours). Site will consist of 32,000 parabolic trough solar collectors. After completion 85 permanent jobs will carry on maintenance. The Solana project will produce clean electricity for 70,000 homes.


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470 MW Wind Farm Operational In Kansas

This is the largest wind farm in Kansas. Cost: $800 million. Name: Flat Ridge 2. Location: south-central Kansas/USA. Infrastructure: 294 GE 1.6 MW turbines on a 66,000 acre site. 500 jobs during peak construction, 30 permanent maintenance jobs.


Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan

California state and US federal authorities are beginning to prepare for creating conditions that would allow for rapid introduction of large scale renewable energy (solar, wind and geothermal) in an area of hundreds of square miles in the desert of Southern California (Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan or DRECP). The plan would cover portions of eastern San Diego County and stretch across much of Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. It’s an area roughly the size of Indiana or Maine.


Stacked Agriculture In Singapore

Youtube text: With land prices at a premium in Singapore, vertical farms with rotating vertical racks present a sustainable solution while cutting down pollution.

Wilpoldsried Makes Millions From Renewables

Wildpoldsried, Überblick[source]
Wilpoldsried, Bavaria in Germany has 2600 inhabitants and makes 4 million euro per year (1500 euro per person) from clean energy. The village produces 320% more energy than it can consume and there is not even that much wind in Bavaria. The decision for change was taken in 1997 and in 14 years time the achievements are:

  • 9 buildings with solar panels
  • 3 small hydro power stations
  • 4 biogas installations (5 soon)
  • 7 windturbines (9 soon)
  • 190 households have solar installations on the roof

    Wilpoldsried is a perfect example of how energy problems should be tackled. We are no fans of Karl Marx here and we would have preferred if he had become a rabbi, like his father, nevertheless to paraphrase him: mayors of the world, unite!. The blueprint for the future of your village can be found in Wilpoldsried. All you need to do is find a plan, consensus between the inhabitants and a financier. Meanwhile prices for solar have come down considerably, so there is no reason why it should take 14 years for your village to achieve 320% overproduction, let alone 100% coverage. If you can get the finance, do it, as it will pay for itself.

    [] – 8 pictures

    Zoom in from space to see the solar panels on the roofs.

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  • Gemasolar Thermosolar Plant

    Youtube text: A unique thermosolar power station in southern Spain can shrug off cloudy days: energy stored when the sun shines lets it produce electricity even during the night. The Gemasolar station, up and running since last May, stands out in the plains of Andalusia.

    Tower 140 m high, power 19.9 MW, uses molten salt as heat transfer and storage medium. 2650 heliostats, each 120 m2. Gemasolar is the first commercial solar plant with central tower receiver and molten salt heat storage technology. Due to its storage system it allows to produce electricity for 15 hours without sunlight (at night or on cloudy days).


    Nabucco Status Update

    Now that construction of the Southstream pipeline has started, what is the status of Nabucco? Nabucco is a planned pipeline between the Caspian and Austria and is preferred by the US, for geopolitical reasons, namely to decrease Europe’s dependence on Russia concerning carbon fuels. But there are so many problems that it is unclear if will ever come off the ground. To start with it does not make sense to build a pipeline if there is no gas to transport. The main candidate supplier would be Iraq with potential additional supplies from Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Egypt. But Iraq is not very stable.

    [] – Even US magazine Forbes admits: “The Failure of Nabucco and the Future of Russian Energy.” (Feb 7, 2012).


    [] – And German weekly der Spiegel, a Washington subservient with little affinity for Russia admits: “Europe’s Failed Natural Gas Strategy”. Translation: US preferred Nabucco is going nowhere, where the Russians are building pipeline after pipeline. Shortly after completion of the second Northstream pipeline, Gazprom wants to build a third and fourth, directly connecting Russia with Germany, circumventing Poland, Belorussia and the Ukraine (May 18, 2012).

    [] – Reinhard Mitschek, CEO of Nabucco Gas Pipeline International: “Nabucco Will Be Profitable”. Despite the departure of RWE from Nabucco, Mitschek is confident that the Nabucco pipeline will be able to transmit up to 23 billion m3/year. The volume of gas production in Azerbaijan will increase to 20 bcm/a by 2015 and up to 40-50 bcm/a by 2025. Furthermore Mitschek does not doubt that the Shah Deniz consortium will decide on Nabucco in June 2013.(Dec 13, 2012).

    [] – Bulgaria Gives Nod to Nabucco’s EIA. The Bulgarian government has given the nod to the Nabucco consortium’s Environmental Impact Assessment for the portion of the pipeline in that country (Dec 21, 2012).

    [] – Meanwhile Nabucco itself seems to have given up the idea to build a pipeline from the Caspian to Europe and now proposes merely a pipeline from the Turkish-Bulgarian border into Europe (“Nabucco-West”). This pipeline should be connected to the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), a project that is still in the planning stages.

    [] – Shah Deniz II to acquire stake in Nabucco West gas pipeline. New reports indicate that Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II gas group could agree to take over a 50% stake in the Nabucco pipeline consortium in early 2013. Such a move would boost the EU-backed gas pipeline’s prospects in a competition between projects that aim to flow Azeri gas into Europe. (Dec 21, 2012)

    Capacity natural gas pipelines into Europe:
    Nordstream55 bcm/a (operational)
    Trans-Siberian Pipeline32 bcm/a (operational)
    Yamal33 bcm/a (operational)
    Southstream63 bcm/a (under construction)
    2nd Nordstream55 bcm/a ? (planned)
    Nabucco10 bcm/a (planned) []

    In other words, even if Nabucco is completed it will transport only a small amount of natural gas into Europe compared to the potential of 238 bcm/a from Russia. In geopolitical terms Nabucco is a non-issue.

    [] – Russia in the European energy sector.

    South Stream Pipeline Construction Has Started

    On December 7, 2012 Russian president Wladimir Putin attended a ceremony to mark the start of the building of the Southstream natural gas pipeline from Russia to Europe. Expected start of production in 2015. Destination countries: Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy.

    [] – Capacity 63 billion m3 per year, more than 20 times the amount of natural gas delivered by Russia to Bulgaria in 2011.

    [] – Gazprom and Bulgaria sign final investment decision on South Stream on November 15, 2012.


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    Gargantuan 32 GW Wind Projects Underway in the UK

    The carbon fuel era began in Great-Britain and maybe that was the reason that until now the British were lagging behind with the introduction of renewable energy. But that could change soon as very ambitious projects are underway in the realm of offshore windfarming. Windfarm developers have acquired licenses in order to develop potentially up to 32 GW of wind power, about twice the power consumption of the Netherlands, eclipsing anything we have seen so far. The largest area would be situated at the Doggerbank (13 GW), to be developed by Forewind. The UK has the biggest wind resource in Europe. The London Array wind project currently under construction already is the largest project to date (630 MW). The Doggerbank project will dwarf anything we have seen so far.

    [Forewind 15-11-2012 update]


    RUSTEC – Russian Wind Energy For Europe

    The Murmansk area in north-western Russia is known for high average windspeeds and thus suitable for windturbines. Potential for the region is estimated to be 2000 MW. The Dutch company Windlife is involved in a project.

    Statement by Dutch ministery of economic affairs dating from 2010 about the realization by Windlife and Ecofys to build six windparks of 600 turbines with a total capacity of 1.200 MW in 2015. Investment volume 1.2 billion euro.

    Last week the Moscow Times reported about the project that still seems to be alive and Windlife is still involved. The company expects to present a feasibility study by the end of this year. Maybe this article?

    About the current state of wind energy in Russia []

    [google maps – Murmansk]

    Mattmark Hydro Power Plant

    – Location: Mattmark, Saas-Almagell/Wallis/Switserland, 2197 m above sea level. Power is mainly generated down the valley in Stalden at 715 m.
    – Capacity: 77,500,000 m3 or 254.5 GWh (the energy content of the lake is worth ca. 51 million euro/66 million $ consumer electricity, consumer endprice assumed to be 20 euro cent per kwh). Or alternatively: the lake energy content represents the equivalent of one million man year of hard physical labour, assuming one man day = one kwh (in reality it is less). Adding a non-working woman and two children to the equation to replace the worker after two generations, the energy stored in this lake represents the labour equivalent of a nation like Denmark. In other words: it would take one million Danish men one year of carrying water from Stalden (715 M) to Mattmark (2197 m) in order to fill an empty lake. Come to think of it, we doubt if a Dane is able to lift 77.5 mm3 over 1200 m in a years time. Assuming three climbs per day of 33 liter each makes 0.1 mm3 per day or 775 days non-stop working for 77.5 m3. Swap Denmark for Sweden and you have the real picture: this relatively small power plant generates as much energy as all adult Swedish males combined can produce by muscle power. Figures likes these make it clear why energy can no longer be taken for granted and that real wealth is represented by kwh and not paper money. The Gordon Gekko’s of the future will be those who understand the true meaning of the Mattmark hydro power plant in particular and energy in general rather than money and interest.
    – Power: 130.3 MW, both in Stalden and Zermeiggern (Saas-Almagell), fully integrated in pan-European network. Yearly production 665 GWh, meaning that per year slightly more than twice the content of the lake is converted into electrical energy. A mini-reservoir in Zermeiggern is used to store energy by pumping water upwards to the Mattmark lake at times of low demand. The dam was built between 1960-1965, but was interrupted for two years because of the largest accident in Swiss building history, as 88 men were killed after a piece of a gletscher broke off.



    Pictures from holiday trip to Mattmark:

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    London Array Wind Farm

    London Array project has begun producing electricity. When finished this offshore wind farm will be the largest in the world. Location: 12 miles off the coasts of Kent and Essex in the Thames Estuary. Capacity after completion first phase: 470,000 households. Start project: March 2011. Wind turbines installed to date: 151 or 175 at the end of phase one (630 MW). Phase two (if started) will add another 240 MW. Ownership: E.ON 30%, Abu Dhabi–based Masdar 20%, Dong Energy 50%. E.ON believes that the costs of offshore wind energy can be reduced with by 40% by 2015.


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    Northstream Twin Pipeline Completed

    Oct. 8, 2012 | Portovaya Bay, Russia | Just 30 months after the start of construction of its first pipeline, Nord Stream’s twin pipeline system came on stream today, on schedule and on budget.


    There can be no doubt that this an event of major geopolitical significance. Europe is linking its fate to Russia, at least for the remainder duration of the fossil fuel era. The Atlantic became wider today. And this is only the beginning. Gazprom CEO Miller announced today that soon new decisions will be taken about additional pipelines, including to Britain.


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