Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “solutions”

Lignin – Plant Based Plastic Substitute

If current developments in plastic consumption aren’t curbed, at some point there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. One solution could be the replacement of fossil-based plastics with plant based materials, that are biodegradable. A key material is Lignin, a class of complex organic polymers.

[] – Company site
[] – Lignin
[] – Avantium
[] – “Bio Roads”, substituting 30% bitumen with lignin
[] – Avantium and Roelofs construct the world’s first test road with lignin produced in the Netherlands

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Renewable Glass Production

Conventional float glass production

To dwell upon our previous post a little… is it possible to create glass with renewable energy sources?

[] – Float glass (Pilkington process)

Float glass uses common glass-making raw materials, typically consisting of sand, soda ash (sodium carbonate), dolomite, limestone, and salt cake (sodium sulfate) etc. … The raw materials are mixed in a batch process, then fed together with suitable cullet (waste glass), in a controlled ratio, into a furnace where it is heated to approximately 1500 °C. Common float glass furnaces are 9 m wide, 45 m long, and contain more than 1200 tons of glass. Once molten, the temperature of the glass is stabilised to approximately 1200 °C to ensure a homogeneous specific gravity.

The molten glass is fed into a “tin bath”, a bath of molten tin (about 3–4 m wide, 50 m long, 6 cm deep), from a delivery canal and is poured into the tin bath by a ceramic lip known as the spout lip. The amount of glass allowed to pour onto the molten tin is controlled by a gate called a tweel.

Tin is suitable for the float glass process because it has a high specific gravity, is cohesive, and is immiscible with molten glass. Tin, however, oxidises in a natural atmosphere to form tin dioxide (SnO2). Known in the production process as dross, the tin dioxide adheres to the glass. To prevent oxidation, the tin bath is provided with a positive pressure protective atmosphere of nitrogen and hydrogen.

The glass flows onto the tin surface forming a floating ribbon with perfectly smooth surfaces on both sides and of even thickness. As the glass flows along the tin bath, the temperature is gradually reduced from 1100 °C until at approximately 600 °C the sheet can be lifted from the tin onto rollers. The glass ribbon is pulled off the bath by rollers at a controlled speed. Variation in the flow speed and roller speed enables glass sheets of varying thickness to be formed. Top rollers positioned above the molten tin may be used to control both the thickness and the width of the glass ribbon.

Once off the bath, the glass sheet passes through a lehr kiln for approximately 100 m, where it is cooled gradually so that it anneals without strain and does not crack from the temperature change. On exiting the “cold end” of the kiln, the glass is cut by machines.

– Embodied energy float glass: 15.9 MJ/kg or 4.4 kWh/kg
– Standard glass used in horticulture: 4 mm, unhardened
– 1 m2 glass of 4 mm thick weighs 10.0 kg
– Embodied energy (EE) of 1 m2 glass of 4 mm think is 44 kWh
– EE energy greenhouse glass Sundrop Farm: 200,000 m2 x 44 kWh = 8,800 MWh
– 1 liter of petrol = 10 kWh, 1 m3 petrol = 10 MWh.
– Glass production Sundrop Farm greenhouse = 880 m3 petrol
– Take a factor of 1.5 to account for oblique roof: 1,320 m3 petrol

Do we need fossil fuel for the production of glass? No:

[] – Are Electric Furnaces the Future of Glass Manufacturing?

In most places, it is still environmentally cleaner to burn fossil fuels in a furnace than to use them to generate electricity for electric melting. However, as renewables increase their contribution to electricity production, this situation will change. It also appears that improvements in energy efficiency of fossil fuel combustion technologies have leveled off. As emissions legislation kicks in and consumers increasingly demand materials and technologies that are environmentally friendly, there may be well a swing in glass manufacture from gas to electric energy. The other advantages of electric melting, such as better thermal efficiency and energy consumption, will also count in its favor.

[] – The future for the glass industry is “all-electric”

The burning of fossil fuel as an energy source in the glass melting process results in unavoidable carbon emissions, and improvements to traditional technology have reached their efficiency limits. Moving to electrical heating methods has many benefits including improved energy efficiency, more flexible control and less combustion related emissions. The aim of this paper is to stimulate glass manufacturers into rethinking their existing melting technology and considering “all-electric” melting in the near future.

How much time does it take for a 6 MW offshore wind turbine to generate the energy equivalent of 1,320 m3 petrol or 11,000 barrel of oil? Said wind turbine produces the equivalent of 32,285 barrel/year. So the answer to the question is:

4 months

[] – Glass Production
[] – Embodied Energy Coefficients

ECOdorp Boekel

Ecodorp Boekel is a sustainable living project, consisting of 30 climate-adaptive, climate-positive rental homes, 6 informal care homes, community center, knowledge and education center, workplace and offices, with opportunities for food and energy supply, ecological water treatment and sustainable businesses. The eco-village is being build since 138 days now together with ecological contractor Eco + Bouw and architect Huub van Laarhoven, financially supported by the Noord-Brabant province and the EU.

[] – Project site
[] – Project status
[Google Maps] – ECOdorp Boekel location

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Germany Taps Its Geothermal Potential

Ventilators side-view

In 2015, the citizens of Holzkirchen, Bavaria-Germany, decided 17-8 to build a geothermal heat & power station.

  • Investment: 40 million euro.
  • Operational: early 2019.
  • Hot water production rate at 150C: 50 liter/s, from 2 wells at a depth of 5000 m.
  • Power generation: 3.4 MW, organic Rankin cycle.
  • Electricity guaranteed for 20 years at 25 cent/kWh.
  • Yearly income: 6 million euro.
  • Payback time investment: 20 years, after that “free clean energy”.
  • Balance heat-electricity generation is not fixed but adjustable.
  • Many say: better this than ever more wind turbines.

The operation now works successful and ambition is growing to expand to other municipalities. It looks like Holzkirchen just created yet another renewable energy option, apart from solar, wind, biomass and hydro. Holzkirchen is already thinking of drilling a third borehole. Expect this example to have many followers.

[] – Geothermie, project stite
[] – Aiming for Climate Targets, Germany Taps Its Geothermal Potential
[] – Geothermie Holzkirchen: Neue Bohrung mit neuen Partnern?
[] – Geothermie ab sofort in Betrieb
[] – Geothermie Holzkirchen: Neue Bohrung mit neuen Partnern?
[] – Organic Rankine cycle

1. Heat generation, heat exchangers. Oil & gas backup present
2. Cooling
3. Well and pump, 550m below the surface
4. Turbine generating electricity, pumped in the grid for 25 cent/kWh
5. Control center

Read more…

Hybrid Solar Collectors & Heat Pump

(Dutch language video)

In our view, photovoltaic thermal hybrid solar collectors (PVT) are one of the most underestimated renewable energy harvesting solutions in places where space is rare and expensive. Think countries like the Netherlands. In a solar panel, a typical 20% of the solar radiation is transformed into electricity. In an isolated black flat plate solar thermal collector, the absorption rate is near 100%. In oractive typical values are: 250 kW electricity plus 400 kW heat, and operating with 80% overall conversion efficiency. In a hybrid PVT-panel/collector the photo-electric and thermal functions are combined in one. In the examples presented here, the thermal collector functions as the source for a heat pump. This is an alternative to more conventional solutions as extracting heat from a much colder source like 10 Celsius soil. The roof rather than the garden, so to speak.

In the Netherlands it is no longer allowed by law to build new homes with a natural gas connection; hence tens of thousands of new homes every year come with a heat pump installed. The battle for the most advantageous heat source for the heat pump has been ignited: soil, air or PVT-roof. May the best solution win.

[] – Photovoltaic thermal hybrid solar collector
[Google Maps] – Waalre
[] – Volthera hybrid solar collector
[] – Warmtepomppaneel
[] – Triple Solar PVT Heat Pump Panel
[] – PVT: het dak als warmtepompbron

A similar example in Schildwolde, Groningen

3D-Printed Home for $4000,-

Cheap printed home from Austin, Texas. Real promise for the third world.

3D-printing opening up the possibility that by the turn of the century, most people on this planet, including territories such as Africa, India and the Philippines, could live in a stone, 3D-printed home, connected to sewage, a local solar power source.

The financial and technological push for this should come from Eurasia, in return for a rigorous birth control program: 2 children and not more. The way to provide these territories with the financial means to pay for it, is to integrate them in a global energy scheme. Sunny territories with an abundance of cheap labor should provide a sizable chunk of the planet’s future hydrogen needs.

[] – Construction 3D printing

Printed home in Nantes, France

[] – The world’s first family to live in a 3D-printed home

In Eindhoven in the South of the Netherlands, houses are to be printed, intended to be sold on the regular commercial market. The innovation is that the homes will have several stories (English subs))

[] – A small community of 3D-printed concrete houses is coming to the Netherlands

Europe’s first 3D-concrete printing factory opened in Eindhoven. Interesting is that traditional wooden molds are no longer necessary and that far less cement is being used. Steel concrete enforcement can be printed too.

Very large-scale 3D-printing project in Den Helder in the Netherlands, where a shabby building from the seventies is being upgraded with ca. 1,200 new 3D-printed concrete elements of 2 to 12 m2 each.

First 3D-printed home in Africa (Morocco)

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SolaRoad Update 2019

Portfolio of current SolaRoad projects

The road-dual purpose project SolaRoad in the Netherlands still exists. The idea is to combine the traditional transport function of the road with generating solar energy from panels on top of the road structure. The panel is the road, so to speak. It began with a bicycle path, now bus lanes are next. The glass cover layer has been replaced by synthetic material. The rationale behind this project is that in the Netherlands, space is rare and expensive. Hence the idea that dual use of road surface could be economical.

Dutch language video

[] – Project site
[] – Nieuwe fase SolaRoad: ook autoweg gaat elektriciteit opwekken
[deepresource] – SolaRoad Followup Project (2018)
[deepresource] – SolaRoad Project Still Alive (2017)
[deepresource] – SolaRoad Project Update (2016)
[deepresource] – SolaRoad Operational (2014)
[deepresource] – SolaRoad Finally Launched (2014)
[deepresource] – SolaRoad (2013)

Should Storage be Included in EROI Considerations?

Article discusses the question whether storage should be part of EROI considerations and calculations. Take-away points:

1. A shift from an electrical system based mostly on energy stocks (with built-in energy storage function) to one based mostly on natural flows (with the construction of storage devices required to ensure large-scale availability) will probably be constrained by the energetic demands of the VRE-storage subsystem. Or in other words, high penetration of VRE will require the large-scale deployment of storage solutions, but there might be biophysical limits to how much storage can be deployed if the energy system is to remain viable.

2. Lithium-ion batteries, which are the fastest growing form of electrical storage today and are increasingly being touted as capable of supporting the energy transition to renewables, could probably only usefully contribute a short-term role to buffering VRE. The energetic productivity/EROI of an energy system reliant on lithium-ion batteries (and other similar electro-chemical storage devices) would indeed rapidly fall below the minimum useful EROI for society. The energetic requirements of pumped hydro storage, on the other hand, are sufficiently low to enable a greater displacement of conventional generation capacity and penetration of VRE, but wide scale deployment is dependent upon regional topography and water availability.

3. Storage technologies that would enable a full displacement of conventional generation capacity and 100% penetration of VRE at the current system reliability level are, as of today, unavailable. New storage solutions may emerge as a result of current and future research activities, but in order to assess their potential it will be necessary evaluate their energetic performances within the VRE-storage subsystem, all along the energy transition pathway. Only if these performances are markedly superior to existing technologies will storage potentially constitute the ‘holy grail’ of the energy transition that many expect.

VRE = Variable Renewable Energy.
EROI/EROEI = Energy Return On (Energy) Investment

[] – Storage is the ‘Holy Grail’ of the Energy Transition – or is it?

Netherlands – All Buses Electric by 2025

Largest electric bus fleet in Europe, made in Eindhoven, driving in Eindhoven. The buses are so quiet that they are equipped with a tram bell.

Dutch 18:00 News: by 2025, all 5000 buses in the Netherlands will be electric. Today 43 electric buses are operational in the Southern city of Eindhoven, and 41 elsewhere in the Netherlands. Later this year 100 electric buses will be driving in the Haarlem-Schiphol Airport region. World-wide the Netherlands is second, behind China, in promoting electric bus transport. The comfort level is higher as with petrol driven buses and much more quiet.

[] – Nederland loopt voorop in elektrisch busvervoer
[] – VDL Bus & Coach introduces the Citea LLE Electric
[] – Citea Low Floor Electric (SLF Electric)
[] – VDL Bus Chassis

Top 7 Ship Concepts Using Wind Power

Some of the ideas in the video in more detail below:

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Maritime Fuel Saving E-Ship 1 Flettner Rotor Cargo Ship

The German built E-Ship 1 and commissioned by German wind turbine manufacturer Enercon, is intended to carry wind turbine parts. A particularity is that propulsion is partially realized by four vertical rotating cylinders, 27 meters tall and 4 meters in diameter, exploiting the so-called Magnus effect. This results in 25% fuel savings.

[] – E-Ship 1
[] – Magnus effect

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Protix – Insects Replacing Fish as Protein Source

Over-fishing is a real problem in the modern world. A lot of fish is used for the production of protein, to be used for instance as food for animals. That protein can be obtained from another unexpected source: insects. There are about 1400 edible insects in the world. To name a few: crickets, cockroaches, worms, fruit flies, moths… Are you still there? These insects can produce high quality protein, suitable for humans as well. Europeans currently refuse to eat insects, but Africans and Asian do. Insects are cold-blooded so they don not need food to keep their body temperature high.

A big plus of insect farming: no harmful methane production. Operating farm temperature: 28 degrees Celsius. Regarding efficiency:

Insects are nutrient efficient compared to other meat sources… For every 100 grams of substance crickets contain 12.9 grams of protein, 121 calories, and 5.5 grams of fat. Beef contains more protein containing 23.5 grams in 100 grams of substance, but also has roughly 3 times the calories, and four times the amount of fat as crickets do in 100 grams. So, per 100 grams of substance, crickets contain only half the nutrients of beef

Farming method (crickets):

Crickets are usually housed in small (4′ x 8′) containers, furnished with simple items like egg cartons to provide shelter. Heat is a necessity for breeding crickets as they require temperatures around 90° Fahrenheit. House crickets live up to about eight weeks. Until they are twenty days old they are fed high protein animal feed, most commonly chicken feed, that contains between 14% and 20% protein. In the days before harvesting the crickets at around forty to fifty days old, they are often fed various vegetables, fruits and other plant matter. This is done to improve the taste of the insects and reduce the use of expensive, high protein animal feed. Crickets are normally killed by deep freezing, where they feel no pain and are sedated before neurological death. In some parts of the world crickets are baked or boiled.

[] – Protix home page
[] – Entomophagy (insects as food)
[] – Insect farming
[] – We dare you to eat these 8 insect recipes
[] – Environmental opportunities for insect rearing for food and feed
[] – Article expressing slight skepticism.

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Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)

Essence: convert a vertical ocean temperature gradient in electricity

[] – Ocean thermal energy conversion
[] – Blue Rise company home page
[] – TU Delft Ocean Energy department
[] – Blue Rise picture carousel
[Luis Vega OTEC Summary] – OTEC: Electricity and Desalinated Water Production – Luis A. Vega, Ph.D. (pdf, 29p)

Operation: ocean vertical temperature gradient of 25 degrees Celsius. Continuous production of electricity has been demonstrated in pilot projects, like Hawaii 210 kW plant between 1993-1998. Minimum capital cost: 6$/Watt for a 50 MW plant. If only 10 km offshore, $4.2/Watt and $0.07/kWh is achievable. Hawaii could generate 100% of its electricity needs from OTEC.

Global potential

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Land Life Company – Desert Reforestation With a Cocoon

2 billion hectare, that’s 20 million km2 or twice the US or 2/3 of Africa or more than Russia including Siberia. Currently the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is 2.13 billion ton, in the ocean it is 38 billion ton. The carbon ratio atmosphere/vegetation is 750/560. Regarding vegetation, most carbon is stored in trees. In other words, if 20 million km2 vegetation could be added to the planet, this would significantly reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

[] – Land Life Company, restoring ecosystems
[] – Land Life Company

[] – Land Life Company krijgt 2,4 miljoen om nóg meer bomen te planten

The company has collected 2.4 million euro internationally to expand its tree planting business. The biodegradable donut contains 25 liter of water, of which half a cup per day is fed via (capillary) “fuses” to the plant. For a few months the box is a “lifeline” for the plant, after that the plant is on its own. The trick is to plant a few thousand trees that form a “community” that offers shelter to each other. In 2016 50,000 trees were planted, this year it should be several hundreds of thousand. The aim is for hundreds of millions. Expansion of production in Mexico and China is planned, where currently all boxes are manufactured in Germany. Local production is desired though. Price cocoon 8 euro and decreasing. After two years the box is gone. A lot of volunteers use the cocoon from an idealistic motivation. Next three “Central Park sized” projects underway in Mexico, Spain and California. So far 2 billion hectare degraded land (US + China together), with one Greece added to that amount every year, but that can be upgraded again.

Read more…

Dutch Sustainability Promo

Projects/companies referred to in the video:

[] – Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC)

[] – Finch Buildings

[] – Protix protein

[] – Desalinization

[] – Land Life Company, restoring ecosystems

Under Water Kites

Youtube text:

Minesto develops a new concept for tidal power plants called Deep Green. Deep Green is based on a fundamentally new principle for electricity generation from tidal currents. The power plant is applicable in areas where no other known technology can operate cost effectively due to its unique ability to operate in low velocities. Minesto expands the total marine energy potential and offers a step change in cost for tidal energy.

The principle of the technology can be explained as a two stage process.

The first stage increases the relative flow speed entering a turbine. When the tide hits the wing it creates a lift force, since the kite is mounted to the ocean bed with a tether and is controlled by a rudder, the kite can be taken in the desired trajectory, here in an eight formed path. The method increases the flow velocity into the turbine by 10 times, compared to the actual stream velocity.

The second stage uses a generator to convert kinetic energy into electrical power.

The net result is increased power from a smaller package. The planned normal full size weighs only 7 tons excluding anchoring which gives an energetic payback time of 3 weeks, compared to 8 months for onshore wind.

The test confirms power production of the plant at Marin in Holland.

Potential: 800 kW per kite
First project: Anglesey, Wales/UK (Holyhead Deep)
Project size: eventually 80 MW
Span width kite: 12 meter
Argument pro under water kite: one needs 15 times less material per generated kWh as compared to wind turbines

[] – Tidal kite turbines
[] – Minesto Holyhead Deep, 30 million euro project
[] – Een onderwater-vlieger haalt stroom uit de stroming

Barsha Pump

Youtube text:

The empowering people. Award recognizes creative technological solutions for sustainable improvment of basic services. In 2016, the third prize was awarded to aQysta for the Barsha Pump – Hydro-powered Irrigation. Developed to help farmers, this waterwheel utilizes the energy from the flow of rivers and canals to pump water, regardless of the flow velocity. The device, which can pump long distances, is not only affordable but uses indigenous materials. It needs little maintenance and does not require any fuel or electricity to work. This ensures that the pump has no operating expenses.

Context: Nepal, high mountains and farmers breaking their backs while carrying buckets of water from the brook to their fields.
Solution: pump the water from the brook to the field, using hydro-power for the pumping, eliminating expensive fossil fuel. Pump and generator combined in a single device.
Inventors: Pratap Thapa (Nepal) and Fred Henny, working together in Aqysta, Delft, the Netherlands. Mr Thapa meanwhile operates in Nepal and mr Henny runs the business in Holland.
Installed base: 50 pumps world-wide and 40 in Nepal.
Required flow: 0.5-2 m/s, generating 1.6 bar air pressure
Max. elevation: 20 meters
Flow rate: 0.5 liter/second
Application potential word-wide: 250 million hectare agricultural soil
Price: 2,000 euro (diesel pump cost few hundred euro, but with the Barsha pump you have 10 years no fuel cost, resulting in 70% overall pumping reduction cost)
Potential new markets: Colombia, Indonesia, Ghana, Guatemala and Zambia
Innovative aspect: oval rather than circular hose diameter, allowing for higher pressure buildup

Product comes as a kit from parts produced in Europe.
Nepalese government wants to subsidize 200 pumps.
Larger prototype under development for Spain and Turkey.
Winners Siemens Empowering People Award.

[] – Company site
[] – Spiral Pump
[] – Waterpomp bedruipt zichzelf

Nissan Leaf Autonomous Drive Demonstration in London

The London experience was not without problems and glitches. But again: the self-driving car harbors the potential to abolish expensive private car ownership and make it part of the public transport system. This will lead to fewer cars driving on the roads and zero cars parked, with as a consequence less embodied energy of the entire car fleet, that will be far more utilized than privately owned cars. More people will have access to affordable (because driverless) “taxis”.

[] – Firsthand Account Of Self-Driving Nissan LEAF Trip In London

Now You’re Talking: Tesla Storage for $350/kWh

teslaTesla storage home wall (sort of king-size Apple computer mouse; we reluctantly picked a photo with a car to give you an idea of the size)

Tesla’s selling price to installers is $3500 for 10kWh and $3000 for 7kWh. (Price excludes inverter and installation.) Deliveries begin in late Summer.

[] – The killer feature of Tesla’s Powerwall is the price
[] – Tesla’s Home Battery Offering In Context
[] – Energy Storage for a Sustainable Home
[] – Batterie für Selbstversorger

Energy equivalent is one liter gasoline

Auftrag: Zero Emission – Die Fabrik der Zukunft

German language documentary.

Es ist Zeit für eine neue Fabrik. Weltweit arbeiten Forscher an ihrer Realisierung. Ihr Auftrag lautet: Entwicklung von Faktor 10-Technologien. Effizienzsteigerung. Integration von erneuerbarer Energie. Biobased Industry. Null Emissionen. Ein Jahr lang begleiteten die Dokumentarfilmer Claudia und Peter Giczy Pilotprojekte zum Thema Zero Emission. Der Film zeigt u.a. High-Tech-Innovationen in der metallverarbeitenden Industrie und ein „Cleaner Production” Projekt in Indiens Boomtown Gurgaon.

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