Observing the world of renewable energy and sustainable living

World’s Largest Windturbine Nears Completion

Note water reservoir at the bottom of the tower.

Location: Gaildorf, Baden-Wuertenberg, Germany
Hub height: 178 m
Total height: 246 m
Investment: $81 M
Yearly return: $7.6 M
Annual production: 10.5 GWh
Payback time: 10.6 year

Apart from these impressive figures, the turbine has an innovation in the form of a “natural storage” facility. At the bottom of the tower, the turbine has a water reservoir of 40,000 m3 that communicates with a lake reservoir at 200 m lower altitude and connected with a 5 km long pipe. This reservoir represents a potential energy of 22.2 MWh or five hours worth of max. windturbine output. Energy efficiency: 80%.

[] – Max Bögl Wind puts turbine on THE tallest tower
[] – Naturstromspeicher Gaildorf
[] – The Naturstromspeicher – Our Big Green Battery
[] – ’s Werelds hoogste windmolen staat in een piepklein stuwmeer



German Grid Still Reliable Despite Growing Renewable Energy

Despite a growing share of renewable energy in Germany, the grid remains as stable as ever: the average German has on average to endure a 11.5 minute/year blackout. Although grid stability will become an increasing challenge, for the moment everything is still fine.

[] – Duitse stroomnet ondanks pieken windenergie superbetrouwbaar

New Utility Solar Price Record


A developer of a 300 MW solar park in Saudi-Arabia, Masdar/Abu Dhabi, is willing to accept the world record low price of 1.79 dollar cent/kWh. There were initially 27 applicants for this tender.

[] – Nieuw record: Zonnestroom tegen 1,5 eurocent/kWh voor Saudi’s

Dutch Company Comes to the Rescue of US Offshore Wind

America has an archaic protectionist law called the Jones Act from 1920. The law says that transport between two American harbors can be done only with American-built ships with an American crew. This law effectively kills US offshore wind development before it gets a chance to be born, because America, as an offshore wind developing nation, doesn’t have the equipment to install offshore wind parks. Offshore wind technology is world-wide for more than 90% a North-West European affair, with installation vessels and crew all-European. European offshore installation in American waters violates the Jones Act.

The US has currently only one “windpark”, Block Island near NYC: 5 turbines with a 30 MW capacity, build by Europeans. When the Norwegian shipping company Fred Olsen crossed the Atlantic, the installation ship was not allowed to dock in a US harbor. This is not good for US offshore wind.

Now a Dutch company GustoMSC has come up with a simple design that can be constructed and operated by Americans and as such start the long overdue offshore wind development near the US coasts.

[] – GustoMSC Reveals SEA-3250-LT
[] – Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (“Jones Act”)
[deepresource] – The Seven Brothers – Europe Taking Lead in US Offshore
[deepresource] – The Enormous Energy Potential of the North Sea
[] – Antieke wet frustreert offshore wind in VS, Nederland schiet te hulp

Evaporation as a Renewable Energy Source?

A few basic facts about water:

Specific heat of water 4.2 kJ/kg/°C [*]
Heat of evaporation of water: 2256 kJ/kg [**]

[*] – energy required to increase temperature of water with 1 °C
[**] – energy required to turn 1 kg of water of 100 °C into vapor of 100 °C

In other words: it takes just as much energy to bring water from 46 °C to 100 °C as it takes to turn boiling water of 100 °C into water vapor of 100 °C. Or in other words: there is a lot of energy associated with phase change. That energy can be won back by condensing vapor back into water. This is what essentially happens in a steam engine: coal is used to heat water and turn it into steam. Next the steam is expanded in a cylinder where it is condensed. Part of the evaporation heat is converted into the desired mechanical energy or motion. Or think of stepping out of the shower dripping wet. You will feel cold because the drops on your body evaporate, which takes a lot of energy which is extracted from your body.

In nature evaporation and condensing of water happens on a gigantic scale, think of rain. Is there a way of capturing some of this energy for human purposes and convert it into useful energy? Scientists of the University of Columbia think there is. The place to generate electricity would by near the surface of lakes (uh-oh). Spores are attached to a surface, absorb water vapor and expand in volume. The useful energy is generated when the spores release the water as vapor which drives a motor. As MIT Technology Review previously reported:

“An eight-centimeter-by-eight-centimeter water surface can produce about two microwatts of electricity (a microwatt is one-millionth of a watt), on average, and can burst up to 60 microwatts.”

That would be 12.5 * 12.5 * 2 microwatt per m2 or 312 microwatt or 0.312 milliwatt/m2. Which is not too impressive to say the least. A solar panel of 1 m2 in contrast can bring you up to 150 Watt. That’s a difference of 48,000 in efficiency.


[] – Potential for natural evaporation as a reliable renewable energy resource
[] – Water evaporation could be a promising source of renewable energy
[] – Evaporation Engines Could Produce More Power Than Coal, with a Huge Caveat

Solar Panel Automation Production Line

The Growing Importance of IJmuiden as Offshore Wind Hub

The Netherlands, currently the bottom of the barrel in Europe as far as installed renewable energy is concerned, has ambitious plans to change that. The port of IJmuiden, 15 km West of Amsterdam. wil play a central role in building more than 14 GW of offshore wind power in the coming years. Projects IJmuiden Ver and Hollandse Kust (“IJmuiden Far” and “Dutch Coast” resp.).

[] – A Hub in the Netherlands
[Google Maps] – IJmuiden

Read more…

First Full Scale Hyperloop Test Track to be Build in Toulouse, France

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) is a mode of underground transport in a sealed tube or system of tubes through which a capsule travels free of air resistance or friction conveying people or objects at very high speed of up to 1200 kmh or twice the speed of a short or medium range plane. This would mean that a distance between Paris and Lyon of 466 km would take less than half an hour to bridge. Toulouse announced it will build the world’s first full scale HTT system in the world, for test purposes. Proposed advantages: low energy, silent, fast, 3m tube can be buried underground with no disruption of the landscape. Would make medium range flying, like in Europe, superfluous.

[] – Hyperloop

Read more…

Dutch Renewable Energy Subsidies Q1+Q2, 2017

Overview subsidized renewable energy projects in the Netherlands to the tune of 5.8 billion euro. Half of that amount went to solar projects. The other half mostly to wind, biomass and some geothermal.

[] – Hoe komt Nederland aan 20 procent duurzame energie?

IEA – The State of the Energy Transition 2017

Diagrams below:

Read more…

“Assembling Offshore Wind-towers Onshore is Cheaper”

State of the art offshore installation. Can it really be done more economically than this?

The cheapest and fastest way to install an offshore wind turbine is to assemble it completely onshore first, including the monopile. That’s the outcome of research done by the University of Delaware. The method employed is to not work with a single large monopile ramed into the sea floor, but with several “buckets” that are suctioned into the sea floor at less depth and less acoustic impact for sea mammals. Starting base was a hypothetical large 1 GW offshore wind farm in the Delaware Wind Energy Area off Rehoboth Beach, Del., using the port near Delaware City and working with 10 MW turbines. Results: $1.6 billion less cost and only half the construction time.

[] – Industrializing Offshore Wind Energy Development
[] – Suction Bucket or Caisson Foundations
[] – University of Delaware

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Wind Power Returns to Shipping

No it is not sails, but rotating cylinders, generating the Magnus effect.

Hywind Scotland – the World’s First Floating Wind Farm Operational

Offshore wind no longer tied to shallow water, up to 800 m deep is workable.

Lithium Mining

[] – Lithium

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Electric Flying Goes From Two to Four Passengers

[] – Aero Electric Sun Flyer

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

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How a Transition Piece is Made?


Aqueous Sulfur Flow Battery for Ultralow-Cost Long-Duration Electrical Storage


Here, we demonstrate an ambient-temperature aqueous rechargeable flow battery that uses low-cost polysulfide anolytes in conjunction with lithium or sodium counter-ions, and an air- or oxygen-breathing cathode. The solution energy density, at 30–145 Wh/L depending on concentration and sulfur speciation range, exceeds current solution-based flow batteries, and the cost of active materials per stored energy is exceptionally low, ∼US$1/kWh when using sodium polysulfide. The projected storage economics parallel those for PHS and CAES but can be realized at higher energy density and with minimal locational constraints.

[] – Air-Breathing Aqueous Sulfur Flow Battery for Ultralow-Cost Long-Duration Electrical Storage calls for caution:

[] – Sulfur Battery Promises Less Expensive Grid Scale Storage Solution

You can take this story with a grain of salt, literally and figuratively. Researchers at MIT, responding to a challenge issued by the US Department of Energy, have developed a new battery for use by utility companies to store electricity that costs 100 times less than the conventional lithium ion batteries in use today. The new battery uses sulfur, air, water, and salt — all readily available materials that are cheap to buy. The new battery has store twice as much energy as a typical lead acid battery. Their research was published for the first time on October 11 by energy journal Joule… Under the leadership of former Energy Department head Steven Chu, the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research set a goal of reducing grid storage battery costs by a factor of five while increasing energy density also by a factor of five and all within five years… “Through an accidental laboratory discovery, we figured out that it could actually be oxygen, and therefore air. We needed to add one other component, which was a charge carrier to go back and forth between the sulfur and air electrode, and that turned out to be sodium.” The total chemical cost of their proposed battery is roughly $1 per kilowatt-hour. Since all the chemical components of the battery are dissolved in water, the researchers decided to use a flow battery architecture. In a flow battery, a system of pumps and tubes causes the components of the battery to flow past each other, generating chemical reactions that help it capture electrons… The sulfur-oxygen-salt battery under development currently has a useful life of 1500 hours — far less than the 20-year lifespan needed to attract commercial interest in the technology. The researchers have a long way to go yet, but the prospect of ultra low cost grid storage makes their quest worthwhile.

IEA Webinar – Energy Efficiency Indicators

[] – Energy Efficiency Indicators Highlights 2016 (pdf, 154p)

Graphs below:

Read more…

Self-Heating Building with Algae

Renewable energy is generally associated with windturbines and solar panels. It is often ignored that electricity is only part of the entire energy story. In northern Europe for instance an average household needs to pay more for space heating than for electricity on a yearly basis. The BIQ building in Hamburg could provide the solution for an energy-neutral home that collects solar energy all year around and stores part of the solar energy in the form of algae. The algae biomass can be used for gas production and is easier and cheaper to store than warm water. Up-front capital costs are high though: $2500/m2. Reduction on fossil fuel cost to date is 33%. This number could increase if solar panels are placed on the roof, used to produce electricity to power heat pumps.

[] – This Algae-Powered Building Actually Works (2014)
[] – Tomorrow’s architecture, starring algae and hemp (2016)

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