Observing the world of renewable energy and sustainable living

Electrolysis of Water

2 H2O(l) → 2 H2(g) + O2(g)

In the world of fossil fuel, the fuel is the storage medium. Coal, gas and oil can can be conveniently stored until they are needed. With solar and wind that option doesn’t exist. There can be a large mismatch between supply and demand that needs to be bridged. One of the storage options is hydrogen that can be won from electrolysis of water on the very moment that renewable electricity is produced.

The idea of using hydrogen as the central storage facility originates from 1970, when the term ‘hydrogen economy’ was minted. The advantages are clear: high energy density per unit of weight and clean burning with only water coming from the exhaust. The disadvantages are explosiveness and extremely low temperatures required to liquefy hydrogen in order to achieve high energy density per unit of volume as well. Hydrogen can be used to burn like gasoline and converted into mechanical energy or transformed chemically in a fuel cell to produce electricity. In both cases hydrogen is combined with oxygen to produce water.

As with any conversion technology, the aim is to minimize energy losses and achieve high efficiency. In this post you will find videos that highlight the electrolysis process.

[] – Electrolysis of water
[] – Fuel cell
[] – Hydrogen economy
[] – Jeremy Rifkind, The Hydrogen Economy
[] – What’s the ‘hydrogen economy’?
[] – SILYZER 200 (PEM electrolysis system)
[] – The Green Hydrogen Economy in the Northern Netherlands

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First Climate Neutral Power Station in The Netherlands

[source] Magnum power station, 8 billion euro, 1.3 GW, high efficiency (58%) natural gas power station that was built from 2009 in Eemshaven in the north of The Netherlands.

A memorandum of understanding has been signed between Statoil, Vattenfall and Gasunie last month. The intention is to convert one of the existing three units of the Magnum power plant in Eemshaven into a facility where hydrogen rather than natural gas will be burned as of 2023. Statoil will produce the hydrogen from natural gas, but will store the resulting CO2 byproduct under ground. This will result in the first climate neutral hydrogen power station in the world (440 MW). Currently Norway is busy constructing a so-called CO2-vault of its west coast and likes to see the Dutch power station in Eemshaven as one of its first customers.

The production of hydrogen from natural gas is merely a temporary solution and must be seen as a preparation for a later stage, when the hydrogen must come from the new offshore wind power stations in the neighboring North Sea, where electricity will be used in an electrolysis process to split water in hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen will be converted into ammonia for easier storage and eventually be burned at Magnum. Hence the description of the power station as an “ammonia battery“.

[] – Evaluating conversion of natural gas to hydrogen
[] – Magnum (energiecentrale)
[] – Eerste klimaatneutrale energiecentrale ter wereld komt in Eemshaven
[] – First ever climate neutral power plant
[] – Aandacht in Den Haag voor noordelijke energie ambities

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Prof. Ad van Wijk

“There is no energy crisis” is the adage of prof van Wijk. Lecture Masdar Institute of Technology in Abu Dhabi.

The concept of the “hydrogen economy” is still very much alive in The Netherlands and one of its main proponents is prof. Ad van Wijk, sustainable energy entrepreneur and part-time Professor Future Energy Systems at the Delft University of Technology.

Van Wijk is currently pushing for the North of the Netherlands to embrace the hydrogen economy as a substitute for the outgoing natural gas age, to be fueled by rise of the North Sea as the coming energy power house of the Netherlands and the EU.

[] – The Green Hydrogen Economy in the Northern Netherlands
[] – Ad van Wijk twitter account

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Nuna 9 Revealed

The Delft University has revealed its new model to participate in the Australian Solar Challenge cross continental race in less than two months time.

[] – Nuna9 – A lion in the shape of a solar car
[] – World Solar Challenge
[] – Nuon Solar Team
[deepresource] – TU-Eindhoven Presents Stella Vie

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European North Sea Energy Alliance

The old and near obsolete North Sea oil & gas infrastructure can be reused for the coming reneweable energy base, where the North Sea will play a central role. Core themes ENSEA:

Energy system: The infrastructure and processes that deliver power to end users and includes the electricity and gas supply networks, power generators (both large and centralised land small and decentralised) and other assets.

Balancing: Regulation of energy production, storage and consumption in order to equalise the production and consumption at any time (e.g. by quick regulating gas power plants) to keep the electrical energy system secure.

Back up: Energy production capacity which is in standby to react quickly when there is a difference in energy production and consumption e.g. because of fluctuating production of renewable energy sources like wind and solar energy.

Storage: Small capacity storage and high power pumps (e.g. flywheels or batteries) capable for operating for minutes or hours, or larger capacity storage necessary for extended periods without production from renewable sources.

Infrastructure (electricity grid): Smart grid infrastructures designed for both supply to customers as well as production of power within these grids.

[] – European North Sea Energy Alliance
[] – OSPAR Convention
[] – ENSEA flyer
[deepresource] – Gold Mine North Sea

Jutland/Denmark now also member of ENSEA:

[] – Associated Partner Denmark

[] – Sabatier reaction

CO2 + 4H2 → CH4 + 2H2O   ∆H = −165.0 kJ/mol

Hydrogen can be won from water and electrolysis, using renewable electricity. Hydrogen is explosive and needs to be stored at very low temperatures. By mixing it with the superfluous greenhouse gas CO2 (an exothermic reaction, meaning you get extra heat), you get methane, which is far easier to handle. And you solve the storage problem.

Electric Flying

Siemens-330LE able to tow a glider into the air

[] – Plane presentation Paris air show
[] – List of electric aircraft
[] – Video provided “top ten”. Only real flying, people carrying, models are referenced here.

[] – Airbus E-Fan

Munich/Germany-based startup. Flying car concept, vertical take-off. Range 190 miles.

[] – Lilium company site
[] – Lilium’s funky ‘jet’ could make our dreams of flying cars come true

First solar-powered plane to fly around the globe. Swiss project.

[] – Solar Impulse

Siemens E-Fusion. Recharge in 5 minutes.

[] – Siemens E-Fusion

E-Genius. Development University of Stuttgart, Germany. Here flying over the Alps from Stuttgart to Italy, reaching 4000m. Return flight 365 km. Energy consumption: 83 kWh or 21€ for the whole trip. Try that with your Volkswagen Golf. Electric flying will cost per mile up to 10 times less than flying on petrol.

[Google Maps] – Trajectory Stuttgart, Germany-Calcinate del Pesce, Varese, VA, Italy
[] – E-Genius

Slovenian plane from 2015. Price: 69,000 euro. Motor weighs 11 kg. Range: one hour or 117 miles.

[] – Alpha Electro

Plane from Denver, Colorado. Flying costs $1,-/hour.

[] – Aero Electric Sun Flyer

Amphibious plane from Finland.

[] – Company site
[] – FlyNano

Energy Problems? What Energy Problems?

If you realize that the annual influx of solar irradiation has a larger energy content than all fossil and nuclear energy cumulatively consumed in history; if you realize that thin film solar has an EROI of ca. 35, than you know that once the energy storage problem has been solved, as it will be solved since the entire world is working on it, the world’s energy problem will have been solved as well and with it a lot a climate problems.

[cassandralegacy] – Our Photovoltaic Future: The Metabolic Revolutions of the Earth’s History.

Thin film solar has EROI values in the thirties range, enough to silence those rear-guard critics who keep claiming that renewable energy can’t work because its “not energy intense enough”

The yellow area represents the magnitude of annual solar energy reaching earth. It is larger than the cumulative energy contained in all fossil and nuclear energy consumed throughout human history. An area the size of Spain plastered with solar panels would suffice to replace all energy consumed globally today. It can be done.

Fluid Pumping Apparatuses Powered By Waves

Blue Energy — Ocean Power (Piston Pump & Racks)
Fluid Pumping Apparatuses Powered By Waves Or Flowing Currents

A new invention using “Double acting fluid piston pumps extracting energy from waves or flowing currents into electricity. A revolutionary fluid currents energy converter device by combining double acting fluid pumping apparatuses and moveable racks to convert Ocean waves or flowing currents into electricity.

The present invention provide double acting pump mechanisms when the piston reciprocates inside the piston chamber as the piston is driven by a float according to rising and falling waves.

Each pumping apparatus is driven by a float; the pumped fluid (water and/or air) is supplied to drive a fluid motor or a turbine, which in turn operates a generator to produce electric power.

International Patent Application No. PCT/SG2011/000232


Ocean Wave Energy in China

Yee Ter Energy Group had researched and developed Ocean Wave Energy for 10 years. This video was created in year 2015 at Qingdao Bay, China. The power plant was being tested as in the video and it successfully generated electric power. This Ocean Wave Energy has Patent Certificate in USA, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Germany and Australia. The power plant used the continued ocean waves as the source to generate electricity through its turbine and power generator. It does not require any raw material. It does not produce any pollution. It does not have negative impact to citizen, environment and does not cause global warming.

[] – Wave power

3 x 1.2 GW Wind Parks to be Built in Spain and Britain

[source] La Mancha, Don Quixote and Windmills. Nobody fighting the Spanish wind mills this time around.

The wind is blowing in the right direction for the European wind industry these days. 3 giant 1.2 GW wind projects have been given the green light, one Spanish onshore in North-East Aragon and two offshore in the North Sea off the coast of England: Hornsea I and East Anglia III, the first with 7MW Siemens wind turbines. The British projects are supposed to be completed by 2020 and 2025 respectively.

[] – Hornsea Wind Farm
[] – East Anglia Array
[] – ScottishPower Renewables gets planning approval for 1.2 GW offshore windfarm
[] – Forestalia Selects GE Renewable Energy to Provide 1.2 GW Wind Power in the Largest European Auction to Date
[] – Dong makes final investment decision on 1.2-GW wind project off UK
[] – Generation Next: Wind Already More Powerful Than All Nuclear Plants Combined

Sandbank Offshore Wind Farm Cabling

After the wind tower monopiles are installed, they need to be connected with cables. In the video it is done by offshore wind cabling market leader VBMS.

[] – VBMS (VolkerWessels Boskalis Marine Solutions), Papendrecht, the Netherlands
[] – Offshore Wind Farm Sandbank
[] – Sandbank Offshore Wind Farm

Renewable Cement Production?

Ordinary Portland cement that can be bought in the DIY-market.

Cement is a very important commodity in the modern world. It is combined with sand, gravel and water to create concrete, a cheap, durable and strong building material. Lime stone is the basic ingredient for cement:

Cement factory ENCI near Maastricht in the South of The Netherlands. ENCI brought down its coal consumption and replaced 90% of it with alternative fuel based on waste: household waste, sewer sludge.

Cement production is very energy-intensive, which generates a lot of CO2. The embodied energy of cement mortar (1:3) is 1.33 MJ/kg, which boils down to 0.208 kg CO2/kg cement.

ENCI has shown that it is possible to ban coal almost completely and replace it with waste that would otherwise have landed on a landfill.

[] – Cement
[] – Portland cement
[] – Limestone
[] – Embodied energy
[] – ENCI

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Solar EROI

Detractors of renewable energy like to state that the Energy Return on Energy Investment (EROI/EROEI) to too low to be workable. And it is true that the EROI of the installed base of solar panels is much lower than that of say hydro power or 1950s oil from Saudi-Arabia. Our estimate would say around EROI=10.

However, there are developments in the works that should make it clear that a vast improvement of EROI is very well possible, if not realized already. Thin film solar is basically an extremely thin layer of a few nanometers active material on an ultra-cheap substrate of for instance plastic. It is not difficult to understand that the energy input of thin film solar will require much less energy than old-school silicium crystal-based solar cells.

As the graph shows EROI values realized for thin film solar is already in the 34 range with further improvement to be expected.

[] – Energy returned on energy invested
[] – Thin-film solar cell
[] – Cadmium telluride photovoltaics

Read more…

The Speed of the Energy Transition

July 22, 1959. Natural gas discovered on the land of boer Boon, near Slochteren, the Netherlands.

The European Union is the major political force in the world with the most ambitious climate and renewable energy goals, for which they should be commended. Their goal is to get rid of most fossil fuel consumption by 2050. Is this realistic?

We say it is, even overly conservative. Let’s have a look at a radical energy transition in the relative recent past, the transition to natural gas in the Netherlands in the sixties.

On July 22, 1959, the NAM (Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij) discovered natural gas at a depth of 2500m on the land of boer Boon (“farmer Bean”). It took a while until scientists realized the enormous size of the gas stock, but eventually they did and in 1963 the Dutch government decided to build a nation-wide pipeline network and ten years later 75% of the Dutch households were connected.

Boer Boon received less than 1000 euro for a gas find to the tune of 267 billion euro.

The difference between the natural gas development of the sixites in the Netherlands and the European renewable energy ambitions is that in the latter case, the network already exists. For sure, adaptions will be necessary, new major power lines constructed, sub-sea cables to Norway laid for storage purposes, but not the most costly “last miles”.

In Europe the situation is somewhat comparable with that in the Netherlands of the early 60s. We “discovered” a “new” source of energy, wind and solar, that is present in abundance and meanwhile prices have come down to a level where they are competitive with fossil sources of energy. Additionally there is the climate and depletion aspect that makes these renewable sources of energy extra attractive, if not unavoidable if we want to meet out climate goals as laid down in the Paris Accords.

With the speed of the transition realized in the sixties in mind, we do not deem it impossible that a large part of the intended energy transition could be realized before 2030.

[] – Historie van aardgas en aardolie
[deepresource] – Netherlands Sustainable by 2030
[deepresource] – The Netherlands Fossil Free in 2030

100+ Companies Committed to Corporate Renewable Energy

Dutch rail invested in wind energy to the tune of their own demand. The energy is pumped into the grid, not directly into the locomotives.
[Dutch Rail CEO stunt]

More than 100 renowned companies have committed themselves to 100% renewable energy as far as their corporate needs are concerned. The importance is psychological. Now that top companies have committed themselves to renewable energy, they created a rift between clean companies and not-so clean companies. And nobody wants to have the image of being a “dirty” company, right?

[] – The companies

Bill Joy Unveils a Battery to Challenge Lithium-Ion

Bill Joy, one of the main driving forces behind BSD Unix, Sun Microsystems and the vi editor has unveiled yesterday a…

solid-state alkaline battery at the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Energy Innovation Summit in Basalt, Colorado, that he says is safer and cheaper than the industry leader, lithium-ion. The appeal of alkaline: it could cost a tiny fraction of existing battery technologies and could be safer in delicate settings, such as aboard airplanes. “What people didn’t really realize is that alkaline batteries could be made rechargable,” Joy said in a phone interview Thursday.

But it is very early day…

The Ionic Materials investor envisions three ultimate applications for the polymer technology: consumer electronics, automotive and the power grid. But Joy acknowledged that the technology isn’t quite ready for prime-time. It has yet to be commercialized, and factories are needed to manufacture it. It could be ready for wider use within five years, he said.

The real innovator is a startup company Ionic Materials, in Woburn, Mass. The claimed breakthrough is that the company succeeded in making alkaline batteries rechargeable. According to spokesman Mike Zimmerman, the alkaline batteries would be heavier than the lithium ones, but that would be more than compensated with lower cost and higher energy density. Additionally there are environmental advantages in replacing cobalt with relatively abundant manganese and zinc. Zinc could eventually even be replaced by aluminium, reducing the battery weight below the lithium-based ones.

[] – Tech Guru Bill Joy Unveils a Battery to Challenge Lithium-Ion
[] – A Better, Safer Battery Could Be Coming to a Laptop Near You
[] – Alkaline battery
[] – Lithium-ion battery
[] – Tech guru Bill Joy unveils battery to challenge lithium-ion
[] – Bill Joy
[] – Bill Joy, Why the future doesn’t need us
[] – Why The Future Doesn’t Need Us

Energy Storage Developments in Germany

Pressured air as a storage medium.

Although this is an English language blog, there are so many developments in Germany regarding all aspects related to renewable energy, that it would be a shame to ignore these. In this post you will find a number of German language videos related to energy storage.

Read more…

Generating Electricity From Fresh-Salt Water Interfaces

Dutch language video, English subs

Prof. Kitty Nijmeijer (University Twente, the Netherlands) explains how it is possible to generate electricity from membranes, separating fresh and salt water. This has great implications for the Dutch energy situation and the dike called the Afsluitdijk in particular:

Pictures of the closure of the Afsluitdijk in 1932.

[] – Afsluitdijk
[deepresource] – Blue Energy
[deepresource] – Blue Energy Pilot Plant Operational in the Netherlands

Read more…

2-B Energy – Back To Two Blades

3-blade turbines have become the standard in present day wind energy development. The Dutch company 2-B Energy argues that for offshore, wind 2-blades could perhaps be a better design. First of all from a maintenance perspective: in case of a defect, nacelle and rotor can be lifted from the tower in one piece and brought to a maintenance location, onshore or nearby offshore. Furthermore the company claims to be able to realize lower production costs. A first 2-b wind turbine has meanwhile been installed in Eemshaven, in the North of the Netherlands, see video below. Installation rotor downwind and able to rotate freely around a vertical axis, ensuring automatic direction towards an orientation perpendicular to the wind flow. Dimension nacelle 17 m, large enough for a helicopter to be able to land on top of it. Gain: less material, easier maintenance. 2-B Energy is participating in the Methil offshore project off the coast of Scotland.

[] – Company site
[] – Forthwind Cleared to Install Two-Bladed Turbine Duo off Scotland
[] – Methil Offshore Wind Farm

At [1:33] you can see the test-installation of the 2-B wind turbine in Eemshaven. Visually it is not a very attractive installation, but it is intended for offshore operation anyway.

Tesla 3 Introduced

Two models:

– Standard: $35k/27k, 220 miles (354 km)
– Longe range: $44/36k, 310 miles (500 km)

Prices: standard/after US Tax Credit

Tesla said they had taken 325,000 Model 3 reservations.

[] – Tesla Model 3

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