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HYDROSOL Plant Project – Hydrogen power for zero CO2 emissions

HYDROSOL Plant Project – Hydrogen power for zero CO2 emissions

The EU-funded HYDROSOL-PLANT project supported by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint undertaking (FCH JU) has developed a technology that has the potential to produce hydrogen on a large-scale, cost-effectively. This renewable energy could slow climate change and create a sustainable future. The reason for this innovation is that Europe relies on natural gas and fossil fuels from a limited number of countries. These energy sources generate harmful greenhouse gases that accelerate climate change and its devastating impacts.

We are all part of the result of climate change – widely believed to be caused by CO2 emissions –  with 2015 recorded as the hottest year in history. Unless we start relying on renewable energy instead of fossil fuels because the impact of climate change will simply get worse. “We need to intensify our efforts and investments into the R&D of renewable energy now before it’s too late,” says HYDROSOL-PLANT project coordinator Athanasios Konstandopoulos.

“Unfortunately, there is less of a financial and political incentive to develop alternative clean and renewable fuels because of the low price of natural gas and oil,” he explains. The production of green hydrogen is the answer to these complex environmental, geopolitical and economic challenges.” The HYDROSOL-PLANT project has developed a technology that can generate hydrogen from a renewable source without any carbon emissions.

The science behind the HYDROSOL technology

HYDROSOL technology uses solar thermo-chemical engineering to produce hydrogen from water. This involves the following two chemical processes in a HYDROSOL reactor:

  • Oxidation: When steam (H2O) passes through the solar reactor, the active water-splitting material, a metal oxide in a reduced state (MOreduced), splits the water vapour by ‘trapping’ the oxygen (O2) from the H2O (thus adopting an oxidised state) and releasing pure hydrogen H2 gas into the effluent gas stream. The chemical reaction is represented as MOreduced + H2O → MOoxidized + H2 (g).
  • Reduction: In this step, the heat absorbed by the reactor from the Sun is used to drive the oxygen away from the metal oxide (MOoxidized). This chemical reaction (MOoxidized → MOreduced + O2 (g)) produces MOreduced and oxygen in the same reactor where the oxidation process takes place.

This is a cyclical process as MOreduced produced through the reduction process is then re-used in the oxidation process.

The HYDROSOL reactor — tried, tested and enhanced in Spain

The HYDROSOL reactor is made of a ceramic material. From a distance, it looks like a giant catalytic converter from a modern car. Up close, the reactor looks more like an enormous ceramic honeycomb comprised of a multitude of segments. This ceramic material has been designed to absorb solar radiation and reach the high temperatures needed to split water.

Researchers first developed smaller reactors in a series of EU-funded projects. The 3kW thermal reactor developed within the HYDROSOL project received, among other international awards, the EU’s Descartes Prize,the annual award in science given by the European Union, A 100 kWth reactor was also developed within the HYDROSOL-II project. Within the subsequent HYDROSOL-PLANT project, a much bigger pilot reactor is being constructed and demonstrated. It will be installed and used on the solar tower facility of Plataforma Solar de Almeria (PSA) in the south of Spain. The 750 kW thermal solar tower, based on the HYDROSOL technology, is the world’s largest solar hydrogen plant reactor.

During the HYDROSOL-PLANT project, researchers have modified the reactor structure to increase performance. The past projects demonstrated that the technology can produce solar hydrogen under realistic conditions, and now a more robust and productive reactor is being deployed. “The next step would be to develop a plant that is 10 to 20 times larger than this one,” explains Konstandopoulos.

Green hydrogen — the key to a sustainable future

This technology is suitable for large centralized applications — to power a city or to produce important chemicals such as ammonia or methanol. If plants based on the HYDROSOL technology were built in sunny countries, such as Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy, they could supply clean renewable energy carriers (fuel produced from sunlight and electricity) to the rest of Europe. As the potential powerhouse of Europe, the southern European countries could help the continent reduce its reliance on Russia and the Middle East for natural gas and fuel.

“My vision for the future is a sustainable economy that uses a variety of clean energy sources, Not only is a hydrogen future possible, it is likely to start in Europe,” predicts Konstandopoulos. Some vehicle manufacturers have already developed prototype cars that are powered by hydrogen, but “green” hydrogen needs to be produced on a large scale before these prototype cars become widely adopted. Investment in establishing more HYDROSOL technology plants could turn this vision into a reality.

Posted in Fossil Fuels, Renewable Energy, Uncategorized0 Comments

Our Future – Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Our Future – Efficiency and Renewable Energy

The development and operating of more renewable energy electricity is the most focused part of the decarbonizing our electricity grids.

Mr. Porter, who writes the Economic Scene column for The New York Times, characterizes renewable energy commitments in several countries as ambitious infatuations that have led to a glut requiring adjustments to grid operations. He thinks grid operators mindlessly attach more renewable energy generation to the grid as in some kind of blindfolded pin-the-tail game.

To be sure, electric grids in which a significant fraction of energy comes from renewable sources will require operational management changes. For the vast majority of electricity systems in the world, the current level of renewable energy market penetration is so low that leading countries and states will surely have addressed integration issues before they ever become a real problem.

Mr. Porter’s real agenda is revealed when he observes that nuclear and coal power are having a hard time competing on economic terms in today’s competitive energy markets. Renewable energy generation is contributing to revealing the uneconomic nature of plants that devour huge amounts of coal, and for coal and nuclear plants that devour huge amounts of capital investment.

The major threat to nuclear and coal profitability is economic forces primarily related to competition from natural gas and nuclear power’s inability to compete in energy markets without huge subsidies from taxpayers and captive electric monopoly customers.

Mr. Porter further argues that grid operations and generation choices should be built around the rigid operational requirements of nuclear and coal plants. Unable to respond effectively to dynamic market and demand conditions, these plants lumber around the energy marketplace like the poorly-adaptive dinosaurs that they are. Mr. Porter would hobble the new nimble, lean mammals on the energy scene to preserve central station power plant hegemony.

Mr. Porter completely ignores the vast range of distributed energy resources available to shape load, reduce peak demand, and substitute for central station power plants. Resources like distributed generation from solar, wind, biomass, and high efficiency combined heat and power offer energy services with superior total economics to many central station options.

Energy management, efficiency, and demand response—tailoring demand to minimize costs against the time-value of energy—all offer energy services at far less cost than keeping uneconomic plants running.

Animating markets for clean distributed energy resources, including a lot of renewable energy generation, is the real objective of the New York Reforming the Energy Vision process, and the imperative for grid managers and policy makers everywhere.

New nuclear generation is even less economic than old; only socialist economies are building nuclear plants today. It may be that temporary support mechanisms to keep zero-emissions nuclear power plants running are a good idea while the utility industry is transformed away from the old dumb, one-way electron factories that Mr. Porter wants to preserve.

Backsliding on carbon emissions reductions cannot be allowed. Nothing should be taken from the resources needed to develop a truly clean energy future just to keep decrepit nuclear plants running. Striking the right balance on these critical goals is a challenge of energy policy today; still all roads must point to a renewable energy future.

Markets have served notice that things have to change and that nuclear power fails to compete; the planet is telling us to decarbonize. Renewable energy supported by efficient use of energy is the only future we can truly afford.

 

An electrical grid is an interconnected network for delivering electricity from suppliers to consumers. It consists of generating stations that produce electrical power, high-voltage transmission lines that carry power from distant sources to demand centers, and distribution lines that connect individual customers.

Renewable energy is generally defined as energy that is collected from resources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. Renewable energy often provides energy in four important areas: electricity generation, air and water heating/cooling, transportation, and rural (off-grid) energy services.

Posted in Green Energy, Nuclear Energy, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Energy0 Comments

Farmers advised to exercise ‘caution’ when signing up to any solar energy contract

Farmers advised to exercise ‘caution’ when signing up to any solar energy contract

Farmers thinking about the positive effect of solar energy. But according to the Chairman of IFA Renewables, James Murphy,  it says that the farmers have to be careful before signing up any agreement.

Speaking at an IFA seminar on solar energy he said that while there are good reasons to be optimistic about solar energy in Ireland, farmers should exercise caution in signing up to any agreement.

“Signing up to solar PV on your farm can provide an alternative source of income. However, as yet there is no certainty on the REFIT Tariff, grid connection policy or community involvement and until there is, farmers should exercise a cautious approach. All farmers should get legal advice before signing any agreement with solar development companies.”

He advised that the use of exclusivity agreements by solar companies represent a one-way-bet in which farmers take on all of the uncertainty and developers get all the commitments they need, usually at no cost.

Also he added that if a company is genuinely interested in developing on a farmer’s land, there should be no exclusivity agreement and the deal should move straight to option agreement discussions under which farmers should negotiate a guarantee base price.

“If you sign up to a exclusivity agreement with a solar development company, you are giving them a valuable asset but they are committing to nothing. Farmers need to ensure they are well advised and they get a fair deal.”

IFA President Joe Healy called on the Government to provide more certainty on solar energy so that its potential to assist in meeting emissions targets and in improving farm incomes can be realized,

In Ireland are more than 15,000 acres of farmland under some form of solar contract, whereupon Healy said that a number of crucial questions remain to be addresses, especially regarding the feed-in-tariff to be applied to solar generated energy, grid connection, farm scale projects and community participation in solar development projects.

The IFA President said the European Commission will next week set out Ireland’s emission reduction targets to be delivered by the year 2030 for the non-ETS sector. It includes farming and that solar energy has significant mitigation potential that could assist us in reaching those targets.

“The Government must come forward with greater policy certainty to facilitate this, as well as to deliver on our 2020 renewable energy obligations, on which we are currently falling short.”

 

IFA Renewables – The Irish Farmers’ Association was founded as the NFA on the 6th January, 1955, and celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2015. The country’s largest representative organisation for farmers and primary food producers is based on grass roots organisation and a strong democratic tradition of representation.

IFA has been the farmers’ voice for six decades in every single important decision impacting upon Ireland’s largest indigenous industry. At local, national and EU level, IFA’s active and dedicated voluntary officer structure works with a professional staff to improve farm incomes and address issues across the entire spectrum of food production, constantly adapting to a rapidly changing economic and political environment.

Posted in Renewable Energy, Solar Energy0 Comments

“OECD Europe renewable capacity to grow by over 109 GW from 2014-20”, says IEA

“OECD Europe renewable capacity to grow by over 109 GW from 2014-20”, says IEA

The 12th of December, 2015 is an historic day for the entire humankind, following the universal agreement found in Paris at the climate conference (COP21). Among the main measures setting up, countries will have to limit their emissions to maintain global warming below 2 °C, with an aspiration of 1,5°C. This advance in the struggle against climate change is added to the current 2020 road map, set up by European Union leaders in 2007 and enacted in its legislation in 2009.

On this date the commission is expecting, for each member state, at least a 20% greenhouse gases reduction compared to 1990 levels, but also, and this is the most important, 20% of energy from renewable sources in its final production. To reach this goal, renewable energies such as wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower or biomass will play an important part in the world and particularly in Europe, which is in the vanguard in this sector. A right time for Premier Publishing to show you the trend for private and public investments in sustainable energy over the next 5 years.

Upward trend
“Renewables are expected to be the largest source of net additions to power capacity over the medium term.” This is what is written in the last Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report, published by the IEA (International Energy Agency) last year. But if we focus more on Europe, the report is even more detailed, explaining that “OECD Europe renewable capacity is expected to grow by over 109 GW from 2014-20”. In concrete terms, it means almost a 25% rising during this period.

Here are the main forecast figures for OECD Europe, showing public and private investments taken together in renewable, over 2020, in billion dollars*:

2013: 27
2014: 20
2015: 19
2016: 15-16
2017: 17-18
2018: 21-22
2019: 22-23
2020: 23-24

*Figures published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in 2015

By looking closely to these figures, we see that in 2016, compared to 2015, investments are falling from 3 to 4 billion euros. However, as the IAE explains it in his report, “investment should pick up during the second half of the outlook with increasing offshore wind deployment in OECD Europe due to expected cost reduction and improvements in the competitiveness of solar PV and onshore wind”.

Some major players in the energy sector already planned, or are going to focus more on renewable. For example, Dong Energy, the biggest operator of offshore wind farms in Britain with 6 billion pounds spent so far, said in January that it would double its investments in this field in the next four years. By the way, the company has just started construction of what will be the world ‘biggest offshore wind farm off the Yorkshire coast, featuring 1.2GW of power. We could also talk about Vattenfall, the Swedish power company, whose CEO Magnus Hall declared, in December of last year in several newspapers, that he would like to move away from fossil production:

“Our aim is to be one of the largest producers of renewable energy in Europe and to triple our installed wind power capacity within ten years. In the period 2016-2020, we intend to be a driving force in investment projects in renewable production in the Nordic region, Germany, the Netherlands and Great Britain.”

In Central Europe, Austria’s leading electricity company Verbund already announced that it is “shifting investment to focus on renewables and other energy services”, while on the other side of the border, the German energy giant E.ON officially separated its fossil fuel assets at the beginning of the year. A decision which will “liberate us from continually having to make compromises”, declared Johannes Teyssen, chief executive of E.ON in a statement. Its German rival RWE also announced a similar plan in December, pooling its renewable energy, grids and retail business areas in a new subsidiary. Peter Terium, CEO of RWE AG, acknowledged the restructuring plan was a “response to the transformation of the European energy landscape”.

Last but not least, German financial giant Allianz, one of the world’s largest financial asset managers, unveiled its new strategic plan last November, which consists in decreasing investments in “companies using coal and boost funding in those focused on wind power over the next six months”. According to specialists, this decision could affect investments worth €4bn. Allianz investment chief Andreas Gruber added this choice was based on “concern” over global warming, and that the company would double wind energy investments to €4bn.

Good period to invest in renewables?
Giles Dickson, EWEA chief executive officer (European Wind Energy Association), recently declared in an interview that Europe could expect to have “over 20GW offshore wind by 2020”, and that “the industry is making real progress in reducing costs”. Very well. However, Mister Dickson also warned that governments have “to give us a clear vision of the volumes they envisage long term and the regulatory framework they’ll apply to drive the necessary investments”. Once again, all is about politics. And is there in Europe, despite the global Paris climate agreement, a real political will to create a good environment for investments in renewables?

In United Kingdom, Cameron’s government blows hot and cold. In November, it decided to phase out all remaining coal-fired power stations by 2025, which seems to be good news for renewable. But on the other side, it also announced, to reduce public spending, a new decreasing gradually mechanism to lower the subsidies given to renewable projects through its Fit system (Feed-In Tariffs), that it had set up in 2010. If the modifications don’t seem really important, this measure, which will come into effect in March 2016, is not a really good signal for investors.

Also in Poland, renewable doesn’t to be the main priority. The recently elected new President, Andrzej Duda, approved anti-smog legislation allowing municipalities to ban coal-fired home furnaces, but on the other side, also refused to endorse an amendment to the UN’s Kyoto carbon-cutting pact, requiring Poland to curb greenhouse gas emissions that equal around one percent of the global total. Difficult choices have to be made by Poland, with 90% of its energy generated from coal, and tens of thousands minors who could lose their job.

In spite of a general trend currently unfolding, opening doors for private investments in renewable energies, a state of uncertainty still remains. The drop of crude oil prices, if holding, could be a huge handicap for renewable, making it uncompetitive. At the same time, the fall of coal exchange rate may also be the coup de grâce for countries relying on coal, and a good reason to invest in renewable energies.

Antoine de Longevialle

Posted in Green Energy, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Energy0 Comments

EU ups renewable share to 16%

EU ups renewable share to 16%

The share of energy generated from renewable sources in the European Union continued to grow in 2014. 24 of the 28 EU member states saw their share grow compared to 2013.

A new report from Eurostat reveals renewable sources used in gross final consumption of energy now accounts for 16% of all energy used, almost double the 8.5% used in 2004 and nine member states have already reached their 2020 targets.

The highest share of renewables used for final energy consumption is in Sweden at 52.6%, followed by Latvia and Finland on 38.7%, Austria on 33.1% and Denmark with 29.2%.

In contrast, in Luxembourg just 4.5% of energy comes from renewable sources, with Malta on 4.7%, the Netherlands on 5.5% and the UK languishing fourth from bottom on 7.0%.

France, the Netherlands and the UK are the furthest away from their targets. Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Croatia, Italy, Lithuania, Romania, Finland and Sweden have met their 2020 targets.

Let’s remind that each state has its own 2020 objective taking into account different starting points, renewable energy potential and economic performance.

The overall target for the EU is 20% by 2020 and 27% by 2030.

Posted in Green Energy, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Energy0 Comments

Siemens to test new technologies in a demonstration wind farm

Siemens to test new technologies in a demonstration wind farm

Denmark has awarded Nissum Bredning Vindmollelaug the rights to build a 28MW offshore wind demonstration project in Jutland, which should cost Dkr300m (€40m).

The winner of the country’s experimental wind competition will install four Siemens 7MW turbines atop jacket foundations with bucket feet, also designed by Siemens. Full operations are expected in 2017 :

“The pilot scheme gives the opportunity to test these technology elements on a large scale in conditions similar to the North Sea, where the technology is expected to be used first. The project also includes a new cable and switchgear concept with 66kV voltage which is expected to be standard voltage for future offshore wind farms”, said the Danish Energy Authority.

The Nissum installation is expected to lead to savings of around 12.5% compared to existing technologies, over the lifetime of the project.

Posted in Clean Tech, Green Energy, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Energy, Wind Energy0 Comments

New smart rotor blades concepts unveiled for efficient power generation

New smart rotor blades concepts unveiled for efficient power generation

German researchers from the Research Alliance Wind Energy (FVWE) have developed intelligent rotor blades concepts which can adapt to the wind for efficient power generation.

The three-year €12m Smart Blades project was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, in a joint effort between Research Alliance Wind Energy (FVWE) the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Fraunhofer IWES and ForWind, the Center for Wind Energy Research of the Universities of Oldenburg, Hanover and Bremen.

It has examined blades that are able to adapt their geometry to suit the local wind conditions using active and passive technologies :

“The project findings provide new information and tools which enable turbine developers and operators to launch more effective, more cost-efficient and more reliable system designs on the market”, the researchers said.

They added that when a rotor blade is subject to high wind it turns in such a way that it offers the wind a smaller contact surface, known as bending-torsion coupling.

The bending is initiated by the force of the wind alone and is described as a “passive” mechanism.

Two approaches were considered that produce this effect including a crescent-shaped geometry and a particular structure for the material composition of the rotor blade.

The new approaches were test for cost-efficiency with a state-of-the-art 80-metre-long rotor blade in simulations, with next step for the researchers to be able to test their results on full-scale rotor blades.

Posted in Clean Tech, Green Energy, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Energy, Wind Energy0 Comments

NI tidal plans summer submission for its 100MW energy scheme

NI tidal plans summer submission for its 100MW energy scheme

A massive tidal energy project on the seabed off Northern Ireland’s north coast should begin in 2018, developers said.

Fair Head Tidal is planning to submit a marine licence application this summer for a 100MW tidal energy scheme to be located off the north Antrim coast of Northern Ireland, which would generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 70,000 homes.

However, the company is consulting with communities in Ballycastle and Rathlin Island before it submits its planning application.

The team behind the Fair Head Tidal Energy Park, a joint venture between Cork-based DP Energy and Belgium company Bluepower, has concluded a series of surveys offshore and onshore.

The results of the surveys are being assessed and will be included in the marine licence application to install an array of tidal turbines.

DP Energy project manager Clodagh McGrath explained:

“The Fair Head Tidal development strategy is to progress with a 100MW offshore consent application and build the project out in phases, planned to commence in 2018. We will of course continue this engagement process as we finalise our plans and look forward to hosting more local open days this spring before we complete our application.(…) At these open days we will be sharing details on the surveys completed, the proposed tidal energy technologies and how we plan to bring the energy ashore and connect into the national electricity grid.”

Posted in Green Energy, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Energy, Wave Energy0 Comments

Trinity engineer raising €10m for new nuclear power technology

Trinity engineer raising €10m for new nuclear power technology

A Trinity College engineering graduate is raising €10m to develop a nuclear power technology, that he and his partners claim could produce electricity more safely. It would also do so more cheaply than a new coal-fired power station or the latest nuclear one that Britain plans to build at a cost of up to €32bn, they say.

Founder of Energy Process Developments Rory O’Sullivan, 29, who has begun talking to a number of prospective Irish investors about the project, has partnered with British Moltex Energy founders environmentalist John Durham and scientist Dr Ian Scott, an entrepreneur and former chief scientist at consumer goods giant Unilever.

Cambridge-educated Dr Scott made a breakthrough in establishing that because of its design and how it works. By containing molten salt nuclear fuel in tubes, rather than hazardously pumping it around pipes, valves and heat exchangers outside a reactor, his stable salt reactor method, which keeps the fuel locked up in closed tubes, is far safer.

It also avoids the requirement for as much highly specialised, expensive and failsafe systems for cooling, containment and safety control, which raise new nuclear costs to levels that leave electricity billpayers and governments on the hook for tens of billions.

Rory O’Sullivan explained :

“We aim to win a slice of £250m funding the UK government has made available and have also established partners in Asia to develop the technology there. But we need further investment now to ensure we can take the lead internationally. Today’s clean power technologies will not reduce global energy poverty at today’s costs. Drastic cost reductions are required to implement clean power on a mammoth scale.”

Nuclear power is currently illegal here, but he added that the Moltex design could be used here in modular units that each generate about 150MW of power, which would be enough for about 45,000 homes, potentially within the next 10 years.

Posted in Clean Tech, Green Energy, Nuclear Energy, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Energy0 Comments

Ireland rejects 140MW Emlagh wind farm

Ireland rejects 140MW Emlagh wind farm

Element Power’s plan to build a 46-turbine wind farm in the Irish midlands has been spiked by the state’s planning authority, despite changes to turbine numbers, tip heights and locations.

In a decision published today (Friday), An Bord Pleanala (ABP) has refused the Hudson Clean Energy-backed outfit permission for the up to 140MW Emlagh wind farm in Meath.

The spokesman confirmed that ABP’s Inspector had recommended approval, however, at a meeting the authority’s board voted against the project.

Initially lodged in 2014, the project was formerly part of Element’s stalled wind export plans but was revived as a domestic wind farm.

In late 2014, US turbine manufacturer GE had taken an equity stake in the project.

Posted in Green Energy, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Energy, Wind Energy0 Comments

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