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CMBlu Projekt AG and Schaeffler Technologies AG & Co. KG have announced the signature of a joint development agreement (JDA) to cooperate in the production of large-scale energy storage systems. Over the past five years, CMBlu – in collaboration with research groups from German universities – has developed the novel and renewable Organic Flow Storage Technology for power grids up to prototype scale. On this basis, Schaeffler and CMBlu will jointly develop and industrialize commercial products to be marketed by CMBlu. The goal of both partners is to make a substantial contribution to a secure, efficient and sustainable power supply worldwide.

Organic Flow Batteries can be used flexibly as stationary energy storage units in the power grid and contribute to the balance between generation and consumption. The technology has diverse applications, for example in the intermediate storage of renewable energies or peak shaving in industrial plants. Another field of application is the charging infrastructure for electromobility. As buffer storage, the batteries contribute to the relief of medium-voltage grids, eliminating the need for upgrading due to additional loads. Ultimately, a decentralized charging infrastructure for electric vehicles will only be possible with powerful and scalable energy storage systems, such as Organic Flow Batteries.

The underlying technology is similar to the principle of conventional redox flow batteries. The electrical energy is stored in chemical compounds, which form electrolytes in water solution. In contrast to conventional, metal-based systems, organic molecules derived from lignin are used for storage. Lignin can be found in every plant such as trees or grasses. It is a naturally renewable source and is extracted in pulp and paper production as a waste product on a million-ton scale. This ensures lignin as a permanently available raw material for large-scale energy storage system.

All electrotechnical components in the energy converter have been adapted to these electrolytes and improved for cost-effective mass production. The entire value chain of the batteries can be realized locally. There are no import dependencies on individual countries. In addition, Organic Flow Battery Systems do not use rare earths or heavy metals, are non-flammable and therefore can be operated very safely. Due to their operating principle, the capacity of Organic Flow Systems can be scaled up independently of the electrical power and is limited only by the size of the storage tanks and the amount of electrolyte.

For industrialization, CMBlu has entered into a long-term cooperation agreement with Schaeffler for the development of large-scale energy storage systems with the aim of providing market-ready products. In the next step CMBlu will establish the full supply chain including all pre-products with other industry partners. In addition, a prototype production was set up in Alzenau. CMBlu has already signed contracts with reference customers to implement selected pilot projects over the next two years. As of 2021, the first commercial systems are planned.

Source: CMBlu and Schaeffler

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The single-axis tracker from Soltec increases production by up to 5% compared to their competitors

Some of the main issues found by energy developers include achieving greater project cost-effectiveness and forming a stable relationship with trustworthy suppliers. With this in mind, Soltec, Europe’s leading solar tracker manufacturer, has developed the SF7, a PV tracker that has broken barriers in terms of profitability. In fact, anyone who has followed Soltec’s trajectory will have seen how profitability is one of the main innovation criteria of this company.

With 14 years of experience in the development of PV energy and around 35 patents worldwide, Soltec designed its first solar tracker in 2007. Since then, the company has continued to invest in technological innovation, launching its SF7 in summer 2017. The SF7 follows on from its big brother, SF Utility, with a higher yield per hectare and even lower material and installation labour costs given that it has fewer parts.

Looking at technical details, the SF7 is the only tracker with a steep-slope tolerance of up to 17% on a north-south gradient. By comparison, its main competitor can only withstand gradients of up to 10%. The SF7 mounting supports offer the most extensive range of assembly tolerances, perfect when constructing a solar plant on uneven terrain. And because the final cost is reduced, SF7 trackers are ideal for easy access sites.

The yield of the SF7 also increases by eliminating all the array gaps, completely covering the upper part of the tracker with PV modules. As a result, the gaps between the solar panels on the piles disappear, increasing yield by up to 5% more MW per hectare.

Comparisons with our nearest competitor are inevitable. We have 46% fewer piles per MW, 15% less parts and 58% less screw connections, all of which adds up to a quicker installation. Time is also saved as the units are supplied from the Solhub, Soltec’s global factory stock logistics system. Site deliveries are combined into packages of trackers ready for distribution in the field with as little need as possible for manpower, so no intermediaries are required between our factories and the client’s plant“, comments José María Lozano, Head of Global Engineering at Soltec.

The direct consequence of a solar tracker with fewer piles is that it saves energy during installation. It also translates into less time for pile driving, lower carbon emissions and less earthworks.

SF7 is equipped with unique innovations such as the DC Harness linked to StringRunner. Such ingenious solutions to connect cables simplify the PV installation and reduce both materials and installation time. The tracker can also include the NFC system to read data and facilitate maintenance tasks via any mobile device.

SF7 is the result of years of knowledge and experience in the PV sector. This has allowed us to understand our clients’ needs in addition to applying pioneering technologies to solar tracking”, affirms Raúl Morales, CEO of Soltec. “Achieving the development of a cutting-edge product is fundamental in a market such as solar power, so R&D becomes the lynch pin of any company looking to create a niche for itself in the renewable energy market”.

This explains how the company has gone from a turnover of around US$6 million in 2012 to over US$200m in 2017, transforming a local company into one of the world’s leading suppliers of solar equipment.

Throughout last year, Soltec has signed contracts to supply its PV equipment to solar plants spread over three continents. This has resulted in the company achieving a growth rate of over 200% in 2017.

We firmly believe in the global nature of the PV market. This is why we are currently closing contracts for projects in Australia, Israel and other African countries, in addition to having opened offices in Argentina and India”, continues Morales, adding that “this internationalisation has enabled us to become a more efficient company, allowing us to create specialist teams around the world that work towards converting each of our projects into a success story“.

As a result, Soltec has positioned itself as the leading supplier in Brazil, Chile and Peru, continuing to gain market share in Mexico and the USA and expanding its market in other parts of the world, with new projects and subsidiaries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

With a production capacity of 2.5 GW per year, enabling the supply of more than 200 MW per month and over 750 workers around the world, Soltec has become the perfect partner to handle large solar power projects. This is endorsed by its over 3 GW in projects worldwide and its growth of 3,800% in the last five years, as the renewable energy company that has recorded the highest growth in Europe.

Soltec has thereby become an example of good corporate practice as well as a reference in solar power.

Cars equipped with electric engines or other alternative drives are making major inroads. Scientists at the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) set out to develop a suitable filling station for these vehicles. Launched in mid-February 2018, this project goes to create a fuel ‘pump’ for the future. This dispenser is to deliver renewable electrical power, hydrogen and methane in the most efficient, cost-effective and purpose-driven way possible. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is funding this project with around €1.3 million. It will run for five years as part QUARREE 100, an initiative to test an urban quarter’s fully renewable power supply.

Vehicular mobility is sure to change markedly in the years ahead. Far more cars running on electricity sourced from wind and the sun will soon be out on the road. The same goes for fuel cell vehicles powered with renewable hydrogen and natural gas vehicles that run on methane, another climate-friendly fuel produced using solar power. The network of charging points and hydrogen filling stations is expanding on a massive scale. Some stations furnish both electricity and hydrogen, but none dispenses electrical power, hydrogen and methane. ZSW aims to change that with this project.

Tiered use of renewable energy

What the Stuttgart-based scientists have in mind is to develop a multi-energy dispenser. The idea is to use the grid to charge electric cars’ batteries with renewable electricity sourced from wind power plants and the like. A large stationary battery will store unused power when supply is greater than demand, and dispense it when demand is greater than supply. “If the battery is full and recharging electric cars cannot deplete it, this green electricity will be converted into hydrogen in a second step,” says ZSW’s Dr. Ulrich Zuberbühler by way of explanation. Fuel cell vehicles run on this type of energy. And if hydrogen production exceeds demand, the surplus gas goes into a storage tank.

Tomorrow’s filling station will include third stage to produce methane when the hydrogen storage tank is full and demand from fuel cell cars is low. Carbon dioxide will then be added to the hydrogen to convert into methane. Both gases react to a catalyst to form methane. This fuel is the main component of natural gas, so natural gas cars can readily use it. If refueling cars do not deplete the methane supply, the surplus gas is stored and then piped into the natural gas grid when the storage tank fills up.

With our project, the coupling of the electrical grid with mobility will not be limited to electric cars,” explains Zuberbühler. “The other alternative drives will also benefit from it.”

ZSW’s researchers are talking about tiered use of renewable energy. Their priority is to make the most of resources by minimizing energy losses. Stage one is the first choice and remains so until its potential is exhausted. The most efficient use of regenerative electricity is to power electric motors. None of the energy is lost in translation, and battery storage loss amounts to no more than ten percent. Stages two and three—conversion to hydrogen and then methanation—are only an option once demand for electrical power has been met. Electrical power can be converted to hydrogen at around 75 percent efficiency; the figure for methane is roughly 60 percent. These gases are long-term, zero-loss stores of energy. Efficiency increases by a few percentage points when the waste heat generated during the conversion process is put to use.

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Efforts to enhance components

With this project, ZSW aims to improve the efficiency, service life and cost-effectiveness of the two main components, a high-pressure alkaline electrolyzer and a plate methanation reactor. Scientists want to advance the state of the art for both on a 100-kilowatt scale. Electrolysis and methane synthesis will have to take place separately, which requires some form of hydrogen buffer or intermediate storage facility. The institute will develop a concept for this and assess its safety.

The researchers have three years to develop the technology, work out a safety concept and clarify all the details for approval. The results will be tested at an on-site demo facility starting in 2020.

Stepping up ‘sector coupling’

Green electricity accounts for around a third of the power in Germany’ grid, and its share is growing. This figure expected to rise to 65 percent by 2030. Off-grid use—for example, in electric cars and as an alternative fuel—would help make the transportation sector more climate-friendly. Little progress has been made on this front. The alternative fuels hydrogen and methane also have great advantages. They can serve as chemical media for long-term, loss-free energy storage. On top of that, they can be fed into Germany’s natural gas grid and used to heat buildings without leaving a carbon footprint. The term coined to describe this convergence of electricity, fuel and heating across industries is sector coupling.

The funding for this project is part of a joint initiative of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs to promote solar in building projects and energy-efficient urban development.

The Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung Baden-Württemberg (Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg, ZSW) is one of the leading institutes for applied research in the areas of photovoltaics, renewable fuels, battery technology, fuel cells and energy system analysis. There are currently around 235 scientists, engineers and technicians employed at ZSW’s three locations in Stuttgart, Ulm and Widderstall. In addition, there are 90 research and student assistants.

Sustainability is playing an increasingly central role in the tourism sector, arising from the growing concern of tourists and local residents over aspects including the environment, the impact of tourism on society and the local economy and employment. This concern is becoming clearer to see in businesses in the tourism sector, where the level of implementation of measures that guarantee the sustainability of their economic activity is rising.

Among the range of measures that businesses in the tourism sector can undertake as regards sustainability, is it easiest to start with those that have the most direct impact on the bottom line. As such, energy efficiency emerges as one of the areas in which more businesses are focusing their efforts, given that in addition to improving environmental sustainability, it enhances the company’s asset value.

 

The Instituto Tecnológico Hotelero (ITH) has been working throughout last year to develop an online platform (www. hotel.isave.es). Based on the ITH Sustainability Model, it works as a self-diagnostic tool allowing those hotels that so wish undertake an analysis of their current situation as regards sustainability and obtain a raft of possible measures to be implemented that will improve their situation. From the outset, this project has enjoyed the support of the Secretary of State for Tourism.
Read more…

Óscar Alonso
Dept. of Sustainability and Energy Efficiency, ITH

Article published in: FuturENERGY June 2017

Thanks to a cloud-based efficient energy management platform that uses big data to optimise consumption, Siemens has enabled Gestamp, a multinational company in metal autoparts manufacturing, to reduce energy consumption by up to 15 percent at 14 of its plants. The Spanish company specialises in designing, developing and manufacturing metal autoparts to make lighter and safer cars, and has chosen Siemens as global supplier to implement this system and thus manage to optimise its energy needs in an industry that is increasing its energy consumption. The initial phase was the implementation of Siemens’ efficient energy management platform at Gestamp’s production plants in Spain, Germany, the UK, France and Poland. There are plans to extend the project to 30 plants, including China and USA, before the end of 2017.

Siemens’ platform makes it possible to monitor real-time energy consumption needs at various factories and to connect their infrastructure to a cloud solution that can instantaneously assess electricity and gas consumption.  This tool allows to define algorithms based on the consumption patterns to identify and warn about the energy malfunctions of the equipment. The energy consumption data can be processed through data analytic techniques to define predictive maintenance, to manage production processes or to forecast energy consumption based on future production requirements.

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The final aim is to model the behaviour of the equipment so that it works as efficiently as possible and in a coordinated way, while also facilitating the reduction of CO2 emissions by 15% given the decreased energy consumption.

Siemens’ energy efficiency platform, managed from the company’s Smart Grids Control Centre in the Spanish city of Seville, has already been implemented in the Gestamp plants that consume the most energy. The aim is to extend use of the platform to other parts of the world where this automotive manufacturer has a significant presence, where results similar to those achieved in Europe are anticipated.

Accelerated amortisation

The plant consumption rationalization resulting from the data analysis and the solutions offered by this platform has enabled Gestamp to save almost 45 Gwh within the past 12 months. This sizeable figure results in a payback period for the investments less than three years.. It is a differential system due to its high resolution in collecting and processing information, in addition to its ability to cross energy consumption data with other variables, such as production. The aim is to extrapolate this information to understand the operation of the equipment, something that is helpful in decision-making. Alongside data collection and processing, the system makes it possible to define behaviour patterns using algorithms, in order to detect energy inefficiencies, to automate them and correct them.

Siemens and Gestamp are moving forward together to Smart Facilities and they are making real Industry 4.0 in the plants. Energy Efficiency project is one of the pillars of the partnership between Siemens and Gestamp within the framework of this initiative.

Circontrol joins its efforts with Saba, reference operator in the field of parking and urban mobility. Circontrol has collaborated with Bamsa (public-private Company that links Saba and Barcelona City Council) in the design of an innovative proposal to improve the efficiency of the management of its parking and the mobility of urban centers.

The great differentiation in these car parks is the installation in each square of a new system of LED lighting of very low consumption and great luminosity that improves the perception of comfort and security of the user when he is leaving or picking up his vehicle. At the same time this complementary illumination allows to turn off some lines of fluorescents maintaining an adequate level of illumination with a saving of the electrical consumption.

 

Circontrol not only offers a lighting system, its proposal offers a comprehensive and integrated solution for efficient parking management through its CirPark Platform software, which includes charging points for electric vehicles.

The guiding system has LED panels that show in real time the number of free spaces for each floor and in the corridors and help the Saba user to quickly and easily find a free space. This contributes to saving the driver’s time and expense of fuel as well as reducing the emission of gases inside the car park while maintaining air quality.

The parking operator also has daily, weekly and monthly reports that collect.

Source: Circontrol

More than 80% of today’s European population lives in urban centres. In this situation, cities have a crucial role to play in the transition towards a more efficient and sustainable, low-carbon economy, in line with the competitiveness and environmental targets of the EU. Ensuring the quality of life of its inhabitants and developing clean and efficient energy systems integrated into urban strategies, are some of the main challenges that cities of today and tomorrow must addresss so that they can become smart cities. And this is precisely the objective of the SINFONIA project.

With a budget of €43m, the SINFONIA project is funded by the EU’s 7th Framework Programme which aims to implement integrated energy efficiency and saving solutions that can be applied on a large-scale to medium-sized European cities. The initiative, that started in June 2014, continuing until the end of May 2019, is focused on the cities of Bolzano (Italy) and Innsbruck (Austria), along with a further five European cities that, within the framework of this project, will set an example of sustainability with the energy efficient retrofitting of one thousand apartments.

In round numbers, the project will support the refurbishment of over 100,000 m2 over all seven participating cities; achieve an energy saving of between 40% and 50%; and increase the use of renewables by 20%. Read more…

Article published in: FuturENERGY October 2016

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GE and EDF today officially began operation of the first ever combined-cycle power plant equipped with GE’s HA turbine in Bouchain, France, launching a new era of power generation technology and digital integration. GE also announced that the company has been recognized by Guinness World Records for powering the world’s most efficient combined-cycle power plant based on an achieved efficiency rate of up to 62.22% at the Bouchain plant.

In addition to achieving unprecedented levels of efficiency, GE’s HA gas turbine delivers more flexibility than ever before, capable of reaching full power in less than 30 minutes. This helps pave the way for greater use of renewable energy by allowing partners to respond quickly to fluctuations in grid demand, integrate renewables onto the grid and adapt quickly to weather changes.  These advances support the recent Paris COP21 agreement, where 195 countries pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, placing more emphasis on cleaner electric power opportunities.

The Bouchain plant is also an important demonstration of GE’s Digital Power Plant capabilities, which have helped drive the record-breaking levels of efficiency by unlocking power that was previously inaccessible. Capabilities, including the digital control system, use real-time data to deliver better plant outcomes with stable and efficient operations, while providing valuable predictive insights for higher reliability and optimization.

With a generating capability of more than 605 MW, the Bouchain plant will generate the equivalent power needed to supply more than 680,000 homes. In addition, the HA compressor flows air at a rate that could pump up the Goodyear blimp in 10 seconds, and the tip of the last blade in the 9HA.01 moves at 1200 mph/1931 kph — 1.5 times the speed of sound.

 

Source: General Electric

Today sees the opening of the world’s first eHighway in Sweden. The country’s Minister for Infrastructure, Anna Johansson and Minister of Energy, Ibrahim Baylan inaugurated the first eHighway system on a public road. For the next two years, a Siemens catenary system for trucks will be tested on a two-kilometer stretch of the E16 highway north of Stockholm. The trial will use two diesel hybrid vehicles manufactured by Scania and adapted, in collaboration with Siemens, to operate under the catenary system. “The Siemens eHighway is twice as efficient as conventional internal combustion engines. The Siemens innovation supplies trucks with power from an overhead contact line. This means that not only is energy consumption cut by half, but local air pollution is reduced too,” says Roland Edel, Chief Engineer at the Siemens Mobility Division.

Transport accounts for more than one third of Sweden’s CO2 emissions, with almost half of that coming from freight transport. As part of its climate protection strategy, Sweden has committed to having a fossil fuel independent transport sector by 2030. Due to the expected growth in freight transport, road freight is set to grow even as rail capacity is increased. A solution to decarbonized road freight is therefore necessary. During the two-year trial, Sweden’s Transport Administration Trafikverket and Gävleborg County want to create a knowledge base on whether the Siemens eHighway system is suitable for future long-term commercial use and further deployment. “By far the greatest part of the goods transported in Sweden goes on the road, but only a limited part of the goods can be moved to other traffic types. That is why we must free the trucks from their dependence on fossil fuels, so that they can be of use also in the future. Electric roads offer this possibility and are an excellent complement to the transport system”, says Anders Berndtsson, chief strategist at the Swedish Transport Administration.

The core of the system is an intelligent pantograph combined with a hybrid drive system. A sensor system enables the pantograph to connect to and disconnect from the overhead line at speeds of up to 90 km per hour. Trucks equipped with the system draw power from the overhead catenary wires as they drive, enabling them to travel efficiently and with zero local emissions. Thanks to the hybrid system, operation outside of the contact line is also possible, thus maintaining the flexibility of conventional trucks. The eHighway technology features an open configuration. As a result, battery or natural gas solutions, for example, can be implemented as an alternative to the diesel hybrid drive system used in Sweden. This allows the system to be adapted flexibly to the specific application.

Siemens is currently developing another eHighway demonstration project in California. This project is being undertaken in collaboration with vehicle manufacturer Volvo on behalf of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). Tests will be conducted throughout 2017 to see how different truck configurations interact with the eHighway infrastructure in the vicinity of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

 

Source: Siemens

On 16 February, the European Commission presented its first strategy to optimise heating and cooling in buildings and industries. The EU Heating and Cooling Strategy is the first EU initiative to address the energy used for heating and cooling in buildings and industry, which accounts for 50% of the EU’s annual energy consumption. By making the sector smarter, more efficient and sustainable, energy imports and dependency will fall, costs will be cut and emissions reduced. The Strategy is a key action of the Energy Union and will contribute to improving EU’s energy security and to addressing the post-COP 21 climate agenda.

Heating and cooling refers to the energy needed for warming and cooling buildings, whether residential or in the services sector (for example schools, hospitals, office buildings). It also includes the energy required by almost all industrial processes as well as cooling and refrigeration in the service sector, such as the retail sector (for example to preserve food across the supply chain, from production to supermarket and on to the customer). Currently, the sector accounts for 50% of the EU’s annual energy consumption, accounting for 13% of total oil consumption and 59% of total gas consumption (direct use only) in the EU. The latter equates to 68% of all gas imports. This is mainly because European buildings are old, which implies various problems, including:

• Almost half of the EU’s buildings have boilers installed prior to 1992, with an efficiency rate of below 60%.
• 22% of gas boilers, 34% of electric heaters, 47% of oil boilers and 58% of coal boilers are older than their technical lifetime. Read more…

Article published in: FuturENERGY March 2016

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