“M’illumino di meno” day

Today an article written by our fellow RESD student Ruggiero Rippo! Enjoy it as much as we do!

This year on the 19th of February all of us can make a big difference. On this day the

logo-millumino-di-meno-20162-300x244
©RAI 2016

largest broadcasting initiative takes place, to raise awareness about energy consumption and sustainable mobility. The event, called “M’illumino di meno” (“I enlighten myself less”), is at its 12th edition and speaks to all of us: citizens, private associations and public institutions. The campaign is supported nation wide and on a European level by different public authorities, such as the Presidency of the Italian Republic, the Italian Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, and the European Parliament. Participating is very easy. Just take some simple actions that affect our daily routine: turn off all the unnecessary lights, ride the bike on your way to work or to the university, minimize the use of electric appliances. Basically, have a zero energy impact for one single day! The people involved in the project have achieved sensational goals through the years; for example: they organized concerts where the spectators cycle to produce electricity; they managed to “switch off” the main monuments in our cities like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Coliseum in Rome. Even Hans-Gert Pöttering, the President of the European Parliament in 2008, declared that “the event has a symbolic value with a tangible effect”. In fact, even if the event has a short length, it achieved to drastically reduce the energy waste. In 2007 and 2008 the demand of energy, few minutes after the event has started, was respectively 300 MW and 400 MW lower than usual. This is a huge amount of energy saved! Therefore, the possibility to make a difference, even if just for one day, is concrete. As the slogan of the campaign recites: “Sol Omnia regit”, “Everything depends on the sun”, we are all summoned to a conscious use of our resources, starting with changing our habits.

 

For more information just follow the link : http://caterpillar.blog.rai.it/milluminodimeno

Thanks and big thumbs up to Ruggiero Rippo for your partecipation on SteamGreen!

Exotic Renewable Energy Plants: Tidal Energy

Tidal Energy power plants are definitely some kind of an exotic form for energy production. That’s because most tidal power plants are just pilot projects that are only build for research purposes and do not create a very big amount of energy in their lifetime. Tidal energy is one form of hydropower energy that gets obtained from tides and is then converted in useful electricity. In ancient times and in the middle ages tide mills have been used to mill grain, and nowadays axial or cross flow turbines are used to produce the electrical energy that is needed in modern times. As the gravitational attraction of the moon moves huge amounts of ocean water on certain coastlines or trough lagoons, tidal power plants were build in this strategic positions, there are 4 main types of tidal power generators: Tidal stream generatorstidal barragesdynamic tidal power and a tidal lagoon.

Unfortunately the issues that come with tidal energy are fairly big, from environmental concerns on marine life (also given the danger of blade strikes and the acoustic output). From a technical and maintenance point of view corrosion in salt water and fouling have a big impact on the plants and make them hardly economically efficient.

Even tough there are some massive problems to face when it comes to significant tidal power generation, there are some steps in the right direction, like a 3,4 MW tidal power generator in the East China Sea.

Check out tidalenergytoday.com for more news on the argument!

 

The Future of Transportation: The Port of Los Angeles

Right now I am following a very interesting course with the name of transport and regional economics. And the more I think about transportation, the more I realize how important it is to move people and goods from point A to point B. I wont annoy you with all the theoretical models that we use to describe transportation, instead I would like to tell you something about the Port of Los Angeles in California.

Why exactly this port? Because it will become one of the most environmentally responsible ports worldwide. To give you some numbers: The daily cargo shipped from there has  a value of 1 billion dollar, it has 70 km of waterfront and 30 km² of extension. The Port of LA is the 16th largest in the whole world. But what makes this port so special are the ways how the management of the port tries to reduce the impacts of the thousands of ship that visit LA every year. One way to do so is that ships that are inside the port get connected to a electricity power grid such that they don’t have  to use their own diesel engines for energy supply, reducing the air pollution doing so. The trucks that drive around the port area are all technologically up-to-date and work with electricity. All this changes made the water clean enough to swim in it (all tough, personally speaking, I wouldn’t).

The main problem that consist till today is the final transport, from the port to  the destination point, in fact engineers are planning an electric highway, called “eHigway” powered with catenary wires.

Check out the far more detailed article on gizmodo!

 

 

3D-Underwater framing

In resource economics we talk quite a lot of renewable resources and their stock size, and to make it more feasible professors introduce to students this topic by the stock of fish  in the sea and the trees in forest.
Today I would like to do the same to you and show you this project, that somehow unites the two arguments:

“Farming the Sea: why eating kelp is good for you and for the environment”

This superduper-well made Video about a project that has the potential of a big future shows how kelp farming that is linked with a multi-stage breeding of oysters and fish stock can revolutionize the use of the oceans resources. But the main plant here is kelp, some sort of large seaweeds that grow in so called “underwater forest”. What makes kelp so special is the fact that it is full of nutrients, it soaks up excess nitrogen and phosphorus in the ocean and can be used as vegetable, fertilizer and biofuel.

If you have 5 minutes of time, lean back and enjoy this eyeopening video.

 

IRENA – The International Renewable Energy Agency

In today’s lecture about renewable energy production, our professor Chalvatzis Konstantinos showed us some very useful sources for data and information on renewable energy stuff that everybody that is into research about RE should know about. One of those is IRENA – the international Renewable Energy Agency.

You do may not know about this agency because it is still a very “young” organisation. Founded only in 2009 and headquartered in Abu Dhabi its main task is to sustain renewable energy policies; until today 138 countries take part of the agency (see pic above). Beside the IEA, the International Energy Agency, it is one of the biggest suppliers of data and gatherer of information on renewable energies. In fact, the main reasons for its foundation is that an increasing world population in the next decades and the industrialization process that goes within this estimation have to be based more and more on renewable energy sources, also because of the increasing risk of a shortage on fossil energy sources and rising prices.  But it doesn’t end here, also a decrease of greenhouse gases and a more sustainable use of classical energy sources is what the people behind IRENA try to achieve on an international, national and regional level.

I would suggest you to check out their Homepage, there you can find loads of useful information on what is going on in the field, but also how they are organised. And of course you can also apply for an Internship there, right now a position is open =)

Give it a try, and thank me later!

World Energy Outlook Report 2015

This September the International Energy Agency published a Special Report on Energy and Climate Change.
This December a very important meeting, the COP21, will let come together the most important decision takers in the field of Sustainability. In fact this sustainable innovation forum that will be happening partnership with the UNEP, the United Nation Environment Programme will be a remarkable meeting to put the world on a sustainable path.

One of the main topics that will be discussed there besides the new climate goals to reduce greenhouse effect on earth is to take some very necessary decisions in the energy sector.

Some of the most important strategies are published in the World Energy Outlook Report that you can download here.  It is a 200 pages publication that offers some detailed insight in the energy production in the whole world and gives also some interesting outlooks on how to accelerate the development of emerging technologies that are essential to transform the global energy system into one that is consistent with the worlds climate goals.

The report offers four main key pillars for the success of COP21 which are to find a peak in emissions, a continuous five-year revison, look in the vision (stop climate change as a collective long-term goal) and track the transition (track achievements in the energy sector).

Another point in the report is to gain in efficiency. Gaining in efficiency is a welcome way to reduce emissions without being restricted in output terms.

If you don’t have time to read trough the whole 200 pages manual, use the link that you can find right below for the executive manual of 12 pages. Stay tuned on the topic, COP21 could be the next Kyoto!

Sustainer Homes

As you may noticed, Pushkar and me we are reporting quite often about pilot projects and plans on how to apply new knowledge on sustainability in the real world.

Today I would like to present you another project; the dream of everyone studying and working in the field of sustainability: Sustainer Homes, a house created by a startup from the Netherlands, that produces all the energy it needs out of local renewable energy sources.

As you can see in picture above, it is a 30 square meters container that originally were just normal transport containers. Isolation on the inside is made completely out of organic and recycled material, the wall color is anti-toxic and on a hemp basis.

The watersystem within the container and the heating system is powered by solar pannels that can generate up to 5 thousand kilowatts in one year, wind powered electricity generators and a rainwater collector that supplies fresh water. The generated electricity power gets stored in such that even in moments without wind and sun there is enough electricity left to supply the container with energy. Dark water gets filtered before it gets released into the environment.

And if I tell you that the price of this “house” you wont believe it: Only 75 thousand euros is what the designers want you to pay for this kind of accommodation. And the best thing, you will never ever have to pay for water, electricity, gas and all the other bills one has to pay.

Big thumbs up to lifegate.it for the original article, and an applause to Sustainer Homes that make such an incredible thing real.

Foto © www.sustainerhomes.nl

Wind Hybrid Power System

Few days ago my colleague and a friend Max wrote a piece about Wind to hydrogen possibility. It was an interesting article.
It got me thinking about other possibility so in this post, I am going to write some different ways of creating energy and storing through Wind/Solar.

Hybrid power describes the combination of a power producer and the means to store that power in an energy storage medium. In power engineering, the term ‘hybrid’ describes a combined power and energy storage system.Hybrid systems, as the name implies, combine two or more modes of electricity generation together, usually using renewable technologies such as Solar Photovoltaic (PV) and wind turbines. Hybrid systems provide a high level of energy security through the mix of generation methods, and often will incorporate a storage system (battery, fuel cell) or small fossil fueled generator to ensure maximum supply reliability and security. As you can see it from the image above.

From coal usage we generate almost 50% pf pollution so using Wind energy is very very sustainable.

Let’s look at various like of Hybrid Power Systems.There are five kinds of Hybrid Power system. We will see a brief overview of each hybrid system.

1) Wind-Hydro system
2) Wind- Hydrogen System
3) Wind-Diesel System
4) Wind Compressed air system
5) Wind – Solar System

1) Wind-Hydro System – It generates electric energy combining wind turbines and pumped storage. Wind-hydro stations dedicate all, or a significant portion, of their wind power resources to pumping water into pumped storage reservoirs. These reservoirs are an implementation of grid energy storage.

2) Wind-Hydrogen System – One method of storing wind energy is the production of hydrogen through the electrolysis of water. This hydrogen is subsequently used to generate electricity during periods when demand can not be matched by wind alone. The energy in the stored hydrogen can be converted into electrical power through fuel cell technology or a combustion engine linked to an electrical generator.

3) Wind-Diesel System – A wind-diesel hybrid power system combines diesel generators and wind turbines, usually alongside ancillary equipment such as energy storage, power converters, and various control components, to generate electricity. They are designed to increase capacity and reduce the cost and environmental impact of electrical generation in remote communities and facilities that are not linked to a power grid. Wind-diesel hybrid systems reduce reliance on diesel fuel, which creates pollution and is costly to transport.

4) Wind-compressed air systems – At power stations that use compressed air energy storage (CAES), electrical energy is used to compress air and store it in underground facilities such as caverns or abandoned mines. During later periods of high electrical demand, the air is released to power turbines, generally using supplemental natural gas.Power stations that make significant use of CAES are operational in McIntosh, Alabama, Germany, and Japan. System disadvantages include some energy losses in the CAES process; also, the need for supplemental use of fossil fuels such as natural gas means that these systems do not completely make use of renewable energy.

5) Wind-solar systems –

5.1) Wind-solar building – The Pearl River Tower in Guangzhou, China, will mix solar panel on its windows and several wind turbines at different stories of its structure, allowing this tower to be energy positive.

5.2) Wind-solar lighting – In several parts of China, there are lighting pylons with combinations of solar panels and wind-turbines at their top. This allows space already used for lighting to be used more efficiently with two complementary energy productions units. Most common models use horizontal axis wind-turbines, but now models are appearing with vertical axis wind-turbines, using a helicoidal shaped, twisted-Savonius system.

solar wnd turbine

If I missed some kind of Hybrid Power system, you are welcome to comment or suggest further.

Source: Wikipedia

Wind-to-Hydrogen: A possible solution to store energy?

If you follow our blog than you might know that one of the topics we discuss most is how to create energy in a sustainable way and how we can store that energy.

When electricity gets produced it has one big disadvantage: it has to be consumed when it gets produced. It is very difficult to store energy in big quantities. One possibility for the future could be what we discussed in one of our previous blog entries (HERE: Tesla lets you store energy at home) storing energy in a decentralized way.

Pumping water to higher places and use it when most needed is another way. But here i show you something even better: Using wind power to create hydrogen. In this article from derstandard.at, my favorite Austrian newspaper.

In a pilot project in Niederösterreich wind power gets used to create hydrogen trough electrolysis. Hydrogen is a high energy fuel, that can be used in different ways to get stored and then reused for energy production. The station build can produce up to 31 kg of hydrogen a day, consuming 50 liters of water/hour.

Right now the gained hydrogen can also be used to get mixed in the conventional natural gas pipelines, that allow a percentage of up to 5% mixture. But also cars could be powered with hydrogen.

The security aspect is not more difficult to handle than with other comparable substances. Hopefully this project shows that this is a way that has a bright future. Applied on a big scale this could be a realistic way to gain in energetic independence and in energetic sustainability.

What the heck is an “Energiewende”?

Have you ever heard about Germany’s long term incentive to change their energy systems from non-sustainable energies to sustainable ones? No?

Well this is process is called “Energiewende” which means Energy Transition in english, and the reason why I give you the german expression is because Germany is the most notable country when it comes to this shift to a decentralized, renewable and energy efficient power supply solution.

The main key policy document for the Energiewende was already published in 2010 by the german government, and included some very specific targets regarding greenhouse gas reduction (-90% until 2050), renewable energy target (60% until 2050 which includes hydro, solar and wind power plants) and energy efficiency  (+50% until 2050).

Below Germany’s actual share of power generation:

Germany-energy-mix (1)

As you can see for now the biggest part of the energy-pie is composed by hard coal and lignite, but also nuclear power has a considerable 15,8% share. The problem with nuclear power is a political one in Germany, all nuclear power plants will be closed earlier than necessary in 2022, which leads to a further increase of energy created by fossil fuels.

There is not only Germany that tries to implement such energy related politics, also countries like Austria, UK, Denmark, France and Japan are working on an energy change, but Germany is clearly the most important one and according to some experts also the only one that could really achieve its goals in the considered time span, and therefore all eyes are on them. (Like: “Hey, if Germany can do it, we can do it too, but if they fail we will fail definitely!”)

The Energy Transition is seen as one of the most important challenges to humankind in the 21st century, with huge political, social and financial impacts.

What do you think about this topic, let us know in the comments below!