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!


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!

Biogas, the underrated renewable energy source!

Renewable energy sources are becoming crucial for a sustainable energy supply in the next decades; the only way to reach more independency from fossil fuels is a good mix between all the different possibilities that we have as solar, wind, water, and geothermal power sources.
But one source is quite often forgotten: Biogas from Anaerobic Digestion! There is so much potential in it, and its exploitation on a big scale has only begun.
Lets take a closer look on anaerobic digestion. In a process where microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen gases like methane are produced. Exactly this gases can then be used in a second step to produce electric energy, to heat buildings and even to power cars! Amazing, dont you think so?
But you may ask, what happens to the solid remains called digestates. Well the answer is simple, they are used usually as fertilisers in agriculture.

When it comes down to pros and cons, here are the major aspects:

+ Sustainable and local energy production
+ Raw material supply locally
+ Co2 balance friendly
+ very good storage possibilities (!)
+ good for decentralised energy supply, also in rural areas

– Farmers tend to produce plants for energy production purposes
-high costs to construct a biogas production site
-gases are highly explosive and therefore dangerous

For some further insight I consider you to google the topic, you can find some super interesting articles on biogas. This post was just meant to make you aware of what anaerobic digestion is and how we can use it for energy production!

Keep tuned for more posts on this argument (it is definitely one of my favourite ones 😉

Bioenergy provides 38 per cent of jobs in the renewable energy industry

According to a report released by IRENA, there has been an 18 per cent increase from last year in the renewable energy industry, The bioenergy sector accounts for over 2.9 million jobs, including liquid biofuels (1.78 million), biomass power and heat (0.82 million) and biogas (0,38 million). This means that 38 per cent of all jobs in the renewable energy industry are provided by the global bioenergy sector, almost half a million more than the PV solar industry (2.4 million) and nearly 3 times more than the wind power industry (1.04 million).

If you are a student of Sustainable development or in Environmental studies, this would definitely be a great news for you. At least for me it is something to look forward to.

As a result, even with continued jobs growth, the European Union and the United States now represent 25 per cent of global renewable energy jobs, compared to 31 per cent in 2012. The 10 countries with the largest renewable energy employment figures are: China, Brazil, the United States, India, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, France, Bangladesh and Colombia. For renewable energy employment to continue to grow, supportive policies should be used. “In order to maximise job creation from renewable energy deployment, governments need to implement a mix of cross-sectoral policies that encourage deployment, stimulate investment in local industries, strengthen firm-level capabilities and promote education and research.” – Rabia Ferroukhi, IRENA Deputy Director, Knowledge, Policy and Finance Centre.

Source: Be Sustainable

Calculate your own ecological footprint!

Have you ever asked yourself how big your own ecological footprint is? Here you get a useful tool

CoolClimate Calculator

This calculator has been developed by the famous Berkely University from California. The aim of this calculator is to estimate the yearly co2 emissions of your household. In the first step you have to enter some basic information in the program like the country you live in, the amount of people in your household and your gross annual household income.
The next step is to sign how many vehicles are used in your family and how many miles you drive, of course it is crucial to enter also the MpG amount of the cars. Also public transit and air travel are considered in this category. When it comes to housing in a regular analysis you put electricity, natural gas, heating oil, and water consumption. Also important for co2 measurement is food consumption, in fact you have to show how your diet is composed. Last but not least are details on your shopping habits,

After filling out all the fields the calculator shows you the result in tons of co2/year, but it doesn’t finish there. Below the numeric calculations one can find some super useful tips on how to take action to reduce the personal impact on the climate.
From Carpooling to work to eat a low carbon diet  there is a list with the tons of co2 saved and also dollars saved. Take 3 minutes of your life time and check out this site!

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!