This week, Ukrenergo Review will talk about a solar power plant that Chinese scientists want to launch in the Earth orbit, how 3D printing can cheapen the production of solar panels, and how hydrogen can become an alternative to natural gas.
You will also learn how the EU made changes in labelling the energy efficiency class of home appliances and other interesting energy news in the EU.
1.3D printing may decrease the cost of solar panels by 50%
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology argue that the use of 3D printing (additive manufacturing) in the production of solar panels can reduce their production cost by half compared with traditional production methods. PV Magazine reports.
In Australia, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) used industrial 3D printers to print rolls of solar cells. They are produced in the form of A3 sheets which can be used on the surfaces of windows and buildings.
Concerning the application of additive manufacturing in wind generation, here the potential benefit of a 3D printer is its “mobility” compared with the difficulties of transporting wind turbine blades for long distances. 3D printer can be used in-site and thus significantly save on transport costs.
3D printing is also used to manufacture power accumulation and storage systems in nuclear power and traditional power plants, PV Magazine reports. In these industries, the advantages of additive technologies are the possibility of manufacturing both new parts and spare parts of the discontinued models. Thus, this may support the work of the previously constructed stations.
2.China to build solar farm in orbit for $15 billion
Chinese scientists have started building a research facility that will explore the prospects for the transfer of electricity from satellites to Earth. The estimated cost of the project is about $15 billion, according toPower Technology.
Researchers will launch tethered balloons equipped with solar panels to an altitude of 1,000m. These will collect sunlight and convert it from solar energy to microwaves to be sent back to Earth and sold to the grid. If this succeeds, the researchers will launch balloons into the stratosphere to conduct further tests.
If the tests are successful, the next stage could be a solar power station that would orbit the Earth at a distance of 36,000km. The station would not be impeded by the atmosphere or cloud cover and could deliver power with six times the intensity of solar farms on Earth. Another advantage is that the station will work 24/7.
At the moment, scientists are working on the way of transmitting microwaves to Earth, because modern technology allows them to transmit only 100 meters away. Another problem to be solved is that the energy of the microwave can cause a strong heating of the Earth’s surface.
China is not the only country looking to create a solar farm in space. Scientists at the California Institute of Technology have also been building a prototype lightweight solar panel, which can harness and transmit solar energy from space.
3.Green hydrogen may replace natural gas by 2035
Hydrogen produced from electrolysis will be competitive with natural gas by 2035. These are the findings of the research by a Norwegian consultancy DNV GL, according to Renews.biz. Company’s analysts claim that increasing capacity of renewables will allow to use cheap electricity for green hydrogen applications in the next 16 years.
According to DNV G,L three developments are responsible for bringing down the cost of hydrogen production using electrolysis. The first is ongoing reduction in the cost of equipment. Prices for electricity will decrease due to the rise of renewables, generating a surplus of energy available to the power grid. Finally, industries are expected to see a shift away from carbon. The latter will increase the usage of gases.
DNV GL’s researchers made a distinction between two ways to utilise hydrogen. Namely, hydrogen production using surplus electricity generation from renewables and peak electricity generation, applying hydrogen as a fuel (with this approach hydrogen becomes green energy).
The company’s analysts are convinced that the use of hydrogen in electricity is an alternative solution to the problem of energy transition and increased use of renewables in the power system.
4.EU introduces new energy labelling for household appliances
This step is expected to reduce energy consumption and help consumers save money. The European Commission has adopted the format of new, more understandable EE labels for household appliances, according to the European Commission’s website.. The new labelling aims to help consumers make better informed purchasing choices and achieve long-term cost saving.
New energy efficiency labels cover five product groups, namely dishwashers, washing machines and washer-driers, refrigerators, lamps, electronic displays including televisions. In 2017, the EU agreed clearer energy efficiency labelling rules, by moving from the current A+++ to G scale to an A to G energy scale. This scale is considered simpler and better understood by consumers.
New EE labels will indicate class of energy consumption, as well as other information that will allow to compare products, For example, information about the water used in the washing cycle, storage capacity and noise emissions, etc. A new element in these labels is a QR code with which consumers will be able to get additional, official (non-commercial) information by scanning the code with a common smartphone. These new labels will be visible for European consumers in physical stores and on-line as of March 1st 2021.
Commission estimations value the total final accumulated energy savings of these new labels by 2030 at 38,1 TWh/year, equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of Hungary.
5.China to use AI to beef up the grid
GCL-Poly, the Chinese polysilicon heavyweight, has joined forces with Japanese industrial and energy conglomerate Mitsui & Co and Israel’s software company eVolution Networks. The project participants promise to deliver a solution that will beef up the grid.
The new venture will seek to tap artificial intelligence (AI) technology to reduce grid losses and optimise network infrastructure equipment, PV Magazine reports. Volution’s AI algorithms will use big data from the grid to learn patterns of behavior and forecast real-time demand. AI solution also promises huge CAPEX and OPEX savings.
“There’s huge potential for AI technology to predict and optimize the grid performance,” said Roy Morad, CEO of eVolution Innovation Group. “Utility companies will be able to transform from the long-standing manual managed to sophisticated, agile and green operation.”
A joint venture established between GCL-Poly and Mitsui aimed at accelerating investment in new-generation energy and infrastructure related business in China and other countries. The JV fund was announced as the first step towards a long-term strategic partnership between GCL and Mitsui.