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TVashchenko

How can “green” tariffs change and who benefits from it?

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Recently, in the information space, we can often find analytical materials regarding possible changes in Ukrainian legislation in the field of “green” energy. Most of them contained pessimistic forecasts and frightened the owners of solar and wind generating systems by lowering “green” tariffs and introducing various restrictions.

But the law adopted on July 11 this year to amend the existing Law of Ukraine “On Alternative Energy Sources” allows you to install solar power plants on land plots of a house with a capacity of up to 30 kW until 2030 and receive a “green” tariff for electricity which sent to the power system, as well as coefficients are connected to the euro. In addition, the European vector of development of our country provides for joint development of renewable energy with the EU countries and a gradual increase in the share of such energy resources. The new leadership of the state and personally President Volodymyr Zelensky repeatedly emphasized the priority of this area.

But after the round-table meeting that took place on September 27 this year on the basis of the Committee on Energy and Housing and Communal Services, we can not hope for the best. In particular, the following changes were discussed at it:

– reduction of the “green” tariff;

– the establishment of new taxes (in local and state budgets) on existing stations;

– time limits for Pre-PPA, providing for the use of the “green” tariff from 2020 and its change for new stations from the same date.

It is proposed to introduce an additional environmental tax on CO2 emissions as an additional source for financing renewable energy.

Of course, these are just proposals, and in the near future the working group of the Committee will begin to develop specific legislative changes in this direction. But even a discussion of such innovations makes the owners of the sun and wind farms worried, as well as investors who have invested considerable funds in the development of Ukrainian renewable energy. In addition to the risk of numerous claims from them, it becomes quite clear that the corresponding changes in the “green” legislation will hurt Ukraine’s investment attractiveness, as well as slow down the development of alternative energy resources.

And only oligarchs who will receive cheap electricity for the smooth operation of their works and factories will benefit from such changes. Really – why should they spend considerable money and time on the re-equipment of their production facilities in accordance with the latest energy requirements, if they can continue to work in normal mode, and save more?

It seems that the numerous reproaches against the head of the aforementioned Committee Andriy Gerus in his relations with the oligarchs and lobbying for they interests have reason.

New Discovery Advances Flexible Solar Cells a Step Closer to Reality

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Discovery by University of Warwick scientists challenges accepted rule of organic solar cell design.

  • Could help to bring about low cost, flexible and stable organic solar cells for use on vehicles, curved surfaces and windows
  • Reducing surface area of electrodes in organic solar cells doesn’t reduce performance, provided the conductive parts are close enough together
  • Composites of insulating polymers and conducting nanoparticles could offer advantages over limited range of materials currently used

Solar cells that use mixtures of organic molecules to absorb sunlight and convert it to electricity, that can be applied to curved surfaces such as the body of a car, could be a step closer thanks to a discovery that challenges conventional thinking about one of the key components of these devices.

A basic organic solar cell consists of a thin film of organic semiconductors sandwiched between two electrodes which extract charges generated in the organic semiconductor layer to the external circuit. It has long been assumed that 100% of the surface of each electrode should be electrically conductive to maximize the efficiency of charge extraction.

Scientists at the University of Warwick have discovered that the electrodes in organic solar cells actually only need ~1% of their surface area to be electrically conductive to be fully effective, which opens the door to using a range of composite materials at the interface between the electrodes and the light harvesting organic semiconductor layers to improve device performance and reduce cost. The discovery, published yesterday (September 11, 2019), is reported in Advanced Functional Materials.

The academic lead, Dr Ross Hatton from the University’s Department of Chemistry, said: “It’s widely assumed that if you want to optimize the performance of organic solar cells you need to maximize the area of the interface between the electrodes and the organic semiconductors. We asked whether that was really true.”

The researchers developed a model electrode that they could systematically change the surface area of, and found that when as much as 99% of its surface was electrically insulating the electrode still performs as well as if 100% of the surface was conducting, provided the conducting regions aren’t too far apart.

High performance organic solar cells have additional transparent layers at the interfaces between the electrodes and the light harvesting organic semiconductor layer that are essential for optimizing the light distribution in the device and improving its stability, but must also be able to conduct charges to the electrodes. This is a tall order and not many materials meet all of these requirements.

Dr Dinesha Dabera, the post-doctoral researcher on this Leverhulme Trust funded project, explains:“This new finding means composites of insulators and conducting nano-particles such as carbon nanotubes, graphene fragments or metal nanoparticles, could have great potential for this purpose, offering enhanced device performance or lower cost.

“Organic solar cells are very close to being commercialized but they’re not quite there yet, so anything that allows you to further reduce cost whilst also improving performance is going to help enable that.”

Dr Hatton, who was interviewed by Serena Bashal of the UK Youth Climate Coalition at the British Science Festival this week, explains: “What we’ve done is to demonstrate a design rule for this type of solar cell, which opens up much greater possibilities for materials choice in the device and so could help to enable their realisation commercially.’’

Organic solar cells are potentially very environmentally friendly, because they contain no toxic elements and can be processed at low temperature using roll-to-roll deposition, so can have an extremely low carbon footprint and a short energy payback time.

Dr Hatton explains: “There is a fast growing need for solar cells that can be supported on flexible substrates that are lightweight and color-tuneable. Conventional silicon solar cells are fantastic for large scale electricity generation in solar farms and on the roofs of buildings, but they are poorly matched to the needs of electric vehicles and for integration into windows on buildings, which are no longer niche applications. Organic solar cells can sit on curved surfaces, and are very lightweight and low profile.

“This discovery may help enable these new types of flexible solar cells to become a commercial reality sooner because it will give the designers of this class of solar cells more choice in the materials they can use.”

The original:https://scitechdaily.com.

Stanford Researchers Discover a New Route to Carbon-Neutral Fuels From Carbon Dioxide

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If the idea of flying on battery-powered commercial jets makes you nervous, you can relax a little. Researchers have discovered a practical starting point for converting carbon dioxide into sustainable liquid fuels, including fuels for heavier modes of transportation that may prove very difficult to electrify, like airplanes, ships, and freight trains.

Carbon-neutral re-use of CO2 has emerged as an alternative to burying the greenhouse gas underground. In a new study published today in Nature Energy, researchers from Stanford University and the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) show how electricity and an Earth-abundant catalyst can convert CO2 into energy-rich carbon monoxide (CO) better than conventional methods. The catalyst – cerium oxide – is much more resistant to breaking down. Stripping oxygen from CO2 to make CO gas is the first step in turning CO2 into nearly any liquid fuel and other products, like synthetic gas and plastics. The addition of hydrogen to CO can produce fuels like synthetic diesel and the equivalent of jet fuel. The team envisions using renewable power to make the CO and for subsequent conversions, which would result in carbon-neutral products.

“We showed we can use electricity to reduce CO2 into CO with 100 percent selectivity and without producing the undesired byproduct of solid carbon,” said William Chueh, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford, one of three senior authors of the paper.

Chueh, aware of DTU’s research in this area, invited Christopher Graves, associate professor in DTU’s Energy Conversion & Storage Department, and Theis Skafte, a DTU doctoral candidate at the time, to come to Stanford and work on the technology together.

“We had been working on high-temperature CO2 electrolysis for years, but the collaboration with Stanford was the key to this breakthrough,” said Skafte, lead author of the study, who is now a postdoctoral researcher at DTU. “We achieved something we couldn’t have separately – both fundamental understanding and practical demonstration of a more robust material.”

Barriers to conversion

One advantage sustainable liquid fuels could have over the electrification of transportation is that they could use the existing gasoline and diesel infrastructure, like engines, pipelines and gas stations. Additionally, the barriers to electrifying airplanes and ships – long-distance travel and the high weight of batteries – would not be problems for energy-dense, carbon-neutral fuels.

From left: Christopher Graves, Michal Bajdich and Michael Machala in front of the pulsed laser deposition machine that Machala used to fabricate the electrodes. Credit: Mark Golden

Although plants reduce CO2 to carbon-rich sugars naturally, an artificial electrochemical route to CO has yet to be widely commercialized. Among the problems: Devices use too much electricity, convert a low percentage of CO2 molecules, or produce pure carbon that destroys the device. Researchers in the new study first examined how different devices succeeded and failed in CO2 electrolysis.

With insights gained, the researchers built two cells for COconversion testing: one with cerium oxide and the other with conventional nickel-based catalysts. The ceria electrode remained stable, while carbon deposits damaged the nickel electrode, significantly shortening the catalyst’s lifetime.

“This remarkable capability of ceria has major implications for the practical lifetime of CO2electrolyzer devices,” said DTU’s Graves, a senior author of the study and visiting scholar at Stanford at the time. “Replacing the current nickel electrode with our new ceria electrode in the next generation electrolyzer would improve device lifetime.”

Road to commercialization

Eliminating early cell death could significantly lower the cost of commercial CO production. The suppression of carbon buildup also allows the new type of device to convert more of the CO2 to CO, which is limited to well below 50 percent CO product concentration in today’s cells. This could also reduce production costs.

“The carbon-suppression mechanism on ceria is based on trapping the carbon in stable oxidized form. We were able to explain this behavior with computational models of CO2 reduction at elevated temperature, which was then confirmed with X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy of the cell in operation,” said Michal Bajdich, a senior author of the paper and an associate staff scientist at the SUNCAT Center for Interface Science & Catalysis, a partnership between the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford’s School of Engineering.

The high cost of capturing CO2 has been a barrier to sequestering it underground on a large scale, and that high cost could be a barrier to using CO2 to make more sustainable fuels and chemicals. However, the market value of those products combined with payments for avoiding the carbon emissions could help technologies that use CO2 overcome the cost hurdle more quickly.

The researchers hope that their initial work on revealing the mechanisms in CO2 electrolysis devices by spectroscopy and modeling will help others in tuning the surface properties of ceria and other oxides to further improve CO2 electrolysis.

The original:https://scitechdaily.com.

Scientists Discover a More Efficient Way to Turn Heat Into Electrical Energy

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Scientists find a new way to capture heat that otherwise would have been lost.

An international team of scientists has figured out how to capture heat and turn it into electricity.

The discovery, published last week in the journal Science Advances, could create more efficient energy generation from heat in things like car exhaust, interplanetary space probes, and industrial processes.

“Because of this discovery, we should be able to make more electrical energy out of heat than we do today,” said study co-author Joseph Heremans, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and Ohio Eminent Scholar in Nanotechnology at The Ohio State University. “It’s something that, until now, nobody thought was possible.”

The discovery is based on tiny particles called paramagnons—bits that are not quite magnets, but that carry some magnetic flux. This is important, because magnets, when heated, lose their magnetic force and become what is called paramagnetic. A flux of magnetism—what scientists call “spins”—creates a type of energy called magnon-drag thermoelectricity, something that, until this discovery, could not be used to collect energy at room temperature.

“The conventional wisdom was once that, if you have a paramagnet and you heat it up, nothing happens,” Heremans said. “And we found that that is not true. What we found is a new way of designing thermoelectric semiconductors—materials that convert heat to electricity. Conventional thermoelectrics that we’ve had over the last 20 years or so are too inefficient and give us too little energy, so they are not really in widespread use. This changes that understanding.”

Magnets are a crucial part of collecting energy from heat: When one side of a magnet is heated, the other side—the cold side—gets more magnetic, producing spin, which pushes the electrons in the magnet and creates electricity.

The paradox, though, is that when magnets get heated up, they lose most of their magnetic properties, turning them into paramagnets—“almost-but-not-quite magnets,” Heremans calls them. That means that, until this discovery, nobody thought of using paramagnets to harvest heat because scientists thought paramagnets weren’t capable of collecting energy.

What the research team found, though, is that the paramagnons push the electrons only for a billionth of a millionth of a second—long enough to make paramagnets viable energy-harvesters.

The research team—an international group of scientists from Ohio State, North Carolina State University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (all are equal authors on this journal article)—started testing paramagnons to see if they could, under the right circumstances, produce the necessary spin.

What they found, Heremans said, is that paramagnons do, in fact, produce the kind of spin that pushes electrons.

And that, he said, could make it possible to collect energy.

The original:https://scitechdaily.com.

“The Climate strike” was held in Kiev

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On September 20, an action was held in the capital of Ukraine as part of the Global Climate strike, the participants of which expressed their position regarding environmental pollution and harmful emissions, which negatively affects the environmental situation and leads to irreversible climate changes. Indeed, this July was the hottest month, and the last 5 years exceeded the maximum temperature indicators for the entire history of observing the weather.

As part of the Climate strike, more than 2,000 activists walked with slogans around the center of Kyiv and handed a letter to the president’s office with basic requirements. Among them – the transition to renewable energy sources until 2050, a ban on the extraction of fossil fuels and use disposable plastic, the development of eco-oriented transport, the termination of subsidies for industrial livestock from the state budget.

On this day similar actions were held in 160 countries, including Germany, Australia and the USA. Activists hopes in this way to draw attention to the problem on the eve of the UN summit on climate issues, which is scheduled for September 23, 2019.

Transformative Device Generates Energy From the Cold Night Sky, When Solar Doesn’t Work

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An inexpensive thermoelectric device harnesses the cold of space without active heat input, generating electricity that powers an LED at night, researchers report September 12 in the journal Joule.

“Remarkably, the device is able to generate electricity at night, when solar cells don’t work,” says lead author Aaswath Raman, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Beyond lighting, we believe this could be a broadly enabling approach to power generation suitable for remote locations, and anywhere where power generation at night is needed.”

While solar cells are an efficient source of renewable energy during the day, there is currently no similar renewable approach to generating power at night. Solar lights can be outfitted with batteries to store energy produced in daylight hours for night-time use, but the addition drives up costs.

The device developed by Raman and Stanford University scientists Wei Li and Shanhui Fan sidesteps the limitations of solar power by taking advantage of radiative cooling, in which a sky-facing surface passes its heat to the atmosphere as thermal radiation, losing some heat to space and reaching a cooler temperature than the surrounding air. This phenomenon explains how frost forms on grass during above-freezing nights, and the same principle can be used to generate electricity, harnessing temperature differences to produce renewable electricity at night, when lighting demand peaks.

This is a schematic of a thermoelectric generator that harnesses temperature differences to produce renewable electricity without active heat input. Credit: Aaswath Raman

Raman and colleagues tested their low-cost thermoelectric generator on a rooftop in Stanford, California, under a clear December sky. The device, which consists of a polystyrene enclosure covered in aluminized mylar to minimize thermal radiation and protected by an infrared-transparent wind cover, sat on a table one meter above roof level, drawing heat from the surrounding air and releasing it into the night sky through a simple black emitter. When the thermoelectric module was connected to a voltage boost convertor and a white LED, the researchers observed that it passively powered the light. They further measured its power output over six hours, finding that it generated as much as 25 milliwatts of energy per square meter.

Since the radiative cooler consists of a simple aluminum disk coated in paint, and all other components can be purchased off the shelf, Raman and the team believe the device can be easily scaled for practical use. The amount of electricity it generates per unit area remains relatively small, limiting its widespread applications for now, but the researchers predict it can be made twenty times more powerful with improved engineering — such as by suppressing heat gain in the radiative cooling component to increase heat-exchange efficiency — and operation in a hotter, drier climate.

“Our work highlights the many remaining opportunities for energy by taking advantage of the cold of outer space as a renewable energy resource,” says Raman. “We think this forms the basis of a complementary technology to solar. While the power output will always be substantially lower, it can operate at hours when solar cells cannot.”

The original:https://scitechdaily.com.

Three important methods of energy storage for switching to renewable sources

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Last studies in the field of pumped hydro, the use of liquid air energy and wind flows promise the cheapness and affordability of such approaches. Supporters are confident in the rapid development of technologies that allow obtaining electricity from renewable sources, which are also environmentally friendly and safe, for example the sun, wind and others.

Using water energy is considered traditional method in this area. By reason of the difference in altitude, the movement of water masses, special turbines convert it into electricity. A research team at ANU (Australian National University) has discovered at least 530000 potential reservoirs that can become as inexpensive, renewable energy sources worldwide.

Mr. Lu, member of the project team, noted that today pumped hydro is the cheapest technology for producing electricity from renewable sources on a large-scale, because it plants account for 97% of this energy all over the world, and the typical service life of the latter is fifty years.

Other hopeful method of volume energy storage is formed on the basic rules of physics. Energy Vault offers using cranes to construct a huge tower consisting of concrete blocks weighing 35 tons each. The essence of the technique is that during a fall such blocks release the accumulated energy spent on their rise, starting up the turbogenerators.

Finally, the 3rd case: Highview Power seeks to demonstrate that its liquid air energy storage systems can give low-price and extremely effective energy battery for 5-10 hours every day. Experts assure that such energy conservation resources in combination with its renewable sources are equal and can be substitute for thermal and nuclear, while ensuring more safety of delivery.

Reliable and inexpensive pumped hydro accumulation

In concordance with recent ANU studies, there are a huge number of inexpensive, effective pumped hydro battery everywhere that can be coupled with solar or wind energy construction to create electrical networks without harmful emissions. Such conclusions are in opposition to normal opinion.

Leading researcher M.Stokes claims that they have managed to discover 100% of potential places for storing and producing pumped hydro around the world, but only a minor part of them will be necessary to support the global electricity system, with a fully renewable.

A snapshot of the world map with prospective short-term off-river pumped-hydro energy storage sites

According to scientists from ANU, these sites for pumped hydro do not have to be situated nearby rivers or other bodies of water. The local terrain can be adapted to accommodate the lower and upper water tanks, which will subsequently be connected with pipelines for pumping water in the right direction and putting the units into motion to generate electricity on request.

The pоwer оf the sun and wind, in turn, can be utilized for pumping water between tanks, which will significantly reduce the cоst and increase the efficiency of the system. Scientists believe that high-vоltage transmissiоn lines cоuld be built tо transfer electricity, thus creating netwоrks with no emissiоns.

Formation renewable energy areas and no-emissions electrical networks

A.Blakers, a member оf the research grоup, said that there are a lоt of pоssibility for creating renеwable еnergy zonеs around us, where there are suitable conditions for the use of wind, sun and water. These include parts оf the USA, as well as abоut 3000 оther zоnes throughout Australia.

He explained – the price оf transportation is distributed between wind, solar and hydrо statiоns. Alsо, the reservоir guarantees uninterrupted оperation оf the mechanism arоund the clоck, what reduces the price оf transfer оf energy and makes it mоre efficient.

The scientist nоted that envirоnmental, geоlоgical and anоther cоnditions will cоnduce tо exclusiоn of many of the prоpоsed facilities, but with sо many pоssible lоcations, less than 1% оf the them need tо be develоped tо suppоrt 100% of renewable energy sоurces. In addition, the cоst of transportatiоn and cоnstruction оf the infrastructure fоr mоst sites is insignificant, and with the increase in area, they cоmpletely lоse their significance.

Energy storage potential by UN geo region in units of Gigawatt-hours (GWh) per million people

A.Blakers affirms: the hydrо installations will be able tо prоvide maximum pоwer fоr 5-25 hоurs, depending оn the size оf the tanks. The principles оf fоrmation оf such structures are gооd studied and tested, and a pumped prоvides a very quick flоw оf energy. In additiоn, the amоunt оf water cоnsumed needed tо generate electricity in cоmbination with the sun and wind will be significantly less because no need to cооl energy sources with water. The link prоvides additional infоrmation abоut the analysis, as well as maps with the lоcations of pоtential places of hydrо storage: http://re100.eng.anu.edu.au/global/

The construction of the blocks – innovative energy storage

Energy Vault offers a non-standard system where the amount of accumulated energy depends on the number and weight of blocks, as well as their altitude of placement.

This method is very economical: the price of energy storage will be only a few cents per kilowatt hour, which is about 7 times lower than that for other systems.

But today it is still difficult for innovative systems to compete with traditional approaches for long or large energy supplies. However, this system can be combined with other renewable energy sources and completely switch to eco-friendly methods.

Energy Vault won Fast Company’s 2019 World Changing Ideas Awards in the Energy category.

Originality of liquid air energy storage (LAES) technology

Highview Power offers to pay attention to liquid air energy storage systems. This British company cooperate with TSK in this direction to create LAES projects in some West African and Europe countries, the USA, the U.K.

CEO J.Cavada believes that the price of such energy is twice as beneficial compared to similar systems. For example, lithium-ion battery systems has expensive related costs and can be highly effective energy storage capacity no more than 4 hours.

Mr. Cavada sure that LAES will development of use other renewable energy sources – sun and wind, because there is a need for reliable storage. LAES provides fifty MWh of energy storage capacity for eight hours a day, will work 10 or 20 years, be managed remotely and has inexpensive related costs.

LAES operation details

Increase in operating capacity from 0 to 100% occurs in less than ten seconds, which was proved in Manchester. Highview can connect systems with flywheels or lithium-ion battery systems to achieve a lightning fast response.

In addition, the technique and technology of compressing air into liquid form are goog known and used in various industries, CEO notes. This simplifies and accelerates the development and integration of systems, which in turn reduces overall costs. Today, there are many institutions where they use liquid air in the same temperature range (oxygen or nitrogen). Moreover, when cooling, the air is purified, since carbon dioxide is removed, because its liquefaction temperature is higher than that of oxygen.

This gas can be used and sold as a by-product for the production of soda water and other similar drinks. The company is working with a British brewery to do this as part of the potential project.

Highview predicts many ways to use its technology. In Italy the company is developing several projects to make the energy of the sun or wind fully dispatchable (24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year), which requires enough storage space.

The value of an energy storage system in the form of liquid air differs in countries with different levels of development. In less developed countries LAES technology can significantly support national and regional electrification initiatives and as contribute significantly to achieving national and international renewable energy and climate change goals.

Towards a switch to renewable energy

The energy storage systems in the form of liquid air can increase the use of natural gas or coal-fired power stations, contributing to their activities and the transition to energy with zero carbon emissions. The technology can be synchronized, for example, with gas power stations. In this case, natural gas will be used only in case of urgent need.

But this approach contradicts the mission and strategy of the company, because its main task is to accelerate the growth of renewable energy sources and completely replace nuclear and fossil fuels. A lot of oil and gas companies are aware of this, and Highview is working with them to achieve the goal.

Cavada announced the upcoming meeting between Highview and TSK executives with Shell and Total to discuss a switch to renewable energy and help them in this matter.

Gоvernment energy authorities and utilities in various cоuntries have shown great interest in LAES technology. For the purpоse of a feasibility study, Highview develоped a 50 MW/400 MWh installation in the USA connected to a wind farm, and also signed up an agreement and expects tо be able tо annоunce the signing of a deal sооn.

By launching two small installations in the U.K., Highview is alsо wоrking оn a 50 MW/250 MWh system. This technology implies an increase a system’s energy stоrage capacity frоm 8 to 10 hоurs.

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