UK, Sweden seek to harness the wind
Two European countries will aim to drastically boost their production of renewable energy by investing heavily in the construction of thousands of wind turbines.
In an expansion likened in importance to the exploration of North Sea oil, the UK plans to build 6,400 wind turbines around the coast by 2020. Sweden has set that same year for completion of 2,000 new wind turbines.
AMBITIOUS UK PLANS
Wind power currently makes up around two percent of power production in each country, a figure that is expected to rise dramatically with the recent announcements. The British government touted the decision to grant rights to energy companies to develop the UK coastal seabeds as “the biggest expansion of wind energy ever seen in the world.”
The additional wind turbines will contribute 32 gigawatt (GW) of clean electricity to the UK grid – enough to meet nearly a quarter of the country’s electricity needs.
“Our policies in support of offshore wind energy have already put us ahead of every other country in the world,” Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in a statement. “This new round of licenses provides a substantial new platform for investing in UK industrial capacity.
“The offshore wind industry is at the heart of the UK economy’s shift to low carbon and could be worth £75 billion and support up to 70,000 jobs by 2020,” Brown continued.
SWEDEN EXCEEDS EU TARGETS
Sweden’s Minister of Enterprise and Energy Maud Olofsson was equally optimistic that the new investments, estimated at $1 billion, will play a crucial role in helping the country meet the goal of increasing power production from renewable sources from 20 percent today to 50 percent of the total in 10 years. The output already is higher than the combined production of nuclear and hydroelectric power, Olofsson wrote in a newspaper column – and, by far, surpasses European Union targets.
By 2020, another 10 terawatt hours (TWh) will be generated by wind power per year, bringing its share up to nine percent.
“Sweden has the highest share of renewable energy in the EU,” Olofsson wrote. “We’ve got extremely good prospects for rapidly increasing the production of renewable energy, especially from the burning of biofuels, cogeneration plants and wind power.”
The wind turbines, each capable of generating 1 to 2 megawatt (MW), will be built in stages on land and at sea.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
In the UK, the next generation of offshore wind farms will require larger and more efficient turbines. The construction of the 5 MW powerhouses are slated to begin in 2013 and will focus on nine zones including sites in the Irish Sea, the Bristol Channel, the Moray Firth, the Firth of Forth, off the coast of Norfolk and west of the Isle of Wight.
“The turbines we need have not been designed yet,” Lord Drayson, minister for Science & Innovation, said. “Our goal is to encourage their design and manufacture on our shores.”
“Last month, we pledged £15m for the blade testing facility at the New and Renewable Energy Centre and further grants will follow to support this promising industry. The UK is quite simply the place to be for wind energy: we've got the science, the engineering, the support and the weather!”
The ambitious plans will not happen, experts say, without the construction of a massive “super grid” in the North Sea with Denmark, Germany and Norway. The grid, costing billions of dollars, would spread the energy supply across a greater area to offset changes in wind fluctuations. Others pointed out a new gigantic harbor will be necessary to build the turbines and new boats; otherwise, the lack of capacity and skill shortage threaten to send manufacturing jobs abroad.
In Sweden, the key to meeting the 2020 goals comes from the Electricity Certificate System, a market-based support system that encourages the expansion of the most efficient forms of renewable electricity production. Producers of clean electricity are awarded a certificate for each megawatt hour. Electricity users are then obligated to buy a certain quota of certificates based on their electricity consumption, a system intended to create better economic conditions for renewable energy as producers are able to cash in on the sale of electricity as well as certificates.
“It’s a very effective way of spurring investments in environmentally friendly electricity production,” Olofsson wrote. “In recent years, wind power has been on the rise and now the investments are breaking records. Over 500 MW were installed last year which represents an annual production of at least 1.2 TWh.”
Sakuu Corporation creates 3D printer for EV batteries
Sakuu Corporation has announced a new industrial-grade 3D printer for e-mobility batteries which it claims will unlock the mainstream adoption of electric vehicles.
Offering an industrial scale ‘local’ battery production capability, Sakuu believes the technology will provide increased manufacturer and consumer confidence. Sakuu’s Alpha Platform for its initial hardware offering will be available in Q4.
Backed by Japanese automotive parts supplier to major OEMs, Musashi Seimitsu, Sakuu is set to enable fast and high-volume production of 3D printed solid-state batteries (SSBs) that, compared with lithium-ion batteries, have the same capacity yet are half the size and almost a third lighter.
The company’s KeraCel-branded SSBs will also use around 30%-50% fewer materials – which can be sourced locally – to achieve the same energy levels as lithium-ion options, significantly reducing production costs. Sakuu anticipates the 3D printer’s attributes being easily transferable to a host of different applications in other industry sectors.
"For the e-mobility markets specifically, we believe this to be a landmark achievement, and one that could transform consumer adoption of electric vehicles,” said Robert Bagheri, Founder, CEO and chairman, Sakuu Corporation. “SSBs are a holy grail technology, but they are both very difficult and expensive to make. By harnessing the flexibility and efficiency-enhancing capabilities of our unique and scalable AM process, we’re enabling battery manufacturers and EV companies to overcome these fundamental pain points."
The ability to provide on-demand, localised production will create more efficient manufacturing operations and shorter supply chains, he added.
Sakuu will initially focus on the two-, three- and smaller four-wheel electric vehicle market for whom the company’s SSB proposition delivers an obvious and desirable combination of small form factor, low weight and improved capacity benefits. The agility of Sakuu’s AM process also means that customers can easily switch production to different battery types and sizes, as necessary, for example to achieve double the energy in the same space or the same energy in half the space.
Beyond energy storage, Sakuu’s development of print capability opens complex end device markets previously closed off to current 3D printing platforms. These include active components like sensors and electric motors for aerospace and automotive; power banks and heatsinks for consumer electronics; PH, temperature and pressure sensors within IoT; and pathogen detectors and microfluidic devices for medical, to name a few.
"As a cheaper, faster, local, customisable and more sustainable method of producing SSBs – which as a product deliver much higher performance attributes than currently available alternatives – the potential of our new platform offers tremendous opportunities to users within energy, as well as a multitude of other markets," said Bagheri.
Ongoing research and new funding collaborations
Omega Seiki, a part of Anglian Omega Group of companies, has partnered with New York-based company C4V to introduce SSBs for EVs and the renewable sector in India. As part of an MoU, the two companies are also looking at the manufacturing of SSBs in the country, according to reports.
Solid Power, which produces solid-state batteries for electric vehicles, recently announced a $130 million Series B investment round led by the BMW Group, Ford Motor Company and Volta Energy Technologies. Ford and the BMW Group have also expanded existing joint development agreements with Solid Power to secure all solid-state batteries for future EVs. Solid Power plans to begin producing automotive-scale batteries on the company's pilot production line in early 2022.
"Solid-state battery technology is important to the future of electric vehicles, and that's why we're investing directly," said Ted Miller, Ford's manager of Electrification Subsystems and Power Supply Research. "By simplifying the design of solid-state versus lithium-ion batteries, we'll be able to increase vehicle range, improve interior space and cargo volume, deliver lower costs and better value for customers and more efficiently integrate this kind of solid-state battery cell technology into existing lithium-ion cell production processes."
A subsidiary of Vingroup, Vietnam’s largest private company, Vinfast has signed an MoU with SSB manufacturer ProLogium - which picked up a bronze award at the recent Edison Awards - to accelerate commercialisation of batteries for EVs (click here).
Xin Li, Associate Professor of Materials Science, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, is designing an SSB for ultra-high performance EV applications. The ultimate goal is to design a battery "that outperforms internal combustion engines so electrical vehicles accelerate the transition from fossil-fuel-based energy to renewable energy," according to The Harvard Gazette.
The dramatic increase in EV numbers means that the potential battery market is huge. McKinsey projects that by 2040 battery demand from EVs produced in Europe will reach a total of 1,200GWh per year, which is enough for 80 gigafactories with an average capacity of 15GWh per year.