Solar Future NL 2014: New techniques allow for 2nd  energy market revolution

AMSTERDAM/ROTTERDAM - With the deployment of new technologies for energy storage, such as Power-to-Gas, it is technically and economically possible to generate all the electricity in the Netherlands with solar panels and windmills in the future. In combination with short-and long-term storage, renewable energy can replace existing power plants as a whole without power failure or malfunctions.

This is suggested by international authority in the field of energy Prof. Dr. Ing. Michael Sterner. He is one of the key speakers the conference The Solar Future NL, which will be hosted by Solarplaza on May 27 in the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam. Sterner leads the research center for energy networks and energy FENES, for the Technical University in Regensburg, Germany. "We've tested and proven that a 100 percent renewable energy is technically feasible and economically viable in the long term" he says.

During their visit to Germany on May 26 and 27, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima will be visiting the University of Oldenburg. There they will be informed by dozens of specialists about energy and the Power-to-Gas technology that Sterner and his team have invented, and is used inter alia by Audi.

According to the professor, the demand for energy storage increases if electricity networks cannot be extended and the supply of renewable energy rises. In Germany, solar panels provide more than 50 percent of the required power on sunny days, and the capacity of solar energy has been growing steadily.
Because the supply of solar and wind energy is not guaranteed even with the best forecast, storage in homes and in batteries or flywheels is needed in order to step in when the demand for electricity is increasing. To bridge weeks with little solar and wind energy, long-term storage of energy is required in addition to the short-term storage, according to Sterner.
The Power-to-Gas technology can play a major role in this. In this technology the water is split into hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis. By adding CO2 to the hydrogen, methane gas can be created, which is chemically identical to natural gas. This gas can be used for heating, gas turbines, and vehicles, and can be transported via the existing infrastructure. Also, green kerosene or diesel can be made from this for aviation and shipping. It can however also be stored in existing gas storage facilities. For example, Germany has a storage capacity for gas, that can supply power for three months and can be stocked with solar and wind energy.

During the conference, expert Ronald Serné will be speaking on how, in practice, energy storage works in homes. He has managed to generate more energy than he uses with his energy neutral home ('nulwoning') in Groenlo. He can drive 30.000 kilometers a year with an electric car from the surplus. The 'nulwoning' stores solar energy during the day to cover the use during the evening. Currently systems are being explored that, during summer, store excess energy for the winter. Also, currently there is being worked on a home network for direct current, so that the power from the roof does not need to be converted into alternating current for the grid, and then back into direct current for all kinds of devices. "This delivers twice the loss so allows you to save a lot", says Serné.
According to Serné renewable energy can only increase if the homes are going to use the generated energy themselves. "If not, the grid cannot cope. You can see this already in Germany. We need to use it ourselves and thus store it ourselves", he says.


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