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Turning incandescent lamps into heatballs September 8, 2010

Posted by Hans De Keulenaer in efficiency.
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Incandescent lamps are terribly inefficient. About 5% electricity gets converted into light with the remaining 95% lost as heat. They are class F appliances at best.

However, their inefficiency as lighting devices makes them 95% efficient to convert electricity into heat, justifying a class A label without any doubt. Enter the heatball.

As a result, the lighting industry is now rapidly converting its production towards this new product. Apart from packaging issues, the main challenge is to make sure that none of the remaining 5% of energy is emitted as light.

Electrical engineers react enthusiastically. After decades of increasing the percentage of non-linear loads on the network, finally we have a product that will reverse the trend. It will do wonders for the stability of the grid, increasing the lifetime of equipment, improve reliability as well as prepare for large-scale integration of renewables.

Also architects and builders of low-energy homes are pleased. Their challenge is to provide ever lower residual demand for space heating with a cost-effective system. In passive houses, heatballs will act as a central heating system, providing small heat pulses where required using the electricity system which is already there.

Please join us today in promoting heatballs everywhere. I can see nothing but benefits, and hence sincerely hope that the heatball product is not a joke …


How should we support the development of renewables? September 8, 2010

Posted by Hans De Keulenaer in efficiency.
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potencial of renewables

Image via Wikipedia

An interesting article on the Oil Drum asks this question. Renewables receive many billions of dollars/euros in support, primarily in feed-in tariffs. There is little questioning about the level of support, but lots of debate where to spend it. Some say that spending it all on research would have resulted in much more progress.

Supporting feed-in tariffs is based on the premise of technology learning. When new technologies are introduced, cost reduces rapidly. Typically, with each doubling of cumulative output, one sees a 15-20% cost reduction. In the early days of a technology, this effect goes very fast. For example with a 20% learning effect, the second unit is 20% cheaper, the 4th 36% and the 8th brings you to 50%. Up to a few 10,000, cost reduces a factor 20, but after that, the learning effect slows down. To have the next order of magnitude cost reduction needs a dramatic increase in cumulative output.

The feed-in tariff is based on the idea to finance the cost premium while a technology goes through its learning cycle. It is based on a poor understanding of the exponential curve, as amply illustrated by the wheat & chessboard problem. There is also a popular video on YouTube on our difficulty to understand the exponential curve.

Proponents of supporting energy research will say that technological breakthroughs are much more efficient and have bigger replication factors on public money spend. However, the track record from government to stimulate development and select winning technologies is spotty at best.

The debate will not be over anytime soon. However, the decision is political. It will be interesting to observe what happens if feed-in tariffs start to have a sizeable impact on broad layers of population.

Eco-sheet: 1 kWh generated using different energy sources October 12, 2008

Posted by Hans De Keulenaer in electricity.
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How sustainable is a kWh?

What is the best technology to produce it?

These questions are often asked and the answers are not clear-cut, as there are a lot of variables.


Therefore, Leonardo ENERGY has produced this eco-sheet to help clarifying the issue. The environmental burden of generating one kWh from 7 different energy sources is quantified. It shows that there is no silver bullet solution, but there are advantages to explore.


This eco-sheet is the 7th in a series on quantifying the environmental impacts from energy use. You can view the full series following this link.

EU poor power quality, an economic impact of €150bn April 28, 2008

Posted by Hans De Keulenaer in power quality.
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Jonathan Manson presents the results of a survey conducted by the European Copper Institute (ECI) into the consequences for EU industry of poor power quality. These add up to €150bn annually, are mainly experienced by industry and caused by power interruptions (dips, surges, transients and short interruptions). Call for action is made to use of the significant and disturbing conclusions drawn from the analysis that has been carried out.

The electricity system as a tandem bicycle April 7, 2008

Posted by Hans De Keulenaer in electricity, tutorial.
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The system that delivers electricity to private citizens and companies across the country is highly complex. While electricity is an omnipresent and crucial part of our everyday economy, understanding this system and all its associated phenomena is not easy, sometimes even for trained electrical engineers. In such a case, a good analogy often helps to form a better idea of how things work. We have chosen to compare the electrical system with a tandem bicycle to explain a few of its aspects.

Renewable Energy penetration: the upcoming challenges for TSOs April 4, 2008

Posted by Hans De Keulenaer in grids, reliability, renewable electricity, wind.
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40.8% of the overall electricity demand was supplied on real time basis by wind power some days ago in the Spanish electricity system. This record constitutes a real challenge for transmission system operators (TSOs).

In more general terms, renewable energy penetration strongly depends on the ability of TSO to evolve towards a new way of operating the system: dedicated predictability for renewable generation, voltage dip management and managing the power balance.

The big issue for the coming years (especially taking into account the targets set by the EU Directive on the use of energy from renewable sources) is balancing the transmission system in the presence of high renewable power penetration. This not only requires to redesign grid codes, but also a deep revision of power reserve policy. Along with renewable sources growth, a market for upgraded reserves is becoming necessary.

This paper shows some good practices from the Spanish TSO, REE, leading to better integration of renewable generation: commissioning a dedicated centre for renewable energy management, grid code evolution, development of specific applications to maximize renewable generation and provide production limits to each renewable energy plant, voltage control and congestion management.

How to Manual on Small Scale Wind Energy April 3, 2008

Posted by Hans De Keulenaer in electricity, renewables.
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This manual explains how a small wind energy system works, what is the most suitable solution in your case and, if it makes sense, how to start planning and building your installation.

The current promotion by governments of distributed and renewable generation creates opportunities for individuals and small scale developers. This manual is part o

f a series dedicated to small scale renewables.

Related resources

Howto manual – photovoltaics April 2, 2008

Posted by Hans De Keulenaer in distributed generation, electricity, photovoltaics, renewable electricity, renewables.
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“I heard about feed-in tariffs for photovoltaics: would it make sense to install panels in my roof ?”. “I have troubles with the power coming from the grid. How can I make more reliable the power supply?”.

This manual explains how a photovoltaic system works, what is the most suitable solution in your case and, if it makes sense, how to start planning and building your small scale photovoltaic installation.


The current promotion by governments of distributed and renewable generation creates opportunities for individuals and small scale developers. This manual is part of a series dedicated to small scale renewables.

Related resources

Saving energy with high efficiency motors April 1, 2008

Posted by Hans De Keulenaer in efficiency.
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After only three to six weeks of continuous operation, the power costs associated with low-rated electric motors and drives can already have equalled their purchase price.

Once upon a time there was a buyer at a large company who had to purchase a large three-phase induction motor with a power rating of 1 MW that was to be used in a big machine. As usual, he invited suppliers to submit bids. Before drafting the tender documents he spoke to the head engineer and technicians at the relevant technical department about the expected number of operating hours per year, the machine’s level of utilization and its load profile. Talks then began with potential suppliers about what sort of efficiencies could be achieved. As is normal, the buyer and supplier agreed on a penalty clause that would allow a price reduction to be imposed should the motor fall short of the efficiency level agreed in the sales contract. Equally, in the event of the motor exceeding specifications, the supplier would receive a bonus.

Read full article on Earthtoys – Emagazine:

Multiple Power Quality Supply System 1st in Japan March 31, 2008

Posted by Hans De Keulenaer in electricity, power quality, reliability, security, storage, technology.
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In this interview, Keiichi Hirose from NTT Facilities, presents the first trial to take place in Japan in the area of power quality concepts and solutions. This field demonstration of a multiple power quality supply system is leaded by NTT Facilities. It has developed and installed a multiple power quality supply system that has the capability to feed four classes of alternative current (AC) and one of direct current (DC) power while meeting various customer requirements. The system also has three types of distributed generator (DG): gas engine sets, fuel cells, and photovoltaic panels. NTT Facilities started the project in Fiscal Year (FY) 2004 and plans to continue it for four years. A review of the project’s first three years was done @EPQU’07 conference.