Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Space shows way to Europe’s renewable energy future

31.07.2003


An offshore windfarm. Coastal installations have an output up to 50% higher than land-based winfarms and most future expansion is expected in this area. Photo: AMEC Border Wind


How can we more effectively harness the free and endless energy resources of the Sun, wind and water? One answer is orbiting above us.

Satellites provide us with a wide variety of data that can help with many aspects of the building and management of renewable energy plants. ESA recently held a workshop at its Frascati-based centre in Italy, attended by representatives of the Earth Observation (EO) service industry together with renewable energy companies and utilities to explore how satellite data can be exploited in this area.

And this month the Earth Observation (EO) Market Development section of ESA announced plans to fund an international project to foster the development of EO-based services for the wind, solar and hydropower energy industries.



Europe is already the world leader in renewable energy. Denmark is flanked by some 2,300 wind turbines, supplying 15% of its electricity. Germany is on course to have 140,000 solar-panelled rooftops by 2005. More than half of Scandinavia’s energy comes from hydropower.

And as part of Kyoto-protocol efforts to curb carbon emissions, the European Commission has pledged that renewable sources will make up 22% of Europe’s energy supply by the end of this decade (up from 14% in 1997). As the importance of the renewables sector grows, the idea has arisen to use satellite data for better exploitation of its various energy sources.

Solar power

Meteorological satellites such as the Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) series can provide ‘sunshine maps’ that can help select optimal sites to build new solar-cell plants.

And speaking at the Frascati workshop, Murray Cameron of the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) explained how space data could also be used to help quantifying the potential power expected from a given solar plant and its associated performance.

Wind energy

Selecting the optimal location for windfarms is very important. Christof Stork of UK-based Garrad Hassan told the Frascati workshop how satellite data on land use, surface topography and roughness could improve the accuracy of regional wind atlases currently used to site land-based windfarms.

Offshore windfarms are more productive and most future farms are likely to be built in the coastal ocean due to the saturation of land-based sites. To be viable, offshore developments have to generate at least 200 MW, and to build on such a scale costs at least €300 million.

The problem is there is hardly any offshore wind data available to industry. Furthermore, existing data record mainly extreme wind events. And to gather in-situ data from a single offshore meteorological mast can cost a million Euros a year, and provides data only for a small area.

But using satellites enables a shift from a local to a global view. The sophisticated Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) instruments on board ESA’s ERS-2 and Envisat can provide high-resolution 100-metre data on the wind field, and a decade-long data archive is available.

Other space-borne instruments could come into play through the cycle of wind turbine planning, construction and maintenance. Optical sensors such as Envisat’s Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) could be used to carry out environmental impact assessments. And satellite images could also be used for marine traffic management during initial construction and later repair work, as well as for daily energy production forecasting.

Hydropower

Currently supplying around one fifth of the world’s energy needs, hydropower is a pollution-free power source that requires only the flow of water to spin a turbine. Accurate quantification of how much water will flow from a given region at any one time is extremely useful for optimising hydroelectric power production, deciding dam levels and setting electricity prices.

In Norway for instance – where hydropower supplies almost all the country’s energy needs – around half of all winter precipitation accumulates on the ground throughout the winter as snow. By measuring snow coverage and thickness, then combining this information with meteorological data such as ground temperature, run-off can be accurately modelled and predicted.

Optical EO data is already used to monitor snow coverage, together with ground observation. The operational use of optical data remains however severely limited by the presence of clouds. But radar instruments such as those aboard ERS-2 and Envisat have the potential to greatly supplement the amount of snow data gathered, because they can see right through clouds.

Anders Rognes of the Norwegian Computing Center told the Frascati workshop how they have worked with Statkraft, a major Scandinavian hydropower company, to prepare a snow reservoir mapping system called SnowStar. The SnowStar server automatically processes satellite information of several different systems, including radar imagery, for display within geographical information system (GIS) software.

The next step

Representing a first in the EO field, the Invitation to Tender issued by ESA this month is open to applications until 5 September 2003. The hope is that pilot services to the renewables sector can be developed, then grow to become self-sustaining.

“The ESA gathering was very useful in getting service providers and potential service users together,” said workshop participant Marion Schroedter-Homscheidt of the German Aerospace Centre DLR. “Now the Invitation to Tender gives both sides the opportunity to turn the ideas we discussed into reality.”

Pierre-Philippe Mathieu | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Stretchable biofuel cells extract energy from sweat to power wearable devices
22.08.2017 | University of California - San Diego

nachricht Laser sensor LAH-G1 - optical distance sensors with measurement value display
15.08.2017 | WayCon Positionsmesstechnik GmbH

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

What the world's tiniest 'monster truck' reveals

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Treating arthritis with algae

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Witnessing turbulent motion in the atmosphere of a distant star

23.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>