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In Memoriam...

Maxime Kleinpeter's News Letters Archives

A series of important news on renewable energy and sustainable development published in the world press are reported in this news letter which was published regularly with the relevant references untill January 2006. Do not forget to visit our pages about The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Renewable Energy.  (Still in search for a publisher in 2006)...


December 2005

General news on the world energy evolution involving renewable energy

For the Olympic Games 2008 and the World Fair 2010 China prepares a series of 12’000 electric busses for the public transport. At each stop of about one minute a special connection device reloads the batteries. (China Daily, 01.11.2005, page 10)

The International Energy Agency (IEA) expressed concern on the rising oil price and the evolution of the world oil reserves. Proposing the development of renewable energy as a complementary solution, the Agency proposed a comeback of nuclear, and considered the often announced biofuel as not competitive without subsidies. (Wall Street Journal, 08.11.2005, page 10)

Solar panels and wind generators are, for the time being, not real alternatives to fossil energy as affected by a natural lack of availability. (La Republica (Rome), 08.11.2005, page 31)

An investigation of the German Physical Society, beside the nuclear option, mentions the investigtion of a big solar plant in southern Europe and North Africa. (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 09.11.2005, page 4)

Four dead in a biogas plant in Rothenburg (Germany) due to a leakage of H2S and NH4. (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 10.11.2005, page 9)

Electrabel will build three new electric plants in Netherlands, one of them as an energy mix equiment coal-biomass, the two others as gas plants. (NRC Handelsblad, 21.11.2005, page 11)

Professor Stoll of the Hanau University (Germany) publishes an interesting paper on the price of electrcity from solar, wind and biomass. (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 25.11.2005, page 11)

Ethanol as a substitute for gasoline is the subject of an important article in the Swiss press describing the advantages and the constraints. (Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 29.11.2005, page 13)

Austria decided to cut the subsidies to solar, wind and biomass by about 80 % to avoid a strong impact on the electricity price. (Der Standard (Vienna), 29.11.2005, pages 1-2)

The chairwoman of the European agency of environment Mrs. J. McGlade proposed a decentralized grid system instead of an integrated grid and generation plants. This could be an incentive for a decentralized energy production favourizing the development of renewable energy. (Financial Times, 29.11.2005, page 14)

An important investigation of the Swiss Bank Credit Suisse underlines the potential of renewable energy in a context of rising prices. (Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 30.11.2005, page 16)

British Petroleum (BP) will invest billions of dollars in the development of renewable energy (8 billions over 10 years). It deals with solar and wind but beyond renewables also with hydrogen and gas plants with high efficiency. (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 30.11.2005, page 19)

Due to an allocation of 310’000 Euros by the German motor group Volkswagen the German industry realizes a demonstration project in Kirghistan for district heating by warm water. It is an energy mix system solar-fuel. The solar energy preheats the ground water by several degrees due to a solar heated air stream. The water is than heated up by fuel at about 60°C. If this technology is a success a total capacity of 60 Megawatt (thermal) could be realized. (Les Echos, 30.11.2005, page 35)

The oil company Total will enter up to 10 % in a project of wave energy. (Systèmes solaires (France), November/December 2005, page 13)

The Spanish telephone company Telefonica will install on a large roof (57’000 m2) 16’600 solar
modules for an investment of 25 millions of Euros. Power of the solar modules: total 3 Megawatt crest. Energy generated: 3’600 Megawatthours/year, corresponding to a yearly availability at crest power of about 1’200 hours. (Systèmes solaires (France), November/December 2005, page 22)

The French nuclear company AREVA will take a participation in the wind energy group Re-power. (Systèmes solaires (France), November/December 2005, page 62)

The present installed capacity of geothermal energy in the European Union amounts 822 megawatt (electric), the energy generated 6589 Megawatthours (thermal), among them 4531 Megawatthours (thermal) by heat pumps. (Systèmes solaires (France), November/December 2005, page 68)


Influenced strongly by escalating oil and gas prices, more and more experts in energy strategy underline the importance of new alternatives and focus the interest of a larger support of renewable sources.

But it is also interesting to notice that solutions to extend, with higher investment requirements, the availability of conventional oil and gas supplies, already suggested during the oil shocks of 1973 and 1978 are again proposed together with the renewable energy promotion.

Therefore some short information recently published in the international press.

 Renewable energy

The oil shales and tar sands in Canada (in the Alberta province) could be exploited, as the price of the barrel oil comes nearer to their competition level. As for their extraction there is a need of a big heat source to render them sufficiently fluid, a possibility for the company Total, having shares in such deposits, could examine the participation of nuclear manufacturers in the form of building a nuclear plant to provide steam for injection. (Wall Street Journal, 21.09.2005, page 1)


China investigates a big project of coal liquefaction in the context of the future energy supply. First indications: A capacity of 16 million tons/year of synthetic fuel for an investment of 26 billion Dollars. (China Daily, 30.09.2005, page 1)


Several contradictory news have been published not on the interest to develop bio fuel (ethanol, bio diesel etc.) in specific situation. According to David Pimentel from the Cornell University (New York) bio ethanol would need more energy to be produced than it can deliver for a final user. Also the CO2 balance would not be positive. It is needed according Pimentel to evaluate the real energy content, including the energy required for harvesting, transport, distillation etc.

This statement was not accepted completely by Hosen Shapouri of the US Energy Department and Michel Wang from Argonne National Laboratory, Chicago.

On the other hand, professor Guido Reinhart, University of Heidelberg, relativizes the contribution of bio fuel, being doughtful about the contribution of 5,75% to the liquid fuel supply announced as a target by the European Community. The reasons are: required agricultural areas, their need for fertilizers, the environmental aspects. (Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 20.09.2005, page 24)

- Note:   A similar article was issued by the French newspaper “Le Figaro”; 19.09.2005, page VI (Economy)


In California, near the city of Victorville, a solar park over an area of 20 km2 will be created. Instead of photovoltaic cells, dish systems (convex concentrators) with Stirling motors for electricity generation (Rankine cycle system) will be installed. The total capacity will reach 850 megawatts. A test is going on with 40 samples with Stirling motors. A dish has a diameter of 11 meters. (Der Spiegel, No. 39, 26.09.2005, page 141)

The German utility group RWE will cancel its involvement in the photovoltaic cell production. (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 21.09.2005, page 19)


The German group Siemens will start “late but not too late” manufacturing wind generators mainly for the US, Great Britain and Asian markets as the German market will not expend sensibly. (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 07.10.2005, page 18)

The 5 megawatts machine tested near Hamburg (Brunsbüttel) with a tower of 183 meters, a rotating blades diameter of 126 meters, will be the highest specific capacity on shore; for offshore 10 megawatts machines could eventually be possible. (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 07.10.2005, page 18)

The chairman of the German steel union Mr. Dieter Ameling emphasized during a plenary meeting the need of an “energy mix”. He expressed doubts on the opportunity to develop further wind energy. Each kilowatt installed requires, as the experience shows, a conventional capacity of 0,96 kilowatt in a global approach. (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 05.10.2005, page 16)


In a laboratory of the Harvard University, a scientific team around George Whitesides has developed a new fuel cell using carbon powder. It is mixed with sulphuric acid then combined with iron ions. The other component is a solution of vanadium ions.

The cell operates at a temperature of 100°C. With a liter of electrolytic solution a current of 5 Amperes can be obtained.

For the time being, it is a first research object requiring further improvements. (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 14.09.2005, Scientific Part, page 2)


Danish scientists prepared a new hydrogen storage system in an original pill preparation. The pill contains manganese chloride with ammonium. (Courier International, 6 – 12 October 2005, page 51)


The geothermal capacity in Europe is estimated around 5900 megawatts for different temperature classes. (Systèmes solaires, May – June 2005, page 8)


A 1 megawatt subaquatic turbine is tested in China. (Systèmes solaires, March – April 2005, page 6)


July 2005

In a context of increasing oil and gas prices more and more questions are raised on the role of renewable energy in a future world energy scenario besides a revival of the contribution of coal but more and more the nuclear option.

It is interesting to notice that for instance, in the USA nuclear could be again an important contributor besides clean coal provided. Renewable energy (e.g. biomass through the ethanol production) could in parallel be encouraged (Wall Street Journal 07.06.2005 page 2).

Similar ideas on an extended energy mix including all possible options are also expressed in countries like China (China Daily 04.06.2005 page 2 and China Daily 09.06.2005 page 12).

China will organize a world symposium on renewable energy in November (Die Welt, Hamburg, 21.06.2005).


Solar energy

-       New efforts are made to improve the photovoltaic cells instead of using silicium, using plastic supports and adding “stimulating impurities, such as Titandioxide”, efficiencies in order of 4% are already announced and even 6% by the Institute of Freiburg in Germany (Neue Zürcher Zeitung 13.05.2005 page 47).
The research on more efficient solar cells proceeds actively in different countries.

-       The biggest photovoltaic plant will be installed in Bürstadt (Germany) on the roof of a large shelter (50’000 m2): peak load 5’000 kilowatt, expected energy generated 2.4 million kilowatt-hours/year.
The utility will have to pay back the electricity for 54,3 (euro)cents per kilowatt-hour. This demonstration project is intended to provide experience for future development to improve the economy of such systems (Neue Zürcher Zeitung 24.05.2005 page 9).

-       Due to the opposition of the local population estimating the land requirement too exaggerated (40’000m2), Shell has decided not to build a large photovoltaic solar plant in Kleinblittersdorf in Germany near the border to France (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 17.05.2005 page 4).

-       The Istituto Energia Solar in Spain will within the European Program “Fullspectrum” investigate new solar cells with higher efficiencies. In the cosmos cells with an efficiency of about 30% are common, on the earth level the efficiency in photovoltaic cells ranges between 10% and 14% in the best case. To improve this figure new activities will deal with “multifunction” with nanostructures and eventually the use of organic molecules (El Pais, 24.03.2005 page 26).


Wind energy

-       Among the different renewable energy forms or sources, the wind energy has the strongest expansion. As an example the case of Germany: The total of solar power ranges presently in the country around 800 Megawatt, mainly in smaller installations (with some exceptions). The wind power reaches today more than 15’000 Megawatt and the prospects for further development are evident.

-       Due to the sustained expansion of wind generators in Germany the German energy agency (with all the interested groups represented) issued a report underlining:

-       Analyzing this report a Swiss professor from the University of Sankt Gallen, Mr. Binswanger, concludes that, if the German prospect to reach in 2015 a capacity of 36’600 Megawatt wind power this would only allow phasing out 2300 Megawatt conventional capacity (the order of magnitude) of the big new lignite plant the utility RWE intends to build (Neue Zürcher Zeitung 08.02.2005 page 10).

-       The biggest wind generator on land started the experimental operation near Brunsbüttel in the north of Germany:
Weight: 1150 tonnes
Height: 183 meters
Rotating blade diameter: 126 meters
Investment cost: 6 millions Euro

-       New projects of wind parks meet sometimes the oppositions of the local population due to noise, esthetical reasons etc. This is the case in Dummaglass near the Loch Ness in Scotland and in several sites in Sardinia (The independent 25.03.1005 page 20 and Corriere della sera 06.06.2005 page 14).

-       The Spanish company Acciona will build a new plant for wind generators in China (in Nantong) expecting to realize 400 engines yearly (El Mundo 07.06.2005 page 2).

-       The Spanish expert, Mr. Manuel Torres, has proposed a new design with wind generators along the seaside for the desalinisation of sea water (Financial Times 08.06.2005 page 10).

-       The Shell Company could create offshore (of the mouth of the Thames) a big wind park with 270 wind generators and a capacity of 1’000 Megawatt.
The British Royal Academy indicated that such a wind park could produce a kilowatt-hour around 5.5 pence (in conventional plants 3 pence). Therefore the complete design has to be investigated with all the parameters and variables involved not excluding other options even nuclear (NRC Handelsblad, Rotterdam, 15.06.2005 page 19).

-       Spain with 8’000 Megawatt wind power ranges in the world at the second place behind Germany (where 1/3 of the world capacity of wind generators is installed). The kilowatt-hour wind power costs around twice the cost of a conventional kilowatt-hour.
The Spanish Company Acciona intends to create near Cadiz (at Cap Trafalgar) a wind park of 600 to 1’000 Megawatt beginning in 2007 for an investment of 2 billions Euro (El Mundo 25.11.2004).

-       By different incentives, Spain will try to save, up to 2015, about 30% of the consumed electricity.
Due to the present increasing demand of electricity and the non availability of several coal and nuclear plants, combined with a stressed hydraulic generation, the country could face difficulties. The 9’000 Megawatt wind capacity could only provide a “garantied permanent load” of 400 Megawatt (El Mundo 22.06.2005 pages 1 and 37).


Other news

Mr. Schwarzenegger, governor of California, intends to create a “hydrogen highway” with fuelling stations of hydrogen to promote the hydrogen car. Still to be investigated are safety problems (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 06.06.2005 page 9).


Thanks for your interest!