Swedish energy firm Vattenfall has been given a permit to build a project in the Netherlands that plans to combine solar power with farming, in the latest example of how renewables and agriculture can potentially dovetail with one another.
In a statement earlier this week Annemarie Schouten, Vattenfall’s head of solar development for the Netherlands, explained how the project would “alternate rows of panels with strips where various crops are grown for organic farming.”
The pilot, known as Symbizon, is slated to last four years and be located in Almere, to the east of Amsterdam. Funding has come from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs.
Schouten said that double-sided solar panels would be used in order to ensure “sufficient light yield.” Such a setup would also enable the panels to “catch the reflected light from the soil, the crops and the adjacent rows and use it to produce solar energy.”
While plans have taken a step forward, Vattenfall has yet to confirm if the project will actually progress. A decision on this is expected by the end of 2021. If it does get the green light, construction work will start in 2022.
A wide range of stakeholders are set to be involved if the scheme is fully realized. These include independent research organization TNO, which would develop a “solar tracking algorithm” to track energy and crop yields, among other things.
The idea of deploying solar panels on farmland has been around for many years. One strand of this is called agrivoltaics, which also goes by the name of agrophotovoltaics.
According to Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, agrivoltaics “enables the dual use of land for harvesting agriculture and solar energy.”
The idea behind the concept traces its roots back to the early 1980s and is attributed to Adolf Goetzberger, founder of Fraunhofer ISE, and his colleague Armin Zastrow.
According to the Institute, agrivoltaic installations grew from around 5 megawatts in 2012 to approximately 2.9 gigawatts in 2018.
Solar panels can also be used to help those working in agriculture with their day-to-day activities. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, for instance, has noted that “solar technologies are becoming a viable option for both large and small-scale farmers.”
In 2020, CNBC’s “Sustainable Energy” reported on how one Zimbabwe based farmer, Cheneso Ndlovu, was using solar tech to help her grow produce.
“We do gardening using a solar powered borehole for watering,” she said.
“We planted tomatoes on a small patch we were watering and we realized it was thriving, so we decided to grow other vegetables,” she added. “We use the water for other domestic needs like washing.”
California-based startup unveils 58 MPH electric jet ski on hydrofoils
It’s an exciting time for personal watercraft enthusiasts that want to swap a roaring engine for the instantaneous (and silent) power of electric motors. The latest electric jet ski making a splash is the Valo Hyperfoil.
Technically speaking, it’s not actually a jet ski, nor is it making that much of a splash. “Jet Ski” is a brand name owned by Kawasaki, and the Valo Hyperfoil isn’t really making a splash because it’s actually flying above the waves on hydrofoils.
But whatever you call it and whichever hydro-based pun you shoehorn into an electric watercraft article, the Valo Hyperfoil is certainly an impressive machine.
Unveiled today by California-based startup Boundary Layer Technologies, the Valo Hyperfoil is one of the most advanced personal electric watercraft we’ve ever seen.
Not only is it quite powerful, packing in a 108 hp (80 kW) motor, but it can reach a maximum speed of 50 knots (58 mph or 93 km/h).
And it will do so while flying a full 2 feet (60 cm) above the surface of the water.
As founder and CEO of Boundary Layer Technologies Ed Kearny explained in a statement provided to Electrek:
“Valo will be a complete revolution to personal watercraft. The first Jetski was on the market 50 years ago this year, and it’s time for a major upgrade. Valo will be fast, agile, and tremendously exhilarating, all while being near silent and leaving zero wake. It will be like flying a stunt plane but on water. We see this a completely new form of water based mobility”
The secret to the flying nature of the Valo is its hydrofoils, which function like a set of airplane wings under water.
They lift the watercraft out of the dense water, helping it to save energy by flying through the air. That makes the ride smoother, faster and more efficient. It also means that the Valo can get by with fewer of those heavy and expensive batteries.
The company has spent the last four years developing hydrofoil technology for commercial purposes, such as passenger ferries and container ships. Now the company is hoping to apply that technology to the recreational market with a personal electric watercraft.
As Kearny continued:
“We are passionate about bringing foiling technology and its huge benefits to ships big and small. We simply shifted from ‘big first’, to ‘fast first’. What we love about Valo is how fast we can get to market. We are bringing all the technology we were developing for massive container ships and ferries and using it to deliver one hell of a recreational product.”
Hydrofoiling boats have been made famous by the Swedish company Candela, who is already building and delivering electric speedboats with impressive hydrofoiling performance. The company is also working on passenger ferries and water taxis for commercial use, but hasn’t shown off a personal electric watercraft like the Valo.
Other companies like Taiga have leveraged their electric snowmobile technology to demonstrate personal electric watercraft. But their planing hulls will have a hard time matching the efficiency of hydrofoils like those displayed on the Valo.
Boundary Layer Technologies expects to have a small number of limited edition Founders Edition Valos by the summer of 2023 Full production vehicles aren’t expected to hit the water before 2024. The anticipated price for the production vehicles is $59,000, though we don’t yet know what price tag those first run Founders Edition vehicles will carry.
Until then, we can at least look at these pretty renders.
Quick Charge Podcast: November 30, 2022
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Hitachi Energy debuts wireless grid tech that prevents wildfires
Hitachi Energy just launched wireless Spark Prevention Unit indicators that help prevent wildfires by enabling remote monitoring.
According to the US Department of Energy, approximately 10% of wildfire ignitions are sparked by faults on electrical infrastructure or electric equipment failure. Hitachi Energy’s new Wireless SPU Indicators allow utilities to monitor the grid remotely, in real time, with automated visual inspection rounds.
The SPU monitors the current and thermal load of surge arresters – which protect equipment from surges in the power system – installed in wildfire risk areas.
If there’s a thermal overload in the grid, the SPU interrupts the current flow and disconnects the surge arrester, thus preventing any arcing – which is when a circuit becomes overloaded and overheats – sparking, or ejection of hot particles that could potentially start a wildfire.
A visual indicator on the SPU lets the utility field crew know that it needs to be replaced. Hundreds of thousands of SPUs installed in some of the world’s most wildfire-prone areas, such as in the United States and Australia, have had a real impact in preventing wildfires. Being able to monitor them remotely is only going to improve wildfire prevention.
Photo: Pok Rie on Pexels.com
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