Previous Posts

Decarbonising future energy

by Andy Gillett

Posted on 20 April, 2017 at 11:29



Integrating satellite and traditional land-based datasets with renewable energy intelligence

Data4Sustain (D4S), funded by InnovateUK and NERC, is a webGIS decision-support tool for renewable energy technology selection. D4S combines experts in renewable energy, geological assessment and geoprocessing to integrate multiple datasets and present intelligent easy-to-understand outputs as a webGIS and printable reports. D4S evaluates environmental, planning, geotechnical and satellite derived datasets to allow 'resources' and 'constraints' to be identifed for any given site.

For example, resources for wind generation and solar technologies include wind speed and irradiance, respectively. Their resource layers are reliant on an understanding of key satellite (and airborne) derived digital elevation models (e.g. NEXTMap, Intermap Technologies, 2009) or the SARAH surface solar radiation dataset. Constraints include physical structures (e.g. roads), planning data (e.g. ANOBs), geohazards (e.g. landslides, soluble rocks). The current prototype covers Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and the West Midlands but new data sources and geographic regions can be added.

Exciting new satellite datasets on the horizon include vertical wind profiling (ADM-Aeolus mission), which could aid forecasting of wind farm energy generation and hence management of the grid.

View the full EMBRACE brochure here

Data4Sustain Solar Farm feasibility map extracts for part of Nottinghamshire and site-specific level of detail.


Renewable energy used to power remediation of contaminated soil and groundwater

by Judith Nathanail

Posted on 1 November, 2016 at 07:30



Surf UK have an interesting case study in which wind and solar power was used to clean up mineral oil at former railway site in the Netherlands.

Contaminated soil and groundwater may require cleaning up ('remediating') if studies show there is an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment. There are numerous methods of cleaning soil and groundwater, but where contamination is present at depth, the technology often requires operation for a period of time from months to years and can use a significant amount of energy. Efforts are being made to consider the sustainability of site remediation and one aspect of this is the source of the power.

At Bilthoven the oils were present in the soil below the water table to depths up to 9m. The remediation comprised blowing in air ('bioventing') with injection of nutrients ('Biostimulation'), to provide oxygen and food to encourage bacterial breakdown of the oils. The energy was supplied by solar panels to provide electricity for small pumps and a wind turbine to provide the energy for the compressed air injected into the soil. In addition solar thermal energy was used to heat the soil which increases bacterial activity. It also increases contaminant solubility and vapourisation resulting in the contaminants being more available to the bacteria, and hence speeds up the overall rate of remediation.

Interruptions to the energy supply due to no sun or wind were not considered to be a problem and could even be advantageous, although, of course, as with any renewable technology installation evaluation of the likely energy resource, consideration of planning constraints and design of the system for the desired load is required in order to build an effective system. It is possible that some elements of the renewable installation could be reused for site energy once it is redeveloped.


European Space Agency Launch of AEOLUS Satellite a step closer

by Judith Nathanail

Posted on 10 October, 2016 at 10:01



The Atmospheric Dynamics Mission (ADM-Aeolus) will map the wind to provide a global 3D wind profile

which will provide crucial information for weather forecasting and climate change. D4SE is watching this with interest, as in the future, the data on wind speed and wind directions at many heights may be used to provide better inputs into algorithms to estimate wind resource for wind energy. The satellite will house the Aladin (Atmospheric Laser Doppler Instrument) which uses lidar to create wind profiles and ultimately build a 3D dataset of how the wind blows from ground level to the stratosphere (30km). The mission has been delayed due to technical difficulties such as the laser system not working in a vacuum; these have now been solved and engineers from Airbus Defence and Space are now adding the Aladin to the Aeolus satellite, ready for launch by the end of 2017.


EMBRACE end-user workshop gives Data4Sustain a green light towards our aims for achieving smart, resilient, sustainable integrated infrastructure systems

by Andy Gillett

Posted on 16 September, 2016 at 13:56



The Data4Sustain workshop (7th June 2016), facilitated by NGI (University of Nottingham) through the EMBRACE partnership brought over 25 potential end users together to explore the prototype webGIS functionality, assess its relevance and gather market intelligence from a diverse group of renewable stakeholders (landowners, heavy industry, consultants, regulators and researchers).

The ability of the webGIS system to cope with multiple simultaneous users was soon demonstrated. Users either intuitively got on with exploring the feasibility of renewable technologies at sites of their choice and querying the data in depth or were quickly guided by the walkthrough tour.

The success of the day can be gauged not only by the number of reports users generated (42) but by their constructive and positive comments, with a high quality of discussion during the interactive wrap-up session. Participants gave critical insight into prices points for subscription and pay-as-you-go services and confirmed the market need for a decision support tool, such as Data4Sustain, capable of contributing to smart, resilient, sustainable integrated infrastructure systems.

The feedback questionnaire and post-it notes board have provided the D4SE team with a great range of ideas to move forward with and everyone went home happy with a few ideas of their own from this informative networking opportunity.

After using the tool for the first time at the workshop, Andy Kingdon of the British Geological Survey (Data Analytics Team Leader) said that,

“D4S will add value to businesses with land assets in the UK, for example, by providing them with the opportunity to generate value from land less favourable to housing development by utilising a small area of the land for renewable energy. The EMBRACE workshop showed that D4S will provide realistic assessments of the feasibility of different renewable energy technologies. Once coverage has been extended from the test areas to widespread national coverage this tool will provide real value to UK businesses.”


Risks to critical infrastructures from flooding

by Andrew Kingdon

Posted on 15 September, 2016 at 15:52



The UK National Flood Resilience review has just reported (September 2016).

This was undertaken as a consequence of the devastating impact from last winter’s floods, not just on the directly affected communities, but also on the country’s infrastructure. This review highlights the serious risks faced by key UK infrastructure, particularly the electricity grid, and the drinking water and sewerage systems.

Amongst many other risks, this report highlights the risks to the UK’s energy infrastructure from major floods. These could have very profound consequences with a high percentage of the UK’s conventional power stations, which use river water for cooling, located next to a few major rivers. Not only would flood damage directly affect these facilities, but would also have much more widespread impacts, for example through power outages in areas far from the flood affected areas. Dispersing that generating capacity more widely around the UK, through support for new renewable technologies, will not only reduce carbon emissions but will provide resilience by ensuring that generating capacity is spread around the UK rather so not subject to the impacts of what may be quite localised flooding events.


Thames Deckway – integrating transport infrastructure with renewable energy

by Judith Nathanail

Posted on 12 September, 2016 at 18:31



The Thames Deckway is a great example of visionary thinking to integrate renewables with new transport infrastructure.

The Thames Deckway project proposes to create a floating cycleway, taking advantage of space on the river Thames to provide a safe route for cyclists and pedestrians. It will generate the energy required to power the deckway using a combination of solar, tidal and wind technologies.

The idea is not popular with everyone but its co inventor Anna Hill is unpurturbed and launched a crowdfunding campaign in July 2016. You can hear more about this innovative project at a lunchtime lecture at the Urban Innovation Centre on 27 October 2016.


Integrating future Hydrogen Infrastructure with renewable energy

by Judith Nathanail

Posted on 7 September, 2016 at 09:55



The future development of hydrogen infrastructure is an obvious candidate for integration with renewable energy.

Development of hydrogen infrastructure is of interest because it can store excess energy from renewables such as wind or solar. In 2013, the USA launched H2USA - a public-private collaboration ‘to address the key challenges of hydrogen infrastructure’

H2USA sees hydrogen as “the beginning of a new frontier in transportation” which together with fuel cell electric vehicles provides a means to deliver clean energy to the transport sector.

There are claims that there are cost effective market ready solar to hydrogen generation units at ‘household’ and ‘industrial’ scale.

Hence locations where solar generation is feasible are locations where hydrogen generation could be sited.

Closer to home, the University of Nottingham has a research group looking at energy materials with a building dedicated to energy technology complete with a hydrogen refuelling station for hydrogen cars from an ITM Hydrogen station.

In the future as well as recharging electric cars perhaps we may see car ports or park & rides used to generate hydrogen and serve as filling stations.

There is still a lot of work to be done, much commercially available hydrogen comes from oil, with the by product of more carbon rich oil – which is not a net sustainability gain. Some research has shown that there are ways to get microbes to make hydrogen.

Plans are already being made to integrate renewables with hydrogen: The EU is funding a project in the Orkney islands using tidal and wind power to produce hydrogen which will then be used for electricity and, In Leeds, there are proposals to convert the gas grid to hydrogen. The report - H21 Leeds City Gate – launched by Northern Gas networks indicates that a hydrogen could be piped via the existing gas grid with appropriate conversion of household appliances, as previously happened when the gas supply was converted from town gas (which contained some 50% hydrogen) to North Sea gas in the 1960s/70s.


Energiewende – German policy to promote renewable energy generation

by Judith Nathanail

Posted on 7 September, 2016 at 11:06



Germany has been growing its renewable sector over a number of years and on 16 May 2016 almost all its energy demand was powered by renewables.

Energiewende translates to Energy Transition, and is underpinned by a firm desire to fight climate change, improve energy security and stimulate the development of greentech.

A former industrial area near Hamburg – now known as Renewable Wilhelmsburg was the inspiration for the Data4Sustain feasibility study. In Wilhelmsburg, they have an energy hill which was once a landfill – but now generating electricity with wind turbines on top of the hill and solar panels on the south facing slope. Methane gas generated by decomposition of the landfill, supplies energy to a nearby copper smelter for Aurubis AG. The water treatment of the leachate, has been integrated with a heat pump providing heating for buildings at the site. A former air raid shelter has been converted into a renewable power plant and is known as the energy bunker. The energy bunker combines solar energy, biomass and waste industrial heat to provide renewable heat into a district heating system and feed electricity into the grid.


Renewable energy at a sports centre

by Judith Nathanail

Posted on 7 September, 2016 at 10:27



The Harvey Hadden sports centre uses solar energy from a solar carport

implemented for Nottingham City Council by Flexisolar and EvoEnergy in 2015 as part of a site redevelopment scheme.

A solar canopy is a roof covering the parking spaces, tilted to optimise capture of the sun’s energy. The land is used for two purposes; It generates energy whilst providing space for parking, with the added advantage of sheltering the cars from rain or providing shade. The sports village has a significant demand for energy and deriving renewable energy from on site generation has the further benefit of reducing energy losses in distribution.


Integrating renewables with airport infrastructure

by Judith Nathanail

Posted on 6 September, 2016 at 16:01



One form of infrastructure already integrating renewable energy at their sites are airports; they have large sites on which they can plan and implement energy technologies are have high energy demand.

The first UK airport to commit to carbon neutral ground operations was East Midlands Airport in 2012.

East Midlands generates renewable energy within its site from two wind turbines (5%) and also has a willow farm to provide biomass feedstock to power the terminal building in the future.

Belfast international airport is now partly powered (27% of annual power demand) by a solar farm developed by lightsource.

On the first day, the airport ran for nine hours purely using solar power, as well as exporting excess energy to the grid. As well as saving money on energy costs, generating their own energy contributes to sustainability and CSR objectives.


USA initiatives to provide information on renewable energy technologies

by Judith Nathanail

Posted on 5 September, 2016 at 12:59



In the USA renewables development is supported by some useful tools.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has USA wide atlas in beta showing the distribution of renewable energy resources.

MIT have developed a solar mapping tool for photo voltaic, currently available for selected US urban areas which includes financial calculations such as cost of system and likely revenues.

Google’s project sunroof currently has solar data for 42 states using imagery from google earth to analyse roof shape and provide an estimate of savings on energy bills for those installing photovoltaics.


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© Land Quality Management Ltd and NERC 2016. This site is hosted by the British Geological Survey but responsibility for the content of the site lies with D4SE not with the British Geological Survey. Questions, suggestions or comments regarding the contents of this site should be directed to Judith Nathanail

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