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Photon farmer behind the dyke

Large-scale storage system – On the farm of Jan Borgman and Erna Roeterdink in Vierracker in the Netherlands electricity is generated from solar panels. The farmers are not using a conventional battery, but the vanadium Vanadium is a chemical element with the symbol V and atomic number 23. This steel-grey, bluish shimmering transition metal is mined as ore and used mainly in steel construction. Vanadium can be recovered as a by-product of energy production from coal-fired power plants and by burning heating oil. It is non-flammable, providing high level of safety and, thanks to its full-reusability, has a high residual value. redox Red stands for reduction = gain of electrons, while Ox stands for oxidation = loss of electrons flow technology.


Fig. Photon farmer: In the Netherlands, farmers are very open to renewable energy sources like Photovoltaic. It is not only a cost advantage but also an image improvement. 

Cow number 658 has just pushed her way into one of the boxes and is now munching away at her feeding trough. At the same time the arm of the milking robot moves down and washes her udder with rotating brushes. Red laser beams then feel the teats. They guide the teat cups that are then attached and start their work with unbelievable precision. However, the milk is not only pumped but also analysed simultaneously.
The milking robot first made its appearance on the farm of Jan Borgman an Erna Roeterdink in Vierakker in 2009 and in the meantime it saves around half the milking time required previously. The cows move about freely and simply trot over to the milking robot when they feel they need to be milked.

Jan and Erna operate their family farm with two milking robots and around 100 dairy cows. They have a milk yield of 890,000 litres per year. However, in contrast to traditional milking systems, the milking robots need electricity virtually all day long. This energy comes from the sun, from solar panels on the roof. The energy is stored in a CellCube FB 10-100 vanadium Vanadium is a chemical element with the symbol V and atomic number 23. This steel-grey, bluish shimmering transition metal is mined as ore and used mainly in steel construction. Vanadium can be recovered as a by-product of energy production from coal-fired power plants and by burning heating oil. It is non-flammable, providing high level of safety and, thanks to its full-reusability, has a high residual value. redox Red stands for reduction = gain of electrons, while Ox stands for oxidation = loss of electrons flow storage system which has the size of a small sea container. The farm is a modern enterprise and has very little in common with our idyllic images of farm life. But it has a lot in common with sustainability and high quality, also within the energy supply. “Farming and energy generation go well together,” says Jan, because farmers have the space necessary for solar and wind power plants and the raw materials that are needed, for example, to operate biogas plants.

AUTONOMOUS ELECTRICITY SUPPLY
AIn 2010 a photovoltaic system was installed on the roof of the farm´s barn with a surface area of 360 m². The system supplies an output of 50 kW Kilowatt (kW) is a unit of electrical power (energy consumption over time), 1 Kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts. . They call themselves “photon farmers” because they convert light particles collected by the solar cells into electricity. This solar energy is buffered in the CellCube afterwards. This stores the electricity that can then be supplied when the dairy farmer needs it.  Fig. Cows are fed with gras, the robot needs electricity. To avoid a cost explosion at the farm, photovoltaic is used as a stable and reliable energy supply. Most important for the cost effectiveness is the choice of the right storage system.

The dairy farm ‘t Spieker, that has been owned by the Borgmann family since 1750. Now it is the first farm in the Netherlands to become self-sufficient by generating its own electricity. “We wanted to go that extra mile,” says Jan. By upgrading our farm with renewable energy sources they hope to make it more economically attractive. “But there is more to it than that. We want to encourage other farmers to invest time and effort in expanding their operations in the same way.
Generally farmers who focus exclusively on dairy farming opt for a rather lonely existence. They´re facing the variations of the milk prices helplessly, that are dictated by the bigger food chains. On the other side the prices for food and energy are increasing. “We are proud and keen to show others how modern farming techniques work”, says Jan Borgman. “We are also glad of any opportunity to boost the image of agriculture and dairy farming.”
Photon farmer in Vierakker is a joint project developed by Courage, InnovatieNetzwerk, which was set up by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and food quality LNV. Further participants are Alliander, Trinergie and the province of Gelderland. Courage develops and realises groundbreaking innovations intended to strengthen dairy farming in the Netherlands. “The project is intended to serve as a reference project to show how dairy farming can take on a new position on the energy market,” explains Jeroen de Veth, project leader at the energy agency Trinergie. “It also indicates that the Dutch dairy industry is open to experimentation, to new technologies and to taking responsibility for a sustainable society.”

A COURAGEOUS PROJECT
As the project team started to look around on the market for a suitable storage medium at the end of 2008, the vanadium Vanadium is a chemical element with the symbol V and atomic number 23. This steel-grey, bluish shimmering transition metal is mined as ore and used mainly in steel construction. Vanadium can be recovered as a by-product of energy production from coal-fired power plants and by burning heating oil. It is non-flammable, providing high level of safety and, thanks to its full-reusability, has a high residual value. redox Red stands for reduction = gain of electrons, while Ox stands for oxidation = loss of electrons flow solution from GILDEMEISTER energy solutions proved to be the only viable large-scale storage system available at the time. The storage device was delivered and installed in the summer of 2010. The CellCube FB 10-100 has specially designed inverters that enable connection to different energy sources. Its storage capacity of up to 100 kWh A kilowatt hour (kWh) is the amount of energy equivalent to powering one kilowatt (1 kW) for one hour (1 kW x 1 hour). Accordingly, there are megawatt hours (1 MWh = 1000 kWh) gigawatt hours (1 GWh = 1000 MWh = 1 million kWh) and terawatt hours (1 TWh = 109 kWh = 1 billion kWh). 1 kilowatt hour of electricity is equivalent to 17 hours of light from a 60 watt bulb. and its nominal output of 10 kW Kilowatt (kW) is a unit of electrical power (energy consumption over time), 1 Kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts. mean that on sunny days energy for eight hours can be stored on the farm. The photon farmer takes control of his own electricity supply. So the photon farmer can take control of his own electricity supply. Firstly, he can use the electricity for his own operation and feed any surplus electricity into the power grid at a time that suits him and when the price is right. That is why electricity is the core element of the photon farmer model. “Currently small consumers are invoiced at the end of the year in the Netherlands, for the actual net amount of energy taken from the grid,” explains Jeroen de Veth. “Here on the farm around 62,000 kWh A kilowatt hour (kWh) is the amount of energy equivalent to powering one kilowatt (1 kW) for one hour (1 kW x 1 hour). Accordingly, there are megawatt hours (1 MWh = 1000 kWh) gigawatt hours (1 GWh = 1000 MWh = 1 million kWh) and terawatt hours (1 TWh = 109 kWh = 1 billion kWh). 1 kilowatt hour of electricity is equivalent to 17 hours of light from a 60 watt bulb. are needed, of which 42,000 kWh A kilowatt hour (kWh) is the amount of energy equivalent to powering one kilowatt (1 kW) for one hour (1 kW x 1 hour). Accordingly, there are megawatt hours (1 MWh = 1000 kWh) gigawatt hours (1 GWh = 1000 MWh = 1 million kWh) and terawatt hours (1 TWh = 109 kWh = 1 billion kWh). 1 kilowatt hour of electricity is equivalent to 17 hours of light from a 60 watt bulb. are generated from solar energy. So the farmer only pays for the remaining 20,000 kWh A kilowatt hour (kWh) is the amount of energy equivalent to powering one kilowatt (1 kW) for one hour (1 kW x 1 hour). Accordingly, there are megawatt hours (1 MWh = 1000 kWh) gigawatt hours (1 GWh = 1000 MWh = 1 million kWh) and terawatt hours (1 TWh = 109 kWh = 1 billion kWh). 1 kilowatt hour of electricity is equivalent to 17 hours of light from a 60 watt bulb. he took from the power grid.”

OPTIMAL STORAGE OPERATION
The situation in Germany, for example, is different says Jeroen. The EEG (Renewable Energy Sources Act) also rewards a high level of personal consumption. On the other hand systems with energy storage systems are more suitable for the future “Smart Grid”.

Fig. The storage system is delivered in a standard container size. It is installed and ready for operation within a few hours.

The project has proved quite impressively that the solar energy that has been generated can be stored for later use. So it really is quite literally “energy for the future,” a sustainable innovation. “We can balance energy consumption very well and can ensure an uninterrupted energy supply, a fact that is important for hospitals, for example,” he explains. “Together with GILDEMEISTER we have designed a software and control system that guarantees optimum battery operation and that is very stable.”

The software can monitor energy production and the status of the storage device continuously. The temperature, the load percentage of the storage system and the exchange of energy with the public power grid can all be read off exactly. Peaks in demand, for example when the milking robots start up, can be seen immediately. Jeroen points to a monitor on the wall that has an impressive display of lines and circles. “That,” he says, “is the heart of the photon farmer.” And it is true – the monitor shows a small red heart beating, indicating that CellCube is alive and working. The intelligent control system diverts the solar power to the place where it can be of most benefit. It can either be delivered directly to the dairy farm, to the storage device or to the national power grid. “Let’s say sunny weather is forecast for tomorrow, then the system will respond by ensuring that the storage device is discharged to the best economic effect before then.”

The farmers in Vierakker are always on the lookout for new opportunities. Two new solar boilers, for example, have been installed on the roof. The farm also makes use of the warm water generated during the milk cooling process. Another clever innovation is the use of an LED lighting system in the cow shed, because trials have shown that good lighting can really improve cow milk, especially in winter. Sixteen hours of light and eight hours of darkness are ideal for a cow. In addition the farmer has saved 70% of his costs for diesel since a state-of-the-art feeding robot has been in operation that now no longer needs to be powered by his generators.

WINDKRAFT IN THE MIX
“We are currently evaluating a possible investment in a WindCarrier for additional energy generation,” says Jeroen. “The CellCube has been running smoothly now for two and a half years and we are very satisfied with its performance, but it by no means operates at full capacity in winter, because the photovoltaic system itself does not even operate at its full capacity then. If we take wind power on board, we will be able to generate more renewable energy even in winter and then really work independently from the grid. That is the aim.”

The project participants’ vision for the future: filling up with charged electrolytes at the photon farmer. The charged vanadium Vanadium is a chemical element with the symbol V and atomic number 23. This steel-grey, bluish shimmering transition metal is mined as ore and used mainly in steel construction. Vanadium can be recovered as a by-product of energy production from coal-fired power plants and by burning heating oil. It is non-flammable, providing high level of safety and, thanks to its full-reusability, has a high residual value. solution in the storage device can be pumped, so it can also be used for mobile systems, in commercial vehicles, for example, or even in cars. But it will be a little while before we reach that stage. 

VANADIUM-REDOX-FLOW-TECHNOLOGY:
The active material in redox Red stands for reduction = gain of electrons, while Ox stands for oxidation = loss of electrons flow storage system are salts dissolved in liquid electrolytes. The electrolyte An electrolyte is a chemical substance that exists in a solid, liquid or dissolved state and that conducts electricity when voltage is applied. In batteries and battery packs, electrolyte is the medium that transports the ion between the anode and cathode and generates ions for charge balancing. is stored in tanks and when required pumped into a core reaction stack for charging and discharging cycles. Typically the solubility of the salts in the electrolytes is not very high, so energy densities similar to those of lead acid batteries are achieved. The core charging unit is typically a membrane with catalysts and functions in a similar way to a hydrogen fuel cell or an electrolyser. The size of the tank determines the energy storage capacity of the battery; the charging/discharging unit determines the power output of the battery.

Fig. Vanadium-Redox-Flow prinicple - this is how the flow battery functions

In redox Red stands for reduction = gain of electrons, while Ox stands for oxidation = loss of electrons flow technology energy is stored in electrolyte An electrolyte is a chemical substance that exists in a solid, liquid or dissolved state and that conducts electricity when voltage is applied. In batteries and battery packs, electrolyte is the medium that transports the ion between the anode and cathode and generates ions for charge balancing. solutions – vanadium Vanadium is a chemical element with the symbol V and atomic number 23. This steel-grey, bluish shimmering transition metal is mined as ore and used mainly in steel construction. Vanadium can be recovered as a by-product of energy production from coal-fired power plants and by burning heating oil. It is non-flammable, providing high level of safety and, thanks to its full-reusability, has a high residual value. solutions being the most common of these. The vanadium Vanadium is a chemical element with the symbol V and atomic number 23. This steel-grey, bluish shimmering transition metal is mined as ore and used mainly in steel construction. Vanadium can be recovered as a by-product of energy production from coal-fired power plants and by burning heating oil. It is non-flammable, providing high level of safety and, thanks to its full-reusability, has a high residual value. electrolytes are present in different oxidation states (V2+/V3+ and V5+/V4+), so at the membrane they either deliver or take up electrons, i.e. are charged or discharged.

This process takes place in stacks A stack is a number of serially connected cells through which electrolytes flow from both tanks. The battery is then charged and discharged via these cell blocks. The more stacks in a battery, the higher the output. consisting of cells connected in series. These stacks A stack is a number of serially connected cells through which electrolytes flow from both tanks. The battery is then charged and discharged via these cell blocks. The more stacks in a battery, the higher the output. influence the power output of the storage device: the more stacks A stack is a number of serially connected cells through which electrolytes flow from both tanks. The battery is then charged and discharged via these cell blocks. The more stacks in a battery, the higher the output., the higher the power output. In contrast the storage capacity depends on the volume of vanadium Vanadium is a chemical element with the symbol V and atomic number 23. This steel-grey, bluish shimmering transition metal is mined as ore and used mainly in steel construction. Vanadium can be recovered as a by-product of energy production from coal-fired power plants and by burning heating oil. It is non-flammable, providing high level of safety and, thanks to its full-reusability, has a high residual value. solution stored in the external tanks. This means that the power output and storage capacity of batteries with redox Red stands for reduction = gain of electrons, while Ox stands for oxidation = loss of electrons flow technology are scalable independently from each other. In addition, redox Red stands for reduction = gain of electrons, while Ox stands for oxidation = loss of electrons flow storage systems have an extremely long service life, because no components are subjected to any structural changes during charging and discharging. Further, in contrast to other systems, only one liquid is used instead of two. This ensures that there is no cross-contamination.

The electrolyte An electrolyte is a chemical substance that exists in a solid, liquid or dissolved state and that conducts electricity when voltage is applied. In batteries and battery packs, electrolyte is the medium that transports the ion between the anode and cathode and generates ions for charge balancing. in vanadium Vanadium is a chemical element with the symbol V and atomic number 23. This steel-grey, bluish shimmering transition metal is mined as ore and used mainly in steel construction. Vanadium can be recovered as a by-product of energy production from coal-fired power plants and by burning heating oil. It is non-flammable, providing high level of safety and, thanks to its full-reusability, has a high residual value. batteries can be completely regenerated by means of an external recycling process, so it can be re-used without any loss of vanadium Vanadium is a chemical element with the symbol V and atomic number 23. This steel-grey, bluish shimmering transition metal is mined as ore and used mainly in steel construction. Vanadium can be recovered as a by-product of energy production from coal-fired power plants and by burning heating oil. It is non-flammable, providing high level of safety and, thanks to its full-reusability, has a high residual value..

CELLCUBE FB 10/20/30
The CellCube FB 10-100 allows customers to use electricity generated from alternative energy sources independently and flexibly round the clock. The storage device from GILDEMEISTER energy solutions is a turnkey system. In order to meet the different demands of customers and different circumstances, the batteries are available in different versions with varying outputs and storage capacities. So the CellCube can be configured and combined flexibly as required. Nominal outputs from 10 kW Kilowatt (kW) is a unit of electrical power (energy consumption over time), 1 Kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts. up to the MW class and storage capacities from 40 kWh A kilowatt hour (kWh) is the amount of energy equivalent to powering one kilowatt (1 kW) for one hour (1 kW x 1 hour). Accordingly, there are megawatt hours (1 MWh = 1000 kWh) gigawatt hours (1 GWh = 1000 MWh = 1 million kWh) and terawatt hours (1 TWh = 109 kWh = 1 billion kWh). 1 kilowatt hour of electricity is equivalent to 17 hours of light from a 60 watt bulb. up to several MWh can be offered.

Fig. Inside the CellCube container (battery, pumps, charging electronics and ventilation system. System is delivred as a turn-key solution.

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CELLCUBE:


Please find more information on the CellCube application of the photon farmers behind the dyke here

Published in photovoltaik 02/2014 on 6 February 2014

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