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Researchers develop sodium-ion battery in 18650 format

Jules Verne recognized the potential of sodium batteries in 1869 – they powered the futuristic submarine of Captain Nemo, who found their “electro-motor strength” to be twice that of zinc batteries.

Now scientists at the French research network RS2E have brought sodium batteries into the 21st century, producing the first sodium-ion battery in the industry-standard 18650 format (a cylindrical format used in consumer electronics and Tesla automobiles). Several other labs are also working on Na-ion batteries, but RS2E is the first to announce the development of an 18650 prototype.

Batterie sodium-ion (Na-ion) au format industriel standard « 18650 », posée sur un tas de sel (NaCl). Il s’agit de la première batterie au sodium mise au point dans ce format. Dans ce type de batterie, les ions sodium transitent d’une électrode à l’autre au fil des cycles de charge et de décharge. Elle représente une alternative aux batteries lithium-ion actuellement utilisées dans les ordinateurs portables ou encore les voitures électriques. Elle présente l’avantage d’utiliser un élément 1 000 fois plus abondant et aussi moins coûteux que le lithium : le sodium. Ses performances en densité d'énergie sont comparables à celles des premières batteries lithium-ion avec une marge de progression importante.  20150016_0006

Na-ion batteries could offer lower cost thanks to the abundance of sodium, and the prototype shows promising performance. The energy density of the new Na-ion cell is 90 Wh/kg, comparable with that of the first lithium-ion batteries. Its lifespan exceeds 2,000 charge/discharge cycles, and it is capable of charging and discharging rapidly.

The next step is to optimize and increase the reliability of the cell with a view to future commercialization.

“The first application, the most obvious, would be grid storage: storing renewable energy. We are talking about a market as big as the EV market,” said Jean-Marie Tarascon, a professor at the Collège de France and one of the heads of the RS2E network.

Standard: Return stays at 9.9pc for power firms

from Kelly Ip for the Standard:

Power suppliers CLP and Hongkong Electric will continue to enjoy the 9.99 percent permitted return on capital investment.

The decision – following a just- completed mid-term review of the Scheme of Control Agreements between the government and power companies – was expected, said an Energy Advisory Committee member.

During the review, the two firms agreed to set up an energy efficiency fund from shareholders’ earnings to provide subsidies on a matching basis to owners of non- commercial buildings so they can make their structures more energy efficient.

The scheme is expected to be launched in the first half of next year.

According to previous records, the two companies are expected to invest HK$100 million into the fund, with HK$70 million coming from CLP and spread over four years.

CLP and Hongkong Electric also agreed to raise performance thresholds for both incentive payments and penalties with regard to supply reliability, operational efficiency and customer services.

They also reached a consensus on lowering the cap on the Tariff Stabilisation Fund balance, from 8 percent to 5 percent of annual total revenues from sales of electricity to local consumers, to ensure the balance of the fund can be used to alleviate the impact of tariff increases on customers.

To promote transparency, both firms will set up dedicated websites to show information relating to financial and operating data. The current Scheme of Control Agreements run for a term of 10 years and will expire in 2018.

Energy Advisory Committee member William Yu Yuen-ping said the energy efficiency fund is a breakthrough to help buildings save power.

“Since the fund is from shareholders’ earnings, it will not be included in operational costs and should not affect tariffs,” he said.

An Environment Bureau spokesman said electricity consumers can expect some benefits from the modifications.

Conservation group World Green Organization predicted CLP will increase electricity charges by 4 to 5 percent and Hongkong Electric by up to 1 percent.

22 Nov 2013

SCMP: Sky Rabbit/Typhoon Usagi’s sends clear warning for ill-conceived wind farm proposals in Hong Kong

From SCMP’s Howard Winn (1 Oct 2013):

One of the effects of Typhoon Usagi, which received little attention, was its impact on the Honghaiwan wind farm in Shanwei, eastern Guangdong, about 130 kilometres northeast of Hong Kong. The onshore wind farm comprises 25 imported Vestas V47 600KW turbines. The website Windpower Intelligence reports that eight of the turbines were blown down by the typhoon, while the blades of another eight turbines were blown off, and the blades of the remaining turbines are being examined to see if they can operate normally.

Typhoon Usagi's damage to turbines in Shanwei's wind farm (CCTV, SCMP)

CCTV2 reported that 70 per cent of the wind farm had been knocked out. Windpower Intelligence reports that one of the managers says the typhoon has led to 100 million yuan in losses for the wind farm. This is the second time the wind farm has suffered typhoon damage. The farm was hit in 2003 with damage to 13 out of 25 turbines, causing losses of 10 million yuan.

The recent damage may have caused some unease within the government and possibly within Hongkong Electric and CLP, the two companies planning wind farms in Hong Kong waters. CLP, Hong Kong’s largest power company, plans to build what will be one of the biggest offshore wind farms in the world off Sai Kung – generating 200 megawatts a year – at a cost of almost HK$7 billion. Hongkong Electric is to build a HK$3 billion wind farm between Lamma Island and Cheung Chau that would generate 100MW of power – enough for 50,000 households.

Since Shanwei is fairly close to Hong Kong, it is frequently used as a reference for winds in Hong Kong. “This is another indication of how ill-advised these Hong Kong wind projects are,” Ng Young, the chairman of Hong Kong’s Association for Geoconservation, told Lai See.

The companies are still involved in testing work, and construction has yet to begin. At best the two wind farms might produce about 1.5 per cent of Hong Kong’s total electricity production, and reduce its output of carbon dioxide by about 2 per cent. This miniscule contribution comes at a cost of HK$10 billion. Regardless of how useless these wind farms are, the government can point to them as its contribution to reducing Hong Kong’s carbon footprint and take its place in the world’s effort to limit the production of carbon dioxide, and thereby global warming, or so they would have us believe. As for the power companies, the farms are a wonderful opportunity for them to increase their net assets at a time when returns from the scheme of control, which governs them, have been reduced from 13.5 per cent to 15 per cent under the previous scheme, which ended in 2009, to 9.99 per cent under the current scheme. But they will get 11 per cent on their wind farm assets since they are a form of renewable energy. Meanwhile, the public picks up the bill in the form of higher electricity prices. Higher fuel costs are inevitable, but better to spend this on efficient clean energy like gas.

Ng says the wind farms are unsightly and kill birds, and are an unreliable source of energy. He makes the point that the Shanwei wind farm operates at an average of 17 per cent to 18 per cent efficiency: “The government is silly to support this project – building this white elephant just for the sake of appearing to do something green, when in fact it is damaging the environment, and costing the community a lot of money in terms of higher fuel bills and higher costs to business. The only beneficiaries are the power companies.”

More Reflective Roofs and Pavements Could Help Offset Climate Emissions

Washington, DC, February 19, 2010

Increasing the reflectivity or “albedo” of roofs and pavements in urban areas could offset greenhouse gas emissions by a significant amount, according to a paper published last month in Environmental Research Letters. The research performed by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center shows that a 25% and 15% increase in the albedos of roofs and pavements, respectively, in urban areas, could lead to an offset of approximately 57 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.

“Increasing urban albedo is something that should be done now to buy time for implementing other near-term and long-term climate mitigation strategies,” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development.

Surfaces with high albedo reflect more solar radiation, preventing the radiation from heating the surface and the atmosphere. Introducing “cool roofs” and more reflective paving materials could replace some of the albedo that has been lost through the melting of Arctic sea ice.

“Although it does not solve the root of the climate change problem – substantial reductions in CO2 and other climate forcers are essential for that – urban albedo can delay the onset of more severe climate impacts, and reduce the risk of passing the thresholds for abrupt and irreversible climate changes,” added Zaelke.

Because CO2 emissions can remain in the atmosphere for up to 1,000 years, there is an urgent need for complementary, fast mitigation measures that will result in significant near-term reductions to avoid passing the tipping points for abrupt climate change, which may only be decades away. In addition to increasing urban albedo, such strategies include reducing emissions of black carbon soot, methane, and tropospheric ozone, as well as using the Montreal Protocol ozone treaty to phase down hydrofluorocarbons, which could prevent the emissions of more than 100 billion tonnes of CO2-eq. by 2050. Carbon-negative measures such as better forest management and production of biochar will also be necessary to bring atmospheric concentrations of CO2 back down to safe levels.

For more information, see:

Radiative forcing and temperature response to changes in urban albedos and associated CO2 offsets by Surabi Menon, Hashem Akbari, Sarith Mahanama, Igor Sednev and Ronnen Levinson (Environmental Research Letters, Jan 2010).

CLP Power replaced generators in island with wind and solar power

CLP Power introduce green technology in Island.

CLP Power introduce green technology in Island.

Transfer electricity to the islands had long been a problem for the engineers in power plants. Neither using submarine cables nor overhead lines would be practical for the electricity supply to the island. Using an overhead line would damage the sea view, but using submarine cable would damage coral in the sea. However building wind and solar power facilities can be a good alternative now. CLP Power is a good example on this ecology friendly technology.

The Dawn Island Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre located in Town Island, southern tip of Sai Kung, and using generators for electricity supply for years. However it is not effective and do harm to the environment. The generators emitted carbon dioxide while operating. At the same time they often break down, and the Centre needs to stop electricity for many times a day. The CLP Power therefore will build wind and solar power facilities to replace the generators, and the Dawn Island Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre will become the first location in Hong Kong powered entirely by renewable energy.

Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre will become first location in Hong Kong powered entirely by renewable energy.

Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre will become first location in Hong Kong powered entirely by renewable energy.

After the install of solar plants and wind turbines, they will provide 192kW of electricity which enough to run about 200 air conditioners. At the same time, carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced by 70 tonnes a year, and the electricity generated can be used in hostels, visitors’ centre and other facilities.

This is a good example for us to follow, and will give us valuable experience on green energy development. For now there is a small rehabilitation centre powered by renewable energy, how about a New Territory village later on? If the scale increased, we can have a whole district powered by renewable energy, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions dramatically. Let’s support more green energy proposal just like the Dawn Island one.

Cleaner, Greener Diesel Cars Back On The Road

Anita Lam, SCMP –  Jun 18, 2009

New private diesel cars will be on sale in Hong Kong next month for the first time in more than a decade.

Audi’s distributor Premium Motors confirmed that one of its latest batch of Euro V diesel-engined cars, the Audi Q7 3.0 TDI Quattro, had passed the government’s stringent emimage004-1issions standards and would be arriving in about a month.

Motor traders began a global hunt for suitable diesel cars after the Environmental Protection Department introduced what it called “improved flexibility in vehicle emissions standards” in January.

Diesel engines are considered more powerful and fuel-efficient than petrol engines, but in the past they were not welcomed because they emitted high levels of particulates and smog-inducing nitrogen oxides. But carbon monoxide emissions from Audi’s latest diesel engine were more than six times lower than the emissions standard for a Euro-V petrol car, nitrogen oxide emissions were 16.7 per cent lower, and particulate levels 78 per cent lower.

Premium Motors managing director Chong Got said the same diesel engine had been running in Europe for three years, but it had been difficult to convince Audi to alter the engine’s specifications just to fit Hong Kong’s emissions requirements because such a move would only boost sales by several hundred vehicles a year.

“The decision was made beyond business concerns,” he said. “The manufacturer values Hong Kong as a market; they are more concerned in boosting the brand’s name and goodwill.”

Audi would introduce more diesel models in the future. The Audi Q7 was expected to cost about HK$800,000 – 10 per cent more than its petrol counterpart. But the diesel model had better acceleration and was also about 30 per cent more fuel-efficient than the petrol model.

Diesel sells for HK$8.89 per litre – about two-thirds the price of petrol in Hong Kong.
Motor Traders Association chairman Michael Lee said he did not believe diesel cars would become very popular in the short term because most manufacturers were reluctant to alter their diesel engines for a small market like Hong Kong, and others were exploring alternative green vehicle models like hybrids and electric cars.

Under the existing transport policy, a person can only register a diesel-engined car as commercial vehicle or a cargo van.

Owners of commercial vehicles have to spare a third of their cabin space for cargo storage and cannot enter certain places, such as Mid-Levels, at certain times, although they also enjoy a big waiver on the first-registration tax.

Environmental Benefits of Electric Cars Dismissed as ‘Fiction’

By Melissa Kite, Deputy Political Editor – 18 Apr 2009

The environmental benefits of electric cars are denounced as “fiction” by new research into green methods of transport.

The amount of energy used by coal fired power stations to create the electricity to recharge electric vehicles makes them half as efficient as diesel cars, according to the research.

Britain’s carbon emissions could even go up if there is a sudden surge in demand for electric cars, the new research warned.

It will call into question a £250 million government scheme announced last week offering consumers £5,000 subsidies to buy a new electric car.

The research conducted by the group Transport Watch found that diesel powered vehicles emit approximately half as much CO2 as electric cars when the use of fossil fuels to produce electricity is taken into account.

The research paper says: “We conclude that the notion that electric cars will reduce emissions is a fiction.”

Factors making the rechargeable cars less efficient include the amount of electricity lost on the journey between the coal fired power stations which generate it and the point where it recharges the car, and the energy lost by the batteries and the motor.

The researchers calculated that of the energy burned in a power station, only a quarter reaches an electric car after leakages and losses along the supply chain are considered, giving the vehicle an energy efficiency score of 24%.

A modern diesel engine, by contrast, achieves 45% efficiency.

The research suggests that if fossil fuels are to be burned, it is much more efficient to do it within the engine of a vehicle rather than at a power station and then try to send it via the National Grid, where a lot of energy is wasted, and finally to store it in a battery which in itself might leak power.

Currently the bulk of the electricity used to charge the batteries of electric vehicles is generated by fossil fuel burning power stations.

Only 20% of UK electricity is generated by ‘clean’ methods such as nuclear power.

The research by Paul Withrington of Transport Watch concludes that CO2 emissions could actually go up if there is suddenly a big demand for electricity to recharge batteries as it would have to come from existing fossil fuel power stations.

He calculated that in China, where most generation of electricity is coal fired, electrification of diesel powered transport would double the emissions from that sector.

There are also big financial and environmental costs involved in setting up a battery charging network.

Mr Withrington said: “The government should re-examine their assumptions and should not encourage this until they have decarbonised the generating industry. At the moment, it is nuts. If you bought an electric car now you would be looking at generating the same amount of carbon or more.”

The Government’s plans have also drawn criticism from motoring groups.

Philip Gomm, of the RAC Foundation, said: “Electric vehicles are not a panacea. They are good for generating headlines but not necessarily at saving the planet, at least not in the short term. For today and tomorrow, a lot more attention needs to be paid to refining existing petrol and diesel technology, and making cars smaller and lighter as a way of saving fuel – something recognised by the Committee on Climate Change. These are proven solutions to an immediate problem.”

The RAC has also questioned where the Government derived its £5,000 incentive per vehicle figure, when previous grants to buy electric cars have been £1,000.

The research can be viewed in full at

‘Smart’ Meters To Help 20,000 Firms Cut Power

Cheung Chi-fai, SCMP – Apr 13, 2009

About 20,000 businesses that use large amounts of power, such as restaurants and hotels, will have their meters replaced with “smart” ones that will enable them to monitor their consumption online, Hongkong Electric (SEHK: 0006) has announced.

The data fed by the meter to a business’ computer network can help the business come up with ways to reduce energy bills by as much as a few per cent, the utility says. A hotel, for instance, could decide to run its laundry at night instead of during peak hours. “It will be a useful tool for our users to understand their power consumption patterns at different time intervals,” Hongkong Electric manager Ip Pak-nin said.

“The data will help them formulate energy conservation measures accordingly and gauge the success of these measures.”

Hongkong Electric installed the meters for about 4,000 commercial and industrial users in 2002, Mr Ip said. It would install 20,000 more for other users that consume about 20,000kW a month.

Smart meters take a snapshot of consumption levels every 30 minutes and transmit the data to the users’ computer network.

Businesses can check whether energy-saving measures are working by comparing levels against previous baselines.

They can also receive suggestions on how to reduce consumption through other adjustments.

“It will be a useful tool for our users to understand their power consumption patterns at different time intervals. The data will help them formulate energy conservation measures accordingly and gauge the success of these measures,” Mr Ip said.

Bills for heavy users are calculated differently from those for the public. They are charged not only for kilowatts consumed but also on the basis of their energy demands and when they are made, which is referred to as “maximum loading”.

Hongkong Electric said that if businesses could reduce maximum loading, they could potentially cut their power bills by a few per cent.

Currently, 1,800 top power users, or those accounts consuming no less than 25,000kW a month, pay a maximum demand fee on top of the charge for units used. The fee accounts for 10 to 20 per cent of a heavy user’s bill. Hongkong Electric has invested in the city’s distribution and transmission infrastructure. The smart meter replacement will start later this year and take about 10 years. Meters approaching the end of their life span would be given priority to avoid waste, Mr Ip said.

The smart meter has a life span of about 15 years, half of the mechanical meter, and is also three times more expensive for Hongkong Electric, although it saves the utility money as staff are not required to read the meter on a regular basis.

Mr Ip said they had no plan to introduce the smart meters to homes since their consumption was lower and the basic energy-saving measures, like the use of more efficient products, were sufficient to help them conserve power.

He said the utility would continue to provide advice to the public on how to conserve energy.

Under the new scheme of control agreed last year, the power firm will receive an extra combined total of 0.02 per cent of the rate of return for completing at least 50 energy audits, and achieving a saving of no less than three gigawatt hours a year.

Government To Help Firms Take Advantage Of Green Opportunities

Cheung Chi-fai, SCMP – Apr 08, 2009

The government will organise seminars for local professionals in environmental services this month, to help them explore emerging markets locally and across the border, Environment Secretary Edward Yau Tang-wah said.

Mr Yau said the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement had enabled such servicing companies to own and operate businesses on the mainland. That would increase their chances of tapping the growing demand for environmental services amid the economic transformation in Guangdong province.

“Hong Kong and Guangdong are strongly pushing forward energy efficiency and emission reduction,” he said. “There is great room for these environmental professionals to organise themselves to cater to this rising demand.”

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen announced plans last week to further explore business opportunities for the environment industry, among others, in the global financial crisis.

Mr Yau said some of the sector’s professionals might be ready to pursue their advantages; but others might need to adjust their operations, or join forces, to tap the opportunities.

The HK$450 million matching-fund scheme for energy and carbon audits and improvement works for local buildings, to be launched today, would be an opportunity for such firms to find business locally, he said. Across the border, Mr Yau said, the market was also growing gradually, after the introduction of the HK$93 million clean-production scheme. So far, 160 companies have participated in the programme. The scheme’s success has encouraged Guangdong provincial and local authorities to roll out similar incentive programmes, which would increase the demand for environmental services.

Mr Yau said green businesses were still taking shape in Hong Kong and across the border, and it was still difficult to know how big the market was. “It is like a blind man who tries to feel the size of an elephant … [he] can never tell how big the elephant is.”