Monthly Archives: November 2012

Introduction of our thesis: “Development of an optimized low cost solar boiler”

“According to recent data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), renewable energies amount to almost 29% of the total primary energy supply in Latin America.”

One would think this number looks impressive, but it can be misleading. Latin America is a region with a great potential for renewable resources, but they are dependent on one specific resource: hydro.  Due to many complications, like the way energy and development policies have been constructed, solar and wind energy are less successful. This gap has to be filled to overcome the dependence on one resource.

In collaboration with Humasol vzw this thesis project was started. Humasol vzw is a fourth pillar organization, run by former students of the university of Leuven, which focuses on sustainable energy projects in emergent countries. Humasol has already implemented seven solar boiler – projects over the past years. The main objective of the last project was designing a solar boiler as cheap as possible and reducing the complexity. Our thesis is a sequel on that last project and can be defined as the optimization of this boiler considering cost and efficiency.  Afterwards the improved design will be built in La Cascarilla, Peru.

Situation sketch Flidar project

Before I start discussing the relevance and the importance of the thesis topic, let me first give you a little situation sketch about our project.

The topic we are working on concerns the development of a renewable power system for a floating Lidar or Flidar.  A Lidar (light detection and ranging) is a appliance that is capable of measuring wind speeds by sending and catching beams of light.  The light emitted by the Lidar is reflected by airborne particles like dust, pollen, water droplets which cause a slight change in the frequency of the backscattered light.  This principle is known as the Doppler effect and can be used to calculate the wind speeds.

Before building a new wind farm a Lidar is used to gather data about the wind quality on the building site.  For onshore projects a Lidar can be placed upon the site and data can be analyzed quite easily. Offshore the situation is slightly different, a platform has to be constructed to support the Lidar and other measuring equipment.  This already requires a serious investment without knowing if the site offers opportunities for a new wind farm.

The company we work with is called 3E ( and they are commercializing a solution to overcome this high investment and still gather the necessary data.  By attaching the Lidar on a buoy and thus creating a floating Lidar or Flidar drastic cost reductions are possible.  The Flidar is designed to operate maintenance free and autonomous for more than six months in demanding offshore environments such as the European North sea area.  The buoy and its equipment is fully powered by renewable energy from solar panels and wind turbines.

Our thesis consists out of redesigning and improving the power system and come up with creative and innovative solutions to improve energy, space and cost efficiency.

I hope this short introduction helps you to understand what Tijl and I will be doing as a thesis. If you have any questions, remarks or if you would like some extra information, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

The Flidar measurement buoy

Welcome to our blog,

The purpose of this blog is that the authors share and discuss the relevance of their thesis subject. Don’t mind leaving a comment or asking questions!

Have fun!