Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the month “July, 2020”

German-Moroccan Hydrogen Agreement

Morocco has valuable commodities with which it can compete on world markets: perfect solar conditions, large amounts of otherwise useless deserts, proximity to European markets and sufficient supply of cheap labor. That didn’t escape the attention of the German government, that has an ambitious program of becoming the world leader in hydrogen electrolyzer equipment. With this equipment, countries like Morocco can produce large amounts of hydrogen to be sold on European markets. Match made in heaven. Hydrogen could be the key to African development. If Arab countries could achieve enormous wealth with oil and gas, there is no reason why African countries with perfect solar conditions could not finally get in touch with serious money, by producing hydrogen for Eurasian markets.

[] – Grüne Energie aus der Wüste
[] – Marokko – 710 Millionen Euro aus Deutschland
[deepresource] – Germany Embraces the Hydrogen Economy

Elestor Flow Batteries Presentation

December 2018.

Elestor specializes in flow batteries, in their view the cheapest way of storing large amounts of renewable electricity.

The EU recently awarded €4Million to the MELODY consortium, to develop low cost, innovative batteries for large-scale energy storage, as part of the Horizon 2020 program ‘Advanced Redox Flow Batteries for stationary energy storage’. The MELODY consortium consists of small & medium enterprises (Elestor, PV3 Technologies, Vertech), industry (Shell) and academic leaders (TU Delft, Technion, University of Exeter, ETH Zurich), with coordination support provided by Hezelburcht. The collaborative project began in January 2020, and will run for 4 years, leading to a pilot facility that demonstrates the practical application, with each partner bringing required know-how and capabilities to complete the project.

The world’s energy system is in a revolution. Increasingly higher volumes of intermittent generation have made it clear to industry experts that there is a global demand for effective and economically viable energy storage. Since the demand for renewables like wind and solar energy has become global, the demand for storage will also span continents, offering huge opportunities for those companies and countries which can innovate to deliver new kinds of battery storage. MELODY aims to develop a sustainable redox flow battery technology that can effectively reduce the costs of electricity storage to support large-scale, global deployment.

[] – Company site
[] – Elestor teams up with Shell, TUD, ETH, Exeter a.o.
[] – Sustainable battery technology for low-cost energy storage
[deepresource] – Elestor 50 kW Hydrogen-Bromide Flow Battery

[] – 51MWh vanadium flow battery system ordered for wind farm in northern Japan

Geothermal-Heated Greenhouses in Iceland

Significant Lithium Reserves In European Groundwater


The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany (KIT) surprised with their announcement that Germany has sufficient lithium reserves in their ground water in geothermal plants, sufficient for its own industrial needs and are easy minable. Bye-bye South-America. Location: upper-Rhine trench, separating France and Germany. Contents up to 200 mg per liter. The KIT filed for a patent. In Germany the lithium can be extracted within hours, where in South-America it can last months. Additional potential products from geothermal water are rubidium and cesium. Hundreds of tons of lithium can be harvested per geothermal plant per year.

A small prototype installation is currently under development in the kilo range of lithium carbonate. If the tests are successful, a larger plant could be build.

[] – New Process Enables Lithium Mining in Germany
[] – European partnership targets ‘Zero Carbon Lithium’ extraction in Germany

UPDATE 04 AUG 2020:

[] – Vulcan Is A Step Closer To Net-Zero-Carbon Lithium Production

Fun fact: the energy required for direct lithium extraction from the brine is sourced from the hot brine itself, so, in a certain sense, the process is carbon-negative.

[] – Overview of Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) from Geothermal Brines
[] – Environmentally friendly direct lithium extraction from geothermal
[] – Direct lithium extraction processes (15 slides)

Read more…

VattenFall-Feenstra High Temperature CO2 Heat Pump

Vattenfall and Feenstra will bring a new heat pump to the market, designed to operate at high temperatures (70-90 C), that can function as a direct replacement for any conventional natural gas-fired central heating system, eliminating the need for low temperature floor heating. Instead you can continue to use your old but functioning radiators. Essential in the new setup is a temperature-layered buffer vessel. Power: 6 kW base, 11 kW peak.

Conventional heat pumps operate best at temperatures in the range of 35 C. This new heat pump uses CO2 as medium, using high temperature in, higher temperature out. Field tests are underway in 20 homes. If successful, first installations will become available by the end of this year. Realized HSPF values in the order of 3.0.

[] – Bestaande woningbouw eenvoudig aardgasvrij met nieuw hoge-temperatuur-warmtepompsysteem
[] – Testresultaten CO2-warmtepomp voor woningen veelbelovend
[] – Heating seasonal performance factor
[] – Coefficient of performance

Sif Skybox

Dutch monopile producer Sif has invented a method to get rid of the transition piece in offshore wind turbine installation. It should now be possible to install the entire wind turbine (monopile, tower and nacelle) in a single installation operation, resulting in substantial cost cutting.

This is still the old way of working: installing the monopile first, transition piece and tower and nacelle in a second maneuver.

Germany Presents Action Concept Hydrogen Steel

Today the Germany minister of economic affairs Peter Altmaier has presented his government’s “Handlungskonzept Stahl”. In short, in the future hydrogen will need to displace fossil fuel in the production process of steel. The plan is strongly related to the European Green Deal. The expected investment volume required for “green steel”: 30 billion euro until 2050. The German steel sector employs currently 86,000 people. Annual steel production: 40 million ton.

[] – Altmaier stellt Handlungskonzept Stahl vor
[] – German government report

Who Owns Solar Panels?

Market researchers wanted to know who owns solar panels in the Netherlands.

Answer: wayward computer fanatics, intellectual culture lovers, involved seniors, active seniors (50+), creative environment lovers. Additional traits solar panel owners: freelancers, above average income, no relocation plans. Financial aspects aren’t overlooked.

Your faithfully belongs in all 8 categories listed.

[] – Cultuurliefhebbers en computerfanaten hebben het vaakst zonnepanelen

4GW Renewable Storage Project in Saudi-Arabia


The Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia has given the green light to a huge renewable energy storage project. Price tag: $5B. Location: NEOM (NW KSA). NEOM intends to become a global hydrogen hub, well, in the form of ammonia (NH3). Input: 4GW from solar and wind. Production: 650 tons H2 per day through electrolysis (Thyssen-Krupp technology, Germany). Nitrogen (N2) will be produced from air using Air Products technology (USA), resulting in 1.2 million tons/year of green ammonia (NH3) using Haldor Topsoe technology (Denmark). The project is scheduled to become on-line in 2025.

[] – $5bn deal sealed for green hydrogen-based ammonia production facility in NEOM
[] – World’s largest green hydrogen project will convert renewable energy to ammonia then back to hydrogen
[deepresource] – Ammonia posts

Read more…

Holthausen & Hyzon to Produce 2000 Hydrogen Trucks per Year

Max Holthausen is a hydrogen entrepreneur from Hoogezand in Groningen, the Netherlands, the intended European hydrogen hub, partially converting renewable electricity from the up to 45,000 future wind turbines from the North Sea (up to 450 GW) into hydrogen, to be distributed all over Europe. Holthausen only seeks for attention, not through announcing grandiose visions for the future, yet to be realized, but by accomplishing things first. His trick: converting existing vehicles, gasoline, diesel or electric, into hydrogen-vehicles. This stunt drew international attention: converting a Tesla (“Hesla”):

So much so that the American truck company Hyzon and Holthausen have announced a joint venture, based in Europe, to build up to 2,000 hydrogen trucks per year. Hyzon aims to rush into the truck market, like Tesla rushed into the sedan market: capture a large market share, early on.

Holthausen has already experience in the truck world, by upgrading trucks from the Dutch manufacturer DAF from fossil to hydrogen:

Hyzon originates from Singapore, as the fuel cell company “Horizon”, but moved its HQ to the US. Now it wants to take the global truck market by storm:

[] – Company site
[] – DAF LF – Holthausen
[] – Hyzon komt naar Europa; productie door Holthausen
[] – Hesla, the first Hydrogen-Powered Tesla
[deepresource] – The Emerging Dutch Hydrogen Economy (Jan 2019)
[deepresource] – Germany Embraces the Hydrogen Economy (Jun 2020)
[deepresource] – EU Aims at 80-120 GW Renewable Hydrogen Capacity (Jul 2020)
[deepresource] – Energy, Geopolitics and the Return of Europe
[] – Hyzon Motors toont waterstofvrachtwagen van 50 meter

Read more…

Dutch Greenhouses

Tom Hegen

Thanks to (relatively) energy efficient LED-light, these greenhouses can offer a year-long growing season at northern latitudes. As a bonus, the greenhouses offer a form of agriculture with reduced water needs, which could preempt climate change and longer periods of drought. The Netherlands are small and soil is expensive. With greenhouses massive extra agricultural returns compensate for that handicap.

The Netherlands is a small country by size, but is huge when it comes to agricultural exports—second in the world behind the United States, by some counts. Indoor agriculture—forever altered by energy-efficient LEDs that can produce parts of the light spectrum most helpful and attractive to plants—is a significant area of research and innovation for the industry there. “The Dutch have created the most advanced area in the world for controlled environment agriculture and have become world leaders in agricultural innovation,” says Hegen on his website.


[] – Glowing Dutch Greenhouses, As Seen From Way Up High
[] – Tom Hegen’s stunning “pictures from above”
[] – Dutch greenhouses have revolutionized modern farming

Energy, Geopolitics and the Return of Europe

Philips Koninck, Bleachfields near Haarlem, the Netherlands, ca. 1670-80

If you enlarge the picture above, you can identify at least 4 wind mills in the painting. In the 17th century there were about 10,000 of those in the Netherlands, used for water pumping for land reclamation, grain processing or as a saw mills, for planks to build ships. Because of that technological advantage, at some point, the Netherlands had three times more ships than the rest of the world combined. These windmills were an essential ingredient for the Dutch preeminent position in the 17th century and the Dutch Golden Age. With these ships, the Netherlands could transport products from all over the world to Europe and sell them at a hefty profit:

How much power could these windmills generate? In those days about 30 kW. How much power can a healthy human male generate. Go to your gym, sit on a bicycle or rowing machine and verify on the display that it is not too difficult to generate 100 Watt for half an hour. For an entire day, that’s hard work. So that wind mill is worth at least 300 men, provided the wind is blowing, which happens a lot of the time in the Netherlands.

Note that similar stories can be told about the 19th century British empire, enabled by its coal and steam. A 30 kW steam engine was much cheaper than a conventional Dutch windmill of 30 kW. With steam and coal, trains could be powered, and 19th century steamboats were more powerful, reliable and faster than the Dutch sailing boats of the 17th century. Hence the 19th century was British, not Dutch.

The Americans of the 20th century had an even more powerful energy source: oil and gas. With those they could fuel cars, tanks and planes and bomb entire countries into their “accidental” empire.

What they all have in common is that their energy source was the premier enabling factor of their geopolitical success.

Now that conventional oil & gas is running out, the question that rises is: what is going to be the successor energy, guaranteeing new geopolitical success. The EU thinks it is going to be renewable energy and the EU is the only serious geopolitical player that has set as its goal to completely ‘decarbonize’ its economy before 2050. This gives them a significant head start over their immediate geopolitical competitors China and United States.

But wait a minute… didn’t wind energy loose out after the Dutch 17th century? Not really. The difference is technology. A modern 15 MW Siemens-Gamesa wind-turbine is 500 times as powerful as the good old 30 kW Dutch wooden windmill, that took a year or longer to build, where a monopile can be rammed into the sea floor and wind tower and nacelle put in place in a matter of days. The required iron-steel are abundant and cheap.

Earlier this week the EU has committed itself to the hydrogen economy, to be achieved before 2050. It is the only major geopolitical player so far to do so, although it can be expected that other major parties will follow later. But the three examples above, the Dutch, British and American ones, have shown that early adoption of a new energy source will have positive implications for future geopolitical success. That’s why we are upbeat about the prospects of European civilization at the End of the American Era.

[] – Gevlucht
[] – Philips Koninck
[] – Dutch Golden Age
[] – Dutch East India Company
[] – Energy policy of the European Union
[] – The End of the American Era
[deepresource] – EU Intends to Aim at 80-120 GW Renewable Hydrogen Capacity

[source] Owning the reserve currency is a good indicator for geopolitical status and power. In the 17th century it was the Dutch empire, in the 19th the British and in the 20th century the American empire that represented the premier addresses on the planet. What is seldom realized is the important role of energy behind the imperial success. But then again, historians are no engineers.

EU Aims at 80-120 GW Renewable Hydrogen Capacity

Intended EU hydrogen development path: 6 GW until 2024, 40 GW until 2030 and the rest before 2050. It is no coincidence that the EU came out with this strategy paper, three weeks after Germany officially embraced the hydrogen economy. In order to realize its goals, the EU has created the Hydrogen Alliance which encompass 500 European companies.

[] – EU Hydrogen Strategy
[] – Q&A: A Hydrogen Strategy for a climate neutral Europe
[] – EU Hydrogen Alliance
[deepresource] – Germany Embraces the Hydrogen Economy
[] – Waterstofstrategie EU: 80 tot 120 gigawatt extra wind- en zonne-energie nodig voor productie waterstof

Completion North Stream 2 Could Begin Soon


A Russian vessel capable of completing the pipelaying for the Gazprom-led Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project left a German port on Wednesday and entered Danish waters where the last section of the controversial pipeline has yet to be completed.

[] – Russia-led Nord Stream 2 Gas Pipeline Could Be Completed Soon quotes Reuters:

[] – Russian vessel able to complete Nord Stream 2 pipeline departs from German port

However, at the time of writing this post, the Fortuna is indeed no longer moored at Mukran, but is NOT heading for Danish waters, but instead is anchored at the German port of Rostock:

[] – Fortuna position

Although there are clear signs that the US is preparing for anti-European sanctions over the pipeline, there are also signs that Europa feels strong enough to finally escape from the grip of the US empire:

[] – EU prepares response to Nord Stream U.S. sanctions threat

After all, Europa can play the Eurasian card and team up with Russia and China, something both countries have quietly been hinting at for some time. And Brexit is a great help as well to finally decouple from Anglosphere.

[] – China presses Europe for anti-U.S. alliance on trade
[] – The End of the American Era
[] – ‘US losing world leadership, Europe can replace it’
[] – United States: An Obituary

3D-Printed Houses Update

Westerlo, Belgium

3D-house printing could mean the end of the misery of all these shanty towns around the world. As a rule-of-thumb, a family can afford and finance a home that costs 3 times the yearly income. For $4000,- that means almost everybody on the planet. By the turn of the century, all people around the world living in a 3D-printed home, with a flat panel, space-based internet and solar panels on the roof, is a positive and realistic vision, something to work towards.

[] – 3D-printed model home by Kamp C in Westerlo
[] – Grand Design: How 3D Printing Could Change Our World
[deepresource] – 3D-Printed Home for $4000,-
[] – How 3D Printing Can Help Power the Energy Industry


[] – This building in Dubai is the largest 3D-printed structure in the world — and it took just 3 workers and a printer to build it

450GW Offshore Wind by 2050 in Europe Realistic

WindEurope has made an inventory of the offshore wind energy potential in European waters. Summary: 450 GW in 2050 is realistic. Note that the average EU electricity consumption is ca. 300 GW. As a rule of thumb, to achieve complete decarbonisation, one needs to double the current electricity consumption, or 600 GW (rough estimate).

[] – Report: “Our Energy, Our Future” (pdf, 80p)

Steelwind Nordenham Ready for 15 MW Monopiles

Steelwind Nordenham of Germany is ready to supply monopiles that can carry…

– Turbines of up to 15 megawatts with rotor diameters of up to 230 metres.
– Extreme wind loads, especially those driven by hurricanes or typhoons.
– Water depths of up to 65 metres.
– Wave loads in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

[] – Beyond XXL – Slim Monopiles for Deep-Water Wind Farms
[Google Maps] – Steelwind Nordenham Werk

Monopile for Yunlin Offshore Wind Farm (Weight: 1.732 t, Diameter: 8 m, Length: 93 m

Brave Tern to be Equiped with Huisman Crane

The Huisman 1600t LEC 65500 leg encircling crane can handle turbines like the GE Haliade-X 12 MW, three at a time, or even the latest Siemens-Gamesa 15 MW giant. The Brave Tern is owned by the Danish installation company Fred Olson.

[] – Brave Tern Gearing Up for Largest Wind Turbines
[] – Huisman Equipment
[] – Fred. Olsen & Co.
[] – Siemens Gamesa Cranks It Up to 15 MW with Offshore Behemoth

Siemens-Gamesa 15 MW machine. Prototype 2021, production 2024.

Lagerwey Completes 150 MW Adygea Wind Project in Russia

Russia is late in the renewable energy game, due to its legacy of nuclear, oil & gas, but it has completed its largest wind farm project to date, the Adygea Wind Warm of 150 MW. The turbines are from the Dutch manufacturer Lagerwey: 60 x Lagerwey L100 2.5MW turbines.

The next largest wind farm with an installed capacity of 210 MW will appear in the Kochubeyevsky district of the Stavropol Kray. Overall, by 2023, the firm will install 1 GW of wind farms.

[] – Rosatom’s 1st and Russia’s Largest Wind Farm Begins Supplying Electricity
[] – Adygea Wind Farm
[Google Maps] – Wind farm location

Meyer-Burger Strategy Change

Most solar panels come from China, right? Could be wrong. Solar equipment manufacturer Meyer-Burger from Switzerland will stop selling its state-of-the-art machines and instead will use them for their own solar module production and service the exponentially growing global solar market under the motto: “why sell the goose with the golden eggs?”, and rather sell the eggs. The company believes it holds the technological holy grail (“smartwire”).

A large proportion of the solar modules produced world-wide today are based on technologies developed by Meyer Burger. By selling its production equipment, however, Meyer Burger relinquished control of its technology and largely left the realization of the added value creation to its customers. Meyer Burger’s Board of Directors has decided that Meyer Burger, as a rule, will in the future manufacture production equipment for Heterojunction/SmartWire exclusively for its own use and aims to become a leading global producer of solar cells and modules… Meyer Burger delivered the proof of concept of heterojunction/SmartWire in mass production at the end of 2019 by successfully establishing a 600 MW production line for a client. The proceeds from the capital increase are expected to be used primarily to build up production capacities and the sales organization. Meyer Burger expects to save significant time and economic resources by acquiring existing production sites in Germany… Recently, Fraunhofer ISE also confirmed a record efficiency of 25.4% for a heterojunction solar cell manufactured with the Company’s latest technology in May 2020… The European and global market potential is considerable. In Germany, renewable energy to supply 65 percent of electricity by 2030, and Europe is to become climate neutral by 2050. In Germany alone, the government has set a photovoltaic expansion target of 98 GW until 2030.

[] – Meyer-Burger strategy U-turn
[] – SmartWire Connection Technology

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