Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the month “August, 2020”

And Now For Something Completely Different

Solar cell in the shape of a leaf.
Solliance, Eindhoven, The Netherlands.


UK-Gov Cost Estimates Energy in 2025

The three bars per energy type indicate the expected cost by the UK government for 2025, in resp. 2013, 2016 and 2020. Spectacular decline in expected cost for renewables solar and wind. It should be realized though that for a serious comparison, the cost for storage needs to be included for intermittent energy sources solar and wind.

[] – Wind and solar are 30-50% cheaper than thought, admits UK government

Plans for Next-Gen Turbine Installation Vessel from Norway

Companies: Ocean Installer and Vard Shipyards.
Size: 1,000 tonnes and structures 150 m above sea level

[] – Norwegian initiative for global offshore wind
[] – Norwegians to Develop Next-Gen Turbine Installation Vessel

Record Wind Yield Netherlands 26 Aug 2020

108,500 MWh/day (Wednesday 26 August 2020) or almost 1/3 Dutch electricity consumption.

[] – Martien Visser
[] – Zomerstorm en nieuwe parken op zee brengen recordopbrengst windenergie

Bringing Offshore Wind Electricity on Shore

Monopiles Danish Offshore Wind Park Kriegers Flak are in Place

Dutch offshore contractor Van Oord has completed installing all 72 monopiles of what will be the largest Danish offshore wind park to date (605 MW). Van Oord completed the job in less than 4 months with their less sophisticated Svanen jackup ship (1991). With their Aeolus flagship it would have probably taken less than 2 months. These timelines are illustrative for the speed with which it is possible to install an offshore wind park in the GW range. Think a year, ten times or more faster than building a nuclear power station.

[] – Kriegers Flak Monopiles Stand Ready
[] – Kriegers Flak (wind farm)
[] – Svanen (schip, 1991)

Agriport A7 – Industrial Scale Greenhouse Agriculture

The Netherlands are known for its “water surplus”, to put it diplomatically. The reality is that even in the Low Countries, sufficient water supply for agricultural purposes is no longer guaranteed. A solution for the drought problem could lie in a shift from conventional agriculture towards horticulture in greenhouses, where scarce water can be “trapped” in the confinement of the greenhouse. Increased application of geothermal energy could provide additional value to year-around harvesting.

[] – Agriport A7 project site
[] – Agriport A7
[] – Alweer kreunt de landbouw onder de droogte
[Google Maps] – Agriport A7
[deepresource] – Growing Crops in the Australian Desert with Seawater

Read more…

Australia on Course to Become #1 Green Steel Producer

[source] – Australian mineral facts

First a few facts:

  • Global steel production is currently responsible for 7% of global green house gas emissions.
  • Australia is the largest iron ore exporter in the world, by far (53%).
  • The overwhelming majority in the world backs the Paris Accords.
  • Australia is nearly empty and sunlit.

[source] – Western Australian, that is 2300+ kWh/year or 250+ kWh/year electricity.

Put these four facts in a cocktail shaker, shake firmly and what comes out is a solid business case for an enormous opportunity for Australia. How about Australia stop exporting iron ore. How about placing endless solar arrays in the Western Australian desert. Use the resulting renewable electricity to produce hydrogen. And with that hydrogen produce green steel, ship it from the Western Australian port of Kalbarri and sell it on world markets, with considerable added value as compared to iron ore. Steel is easier to ship and handle than hydrogen. Better to use that hydrogen directly at the source to produce a major commodity.

This is how much of Western Australia looks like

[] – Australia to become the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy
[] – Siemens backs Aussie plan to produce hydrogen via 5GW PV
[] – List of countries by iron-ore exports

[source] Iron ore exporters

The Agricultural Sector in the Netherlands


In 2015 about 2/3 of Dutch soil was reserved for agricultural purposes. Early 2019 there were 53.919 registered farmers (“boeren”) in the Netherlands, representing 0,6 % of total Dutch employment. The average balance sheet value of agricultural enterprises is about 3.5 million euro. For the Calvinist Dutch farmers the adage applies: “live poor, die rich”. Dutch farmers live for their work, are extremely frugal, highly competent, open for technological innovation. As a result, although the Netherlands is one of the smallest countries in this world, its agricultural exports ranks second (94B) and only has to tolerate the US (150B) ahead of itself and that with 250 times less soil and 19 times fewer people. It goes without saying that the agricultural lobby is very powerful in the Netherlands. Perhaps a little too powerful.

Most farmers are active in dairy farming (16,000), next crop farmers (11,000), horticulture (6,700) and pig farming (5,300). Their produce needs to be harvested, sold at an auction, transported, processed and sold again to consumers. All in all, for every farmer, 10 people work in related employment or ca. 6% of total “Dutch” employment. It needs to be added that the vast majority of agricultural field workers are foreigners, mostly Eastern Europeans (80% or more).

Remaining land use: urban environment 14%, nature 14%, water 5%, recreation 3%.

In the Netherlands a conflict is brewing about the role of agriculture. Isn’t the sector too big? Does a small country like the Netherlands really need to be the 2nd agricultural exporter in the world, with agriculture claiming most of the scarce land? Aren’t Brexit and climate a good opportunity to scale down this sector, to the benefit of nature?

[] – Dit draagt het boerenbedrijf bij aan de welvaart
[] – Balanswaarde land- en tuinbouwbedrijven
[] – Top 10 Agricultural Exporters

North Sea Energy Hub Taking Shape

Navigant Netherlands has secured a contract to provide assistance in structured discussions with policymakers to realize the North Sea Wind Power Hub (NSWPH).

The first hub is expected to be realized in the early 2030s. Big parties like TenneT Netherlands, TenneT Germany, Energinet, Gasunie, and the Port of Rotterdam are behind the concept. The project can be compared to what the Chinese have done in the South China Sea.

[] – Navigant Wins North Sea Wind Power Hub Contract
[] – Gasunie to join North Sea wind power hub consortium

P.S. Security concerns need to be thought-through thoroughly before such a centralizing energy island can be built. You don’t want to rely on an energy system that can be taken out by a single big bomb/mini-nuke. Brexit has complicated things considerably, now that England has reverted to its default “Splendid Isolation” position and EU competitor. A likely no-deal Brexit and following rapid deterioration of the EU-UK relationship is a serious possibility, with consequences for the energy hub project.

TU Eindhoven Gets Institute for Renewable Energy Systems

The TU Eindhoven intends invests to invest ten million euros over 5 years in a new energy institute on its own campus, to be spend on 4 new professors and 11 lecturers and associate professors. Name: “Eindhoven Institute for Renewable Energy Systems” (EIRES). Goal: developing “smart, smaller devices and systems for the conversion and storage of energy” and do so in cooperation with local manufacturing industry (like VDL) in the so-called Brainport Eindhoven. EIRES will focus on several main areas, like metal fuels and local hydrogen production from (renewable) electricity.

[] – EIRES
[] – TU/e steekt 10 miljoen in nieuw energie-instituut
[] – 10 million Euros for TU Institute that devises smart energy storage solutions

The Business Case for Storage in a Single Graph

The business case on display for storage of renewable electricity in batteries, as price fluctuates between 3-90 Euro/MWh. If we assume a cost of industrial-sized battery storage of 170,000 Euro/MWh and occasional price fluctuations of 87 Euro/MWh, like the ones in the graph, after 1,954 charge-discharge cycles, of 72 hours each, the storage would have earned itself back 3 x 1954 / 365 = 16 years. With industry forecasting a storage price of 50 Euro/kWh in 2030, that earn-back time would be reduced to 575 charge-discharge cycles or less than 5 years, based on the anecdotal data from this graph. Data on a much larger time-scale needs to be analyzed to come up with more reliable earn-back estimates.

[] – Elektriciteitsprijs per 25-27 augustus 2020
[deepresource] – Lithium-ion Storage Price Development

Energy is the Key to Geopolitical Success

The US empire would not have come into being without major oil finds on its own soil in the 19th century. That oil is running out.

Now it is continental Europe’s turn, that almost completely controls the offshore wind market world-wide, to provide the world with a new energy source:

[deepresource] – Largest Jack-Up Vessel Voltaire Operational in 2023

[] – A new generation of jack-up vessels

WTIVs With the dawn of the new 12-MW offshore wind turbines, installation capacities of the current, third generation wind turbine installation vessels (WTIVs) will be pushed to the limits and beyond. A new generation of jack-up vessels is necessary to serve the future offshore wind industry. The Dutch company Ulstein Design & Solutions BV has its own perspective when it comes to developing an efficient jack-up with a healthy economic lifetime in this rapidly evolving sector.

[] – New class of installation vessels to handle ‘super-sized’ wind turbines

By 2022, three purpose-built offshore installation vessels will join the global fleet to support the development of offshore windfarms with larger, more powerful wind turbines… With sky-scraping heights of more than 270 m and blades 120 m in length, a new generation of powerful wind turbines will be the backbone of future offshore windfarm development. Offering improved efficiencies and lowering costs, these 12-MW behemoths are challenging the operational limits of the current fleet of offshore installation vessels… The first of these, Voltaire, has been contracted to install a total of 2,400 MW of GE`s 12-MW Haliade-X wind turbines on the Doggerbank Wind farm in the UK, with installation scheduled in 2023 and 2024.

[deepresource] – 450GW Offshore Wind by 2050 in Europe Realistic
[deepresource] – The Enormous Energy Potential of the North Sea
[deepresource] – The Giants of a New Energy Age
[deepresource] – Breakdown Costs Offshore Windfarm
[deepresource] – North Sea Offshore Wind Hubs
[deepresource] – European Wind Energy Potential
[deepresource] – Offshore Wind in NW-Europe
[deepresource] – Upbeat Assessment European Offshore Wind
[deepresource] – Dutch Company Comes to the Rescue of US Offshore Wind
[deepresource] – The Seven Brothers – Europe Taking Lead in US Offshore
[deepresource] – Offshore Wind: Can the US Catch up with Europe?

[] – NYK and Van Oord Partnering to Own and Operate Offshore Wind Installation Vessel in Japan

NYK and Van Oord have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to jointly own and operate offshore wind installation vessels under the Japanese flag. The partners aim to start operating a jack up vessel in Japan by 2022 at the earliest. The vessel will have a crane capacity of more than 1,000 mt and will be suitable to install the latest generation of wind turbines. The collaboration will make use of Van Oord’s technical and operational expertise in offshore wind and the NYK Group’s knowledge of the Japanese market… As a market leader, Van Oord has been involved in over 40 offshore wind projects as an Engineering Procurement Construction and Installation (EPCI) contractor in Europe, where the offshore wind industry is already well developed. With over 15 years of experience within the offshore wind market, the knowledge of its people and its specialised offshore wind equipment, Van Oord is able to contribute to the Japanese offshore wind market.

There is only one (luxury) “problem”: demand for offshore jack-up vessels world-wide is “too high” to service demand; typically a case of “I’d like to have your problems”:

[] – Global shortage of installation vessels could trouble waters for offshore wind

Largest Jack-Up Vessel Voltaire Operational in 2023

The Voltaire is the third Offshore Jack-Up Installation Vessel and the first next generation offshore installation vessel of Jan De Nul Group. With her unrivalled crane capacity of over 3,000 tons, this jack-up vessel will be able to support the renewable energy industry to build the future wind farms

Turbine transport and installation at the first two 1.2 GW phases of Dogger Bank Wind Farm will be the first assignment for the world’s largest offshore jack-up installation vessel owned by Jan De Nul – the Voltaire.

[] – Mega Jack-Up to Officially Debut on World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm

North Sea Poisoned with Methane for Decades

According to current scientific studies, between 8,000 and 30,000 tons of methane are released from around 15,000 boreholes in the North Sea. In addition, the normal operation of the platforms in the North Sea already released 72,000 tons of methane into the atmosphere every year, as a current Greenpeace report shows.

[] – Greenpeace: Öl- und Gasindustrie für Methan-Leck in der Nordsee verantwortlich
[] – For Decades, Oil & Gas Have Been Poisoning The North Sea With Methane

The Netherlands and Wind Energy, a happy Combination

Free as a bird!

Read more…

Breakdown Costs Offshore Windfarm

Current cost of 1 MWh of offshore wind electricity: GBP 75 (83.2 €)
Expected cost in 2030: GBP 50

At the moment of writing this post, 1 GBP = 1.11 Euro = 1.31 US$.

Energy content of a litre of gasoline/diesel ca. 10 kWh (in heat form).
Likewise barrel of oil: 159 litres = 1590 kWh.
Refining efficiency crude oil: 85%.
The most modern fossil fuel power stations have an efficiency of ca. 60%.
Results in 811 kWh electricity per barrel of oil.

The price of a litre of gasoline in Europe, without VAT and tariffs varies from 0.32 € (Slovenia) to 0.55 € (Sweden). Let’s take the value for the Netherlands: 0.48 €/liter or 77.9 €/barrel = 811 kWh = 0.081 €/kWh real cost (without VAT and tariffs). Compare that with electricity cost from wind: 0.083 €/kWh, almost the same. For the coming decade the price of wind electricity is expected to come down from 75 to 50 units, where the price of oil in all likelihood will increase, as conventional oil is running out.

Part % Total Cost
Maintenance & service 18.9
Nacelle 11.7
Other turbine 10.3
Operations 9.3
Turbine foundation 8.2
Other installation 8.2
Offshore cable installation 6.4
Rotor 5.6
Cables 5.0
Development and project management 3.5
Offshore substation 3.5
Foundation installation 3.2
Tower 1.9
Decommissioning 1.8
Turbine installation 1.4
Other balance of plant 1.0

For a more detailed breakdown of the cost per MWh, see the link below.


Solar Carpet Update

Last year we reported about an interesting 2 year old innovative idea, interesting for relatively wealthy countries with little space. Like the Netherlands. The idea: sports fields aren’t used on average 60% of the time, so why not use this valuable space for solar energy harvesting. Not with clumsy, heavy panels, but with lightweight thin film solar, rolled out like a carpet. Apparently some progress has been made with this idea.

[] – Project site
[deepresource] – Solar carpet

Netherlands Onshore Wind Capacity Factor 2014-2020

About 28%.

Also note the little yield over the past few weeks. Sobering reminder that storage has become essential. In the end we’ll need something like 40% annual electricity consumption worth of storage.

Note these include all wind turbines on land. including the “legacy” ones.

They capacity factors of the latest offshore wind turbines are far better.
Like the new Haliade-X 12 MW features 63%.

Why not put most if not all new wind capacity offshore?

[deepresource] – Offshore Wind Capacity Factors

US Coal Consumption 1850-2020

Trump’s promised “beautiful clean coal” revival didn’t happen.
At all.
Thank God.
Back at 1910-level.
Trend: further deep South.

[] – US Coal Consumption 1850-2020

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