Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the month “September, 2020”

OceanBird or the Return of the Sailship

A large car transporter can burn 40 ton of dirty fuel per day. The Swedish company OceanBird-Wallenius wants to cut maritime transport emissions with 90% and for that purpose bring back the sailing ship, in a futuristic fashion, see the video. Expected Atlantic crossing time using the wind: 12 days. Intended launch date 2024.

[] – Project site
[] – Designing a new sailing era
[] – Schwedische Reederei plant Segelfrachter

World University Research Ranking 2020

[] – World University Research Ranking

The ranking comes from Singapore and it is unlikely they have a strong bias towards either European or Anglo universities. Their ranking is based on the quality of academic output.

If we are to believe Anglo sources, Anglo universities are the best there is:

[] – Times World University Ranking 2020

But what is the truth behind all this Anglo self-congratulation? If you look at the economic output and more in particular the success in international competition, the results are less than stellar. You would expect that “stellar universities” are busy all day inventing products, that will find their way into local industries and via them conquering international markets. Nothing of the sort happens with Anglo universities:

[] – List of countries by current account balance

Turns out that in international trade, Anglo countries are the bottom of the barrel. The US and UK have the largest trade deficits in the world, very much unlike their continental European counter parts, Japan and China. Anglo products simply can’t compete on international markets, and these few exceptions like burgers, sugar water and iPhones (produced in Asia) doesn’t change the general picture much. Where Germany, France and Italy for instance can produce home grown cars that are successful on international markets and even Sweden of 10 million has 2 brands and even produces fighter jets, Britain has no home-grown car industry. And outside the US very few people are interested in huge American cars, with bonnets you can use to play table tennis upon. When we think of Anglo universities, we associate them mostly with hyper-political correct hell holes, where hysterical Marxist students are on the lookout for statues to topple and expel grands from European intellectual history, because these are deemed “too white” or “associated with slavery”. David Hume, of all people, was the latest victim of the Anglo cancel culture.

If we study the original ranking from Singapore of best 240 universities or so, we see that the Region Europe has 108, North-America 64, Asia 51.

In the top 25 it is: Europe 15, North-America 9, Asia 1.

If you realize that the US owns the world’s reserve currency, a fact that according to some economists underlies an extra “undeserved” GDP of 35-40% (“we print, you work and deliver”), it is obvious that if the US loses this reserve currency status (mostly to Europe and to a lesser extent to China), that the US will fall deeply from the academic ranking as well, to the benefit of Europe and China/Asia.

One is reminded of that invention of the European Commission, the Olympic Medal Table of a somewhat different kind:

Pretty much represents the true distribution of general “civilizational strength” in the world of tomorrow, certainly if finally Russia will be admitted to the Common European Home.

Airbus Explores Formation Flying to Save Fuel

Large groups of birds often flyin V-shaped formation, in order to save energy. The leader does the heavy work, where the followers save energy in the slip stream. Airbus wants to explore that possibility for planes as well and expects to save 5-10%. The idea is that several planes from for instance several European airports synchronize their departures and assemble above the ocean and next fly to the US or elsewhere and save a significant amount of fuel.

[] – Waarom vliegtuigen mogelijk net als vogels in formatie gaan vliegen
[] – Formation flying

Maasvlakte-2 Indian Summer

Van Oord Nexus cable-layer, as well as jack-up vessel MPI Adventure, both Dutch-owned.

The last day of my holiday was spent in Rotterdam and Maasvlakte-2 reclaimed land and unexpectedly could make pictures of the Nexus, MPI Adventure, Haliade-X, Sif and Allseas Pioneering Spirit. The area is fizzling with economic activity, no wonder with a port that services a hinterland of 440 million people in continental Europe. Rotterdam is the largest harbor in the Atlantic world (EU+US) and not so long ago even the largest in the world. Today it is only #9, the 8 largest ones being situated in East-Asia. Should give you a clue where the center of economic gravity is moving towards. Hint: not America. These days the MPI Adventure is equipped with a so-called “Deep Dig-it” trencher (see vid below), that can make the seabed temporary “fluid”, in order to let a cable sink in at a depth of 5 meter. The MPI Adventure will be used in the coming months on behalf of the Hollandse Kust Zuid offshore wind project.

[] – Van Oord Nexus Cable-laying vessel
[] – TIV MPI Adventure
[Google Maps] – Rotterdam and Maasvlakte-2
[] – Windpark Hollandse Kust Zuid

Sif monopile production plant, as well as the largest wind turbine in the world today, the GE Haliade-X 12 MW turbine, currently being tested. Siemens is currently planning a 15 MW machines.

The Allseas Pioneering Spirit, the biggest ship ever built and finest example of Dutch maritime construction competence, but unfortunately currently doing nothing in the harbor. The ship completed most of North Stream-2 in record time, until the US intervened and threatened Allseas with sanctions and the company withdrew from the North Stream-2 project. Expect this ship to pick up work on North-Stream-2 again if the US sinks into social chaos later this year.

Read more…

Arctic Sea Ice Minimum 2020 at 3.7 m km2

This year the arctic sea ice minimum was at 3.7 million km2, the 2nd lowest in recorded history. That’s less than France. The cards for the ice are very bad. Expect a completely ice free Arctic in the summer in the not too distant future.

[] – “Diese Schlacht ist verloren” (The battle has been lost)

EU Claims Central Role in Global H2 Market


The European Commission has set out a detailed import-oriented strategy to shape the development of the hydrogen economy well beyond its borders…

The Commission’s import-oriented hydrogen strategy champions the creation of a global market. It hopes to encourage a shift towards carbon-neutrality beyond its borders and give the EU a leading role in the development of that market. The EU seems particularly attracted by North Africa’s abundant potential for renewable power production—with the region’s strong winds and ample sun coupled with available land.

[] – EU claims central role in global H2 market

World’s First Eco-Friendly Coffin.


Youtube text:

A Dutch inventor, Bob Hendrikx, has manufactured the world’s first mycelium-based coffin that decomposes bodies organically and allows for nutrients to be reabsorbed by the soil and the relevant organisms living in it. Bob is a graduate at the Delft University of Technology where he worked on producing a concept of the world’s first living architecture with mycelium. At present, he is a founder and bio designer at Loop, a startup specialising in making the mycelium-based coffins commercially feasible and available.

The product offered by Loop has been dubbed the “living cocoon” and is primarily composed of mycelium, the vegetative part of fungi that takes the form of a mass network of white filaments referred to as hyphae.

The first funeral with a mycelium-based coffin took place last week, in which an 82-year old woman was buried in the environmentally-conscious casket at Wesduin cemetery at The Hague. It is expected that the body will decompose within two to three years. In an exclusive interview on Thursday, Hendrikx commented: “A person lost his mom and for us, it was a milestone but also sort of an emotional moment because somebody’s actually using your product and you’re making them happy.”

The innovative coffin also features a moss bed, which lines the inside of the coffin to “start decomposing the body much faster than the normal process because this is the way nature intended it,” according to Hendrikx.

The production process can take several weeks and every mycelium-based coffin costs between €1,500 and €2,000 ($1,776 to $2,368). The mycelium is grown in the shape of a coffin and once ready, dried naturally which stops its growth. When exposed to groundwater, the mycelium comes alive, starting the breakdown process.

A Dutch funeral company has already included the mycelium-based coffin in their commercial offering.

Siemens Offshore Wind Converter Platform

German language videos. The purpose of building these huge structures at sea is to increase the voltage of the wind energy at the source and as such minimize the energy losses.

Agile Wind Power AG Markets Vertical Axis Wind Turbine

Sales pitch: 3 times less noise, no need to track the wind direction, less gearbox fatigue, less damage to bird population and more.

First prototype is being build in the German state of Nord-Rhein-Westfalen.

[] – Dieses Windrad soll dreimal leiser sein
[] – Vertical axis wind turbine


Read more…

Airbus Plans Hydrogen Planes

The European aircraft manufacturer Airbus is planning for 3 prototypes, equiped with hydrogen propulsion.

1. Turboprop – Two hybrid hydrogen turboprop engines, which drive the six bladed propellers, provide thrust. The liquid hydrogen storage and distribution system is located behind the rear pressure bulkhead.
2. Turbofan – Two hybrid hydrogen turbofan engines provide thrust. The liquid hydrogen storage and distribution system is located behind the rear pressure bulkhead.
3. Blended-Wing Body (BWB) – The exceptionally wide interior opens up multiple options for hydrogen storage and distribution. Here, the liquid hydrogen storage tanks are stored underneath the wings. Two hybrid hydrogen turbofan engines provide thrust.

[] – Airbus plant Wasserstoff-Flugzeug
[] – ZEROe, Towards the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft

The Soviets had a Tupolev-155 flying on hydrogen in 1988. Russian language video from what looks like an aircraft museum:

In the 1980s the russian aircraft producer Tupolev experimented with the use of LH2 in their aircraft. A Tupolev Tu-155 was rebuilt to run on the cryogenic fuel and proved that LH2 can produce sufficient thrust to power a commercial aircraft. Due to the extremely high hydrogen production prices present at that time, the project was unfortunately discontinued. The Tupolev study however did shed light on the great chemical properties of hydrogen. LH2 contains 2.8 times more energy than kerosene per unit mass and hence will save on aircraft weight. For the aerospace industry this is a great property as lightweight solutions are always highly preferred. On the other hand LH2 has very low energy density per unit volume meaning that for the same amount of energy LH2 will need four times more volume than kerosene.

[] – Liquid Hydrogen Powered Commercial Aircraft

GM Wireless EV BAttery

So, what’s the big deal? The new system reduces the amount of wiring need within an EV battery by up to 90%. That’s a big deal, which GM is happy to explain.

“This wireless system … will be a primary driver of GM’s ability to ultimately power many different types of electric vehicles from a common set of battery components,” the company states, adding that the system will “drive GM’s Ultium-powered EVs to market faster, as time won’t be needed to develop specific communications systems or redesign complex wiring schemes for each new vehicle.”

[] – With New Wireless EV Battery System, GM Is Determined To Kill Off Gasmobiles (Eventually)

New Huisman Skyhook 2,600 Ton Operational

[] – Huisman’s 2,600mt Skyhook crane has performed its first lift of offshore wind monopiles at a facility in China.

Faccin Group Wind Tower Manufacturing

[] – Global Leader in Wind Tower production chooses Faccin Group
[] – Company site

Denmark Approves 2 Energy Islands and 6 GW Wind + H2

Denmark, small country, huge energy footprint. It was Denmark that said “nej tak” to nuclear energy and paved the way for the spectacular rise of wind energy in the world today. And was rewarded for its efforts with 2 major companies: Vestas and Orsted, proving that you can harvest energy and money “out of thin air”.

Now they are at it again. The Danish government announced recently that it will build 2 energy islands in the North Sea and Baltic and if that weren’t enough, that will install no less than 6 GW wind power plus hydrogen capacity! Now you’re talking! The Danes think they can realize the giant wind parks with little or no subsidy and that market capital will suffice.

The idea is that these islands will be connected with the Netherlands and Poland resp. Expected completion date: 2030.

To give an idea of the boldness of the Danish plans, here Denmark in comparison to its much larger neighbors: orange is GDP, blue population.

[] – Denmark plans “energy islands” with 6GW of offshore wind
[] – Denmark plans to create energy islands in Baltic and North Sea

“It Will Take Decades for Autonomous Driving to Take Off”

Business Insider (BI) claims that it will take decades before autonomous driving will really take off and produced a flashy video to make the point. Are they right?

[] – Zelfrijdende auto’s? Dat duurt nog decennia volgens experts: dit is de reden.

Yes and no.

BI is talking about autonomous driving for individuals, replacing a traditional privately-owned car by a privately-owned autonomous driving car, fit to master all circumstances, the old-school car can end up in. THAT model is indeed NOT ready for prime time.

However, there is an alternative, public rather than private, approach to autonomous driving. The slowly evolving model. Here for instance is a map of all highways in the Netherlands:

These roads are well-maintained, with uniform, well-defined infrastructure, have no traffic lights, are all at least 2 lanes wide, connecting all larger cities. How about seeing these roads as virtual railway tracks for vans, like these:

Autonomous driving technology is meanwhile advanced enough to have these kind of vans, driving up and down these major roads in the slow lane, at say 80 kmh, with no overtaking. Just follow the truck in front of you. Start with one road, as an experiment, for instance the A2, between Amsterdam and Maastricht, via Utrecht, Den Bosch, Eindhoven, Roermond. Wannabee passengers can buy a ticket via the internet and download it onto their phones. Every seat has a door of its own, to be opened via the bar code on the phone. Vans start and stop at well-defined bus-stop-like passenger platforms along the highway, that are accessible with regular bus services. Passengers-in-waiting can track their van. The fleet of transport vans are owned and maintained by private companies and are to be seen as public transport. This is a perfect way of acquiring experience with this technology and help it to evolve further.

This is of course a model, the BI yuppies with their business cards, stock options and strict time schedules hadn’t thought about, because they would look down upon such a model. Isn’t that socialist, yuck?!

However, this model would very well realize the incredible valuable promise autonomous driving entails, namely affordable, fine-grained private mobility, without the necessity of actually owning an expensive car and congesting a parking place in the city for 95% of the time.

Yes, our BI business yup at 100 kmh (max. speed in Holland), alone in his leased business car would overtake grandma Jansen in her 80 kmh van, she shares with 8 others… but she would be reading a book, where he is wasting his time with staring at the bumper of the lease-vehicle in front of him, owned by another BI business brat. And she is sharing the cost with 8 others, but only during the time she actually sits in the van. Per kilometre, she pays up to ten times less than the yup and has valuable, stress-less time for free.

Autonomous driving is about getting the ball rolling and not about waiting for some imaginary “Level 5” 100% solution from the start. The solution is step-by-step, incremental.

Sorry Business Insider, no cigar.

[deepresource] – “By 2030 You Won’t Own a Car”

Stella Solar Car Update

Solar Team Eindhoven still exists. After having participated four times in the Solar Challenge in Australia… and winning four times… the future is open. There is some doubt about participating for a fifth time in 2021, been there, done that. The temptation is to instead focus on efforts to further professionalize the solar car technology rather than to participate in yet another race. Solar cars need to become mainstream. For that purpose a spin-off of Solar Team Eindhoven developed the “Lightyear One”, a car model that will go into production and first delivery will be early 2021:

[deepresource] – World’s First Solar Car Presented in the Netherlands

Solar Team Eindhoven presented the latest update of their “Stella Era” model. The car is able to autonomously search for a “place in the sun” and re-park itself. Furthermore, the possibilities of the car acting as a source of energy, like for other cars, have been implemented.

[] – Project site

[] – Zonneauto als accu op wielen, ‘altijd en overal stroom’
[] – Stella (solar vehicles)

CO2-Shaming in a Single Graph

De belangrijkste bijdrage van Nederland/Europa aan beteugeling van de broeikasgasemissies is betaalbare CO2-arme technologie te ontwikkelen die wereldwijd kan worden uitgerold. Offshore wind is voorbeeld. Andere suggesties?

[] – Martien Visser

Share Renewable Energy in the Netherlands Since 2014

De update van de ‘moeder aller grafieken’: het percentage hernieuwbare energie in NL per dag. De topper was zaterdag 22 augustus, met 15,8%.
Zie ook het effect van de corona-dip in het energieverbruik, terwijl de hernieuwbare energieproductie gewoon doorliep.

The Netherlands is obliged by the EU to achieve 14% renewable primary energy by the end of 2020. Gonna be a close call.

[] – Martien Visser

Ontwikkeling Aardgasverbruik Nederland tot 2030

In 2030 heeft NL volgens naar verwachting 30 miljard m3 gas nodig om haar economie draaiende en haar gebouwen warm te houden. Dat is dan 35% van het primaire energieverbruik

[] – Martien Visser

Position Paper Lobby Group Hydrogen Europe


Hydrogen Europe is the European Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association. It currently represents more than 160 industry companies, 83 research organizations as well as 21 National Associations. The association partners with the European Commission in the innovation programme Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU).

Hydrogen Europe serves two main goals. As a trade association in the classical sense we play a crucial role in promoting best practice, helping companies become more competitive and formulating effective public policy. Hydrogen Europe has the tremendous potential to act as a coordinated voice of industry and research when talking to policy makers and great value in terms of quickly disseminating messages about regulatory decisions and policies to our members. Moreover, as a trade association, we provide the necessary intelligence and a solid network in order to support our members.

In innovation, our association partners with the FCH JU. The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) is a unique public private partnership supporting research, technological development and demonstration (RTD) activities in fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies in Europe. Its aim is to accelerate the market introduction of these technologies, realizing their potential as an instrument in achieving a carbon-lean energy system. The FCH JU under Horizon 2020 has a total budget of €1.33 billion, provided on a matched basis between the EU represented by the European Commission, industry, and research. The projects under the FCH JU will improve performance and reduce the cost of products as well as demonstrate on a large scale the readiness of the technology to enter the market in the fields of transport.

[] – Hydrogen Europe position paper (15p pdf)
[] – About us.

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