Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the month “February, 2021”

Siemens-Gamesa Hot Rocks Storage & Hydrogen Alternative

Siemens-Gamesa has developed an electric-to-thermal energy storage system, that has the potential to repurpose existing fossil fuel power stations, while reusing up to 80% of the existing equipment. The “fuel” this time won’t come from fossil, but from hot stones, the heat of which is used as input for the generators. The stone storage is heated using renewable electricity. The great advantage is that conventional power stations don’t need to be written off prematurely, but will be given a second lease of economic life. A pilot-project in Hamburg-Altenwerder, operational since June 2019, is able to store 130 MWh of heat and return 30 MWh of electricity in return.

Comment: the efficiency is low, but so is the storage cost. This could be especially interesting for locations where renewable electricity is dirt cheap, like solar electricity in the Arabian desert or Australia. The reuse of existing conventional power stations extends their economic life and could be a selling point for this storage technology. For the rest, it needs to compete with hydrogen, pumped hydro, CAES and others, and it will require a financial analysis to make a decision.

[] – Siemens Gamesa: ‘Our hot rocks can be used as an alternative to green hydrogen for zero-emissions industrial heat’
[] – Siemens Gamesa: Utilities are lining up for our €40-50/MWh long-duration thermal energy storage
[] – Electric Thermal Energy Storage
[] – Electric Thermal Energy Storage (ETES) System, Hamburg
[] – Siemens tries to enter the ETES market, but offers 100% in, 45% out

Offshore Wind Noise Mitigation System

It is common knowledge that too loud noise is bad for the hearing function and in the long run could even make you deaf. Note that that noise is transmitted via air. Imagine the consequences if noise is transmitted through water, that has a 1000 times higher density! Exactly that is happening when the offshore wind industry rams monopiles into the sea bed with bad consequences for the marine life in the direct vicinity.

[] – Project in Beeld: Noise Mitigation System (NMS)

“Netherlands Europe’s New Wind Power King”

The Dutch Lion is roaring!

[] – Netherlands dethrones UK and Germany as Europe’s new wind power king
[deepresource] – Global Offshore Wind Champions 2020
[deepresource] – Gold Mine North Sea
[deepresource] – First Pictures of Borssele 1&2 Wind Farm

And the country only just got started:

Borssele just got completed, Hollandse Kust is next.

Wolfgang Ischinger Proposes Nord Stream 2 Compromise

[] – A Possible Solution to the Nord Stream 2 Conundrum
[] – Wolfgang Ischinger


As long as the pipeline gets completed and major continental European geopolitical facts are created.

Interesting new perspective:

Obviously, state-of-the-art technology has been used and the pipeline can transport up to 80% hydrogen. It is the compressors that would have to be adapted, which means 20% in additional costs.

[] – What if Nord Stream 2 transports hydrogen?

Russia has endless empty landmasses, without NIMBYs, that could have huge wind farms installed that produce hydrogen, that could be pumped into the pipeline, providing a Russian source of revenue for after the end of the oil age, when America will be history and containing China the new challenge of Paris-Berlin-Moscow.

Chinese geopolitical visions of the near future, centered around their New Silk Road project, a closet-anti-Anglo Eurasian overland strategy. The last lines in the sidebar on the left read: “The Iron Silk Road will interlink about 75 per cent of the world’s population in more than 40 countries in Asia and Europe. China hopes to complete its massive infrastructure project within ten years. It will include at least one line running 320 km/hour and will shorten land-transport time between London and Beijing from 15 to only two days – if Europe is willing to connect, that is.” Of course, Europe should be willing as it would terminate the US empire, with Europe returning to world prominence, where it belongs, based on its immense heritage, second to none.

Just sell the pipeline as a weapon against climate change.

Three New German Offshore Wind Tenders (958 MW)


– ca. 35 km north of the island of Borkum (N-3.7 and N-3.8 sites)
– ca. 40 km NE of Rügen (O-1.3 site)

Operational due date: 2026

[] – Germany Puts Three New Offshore Wind Sites Out to Tender

New EU Energy Labelling System

The EU has designed a new energy labelling system that will come into effect by March 1, 2021. The new system has a seven-grade scale, ranging from A to G and sets the bar higher than the previous, confusing one. The new label contains more information, including a QR-code that can be scanned with a smartphone, leading to even more on-line information.

Initially, the label will only apply to limited categories like fridges, dishwashers, displays and lighting. Other categories will follow later.

[] – In focus: A new generation of EU energy labels
[] – A+++ ist bald passé

Tiny Houses Trending in the Netherlands

Some call it making the best of bad circumstances or a dog house for humans, others celebrate it as a stepping stone towards something bigger, yet others praise the flexibility of being able to almost exactly choose where you’re going to live: tiny houses is definitely trending in the overpopulated Netherlands. Students, starters, migrants, nature lovers, drop-outs see this as an opportunity to find a relatively comfortable home, even if small. The trend of working from home since Covid, has given extra impetus to the tiny houses phenomenon. And it is still much better than being homeless, a trailer park or even mom’s basement.

[] – 10.000 tiny houses in de Peel

Tiny Houses are very affordable and can be realized in a very short time. This week it was announced that no less than 10,000 of them will be placed, scattered all over the Peel area. The idea is that agricultural land has to be given up and replaced by nature, with millions of trees… and tiny houses. Farmers are to become landlords, overseers and maintainers of the landscape, becoming responsible to deliver land, water, electricity, internet and sewage. The average price is about 30,000 euro or 1/12 (!) of the average price of a home in the Netherlands (365.000 euro, Q4-2020). The foundation can be very light, for instance if screw-techniques are applied. This could be acceptable for many people for their first few years of adult life until their careers take off. It’s a minimalistic, essential life, with little “stuff”. Just a couch, a bureau, a bed, a cooking corner, a toilet and shower and that’s it. You really have to think about what you want to put in your house and more important, what not.

[] – Tiny-house movement

Fleur (21) build this herself

Global Offshore Wind Champions 2020

Country Power (MW)
China 3,060
Netherlands 1,500
Belgium 706
UK 483
Germany 237

[] – China Close to Overtaking UK in Offshore Wind Capacity Rankings

Monopile Installation and Extraction Test

Installation and extractions of a Monopile without any additional lifting tools or installation frame at the Maasvlakte near Rotterdam. Used equipment SINGLE CV-320 VLT-U.

It’s wonderful to install new offshore wind capacity and cleaning it up afterwards, is admittedly as sexy as a funeral, but at some point wind towers and their foundations need to be removed, after ca. 2-3 decades of service [*]. CAPE Holland is a specialist in the required extraction tools.

[] – CAPE Holland Vibro Lifting Tool (VLT)

This video illustrates another very important point regarding offshore wind energy than merely cleaning up the mess behind you…

Detractors of wind energy love to push this picture from some Hawaiian wind energy mess, that proves nothing, other than that the sloppy, entropy producing Aloha crowd doesn’t like to clean up the mess behind their muumuu-covered behinds and that the construction of solid wind turbines is better left to Europeans.

… namely the huge hidden energy subsidy behind the second generation offshore wind foundations. Let us explain.

Every new monopile and tower began its life as iron ore, like these taconite pellets, with an iron content of about 30%:

These pallets enter a blast furnace that is operated on coal:

[] – Blast furnace

This btw is exactly the reason why the uninformed fossil fuel groupies, usually of Anglo extraction, keep denouncing wind energy, because, you see, “you need fossil fuel to build wind turbines”:

[deepresource] – “Yabut… To Get Wind Power You Need Fossil Fuel”
[deepresource] – Mark P. Mills – Hack for the Fossil Fuel Industry
[deepresource] – Prejudices From Amateurs Against Wind Energy

The important point to make though is that the inclusion of fossil fuel in the production of windmills only applies to the first generation, that is the conversion of iron ore into steel. For the second generation windmill, the old monopile and tower can be recycled and the recycling of scrap metal happens, not in a coal-fired blast furnace, but in an electric arc furnace:

[] – Electric arc furnace

And that electric arc furnace can be operated by electricity from wind turbines, eliminating the necessity of having to use of fossil fuel. Thereby we have created a renewable energy closed-loop. And if that weren’t enough blessings already, recycling scrap metal into new steel in an electric arc furnace takes about ten times less energy per unit of mass than it takes to create steel from iron ore, making a mockery of the idea that wind energy doesn’t have sufficient EROI.

[] – Iron ore
[deepresource] – Siemens Reports EROI Onshore Wind of 50 or Larger
[deepresource] – EROI of Offshore Wind
[deepresource] – EROI of Offshore Wind Power [Continued]

Dismantling of a small windfarm near Medemblik in the Netherlands, in 2016, after 24 years of service.

[*] – Windturbines are typically calculated to have an economic life span of ca. 25 years, as a sort of guarantee from the producer towards the operator of the wind farm. However, this says little about the true potential technical life span:

[deepresource] – World’s First Offshore Windfarm Vindeby Decommissioned
[deepresource] – Offshore Wind Life Expectancy
[deepresource] – Prof Gordon Hughes on Wind Turbine Lifespan

So far, merely two offshore wind farms have been dismantled, a Dutch and a Danish one, after resp. 24 and 26 years of service. Both could have easily carried on for many extra years if not decades, but the operators decided not to bother, because the constituting 500 kW wind turbines were too small to be economical in the light of new turbines that were t least 10 times as big. Superseded by innovation, not decay.

Once again our favorite anecdotal counter example of wind energy longevity:

This is the oldest, still functioning windmill in the Netherlands, in Zeddam. It was built in 1441 at the latest, long before America was ever heard of. It still works, for tourists on Wednesday. We’re pretty sure that no guarantees were given by the builders that the mill would still be working, more than half a millennium later. Likewise, the Eiffel Tower was intended to last for a couple of years. It will probably last for 4 centuries, provided nobody nukes Paris. Likewise, these 25 years “economic life span” for modern wind turbines are merely a guarantee and say little about how long they will really function… 50 years? 100 years? Maintenance is everything:

SiF Monopile Production Track Record

Bladt Industries Monopile and Transition Pieces Production

The market for offshore wind monopiles and transitions pieces in 2019 was virtually controlled by five companies:

  • Sif (Rotterdam-Netherlands)
  • Lamprell (UAE)
  • Navantia-Windar (Spain)
  • Bladt Industries (Aalborg-Denmark)
  • EEW (Rostock-Germany)


[] – Bladt Expanding Its Facilities to Accommodate Production of Giant OWF Foundations
[] – The Monopile Monopoly (2016)
[] – Bladt company site
[] – EEW EPC company site
[] – SiF Group company site
[] – Bladt Industries
[] – Lamprell
[] – Sif, EEW, and Bladt Industries Suppliers Ørsted’s Borssele 1 & 2
[] – Monopile Foundation

Ørsted | Documentaire Windpark Borssele 1&2

[] – Bouw van grootste windpark op zee is afgerond

“The Entire US Grid System is Broken”

[source] Texas, February 2021

Says not some European *sshole with an imperial ax to grind, but an American.

Dear Americans, here some free advice from Europe, after all that’s what older brothers are for. How about putting plans to build that 50th aircraft carrier and hypersonic missile interceptor on ice and begin to replace these Fred Flintstone power stations with something that works?

[] – It’s not just Texas, the entire US grid system is broken. More people will die if it is not redesigned

[] – “Keenly-awaited New York offshore wind round may not happen until 2022: BOEM”

Oopsie, this gives the European offshore wind industry two valuable extra years head start.

[deepresource] – European Renewable Success in the US – “Seven Brothers?”

Nuclear Power Dead as a Brick

After the Japanese had withdrawn from building nuclear infrastructure in the UK, EDF of France is willing to do the job of building Sizewell C, price tag £25bn for 3.2 GW. Except, the financier L&G Capital got wet feet and refuses to fund the project. Reason:

Responding to enquiries by The Independent, an L&G spokesperson said: “As we transition to a net zero carbon world, Legal & General Capital is playing an important role in investing in renewable infrastructure and clean technology across low-carbon heat, transport, and power generation.

Translation: oil, gas and nuclear simply lost to renewable energy, because of price and because renewables won the PR-battle.


[] – Investors ‘shun’ Sizewell C nuclear power station project
[] – Sizewell C nuclear power station
[deepresource] – UK Probably Opts for New Nuclear Power Station
[deepresource] – Lazard – Renewable Energy Cheapest by Far

“Why Hydrogen Will Beat Batteries”

Dutch language video

This gentleman makes the case that in the long term, hydrogen will beat batteries. His reasoning:

1. Battery materials, like lithium, are relatively scarce, are obtained by environmentally dubious methods and have limited life span.
2. With solar panels getting cheaper and cheaper, there is no lower limit to electricity prices, other than 0,- [*] The price of renewable electricity will mainly consist of the conversion cost of dirt cheap intermittent electricity from the desert into hydrogen. In other words, the cost of a kg hydrogen will mainly consist of the cost of the electrolyzer and transportation of the hydrogen in one form or another [**] to world markets.

If he is right, and he very well could be, than Tesla and European car companies are betting on the wrong horse and the Japanese on the right one.

[] – Be water: Japan’s big, lonely bet on hydrogen
[deepresource] – More Solar Price Erosion – Abu Dhabi 2 GW, 1.24 Eurocent/kWh

Actually, there is a case to be made that the car has its best days behind it, with the advent of the autonomous driverless car robot, making private car ownership superfluous, with enormous (positive) consequences for city planning, not to mention family budgets, the environment and resource depletion.

There is a reason why so many people consider Venice to be the most beautiful city in the world; not just because all these buildings are so beautiful, but because there are no bloody cars:

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

[*] we foresee a situation that in the near future the price of a solar panel will mainly consist of the price of installing a support structure directed at the sun and able to withstand the wind, with the cost of the active photo-voltaic layer being that of a thin plastic sheet, you wrap your sandwich in.
[**] As gas, powder (a), pasta (b), ammonia (c), methane (d), formic acid (e), (f) methanol or several other options.

a) Borohydride
b) Powerpasta
c) Ammonia
d) Methane
e) Formic acid
f) Methanol

Fraunhofer Hydrogen Powerpaste

The Fraunhofer Institute presents a way to store hydrogen at low pressures in magnesium hydride. This can be used as fuel for small vehicles like motor-cycles. The fuel comes in the form of a cartridge.

[] – Hydrogen-powered drives for e-scooters
[] – Magnesium hydride
[] – Vul voortaan je tank met waterstofpasta

New PV-Solar Materials

Dutch language video

Physicist Dave Blank of the TU-Twente in the Netherlands explains why the photo-voltaic effect isn’t necessarily confined to semi-conductors like silicon.

Classic solar cells require a metal mesh to conduct the electrons that are split of from the crystal due to the impact of light. Metal however is not transparent for light, reducing the electron yield. What you really want is materials that are both transparent and conductive.

Blank draws a comparison between an Indonesian treat with a Dutch name, the spekkoek, a left over the colonial era. The cake is layered and consists of ingredients you wouldn’t want to eat separately, but in combination are delicious:

Blank uses the spekkoek as a model for new materials to be applied in photovoltaic technology, where the desired photovoltaic effect results from combining (ultra-thin) layers of a few atoms thick. These layers are produced using a laser, ejecting atoms from a source medium, that are deposited on a substrate. By shooting electrons from the side it is possible to accurately control the thickness of each atom layer.

To make a long story short, by combining layers, one can obtain physical properties that the individual layers do not possess, like conductivity at the interface of two non-conductors, that are additionally both transparent. All of a sudden, plastics for instance could become materials useful in electronics and solar technology. Think windows as solar panels, windows in homes, cars and busses.

[source] In the works: a transparent smartphone, enabled by plastics that receive properties, useful in electronics.

By piling layer upon layer, each with different properties, it is possible to absorb a far greater part of the entire radiation spectrum.

To be continued.

[] – 580.000 euro voor onderzoek aan alternatieve zonnecellen
[] – Dave Blank “mr. Nano” retires as professor UTwente
[] – Core Dutch nano-technology program
[] – Spekkoek

20 MW PEM-Electrolyzer in Canada

Air Liquide has completed the construction of the world’s largest PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) electrolyzer. Supplied with renewable energy, this unit is now producing up to 8.2 tonnes per day of low-carbon hydrogen in Bécancour, Québec. With this large-scale investment, the Group confirms its long-term commitment to the hydrogen energy markets and its ambition to be a major player in the supply of low-carbon hydrogen.

It is very difficult these days to operate in any renewable energy field and NOT break a world record. The honeur du jour goes to French multinational Air Liquide and its brand new PEM-electrolyzer of 20 MW, fed by hydroelectricity, which they in Quebec have in abundance.

[] – Air Liquide
[] – Polymer electrolyte membrane electrolysis (PEM)

The US Backs Off From Nord Stream 2?

Nord Stream 2 pipelines in waiting, Sassnitz, Ruegen, Germany

Signs are that Biden isn’t keen to risk an all-out trade war with the EU over the construction of the controversial pipeline in the Baltic. This is good news for hard-core continental Europeans, like yours faithfully, who always thought that Europe is a little too good to be a US-colony.

While we wholeheartedly support the energy transition, it is illusionary to assume we can do without fossil fuel, not for the foreseeable future. Of all options, fossil or nuclear, natural gas is the least problematic and the Russians have always proven to be a reliable and affordable supplier.

And since we see Russia as a natural future ally of the EU, unlike Brexit-Britain and with the US in a state of unraveling, comparable to the USSR-1988, an EU-Russian alliance will be necessary to contain the next geopolitical #1 country China, enabling continental Europe to crawl from under the shadow of the US empire and even reverse roles between the European Mother Civilization and a former colony, this is very good news, if this news gets confirmed.

The wine will be tasting excellent tonight.

[] – Biden silent on sanctions as Nord Stream 2 speeds ahead
[] – Republicans sound alarm over major U-turn by Biden admin on Russia-to-Europe gas pipeline
[] – Biden-Deal mit Merkel? Plötzlich schweigen die USA zu Nord Stream 2
[] – Nato alliance experiencing brain death, says Macron
[] – Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, “Last Chance”
Schroeder, who once remarked that “the only thing he likes about America is Elvis Presley“, advocates abolishing NATO, an organization that has become obsolete since the demise of the Soviet block.
[] – Lord Heseltine suggests Brexit vote allows Germany to win WW2 (in extra time)
[] – China overtakes US as EU’s biggest trading partner

Neo-Gaullist geopolitics in action. French, German and Russian politicians plotting in Sochi to refuse cooperation with the US and their ill-fated Iraq-safari. Those were the best years in the political life of Vladimir Putin, where he began to dream that Russia could finally be a member of the Common European Home. Those dreams were temporarily dashed by US-drone Merkel, but with the take-over of closet “Putin-VersteherArmin Laschet, perhaps we’ll see a reset in EU-Russian relations, so Europe can finally realize the Gaullist dream of Paris-Berlin-Moscow as the next planetary #1.

First Passenger Flight With Sustainable Synthetic Kerosene

Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure:

For the first time worldwide, a passenger flight partly flown on sustainably produced synthetic kerosene, was carried out in The Netherlands. This was announced during the international conference on Synthetic Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) in The Hague. Shell, producer of the sustainable kerosene and KLM, operating the flight, presented this showcase during the meeting initiated by Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Dutch Minister for Infrastructure and Water Management.

In what was an obvious PR-event, KLM flew from Amsterdam to Madrid with 500 liters of synthetic fuel in the tanks (mixed with a multiple amount of kerosene, but no need to stress that too much). The synthetic kerosene was produced from renewable electricity, water and CO2.

[deepresource] – Amsterdam Airport Carbon-Neutral?

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