Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the month “July, 2021”

Copper Becoming Scarce

Copper prices have surged in 2021. The base metal remains in high demand, much thanks to its need in green energy projects and electric cars. In May 2021, commodities analysts at Goldman Sachs called copper ‘the new oil.’ That’s because electric cars need several times more copper than their gas-powered counterparts. And power grids getting electricity from wind, solar and hydro sources also need copper—much more than the industry is currently producing. Here’s how copper became so important to the world economy and the green energy revolution.

The energy transition is not just about swapping fossil fuel for renewable electricity/hydrogen. As the Club of Rome predicted, several commodities will become scarce in the 21st century. The task ahead of us is not merely to decarbonize the economy, it also means do the same with less… or doing less altogether, using the last trump card we have, which the Club mentioned didn’t foresee: technology.

They never for instance anticipated in 1968-1972 that the world would be interconnected with an information system (“internet”), that enables society to cancel most offices and the corresponding daily commute. The Covid pandemic did the rest, to help change behavior patterns. They would also not have anticipated the possibility of autonomous driving car robots, eliminating the necessity of most private car ownership and outsource supply of public transport to companies, that own and maintain fleets of vans, the numbers of which can be a fraction of the current global fleet of sedans of 1 billion, with vastly smaller embedded and operation energy footprint and resource.

[] – Club of Rome
[] – The Limits to Growth
[] – The world risks ‘running out of copper’
[] – Goldman Sachs: Historic Copper Shortage Loom As Prices Rocket
[deepresource] – “By 2030 You Won’t Own a Car”

Read more…

Lunar Energy – Orbital O2

The Orbital O2 is a floating 2MW tidal turbine that began generating power for the UK grid in July 2021. It is currently the most powerful tidal turbine in the world and is anchored in the Fall of Warness off Eday, Orkney Islands. It consists of a floating platform supporting 2 submersed nacelles rated 1MW each. The turbines are bi-directional, producing on both a rising and falling tide. With a 2MW output, it can produce enough electricity for 2000 homes per year.

[] – The world’s most powerful tidal turbine
[] – Orbital O2
[deepresource] – Orbital O2 – World’s Largest Tidal Turbine Launched

Carbon Farming – Storing CO2 in the Soil as Biomass

Carbon Farming is a new way of farming to sequestrate carbon in the soil. Carbon that otherwise ends up as CO2 in our atmosphere, causing climate change. There are many ways to do this: from small adjustments on farm level – like applying fertilizers rich in carbon, reduced or no-tillage, or planting cover crops – to changes in the entire farming system – like enriched crop rotation or agroforestry.

[] – What is carbon farming?
[] – Carbon farming
[] – EU sets the carbon farming initiative in motion
[] – Carbon farming: koolstofboeren in Zeeland

Read more…

Sign of the Times – Olympic Hydrogen Flame

UAE First Green Hydrogen Production Site

Siemens/DEWA project in Dubai, pretty impressive pictures. Formerly useless deserts becoming all of a sudden very interesting, from an energy perspective.

Sheikh Rashid is quoted to have said:

“My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I ride a Mercedes, my son rides a Land Rover, and my grandson is going to ride a Land Rover, but my great-grandson is going to have to ride a camel again.”

Could be too pessimistic.

[] – Dubai inaugurates green hydrogen plant
[] – Green Hydrogen Project: clean fuel from solar power in Dubai

Formation European Offshore Wind Foundation Alliance

Five European offshore wind foundation companies have formed an alliance, named OWFA, in order to streamline coordination with the EU and kindly remind the latter of its ambitious 2050 decarbonization program (and shove in the billions while they are at it).

The objectives in their own words:

  • Advocate for EU policy supporting the ramp-up of offshore wind in line with the Green Deal targets and adding European jobs in line with the Industrial Strategy;
  • Ensure foundation suppliers take the lead in setting standards and certification processes that concern them;
  • Establish a level playing field ensuring the sustainable manufacturing of offshore wind foundations;
  • Make sure EU member states maintain sufficient maritime space for offshore wind projects.


[] – OWFA consortium site

Introduction to ITER

The ITER Talks is a series of lectures on the Science and Technology of ITER and fusion, recorded by experts that are working on the ITER project. The lectures will span the science, technology, engineering, and project management challenges and other aspects of this complex endeavour. New ITER Talks will be posted periodically.

In the first episode meet Laban Coblentz – Head of Communication at ITER Organization. He will introduce the ITER project and explain in clear and simple terms what ITER is all about. What does ITER look like today? How should we understand the energy dilemma – and what is fusion energy? Find out more about ITER and how it can help us overcome some of the world’s biggest challenges. You could not find a better speaker to tell you the story about ITER and what it means for you and the future!

Repsol Embraces Renewable Energy Transition

Another major European fossil fuel energy company changes course. This was from 26 November 2020:

Repsol today unveiled its 2021-2025 Strategic Plan which will transform the company in the following years, accelerating the energy transition… The new strategy outlines a challenging roadmap with more ambitious intermediate emissions cuts targets to successfully achieve zero net emissions by 2050. Repsol will decarbonize its asset portfolio and establish a new operating model. The new strategic plan contemplates investment of €18.3 billion between 2021 and 2025, of which €5.5 billion – 30% – will be spent on low-carbon businesses

[] – Repsol’s new Strategic Plan accelerates the energy transition
[] – Repsol

Repsol S.A. is a Spanish energy and petrochemical company based in Madrid. It is engaged in worldwide upstream and downstream activities. In the 2020 Forbes Global 2000, Repsol was ranked as the 645th-largest public company in the world. It has more than 24,000 employees worldwide. It is vertically integrated and operates in all areas of the oil and gas industry, including exploration and production, refining, distribution and marketing, petrochemicals, power generation and trading.

Harvard Breakthrough Lithium Solid State Battery

Is there anybody who doesn’t work on storage?

“A lithium-metal battery is considered the holy grail for battery chemistry because of its high capacity and energy density,” said Xin Li, associate professor of materials science at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS). “But the stability of these batteries has always been poor.”

Now, Li and his team have designed a stable, lithium-metal, solid-state battery that can be charged and discharged at least 10,000 times — far more cycles than have been previously demonstrated — at a high current density. The researchers paired the new design with a commercial high energy density cathode material.

This battery technology could increase the lifetime of electric vehicles to that of the gasoline cars — 10 to 15 years — without the need to replace the battery. With its high current density, the battery could pave the way for electric vehicles that can fully charge within 10 to 20 minutes.

[] – Dynamic stability design strategy for lithium metal solid state batteries
[] – Harvard researchers design long-lasting, stable, solid-state lithium battery to fix 40-year problem
[] – Solid-state battery

Italian Energy Dome Announces $50-60/MWh CO2-Battery

Italian start-up Energy Dome says it can deliver “CO2-batteries” in a few years, with a storage cost of $50-60/MWh, halving the cost of lithium-ion and that comes with a round-trip efficiency of 75-80%. The first module will come a a scale of 25MW/200MWh.

In Energy Done’s thermodynamic storage system, CO2 oscillates between a state of gas or liquid. CO2 is used to avoid extreme cryogenic temperatures and operates in a closed-system.

Core data: 1 kg CO2 has a volume between 1.3 liter (compressed at 70 bar and ambient temperature) or 550 liters (expanded). Energy density: 66.7 kWh/m3.

A first pilot of 2.5MW/4MWh will be built in Sardinia.

[] – New CO2 battery will make wind and solar dispatchable ‘at an unprecedented low price’
[] – Company site

Charging a Car Battery in 5 Minutes

German language video

German battery giant Varta plans to enter the lucrative market for e-vehicles and claims to have a battery, with which a car battery can be charged within 6 minutes. If that were the case, the victory of the battery over alternative power forms, like hydrogen, would almost be certain.

Varta is not alone, competitors in the rapid-charging segment are Tesla and the Israeli company StoreDot. StoreDot expects market introduction of their “5 minutes product” by 2024; the company can point to cooperation with BP, Samsung and Daimler, as well as the large Chinese battery company EVE Energy. The architecture of the new battery is relatively simple and based on nanotechnology. Existing production lines for lithium-ion-batteries can be retrofitted.

It looks as if the battery technology will be a few years ahead of the required charging infrastructure, able to deliver 150 kW or more. Perhaps it would be a good idea to bury new power lines next to highways, to cope with the to be expected strong increase in demand for electricity for transport purposes. Build charging stations along the highway, replacing gasoline fuel stations. This would eliminate the need to have hundreds of thousands of charging points, littered all over the country. In this way, the conventional grid could be kept separate from the “highway grid”.

[] – Vartas Batteriezelle für E-autos soll in 6 Minuten geladen sein
[] – Varta steigt in die E-Mobilität ein
[] – Introducing V3 Supercharging
[] – StoreDot belooft een oplaadtijd van 5 minuten

UK Considering Highway Overhead Powerlines

Overhead power lines for trucks on the A5, south of Frankfurt.

Lorries powered by overhead electric cables could run on Britain’s motorways as part of a push to ‘decarbonise’ road freight. A trial scheme has been proposed for a 12-mile stretch of the M180 near Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, which would receive £2million of government funding and could be operational by 2024.

Highway overhead power lines make perfect sense, not in the least because there will be no NIMBYs around, to protest against these stealth power lines, a major problem, especially in Germany. Also, from an energy efficiency point of view, this is excellent. Sending electricity from wind turbines or solar panels directly towards e-engines, can happen almost without losses. Trucks merely need small batteries to bridge the distance between warehouse and highway; no need for massive amount of charging stations either. All it takes is the electrification of the existing national highway system

[] – The truck that thinks it’s a tram! Lorries could run on overhead power lines motorways in latest green bid to ‘decarbonise’ road freight
[] – Electric road
[] – Trolleytruck
[] – Im Oberleitungs-Lkw über die A1: Erstaunlich unspektakulär
[] – Elektro-Highway im Vollbetrieb

Another example in Germany: the A1, north of Hamburg.

Example in Sweden. In all cases mentioned, Siemens plays a major part.

Russian Ambitions to Become Major EU Hydrogen Supplier

[source] Vladimir Putin and Anatoly Chubais

MOSCOW, July 26. /TASS/. Russia will be able to occupy the developing European hydrogen market, if it creates an efficient hydrogen industry, special envoy of the Russian President for relations with international organizations on achievement of sustainable development goals Anatoly Chubais said on Monday… According to Chubais, Russia’s share of the European hydrogen market could amount to $20-30 bln… When asked about the preferred technology of hydrogen production in Russia… “It is right for Russia to start with blue [hydrogen] and then gradually increase the share of green”… But in the future, electrolysis plus renewable energy will provide economic benefits, he noted. “Russia has fantastic opportunities for renewable energy. Russia is the number one country in the world in terms of wind potential,” Chubais said.

Well, mr Chubais, what are you waiting for? The advantage Russia has, is a vast pipe-line network, that can be reused for hydrogen delivery to Europe. Western Europe has space problems, that could prevent the EU to achieve 100% renewable energy production within its own borders, and if somebody else can produce cheaper, why not? 100% decarbonization remains the goal, but that doesn’t necessarily imply 100% autarkic hydrogen production.

[] – Russia has chance to take over European hydrogen market
[] – Anatoly Chubais

Eni Expanding in France and Spain

It’s not just Vestas and Siemens, you know… Italian oil major Eni is boosting its investments into renewable energy projects around the world. Like in France and Spain, where it recently acquired 4.2 GW of operational or in advanced stage of development projects.

Continental European countries are conquering global renewable energy markets by storm. In the 17th century, it was the Netherlands and its iconic windmills that enabled the Dutch Golden Age. In the 19th century, it was coal and steam that enabled the British Empire. In the 20th century, it was oil and gas that enabled the US Empire, that is now walking on its last legs. American hegemony will be replaced by a multi-polar world order: a European world (including Russia and parts of a Balkanized North-America), a Chinese world, a Muslim world, an African world, a Hindu world, etc. “World’s” defined by historic legacy and identity, rather than the untenable material progress of the past four centuries and its perpetual economic growth.

[source] 400 years of Modernity spearheaded by three white, protestant, capitalist, Anglo empires. The often overlooked aspect that enabled these empires was its new energy source. Historians are seldom engineers, to their own detriment.

We’ll leave it to you as an exercise to figure out how the 21st century will look like, energy-wise. But it is too early for the likes of Donald Rumsfeld to write off “old Europe”. Donald Rumsfeld b.t.w. recently died… of old age.

[] – Eni boosts Spanish and French renewable portfolio with ‘strategic’ gigascale buy-ups
[] – Eni to buy Italian wind portfolio from Glennmont in green drive
[] – Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi (Eni)

Read more…

Chinese Offshore Wind Installation Vessel Capsized

Installing offshore wind turbines, with a ship on stilts, remains a risky business. The Chinese Sheng Ping 001 jack-up vessel has toppled on July 25. Four people are missing from a crew of 65.

[] – Four Missing After Jack-Up Vessel Tilts at Offshore Wind Farm in China

Other jack-up ship accidents in the past (Denmark and Africa):

Top 15 Solar & Wind Countries in 2020

All European, plus Uruguay, Australia and Chile.
Absolute champ Denmark with 61%.
30 more years to complete the transition.

[] – The top 15 wind and solar power countries in 2020

Recycling and Old EV-Battery

Deutsche Welle documentary:

Lithium-ion batteries have enabled us to build electric cars that let us drive around without burning fossil fuels. But how green are these batteries actually? And where do they end up once they’re spent?

Indoor Farming – Advantages as Far as the Eye Can See

Despite being one of the smallest countries on earth, the Netherlands manages to be the 2nd in agricultural exports. Key to the secret: glasshouse farming.

Advantages greenhouse farming:

  • Much less water consumption per kg of produce
  • Extended growth season, up until 12 months/year
  • Little need for pesticides
  • Much higher yield/m2, up to 350 times compared to open fields
  • Producing near consumers, saving produce transport cost
  • Huge potential for automation
  • Protection harvest against extreme weather
  • Possibility of increased yield through CO2 injection
  • Possibility of warming the greenhouse in the winter with geothermal heat

[deepresource] – Growing Crops in the Australian Desert with Seawater

De Nieuwe Waterstofeconomie Biedt Grote Kansen

Doorwrocht overzichtsartikel over de waterstofeconomie.

[] – De Nieuwe Waterstofeconomie Biedt Grote Kansen

Solid Hydro Regen Consortium

De uitvinding van Gerard Lugtigheid m.b.t. de opslag van waterstof in natriumboorhydride (NaBH4), wordt opgepikt door het Solid Hydro Regen Consortium, met daarmee verbonden namen als de TU Delft, de Universiteit van Amsterdam, Eneco, Rabobank, Prorail, Heerema en anderen, waaronder diverse scheepvaartondernemingen. De energiedichtheid van NaBH4 is 7.5 kWh/liter (die van diesel 10 kWh/liter). De TU Delft en de Universiteit van Amsterdam werken momenteel aan het sluitend maken van de proces-cyclus, zonder afvalproducten.

Deze vorm van waterstofopslag is wereldwijd een van de meest veelbelovende.

[] – Solid Hydrogen Regen Consortium site
[deepresource] – Boorhydride posts
[] – Sodium borohydride
[] – Waterstof in een vaste drager

Dit moet een volledig gesloten cirkel worden, zonder afvalproducten. De TU-Delft en UvA werken eraan.

Natriumboorhydride in poedervorm.

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