Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the month “August, 2021”

$1/kg Hydrogen With E-TAC High-Efficiency Electrolysis

Israeli company H2Pro claims its highly efficient water-splitting technology will deliver green hydrogen at less than US$1 per kilogram before 2030. That’s a big deal; it would represent a 60-80 percent drop in green H2 prices, down to a level where it’s cheaper per unit of energy than current retail gasoline prices in the United States. The Hydrogen Council’s current projections don’t expect that kind of price drop until 2050, and even then it’s a best-case scenario.

[] – H2Pro’s dollar-a-kilo green hydrogen: a 20-year leap in clean energy?

Note that 1 kg of hydrogen contains about 3 times as much energy as 1 kg of gasoline. Additionally, hydrogen can be converted into kinetic energy at an efficiency of up to 60%, where gasoline scores merely 25% at best.

Some caution is well-advised here, as small start-ups are almost forced to be loud in order to attract investment capital. But the development is interesting, nevertheless, because of the pursuing of yet another technological approach. Eventually, the best methods will float to the top.

Electrolytic hydrogen production faces technological challenges to improve its efficiency, economic value and potential for global integration. In conventional water electrolysis, the water oxidation and reduction reactions are coupled in both time and space, as they occur simultaneously at an anode and a cathode in the same cell. This introduces challenges, such as product separation, and sets strict constraints on material selection and process conditions. Here, we decouple these reactions by dividing the process into two steps: an electrochemical step that reduces water at the cathode and oxidizes the anode, followed by a spontaneous chemical step that is driven faster at higher temperature, which reduces the anode back to its initial state by oxidizing water. This enables overall water splitting at average cell voltages of 1.44–1.60 V with nominal current densities of 10–200 mA cm−2 in a membrane-free, two-electrode cell. This allows us to produce hydrogen at low voltages in a simple, cyclic process with high efficiency, robustness, safety and scale-up potential.

H2Pro’s E-TAC hydrogen production system promises a revolutionary jump in water-splitting efficiency, and a 20-year plunge in the cost of clean hydrogen.

[] – Company site
[] – Decoupled hydrogen and oxygen evolution by a two-step electrochemical–chemical cycle for efficient overall water splitting
[] – (pdf) Decoupled hydrogen and oxygen evolution by a two-step electrochemical–chemical cycle for efficient overall water splitting
[] – Israeli Group Develops New Electrolysis Technology
[] – Gates-Backed Startup Joins Race to Make Green Hydrogen Cheaper

Read more…

Tesla 4680 Battery Pack

The bottleneck for Tesla is not so much producing cars, but acquiring sufficient battery capacity for them.

[] – Tesla’s plans for batteries, China scrutinized as Musk drops features
[] – Panasonic develops the 4680 battery cell for Tesla
[] – Tesla Shows First 4680 Cells And Pack Video
[] – Sandy Munro Reveals His Tesla 4680 Battery Pack Mock-Up
[] – Tesla Pressured to Deliver Amid Questions Over Batteries, Bitcoin, China

Analysts expect slip in US EV-maker’s second-quarter results; Critical launch of self-produced battery has suffered series of setbacks. Tesla Inc has weathered the pandemic and supply chain crisis better than many of its rivals, achieving record deliveries last quarter – but Chief Executive Elon Musk now faces pressure to deliver on breakthrough batteries and new factories and models, which are late… Musk last month pushed back the debut of the 4680s by cancelling the longest-range Model S Plaid+, which he had said would use the cells, sparking concern. He has said 4680s would go into volume production next year and would be used in the Model Y from the Texas factory under construction. Now, Tesla aims to produce vehicles with 4680 batteries starting with small volumes this year in as-yet-unfinalised models, sources told Reuters.

A little skepticism here:

[] – Where Was the Battery at Tesla’s Battery Day?

Musk had promised to show the world something “very insane” that would result in a “step change in accelerating sustainable energy.” This turned out to be a fat lithium-ion battery called a 4680—a reference to its diameter, 46 millimeters, and its length, 80 millimeters—that is being produced in-house at Tesla. To be sure, Tesla’s new battery appears to offer large performance gains in a few key areas, but it was unclear whether Tesla has actually achieved these upgrades or whether this is the projected performance for the finalized battery.

Read the Youtube comments for more skepticism.

Yara Birkeland Autonomous Battery Container Vessel

The vessel YARA Birkeland will be the world’s first fully electric and autonomous container ship, with zero emissions. KONGSBERG is responsible for development and delivery of all key enabling technologies including the sensors and integration required for remote and autonomous ship operations, in addition to the electric drive, battery and propulsion control systems. A 120 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) open top container ship. It will be a fully battery powered solution, prepared for autonomous and unmanned operation. The vessel will reduce NOx and CO2 emissions by reducing diesel-powered truck transport by around 40,000 journeys per year. This eco-initiative will help to meet the UN sustainability goals, and improve road safety and congestion… The ship will also be equipped with an automatic mooring system – berthing and unberthing will be done without human intervention, and will not require special implementations dock-side.

The containers contain mainly fertilizer. (Automatic) loading and unloading the cargo takes about as much time as charging the batteries.

In 2019, the share of hydroelectricity in Norway was 93.4%.

Yara Birkeland operational route, HeroyaLarvik (overland 27 km).

[] – Autonomous Ship Project, Key Facts About Yara Birkeland

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Germany Signs Hydrogen Deals with Namibia and Egypt

Namibian ambassador Martin Andjaba and federal minister for research Anja Karliczek and the representative for green hydrogen in the BMBF, Stefan Kaufmann © BMBF/Hans-Joachim Rickel

[] – Deutschland und Namibia schließen Wasserstoff-Partnerschaft
[] – Deutschland und Namibia schließen Wasserstoff-Partnerschaft

Germany has signed a deal with Namibia about the production of green hydrogen in former German colony and solar and wind-rich Namibia. Name capital of Namibia: Windhoek, which is Dutch for “windy corner”, what’s in a name. Envisioned start date of green hydrogen production: 2025. Initial German funding: up to 40 million euro. Expected price per kg: 1.50-2.00 euro. Namibia has 3500 solar hours, twice the amount of Germany. Namibia is the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa.

The agreement will come with tangential activities, like seawater desalination and student exchange programs and scholarships.

Renewable energy is clearly a win-win situation for both Europe and Africa, where formerly useless deserts have an unexpected economic value, namely as energy producers, enabling countries like Namibia to follow the example of Arabian oil countries and finally touch serious money.

[] – Siemens Energy supports Egypt to develop Green Hydrogen Industry

Siemens Energy has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company to jointly develop hydrogen-based industry in Egypt with export capability…. Siemens Energy and EEHC will jointly promote investment, technology transfer, and implementation of projects related to hydrogen production, based on renewable energy in Egypt… As part of initial steps, Siemens Energy and EEHC will pursue the development of a pilot project, comprising 100 to 200 MW of electrolyzer capacity, which will help to drive early technology deployment, establish a partner landscape, establish and test regulatory environment and certification, setup off-take relations, and define logistic concepts.

[] – Egypt planning $4bn green hydrogen gas project

Benban solar park, Egypt, 4th largest in the world, 1.65 GW/3.8 TWh/year.

[deepresource] – Germany Embraces the Hydrogen Economy
[deepresource] – Germany Kicks-off Hydrogen Grid
[deepresource] – Germany Allocates €8 Billion for 62 Hydrogen Projects
[deepresource] – World’s First Hydrogen Train Operational in Germany

Read more…

Shell to Enter Dutch Gas & Electricity Market


The largest electricity and gas producers in the Netherlands are: Vattenfall, Essent, Engie, CCI, Delta, EDF, Eneco and E.ON. Tens of additional but smaller players do co-exist.

Oil major Royal Dutch Shell has been given the green light by market supervisor ACM to enter the Dutch gas & electricity market. Shell will be selling kWH’s and m3 to private households, sourced from Dutch solar & wind-parks, as well as gas that is “CO2-compensated”. Shell says it has the ambition to become a significant competitor on this market, as well as to be a major player in the energy transition, under the motto: “pump less, trade more”.

[] – Shell gaat groene stroom en gas leveren aan consumenten thuis
[] – Nederlandse elektriciteitsmarkt
[] – Overzicht Nederlandse energieleveranciers

Photocatalysis – Solar Hydrogen Without Panels & Electrolyzer

Oil companies know that their days are numbered… well, as oil companies. So they are facing the choice of either go extinct or reinvent themselves. That’s actually not too difficult a choice to make.

Take Spanish oil and energy giant Repsol. Where northern Europeans are concentrating on their wind resource, Repsol, situated in one of the sunniest countries in Europe, wants to try its luck with our nearest star. Their strategy: try to avoid using solar panels and electrolyzers and use photons for splitting water directly.

In chemistry, photocatalysis is the acceleration of a photoreaction in the presence of a catalyst. In catalysed photolysis, light is absorbed by an adsorbed substrate. In photogenerated catalysis, the photocatalytic activity (PCA) depends on the ability of the catalyst to create electron–hole pairs, which generate free radicals (e.g. hydroxyl radicals: •OH) able to undergo secondary reactions. Its practical application was made possible by the discovery of water electrolysis by means of titanium dioxide (TiO2).

The principle has been known since 1911, discovered by a German scientist Alexander Eibner, when he studied pigments.

However, a breakthrough in photocatalysis research occurred in 1972, when Akira Fujishima and Kenichi Honda discovered electrochemical photolysis of water occurring between connected TiO2 and platinum electrodes, in which ultraviolet light was absorbed by the former electrode, and electrons would flow from the TiO2 electrode (anode; site of oxidation reaction) to the platinum electrode (cathode; site of reduction reaction); with hydrogen production occurring at the cathode. This was one of the first instances in which hydrogen production could come from a clean and cost-effective source.

Repsol is planning to build a 100 kilo/day H2 photocatalytic demo-reactor in Puertollano, Spain and hopes to own a commercially attractive method of producing hydrogen this way by 2030, together with gas grid operator Enagas. Envisioned start date: 2024. By 2028, production should be scaled-up towards 10 tonnes/day. Both companies have secured EU funding for the project.

[] – Repsol and Enagás will develop technology to produce renewable hydrogen
[] – Repsol-Enagas Renewable H2 Project Gets EC’s Financial Backing
[] – Repsol, Enagas secure EU funds for photoelectrocatalytic hydrogen production
[] – ‘Very disruptive’ direct solar-to-hydrogen commercially viable by 2030, says oil group Repsol
[] – Photocatalysis
[] – Photocatalytic water splitting
[] – Repsol
[] – Enagás

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Installation Ships for 20+ MW Wind Turbines Ordered

Two GustoMSC™ designed NG-20000X jackup ships, capable of handling 20+ MW offshore wind turbines, have been ordered at COSCO Shipping Heavy Industry by Cadeler. Expected delivery date: 2024-2025. GustoMSC is a daughter company of NOV. These ships will be the largest in the industry. Siemens has already reserved the future vessel for work at a UK wind farm.

[] – NOV to Design and Equip Cadeler’s New X-Class Offshore Wind Jack-Ups
[] – GustoMSC (NL)
[] – Cadeler corporate site (DK)
[] – COSCO (CN)
[] – We power the industry that powers the world (US)

Electric Motor Teardown

If you are as old as me, you will have lived through an era where mobility was characterized by the smell of petrol, by mechanical concepts like gear box, clutch, starter, oil pump, carburetor. The mechanical design of a car has become a lot simpler, promising much more reliability, durability, longevity, requiring much less maintenance and tinkering. The regular oil change has gone. Expect batteries to provide service for more than 1 million km.

Here is a video where somebody takes a VW-ID4 e-motor apart. Happy learning.

User Experiences with Home Batteries

Turning a Windturbine into a Hydrogen Tap – H2Mare


The German government has awarded Siemens-Energy with 100 million euro to develop an integrated offshore wind-turbine with onboard electrolyser. This makes the location of the wind turbine independent of cabling considerations. The interior of the wind turbine offers more than enough space for large quantities of hydrogen, reducing the number of visits from tanker ships. The R&D activities are taking place within the framework of the H2MARE project.

[] – Siemens wins €100m for offshore wind hydrogen project
[] – Siemens Gamesa and Siemens Energy to unlock a new era of offshore green hydrogen production
[] – Wie Partner im Leitprojekt H2Mare Wasserstoff direkt auf hoher See produzieren wollen
[] – Wind turbines with integrated electrolyzer demonstrate sustainable hydrogen production at sea
[] – Hydrogen made at the wind turbine
[] – Germany ploughs $117m into Siemens Energy-led bid to develop game-changer hydrogen offshore wind

Heineken and ZES Start Electric Inland Shipping

Beer brewer Heineken has started an electrified inland shipping shuttle service between the Heineken plant in Zoeterwoude and container terminal Moerdijk (with access to international shipping), on a ten-year contract with Zero Emission Services (ZES), that will provide the batteries with the size of containers, as well as the battery charge, that is 2 containers with 4 MWh in total. Range per container of 2 MWh: 60 km or 2-4 hours of sailing.

ZES has the ambition to provide a nation-wide service network of its battery-pack for short-distance shipping at 20 locations. ZES is backed by heavy-weights like ING, Engie, Port of Rotterdam and Wärtsilä.

The intended ZES container battery charging network. Note the hubs in Germany along the Rhine, the busiest river in the world. It won’t be long and ZES could contemplate to invest in a wind park of its own, just like other corporations like Dutch Rail and Google have done. 15 minutes operation of a 15 MW wind turbine suffice to bring a “Heineken ship” from Rotterdam to Zoeterwoude. Perhaps it is an idea to lay a cable on the bottom of the Rhine river and supply charging stations along that river until Switzerland.

[] – ZES corporate site
[] – Heineken biertransport elektrisch over water
[] – Heineken wil zijn bier klimaatneutraal vervoeren
[] – Containers vol met accu’s vervangen diesel in de binnenvaart: ‘Hier gebeurt echt iets voor milieu en klimaat’

The Netherlands has a very dense system of waterways and is particularly suited environment for companies like ZES to operate in. The route shown here could very well match that of the Heineken containers.

This is the ship “De Alphenaar” from 2019, that has been retrofitted for electric propulsion. The ship has place for 52 containers. Depending on the destination of the trip, more containers can be stacked onto the deck. The beauty is that since the ship needs to be loaded anyway, the crane to load these battery containers into the ship is present anyway for the regular cargo. This is precisely the reason why battery replacement system could work with shipping, where it failed (in Israel) with cars.

[] – De binnenvaart gaat elektrisch, dankzij Bon Jovi

De Alphenaar isn’t the first inland vessel to go electric. Already in 2017, the Bon Jovi made a start to get the Dutch inland fleet of 6500 vessels, the largest in Europe, electrified. The Bon Jovi also operates for Heineken; 12,500 containers annually or 600 million bottles. But that ship stils had 2 192 kW diesel generators, that were used to produce the required electricity, in order to gain experience with electric propulsion. Now the time is ready to go really green with batteries.

[] – Heineken verricht doop nieuw duurzaam containerschip van Nedcargo in Rotterdam

Enormous Iranian Gas Find

Iran has announced last week that it has discovered a gas field in the Iranian part of the Caspian Sea, near Chalus, 150 km north of Tehran [map]. The development will be done by Iranian Khazar Exploration and Production Company (KEPCO), but, interestingly, with Russian and Chinese assistance. Gas reserves of the new field are estimated to be 25% of the largest gas field in the World, South Pars, also in Iran.

According to Ali Osouli, CEO of KEPCO, if the initial estimates are confirmed and exploration success is achieved in the Chalous structure, the Irani sector of the Caspian Sea will play a significant role in gas exports to Europe in the near future, in which case Iran’s new gas hub will be formed in the north to let Iran supply 20% of Europe’s gas needs from this region.

European energy options apparently got a big boost.

[] – New Gas Hub in Northern Iran
[] – Iran’s Huge Caspian Gas Find Is A Geopolitical Gamechanger
[] – Recent Developments in the Caspian Energy Strategy of Iran

MingYang Launches 16 MW Offshore Wind Turbine

Yet another renewable energy world record: MingYang launches a 16 MW offshore wind turbine, called MySE 16.0-242.

Key data:

Rotor diameter – 242 m
Electricity production: 80,000 MWh/year
Market introduction: 2024

[] – MingYang Smart Energy launches MySE 16.0-242, the world’s largest offshore Hybrid Drive wind turbine

Solid State Battery Last 20 Years

A solid-state battery is a battery technology that uses solid electrodes and a solid electrolyte, instead of the liquid or polymer gel electrolytes found in lithium-ion or lithium polymer batteries.

While solid electrolytes were first discovered in the 19th century, several drawbacks, such as low energy densities, have prevented widespread application. Developments in the late 20th and early 21st century have caused renewed interest in solid-state battery technologies, especially in the context of electric vehicles, starting in the 2010s.

Materials proposed for use as solid electrolytes in solid-state batteries include ceramics (e.g., oxides, sulfides, phosphates), and solid polymers. Solid-state batteries have found use in pacemakers, RFID and wearable devices. They are potentially safer, with higher energy densities, but at a much higher cost. Challenges to widespread adoption include energy and power density, durability, material costs, sensitivity and stability.

Solid state batteries allow the body of the car to be used as a battery.

[] – Solid-state battery

[] – BMW and Ford Invest in Solid-State Battery Startup for Future EVs

Ford and BMW are investing $130 million in solid-state battery startup Solid Power in a push to reduce the cost and increase the range of their future electric vehicles. Ford initially contributed to an earlier investment round in 2019, and both automakers have joint agreements to use the technology in upcoming electric vehicles that will arrive by 2030.

[] – Can Japan and Toyota win the solid-state battery race?

Read more…

Norwegian Oil & Gas Production Forecast

[source] With a Norwegian population of 5.4 million, for every inhabitant, wealth increases with almost a single barrel of oil per day or $75. As a result, Norway sits on the largest public fund in the world, value 1 trillion $. Norway is a large investor in North Sea renewable energy infrastructure.

OSLO, June 11 (Reuters) – Norway is betting on hydrogen and offshore wind for its energy transition but will continue to extract oil and gas until 2050 and beyond, the outgoing centre-right government said as it presented its long-term energy strategy on Friday.

Europe’s second largest oil and gas producer will continue to hold regular licensing rounds, offering exploration acreage to energy firms, the government said.

[] – Norway not ready to let go of oil, gas in push for greener energy

New Moroccan Desalination Plant Under Construction

Morocco is set to commence the construction of the world’s largest sea water desalination plant in 2021, at the Southern Coastal City of Agadir. The US$301m Douira Sea Water Desalination plant is expected to have a treatment capacity of 75 million m3/year. Abengoa, a Spanish company has been chosen by the Moroccan National Electricity and Drinking water Office (ONEE) to construct this new desalination plant.

The intent is to run the plant on renewable electricity, offering yet another buffering opportunity for intermittent renewable electricity, as water can be easily stored.

Technology: Reverse Osmosis
Electricity cost rev. osm.: 3-10 kWh/m3
Production capacity: 275,000 m3/day, to be increased towards 450,000 m3/day

[] – Morocco to commence construction of world largest sea water desalination plant in 2021
[] – Desalination
[] – Desalination is an expensive energy hog, but improvements are on the way
[] – Van zeewater tot drinkwater

Nord-Stream 2 Could be Used for Hydrogen


NW-Europe is too densely populated to be self-sufficient in generating renewable energy. It doesn’t need to be, as many potential suppliers are standing by to deliver hydrogen in return for Europe’s rich palette of products. Two potential suppliers are Russia and the Ukraine, who both have unused land in abundance. Germany has already signaled it is interested in hydrogen deals with both countries. The beauty is that transport can be done via existing pipeline infrastructure. An additional benefit is that hydrogen supply can be mixed with natural gas, while gradually increasing the share of hydrogen, achieving a smooth transition.

[] – Germany wants to talk to Russia about using Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline for hydrogen deliveries

BYD Blade Battery Breakthrough

BYD of China has introduced a lithium-iron-phosphate blade-shaped battery, that should replace conventional cylinder-shaped batteries. The BYD e-platform 3.0 promises advantages on energy density (and hence range, now up to 900 km), charge time (135 km range in 5 minutes), safety, cost, longevity (3000 cycles or 1.2 million km) and environment (elimination of cobalt).

With breathtaking down-to-earth specs like these, it can be foreseen that the public will flock en masse to e-vehicles, replacing the green avant-garde that had more high-minded environmental motives to support the mobility transition.

Well, what-ever it takes to get the job done.

An avalanche of e-vehicle adoption will trigger an avalanche of demand for green power generation. The average daily distance driven in NW-Europe is about 34 km (Netherlands). A 900 km range means an average visit interval to the charging station of 26 days. This results in beneficial storage consequences; it isn’t exactly seasonal storage, but it is much longer than pumped hydro capacity of basins high in the mountains of Norway.

[] – BYD Blade Battery set to revolutionise EV market
[] – BYD next-generation EV platform: Up to 600 miles, 800V charging, optimized efficiency
[] – Lithium iron phosphate battery
[] – BYD Auto

The BYD blade configuration even offers structural reinforcement to the car.

Daily Yield Dutch Solar Panels

Note that at Northern-European latitudes, lots of seasonal storage capacity is required. Minimum yield is almost zero in January, maximum in June-July.

[] – Martien Visser

Maersk Methanol-Fueled Container Ship by 2023

7 years earlier than previously planned, Danish shipping company Maersk will have the world’s first carbon-neutral ship in operation, fueled by methanol.

Ship builder: Hyundai
Propulsion system: MAN Energy Solutions
Size of ship: 172 m
Cargo ship: 2100 TEU
Energy source methanol: solar
Renewable methanol producer: European Energy
Location of pv-power generation: Southern Jutland, Denmark
Location of power-to-methanol facility: yet to be decided
Annual e-methanol volume: 10,000 tonnes
Area of shipping operation: Baltic

[] – Maersk signs shipbuilding contract for world’s first container vessel fueled by carbon neutral methanol
[] – Maersk secures green e-methanol for the world’s first container vessel operating on carbon neutral fuel
[] – Corporate site

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