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Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “climate change”

How Saudi Arabia Is Turning Their Desert Into Green Forest

YouTube text:

This is Saudi Arabia measuring a massive 2 million square km, making it the 14th largest country by landmass! However, 95 percent of the kingdom is a hot dry desert where you find lots and lots of sand! It is also one of the few countries where you find not a single permanent river! You are also looking at a country where the average annual rainfall is below 150 mm all year round! However, if you zoom in on the country, you will see something totally unexpected; arable land! Saudi Arabia is dotted by a network of farmlands where agriculture thrives, letting farmers harvest many kinds of fruits, an abnormality in the hot desert! You will also immediately notice that most of the farmlands are in circles! The nation has 35,000 square kilometers of arable land, which is larger than the Netherlands and larger than three times the size of Qatar! However, in the early sixties, Saudi Arabia only had 400 square kilometers of arable land! How did the oil-rich kingdom multiply its arable land in so short a period? Join us in this video as we dive into the ingenious methods Saudi Arabia has used to turn its desert into a farmland oasis!

Europe Achieves “20-20-20” Goals With Flying Colors

More than 20% primary renewable energy generation, 20% CO2 reduction, 20% less primary energy consumption, Europe has met its own targets in grandiose fashion and would have done so, even without Covid.

[twitter.com] – Martien Visser

[eea.europa.eu] – EU achieves 20-20-20 climate targets, 55 % emissions cut by 2030 reachable with more efforts and policies

Melting of West-Antarctica Ice Will Lead to 3m Sea Level Rise

Thwaites-gletscher, Antarctica, 2014. NASA.

As we speak, scientists at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in New Orleans, warn that a critical Antarctic gletscher, with the size of Britain or Florida, could collapse within 5 years. This gletscher can be seen as the cork on a bottle, containing the entire West-Antarctic ice mass. Cork gone, bottle will empty itself into the ocean (in slow motion). If Thwaites and other gletschers are gone, this ice mass could be responsible for a sea level rise of up to 330 cm, in a timeframe of centuries.

It is difficult to see how this scenario can be prevented.

[nature.com] – Giant cracks push imperilled Antarctic glacier closer to collapse
[science.org] – Ice shelf holding back keystone Antarctic glacier within years of failure
[cires.colorado.edu] – Thwaites Threat: The Retreat of Antarctica’s Riskiest Glacier
[cnn.com] – Scientists warn a critical ice shelf in Antarctica could shatter in 5 years
[focus.de] – Der letzte Schutzschild des „Gletschers des Weltuntergangs“ steht kurz vor dem Zerfall
[deepresource] – Sudden 50 cm Sea Level Rise Possible Within 20 Years

Sea Level Rise – Picturing Our Future

Climate and energy choices this decade will influence how high sea levels rise for hundreds of years. Which future will we choose?

See What 3 Degrees of Global Warming Looks Like

[dailymail.co.uk] – Majority of climate scientists predict ‘catastrophic’ 3C rise in global temperature… with just 4% believing the world will meet target of limiting warming to 1.5C, survey shows
[rt.com] – COP26 will be a heady mix of climate hysteria, fear-mongering, and quasi-religious worshiping at the altar of ‘The Science’

Note that both climate scientists and Russia Today each have their own interests to guard: the scientists will be under the temptation to keep their profession in the spotlight of international attention by keep the climate change story “hot”, so to speak, and thus keeping the research grants flowing; the Russians on the other hand have an interest not to be stuck with billions worth of stranded fossil fuel assets and hence are tempted to play the climate issue down.

For mere mortals, like myself, it is extremely difficult to see through the highly politicized science debates and discern the truth.

Yet, I give the climate scientists the benefit of the doubt, for national, environmental, geopolitical and economic reasons.

National: my country, the Netherlands, is about the first to suffer, “suffer” as in “cease to exist”, if sea levels will rise significantly more than 1 m. There is hardly a country in the world that has more reason not to gamble the farm on academic questions over situations that might or might not occur in 100 year time. Take no chances.
Environment: there is no doubt that humanity has far too big a footprint on this planet, facing depletion of resources, melting of icecaps, pollution of land, air and oceans and that business as usual is out of the question.
Geopolitical/economic: Europe is our fairly new political frame of reference, and I am fine with that, always have been. Europe, that ran the global show between 1492-1939, until it was brutally shoved aside by globalist powers USA and USSR, using the UK war party around Churchill as a catalyst to get the war started on behalf of the US (forget the All-lied anti-German Nuremberg propaganda, it was all by intent, the so-called Big Three were aligned as of 1933-1934 in their geopolitical objectives, namely that the European empires had to go). A massive European geopolitical renaissance however is in the works, if all plays out well, and energy plays a crucial role for this to happen. To understand that, consider this:

[zerohedge] Rough Estimates of the Relative Standing of Great Empires: Netherlands, Britain and USA.

Elaboration on that map here:

[parisberlinmoscow] – “What Comes After the Three Anglo Empires?”

Summary: the success of the consecutive Dutch, British and American empires were to a large extent based on exploiting a new source of energy first:

– The Dutch with their windmills created the world’s first industrial area in the Zaan area, NW of Amsterdam. Its saw mills enabled the Dutch to at some point have three times more ships than then rest of the world combined, leading to massive trade monopolies and immense wealth between 1600-1750 (“Golden Age“).

– The British Empire is unthinkable without the figure of James Watt, who gave a principle known to the Romans, industrial strength. The combination of coal and steam engine, applied to machines, trains and ships, gave British society an enormous multiplier of human labor and subsequent geopolitical power and a head-start over other European powers, taking over from the Dutch after 1750 and holding global prominence until 1939.

– In North-America, in relative isolation, the Americans got hold over an even more powerful source of energy: oil and gas and applied that not only to machines, trains and ships, but also to cars, trucks and planes. By 1939, the US as a result had 29% global GDP and could plan for a global power grab and succeeded by setting Europe up for war, via pushing Britain and France into a war guarantee for Poland and when that was in place, quietly encouraged the Poles to throw the Germans out of Versailles Poland. When 100,000 German refugees had been ethnically cleansed from Poland, Germany was forced to intervene and the Americans had their desired war.

Back to energy. Stepping back from history, there is a lot to learn from this. Rule #1 in modern geopolitics is: the one who masters a new source of energy first will have a geopolitical advantage/dominance for a century or more. Oil and gas are running out and with it the power base of the Americans, bye-bye USA. There is for centuries worth of coal, but for environmental reasons a come-back is out of the question, sorry Britain. The Dutch have far better chances that their beloved windmills are in for a majestic come-back, where those iconic Dutch 30 kW saw mills are to be replaced by up to 600-1600 times more powerful electric successors of 20 MW or perhaps more [Rotterdam 50 MW].

Klimaschutz als Industriepolitische Chance | Prof. Dr. Veronika Grimm | LCOY 2021

Veronika Grimm gets it. There are several very good reasons to press ahead with the renewable energy transition, that far surpass anything that over-the-top climate toddler Greta Thunberg has to say:

– stopping climate change
– peak oil and gas are approaching fast, so we need to leave fossil fuel anyway, before it leaves us
– in line with the considerations above: having a fully-flexed renewable energy system and its corresponding industries first, ensures excellent geopolitical status for the rest of this century.

KNMI Raises Expectation Sea Level Rise 2100 to 1.2 – 2 m

Interactive Dutch soil elevation map here

The Dutch national weather institute KNMI has raised its official expectation of sea level rise towards 1.2 – 2.0 m by 2100. So far, the KNMI had as its official stance max. 1.0 m by 2100. The updated sea level rise is based upon a mixture of UN-climate panel IPCC data (Summer 2021) and in-house research.

Much of the uncertainty, as expressed by the interval 1.2 – 2.0 m, will be determined by the behavior of Greenland.

As a rule of thumb, the Netherlands can handle 1 m, but not 3 m, without being forced to give up densely populated lands (Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague). And if the sea level rises by 2 m in 2100, you know for certain it will rise with another meter in the decades after. All the ice of Greenland is worth 6 m sea level rise. The fate of large parts of the Netherlands is determined by Greenland.

[nos.nl] – 1,2 of zelfs 2 meter: KNMI stelt verwachte zeespiegelstijging naar boven bij
[deepresource] – UN: Sea-Level Rise 2 m by 2100 Plausible
[deepresource] – Sudden 50 cm Sea Level Rise Possible Within 20 Years
[deepresource] – New Dutch Sea Level Data – Rise not Alarming
[wikipedia.org] – Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI)

New Dutch Sea Level Data – Rise not Alarming

The Dutch independent research institute Deltares, over the three years before 2019, has elaborated a new method to evaluate sea level data on behalf of the government, and they have come to fairly reassuring results: over the past 128 years sea level rise was linear, with a speed of 1.86 mm/year or 18.6 cm/century. There is no acceleration.

[deltares.nl] – Long-term sea-level rise necessitates a worldwide commitment to adaptation
[deltares.nl] – About Deltares

Global Stilling – and then the Wind Stopped Blowing

Science magazine Nature confirms global stilling between 1980-2010, but also a sharp uptick after 2010.

The British DailyMail is not the most active proponent of renewable energy. Yet they have to be taken serious, if they report that over the past 4 decades, there has been a notable decline in average wind speeds, which is bad news for the wind energy industry. And societies that intend to rely heavily on wind energy in the future.

Reason behind the declining wind speeds: climate change. The poles are heating up faster than the territories in temperate zones, reducing the temperature difference, which reduces the wind speeds. It is like with electricity: if the voltage is lower, the current is lower and the power even more so (P=V*I).

[dailymail.co.uk] – Where has the wind gone? ‘Global stilling’ is blamed as wind speeds drop across Europe cutting green energy production – threatening to drive up energy prices even FURTHER

How bad is it?

Global terrestrial stilling is the decrease of wind speed observed near the Earth’s surface (~10-meter height) over the last three decades (mainly since the 1980s), originally termed “stilling”. This slowdown of near-surface terrestrial winds has mainly affected mid-latitude regions of both hemispheres, with a global average reduction of −0.140 m s−1 dec−1 (meters per second per decade) or between 5 and 15% over the past 50 years. With high-latitude (> 75° from the equator) showing increases in both hemispheres. In contrast to the observed weakening of winds over continental surfaces, winds have tended to strengthen over ocean regions. In the last few years, a break in this terrestrial decrease of wind speed has been detected suggesting a recovery at global scales since 2013.

[wikipedia.org] – Global terrestrial stilling

For Europe, with its existing and projected large offshore wind parks of many GWs, the effect is negligible. And then there is this:

[nature.com] – A reversal in global terrestrial stilling and its implications for wind energy production

The trend of declining wind speeds seems to have been reversed since 2010. And more important:

The declining wind speed trend applies mostly to wind over land, not the seas, strengthening the case for offshore wind. Yet, even if the wind loses a few %, it won’t be a showstopper for the renewable energy transition:

[windpowermonthly.com] – Solar PV to ‘overtake wind by 2023’

Wind power is suitable for highly technologically competent countries, like those bordering the North Sea and Baltic. Countries that can handle 300 m high mega-structures at sea, offering them a minimum of local energy security. In the long run, solar will outpace wind globally, because it is much simpler, cheaper and can be applied anywhere, including countries in the global South. There is no man overboard if Europe will be forced to outsource a considerable part of its hydrogen production to the South, so the latter gets money to buy our (European) products.

Nevertheless, the energy production from wind over the past few months did show that the feared “dark doldrums” are very real and that the success of the renewable energy transition hinges around the success of developing cheap and efficient (electric) energy storage. We’re not there yet.

IPCC & Climate Problems Explained in 15 Minutes

[bbc.com] – Climate change: IPCC report is ‘code red for humanity’

Sailing from Rotterdam to Amsterdam in 10 minutes

Fascinating video that shows the vulnerability of the western parts of the Netherlands for sea level rise. Note that in many cases, the water level in the canals is meters higher than the surrounding land. As a rule of thumb, the Netherlands can handle 1 meter sea level rise, but at 3 meters it is game over for the West of the Netherlands. Difficult to see how this scenario can be avoided in the long term (100-200 years). Some scenarios predict that 3 meters will be reality by 2100, 80 years from now.


The socalled “Green Heart“, rural area between Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

Elevation map of the Netherlands. Near Rotterdam, the land is up to 6 meters below sea level.

NASA sea level rise observations 1995-2020, fairly linear: 3.3 mm/year.

[wikipedia.org] – Sea level rise

Projecting future sea level is challenging, due to the complexity of many aspects of the climate system and to time lags in sea level reactions to Earth temperature changes. As climate research into past and present sea levels leads to improved computer models, projections have consistently increased. In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected a high end estimate of 60 cm (2 ft) through 2099, but their 2014 report raised the high-end estimate to about 90 cm (3 ft). A number of later studies have concluded that a global sea level rise of 200 to 270 cm (6.6 to 8.9 ft) this century is “physically plausible”. A conservative estimate of the long-term projections is that each Celsius degree of temperature rise triggers a sea level rise of approximately 2.3 meters (4.2 ft/degree Fahrenheit) over a period of two millennia (2,000 years): an example of climate inertia. In February 2021, a paper published in Ocean Science suggested that past projections for global sea level rise by 2100 reported by the IPCC were likely conservative, and that sea levels will rise more than previously expected.

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