Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “countries”

China on the Verge of Testing a Thorium Reactor

China is about to start up a thorium reactor in the desert in the North of China. The output of the prototype is sufficient for merely 1000 homes. If the test delivers the desired results, an upscaled model will be designed to power 100,000 homes. In the long run, China intends to export this technology.

A few key data points concerning thorium: no plutonium, waste radio-active for 300, rather than tens of thousands of years, half-life 30 years, far more thorium reserves than uranium (think thousands of years), 1 gram thorium = 2500 liter gasoline. China and others think that commercial thorium reactors could be operational by 2040.

Is everything rosy? Perhaps, perhaps not. The main concern is that intense radiation and corrosive salts, combined with high temperatures, could damage the reactor over a few years. Only time will tell. But the world will be watching the developments in China with great interest.

[] – China prepares to test thorium-fuelled nuclear reactor
[] – China is gearing up to activate commercial nuclear reactor
[] – Why China is developing a thorium-fuelled nuclear reactor
[] – Thorium-based nuclear power
[] – Occurrence of thorium
[] – China een stap dichter bij een thorium reactor
[Google Maps] – Wuwei, location thorium reactor

First Officially Inhabited Printed Home in Europe

3D-printed homes aren’t new, but in the Netherlands an exemplar has been released for official habitation. This 94 m2 ground-level space is a co-production of the TU-Eindhoven and the Vesteda housing corporation. Four more printed homes are to follow. If all works properly (it didn’t the first time, which was to be expected), the job could have been done within 120 hours, as printing robots don’t need rest. Rent commercial market: ca. €1600/month.

The main environmental upshot is that less cement will be required per m2 living space.

[] – Project site
[] – First tenants move into 3D-printed home in Eindhoven
[] – Dutch couple become Europe’s first inhabitants of a 3D-printed house

Wijk aan Zee Staycation Pictures

Ran unexpectedly into this visible aspect of the Dutch renewable energy transition during a recent sea-side holiday: grid operator TenneT laying the cable that will connect future offshore wind farms near the coast of Wijk aan Zee and the Dutch national grid, see map below. The to be connected wind farms “Hollandse Kust Noord (HKN)” and “Hollandse Kust West-Alpha” are planned to be up-and-running in 2023 and 2024 resp. For that purpose, 69 Siemens-Gamesa turbines will be deployed in this HKN 759 MW project, developed by Shell and Eneco; installer: van Oord:

Total Dutch offshore wind capacity is planned to be 11 GW by 2030.

[] – Shell-Eneco Consortium Wins Hollandse Kust (Noord) Tender
[] – Siemens Gamesa Turbines for Hollandse Kust (Noord)
[] – Waar ligt de netaansluiting Hollandse Kust (noord) en (west Alpha)?
[] – Net op zee Hollandse Kust (noord) en (west Alpha)
[] – Windmolenproject voor kust van Wijk aan Zee naar volgende fase

The pictures were taken at location WKT1.

Read more…

Gravity Battery

Commercial Demonstration Unit August 2020 – Arbedo-Castione

With wide-spread hydropower facilities, constant threats of avalanches and mud slides, as well as trains having to bridge altitude differences all day, Alpine country Switzerland knows a thing or two about potential energy: the energy that can be won by lowering big masses of matter and converting it into kinetic energy.

But now they might be pushing it a little too much, as they are embarking on an uphill-struggle, pun intended.

Reuters – Energy Vault, a developer of utility-scale battery storage technology backed by SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T) and the venture arm of Saudi Aramco (2222.SE), has raised $100 million in a funding round, its chief executive told Reuters on Tuesday (21 Aug 2021).

Energy Vault offers a design of a gravity storage systems that stacks 35 ton concrete blocks upon each other with cranes to build towers, converting excess electricity from regardless which source, into potential energy. The density of concrete is about 2.4 times that of water. If electricity is required, the tower is torn down in a (hopefully) controlled manner. Round-trip efficiency 90%. In Switzerland, the concrete blocks can be produced locally. Intended max. tower height: ca. 130 meter, a large church tower. Capacity: 35 MWh.

To illustrate the point, here my holiday pictures of 2012:

[deepresource] – Mattmark Hydro Power Plant

This is a medium-sized storage, able to produce 130 MW for merely a couple of hours. Total storage capacity of the lake: 77,500,000 m3 or 77,500,000 tonnes at a height difference of almost 1500 m or 254.5 GWh in energy terms. In other words, the midsized mountain lake of Mattmark contains 7300 times more energy than the proposed concrete tower. Switzerland has 556 hydroelectric power plants.

The gravity battery could be ideal to illustrate the concept of potential energy to students, but one of those suffice for that purpose. To solve the energy storage problem, they are merely a gimmick. 35 MWh, that’s the equivalent of 1000 kg hydrogen, that can be stored as NH3 or methanol or borohydride in a container of a few m3.

[] – SoftBank-backed storage developer Energy Vault raises $100 mln
[] – Energy Vault
[] – Energy Vault company site
[Google Maps] – Arbedo-Castione Energy Vault

LeydenJar Battery Startup Collects €22 million

A little physics excursion to 1745 and the invention of de Leidse Fles (Leyden Jar).

LeydenJar Eindhoven has collected €22 million, which could enable the company to go public quickly, on the basis of a SPAC IPO, with a technological battery innovation. Their selling point: by applying a 100% silicon anode, they achieve a spectacular energy density of 1.35 kWh/liter. This technology could increase the efficiency of lithium-ion batteries with 70%. Additionally, the CO2-emissions, tied to the production of lithium-ion batteries, could be reduced by 85%. LeydenJar aims at deals with large battery manufacturers, like Tesla.

Financial stakeholders: ING, Invest-NL and the BOM. The workforce, currently at 20, should be expanded to 70 in the coming few years.

Yet another nail in the coffin of the gasoline/diesel car.

[] – De Eindhovense accustartup LeydenJar haalt €22 miljoen op en mikt op een beursgang via een SPAC
[] – Company site
[] – Technology white paper
[] – Leyden jar
[] – Proeffabriek van Leyden Jar in Eindhoven haalt doel met superbatterij

1 GW Electrolyser in Esbjerg

The port of Esbjerg, bustling with offshore activity.

Esbjerg, the unofficial capital of North Sea offshore wind, will harbor a 1 GW electrolyser to produce green hydrogen from North Sea offshore wind, the largest in Europe. Estimated hydrogen production: 90,000 mt/year. Planned production start date: 2024. Project developer, the Swiss company H2 Energy Europe. The company has experience with producing green hydrogen in Switzerland and fuels a local fleet of 50 trucks, a number that will grow to 1600 in the coming years. H2 Energy partners with the Norwegian electrolyser company Nel Hydrogen.

[] – H2 Energy’s 1 GW Danish green hydrogen project to supply trucks, stations, industry
[] – Large-Scale Offshore Wind-to-Hydrogen Project in Denmark
[] – Major green hydrogen power-to-x facility planned in Esbjerg
[Google Maps] – Esbjerg

Danish Energy Island Design

The design of a Danish renewable energy in the middle of the North Sea is taking shape.

[] – Energy islands with minimal environmental impact
[] – Why use sand over hard structures to protect energy islands

Dutch Renewable Electricity Share 2015-2021

Dutch 12-month moving average share renewable electricity

[] – Martien Visser

$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

Read more…

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

Read more…

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.

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

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