Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “France”

Autonomous Driving in France First?

[source] Imagine all the lines in this map of French motorways and routes nationale to become virtual railway lines, offering high frequency public transport, offered by companies with self-driving vans. This could very well be the unintended (?) consequence of government efforts to make autonomous driving possible. Rather than being a new gadget, autonomous driving could largely kill the privately owned car; not because of some Green Stalin forbidding private car ownership, but because a large segment of the public will snub private car ownership, because it has found a cheaper, more comfortable alternative.

France could very well be the first country in Europe and the world to present a complete regulatory framework for making autonomous driving happen. Planned start date: September 2022.

Germany did adopt new regulations regarding autonomous driving last May, but failed to offer a complete regulatory framework, especially on the liability issue.

[mobile-interieur-gouv-fr] – For the first time in Europe, the Highway Code and the Transport Code are adapting to the arrival of automated driving vehicles on the roads of France
[] – France first EU country to adapt its highway code for self-drive cars
[] – German Autonomous Driving Act Is Only the Next Step to Self-Driving Cars for Everyone

Volkswagen Moia. This people transporter still has a driver, but he could be phased out eventually, thanks to autonomous driving.

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…

Germany, US Strike Nord Stream 2 Compromise Deal

This is more of a victory for Germany (and Russia) than a compromise deal, but Deutsche Welle no doubt wants to be diplomatic. This enhances the energy security of Germany and Europe, avoids a very expensive write-off of nearly finished pipe-line infrastructure, improves European-Russian relations, and hopefully prevents Russia being pushed into Chinese arms completely. It is also a clear sign of diminishing US influence in European affairs. As neo-Gaullists, promoting the geopolitical Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis, as well as the intended “Euro-Anglo seniority swap” in the near future, where the European Mother Civilization will have “1945” rolled-back and get the upper-hand over Anglosphere, this pipeline is exactly what is desired.

[] – Merkels Triumph
[] – Dieser Deal ist ein Triumph für Putin
[] – Macron warns Europe: NATO is becoming brain-dead
[] – Lord Heseltine suggests Brexit vote allows Germany to win WW2
[] – China presses Europe for anti-U.S. alliance on trade
[] – Gerhard Schroeder podcast: China – Deutschlands starker Partner

Fishermen Blocking Saint-Brieuc Wind Development

[] – No fishermen friends for offshore wind

Modern Wind Power – The Images

In succession:

– Lagerwey “tower-is-the-crane” installation
– Enercon EP5 platform
– Lagerwey “tower-from-lamellae”
– GE-3.6-137

GE-Glosten 12 MW Floating Wind Platform


Floating wind expands the potential of offshore wind enormously, especially in Asia. France-based wind turbine manufacturer GE and US-based Glosten naval engineering offer a Haliade-X-based floating wind platform.

[] – GE, Glosten Present 12 MW Floating Wind Turbine Concept
[] – Glosten company site

Aeolus Beginning Work near Saint-Brieux

This time the Aeolus won’t be hammering monopiles into the sea bed, too rocky for that, unlike the sand of the North Sea.

The Aeolus has begun picking up Spanish-made pin piles from Cherbourg harbor and installing them offshore near Saint-Brieux in Britanny. The Aeolus has been upgraded specifically for this project, because of the severe local weather and sea conditions.

[] – Aeolus Starts Installing Saint-Brieuc Hardware

Old-school Aeolus North Sea operation with monopiles.

2 x 500MW/5GWh CAES Projects in California

[source] Hydrostor has developed this 2 MW/10 MWh demo project in 2019 in Goderich, Ontario, Canada.

The Canadian company Hydrostor has announced it will build two 500 MW/5GWh CAES projects in California. Two other companies involved are Pattern Energy (US) and Meridiam (France). Commission date 2024-2026. This will be the world’s largest non-hydro storage project to date.

[] – Hydrostor bags funds to support 500-MW energy storage project in Canada
[] – Goderich Energy Storage Facility

Offshore Wind in France Finally Taking Off

In Europe, France, because of its large and thinly populated land mass, has a considerable potential for wind energy, certainly onshore, yet relatively little has been realized. 2019: 16 GW. Reason: the overwhelming presence of nuclear power, the French are not ready to write off yet, very much in contrast to Germany, a country that may have reacted a little too much in panic to the Fukushima disaster and now runs the risk of provoking populist resistance against renewable energy, if the country would fall victim to one or two weeks Dunkelflaute. In 2021, the real challenge is not so much rolling out more renewable capacity, but the development and installation of solid storage first. As a rule of thumb, you can ignore storage up until about 40% and Germany has already passed that point, although Germany still has the option to use the power grids of its many neighbors as a buffer and buy conventional generated electricity in return.

Back to France. Iberdrola is about to start building a 496 MW offshore wind park near the coast of très pittoresque Saint-Brieuc in Brittany, the first in France. Price tag 2.4 billion euro. Operational date 2023. 62 Siemens-Gamesa direct-drive turbines of 8 MW each. Monopiles by Navantia-Windar, Spain. Installer van Oord of the Netherlands and their Aeolus flagship. Surface area 75 km2, 16 km off the coast. Cables will be buried to enable fishing in between the wind towers.

[] – Saint-Brieuc Offshore Wind Farm
[] – Wind power in France
[Google Maps] – Saint-Brieuc
[deepresource] – “Don’t Worry About Intermittency Under 30-40% Renewable Energy Share”

EU to Become #1 in Car Battery Production by 2030

Most car batteries are currently produced in China, South-Korea, Japan and the US. The EU is lagging behind with 7% market share. The signs are that this could change drastically and that by 2030, Europe will be market leader with 31% (Bloomberg). Reason: the huge investment sums, European car companies are willing to commit. This could lead to 90% battery self-sufficiency for cars produced in Europe in 2030.

Within Europe, Germany is expected to lead, before France and the UK. This market share will be realized in no less than 27 car battery factories that are being planned, c.q. build today.

Especially Volkswagen stands out as the likely winner in the e-revolution.

[] – Warum Deutschland Batterie-Champion für Elektroautos werden könnte
[deepresource] – E-Vehicles 2025 – and the Winner is… Volkswagen!

World’s Largest Construction Firm Moving into Renewables


(Bloomberg) — Vinci SA’s move to buy a core business of Spain’s Actividades de Construccion y Servicios SA ​​​for about 4.9 billion euros ($5.8 billion) will turn the French infrastructure giant into a global player in renewable energies. The deal that was more than six months in the making expands Vinci’s reach into Spain and Latin America, according to a statement Thursday… The acquisition includes a pipeline of 15 gigawatts of new renewable power assets, mostly solar and onshore wind, plus a team that can originate more. Vinci is also looking at 8 gigawatts of offshore wind projects. Depending on how much of those actually get built, the assets could turn the company into a significant developer of green power.

[] – Vinci Seals $5.8 Billion Deal Marking Push Into Renewables
[] – Vinci SA

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)

Total & Engie Plan 40 MW Electrolyzer


The ink of our previous 24 MW Linde-ITM electrolyzer post isn’t dry yet and is already superseded by developments in France, where refiner Total and Engie plan to build a 40 MW electrolyzer, to be fed with solar electricity. Purpose: production of biodiesel.

[] – Energy giants Total and Engie to tap solar for France’s largest green hydrogen plant
[] – La Mède, one of Europe’s Largest Biorefineries
[Google Maps] – Total La Mède Refinery

Chinese BYD e-Buses in the Netherlands

French-owned public transport organization Keolis has ordered 259 e-buses from China and they are currently operational in the Netherlands.

[] – Keolis
[] – BYD K9

Citroën Ami Electrique

Speed of 45 kmh, range of 71 km, just two doors and is 2.41-metres long by 1.39-metres wide. 3 hours charging time. Price 7,000 euro. Can be driven by 14-year-olds. A sympathetic, minimalistic cheap car for people who can decide in advance that most of their travelling will be local only, including commuting. A good compromise for people who want to kick the car habit.

[] – We test Citroen’s diminutive Ami electric car
[] – Deze Elektrische Citroën Ami Komst Maar 7.000 Euro

Getting Concrete – Wind Towers & Monopiles Beyond Steel

Nordex-Germany building 120 m concrete wind tower in Brazil.

Do wind towers need to be built from steel? Not necessarily, concrete will work as well (or even wood) or a mixture of concrete and steel. A lot depends on the local circumstances and availability of materials. In many cases concrete will be easier to acquire than steel, which requires mining and processing in blast furnaces, where concrete is made of universally much more locally available cement and sand. The price of concrete is about $200-300/m3. The price of steel is ca. $5000/m3. Density concrete 2.5 tonnes/m3, steel 8.0 tonnes/m3 (not that you can draw direct conclusions from these figures).

The advantage of having taller wind turbines is the exposure to higher average wind speeds, which consequently require a more constant wind profile over the height of the rotor and larger blades. The race for harnessing the most power from wind energy is bringing some manufacturers to a path of alternative materials like concrete… There are already several wind farms around the world using this alternative in Chile, Denmark, and there are upcoming new projects in Spain and the UK.

[] – Offshore Wind Energy Towards a Concrete Future
[] – Concrete towers for onshore wind farms

Airbus Plans Hydrogen Planes

The European aircraft manufacturer Airbus is planning for 3 prototypes, equiped with hydrogen propulsion.

1. Turboprop – Two hybrid hydrogen turboprop engines, which drive the six bladed propellers, provide thrust. The liquid hydrogen storage and distribution system is located behind the rear pressure bulkhead.
2. Turbofan – Two hybrid hydrogen turbofan engines provide thrust. The liquid hydrogen storage and distribution system is located behind the rear pressure bulkhead.
3. Blended-Wing Body (BWB) – The exceptionally wide interior opens up multiple options for hydrogen storage and distribution. Here, the liquid hydrogen storage tanks are stored underneath the wings. Two hybrid hydrogen turbofan engines provide thrust.

[] – Airbus plant Wasserstoff-Flugzeug
[] – ZEROe, Towards the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft

The Soviets had a Tupolev-155 flying on hydrogen in 1988. Russian language video from what looks like an aircraft museum:

In the 1980s the russian aircraft producer Tupolev experimented with the use of LH2 in their aircraft. A Tupolev Tu-155 was rebuilt to run on the cryogenic fuel and proved that LH2 can produce sufficient thrust to power a commercial aircraft. Due to the extremely high hydrogen production prices present at that time, the project was unfortunately discontinued. The Tupolev study however did shed light on the great chemical properties of hydrogen. LH2 contains 2.8 times more energy than kerosene per unit mass and hence will save on aircraft weight. For the aerospace industry this is a great property as lightweight solutions are always highly preferred. On the other hand LH2 has very low energy density per unit volume meaning that for the same amount of energy LH2 will need four times more volume than kerosene.

[] – Liquid Hydrogen Powered Commercial Aircraft

Toyota Yaris Hybrid – 2.8 Liter/100 KM

The Toyota Yaris, produced in Valenciennes in France, was sold 229,000 times in Europe last year and remains of the utmost importance for Toyota. In the past 50% of the customer decided to buy the hybrid version of the Yaris, as of now it will probably be more like 75%. The car got a total new makeover. The data: 1.5 liter 3-cylinder. 68 kW. Li-Ion battery. Official consumption: 2.8 liter/100 km (at best). Possesses rudimentary automatic driving capabilities, including active cruise control. Price: 25,140 Euro.

[] – Das 2,8-Liter-Auto

Read more…

3D-Printed Houses Update

Westerlo, Belgium

3D-house printing could mean the end of the misery of all these shanty towns around the world. As a rule-of-thumb, a family can afford and finance a home that costs 3 times the yearly income. For $4000,- that means almost everybody on the planet. By the turn of the century, all people around the world living in a 3D-printed home, with a flat panel, space-based internet and solar panels on the roof, is a positive and realistic vision, something to work towards.

[] – 3D-printed model home by Kamp C in Westerlo
[] – Grand Design: How 3D Printing Could Change Our World
[deepresource] – 3D-Printed Home for $4000,-
[] – How 3D Printing Can Help Power the Energy Industry


[] – This building in Dubai is the largest 3D-printed structure in the world — and it took just 3 workers and a printer to build it

New Siemens-Gamesa Plant in Le Havre

Siemens-Gamesa has disclosed its plan to built an offshore wind factory in the French port of Le Havre. Interesting detail is that all elements required to build an offshore wind park, will be produced at one location. The plant is expected to become operational by the end of 2021, early 2022.

[] – France: Siemens Gamesa Awards Wind Turbine Plant Construction Contract
[Google Maps] – Location: Quai Joannès Couvert, port of Le Havre

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