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Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “electricity”

Electricity Price Problems in Germany

German language video

Documentary about German entrepreneurs, complaining about high energy prices, the highest in Europe, but also that the renewable energy transition isn’t going fast enough. Coal and nuclear are phased out at a rate that renewables can’t keep up with.

And then there are problems with grid stability, irrelevant for consumers, but not for companies with sensitive machinery.

Premature closure of nuclear power stations could be a mistake, and the most likely (but by no means certain) left-green-liberal coalition is unlikely to reverse that decision.

Cars are not the Issue

[source]

Annual Dutch electricity consumption: 120 billion kWh
Required annual electricity 100% e-car fleet: 20 billion kWh

The transition will require near 100% electricity or 2-3 times the amount of electricity the Netherlands uses now, in order to get rid of fossil fuel. Cars are less than 10% of that amount, even in the case that care numbers and driving patterns remain the same.

[twitter.com] – Maarten Steinbuch, prof. TU-Eindhvoen

Dutch Renewable Electricity Share 2015-2021

Dutch 12-month moving average share renewable electricity

[twitter.com] – Martien Visser

Shell to Enter Dutch Gas & Electricity Market

[source]

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”.

[nos.nl] – Shell gaat groene stroom en gas leveren aan consumenten thuis
[nl.wikipedia.org] – Nederlandse elektriciteitsmarkt
[independer.nl] – Overzicht Nederlandse energieleveranciers

Nordlink Subsea Cable Germany-Norway Inaugurated

The European super grid got more integrated today with the inauguration of the Nordlink subsea cable Germany-Norway. German wind power gets connected with Norwegian pumped hydro storage capacity. Cable capacity: 6 million households. Owners: Norwegian transmission system operator StatNett (50%), Dutch grid operator TenneT (25%) and German bank KfW (25%).

[wikipedia.org] – Nordlink
[tennet.eu] – NordLink – the “green cable” – between Germany and Norway is now fully in operation
[deepresource] – Our Nordlink posts

Read more…

NordLink Operational

Germany has a 2nd subsea power cable to Norway, called NordLink, connecting a large Norwegian hydro-buffer with German renewable energy sources to even-out intermittent power supply.

Construction start date: 2016
Trajectory: Wilster-Tonstadt
Subsea length: 516 km
Cost: 2 billion euro
Power: 1.4 GW
Operator: TenneT

[source]

[spiegel.de] – Deutschland nutzt Norwegen jetzt als Batterie
[wikipedia.org] – NordLink
[deepresource] – Norway Wants to Become Europe’s Battery Pack (2012)

Renewable Overtakes Fossil Fuels Electricity in Europe

[source]

The big reveal was that renewables overtook fossil fuels as the EU’s main source of electricity for the first time in 2020. The data shows that renewables rose to generate 38% of Europe’s electricity in 2020, up from 34.6% in 2019. Conversely, fossil-fired generation fell to 37%.

The Renewable Energy policy of the European Union is beginning to pay off. As a consequence, expect the EU industry to dominate in most aspects of renewable energy, giving Europe a great geopolitical advantage.

[energytransition.org] – Renewables overtake fossil-fueled electricity throughout Europe
[wikipedia.org] – Energy policy of the European Union

Winter Messes with Texan Energy Grids

Parts of the US and particularly Texas fell victim to a severe winter ice storm, leading to a mismatch between limited supply and huge demand, causing major disruptions in heat and electricity supply and blackouts for at least 9 million people in North-America, of which over 5 million in the US and 4.5 million in Texas alone.

Focus of attention gets grid-operator ERCOT, that lost 34 GW power. Most power loss comes from failing gas, coal and nuclear power stations, although many right-wing renewable energy skeptics blamed wind power and “frozen rotor blades” in particular for the winter calamity. To make matters worse, the Texan grid is not connected to the US national grid, so neighboring states couldn’t help.

[source] Viral Image Claiming to Show a Helicopter De-Icing Texas Wind Turbines Is From Winter 2014 in Sweden

For the real reasons, see the Time article, linked to below.

[time.com] – Here’s What’s Really Causing Texas’ Widespread and Deadly Blackouts
[wikipedia.org] – February 13–17, 2021 North American winter storm
[greentechmedia.com] – Winter Storm Forces Blackouts Across Texas

VanMoof S3 – the Automatic Transmission Bike

Dutch language review by Dutch consumer organization “Consumentenbond“. They have a reputation of being fairly neutral, as they are funded by membership fees.

Summary: one-size frame, height steer adaptable. Battery in the frame. Automatic transmission, no manual shifting gears. Function of speed, which could be less optimal with headwind. Transmission shift points adaptable in app. Electronic lock, operated by either app or manual security code. A locked bike makes noise if moved. Adaptable “ringtones”. Front-wheel drive. Led-display not very visible in the sunshine. No suspension in either steer or saddle, which isn’t too comfortable, although somewhat compensated by broad tires. Boost-function, which comes in handy at short climbs, like fly-overs. Top speed 32 kmh. Battery capacity 0.5 kWh, leading to a range of 60-150 km, depending on level of e-support. Battery is fixed, so the entire bike needs to be near the charging station. The bike has GPS, so you always know where the bike is. VanMoof anti-burglar insurance for 290,-/3 years.

Consumentenbond verdict: good value for money. Automatic gear and display could be better, but the price is right.

US review

[cleantechnica.com] – The VanMoof S3 Makes Riding Electric Easy & Invisible
[vanmoof.com] – VanMoof company site

Cobra Sub-Sea Cable Denmark-Netherlands Repaired

Denmark often has cheap surplus wind energy on offer and the Netherlands is keen on buying that. Hence, the 320 kV, 700 MW Cobra sub-sea cable between these two countries, inaugurated in 2017.

Unfortunately, the cable broke in September 2020, but was repaired and 3 months later is now operational again.

[wikipedia.org] – COBRA cable

Decreasing Electricity Prices in the Netherlands

In 2020 electricity prices were negative for 97 hours: too much supply of renewable electricity for too little demand. This would have been the supply that should have been converted into stored energy, like hydrogen. Expect this category of hours to increase over the coming years.

[twitter.com] – Martien Visser

Renewable Share Dutch Electricity Production

Solar and wind in 2020 represent 20% share total electricity production. In 2019 it was 15%, in 2018 12%.

In 2030 it will be 70%, if national climate accord targets will be met.

[twitter.com] – Martien Visser grafiek van de dag

The Business Case for Storage in a Single Graph

The business case on display for storage of renewable electricity in batteries, as price fluctuates between 3-90 Euro/MWh. If we assume a cost of industrial-sized battery storage of 170,000 Euro/MWh and occasional price fluctuations of 87 Euro/MWh, like the ones in the graph, after 1,954 charge-discharge cycles, of 72 hours each, the storage would have earned itself back 3 x 1954 / 365 = 16 years. With industry forecasting a storage price of 50 Euro/kWh in 2030, that earn-back time would be reduced to 575 charge-discharge cycles or less than 5 years, based on the anecdotal data from this graph. Data on a much larger time-scale needs to be analyzed to come up with more reliable earn-back estimates.

[twitter.com] – Elektriciteitsprijs per 25-27 augustus 2020
[deepresource] – Lithium-ion Storage Price Development

Most Efficient Way to Use Electricity in Mobility

Meaning of this graph is answering the question:

How to get the most kilometres from a given kWh electric energy?

Options:

1. put it directly in a car battery
2. turn it into hydrogen and use it in a car with a fuel cell
3. turn it into fossil fuel and drive a conventional petrol car

Clear winner: batteries.

Did batteries just beat hydrogen? Uh, no. Renewable electricity supply remains intermittent and hence needs to be buffered and hydrogen is one of the best seasonal storage options available.

Nevertheless, the graph does illustrate that IF electricity is available, it is best used directly, like for charging car batteries, hydro pumping, producing steel, turn on your washing machine, switch on your freezer for some extra degrees of cold and what not. It’s called demand management. Using renewable electricity directly is almost always preferable over storing it in chemicals. Storage of electricity in hydrogen is an application of last resort.

In the future, the weather forecast will get more interesting than today, because “money is in the air”. Expect the internet-of-things to play a prominent role in taking decisions when to consume electricity automatically.

[twitter.com] – Cars, battery electric most efficient by far
[wikipedia.org] – Internet of things

Netherlands to Double Capacity Electricity Grid in a Decade

[source]

…to accommodate for the energy transition.

The Dutch minister of Economic Affairs Wiebes wrote this in a letter to parliament on June 8, 2020:

Kernboodschap

Zoals eerder aangekondigd heb ik een aantal maatregelen op korte en lange termijn genomen. Met deze maatregelen kan ik verlichting bieden, maar zullen het gebrek aan capaciteit niet structureel kunnen verhelpen. Netuitbreiding en – verzwaring blijft vooralsnog nodig als structurele oplossing. Netbeheerders investeren dan ook fors om de transportcapaciteit uit te breiden.

De transportcapaciteit die we in afgelopen tientallen jaren hebben opgebouwd zal in de komende 10 jaar worden verdubbeld. De regionale netbeheerders verwachten circa 30 miljard euro te gaan investeren tot en met 2030 en TenneT 12 miljard euro op dezelfde termijn. Deze uitbreidingen vergen enkele jaren aan realisatietijd, met name als gevolg van procedures met betrekking tot ruimtelijke inpassing en bijbehorende vergunningsprocedures.

[rijksoverheid.nl] – Kamerbrief vervolg toezeggingen gebrek transportcapaciteit elektriciteit
[tennet.eu] – Onshore projects Netherlands
[tennet.eu] – Detailed grid map Netherlands

[source] The Netherlands and Germany can exchange 5 GW of electricity. For the moment it is mostly German wind energy, but that doesn’t need to be the case for all eternity, with the realization of one Dutch offshore wind project after another.

9-Seater e-Cessna Completes First Test Flight

“Fuel” cost 30 minutes flying: $6,-
A regular schedule will be picked up next year.

Nevertheless, this is flying for the happy few.
For regular mass transportation the only solution seems to be either kerosine-from-air or CO2-compensation via tree planting, via a ticket surcharge.

[wattisduurzaam.nl] – e-vliegtuig voor 9 passagiers maakt testvlucht van 30 min.

Three Oslo Fjord Ferries are now Electric

Charging takes 8-9 minutes

[Google Maps] – Oslo Fjord

The Netherlands 40% Solar Electricity for a Few Hours

A beautiful Saturday afternoon in April and a corona lock-down suffice to break a new solar electricity record share of 40% in the Netherlands:

[energieopwek.nl] – Live & historic renewable electricity data The Netherlands

Expect this record of 5 GW to be broken later in the Summer (not the 40%-share after the end of the corona lock-down). Last year, the installed solar capacity in the Netherlands grew with 50%. Similar growth figures are expected for 2021.

[nu.nl] – Zonnepanelen breken records in zonnig april

The Netherlands consumes on average 13 GW electricity (24/7/365), most from fossil sources. However, browsing back into history a few interesting maximum data points can be recovered:

29-03-2020 13:30 – 7.53 GW
22-03-2020 13:10 – 7.68 GW

Note that these values apply for an hour or so and shows that the renewable energy transition in the Netherlands is still in its early stages. But it can already be predicted that the moment when the entire electricity needs of the Netherlands will be covered for 100% by renewable electricity, isn’t that very far away, probably in a year or 2, when large offshore wind parks come on-line and more solar panels will be installed on Dutch roofs. Other European countries, like Germany, Denmark and Scotland already achieved that milestone earlier.

[wikipedia.org] – List of countries by electricity consumption

Electricity consumption per capita in kWh/year (2016):

Country kWh/capita in 2016
Germany 6602
France 6448
Netherlands 6346
Denmark 5720
Spain 4818
UK 4795
Italy 4692

The Netherlands still lags behind in the EU with regards to achieving the EU renewable electricity targets, but will catch up quickly in the coming few years, when several huge offshore wind parks will go in-line.

Researchers Produce (a Little) Electricity out of Thin Air

[source]

The system is quite straightforward and consists of a thin film of protein nanowire just seven micrometers (sometimes known as a microns) thick which is positioned between two electrodes and exposed to the air. For reference, a human hair is roughly 75 microns across, depending on the person.

This nanowire film absorbs water vapor present in the atmosphere, thus creating a small electrical charge through the diffusion of protons in the material.

“I found that exposure to atmospheric humidity was essential and that protein nanowires adsorbed water, producing a voltage gradient across the device,” Yao said.

Similar experiments have been conducted previously using nano materials like graphene, but they only produced intermittent, short bursts of electricity, rather than a “continuous voltage output” like the Air Gen system.

Air-Gen reportedly produces a sustained voltage of 0.5 volts at 17 micro amperes per square centimeter; in other words, you’d need multiple Air-Gen devices linked together to charge your smartphone, so don’t throw out those solar panels just yet.

0.5 Volt and 17 micro ampere per centimeter, that would be 0.35 Watt/m2 or 0.5 Watt for a surface like that of 300 Watt standard panels.
Indeed, don’t throw away your solar panels. Useless.

Next.

[nature.com] – Power generation from ambient humidity using protein nanowires
[wikipedia.org] – Geobacter
[rt.com] – Researchers produce electricity out of thin air
[umass.edu] – UMass Amherst Generates Electricity ‘Out of Thin Air’
[spiegel.de] – Forscher erzeugen Strom aus Luftfeuchtigkeit

Power Generation, Electricity Lines and Pumped Hydro-Storage

Read more…

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