Category Archives: Belgium

Post related to global warming/climate change communication in Belgium

A simple model: when capacity of solar and wind increase

In previous post, I described the particular dynamics in which electricity production from intermittent energy sources, when growing in capacity, will not increase much at the production valleys, but will steeply increase at the production peaks. This means that, when capacity increases, the needed backup capacity will stay high, even at multiples of the current capacity, but at the same time measures have to be taken to suppress the ever growing peaks.

I illustrated this with a (celebrated) record high of wind production on June 8, followed by a (neglected) low production (June 9). In less than 12 hours, the production fell from almost 3,000 MWh (capacity factor of 81%) to almost 20 MWh (capacity factor of 0.5%). This illustration was only for electricity production by wind energy. There is a complicating factor: solar is also an intermittent energy source and can intensify as well as dampen the effect of wind.

That made me wonder how this interaction would look like when capacity of solar and wind increases over time. In real-life, this is not witnessed yet, this is still to come. It is however possible to study the dynamics of such a system by modeling it.

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A new record for wind energy (during a storm)

A storm headed over our country at the end of last week. That inevitably means advocates of wind energy praising how wonderful wind energy is doing and how much electricity was produced by wind. That is exactly what happened and apparently we even have a new record…

It was Chris Derde (manager of energy provider Wase wind) who broke the news. He tweeted that wind energy had a “new record production of 3 GW” and that nuclear power plants lowered “their production by 0.5 GW”. This was one of the two images that accompanied the tweet, illustrating the record:

Tweet Chris Derde 20190608 chart wind

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More averaging: impact of electric cars on the grid

The term “vehicle-to-grid” is mentioned twice in passing in the report detailing the impact of electric cars on our grid (see previous post). I wondered whether this vehicle-to-grid was the solution to their problem. After all, their calculation was done by averaging consumption, which is not really what will happen in the real world. But when they assume some top-down system of regulating demand, then I could somehow understand their reasoning.

I didn’t find any reference mentioning “vehicle-to-grid” in the report, but I wanted to know where the CREG got these assumptions from. I found that, to my surprise, the CREG earlier wrote a report on the impact of electric cars on a vehicle-to-grid system (pdf, Dutch ahead). The report is not new, it was published in 2010 with the data from 2007 and 2008. The subject of their research is the impact of the introduction of electric cars on the electricity spot market price.

The result of the 2010 report was similar to the 2016 report. They also researched the impact of 1 million electric cars and found that only 2.5% extra electricity needs to be produced on average (compared to 4% in the 2016 report) and that base load could easily absorb that extra electricity demand. The general conclusion of the 2010 report is that charging cars during off-peak hours will lower the spot prices. This because part of the capacity of the car battery could be used to trade on the energy market, buying electricity from the grid when it is cheap (during off-peak hours) and selling it at a high price when it is expensive (during peak hours).

It gets interesting when they explain their assumptions (on page 15 – 16):

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Just 4 percent extra electricity required to accommodate 1 million electric cars?

My previous post was not completely finished when I learned that our new Flemish Minister of Energy was piggybacking on the resolved delivery problems of the Tesla 3. She wrote a post about the increase in electric car subsidy requests during the first three months of the year and framed it as a success story. It is best making hay when the sun is out.

While trying to find information on the subject of her post, I encountered a tweet in which she answered the question whether we would have enough electricity to supply for electric cars when we already now experience a substantial electricity shortage. I don’t understand the question very well (although our electricity supply is old and in disarray, we don’t have electricity shortages, yet), but her answer is intriguing (translated from Dutch):

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Sales of all-electric cars finally kicking off?

A few days ago, I came across an article titled “Substantially more electric cars sold“. My first thought when reading this headline was: “Again?!”. It was only a few months ago that I looked into an increase of electric car registrations and I was not really impressed when I found out that it was all about a 1.94% increase of something with a share of 0.22%. Now we have yet another such claim.

The article is for registered users only, but this could be seen by non-registered visitor (translated from Dutch):

The sale of electric cars is finally kicking off in Belgium. A record number of 1,085 all-electric passenger cars were registered in March. This according to figures from the automobile federation Febiac.

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Solar and wind replace nuclear?

A small interruption from my 6-years-of-blogging series. This blog documented several meaningless (or even wrong) remarks from our (now former) Flemish Minister of Energy. I was a bit sad when I heard that he chose to be mayor of Ostend in stead of Minister of Energy, but apparently he doesn’t have to be Minister to utter such remarks. On a congress organized by his party (OpenVLD) he made following claim (translated from Dutch):

Today, offshore wind turbines provide 1.2 GW of energy production.

That is not even remotely true. Belgian offshore wind provides much less than that. The 1.2 GW is the capacity. The real production will vary, but will be on average a fraction of that number.

He obviously is confusing capacity with production. Why am I not surprised? Strange however is that the error is still not corrected yet at the time I published this post (now more than a week later). Didn’t they notice it? Or do all the energy experts of that political party stand behind this number?

Then comes the interesting part that leads to the subject of this post (translated from Dutch, my emphasis):

“By 2026 we will increase this to 4GW without subsidies. From then on, the offshore wind farms will provide 20% of the total electricity requirement. This is just as much as the total electricity consumption of all Belgian families, “says Bart Tommelein.

This claim reminded me of the new energy pact made by the Flemish Green party, published a few days before the congress. It has a similar claim (translated from Dutch, my emphasis):

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Feed the debate with (some) facts (and loads of assumptions)

Belgian scientists wrote an open letter in which they ask for better climate policies. This open letter is a reaction to the several climate marches that were organized in the last weeks by schoolchildren skipping school.

In a newspaper article (Dutch ahead), one of the organizers claimed that they want to feed the “climate debate with facts”. The word “fact” was mentioned six times throughout the article, so she wanted to emphasize that.

A debate based on facts. I surely like the sound of that!

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