Category Archives: Half News

Virtual energy plant: cheap and (going towards) 100% renewable

Hooraaaaay, our energy problems were just solved! I just viewed a short video about a “smart” energy system (Dutch ahead) that will power a new residential area called “De Nieuwe Dokken” in Ghent (Belgium). According to the video, the components of this system are:

  • solar panels on the roof
  • a big battery
  • charging points for electric vehicles
  • heat pumps
  • a very smart computer system to control all those energy flows.

Of course, it will be cheap, dirt cheap even. At several occasions in the video, the economic benefits of the system were praised. For example, electricity prices went negative on May 30 and one even got paid to take electricity from the electricity grid.

Wow, where do I have to sign up for that!?

When there is no(t a lot of) sun combined with high consumption, don’t worry, then the system could provide the electricity stored in the car batteries (after those gorged themselves with plentiful of energy during day) to the households.

Easy peasy. See, it doesn’t have to be that complicated.

Our Minister of Energy also made an appearance, proudly stating that this is how our (national) energy system will look like in the future, just on a larger scale. How cool is that! Our tiny country is showing the world how it is possible to realize 100% renewable energy on the cheap.

You are welcome, just thank us later 😉

There are however some, ahem, small details that for some reason were not explained in the video…

Continue reading

As effective as 18 gnats peeing on a fire

It seems I keep stumbling upon hooray stories about Australian grid batteries. I found this reneweconomy article about a new Tesla battery that will be built in New South Wales. The article is titled “Transgrid to build Australia’s first Tesla Megapack big battery in western Sydney” and the author is Giles Parkinson. I remember him from a cheering and one-sided article about the Hornsdale Power Reserve and this article seems not much different.

The first paragraph provides the crux of the story (my emphasis):

Transmission company Transgrid is to build the first big battery in Australia using Tesla’s recently introduced Megapack battery technology, and what is likely to [sic] the first of more than 10 big batteries to be built across NSW as it they are important in face of the looming retirement of its ageing coal fleet..

A new big Tesla battery will be built, this time in New South Wales and likely 10+ big batteries will follow. More, these batteries are built in preparation of the retirement of the New South Wales coal power plants over the next 10 to 12 years…

This all sounds pretty impressive, but I wonder what order of magnitude we are talking about here.

Continue reading

What are they waiting for?

In the first post of this year, I go back to a previous post, the first post in a series on global warming politics, more specifically on the Conversation article “Why some people still think climate change isn’t real” by David Hall, so I can wrap up that series.

Hall ends that Conversation article as follows:

What will make a difference is the power of the people – through regulation, divestment, consumer choice and public protest. Public surveys emphasise that, throughout the world, deniers are in the minority. The worried majority doesn’t need to win over everyone in order to win on climate change.

That is quite a inspirational paragraph to end his article with. Basically, the good guys (the convinced) are in the majority, the bad guys (the deniers) are in the minority and it will be the good guys who will make the difference.

Then I don’t see the problem that he tried to tackle in that article. If it is really true that the power of the people makes a difference and the worried ones are in the majority, then what are they waiting for? If the majority is worried and they are using their power of consumer choice and are willing to be regulated, then why didn’t this happened before?

Continue reading

Getting the world below 2 degrees not possible without a “climate neutral” EU?

Some seem to believe that a EU emission decrease will have a huge effect on world emissions, as is shown in this curious tweet from a Belgian politician (my emphasis):

Without getting the EU climate neutral, you will not get the world below 2 degrees C. And if we do not achieve that, the costs and losses cannot be foreseen.

Tweet wf schiltz 20191211

This is a bold statement and it doesn’t make much sense. Firstly, the EU emissions were in the order of 10-11% of world emissions in 2018 and secondly, developing countries like China and India have strongly rising emissions without engagements to lower them, so their emissions are very likely to further increase in the future, likely even after 2030. Africa will likely follow soon.

He rightfully got criticized for that in the reactions on the tweet. In this post, I want to go a step further and try to find out how EU emissions relate to global emissions and to what extent these are big enough to compensate for the increase from the developing regions.

Continue reading

Is the political left more science-minded than the political right?

In the article “Why some people still think climate change isn’t real“, the author stated that political ideology is the strongest predictor for denial and conservative voters are more likely to discount climate change. The focus is on conservatives that are said to be ideologically biased and therefor can’t accept the facts of climate science.

I heard many times before that the political right tend to deny the science. In the article itself, there was a link to another “Climate explained” article titled “Why are climate change skeptics often right-wing conservatives“. This was also explained in several papers authored by John Cook and it was therefor no surprise that this claim also appeared in the consensus handbook (in the chapter “The role of politics and information”):

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

“Extends” or “could extend”, that is the question

This is the wrap-up of the vehicle-to-grid series. In this post, I will go back to the article bringing the news that vehicle-to-grid networks increase longevity of electric car batteries. Now that I read the paper and have shed some light on several aspects, I re-read the article to find out whether the author was correctly representing that paper.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. It already starts with the title (translated from Dutch, my emphasis):

‘Energy storage in electric car extends the lifespan of the battery’

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Electric car registrations: a 2% increase of something tiny is still tiny

We have a new Flemish Minister of Energy since two days. As a result of the local elections of October last year, the previous Minister became mayor of his home town Ostend. That is a bit sad, he had the habit of enthusiastically sprouting meaningless claims about energy that were very easily debunked. I wrote several posts about such claims, so I will certainly miss his mindless claims.

The new Minister, Lydia Peeters, took the oath of office the day before yesterday. The first tweet on her twitter account came only a day later and is a retweet of a tweet written by her spokeswoman (translated from Dutch):

Nice increase becomes visible! @Lydiapeeters: “The switch to electric vehicles keeps going on” @BelgaPolitics Read it here:

Continue reading

Yet another meaningless metric: contribution of solar and wind to total load

“A new record for solar and wind”. This is stated in a tweet by our Flemish Minister of Energy:

The hashtag “stroomversnelling” (the Dutch word for “rapids” and used in expressions it roughly means “speeding up” or “moving faster”) and he often uses it in relation to his policies. So, do I understand it correctly that he connects the current policies are the reason that this record was broken?

That “new record” was solar and wind producing 45% of the Belgian electricity load on Saturday July 28 at 15:00. My first reaction was: “So what?”. It probably would boil down to a few minutes in the weekend. The Minister has a history of unnuanced and misleading tweets, so I thought it would be a good idea to check what that record is all about. I turns out that this record was even less significant than I expected.

Continue reading