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Our world and freedom

Our world and freedom

Recent and shocking events in the Ukraine show us once again that safety and security are too often taken for granted. Our deepest sympathy and fullest support go to the Ukrainian people. But the events also show that we must be continuously alert to safeguard our precious freedom.

Our prime focus is on the people in the Ukraine, the injured one’s and those who have lost their lives, whilst defending their country and protecting their family and home. Neighbouring countries are obviously worried what it will do to their safety and security.

And then there is the discussion on security of the natural gas supply, and the impact above changes are having on the supply and price levels.

In some of my previous jobs I worked and gave leadership to companies who gave advice on various gas issues. One thing I clearly remember is, that already over the last 12+ years various advices were given not to be too dependent on the supply of natural gas coming from the East. I obviously comprehend that in the past choices have been made based on numerous criteria; and costs of supply being an important one. But I’m annoyed viewing the current situation of gas supply to Europa and the Netherlands in particular. Why have we manoeuvred ourselves in this situation? And articles in the media, where it’s mentioned that Gas supply firms are now looking into alternatives, doesn’t help to improve my mood either, as this should have been done a long time ago.

Sure, in the Netherlands, the Groningen gas situation has not helped us in recent years. But still, isn’t the role of those ‘in control’ to look way ahead and assess potential risks and come with the correct mitigating actions. And not to work in firefighting mode.

So, the obvious question is: what can we do in the short term to be less dependent on natural gas?

Transition to renewable energies takes time and could bring significant costs. But given the current price levels, the business case for investing in alternatives becomes more and more interesting. This means immediately making available funds for those who can’t finance the investment by themselves. Fortunately, interest rates are still low. Start with energy savings measures, followed by actions focussing on energy generation by other means than natural gas. However, in the Netherlands the lead time for ordering Heat pumps is becoming very long, and hence concentrated action is required here to improve the overall supply chain. Also, it’s noticed that there is a shortage of labour in some installation branches in my country.

A recent message from the IEA is still worth reading. They have issued a so-called 10-Point Plan on how the European Union countries can reduce its reliance on the natural gas imports coming from the “East”. For further details, please click here.

I fully understand if, for the immediate short term, one chooses to continue using coalfired plants and nuclear energy. Of course, I understand the concerns from a climate change perspective, but life doesn’t always provide us with free and easy options, and forces us to take interim steps balancing all sorts of societal aspects. I’ve focused before on the potential role of nuclear energy in the energy transition and welcome an objective fact-based debate on the issue.

We have published various blogs over the years focusing on alternative measures, and I recommend the readers to reflect on them.

I understand it’s not easy to manage energy changes on a regional and global scale. But the current energy crisis could have been better tackled if all of us were better prepared for the next phases of energy transition. We have waisted many years for all sorts of reasons. And one of the most important one’s is not having a clear masterplan and subsequently lacking well defined intermediate annual targets on how to achieve the ultimate goals in line with the Paris agreement. Fortunately, there are many positive and successful initiatives by individual companies. But we need leadership across the board, in order to make an effective connection and affordable implementation ! We owe it to those people fighting for our freedom.

Record number of 140,000 home batteries installed in Europe in 2020

Record number of 140,000 home batteries installed in Europe in 2020

Effective and increased usage of residential sustainable generated energy (mainly due to solar panels) eventually requires home or neighbourhood storage facilities. It’s a subject which we have been focusing on for many years.

According to the latest report of Solar Power Europe – European Market Outlook for Residential Battery Storage 2021-2025:“ In 2020, around 140,000 household battery systems with a combined storage capacity over 1 GWh were installed in Europe”. A remarkable achievement !

Another important quote from the report: “In the Netherlands no major changes are bound to happen in the near future. Here, the net-metering regulation for residential PV systems is still the most important barrier for self-consumption through batteries and will remain fully in force until 2023.” In our opinion the financial preconditions in The Netherlands needs to be tweaked to accommodate better and more sustainability components in order to meet the national climate targets. We realise that discussions on this subject are ongoing and that certain changes can be expected, but how soon? (re. also: https://www.aarten-es.com/blog-post/acm-transmission-tariffs-cannot-be-an-impediment-to-the-construction-of-power-storages/).

The report “European Market Outlook for Residential Battery Storage 2021-2025” also shows some interesting insights into the future cost developments. We expect battery manufacturing costs to reduce further, particularly if the actual installed numbers increase.

Let’s learn from the German experience. As mentioned in our blog “The Sustainable Home: providing insights into various possibilities”, featuring amongst other, Zonatlas, it’s very important to provide useful insights to homeowners so they can assess what the potential of electricity storage can bring to them. Zonatlas works very closely with German based tetraeder.solar, and therefore brings German experience into the Netherlands. (re. https://www.aarten-es.com/blog-post/the-sustainable-home-providing-insights-into-various-possibilities/).

We also like to refer to another recent blog on Storage; re. https://www.aarten-es.com/blog-post/the-power-of-residential-battery-energy-storage-systems/.

In summary: this very relevant report, with a broad focus, issued by the international organisation Solar Power Europe, once again shows the various current possibilities to accelerate the energy transition. For further details, please click here.

The Sustainable Home: providing insights into various possibilities

The Sustainable Home: providing insights into various possibilities

Much is written about the desired sustainability steps in our home or business space. Many owners are already doing well individually; others tackle the actions collectively. But apart from the approach, insights are first needed into the possibilities and the cost consequences. But where do we get the information from? And which sources of information can we trust?

This article focuses on the situation in The Netherlands, but the experiences can obviously be applied elsewhere.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can we do now, and what later? After all, the ultimate heat supply must also fit into the local/municipal development plans. The last thing any individual homeowner wants to do is invest uselessly. For example: will the natural gas network continue to exist and will we eventually switch to green gas and/or hydrogen? Or is the heating of our building completely realised without the use of natural gas and/or sustainable gases, and what are those options? What about the connection to a nearby heat network? Can we already install a hybrid heat pump, because the savings in natural gas consumption and the resulting cost reductions are already such that a good and affordable sustainability step can be taken, regardless of what the future local/municipal situation will be?

And then there are the questions about the degree of technological development (is the device well developed and will it not cause unnecessary malfunctions) and the associated costs. The positive development of solar panels over the past 20 years shows an enormous improvement in performance and reliability and cost reductions.

Municipal Plans in the Netherlands

The municipal plans will be formulated in a so-called Local Energy Strategy (LES), which will have a close relationship with the Regional Energy Strategy (RES). So it is important to request this information via the relevant municipal website. This gives an idea of the plans for the next 10-20 years. However, regardless of these municipal visions, it always pays to start implementing energy-saving measures as soon as possible (e.g. apply insulation where possible, but consider good ventilation; HR++ glass or better; energy-efficient household appliances). Furthermore, it is always smart to install solar panels where possible.

 

Various examples

In this context, we would therefore like to refer to “Zonatlas.nl” and “Warmtepompplein.nl” respectively, which currently makes certain information freely available to individual house/building owners in The Netherlands. Please note: Zonatlas.nl = Solar energy information platform. Warmtepompplein.nl = Information portal on heat pumps.

Solar energy – information via Zonatlas.nl

Via Zonatlas, an individual homeowner or company in The Netherlands can easily see for themselves what the electricity generation potential of the property is by means of solar panels. Re. link: https://www.zonatlas.nl/start/

  • Note: Zonatlas has calculated and mapped the suitability of almost all roofs in the Netherlands. By using, among other things, height data, multi-year weather data, and intensity calculation of solar radiation, the inclination angle(s), orientation points relative to the sun, shadow areas and even more technical data are combined to calculate the solar energy yield of a roof. And accurate to 30cm! Zonatlas has mapped out the solar energy yield of more than 13 million buildings in the Netherlands.

Furthermore, Zonatlas offers additional information if the Dutch municipality, to which the specified postcode with house number belongs, has a membership on Zonatlas. We will give 2 examples in this regard. (1) On the Zonatlas-website one can ‘turn on’ a home battery and see what the effects are. We have already pointed out the importance of home or neighbourhood batteries in separate blogs. Re. link: https://www.aarten-es.com/language/en/news-storage/. The battery developments will be much needed to accelerate the transition in an effective and affordable way. (2) One can also examine the effects of heat generation, of the energy generated by solar collectors/solar boiler.

Another development, available on request, focuses on providing insight into the effects of connecting an electric car to the home solar panel system.

Heat supply – information via Warmtepompplein.nl

With Warmtepompplein.nl, an individual homeowner or company in The Netherlands can discover which heat pump fits best. Re. link: https://warmtepompplein.nl/quickscan/By entering postal code and house number, one will receive advice for an all-electric and hybrid air-water heat pump. Note. This tool is based on the formulas described in ISSO 51 (Standard Heat Loss Calculation). A heat pump does require electricity, which in turn can be partially or fully compensated by installing (extra) solar panels. Therefore, the link with Zonatlas is important.

Providing more insights through an integrated/holistic approach

The writer of this blog has permission to state here that ‘behind the scenes of Zonatlas and Warmtepompplein’, significant work is being done to link the various sustainability components together in a smart way, so good insights into the sustainability options of one’s own building can be obtained in a simple and effective manner. However, the available tools already provide a good insight!

Dutch Solar Magazine publishes an interesting article about Storage & Home Batteries

Dutch Solar Magazine publishes an interesting article about Storage & Home Batteries

The title of the article in Solar Magazine reads: “The Dutch grid operators and Energy Storage NL want the central government to adhere to the phasing out of the netting scheme for solar panels (in Dutch: “salderingsregeling”) and to introduce a subsidy of 30 percent for home batteries.” For further information, please refer to this interesting article; click here for more information.

In previous blogs on our website, we have frequently referred to the importance of electricity storage in achieving overall sustainability of the built environment. For example, we refer to:

COP26, Dutch Climate and Energy Outlook 2021, and other References

COP26, Dutch Climate and Energy Outlook 2021, and other References

COP26

The COP26 UN Climate Change Conference, hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy, is taking place from 31 October to 12 November 2021 in Glasgow, UK. Let’s see what the outcome of this latest conference will be regarding new climate goals, and required actions on various levels. Despite the past COP’s and pledges made in these conferences by world leaders, is the current assessment of global climate change still extremely worrying.

Please click here for accessing the website of UNFCCC-COP26.

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The Dutch Climate and Energy Outlook 2021

The report summarized the Outlook as follows: “This annual publication is stipulated by the Dutch Climate Act and regarded as one of the accountability instruments of Dutch climate and energy policy. Taking adopted and proposed policies as the point of reference, Dutch greenhouse gas emissions are expected to decrease by between 38% and 48% in 2030, compared to 1990 levels. This means that the government’s emission reduction target of 49% by 2030 is not yet in view.” For further details, please click here.

The Dutch page of this website provides more summarised information; click here by accessing this page.

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Reference to other articles/blogs

In the past, many blogs have appeared on our website; we would like to refer to our “News and events” section (click here).

A recent article was about the IPCC and Climate Change (click here).

It’s clear that worldwide we pay a lot of attention to “Climate change and its impact on the world and its population”. Fortunately, many good actions are taking place, which are already showing results. And we can also praise all individual actions by citizens, and joint local initiatives by energy cooperatives/energy commons. But it’s still far from enough. So, we are all very curious what will be written in the newspapers on November 13, 2021 when the COP26 has ended, hopefully successfully, the day before.

ACM: transmission tariffs cannot be an impediment to the construction of power storages

ACM: transmission tariffs cannot be an impediment to the construction of power storages

Note: ACM stands for The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets.

ACM reports on her website the following: “The different components of the transmission tariffs for electricity cannot be an impediment to the construction and development of power storage installations.” Read more by clicking here. A very good development for all homeowners and companies that want to become more sustainable.

 

For the recently performed market scan, click here for more information. (note the article is in the Dutch language).

Latest IPCC report on Climate change

Latest IPCC report on Climate change

A lot has been written and stated in the media, but we would like to focus the readers of this blog on the following link. For the report summary, full contents and other information, please refer to: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/#SPM . Note: IPCC stands for “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”.

The conclusions are pretty straightforward, and to a large extent already known to many of us focusing on climate changes and required actions. Few quotes from the IPCC have been outlined below. Also worthwhile to read and study is the regional information, which can be explored in detail in the newly developed Interactive Atlas of IPCC (https://interactive-atlas.ipcc.ch/).

We sometimes read criticisms on the IPCC report in the media. Some state that the scenarios are too pessimistic, etc. We only have one simple response to this: “If the patient is ill, and the causes are not 100% known, all precautionary measures must be undertaken to ensure that the patient will continue to live, and that no unnecessary risks are taken”. Globally, the IPCC reports are regarded as leading; also because there must be international consensus before they are published.

The IPCC report will hopefully form the centre piece in the COP26 (UN Climate Change Conference) in Glasgow later this year; for details on the COP26, please refer to: https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/conferences/glasgow-climate-change-conference .

Some quotes from the IPCC, and they have been printed in “Italics”, in order not to lose the essence of the message provided:

  • “Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years.”
  • “However, strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change. While benefits for air quality would come quickly, it could take 20-30 years to see global temperatures stabilize.”
  • Faster warming:
    • “The report provides new estimates of the chances of crossing the global warming level of 1.5°C in the next decades, and finds that unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.”
    • “The report shows that emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are responsible for approximately 1.1°C of warming since 1850-1900, and finds that averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming. This assessment is based on improved observational datasets to assess historical warming, as well progress in scientific understanding of the response of the climate system to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.”
  •  Every region facing increasing changes:
    • “Many characteristics of climate change directly depend on the level of global warming, but what people experience is often very different to the global average. For example, warming over land is larger than the global average, and it is more than twice as high in the Arctic.”
    • “The report projects that in the coming decades climate changes will increase in all regions. For 1.5°C of global warming, there will be increasing heat waves, longer warm seasons and shorter cold seasons. At 2°C of global warming, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health, the report shows.”
    • “But it is not just about temperature. Climate change is bringing multiple different changes in different regions – which will all increase with further warming. These include changes to wetness and dryness, to winds, snow and ice, coastal areas and oceans. For example:
      • Climate change is intensifying the water cycle. This brings more intense rainfall and associated flooding, as well as more intense drought in many regions. 
      • Climate change is affecting rainfall patterns. In high latitudes, precipitation is likely to increase, while it is projected to decrease over large parts of the subtropics. Changes to monsoon precipitation are expected, which will vary by region.
      • Coastal areas will see continued sea level rise throughout the 21st century, contributing to more frequent and severe coastal flooding in low-lying areas and coastal erosion. Extreme sea level events that previously occurred once in 100 years could happen every year by the end of this century.
      • Further warming will amplify permafrost thawing, and the loss of seasonal snow cover, melting of glaciers and ice sheets, and loss of summer Arctic sea ice.
      • For cities, some aspects of climate change may be amplified, including heat (since urban areas are usually warmer than their surroundings), flooding from heavy precipitation events and sea level rise in coastal cities.”
  • Human influence on the past and future climate:
    • “The report also shows that human actions still have the potential to determine the future course of climate. The evidence is clear that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main driver of climate change, even as other greenhouse gases and air pollutants also affect the climate.”
    • “Stabilizing the climate will require strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net zero CO2 emissions. Limiting other greenhouse gases and air pollutants, especially methane, could have benefits both for health and the climate,” according to the IPCC report.
IEA report: “Empowering Cities for a Net Zero Future”

IEA report: “Empowering Cities for a Net Zero Future”

In this IEA report, it’s mentioned that cities account for more than 50% of the global population, 80% of global GDP, two-thirds of global energy consumption and more than 70% of annual global carbon emissions. According to IEA, these factors are expected to grow significantly in the coming decades: it is anticipated that by 2050 more than 70% of the world’s population will live in cities, resulting in massive growth in demand for urban energy infrastructure. Read more by clicking here ……

European Commission legislative package “Fit for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels”

European Commission legislative package “Fit for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels”

On July 14, 2021, the European Commission adopted a package of proposals to make the EU’s climate, energy, land use, transport and taxation policies fit for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.  Quite a lot has been published in the media about these plans, but we only refer to the following link, which clearly shows the details. Please click here for further information ……

IEA article: Fossil fuel subsidies create an uneven playing field for clean energy

IEA article: Fossil fuel subsidies create an uneven playing field for clean energy

It continues to be worthwhile to read IEA articles and commentaries on various energy developments.

In a recent article by the IEA (for details click here), the authors emphasise the fact that fossil fuel subsidies are creating an uneven playing field for clean energy. IEA organisation monitors energy prices that consumers pay around the world, and compares them with so-called reference prices. In this way the IEA estimates the size of subsidies over time.

In the context of aiming for a sustainable world, this article shows that there is still quite some work to do internationally.

(IEA: International Energy Agency)