The Anonymous Widower

Funding Nemo: £600m Power Cable Connects UK And Belgium

The title of this post is the same as this article in The Guardian.

This is the first paragraph.

A £600m cable connecting the UK and Belgium’s energy systems is about to be switched on, becoming the first of a new generation of interconnectors that will deepen the UK’s ties to mainland Europe just as it prepares to leave the EU.

It runs between Richborough in Kent and Zeebrugge in Belgium and is the fifth interconnector to be connected to Great Britain.

Other interconnectors connect to Ireland, Northern Ireland, France and the Netherlands.

In Large Scale Electricity Interconnection, I discuss the rest of the interconnectors, that are being constructed or planned.

We could see up to fifteen in operation in a few years.

As to Nemo, it was originally thought that the UK would be importing energy from Belgium, but as Belgium needs to service its nuclear power stations and will be shutting them in the next few years, the power will sometimes be flowing the other way. Especially, as more large wind farms come on stream in the UK!

It is my view that Icelink could change everything and Belgium’s possible future power shortage, makes Icelink for likely.

Wikipedia describes the interconnector between Iceland and Scotland like this.

At 1000–1200 km, the 1000 MW HVDC link would be the longest sub-sea power interconnector in the world.

As more interconnectors are built between the UK and the Continent, including a possible link between Peterhead in North-East Scotland to Stavanger in Norway, which is called NorthConnect, the UK will begin to look like a giant electricity sub-station, that connects all the zero-carbon power sources together.

  • Denmark will supply wind power.
  • France will supply nuclear power.
  • Iceland will supply hydro-electric and geothermal power.
  • Norway will supply hydro-electric power.
  • The UK will supply nuclear and wind power.

Other sources like wind power from France and Ireland and tidal and wave power from the UK could be added to the mix in the next decade.

The Consequences For Gas

Our use of gas to generate electricity in Western Europe will surely decline.

If projects, like those I discussed in Can Abandoned Mines Heat Our Future?, come on stream to provide heat, the role of gas in providing heating in housing and other buildings will decline in the UK.

We also shouldn’t forget the role of hydrogen, which could also replace natural gas in many applications. It would be created by electrolysis of water or as a by-product of some industrial processes.

Hydrogen could also become a valuable way of storing excess electricity produced by tidal, wave and wind power.

It is unlikely, we will develop a totally gas-free economy, as methane is a valuable chemical feedstock to produce other chemical products we need.

Conclusion

Not many people will be sorry, except for President Putin and a few equally nasty despots in the Middle East.

 

 

 

 

December 7, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

England In Kaliningrad

There is a good chance, that my great-great-great-grandfather; Robert Muller, came from East Prussia, the capital of which was Konigsberg East Prussia was annexed by the Soviet Union after the Second World |War and Konigsberg was renamed Kaliningrad.

My father was about fourteen, when his grandfather died and my father once told me, that his grandfather had told him, about meeting Robert, who would have been his grandfather’s grandfather.

Apparently, the elderly man didn’t speak any English and only spoke German. Knowing that my male line is Jewish, I wonder if it wasn’t German but Yiddish.

Konigsberg was an important city and the Prussian

Wikipedia has a section about the Jews in Konigsberg, where this is said.

The Jewish population of Königsberg in the 18th century was fairly low, although this changed as restrictions became relaxed over the course of the 19th century. In 1756 there were 29 families of “protected Jews” in Königsberg, which increased to 57 by 1789. The total number of Jewish inhabitants was less than 500 in the middle of the 18th century, and around 800 by the end of it, out of a total population of almost 60,000 people.

Speaking to someone at the German History Museum, a lot of Jewish men had to leave East Prussia, when they became adults, unless they were protected.

As Robert would have been a young adult,, when he turned up in Bexley, I suspect that soon after he qualified as a tailor, he left the area.

This keeping out of the way of trouble, is very much a family trait.

Konigsberg was at that time a port city and there was quite a lot of trade with London. So I suspect getting to London was not that great a problem.

I very much regret not asking my father for more details.

Like me my father was an atheist, although with a Jewish philosophy of life. He was also very much against fascists, communists and dictators of both the left and right. He was proud to have been at the Battle of Cable Street, when the East End of London stopped Oswald Mosley and his Blackshirts.

In some ways, I regret not being at the match tonight. But then I was advised that there would be trouble.

I have been to the Polish border with the Russian enclave. I wrote about it in At Poland’s Border With Russia.

June 28, 2018 Posted by | Sport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Riding The Coast Tram

The Coast Tram in Belgium, runs along the whole Belgian coast and is the longest tram line in the world.

I took these pictures, as I rode it from Blankenberg station to De Panne station and then back to Oostende station.

From Blankenberge To Oostende

At Oostende station we changed trams before moving on to De Panne.

From Oostende To De Panne

There is a lot to see on this part of the route.

From De Panne To Oostende

Would you really want to call a theme Park Plopsaland?

I didn’t see anybody in the sea!

Ridership On The Coastal Tram

Despite the windy weather, the extended intervals due to the strike, the ridership was good.

There were people of all ages from schoolchildren, through teenagers and those going to work, to quite a few pensioners.

And like me, not all were from Belgium.

Wikipedia says this under Characteristics.

The service makes 69 stops along the 68 km line, with a tram running every 10 min during the peak summer months (every 20 min in the winter months), and it is used by over 3 million passengers. The service has recently been made more accessible by new low-floor centre sections to existing vehicles and a few new HermeLijn low-floor trams.

Given, that work was proceeding in several places, I feel the Coastal Tram has a sound future.

 

 

May 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 5 Comments

Blankenberg Station

The Coast Tram connects to the Belgian Railway network at Knokke, Blankenberge, Oostende and De Panne.

These pictures show Blankenberge station and tram interchange.

Blankenberge station and the tram stop are undergoing a degree of rebuilding and landscaping.

Note.

  • The trams are metre gauge.
  • They were a bit thin on the ground, as there was a strike.
  • Many of the trams were covered in advertising, which made it difficult to see out.

I had taken a train from Bruges to Blankenberge.

May 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Antwerp To Bruges

I took these pictures as my suburban train went between Antwerp Centraal and Bruges stations.

Note.

  • The number of tall houses close to the railway.
  • My train eventually went to Ostend.
  • The route when through the town of Beveren, which gives its name to the Beveren rabbit.
  • Compared to a UK route, like Ipswich to Cambridge, the route wasn’t busy.

When travelling by train in Belgium, the station names are sometimes different on the displays and your tickets, due to Belgium’s languages.

May 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Around Antwerp Station

I took these pictures of the magnificent Antwerp station in the evening light.

I certainly haven’t seen a better station in Belgium.

May 15, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Walloonacy

In Brexit – Signalling Implications For The UK, I quoted this from an article on Rail Engineer.

The endless committees to discuss and agree how the standards will be implemented do not get in the way. Whilst not suitable for main line usage (at least in the foreseeable future), there could be suburban routes around cities (for example Merseyrail) that could benefit from CBTC deployment.

So when I read articles like this one on the BBC, which is entitled Ceta talks: EU vows to unblock Canada trade deal, I do wonder if the EU has got its decision-making right.

Allowing the Walloons to block the trade deal with Canada, is a bit like giving a handful of MPs, the right to block new standards on the making of sausages.

When we leave, which is something I don’t want, the EU must surely reform itself to make it a more efficient and sensible organisation.

October 22, 2016 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Do The English, Scots And Welsh Work Better Together Than The Belgians, Dutch And Germans?

If we take these two groups of three countries, they all have different railway companies, but do they illustrate a problem in the relations between various EU countries.

I know my experience of travelling between these six countries is mainly on the trains, but to travel between England, Scotland and Wales by train, is a lot easier than travelling between Belgium and The Netherlands and the Netherlands and Germany is full of little difficulties.

Strangely if you add France into the mix, that is generally as easy as the three home nations.

Judging by my experience in Europe, there are many ways that the Scots and Welsh could make the English unwelcome. But they don’t, except for the Seniors Bus Pass, although the same Senior Railcard is valid everywhere in the UK.

I know we’re all part of the same country, but I think where something has to be agreed across a border, we generally find a solution that is acceptable enough!

In the important area of rail ticketing, there seems little agreement on common standards between Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany.

Imagine how difficult it would be if ScotRail had different ticketing rules to say Virgin.

Surely, if Europe can’t get its act together in something like rail ticketing, how can it get something important like dealing with migrants working?

 

October 13, 2015 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , | Comments Off on Do The English, Scots And Welsh Work Better Together Than The Belgians, Dutch And Germans?

I’m Off To The Hague Today

Is there any other train journey between two capitals in the world, that is more difficult now than it was six or seven years ago?

When I first did this trip, I was able to buy a Eurostar ticket from London to Any Dutch Station, as many visitors to The Netherlands did.

But when Fyra; the high-speed train started, this was not possible any more. I couldn’t even get to the Dutch capital without a second change.

Today, I’ve bought a Eurostar ticket to any Belgian Station and will go to Antwerp for a spot of lunch, before I buy a ticket to Den Haag Laan van Nieuwe Oost Indie, so that I avoid all the hassle of using Dutch local ticketing, which will mean buying an Oyster-style card.

I will then use Shanks’s Pony to get to my final destination.

If that is progress, you can stick it up your backside.

Suppose to go between London and Edinburgh, you had to change trains at Newcastle or Berwick! Even the most rabid of Scottish Independence advocates, would never want a service like that between Scotland and England!

Also, if I was going to most important stations in Switzerland, I can buy one ticket from London.

Surely, this should apply to all major cities in Europe, that are within say five or six hours from London.

Going the other way, I could buy a ticket from say Paris direct to virtually anywhere in the UK.

October 8, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Liège-Guillemins Station

As I wandered my way back to Brussels for the Eurostar, I just had to stop of at Liège-Guillemins station and take some pictures.

Is there another station like it in the world? This Google Map shows the layout.

LiegeStation

It is a design by Santiago Calatrava. Let’s hope that the Belgians did a good job on building this station. In 2007, I saw some of his buildings in Valencia and the concrete hadn’t worn well!

The totally new station cost €312million, which compares with £500million for the restoration and extension of Kings Cross station. Compare these figures with the reported £44million for the restoration of Manchester Victoria station, the complete reconstruction of Reading and Birmingham New Street stations.

Direct comparisons are difficult, but I cam’t help feeling, that in terms of cost, Manchester Victoria station is out of line with the others. It just shows that god design is often cheaper than bad.

One difference between the British projects and Liège-Guillemins station, is that the British ones are or were updating of existing stations, whereas the Belgian one was a new station built a short distance away.

Perhaps in some ways, to combine rebuilding with moving the station is a better plan, as both Reading and Birmingham New Street could be thought expensive compared to Liège-Guillemins.

So with all the problems there have been during the rebuilding of London Bridge station, would it have been better to have put the rail lines through in an optimal manner for operational purposes and perhaps created a new station further South.

London Bridge station was and still is a difficult problem, but hopefully it’ll be spot on when it opens.

June 16, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments