The Anonymous Widower

The Spanish COVID-19 Outbreak Must Be Serious

I am watching BBC Breakfast and they are reporting the new outbreaks of COVID-19 in Spain.

It must be serious, as the BBC featured an interview with the Chief Medical Enforcer; Jonathan Van-Tam.

This doctor of Vietnamese heritage, who was raised in Boston in Lincolnshire, has surely been one of the heroes and most trusted voices in the fight against the pandemic.

July 26, 2020 Posted by | Health | , | 3 Comments

Spanish Covid-19 Recovery Investment Scheme Funds 12 Energy Start-Ups

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Power Technology.

These are the two introductory paragraphs.

Several energy companies have announced they will assist and invest in a scheme to develop smaller companies assisting in Spain’s Covid-19 recovery.

The Positive Energy+ investment scheme has taken 396 proposals over 13 days. The promoters of the programme have chosen 12 businesses they believe will have a large impact on the country’s decarbonisation, digitalisation and mobility, while also considering their social impact.

It looks like Spain is going a similar route to Norway, with their fund.

June 9, 2020 Posted by | Health, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

DB Launches New Spanish-Anglo Freight Service

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Magazine.

This is the introductory paragraph.

A 72-hour freight service carrying essential hygiene, medical and food products from Spain to London has been launched by DB Cargo UK and sister company Transfesa Logistics.

These are some points made in the article.

  • Trains will run between Valencia and Murcia in Spain and Barking in London.
  • Obviously the Channel Tunnel and High Speed One, will be used.

I think in the coming days and months, we’ll see more services like this.

Ripple Lane Intermodal Terminal And Cross-Channel Freight Traffic

Wikipedia has a sub-section about Ripple Lane.

Some points from the sub-section.

  • The terminal was developed by Ford to deliver parts from Europe to their massive Dagenham complex.
  • It is now a base for various Continental services.
  • Since 2009, there has been a refrigerated service from Valencia in Spain, which takes pallets back on the return journey.

Will the new Spanish service replace or augment the current one?

April 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | 4 Comments

RENFE Ticket Offices Go Cashless

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the introductory paragraph.

National operator RENFE stopped accepting cash payments for tickets at booking offices with effect from March 27, citing hygiene reasons. The measure will last as long as the duration of coronavirus lockdown, now prolonged at least until mid-April.

Should we have done the same thing as Spain?

April 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

RENFE To Launch Avlo Low-Cost High Speed Rail For Everyone

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

The title says it all and it looks like the Spanish are going the way of the French.

As High Speed Rail networks get larger,and able to handle more trains, it appears that the train operators, run out of premium passengers and turn to other markets.

SNCF have already launched a low-cost service called Ouigo, so it looks like the Spanish are following along similar lines.

In some ways is rail following air travel with low-cost companies offering a more affordable service.

On the whole, the UK, will find it more difficult to offer these services, as we don’t have the rail capacity. In part, this is due to the late development of high speed lines like High Speed Two.

But competitive services using a low-cost model are running or in development.

It should be noted that First East Coast Trains and Hull Trains will be running similar new Hitachi trains to the dominant operator on the route; LNER.

But then Ryanair and easyJet fly similar planes to British Airways and Air France!

Conclusion

It does appear that low-cost operators are providing competition, just as they have done with the airlines.

December 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Engie Partners Innovate UK For £4 Million Energy Transition Competition

The title of this post is the same as this article on Current News.

  • This is an interesting link-up between the UK Government Agency; Innovate UK and the French energy giant; Engie.
  • Wikipedia defines energy transition as a long-term structural change in energy systems.
  • It is the first time Innovate UK has secured overseas private funding.
  • It aims to fund the very best of \british innovation in clean growth innovation.
  • Grants of between £100,000 and £1.2 million will be awarded.
  • There appears to be no mention of Brexit!

It looks to me, like a very strong endorsement of British innovation and the British energy industry by the French.

I also think, that if there is one industry where the British and the French should be linked, it is energy.

The UK has the following energy sources and resources.

  • Offshore and onshore oil and gas.
  • Redundant gas fields for carbon capture and storage.
  • Offshore and onshore wind.
  • Large areas of sea for offshore wind.
  • We have 8,183 MW of installed offshore wind capacity, which is the largest in the world.
  • The possibilities of tidal and wave power from a long Western coast.
  • Vast experience in building off-shore structures in some of the worst weather on the planet.
  • Interconnectors to Norway and Iceland to import their surplus geothermal and hydroelectric energy.

Could we become a renewable-energy powerhouse?

The French have the following.

  • Nuclear power, some of which will need replacing.
  • Only 500 MW of offshore wind.
  • More solar power than we have.
  • Easy connection to North Africa for solar power.

But in some ways, most important is the several interconnectors between the UK and France, with more planned.

Conclusion

Between the UK and France, with help from Ireland, Spain and Portugal, can develop a massive Western European renewable energy powerhouse, backed  by the following, non-renewable or external sources.

  • French nuclear power.
  • North African solar.
  • Icelandic geothermal power
  • Icelandic hydro-electric power
  • Norwegian hydro-electric power

It should be noted that in a few years, the UK will have joined Iceland, Norway and North Africa outside of the European Union.

I believe that Sovereign Wealth Funds, Hedge Funds, Pension Funds, Insurance Companies and other individuals, groups and organisations will increasingly see renewable energy as good places for long-term investment of their funds.

The two big problems are as follows.

  • What happens when all these renewable energy sources are producing more energy than we can use?
  • What happens when there is an energy deficit?

Energy storage is the solution, but the amount needed is massive.

In Airport Plans World’s Biggest Car Parks For 50,000 Cars, I looked at the mathematics in using car parks for electric cars for energy storage.

These are a few figures.

  • Electric Mountain is the UK’s largest electricity storage scheme with a capacity of 9.1 GWh.
  • The largest battery in the world is the Bath County Pumped Storage Station with a capacity of 24 GWh, which works on similar principles to Electric Mountain.
  • Building another Electric Mountain would cost £1350 million, if we could find somewhere to put it.

But supposing half the 35.5 million cars and light goods vehicles in the UK were replaced by new electric vehicles containing a battery of around 20 kWh, that would be a total storage of 355 GWh or nearly forty Electric Mountains.

Conclusion

Harnessing all of these batteries will be an enormous challenge, but it will be ideas like this, that will enable the world to go carbon neutral by 2050.

But I don’t think we’ll ever see Trump or Xi Jinping in an electric limousine..

 

June 21, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spain – Luxembourg Rail Motorway Service Launched

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the first paragraph.

A ‘rail motorway’ service carrying unaccompanied lorry trailers 1 219 km between Barcelona and Luxembourg was launched on February 19. 

This is the fifth such service to be operated across France and will be operated five times a week, with a sixth service to be added in April.

One of these services takes unaccompanied lorry trailers between Calais and a terminal near Perpignan, so you might wonder why this service doesn’t start in the UK.

The only place, that it could serve in the UK would be Barking, due to our antique loading gauge not being able to accept piggyback trailers.

So we can’t really link the UK to this freight network.

There is an excellent discussion on Rail Forums, which goes through the issues.

Barking

Barking is probably not the best place for a terminal for unaccompanied lorry trailers.

It is close to the heavily-congested M25, but surely trains of unaccompanied trailers could be assembled in other parts of the UK and taken to Barking.

But rail lines connecting Barking to the North include the North London and Gospel Oak to Barking Lines, both of which would need drastic gauge enhancement to take the traffic. As these routes are crowded London commuter routes, this work would go down like a whole squadron of lead balloons.

Specialist Freight

If you stood by the Gospel Oak To Barking Line for twenty-four hours, you would see some specialist freight trains going through, often carrying cars or vehicle components.

I think there will be growth in this sector, perhaps for high-value or perishable cargo, in purpose-built trains. But it would only take a few trucks off the roads.

There is also the problem, that a lot of specialist cargo is only one way.

  • Minis go from Oxford to Europe.
  • Ford cars and vans go from Europe to the UK.
  • Perishable fruit and vegetables go from Southern Europe to the UK.
  • Scotch whisky and seafood would go from Scotland to Europe.

I am certain, there is a profitable market niche here to pair compatible cargoes.

High Speed Parcel Traffic

Could we also see a network of overnight high speed parcel trains linking Europe’s major conurbations and commercial centres?

Conclusion

Neither specialist freight or high speed parcel trains will make much of a dent in the number of trucks, that will continue to clog the motorways to the Port of Dover.

 

 

February 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

UK Objects To Description Of Gibraltar As ‘British Colony’ In EU Law

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the first three paragraphs.

The UK has objected to Gibraltar being described as a “colony” in European Union legislation allowing UK nationals to travel to the EU after Brexit.

The EU proposed allowing visa-free travel for Britons in November.

The Spanish government has since insisted a footnote be added describing Gibraltar as a “colony” and referring to “controversy” over its status.

The UK’s Ambassador to the EU objected.

 

February 1, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | 2 Comments

Is Spain Looking Both Ways On Brexit?

This article on the BBC is entitled Spain Brexit: PM Sánchez Threatens To Vote No Over Gibraltar.

The title says it all.

On the other hand, Spanish rail companies seem to be very keen to invest in the UK and also create new and innovative trains for the British market.

  • Amey, which is a subsidiary of the Spanish public company Ferrovial is heavily involved in big projects all over the UK, including the South Wales Metro.
  • The train builder; CAF, is supplying lots of trains and coaches for UK operators and building a factory at Newport in South Wales.
  • Another train builder; Talgo, is on the short list to build the trains for High Speed Two and is proposing to open a factory at Longannet in Scotland and a research centre at Chesterfield

It does appear, that big Spanish companies see the UK as a place to do business.

In connection with the Longannet factory, there is a feature article about the factory in Issue 866 of Rail Magazine.

This is the last paragraph.

As for Brexit, which is known to be a concern for other firms, Talgo said in a statement that its plans were “Brexit-free”, claiming there is a huge potential UK market as well as export opportunities.

The article also says that Talgo need more manufacturing capacity and the brownfield Longannet site, with its space and excellent access by rail and sea, fits their needs.

I also suspect that manufacturing in Scotland will help them secure sales in important English-speaking markets for their innovative high speed trains.

November 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Has The World Cup Draw Been Kind To England?

When the draw was made for the World Cup, I didn’t pay much attention.

Perhaps, I should because England and Belgium were drawn in one the last two groups, they are playing virtually last in every round of matches.

So they are getting a good look at those they might meet in the future.

I don’t know how much of an advantage it is! But we shall see!

July 1, 2018 Posted by | Sport | , , | Leave a comment