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Anyone who thinks rapid global decarbonization is out of reach should take a look at the floating wind turbine sector. Floating wind seemingly popped up out of nowhere in just the past couple of years, and it has already hooked up with the splashy new green hydrogen trend. Too bad those pesky cryptocurrency speculators are sucking up all the clean kilowatts, but that’s another new trend and a whole ‘nother can of worms.

Floating Wind & Green Hydrogen To The Rescue

For those of you new to the topic, putting a wind turbine on a platform that floats is a technologically difficult exercise, but the payoff is huge in terms of rapid decarbonization. Floating platforms can be tethered to the seabed in deeper waters and/or farther from shore, which takes advantage of prime wind speeds while minimizing opposition from coastal communities.

The green hydrogen angle comes in for squeezing the most available juice possible from wind turbines. Hydrogen is a zero emission fuel that can be combusted to run turbines, or deployed in a fuel cell to generate electricity. At the present time, though, almost all of the global hydrogen supply comes from natural gas. That’s going to change because low-cost renewable energy has upended the economics of hydrogen production, making it financially feasible to “split” hydrogen gas from water with an electrical current.

Since hydrogen acts as a transportable energy storage medium, water-splitting provides a way to salvage excess energy from wind turbines or solar panels. The case for wind turbines is especially strong because winds generally pick up at night, when electricity demand goes down.

Other sustainable hydrogen pathways include biogas, industrial waste gas, wastewater, and waste plastics, but water-splitting seems to be attracting the most attention these days.

Pie In The Sky? No, Wind Turbines That Float

Into this picture steps a venture called Cerulean Winds, which has come up with a financing formula for scaling the floating wind-plus-hydrogen connection to the national level.

The idea would have seemed far fetched just a few years ago, but both the floating wind industry and the green hydrogen industry are rapidly maturing.

“Cerulean utilises a tuned infrastructure project finance (IPF) construct with integrated delivery and finance that is proven for the offshore floating environment,” Cerulean explains. “At its core is the comprehensive understanding of risk for floating infrastructure and the most appropriate allocation of these risks across our partner and stakeholder ecosystem,” the company states.

Cerulean’s “Blueprint” model is aimed at cutting the timeline between applying for a license and producing clean kilowatts. According to the company, its Blueprint platform also provides for more flexibility than the conventional centralized power plant structure, which is a key point in the distributed energy landscape of today. Energy storage and cross-border trading are also in the mix.

Serial Oil & Gas Developers Turn To Green Hydrogen

The new Cerulean proposal is billed as the “UK’s largest offshore decarbonisation development.” At a cost of £10 billion, it would sport at least 200 wind turbines floating wind turbines with integrated green hydrogen systems, in two North Sea areas, West of Shetland and Central North Sea.

Before you get too excited, one leading aim of the project is to provide clean electricity to existing offshore facilities, namely, offshore oil and gas drilling sites. Cerulean projects that 3 gigawatts in hourly capacity will go to the oil and gas industry. Still, that leaves 1.5 gigawatts per hour in capacity for green hydrogen production systems to be located on shore.

If the offshore oil and gas angle sounds rather unappealing, it is. However, the reality is that switching millions of automobiles, buildings, and other systems over to clean power is a time consuming process. A movement is already afoot to replace diesel and gas generators on offshore drilling platforms with clean power. The Cerulean proposal is part of that trend, ramped up with the green hydrogen angle.

Cerulean has just submitted a seabed lease request to Marine Scotland, so if anything happens out there in the North Sea it could be a long way off. However, Cerulean has already set the contractor and financial wheels in motion, and in that regard the project does demonstrate that the oil and gas industry could pivot rapidly into low carbon mode, if it chose to do that.

“Cerulean Winds is led by serial entrepreneurs Dan Jackson and Mark Dixon, who have more than 25 years’ experience working together on large-scale offshore infrastructure developments in the oil and gas industry,” the company explains. “They believe the risk of not moving quickly on basin wide decarbonisation would wholly undermine the objectives set out in the recent North Sea Transition Deal.”

To sweeten the pot, Cerulean anticipates undercutting the cost of conventional gas turbine power for offshore platforms. According to the company, oil and gas operators would not incur any up-front costs from the switchover.

Floating Wind, Green Hydrogen, & Green Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

To make the case for speeding up the lease approval process, Jackson and Dixon are appealing to the potential for the wind-plus-hydrogen project to create thousands of new green jobs. Ideally the fossil energy jobs will phase out over time, but in the meanwhile Cerulean aims to show that the floating wind plus green hydrogen combo can maintain employment in the fossil sector while adding new green jobs to the economy, at scale. According to the company’s analysis, over the next five years the project will help preserve 160,000 oil and gas jobs while adding 200,000 new green jobs.

More Bad News For ExxonMobil

“The development of green hydrogen at scale and £1 billion hydrogen export potential” is another key pot-sweetener offered by Cerulean, and that should really give gas stakeholders the heebie-jeebies.

Looking at you, ExxonMobil. In terms of making global decarbonization happen, the company has lagged far behind Shell, BP, and other legacy fossil energy companies. Instead of pumping more money into proven clean tech fields like wind and solar, ExxonMobil banked on algae biofuel while doubling down on shale gas in recent years, apparently with the idea that it could continue making fossil energy relevant by comparing gas emissions to coal emissions.

The idea of natural gas as a “bridge fuel” has fallen flat for a number of reasons, including evidence that the recent spike in natural gas emissions may have offset any gains from pushing coal out of the power generation picture.

Now that hydrogen fuel cell demand is up, ExxonMobil and other natural gas stakeholders are been banking on increased demand for hydrogen to fuel the global economy’s thirst for natural gas. However, schemes like the Cerulean floating wind proposal are quickly shutting that window.

Gas stakeholders could try leaning on the exploding cryptocurrency market to pitch their wares. Speculative crypto mining is an energy intensive process that could help prop up both gas and coal producers for years to come.

To be clear, not all cryptocurrency is speculative. The firm Power Ledger, for example, is deploying a crypto-plus-blockchain model that helps electricity users share excess clean kilowatts.

It’s the speculative crypto market that has become a huge public relations problem for industries looking to decarbonize. Banking, real estate, auto sales and other high-dollar sectors have been getting cryptocurrency-curious, but energy consumption by crypto mining systems has become a public relations ball-and-chain.

As leading global corporations move into the supply chain phase of decarbonization, crypto miners are vulnerable. Switching to renewable energy is one solution, but in the context of the urgent need for climate action, any sector that adds to the global energy demand load will have to make the case that it is not simply playing carbon whack-a-mole with clean energy resources.

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Image: Floating wind turbines via US Department of Energy (credit: Josh Bauer, NREL).

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Tesla releases stealth update with new features




Tesla releases stealth update with new features

Tesla has released a new software update to its fleet and while the release notes remain unchanged, there are a few exciting features that were stealth updated.

The automaker has started to push its 2023.11.4.2 software update.

The update’s release notes are the same as the previous update, but Tesla often updates or adds features without discussing them.

That’s the case with this new update, according to Green, a well-known Tesla hacker who often discovers new features inside Tesla’s code.

He reported that the latest update includes several stealth changes:

Like most premium vehicles today, Tesla has an automatic wiper system that automatically matches the speed of the wipers to the intensity of the rain or snow.

However, unlike most other automakers, Tesla doesn’t use a rain sensor for its system.

Instead, the automaker is using its Autopilot cameras to feed its computer vision neural net to determine the speed for the wipers.

It has been deployed in Tesla vehicles since 2018, but many owners have been complaining that it is not as accurate as other systems using rain sensors.

Tesla’s solution was an update called ‘Deep Rain’ that used a new neural net to power the feature. It came out in 2019, but it was a marginal improvement.

Now Green reports that owners can shut it down if they don’t like it.

Another important stealth update for safety in this new software update is the ability for automatic emergency braking (AEB) to brake for vehicles cutting into your lane. Previously, it would try to avoid things with steering, but AEB was reserved to prevent or reduce the impact for something blocking your way.

For FSD Beta users, the update also now reduces suspensions, which occur after misuse, like not paying attention to the road when using, to one week instead to two weeks.

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America’s first US-built electric mini-truck begins street-legal homologation




America's first US-built electric mini-truck begins street-legal homologation

The AYRO Vanish has grabbed headlines over the past year as it rolls ever closer to production at AYRO’s Texas factory. Now the electric mini-truck’s final step ahead of manufacturing has begun as the Vanish starts street-legal homologation.

The AYRO Vanish is an electric utility vehicle that is designed to fit into the low-speed vehicle (LSV) federal designation. The mini-truck uses a lightweight architecture to limit the entire vehicle weight and maximize the allowable payload.

The Vanish boasts a payload of up to 1,200 lb (544 kg), which is fairly close to many standard-sized pickup trucks. For comparison, a 2023 Ford F-150’s payload capacity starts at 1,310 lb (594 kg). The company also indicated that it plans to produce a non-street legal variant that will have a higher payload capacity of 1,800 pounds (816 kg). That model would be applicable to work sites, campuses and other areas where use on public roads is not required.

Unlike standard pickup trucks, the Vanish offers highly adaptable configurations. Optional rear cargo configurations including food boxes, flat beds, utility beds with three-sided tailgates, and van boxes for secure storage all point to potential commercial applications for the vehicle.

And those future commercial customers could be getting their hands on the Vanish’s steering wheel sooner rather than later. Heading for homologation testing means that the company is now closer than ever to putting those various designs on the road.

As AYRO CEO Tom Wittenschlaeger explained:

“Now that we’ve completed our internal testing, it’s time to ensure that the award-winning Vanish meets requirements of our national governing bodies. Once we’ve completed this process and receive final approval, we can begin delivering vehicles to our customers and dealers.”

In order for any road-worthy vehicle to be considered for sale, the vehicle must go through homologation to ensure it is safe and complies with government regulations.

LSVs have reduced regulatory hurdles, but there are still many safety requirements and design considerations to be addressed. The vehicles must meet regulations for the construction, design, durability, and performance requirements as outlined by federal governing bodies. In the US, this process is governed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

This complex process of homologation allows for vehicles to be officially classified by date and category as well as have official and certifiable technical information and specifications. The Vanish is completing homologation for both the United States and Canada, for which testing includes the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) 500, Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) 500 and California Air Resources Board (C.A.R.B.).

In parallel with its homologation phase, AYRO is now planning to begin Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) by early June to begin building the first 50 Vanish units that will be used as demo models for signed dealers.

The company plans to enter full-scale production upon the successful completion of its first 50 units.

As AYRO’s senior vice president of programs added:

“Our team has worked diligently to prepare for this day. This is one of the final steps in our product development process. Concurrently with homologation, we plan to begin LRIP and immediately following begin delivering vehicles to our customers and dealers.”

The AYRO Vanish opened for orders earlier this month, launching at a starting price of $33,990. While that price is more expensive than several other imported electric mini-trucks, the Vanish’s modular design (and soon-to-be street legal status) is a key differentiator.

AYRO’s vice president of Dealer Sales, Terry Kahl, previously explained the advantages of a modular platform:

With swappable bed configurations, we believe dealers can find a use case for the Vanish with almost any of their existing clientele. We have indications of interest from a rapidly growing number of dealers and now incoming dealers can find added value in that AYRO is accepting their pre-orders even before they join our dealer network. It should be an absolute win-win for our existing and onboarding dealers as well as future dealers.

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WAU Project Cyber teased as ‘revolutionary’ high performance electric bike




WAU Project Cyber teased as 'revolutionary' high performance electric bike

We see new e-bike launches practically every week here at Electrek, but we rarely seem something quite so… futuristic looking as the upcoming WAU model currently being teased. The UK-based electric bike company is dripping out imagines of its upcoming Project Cyber, which looks like something between a high performance electric bicycle and a light electric motorcycle.

It’s not uncommon for e-bike companies to expand into the moped or light motorbike space. We watched it happen with SONDORS when the company unveiled the Metacycle, SUPER73 with the C1X, and several other smaller e-bike companies.

And while we don’t yet know how the Project Cyber e-bike will be classified, it’s certainly looking like it could be headed in a similarly aggressive direction.

wau project cyber
A teaser image of the WAU Cyber e-bike

WAU is best known for its long range, urban-oriented electric bikes with enclosed frames and iconic seat stay tail lights that also serve as highly visible turn signals.

It’s a welcome, distinguished design that sets itself apart from many of the other cookie cutter e-bikes we’ve seen over the last few years.

And it appears that WAU may be sticking with some of the same design language for its upcoming Project Cyber, based on the first few teaser images.

The company has been dripping out images and information in a Facebook group set up for sharing details about the upcoming e-bike.

One of the more revealing pieces of information includes a set of design drawings from early in the project. Multiple concepts can be seen, including some with and without bicycle pedals.

The inclusion of bicycle pedals would lend credence to this being a high performance e-bike, while a lack of pedals would put the two-wheeler into light motorbike territority.

WAU seems to be investing heavily in the bike’s technology, though it isn’t quite clear yet what that could mean in terms of features. Many new e-bikes have started to feature advanced connectivity features closer to that of electric cars, including telemetrics and remote operations. A teaser on the company’s site seems to imply that built-in GPS tracking may be included on the WAU Cyber e-bike.

The company is still playing it close to the vest with most details, but suggests that the new model could “revolutionize the industry.”

As WAU explained in the Facebook group description, “Get ready to be blown away by the most stylish pedelec the world has ever seen. Our state-of-the-art technology and design are set to revolutionize the industry, and we are thrilled to have you join us on this journey.”

The company also released several images showing a prototype frame being welded together, seen below.

We don’t yet know what else the WAU Cyber will hold in store for us, but with the reveal expected to come soon, we shouldn’t have to wait for long.

What do you think WAU will unveil as part of Project Cyber? Share your thoughts and guesses in the comment section below.

We’ll be sure to update as soon as we have more information on the upcoming e-bike.

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