Climate 21

Renewable energy, storage, and electric transportation - a chat with Auke Hoekstra

January 13, 2021 Tom Raftery Auke Hoekstra Season 1 Episode 7
Climate 21
Renewable energy, storage, and electric transportation - a chat with Auke Hoekstra
Chapters
Climate 21
Renewable energy, storage, and electric transportation - a chat with Auke Hoekstra
Jan 13, 2021 Season 1 Episode 7
Tom Raftery Auke Hoekstra

So, Auke Hoekstra is a bit of a legend in the renewable energy, and electric vehicle world.
Program Director at NEON research leading a team of 35 PhD's at Eindhoven University of Technology Auke and his team are at the forefront of R&D into clean energy generation, electricity storage, and usage in transportation.

However, it is on his Twitter account (@AukeHoekstra) where Auke really shines. He regularly posts detailed, carefully researched, Twitter Threads debunking silly scare stories published with the intent of making electric vehicles look bad (for example). Check out some of his excellent recent debunks here, here, and here, for example.

We had a super chat covering renewable energy, storage, and the electrification of transportation, including Auke's research showing that electric 40 ton trucks are not only feasible, but because of the savings they'll bring, the market for them will flip very quickly.

As you can probably tell, I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation, and I learned so much. I hope you enjoy listening to it too.

If you have any comments/suggestions or questions for the podcast - feel free to leave me a voice message over on my SpeakPipe page, head on over to the Climate 21 Podcast Forum, or just send it to me as a direct message on Twitter/LinkedIn. Audio messages will get played (unless you specifically ask me not to).

And if you want to know more about any of SAP's Sustainability solutions, head on over to www.sap.com/sustainability and if you liked this show, please don't forget to rate and/or review it. It makes a big difference to help new people discover the show. Thanks.

And remember, stay healthy, stay safe, stay sane!

Music credit - Intro and Outro music for this podcast was composed, played and produced by my daughter Luna Juniper

Show Notes Transcript

So, Auke Hoekstra is a bit of a legend in the renewable energy, and electric vehicle world.
Program Director at NEON research leading a team of 35 PhD's at Eindhoven University of Technology Auke and his team are at the forefront of R&D into clean energy generation, electricity storage, and usage in transportation.

However, it is on his Twitter account (@AukeHoekstra) where Auke really shines. He regularly posts detailed, carefully researched, Twitter Threads debunking silly scare stories published with the intent of making electric vehicles look bad (for example). Check out some of his excellent recent debunks here, here, and here, for example.

We had a super chat covering renewable energy, storage, and the electrification of transportation, including Auke's research showing that electric 40 ton trucks are not only feasible, but because of the savings they'll bring, the market for them will flip very quickly.

As you can probably tell, I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation, and I learned so much. I hope you enjoy listening to it too.

If you have any comments/suggestions or questions for the podcast - feel free to leave me a voice message over on my SpeakPipe page, head on over to the Climate 21 Podcast Forum, or just send it to me as a direct message on Twitter/LinkedIn. Audio messages will get played (unless you specifically ask me not to).

And if you want to know more about any of SAP's Sustainability solutions, head on over to www.sap.com/sustainability and if you liked this show, please don't forget to rate and/or review it. It makes a big difference to help new people discover the show. Thanks.

And remember, stay healthy, stay safe, stay sane!

Music credit - Intro and Outro music for this podcast was composed, played and produced by my daughter Luna Juniper

Auke Hoekstra:

Too many people are still, I would say, stuck in thinking about all this, this renewable stuff and it's electric stuff as something that's that's that's that's worse than what we had. But we have to do it anyway. And I think that's that's really the wrong way to look at it. I often say maybe the industrial revolution, maybe fossil fuels was our caterpillar stage and now we're coming to the butterfly stage.

Tom Raftery:

Good morning, good afternoon or good evening, wherever you are in the world, this is the Climate 21 podcast, the number one podcast showcasing best practises in climate emissions reductions. And I'm your host, Global vice president of SAP Tom Raftery. Climate 21 is the name of an initiative by SAP to allow our customers calculate, report and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. In this Climate 21 podcast, I would showcase best practises and thought leadership by SAP', by our customers, by our partners and by our competitors if their game in climate emissions reductions. Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast in your podcast app of Choice to be sure you don't miss any episodes. Hey everyone, welcome to the Climate 21 podcast My name is Tom Raftery with SAP. And with me on the show today, I have my special guest Auke. Auke, would you like to introduce yourself?

Auke Hoekstra:

Yeah, thanks for having me. Yeah, very quickly about myself, I'm known on Twitter as sort of a debunker in chief, some say, of electric vehicle scare stories. I used to be an Internet. I found a lot of people who know a lot about Internet, a lot of computers sort of get this whole transition. We're going through an energy mobility very quickly. And I like to think I was one of them. So certain years ago, I took a sabbatical basically to figure out how I would spend the rest of my life, my career after doing all kind of computer things and a little bit like Shai Agassi, well known. I think for people who know SAP, I thought renewable energy is a is a worthy, worthwhile goal to to to focus on. So I wrote a couple of books on electric vehicles. And while the pinnacle of my sort of achievements so far is that last year I wrote a proposal for a 35 scientists to basically make better models to guide us towards a future with with a low carbon mobility and low carbon energy. And it got grants of leading those 35 scientists for the coming five years. And on a personal note, yeah, when you study this so much, it also becomes a personal hobby, at least in my case. So I'm presenting this from my energy positive house with an energy positive Howells with the electric car charging from it. And I find that living low, low carbon lifestyles is basically a luxury in our in our modern world.

Tom Raftery:

Lovely, lovely. And just for for people who didn't catch it at the start, your name is Auke. What and where are you working?

Auke Hoekstra:

Good point. OK, I'm Auke Hoekstra. That's how you pronounce it in Dutch. And I work at the Technical University of Eindhoven. Technical University like MIT. I would say like but now in Eindhoven. Eindhven is actually the smartest kilometer in the world that I felt was full just like that three years ago. Something because there's a lot of companies also around there. So it's a very nice place to come up with these these improvements we're going to discuss in the podcast.

Tom Raftery:

Great. The decarbonisation of the grid is obviously something that is hugely important in terms of I mean, this is the Climate 21 podcast and we're talking about ways to reduce emissions. There's been a massive shift in the last probably decade, I would say, in how energy is being generated. And a lot of that is down to the the rise in renewables, which is down to for a change. It's down to economics, which I think is fantastic because as far as I can see, that's financially sustainable. The fact that it's down to economics, it means it's going to stay that way, which means, you know, the world has changed. What what are your observations on this space?

Auke Hoekstra:

That was actually the reason during my sabbatical that I decided to make a change. I was always afraid that this was always going to be a pipe dream that we had to do but wouldn't, because it would be would mean giving up stuff in the short term. And we will not be. Yeah. Morally strong enough to do that. But then I found out that just as Internet technology like Moore's Law, you know, like, is very predictable in a way. You could predict actually how a batteries, electric vehicles, a wind and solar became cheaper. And once I started to sort of charting that out and also finding a lot of scientists who were actually already doing that, that was the moment I realised, hey, this this is actually going to work. We just have to make it work in time. So I'm just speeding up the process. It will undoubtedly work. It's simply better technology, a renewable energy that now becomes available. But but, yeah, we have to hurry up, OK?

Tom Raftery:

And it's not just the renewables that I mentioned as well. There's also the the shift to storage, because as we as we all know, renewables are variable generators and electric grids don't like variability. So the shift to storage means that we can take in certain amounts of excess energy, put it in lithium ion batteries, for example, which are right now the storage mechanism. Dejour, there's a kind of one that are kind of the sexy one and affordable one right now. In the future, there might be other forms of storage, but right now they're the ones that are starting to win on the price. Basis, at least, what where do you see this this going? I mean, it's right now we're seeing just the battery starting to make economic sense with some utilities starting to deploy them at scale.

Auke Hoekstra:

So what I what I see so basically, this is this is the very interesting dynamic here, is that more and more and more energy is going to be electrified, electrified everything. Everything is not just a slogan. It's really happening. So that makes the electricity grid more important, more important. The cheapest and societally best way of doing that at the moment is with wind and solar. Full disclosure, I'm not against nuclear, but I think it's simply an expensive and slow at the moment. So, so, so not so much scary, as expensive and slow. So wind and solar. But yeah, if you run a whole world on wind and solar and of course the sun goes down a little time and the wind doesn't blow all time, how do you do that? That's one of the main topics of the models I told I told you about a couple of minutes ago. This is this Neom project that I'm that this large project that I'm heading to. We want to make sure that we understand how demand and supply can fluctuate in time and what kind of storage interventions you need to make sure that the grid states balance all the time. And actually, there's two kinds of stories that are really important. If you make it simple, if you break it down into simple parts, one is the, let's say, daily storage. So these are fluctuations that that that basically happen once or even even more times a day. And for that, batteries are actually really good because batteries have a have a really efficient round time. So if you put energy in them and take it out again, you could end up with 90 percent of the energy. So you lose very little in the round trip. By the way, hydro storage is also a good example of that. So Norway, for example, can simply not use hydro for a couple of hours and then open the floodgates literally again. And that way they can manage it. But most most countries don't have that much hydro. But long term, that's so let's say seasonal fluctuations, there's actually much harder problem. So it's not a problem, by the way, when you live very close to the equator where you have solar every day basically, and where summer and winter are both seasons, where a lot of energy is being offered to you. But for example, if you live in the Netherlands, which I'm told only one percent of the world lives further away from the equator then than when we in the Netherlands and of course some people in Poland, etc., but but actually through the warm Gulf Stream, Europe is a bit warmer up there than than most other parts of the world. So so, yeah, we are a special problem. You could say people who live that much that far away from the equator, also Germany, of course, and then you need some chemical storage. And I'm very happy with how fast hydrogen is coming and if fuels are coming and all that sort of. Yeah, there's a lot of approaches basically to turn electricity into some sort of chemical storage, which is super inefficient. That's the that's the that's the sad part about it. But it's very easy to store. Okay, so if you needed only once a year, it's not that bad if you just throw away part of the surplus in the summer mostly and have most of that energy or at least a large part of the energy available in the winter or very simply put, so icy salt caverns, for example, using hydrogen as one of the ways to address seasonal storage. And most importantly, by the way, flexibility. If we use, for example, the moment we charge cars or even if we use the battery of cars as a way to to give back energy to the grid. And if we make a lot of our appliances, like heat pumps etc, react to the best moment, cheapest moment also for the for the people using it. What is the most green energy that's basically. Yeah. This basically free storage. You could say that it's free time shifting. That is an almost. Yeah. Basically you only need some computer smarts and then you, you have a lot less problems. So flexibility, which is not part of our current system, is also a basically a very important form of storage. And then there's daily fluctuations with batteries and seasonal fluctuations with hydrogen. So these three forms of storage should all be utilised.

Tom Raftery:

Yeah, interesting. I've been talking for a long time about demand-side management and using things like actually, you know, freezer's for example either industrial or in the home, if they were smart, you don't care whether your freezer, your home freezer is at minus two or minus 10. So freeze it to minus 10 and let it drift to minus two. And you know that that right there is a form of energy storage, our hot water. If you use electric water heaters again, you don't care if the water in your heater is at plus 80 or plus 60. And again, that kind of the difference between the two can be managed by an electric emersion, which is listening to demand signals or pricing signals on a grid where the pricing signals are linked to the penetration of renewables generating at any point in time.

Auke Hoekstra:

Exactly. I have a nice anecdote about it, too, by the way, our CEO that's also in my consulting company. Peter Multiclass once talked to a sort of a steel production company called Hovan in a day. And he said, do you see any possibility to be more flexible? And for a long time they told him no. And then all of a sudden somebody came up with a simple example that they used to do when there was a big difference in tariffs between the day and the night. They call it a little thermo, but it was basically a container that they filled with molten metal during the night. They have it on at tap during the day so they could use the cheap night electricity to to fill a container full of molten metal. And the CEO said, Do you know how much energy it takes to melt a full container full of metal? And we we thought it was more than, I would say, 20000 households or something. So an industry, there's a lot of flexibility to be tapped also. And I'm now also wondering if, for example, ERP systems or something could do something with that too see how they could maximise that flexibility without impacting, for example, a target like the throughput time or something of the whole process. Interesting. Yeah, there's lots of stuff to be found that, as you said, Demand-side management is super important.

Tom Raftery:

Yeah. And you mentioned seasonal management as well, using hydrogen in for example, I think you said salt caverns and that that's an interesting one. What about other things? Like I've come across things like liquid air storage and aqueous flow batteries. They're they're kind of a bit exotic at the moment. They're they're nowhere near the commercial grade. But the liquid air one sounds almost too good to be true in that, you know, it's very simple. You're just taking air out of the atmosphere, compressing it and chilling it down to the point where it becomes liquefied. And then you can store it for a long time because it's it's just liquid air and it's at probably minus 80 or something like that. I'm not sure exactly what the temperatures would be. And then you just release it out through a turbine and it generates electricity again. So it should in theory, be highly efficient.

Auke Hoekstra:

Actually, I don't know, it's interesting, I know that compressed air is interesting, too, almost like hydro, like you take a mine and you you compress air into that. And basically that's the same similar idea working as hydro. But the problem there is that that you need really, really, really large mines to to to have a lot of capacity. And of course, if you chill the air down, a volumetric density becomes much, much higher. Actually, I didn't study that. I will thank you

Tom Raftery:

OK, no problem. And what about I've seen as well proposals for changing hydrogen into ammonia for ease of transportation.

Auke Hoekstra:

So we see that a lot more. And I think it has. It has it has as a very good shot. But basically there's a growing awareness that, for example, producing hydrogen in places where there's lots of solar and where solar panels have both lots of room, lots of solar and CO2 efficiency and of course, officials high cost, low. But getting it from there to here used to be we used to think of pipelines, but maybe that's politically problematic. And once you have to have to ship it because that's the next option, then I think ammonia, there's lots, lots of stuff to be worked out. There's lots of uncertainties about the cost of it. But do you think ammonia indeed is a very good way to to use it? By the way? You could you could make lots of fuels when you start with with hydrogen. Also, if you combine it with CCS. So most people I know, for example, who are interested in that in aeroplanes, they are really looking out at what kind of fuels would be most appropriate for us because they think hydrogen planes that are required and complete would be most efficient, actually, but require a very large redesign of the plane. So that that's sort of a for them a long term prospect. But I think well, if fuels, let's let's get on with that. So I think it fuels is basically the most exciting development and ECC hydrogen then as new fuel too. But ammonia is like a next step that's easier to transport. You could also make methane that later. Yeah, that's one of the most exciting things happening in renewable energy right now, I think. Yeah. For us, research is very hard to predict where that is going.

Tom Raftery:

Exactly. Yeah, yeah. And I, I can totally get it that there are so many things going on. It's hard to keep track and they're all at very early stage, so it's impossible to be sure to to figure out which one is going to be the winner.

Auke Hoekstra:

Exactly. So cost and performance performance metrics like efficiency and and of volumetric density, very hard to guess at this moment, but it's almost impossible that nothing comes out of that because there's so many pathways to turn electricity into into chemical bonds that some of them will will become, I think, pretty cheap, probably in the long term. And then we can produce our own oil. I mean, that's kind of cool. We only need very, very little of it because we can manage I would say 95 percent of our economy won't need it any more because it's so inefficient. But yeah, for the really hard parts, we can then produce it ourselves. How cool is that. Yeah.

Tom Raftery:

No longer need to dig up those dinosaurs.

Auke Hoekstra:

Right. Stop burning fossil. Yeah. Dinosaur fuel. Dinosaur blood, whatever. By the way, to be quite honest it's mostly, it's mostly trees et cetera, right?

Tom Raftery:

I know. I know. I know. And microorganisms.

Auke Hoekstra:

And from the period when the dinosaurs were there. Right. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Tom Raftery:

What about things like industrial processes because a huge amount of our CO2 footprint today is well we've got on transportation in a minute but is in things like smelting, iron smelting, aluminium smelting bauxite into aluminium and then making concrete. Can we use electricity for those? I mean, I've seen lots of proposals again around using hydrogen for those, because obviously today it's done primarily by using coke coal. So you're burning rocks to burn rocks, which makes no sense.

Auke Hoekstra:

Yeah, every industry has its own own pathway, so like efuels, but then and then even more complex because of so many different industries. But what I've seen so far, there's really no industry where there isn't a credible way to to to do it and to do it low carbon. So, for example, cement is a harder one because they're the product itself needs to be transformed in a way. But but most other industries basically needs loads of heat, for example. And there's many ways to provide them with heat. We know how to do that is, if not even a really sophisticated technology is just that embedding it in a very complex industry processes requires a lot of thinking, a lot of the investments, but also smartness. So once again, I could imagine that, for example, ERP programmes could be used to to sort of make that, yeah, make them more renewable processes like building blocks where you can sort of experiment with how could my business process look if I did it the renewable way? So it's a it's a sort of a big, big process of finding out how we will do it, but that it's possible, I think is almost non-negotiable. It's pretty clear the problem only, to be honest, is that that household, we all know our household very well. So everybody's always talking about how we can make our household more renewable. And so far, the industry sort of stays in the shadow a bit. So they are really behind the curve of what we're doing in the built environment, what we do in households, I would say about 20 years or something.

Tom Raftery:

So how much of that how much of that is down to regulation? Because I know the shipping industry, for example, has been really behind the curve exactly until the IMO came up with the regulations around around emissions from shipping, which came into force at the start of this year. And it's the first time that there's been regulations around emissions from shipping. So we're starting to see movement there. But there's nothing similar that I'm aware of in concrete manufacture, in steel manufacture, in minium, any of those kind of things. Do we need regulations, global regulations, something like an IMO for concrete or for shipping, not shipping concrete or aluminium and steel that can require these smelters to use lower carbon fuels?

Auke Hoekstra:

Absolutely. Absolutely. By the way, I think for ships, to be quite honest, if I'm not mistaken, it's most for the particulate matters. You know, it's a slow process. Yeah, that's that's easy. It's like with with with with with with cars. We already we had diesel gate, but basically where we are mostly our emissions in that respect are much lower now. So that proves, by the way, the regulation works. Yeah. Yes. We absolutely need that. And actually I think we don't even need so like worldwide regulation for that. If, for example, Europe would say we think these things are really important. So, for example, you get subsidies or tariffs depending on whether you follow these processes, then the whole European market would basically be there for the taking of those who follow the new rules and would be very hard to to, uh, to to to to to get a large market share in if you didn't. So I think that way you can get very large areas as and customers that basically for the area where it drives the price up a little bit, but only to the extent that that's actually new technology is deployed. And you can also feel good about it. And it's not that that big a deal. So so, yeah, if we went for global agreement, it could take a long time. But maybe if if a larger area like China or America or Europe says, let's do this thing, we could we could be there, we could have a head start, we could hit the ground running or something.

Tom Raftery:

Nice, nice. Now we've we've skirted around transportation and I know it's a topic that both you and I share an interest in. And you do some great Twitter threads debunking articles. The most recent one was one that was in The Spectator a couple of days ago, although by the time this podcast publishes, it would be a few weeks ago. So sorry about that. But and they'll no doubt be other ones that you debunk between now and then. But it makes for fantastic reading just to sit there and read the threads that you put together debunking these. But it must be soul destroying to see them constantly. Coming up with articles saying that I don't know, saying that batteries cause problems that we can never get to all electric because the grid can't handle it, which was the spectator one, which, you know, and so on and so on and so on. How do you stay sane?

Auke Hoekstra:

By realising that apparently it's useful and by having a lot of people tell me it's useful. I get I get the big idea. I get a very good feeling from being useful. And this is apparently something I'm good at. So, yeah, it's a good use of my talents. But yes, it is. And I'm not. So soul destroying is a big word, but it's very it's not it's not always fun. I mean, it's just make it fun. I try to make it fun when I do it to to to make it. Yeah. To make it a little bit playful. But now I mean and I've seen all those claims a hundred times before and I know very. Very, very sure that they are not true, and then people SAP' interacting with you on Twitter and they start repeating the same things that you've just debunked because they didn't read your story. Yeah, that that part is yeah, it's disheartening is a job, I guess.

Tom Raftery:

OK, OK,.

Auke Hoekstra:

So what is what is nice about social media is that you also get feedback from people who tell you, yeah, this is needed to keep up the good work, et cetera? And that is very nice. I mean, everybody loves to be, as I said, useful. So, yeah, that makes it worthwhile.

Tom Raftery:

For people. Well, for people who are listening, who are not aware of what's happening in the transportation industry, I mean, we're seeing a huge shift. You and I are seeing a huge shift to electrification.

Auke Hoekstra:

It is great. Basically basically I started writing about 30 years ago and I thought it was so predictable and has been completely on track so far, so great. But basically, there's only two ways to to to move vehicle to motors that we have at our disposal. And this is true from the beginning of time. You have heat motors and let's say magnetic slash electric motors. The only two options and of course, there's many different ways to to to make a heat motor. But basically it's all the same. You burn stuff, it gets bigger as it gets hotter and that moves something. And as are all variants on all that, on that theme. And you have your magnetic motors which look more like them than than combustion engines, but basically also that the thing is always the same. You create a magnetic field that magnetic field wants to to to change the position of of of an accelerator. And that way, by manipulating that, you get forward motion. So these are two options. And it was it was very clear from from from the beginning, I started writing about it. But but but even 100 years before that, that's in terms of motors. The electric motor is clearly the winner. It is super efficient. It is much smaller. It doesn't it doesn't need maintenance. It can go forever. It's free later. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. As so it's the clear winner. The problem was always the battery. And once you understand that, you start looking at that battery. And 100 years ago, I made a quick calculation that 100 years ago you would need to take an elephant basically with you to in terms of weight, but also size a little bit to get the same range of a modern Tesla. Wow. So, yeah, that's not a really realistic proposition, I would say, apart from the fact that taking a about taking the elephant with you actually would necessitate taking another elephant with you. So let's forget about that for a moment. Twenty years ago, it was a rhinoceros. Still not a very, very realistic proposition, but things moved so fast. So by now, where in between a pig and a good gorilla. So so a gorilla is a little bit heavier than I'm talking about a silverback gorilla. So it's like one or two people. Right. So let's say we are now three people. Actually, pigs and gorillas are big, actually. But anyway.

Tom Raftery:

We're talking in the hundreds of kilos, not in the thousands.

Auke Hoekstra:

Exactly. Exactly. That's doable. And then what most people forget is that the electric drive train is actually much lighter. So people always look at the at the at the weight of the battery. Also, we'll get into trucks maybe in a minute. That's even even more important there. And people forget basically the substract, the fact that the electric Raftery is much lighter because you don't. Yeah, there's lots of stuff you don't need. Yeah. I think by 2025 electric vehicles actually will be lighter. And then comes this. We can runnicles, solar and wind. We can do it. We can be super efficient. I mean the way I always like to look at it from the start is how many square metres of of, of, of surface on this beautiful blue dot do we need to move a car? OK, and if you take a bio biofuels, for example, which is basically oil is basically biofuel we dig up. Right. So if you want to make it sustainable, it should be biofuel, then you need about 100. Or more square metres to to propel yourself one one kilometre, more or less. Well, if you use solar panels, you only need one square metre to know I'm doing it wrong. Should I given a wrong example here on live a live broadcast? It's not like the point is you need about 100 times more using biofuels. So it's super efficient. I mean, the solar panels on my roof are more than enough. A one third of them are small enough to propel me in my electric vehicle year round. So it's an extremely efficient way to use a surface. So once you understand how this whole system works and once you understand how much lighter and cheaper batteries have become and what's in store in the coming coming decade, because if anything is developing super fast, even faster than those fuels, we need these batteries, then, you know, it's really game over. This is just some incandescent light bulb manufacturers. Just just just not wanting to know the LEDs here. It's really game over.

Tom Raftery:

It is. I mean, the numbers, according to Bloomberg, are that the price of batteries has dropped something like 87 percent since 2012 and the energy density of the batteries has tripled in the same time. So the batteries are getting way, way, way cheaper. And that's all down to the experience curve. So and that's a beautiful, virtuous circle as well, because, you know, as they get cheaper, they become more affordable. More people can buy them. So you increase the amount that you make, which, of course, increases the learning curve, which drops the price, which makes them more attractive, which means more people can get them, which et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Auke Hoekstra:

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Once people understand the power of those learning curve experience curves and many people that are listening to our podcast may be aware of Moore's Law, which is basically another version of that. You could say once you realise that, that you shouldn't look at present as if it's a present, but you should look at the present as a dot on this learning curve. Yeah. And then you understand that this beautiful thing happening here and that we can at least find some hope there. Unfortunately, in climate space, there's also similar phenomena going on at work. So we could also have that often called a tipping point. Then if you have a learning curve and things get out of hand quickly. But we also have a tipping point for electric vehicles, thankfully. Yeah. And yeah. So that's that's indeed exactly what you said, that learning curves makes it really good news and only will speed up this adoption.

Tom Raftery:

And we saw in... to your point about the tipping points we saw in September of this year, September of 2020, for the first time in Europe, we saw the sales of electric vehicles overtake the sales of diesel. And of course, that's that's that's a trend. The sales for electric vehicles are going up. The sales of diesel are coming down. So that'll that'll continue and the gap will widen and electric vehicles will become more the norm there already. If you look at Norway, they're already in excess of 50 percent of new vehicle sales. And that will that will happen across the rest of Europe.

Auke Hoekstra:

Exactly. And the Netherlands are also over 20 percent now. And it's gaining quickly and it's not going back and it's absolutely not going back.

Tom Raftery:

So that's all great about personal transportation. But really, if we look at emissions again, which is really the focus of this podcast or what I wanted it to be, the main emissions of transportation don't come from personal transportation. They come from buses, they come from delivery vehicles, they come from trucks, et cetera, like that. And you mentioned E trucks earlier what's happening in that space.

Auke Hoekstra:

To be quite honest, I think more than half of it is actually personal vehicles. But but freight is indeed an enormous amount of of emissions. And in that space, I'm mostly interested in the 40 ton trucks. So the really big rigs, which are called him the 18 wheelers. Exactly. Because that is where two thirds actually of of road freight emissions come from. And people are always sort of shying away from that. They want to talk about all those other vehicles because they think those are easier for electric vehicles. I think if it's smaller and if it doesn't drive so far, it must be easier. But this is a misconception. This is one of those myths I try to debunk because actually there's two sides to story. One is. Yeah, but if you have a very big. Called the battery must be very heavy. Well, of course, as you and I understand, that's only as a percentage of the vehicle. So large a vehicle needing a larger battery is not automatically a problem. It's just, yeah, if you make a vehicle twice as large and then the battery twice is basically the same as two vehicles that are smaller with smaller batteries. So this is somehow a mental misconception. But when we started looking in this into semi trucks, more specifically with a with a colleague of mine who was doing this on on this, we found out that if you do the same as Tesla's doing with the Tesla semi and as we at the department were saying for a long while now, you would put the motors very close to the wheels, basically, as we do in electric vehicles. You would also do it in the truck. So basically, every axle that you want to drive, you give it one or two electric motors between the wheels, OK? And then you actually lose a lot of stuff that transports all that and all that motor power to the wheels. You don't need a differential anymore. You do need not only to drive an axle anymore, everything becomes a little bit easier. So anyway, when we swapped basically the drive trains that we know now with a drive strange that we imagined would be optimal, which are very close to actually what what Tesla's Nikola Tesla is going to demonstrate, I hope, more publicly next year, although they are driving around now. You win about three tons, OK, and then the battery, actually, if you use car batteries that are state of the art right now, the weight would be about six tons. So actually, you are left with a net penalty of about three tons, which if you look at an account, for example, in Europe already says if you're a zero emission, you can wait to an extra no questions asked while some question asked about what you can do that, then, you know, you think, oh, this is pretty, pretty close to actually being optimal or basically being being being able to to carry just as much load. And if you know that most trucks actually are volume constrained, basically they stop loading the truck when it's full instead of weight constraint. I stop loving the truck when it comes to heavy, then you know that already basically over half of electric trucks could be replaced with no problem whatsoever if you could buy them. Um, yeah, but but somehow people find this business case to do to I don't know whether they shy away with now that the interesting part is once you've tackled this weight problem and as I said, oh, sorry, I forget one thing. If you look at how batteries are developing and if you also look about new tricks like structural batteries, where you also used battery that you take anyway to make electric trucks stiffer and throw out some some other steel beams, then you would actually already be there. So so we could already make trucks. Theoretically, that could take just as much weight and the batteries are only getting louder and louder and lighter. So this more heavy story is history in five years now, the business case wise, actually, trucks are great. Actually, trucks are the best way to earn back your batteries because you drive lots of kilometres every day. So instead of a car where you drive one tenth of the range you want to have because it makes you feel good and because sometimes you have to drive long distance. So in a car, you on average, on average day use about one tenth of the of the battery that you have in your car, which makes the payback time a little bit longer than with a truck where you basically use, let's say, two thirds of this energy every day, because those trucks, those rigs, they are flock to those those those people driving them have to to drive them for eight hours. And they want maximum efficiency. So they always drive more than 500 kilometres a day, sometimes up to eight kilometres a day. So your payback time is phenomenal. So my prediction is that this is a category that will go from we don't want to talk about it because it's probably very hard to whoa, this is the most clear business case and we'll see the strongest adoption of any type of vehicle. And then we also come to your fleet, because indeed, many people forget is that not every electric truck has to compete with the theoretical case of I want to drive 2000 kilometres to the south of Spain and then two thousand kilometres to Italy and then back again. Actually, there's only a very small percentage of trucks that drive like that. We did. A lot of research in the Rotterdam with water for them and turns out about 80 percent of of of trucks, probably even a little bit more, they basically come home to the same place that they started every day. So overnight charging would be fine for them. OK, and they drive between 500 and several kilometres a day and that's it. So for those 80 percent, let's start with those, right? Yeah. And the other 20 percent, let's give it up for debate instead of what they're doing now, throwing the most difficult business case at your feet and saying, look, you can do that. So electric vehicles will never be a thing because you have fleets you can choose. You don't have you don't need a one trick pony. You don't need one vehicle that can do it all. You can choose some vehicles to use some vehicles on the difficult routes for electric and let's say 80 percent for electric vehicle routes. So fleets are another joke or I would say that that the people are selling electric trucks can play and that will make it very clear that they are a really good alternative already. Once you can buy them with current technology, at least.

Tom Raftery:

Superb, superb.

Auke Hoekstra:

Does it make sense?

Tom Raftery:

It does. Indeed, it does. Absolutely great. Auka, we're coming towards the end of the podcast now. Is there anything we've not touched on that you think it's important for people to be aware of any any question? I've not asked you that you think I should have.

Auke Hoekstra:

Yeah, maybe. Are you hopeful because.

Tom Raftery:

That was my next question!

Auke Hoekstra:

Oh, actually, then then then then we think very much alike, because what I think is that too many people are still, I would say, stuck in and thinking about all this this renewable stuff. And it's electric stuff as something that's that's that's that's worse than what we had. But we have to do it anyway. And I think that's that's really the wrong way to look at it. I often say maybe the industrial revolution, maybe fossil fuels was our caterpillar stage. And now we're coming to the the butterfly stage because it was always clear that fossil fuels will be temporary. It was always clear that we were using them up a hundred thousand times or even more as fast as though they were being created. It was always clear that they were not really good for the environment. They were filthy, et cetera, et cetera. Now we're we're going towards forms of energy that are essentially abundant, essentially endless. I mean, a couple of billions of years. Yes, I know. And if we need a thousand times more energy, what we have to go into space. I know. But practically speaking, endless and abundant could be very cheap. So I think we're entering a better stage actually, for humanity. The only thing is that we have a lot of problems that we created in the past 25 years. We started creating in the past 150 years that are now sort of driving things and now things are sort of becoming coming to a head. So climate change is real. Climate change is a real problem. We have to be fast about it. But if you think about it, if we do this very quickly, they'll just create this better world more quickly. I mean, what's the problem? And if we if we gave it the same sort of intensity we usually reserved for for our basest emotions, for for for for shooting at our neighbour or something, if we if we would take one tenth of the energy we expended and money we expended, for example, in a world war, this thing would be over in 10 years. So what are we waiting for?

Tom Raftery:

Nice, nice, lovely, lovely. OK, if people want to know more about yourself or about any of the things we've talked about today, where would you have me direct them?

Auke Hoekstra:

Yeah, I would say your best shot will probably be a Twitter where my name is @AukeHoekstra, but it's also my Twitter handle.

Tom Raftery:

I'll have a link in the show notes, yeah

Auke Hoekstra:

And yeah, the exciting stuff for me on renewable energy, it's all going to be it's only partly there yet. O Neon Research and on the website of my my small company, Zenmo. Zenn Mo. But if you just Google my name, I'm not that hard to find.

Tom Raftery:

Ok, super. That's been great. Thanks a million for coming on the podcast today.

Auke Hoekstra:

Thanks for having me, Tom.

Tom Raftery:

OK, we've come to the end of the show. Thanks everyone for listening. If you'd like to know more about Climate 21, feel free to drop me an email to Tom Dot Raftery at SAP dot com or connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter. If you like the show, please don't forget to subscribe to it. And your podcast application of choice to get new episodes as soon as they're published. Also, please don't forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find the show. Thanks, catch you all next time.