Charging up the freight: The Netherlands and Belgium have launched the world’s first fully electric barges to transport cargo between the two countries | Photo: Clean Technica

Netherlands, Belgium launch self-piloting electric barges

The Netherlands and Belgium have launched the world’s first full-electric barges with the help of a £6 million subsidy from the EU. The barges will be charged with renewable power and will be emissions-free, and are expected to ferry up to 425 tonnes of cargo from the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp and Amsterdam. They will also have 8% more onboard space due to the lack of an engine room, and their 20-foot batteries will help them run for 15 hours on a single charge. 

First automated heavy duty buses to be launched in Connecticut, US 

The north-eastern US state of Connecticut will soon debut the country’s first fully-automated and fully-electric fleet of heavy duty transit buses. The three 40-foot buses have been developed by bus manufacturer New Flyer of America and the project will be North America’s first venture into automated heavy-duty transport. The buses’ charging systems will be supplied by Robotics Research, which is also partnering to build their automated command systems, and the overall project is supported by the Federal Transit Administration’s Integrated Mobility Initiative (IMI). 

EVs post impressive rise in Germany despite 35% slump in new car registrations

Germany has reported a 35% slump in its new car registrations for H1 2020 over the COVID-19 pandemic, and a 40% drop in production in export year-on-year. These are the lowest figures for the country’s widely respected auto sector in 30 years, but EVs continue to post impressive uptake, with their registrations expected to jump by 90% for the first half of the year. 

Battery electrics will account for 40% of the rise, while plug-in hybrids are expected to post a whopping 190% jump in registrations. The numbers are partly as a result of the German government doubling its EV subsidies from EUR 3,000 to 6,000, as it endeavours to boost electric mobility in a market dominated by the IC engine. 

Siemens to “store” thermal power in batteries to decarbonise industrial output 

Germany’s Siemens Energy is tying up with Norway’s EnergyNest in a novel venture to store thermal power in specially formulated concrete batteries and gradually decarbonise industrial activity. The batteries are made of high energy density “Heatcrete” concrete, which will use a heat transfer fluid to transfer and store heat from thermal power plants.

The 20-ft battery modules are claimed to be easily manufactured using common materials, are recyclable and can be scaled up from MWh to GWh applications. Interestingly, a similar project in the Netherlands is trialling the replacement of natural gas with thermal batteries that are charged with renewable energy.