We Choose To Adopt Energy Transition, But How Will We Succeed?

President John F. Kennedy speaking at Rice University on September 12, 1962 (Credit: NASA)
President John F. Kennedy speaking at Rice University on September 12, 1962 (Credit: NASA)

‘We choose to go to the moon.’ Was the famous speech at Rice University of President John F. Kennedy to express his ambition to send his nation to the Moon1. At the time, his call was far from clearly achievable. But it was a very clear roadmap and it quickly gained traction. The success of the Apollo project is well known. Neil Armstrong did land on the Moon within a decade and the American flag is still planted on its surface.

Panel discussion at the CEDA Dredging Days 2019 with Mike van der Vijver
Panel discussion at the CEDA Dredging Days 2019 with Mike van der Vijver

At the CEDA Dredging Days 20192, there was an interesting panel discussion on ‘Energy transition: the views in our dredging community’3. Panel members were: Eric de Deckere, Michael Deruyk, Kaj Portin and Klaas Visser. The discussion was moderated by Mike van der Vijver from MindMeeting. As an introductory teaser to the audience, he posited the claim: ‘Excessive ambition drives breakthroughs’. The question is: ‘Is the dredging industry ambitious enough to convert to a new fossil free energy source?’ The audience was polled for their opinion on a scale from one to ten and the response ranged from three to eight. The three represented the position, that the industry is not doing much. What is visibly done, are only single purpose, company specific solutions that are not adopted by the community. On the other hand, there was also a very positive signal with an eight for ambition. The sense of urgency is very well present in the community. Most companies are developing plans and cooperating in working groups, such as the CEDA Working Group on Energy Efficiency4. Also, the government is pitching in with initiatives on zero emission maintenance dredging, where the dredging community is actively participating in putting forward proposals.

So, why is there still no zero emission dredge? What is the ambition lacking? The hint is the opinion that the effort is not focussed. The strong motivation in Kennedy’s speech was that there was a very clear picture what to do. What do we do: ‘Put a man on the Moon’. When: ‘By the end of the decade’. How: ‘Bring him safely back’. Ambition with a clear plan can indeed achieve great things. Ambition without motivation will only bring daydreaming and lethargy.

Block diagram of influencers for energy transition in the dredging community
Block diagram of influencers for energy transition in the dredging community

To achieve something, we need motivation. And who is responsible for pulling this off? Mike polled the audience again for: 1) Government, 2) Public opinion, 3) Companies, 4) Technology. There was not a clear picture here either. All positions are valid. Another driver is the reward for the effort. The Apollo project effectively created part of our modern society. What would the energy transition yield for the dredging community: ‘Learning by challenge’, ‘Flexibility and resilience in energy generation’, ‘Low maintenance and higher independence’?

At this website I can’t change the world, but addressing most issues mentioned, I can only put forward my idea on the ‘How’ motivation. We know how to apply power. As long as the power arrives electrically, we can use it. Essentially, we have to generate electricity with a flexible power source. The investment lifetime of a dredge often exceeds 30 years, but under the current circumstances, the power plant only lasts ten. The solution would be to have some separate module for power generation. Either locally, near the dredge, or remote at the end of the pipeline. As every project and application will be different, it will be a challenge to design the specific solution. But I am looking forward in developing the solutions below with any interested customer5.

Transition schedule to convert to fossil fuel free dredging equipment
Transition schedule to convert to fossil fuel free dredging equipment

References

  1. We choose to go to the Moon, Wikipedia
  2. CEDA Dredging Days 2019, CEDA
  3. Programme 7 November 2019, Panel Discussion, CEDA
  4. CEDA Working Group on Energy Efficiency, CEDA
  5. Innovation at Damen Dredging Equipment, Damen

See also

The Real Benefit Of Becoming An Individual Member Of CEDA

Young CEDA pitch talks at the CEDA Dredging Days 2017 (Credit: CEDA)
Young CEDA pitch talks at the CEDA Dredging Days 2017 (Credit: CEDA)

Do you remember the beginning of my website two years ago? The first public posts on this website were about the CEDA Dredging Days 20171. It has been a long time since then. Back then, I couldn’t have guessed what direction this website would take. By now, this is my sixtieth post! Some memorable moment in itself. Still, I would like to do what I intended to do: share knowledge about dredging. And a preview on the next CEDA Dredging Days in Rotterdam2 is a fitting commemoration of all the other posts in between.

Off course, the renowned CEDA Dredging Days are a platform to meet people and exchange knowledge. Especially all the presentations. That everybody has been sweating on writing the manuscript. Reviewed by the scrutiny of the Technical Paper and Program committee3. From personal experience, I can tell you, there are a lot of interesting papers. You’ve had already a teaser on the presentation of Camille Kapela4, about the dredging project in Monaco5.

Camille Kapela at the CEDA Dredging Days 2017 (Credit: CEDA)
Camille Kapela at the CEDA Dredging Days 2017 (Credit: CEDA)

Another I would recommend is the presentation of my colleague Frank de Hoogh about the new MAD gravel hopper dredge6. It is not just another boat, it is a change of concept. And there are so many interesting innovations on this dredge, that it merits its own sneak preview.

Innovative Marine Aggregate Dredge for gravel dredging
Innovative Marine Aggregate Dredge for gravel dredging

But there are more interesting perspectives on the event. In contrast to other commercial conferences on dredging, this is like a gathering of a community. It is a place for all the commissions and working groups within CEDA to present their efforts and show the reports and results of their work. There is a presentation of the Working Group on contract selection7, an update from of the Working Group on soil investigation and an interactive session themed on the recently published book: ‘Dredging for Sustainable Infrastructure’8.

The interactive session at the previous CEDA Dredging Days (Credit: CEDA)
The interactive session at the previous CEDA Dredging Days (Credit: CEDA)

Above all, it is a social event. All the knowledge presented would be worthless, when there is no community that absorbs the produced information. Would discuss about the content, the feasibility and possible applications. And these discussions generate innovative ideas on the new insights from the presentations and meetings.

Sometimes, I am asked: ‘What good is it to be a CEDA member myself? I can get the benefits of the presentations, the reduced price and the drinks, through the membership of my company. Why would I throw out my personal money?’ Well, it is not about all that. It really is about people and building a community. Having a (small) personal investment brings you in the state of mind, that you belong to this wonderful community with its long history in shaping the world. And that is the real benefit of being an individual CEDA member9. With this personal contribution you can take part of shaping the future of the world.

Thursday evening is the big get together of the dredging community; meet you there! (Credit: CEDA)
Thursday evening is the big get together of the dredging community; meet you there! (Credit: CEDA)

References

  1. Countdown to the CEDA Dredging Days 2017, Discover Dredging
  2. CEDA Dredging Days 2019, CEDA
  3. Committees, CEDA
  4. Dredging in Monaco: challenges and solutions, CEDA
  5. CEDA DMC Visits the Anse du Portier Project in Monaco
  6. Next generation marine aggregate dredger as platform for innovation and basis for fleet renewal, CEDA
  7. Effective contract selection: CEDA’s guide to optimised contracting methods, CEDA
  8. Interactive session, CEDA
  9. Why join CEDA?, CEDA

See also

Happy 2019!

Post card picture of a Damen CSD500 at work.

Happy New Year! First of all, I would like to wish you: health, happiness and a year full of dredging action. And there will certainly be some dredging action. We will start this year with closing our ¡VAMOS! project and we will close off with another CEDA Dredging Days1, just as with which this blog started one year ago with a new year’s resolution.

Further topics will include the upcoming WODCON conference in Shanghai2, more CEDA Dredging Management Commission, some interesting book reviews and whatever happens along the way. Maybe I can get back on working on articles that explain interesting phenomena in dredging technology. Or just some funny experiences I had in our beautiful profession. There are so many memorable moments worth sharing for the general benefit.

And George Santayana has warned us to learn from the past: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’3 I don’t fancy that this site will be a monumental source of reference for posterity. There are much better institutes to store and share dredging knowledge. e.g. the CEDA comes to mind. It’s ‘a forum for all stakeholders involved in the dredging industry’4 and there are many working groups were the current knowledge is shared and stored in publications.

A much better place to look at a condensation of knowledge over a longer time span is the National Dredging Museum5. You might have noticed, that I am very fond of museums. I like to dwell through their expositions, relive the past and see the origins of current technologies. When I am trying to hatch some new sort of gizmo or gadget to perform a very peculiar dredging requirement, I can relate to all those branches of the technology tree, that are out there and see if there is something that can be combined in a new contraption.

Model of a ‘Krabbelaar’ or ‘Scratcher’ at the National Dredging Museum.

Sometimes you can recognize some technology in an exhibit, that was ahead of its time. Take this ‘Krabbelaar’ or ‘Scratcher’. It loosens the top layer of the sediment and expected it to flush out at the outgoing tide. Considering the enormous forces for cutting and internal friction, that have to be delivered by sail power, I doubt the production would make a viable business case. Nowadays, you would employ a dredge plough behind a tug6. Modern propulsion delivers the thrust needed for all requirements. Ploughing, scraping and smoothing has become much easier and modern hydrological simulations will give a better idea about the possible production and where the sediment will end up.

Example of a modern dredge plough, fitted on a Damen Stan Tug 1606.

Possibly our modern dredge plough technology will be surpassed by even better concepts. Maybe, regulations or fuel economy would direct us back again to a sustainable form of dredging management and the old scratcher makes a comeback in a modern form. And then, you know to find the origins in the National Dredging Museum.

I think, it is very important, we cherish our dredging heritage. For ourselves and for our posterity. Just as we support our trade associations, we should support the dredging museum. So, now I come back to my ‘new’ new year’s resolution: I will become patron7 to the National Dredging Museum. It is not much, but if it inspires you to do the same, we can make a difference together.

Collection of dredges.

References

  1. CEDA Dredging Days 2019, CEDA
  2. WODCON XXII, CEDA
  3. George Santayana, Wikipedia
  4. Our mission and strategy, CEDA
  5. National Dredging Museum
  6. Scrabster Harbour takes delivery of Damen Stan Tug 1606, Damen
  7. Sponsoring 2018, National Dredging Museum

See also

Ploughs, Beams and Rakes, IADC