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Topics - etienne

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The rest / Covid, AGW, peak oil and expatriates
« on: December 05, 2020, 08:49:17 PM »
I just read the french version of the book Kløften (La faille) written by Jørn Riel. It's a story about expatriates living with Papuans in Indonesia. Most don't have kids, but one has, the girl was educated the traditional Papu way, but learns English and some elements of occidental culture.

It doesn't end well, and it's a little bit like if the generation moving abroad can manage it, but that the kids would have some identity problem.

I have been moving a few times as a kid, and am now living and working in a village where many people already went in elementary school together.

Somehow, I have friends all over the world, but not so many here at home. I used to move around to meet them, but now with Covid it has become much more difficult.

I wonder how the life of expatriate will be in the future, there are so many threats on that way of living, like AGW and the limits of growth that might make transportation more difficult.

It is somehow complicate to integrate in a community were people have been together almost forever because part of the history is missing, but on the other hand, having no common history means that people are not angry at you because of things you did before.

Just look on youtube the winners in the 60's, 70's, ... and yesterday.

Walking the walk / Talking about climat change and walking the walk
« on: March 03, 2019, 10:35:20 AM »

I have a new job since the 15th of January, I work for the local administration, mainly to manage the maintenance and upgrade of the local infrastructure. One part of the work is to manage locally the Luxembourgish national CO2 reduction objectives.

In that last part, there is a part "information work to the local community", so I'm looking for interesting documents that can be shared (links from a web-site) or published in local papers.

It can be about climate change, about policies and solutions, or about walking the walk. The only issue is that it has to be "politically correct", and I believe that I am safe as long as I stay technical. For example UNI Bremen has a document about Klimawandel that might very well do the job (I am just suprised by parts of the page about Climate Engineering, brightening clouds over the see to reduce climate change is something I never heard of).

Another example I like is the energy consumption data

If you have similar links to provide, I'd be very interested. I prefer French and German, but maybe other people are looking for other languages, and English can always be used or translated.

Thanks, best regards,


The rest / Debt in a decreasing economy
« on: December 14, 2018, 08:47:07 AM »

I was thinking at a way to explain Ali Samsam Bakhtiari's recommendation to reduce individual debt in a context of peak oil (for example here and the reality that debt was a great way to improve our living at least since WWII.

I remember friends of my parents explaining that when they bought their houses, that debt was a heavy load for a few years, but thanks to inflation and increasing salaries, this ended up to be very light and didn't have any long term impact.

My experience is that there is not much inflation and even less salaries increase. I get most of the time an inflation adjusted salary, so the load of my mortgage really doesn't go down.

Now if the economy would decrease, well, mortgage would stay the same, but the load would go up because interest rate would go up with inflation, or salary would go down. Decreasing economy also means decreasing consumption possibilities.

So my idea is that :
- When there is economical growth, debt is not an issue, because it means that I already use now a part of my future incomes that would anyway be much more than right now, so I anticipate future comfort.
- When economy decreases, debt is a terrible problem because I already use now ressources that I will badly need in the future. Of course we (most people) need debt to buy a house, but that's not an issue if the house is adapted to future incomes, because lodging has a cost today and also will have one in the future, but if we make debts for a car in which we wouldn't be able to put gasoline in a decreasing economy, than we will have to pay for a car that will stay on a parking lot, and maybe won't be able to buy a bicycle to go to work.

This is a cartoonish way to turn it, but I think that there is some truth behind the concept.


Walking the walk / Fuel sensitive driving
« on: November 14, 2018, 06:20:56 AM »
I just wrote an article about fuel sensitive driving for the Klima Pact campain in Luxembourg. Here is an English translation. If anybody has any comment (also regarding gramatics, I'm always happy to learn), they are welcome.  It is to be published in the county paper, so I tried to avoid direct confrontation regarding motor size and car weight.
If you would want to publish it in your area, please ask me. I'm quite open on the subject, but I'd like to be the first publisher in the Luxembourgish area, if it's accepted, it will be published in January of February.

Walking the walk / Can we/should we save the public school system ?
« on: October 18, 2018, 07:43:56 PM »
Why this topic ? because I just read a very good book "The Tyranny of Metrics" written by Jerry Z. Muller, and had a meeting in middle school for the kids this afternoon.

About schools, one of the thing that the book says is that politician reduce the required level in order to get in the higher classes so that statistics look good. Using that method, Luxembourg was able to increase the number of pupils able to go to a normal high school. Well, if you still value knowledge, kids go to school during the day, and do home schooling the week-end. It’s not really fun but it’s the way to do it.

Looks like the education level first goes down because politics doesn’t provide the right learning environment, then when too many kids fail, they just reduce the requirements and it is the next school that will have to catch up. Once mandatory schooling age is passed, who cares.

Now in middle school, budgets have been cut once again (well, it’s the other way around, stable budget for always more pupils), and report cards have been adapted, if the child works normally, it’s empty, because there is just nothing special to say. They are in a special school that should bring more contact with real life, but this year a new rule requires that these extra activities make profit, it’s a political requirement so that it really looks more like real life. I already tried that in the context of social help in Haïti, if teaching has to make profit, it fails on one of the objective, profit or teaching, depends if the teacher wants a salary. Looks like a school change is required.

addendum : one of the reason why schools need always more ressources is this electronic screen syndrome. Internet is not only an issue regarding climate change.

Walking the walk / Well done but it's not over.
« on: September 08, 2018, 07:36:49 AM »
For my t-shirt hobby (it's far away from a business, I was looking for ideas to create a T-shirt about non violence.

I first arrived on the web site of the King Center that have an interesting glossary where I kept 2 key words :
  • Ahisma, which means more or less non violence (« a » for non and « hisma » for violence)
  • Satyagraha which is best defined by a quote “Satyagraha is literally holding on to Truth and it means, therefore, Truth-force. Truth is soul or spirit. It is, therefore, known as soul-force.” M. K. Gandhi

When googling both words, I followed different links and had the feeling that in Gandhi’s concept, holding on to the truth seems more important than non violence. Non violence would be to be the way to act, but holding the truth is the corner stone that is required if non violence is to be used.

About satyagraha, I found 2 interesting links,

Here are some quotes

"Gandhi believed in the scientific method of:
  • accumulation and presentation of evidence;
  • review of the logical processes employed for arriving at a conclusion;
  • joint examination of these processes and evidence;
  • replaying that tape by which one has arrived at a conclusion so that one may detect the point where divergence commenced;
  • investigating whether the refusal to see evidence and logic is the result of ego-centric attitudes and perceptions and if it is found that this is what leads to intransigence, then
    divesting oneself of ego-based considerations that have only a limited place within the unalterable paradigm of interdependence that rules humanity;
  • reassuring the “adversary” that the effort is not to deny his needs and interests, while promoting introspection in the adversary through love and the readiness to suffer (voluntary suffering).

In spite of all these efforts on one’s part, one may not be able to dissolve intransigence on the other side. Such a situation where all efforts of persuasion seem to have failed would demand Direct Action."

"Nonviolent non-cooperation and Civil Disobedience can be effective only if operational conditions are controlled to prevent the outbreak of violence, and loss of control by the leadership of a struggle. Gandhi firmly believed that two antagonistic forces could not work to supplement each other. »

I just wanted to say that it looks like we are doing a good job, that it is important to go forward. I feel that always more people are aware that things have to change. I believe that we are right, that we have to hold to it and that, walking the walk, we are somehow doing a direct action to change the game. Let's continue.


This is not an issue right now, but might become one in the next years on a building I have to manage. If you have 14 places in the garage, and something like 6 electrical cars have to be loaded at the same time, do you know any product that can make sure that breakers don't jump  when the 6 cars are loading their batteries and that each car is fully loaded when the owner want's to leave?



In the "The EU and the Arctic Council",2316.0.html
There was a discussion about the fact that the EU would like to become an observer. There were many comments saying that the Arctic Council didn't do as much as it could to protect the Arctic, that it looks sometimes more like a business club if I may say it that way (this is a provocative way to turn it). So I suggested to write a petition.

I believe that the best way to write a petition is to express concerns and point out issues that require solutions, but that solutions should not be suggested otherwise many people might not participate because they don't agree with at least one of the solutions.

I also believe that it should not be an ASIF petition, but a petition of members that get together. I think that the ASIF has to stay neutral.

If you are interested in the concept of a petition to some or all members of the Arctic Council, please add a comment to say what you would like to see as main topics in such a petition, who you would want to receive it, how we should write it...

Inside the topic, I suggested different points to be put in the petition :
    CO2 emission and climate change
    Pollution from ships crossing the Artic
    Pollution from natural ressources mining
    Pollution from rivers entering in the Artic

But I really am not a specialist, last time I was in the Arctic was in 2003 in Greenland, just for holidays. Somebody else would have to write the letter because I don't have the scientific knowledge for that.

Don't know if opening markets to native products should be discussed, there was a comment about the seal products ban in the EU, which destroyed a good part of the Nunavut economy. If yes, this has to be clearly in a sustainable manner otherwise this would stop many people from signing the petition. I don’t want to support moves to reopen hunting of endangered species, but I bought seals gloves in 2003 and still have them,it was a very good quality. My wife wasn’t so happy when I bought these.

Here is also the website of the Arctic Council :



Running calculation is an extension of the running average methodology. In order to follow a building, I have been using it to check if consumptions where ok. I also used this method in other context and found it very efficient.
It is easy, often well known, but not so much used. I wanted to write this document to show how much information can be found in a dataset if data are transformed using that simple method.
It is very helpful with data that don't follow physical rules, like the water consumption in a building (the aim being for example to find leaks).

Some of the ideas that are presented in the document could be integrated in a centralized technical management software (I have already seen example were some ideas had already been integrated).

I though that this might interess people active on this forum, so I wanted to share this document.

A new version (2018 01 28) is available here :



Walking the walk / Fundraising selling organic cotton clothes ?
« on: January 03, 2018, 08:48:22 AM »
I received an advertisement from Rapanui Clothing for their Teemill system which allows people to start their own T-Shirt shop.

Their clothes are full organic and of good quality. Many organisations use the system for fundraising.

So if somebody has artistic competences, this could be an option for fundraising and creating cool clothes.

Here are some examples :

Don't know if this would be an option, but I'm not the artist here.

It's almost free, which means that there is no direct costs, excepted that you need to order the T-shirts you design if you want to publish pictures of them.

Best whishes for 2018 to everybody.


Policy and solutions / Grid data and energy balance.
« on: October 06, 2017, 09:16:28 AM »
I found that I was often a little bit out of topic in the renewable energy topic, so here is a new topic to talk about grid and energy balance.

You will find below the graphs I made per month from the Swiss load curve and I added the cost of the equilibrium current in Luxembourg.

Data come from here :

Here are the other links that have been shared in the renewable energy trend. Sorry for not giving each time who is the "owner".

Walking the walk / Managing PV + battery system
« on: September 20, 2017, 01:43:01 PM »
At work, we just started a PV (20 kWp) + Battery (15kWh) system on a building with 4 appartments  that have heatpump heating (well, appartments are only half full yet), and I have to say that it works better than what I expected. Even now mid September, on rainy days, we have enough electricity until like midnight (heating is only needed for sanitary water yet).
A lot of sun doesn't help much because batteries are full around noon, so we start to use extra tips to use PV electricity in excess.
I started the "what to do with PV electricity in excess topics,2076.0.html when the conception of the regulation was underway. It seems to work fine.
Since most ways of using excess PV electricity are not so efficient or mean higher energy loss (an overheated boiler has over average heat loss), I decided to stop any not needed electricity use during peak hours (around noon and after 16h) in order to support the local electricity network. The idea is also to have some experiences for future smart meters and regulations that might come with them.
Does any body has experiences in that area, some good tips...

Policy and solutions / City or countryside : which direction ?
« on: July 09, 2017, 09:59:53 AM »
Luxembourg is trying very hard to become an international player in whatever is possible. Right now the government is looking for 25 hectares  (1/4 of a sqr km) for a Google datacenter. This is in order to promote digitalisation which seems to be the new trend and to use it as a magnet for other companies. Such a move is only possible with a massive urbanisation of the country. Looks like the aim is to become some kind of Singapore in the center of Europe.
I see many problems in such a move from nature destruction to sustainability (a datacenter is only good for 20 years). I see IT technology as very efficient in a business context and generally for communications, but I’m not so happy with the « gaming » and « hobby » part of the picture, it takes a lot of time out of the kids’ (and adults’) lives and uses a lot of ressources (electricity and electronic devices). Somehow it also reduces local interactions between people since I discuss such topics on a forum instead as with neighbors.
Furthermore everything doesn’t need to be digital, costs have to be in relation with benefits.
It also creates uncontrolled points of failure even if the theory is that the cloud is everywhere.
Do you have any experiences with such investments and policies ?
Thanks, best regards,

Walking the walk / What to do with PV electricity in excess ?
« on: June 13, 2017, 10:45:08 PM »
Does anybody has an usefull idea to use PV electricity in excess when batteries are full, water is hot, washmachines are finished, clothes are dryed and refrigerator/deepfreezers are on supercool/supercold ? Probably 5-6 kW or up to 15 if it really makes sense. The problem is that we are talking of maybe 200 kWh (up to 1000 if it really make sense) per year between May and September and that it must adapt itself to the available power. In the third world countries, I would disinfect or pump water, produce Ice..., but that is not so much needed here in Luxembourg.
Thanks for any idea.

At work, we have projects regarding load balancing in order to see how we could stabilize or move the load in private houses. A lot of technology is available, but there is no incentive. My feeling is that electricity producers need these peak prices in order to balance the budget, and so they don’t really provide the needed information and the incentives to make theses technologies financially interesting.

i’d be very happy if I could get for example off peak electricity 20% cheaper, and peak electricity 20% more expensive. This could be real time information and it would justify all the smart grid technologies that are now available for houses (from batteries to wash machines) but that nobody implements because electricity just has all the time the same price.

Utility Dive has an interesting article bringing up some of the issues.

Best regards,


Walking the walk / Is solar thermal heating out of date ?
« on: June 01, 2017, 05:30:42 PM »

I see always more systems using directly solar electricity to heat sanitary water, I even heard of a system from Solacal using DC current in order to save the inverter costs and losts.

I had an idea to use solar heat without having to change too much my heating system, send it to a supplier and didn't got any answer. See attachment.
Pumps and anti backflow systems are not drawn.

Does anybody has experience with such configurations ? Does it make sense ? Is thermal solar really more expensive than PV solar ?

My feeling was that thermal solar was seen as not so good because panels' surface was most of the time oversized, so ROI (and EROEI - energy return on energy investment) was too low, but looks like things are worse than what I thought.

Thanks for your comments,


Walking the walk / Energy management in a business context
« on: January 13, 2017, 10:34:47 AM »

After doing energy optimisation for 8 years now, I wrote, first in french
than made a fast translation in English
of a document with all my professional experiences regarding energy optimisation.

Comments from sidd (please see first reply) have been integrated in the English version. My e-mail has been removed so that my mailbox is protected if the document in shared. There is a reference to my personnal page which has a contact page.

I thought this might interest you all.

Thank you for all comments, also regarding spelling and gramatics.

Best regards,


Walking the walk / Heating with wood or pellets ? and air heat pump ?
« on: January 04, 2017, 09:18:23 AM »

It's winter time again and we have all these articles saying how terrible wood heating is, even pellets oven would be a catastrophy because of the soot and other small particles that would be sent in the air.

Well, there is a study of the GISS saying that the soot of organic carbon doesn't have an effect on climate, which is not the case for the black carbon (from petrol or coal) :

I also believe that small particles are not all equal when talking of health hazard. When smoking was allowed in pubs in Luxembourg, you could enter in rooms where there really was a smoke cloud. I am pretty sure that if the room would have been filled with the same amount of small particles coming from a diesel engine, nobody would have survived such a frequent exposure.

I agree that wooden fire, like any technical process, needs to be done in good condition (dry and hard wood, efficient stove, not a low burning fire…), but I don’t believe that it is a major issue if smoke enters in the room each time that you have to open the stove to add some wood. There really is an issue regarding the stove quality because many people (like my parents and my parents in law) use very old  or broken stove.

I often have the feeling that people against wood heating are not so objective. The article that were presented to me just mix everything without giving any virtue to wood heating. Looks like there would be some hidden interests behind.

What is your feeling about it ? I ask the question because my wife wants to try one week without wooden fire to see if it changes something in our house.

I also have a comment about the air heat pumps. I always recommend to people installing such a system to have an extra pellets stove because the heat produced by the heat pump is equal to the electricity consumption of the compressor added to the heat absorbed in the air. When the air is very cold, you almost get an electrical heater. Furthermore, the pellet stove could work with batteries if needed.

Thanks for your comments, best regards,


Science / Articles in the press
« on: September 23, 2016, 10:43:29 AM »

Don't know if this is a good idea, but we could have a topic putting together Press articles. There should be as information at least : The title, the publisher, the date of publication and the name of the author.

Only articles you really liked should be indicated, otherwise this list would fill itself too fast. I would also suggest a separated topic for articles that are not for general public.

Here are two articles I liked :

Greenland may be losing ice even faster than we thought - Washington Post 20160921 - Chelsea Harvey
It is about the fact that the loss of ice in Greenland could have been underestimated because of the elevation of the ground when ice melts.

Seas aren’t just rising, scientists say — it’s worse than that. They’re speeding up - Washington Post 20160810 - Chris Mooney
Its about the impact of the Pinatobo eruption on sea level rise and how it mistaked the statistical analysis of sea level rise.

Best regards,


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