Monday, July 08, 2013

Nuclear Meltdown at The Nation: Round Two

In my previous article I criticized an article by journalist Mark Hertsgaard and activist Terry Tempest Williams. My article received nearly 90 comments. This is a follow-on.

In the comments, several of the bunnies have warned me against reliance on the bourgeois media like Der Spiegel. So I checked out a report from Greenpeace Deutschland, entitled Impacts of Germany's Nuclear Phase-out on Electricity Imports and Exports. (warning: big pdf file). To summarize the 99-page document: Greenpeace claims that Germany's imports of electricity from nuclear-power plants in neighboring countries have not increased as a result of shutting down 40% of German nuclear power plants in 2011.

Suppose the Greenpeace is right on this point. If they're right, then this refutes Der Spiegel's claim that Germany went from an exporter to an importer of electricity.

However, I have looked through the Greenspeace document, and discovered that (according to their figures) Germany is a net importer of electricity from France and from the Czech Republic (This is an annual average figure: Germany exports a smaller amount of electrical power to France but the net is that Germany imports from France). And the electrical power exported by France and the Czech Republic is generated in nuclear power plants.

So we have to parse the statement carefully: Statement A: "Germany is a net importer of electrical power" is a false statement.

Statement B: "Germany is a net importer of electric power FROM FRANCE AND THE CZECH REPUBLIC" is a true statement, according to the Greenpeace document.

Several bunnies thrashed me for believing statement A is true, as Der Spiegel claimed. I no longer have any confidence in statement A. But statement B is true, even according to Greenpeace.

Actually, whether Germany is a net importer or not is not the main issue.The main issue is this:

As the US Energy Information Administration writes (at this link)

Coal use [in Germany] has increased since the Fukushima reactor accident since it can be used as a substitute for nuclear power in electricity generation.

In other words, Germany is phasing out nuclear power, increasing fossil fuels, and increasing renewables.

This confirms what James Hansen wrote in his 2009 book, Storms of My Grandchildren:

Germany provides useful empirical evidence about progress in quitting the fossil fuel addiction. Germany is making a major effort to improve energy efficiency. It is also trying hard to promote renewable energy, with large subsidies for wind and solar energies. Wind provides up to 20% o the country's electric energy in winter, but on annual mean the wind and sun produced only 7.3% percent of Germany's electricity in 2008…But what is disturbing about the empirical evidence from Germany is that, despite technical progress and strong efforts in energy efficiency and renewable energies, there are no plans to phase out coal. On the contrary, there are plans to build new coal-fired power plants, which the German government claims will be necessary once the country closes its nuclear reactor plants. The bottom line seems to be that it is not feasible in the foreseeable future to phase out coal unless nuclear power is included in the mix. [Storms of My Grandchildren, pp. 188-189].

It should be added that in addition to using fossil fuels for electricity, Germany imports large amounts of petroleum for use in the transportation sector. The Energy Information Administration (link above) also points out that the primary source of Germany's energy is petroleum, which made up 38% of Germany's total primary energy consumption in 2011.

Journalists like Mark Hertsgaard don't realize the problems that arise when attempting to integrate intermittent sources like wind and solar into a grid with other sources. I spoke with a top engineer at my local electric utility. The utility doesn't like solar because it fluctuates so much. When a cloud suddenly covers a large solar array, the utility has to come up with several MW of power in a real hurry. Their solution is to run a coal or natural gas plant below its capacity, so they can crank it up in a hurry to compensate for a decrease in solar-generated power. This causes some inefficiency because fossil-fuel plant is running below its maximum capacity. But the real problem is that the fossil-fuel plant needs to be comparable in size to the solar or wind power.

So when countries are able to generate 20% or 30% of their electricity generated by wind, the activists rejoice: "Oh great, in only a few more years it will reach 80% or 90%." The celebration is premature. Actually there is a natural barrier because of the need to provide a stable source of power when solar and wind provide little power.

On a related topic, Hertsgaard claims that nuclear power plants are "fantastically expensive". Actually the cost of electricity from nuclear power is comparable the cost of electricity from fossil fuels. [The comparison is apples and oranges, because nuclear has a large up-front capital costs and low fuel prices, while fossil fuels plants have lower capital costs and higher fuel costs.]

One final point: Hertsgaard wrote an admirable book, On Bended Knee (about the Reagan Administration and the Press), but he wandered WAY off the reservation with a scare story about the alleged dangers of fluoridation, contrary what the dentists tell us. For a science-based view, check out the entry in QuackWatch.

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

"It should be added that in addition to using fossil fuels for electricity, Germany imports large amounts of petroleum for use in the transportation sector. The Energy Information Administration (link above) also points out that the primary source of Germany's energy is petroleum, which made up 38% of Germany's total primary energy consumption in 2011."

This has little to do with replacing electricity generated by nuclear plants with coal, does it, unless a substantial portion of Germany's electricity production is consumed by transportation.

"So when countries are able to generate 20% or 30% of their electricity generated by wind, the activists rejoice: "Oh great, in only a few more years it will reach 80% or 90%." The celebration is premature. Actually there is a natural barrier because of the need to provide a stable source of power when solar and wind provide little power."

This "natural barrier" you mention might not be as rigid a barrier to the further expansion of renewable power generation as you assume. According to the National Renewable Energy Labororatory's Renewable Electricity Futures Study,

"Renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the country."

I don't know whether this study's conclusions could apply to Germany, but I think it's more important that it applies to the U.S., a much larger economy and a bigger consumer of electricity from coal and other fossil sources.

AM2

Anonymous said...

"It should be added that in addition to using fossil fuels for electricity, Germany imports large amounts of petroleum for use in the transportation sector. The Energy Information Administration (link above) also points out that the primary source of Germany's energy is petroleum, which made up 38% of Germany's total primary energy consumption in 2011."

This has little to do with the replacement of electricity generated from nuclear with coal, does it, unless a substantial portion of Germany's electrical output is consumed by transportation?

"So when countries are able to generate 20% or 30% of their electricity generated by wind, the activists rejoice: "Oh great, in only a few more years it will reach 80% or 90%." The celebration is premature. Actually there is a natural barrier because of the need to provide a stable source of power when solar and wind provide little power."

This "natural barrier" to generation of electricity from renewables that you mention might not be as rigid a boundary as you assume. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) Renewable Electricity Futures Study,

"Renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today, in combination with a more flexible electric system, is more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050 while meeting electricity demand on an hourly basis in every region of the country."


This study might not apply equally as well to Germany, but it's more important that it applies to the U.S., a much larger economy that generates more electricity from fossil sources.

AM2

Anonymous said...

Regarding the statement "Germany net importer of France": this is actually not true, but in itself it doesn't mean anything. Why? Because these imports/exports are price driven, not because there is not enough domestic production capacity. The French reactors don't load follow and dump very cheap MWH's on the grid at night. It would be silly to run more expensive coal/gas when France has a cheap surplus to sell.

E.g. when a cold snap hits France the demand of it's many electric heaters and poorly insulated homes cannot be met by their nuclear fleet and France imports huge quantities from the German grid.

Note: as Germany's grid is also used for international transport, the actual power source may be Czech Republic, Austria, Germany or Zwitserland! This is often not clear in the import/export statistics.

When Germany would *depend* on foreign imports then you would expect that the imports are priced higher then the exports, which is not the case and wholesale prices in Germany would increase, which is not the case.

When Germany would *suffer* from the shutdown of 8 of it's nuclear plants one would expect a reduction in grid reliability, which is not the case and reduced exports, which is not the case.

None of this you will read in Der Spiegel.

--cynicus

Anonymous said...

John, with regard to renewable intermittency and grid reliability: instead of asking some local engineer you could consult Google Scholar or the public statements from grid operators. Nearly all studies and statements indicate that most grids can handle high levels of renewables (in the 40-50% range) without much need for grid investments.

'Your' engineer uses the rare example of one very large solar array while in most countries PV is highly distributed and therefore not subjected to large swings due to a single cloud. Distributed solar and wind are intermittent but highly predictable which is not a problem for the grid.

--cynicus

Anonymous said...

Professors like John don't realize the problems that arise when attempting to integrate intermittent sources like nuclear into a grid with other sources. I spoke with a top engineer at my local electric utility. The utility doesn't like nuclear because it fluctuates so much. When demand fluctuates it won't follow and continue to run a 100%, sudden unexpected power trips happen and it is regularly shut down to 0% for prolonged periods, the utility has to come up with an equal MW of power for months. Their solution is to run a coal or natural gas plant below its capacity, so they can crank it up in a hurry to compensate for a decrease in nuclear power. This causes some inefficiency because fossil-fuel plant is running below its maximum capacity. But the real problem is that the fossil-fuel plant needs to be comparable in size to the nuclear power.

There, fixed it for you :)

The point is that 'backup needed for solar/wind' is a red herring. Nuclear (and all other power sources, especially the large centralized ones) also need continuous 100% backup by other (fossil fuel) plants to maintain grid stability.

--cynicus

Martin Vermeer said...

> instead of asking some local engineer

A good idea would be also to study what Germany is doing, using first-hand information. Especially when living in an environment where the local MSM are untrusted.

It's a big subject. The reason we don't hear much about large-scale storage is that in the current phase it's not needed: renewables push out one-for-one the fuel use (not the installed capacity!) of fossil-fuel power plants, and will continue doing so until some 30% penetration is reached. Then, there will be renewable overproduction that has to be spilled (as is already happening occasionally in Germany) and only then, storage becomes interesting and we move into the next phase. But storage technologies are at the point now that renewable technologies were several decades ago.

And yes, primary energy use != electricity use. That's why it's important to switch transportation and space heating to using electricity (which is already happening, and saving hugely on efficiency: compare ICE cars vs. electric, and heat pumps vs. burning stuff to heat).

As said, it's a big subject and asks for serious study in advance of forming strong opinions.

Anonymous said...

On a related topic, Hertsgaard claims that nuclear power plants are "fantastically expensive". Actually the cost of electricity from nuclear power is comparable the cost of electricity from fossil fuels.

Why, if nuclear is comparable to fossil fuels, does EdF demand a fixed price for 35 years (at the current price level of offshore wind!) for electricity from two new nuclear reactors in the UK?

John, as Martin says, you need to study before doing strong claims, not just repeat popular myths.

--cynicus

Anonymous said...

Coal use [in Germany] has increased since the Fukushima reactor accident since it can be used as a substitute for nuclear power in electricity generation.

In other words, Germany is phasing out nuclear power, increasing fossil fuels, and increasing renewables.

This is another blanket statement. Coal use in Germany over the last two decades has been going down significantly, though variation between individual years exist. A small increase does not undo this reduction.

'Fossil fuels' includes gas and while coal indeed has increased over the last year, gas use was down and total emissions have not risen since Germany has a carbon cap. There are additional factors that play a role here to favor coal use in 2012:
- a very low carbon price vs high gas prices
- the imminent closure of a number of coal plants which are running at 100% to maximize profits benefiting from the above point.

As a result, in Germany, the marginal cost of gas is higher then coal so renewables will replace gas first.

Unfortunately the sudden phase-out of 8 nuclear reactors left operators the challenge to fill the gap with their existing capacity. Because of the merit order the gap was closed using coal, but as renewables push prices down further I expect renewables to increasingly replace coal as well.

Germany has a target of 85 renewable power by 2050, therefore the following statement is utterly wrong:
But what is disturbing about the empirical evidence from Germany is that, despite technical progress and strong efforts in energy efficiency and renewable energies, there are no plans to phase out coal.

--cynicus

Martin Vermeer said...

...and again, cynicus, your link (nearly a year old now) is talking (to be) installed capacity, not generated energy / prevented emissions. That would be one of these graphs. A rather different story, already.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Martin, good link :)

--cynicus

Anonymous said...

On a sidenote: the coal mining in Europe has been heavily subsidized, e.g. in 2008 coal mining received $2.9 billion and employs 42.000 directly, or $69000 per employee or $29000 per employee when related jobs are included.

Another external factor not included in the price of coal electricity.

Coal power produced 3,499 TWh in Europe in 2008, therefore mining subsidies alone presented almost $1/MWh.

--cynicus

Anonymous said...

Oops, Euro's not Dollars...

--cynicus

Anonymous said...

I spoke with a top engineer at my local electric utility. "

"...which proves my original point beyond all doubt".

How can one even hope to mount an argument against such experts as "Der Spiegel", "Josef Oehmen" and, especially "The Top Engineer at my local electric utility" (who has all sorts of prizes, by the way: Nobels in physics, medicine, chemistry and peace along with the Fields Medal in mathematics and the Darwin Award)


Neven said...

John, I find your latest two pieces somewhat disappointing (not because I'm one of those crazy environmentalists, thank you), but I'll leave it at that.

Martin Vermeer said...

For fairness' sake, cynicus, 1$ or € per MWh isn't a lot when these price from $50 upward.

(OTOH also for fairness' sake, this is also of the same order as the 'balancing costs' that variable wind power incurs, according to this study. Not a lot either.)

Anonymous said...

Exactly, Martin, now tell that to the windbaggers.

--cynicus

Anonymous said...

oh yeah, FWIW, Germany burns dirt not coal - Eli

Anonymous said...

There are two sides to the intermittency problem for renewable sources. The first is to accept the BAU requirement that electricity be available at your wall plug 24/7 with no restrictions. This puts a huge stress on the supply side. It doesn't matter what the source.

The other however, is demand.

Demand regulation and restrictions are going to HAVE to be implemented in the long run. There is absolutely no way to shut off the coal burning and replace it, EVEN with nuclear, in the time-span we have available to do so, while supplying the increasing demand of all the people on the planet. If you include increases in the use of electric vehicles, rail and other modes as petrol is made more expensive that demand is going to be pressing upwards and more of us are going to work according to when the wind and tide and sun make it possible to do so.

We'd be commissioning a plant a week or maybe one every 2 days if that were we tried to maintain BAU, even WITH nuclear, and such unrealistic expectations are not going to be met.

Nor are coastal defenses going to be adequate to the result if we keep burning coal.

The choices left to us after more than a decade of failing to act, are increasingly unpalatable.

bjchip



Hank Roberts said...

> muhammad kumail said...
spambot, apparently; is there a reporting system for those?

J Bowers said...

The WSJ seems to think Germany Remains a Net Power Exporter in 2012 Despite Nuclear Exit.

German Coal-Fired Generation of Electricity Falls While Renewable Generation Rises', which in turn links to Arbeitsgemeinschaft Energiebilanzen where the data can be accessed. You may also want to check out DECC's report, 'OUTLOOK FOR NEW COAL-FIRED POWER STATIONS IN GERMANY, THE NETHERLANDS AND SPAIN'.

Germany's power generation exceeded consumption by 6 TWh in 2011.

David B. Benson said...

EDF uses load following in the French nuclear fleet every day. The newer Areva EPR ramps at 5%/minute and isothermally between 60% and 100% power. The even newer Atmea ramps even faster.

Anonymous said...

David B. Benson writes:
EDF uses load following in the French nuclear fleet every day.

Yes, haha, in about the same was as my PV installation does load following. See here and here.

The newer Areva EPR ramps at 5%/minute and isothermally between 60% and 100% power.

The new EPR is not in commercial use anywhere, so how do you know if it will do load following? Remember, the existing nuclear reactors were also designed to do load following but in reality don't. Especially when their fuel is not fresh anymore.

Atmea reactor? Yes, the future for nuclear is always very bright, just wait 10+ years. Renewables are already here.

--cynicus
PS. when will John join the discussion? Or are his posts just bait?

Anonymous said...

"but he wandered WAY off the reservation with a scare story about the alleged dangers of fluoridation, contrary what the dentists tell us."

That is one convincing argument, John.

maybe you could package it up and sell it on e-Bay.



Anonymous said...

Scaling up the worldwide nuclear industry is going to run smack into peak uranium issues very quickly. And even if theoretically there are ways to produce uranium indefinitely, that is with a long horizon. We need alternatives to carbon right now in the next few decades and trying to quick scale up the nuclear industry by even a factor of 10 world wide would result in a dislocation in the uranium market much worse than what we saw in 2007.

David B. Benson said...

cynicus --- Your first link failed. As for your second, those problems are well known. EDF does not attempt to exactly match the fluctuating demand with the NPPs; there are also natgas and some pumped power for that.

As for Areva's newer reactors, I am confident those PWRs will do what the design specifies.

yea-mon said...

cynicus,

Nearly all studies and statements indicate that most grids can handle high levels of renewables (in the 40-50% range) without much need for grid investments.

And isn't this in the context of a large continental grid which is able to make up the shortfall when intermittency effects strike?

Anonymous said...

David B. Benson: ... and exports.

yea-mon, no, for example the Irish grid operator has a study on this: 40% renewables (38% of it wind) by 2020 without big changes to the grid and EirGrid has little international link capacity. Executive summary here.

--cynicus

Anonymous said...

One confusing factor will be are you talking about net kWh exporting of power or net payments balance of power?

France over supplies during the night and sells at dumping prices, Germany over supplies during the day and sells at premium prices.

quokka said...

Anon says:

"France over supplies during the night and sells at dumping prices, Germany over supplies during the day and sells at premium prices."

Not quite. In fact not really true at all as may be ascertained fairly easily by examining the French cross border flows here:

http://www.rte-france.com/fr/developpement-durable/eco2mix/echanges-commerciaux-aux-frontieres

On many if not most days, France is a net exporter every hour of the day. Look at some random dates. In fact the cross border flow map gives a nice graphical indication of the important stabilizing role France plays in the European electricity network. Furthermore, it does so with low emission electricity.

And anyway what's with this daytime "premium prices"? Claims that (subsidized) renewables are driving down peak wholesale prices via the merit order effect abound.

EliRabett said...

As Eli was saying

The point of these interconnects is to balance load between a variety of green and greenish generation methods. The French link, of course, can network in the nuclear plants in France, the Norway links take advantage of pumped water storage and other hydro capabilities. Spain, in addition to rain has a lot of wind on the plain which it already covers a significant fraction of its electrical needs from. Ireland has potential excess wind generating capacity and there are plans for new tidal electric generation in France. Although not shown here, Sahara solar could easily be linked to Europe by the same technology. A hidden implication is that as long as a number of countries continue to develop nuclear political decisions to forego may not have much of an effect on the continental scale, with the developers selling power to the others. If this is the case we may see many such links between Japan and Asia.

Anonymous said...

John says "I spoke with a top engineer at my local electric utility. The utility doesn't like solar because it fluctuates so much. When a cloud suddenly covers a large solar array, the utility has to come up with several MW of power in a real hurry. Their solution is to run a coal or natural gas plant below its capacity, so they can crank it up in a hurry to compensate for a decrease in solar-generated power.'

I am curious about this because the "local utility" in John's neck of the woods (listed as Henderson, NV on his blogger page) is NV Energy, which has plants (mostly nat gas) capable of producing several thousand megawatts (the total tally is about 6000 MW)

Why would they need to have an "extra" plant "to come up with several MW of power in a real hurry" to offset a little solar dropout due to "cloudiness"?


The vast majority of their plants are over 500MW and the smallest is 226 MW (Goodsprings is only 7.5MW but is under construction)


"Several MW" is roughly 0.1% of "several thousand MW", which it seems they could accommodate pretty easily either with their existing plants (assuming they are not all pegged at 100% capacity) or by buying a little extra power from another regional utility (The generating station at Lake mead (Hoover dam) comes to mind.

It's just puzzling that the engineer would have made such a statement that does not seem logical.

By the way, NV Energy does not show any solar plants on that map (the only renewable plant shown is Goodsprings recovery Station, which they list elsewhere as "under construction").

It's not at all clear why they would need an additional plant (of 226MW or bigger!) to take up the slack amounting to roughly 0.1% of their total power production.

yea-mon said...

The IEA produces summaries of energy use in the world and OECD. The latest, which uses 2010 stats can be found here:

http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/kwes.pdf

Takeaway points, from page 27:

As for 2010, France was the number 2 net exporter, at 31 Twh. Germany was 5th, with 15 Twh.

So, with current freely available data they are both exporters.

yea-mon said...

cynicus,

thanks for the links.

yea-mon, no, for example the Irish grid operator has a study on this: 40% renewables (38% of it wind) by 2020 without big changes to the grid and EirGrid has little international link capacity. Executive summary here.

By the full report the island of Ireland will have quite a lot of links, around a fith for peak wind generation:

500 MW interconnection capacity (including 75MW for reserve power) is provided today by the Moyle interconnector
connecting NI with Scotland. In 2020 it is assumed that three interconnectors (Moyle, EWIC I and EWIC II)
provide interconnection of up to 1,350 MW in total (including 3x75MW for reserve power).
The study assumes a peak wind generation of 7,550 MW. Existing records suggest that peak wind generation in
Ireland does not exceed 90% of the installed capacity. Hence, the 7,550 MW peak wind generation corresponds
to an installed capacity of more than 8,000 MW.


Challenges too.

The key findings from the studies indicate that the integrity of the frequency response and the
dynamic stability of the power system are compromised at high instantaneous penetrations of wind.
While there are mitigation measures which can be employed, it will be necessary, in order to
operate a secure power system, to limit or “curtail” at times the aggregate output of windfarms on
the island. For frequency response some of the key mitigation measures are disabling/replacing
aspects of the standard distribution connected protection schemes for windfarms as well as ensuring
that conventional generators provide appropriate reserve in a timely manner following an energy
imbalance. In addition the capability of all generators to withstand high rates of frequency change
will need to be reviewed. To mitigate the dynamic stability problems the use of fast acting reliable
reactive power response devices during and following disturbances are required – this could be
achieved by installing devices such as synchronous compensators, and/or requiring all windfarms
and conventional generators to have the a specific capability.

Anonymous said...

yea-mon, no one said that integrating high levels of wind wont impose any challenges. :-)

Btw, around 1/5 of national generation capacity as grid interconnect isn't some special required only for wind, e.g. France has this too.

--cynicus

Anonymous said...


http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/07/13/germans-re-thinking-turn-to-green-energy/

Germans Re-Thinking “Turn” to Green Energy

AMn

Anonymous said...

AMn, more erroneous information on the energiewende unfortunately.

"while German industries have struggled to remain competitive while paying much more for electricity than overseas competition."

This is simply a false comparison. German wholesale electricity prices have actually dropped over the last years. And German wholesale electricity prices are still close to European average.

Another misrepresentation: Reductions in feed-in tariffs are not an abandonment of policy on renewables.

The author also show he knows nothing about energy by falsely claiming:
"But solar energy is notoriously unreliable as a power source"
Again; intermittent does not equal unreliable.

Statements like that are a dead giveaway that this blogger is not intending to provide a balanced report.

--cynicus

yea-mon said...

cynicus,

yea-mon, no one said that integrating high levels of wind wont impose any challenges. :-)

I'm just pointing out that the Republic of Ireland is having to make a big investment to support its wind power asperations. Maybe not technically a grid infrastructure investment, but sizable all the same.

Btw, around 1/5 of national generation capacity as grid interconnect isn't some special required only for wind, e.g. France has this too.

It may not be special for a continental nation, but certainly is for an island one, the Republic's first sea interconnect being at the end of 2012. Northern Ireland's went into service in 2001, at Moyle in County Antrim. Sercive avilability will come into play too - as the interconnects seem to be liable to long outages in some cases - the Moyle one being out for 5 months recently, returning to service at 90% capability.

Martin Vermeer said...

> AMn, more erroneous information on the energiewende unfortunately.

Yep. There are major vested interests stacked against renewables, and against the Energiewende succeeding. That is where screeds like this one come from.

Media dysfunction compounds the problem. Just like with climate change, if you want to know what's really going on, just passively reading and believing stuff is not the way to get there.

Neven said...

It's amazing that - even if all the propaganda were true - there's not even a hint of respect for Germany's attempt to transition to a more modern and sustainable future. I can't get my head around the hate that some people feel for renewable energy, paralleled only by their glorification of dirty fossil fuels. Pointing out flaws or manipulations, sure, but that hate... If not Germany, who? If not now, when?

And I also would like to say I find it slightly regretful that John hasn't engaged in this discussion at all. You can say what you like about Kloor, but after writing a hippie-bash piece he always digs in.

Martin Vermeer said...

> there's not even a hint of respect for Germany's attempt

Yes, that's something too. I'm not sure if the young folks here realize it, but, in my estimation, respect is a large part of why Germany is doing this. All nations have black pages in their history books, but Germany's pages are uncommonly dark, and they don't go away even if those remembering those dark days are nearly extinct now and the 'Wir sind das Volk' generation has taken over. This isn't just a renewables undertaking, it's a democracy undertaking, the honest attempt to add a shining white page to Germany's history book.

Anonymous said...

I find it slightly regretful that John hasn't engaged in this discussion at all.'

That makes it much easier for John. It's a classic tactic: ignore it and (hopefully) it will go away.

Instead of having to reply to challenged claims, he can simply act like he is "above it all" and then reprint the same debunked claims in some subsequent post, where people will have to challenge him all over again, which he will ignore...(etc, etc)

The progress on renewables that Germany has made in just a few short years is nothing less than remarkable.


"Germany's renewable energy sector is among the most innovative and successful worldwide. The share of electricity produced from renewable energy in Germany has increased from 6.3 percent of the national total in 2000 to about 25 percent in the first half of 2012.[1][2] In 2011 20.5% (123.5 TWh) of Germany's electricity supply (603 TWH) was produced from renewable energy sources, more than the 2010 contribution of gas-fired power plants.[3][4]
Siemens chief executive, Peter Löscher believes that Germany’s target of generating 35 per cent of its electricity from renewables by 2020 is achievable – and, most probably, profitable for Europe’s largest engineering company."


but why listen to Siemens chief exec when you can listen to John's "top engineer at the local utility"?



Martin Vermeer said...

These are the German energy-related blogs. I don't know all of these, but the ones I do know I would trust over mainstream media.

Anonymous said...

There are obviously issues of intermittancy (and solar dropout at night in general) that need to be addressed, but there are ways of addressing them.

In fact, there is a huge one right down the road from where John lives: Hoover Dam (solar or wind-pumped storage)

Anonymous said...

Spain, too.

July 15, 2013
Spain Cuts Green Energy Losses


http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/07/15/spain-cuts-green-energy-losses/

AMn

Anonymous said...

Roger Pielke Jr.

Quote:

" The world was moving faster towards reducing its reliance on carbon intensive energy consumption in the 1970s and 1980s than in the past several decades. In fact, over the past 20 years there has been little if any progress in expanding the share of carbon-free energy in the global mix. Despite the rhetoric around the rise of renewable energy, the data tells a far different story. "

http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/voices/roger-pielke-jr/clean-energy-stagnation/

Clean Energy Stagnation
Growth in Renewables Outpaced by Fossil Fuels

A better graph:

http://jmkorhonen.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/130712_share_of_clean_energy_from_total_primary_energy_supply_1965-2012_from_bp_statistical_review.png

AMn

dhogaza said...

That second graph essentially shows that nuclear energy, as a percentage of total energy production, has dropped in recent years.

Roger is intentionally muddying the waters by first mentioning "carbon intensive energy" followed by a bait-and-switch mention of renewable energy. His graph is monochromatic, which also muddies the waters.

The second graph, which breaks out hydro, nuclear, and renewable sources, shows renewable energy gaining ground, though not to an extent that as of yet makes up for the decline in nuclear energy.

Martin Vermeer said...

dhogaza, yes. And the rate at which renewables are growing is fully comparable with what nuclear did earlier.

Note BTW that these graphs plot electricity generated, though it says 'primary energy'. Meaning also that 'biomass and new renewables' does not include cow dung. See also IEA 2012.

EliRabett said...

Ethon tells Eli that Roger is a rather young piece of liver. As a result, he probably does not understand that the reason renewables failed in the eighties was that the cost of the next erg from Saudi Arabia was zilch or close enough to it that the Saudi's completely controlled the energy markets (you could look it up, coal didn't do so hot either.

With UK/Norwegian then coming on stream coal (and the coal miners) were road kill and no one would invest in renewables without government guarantees because they would be at the mercy of OPEC.

Really kids.

Because of this, renewables could not compete head

EliRabett said...

Today there are no limitless new oil reserves to dominate the market.

dhogaza said...

Actually the 2nd, color-coded graph shows slow but steady growth of renewables in the 1980s.

Fabrication costs of PV panels have taken a long time to drop, but I wouldn't blame low cost oil for being the only reason. There have been several breakthroughs in the last three decades, the kind of breakthroughs that can't be predicted in advance.

dhogaza said...

And I'm sure Roger knows that renewables were growing in the 1980s and that the pace of growth has steadily been accelerating.

Why else print the graph in black-and-white?

Brian Dodge said...

It seems to me that the easy solution to nuclear load following would be to interpose (24 hr?*) thermal salt storage between the reactor and several generators. Put some complex cycle steam + freon bottoming slow response but efficient base load generators, and some external heat exchange fast response gas turbines for peak shaving. You could operate the control rods on - off once per day or less, and a reactor with 110% capacity of average draw should operate at somewhere near 90%. We probably should have some lead cooled actinide burning reactors to deal with the current waste problem. Salt storage would allow the integration of solar thermal and biomass.

*anybody feel up to modeling this to find the most economic storage size?

Brian Dodge said...

How about converting the world fleet of supertankers into molten salt transport? fill 'er up at Tripoli with hot salt, swap the hot salt out at Copenhagen for cooled salt to be taken back to Tripoli for Sahara solar reheating. Any body want to tackle an economic model for this?

Martin Vermeer said...

Brian,

that works for within-day energy shifting, but not for the annual load cycle. Depending on where you are the annual load cycle is significant, e.g., in central Europe, winter load is 20% larger than summer load. As more and more heating goes to heat pumps, this difference will grow.

Sub-diurnal energy storage is the easier problem for which a number of promising techniques exist, not just of heat but of electricity.

Martin Vermeer said...

> How about converting the world fleet of supertankers into molten salt transport?

The time scale is all wrong. No way to make this economical with heat as the stored energy form. Or put alternatively, the energy density of the salt is too little, as in order of magnitude.

Russell Seitz said...

For a modest six figure fee, General Bunny will undertake the conceptual design of a heat pipeline linking Mount Etna and Copenhagen.

Nanotechnologists need not apply.

Anonymous said...

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-07-28/merkel-s-green-shift-backfires-as-german-pollution-jumps-energy

Merkel’s Green Shift Backfires as German Pollution Jumps

AMn