Germany's Renewable Power Push

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by zenMachine, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. zenMachine

    zenMachine Just another Onionhead

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    Their goal to be completely independent of fossil fuel by 2050 sounds too far-fetched?

    On PBS tonight. Preview here:


     
  2. FL_Prius_Driver

    FL_Prius_Driver Senior Member

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    So they only get 80% there. Would that be considered a failure?
     
  3. wjtracy

    wjtracy Senior Member

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    Thank you for posting. Is this it below, a 9-minute show? If not it is at least a good management summary.
    I think it is great what Germany is doing, but I heard a lot of reasons why it might be slower sell here.
    Just briefly, escalating electric costs which basically they are happy to pay high taxes; doing it because they are fossil-energy poor (no oil and gas); not to mention they have bi-partisan, non-confrontational support. Many of our states have also committed to quite large amounts of renewable by 2020. If we can actually get there, I do not know. Phase out of nuclear is another reason why Germany needs more renewables, although dependence on imported power is an element of why Germany could pursue renewables...a little like the CA of EU.

    Video: Germany’s green revolution | Need to Know | PBS
     
  4. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    Its nice to see how fast Germany is adding renewables. The US should be able to learn many lessons from it. One thing that was not well stated was Germany is going for 100% renewable electricity, its goals are lower for heating fuel and transportation. It needs 100% electricity to get close to 80% energy. the next is they potentially can do this only because other countries will buy the excesses and fill in the troughs. The US can't get this high. I think Germany will be doing well at 30% fossil electricity.

    Here is a snapshot of the US energy mix. Only the first 9 months of 2012 were available, so 2012 and 2010 are only for 9 months, but eia did not go back past 1973 in the same table and that is for the whole year.

    Year Coal Petroleum gas Nuclear Hydro solar wind
    2012 36.5% 0.6% 31.4% 18.8% 7.0% 0.11% 3.3%
    2010 44.9% 0.9% 24.2% 19.3% 6.3% 0.03% 2.2%
    1973 45.5% 16.9% 18.3% 4.5% 14.8% 0.00% 0.0%

    There is a great deal more renewable the US can build.
    http://www.bdew.de/internet.nsf/id/20120726-pi-erneuerbare-energien-liefern-mehr-als-ein-viertel-des-stroms-de/$file/Strom_Erneuerbaren_Energien_1_Halbjahr_2012.pdf

    In the first half of 2012 Germany was
    9.2% Wind
    5.3% Solar
    5.7% Biomass

    Think about it this way if wind costs $0.05 /kwh more before subsidies than current grid and solar $0.15/kwh, then we could add an 15% of the grid wind and 5% solar and only add $0.015/kwh to electric bills to subsidize it.

    That would bring wind to 18.3% and solar to 5.1%. It would be necessary to replace old coal plants and old natural gas thermal plants with renewables and new quick cycling ccgt natural gas plants and massive grid improvements. All of that could be done by 2025 for less than 2 cents/kwh.
     
  5. mojo

    mojo Senior Member

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  6. mojo

    mojo Senior Member

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  7. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    The main take away from that is the foolishness to Americans and a lot of Germans of shutting down perfectly good nuclear reactors and building expensive new coal plants to replace them. Doing this and renewables gets costly and risky. It would seem more prudent to close down the nucs after more renewable were added and the grid modernized.

    I'd like to replace our old polluting coal plants with renewables. It doesn't make much sense to replace the nuclear plants with coal.
     
  8. wjtracy

    wjtracy Senior Member

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    Well I am not so enthused about what Germany is doing if their industry is being forced out (per MoJo's articles). But it's hard to tell if that's a long term issue or not. If it was USA, the companies needing elec could build co-gen plants to supply their own cost-effective electricity and maybe sell some back to grid at a profit. In any case there is a lot to learn from Germany re: building better coal plants and finding a formula to encourage renewables by private side vs gov't incentives. Although I guess Germany is really just indirect gov't subsidy, with utilities buying renewable elec at high cost from the private sector to defray the cost of making it. We should always consider utilities to be quasi-gov't entities, at least I do. So your taxes are really taxes + utility surcharges.
     
  9. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    The issues are real. The der Spiegel piece said they expect that closing the nukes will raise prices 20%, but also cause grid instability. If they kept the nukes for some more years, and slowed renewables for grid improvements it would not be a problem.

    Germany is currently bailing out weak Eurozone bonds from default.
    Building renewables and charging more for them because of cap and trade - they could fix this for the hurt industries
    Closing perfectly good nuclear power plants early

    All of this makes it tough for energy intensive industries. The euro debt crisis and decision to scrap the nukes are the big drivers though.



    We can learn a lot about what to do and not to do if we look at it correctly.

    Spain showed us what not to do with Solar. It created a bubble by buying too much from anyone.
     
  10. mojo

    mojo Senior Member

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    Fritz Varenholt was like the Al Gore of Germany.He recently became skeptical of AGW .


    "Vahrenholt believes that Germany “went completely overboard and got over-excited” with its move to renewable energy. Vahrenholt says:
    We are conducting a fear-driven energy policy.”
    Germany’s drive to renewable energy is not only driven by fear and a lack of science, but also because in Germany “we want to be good. But in truth we are self-destructive.”
    What could be the consequences of Germany’s hasty and misguided rush into renewable energy? Vahrenholt tells Die Welt:
    Indeed I fear that with the energy feed-in tariffs we are on a path to putting huge burdens on people, especially the poorest among us, and that we are driving out energy-intensive industries out of the country. Even worse, Germany is losing its attraction as a place to generate electricity.”"

    Fritz Vahrenholt: Germany’s Energy Policy Is “Self-Destructive, Driven By Fear…CO2 Exaggerated”
     
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  11. wjtracy

    wjtracy Senior Member

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    ^^^I feel some of the same way, but Fritz said it better. The weakness of energy policy based on fear of AGW is that the argument could lose popularity for several reasons. Therefore sustainability/resource conservation is a better justification, whereas I refer to sustainability based on availability of needed resources.
     
  12. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    I'm not sure how the early closing of nuclear plants and building coal to replace them reduces AGW. That is where about 4 euro cents/kwh will likely be added in the coming years to german utility bills.

    In 2012 the renewables cost a surcharge of 3.59 euro cents/kwh. I would say that is much higher than we in the US want to pay, but there are many exaggerations on how much it actually costs. In the US wind is subsidized by 2.2 cents/kwh but for 10 years and it is only 4% so multiplying out it is 0.088 cents/kwh but paid for in our income taxes. Solar is so small we don't even notice it, we just don't have very much.

    The problem for the german's are doing both renewables and closing nuclear plants quickly.

    I agree the reason we should put forth to add renewables is not climate change. I doubt if we had 50x the solar we have now, about the percentage power in Germany we would affect climate change at all. The reason to do it is it just makes sense. Wind and solar have very low maintenance and do not require additional fuel. We can add another 20% of renewables for less than 2 cents /kwh if we do it right. That helps get rid of much of the SO2, NOx, Mercury, and particulate pollution of coal, while lowering the risk of a rise in coal and natural gas prices. Say we do that by 2025, by 2035 all of the infrastructure will have been built, and these sources will be less expensive than fossil fuel plants. It makes a great deal of economic and environmental sense if you do with a coherent strategy.
     
  13. wjtracy

    wjtracy Senior Member

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    ^^^in the case of Germany, apparently its avoidance of AGW+nukes as the policy drivers. Very hard to avoid both I agree.
     
  14. FL_Prius_Driver

    FL_Prius_Driver Senior Member

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    The pressure against closing all the German nuke plants will continue to mount. Extremely expensive decisions are really good for changing the leadership. Most likely, the "closings" will eventually become "phaseouts".
     
  15. wjtracy

    wjtracy Senior Member

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    ...to some extent it does not make a lot of logical sense to close down the German nukes in that they have them on the border with France, probably more so if Germany closes all of its nukes. Definitely I could see Germany changing its mind if things do not work out. My impression from being over there, is people are more willing to try a new policy even if they think it is impractical (less divisive - sort of able to laugh about eco-policies they see as far fetched) and more willing to modify new policies if it does not work out (less lobby pressures to hold changes as a permanent fixture ad infinitum).
     
  16. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    It makes a lot of sense to the Germans. They just don't want these things, and they would prefer that France did not have them so close to the border. The problem is the nuclear plants have mostly been paid for and have more usefull life. It costs money to close them down. Slowly closing them closer to the end of their useful life makes a lot more sense economically. While the economy is taking this hit, it is also dealing with the Euro fiscal crisis.

    The Danes have the most expensive electricity, but as a Danish friend has told me they are like a defeated people. The citizens do not criticize the government when it comes to raising rates on water or electricity. This does result in them using less of it. Germany comes up because many things they are doing with renewables are success stories. Der Spiegel rightfully points out the high cost and uncertainty having to do with this nuclear policy. The nuclear policy will result with German's using and exporting less electricity. This may come with increased ghg emissions as more polluting power plants will be run in other countries to take up the slack, and electricity intense industries may relocate to other countries with more polluting grid.

    When it comes to renewables the idea that you can have a high feed in tarrif to build infrastructure makes a lot of sense. The criticism has to do with building renewables faster than the grid can handle it. They should IMHO slow down for grid expansion. Promising the tarrifs for 20 years also seems excessive, 10 years like is done in the US wind subsidy seems to make a lot more sense.
     
  17. zenMachine

    zenMachine Just another Onionhead

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