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View Diary: The new economics of the power sector (78 comments)

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  •  Germany has been burning down forests (8+ / 0-)

    and calling it renewable power. Beautiful old beech forests have been leveled. It's obscene.

    Germany is also in the process of building about a dozen coal fired power plants. The increase in wind and solar in Germany is great, but replacing reliable, paid for nuclear plants with new coal fired plants is totally fucked up both economically and environmentally.

    Germany has been greenwashing very bad policies.

    Good to see you back. There's no one who can fill your place on energy economics.

    I hope you are doing well.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 10:59:40 AM PDT

    •  Do you know more about German biomass? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SolarMom, mookins
      Germany has been burning down forests and calling it renewable power. Beautiful old beech forests have been leveled. It's obscene.
      I know they have an impressive amount of it, and that most it appears either crop or lumber based, but I can't find much english media coverage.

      I'd write a diary about it, but trying to do some from autotranslated technical docs seems like a recipe for disaster...

      •  My company is in the biomass powerplant design (7+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sandino, patbahn, ferg, FishOutofWater, kurt, BYw, MGross

        business.

        The German Law on Renewable Energy (EEG) and the Biomass Decree guarantee a price of 8.7 cents per kilowatt-hour for a period of 20 years for an electrical energy feed obtained from biomass. The Biomass Decree will include biomass power plants with an electrical output of up to 20 megawatts, in addition to power plants that operate on wind and solar energy. The aim of the legislation is to boost sharply the contribution made by renewable energy sources to the power supply system with a view to protecting the climate and the environment.

        Our plants burn waste wood and used wood.

        Biomass, as a CO2-neutral energy source, is an organic substance produced by plants and animals. Biomass power plants are particularly suited to producing a combination of electricity and heat for low to medium energy requirements (between roughly 5 and 20 megawatt). In the German Federal Republic, there are over 150 biomass power plants. The operation of biomass power plants has become more attractive with the passing of the Biomass Decree in June 2001, since it now guarantees a fixed purchase price for the feed of electrical energy from biomass power plants, in addition to the price guaranteed up to now for solar and wind energy.

      •  I'm in the US Biomass business (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        patbahn, kurt

        We're trying to get started shipping wood pellets to Europe. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? But, we're confident of our negative carbon foot print as compared to coal.

        I'd love to hear about what role you think biomass had to play in a capacity based market.

        Equality! It's what's for dinner!

        by DyspepTex on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 03:49:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Spiegel on line article. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MGross

        look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

        by FishOutofWater on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 06:49:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  hmmm (15+ / 0-)

      while i agree that Germany should have closed the coal plants before the nukes, it will eventually close both. Coal fired plants have not been used more, despite the closure of nuclear:

      See the graphs here

      And there's been many more announcements of new coal plants than actual new construction.

    •  I sense a little too much spin (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      squarewheel

      Isn't there an error of omission:

      This leads us to a first hidden truth: the massive increase in renewable energy production is not paid for by consumers, but by traditional producers who see their revenues decline as the price they earn per MWh goes down.
      This makes it sounds too good to be true.  Renewables so cheap they are driving the cost of power DOWN, isn't that the message?  What is the feed-in tarriff and who is paying for that? Surely that's what matters: the total cost to the system including the cost of subsidies to the taxpayer.

      I am familiar with Ontario, Canada where the cost of the FIT for wind is 13.5 cents/kwh for a guaranteed 20-year contract.  Cost of nuclear and coal in Ontario is about 1/3 of this.

      There must be shadowing fossil backup for the 75% of the time wind isn't producing and 85% of the time solar isn't producing.  When they do produce, they result in inefficient use of the fossil-fuel plant, increasing cost of the backup, which really isn't backup when it is needed the majority of the time!  To be able to absorb the massive fluctuations in supply, one needs redundant grid capacity, further adding to cost.  We currently don't know what these back-up gas plants are costing us due to lack of transparency in this jurisdiction (which doesn't give me a warm and fuzzy feeling).  What are the increased grid costs and who pays for that?  

      Based on this, I am very skeptical about the up-beat message.  It just doesn't fit with the facts, at least in my part of the world.

      I can't get over the hunch there is some serious spin here that glosses over the important systemic cost impacts of introducing low-capacity-factor sources harvesting low-power-density energy fluxes that are not dispatchable.  To gloss over this is presenting a distorted picture of the reality which does a disservice to the debate of how we best decarbonize the world's electricity grids.

      The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

      by mojo workin on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 08:24:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  well as long as we're glossing over facts (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BYw

        maybe you could work the externalities into that coal that's 1/3 the price of wind.

        big badda boom : GRB 090423

        by squarewheel on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 09:49:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  No, no spin (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BYw

        Quite the opposite, my post aims at fighting some of the spin from anti-wind opponent, some of which you yourself repeat mindlessly.

        Why should wind plants be needed 24/7 (ie why should there be backup for the time they don't run). Very few plants run 24/7, given that demand is itself not flat, running from 1 to 2 or 1 to 3 on a daily basis (depending on the season), and the system adapting to that. It's true that wind is not "on-demand" but all that means is that the grid has to adapt to net demand minus wind production at any time, and that's not substantially harder than to adapt to net demand.

        As to the price effect, you have lower wholesale prices which apply to the full market, but the higher feed-in tariff applies only to the part of production coming from renewables, so the net effect of the two, for a large range of renewable energy penetration, is favorable to consumers - and it does mean that traditional producers get less money while RE producers' income are protected.

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