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View Diary: The Utility of Light: Getting Real with the Existing Energy Infrastructure. (122 comments)

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  •  If we're not going to ignore economics... (0+ / 0-)

    You can't fault Germany for subsidizing renewables when the nuclear industry is also being heavily subsidized. Germany subsidized renewables largely to promote microgeneration, which on a large scale is much more efficient because of less line loss. It's a sensible investment in public infrastructure. And I wonder where you're getting your 6% penetration figure because the figures I'd heard were much higher, around 20-30% (though that may have been for all renewables).

    Intermittency is a problem for tiny Denmark because, well, it's tiny. The US has a lot of empty land (and empty rooftops) which can provide ample wind and PV generation capacity. It's very rare for the air to be completely still at night across the entire country. And the US also has abundant hydro resources which are not subject to intermittency.

    But again, I'd emphasize that nuclear reactors take 10 or more years to bring online unless you don't care about safety. And the political obstacles are immense. I just don't buy the argument that nuclear can get us to a zero-carbon future faster than renewables.

    If you want to know your future, then look at yourself in the present, for that is the cause of the future. - Majjhima Nikaya

    by DuckStab on Mon Jun 18, 2007 at 11:49:29 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Look up the numbers (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LIsoundview, kurt

      I'm using the International Energy Agency statistics as my source, not making up numbers off the top of my head. From their statistics for 2004, I can determine that wind (and perhaps other stuff, since it's described as "other sources") accounted for about 4.1% of Germany's electricity production. Everything that I can possibly count as renewable (biomass, waste, PV, etc.) accounted for only 11.3%

      The German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology confirms these numbers. They report that, in 2005, "renewable energies" accounted for 10.2% of total gross electricity consumption, and wind was about 4.3% of their energy consumption.

      These numbers are much smaller than the 20-30% figure that you give.

      Perhaps you have it confused with nuclear, which accounted for 27% of the electricity production in Germany in 2004 (over 6 times the amount for wind). Keep in mind that these nubmers are for a country that is a huge wind proponent and claims to want to phase out nuclear.

      So your numbers don't add up. I also question your claim of "10 or more years" to build a new nuclear power plant, since the Japanese, the French, the Finns, and others seem to think that it takes less than five years.

      I wonder where you are getting your figures, since it seems that you have been terribly misinformed.

      •  someone has been floating this weird idea (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LIsoundview, kurt, bryfry

        that transmission losses are something like 50% and this overwhelmingly justifies "distributed power" generation fantasies. Actually, line loss is somewhere around 7%.

        "The answer to fear cannot always lie in the dissipation of the causes of fear; sometimes it lies in courage."

        by woolie on Tue Jun 19, 2007 at 07:28:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  So, which is it? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LIsoundview, JimHopf

      Germany subsidized renewables largely to promote microgeneration, which on a large scale is much more efficient because of less line loss. ...

      ... The US has a lot of empty land (and empty rooftops) which can provide ample wind and PV generation capacity. It's very rare for the air to be completely still at night across the entire country.

      Is microgeneration is more efficient because it results in less line loss, or does it need to be spread out across a very wide area to avoid problems with intermittency (in which case, your "less line loss" argument goes away)?

    •  with a open mind or not? (0+ / 0-)

      I just don't buy the argument that nuclear can get us to a zero-carbon future faster than renewables.

      Is it worth giving you facts or is your mind made up and not swayable?

    •  Subsidies, intermittentcy... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Plan9, kurt

      Nuclear's overall subsidies amount to a fraction of a cent/kW-hr (certainly, if you ignore ancient subsidies that ceased decades ago).  This is nothing compared to paying 50 cents/kW-hr for renewable power when the market price is almost one tenth that.

      Shipping wind power between different regions may alleviate the intermittentcy problem somewhat (and increase wind's potential penetration somewhat) but this is no panacea.  During heat waves, when you need power most, continent-sized still zones are common.  I recall reading that during Europe's recent heat wave, the entire continent's wind power production (not just the production in any local region) was only a few percent of rated capacity.  Also, as others have pointed out, such a power shipping scheme results in significant line losses, and requires a very large grid infrastructure investment (enough to significantly affect wind's overall cost).

      I agree that large hydro dams can store intermittent power from wind farms, at reasonable economic cost.  It is the one large-scale storage option that works.  For this reason, wind's potential penetration is higher in regions that have a lot of hydropower (such as the US Northwest).  Unless "environmentalists" succeed in tearing these dams down, that is.....  I even heard one proposal to tear down a dam and "build a windfarm" to replace its output.  It was one of the most hilarious things I've ever heard.  Removing the dams will reduce the amount of wind power than can eventually be employed, not increase it!

      It's true that for a timeframe of less than 10 years, renewables will be able to reduce emissions by a modest amount, whereas little, if any, can be done with nuclear since no plants will come online.  But after 10 years, nuclears potential is larger.  This is because renewables' intermittentcy will likely limit them to a small fraction of generation (~20% at best).  Nuclear has no such limitation, as has already been demonstrated by France.  If we chose to do so, we could replace all our coal plants with nukes, and reduce US CO2 emissions by more than 1/3.  Wit hydrogen or plug-in hybrids, nuclear could do far more than that.  It is doubtful that renewables will be able to do this much.  Personally, I advocate a combination of the two, along with a serious conservation effort.

    •  Just about every single sentence (0+ / 0-)

      in this post is an error in fact or in the interpretation of a set of facts.

      Germany gives NO subsidies to its nuclear power industry. Since the German government is attempting to slowly shutter the nuclear power industry, why would they give it subsidies?

      Nuclear power in Germany

      The link also states that Germany gets about 55% of its electricity from coal and 31% from nuclear.

      Yes, Denmark is tiny, which is why wind power can supply a significant, albeit small, part of their electricity needs. They also can balance their wind power generation with hydro from Norway. They pay the highest electricity rates in Europe just for the privilege of getting 20% of it from wind power.

      The U.S. gets 7% of its electricity from hydropower and there is no chance of increasing this number; all the good hydro sites were taken up decades ago.

      During the 70's and 80's the U.S. built 100 reactors in roughly 20 years. I'm sure we can do at least as well the next go around.

    •  stop lying about Germany (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Plan9, Matthew B
      Our nuclear industry doesn't get a single cent of subsidy, but it does pay taxes.  It was subsidised in the past, through federal R&D funds, and it generated lots of clean electricity as a result.

      In contrast, coal got much, much, much more subsidies and generated mostly pollution, while tinkertoys currently get lots of subsidies while generating mostly hot air and not being able to pay taxes.  Meanwhile, new lignite plants are being built.

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