Library from Germany
Germany could face a serious energy shortage over the next decade if it doesn't start building new power plants, said the German Energy Agency. As a result, energy prices are likely to rise dramatically. By 2020, Germany could face an energy shortage that is equivalent to the output of 15 power plants, according to a study by the German Energy Agency (Dena), which could mean higher prices for consumers. ...Last week, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung opined that, in light of possible energy shortages, it was "ironic" that environment groups and residents protest replacing old power plants, as the newer models are actually less polluting.
A German energy boss has warned the country could experience long blackouts this summer due to a lack of power stations. Some government officials and renewable energy experts say he's needlessly spreading panic. ...In Germany, though, people expect that when they flip a switch or plug in an appliance, power will be in ready supply. This notion was put in doubt on Thursday, Feb. 28, when Juergen Grossmann, the head of German power giant RWE, warned that Germany and the rest of Europe could experience power outages lasting several days this summer due to a lack of power stations. "Power is growing short all over Europe because there are not enough power stations,"
The world’s largest wind turbine, the Enercon E-126. The turbine has a rotor blade width of 126 meters (413 feet). This new turbine is officially rated at 6 megawatts but is expected to produce at 7 megawatts.
German utilities are warning the government of bottlenecks in power transmission grids due to the difficulties of integrating higher shares of wind energy, Handelsblatt reported. The paper cited reports on the state of transmission networks German utilities are required to submit to the German grid regulator by tomorrow. The number of incidents has risen significantly over the past two years, the report said. Vattenfall Europe AG's transmission unit recorded 155 days where the situation was critical on grids last year, and 28 out of 29 days so far this year.
Renewable energy made up more than 14 percent of Germany's electricity consumption in 2007, but further progress may be hindered if government support is cut back, according to new statistics. ...Energy drawn from wind, solar, water, biomass and thermal heat accounted for 9 percent of Germany's total primary energy consumption last year ...
Federation president Johannes Lackmann said investment in renewable energy sources turbines had actually fallen in 2007 and called on the German government to do more to stimulate its growth. "The government's current provisions are insufficient to continue the successful course of recent years," he said. Tax breaks and other subsidies that renewable energy sources receive in Germany are due to be gradually phased out over the next few years, which "green" producers say will erode their already weak competitiveness compared to traditional energy sources such as coal and nuclear power.
"The next big phase of development in places like Germany and Holland will be offshore, where the resources are so much better." ...In Britain, where around 1.5 percent of electricity is produced by wind, opposition to 50 metre-tall turbines near homes has meant companies are also looking out to sea. "The land-grab has happened," said John-Marc Bunce, alternative energy analyst at broker Ambrian Partners. "In places like the UK there was never really enough land anyway and the government was crazy thinking anyone would want to have a wind turbine next to their house." ...But offshore wind is not without drawbacks, and over the longer term, it could be upstaged by other sources. "It costs a lot more and it's a lot more difficult. The development of offshore technology is in the same place that onshore wind industry was eight, 10 years ago," said Sawyer at the Global Wind Energy Council.
... while German power companies export 61 per cent of the wind generators they produce, the number of new wind turbines installed in Germany fell by more than 25 per cent in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2006. "This is evidence that the fundamental conditions for wind power utilisation are no longer favourable in Germany," said Germany's Wind Energy Federation president Hermann Albers. ...These days news that a wind park is planned normally results in a local residents' campaign to raise concerns that the wind generators risk spoiling the countryside, driving away tourists and leading to sleepless nights for those living close to the turbines because of the infrasound - sound with a frequency too low to be detected by the human ear - caused by the whirling blades. Each year German courts hear 600-700 cases mounted by opponents of plans to build wind turbines in their local communities.
A shepherd and his flock of sheep walk on a pasture in front of power-generating wind turbines at a wind site near the village of Berge west of Berlin.
The acquisition will help E.ON, Germany's largest utility, increase its worldwide installed wind power capacity to 850 MW from around 640 MW, thus making the company one of the largest wind farm operators in the world. Also, the total capacity of the wind power projects being developed will grow to 4.6 GW from 2.6 GW.
E.ON Netz GmbH manages 7600 megawatts of wind generation in Germany, representing 41% of the installed capacity for wind in the country. According to this report, wind operated at 18% capacity on average, with the lowest generation of 8 megawatts occurring in May 2005.
E.ON (nyse: EON - news - people ) AG said it is planning to build a wind park off the coast of Yorkshire, where about 80 turbines will generate up to 300 MW of energy.
After the industry's recent boom years, wind power providers and experts are now concerned. The facilities may not be as reliable and durable as producers claim. Indeed, with thousands of mishaps, breakdowns and accidents having been reported in recent years, the difficulties seem to be mounting. Gearboxes hiding inside the casings perched on top of the towering masts have short shelf lives, often crapping out before even five years is up. In some cases, fractures form along the rotors, or even in the foundation, after only limited operation. Short circuits or overheated propellers have been known to cause fires. All this despite manufacturers' promises that the turbines would last at least 20 years.
DER SPIEGEL spoke to German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel and to Utz Claassen, the CEO of Germany's third largest energy provider, EnBW, about whether nuclear energy can provide a way out of the climate crisis.......Claassen: It may be true that we would have made more progress in the area of renewable energy sources. But most renewable energy sources do not have the capacity to provide the base load. SPIEGEL: "Base load" is the term for the output constantly required by the electricity grid. Claassen: Without nuclear energy, we would have to cover the base load almost exclusively by means of fossil fuels, namely black coal and brown coal, meaning that we would have emitted more CO2 today, not less, even if it had proven possible to develop renewable energy source technologies more quickly. A study by the German Energy Agency (DENA) -- not a study by the energy industry, that is, but one by the center of competence for energy efficiency in Germany -- came to the following conclusion: When 37,000 megawatts of wind power capacity have been installed, that will make 6 percent of those fossil fuel or nuclear plant capacities that can provide the base load obsolete. So 2,300 conventional megawatt blocks of coal or nuclear energy could then be abandoned.
Subsidies for Germany's solar industry will be cut back more than previously announced to free up funds for offshore wind power plants, sources close to the German environment ministry said. The government plans to increase the maximum subsidy for wind power to 0.11-0.14 eur per kilowatt hour from currently 0.09 eur, the sources said. The changes will also force solar power firms to increase the profitability of their facilities if subsidies are cut. German environment minister Sigmar Gabriel is expected to make a statement on the Renewable Energies Law today.
Europe's wind power market will more than double by 2015 as Spain remains the biggest producer, a study said. Europe's installed generating capacity for electricity produced by wind turbines will expand an average nine gigawatts a year to 130.8 gigawatts in 2015, from 48.5 gigawatts at the end of 2006, according to the study by Emerging Energy Research, based in Cambridge, Mass. Spain and Germany will account for more than half of the expansion over the next eight years, though east European markets will grow rapidly as 2015 approaches, it said. Utilities in northern Europe are likely to dominate the growing market for offshore wind power.
Why is Germany considering the building of up to 26 coal-fired power stations when they already have 17,000 wind turbines whirring away to the delight of the European green lobby? Why? Because German E.ON who are doing a roaring trade building windfarms in Scotland and Wales have admitted in their own reports that however many wind turbines they build or sell, without the right back-up they will not provide grid security and herald power cuts across Europe. E.ON UK must be aware of this shortcoming of their parent company's technology. Surely, it is only fair for them to warn their collaborators in Britain like Greenpeace, and FOE, to name but a few, before it is too late.
But the fact is that most alternative power technologies aren't a true solution to the globe's energy problems. The best illustration of this is the long-time poster child of the alternative energy movement, wind power. Apart from hydropower, wind is the most economically viable, developed and feasible alternative energy source. But wind's contribution to the global electric grid is all too often overstated.............At first blush, these facts suggest that the nation's energy policy and wind power industry are a smashing success. But that brings us to the clever marketing trick used by many alternative energy firms; there's a major difference between the terms capacity and generation. Namely, just because a utility may own a plant with 1,000 megawatts of capacity doesn't mean that plant is operating at that capacity at all times. In fact, that's highly unlikely to be the case, particularly for wind power. That's because the speed of wind in an area at a particular point in time is unpredictable. Moreover, even relatively small variations in wind speed can mean large changes in power output from wind turbines. The rated capacity of a wind farm is far less important than how much those wind farms actually contribute to the grid in the form of generated electricity. If we look at Germany in that light, we get a far less impressive picture. Only 5 percent of Germany's electricity generation in 2006 came from wind. Bottom line: As impressive as offshore wind farms may be to behold, those strings of thousands of windmills located on the Baltic just aren't a particularly important source of power for Germany.
The world's first floating wind turbine could be generating electricity in the North Sea in 2009 under a research pact between Norwegian energy group Norsk Hydro and German engineering firm Siemens. Floating wind turbines would represent a technological breakthrough for offshore power generation, which has had to rely on shallow sites for turbines installed on the seabed.
German courts are starting to deal with a unique new crime - stealing wind. As Europe's greenest country builds ever more electricity-producing wind farms, so the rights to nature are now being fought over by lawyers. Among the cases being considered by a Leipzig court is a dispute between the operators of two wind turbine facilities. At issue: who owns the wind?