Library from Germany
Since the oil shocks of the 1970s, governments around the world have paid plenty of lip service to renewable energies such as wind and solar power. But only a few governments have been able to engineer policies that have begun to bring alternative energies into wider use. Renewable fuels provided 18% of the world’s total electricity supply in 2004, according to figures from the International Energy Agency, a Paris-based intergovernmental organization. Almost all of that, though, came from hydropower, a source with limited growth potential because of geographic constraints. The use of wind and solar power is growing, but they still generated only 1% of global electricity production in 2004, the latest year for which figures are available.
World leader in terms of installed capacity is Germany (20,621 MW), followed by Spain (11,615 MW), the USA (11,603 MW), India (6,270 MW) and Denmark (3,136 MW). According to Peter Ahmels, President of the German Wind Energy Association, the secret of Germany’s fast growing wind energy market lies in the feed-in system with fixed prices for 20 years: “So investors know exactly what they get. Compared to several other systems in Europe, the German feed-in law is one of the cheapest.” Christian Schnibbe of Wind Project Development adds: “Due to a reliable and sustainable basis of the Erneuerbare Energien Gesetz (Renewable Energy Law in Germany, ed.) and a growing industry, wind has become mainstream. In addition, the growing international demand for renewable energy has also pushed the development in Germany.”
From Barton, Vermont, to the German border with Denmark and from the shores of Lake Huron, to the Romney Marches of southern England, wind power advocates are fighting crosswinds from local residents. In Barton in mid-January, a referendum overwhelmingly rejected the wind power turbines that were planned near this upper Vermont community. ...In Germany, where one-third of the world's current wind power is generated, doubters have provoked a loud debate. The company that owns the grid that includes nearly half the wind-farms in Germany reported its wind farms generated only 11 percent of their capacity. The company said the winds vary so much the wind farm had to be backed 80 percent by the conventional power grid.
Deep-water wind farms will top the agenda when U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass., leads a congressional delegation to Germany this spring. The trip will involve discussions of a variety of energy issues, said Delahunt, chairman of the bipartisan study group that includes current and former members of Congress. But of particular interest to Delahunt, who represents Cape Cod and the Islands, are German renewable energy companies - including one involved in building a test deep-water wind farm off the German coast in the North Sea. Some of the companies in this project ‘’are beginning to talk about a need for American subsidiaries,'’ Delahunt said. ‘’What better place than Massachusetts for this kind of foreign investment? Wind is to the Northeast, what oil is to Saudi Arabia,'’ he said.
Greener pastures, cleaner air
DeWind Inc., a subsidiary of Irvine, Calif.-based Composite Technology Corp. (CTC), has completed the construction of the 2 MW DeWind D8.2 wind turbine at an offshore testing site in Cuxhaven, Germany.
Rube Goldberg would admire the utter purity of the pretensions of wind technology in pursuit of a safer modern world, claiming to be saving the environment while wreaking havoc upon it. But even he might be astonished by the spin of wind industry spokesmen. Consider the comments made by the American Wind Industry Association.s Christina Real de Azua in the wake of the virtual nonperformance of California.s more than 13,000 wind turbines in mitigating the electricity crisis precipitated by last July.s .heat storm.. .You really don.t count on wind energy as capacity,. she said. .It is different from other technologies because it can.t be dispatched.. (84) The press reported her comments solemnly without question, without even a risible chortle. Because they perceive time to be running out on fossil fuels, and the lure of non-polluting wind power is so seductive, otherwise sensible people are promoting it at any cost, without investigating potential negative consequences-- and with no apparent knowledge of even recent environmental history or grid operations. Eventually, the pedal of wishful thinking and political demagoguery will meet the renitent metal of reality in the form of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (85) and public resistance, as it has in Denmark and Germany. Ironically, support for industrial wind energy because of a desire for reductions in fossil-fueled power and their polluting emissions leads ineluctably to nuclear power, particularly under pressure of relentlessly increasing demand for reliable electricity. Environmentalists who demand dependable power generation at minimum environmental risk should take care about what they wish for, more aware that, with Rube Goldberg machines, the desired outcome is unlikely to be achieved. Subsidies given to industrial wind technology divert resources that could otherwise support effective measures, while uninformed rhetoric on its behalf distracts from the discourse.and political action-- necessary for achieving more enlightened policy.
The German utility company EON has unveiled plans to build a wind farm off the Scottish coast, which it said would be the biggest UK installation of its kind, with an aggregate capacity of 180 megawatts. The 338 million pound investment, which is expected to become operational in the spring of 2009, will produce 550 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year.
The Renewable Energy Foundation is claiming that uncontrolled renewable energy in the form of wind power was a key factor in the grid disturbance and blackout that affected millions in Europe. They write: ‘ Europe’s principal grid authority the “Union for the Co-ordination of Transmission of Electricity” (UCTE) has published a detailed interim report into the grid disturbance that left 15 million households without power, and came close to resulting in a pan-European blackout. The report reveals that the causes of the event were multi-factorial, but that the key trigger was an unexpected rise in the load on the Landesbergen-Wehrendorf grid link, which joins the grid control areas of E.ON Netz and RWE. The precise causes of this increase are at present not clear, or have not yet been published, but the role of an unpredicted rise in wind generation (documented by E.ON Netz) appears to be a potentially important feature.
After killing nuclear energy and coal-fired power plants, Germany is now taking aim at its own green policies, says the Wall Street Journal. After building nearly 20,000 windmills, Germans are now regulating them well beyond economical sense:
E.ON is planning to build a large offshore wind farm in the North Sea. This was announced by the company today at the 5th Maritime Conference of the German Environment Ministry in Hamburg. The wind farm will be built roughly 40 kilometers (approx. 25 miles) to the northwest of the East Frisian island of Juist. To this end, E.ON has now taken over the Offshore Wind Park Delta North Sea project from the Enova Group. The sea area selected has already been designated as particularly suitable for this purpose by the Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie (BSH – German Federal Agency of Maritime Shipping and Hydrography).
A group of four European energy companies on Friday revealed plans for a subsea electricity cable to bring more power from Germany to Norway from 2011. The 700 megawatt (MW) cable which would boost power flows between continental Europe and the hydropower reliant Nordic region would cost 500 million euros (USD 659.8 million), the consortium said in a statement issued in Germany. The cost would be shared equally by Agder Energi and Lyse of Norway, EGL of Switzerland, and northern German utility EWE, a spokeswoman for EWE said.
The German government and the country’s energy companies have launched a massive joint offshore wind park project aimed at overcoming the source’s technical insecurities. Last month, German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel gave the green light to build the first German offshore wind energy test park in the North Sea.
German wind turbine maker Repower is considering setting up a U.S. subsidiary to tap the fast-growing market and expects further U.S. deals in the next two years, its chief executive said on Tuesday. “We have got subsidiaries all over the world except the United States. We are currently looking into the possibility of setting one up there. We need to be represented in the United States,” Fritz Vahrenholt told Reuters.
It may be the time to consider how wind farms fit in with the values which the Wilderness Society represents. If the Society is prepared to go through such a prolonged and worthy fight to save the forests, with all the financial and emotional costs involved, it would be consistent to regard wind farm development with the same scepticism with which it regards the wood chip industry. Both are potent adversaries to the values which I hope we share.
The potential for growth, most analysts argue, is clear. But bottlenecks and political setbacks, not to mention technological glitches, will create many bumps in the road ahead. Indeed, fears that the most euphoric investors were overlooking such obstacles seem to have contributed to a sharp fall in clean-energy stocks earlier this year-although they have since recovered much of the lost ground. Such jitters caused several green-energy firms to cancel planned flotations. “There’s legitimate debate about a couple of segments,” says Keith Raab, boss of Cleantech Venture Network. In some instances, valuations accorded to firms with no profits-and little chance of making any soon-were reminiscent of the excesses of the dotcom bubble. As Douglas Lloyd, of Venture Business Research, puts it, “There’s too much money chasing too few opportunities. How is it possible that this many solar companies are going to succeed? They’re not.”
“There's legitimate debate about a couple of segments,” says Keith Raab, boss of Cleantech Venture Network. In some instances, valuations accorded to firms with no profits—and little chance of making any soon—were reminiscent of the excesses of the dotcom bubble. As Douglas Lloyd, of Venture Business Research, puts it, “There's too much money chasing too few opportunities. How is it possible that this many solar companies are going to succeed? They're not.”
As UCTE communicated yesterday, a UCTE Investigation Committee was set up this morning and placed under the chairmanship of Gerard A. Maas (as Chairman of the UCTE Steering Committee) who will be assisted by three convenors (corresponding to the 3-fold split in the system). The task of the UCTE investigation Committee is to clarify the causes of the incident and identify possible additional measures to be taken to prevent such disturbances to occur again. Due to the fact that the disturbance had an impact on all UCTE TSOs, all UCTE members will participate in the investigation. The preliminary results of this investigation will be available by the end of November.
The German distributor E.ON admitted it caused the blackouts, by switching off a power cable across the River Ems to allow a cruise ship to pass. This meant areas to the west were left with a power deficit, while cables in the east were overloaded. Supplies cut out in Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Croatia and Italy. The EU's Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs has called for the European Transmission System Operators (ETSO) to identify the problem urgently and ensure that such a blackout does not happen again.
A chain of power outages that swept through Belgium, France, Spain and even touched Morocco was blamed Sunday on Germany, but experts were divided about the original trigger for the blackout that affected millions of homes. The government of North Rhine Westphalia state, which was worst hit by the outage, said a load-balancing error after a surge of power from German wind-power turbines had played a role. Too much power entered the German grid and parts of it shut down.