Library filed under Energy Policy from Germany
Europe's energy consumers must pay 20 cents per kWh generated, plus an additional 5 cents per kWh for transmission costs. They must pay this regardless of whether they need the electricity at the moment, and despite the fact that a kWh of wind electricity is worth less than 3 cents on the Leipzig Power Exchange, due to the intermittent and highly variable nature of wind.
The levy on nuclear-plant operators is meant to support renewable energy. "It's probably detrimental for offshore," Hodges said. "Keeping that much nuclear power online means electricity prices will be stable and maybe even with some downside potential. That suggests less investment" in wind energy.
When industries look for government subsidies for money-losing propositions, a common business model these days, one of the most important strategic elements is to make sure you have a well-oiled public relations machine to keep the facts from getting in the way. Voters don't like to back money-losers, which means keeping them steadily misinformed or at least confused. Renewable energy industries - wind, solar, biomass, human treadmills - have a particularly tough job.
As the workforce at the only wind-turbine factory in Britain was laid off at the end of April, Rene Umlauft, boss of the renewable-energy division of Siemens, the industrial giant, was enjoying a run of turbine sales. He had sold more than 120 in Britain, Turkey and at home in Germany.
There are much cheaper ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions than subsidizing renewable energies. CO2 abatement costs of PV are estimated to be as high as $1,050 per ton, while those of wind power are estimated at $80 per ton. By contrast, the current price of emissions certificates on the European emissions trading scheme is only 13.4 (Euro) per ton. ...Moreover, the prevailing coexistence of the EEG and emissions trading under the European Trading Scheme (ETS) means that the increased use of renewable energy technologies generally attains no additional emission reductions beyond those achieved by ETS alone.
The six offshore wind turbines that REpower Systems began erecting near Germany's coast in 2004 make their older cousins look like pinwheels. Each one has three 61.5-meter blades, which in a good breeze make one revolution every 5 seconds, producing 5 megawatts of electric power. Inspired by Germany's bold vision for capturing offshore wind energy, these majestic machines are designed to withstand anything the famously unforgiving North Sea can dish out. And yet, these turbines have never felt the spray of salt water.
The German government and energy companies have made a big fanfare about their plans to build offshore wind parks in the North Sea. However the financial crisis is forcing several projects to be put on hold, with smaller companies in particular feeling the pinch. ...While the big energy firms have deep pockets for the development of renewal energy, the smaller companies are feeling the pinch.
Germany has yet to follow Denmark's zeal in erecting offshore wind farms
The idea was that, in the intervening years, electricity produced with renewable energy technologies would grow to the point that the shift away from nuclear would hardly be noticed. That, though, is looking increasingly unlikely. Despite a decade of massive investment and generous programs established to promote wind, solar and biomass power generation, green energy sources make up just 14 percent of the country's energy supply. Even if that were to double in the near future, the lion's share of Germany's energy consumption would have to come from elsewhere. Without nuclear power, "elsewhere" in Germany necessarily means coal-fired power plants.
But Bernotat, who represents a part of the German energy sector that strongly defends the continuation of nuclear energy, said Merkel's government, particularly her Social Democratic partners could not have it both ways by wanting to reduce CO2 gases while ending the use of nuclear plants. Nuclear energy makes up 12 percent of Germany's primary supply and over a quarter of electricity generation. The International Energy Agency in Paris, in a recent report on Germany, also questioned the cost to Germany's energy security, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability if the nuclear plants are closed. Bernotat said the Social Democrats "will have to decide what they really want," as the attitudes of governments in Asia and Europe were shifting in favor of using more nuclear power.
The German government wants to build up to 30 offshore wind farms in a bid to meet its renewable energy targets, Environment Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee said in an interview published Sunday. Tiefensee told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that the wind farms would be built in the Baltic and North seas and said some 2,000 windmills should soon be producing 11,000 megawatts of electricity. The government is aiming to obtain "25,000 megawatts of energy from wind farms by 2030", Tiefensee said. ...European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso weighed into the debate in an interview with the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, urging Germany to rethink its decision to phase out nuclear energy.
German utilities and wind turbine manufacturers have expressed concerns over the government's offshore wind energy target capacity of 15,000MW by 2020, deeming it technologically and economically unrealistic. The German government's target corresponds to the installation of around 3,000 large offshore wind turbines. Industry sources have voiced their concern by saying that the necessary infrastructure and servicing firms needed for the installation of these offshore wind turbines are scarce.
German utilities and wind turbine makers have dismissed the government's goal of boosting off-shore wind power capacity to 15,000 megawatts by 2020, citing a lack of resources and transmission lines, Financial Times Deutschland said. The goal, which is equivalent to 3,000 high-capacity wind turbines, is 'not viable, neither from an economic nor a technological point of view,' the paper quoted a spokesman from German utility E.ON AG (NYSE:EONGY) as saying. ...The legal reimbursement of 14 euro cents per kilowatt hour of off-shore wind power is sufficient but building transmission lines from the wind parks to consumers on the continent is not profitable enough to encourage investments, BWE managing director Ralf Bischof said.
Economy minister Glos over the weekend accused the SPD's environment minister Sigmar Gabriel of looking at energy supply through "ideological goggles." Glos warned of a supply shortage by 2012 and rejected a thesis paper from the environment ministry which stated that supply in Germany was secure. Glos told weekly business magazine Wirtschaftswoche that "one could rather trust a hungry dog [guarding] sausage stocks" than trust the environment ministry with watching over the safety of power supply. It was therefore good, said Glos, that the security of energy supply is under the responsibility of the economy ministry. Gabriel, meanwhile, said lobbying against new coal units was putting secure supply in danger and that blocking new coal units may actually support longer lives for nuclear units.
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,"
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 ...
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.
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.