Articles from Germany
Fresh concerns have emerged over the future of BP's alternative energy business after a fire broke out at one of the company's largest solar power installations in Germany. The incident on June 21 destroyed nearly 200 sq m of one of the world's largest roof-mounted solar panel arrays on a warehouse complex in Bürstadt, near Mannheim.
As much as 100 billion euros ($143 billion) in planned investments in German offshore wind farms are at risk as developers struggle to get funding, jeopardizing the deepest emissions cuts in the European Union. Bochum's municipal utility expects its first wind park to be delayed by up to two years, Managing Director Bernd Wilmert said. HEAG Suedhessische Energie AG, a regional energy supplier known as HSE, had to go to twice as many banks as it would have needed last year to finance a 1.3 billion-euro North Sea wind farm, Chief Executive Officer Albert Filbert said.
German savings banks are handing out more loans to renewable-energy projects as corporate rivals retreat from financing the world's biggest solar-panel market. The 438 savings banks financed 45 percent of the 5.3 billion euros ($7 billion) invested in solar and wind power projects in 2008, while loans from major corporate lenders including Deutsche Bank AG shrank to 0.8 percent.
German chancellor Angela Merkel has laid the foundation for a "milestone" renewable energy plant that answers the big question surrounding wind energy: what happens when it isn't windy? ...Some renewable energy experts have expressed doubts that the electrolysis will be as effective as planned and warn that the technology is a long way from being market-ready. ..."The technology is very elaborate and very expensive," says Dr Peter Schäfer of the Jülich research centre, which operated a similar hydrogen storage system powered by solar cells.
Offshore wind-energy installations in Northern Europe have lost appeal among financiers because of increased costs and difficulties in building and running equipment miles at sea, a German banker said. Many lenders have stopped providing credit for installations that are anchored to the ocean floor, said Thiess Harder-Heun, a director at Deutsche Kreditbank AG, which has financed construction of about 700 wind turbines over the past decade.
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.
To make use of this clean [renewable] energy, we'll need more transmission lines that can transport power from one region to another and connect energy-hungry cities with the remote areas where much of our renewable power is likely to be generated. We'll also need far smarter controls throughout the distribution system--technologies that can store extra electricity from wind farms in the batteries of plug-in hybrid cars, for example, or remotely turn power-hungry appliances on and off as the energy supply rises and falls. If these grid upgrades don't happen, new renewable-power projects could be stalled, because they would place unacceptable stresses on existing electrical systems.
The islands of Wangerooge and Borkum had sought to keep the future windparks, with towers rising 90 metres above the sea, out of their backyard. They argued that tourists might be put off by the view and that ships colliding with the windmills could cause huge oil spills.
"Many of these engineering problems have been known for years, but when it comes to putting them into practice developers have encountered difficulties, especially when far offshore and when the weather is bad," said Heiko Stohlmeyer, a renewable-energy financing consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, in an interview. "Enormous" challenges in getting equipment to areas of the sea where windfarms are being built and then servicing the equipment are presenting obstacles for the projects, Stohlmeyer said.
German animal campaigners are alarmed by the number of dead bats being found near wind turbines and have called for restrictions on generators in areas with high populations of the nocturnal mammal. "The bats are not only being clobbered to death by the turbines, but can also suffer from collapsed lungs due to the drastic change in air pressure," said Hermann Hoetker of the Michael Otto Institute for wildlife and the environment.
Building work for Germany's first offshore wind power park, Alpha Ventus in the North Sea, will start within a week, the project developer said on Friday. DOTI -- a joint venture owned in equal shares by utilities E.ON, Vattenfall Europe and EWE -- said the 180 million euro ($282.6 million) project got official permission to earlier this month. "Having received the go-ahead, we will start with building work out at sea by the end of next week," a company spokesman said.
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.
Conglomerate Siemens AG, wracked by a wide-ranging corruption scandal, will cut up to 4 percent of its work force worldwide, or about 17,200 jobs, a pair of newspapers reported Saturday. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that the Munich-based company was set to shed the jobs -- mostly white-collar and administrative -- without citing any sources. ...The warning was a surprise for the conglomerate, whose diverse products include trams, turbines and telecommunications equipment, given that it had said in January that sales were expected to double the pace of the global economy.
Germany was replaced by the United States as the world's No.1 market for newly installed wind turbines last year due to falling subsidies, the German wind energy federation BWE said on Tuesday. While new installation of wind turbines worldwide rose about 31 percent overall to 20,076 megawatt (MW), new installations in Germany slumped 25 percent to 1,667 MW last year, the association said in a statement.
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.
Work on a transformer and cable housings to bring offshore wind power to Germany's mainland for the first time is on course for a likely start in October, utility E.ON's network division said on Monday. The alpha ventus wind park, also known as Borkum West and situated some 45 km north of the island of Borkum near the German-Dutch border, will be Germany's first such venture. "This wind park will probably start in October as the first of its kind in the North Sea," E.ON Netz said in a statement. Once the plant becomes operational, it will form the foundation to research and implement some 30 or more pending projects in the German North and Baltic Seas territories.