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posted by cmn32480 on Thursday May 18, @04:46PM   Printer-friendly
from the what-happens-when-it-rains dept.

Germany recently broke its record for renewable energy generation by having 85 percent of its electricity come from renewable sources over the last weekend of April. On April 30, the bulk of electricity consume came from a mix of solar, wind, biomass and hydroelectric power. The record breaking clean energy was thanks to breezy and sunny weather in the north and warm weather in the south, providing plenty of sunlight and wind.

"Most of Germany's coal-fired power stations were not even operating on Sunday, April 30th, with renewable sources accounting for 85 per cent of electricity across the country," said Patrick Graichen of Agora Energiewende Initiative. "Nuclear power sources, which are planned to be completely phased out by 2022, were also severely reduced."

The country's Energiewende program aims to see a clean energy revolution by 2050. Graichen says that the tide will really start to turn by 2030 when many of the investments made by Germany since 2010 will come to fruition and majority or even totally renewable-powered days will become the norm.

Will producing its energy locally confer a strategic economic advantage on Germany, or is it just for bragging rights?


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  • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Thursday May 18, @05:00PM (10 children)

    by kaszz (4211) on Thursday May 18, @05:00PM (#511737) Journal

    Local production means redundancy. Renewable production probably also means less pollution, higher cost and more instability in the grid.

    Now being able to tell the power company to stick their cable where the sun doesn't shine is in itself a big bonus ;)

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by maxwell demon on Thursday May 18, @05:07PM (1 child)

      by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @05:07PM (#511740) Journal

      Now being able to tell the power company to stick their cable where the sun doesn't shine is in itself a big bonus ;)

      You mean underground cables? :-)

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Thursday May 18, @06:05PM (4 children)

      by Thexalon (636) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @06:05PM (#511767) Homepage

      The main strategic advantage of this is that it will help the Germans tremendously if the Russians try to cut off their natural gas supply (as they've at least threatened to do before). That threat is one of the major ways Russia protects itself from EU and US aggression.

      The US response to the same threat has been to overthrow Iraq and try to overthrow Syria in the hopes of hooking up gas and oil pipelines from the Persian Gulf through what is now ISIS-controlled territory, Syria, Turkey, and into Europe starting at Bulgaria. A classic case of fighting the last war, since Europe's move towards renewables will make fossil fuels no longer as critical a strategic resource.

      --
      In Capitalist America, ads view you!
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @09:57PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @09:57PM (#511855)

        The main strategic advantage of this is that it will help the Germans tremendously if the Russians try to cut off their natural gas supply (as they've at least threatened to do before).

        No, it does not help at all. And no, it would definitely not help Russia at all either to do so.

        I live in Germany. My flat has gas for heating. My *energy* consumption is 5x gas and 1x electricity. And I don't even use much heat in winter - this is mostly to heat water for 15 min shower! So, if gas is cut, then I have no hot water for shower anymore or I need to use 5x as much electricity as I do now to heat the water - ok, maybe 4x as it would be more efficient than 80%.

        It's easy to BS about energy independence while most of the energy usage is fossil fuel. Electricity is not anywhere near the main energy usage of our economies.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_Germany#Overview [wikipedia.org]

        These "feel good" summaries miss the entire point of why our economy is 100% reliant on fossil fuels and will remain so for at least another generation. Hint: *storage*

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, @08:06AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, @08:06AM (#512074)

          Never head of heat pumps? They have a COP (Coefficient of performance) of around 3-3.5.

          So you need around 1.5 "X" of electricity to get 5 "X" of heat.

          So practically, gas might be 80% efficient while electricity with an heat pump is 300% efficient.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, @08:30AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, @08:30AM (#512081)

            Excellent point about heat-pumps. The "outlet" of a german winter-heating heat pump would probably connect to the fridge anway :)
            Also there are induction cookers. They generate a eddy current in the metal cook ware (only). The hot pan or pot will then heat the food. Very efficient and "dangerous" because needs to be baby-sitted because it cooks sooo fast : https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Induction_cooking [wikipedia.org]

        • (Score: 2) by pkrasimirov on Saturday May 20, @10:02AM

          by pkrasimirov (3358) Subscriber Badge on Saturday May 20, @10:02AM (#512568)

          Your link shows up to 2013. Here's for 2016 [wikimedia.org].

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday May 18, @08:24PM (2 children)

      by DannyB (5839) on Thursday May 18, @08:24PM (#511813)

      Coal plants are probably necessary when the renewables don't shine on calm days. So what are the economics of keeping idle coal plants around to supplement when the renewable supply drops? Are there other better non-renewable plants to supplement for the variability of renewables?

      Nuclear gets mentioned. I believe the technology could be safe. But humans are not. Humans will do incredibly stupid things. Cut corners. Put backup generators in the basement. Etc.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @10:05PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @10:05PM (#511859)

        So what are the economics of keeping idle coal plants around to supplement when the renewable supply drops?

        Coal power plants have about 50% of their cost as capital cost (building) and 50% for fuel. Gas power plants are a lot cheaper -- their costs are much more fuel than the building. The reason is coal is dirty and messy to transport. So idle coal plant is quite expensive. The only positive is that it emits a lot less CO2 - it still emits a pile because it has to be kept at temperature.

        The bottom line is, electricity costs will just increase and they are already almost €0.30/kWh

        • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Friday May 19, @05:35AM

          by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 19, @05:35AM (#512035) Journal

          It's not the energy cost that increases, it's the part of it that is paid for by normal consumers. In other words, the problem is not the renewable energies, it's a misguided subsidy system.

          --
          The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bob_super on Thursday May 18, @06:08PM (2 children)

    by bob_super (1357) on Thursday May 18, @06:08PM (#511768)

    > Will producing its energy locally confer a strategic economic advantage

    Obviously, anytime they don't have to convert their precious Euros into Dollars to enrich unpleasant governments worldwide in exchange for oil and gas, that's a plus.
    Trade deficit isn't a good thing.

    BUT ... that's only electricity, which while a significant amount of the total energy used, is not the majority. They'll keep needing to import gas and oil until they have some much extra current that they can store and convert it for heating, cars and heavy industrial uses...

    • (Score: 2) by Soylentbob on Thursday May 18, @07:09PM

      by Soylentbob (6519) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @07:09PM (#511790)

      I'm exaggerating, you are right that electricity can not fill in for all places yet where energy is required. But there is an increasing number of use-cases where electricity can be used efficiently. Cars are becoming electric (which means the electricity needs to be stored in some way, so instead of storing it while charging the car it could as well just be stored when it is easily available and batteries swapped, or stored chemically and filled into a tank). Fertilizer can be created from air instead of oil, by adding energy. Heating becomes imo less important (0-energy-houses due to good heat-isolation become more common).

      Electricity *could* be boosted by increasing output of nuclear power-plants if the goal is independence from Russia, although large parts of German population oppose that strategy. The plan to get rid of nuclear power also gives me some doubt if independence from Russia is a major concern in this context at all.

    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Thursday May 18, @08:01PM

      by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @08:01PM (#511805) Journal

      BUT ... that's only electricity, which while a significant amount of the total energy used, is not the majority. They'll keep needing to import gas and oil until they have some much extra current that they can store and convert it for heating, cars and heavy industrial uses...

      Well, there's also subsidies for building insulation, which reduces the energy required for heating. Energy you no longer need doesn't need to be replaced.

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: 3, Funny) by DannyB on Thursday May 18, @06:15PM (2 children)

    by DannyB (5839) on Thursday May 18, @06:15PM (#511772)

    Renewable is good, as long as it is renewable coal.

    Extra bonus points for renewable clean coal.

    And green clean renewable coal.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @08:45PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @08:45PM (#511824)

      Coal is a renewable resource... As is oil for the most part.

  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @07:35PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @07:35PM (#511799)

    Sam Wheat: How long have you been here?
    Subway Ghost: Since they pushed me.
    Sam Wheat: Someone pushed you?
    Subway Ghost: Yeah, someone pushed me.
    Sam Wheat: Who?
    Subway Ghost: What, you don't believe me? You think I fell? You think I jumped? Well, fuck you! It wasn't my time! I wasn't supposed to go! I'm not supposed to be here!

    [the ghost kicks a cigarette machine, causing cigarette packs to fall out. He looks longingly at the cigarettes]

    Subway Ghost: Oh, I'd give anything for a drag! Just one drag!

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @07:47PM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @07:47PM (#511802)

    Europe is converting coal power plants to wood-burners. Some of that wood comes from the USA. [augusta.com] Does anyone really think that is a good thing?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @08:05PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @08:05PM (#511807)

      Yes.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @08:27PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @08:27PM (#511814)

        Me too.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, @10:17PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, @10:17PM (#512412)

        But tipping point.

    • (Score: 2) by fishybell on Thursday May 18, @09:41PM (2 children)

      by fishybell (3156) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 18, @09:41PM (#511847)

      As long as the trees they're burning were grown for this purpose, it's carbon neutral, excluding transportation costs.

      Also, if the trees were grown for this purpose really do get transferred across the Atlantic, so does the carbon. The US wins, the EU loses.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @10:52PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @10:52PM (#511875)

        Also, if the trees were grown for this purpose really do get transferred across the Atlantic, so does the carbon. The US wins, the EU loses.

        LOL? Are you serious? You know, the planet has ONE atmosphere? Once you burn the trees, the "carbon" does not stay in the EU!

  • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @08:48PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @08:48PM (#511827)

    Convert country to 100% Renewable Power: ~$300 billion.

    Destroy your country and large portion fo the continent with uncontrolled migration from 3rd-world shitholes: PRICELESS.

    There are some things money can buy, for everything else there's Angela Merkel.

  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @08:50PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @08:50PM (#511828)
    It helps to have a common understanding of the electrical system. There is baseload generation that is a minimum that is used at any point during the day. This is typically supplied by slow startup generators that operate at a fixed amount. Then there is peak load generators, these are as the name implies only started when demand exceeds the current output of the base load. These are usually natural gas, diesel, solar or wind. As to the question about a strategic economic advantage, it depends on what the continuous current requirements will be during winter. If they have enough base load generators to provide heating and always on requirements, then it reduces the reliance on Russian nat-gas. However it looks like they are still reliant at this time due the variance of demand from a cool summer with low electric demand to a hard winter. 85% renew at this time of year to maybe 50% or less renewable during winter. This is due to increased demand and solar's reduced production during winter months. http://sinovoltaics.com/learning-center/basics/base-load-peak-load/ [sinovoltaics.com] http://www.transparency.eex.com/en/Statutory%20Publication%20Requirements%20of%20the%20Transmission%20System%20Operators/Power%20generation/Actual%20solar%20power%20generation [eex.com] http://www.theenergycollective.com/robertwilson190/456961/reality-check-germany-does-not-get-half-its-energy-solar [theenergycollective.com]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @10:53PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, @10:53PM (#511877)

    Germany states that both Wood burning and hydro are 'renewable'. A recent analysis by Matt Riddley hints that 100% of germany's renewable power is from those 2 sources. Solar and wind score an average of zero.

    Look into the details and dont just assume and believe the "environmentalist" propoganda.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by maxwell demon on Friday May 19, @05:46AM

      by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 19, @05:46AM (#512037) Journal

      Germany states that both Wood burning and hydro are 'renewable'.

      Maybe because it is?

      A recent analysis by Matt Riddley

      Who's Matt Ridley, and why should I believe what he claims?

      hints

      Hints? So you say it's not even a real result?

      that 100% of germany's renewable power is from those 2 sources.

      One hundred percent? That definitely is wrong. You're not really claiming that all the solar cells and windmills are standing around doing absolute nothing? That claim is so ridiculous that I cannot imagine that anyone can really fall for it.

      Solar and wind score an average of zero.

      How so? Do the windmills turn into fans on non-windy days? Do solar cells glow in the night? Or what?

      Look into the details

      Which details? I don't even see a link in your post. For all I can tell, you might just have invented that person and his "analysis".

      and dont just assume and believe the "environmentalist" propoganda.

      It seems to me that you are falling for anti-environmentalist propaganda. That's assuming you're not knowingly spreading it.

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
  • (Score: 2) by jmorris on Friday May 19, @12:37AM (1 child)

    by jmorris (4844) <{jmorris} {at} {beau.org}> on Friday May 19, @12:37AM (#511917)

    The objection was never that green energy couldn't be produced, obviously it can. The question is how much money does one have to throw at buying their green absolution? In America we pay an average of eleven or twelve cents per KWH because while we piss away a pair amount on green egoboo we aren't as stupid as Germany since they pay two or three times as much for their electricity to get to brag that once in awhile, when the weather is just right and the grid is lightly loaded enough, they can get to 85% green. Will they get to 100%? If they don't implode from the weight of all of the stupid things they are doing first they will.

    But it is still stupid.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, @06:07AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, @06:07AM (#512042)

      But of course here in the US we spend the money saved well on the military and other long-term investments like education and healthcare.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, @08:46AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, @08:46AM (#512087)

    I dont know but does electricity production count in the GDP ( gross domestic product) figueres?
    Because if it does and the source is infinite (albeit maybe intermittend) then ... well it just means that this
    item on the GDP will be and stay an item for a very long time AND without people having to do much
    except use that electricity?

    I dont know, but one would assume that renewable energy sources work, that rating agencies would
    have to go over their formulas on how they rate certain businesses that rely on electricity (all?)
    and pretty much downgrade all companies in markets that dont have minium of ... say 10% ? renewable enrgy source.
    Or put in another way, companies and firm that produce in a Country with a high percentage of renewable energy sources can borrow more before being downgraded since the energy source being renewable makes this item a non issue or again in another way: if your factory doesnt change but only obtains ins electricity from a renewable source, its rating will go up ... since again, the source being renewable makes this item a non issue in the rating considerations?

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