Thursday, June 21, 2012

Energiewende: Go Big or Stay Home?

A pair of articles at the RECHARGE website point to the current confusion in the planning of the Energiewende.  Keeping in mind the inertia for the Energiewende was built up by local ownership of distributed generation - not high quality reliable generation, but broadly, and locally, owned.
First signs that the biggest energy companies have essentially secured subsidy for massive, and expensive, off-shore transmission.  
The second article indicates the same is also being implemented in the south too, with the DII proposals now being sold as super affordable - by the collection of large companies selling it.
These appear to make perfect sense - building generation where the resource is strongest - but it seems that a consequence of the Energiewende is shifting the power in the electricity sector back to the big companies.

Germany's $25bn grid upgrade cost may be just the start
The estimated €20bn ($25bn) price tag attached to the grid overhaul unveiled by Germany and its four transmission system operators (TSOs) two weeks ago may be wishful thinking, admits a senior government official.
Carla Vollmer, head of the ­renewables department in the German Environment Agency, says the figure could be much higher, and could represent a ­potentially insurmountable obstacle for the country’s nascent offshore wind sector.
The €20bn figure is “only an initial calculation, an estimation”, Vollmer says.


[Critics] argue that the grid overhaul is essentially a sop to utilities such as E.ON and RWE, which are keen to uphold a traditional ­system of centralised generation.
Berlin appears to be close to a deal with the TSOs that would spread the liability for further delays to the offshore grid connection, most likely by the government sharing the cost.
Desert renewables plan 'would cut EU's power bill by $42bn'
Europe would save €33bn ($41.9bn) a year on its power bill by 2050 by moving towards the bulk importation of renewable power from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), a new study claims.

Under such a system, the EU and MENA regions would collectively source more than 90% of their electricity from renewables. The MENA area would acquire an export industry worth €63bn a year – more than the current exports of Egypt and Morocco combined.


Speaking to Recharge, officials in Germany recently expressed deep reservations about the investment case for DII, given the political volatility since the “Arab Spring” in late 2010.
[A system] stretching from Saudi Arabia in the east to the UK in the west, would require fewer gas peaking plants as back-up, and would be more capable of soaking up excess production by wind and solar plants – a situation that currently leads to expensive curtailment in closed energy markets like Ireland.
DII, whose membership includes the likes of E.ON, Enel, Siemens, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and Shell, is preparing to build “reference projects” totaling 2.5GW across Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, with some money likely to come from the World Bank.

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