Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Green Energy Bust in Germany

"The Energiewende is not the swift, bold advance that greens imagine but a slow, timid, and inadequate response to the crisis of climate change. It represents a failure of nerve, a failure of imagination, and a failure of arithmetic. It is visibly failing now, and if it succeeds in all its stated goals it will still fail."

If Germany keeps up with the 2012 pace—a big “if”—it will meet its current target of raising the renewable share of electricity production to 35 percent by 2020. Yet the really important target isn’t the share of renewables on the grid but the share of “low-carbon” generation—both renewable and nuclear generation. By that metric, Germany will be at a standstill for quite some time.
At the planned and current rate of expansion, when the last German nuclear plants shut down in 2022, renewables will be generating about 38 percent of the electricity; with no more nukes in operation, that will be the total share of low-carbon electricity. But that’s almost exactly the same share of low-carbon electricity Germany produced in 2010, when the share was 38.8 percent—22.4 percent nuclear and 16.4 percent renewable. The next ten years will be a lost decade for German decarbonization efforts. Meanwhile, Germany’s coal and gas plants will spew as much pollution, methane, and carbon dioxide as ever.
But the German policy of favoring renewables over nuclear has been in effect for thirteen years now, so it’s more like a lost generation. In 1999, a peak year for nuclear power, the low-carbon share of electricity was 36 percent, with nuclear contributing 31 percent. Thus, during a twenty-three-year period of shuttering nukes and subsidizing renewables, from 1999 to 2022, Germany will have managed to decarbonize all of 2 additional percentage points of its electricity.
Read Will Boisvert's entire article at Dissent Magazine

The site also contains a response rebutting the thrust of the article, by Osha Gray Davidson. and ...
A response to the rebuttal from Will Boisvert

I was impressed with Boisvert's article.
The rubuttal I found rather weak: I have heard statements on widespread solar acting more predictably than widespread wind - meaning you could ramp up and down more predictably with solar.
But wind has no capacity value in German winter nor in German summer (as I noted in Electricity Sector Lessons from Ontario and Germany ).
The response again obfuscates with a total "renewables" figure that includes biomass, and garbage, and quickly switches to imply it is mainly wind and solar.
The response implies not all wind and solar will be matched by capacity, but the programs to adjust demand to adjust to supply levels from intermittents will require programming expense that would be judged by the provision of "negawatts" costed against the provision of megawatts.

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