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(Spiegel)   The German subsidies in alternative energy sources had unintended consequences   (spiegel.de) divider line 76
    More: Scary, Germans, energy production, unintended consequences, German Energy, environmental movement, subsidies, SPIEGEL, chiefs  
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5083 clicks; posted to Politics » on 19 Nov 2012 at 9:43 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-11-19 09:04:18 AM
Summary: difficult to have wind/solar power everything so don't try
 
2012-11-19 09:36:25 AM
I'm no EE, but it sounds like one of the problems is storing energy when there is a surplus. Flywheels and chemical storage come to mind.

http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/03/beacon-power-completing-constructi o n-of-20-megawatt-flywheel-pla/
 
2012-11-19 09:49:17 AM
GE has a new kind of battery for these purposes that is uses salt. The Americans got you covered...
 
2012-11-19 09:52:08 AM

TheHighlandHowler: I'm no EE, but it sounds like one of the problems is storing energy when there is a surplus. Flywheels and chemical storage come to mind.

http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/03/beacon-power-completing-constructi o n-of-20-megawatt-flywheel-pla/


That, or pumping water in a reservoir so that you can reuse it at night.
 
2012-11-19 09:52:34 AM
So they expect to be able to supply all their power through renewable energy sources within 38 years.

Truly a nightmare scenario. Won't somebody think of the children?!
 
2012-11-19 09:53:43 AM
Basically everything has unintended consequences, so yeah.
 
2012-11-19 09:54:42 AM
Interesting that the Germans consider a nuclear power plant to be "conventional."
 
2012-11-19 09:57:50 AM
FTFA:

When a new wind farm is opened and we're told how many thousands of households it can supply with electricity, that number applies to only a quarter of our demand. In Germany, 75 percent of electricity goes to industry, for which a secure supply -- that is, at every second, and with constant voltage -- is indispensable.

Fark it, if you and your neighbors lose power BIG FARKING DEAL! WHO CARES!? A business loses power!! OH NO!! GOD NO!! THINK OF THE BUSINESSES!

Everything is not about business. The sooner we as a people come to understand that, the better off we will be in the long run.

Is "Oh no think of the businesses!" the new "Oh no think of the children!"?
 
2012-11-19 09:58:24 AM

JerkStore: Interesting that the Germans consider a nuclear power plant to be "conventional."


In the sense that it supplies most of their power now, yeah.
 
2012-11-19 09:59:29 AM

TheHighlandHowler: I'm no EE, but it sounds like one of the problems is storing energy when there is a surplus. Flywheels and chemical storage come to mind.

http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/03/beacon-power-completing-constructi o n-of-20-megawatt-flywheel-pla/


Super capacitors have great potential. They are lossless. The technology to build really big capacity ones is not there yet but seems inevitable because it just comes down to manufacture certain types of materials (carbon nanotubes) in sufficient quantity.
 
2012-11-19 10:00:09 AM

ghare: Basically everything has unintended consequences, so yeah.


I just spilled by coffee reading your post.
 
2012-11-19 10:00:19 AM

actualhuman: JerkStore: Interesting that the Germans consider a nuclear power plant to be "conventional."

In the sense that it supplies most of their power now, yeah.


Modern Nuclear Power is safe and actually very clean, we have in the past already produced most of the nuclear waste that we ever will.

Nuclear will get even better once more Thorium based plants go online, they also have the side effect of not producing ANY weapons grade material whatsoever.
 
2012-11-19 10:07:37 AM

FarkedOver: FTFA:

When a new wind farm is opened and we're told how many thousands of households it can supply with electricity, that number applies to only a quarter of our demand. In Germany, 75 percent of electricity goes to industry, for which a secure supply -- that is, at every second, and with constant voltage -- is indispensable.

Fark it, if you and your neighbors lose power BIG FARKING DEAL! WHO CARES!? A business loses power!! OH NO!! GOD NO!! THINK OF THE BUSINESSES!

Everything is not about business. The sooner we as a people come to understand that, the better off we will be in the long run.

Is "Oh no think of the businesses!" the new "Oh no think of the children!"?


If your house loses power for a few hours, or you get occasional under/overvoltage issues, you are usually only inconvenienced. You may lose some electronics. I've experienced both, and while a hassle, it can be dealt with. Large industry often requires 24x7x365 good power. Yes they will build on premise solutions to make sure power is clean and continuous, but they do rely on the power grid. Some plants often produce excess power that they need to feed back to the grid. This is required for a proper operation of industry and downstream economic benefits to the community at large.

Industry needs not only a stable community, but it also requires a stable infrastructure to thrive.
 
2012-11-19 10:09:21 AM

TheHighlandHowler: I'm no EE, but it sounds like one of the problems is storing energy when there is a surplus. Flywheels and chemical storage come to mind.

http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/03/beacon-power-completing-constructi o n-of-20-megawatt-flywheel-pla/


There's been a number of experiments in the US and Germany using old mines for this; compress air during the off hours and then during peak hours bleed the air off through turbines.
 
2012-11-19 10:09:50 AM
I remember reading an article not too long ago about how German wind-farms have actually almost brought down all of central Europe's power grid on several occasions due to overproduction.

Apparently they have oceanic wind-farms in the North sea, and a decent squall produces so much power that it overwhelms the Greman grid. They then spead the power to their neighbors, but at times it can be too much even then. The article I read was because the Czech Republic's grid was on the verge of being overwhelmed and they were contemplating disconnecting their grid from the German's and just letting the German grid fail.
 
2012-11-19 10:09:55 AM

FarkedOver: FTFA:

When a new wind farm is opened and we're told how many thousands of households it can supply with electricity, that number applies to only a quarter of our demand. In Germany, 75 percent of electricity goes to industry, for which a secure supply -- that is, at every second, and with constant voltage -- is indispensable.

Fark it, if you and your neighbors lose power BIG FARKING DEAL! WHO CARES!? A business loses power!! OH NO!! GOD NO!! THINK OF THE BUSINESSES!

Everything is not about business. The sooner we as a people come to understand that, the better off we will be in the long run.

Is "Oh no think of the businesses!" the new "Oh no think of the children!"?


If some businesses lose power or fluctuate too often even then they are no longer businesses at all. Some are even dangerous to power down too often. Can't imagine you thought that one through.
 
2012-11-19 10:09:58 AM
They have more alternative energy generating capacity than they can use? This is terrible!
 
2012-11-19 10:10:59 AM

wingnut396: If your house loses power for a few hours, or you get occasional under/overvoltage issues, you are usually only inconvenienced. You may lose some electronics. I've experienced both, and while a hassle, it can be dealt with. Large industry often requires 24x7x365 good power. Yes they will build on premise solutions to make sure power is clean and continuous, but they do rely on the power grid. Some plants often produce excess power that they need to feed back to the grid. This is required for a proper operation of industry and downstream economic benefits to the community at large.

Industry needs not only a stable community, but it also requires a stable infrastructure to thrive.


By industry he means not just production plants. Let's face it, at this point industry means keeping the malls open so that people can keep spending. That's what economies are based on. Keep that retail open as much as possible baby! No power outages, making your poor employees work on holidays and overall treat them like shiat.
 
2012-11-19 10:11:20 AM

theknuckler_33: They have more alternative energy generating capacity than they can use? This is terrible!


Clearly an indication that alternative energy should never be used. Look at all the problems.
 
2012-11-19 10:12:01 AM

yousaywut: FarkedOver: FTFA:

When a new wind farm is opened and we're told how many thousands of households it can supply with electricity, that number applies to only a quarter of our demand. In Germany, 75 percent of electricity goes to industry, for which a secure supply -- that is, at every second, and with constant voltage -- is indispensable.

Fark it, if you and your neighbors lose power BIG FARKING DEAL! WHO CARES!? A business loses power!! OH NO!! GOD NO!! THINK OF THE BUSINESSES!

Everything is not about business. The sooner we as a people come to understand that, the better off we will be in the long run.

Is "Oh no think of the businesses!" the new "Oh no think of the children!"?

If some businesses lose power or fluctuate too often even then they are no longer businesses at all. Some are even dangerous to power down too often. Can't imagine you thought that one through.


The places that require power have back-ups in place. Hospitals do this, but I'm sure you were aware of this.
 
2012-11-19 10:12:54 AM
We'll Need Conventional Power Plants until 2050

Why don't they just keep the nuclear plants operating until 2050 instead of shutting them down by 2022?
 
2012-11-19 10:14:14 AM

Arkanaut: We'll Need Conventional Power Plants until 2050

Why don't they just keep the nuclear plants operating until 2050 instead of shutting them down by 2022?


Safety, maybe? Plants with obsolete designs that would cost a ton to keep running for an extra 28 years?
 
2012-11-19 10:15:16 AM
The article is calling attention to the fact that the public really only sees us scientists working on one part of the energy problem triangle: power generation. In order to truly address our energy needs, we also need effective technologies for energy storage and energy transport.

Green energy subsidies have been doing a great job in getting energy generation infrastructure in place, now it's time for the storage and transport technologies to step up. Once we have an effective way to store energy, then sporadic, inconsistent generation is no longer a problem.

We can't let naysayers block renewable energy projects by harping on the inconsistent generation, not when some really good storage options are starting to come up.
 
2012-11-19 10:15:20 AM
Don't make the mistake of thinking the German situation mirrors the US.
 
2012-11-19 10:16:46 AM

FarkedOver: yousaywut: FarkedOver: FTFA:

When a new wind farm is opened and we're told how many thousands of households it can supply with electricity, that number applies to only a quarter of our demand. In Germany, 75 percent of electricity goes to industry, for which a secure supply -- that is, at every second, and with constant voltage -- is indispensable.

Fark it, if you and your neighbors lose power BIG FARKING DEAL! WHO CARES!? A business loses power!! OH NO!! GOD NO!! THINK OF THE BUSINESSES!

Everything is not about business. The sooner we as a people come to understand that, the better off we will be in the long run.

Is "Oh no think of the businesses!" the new "Oh no think of the children!"?

If some businesses lose power or fluctuate too often even then they are no longer businesses at all. Some are even dangerous to power down too often. Can't imagine you thought that one through.

The places that require power have back-ups in place. Hospitals do this, but I'm sure you were aware of this.


Well aware I am also aware that if power fluctuates too often the back-ups get overwhelmed and shut down and in some of the more robust industries that could mean the end of the city in which they are built. I am definitely not refering to shopping malls here. Stable consistant energy is one of the factors into how production factories are built.

Just an extreme example of why having too much and then not enough energy on a grid can be extremely devestating.
 
2012-11-19 10:17:46 AM
Interesting to note that one of the arguments here for why France should close down its fleet of civilian nuclear reactors, which currently supply something like 80% of our electricity, is that Germany has gone wild for solar power, and it's working out fairly well for them. At a certain level, it's a tempting argument, because France does get a lot more sun then Germany, especially down south.

But the difference that most people, including TFA, fail to note is that Germany also has huge seams of soft brown coal that they aren't hesitating to dig up and burn. Their deep-shaft anthracite mines are more or less played out, but there's still plenty of strip-mining to do. They do it on a scale that would make Massey Energy pause - the "Bagger 288" that was floating around the internet in meme form is actually a gigantic earthmoving chainsaw, built to rip up overburden to get at the coal down beneath.

So they have no problem with closing down their nuclear reactors and installing solar panels everywhere, even if there are only like three sunny days a year in some parts of the country. Just fire up the boilers and let the smoke drift east into Poland.
 
2012-11-19 10:18:57 AM
Four words: vanadium redox flow batteries.
 
2012-11-19 10:19:15 AM

Headso: GE has a new kind of battery for these purposes that is uses salt. The Americans got you covered...


Yes, but as Exxon said, salt could disappear at any moment.
 
2012-11-19 10:23:54 AM

yousaywut: Well aware I am also aware that if power fluctuates too often the back-ups get overwhelmed and shut down and in some of the more robust industries that could mean the end of the city in which they are built. I am definitely not refering to shopping malls here. Stable consistant energy is one of the factors into how production factories are built.

Just an extreme example of why having too much and then not enough energy on a grid can be extremely devestating.


Well, I am referring to shopping malls. When it comes to vital industry that has to do with the public good I am cool with that. When it comes to padding some assholes wallet at the expense of the public, i am not cool with that.

Too often the burden falls on the working class. It must end.
 
2012-11-19 10:27:46 AM

mrshowrules: Summary: difficult to have wind/solar power everything so don't try


You might want to reread it. More like: Subsides distort the market and leads to horrible bubbles
 
2012-11-19 10:34:59 AM
I wonder if it ever occurred to this guy that you actually CAN turn solar panels off if they're generating too much power. Storage is a key system component, of course... but from TFA it sounds like the grid infrastructure hasn't kept up either.


mrshowrules: Super capacitors have great potential. They are lossless.


They are not lossless. They also have great power density but really poor energy density. You're actually much better off with a plain old battery.



Robo Beat: Just fire up the boilers and let the smoke drift east into Poland.


Dammit, what the hell is it with Germany and Poland anyway? Sheesh.
=Smidge=
 
2012-11-19 10:35:37 AM

Madewithrealbitsofpanther: mrshowrules: Summary: difficult to have wind/solar power everything so don't try

You might want to reread it. More like: Subsides distort the market and leads to horrible bubbles


Which makes things difficult, so don't try.
 
2012-11-19 10:43:49 AM

Smidge204: They are not lossless. They also have great power density but really poor energy density. You're actually much better off with a plain old battery.

From wiki:

An electric double-layer capacitor (EDLC), also known as supercapacitor, supercondenser, electrochemical double layer capacitor, or ultracapacitor, is an electrochemical capacitor with relatively high energy density. Their energy density is typically hundreds of times greater than conventional electrolytic capacitors


I'm not an expert but I think the best way to store electricity would be in an what seems like a container as opposed to a chemical process like a battery. There are custom hybrid cars designed with small super capacitors that can be charged/discharged with virtually no loss (as opposed to batteries). They are too small but our amazing efficient for storing/releasing small amounts of power. Like the braking at a red light and taking off again.

They don't exist now on the scale needed for Regional power grids but if they were big enough. Businesses, residences could charge off-hours and use that power at peak periods.
 
2012-11-19 10:46:05 AM

mrshowrules: Madewithrealbitsofpanther: mrshowrules: Summary: difficult to have wind/solar power everything so don't try

You might want to reread it. More like: Subsides distort the market and leads to horrible bubbles

Which makes things difficult, so don't try.


That seemed to snarky so I apologize. In terms of bubbles, the German Government have made the subsidies institutional in nature so there is no bubble. It is a longer term business environment encouraging renewable energy.
 
2012-11-19 10:48:29 AM

FarkedOver: yousaywut: Well aware I am also aware that if power fluctuates too often the back-ups get overwhelmed and shut down and in some of the more robust industries that could mean the end of the city in which they are built. I am definitely not refering to shopping malls here. Stable consistant energy is one of the factors into how production factories are built.

Just an extreme example of why having too much and then not enough energy on a grid can be extremely devestating.

Well, I am referring to shopping malls. When it comes to vital industry that has to do with the public good I am cool with that. When it comes to padding some assholes wallet at the expense of the public, i am not cool with that.

Too often the burden falls on the working class. It must end.


Shopping malls aren't as much a thing in most of the EU as they are in the US.

You also seem to be comparing US labor conditions to those in Germany, a country where one of the two main political parties actually is a borderline socialist party (and not long ago was an actual socialist party).
 
2012-11-19 10:51:07 AM

FarkedOver: FTFA:

When a new wind farm is opened and we're told how many thousands of households it can supply with electricity, that number applies to only a quarter of our demand. In Germany, 75 percent of electricity goes to industry, for which a secure supply -- that is, at every second, and with constant voltage -- is indispensable.

Fark it, if you and your neighbors lose power BIG FARKING DEAL! WHO CARES!? A business loses power!! OH NO!! GOD NO!! THINK OF THE BUSINESSES!

Everything is not about business. The sooner we as a people come to understand that, the better off we will be in the long run.

Is "Oh no think of the businesses!" the new "Oh no think of the children!"?


"Oh, no. Think of the economy of our entire country."

Yeah, it is a big deal. When 28.6% of your economy has to shut down randomly for unknown amounts of time due to brown-outs and black-outs, it is very huge deal.
 
2012-11-19 11:01:46 AM

give me doughnuts: "Oh, no. Think of the economy of our entire country."

Yeah, it is a big deal. When 28.6% of your economy has to shut down randomly for unknown amounts of time due to brown-outs and black-outs, it is very huge deal.


It's a big deal with economies rely on a power source that is finite.
 
2012-11-19 11:03:36 AM
A 7-year-old child will figure out that storage problem by accident and unknowingly.
 
2012-11-19 11:17:00 AM
New technology presents new problems that require new technical solutions.
 
2012-11-19 11:18:45 AM
This article seems to be full of wind.

I don't buy the over production claims. If you have a a few generators that provide too much power, cut the switch to one of them.
I just don't believe there is not an off switch. So you have a tower cranking out power, if nothing is plugged into it, it can't provide power.

Just turn them off if you don't need them.

/I wonder what a 30KV power switch would look like.
 
2012-11-19 11:19:17 AM

FarkedOver: give me doughnuts: "Oh, no. Think of the economy of our entire country."

Yeah, it is a big deal. When 28.6% of your economy has to shut down randomly for unknown amounts of time due to brown-outs and black-outs, it is very huge deal.

It's a big deal with economies rely on a power source that is finite.


Nuclear power isn't finite. Nuclear waste is recyclable into new fuel.
 
2012-11-19 11:21:26 AM

dumbobruni: FarkedOver: give me doughnuts: "Oh, no. Think of the economy of our entire country."

Yeah, it is a big deal. When 28.6% of your economy has to shut down randomly for unknown amounts of time due to brown-outs and black-outs, it is very huge deal.

It's a big deal with economies rely on a power source that is finite.

Nuclear power isn't finite. Nuclear waste is recyclable into new fuel.


And nothing could ever go wrong with a nuclear reactor. Glad that's settled.
 
2012-11-19 11:32:46 AM

mrshowrules: mrshowrules: Madewithrealbitsofpanther: mrshowrules: Summary: difficult to have wind/solar power everything so don't try

You might want to reread it. More like: Subsides distort the market and leads to horrible bubbles

Which makes things difficult, so don't try.

That seemed to snarky so I apologize. In terms of bubbles, the German Government have made the subsidies institutional in nature so there is no bubble. It is a longer term business environment encouraging renewable energy.


what now?

Germany dramatically cut subsidies to solar power back in April. so far this year, 12 solar companies went bankrupt; Bosch wrote off its $1.5 billion investment in solar. Siemens has laid off hundreds of people in renewables, after seeing a 40% drop in orders.

in some cases the bankruptcies occurred immediately after the subsidies were cut. Now the Chinese are buying up the technology at fire sale prices.
 
2012-11-19 11:36:30 AM
The wind turbines I work on get curtailed if they're producing too much power for the grid. I don't see how solar can't to the same.
 
2012-11-19 11:37:02 AM

FarkedOver: dumbobruni: FarkedOver: give me doughnuts: "Oh, no. Think of the economy of our entire country."

Yeah, it is a big deal. When 28.6% of your economy has to shut down randomly for unknown amounts of time due to brown-outs and black-outs, it is very huge deal.

It's a big deal with economies rely on a power source that is finite.

Nuclear power isn't finite. Nuclear waste is recyclable into new fuel.

And nothing could ever go wrong with a nuclear reactor. Glad that's settled.


and 9.0 earthquakes accompanied by 30 foot tsunamis are commonplace, especially in Germany.

/did you stop using oil after the BP disaster?
 
2012-11-19 11:37:22 AM

FarkedOver: yousaywut: Well aware I am also aware that if power fluctuates too often the back-ups get overwhelmed and shut down and in some of the more robust industries that could mean the end of the city in which they are built. I am definitely not refering to shopping malls here. Stable consistant energy is one of the factors into how production factories are built.

Just an extreme example of why having too much and then not enough energy on a grid can be extremely devestating.

Well, I am referring to shopping malls. When it comes to vital industry that has to do with the public good I am cool with that. When it comes to padding some assholes wallet at the expense of the public, i am not cool with that.

Too often the burden falls on the working class. It must end.


Totally agree then.:)
 
2012-11-19 11:38:56 AM

dumbobruni: mrshowrules: mrshowrules: Madewithrealbitsofpanther: mrshowrules: Summary: difficult to have wind/solar power everything so don't try

You might want to reread it. More like: Subsides distort the market and leads to horrible bubbles

Which makes things difficult, so don't try.

That seemed to snarky so I apologize. In terms of bubbles, the German Government have made the subsidies institutional in nature so there is no bubble. It is a longer term business environment encouraging renewable energy.

what now?

Germany dramatically cut subsidies to solar power back in April. so far this year, 12 solar companies went bankrupt; Bosch wrote off its $1.5 billion investment in solar. Siemens has laid off hundreds of people in renewables, after seeing a 40% drop in orders.

in some cases the bankruptcies occurred immediately after the subsidies were cut. Now the Chinese are buying up the technology at fire sale prices.


Wind's better anyways. I guess, I don't think is a bubble because you know when they pass a bill that says that xyz will be subsidized for 10 years, that is a business reality and you can plan around it. If you think that it won't be renewed, that is a business risk they choose to take. I'd don't think that is the same as a bubble. A bubble implies that the whole renewable energy thing will end some day.
 
2012-11-19 11:47:41 AM
24/7/365, zero emission, `terawattage', today? `Ganged' Small Modular (fast) Reactors (passive safety) - loss of cooling/no external backup power? Too many neutrons escape core and the control room staff goes to lunch, meh. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reaction/interviews/till .html (taxpayers spent 20 billion perfecting commercial IFR/fuel reprocessing - and then ignored it - bury the fuel in `Yucka' Mountain, right? Nuclear Navy worked-out a boat appropriate power plant, of similar design, many decades ago).

`Burn' Thorium and/or mix match with all the `terrorist' target pooled/casked `waste' stashed on location of current gen. of LWR's (~98% of energy of fuel rods left unused in cycle of current commercial designs). Can also dip into the depleted Uranium tonnage stashed in TN, etc., as well. (longest lived waste after thorough `use'? ~300yr not thousands).

Sure, solar/wind/hydro have important niches to supply (as does coal). However, only way to go to zero emissions while producing enough electricity to `light' everything and all the fiber betwixt/between while running high speed rail, electric vehicle fleets/ `industrial' production of both synfuel, by direct capture of atmospheric CO2, and Hydrogen?

Regulatory `costs' of passive nuc.energy, not the capability of the technology, is the sticking point. (regs/fear promoted by `hydrocarbonists' and `alternativists')

/Ameren & U of MO will probably be receiving chunk of next round of grants for SMR tweaking (need to finalize production line specs for IFR's deliverable by railroad to approved/prepped sites - not holding my breath owing to luddism and lobbyists for `legacy' sources).
//fark Nat.Gas - not `clean' & kills plenty of folks every year `boom!'
///Prussians burning coal on cloudy days, huh?
 
2012-11-19 11:48:30 AM

UnrepentantApostate: The article is calling attention to the fact that the public really only sees us scientists working on one part of the energy problem triangle: power generation. In order to truly address our energy needs, we also need effective technologies for energy storage and energy transport.

Green energy subsidies have been doing a great job in getting energy generation infrastructure in place, now it's time for the storage and transport technologies to step up. Once we have an effective way to store energy, then sporadic, inconsistent generation is no longer a problem.


What's wrong with pumping water into a reservoir during excess periods, then using hydroelectric generators to take up the slack during low periods? It's safe, proven, reliable, durable technology that can be deployed at any scale. What's more, electric utilities already do this, so it's really just a matter of expanding this part of the infrastructure.

We can't let naysayers block renewable energy projects by harping on the inconsistent generation, not when some really good storage options are starting to come up.

It's great that new forms of storage are being developed. Hopefully they'll be more efficient, safer and cheaper than reservoirs. But let's not become so enamored with the new that we forget about what already works.
 
2012-11-19 11:55:27 AM
TLDR:
Renewable energy fluctuates between creating far too much power, and not enough, so we need to make sure that conventional energy technologies are available until the storage and transmission technologies catch up to the massive amounts of variable power available.

No big story here. Renewable energy is here to stay, and is getting more and more practical on a wide scale basis. But calm down hippies, the technology for the rest of the infrastructure isn't there yet, so don't start setting ridiculous green energy goals, or going crazy with government subsidies.
 
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