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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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5085 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 11:55:30 AM

mrshowrules: 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.


Germany was promising as late as 2010 that subsidies would remain in place for 20 years. Later in 2010, Germany decided to end all subsidies of solar by 2015.

Renewable energy plant operators receive a 20 year, technology specific, guaranteed payment for their produced electricity. In particular, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been given new access to the electricity market, along with private land owners. The Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (2010) argues that anyone who produces renewable energy can now sell his 'product' for a 20-year fixed price.

Link

how do I know that you don't know what "bubble" means?

oh wait, the internet bubble totally killed the internet! I forgot about that.
 
2012-11-19 11:58:31 AM
Here's what an affordable, short term energy storage tank looks like:
visual.merriam-webster.com
During periods of peak demand, a good number of utilities already have systems in place curtail consumer demand, by remotely shutting down air conditioners and water heaters.

There have been some small scale examples in the Pacific Northwest, that the opposite can also be done by running electric water heaters to take excess renewable energy production, and storing that energy for later use via increased water temperature: Link

At least in the USA, about 40% of household water heaters are electric. Considering each one uses about 8KW during operation, it wouldn't take a high percentage of homes in a region to make up for excess renewable production. It takes a lot of energy to heat 65 gallons of water from 120 degrees to 200 degrees (nearly 13 kWh, over a period of 90 minutes). By using a tempering/mixing valve at the water heater, faucet water temperature is kept to a safe level. According to the above link, the US can shave about 5.3 GW off of peak production by the method water heater energy storage. There's no reason why Germany can't do the same.

If distributed energy generation is a problem for the grid, solve it with distributed energy storage.
 
2012-11-19 12:07:01 PM

dumbobruni: 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?


Earthquakes and Tsunamis aren't commonplace in northern Ukraine, either. It doesn't need a natural disaster to blow up a nuclear plant. Most incidents are caused by plain human error. I am not an avid opponent of nuclear power. On the other hand I'm a pessimist.
 
2012-11-19 12:08:32 PM

dumbobruni: Link

how do I know that you don't know what "bubble" means?

oh wait, the internet bubble totally killed the internet! I forgot about that.


What was relevant in the link you sent? Bubbles are created by unbridled speculation that suddenly bursts when it collides with reality. There is nothing in the renewable energy market that is showing that type of unrestrained investment and speculation. There appears to be a tremendous amount of caution with a two-steps forward and one-step back dynamic at play.

There was no Internet bubble. There was a "dot com" bubble which is nothing like the current investment patterns in renewable energy. I should know, I have a number of investments in renewable energy companies (Solazyme for instance) which are not doing great but neither is it tanking or acting erratic.
 
2012-11-19 12:08:45 PM
A second, excellent article on distributed thermal energy storage from the NY Times on the current efforts in the Pacific NW: Link
 
2012-11-19 12:11:35 PM

dumbobruni: 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.


Wind is definitely not better. It has some different pros and cons than photovoltaics, which make it better in specific circumstances.

As to your main point about subsidies, from a policy perspective making rapid changes in subsidy levels creates economic problems. In generally smoothly and gradually winding down a subsidy is better than cutting it off instantly.

I completely agree that renewables have a long future ahead of them, especially as fossil fuels become increasingly costly.
 
2012-11-19 12:25:45 PM

MrSteve007: Here's what an affordable, short term energy storage tank looks like:
[visual.merriam-webster.com image 550x384]
During periods of peak demand, a good number of utilities already have systems in place curtail consumer demand, by remotely shutting down air conditioners and water heaters.

There have been some small scale examples in the Pacific Northwest, that the opposite can also be done by running electric water heaters to take excess renewable energy production, and storing that energy for later use via increased water temperature: Link


That's a great idea, but it's not exactly what I would consider energy storage. It's more like adjustable energy demand.

The reason I wouldn't call it storage is because you can no longer get electricity back out of it. You can only get hot water. As long as we need more hot water, that's fine, and since that will reduce the need to run water heaters during peak demand times that's also good. And if it only requires small changes to existing infrastructure even better. But most likely it would be more beneficial in the long term to replace those tanks with tankless on-demand water heaters as they wear out.

If distributed energy generation is a problem for the grid, solve it with distributed energy storage.

Completely agree.
 
2012-11-19 12:29:38 PM

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!"?


You sound stupid.
 
2012-11-19 12:50:28 PM

Explodo: 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!"?

You sound stupid.


Well reasoned argument. You sir, sound intelligent.
 
2012-11-19 01:09:17 PM

MrSteve007: Here's what an affordable, short term energy storage tank looks like:
[visual.merriam-webster.com image 550x384]
During periods of peak demand, a good number of utilities already have systems in place curtail consumer demand, by remotely shutting down air conditioners and water heaters.

There have been some small scale examples in the Pacific Northwest, that the opposite can also be done by running electric water heaters to take excess renewable energy production, and storing that energy for later use via increased water temperature: Link

At least in the USA, about 40% of household water heaters are electric. Considering each one uses about 8KW during operation, it wouldn't take a high percentage of homes in a region to make up for excess renewable production. It takes a lot of energy to heat 65 gallons of water from 120 degrees to 200 degrees (nearly 13 kWh, over a period of 90 minutes). By using a tempering/mixing valve at the water heater, faucet water temperature is kept to a safe level. According to the above link, the US can shave about 5.3 GW off of peak production by the method water heater energy storage. There's no reason why Germany can't do the same.

If distributed energy generation is a problem for the grid, solve it with distributed energy storage.


Large-scale solar facilities (the sort that use mirrors instead of photovoltaics) use molten-salt reservoirs to run steam-turbine generators at night.
 
2012-11-19 01:45:37 PM
Why don't they produce hydrogen with the excess electricity? Or, barring that, as some posters in this thread have indicated, store heat in salt or store potential energy in the form of a reservoir?
 
2012-11-19 01:53:13 PM

Zasteva: That's a great idea, but it's not exactly what I would consider energy storage. It's more like adjustable energy demand.

The reason I wouldn't call it storage is because you can no longer get electricity back out of it.


It may not be electricity storage, but it certainly is energy storage. And the crux of the problem is that there's an excess of generation that doesn't have any place to go. If there were tens of thousands of electric water heating elements ready to store that excess power as hot water for later use, that is absolutely energy storage.

Currently, going tankless only saves 3-6% in energy use, as stand-by losses aren't all that great. Being able to load-shift the demand to off-peak times (and/or when generation exceeds normal demand), and lower peak energy use will go a long-long ways to helping to reduce the load on the distribution grid; lowering costs for all customers.

We've largely gotten to the point where generating enough total electricity isn't the problem, it's generating electricity at the right times to meet shifting demand that is the issue.

give me doughnuts: Large-scale solar facilities (the sort that use mirrors instead of photovoltaics) use molten-salt reservoirs to run steam-turbine generators at night.


I agree, molten-salt is very interesting technology. The problem is that about half the nation isn't in a good climate to put in large-scale solar facilities, and in the sunny areas where they can, the power plants are far away from the areas of demand (aka. the cities). As the article states, the issue is that distributed renewable energy, but it's very nature, is somewhat difficult to store, because it isn't coming from a single source, it's coming from a large region and is variable. Shipping excess wind turbine electricity from Minnesota to solar/molten-salt storage in Texas isn't going to work, unless we invest in massive distribution upgrades.

The solution I point to above is one that doesn't need any major capital improvements, and can be simply and quickly implemented nationwide. Considering water heaters only last on average, 12-15 years, if we act now to put into place command/control systems into new ones, we'll be more than ready to deal with the variability of renewables into the coming decades. I think the problem is that it's too simple. People want some form of ultra-high tech, and largely unproven, form of energy storage (like super capacitors, vacuum flywheels, molten salt) and they want someone else to take care of the problem. As I said above, the best solution to excess distributed energy production is distributed storage.
 
2012-11-19 02:06:37 PM

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?


They already passed the law. They can't unpass it. They're going to have to start opening coal fired plants now. It's the only way. DAMN YOU ALTERNATIVE ENERGIES!
 
2012-11-19 02:08:20 PM

FarkedOver: 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! N


Not in farking Germany where Sunday retail shopping is verboten...

And they are retardedly anti-nuclear, despite the fact that closing nuclear plants now will force them to buy energy from france's nuclear plants, but hey NIMBY, right?

/Atomkraft? Ja, bitte!
 
2012-11-19 02:16:58 PM

James F. Campbell: Why don't they produce hydrogen with the excess electricity? Or, barring that, as some posters in this thread have indicated, store heat in salt or store potential energy in the form of a reservoir?


Yep

The breakthrough could make possible the design of inexpensive solar cells that combine ultrathin iron oxide photoelectrodes with conventional photovoltaic cells based on silicon or other materials to produce electricity and hydrogen. According to Prof. Rothschild, these cells could store solar energy for on demand use, 24 hours per day. This is in strong contrast to conventional photovoltaic cells, which provide power only when the sun is shining (and not at night or when it is cloudy).


It's good to recognize the problems, it's less good act like they're unsolvable. I think 2050 is a very very conservative estimate for when solar and wind (and likely algae, geothermal, etc) will replace fossil fuels.
 
2012-11-19 02:20:50 PM

lilplatinum: FarkedOver: 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! N

Not in farking Germany where Sunday retail shopping is verboten...

And they are retardedly anti-nuclear, despite the fact that closing nuclear plants now will force them to buy energy from france's nuclear plants, but hey NIMBY, right?

/Atomkraft? Ja, bitte!


If you want to live next to a reactor go right ahead. I think we'd all be better off exploring other avenues for energy.
 
2012-11-19 03:14:52 PM

MrSteve007: It may not be electricity storage, but it certainly is energy storage. And the crux of the problem is that there's an excess of generation that doesn't have any place to go. If there were tens of thousands of electric water heating elements ready to store that excess power as hot water for later use, that is absolutely energy storage.


To me, storage implies that you can get the thing back out again, more or less in the same form. Yes, there is heat energy stored in the water, but it can't be converted back to electricity, and it is lost to entropy very quickly. If you don't think that's so, then switch off your hot water heater when you get home from work, then take a shower the next morning before you turn it back on.

Again, this is not to say that it's a bad idea. I think it's a good one. I just don't think it's fair to characterize it as an energy storage mechanism, which it's really better characterized as a technique to reduce peak demand.

Currently, going tankless only saves 3-6% in energy use, as stand-by losses aren't all that great. Being able to load-shift the demand to off-peak times (and/or when generation exceeds normal demand), and lower peak energy use will go a long-long ways to helping to reduce the load on the distribution grid; lowering costs for all customers.

The amount saved by an on-demand heater depends on your usage profile. If you use a lot of hot water, especially spread over different parts of the day, then yes, the difference won't be that great. But Europeans have different water usage patterns than Americans -- often showering less frequently (no, I'm not accusing Europeans of being dirty), and being more conservative about water use in general. So the savings should be a lot more significant. I've got a tankless water heater, and I usually shower in the gym rather than at home, so the savings for me are more like 75% (of the water heating portion, not of my total electric usage).

We've largely gotten to the point where generating enough total electricity isn't the problem, it's generating electricity at the right times to meet shifting demand that is the issue.

I'm assuming you mean for renewables, since we've been at that point since at least the 1940s if you are talking about all forms of generation. In which case the water heater solution doesn't really help that. It reduces peak demand by shifting when a portion of the generation is needed, solving the total energy generation problem. But since as you said, total generation isn't the problem, that at best only helps for the portion of electric generation that is used for domestic hot water. That's a pretty tiny portion of our overall electricity consumption in the US, and likely even smaller in Germany.

Great idea, just don't oversell it :-)
 
2012-11-19 04:46:35 PM
Why not just put a hydrogen plant in the mix. When there is too much juice, divert it to making hydrogen.
 
2012-11-19 04:52:31 PM
I've concluded that I can't swim to shore, so I will instead cling to my slowly-leaking inflatable dinghy until it's too late.

CORRECTION.

My corporate owners have concluded that they won't make enough f*cking money if I swim to shore, so I'm being told that my choices are to have a 100 pound weight tied around my neck and drown right now, or I can keep shelling out $5 a minute for the privilege of hanging on to the deflating dinghy.

And if I don't accept the totally solid logic of this, I'm an idiot.
 
2012-11-19 05:28:05 PM

Zasteva: Yes, there is heat energy stored in the water, but it can't be converted back to electricity, and it is lost to entropy very quickly. If you don't think that's so, then switch off your hot water heater when you get home from work, then take a shower the next morning before you turn it back on.


You'd be surprised at how slow heat loss is for tank systems these days. If you qualify the BTU loss into constant wattage required to maintain temperature, it's about 80 watts. Link

If you calculate that loss with a 2.5x's more efficient heat-pump water heater, you're looking at a standby loss of about 30-40 watts worth of heat. Compared to warming, the stand-by losses are nearly inconsequential at that level. I have a fairly new GE Geospring hotwater heater. Link

Zasteva: So the savings should be a lot more significant. I've got a tankless water heater, and I usually shower in the gym rather than at home, so the savings for me are more like 75%


The only two measurements that matter for water heaters are: Coefficient of Performance & Standby Losses. Using these two constants, you can compare the energy required to heat a volume of water.

- An electric tank heater have a COP of 0.9 and a daily heat loss of ~5%. So if you require 10,000 BTU worth of heated water, it'll require 11,500 BTU of energy input to create that hot water.

- An electric, instant heater will have a COP of 0.9 and zero heat loss. 10,000 BTU worth of heated water will require 11,000 BTU of energy input.

- A heat-pump water heaters have a COP of between 1.9 and 2.6 and 5% of daily energy loss. So 10,000 BTU worth of hot water will require between 4,000 and 5,250 BTU of energy input, and will lose ~500 BTU of heat a day.

If you're attempting to compare electrical forms of water heating, as long as the temperature is above ~45 degrees at some point in the year, a tank, heat-pump water heater will always be most efficient. In almost all situations, it'll use 50% less energy to do so, even when compared to a tankless unit.

Zasteva: But since as you said, total generation isn't the problem, that at best only helps for the portion of electric generation that is used for domestic hot water. That's a pretty tiny portion of our overall electricity consumption in the US, and likely even smaller in Germany.


The USA uses 40 quads of energy a year, 11.2 quads goes towards residential energy use - of that 18% of residential energy goes towards water heating Link: so 2 quads. That breaks down to 5% of total energy use in the USA goes towards simply home water heating. That's not exactly a tiny portion of energy use.
 
2012-11-19 07:17:32 PM

big pig peaches: Why not just put a hydrogen plant in the mix. When there is too much juice, divert it to making hydrogen.


It's very inefficient.
 
2012-11-19 08:00:58 PM

mrshowrules: 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.



"Hundreds of times greater than conventional electrolytic capacitors" is still pretty sh*tty compared to a traditional battery.

3-5 W·h/kg for a standard ultracapacitor
30-40 W·h/kg for a lead acid battery
100-250 W·h/kg for a lithium-ion battery

So roughly ten times the mass of a lead-acid battery for the same energy. I can only imagine the volume that would take up since ultracaps aren't nearly as dense as, y'know... lead.

James F. Campbell: Why don't they produce hydrogen with the excess electricity? Or, barring that, as some posters in this thread have indicated, store heat in salt or store potential energy in the form of a reservoir?


They do all of those things. Storing the energy in molten salt only really makes sense if the energy was collected as heat in the first place, such as solar-thermal. Hydrogen generation and storage is not only "meh" efficiency but really expensive. Like $80-100/watt expensive. This is because the fuel cells are not cheap, but also the compression and storage you need is not cheap either.


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


No, it isn't. You can reprocess it - extract the remaining usable fuel from the "spent" fuel, concentrate and dispose of the waste, and reuse that. But that's not infinite by any means. You can also take that waste and try to use it - often converting other material that can't be used as fuel into something that can - but that again isn't infinite.

Every time you split an atom, it's gone forever. Nuclear (fission) power is not infinite or renewable. Nuclear fusion might be renewable in the sense that the isotopes some theoretical reactors would use for fuel are made naturally (tritium), but your use of them would be limited to the rate at which they are produced otherwise you'll just run out again.


MrSteve007: The USA uses 40 quads of energy a year


*Of electricity
=Smidge=
 
2012-11-20 12:58:42 AM
Tax emissions if you must, have reasonable safety regulations by all means, but please Governments of the world: Do not try to pick winners and losers. You suck royally at it.
 
2012-11-20 01:55:53 AM

Smidge204: MrSteve007: The USA uses 40 quads of energy a year

*Of electricity
=Smidge=


Actually, I did mean that as uses energy. We consume some ~38 quads of energy to generate electricity a year, but if you factor in usable vs. wasted energy, the USA puts some 40 quads of energy a year to actual use (since some 80% of energy is wasted in combustion energy, and about 1/2 of electric generation energy is wasted), we waste an additional 54 quads of energy out the tailpipe or smokestack. When it comes to comparing energy use at the household level however, it makes more sense to factor with used energy vs. wasted, since site & source energies are different between natural gas and electrical heaters Link
 
2012-11-20 05:42:35 AM

Robo Beat: 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.


Do you know who else let smoke drift east into Poland?
 
2012-11-20 08:01:19 AM
FTFA: Kohler: It will be interesting. It's easy to shut down a nuclear power plant, but that doesn't mean you have something to replace it with. We know today, for example, that we don't have enough reliable power plant capacity in southern Germany to be able to offset the loss of nuclear energy.

As someone in nuclear power.. *points and laughs and laughs and laughs*

You jackwagon! When you shut down your base grid BAD SHIAT HAPPENS.
 
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