Tom Kirkman

Germany’s overdose of renewable energy

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Have you told Greta?

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I did. She asked what ‘fluctuating output’ meant.

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2 hours ago, Tom Kirkman said:

This is exactly the type of scenarios that the Climate Panic crowd deliberately ignore.

I really do get annoyed with the obtuseness of those who demand to magically convert the entire world to so-called "renewable" energy while they ignore the simple fact that these "renewable" energy systems require backup hydrocarbon energy systems.

Double the cost, having both hydrocarbon systems and "renewable" energy systems.

 

Germany’s overdose of renewable energy

Germany now generates over 35% of its yearly electricity consumption from wind and solar sources. Over 30 000 wind turbines have been built, with a total installed capacity of nearly 60 GW. Germany now has approximately 1.7 million solar power (photovoltaic) installations, with an installed capacity of 46 GW. This looks very impressive.

Unfortunately, most of the time the actual amount of electricity produced is only a fraction of the installed capacity. Worse, on “bad days” it can fall to nearly zero. In 2016 for example there were 52 nights with essentially no wind blowing in the country. No Sun, no wind. Even taking “better days” into account, the average electricity output of wind and solar energy installations in Germany amounts to only about 17% of the installed capacity.

The obvious lesson is: if you want  a stable, secure electricity supply, then you will need reserve, or backup sources of electricity which can be activated on more or less short notice to fill the gaps between electricity demand and the fluctuating output from wind and solar sources.

The more wind and solar energy a nation decides to generate, the more backup capacity it will require. On “bad days” these backup sources must be able to supply up to 100% of the nation’s electricity demand. On “good days” (or during “good hours”) the backup sources will be used less, or even turned off, so that their capacity utilization will also be poor. Not very good economics.  ...

 

Tom, 

You are so biased that you cannot see the forest for the trees. The above situation is real; the money invested in renewables in Germany is a sunk cost. This mean they will double down on storage... 

I am surprised somebody with your experience can't see this... 

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52 minutes ago, Rasmus Jorgensen said:

Tom, 

You are so biased that you cannot see the forest for the trees. The above situation is real; the money invested in renewables in Germany is a sunk cost. This mean they will double down on storage... 

I am surprised somebody with your experience can't see this... 

But apparently you cannot fathom Tom’s point. The Germans have ‘sunk’ a ton of money into renewables, which apparently cannot keep a suitable, constant supply of electricity on the grid. They now need to ‘sink’ more cash into fossil fuel powered back up systems.

Why would the Germans ‘sink’ so much money into a power system they knew could not provide constant power year round without addressing the storage issue in tandem with the installation?

The only reason I can think of is that they were mislead by promises of storage technology which was ‘right around the corner’ but has yet to materialize.

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3 hours ago, Tom Kirkman said:

This is exactly the type of scenarios that the Climate Panic crowd deliberately ignore.

I really do get annoyed with the obtuseness of those who demand to magically convert the entire world to so-called "renewable" energy while they ignore the simple fact that these "renewable" energy systems require backup hydrocarbon energy systems.

Double the cost, having both hydrocarbon systems and "renewable" energy systems.

 

Germany’s overdose of renewable energy

Germany now generates over 35% of its yearly electricity consumption from wind and solar sources. Over 30 000 wind turbines have been built, with a total installed capacity of nearly 60 GW. Germany now has approximately 1.7 million solar power (photovoltaic) installations, with an installed capacity of 46 GW. This looks very impressive.

Unfortunately, most of the time the actual amount of electricity produced is only a fraction of the installed capacity. Worse, on “bad days” it can fall to nearly zero. In 2016 for example there were 52 nights with essentially no wind blowing in the country. No Sun, no wind. Even taking “better days” into account, the average electricity output of wind and solar energy installations in Germany amounts to only about 17% of the installed capacity.

The obvious lesson is: if you want  a stable, secure electricity supply, then you will need reserve, or backup sources of electricity which can be activated on more or less short notice to fill the gaps between electricity demand and the fluctuating output from wind and solar sources.

The more wind and solar energy a nation decides to generate, the more backup capacity it will require. On “bad days” these backup sources must be able to supply up to 100% of the nation’s electricity demand. On “good days” (or during “good hours”) the backup sources will be used less, or even turned off, so that their capacity utilization will also be poor. Not very good economics.  ...

 

This is a valid point Tom - In Holland we have an interesting site that monitors the generation of renewables, and a few days ago, there was literally no energy generated for a couple of hours on end...  Given the fact that we don't have large utility scale energy storage installations yet (expensive!), we need to make sure we have enough back-up gas generated capacity 

Have a look at this site, you can toggle between the various types of energy and see how they contribute to the total amount of energy generated: https://energieopwek.nl/ 

Either way, I think Germany is doing a good job in terms of mostly wind generated power, but it can't afford to ignore its back-up capacity

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26 minutes ago, Douglas Buckland said:

The only reason I can think of is that they were mislead by promises of storage technology which was ‘right around the corner’ but has yet to materialize.

Yeah mislead by Merkel!

 

This all stems from Fukushima when Germany decided nukes were too risky and pulled the plug on the industry as a whole, bad decision!

Do things slowly so it gives you enough time to implement renewables with the back up capacity (maybe gas stations) that can go online quickly.

They have invested massively in wind power without fully realising the implication when there isnt any wind.

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39 minutes ago, Douglas Buckland said:

But apparently you cannot fathom Tom’s point. The Germans have ‘sunk’ a ton of money into renewables, which apparently cannot keep a suitable, constant supply of electricity on the grid. They now need to ‘sink’ more cash into fossil fuel powered back up systems.

No. They will sink more money into storage solutions. It is already happening. Basically the calculation power generators are making is now : what is cheaper - a gas powered power plant or a battery farm. If they had done the calculation as renewables + storage vs fossil fuel then it would be different (and that is probably Toms point), but nothing changes where they are now. And to add to this - as renewables (and storage generate scale) then they will become cheaper. Look at their cost curve over the past 10 years. 

It business 101. It is actually quite simple. 

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16 minutes ago, Rasmus Jorgensen said:

No. They will sink more money into storage solutions. It is already happening. Basically the calculation power generators are making is now : what is cheaper - a gas powered power plant or a battery farm. If they had done the calculation as renewables + storage vs fossil fuel then it would be different (and that is probably Toms point), but nothing changes where they are now. And to add to this - as renewables (and storage generate scale) then they will become cheaper. Look at their cost curve over the past 10 years. 

It business 101. It is actually quite simple. 

Incorrect calculation of cost.

The correct calculation of cost is "renewables" + storage + fossil fuels (for when "renewables" fail to produce energy.)

So ...  the cost choice is:

A) use the existing fossil fuel systems.

B) use the existing fossil fuel systems +  graft on additional "renewable" energy systems + the cost of huge batteries for temporary storage of electricity + plus the cost of paying tax incentives to those companies providing "renewable" energy systems.

Hmmmm, is option A or option B more cost effective 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔

 

P.S.

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45 minutes ago, TomTom said:

Have a look at this site, you can toggle between the various types of energy and see how they contribute to the total amount of energy generated: https://energieopwek.nl/ 

Interesting site, thanks for the link.

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12 minutes ago, Tom Kirkman said:

The correct calculation of cost is "renewables" + storage + fossil fuels (for when "renewables" fail to produce energy.)

In theory, yes. But as you know we live in reality and not college class rooms. 

The renewable capacity in germany is already there. And FID decisions on loads more projects already made. They've crossed the point of no return. 

It really is as simple as a satelite development being easier and cheaper than a brand new field development. 

I know you are aching to critize renewables, but ignoring reality doesn't help. sorry. 

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The problem with existing electricity storage systems ie batteries is that they are inefficient not only when charging but also when discharging.

I honestly dont think renewables are an effective replacement for hydrocarbons at present, they can supplement but not replace. Maybe get a much more efficient energy storage system and then that's a game changer for renewables.

I like renewables supplemented with nukes and clean gas power stations. As of today that's our best option IMO.

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This is partly why I started the RR SMR thread as I believe it could provide decent back up to renewables with no emissions. OK there will be some nuclear waste and some decommissioning when their lifespan is done but this is manageable.

However with Nordstream 2 coming I'm surprised Germany isnt  using gas as its hydrocarbon back up, unless of course it is intending to.

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33 minutes ago, Rob Plant said:

The problem with existing electricity storage systems ie batteries is that they are inefficient not only when charging but also when discharging.

I honestly dont think renewables are an effective replacement for hydrocarbons at present, they can supplement but not replace. Maybe get a much more efficient energy storage system and then that's a game changer for renewables.

I like renewables supplemented with nukes and clean gas power stations. As of today that's our best option IMO.

Agreed, "renewable" energy at present can supplement, but not replace, hydrocarbons.

Trying to convert the entire world to electricity powered by "renewable" energy would mean seriously expensive upgrades of electrical grid systems worldwide, as oil pipeline and natural gas pipelines get banned, and electric cars presumably take over the world.

Note that I view Natural Gas (Methane) as a Renewable Hydrocarbon, which is a point obtusely ignored by the solar and wind and dam crowd. 

Natural Gas is a Renewable Natural Resource.

For example, Cow farts are that Renewable Hydrocarbon called Methane which the Climate Scaremongers get hysterical about.

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Rasmus, is battery storage the real deal, what is the price per GWh of capacity ? What is efficiency ? How many GWh capacity they already deployed ? I mean this is not Q about Germany but any global deployments if there were any ?

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3 hours ago, Rob Plant said:

However with Nordstream 2 coming I'm surprised Germany isnt  using gas as its hydrocarbon back up, unless of course it is intending to.

I am not 100 %, but I believe a lot of gas in Germany is used by industry. 

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@Marcin / @Marcin2

You both have really good macro-level analysises. But on this one I just think that you are focusing too much on the macro and overlooking the micro dynamics that are driving macro developments. 

Germany is a perfect example. They have lots of renewables and lots comitted FIDs on renewables projects. They need to make storage work in order to utilize the build out capacity they already have... It is simply cheaper than building new back-up capacity. 

https://www.siemensgamesa.com/products-and-services/hybrid-and-storage/thermal-energy-storage-with-etes

Add to this 

1) German (and European) car indstry really want battery tech / capacity. 

2) As a tech and the supply chain matures the cost go down. 

I hope that explains. 

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3 hours ago, Tom Kirkman said:

Note that I view Natural Gas (Methane) as a Renewable Hydrocarbon, which is a point obtusely ignored by the solar and wind and dam crowd. 

Natural Gas is a Renewable Natural Resource.

For example, Cow farts are that Renewable Hydrocarbon called Methane which the Climate Scaremongers get hysterical about.

If you use carbon dating on the natural gas we actually burn (other than rare landfill captures) it's all very old fossil fuel.

I could make octane entirely synthetically, still doesn't make it a renewable resource.

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(edited)

10 hours ago, Tom Kirkman said:

The more wind and solar energy a nation decides to generate, the more backup capacity it will require. On “bad days” these backup sources must be able to supply up to 100% of the nation’s electricity demand. On “good days” (or during “good hours”) the backup sources will be used less, or even turned off, so that their capacity utilization will also be poor. Not very good economics.  ...

 

That is not true. The third option is advanced communication between the consumers and producers.

Turn down some power loads on "bad days" and turn up consumption on "good days."  Industry benefits from incentives / discount energy, power companies benefit by having easier to manage loads. It's already done. 

The "internet of things" might change everything.  Like setting your dishwasher on delay to run at night;  300 million cell phones only slow-change if plugged in at peak load time (dinner) etc.  Have your appliances communicate so they don't run simultaneously...

https://www.lg.com/ca_en/smartthinq/thinq.jsp

Small changes that don't really inconvenience anyone can add up.  One of our biggest problems is we use electricity stupidly all at the same time - usually when we get home from work.

P.S. Some load matching is automatically done for us. A/C demand is high when it is sunny (solar).

Edited by Enthalpic
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(edited)

Just applying a variable rate to all consumers would change a lot.  Let the market adapt to incentives.

Like applying some weighting factor to the KWh rate based on load. 

Here is a made up equation... (% load/10)^2 x base rate.

So you want power at peak load time (say 90%)? Sure, but your rate is (90/10)^2 x BR = 81 BR

Want to use power when load is low (say 40%)? Good your rate is (40/10)^2 x BR = 16 BR

When people realize they could pay 1/5th as much just by changing usage patterns they will.

 

Edited by Enthalpic
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Flexible load is huge... and will only get bigger.

Your Fridge can flex load 30-45 minutes with little-to-no appreciable impact
AC's can look at the planned schedule and supply/load forecasts and turn on early or delay start (or smart ones can even look at the latent heat in the humidity, calculate how long it will take to remove that, and start running hours early to remove that humidity before it drops the temperature later in the day)
AC's can do things like the ICE Bear (https://www.energy.gov/eere/amo/ice-bear-storage-module)
Heaters (and especially water heaters) can do the exact same thing and shift demand significantly
Wash Machines, Dishwashers, Dryers, Electric cars... (With smart charging electric cars that really becomes huge... if you have a car with 300 miles of range, but only use 30 miles per day, the car can not charge when demand is high, and wait until demand is lower. The average EV will use approximately as much as the average house. So even if there's only 1 EV per house, that's a whole house's worth of flexible load.)

Any smart appliance could be programmed to do this. Shouldn't add significant costs to anything.

Demand response will be KEY to maximizing renewable penetration economically.

That all said - I'm a massive supporter of the free market. Show the Consumers market signals (variable electric rates) and let them adapt. Scrap the Renewable portfolio requirements and remove all subsidies for energy, and even put on a carbon tax if you really want to... (I actually advocate a pollution Tax to pay for social security, stopping social security for the new generation, and make a forced savings for those who won't ever get social security - and if you use the pollution tax to pay for those already on social security, those who will never get it don't have to pay it directly. Move the 12.4% that is currently going into social security into an investment account that people can actually see their own money and watch it grow. Make that step up half a percent per year until it reaches 20%. Once it reaches 20% shift the employer percentage to the employee 0.5% per year until that burden is removed from employers and watch wages rise. Can't take the money out until you're 50, and only 2% of total amount per year. Withdraw rate rises 0.1% per year of age above 50 (to achieve a safe withdraw rate over time). Anything left at end of life is used to pay off debts, then is inheritable in your estate - but goes directly into the recipients retirement account. Grow the middle class, make Americans have a stake in the US economy - and benefit from a strong economy... ok, done with rant. Sufficiently off topic... but need to find alternative funding for those currently on social security and a pollution tax will do it...)

/Rant

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(edited)

5 hours ago, Marcin2 said:

Rasmus, is battery storage the real deal, what is the price per GWh of capacity ? What is efficiency ? How many GWh capacity they already deployed ? I mean this is not Q about Germany but any global deployments if there were any ?

In the long term second life EV batteries will help progressively solve the storage issue. As a stationary asset a redundant EV battery has another 25-30 year working life. 

So as these accumulate they can be grouped together in the first instance providing grid stablisation assets, then peaking plant and finally some level of interday and possibly interweek storage. 

Take Germany. If by 2040 they are producing a million batteries a year with  an average 20kwh capacity that's an additional 20 Gwh of storage capacity. The other advatange this storage has is it can be distributed all over the country eliminating the risks of a single genset failure. 

Its also a way of usefully accumulating spend EV batteries until the numbers available make recycling economic

Edited by NickW
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1 hour ago, Enthalpic said:

That is not true. The third option is advanced communication between the consumers and producers.

Turn down some power loads on "bad days" and turn up consumption on "good days."  Industry benefits from incentives / discount energy, power companies benefit by having easier to manage loads. It's already done. 

The "internet of things" might change everything.  Like setting your dishwasher on delay to run at night;  300 million cell phones only slow-change if plugged in at peak load time (dinner) etc.  Have your appliances communicate so they don't run simultaneously...

https://www.lg.com/ca_en/smartthinq/thinq.jsp

Small changes that don't really inconvenience anyone can add up.  One of our biggest problems is we use electricity stupidly all at the same time - usually when we get home from work.

P.S. Some load matching is automatically done for us. A/C demand is high when it is sunny (solar).

The UK National Grid already uses demand management to help stablise the grid. 

Large users that can disconnect all or part of their load for upto 2 hours to help deal with increases in demand. Examples include large cold stores, Aluminium smelters, very large buildings with air con. They get a capacity payment for this. 

With the role out of smart meters this could be applied to domestic refrigeration, vehicle charging.

I have 660w of panels fed into my supply through a micro grid tie inverter. No payment for expots so I have our freezer and a couple of charging devices on timeswitches to make sure they demand power when the solar is likely to be producing. 

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(edited)

Random thought.  Just staggering workday start times would not only balance electricity usage it could also cut down on traffic congestion. Win-Win

Edited by Enthalpic
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A few good papers about utility storage esp one recent Master Thesis from Sweden.

Largest utility battery storage 0.3 GWh, 50 MW, Buzen substation, Japan.(NaS technology)

Costs: 15 million EUR ( median for utility scale on the basis of 100 global deployments) Per 50 MWh, at 50 MW.

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