Well, the article I quote has some choice things to say about Germany, and their slow decent into darkness. Rather like the UK, it would seem that Germany is hanging it’s hopes on “Green” power. So I guess they will be buying a lot of power from France…
I’ll give you their conclusions right up here at the top. I’ve bolded a vew bits:
A Darker Germany?
The bottom line: Germans will have to prepare for significantly higher electricity tariffs – and more frequent blackouts.
“If all German wind power projects are realized as planned, the country will incur economic losses well over 100 billion Euros by 2030,” Heinzow says. “The only word that describes this ‘world improvement’ strategy is suicidal.”
So what leads them to this point?
(Bolding is mine)
Thousands of bureaucrats are at another cushy climate confab–this time in Cancun–while Senators Bingaman, Brownback and Reid are contemplating how to ram a federal renewable energy quota through a lame-duck session. Their prospects are not good, which should give them more time to consider the experiences of Europe and windpower. The results of this experiment in energy coercion are humbling.
Oh, they looked at the history of German experience with wind power …
Germany, specifically, is in the throes of a windpower boondoggle that should be heard the world over. The general lesson is that energy forcing brings with it technological risk that must be factored into the public policy equation.
A North Sea Boondoggle
Barely two months after the inauguration ceremony for Germany’s first pilot offshore wind farm, “Alpha Ventus” in the North Sea, all six of the newly installed wind turbines were completely idle, due to gearbox damage. Two turbines must be replaced entirely; the other four repaired.
Friends of the project, especially Germany’s environment minister, Norbert Roettgen, talked of “teething problems.” The problem is far more serious than that, for wind turbines in the high seas are extremely expensive for power consumers, even when they run smoothly. When they don’t, the problem intensifies. Germany could face blackouts – a new dark age.
Oh, stuff doesn’t work. Well, that could be a problem…
The article then goes into some depth about who owns what and who’s losing how much money. There is then this interesting bit about German Engineering Superiority:
The good news is that “Alpha Ventus” also includes six even bigger wind turbines, supplied by the formerly German company REpower, which now belongs to India’s Suzlon Corporation. These turbines have thus far been running faultlessly. However, there are enough other issues associated with operating offshore turbines to send additional shivers up the spine.
So the Germans made some that work. But that company has moved off to India, so who knows what the future holds…
But wait, there’s more…
Monster turbines rated at 5 megawatt maximum power generation impose high costs even when – perhaps especially when – they are running full blast. Because each turbine costs $5,200 (€4,000) per kilowatt in upfront investment, Euro legislators have decreed that turbine operators must be rewarded with 20 cents in incentives for every kWh generated on the high seas.
Therefore, Europe’s energy consumers must pay 20 cents per kWh generated, plus an additional 5 cents per kWh for transmission costs. They must pay this regardless of whether they need the electricity at the moment, and despite the fact that a kWh of wind electricity is worth less than 3 cents on the Leipzig Power Exchange, due to the intermittent and highly variable nature of wind.
Sooo…. the operators have a business where they can make a product worth 3 cents per kW-hr and sell it for 25 cents per kW-hr via getting the government to mandate it. Sweet! Can I get the EU to mandate that I get, oh, don’t want to be greedy, say $2000 per posting? They ARE readable in the EU after all. I’m sure they are worth far more than that. Heck, if only 2000 people read each one, that would be barely a dollar. About the same as 4 kW-hrs of electricity from a wind turbine. Clearly they are worth far more than that. They are a bargain, by God!
Heck, I’d even grant editorial control if I can get that deal. Hey, everyone has a price. I can crank out 10 articles a day if that’s all I do. For $20,000 / day, I’m theirs… only $7,200,000 a year (not counting 5 days off per year). Barely chump change for the EU. A very small decision to make… But that’s my problem. The price of my honor is always way too much above market price…
The article goes on to look at potential “solutions” and finds them lacking.
Talking about the potential for gas turbines it says:
But unless shale gas development proceeds apace, this would increase Europe’s dependence on Russian gas supplies. It would also result in inefficient gas use and higher carbon emissions, as generators ramp up and down every time wind turbine output changes.
Oh, isn’t the Ukraine already having some minor issues with Russia turning the gas off in the middle of winter to make a point or two? (Then again, Ukraine hasn’t always been paying the bills…) And isn’t the UK already looking at gas supply drops, and Norway too as the North Sea depletes? Looks to me like an EU Gas Food Fight developing with Russia holding all the cards. Don’t think I’d want to be part of THAT process.
The other is nuclear power plants. High performance nuclear plants can adjust their electricity output to replace the highly variable output from wind farms, but that reduces efficiency and causes irregular burn-up of fuel rods. This is a serious concern, because high efficiency is the primary way nuclear plants make up for their high capital costs. A bigger concern is that the German government has still not reversed its decision to phase out all nuclear power plants.
OK, so they are, along with the UK, shutting down their nukes. Like that’s going to end well…
But I suppose they can just pipe the power in from the French. I’m sure Germany will be quite happy with a choice between being dependent on Russia or being dependent on France. After all, they’ve gotten along SO well in the past…
However, the lack of suitable or sufficient backup power generation may still be a relatively small problem. Billion-dollar investments in transmission lines are needed to bring expensive wind power from offshore sites north of Germany to big industrial consumers hundreds of miles away in the south. But resistance to new high voltage lines in urban and recreation areas is high and rising.
A Lower Saxony law already prescribes the use of ground cables in certain areas. But those are ten times more expensive than above-ground lines – and less reliable, due to constant assault by water, salt and subterranean animal life.
Oh, well. Never mind about that bringing in power from somewhere else…
I can think of no worse time to be doing this. We’ve got a pretty good handle on what’s to come. Increasing cold until about 2030 to 2040. Call it a quarter century. Increasing snow. Increasing foul weather. Looks to me like windmills are exactly the wrong solution for that problem. Irregular output with strong and rising regular need.
Furthermore, when Mother Russia gets it’s own “bit of cold”, they will get the gas first. Then the Ukraine. The further down the pipe you are, the less gets to your end. Germany is placing a bet that Russia will develop AND deliver all the gas the EU wants. And Russia would never ever use that dependency for political advantage.
OK, how I see this playing out:
Russia wins. Might be worth some investment in Russia, but their political volatility means it must be ‘fast money’.
The UK and Germany are not going to be toasty. They might be toast, though, but it will be served cold.
India is going to be a winner. They seem to be doing the right things. Add to the India positions as charts call for a re-entry. Besides, they are closer to the equator so stay warmer during the coming cold turn.
France might actually end up the winner out of this. The commitment to nuclear power gives them a great advantage in economical power costs and a stable utility supply to homes. Now if only they could stop having riots about the desire to retire before just about everyone else on the planet (Greeks excepted…)
The EU is headed for some major stability problems. Germany will not be able to continue to carry all the hangers-on with rolling blackouts and excessive costs to industry.
Then comes the biggest question:
In a much colder and darker Europe, with Germany suffering. Dependent on France and Russia, but funding Italy, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, … Will we revisit the forces that lead to the last two world wars? I think we’ll dodge that result. But the forces are pushing toward breakup, not toward stability. I think the monetary union is on the chopping block (though with a question of ‘how soon”) and that path leads to many interesting possibilities. As Germany demands repayments, and the other countries say “No, we’re at the beach. We’ll get back to you in 20 years.” will Russia accept a German IOU (backed by Greek bonds…) for winter gas?… Somehow, I think not…
I put that about 2015 – 2020. It will be very interesting to see how it plays out.
It will also be interesting to see if a couple of more years of Damn Cold Winters change some of those powerplant shutdown plans…