Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What happens when 75% of your country's electricity generation goes away?

I don't know, but it looks like Germany's fixin' to find out.  Their conventional power producers are threatening to stop producing power:
With just a 48-hour notice delivered by a personal phone call to Ms. Merkel on a Saturday, the CEO of E.ON, the largest German and European power producer, let it be known that the company had decided to split itself in two, one part grouping fossil and nuclear power generation and a second part encompassing the “politically correct” activities in the field of “renewable” energies. Sort of a “Bad E.ON” / “Good E.ON” move. The intention is to get rid of the “bad” part as soon as possible by putting it up for sale. At the same time, this also means the “good” part will cease to be duty bound to ensure a stable power supply under all circumstances. Obviously, such a liability is not enforceable from an entity whose only power sources are unstable wind and solar power plants. In a nutshell, the message behind this move is that the silverback of the “big four” German energy producers who group the bulk of the country’s conventional and nuclear power production is about to close shop at short notice. The others will probably follow suit.
Germany has made a big deal out of getting most of its power from solar and wind, at the expense of nuclear and conventional (coal/gas) generation.  The restrictions on the conventional sector have increased to the point that the major players are threatening to exit the market.  The major players represent perhaps 80% of Germany's generation capacity.
Outlines currently emerging suggest that:

A) Nuclear power will remain banned. More than 30 years of demonization of the technology probably cannot be reversed,

B) Plans to rein in the soaring price of electric power prices will be abandoned. A key representative of the ruling CDU party has already warned that price hikes will continue.

C) The hope of the government that highly flexible combined cycle gas-fired power plants can be deployed in large numbers to offset the highly volatile production from wind and solar plants has gone up in smoke since these entities have much higher costs than coal-fired units. They thus were the first to succumb to the market distortions brought about by the heavily subsidized “renewable” technologies.

D) The government now implicitly recognizes that in the years to come, coal and lignite fired plants will play a substantially bigger role in securing the country’s power supply than projected. The obvious hope is that it may be possible to stabilize the vessel without having to explicitly admit the core pieces of the previous strategy have to be scrapped.
I would add the following: (E) German heavy industry that replies on power as a significant cost of production (chemicals, manufacturing) will continue to relocate to the USA.

I guess this is a case study that even the Germans couldn't make GOSPLAN work.  Err, and that whole DDR thing is another case study that they couldn't make it work ...


Nosmo King said...

Too bad someone didn't sell them on this idea in 1935.

aczarnowski said...

I wonder. What happened the last time there were a lot of pissed off Germans...

Archer said...

"At the same time, this also means the “good” part [of E.ON] will cease to be duty bound to ensure a stable power supply under all circumstances."

Brilliant move on the company's part.

As long as the "bad" and "good" parts were the same company, they had to provide stable power, even though they'd get demonized for it for utilizing the "bad" parts. Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

This move to split the "good" and "bad" parts into separate entities may finally send the message that wind and solar power aren't currently as feasible or stable as the powers-that-be think they are, in a language (brown-outs) that can't easily be ignored.

genericviews said...

Also brilliant in that the legacy part will no longer be subsidizing the shiny new fashionable part. Thus, if Germany wants to keep it, they will have to pay for it themselves or openly tax other industry to support it instead of the hidden tax they are doing now.

Jerry The Geek said...

This is a harbinger of future energy-source non-availability.

For now, The Boys are just playing head games with each other. "Oh, you want renewable energy? Here's your renewable energy quota .. how's that working for you now?"

America has chosen to pay the price of petroleum from 'other sources' in order to retain its own coddled petroleum reserves. This may prove to have been a wise move.

the last time I drove the Columbia River highway, I counted in excess of 400 windmill generators that I could see. This in an area which ships power to California .. because we have a surplus here of hydro-generated power (multiple dams on the Columbia river) which supplies sufficient power to both Oregon and Washington and still has a 'surplus'.

That power source is unlikely to diminish, so these two states are unlikely to suffer power shortage in the immediate future .. but California will eventually learn that it's increasing needs cannot be met by such outside sources.

It's easy to denigrate the concerns of areas which are not blessed by the foresight of states which spent millions of dollars in the 1950-1965 era on hydroelectric dams to provide for future needs ... but although this allowed those two states to shut down an atomic energy power station or two, those facilities will eventually be reactivated (at the cost of BILLIONS of dollars) to supply the rest of the country with a bare minimum of electric power.

We'll be burning our forests in steam powered plants to create sufficient energy for our needs soon.

And you can be that this will not suffice to accommodate the needs of Oregon and Washington, and perhaps only a portion of California.

What's the rest of the country to do?
I don't know ... but it will be ugly.

Michael Brahier said...

"We'll be burning our forests in steam powered plants to create sufficient energy for our needs soon."

That sentence made me shudder. We do that, and we will be eating our parents and then children about the same time.

genericviews said...

No worries guys. Sea water is the fuel of the future. And it's chock full of nutrients and minerals too.

tiredweasel said...

It's funny when "they" say that "green" energies are generating 25% of our power... In fact they are somewhere between 0,1%(!!!) and 12,5%(max).
In theory the 25% are possible but only if all windmills and solar panels run at full capacity. Always.