Guardian: “Jeremy Leggett among 100 signatories to letter opposing oil firm’s likely influence over university’s climate change studies.”
FT: “As the third anniversary of the Greek bailout nears, a shift is afoot on the continent that gave the world its biggest carbon market, its most effective green electricity subsidies, and its first offshore wind farms. It is too early to call it a U-turn, let alone a permanent reversal. But jitters are clearly growing about the cost of tackling climate change and building a green electricity infrastructure in the world’s oldest industrial powers.” Read more
Reneweconomy: “The fundamental transformation of energy markets brought about by the growing incursions of renewables such as wind and solar has been underlined in a new report by the European energy analysts at Macquarie Group, who have concluded that the plunge in costs for rooftop solar PV has fallen to such an extent that its continued rapid deployment may be unstoppable.” Read more
Fox News on You-Tube: “The industry’s future looks dim,” says host Gretchen Carlson at the beginning of the segment. “The United States simply hasn’t figured out how to do solar cheaply and effectively. You look at the country of Germany, it’s working out great for them.” Read more
European Energy Review: When Germany’s environment minister Peter Altmaier addressed the first-ever congress of energy cooperatives in Berlin on November 19, he knew he was looking out over one of the Energiewende’s core constituencies.” Read more
The Bundeswehr has posted an English version (112 pgs) of its recent analysis of peak oil. The original German document was approved for public release last November. Neither the complete German version nor the partial English translation has attracted interest from mainstream media. Conclusions of this vital study include: It is “difficult to imagine how significant the effects of being gradually deprived of one of our civilisation’s most important energy sources will be. Psychological barriers cause indisputable facts to be blanked out and lead to almost instinctively refusing to look into this difficult subject in detail. Peak oil, however, is unavoidable.” Please read on. Read more
Paul Dorfman at The Ecologist: “Germany has produced record volumes of renewable energy in the first half of this year, and its National Association of Energy and Water (BDEW) recently published estimates revealing that, from January 2012 to June 2012, renewable energy technologies accounted for more than a quarter of the country’s electricity supply for the first time ever. Actually, the production of renewable energies in Germany is expected to grow faster than the government’s own initial forecast and account for almost half of the country’s electricity within a decade. Read more
RE World: “With the sun beaming overhead and the nation hard at work, Germany turned to solar like never before last Friday and Saturday as the nation’s PV installations fed 22 gigawatts of electricity into the grid at one point, providing nearly half of the country’s energy needs. ….During one 24-hour period, Germany’s PV accounted for nearly a third of the nation’s energy needs on midday Friday when the nation’s factories and offices were humming along, and then it approached 50 percent midday Saturday as residents enjoyed a sun-filled weekend. ….According to the International Economic Platform for Renewable Energies in Muenster, the power produced at its weekend peak was greater than the capacity of 20 nuclear power plants. The timing of the peak is particularly important since it comes during times when energy use is at its highest.” It goes without saying that this is a world record.
Frank Asbeck interview reported in PV magazine: “The global competitive struggle is murderous – it’s not a German phenomenon …They’re trying to destroy us. Our opponents want to put a stop to solar energy before it is too late.” Read more
REneweconomy: “Here is a pair of graphs that demonstrate most vividly the merit order effect and the impact that solar is having on electricity prices in Germany; and why utilities there and elsewhere are desperate to try to reign in the growth of solar PV in Europe. It may also explain why Australian generators are fighting so hard against the extension of feed-in tariffs in this country. The first graph illustrates what a typical day on the electricity market in Germany looked like in March four years ago; the second illustrates what is happening now, with 25GW of solar PV installed across the country. Essentially, it means that solar PV is not just licking the cream off the profits of the fossil fuel generators – as happens in Australia with a more modest rollout of PV – it is in fact eating their entire cake.”
David Wedepohl, spokesman for the German Solar Industry Association, representing 800 solar companies: ”This plan amounts to nothing less than a solar phase-out law. Under these circumstances there’s no way that the transition of the energy industry can be successful. It’s also putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk, and it’s tough both on investors and on citizens who want to be part of the energy transformation. …We’re taking a part of the market away for large electricity suppliers, but as a country we made a decision after Fukishima to phase out nuclear energy, so we need a lot of power.” German capacity is 25 GW . Solar provides from 3.2% to – on sunny days at midday– up to 25% of Germany’s energy. Guardian: ”renewable energy sector representatives have expressed their suspicions that the cuts are an attempt to appease the major energy companies who are losing out greatly to renewables, particularly since the decision last year to phase out nuclear power following the Fukishima disaster in Japan.”
Der Spiegel: “The company said it will put two large projects on hold unless the grid operators speed up the construction of power lines. … The German government plans to increase the share of green power to 35 percent of power consumption by 2020 from 20 percent at present. A decisive part of that increase is to come from offshore wind farms. …There has been growing criticism of delays in building wind farms in the North Sea and Baltic. In January, the German Transport Ministry provided figures which outline the scale of the task Germany faces. The plan is to have 10,000 wind turbines in operation off Germany’s coasts by 2030. It currently only has 27. The aim is for the windfarms to produce 25,000 megawatts of power — so far, it’s just 135 megawatts. Energy company RWE has also complained about delays in power line construction.”
Exports from Germany to France reached 4 to 5 gigawatts in the cold snap last Friday morning according to German journalist Bernward Janzing. It was not exactly a time of low consumption in Germany either at 70 gigawatts around noon on Friday. On the contrary, he reports that a spokesperson for transit grid operator Amprion told him that “photovoltaics in southern Germany is currently helping us a lot.” Solar power production has been peaking at around 10 gigawatts at noon in the dcold spell. Germany currently has around 25 gigawatts of PV installed, i.e. this capacity is peaking at around 40 percent in early February.
The record figure is slightly exceeds the 7.4 GW recorded in 2010, says German network regulatory agency Bundesnetzagentur (BnetzA). Additions in December alone amounted to 3 GW. The pace of installations could trigger a 15 percent cut in tariffs from July 2012: it would take only 225 megawatts (MW) between January and April to trigger that level. Equinet analyst Stefan Freudenreich: “We see proponents of an annual installation cap gaining influence in the discussion, especially in the context of an overall weakening economy, making politicians more sensitive to cost burdens in the manufacturing industry sector.” Solar PV is now just over 3% of Germany’s overall power output, or 18 billion kilowatt hours.
Meanwhile First Solar warns of an extended period of low margins.
Japanfocus.org: “Last year, according to figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (link), investment in new generation capacity from renewable energy sources (excluding hydro) totaled USD 187 billion, outpacing the USD 157 billion new investment in natural gas, oil, and coal-fired generating capacity.
….The FIT cost the Germans EURO 3.2 billion in 2008, but the German Federal Ministry for the Environment calculates that the FIT saved Germany EURO 7.8 billion in fossil and nuclear fuels and the public health and other external costs from carbon emissions, air and water pollution, and the like by EURO 9.2 billion. …. it has worked far above expectations in Germany for the past 10 years. Germany set a 2010 target of 12.5 percent share of renewable energy in electric generation in 2000. They surpassed that goal in late 2007 with 15.1 percent share. …. since the German’s have launched their FIT program, approximately 35 to 40 counties have followed suit and implemented their own.
…. Japan introduced a FIT in November of 2009… This FIT is encouraging a rapidly expanding volume of renewables investment inside Japan from co-ops and farmers, households and local communities through to such heavyweights as Softbank, NTT, and Marubeni as well as overseas giants including Germany’s Siemens and China’s number 2 PV producer JA Solar. …. The real risk in Japan is that prices will be set too low so that little deployment is encouraged. This would blunt the incentives of the world’s third-largest economy to lead the energy transition, at the same time driving down its own power costs and externalities as well as those for billions elsewhere, especially in Asia and Africa. This risk is due to the nuclear village having managed to get its people named to the committee that is to set prices. As Japan’s Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies (ISEP) warns in a November 24 press release, these individuals include Shindo Kosei, Executive VP of Nippon Steel and head of Keidanren’s Global Environment Division. ….This ongoing fight over structuring the FIT is part of the larger fight between renewables and nuclear as the pillar of Japan’s power economy, a fight the November 18 New York Times understands to be a “contest over the future of Japan itself”.”
Gloomy forecasts: Eon now says ebitda will drop from €13.3bn in 2010 to about €9.5bn in 2011, RWE from €10.3bn to about €8.2bn.
The builder of all 17 German reactors says “the chapter is closed.” The CEO says he is backing the German government’s planned switch to renewables, calling it a “project of the century”. He says Berlin’s target of reaching 35% renewable energy by 2020 is achievable.
The German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW) highlights the 20.8% share of power production in the first half of 2011. As Der Spiegel reports, there has been a steady increase from 5% in 2000 to 18% in 2010, with a target of at least 35% of production from renewables by 2020. The opposition claims 40% or even more is realistic. Wind and biomass are the pillars today but the main driver of the 2011 development has been photovoltaics.
The FT’s Martin Wolf summarises the terrain in what some are calling “the second great contraction”. He doesn’t think we are living through a double dip-recession, because the first dip never really came to an end.
Deutsche Bahn says it wants to raise the percentage of wind, hydro and solar energy to power its trains from 20% now to 28% in 2014 and become carbon-free by 2050. Some local railways in Hamburg and Saarland already run on 100 percent renewable energy, proudly boasting about that in advertising. DB’s trains transport 1.9 billion passengers and 415 million tonnes of freight each year at speeds of up to 300 kph (186 mph), using 2% of all German electricity: 12 terawatt hours, as much as Berlin with its 3.2 million residents consumes. DB are exploring the harvesting of solar power from the roofs of their 5,700 stations.
The CEO of Bayer threatens to move overseas if German energy costs rise too much. German industry is lining up against the government.
Germany has but one working commercial offshore wind park and one near completion, making 92MW of installed offshore capacity compered to the UK’s c. 1,300MW. Eon and RWE will lead the installation. (JL: scope for delays therefore).
Weeks after announcing a lawsuit against Merkel over stranded nuclear assets, now this from Eon CEO Johannes Teyssen: “Germany will become a laboratory for the accelerated switch to renewable energy. Eon will position itself in this process – and then take what it learns out into the world.”