A New Study on Integration of Renewables in Germany

This is a guest post by Paul-Frederik Bach. Paul-Frederik has more than 40 years experience in power system planning. He worked with grid and generation planning at ELSAM, the coordinating office for west Danish power stations, until 1997. As Planning Director at Eltra, Transmission System Operator in West Denmark, he was in charge of West Denmark's affiliation to the Nordic spot market for electricity, Nord Pool, in 1999. Until retirement in 2005 his main responsibility was the integration of wind power into the power grid in Denmark. He is still active as a consultant with interest in safe and efficient integration of wind power. See here for a previous post on the Oil Drum. This is a link to his website.

DENA[1] published its first grid study in 2005 and a second grid study in 2010. The first report stressed the vulnerability of the power grid by demonstrating that UCTE’s European security rules for electricity transmission grids were violated already in 2003.

The energy turnaround in 2011 (“die Energiewende”) has eroded the validity of the first two reports.

In August 2012 DENA has published a third study on the integration of renewables in Germany [3]. The study was made in cooperation with Aachen University[2].

It is the purpose of the study to analyse how the political targets will change the electricity supply system by 2050 and to identify infrastructure challenges. The study is mainly based on the Guiding Scenario 2009 [1], published by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU)[3]. The Guiding Scenario 2010 [2] was not yet published when DENA began working on the integration study.

BMU’s guiding scenarios as the official targets

The guiding scenarios are important references in German energy policy. They include three basic scenarios with different penetrations of renewable energy, A, B and C. The DENA study is based on the basic scenario A.

Figure 4-17 in the DENA report presents an overview of the expected future capacity pattern for the electricity industry:

Figure 1

PSW is pump storage and KWK is combined heat and power (CHP). The peak load in Germany is assumed to be approximately 83 GW for all years.

The corresponding production pattern (from Guiding Scenarios 2010):

Figure 2

It appears from this graph that Germany is expected to import an increasing part of the electricity consumption. Even 80 GW of controllable capacity and 160 GW of variable capacity will be insufficient for covering the full demand in 2050.

The import is assumed to be renewable electricity (EE). 123 TWh or about 20% of the consumption must be imported. PV covers 12% of the consumption with 31% of the installed capacity.

It may be a reasonable conclusion that Germany cannot be self-sufficient in renewable energy. For a neighbouring country the assumed origin of the import is interesting.

Figure 3

BMU expects the windy countries in North-West-Europe (region 3: Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Great Britain) to be the main European source of renewable electricity. Besides that the production of solar electricity in North Africa will be of importance.

The import will require new transmission facilities with a double-figure capacity in GW. The model has calculated necessary transfer capabilities in 2050. Between Germany and region 2 (Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland), and between Germany and region 4 (France, Portugal and Spain), 0 GW will do, while 71 GW will be needed between Germany and region 3.

The results indicate a simplified theoretical model and preliminary results. Good estimates of future transfer patterns in Europe will be very interesting. Therefore a further improvement of data and models should be encouraged.

Figure 4

Even the economic impact of the renewable energy has been estimated. The additional cost is expected to peak between 2016 and 2020 with €11-13 billion and then gradually decrease.

External costs can reduce the additional cost considerably (the blue curve). However, external costs are not well defined, so the adjusted cost has limited information value.

For scenario A the total German share of renewables will be 55% in 2050 and the emission of CO2 will be reduced by 85%. For the electricity production the share of renewables will be 86% (table 1 in [2]).

The authors of the Guiding Scenarios 2010 are convinced that the transition is possible for all scenarios between 2010 and 2050. Balancing of the variable production will be possible with additional storage facilities. A list of measures is organized in the following groups:

1. Conversion of power generation to a large renewables share

2. Increasing efficiency in heat supply, especially energy-related modernisation of buildings

3. Increasing efficiency in the electricity sector

4. Increasing efficiency in the transport sector

5. Expansion of renewables in the heat sector

6. Expansion of renewables in the transport sector

The DENA study aims at a closer analysis of the electricity sector

The new DENA study analyses the electricity sector, mainly based on the Guiding Scenario 2009. It does not discuss the likelihood or the relevance of the scenario.

The modeling for the DENA study includes:

-Necessary reserve capacity

-Development of the production system

-Market simulation including price formation

-Necessary grid reinforcements

The results seem to some degree to be replications of the results in the guiding scenarios.

An interesting chart shows the development in “secured production capacity”:

Figure 5

New conventional capacity provides 39.4 GW and CHP 10 GW. The 6.8 GW at the top is additional need for secured capacity.

Figure 6

The DENA study emphasizes the development in the annual export-import balance.

It is obvious that the need for import of renewable electricity develops between 2030 and 2050.

The DENA study quantifies the negative residual demand. A part of this cannot be eliminated by available means. It is called “not integrative power”.

From table 4-3 and fig. 4-35 2020 2030 2040 2050
Negative residual demand Number of hours 29 1056 2764 3829
Maximum value [GW] -8.7 -38.7 -58.7 -70.6
Average value [GW] -3.4 -8.6 -13.6 -17.3
Energy [TWh] 0.1 9.1 37.5 66.3
Not integrative power Number of hours 0 86 603 1969
Maximum value [GW] - -14.5 -40.0 -62.5
Average value [GW] - -3.8 -8.9 -10.7
Overflow [TWh] 0 0.3 5.4 21.1

The study does not specify the necessary grid extensions. It says (section 4.6.2) that a virtual grid has been assumed for the calculations.

The DENA study also includes calculation of additional cost of the renewables program. The results are slightly higher than that in Guiding Scenarios 2010.

The main conclusions of the DENA study:

-Conventional power plants will still be needed to a considerable extent in 2050. A new generation of efficient and flexible units must be able to interact efficiently with the uncontrollable production.

-Germany cannot remain self-sufficient in electricity supply. Import of electricity will increasingly be necessary after 2030. Both production capacity abroad and transmission facilities must be secured in due time. In Germany a well balanced mix of technologies including renewables, conventional power plants, storage facilities, grid extensions and demand side management will be needed in order to maintain security of supply.

-A complete integration of renewables in the power system is not possible. The production from renewables and CHP in one hour can exceed the electricity demand by 70 GW in 2050. A part of this production can be exported or stored. In case of delayed grid reinforcements or limitations in other countries the challenges within Germany will be even harder.

-Grid extensions are urgently necessary in both transmission and distribution systems. The extensions are already now considerably behind schedule.

-Electricity supply will be clearly more expensive in 2050 than today. The present market arrangement will not be able to cover the cost. New market arrangements must therefore be developed.

The DENA study does not add much to BMU’s guiding scenarios

During the reading of the DENA study the necessity of understanding the underlying guiding scenarios became increasingly clear. The DENA study is for practical reasons based on the Guiding Scenarios 2009. The difference is not significant. Therefore results from the 2010 edition have been presented in this paper.

A comparison of the two reports leaves the impression that much more specific data and results are presented as tables in the scenario report than in the DENA study. Section 7.3 of the scenario report gives quite specific guidelines and recommendations for the transition, while the conclusions of the DENA report (summarized above) are of rather general nature.

This observation does not mean that the scenario report is adequate for all purposes, but the DENA analysis of the electricity sector deserves more details in the presentation and probably also a more detailed modeling.

Some necessary research and development activities deserve special attention:

-A new generation of conventional thermal power plants must meet nearly contradictory specifications such as operational flexibility, multi-fuel operation, high energy efficiency, low environmental impact, robustness and economic efficiency.

-It will take new sophisticated market arrangements to give market participants investment incentives for the development and construction of the right mix of production technologies.


  1. Langfristszenarien und Strategien für denAusbau erneuerbarer Energien in Deutschland - Leitscenario 2009. Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit. August 2009. [http://pfbach.dk/firma_pfb/bmu_leitszenario2009_bf.pdf]
  2. Langfristszenarien und Strategien für den Ausbau erneuerbarer Energien in Deutschland bei Berücksichtigung der Entwicklung in Europa und global – „Leitstudie 2010“. DLR[4], Frauenhofer IWES[5]und IfnE[6]. Dezember 2010. (Summary in English: page 31-60)[http://pfbach.dk/firma_pfb/bmu_leitstudie2010_bf.pdf]
  3. Integration der erneuerbaren Energien in den deutsch-europäischen Strommarkt. Deutsche Energie-Agentur GmbH (dena). 15.08.2012. [http://pfbach.dk/firma_pfb/dena_endbericht_integration_ee_2012.pdf]


[1] Deutsche Energie Agentur, Berlin

[2] Institut für Elektrische Anlagen und Energiewirtschaft der Rheinisch-Westfälischen Technischen Hochschule Aachen

[3] http://www.bmu.de/erneuerbare_energien/downloads/doc/45026.php(in German)

[4] Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Stuttgart

[5] Frauenhofer Institut für Windenergie und Energiesystemtechnik, Kassel

[6] Ingenieurbüro für neue Energien, Teltow

Thanks for this article.

A few things I pick up from these figures at first glance:
- new renewable will mostly be used for increased power consumption and only secondary for reducing conventional.
- new coal is in danger of becoming a stranded investment.
- if the Germans would operate their nuclear plants for longer then (theoretically) fossil could be phased-out by 2030.

Germany (as any other country) should focus first on efficiency and reducing energy consumption. Much cheaper, requires less pan-European coordination, reduces vulnerability and may result in a faster phaseout of conventional power.

Btw, I recommend this site for anyone who wants to stay up-to-date with the renewable developments.

The assumption is that actual consumption is to remain more-or-less constant. Germany is definitely concentrating first on efficiency; less so on reducing absolute consumption. It is assumed that some non-electric energy consumption (eg. gas for building heat and some transportation fuel) will be switched to electricity, even as electricity demand declines somewhat in existing consumption sectors.

Fossil-fuelled electric generation capacity must remain at or close to present levels in order to be able to accomodate the intermittency of ever-increasing penetration of intermittent renewable generation, even as actual consumption of fossil fuels declines. In order to maintain the capacity with ever-lower consumption and faster ramp rates, either fixed capacity payments or extremely variable spot prices (fairer perhaps but more risky in the financial sense) will be needed for to maintain the fossil generators. Since both are probable, fossil generation assets are unlikely to become uneconomical or "stranded" before 2050.

I can't offer a comment on nuclear generation. As a nation already committed to dealing with an existing nuclear waste stockpile and numerous nuclear sites, Germany would have been a good candidate for maintaining and increasing its nuclear energy investment. Yet it has chosen to do otherwise, and somehow even reduced fossil fuel consumption in its electricity sector at the same time (while modestly increasing fossil fuel generation capacity).

In 2011, the part of conventional fossil means in Germany's mix was 57.8% for 56.9% in 2010. The very minor reduction in fossil fuel consumption is actually the result of much lower export.

It can be materially demonstrated that Germany artificially made the fuel consumption appear lower by reducing exports, by calculating that the 2010 mix of 56.9% fossil applied to the 610,4 TWh of actual consumption results into 347,3 TWH of local fossil consumption, whilst the 2011 mix of 57.8% fossil applied to the 605,8 TWh of actual consumption results into 350,2 TWH of local fossil.
Therefore a 3 TWh year to year local increase of fossil based power consumption.

A much higher increase was expected by most proponents of nuclear. They were not fully informed of the fact that 7GW of solar, and also some very significant wind capacity would be added to the grid, with as a result solar production going in one year from 11.7 to 19.3 TWh, and the whole renewable production going up around around 20% and 20 TWh up to 122TWh. This was quite an incredible year for renewable production, but which effect on CO2 emissions has been entirely wasted by the nuclear reduction.
2012 will another very good year in this regard, but still not really any reduction in fuel consumption because of the cold winter early this year.

The trouble is that Germany is now hitting hard the limits how how much renewable can be integrate into it's grid, and even the DENA chief is calling for a stop as reported here : wiwo.de : Energiewende „Liebe Leute, so geht es nicht weiter!“

And also maybe some people think the 2050 aims of 85% CO2 reduction and 86% carbon-free electricity is great, but what that actually means is that Germany, after the execution an extremely expensive, optimistic, and 40 years long plan, aims to have in 2050 an electricity mix that's a little bit less clean than the one France had in 2011 with 90% of energy generated by carbon free sources (when summing the production of nuclear, hydro and other renewables).
And France will make further progress soon, since half of it's coal capacity will be gone within the next 3 years (it'll be partially replaced by gas, and if that gas ends up being intensively used because of the new socialist power reservation on nuclear, maybe the CO2 reduction won't be as big).

Thank you for your work, Mr. Bach! It is IMHO a very good starting point for a useful discussion of the German Energiewende and led to a few remarks from and questions on my side. :-)

The expert group for environment of the German parliament (Sachverständigenrat für Umweltfragen, SRU) has published in January/June 2011 a quite comprehensive study (396 pages, German) on the issue of 100% energy production with renewables in Germany in 2050:


The goal of this study was to evaluate an extrem case (100% renewable); if this could work, the assumption was, that less extreme appoaches like the Guiding Scenario of the BMU would also do.

The study of the SRU comes to quite different conclusions:

a) For three different scenarios and various sub-scenarios the authors saw no problem with 100% renewables. In all(!) cases (500/600/700 TWh demand) the domestic potential is in principle sufficient to provide enough energy, the economically best versions in the 600/700 TWH scenarios required only 15%, i.e. 100 TWh, (re)import of electricity from either Scandinavia or Africa.

b) Transmission capacity to Denmark/Norway has to be increased to ~50 GW. UK does not play any special role.

c) The 700 TWh scenario would allow complete transition of transport and heating to electricity, provided by reneables.

My own rough calculations for a 700 TWh demand with 600 TWh domestic production requires:

70 GW onshore wind (2500 FLH) 175 TWh
70 GW off-shore wind (4000 FLH) 280 TWh
hydro power 30 TWh
bio-mass 60 TWh
PV at least 100 GW 100 TWh

These assumptions are quite conservative and usually come from other serious studies (Fraunhofer institutes etc.), at least PV and wind (higher FLH) could even be higher.

So my questions:

Do you assume that the SRU study is basically faulty?

Could it be that the transmission capacity in your study is wrong? To UK much too high, to Scandinavia much too low?

Do you assume that large scale storage in Scandinavia does not work?

  • Thank you for the reference to the SRU report. I have no reason to believe that it is “basically faulty” and I do not know if the DENA report and its sources are right or wrong. I have presented their results as a contribution to a necessary debate on energy visions for the next 4 decades. However, if the SRU report “saw no problem with 100% renewables” it could be dangerously optimistic. In my view it is important to face the problems of the transition in order to find practical solutions in due time.
  • Yes, I think that the transmission capacities are wrong. My paper says: “The results indicate a simplified theoretical model and preliminary results.” Maybe I should have used stronger words.
  • I know from practical experience that the Scandinavian hydro storage and the Nordic electricity market work and I know that Norway expects an increased export of balancing services. I expect transmission capacity to remain a bottleneck. A much stronger grid is assumed in the analyses. I wonder if the traditional resistance to construction of new transmission lines will cease.

Paul-Frederik Bach


Could you give an estimate for the costs of the storage in Norway per kwh? What losses can be expected for transmission, storage etc., what's the price for a GW transmission capacity?

A recent paper by Richard Green and Nicholas Vasilakos estimates the Danish cost of storing energy in Norway between 2001 and 2008 at "just under €1.5/MWh". The cost of the 700 MW Skagerrak 4 link between Denmark and Norway is expected to be 3.2 billion DKK or about 600 million €/GW. Statnett's Grid Development Plan 2010 envisages 7 GW new transfer capacity to the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Sweden and a total Norwegian investment at 12-20 billion NOK. I suppose that Statnett expects the other countries to invest at least the same amount of money.

Construction of new transmission is extremely expensive, and the build out of both transmission and distribution networks would have to be enormous. It would cost hundreds of billions and take decades, and Europe will have energy difficulties long before that.

A major change in power flows would be very difficult to accommodate, as Germany is already discovering. A large increase in power wheeling is really not affordable and will also lead to increased potential for grid instability. Smart grids add greatly to complexity. Intermittent renewables assume system parameters but do not offer the ability to control them - no frequency control, no voltage control, no spinning reserve, no black start capacity.

Building in a huge infrastructure dependency to what are already typically low EROEI energy sources risks tipping the EROEI below unity in some instances. In any case, we will have neither the time nor the money to build out the grid as would be required. Europe is already tipping into economic depression.

Here's my take on renewables, particularly in Europe, and with emphasis on off-shore wind and grid issues: Renewable Energy: The Vision and a Dose of Reality.

Correct, building of transmission lines is bloody expensive. However, Germany's infrastructure was replaced after WWII is has to be replaced again in the next two decades, so much money has to be spent anyway. The other aspect is, with 85 billions per year for imported fuels and steep increase of energy prices the transition makes more and more sense. According to German industry (BDI) the costs are around 370 billion until 2050, 170 billion are due anyway, of the rest we have already paid 80 billions. To stop at the current point is IMHO stupid, esp. for an industrial power which is doing very well and with many consumer willing to invest in reneables.

Net instability has decreased in 2011, sorry. "Intermittent renewables assume system parameters but do not offer the ability to control them - no frequency control, no voltage control, no spinning reserve, no black start capacity." Acoording to German electrical engnieers this is wrong.

"Building in a huge infrastructure dependency to what are already typically low EROEI energy sources risks tipping the EROEI below unity in some instances. " To call wind a low EROIE energy source is funny, with around 40 for on-shore and high potential for more savings. Most of the investments for off-shore wind are one-time (grid connection), the overall balance is still very good. PV with EROEI of around 10 is acceptable.

"In any case, we will have neither the time nor the money to build out the grid as would be required. Europe is already tipping into economic depression." Yes, we should simply do BAU, great alternative - not for me! Maybe stupid question: The money for the transition to 100% nuclaer energy is available?

The money can only be spent if it is available, and I am arguing that it will not be. The single currency crisis has barely begun, and Germany will be affected too, probably to the tune of at least 20% of GDP in the first year following the end of currency union. German exports are already down now that the artificial stimulus of purchasing power in southern Europe is essentially over. Germany's banks funded everyone else's housing bubble, and are over-exposed to sovereign debt that is getting much closer to default. This is going to end badly for all of Europe, not just the periphery.

Security of supply is a major future concern for Europe, given that the alternative is dependence on Russian gas, which would be very uncomfortable. I can certainly see why people wish to develop as much indigenous energy potential as possible. Some of it makes sense, where it is decentralized and adjacent to demand, where it is dispatchable or where it has a reasonable match with the load profile. The FIT programmes are being cut back though, due to financial squeeze, so fewer people will be willing or able to invest in the future. I am very familiar with FIT programmes, having been involved in negotiating one in Canada. Personally, I have little faith in governments to keep long term promises when circumstances change radically, as they are about to do.

So how exactly does intermittent generation deliver ancilliary services according to German power engineers?

EROEI calculations need to include all the inputs, including the energy invested in the necessary grid infrastructure and the procurement of all the non-renewable components. The time component also needs to be taken into account, as Nate Hagens wrote here some time ago. This will lower the numbers substantially.

I am no fan of nuclear power. My field as an academic was power systems, with an emphasis on (lack of) nuclear safety in the former Eastern Bloc. Even to maintain existing nuclear capacity would not be financially possible, let alone any expansion.

I am not suggesting BAU. What I am saying is that BAU is not going to be physically possible, and nor are the currently discussed alternatives going to be able to maintain anything like it. We are going to have to lower our expectations. Simpler grids with less power wheeling are going to be a part of that, as is getting used to interruptible supply (I have recently written about this in the Indian context, as well as in the article linked to above in relation to Europe).

The money can only be spent if it is available, and I am arguing that it will not be. The single currency crisis has barely begun.... BAU is not going to be physically possible

Well, let's decide what we're arguing about. Are we arguing about biophysical reality, or are we arguing that humanity's economic systems are in disarray?

The biophysical reality is quite optimistic. Wind is scalable, high-EREOI, affordable, etc. So is solar, though not quite as much.

Your predictions were completely wrong about the 2008 economic events: people who took the related advice to pull all of their money out of the financial markets would have lost half their money.

I doubt if you have read what I had to say on the matter since I left TOD. My predictions were not wrong. I said in 2007 that there would be a financial crisis and there was. I said in early 2009 that there would be a major rally and there was. Now I am saying that the rally is over and phase 2 of the credit crunch is beginning. We are not in a recovery, but I realize that people think we are. Things always look good at tops and people typically extrapolate current trends forward. IMO it's far better to anticipate trend changes.

If you are interested in what I have to say on reality and renewables, then by all means read the article I linked to above.

Here's a prediction from November 2008:

"We appear to be beginning a market rally at the moment, which should lead to precisely this set of trend reversals. Such a rally is only temporary relief however. It may last for a couple of months, but then the decline should resume with a vengeance."


That was 48 months ago...


More stuff from 2008:

"Also in the real world, trade itself is increasingly in danger. "The Baltic Dry shipping index, a proxy for world trade flows, suffered its second biggest-ever fall yesterday, to 11%, which took it down under the $2,000 mark and it fell another 8% today to $1,809. The drop means it has fallen more than 80% since July's peak of around $12,000 and is now at a three-year low." Translation: there will be a lot less goods on the shelves in your neighborhood stores, and a lot less raw materials to process in your factories."

"We are seeing the beginning of a global demand collapse, as the credit crunch takes an ever increasing toll on global economic activity and international trade. Already we are seeing the dire effects on shipping in the Baltic Dry index, thanks to the difficulty in obtaining letters of credit for shipments. Consumers in developed countries are tapped out and trying to repair their tattered balance sheets by cutting back, as are companies and banks. Consumption is therefore falling, which will hit exporting economies very hard indeed. They have spent vast sums, and used huge amounts of raw materials, to build what will now be shown to be an enormous excess of productive capacity. Their demand for raw materials will not recover any time soon, as there will be no demand for their products for a very long time. "

You quote a piece from November 2008 which was talking about a shorter term move preceding the beginning of the major rally. That was a short term market timing prediction that has nothing to do with the point you are trying to make. I called the bottom of phase one of the credit crunch and the imminent beginning the the rally a few days before it began. A the time I said it would last AT LEAST 6 months. Please do not confuse short term forecasts with big picture ones. Also, I did not write all the material you quoted. Some was written by my writing partner Ilargi.

We are going to see those other forecasts borne out. It is only a matter of time. In some places, notably the European periphery, they are already people's reality. Note the European day of protest against austerity that happened today. Many more countries will be Greece in the future.

The trend has already changed again in North America, and we are the beginning of a major move to the downside. Once the market trend changes, the real economy is living on borrowed time.

That was a short term market timing prediction that has nothing to do with the point you are trying to make.

It seems to speak for itself - the prediction was that the 2008 Great Recession would continue, not turn into the recovery we've seen.

A the time I said it would last AT LEAST 6 months.

2 months or 6 months, we're at 48 months and continuing.

We are going to see those other forecasts borne out. It is only a matter of time.

That's the classic cry of the permabear - "just wait, sooner or later, things will crash!" I remember reading a biography of a permabear, who lost money for 20 years until he went into real estate - ironically, he made money from a bubble that did eventually crash (but after he got out, lucky for him).

March 31st, 2008, Ilargi: "Not that I see a significant rally this year, not even a bear one, the model is already too broken." http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/2008_03_01_archive.html

In November 08, you were advising people to short the stock market: "Sell equities, real estate, most bonds, commodities, collectibles (or short if you can afford to gamble)". This strategy would have lost a lot of money in the last 4 years.

Similarly, in 2009 your blog said the Dow would crash that year, and reach 1,000 in 2010: instead, the US stock market was up for the year, and has continued to recover. The blog predicted sharp, dramatic price deflation - three years later all measures of prices show growth.

This is not a recovery. It is a counter-trend rally. The financial crisis that began in 2007 is not over. The evidence is everywhere if you know what to look for.

You are taking things I wrote out of context. The short term prediction from November 2008 was for a rally at a small degree of trend, which is what happened (a 2 month sideways correction). The downtrend then resumed, as I said it would until early 2009. At that point I said to expect a much larger rally, which is what happened.

The advice to cash out still stands. Sitting on the sidelines in cash, or cash equivalents, is the safest place to be. Real estate has crashed and has much further to go. People trying to make back the money they lost in the market are likely to hang on too long and give back all their gains and then some. Investors are chasing yield, but high yield bonds are going to crash. People will lose the income and the capital. This is a time to preserve capital as liquidity.

Those who began to prepare in 2008 will not be sorry they did. Others will be surprised, again, as they were in 2008. By the time they realize what is happening, it will be too late to do anything about it.

In times of economic stress, investing in long lived energy producing infrastructure with excellent returns seems like an ideal thing to do. At some point in the decline, it may no longer be possible to continue such massive investments - but you have the already installed generation generating.

So, if Germany is to "hit the wall" in X years, they should make as large investments as they can as the wall approaches. Better more than less renewable power (minimum input once in service) as society crumbles.

Several years ago I saw a financial analysis of a US wind power project. Other than land lease costs, 90% of the lifetime costs of the wind farm were invested on the day it was finished. This implies that if EROEI of wind is 40 to 1, just maintaining and operating an existing wind farm has an EROEI of 400 to 1.

I suspect the EROEI of maintaining and operating existing solar PV is even higher. (Dust it off and remove bird droppings are good, but not required. Maintaining transformers is required, but new ones should last 50+ years).

A society going into a stressed situation should have as large an installed base of renewable power as they can possibly install - along with pumped storage and redundant transmission capacity (at least redundant during an economic depression). Very well insulated homes & buildings, structural efficiency in all areas are also to be prized and developed to the max as the "wall" approaches.

Best Hopes for Germany,


"The money for the transition to 100% nuclaer energy is available?"

Nobody has ever asked for such a thing, in the case of Germany some people, who are in favor of nuclear power, have questioned the fact that instead of stopping 8 GW of heavily polluting coal Mrs.Merkel pushed by her green friend has stopped 8 reactors, 7 of which perfectly functioning, because of a danger of tsunamis in the middle of Germany...that's completely different story.

OK, this aspect of the German Energiewende is IMHO a clear mistake, we should simply have used the nuclaer reactor 10 years longer and could have used the 14 billion the utilities were willing to pay for useful stuff like off-shore transmission lines or socializing the transmission net etc. You can add that some of the public relation work of the German government was very weak, so we were lucky that the French had last winter much more problems than we had. :-)

However, to claim as many nuclear supporter do that this political U-turn led to an increased CO2 production in Germany is nonsense, according to the hard data we have for the years 2000-2011 it slowed down the decrease. BTW the pro nuker use the same useless "tsunami" style argumentatuion as the greenies in case of the Japanese power plants.

From a purely economic POV the current situation is not sustainable for Germany and with a majority of the people rejecting nuclaer power the transition makes sense. BTW after the last three years with dramatic price increases of imported energy nobody is any longer arguing that a changed energy structure would work for less money. The transition costs money, no question, but what is the point of waiting?

The only alternative - nuclear fusion - can be expected as lab bench version in 2026, the first reactor which gives us information about real prices around 2035, this is too late.

"However, to claim as many nuclear supporter do that this political U-turn led to an increased CO2 production in Germany is nonsense"

Well... the electric sector of Germany had a 4% increase in the emissions, that is official data from the federal agency... it's not the nuclear supproters who invented it...the overall emissions went down, but that incluse everything else which is not electricity production.

"The only alternative - nuclear fusion - can be expected as lab bench version in 2026, the first reactor which gives us information about real prices around 2035, this is too late."

I am afraid you are wrong on this... the ITER project is being left down by the very people who fought for it... the wonderful politicians bureaucrats in the various commissions and panels who oversight the project are hitting the brakes, asking the project management to go slow "because there is no money in this time of economic slowdown"... and every delay at this stage means additional costs... it's a never ending series of delay-cost increase-further delay- further cost increase...and so on. Sure, some people/labs are working already on DEMO,the successor of ITER and the first real fusion power plant, but that's decades away, more than 2 decades... it would have a plasma volume 3-4times as big as the one for ITER... no way to have it funded.

ITER: My version was the best case scenario with the infos I got from the ITER homepage 2011. My personal opinion after some discussions with physisists is that it will be much later. The crucial point for me is, even in the best case scenario we will very likely have reached a point of no return with renewables in Germany around 2035-40, i.e. a fusion reactor would not longer fit in the production landscape and has very likely to compete with wind that delivers electricity for less than 5 cent/kWh.

You are wright that this was a political screw-up, first the decision to run this as international project, than the permanent political problems (see the discussion after 9/11). It would have been much better to run some national projects. May the fittest win.

Construction of new transmission is extremely expensive...hundreds of billions and take decades

If we're talking, say, $200B over 30 years, that's $7b/ year - that's pretty small in the normal range of expenditures in the very large energy economy.

Intermittent renewables assume system parameters but do not offer the ability to control them - no frequency control, no voltage control, no spinning reserve, no black start capacity.

That's not really true. Frequency and voltage control are available in newer turbines, and spinning reserve and black start capacity are just a matter of design - they haven't been needed at this point, but like hydro they could do so.

typically low EROEI energy sources

Wind is about 50:1, and modern solar is pretty good (though we don't have great figures - solar EROEI research pretty much stopped when it got "good enough" - all we know is that's improved since then).

we will have neither the time nor the money to build out the grid

That's the time to invest. Heck, business investment continued strong through the Great Depression.


"PV at least 100 GW 100 TWh

These assumptions are quite conservative and usually come from other serious studies (Fraunhofer institutes etc.), at least PV and wind (higher FLH) could even be higher."

The actual 30+ GWp of PV installed in Germany produce with a capacity factor of 10%... i.e. less than the 11.5% implied by your 100 TWh/year with 100 GWp... to do that Germany would need a lot more sunshine, for the 70 additional GWp to be able to increase the production.

PV in Germany is a total oxymoron, you'd better make international agreements with southern Europe countries, to produce for you and send it over to the factories in southern Germany, the big consumption centers... although then you'd have to deal with the grid losses... ah!... never mind, just junk the idea of running a modern heavily industrialized country with PV!

From november to february the production of PV installations in Germany is pityful to say the least...


Check the past two weeks!... change the date and check last winter's production!... and the worst has still to come!

Remember: reality beats fantasy 100% of the time.

You once again only show that you do not get it :-)

The idea is to store part of the summer excess production either as chemicals or as potential energy in Norway; therefore, the low winter production is not the real problem. And your main problem is, that 2/3 of Germany's projected productions comes from wind which provides energy when PV stinks:


(esp. page 13 is interesting :-))

1 kW(p) produces on avarage 960 kWh electricity per year in Germany, therefore, 100 GW will produce around 100 TWh, any problems? Please get at least the simple math problems straight before you post. :-)

But I have to admit at least you got one thing right: "reality beats fantasy 100% of the time."

I noted that apparently the data was not adjusted for the # of days/month (29 for February 2012).
Depending on where in the months the highs & lows are, using hydroelectric & pumped storage to shuft power from January to February may be all that is needed.


The January 2012 was an exceptionally good month for wind so in an average year we can expect more days with no production from PV and wind, check the last days in October (23rd-26th) to get a feeling for the need of a reliable long term storage, the same could happen in February.

"1 kW(p) produces on avarage 960 kWh electricity per year in Germany, therefore, 100 GW will produce around 100 TWh, any problems? Please get at least the simple math problems straight before you post. :-)"

My math is just fine, it is your data which stink, dear ulenspiegel!... show me a reference to data which show an 11% capacity factor for German PV as a whole... and I'll believe you... I have seen data hinting at a 10% max CF... so each kWp produces less than 900 KWh/year.
So, it is up to you to back-up your claims, you will not have any problems at finding the data in a yearly report from the German federal agency, right?... I, not speaking/reading german fluently, would have a much harder time. Thanks in advance.

Going to the chemical storage thing/fantasy... just tell us, data at hand please!... what percentage of TODAY'S wind/PV production is actually stored as such... and, again, I will believe you and change my mind.... you see, I do not have an agenda behind me to defend, contrary to you.
You or others in the business may have an "idea", but idea do not produce electricity automatically, they need a practical, economically sound, technologically attainable implementation... otherwise they move quickly from the category "potentially good ideas" to "impractical dreams", of which the history of technology and science is full!

Looking forward to seeing your data, cheers.

. what percentage of TODAY'S wind/PV production is actually stored as such

Why the heck would anyone do that now? Any storage of wind/PV inevitably has conversion losses, and wind/PV aren't large enough to need storage yet. So, it would make no sense.

On the other hand, electrolysis of water into hydrogen accounts for 4% of hydrogen production even now, and underground long-term storage of hydrogen is an old and proven technology:

"Underground hydrogen storage is the practice of hydrogen storage in underground caverns[1], salt domes and depleted oil/gas fields[2][3]. Large quantities of gaseous hydrogen have been stored in underground caverns by ICI for many years without any difficulties[4]. The storage of large quantities of hydrogen underground in solution-mined salt domes[5], aquifers[6] or excavated rock caverns or mines can function as grid energy storage[7] which is essential for the hydrogen economy[8]. By using a turboexpander the electricity needs for compressed storage on 200 bar amounts to 2.1% of the energy content[9]."


"Why the heck would anyone do that now? "

What the heck do YOU mean with that? If not now that they have installed 60+ GW of combined wind and PV... when do you think they should START doing it?
I simply asked to the seemingly well informed posters from German-speaking countries to point out to my (everybody's) attention what percentage they do store as hydrogen... because reading some posts it seems that already now that is being done... while the reality is different, right?... there are only some R1D exploratory projects, aiming at verifying the feasibility of the whole thing.
That's all.

when do you think they should START doing it?

When wind & PV get rather larger than now, and rather more conventional generation has been retired.

The whole point of these projects is seasonal storage, and there's more than enough conventional generation available to handle a week of low wind production.

Again - underground hydrogen and methane storage are very old, large, tried & tested systems. Right??

As pointed out by Nick, hydrolysis provides 4% of the hydrogen today.

Research at the University of Iceland has shown that using hot water reduced the electricity required (from memory 25 C > 90 C water reduced electricity by -19%).

Hydrolysis is about the simplest chemical reaction.

It will work, I am very confident of that.


According to the AG Energiebilanzen, THE source for Germany when it comes to energy, 19.3 TWh electricity were produced in 2011 by PV, the installed PV power was end of 2010 17 GW, end of 2011 24 GW, so we have on average 20 GW installed PV in 2011. Therefore, ~965 kWh per kW(p) were produced. Still problems with math and results?



Re storage: Why don't you try some academic papers, the Fraunhofer Institut publishes IIRC in English. However, since you behave like my 15 year old son, I will not do more of your homework and will not provide links for storage systems.

And a fair warning: As long as you do not know the basics of scientific methodology stop nonsense like "You or others in the business may have an "idea", but idea do not produce electricity automatically, they need a practical, economically sound, technologically attainable implementation... otherwise they move quickly from the category "potentially good ideas" to "impractical dreams", of which the history of technology and science is full!"

"Re storage: Why don't you try some academic papers, the Fraunhofer Institut publishes IIRC in English. However, since you behave like my 15 year old son, I will not do more of your homework and will not provide links for storage systems."

Well, thanks for the compliments, it's always a pleasure to discuss with you... I just would like to point out that if you don't answer to this 15 year old all the other readers will be left in the blank too, and not all of them will take your conclusions for granted. But I see that your posts keep on being "commercial time"... sorry for interrupting it.

Anyway, time will tell... I'll just wait a bit longer, until it will become more evident how nonsense this all is... for the time being I keep on looking at the daily production of German PV... and in the last weeks (not few days) it has never exceeded a peak around noon of 7-8 GW... for a daily production of 20~40 GWh, during days when the consumption of the country is probably more than 1000 GWh... and the shorter days of the year are not coming soon, more than two months to go...

By the way, I work as a scientist since more than 20 years, so spare me your nonsense on scientific methodology, OK?... in fact, talking about methodology... I have this bad habit of always checking the data... and if I look at the right document... which, as a matter of fact, is this one...


... and not the one you gave which compares only the first 3 quarters of 2011 and 2012... I see that the average PV power installed in 2011 (as per your methodology of taking the average of Jan 1st and Dec 31st, is 21.3 GWp, not 20 as you've stated, and if you divide 19.34 TWh by 8760 hours and by 21.3 GW you get an average capacity factor of 0.104... which, to be methodologically precise is closer to my 10% than your 11%... don't it? :-)

And please, provide any serious study that claims a 100% renewable with only PV? That is one of your cheap strawmans. The main contribution in all scenarios come from wind! And you waste a lot of time to follow the daily production of PV in winter, but you know that. :-)
Changing your opinion must really hurt. :-)

You work as scientist, welcome in the club. Why then your permanent problem to get good data? Fraunhofer, DLR et al. are the most serious sources for applied sciences and technology in Germany, why don't you use their data, much of the stuff is even in English. Are you really able to publish with your approach in your field? Lucky guy.

More serious, we have a new study of the Fraunhofer Institut für Solare Energieforschung, unfortunately only in German yet:


They try, in contrast to most of the older studies, to align the demand for electricity and heat; the IMHO most interesting aspect of this study is their assumptions for required power from PV and wind, page 16. The shift to much more PV is very likely a result of the dramatically decreased hardware prices of PV. The models seem to be very flexible and allow easily the incorporation of imports or other technologies like fuel cells.

And here something on methane from electricity, the document is a book in English by a Professor form Uni Kassel in cooperation with a Fraunhofer Institut; power to methane is discussed in chapter 4:


Please avoid personal attacks while commenting.


"You work as scientist, welcome in the club. Why then your permanent problem to get good data? Fraunhofer, DLR et al. are the most serious sources for applied sciences and technology in Germany, why don't you use their data, much of the stuff is even in English. Are you really able to publish with your approach in your field? Lucky guy."

I am a scientist but NOT in this field, if my day had 36 hours I could probably find all the data I need...on the other hand if you need a particle accelerator, I can be of some help immediately...

Cheers, and relax.

what percentage of TODAY'S wind/PV production is actually stored as such

At least 190 MWh per annum (400kg of hydrogen per month) ... call it 0.1% of total intermittent generation ... at this single installation :


There are others. All are pilot plants. It's early days. Natural gas and coal *are* chemically-stored energy, after all.

It should be noted that the topic of the future development of the German electricity supply is quite controversial and that lots of studies about this question have been published with quite different outcomes.
DENA, which is a somewhat strange entity with government-private funding (somewhat similar to the International Energy Agency IEA), is among the most conservative and its studies have received harsh criticism, especially from NGOs. A few years ago DENA's boss was even about to change his job for a job in a major fossil-nuclear based power company. Until Fukushima DENA was energetically "lobbying" for building new fossil power plants, by warning of an "energy gap" - which even didn't happen when several nuclear power plants were shut down after Fukushima.
The conclusions "Conventional power plants will still be needed to a considerable extent in 2050." and "Germany cannot remain self-sufficient in electricity supply." should be viewed in this context.

Other studies came to the conclusion, that a power supply from 100% renewables is possible and on the long run cheaper than a conventional supply.
One example is the above mentioned study from the independent Environmental Council (in English: "Pathways towards a 100 % renewable electricity system"), which calculated 3 scenarios: A national self-supply scenario, a scenario with renewables distributed in a power network all over European and a German-Scandinavian scenario (taking advantage the huge pumped storage capacities of Norway).

From the German government is another study from the Federal Environmental Agency, which until now only calculated a national self-sufficiency scenario, which expects that the power storage problem is mainly solved storing methane created by electrolysis from excess electricity. The agency announced further studies with scenarios on an European and on a local level.

Speaking of Norwegian pumped storage I've been curious about how much pumped storage (and run of river generation) development to the current level has affected Norway's wild salmon stocks. Is there good informantion (in English) readily available on that subject? I'm aware that Norway has a large salmon farming industry--which can and does impact wild stocks--but I've really not much clue about how Norway's wild salmon runs have changed over the last two centuries.

I don't have that much of an ax to grind here as my commercial salmon fishing days passed near two decades ago, but I do value having large wild salmon runs and my home state has the largest one left in the world.

I understand any of our energy decisions are all about tradeoffs. I would like to know what sort of tradeoffs Norway has made for its run of river/pumped storage development to date. And just for the record I currently do support a fairly large run of river project here in Alaska--it should have minimal impact on the salmon run in that river if water temperature issues (reservoirs tend to raise river temps) are able to be addressed.

Here is the reality as I see it for Germany or any other industrial society. It's really quite simple.

First an assumption: We must maintain a sustainable environment or game over!

Therefore: Large scale use of Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Energy in the long term are pretty much verboten!

We have X amount of possible energy available from renewables

All societies must function with an amount of energy less than or equal to X

That means smaller and less energy intensive societies organized according to a different paradigm than our current one.

Deal with it!

Any questions?!

ah , we have this thing called "demos-ocracy "

If I state I can keep BAU going and delivery bountiful Supermarkets with food and X-factor on the box..

I guess I'll be voted in over anyone else advocating that , they , the voting public, should be going without......anything at all......

reality is that we'll get the BAU good an proper like

Got some popcorn in ?

going to be quite a show!


In physics there ain't such thing as dem-o-cracy, something presidential candidates, congress and senate members should be acutely aware of.

reality is that we'll get the BAU good an proper like

No, sorry to burst your bubble but I don't think so!

Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.
Richard P. Feynman

actually I agree that BAU will not be possible - but that doesn't stop someone being elected who promises it .

the people will follow them

those that will make them feel richer and more safer - regardless of any facts to the contrary...


PS: When their granny dies in hospital due to a wind power outage or the baby freezes to death the cry will go out - why here? why now ? who done this to us? the political astute will be on that band wagon and we'll have that "strong man" in charge.....

but thats life and the price of democracy is eternal vigilance ...

Some thoughts on Reserve to Production (R/P) Ratios, in regard to oil supplies
(Or why it's much later than we think)

I've been recently running some numbers on Reserve to Production Ratios (R/P), i.e., EUR divided by most recent annual production.

In general I think that this is the key, and largely overlooked, problem that we are facing, especially in the context of the ratio of CNE (Cumulative Net Exports) to annual net exports of oil.

When we divide reserves by annual production per year, you get the number of years of production, at that production rate. Of course, this is somewhat of an artificial metric, given that production declines are inevitable, but it is nevertheless a useful metric. And of course, we are generally looking forward, i.e., dealing with estimated reserves.

But in general, we are replacing older long field life reserves, with high R/P ratios, with short field life reserves, with low R/P ratios, e.g., US shale oil plays. This of course leads to the “Red Queen” problem, where one has to run faster and faster, just to stay in place. Note that slowly increasing production from unconventional sources like the Canadian tar sands play would be an exception to the generally falling R/P trend.

Some net export numbers:

IUKE + VAM (Indonesia, UK, Egypt, Vietnam, Argentina, Malaysia):

The combined Six Country case history hit a production plateau in 1995, at 6.9 mbpd, with production ranging from 6.9 to 7.0 mbpd (total petroleum liqudis) for 1995 to 1999 inclusive. In 2001, production was only 6% below the 1995 production rate. These six countries, as of 2011, were all members of AFPEC (Association of Former Petroleum Exporting Countries).

Remaining Six Country post-1995 CNE (Cumulative Net Exports) at end of 2001: 1.8 Gb, annual of 0.73 Gb. RCNE = Remaining CNE.

Actual RCNE to NE ratio at end of 2001 was 2.5 (2.5 years of actual net exports at 2001 net export rate).

If we extrapolate the 1995 to 2001 rate of decline in the ECI ratio (ratio of total petroleum liquids production to consumption), the predicted RCNE to NE ratio at the end of 2001 was: 3.7/0.73 = 5.1 years.

In other words, the predicted Six Country RCNE to NE ratio was twice as optimistic, based on extrapolating six years of data, as the actual RCNE to NE ratio.

So, with that, let's extrapolate some six year (2005 to 2011) GNE* (Global Net Exports) and Available Net Exports (ANE, or GNE less Chindia's net imports) data.

For GNE, we extrapolate the 2005 to 2011 rate of decline in the Global ECI ratio. For ANE, we extrapolate the 2005 to 2011 rate of decline in the GNE/CNI ratio (ratio of GNE to Chindia's Net Imports).


Estimated RCNE to NE ratio at end of 2011:

347 Gb/16 Gb per year = 22 years


Estimated RCNE to NE ratio at end of 2011:

87/12.8 = 7 years

In other words, using a methodology that was too optimistic--by a factor of two--for the Six Country case history suggests that at the 2011 ANE net export rate, the total remaining supply of cumulative net exports that will be available to importers other than China & India would be depleted in about 7 years.

*GNE = Top 33 net exporters in 2005, BP + Minor EIA data, total petroleum liquids

"Gap" Charts:

Global Net Exports, 18 mbpd Gap:
(2002-2005 rate of change:  +5.3%/year; 2005-2011 rate of change:  -0.7%year)


Available Net Exports (GNE Less Chindia’s Net Imports), 17 mbpd Gap:
(2002-2005 rate of change:  +4.4%/year; 2005-2011 rate of change:  -2.2%year)


And IF (and it's a big IF) ANE did drop to zero towards the end of the decade, countries like the UK would be dependent upon their own production which would be around 0.5 mbpd by 2020 if recent production decline rates are anything to go by. That's 1 mbpd less than the UK consumed in 2011, or down two thirds from 2011 to 2020.

What is also interesting in the UK context is that Scotland (where the UK's oil is) has a referendum on independence from the rest of the UK at the end of 2014 by which time the UK will be getting 40% of its oil from imports (assuming recent production and consumption decline trends continue and assuming oil imports are available). Apparently the people of Scotland are likely to vote upon independence based upon which which option leaves them better off. The question is are they better off being a net oil exporter as a small independent country of 5.25 million people or as a net oil importer as part of the much larger UK?

As noted in my comment, the R/P ratio metric can be misleading, since a region doesn't maintain constant production for a period of time and then go to zero.

However, the extrapolation for a point in time when the Chindia region alone would theoretically consume 100% of GNE is not a whole lot better. If we extrapolate the 2005 to 2011 rate of decline in the GNE to CNI ratio (Global Net Exports divided by Chindia's Net Imports), ANE would approach zero in about 18 years.

There's no doubt that net export math is a real killer.

Not that many are aware. In the UK new car sales are up 12% in October.

There's a glimmer of hope in the form of efficiencies being achieved by local bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis:

The Falkirk buses' fuel efficiency has improved by 60%, and the next generation are expected to reach a 70% saving

and the reintroduction of the Borders railway line.

Meanwhile, I'm off this evening for a preview of the Renault Zoe electric supermini with orders opening in a couple of days time.

Scotland is an Energy Economy. England/UK is a financial and service Economy. Scotland is in the process of diversifying from an Oil/Gas focus to a renewable energy focus, but still an energy economy overall.

So your question is not representative of the situation. Going forward Scotland is not only reliant on Oil and Gas as a major revenue source. Yes, it will remain an exporter of Oil and Gas for decades (declining) but will be an increasing exporter of RE electricity (currently about 20% of total generation is exported to NI and England, some of it from Nuclear which is being phased out).
However, the South of the UK has a major problem. It is an increasing importer of OIL /GAS / ELECTRICITY and water from its neighbours. In parallel England has high population growth. Also In parallel the UK government strategy (not in Scotland, where generation is under Scottish control thankfully) is New Nuclear, but is way behind schedule and current decommissioning costs are going up all the time.

So, when discussing the UK on Energy, even if Scotland becomes independent or not, it is really much more accurate to separate the Scottish and English cases, as they are so completely different.
Note also that there is currently talks of a future grid connection between Scotland and Norway to mutual benefit.

An example of misleading info:
The longest undersea gas pipleine in the World from the Norwegian Sleipner field to England accounts for 40% of the UK gas imports. Except Scotland also exports Gas to England, much less than we actually use. The Sleipner pipeline costs the UK taxpayer and effectively Scottish taxpayers are paying towards something they do not use or need.

Lastly, the Economy of an independent Scotland is not the only reason people will vote for independence but it certanly is a key element. Another key element is for example the placement of Trident in Scotland, at huge costs. People in Scotland are overwhelmingly against trident in all polls on this topic, either morally or for cost reasons. The only way to get rid of them is independence.

North Sea oil and gas production peaked a few years ago and is now going into a very steep decline. I don't think the people or government of the UK have thought the implications of this through very carefully. They are on a ski jump, going downhill faster and faster, and don't have any plans for what they are going to do when they get to the end of the jump at the bottom.

Neither England nor Scotland is going to be an "energy economy" except in the sense of providing technical and financial services to the remaining oil exporters of the world. The days when the UK was an energy exporter are over and it will be an energy importer for the foreseable future. England, Scotland, it won't matter. The oil and gas is out in the North Sea and the fields are mostly depleted. The Brits and Scots I know are mostly working on developing projects in Africa.

Importing oil and gas from Norway is not a long term option, either. The oil and gas fields on the Norwegian side of the North Sea are not as badly depleted as those on the UK, but their production is now also in decline. The Norwegians, however, have a plan for what happens when it runs out. They have $600 billion Euros in their national retirement fund, and their large hydro-electric capacity to fall back on. They never did become as dependent on their own oil and gas as the UK did because they recognized that its day would come to an end..

I agree.

From the above post that you responded to:

Yes, it will remain an exporter of Oil and Gas for decades (declining)


I don't think the author has much understanding of the very high costs involved in operating offshore.

You have a very poor opinion of myself and my post but no facts for this opinion.
Scotland has one tenth the needs of the UK and will with absolute certainty remain an oil exporter for decades to come. However this is not opinion it is fact. Current production and forecast figures are freely available. A good example is from the industry itself:

As for Scotland as an energy economy. Currently Scotland is massively surpassing the renewable energy targets set by the Scottish government till 2020. Scotland as I said is in transition from oil and gas to renewables (Onshore wind - in rampup, offshore wind - just starting, and later tidal power) but if you just want to mock these facts feel free.

Did you miss this part of the link you just posted?

In 2011 the UK produced 656 million boe, a reduction of 19.2 per cent from the 812 million boe produced in 2010. This is the biggest year on-year reduction ever recorded. The effect of this reduction has been felt by the UK economy as a whole. The Government was forced to reduce its forecast of tax receipts from the UKCS by £2.2 billion last year, despite oil prices being higher than anticipated.

Output of oil and natural gas liquids (NGLs) fell 17.5 per cent. This shortfall is the biggest year-on-year drop since the Piper Alpha disaster in 1988. Gas production also suffered, falling by an unprecedented 21.6 per cent. The UKCS is a mature basin, but these reductions are much larger than expected.

North Sea oil production is going into a period of rapid and terminal decline, sort of like a jet airliner running out of fuel. It won't help Scotland to have a bigger piece of a rapidly shrinking pie. You need a better strategy. If England exits the EU, staying in could be a good strategy for Scotland.

Scotland really isn't in a much better situation than England. A friend of mine from Scotland invested in supposedly safe securities from the Royal Bank of Scotland, and lost about 5 million pounds, which I think was almost his entire pension savings.

No I did not miss it, I pointed you straight at it but please go on and read the the details ahead of WHY there was such a large drop last year, rather than selectively posting to suit a given position. It wasn't because there was suddenly less oil left than thought. At least other viewers can read the entire content and decide for themselves. I actually thought people on the Drum tended to look at the full story and give balanced opinion? Nevertheless, what you failed to mention is the long term forecast showing that I was indeed correct in my orignal post: a steady decline over decades. That is what I was criticised about.

As for losing money in Bank securities, I wasn't aware this was a malady limited to UK banks? In any case what is your argument? Some speculators lose money in a UK bank (RBS is a UK bank, under UK financial services authority oversight that happens to have the Word 'Scotland' in it for historic reasons), due to risky investment policy of that bank and many others, largely into the US. So yes England and Scotland are not in great shape after that. Sorry for your friend but it does rather sound like he put all his eggs in one, unsafe, basket.

Finally, you are completely wrong about the shrinking pie imo.
It is indeed a rapidly shrinking pie. Yet, currently there is 0% to 8% 'extra regio' share of the pie going to Scotland as opposed to 100% (Where 100% of the pie = the 93% that is in Scottish territory). I could be wrong but you don't seem to appreciate that the already diminished pie still represents a large share of UK taxes. That shrinking share would still be of great benefit to Scotland if it is used to diversify our economy. That is a big IF, but if Scotland remains part of the UK state there is no IF, there will be no investment in Scotland from any of the proceeds of the remaining revenues at all. So, just how important is the remaining Pie to the UK? Well in the same year that seen the large drop you quoted this was the impact to the UK:

"In 2011/12, the industry paid £11.2 billion in tax on production, which is almost one quarter of total corporation taxes received by the Exchequer. The wider supply chain is estimated to have contributed another £6 billion in corporate and payroll taxes."

A quarter of the total corporation tax received by the UK.

I worked in the oil industry for 35 years, much of it as a business analyst, so I tend to look on oil industry forecasts with a somewhat jaundiced eye. When I see oil fields go into a steep decline such as the North Sea has seen, and companies claim it is a temporary setback, I tend to disbelieve them and suspect something has gone seriously wrong with their operations.

Offshore oil fields are very expensive to operate, and companies cannot afford to operate wells at low flow rates, unlike onshore fields where they can operate low flow "stripper" wells for decades - in some cases for over a century. Offshore, they have to produce their wells at their maximum flow rates to cover their costs, and when production falls too low, they have to abandon the wells and cease production from the field. This results in very rapid decline rates and early shutdown of fields.

The fields tend to decline on an exponential curve. If the UK North Sea produced 1.8 million b/d in 2011, and the decline rate was 50% per decade, then in 2021 it would produce 900,000 b/d, and in 2031 it would be 450,000 b/d. This is not a formula for long-term prosperity.

will with absolute certainty remain an oil exporter for decades to come.

"Decades" is at least twenty years, but many people would infer 30+ years from such a statement.

In the lives of nations, not a very long period at all.

The graphs do not go out to 2033 (20 years) or 2045/2050 (30+ years)

The output from fields currently in production is expected to halve within ten years without further investment.

The overhead to maintain operations in the North Sea is high - in both financial and energy terms. Once fields decline to the breakeven point, they are abruptly terminated. Or a 40 year old platform is judged not "sea worthy" and the remaining reserves do not justify a replacement. That will be the fate of many British North Sea oil field platforms by 2033 and even more by 2045/50.

Given the paucity of new discoveries in the southern half of the North Sea, established fields are quite unlikely to be replaced. Some very small fields not worth developing at much lower oil prices will come on-line - but hardly enough to fill Scottish domestic demand in the future.

I would not be so absolutely certain as you are,


BP shows 1999 UK production (almost exclusively offshore) and consumption of 2.9 and 1.1 mbpd respectively. In 2011, the numbers were 1.1 and 1.5 respectively, resulting in net imports of about 0.4 mbpd.

Here's an item I found:


Who would get North Sea oil revenues if Scotland declared independence?

The Scottish government believes Scotland is entitled to a 90% geographical share of the North Sea's oil and gas fields, giving it 81% of all the oil and gas produced in 2010. This has not been tested and the UK government refuses to confirm this.

So, for the sake of argument, let's assume that Scotland gets 81% of the production, and that their consumption is about 10% of overall UK consumption. The Scottish ECI ratio (Export Capacity Index, or ratio of total petroleum liquids production to consumption) would be 13.8 in 1999 and 5.9 in 2011, a rate of change of -8.5%/year. The 2011 numbers for Scotland would be approximately as follows:

Production: 0.89 mbpd
Consumption: 0.15
Net Exports: 0.74

An extrapolation of the 1999 to 2011 rate of decline in the ECI ratio would give Scotland about 21 years of net exports, but this method tends to be on the optimistic side, and as noted above and below, very high operating costs cause offshore production to be abandoned much earlier than onshore production.

Also, an extrapolation of the ECI decline rate suggests post-2011 CNE (Cumulative Net Exports) of about 2.6 Gb, with 2011 net exports of 0.27 Gb. This results in a post-2011 CNE to 2011 annual net export ratio (CNE/NE per year ratio) of 9.6 years, i.e., Scotland would have 9.6 years of net exports at 2011 current net export rate (which of course is declining).

I should note that when I applied this methodology to a combined six country case history (including the UK), the estimated CNE/NE per year ratio was twice as optimistic as what the actual data showed.

In any case, a pretty consistent rule of thumb suggests that post-2011 CNE would be at least 50% depleted by the end of 2018, six years hence.

First, thanks Westtexas, Alan and all for the latest replies, they all make good points, and I certainly cannot fully answer / challenge them.

For oil share: Scottish Government GERS 2012 report is the best official estimate.
The industry currently predict a 7.5% decline year on year, if conditions are favourable and only a slower decline if more funding comes forward as was mentioned. However the funding is very likely.

One point that is missed is that while the North sea basin is on the ramp down, WOS (West of Shetland°) is on the rampup, but discoveries so far are lower than expected and conditions are more extreme than in the North sea.
Also WOS does not have the benefit of the mutual support structure in the North of the North Sea shared by Norway and Scotland that will keep extraction profitable for longer than it would if they were by themselves which is ths case WOS.

Lastly, even when Scotland stops as net exported the revenue and economic benefit is still 10x greater that it would be as part of the UK.

As ever, I am impressed by and generally agree with the analysis from Westexas - many thanks for doing the net export math.

While North Sea oil and gas is in rapid terminal decline, the big push in Scotland at present is to renewable electricity generation. In 2011, renewable electricity generation was 35% of Scottish electricity demand. The target for 2015 is 50% and 100% by 2020 when a subsea link to Norway is due to be in place.

Scotland has 25% of western Europe's wind resource and 1% of its population. Most wind capacity is onshore at present, but there are plans for offshore arrays. Similarly there are some of the best wave and concentrated tidal resources in Europe in Scottish waters and tidal energy is already being tapped on a small scale, with plans to scale up to around 1 - 2 GW capacity by the end of the decade. Pumped storage is being expanded in the highlands with plans for a 600 MW facility at Lochaber and the coal fired power station at Cockenzie is to be replaced with a gas fired one.

The power distribution network is being strengthened with a higher capacity power transmission interconnect between Beauly and Denny due for completion by 2014 to bring wind, wave and tidal generated power south. Similarly new HVDC subsea bootstrap links will export power down the west coast (from Hunterston to Liverpool) and east coast to England.

Well drillo didn't come back up above, maybe a Scott can help. How are your wild salmon stocks faring? A while back I saw salmon return numbers the Icelanders were very proud of but those figures looked awful anemic when compared the likes of Bristol Bay returns. I don't really know much about Atlantic salmon. Do you know of any good material on historical distribution and run sizes relative to present day available in English on the web? West coast hydro projects decimated huge parts of the Pacific salmon population over the last hundred years, was the situation in Europe comparable or entirely different?

Fred. I hope you send this to drumbeat every other day. They seem to forget awful fast.

No questions, Sir.

Even before reading the article through I saw a "red herring" at the top.

Pumped storage does not increase. MASSIVE investments in every other area, but the best alternative to adapt renewables to the grid is ignored.

Germany & Austria have signed an agreement to develop more pumped storage in Austria (and I think Bavaria). This agreement seems to be ignored, as do basic economic drivers.

Given the above, I will read the rest of the article later - if I have time. With no other information, I can sense a slam against renewables using "selected data". I will work on my webinar instead.


Alan, the pump storage capacity is not a real fix for the winter problem because even if Austria has nice pump storage power it does not provide meaningful long term storage capacity.

Germany can expect 15 days per year without sun due to high fog and without wind. Therefore, you need at least 25 TWh energy (15 d * 1.7 TWh/d) in long term storage (~half a year). Biomass should go into chemical industry, PV summer excess energy should be stored, esp. when some models work with more than 150 GW PV. In addition you need in the 100% renewable scenarios for these 15 days a lot of power (75 GW). The only countries which can deliver both, 30 TWh energy storage and power are in principle Sweden and Norway.

The second approach is to convert summer excess energy into hydrogen or better methane, the latter could easily be stored in Germany's large caverns. However, with around 6-7 cents /kWh costs only for the production facilties, the large scale synthesis of methane looks for me as chemist less promising than the Scandinavia storage solution.

Without reading the article in full -

I thought Nord Sea wind was strongest in the winter. A good balance to solar. Pumped storage can shift a few days.

For the United States maximum non-carbon grid, I assumed highly variable pricing. Floor was where synthesis of ammonia or methanol (my preferred chemical storage mediums) could use hydrolysis of heated water (less electricity required) to make hydrogen - which would be stored & feed into ammonia/methanol synthesis. My guess was between 3 & 4 cents/kWh.

Upper bound was where carbon would be burned - set by carbon taxes. Say 40 to 60 cents/kWh.

Overall electircity prices would be higher (say +60%) but bills would be stable due to -40% lower per capita use (0.6 x 1.6 ~= 1).

Since Germany is steadily reducing their energy use while growing their economy (-1.8%/year) such an approach may be viable in Germany. Planning should be for steadily reduced TWh/year, not stable. Perhaps 2/3rds today by 2050 due to electricity being a higher % of total energy.

Best Hopes for Germany,


In principle all three compounds should cause very similar production costs, methane has the advantage of already available infra structure, methanole would be nice in case of cheap fuel cells, what do you make with ammonia? Nitrate? Any chance to burn this in local power plants?

After WWII the worst case were 8 consecutive days without wind and sun for Germany during winter, that is the absolute minimum (15 TWh) you find for long term storage demand in studies, around 15 days (25 TWh) for the whole winter, 20 days worth of energy with some buffer.

The available biomass in Germany can either cover the demand of the chemical industry if I calculated correctly or provide the energy for the winter gaps, not both. The decision what to do with biomass may lead to quite different scenarios, the current situation with biomass in base load is nonsense.

The minimum demand are 540 TWh, however, this requires very high efficiency gains in houses and industry, there is not so much room for demand of EVs and I do not see where the high temperature process heat for industry comes from. So my relaxed scenario are 600 TWh domestic production and up to 100 TWh import or re-import.

Ammonia can be used as fertilizer, as vehicle fuel or as power plant fuel.

I works much like propane - just more rigid safety standards.

Humans have evolved a strong ability to sense ammonia.


Alan: well, as for the read herrings (RH) ... drillo cites two studies wich show an optimistic outcome based on two different assumptions... My personal opinion is that all depends on storage capacity rather than ramping up name plate Wind or PV gigawatts.

The study of the independent Environmental Council (Sachverständigenrat für Umweltfagen, SRU) assumes that the compensatory energy storage is managed in hydropower facilities in Scandinavian countries. This could be pumped storage or the management of hydropower in a regime following wind supply. RH alert: I was trying to verify their numbers but failed, as I was not able to access the cited weblinks

Nord Pool ASA (2010a): Market Data. Reservoir Content for http://www.nordpool.com/system/flags/power/reservoir/norway/ (20.04.2010). Norway.

Nord Pool ASA (2010b): Market Data. Reservoir Content for http://www.nordpool.com/system/flags/power/reservoir/sweden/ (20.04.2010). Sweden.

All their claims concerning available capacity numbers in the Scandinavian systems were based on weblinks. For my confidence I would like to see a) some independent review of these data and b) a commitment of the Scandinavian governements that this can be done. Essentially, the SRU study claims that reservoir capacities are more or less sufficient, but turbine power needs to be significantly increased as well as transfer capacity. May be someone here (Ulenspiegel?) knows more.

The other study managed by the Federal Environmental Agency (Umweltbundesamt, UBA) and carried out by some Fraunhofer and other institutes assumes the possibility for complete self-sufficiency by renewables based on energy storage in form of hydrogen or methane, the later being preferred as it would easily integrate into the existing gas infrastructure (which in Germany traditionally reaches even into a large number of households and includes underground pore space storage for several months of supply). They estimate a necessary storage capacity of 85TWh which is in the same order of magnitude as Ulenspiegels back of the envelope estimate of 30TWh. The largest pumped storage facility in Germany has 8 GWh, and to build dozens of facilities of this size is not imaginable (and therefore not considered by the authors of the study). However, conversion of electricity to methane is based on hydrogen and carbon dioxide. For hydrogen, you need electrolyzer capacity in the range of dozens of GW, far larger than any facility installed so far. RH alert: And then, for every mole of methane, you need to have a mole of CO2. Essentially, then you have to build up CO2 buffer storage infrastructure in the same order of magnitude as the CH4 infrastructure. Taking CO2 from coal power plants would be an intermediate solution, but not a way to get rid of the reliance on fossile fuels. This problem later was identified by the authors of the methane idea (http://bit.ly/fRnaN0)

Ulenspiegel: As Alan says - yes, you can just burn ammonia, see e.g. http://dx.doi.org/10.3929/ethz-a-000097159. Liquid ammonia (approx -30 C at atmospheric pressure or approx 10 bar at room temperature if my memory does not fail) can serve as an energy carrier with a similar energy density as methanol. And it would not have the carbon source problem of methane synthesis as it is much easier to isolate N2 from the atmosphere than CO2. RH alert: However, ammonia is hard to make from N2 due to its triple bond, and currently, there is no economic alternative to the Haber Bosch synthesis, which played a role in 3 Nobel prizes (Haber, Bosch, Ertl), though research is happening, and I see this as a preferrable method.


Re storage in Scandinavia: I have not more than you have, therefore, my question in my first poste for the author whether the SRU study is fawlty, i.e. overestiamtes the potential there. This would change a lot.

Re ammonia: As chemist I know that you can burn ammonia, it's THE method to produce nitrate. :-) However this requires special plants and is to my knowlegde not useful if you want produce electricty locally (with heat co-generation).


Ammonia works quite well in spark ignition cars. We ran streetcars (trams) on ammonia in New Orleans in the 1880s. The details are lost to history.


The New Orleans streetcars used an ammonia engine based on the thermodynamical properties of ammonia (evaporation at room temperature) without actually burning it, see e.g. http://bit.ly/WC1dPf.

Historical use cases of ammonia in combustion engines were the X15 experimental aircraft (referenced e.g. at the link above) and buses in Belgium (http://bit.ly/T4yaxI).

-- exk

Thank You :-)

I will forward this to some local streetcar historians.

We still operate the St. Charles Streetcar Line 24 hours/day with cars built in 1923 and 1924.

The line itself is the world's oldest operating urban rail line.

And it once operated with man power. During an equine epidemic all the horses and mules were sick, so the workers pulled the streetcars themselves and kept the fares collected.

Best Hopes,


as for the Scandinavian commitment: One of the SRU authors had extensive talks with the Norwegian government (which also heads the national grid) before he wrote this. In fact Norway is planning to expand its storage capacities roughly as much as stated in the study and to expand the power connection to central Europe (and the UK).
Of course there are a few challenges to overcome:
- Nature protection (lakes and rivers can only be used for storage uses to a limited extend; however this is already included in the capacity planning - the theoretical capacity without it would be much larger)
- Landscape protection, also concerning power cables (this is being discussed in Norway, but doesn't seem to be a major obstacle, also because Norway seems to have enough money to apply more expensive and less spoiling technologies). In fact, Norway is planning quite a few extensions throughout the country, but they say that thoughtful planning will take its time.
- Economical effect: Connecting Norway to Central Europe has the advantage of more resilience (as Norway's hydropower can be affected by water shortage and Sweden's nuclear reactors sometimes flip off), but the power mix also will result in a somewhat more expensive electricity price for Norway, which may be an issue for the many Norwegians who until now use the "cheap" electricity even for heating.
- Offshore cables: At present, this seems to be the thinnest bottleneck, as Norway is only planning an additional connection capacity of one Megawatt to Germany for this decade, whereas much more would be needed to comply with the SRU scenario.

I agree with you that the pumped storage capacity (in TWh) is ridiculously small and that a huge electrolysis capacity for producing (hydrogen and) methane will be needed, which may be a challenge. In fact I'd love to know how fast such a capacity can be built up (or boosted), but so far I didn't find clear information on this. A recent study for the German Ministry of Environment says that this will take decades, but they also think that this is also because the technology won't be needed until the 30's (which I don't agree upon). If you know more please let me know!


as for the Scandinavian commitment: One of the SRU authors had extensive talks with the Norwegian government (which also heads the national grid) before he wrote this. In fact Norway is planning to expand its storage capacities roughly as much as stated in the study and to expand the power connection to central Europe (and the UK).

Is there any reliable and ready for citation public information on this fact ? As I already mentioned, the citations in the SRU study are not very helpful, and googling didn't reveal much more.

-- exk

On Norway's hydro, pumped and not...


"Because of an energy loss of about 25% from pumping the water back up, there needs to be a price differential of at least 25 per cent to offset the cost according to Bysveen3. As such, the foremost challenges to large-scale pumped storage seem to be commercial, rather than technical or environmental, as Petroleum and Energy Minister Ola Borten Moe (Center Party) has implied previously4."

Interesting,don't you think?

Pump storage work only with 70-80% efficiency, therefore, you need around 25% higher prices and you also need to pay for the transmission losses and the owner of the storages will charge you, that is the base for all economic models, yes, and this is used for decades (France/Switzerland). :-)

Therefore, the first step is to provide Norway during summer with (German excess) electricity during daytime, no pumping. During winter they used their "saved" water (that is the real physical bottelneck) to provide energy. "Only" the transmission capacity between Germany and Denmark/Norway has to be improved and Germany gets only as much as it has delivered in summer; relatively easy first step.

The second step is to increase pump capacity and turbine capacity in Norway or Sweden, not that easy with all the economic and political implications. Here I hope that decreasing production of NG and oil will support the transition of Norway to an energetic service provider. :-)

The Norway/Sweden model is in economic competition with the methane synthesis or hydrogen based approches, we should evaluate and use both routes and think very hard about alternatives like better integration of the heat market etc. in order to minimize the amount energy to be stored. Desertec or similar constructs could deliver some damand in-time.

I would like to see hard data on the prices for transmission (caused by capital costs and losses). As consumer I would not have any problem to pay 5 cent/kWh when the renewable tax runs out after 2025. :-)

Interesting work in the UK on thermal energy storage, which will also ultimately compete with pumped hydro and fuel synthesis.


EDIT : oops, I already posted these links in this thread. I did not intend to spam. I have no association with these businesses, I'm just curious and hopeful.

In addition to chemical fuel synthesis from excess intermittent electricity (hydrogen, methane, ammonia, methanol, F-T liquids, etc), which is being pursued in earnest in Germany, there are thermal techniques which may scale very well:


But it's worth noting that storage is NOT in demand in Germany in the moment, despite various MOUs for expanding capacity in the Alps. This is because the old market for it, meeting midday peaks using overnight baseload generation, has collapsed thanks to the closure of the older, cheaper nuclear power and the development of solar PV in southern Germany. Indeed the world's oldest pump storage facility (at Oberwartha/Niederwartha, Saxony, near Dresden) is unable to pay for necessary refurbishment and its current owner Vattenfall is likely to close it down this year. Of course it may be reopened at any time if anyone cares to invest the necessary few hundred million euros; and this wouldn't be the first time -- the original turbines were shipped off to the USSR as war reparations in the late 1940s then replaced in the 50s.


around 6-7 cents /kWh costs only for the production facilties

Could you show your calculations for this number? That would be very helpful!

The Fraunhofer Institut claimed in one of their last studies, that methane produced from electricity is competive with oil at 200 USD per barrel, they calculated with 5 cent /kWh for the electricity. 1 barrel oil contains around 1900 kWh, so you come to 11 cent for a kWh or 11-5 = 6 cent for production costs (usually capital costs for production facilities I assume).

Some Chemical Engineers estimated in a forums discussion from production costs of ammonia a somewhat lower price, so I think we are in the range of 5 cent /kW for the non-energetical part. This would be the limit for storage solution in Scanidavia: transmission costs/losses, pump costs/losses, additional "storage fees" as electricity is more valuable in winter than in summer.

Some random observations
1) it looks like some key scenarios will increase CO2 from lignite and gas
2) if Imported RE includes solar power from Morocco that now seems unlikely with the withdrawal of Siemens
3) the storage methods may be economically unproven such as 'wind fuel'
4) relationships with gas suppliers could turn nasty as per Russia and Ukraine
5) the high price of energy imports and carbon permits heading towards 2050
6) need to curtail excessive PV at times, presumably via smart meters
7) if nuclear Europe grows its GDP but Germany shrinks there could be a backlash.

<sarc> Well, Fear Not: Vladimir Vladimirovich will be happy to supply us with all the gas we ever need (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nord_Stream, http://bit.ly/RHeqQW), and electricity too cheap to meter (http://bit.ly/RHeiRp). As for Plan B, we established Joschka Fischer as consultant for the Nabucco pipeline http://bit.ly/RHeOPd </sarc>.

On a more serious note: As for Ukraine, it has no conventional gas, and, as you can hear at the end of the video, there is quite an amount of bullying from the Russian side. Ukraininan shale gas development is just starting http://bit.ly/RHgubt.

As for Russia - IMHO they as much depend on western technology as we do on their resources, so there is mutual interest in keeping things going and oil&gas flowing. Living on the same continent we anyway need to get along with each other.

For a comparison, KSA is not more democratic than Putins Russia. This does not prevent them from selling oil to the US and the US from buying Saudi oil.

--- exk

to 1) You have a real problems to increase CO2 when the production of fossil plants will decrease, even the lignite producer see this: As long as renewables replace much more production than is lost by phasing-out nuclear power plants only a really huge shift from NG to lignite could cause an increase of CO2. Any indication that this happens? No.

2) CSP is very likely dead, PV is cheaper and Desertec with PV is still alive. Siemens made a mistake, that costs them 280 million, so what?

3) Storage is too expensive at the current price of imported NG, however, any storage is quite useless as long as the penetration with renewables is lower than 40%. First step is to add 5% to 15% hydrogen to our imported NG, so before we make methane/methanole/ ammonia we will do other things.

4) Nonsense, NG demand will drop despite higher installed NG power. You have absoluty no feeling for the German energy demand and the cureent changes in production profile.

5) We are talking about an economy with a 160 billion EUR trade surplus per year, Germany pays 2012 around 85 billion for imported NG/oil/coal, even with 50% higher prices this is no real deal for Germany, this could actually increase transition rate.

6) You simply do not pay any FIT in future, problem solved, everybode will work hard to increase self consumption, battery storage etc.

7) a)Please check your data, in the next decades more nuclear reactors will be phased out than constructed, the real market is the scrapping of nukes, not construction, even EdF understand this problem.

b) Of course, if Germany's economy stalls Europe will suffer, however, the few nuclear reactors in Germany will not prevent this. :-)

the swedes had a referendum in 1980 about nuclear power. after this the parliament decided that no new reactors would be built and the existing nuclear power plants should be phased out by 2010. no new reactors have been constructed in the meantime but of course the phase out has not happened, and there is as far as i know no intention of carrying out this phase out. i think the same will happen in germany: no new plants will be built but in 2020 existing nuclear power plants will continue to operate normally.

here you can find what was actually asked in the referendum (they had 3 choices):


That could happen.. maybe.

The Motto they told me in a Natural History Class was 'The only thing that stays the same is change' .. and Germany could change it's mind again.. and then again, as all the other sites across the planet continue to revel in the aging process along with their heated pools, we could be skipping gullibly on towards another Global change of heart.

It was endearing (err, not) to see how one of our Nuclear Enthusiasts here quickly declared that Hurricane Sandy was now a great victory for Nuclear Power, since none of the attending reactor sites had any extreme disasters from it. As if every dice-roll in your favor makes you a champion.

Tom Stoppard has one word for it, which sounds at first like pretty good and even Amazing news,

- until you remember how the play ends.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbInZ5oJ0bc "Heads.."

on the other hand the french say "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose"...

Sweden is in a very good position because it has biomass in such amounts that the people in Sweden could cover 100% of their primary energy demand in a sustainable way, the situation in Germany is a little bit more tricky. :-)

to which biomass are you referring to?


I believe Swedish geology is similar to much of Canada -- precambrian rock with thin, poor quality soil (thanks to the last ice age). Intensive cultivation of trees is not really sustainable in this type of environment because nutrients in the soil will be depleted after a few cycles of tree cuttings. In Algonquin Park, Ontario, there are a number of places where farms had been established to feed the early loggers in the park area. These farms were only productive for a few years and even over 100 years later the land has still not recovered.

I also wonder if Swedish wood biomass potential is over rated. Timber at northern latitudes is slow growing, which is a reason that the conifer wood is so good and close-grained for construction. The downside is the slow replacement rate. I do not know the measure for forest carbon capture/photosynthesis in Sweden but as a surrogate marker for comparison,their grass pasture produces about half per year per hectare compared with grass in New Zealand. Mostly a matter of light interception and length of growing season, but I guess soil fertility will be a limiting factor if not artificially replaced. Historically 17thC Sweden ran an early iron smelting and arms/tool export industry on biomass. They rapidly ran out of accessible wood (and food). Even today, access to the full potential of Swedish forests would require a formidable road infrastructure and access to diesel, or similar low cost alternative. (Good essay on Sweden's 17thC fuel and food bottlenecks by Janken Myrdal in "Rethinking Environmental History", Eds. Hornborg et al. 2007.)

Swedish wood biomass potential is definitely overrated. At the latitude of Sweden, trees grow very slowly and you can only harvest them about every 100 years. If they tried to use them to support an industrial economy, the same thing would happen that happened in the 17th century - they would very quickly deforest the entire country.

People also don't realize that the Swedish forests are already being commercially exploited for lumber. If you drive through them, you find that you can drive between the trees - they were all planted with that in mind. If they were diverted to biomass production, it would reduce their production of lumber. They would have a choice between energy and houses, just as the Americans have discovered that fuel ethanol production gives them a choice between energy and food. The US is diverting 40% of its corn production to fuel ethanol, and the price of corn has risen drastically worldwide. If Sweden diverted most of its forests to biomass, the price of lumber would rise in Europe.

I'm looking at this from the Canadian perspective. Canada has far more boreal forest than Sweden, but even here there isn't enough of it to support a biomass energy economy, and the forests are mostly commited to supplying the US with lumber. Due to the remoteness of the unlogged areas, helicopter logging has become a necessity to provide enough wood, and just imagine what the EROEI of that would be for biomass energy.

According to academic papers I have the Swedish sustainable wood production is in the same league as the German, with only 1/9 of the German population and already 45% electricity from hydro power the claim that (with better isolated houses) and transition to EVs Sweden can cover its primary energy demand with biomass makes sense to me, whether this is a really good idea is a different question, esp. if wind is an alternative.

Logging near railway tracks or roads is no problem in Sweden with a its much higher population density (8 times compared to Canada).

To take the Canadian per capita primary energy consumtion as referenc is not fair! :-)

Logging near railway tracks or roads is no problem in Sweden

you don't seem to understand how logging is done. i don't know what you count as road, but of course in large areas of forests there wouldn't be any "roads" if there were no logging.

Don't know about Sweden, but in Finland farmers in their spare time can drag high-value logs to highways for later pickup by collection trucks. The tractor route is up to them, with clever use of winches they don't have to create logging roads. In the USA, you have few options other than to contract out the logging and put up with humongous machines.

i thought we were talking about large scale energy production, not what few farmers do in their "spare" time.

Well, farmers often have time to spare in the winter. In this case high-value logs would be the fully dry standing dead timber. [These trees are not particularly dangerous to harvest, if you wait for them to fall over after the roots have rotted]. Such wood contains ~15 megajoules per kilogram which (with a WAG of 25% overall efficiency) could be converted to a kilowatt-hour of electricity. The farm might use 10 000 kWh a year, requiring 10 metric tonnes, or 5 to 10 logs a year to cover the farmers electricity.

The point is that a distributed system could supply biomass with just a backbone infrastructure of collection along major roads.

I know how logging is done in Europe. Sweden has not that many districts without roads, most of the stuff can be harvested very conventionally.

the biomass for energy is definitely not realistic in the large scale. i know the finnish situation but i bet in sweden it's pretty much the same. of course people have always used wood for heating and there are still a lot of houses which at least partially use wood (in addition there are innumerable summer cottages and saunas).

now i understand that people from germany coming to finland and sweden think that all the country is just forest, and in a way they are right. but as rmg observed most of the forests are already in use (doesn't take 100 years to harvest though). the paper and pulp factories in finland and sweden are really very big in the world scale. if you drive around in the country and stop at a random place and go to forest you will certainly find that most trees are of the same age. so to use trees for energy would mean to reduce the paper and pulp industry. we even buy some wood from russia occasionally. it can be convenient for the industry in eastern finland close to the russian border.

note also that paper and pulp industry uses wood waste etc to produce energy for their processes. anyway 2 or 3 years ago there was some talk about increasing the use of wood to produce energy. the term used in the media for this plan was "risupaketti". this is rather difficult to translate but the use of this expression implied that everybody thought that the whole idea was ridiculous at the outset. in finland many people still have some concrete idea what it really means to get wood out of the forest so that it can really be used for some purpose. so you can't pretend that using wood is some hightech solution to energy problems.

in the far north there are also large forests which you can't really use in the industrial scale. if everything is cut down the forests may not recover, at least in a reasonable time (plenty of bad experiences from 70's ). of course one can cut some trees here and there for local use.

It was about sustainable wood economy. IMHO we should try in Germany to use our biomass for production of base chemicals, not for producing electricity. I oppose large scale import of biomass to Germany, the point was and still si, that Sweden in in a much better situation to achieve 100% renewables than Germany. The technology how to use wood changes, here some interesting stuff comes from Austria, e.g. plants that produce either energy or chemicals in a relatively small scale, so the watse heat ccan be used to heat homes .....

With actually around 12-18 TWh net increase of electricity from renewables per year, i.e. more than 1.5 times the output of a nuclear power plant per year, one has absolutely no chance to maintain nuclear AND lignite, the utilities and the German government had/have to decide which dies first; for several reasons they have chosen nuclear power: economy: lignite plants are cheaper; politics: lignite plants provide more jobs in Germany and are not considered such a political risk compared to nukes; techology: lignite plants are flexible and can be combined with renewables quite easily.

Even with only 50% of the current net increase of renewable energy there is a lot of economic pressure, read the studies of the lignite producer, they made quite sober assessments of the situation. Personally, I guess that nuclear power will be history around 2022 in Germany. With the next German government being either red/green or black/red the only party (FDP) which opposes the Energiewende will not longer be a factor. I would have preferred another solution but that's politics and it makes no sense to fight a lost battle, esp. when the alternative works.

That is really ambitious. The plan is to replace virtually all nuclear, coal, lignite and gas-driven thermal power stations. The CHP ones will be retained but not expanded.

They will be replaced with huge increases in imports, photovoltaics, and offshore wind farms, and lesser increases in onshore wind farms, geothermal, and biomass/waste plants.

1. Do you need all this electricity? With population projected to fall from 82 million (2010) to 72 million (2050), and better insulation and efficiencies, surely demand should fall?

2. What are the chances of getting approval from NIMBY landowners for all the new power lines needed to wind farms and for imports?

3. Scrapping old power lines, thermal stations and coal/lignite mines will be unpopular and lead to hardship. Maybe they will be mothballed, just in case?

4. Will there be an increase in localisation? Replacing the 1000-mile Caesar salad with the 1000-mile volt is maybe not progress.

5. By 2050 what percentage of existing wind farms and PV installations will need replacing? You might be in Red Queen territory, needing to replace and expand capacity at the same time.

6. Are there naval security implications in having 25% of your installed capacity in offshore wind farms?


Many good questions :-)

1) The electricity demand in future depends on some assumptions in respect to achievable efficiency gains etc. The medium scenario is we insulate all of our buildings to a good level and produce the required heat (1000 TWh down to 250-300 TWh) with heat pumps, this gives 50-70 TWh demand, electric direct heating is phased out. Additional 50 TWh will come from EVs. OTOH we have a shrinking population and some large sources for gains (light 60 TWH-> 30 TWh or less, replacing pumps in industry >15 TWh...), current consumption of coal power plants is at least 40 TWh. So 600 TWh could work.

2) There are not many imports expected (this is only a strange feature of the presented study), most of the new power lines would be in the Baltic Sea (+ 40 GW), some between norther and southern Germany, this usually means upgrading existing ones IIRC.

3) Lignite could be mothballed, hard coal is dead in 2018 (mines are flooded), we may have to increase NG pipeline capacity between north (storage) and south (demand). If the transition runs into trouble, the last coal or NG power plants will work longer or are replaced with new ones, this is alredy part of the scenarios.

4) Most of the new biomass power plants are small ones (cogeneration) and often own by cities and towns or cooperatives, the energy market structure is quite different in Germany compared to the US. Many wind mills are owned by private persons, PV will also shift more to private ownership and small business, as the reduction of the FITs favour these.

5) With 20 years of projected life span around three GW must be replaced each year on-shore and 3 GW off-shore (in 2050). This is not much. The trick is to get a sustainable increase for off-shore as the market is very small and give the companies a chance to survive. We have here to avoid the mistakes we made with PV (overheating, then many dead companies). Onshore capacity is already around 2-5 GW p.a. without any problem. So no red queen scenario.

6) Germany imports at the moment more than 75% of her primary energy, much by ships, much by pipeline from very few producers. The situation can only improve, even with 100 TWh reimport from Norway or import from Africa 600 TWh domestic productios means 85-100% autarky. We do not have the nice situation the USA with Canada as neighbour is in and we live here with a complete other mindset. :-)

I am surprised that more electrical connections are not made to the South.

Austria has hydro (basically 100% hydro if Vien is removed, 100+% with better efficiency) and room for pumped storage. So do the Balkans further south. Solar from, say Serbia or even Greece would be an hour or so before German solar, and relatively stronger in the winter.

Clouds in Germany will not be connected very much with clouds in Serbia, Greece, Spain and Portugal. Solar in all four is longer in the winter than Germany, and all four have sun either a bit before or a bit after Germany.

The Swiss are, ATM, more wedded to French nuclear and sales to Italy, but that can be shared.

Just looking around, the Pyrennes are rugged, with few hydropower plants and no pumped storage that I can find. France is in between, a problem. Perhaps a joint German-Spanish project on the south side, and pay EdF for transmission ?

Again, Spain and Portugal solar is later in the day than Germany, they have fewer clouds, and solar lasts longer in the winter there. Add some pumped storage and more transmission to northern Spain is viable.

Just thoughts.


The Euro crisis has destroyed a lot of confidence, no investor is interested in projects in the south, sorry. The other bottleneck are very limited transmission capacities IIRC.

At the moment Turkey looks more promising for PV than the European south.

The Austrians speak German (sort of) so they can be trusted :-P

And Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, etc. are not so bad as the Greeks.


But Greece and Spain have the really nice sites for PV in Europe, my hope is that in a few years the developement start again. :-)

The fact is the countries that are doing best economically have cheap reliable energy. A plausible scenario is that by 2022 Germany still has operating nukes. As in Sweden the nuclear phaseout keeps getting put off. Intense lobbying will ensure the green energy handouts never stop whatever the original plan. Because of threatened or actual high energy prices German industry loses its Europe leading role which shifts to a Franco-British alliance. For example car manufacturing shifts from Germany to England. Meanwhile Merkel and other architects of the German energy 'transformation' are pilloried and their political successors are kept from power for a long time.

It's not all bad. Germany has saved other countries the cost of doing this experiment.

If any country can retain its manufacturing sector in the face of high energy costs it has to be Germany. A lot of what Germany produces is high end consumer goods -- think BMW and Mercedes, and high end heavy equipment and machinery. Germany also has an education system that excels at producing the engineers and skilled technicians needed to keep the manufacturing sector working and producing high quality goods. Sure, all corporations would like to have lower energy costs but they know there will be a cost in terms of quality and consumer perceptions if they relocate their manufacturing outside of Germany. Would you spend $$$$ on a BMW if you knew it was not manufactured in Germany? I certainly would not. The perception of quality comes not just from having German engineering but also being manufactured in Germany.

It's a very different story here in Canada. Most of what we manufacture isn't high end and customers don't really care where it was manufactured. Rising energy costs are definitely one factor driving manufacturing out of my province, Ontario.

German quality comes from German quality controls, not German manufacture. Many right-hand drive BMWs sold around the world are manufactured in South Africa. But the badge on the bonnet is the guarantee that they meet the same high standards as BMWs everywhere.

My Toyota Matrix was built in Ontario, and it has the same reliability as the Toyotas built in Japan have - it just runs and runs and runs and never gives any problems. Its reliability is considerably better than the BMWs my friends have. It's all about the manufacturer's quality control standards rather than the country of manufacture.

They do build high-end luxury cars in Ontario, too, but the volume of luxury cars is low. People tend to forget that they don't build a lot of BMWs and Porsches even in Germany, and the bulk of the production is Volkswagens, where cost control is a major factor.

Ontario is overcommited to automobile production, anyway. A lot of the so called "imports" and a lot of the "American" cars are built there rather than Japan or the US. This isn't really a good thing because automobile manufacturing is becoming a Sunset Industry as world oil production peaks. As goes the autombile industry, so goes the Ontario economy.

Sure, Boof. From your lips to God's ears..

Germany may be forced to extend their nukes' lives a bit more.. but it's not at all clear that their 'experiment' can be called a failure or a mere warning to others..

The projections presented by Bach cover the next 40 years. Over that time, Germany's coal supply will dwindle and their dependance on foreign energy sources will increase if they do not develop additional domestic sources. They are down to burning lignite, the lowest grade coal, and are importing natural gas from Russia. They have wind and solar.

During this time interval, the U.S. production of natural gas will peak and it will likely begin importing natural gas from abroad. Global peak natural gas might occur near the end of this time interval. Natural gas will not be cheap in the U.S. by then. Global crude oil production will be well into decline by 2050. The U.S. is doing little to address the looming supply and price increases in energy. Germany is acting proactively and consequently will succeed while the U.S. in a fantasy like haze will be beaten down by high priced energy, shortages and climate change.

The fact is the countries that are doing best economically have cheap reliable energy

For large industrial customers, electricity in Germany is currently at one of its cheapest levels in large parts due to renewable energy and the energy transition. Given that renewable energy has priority over all conventional electricity, it is offered at zero (or even negative) cost in the merit order pushing down prices at the electricity exchange. Particularly during peak hours, PV hast caused a significant decrease in prices, so much so that e.g. pumped storage is currently no longer profitable.

Despite what critics argued after the decommissioning of 8 nuclear power plants, Germany continues to export large amounts of electricity, including at the times of highest demand when it exports large amounts to France to keep their lights on. There has also so far been no indication of threats of supply of electricity. Most definitely nothing close to the threat to energy supply that hurricanes like Sandy cause.

And regarding political consequences, who is going to "pillor" the conservatives for the energy transition? The Green party, that has just taken the Governorship of state of Baden-Wuertenberg one of the industrial hartlands of Germany?!? Apart from the FDP, that is currently polling at around 5%, all parties are more or less on board with the energy transition. They just differ in weather to push large scale corporate offshore wind parks, or small scale decentralized energy production own by regular citizens.

With signs of climate change and resource constraints increasingly visible, I would be surprised if that resolve doesn't get stronger.


France has 58 nukes but has neither cheap -wholesale prices for industry are in Germany lower the last 12 months- nor reliable energy, you have only to check the situation in February 2012. So please forget this simple correlation. The high price for consumers in Germany had the side effect that some developements that cause the winter problems in France did not happen in Germany.

For comparison: France 65 million citizens, winter peakload >100 GW; Germany 82 million citizens, winter peakload 82 GW.

Why is it so hard for you to get hard facts first, then form a fact based opinion? Germany loosing industry? Check the developement of industrial production as percentage of GDP, who has lost and still is loosing most? (France, UK)

Germany is almost always colder, overall, than France during the winter.

How much of this is use of direct gas heat (rather than gas > CHP > heat from hot water + electricity) ?

Germany is far behind the Danes in CHP from memory.

France has pushed electric heat (first resistance, now heat pumps, Germany more gas).

EdF was supposed to build 5 GWh of wind, then a second 5 GWh, but they did not. Wind was to give them extra winter power.


Around 50% of German houses are heated with gas, 27% with oil (with sharp decrease), 10% with heat pumps (increasing), rest usually with community heating (11%), wood pellets etc. (2%).

CHP is popular and increasing for biomass and gas, as most of the plants have electric power <100 MW they do not appear in most statistics, however, we have a around ~6 GW electric power at the moment from CHP. It is supported by the EEG and some KfW programs.

I noted 0% electric resistance heat, 10% from more efficient heat pumps and 11% from CHP that generate more electricity as it gets colder. So a low winter peak load is not so unusual compared to France which would rather heat with domestic nuclear power than imported (Russian, etc.) gas.

I do know that Germany has a much better insulated housing stock than France - but this saves mainly gas and oil, not electricity.


We have still have ~3% resistent heat systems in Germany, however, you are not allowed to install new systems and old ones have to be phased out until 2019. Therefore, the next 10%-20% heat pumps can be installed without any increase of electricity demand. With consumer prices of 17-20 cent/kWh for heating electricity during nighttime, they are dead as dead can be.

Interesting study and follow-up comments here. One aspect that jumps out at me is the low amount of geothermal energy projected.

The Energy Target 2050:100% Renewable Electricity Supply referenced by another commenter suggests a significantly higher geothermal power capacity, which falls into the controllable (baseload and dispatchable) category.

AFAIK some geothermal projects run into trouble in Germany and some had a low EROEI (required pump power was relatively high in comparison to produced electricity), so geothermal projects are considered at the moment an economic failure.

It will be very interesting to see how this plays out in Germany.
Certainly their goals are very challenging, but for me one of the most interesting points is that they have the majority of its people on board and therefore its government as well. Germany is probably only one of a few major industrialized countries that has a majority of its citizens supporting and more importantly committing to the development and implementation of renewable energy.

I guess the questions are How and Why ?
Is it predominately "Energy Security" and/or "Green/Climate Issues" ?

Will Germany become the blueprint for other nations to follow (assuming success) ?
What other countries have such strong support and commitment ?
- Japan is also worth watching
- Denmark, Iceland, Norway - smaller with some geographic advantages (geothermal/hydro/wind)

Germany also has a relatively strong economy and the necessary engineering expertise. Its commitment to solar PV has been instrumental in developing and significantly reducing the cost of the technology (along with more recent Chinese manufacturing), particularly given their fairly modest solar resource compared to some other nations.

I watch with interest to see how this unfolds.

Corsica-Sardinia Solar (and Wind) Generation

Both islands are fairly far south, relatively clear skies from maps I have seen, and have some limited wind resource. Low value land and relatively poor, so solar farming should fit well.

Consider an expanded HV DC link to France for both, and one or more pumped storage projects on the island.

The daily cycle might start at dawn. Over night imports of French nuclear decline and zero out as the sun rises. At about 10:30 AM (ninety minutes before solar noon) the HV DC line to France is at maximum (and all of Corsica & Sardinia are running on solar + wind) if there is no wind on a clear day. Earlier if there is a windy clear day, later or not at all on a cloudy day.

Once the HV DC line is at maximum the pumped storage is filled. Later, when the evening peak hits, the pumped storage provides peak power via HV DC to France (and beyond ?)- saving some water depending on wind and sun forecasts for the next day or two.

The sun sets, the evening peak is over, and the islands run off wind and imported nuclear power all night. Perhaps even storing some in pumped storage.

I have seen several EU plans for cross-border renewables, but for some reason these two fairly large islands are ignored.

IMHO, this project would be a good fit into the EU (+Norway & Switzerland) grid.

Best Hopes for Good Plans,


It seems like this scenario will give pumped storage about 3-4 hours to recharge the upper basin. Is this long enough? Does this require larger/more pumps then normally would have been installed if this period is longer?

It depends on the design.

MWh is function of the volume of water moved and the height difference. Geography has much to say about this number.

MW is a function of the turbines installed and the diameter of the tunnel between the upper & lower reservoirs. Money invested determines this. Sometimes there are limits on how fast water can be sucked from or injected back into the lower reservoir.

Some MWh may need to be kept in reserve is case the HV DC line fails (unless there are two of them).

I was thinking of a large MW and likely limited MWh pumped storage project(s). But if a good location presents itself, Corsica and/or Sardinia could compete with Switzerland and Luxembourg for storing late night French nuclear power.

Corsica has 302,000 people and Sardinia with 1.6 million and little heavy industry, so some renewable generation will not leave the islands.

Just random numbers, but I was thinking of something like:

3 GW wind
10 GW solar PV (peak generation at noon June 21st, not nameplate)
2.5 GW, 10 GWh pumped storage
8 GW HV DC transmission, 4 GW to France and 4 GW to Italy

Remember, domestic consumption on the islands will consume some of this. And some renewables will be wasted.

A useful supplement to France, Italy and the EU.


In our small corner of the world:

Nova Scotia bristles over power project

The situation:

Power is not only expensive in Nova Scotia – rates are among the highest in Canada – but extremely controversial, and has been for decades as the province has gone from burning oil to dirty Nova Scotia coal to cleaner coal imported from Colombia and Venezuela to heat and light itself.

But there has been some measure of progress in turning this situation around:

...80 per cent of energy came from burning coal in 2006; that decreased to 57 per cent last year, and NSP expects the number to be less than 50 per cent this year. Nova Scotia has eight coal-fired plants; NSP has a $500-million fuel bill, including $250- to $300-million spent to buy coal from out of the province.


...13 per cent of the province’s energy has come from natural gas this year; next year, it will be 25 per cent, he said. The province is also pushing wind power – NSP has 174 wind turbines, up from about half a dozen four years ago. Between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Sept. 12, wind generation accounted for 36 per cent of the total electricity made in Nova Scotia – a record.

See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/nova-scotia-bristles-over-p...

There are numerous wind farms that have been approved or currently under construction, and we can expect several hundred more MW of wind power to added to the system over the next three to five years. On the other side of the ledger, provincial electricity demand is down 17 per cent year over year due to structural changes in the local economy and ongoing efforts to promote greater energy efficiency, even though many Nova Scotians are switching their space heating and DHW systems from oil to electricity.


Why would coal imported from Colombia and Venezuela be cleaner than the one from Nova Scotia ? Expect in the meaning of let's export to other the pollution and danger of coal mining.

It would be great if Nova Scotia were to realize that the one energy source that can efficiently replace coal is nuclear. Nuclear is not as good to replace gas that handles peak consumption better with a really cheaper construction cost (whilst modern coal plants are almost as expensive as a nuclear one).
The legislation is counter effective when it requires renewable sources that result in the lock-in requirement for a fossil fuel backup.

Nova Scotia coal is much higher in sulfur and mercury, and the mining conditions are probably more dangerous than in Columbia and Venezuela. A lot of miners have been killed in NS over the years. The imported coal is also much cheaper to produce.

There is a lot of low polluting coal in Western Canada, which has over 90% of the country's coal reserves, and it is cheap and safe to mine, but it is too expensive to ship it by rail to NS.

There is also a lot of natural gas offshore NS - 120 trillion cubic feet according to the NS government - and one would think they could feed it into their power plants to replace coal, or build NG peaking units to backstop their wind turbines, but apparently this is not in the plans. I keep harping on them not using their own gas reserves, but it just seems to annoy people in NS.

Total provincial demand can dip to as little as 675 MW and the province is an electrical island (due to network congestion in neighbouring New Brunswick, provincial electricity exports are basically limited to about 100 MW). So, my question to you is this: how does one technically and economically incorporate nuclear power into a utility system of this size?

I would propose that wind power, supported initially by natural gas and ultimately the Lower Churchill Falls come 2017/2018 (fingers crossed) is a more sensible alternative.


Ugh. This article seems rather meaningless to me. Unless we are able to compare it to the original primary source material (Integration der erneuerbaren Energien in den deutsch-europäischen Strommarkt), we seem to be at a notable disadvantage in evaluating and looking at for ourselves the authors reported observations and claims. Do we really need a filtered report on a study that has not yet been published in English translation, and is unavailable to non-German speakers for a detailed independent study and review?

I'd also like to recommend the editors update the Author's bio to include he sits on Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) Technical Advisory Group. Readers here might be interested to know a bit more about REF, and it's anti-wind development efforts in the EU.

There is no such thing as "renewable energy".

How does one go about "renewing energy? How does that little trick occur? Either somebody doesn't understand "energy" (thermodynamics) or, they are not using the right model and formulae, or both. (Hopefully, not used as a marketing term on the pleebs for someones' profit.)

Every time I DRIVE by this (Like grampa says witha wistle, "I used to commute daily over that mesa on a bike, or on foot snow wind rain blah blah blah backe in the day")~:

NREL http://www.nrel.gov/news/features/feature_detail.cfm/feature_id=1953


I am reminded that, much like the tooth fairy, there is no such thing as "renewable energy". Notice 1) Parking facilities ... right. How else are the people expected to get around? Transit? Bikes? On foot? Interesting geologic trivia, directly on the hillside behind NREL is the K/T boundary, and the first Triceratops skull was found nearby....

When You’re Building Green, Don’t Forget the Transportation Component

Denver | 07/08/2010 10:09pm | 1
Yonah Freemark | The Transport Politic

National Renewable Energy Laboratory Campus NREL

There’s a lot to like about the Department of Energy’s new Research Support Facility, completed recently in Golden, a suburb of Denver. According to the government’s data, the environmentally-friendly RSF will be the largest net zero-energy consumption building in the United States thanks to an architectural design that emphasizes economies in energy use and a huge solar power production facility on top. It’s a technological feat that could change the way commercial buildings are built and eventually lead to a major reduction in overall carbon emissions in the country.


Is this included in "zero net energy emission" calculations::



Is that "renewable", if so, how so, exactly, and how would you go about "renewing" it?

...wind powered cranes and solar powered D9s hahahaha

not to mention CONCRETE oooo concrete...

oh ya, GERMANY.... where is your gold (Au)???

That's actually not a trivial question. Can anyone help me explain to the readership how gold, or how the acquisition by mining relates to energy (as defined by thermodynamics) and "money"? Germany, or any other country will unlikely be able to (continue to) trade unbacked paper and "securities" for large resource-intensive construction projects with long amortization periods (putting it mildly).

Mining is a common concern. Much mining, especially underground, has been electric for some time - here's a source of electrical mining equipment. Caterpillar manufactures 200-ton and above mining trucks with both drives. Caterpillar will produce mining trucks for every application—uphill, downhill, flat or extreme conditions — with electric as well as mechanical drive. Here's an electric earth moving truck. Here's an electric mobile strip mining machine, the largest tracked vehicle in the world at 13,500 tons.

Actually, Nick, the physical location of existing physical gold is what is in question here.

In terms of mining gold, yes, it takes a lot of energy to get a little gold and that is getting worse ~:)


There's no information in the article about energy costs.

Have you seen any good data on mining energy requirements?

Ohhhh... lots. ~:)

Well, hand it over, buddy - inquiring minds want to know!

Making the 2bn tonnes of cement used globally every year, for concrete and other things, pumps out 5% of the world's CO2 emissions - more than the entire aviation industry.

A new cement has been developed, which consumes rather than produces CO2.


**11/19/10 Update

"There’s a story in Technology Review about a Halifax, Nova Scotia-based company called Carbon Sense Solutions that has found a way to make precast concrete products CO2-sucking vacuums. The interesting thing about concrete is that over hundreds of years they absorb CO2, a natural process called carbonation. The amount of absorption partially offsets the CO2 emissions that result from the calcination of limestone during the manufacture of cement, which is a key active ingredient of concrete. One problem, however, is that during the earlier stages of carbonation the outer two or three millimetres of the concrete forms a hardened crust that significantly slows down CO2 absorption. What Carbon Sense claims to have done is packed hundreds of years of carbonation into as little as one hour, using a curing process that consumes dramatically less energy than conventional heat/steam curing (see presentation here). In fact, compared to steam curing, company CEO Robert Niven says his approach — building on 40 years of research at McGill University — uses up to 44 per cent less energy and 39 per cent less water.

Now, it only works with precast concrete products — i.e. prefab tunnels, manholes, septic tanks, walls, blocks and beams. Even concrete wind-turbine towers are precast. This represents between 10 to 15 per cent of the North American concrete market, which is predominantly ready-mix (i.e. construction folks mix it and mould it on site). In some European countries, however, precast is closer to 40 per cent of the market. Given we’re talking about a $125-billion global market annually, even 10 per cent is a market worth pursuing.

Frankly, it sounds too good to be true, given the cement and concrete industry represent more than 5 per cent of global CO2 emissions and something has to be done about it. If all precast operations used Carbon Sense’s process, it would sequester as much as 20 per cent of those emissions in concrete, says Niven."



Call him cement man.

Back when Stanford Professor Brent Constantz was 27, he created a high-tech cement that revolutionized bone fracture repair in hospitals worldwide. People who might have died from the complications of breaking their hips lived. Fractured wrists became good as new.

Now, 22 years later, he wants to repair the world.

Constantz says he has invented a green cement that could eliminate the huge amounts of carbon dioxide spewed into the atmosphere by manufacturers of the everyday cement used in concrete for buildings, roadways and bridges.

His vision of eliminating a large source of the world's greenhouse CO2 has gained traction with both investors and environmentalists.

Already, venture capitalist Vinod Khosla is backing Constantz's company, the Calera Corp., which has a pilot factory in Moss Landing (Monterey County) churning out cement in small batches.


Cement and aggregate production are HUGELY energy intensive, particularly on the scale you see employed at NREL (National Renewable Energy Lab). Not only that but the upkeep and maintenance of such structures is energetically expensive, and they are prone to attrition, mechanical damage (accidents), environmental degradations and weathering..

There is no such thing as "renewable energy".

The sun will provide a constant 100,000TW for several billion years - that's pretty good.

How else are the people expected to get around?

EVs actually use less energy than public transit. Rail is nice - I use it every day - but it's not especially energy efficient.

...still not "renewable", though. HAHAHAHA, sorry. It would be wise to use more precise language otherwise you run a risk.... are you being lazy in your language, are you trying to fleece the unknowing, or do you not understand "renewable"?

Take a gooood look at those pictures. ~;)


That is enormously energy and resource-expensive to build, maintain, repair and decommission and it is built to serve a car-based transportation system.

still not "renewable", though

You need to be a little more specific about your objection - a constant stream of power for a billion years seems renewable to me.

How does one go about "renewing energy? How does that little trick occur? Either somebody doesn't understand "energy" (thermodynamics) or, they are not using the right model and formulae, or both.

Come on PDV, of course you are right, in a strictly technical sense energy can not be renewed, so what?!

You know perfectly well that what is generally meant when referring to renewables is that the source for the input of energy into some device that captures that energy will for all practical purposes not end anytime soon. I think it's a pretty safe bet that the folks at the NREL are familiar with the laws of thermodynamics.

Yeah, we all know that our nonrenewable sun will burn out in about another 5 billion years, again, so what?

Modern man has been around for what, 100,000 years and we developed agriculture in the last 10,000 and we have burnt up about half the planet's alottment of oil in the last 150 years. Compared to that, my guess is, humans are going to be using nonrenewable solar energy for a long time to come...

Come on PDV, of course you are right, in a strictly technical sense energy can not be renewed, so what?!

Whatayamean "so what"? Its wrong is "what".

People with less thermo than you or I will start to believe that you can actually "renew" energy..... and...

You Can Not Renew Energy

....at least not in this corner of the universe. Thank goodness or we would be in some deep thermal doo doo.

You see, by not being more precise, you run the risk of appearing either lazy in your efforts and language, or deceitful, and untrustworthy. In my opinion, this is a good time to go to the extra effort of making things very clear particularly to those very large numbers of people who depend on it.

Again, you need to be a little more specific about your objection - a constant stream of power for several billion years seems renewable to me.

It's not renewable.

Stellar nuclear reactions are fascinating and are not "renewable" in any way. Look up the formation of the elements.....

If you want to call these diverse, diffuse, intermittent sources of energy some thing why not call it what it is: solar, wind, hydro, hot rock geothermal, passive geothermal, etc.

If you have to lump them, the two characteristics all those energy sources mentioned above share ... is that they are highly (or at best moderately) diffuse and intermittent sources of energy.

In ore Deposit Geology, that is a similar distinction to that between "high grade" ore, and "patchy, highly disseminated" ore.

Stellar nuclear reactions are fascinating and are not "renewable" in any way.

Ah, but we're not talking about nuclear reactions, we're talking about sunlight, which arrives every second. If we don't use that second's worth, another 100 quadrillion joules worth arrives the next second. I'd call that renewable.

they are highly (or at best moderately) diffuse

Well, that's a different complaint. It's also unrealistic.

Wind consumes very little land - roughly 3/4 acre per 1.6MW wind turbine (.3 hectares permanent impact) - much less than other forms of generation, when you include fuel mining and the overall footprint of generating plants (nuclear plants can take up more than a square mile).

NREL's "Land-Use Requirements of Modern Wind Power Plants in the United States" table 4.1 (page 10), http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy09osti/45834.pdf 79% of this land is for roads (table 3, page 13), and this data is for turbines averaging 1.6MW - as turbine capacity rises the land per MW will fall proportionately. http://www1.eere.energy.gov/wind/pdfs/46635.pdf

Right now 60 acres per turbine is pretty standard (probably 1.6MW), for 37.5 acres/MW.

Farmers have often gotten about $4K per 1.6MW turbine, which meant about $40K on a 640 acre farm. 10 turbines means they only lose 5 acres of productive farmland (less than 1%), and perhaps double their net income. That's huge money for a farmer.

Farmers love wind power and in the US there is an enormous wind resource in farm areas. A nuclear plant, OTOH, encloses it's land for security reasons, so it's really unavailable for other uses.

Rooftop solar doesn't consume any land at all.


conventional comparisons:

There are 525,000 operating oil wells in the US, and probably 10M abandoned or dry wells. There are 70,000 abandoned coal mines - shouldn't we include those somehow in space requirement calculations?

Regarding the land use footprint of a nuclear power station, let's fire up Google Maps and take a peek at Sizewell on the UK Suffolk coast. The site contains the now-decommissioned Sizewell A, and an American style PWR, Sizewell B, about 1.2GWe (1200MWe), which has been running happily at about 90% load factor since 1995. The scale rulers on the map indicate that the site is pretty close to 1 sq km (100 hectares). Similarly, we can cruise over to Finland, and look at the Olkiluoto site, where reactor 3, also about 1200MWe is under construction. The area per GWe is very similar to that of Sizewell. So that's ONE (1) sq.km per performing GWe, close enough.

We have to add the land used for mining and refining the uranium yellowcake.

The Clinton Power Station is located near Clinton, Illinois, USA. The nuclear power station has a General Electric boiling water reactor on a 14,300 acres (57.9 km2) site with an adjacent 5,000 acres (20.2 km2) cooling reservoir, Clinton Lake. Due to inflation and cost overruns, Clinton's final construction cost exceeded $2.6 billion, leading the plant to produce some of the most expensive power in the Midwest. The power station began service on April 24, 1987 and is currently capable of generating 1,043 MW.


The Clinton nuclear plant uses 20 acres per average MW, and a 3MW wind turbine on a 1/2 acre uses 1/2 acre per average MW.

"Windmills Overload East Europe’s Grid Risking Blackout: Energy"


Thought this might be of interest.

There are as usual two different aspect mixed:

1) Available transmission capacity between north and south, here the Germans and the Austrian have indeed to add capacity, no question.

2)A Polish electricity market that is dominated by hard coal from domestic Polish underground mining. With increasing labour costs and powerplants that can not compete with much more modern designs there it very tempting to wall off the domestic market. Yes German companies profite from Polish infrastructure as Polish companies in other field profit from the good German infrastructure.