An update on the Energiewende

Germany is still pursuing its goal of shutting down its nuclear plants but refuses to shut down its lignite plants. It is slashing renewable energy subsidies and replacing them with an auction/quota system. Public opposition is delaying the construction of the power lines that are needed to distribute Germany’s renewables generation efficiently. Renewables investment has fallen to levels insufficient to build enough new capacity to meet Germany’s 2020 emissions reduction target. There is  no evidence that renewables are having a detectable impact on Germany’s emissions, which have not decreased since 2009 despite a doubling of renewables penetration in the electricity sector. It now seems certain that Germany will miss its 2020 emissions reduction target, quite possibly by a wide margin. In short, the Energiewende is starting to unravel.

This post discusses the Energiewende’s main problems under five subheadings, starting with arguably the most problematic:

Germany’s emissions are not decreasing:

Figure 1, reproduced from Climate Change News , shows Germany’s total greenhouse gas emissions from all sources from 1990 through 2015 in million tons of CO2 equivalent:

Figure 1: Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions, 1990-2015 and its 2020 and 2030 emissions targets.

Electricity sector emissions (the red bars at the bottom) decreased between 1990, the baseline year, and 1999 but have remained essentially flat since then. Emissions from other sectors decreased between 1990 and 2009 but have also flattened out since then. As a result Germany’s emissions are about the same now as they were in 2009. The increase in renewables generation over this period has clearly not had the desired effect.

The electricity sector presently contributes only about 45% of Germany’s total emissions. 100% decarbonization of the electricity sector, which is already about 45% decarbonized if we add nuclear, would therefore in theory reduce total emissions by only another 25% or so. Yet Germany’s efforts to cut emissions continue to concentrate on the electricity sector.

The chances that Germany will meet its 2020 and 2030 emissions reduction targets do not look good.

Renewables have not reduced emissions

Figure 2 shows the growth in renewables penetration in Germany’s electricity sector since 1990. The data through 2013 are from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the 2014/15 data are from the Strom Report on Renewable Energy

Figure 2: Growth in Germany’s renewable energy generation, 1990-2015

Since 1990 renewable energy generation has grown by a factor of over ten to the point where it now supplies 30% of Germany’s electricity. One would think that this would have had a visible impact on Germany’s electricity sector emissions, but as shown in Figure 3 it’s difficult to detect any impact at all. Despite the 20% absolute increase in renewables penetration between 1999 and 2014 electricity sector emissions have barely changed over this period, and had it not been for the 2008/9 recession they would probably have increased:

Figure 3: Percent renewables in Germany’s electricity mix versus total greenhouse gas emissions, 1990-2015, data from Figures 1 and 2.

The reason renewables have had no detectable impact is that the added generation has gone towards filling increased demand and replacing nuclear generation rather than generation from gas, coal and lignite, which remains about the same as it was in 1990 (Figure 4, data from Clean Energy Wire). This is in line with Germany’s goal of shutting down its nuclear plants but will of course do nothing to reduce emissions:

Figure 4: Gross electricity generation in Germany by source, 1990-2015

Investment in renewables is falling short:

Figure 5 summarizes investment in renewables in Germany between 2005 and 2015 with projections through 2020. The data are from a recent Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) report . Investment levels have declined by almost a factor of two since the subsidy-induced solar PV peak in 2010 but are expected to decline only slightly between now and 2020, although this may be an optimistic expectation:

Figure 5: Investment in renewable energy in Germany 2005-2015, with projections through 2020.

If we accept the CPI projections, which I have done for the purposes of analysis, Germany will spend approximately $20 billion on onshore wind in the next five years and approximately $15 billion each on offshore wind and solar. How much renewables generation will this add? I first estimated installation costs from the data provided in Table 2 of the CPI report, obtaining the following values:

  • Solar PV: $1,600/kW installed
  • Onshore wind: $2,600/kW installed
  • Offshore wind: $4,400/kW installed

I then used these numbers to calculated how much capacity could be built for the billions of dollars of investment projected to be available between 2016 and 2020:

  • Solar PV, $15 billion, $1,600/kW = 9.4GW
  • Onshore wind: $20 billion, $2,600/kW = 7.7GW
  • Offshore wind: $15 billion, $4,400/kW = 3.4GW
  • Total new renewable capacity = 20.5GW

And applied assumed capacity factors to estimate the addition to total annual 2020 generation:

  • Solar PV, 9.4GW installed, 12% CF = 9.9TWh
  • Onshore wind, 7.7GW installed, 25% CF = 16.8TWh
  • Offshore wind,3.4GW installed, 40% CF = 3.4TWh
  • Total new renewable generation = 38.7TWh

This added generation will increase renewables’ share of Germany’s total electricity generation from ~30% to ~36%, all other thing being equal. But by how much will it reduce 2020 emissions? If we assume that all of it replaces nuclear, which is what will happen if Germany continues to shut down its nuclear plants, there will of course be no reduction at all. If we assume (optimistically) that all of it replaces lignite and that none of it gets exported we come up with 15.5 million tons using the 0.4kg/kWh emissions factor for lignite supplied by Volker-Quaschning. But subtracting 15.5 million tons from the 912 million tons emitted in 2015 reduces Germany’s 2020 emissions only to 896.5 million tons, well in excess of the 749 million tons target (Figure 1). It seems that Germany will have to make heroic efforts to reduce emissions from its non-electricity sectors if it is to have any chance of meeting its 2020 goal.

Germany has also established quotas calling for the installation of 2.5GW of solar, 4.1GW (net) of onshore wind and 0.8GW of offshore wind capacity in each year between now and 2020. This will cost about $18 billion/year, about 80% more than CPI’s projections. It seems unlikely that this level of investment will be forthcoming, particularly in view of the uncertainties generated by Brexit. And even if the quotas are realized and all the added power is used to replace lignite Germany will still not meet its 2020 emissions reduction target.

Renewables subsidies are being discontinued:

The Energiewende has achieved what success it has because of the enormous sums of money lavished on it by the German government in the form of subsidies. Now Germany’s policy is changing in reaction to a 2014 EU decree that disallows the use of direct subsidies, such as feed in tariffs, in favor of “market responsive auctioning” based on “feed in premiums”, or in short a bid system. Interestingly, the EU decree was prompted by other countries complaining about unwanted renewable power surges from Germany. As Deutsche Welle put it in the article linked to above:

Although Germans accepted and in time came to appreciate the subsidy system, it was significantly less popular with neighbors – particularly Poland, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. The European Union has a connected energy market, and they said German-subsidized renewable power was flooding their electricity grids and wreaking havoc. “There was increasing concern and anxiety from our electricity neighbors about the effect outside of Germany,” says Matthias Buck, an analyst with the Berlin-based energy think tank Agora Energiewende. “So they went to Brussels to complain about it. They said, ‘Germany didn’t consult us before they did this.'” Frustration with Germany’s unilateral approach to its enormously important power market at the heart of Europe boiled over in 2011 when, after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, Angela Merkel, backed by broad public support, made an abrupt u-turn on atomic energy, and decided to rapidly phase-out nuclear power in Germany. The European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, was sympathetic to complaints from Germany’s smaller neighbors. Although the EU does not have authority over national energy market choices, it does have authority over state aid used by EU countries to benefit their own industries. And so in 2014, the commission came out with a new set of rules for state aid to the energy sector.

Two rounds of auctions have already been held, but with disappointing results. According to Renewables International. The government originally hoped that auctions would bring down the cost of solar, but that goal has now been abandoned.” The hope that the auctions would bring down solar costs was frustrated by high bid prices, with solar bids coming in at up to €89.30/MWh, not that much less than the Hinkley Point strike price of £92.50. And Hinkley generation is of course dispatchable while solar isn’t.

It is in fact instructive to compare CPI’s estimates of the levelized cost of electricity for onshore/offshore wind and solar in Germany, which CPI assumes are “potential auction prices”, with the Hinkley Point strike price, which comes out at €107.30 when converted into euros using the current exchange rate of £1 = €1.16. The results are shown in Figure 6:

Figure 6: CPI estimates of levelized costs of electricity for German onshore wind, offshore wind and solar compared to Hinkley Point C strike price.

According to these results intermittent renewable energy has no clear cost advantage over baseload nuclear – even Hinkley Point nuclear. Moreover, if CPI’s estimates are indeed representative of future auction prices it’s difficult to see onshore wind and solar, and in particular offshore wind, attracting much investment. Unless, that is, the German government is willing to pay inflated prices for intermittent renewables generation as a means of furthering the Energiewende, whereupon it will just be replacing one subsidy with another.

Soaring electricity rates:

Germany’s has the second-highest (after Denmark) residential electricity rates in the EU, and as shown in Figure 7, reproduced from Euan Mearns’ Green mythology and the high cost of European electricity post, there is good evidence that these high rates are directly linked to the level of renewables penetration:

Figure 7: XY plot of installed wind and solar per capita versus residential electricity rates in EU countries

Now, however, the Energiewende blog Energy Transition is claiming that this is not the case. As evidence they cite Figure 8, which shows stable retail power rates since 2013 despite a one-third increase in renewables generation:

Figure 8: Cost components of Germany’s retail electricity rates, 2006-2016

But the chart clearly shows that almost all of the increase in retail rates between 2006 and 2013 was caused by growth in renewable energy subsidies that “more closely reflect (the) price tag for Energiewende” – clear proof that the Energiewende has been a major contributor to the price increases – and that the flattening after 2013 was caused by the fact that Energiewende costs did not increase over this period even though they remained at record levels. According to the chart the Energiewende was in fact responsible for over 40% of the 28.69 eurocents/kWh charged to Germany’s retail electricity consumers in 2015. And retail electricity rates approaching 30 eurocents/kWh – roughly three times current retail rates in the U.S. – are nothing to boast about.

Finally, Germany will discontinue direct renewable subsidies for new projects at the beginning of 2017. It will be interesting to see what happens to retail electricity rates as a result.


Germany is a country of contradictions, at least as far as energy is concerned. Germans are in favor of more renewable energy yet oppose building the overhead power lines that are needed to distribute it. They are in favor of deep emissions cuts but also in favor of shutting down Germany’s nuclear plants, which will make the problem of meeting emissions targets far more difficult and costly. The government continues to pursue a nuclear shutdown but is unwilling to shut down Germany’s lignite plants. As a result of these conflicting and counterproductive viewpoints and policies the Energiewende has effectively gone nowhere. Despite the expenditure of many billions of dollars it has failed to achieve any visible reduction in Germany’s emissions or to make a meaningful difference to Germany’s energy mix (renewables still supply only 14% of Germany’s total energy). Its only demonstrable impact has been skyrocketing electricity bills.

And now Germany is discontinuing the direct renewables subsidies that have driven the Energiewende since its adoption in 2000. It might be premature to declare the Energiewende a failure, but things are certainly headed in that direction.

Endnote: The Energiewende has been discussed in three previous Energy Matters posts which reached similar conclusions:

Energiewende kaput

Energiewende, Germany, France and Spain

Germanys Energiewende as a model for Australian climate policy

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152 Responses to An update on the Energiewende

  1. Willem Post says:


    A very good post. Thank you.

    I will distribute to all legislators in Vermont and others. They have got to see this.

    What if Germany had not phased out its nuclear plants? What would have been the effect on annual electrical CO2 emissions, due to less fossil generation.

    Other generators having to operate less efficiently to deal with the Cripple Sources, i.e., wind and solar, likely also contributed to CO2, although that may not be part of the accounting procedure.

    • actinideage says:

      “What if Germany had not phased out its nuclear plants?”

      In my opinion this would have resulted in the demonstrated integration of new renewables and nuclear in a top 5 national economy, along with noticeably reduced emissions intensity.

      I strongly suspect that the hard-core environmental faction of Germany was willing to court emissions and policy stagnation to avoid this objectively successful outcome. At least, for as long as possible, because surely it can’t go on like this for much longer.

      • Leo Smith says:

        Integration of new renewables and nuclear?

        What on earth would be the point?

        You dont put sails on a nuclear submarine to save fuel..

        This oft quoted fallacy that nuclear and new renewables could and should coexist is simply not credible.

        Once you have a nuclear fleet, why on earth would you add renewables to it? You already have a dispatch problem in that although nuclear power can be throttled, its tends to poison the fuel a bit, and its not such a cost effective way to run the power station. Adding undispatchable intermittent renewable power simply adds cost and adds the to the dispatch problem. It’s the last thing you want or need.

        And the renewable industry know this. That’s why the greens have been told to oppose nuclear and fracking, because these both represents far more cost-effective alternatives than renewables, and in the case of nuclear make no sense at all if they are forced to coexist with it.

        A largely nuclear power grid simply has no place for intermittent renewables at all.

        • depriv says:

          “A largely nuclear power grid simply has no place for intermittent renewables at all.”

          That’s true only if the renewable generation is forced into the grid (like in Germany right now), whatever it takes.

          As you noted, the baseload nuclear has practical maximal capacity limits around the daily minimal demand. With >some< throttling this can be raised a bit higher.
          Between that limit and the maximal daily demand there is a wide gap what can be filled many ways.

          For example, with PV and CHP. That way the overcapacity would be still manageable (acceptable prices): the nuclear and CHP could manage to support the grid in any circumstances: the PV would spare CO2 output daytime: CHP would fit with the seasonal changes and with the end-of-day top demands.

          Yeah, in terms of the actual 'greenery' to discuss such mix is a heresy.

          • jmdesp says:

            I suggest you study the French mix to see how renewables, nuclear and hydro can be integrated. The total capacity of nuclear is France is quite above the daily minimal demand in summer, this is managed by having most of the maintenance done in summer, and then almost all of reactors on-line during the coldest months of winter.

            Hydro (and also a bit of gas in winter) plays the role you describe for CHP here. It would be extremely difficult to do it with CHP because actually CHP has really, very little load following capacity, a lot less than nuclear actually has in France. PV, also wind in winter, are sparing water use from hydro, so enhancing it’s availability when there’s no wind and sun.

            But the future plans for EDF to be able to close for good the oil and coal plants, and maybe use the gas one less, rely on enhancing the load following capacities of the reactors, so that at any time 2/3 of the reactors can be made to follow load instead of just 1/3 currently.

    • Willem Post says:

      Addition to above comment:


      The below article has much of the same data from the same sources, but it goes to 2013/2014.

      I added historic capital costs and subsidy costs, to obtain the legacy Energiewende cost of energy, 20 plus c/kWh.

      That cost is slowly declining, due to tariff reductions. It now is about 19 c/kWh

      Then I projected RE, capital costs and subsidies to future targets.

      • Willem Post says:

        Addition to above article:


        I also expanded a prior article, and included some info from Energy Matters. Here it is:

        German Renewable Energy Generation

        The sum of Germany’s variable wind and solar energy has become a large percentage of all energy on the German grid during windy and sunny periods. However, to balance the variable energy supply with demand, the output of other, flexible generators, usually fossil-fuel-fired, is needed. As a result, Germany’s total generation significantly exceeds demand before, during, and after these periods.

        Curtailing the wind turbine output would reduce the excess energy, however, feathering wind turbine blades likely would produce unfavorable media attention; curtailment was 0.1% in 2009, 1.2% in 2014. Instead, the excess energy is exported to nearby foreign grids, usually at near-zero or negative wholesale prices, i.e., Germany is PAYING countries to import its excess energy.

        The German system is constrained by a somewhat fixed capacity of “must-run” plants for essential services, such as hospitals, trains, street and traffic lights, various 3-shift industries, etc. Those plants cannot be reduced in output below about 50%, to prevent them from being unstable, i.e., they cannot sufficiently “get out of the way” of the larger surges of wind and solar energy.

        Wind turbines, which are asynchronous generators, do not support the stability of the German grid (help maintain frequency and voltages within defined ranges), because they usually consume reactive power, instead of providing it, as do traditional, synchronous generators. As wind energy becomes a greater percentage on the German grid, and synchronous-generator energy a lesser percentage, grid stability issues arise, which are exported to connected grids. New utility-scale wind turbine plants will need to comply with new rules regarding connecting to the grid to enhance grid stability. See URL.

        Foreign countries, such as the Netherlands, France, Denmark, Norway, Poland, the Czech Republic, etc., usually welcome Germany’s low-cost energy. They export energy to Germany at much higher wholesale prices, when Germany’s wind and solar energy is insufficient. As Germany is closing its nuclear plants, and continuing its ENERGIEWENDE-2050 wind and solar build-outs, Germany’s money-loosing energy trading is likely to increase in future years.

        However, Germany’s energy exports have run into some roadblocks. France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Poland have installed phase shifting transformers, PSTs, to protect their grids from unwanted surges of German energy exports, and it’s only 2016.

        On May 8, 2016, based on EPEX spot data,

        – The lowest export price was -178.01 euro/MWh, with a weighted average of -144.78 eur/MWh, between 12:30 and 12:45
        – Later in the day, prices went down even further to -374.00 eur/MWh, between 14:30 and 14:45

        On May 15, 2016, Germany met all but 300 MW of its energy demand with renewable energy (mostly wind and solar) for a few hours. At that time, mostly fossil and nuclear plants, with a total capacity of about 12,800 MW, operating at about 60% of capacity, had an output of about 7,700 MW. The resulting excess energy was sold at negative prices, per EPEX spot data.

        Remember, the legacy cost of the ENERGIEWENDE energy is about 19 eurocent/kWh. The legacy cost of Germany’s traditional energy is about 5 eurocent/kWh. For example, with, say 95% renewable energy on the grid, and total energy generation at about 105% of demand, the COST of that energy mix would be (5c x 10%; traditional + 19c x 95%; renewable)/1.05 = 17.67 eurocent/kWh, of which about 5% would be exported at significantly negative prices.

        No wonder Germany has been reducing its wind and solar build-outs, due to complaints and blockages from nearby countries and losing money on energy exports.

        With energy exports partially blocked by the PSTs, Germany could respond by:

        – Curtailing wind and solar energy production during windy and sunny periods, but that would attract adverse media attention.
        – Adding quick-starting, flexible, gas-fired, plant capacity, MW, but that would “lock-in” CO2 emitting fossil fuels and gas imports.
        – Building more north-south HVDC transmission grid, but that has been constrained due to NIMBY for more than 15 years.
        – Adding battery-based energy storage, but that would be expensive and take many years, because economically viable, utility-scale storage, suitable for seasonal variations, has not yet been invented.

        Germany is very rich in money and technology, unlike many other countries, and likely will find a way to make it work. It will be interesting to see how it all will turn out.

        • OpenSourceElectricity says:

          In 2015 germany still exported electricity at higher prices than it imported electricity, although the difference has become smaller. And this with a nettto export of around 50 tWh, equivalent to 25 Miot CO2 at least.
          So no paying of other countries to accept power from germany. They pay billions to get the power from germany.

          • singletonengineer says:

            Open Source Electricity makes three claims which, taken together, are difficult to believe.

            One, that Germany is exporting more electricity than it importing, 50 tWh more in calendar year 2015.
            Two, the the prices for export are higher than those for import – presumably, per MWh.

            These are both counter-intuitive and worthy of detailed study.

            Indeed, are the exports dearer than the actual cost of W+S, which lies at the heart of Germany’s surplus power, or is the claimed higher price for export energy based on the price of lignite fuelled power? This brings us to:

            Three. How are the 25 million tonnes of savings of CO2 emissions calculated? If not on the basis of lignite power, then why not? Has the calculation included line losses?

          • robertok06 says:


            “One, that Germany is exporting more electricity than it importing, 50 tWh more in calendar year 2015.”

            I agree with you… it can’t be true… in fact the first exporter in Europe in 2015 has been France, with a total of (if I remember correctly) 44 TWh.

          • gweberbv says:


            here is your study:
            2010 ->
            2015 ->
            2016 ->

            Probably, 2016 will be the first year in which German exports will be slightly less valuable per kWh than imports.
            But the much more interesting observation is the following: The costs of imports decline parallel to the decline in revenues from exports. But if we all agree that PV and wind production of Germany and its neighbours is strongly correlated, what the hell is driving down power prices in times when there is no (only few) PV and wind – as indicated by Germany asking for imports? Maybe the surge of renewables is not the main driver of the agony of conventional power producers. Maybe it is just (or mainly) the oversupply of FF plants (and NPP).

    • gweberbv says:


      if all NPP in Germany were still in operation this would mainly further increase German electricity exports. There is no policy to phase-out power plants using fossil fuels. Only the ‘market forces’. As long as German FF plants can produce cheaper than (some of) the plants of our neighbours, they will keep operating.

    • mark4asp says:

      “What if Germany had not phased out its nuclear plants?” That calculation is harder than it seems. Energiewende saw a decline in natural gas too. The nuclear phase out also began (in 2009) before Fukushima. In 2015, German CO2 emissions were 912 million tonnes.

      I make it 93.4 million tonnes CO2 per year. Assuming:
      a) all nuclear plants has been kept open (9611MWe) including those closed in 2009;
      b) all the missing nuclear power was displaced by coal;
      c) 1 MWh of coal electricity, makes 0.98 tonne CO2 (this figure taken from U.S. EIA);
      d) NPP run at 90% capacity utilization].

      (1) How many Germany reactors are closed (WNA):
      (2) How much CO2 does coal make (EIA) :

      • meliorismnow says:

        In addition, less renewable energy would have been exported or curtailed because nuclear output can be adjusted much easier/cheaper than coal. Personally, I prefer high energy prices like in Germany which will slowly reshape demand and allow for innovation in efficiency throughout the economy (which is effectively subsidizing R&D that can be applied to the rest of the world at the expense of Germans). What does the price distribution for energy look like in Germany with respect to time (the graphs here just being cumulative averages)? Are most residential customers on TOU plans?

  2. Another great review, thanks for the easily digestible information.

  3. singletonengineer says:

    Observations made in this article about the unwanted impacts of the unreliables, solar and wind, on other countries are paralleled in Australia’s National Electricity Market. South Australia has, through greatly enlarging its proportion of both solar and, more so, of wind, has inflated its own costs of production and scared heavy industry.

    They now rely greatly on imported lignite power from neighbouring Victoria, but with almost zero synchronous local generation capacity are susceptible to the vagaries of the Heywood Interconnector and the marketplace. The result is the most expensive retail electricity in the nation, coupled with less reliability.

    They are paying more to achieve an increase in blackouts and no nett carbon emissions reduction.

    This is very similar to Germany’s experience.

    • RDG says:

      The plan is obviously to destroy the german, australian, etc industries and send all the coal to china and india. Meanwhile we get liberal retards and their fraudulent notions of “progress”.

      • Jan Ebenholtz says:

        What plan? Do you think there is a conspiracy behind this? I think it is just a reaction of selfdenial when you realize that what you fought for so long time is not working. Very human. And I must say that using the expression “liberal retards” does not help the discussion. It only makes the people you want to rethink stop listening. I think nuclear is needed but I am also a liberal from Sweden. The Liberal party in Sweden is the only party in Sweden for Nuclear developement. So please restrain you self.
        We have a good case to promote nuclear energy, Is that not good enough?
        Best regards
        Jan Ebenholtz

        • A C Osborn says:

          Jan, it is either a “conspiracy”, as most of the western world is doing this, or they are too stupid to realize what an absolute fortune they have wasted doing precisely nothing to reduce CO2 output.
          The second case makes them liberal retards, the first case makes them something much worse.

          • SE says:

            You can’t call people “retards”. This is the 21st Century. It is offensive.

            Such crude use of language makes you appear extremely uneducated and dismissable.

          • robertok06 says:

            “You can’t call people “retards”. This is the 21st Century. It is offensive.”

            I agree with you. In the 21st century, the age of political correctness, “retard” is inadmissible… let’s call them “intellectually challenged”.

        • Leo Smith says:

          Retards suggest they dont know what they are doing, conspiracy to defraud suggests they do.

          But there is a third explanation.

          My best ever salesman said to me, “when you sell to a big company, you are not selling to the company, yuou are selling to a human being middle manager with a curriculum vitae, and a career ambition: he owes no loyalty to the company he works for beyond his pay check, and the need not to blot his copybook with failure: He will willingly spend the shareholders money on anything that advances his career. He has no concern as to whether it is ultimately in his employers best interest”.

          And that. I suggest, is a far better model of the political and social interaction with renewable energy. No government thinks it will get fired for renewable energy, and its good virtue signalling stuff for the watermelons, who in Germany are a substantial voting force.

          And there are no political leaders of the sort of managing director calibre any more. Politicians are all career men and over-promoted middle managers, and they play the game of career advancement and career protection that way.

          They don’t actually care whether policies work or not: Their concern is solely whether they will be personally punished for making a mistake. So they employ 3rd party ‘consultants’ to vindicate the policies their think tank and market researchers tell them will please the most people in the electorate, and of course their corporate sponsors.

          Corporates can make guaranteed money out of government policy.

          And Corporate backed spin merchants like Renewable UK, Greenpeace and FOE, can be relied upon to deliver a virtue signalling vindication of what amounts to state sanctioned corporate fraud.

          But who actually cares? The right politicians are elected, the right companies rake in profits, and the bourgeoisie are convinced its all for the good of the planet or some such emotional cant, and its business as usual. The net effect was suppose to be that a substantial slice of GDP was pared off and slipped into the pockets of the new Green Mafia.

          Unfortunately goose, golden egg, kill. It has all gone too far and now the geese are tottering around looking pretty sick.

          Even if you fool all of the people all of the time, the great lesson of the 21st century is going to be that you cant actually fool nature. Windmills fool people, but the dials on them show the truth. The blackouts show the truth. The rising costs show the truth.

          Ultimately, it’s a matter of political electability. If you have high energy costs, your economy will suffer, you will have many unemployed, and not much wealth creation, and that means internal political and social friction as factions seek to place the blame for that, and, ultimately, you will have a rising death rate, because the natural effect of falling standards of living in the human species, is to kill spare populations.

          For many years, we havent been at war, and the end of the cold war meant that actually government wasn’t that important, and provided it didn’t completely screw things up, no one cared how venal and corrupt it was, as mainly the institutions were fairly well built, and they ran things irrespective of givernment.

          Then that got out of hand. Governments starting subverting institutions with political appointees, and a whole process of control for power and profit got completely out of hand. To the point where the very structure of the state as a vehicle of common good was threatened.

          Hence Brexit. The suspicion that They were actually acting against the peoples interest.

          Well of course They were and still are. But its not a conscious conspiracy by and large, its just venal self seeking small minded over promoted middle management incompetence.

          Roger Scruton identifies it in quite cogent terms. The people who make the decisions and plan the marketing and the policies think of themselves as an international elite with no allegiance to a given country, or a localised community.

          They rationalise that by considering that democracy is an irritation, and they, by virtue of more education and being an elite, should have the power to direct the little people as they see fit.

          Unfortunately, they are not actually competent to do so.

          So its less a grand conspiracy, or ignorance, than normal political greed and incompetence.

        • Euan Mearns says:

          Dear Jan, Your point is well made and I’m sure that RDG was not intending to refer to you or your Swedish Liberal Party.

          I’ve never fully understood what the term “liberal” means and I think it means different things to different people. Or maybe all things to all people 😉

          But the deeper point here is questioning the intellectual ability or motivation of those who currently rule our energy policies. Many of us believe they must be totally thick or motivated by some ideal to undermine industrial society upon which our prosperity is based.

          Sweden is one of the most advanced societies on Earth running on a mix of Nuclear and Hydro power. Where is the sense in introducing wind to this mix? And what are those who propose closure of nuclear smokin?

          • Ben Jamin' says:

            Lovins and Jacobson are the dealers. If you look into their eyes, you know they are both definitely high on something “otherworldly”.

          • Gaznotprom says:

            In War – to destroy a country or you’re opposition you hobble or destroy its Power infrastructure first.

            Obviously we are not at War (officially) so we call it ‘green policy’!

            Green on the outside, red in the middle = water Mellon.

            Leo, good sum up!

            And we spend far too much time worrying about ‘badges’ aka Uni degrees, offensive words (sticks and stones – grow a backbone mate) ‘experts’ than practical outcomes from engineers…

            Sweden is/was a great great country but a UN report said that it’ll be a third world country in 15 years and is is the western capital for???

            Interesting times…

    • Greg Kaan says:

      Indeed. Figure 7 would be interesting if South Australia was to be plotted as a distinct region and Australia ex South Australia. I will try and produce the figures to show how far South Australia has departed from the rest of Australia in this regard.

      I posted the following links in Blowout Week #137 about the worsening situation in South Australia as reported by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). They seem a timely addition, here.

      In the following AEMO “UPDATE TO RENEWABLE ENERGY INTEGRATION IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA” report, there are discussions about the effects of lack of system inertia and also the consequences of negative demand from PV.

      Also the recent AEMO “2016 NEM Electricity Statement of Opportunities” report shows heightened risk for supply shortfall in South Australia over the next few years

  4. RDG says:

    “skyrocketing electricity bills.”

    Wouldn’t surprise me that Europe is paying the bill for all that “super cheap” Shale Gas in the USA that also brought along with it enough oil to discredit Peak Oil. In essence, Peak Oil was transferred into the electricity bill of consumers. The consumer wrongly thinks “Gee I am getting all this great wind and solar capacity and saving the planet from co2”.

    The energiewende is basically happening in the USA as well, only that gas turbines are used instead of lignite coal. Interesting to note that General Electric is going back to coal growth.

    Something smells rotten about this cheap shale USA shale gas with its close association with renewables. If the natural gas is cheap and the resource simply unbelievably cheap then why bother with the renewables junk at all?

    • Leo Smith says:

      If the natural gas is cheap and the resource simply unbelievably cheap then why bother with the renewables junk at all?

      A question everybody should be asking…

    • Euan Mearns says:

      A point I’ve made many times – shale gas is not cheap! But its over-production has led to a collapse of gas price in the USA. Most / all producers are running at a loss funded by Wall St.

      This situation is very similar to wind and solar which also are not cheap. But over production of expensive and all too often useless energy has led to prices being dumped. This dumping wholesale prices does not get passed on to the consumer who is paying top $. The costs this time are borne by the utilities, upon which our prosperity depends, who are dying – being killed by this policy.

      These are two responses to peak oil. Energy systems that cannot exist in our current market set up. Shale gas just needs a higher price to be viable and that is why the US have set up their LNG export business. But its not to export cheap shale gas but to import higher prices to the USA.

      PS – don’t confuse shale gas with shale oil that did make money at $100/bbl.

      • halken says:


        Because wind and solar is ideologically correct for the greens, while shale gas in gas turbines and nuclear is not.
        That Germany is trying to stop nuclear at the same time as reducing co2 emissions is close to economic suicide for the industry that drive the German economy.

        A least now it has begun to dawn on some of the that biomass on a large scale requires land on a large scale, and that land can only be taken from nature. And secondly that biomass is not completely co2 neutral as first thought.

      • Leo Smith says:

        Well Euan, given the O & M and capex on a CCGT is pretty low, maybe around 1p a unit contribution to final electricity price, at what price of raw gas at say a 57% CCGT efficiency, is it a match for renewables at around the 8-9p a unit level?

        we are looking then at say £0.075p a unit gas cost, times the inefficiency – so gas prices of 4p a unit or less.

        Current prices seem to be around €0.03 per kWh. So well competitive.

        We could probably frack gas at €0.05 and still be way cheaper than renewables, particularly given the holistic costs (grid/dispatch/storage/backup/environmental) associated with renewables.

        Now that doesn’t make fracking instantly viable against conventional gas, but it does make it viable against renewable (so called) ‘alternatives’.

        This suggest that ex of climate change cant, an energy policy based on supporting a gas powered grid would actually deliver the right result, with fracking held back until global prices of gas rise again.

        And nuclear held back unto some of the financial and political issues had a clearer route out.

        That’s the UK reality, but Germany is a different kettle of fish. They are very green and very stupid in Germany. I suspect they will continue to kill the golden goose until the eggs stop altogether.

      • Nathanael says:

        Wind and solar are actually cheap now, and utilities which know how to do math (which is very few of them) are putting all their new investment money into wind and solar. Xcel is an example.

        Shale gas was never cheap to produce and has never been produced profitably (shale oil is another matter and was profitable).

  5. donb says:

    Roger, To what degree do you think the following describe Germany’s evolving energy policy?
    1) The government just does not understand where current policy is leading them.
    2) Because of massive inertia in the system, changing current energy policy is difficult and time consuming.
    3) Politicians are quite concerned about public backlash if changes are made too quickly, so are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping things will work out O.K..

    • Leo Smith says:

      4) Not only does the government not understand, it doesn’t even understand how critical energy is to a post industrial society.

      21st century politics is failing because politicians do not understand the world they live in are incapable of governing it realistically. IN addition, having decided that democracy is a poor way to select technocrats the EU is now finding that cronyism, nepotism, elitism and oligarchy dont work any better.

    • depriv says:

      The government there clearly understands. They just does not have the backup to change anything, so they’ll push it to the wall (as expected from them, actually).

      Just the surface:
      A few years ago they made a law which by privately owned PPs can be forbidden to stop opearating (even if they run on loss) in order to preserve the necessary backup.
      The change in number of PP building/building permits in the last few years are a disaster – the whole ‘capacity market’ thing is about setting up well-hidden subsidies for conventional reserves to fix it.
      Significant part of the ‘green’ community were fired up against those new PSTs on the polish-czech borders – since without the unwilling assistance of the mid-european grid the numbers in germany would be even more disasterous.

      Actually, what matters for me is that in the near future some heavy money will start flowing to companies there who has the knowledge and backup to erect a power line or build a (conventional) PP.

  6. Davis Swan says:

    In a salute to a famous British leader I would summarize the Energiewende using the following statement:

    “never has so much been spent by so many to achieve so little”

    I discussed this in a blog posting towards the end of 2015

    • Leo Smith says:

      I rather felt another quote might be more apposite, slightly modified:

      “The German peole can be relied upon to do the right things, once they have exhausted every orher possible alternative”.

  7. Rob says:

    How much has all this cost does anyone know how much Germany spends on rewnewables every year and how much the EU has spent.

    Would make a useful comparsion

    • robertok06 says:

      Germany’s total cost for all renewable sources of electricity is about 23 billion Euros… gweberbv/guenter can probably find quickly the correct figure (I’m on vacation, sorry).

      Italy spends about 12 billions/year, of which 6.7B for PV alone… for 23.5 TWh/year (2015)… i.e. about 29 cEuro/kWh… or ~ 9-10 times the value of a kWh on the day-after electricity market.

      France is about to surpass Italy, especially if the $ociali$ts in power get re-elected at next May’s presidential elections… which would mean 5 more years of “happy-hour”, financially speaking.

      UK must be north of 10B pounds/year already, courtesy of wind and PV.

      Spain stopped “incentivizing” intermittent renewables already 5-6 years ago, because they had realized the large hole they were making in the failing state budget.

      Total for the continent must be a huge sum, reaaaaally huge, tens and tens of BEuros/year.

      I only hope that the geniuses behind this tragicomic story will be brought before justice one day… although I know that this is probably not going to happen.


    • gweberbv says:


      here you find historic data and projections for the future costs of German RE installations:
      (unfortunately in German).
      These are the revenues for the owners of the plants. So, you have to subtract the revenues from the wholesale market to get the net subsidy. But at recent wholesale prices of 25 Euros/MWh the difference is not really important.

  8. Alex says:

    So far, renewables have pretty much replaced nuclear in terms of generation, and new coal plants have replaced nuclear in terms of capacity.

    However, Germany is only about half way through the nuclear phase out:
    (9.6GW shut, 10.7GW to go)

    Only one more reactor with 1.3GW is due to shut before the 2020 target. The rest (9GW!) are scheduled for shut down in 21 and 22, after the target date. Those years will be a disaster for emissions.

    To replace them, Germany has to do the Energiewende all over again – but this time, grid integration will be a much bigger issue.

    You can perhaps argue that – for tropical countries – solar power plus storage might be cheaper than new nuclear. But nuclear plant life extension is the cheapest source of electricity bar none.

    • jmdesp says:

      Storage is really expensive, really, really expensive. Tropical countries might not need more than half a day of storage which might sound more affordable, except that in truth it’s already unaffordable, and also it’s never truly only one day, come a rainy, cloudy day, and you can’t stop the economy. And then come a rainy, cloudy week ?

  9. gweberbv says:

    “Finally, Germany will discontinue direct renewable subsidies for new projects at the beginning of 2017. It will be interesting to see what happens to retail electricity rates as a result.”

    Not much will happen. The renewable surcharge is used to pay the difference between the market price and the guaranted feed-in tariffs for wind, PV, etc. These tariffs were granted for up to 20 years. So, for a PV installation from 2005 you have to wait until 2026 to see it drop out of the budget of the renewable surcharge.
    Moreover, this subsidy scheme stays the same also after 2017. The difference is that the is no general feed-in tariff anymore but the feed-in tariff is set by the outcome of each auction. If one assumes that the current feed-in tariffs are not completely out of this world, you would not expect that the bids being submitted in the auctions will be much lower than what is payed right now. (Of course also a minor reduction by maybe 10% or so would be appreciated by ratepayers. But in any case this aaffects only the plants being built after 2017.)

    What mainly drives the renewable surcharge now is the market price and the number of exempted customers. Right now about 100 TWh of consumption is subject to exemption from the renewable surcharge. This is why big users of electricity are currently enjoying the lowest prices of all times in Germany.

    • Greg Kaan says:

      If one assumes that the current feed-in tariffs are not completely out of this world

      That is an assumption that is yet to be proved. To be properly assessed vs other generation costs, storage should be factored in so that solar PV intermittency is attenuated for some period so that other generation sources can be brought on/off line gradually rather than according to the instantaneous fluctuations from cloud cover and solar aspect. Even half an hour could make a big difference (both in the ramping costs for dispatchable generators and the total PV deployment costs).

      What mainly drives the renewable surcharge now is the market price and the number of exempted customers

      Which leaves the residential customers to foot the surcharge. Surely this has a significant inflationary effect.

  10. donoughshanahan says:

    The important pivot is the period 1997 to 1999. I repeat some excerpts to a post I wrote elsewhere last August.

    The important period is from 1997 to 2000. These years give the minimum CO2 emissions while using a ‘more or less’ traditional grid. CO2 levels averaged at 316 Mt as per the Agora data.

    Wind was generating around 5-10,000 GWh (1999 was 5, 2000 was just shy of 10) or around 10-20% of 2015 levels. Solar was practically zero. The traditional mix of energy sources dominated the grid. This is the level that claims of W+S lowering emissions should be based against.

    While the main build out of W+S occurred after 1999/2000, emissions levels have only slightly declined from this point. On average around 1999, emissions were 316 Mt. At best around 2014 shows an average of 309 Mt.

    • donoughshanahan says:

      Sorry. The part
      “Wind was generating around 5-10,000 GWh (1999 was 5, 2000 was just shy of 10) or around 10-20% of 2015 levels. ”

      Should read 5-10% of 2015 levels.

  11. sod says:

    Three important points to understand what is happening in Germany:

    1. The current coalition is CDU and SPD. The “Energiewende” was a project started by the greens (and back then supported by the SPD). The current lack of enthusiasm is mostly a direct effect of the ruling parties having very little interest in the subject.

    2. Exports have to be figured in. Germany has been increasing exports. Coal plants keep running, because exports make economic sense (to the producers). So some metrics look completely false.

    3. As mentioned in the article, Germany is getting out of nuclear. This explains the CO2 numbers.

    • Alex says:

      That link says:
      “Germany is expected to spend 24.7 billion euros on green electricity next year.”

      That appears to be from the 6 cent per KWh EEG charge. That is quite a big market distortion.

      • robertok06 says:

        Let’s not forget that the EU has ruled recently that the exemption from the EEG surcharge for heavy industrial consumers is a form of state aid which is NOT allowed by EU rules.
        In fact, Germany should be asked to pay a fine covering the undue help to such consumers which has allowed them to have an edge on the market, with respect to competitors in other countries.
        This, clearly, won’t happen… because the big problems for EU right now are others… 🙁

        • singletonengineer says:

          Thanks for the reminder, Robertoko6.

          Some here have assumed that German subsidy of its industrialists will continue endlessly and that news of the EU’s ruling was incorrect. The polite word for what Germany is doing to the EU energy market is “dumping”.

    • Greg Kaan says:

      The current lack of enthusiasm is mostly a direct effect of the ruling parties having very little interest in the subject.

      Have you ever wondered why this is the case? If Die Energiewende was not causing issues (both economically and technically), why aren’t the current “ruling parties” showing more “enthusiasm”?

      Coal plants keep running, because exports make economic sense (to the producers).

      Actually, coal plants keep running because Germany needs them to keep the grid supplied with electricity when wind and solar are not capable of meeting demand. They export when the renewable generators deign to supply the grid since coal plants cannot ramp according to the fluctuations of wind and solar.

      In reality, the wind and solar generated electricity should be regarded as being exported while the coal plants continue to supply the German demand. That is a more realistic metric than looking at all exports as being coal sourced.

      • gweberbv says:


        it is a myth that hard coal plants in general are not able to ramp up/down quickly. In fact, the daily ramping in Germany is done almost exclusively by hard coal plants:

        • Greg Kaan says:

          The time scale for that image is totally inadequate for displaying the ramp requirements and fluctuations.

          Ramping a coal plant is inefficient and there are limits – they can ramp to follow general demand if need be but they cannot ramp for the fluctuations in wind and solar output without dumping steam which is just a total waste of energy.

          • singletonengineer says:

            20MW/minute/unit ramp rates are not unusual for coal plant.

            I have heard that this is a bit steep for lignite, but my experience is elsewhere.

            It is possible for even that ramp rate to be bettered.

            Coal fired plant which have turbine bypass pipework can dump their steam to the condenser without losing their boiler feed water and thus stay in service at reduced or even no load without tripping the boiler.

            This is inefficient but possible and practical in some circumstances. It avoids closing the turbine or boiler stop valves and consequent opening of the safety valves which discharge the steam to atmosphere. Thus, if the load returns quickly, the boilers are still producing steam and the system is under proper, flexible control, so the turbine/generator can ramp up again very quickly indeed and the boiler can follow.

            The only real cost is coal, which isn’t expensive in comparison with a full unit trip followed by a hot start.

            This, in part, explains why articles such as the following make sense.

            Coal burners might surprise some observers with their ramp rates and ability to recover effortlessly from situations which would previously have resulted in trips (100% instantaneous loss of load) and avoidance of the need for hot restarts.

            I imagine that the same is true for nuclear power stations, if they are designed to include turbine bypass steam pipework and have cooling systems that are sufficiently robust..

            The old paradigms that imply slow, cumbersome load following by steam turbines were swept away 30 years ago by bypass systems. Coal is now very much more flexible than once it was.

            Of course, digital control systems also help, but as far as I know (not much) the biggest improvement is as described above.

          • gweberbv says:


            maybe you like this graph more:
            These shows the performance the bigger German hard coal plants from last week. You might notice that the steepest ramps are not due to PV but due to the decrease in consumption during night tme.

          • OpenSourceElectricity says:

            @ Singletonengineer, the new BoA Lignite plants in germany e.g. Neurath have a ramp rate of >33MW/Minute per block up and down as often as you want. Which kills GuD in germany at the moment.

          • jmdesp says:

            @singletonengineer : You are very right in your description, but you know the whole point of the thing, the reason why all the billions were spent in the renewables was to reduce the amount of coal burnt.
            And your “solution” does not reduce it at all since it’s still burnt to keep the boiler hot.

          • singletonengineer says:

            @ jmdesp, August 23, 2016 at 4:45 pm:
            Agreed, but with different emphasis.

            Ramping and bypassing of steam plant results in lost steam and therefore lost fuel – but that is the end of the matter.

            If ramp rates are not sufficient to follow the load curve, then units will have to be tripped – either thermal or, unlikely, W+S.

            My point is that the cost of lost fuel is marginal or even insignificant. The cost of tripped units is significantly greater and is accompanied by reduction in availability because the affected units must be bid back online and then restarted. This is where the major system costs lie.

          • Greg Kaan says:

            So sod is correct then?

          • sod says:

            of course i am right.

            If you take a closer look at the numbers, you see an explanation for everything that does not look so good:

            Energiewende being scaled down? –> of course,because the current ruling party are not that interested in its progress!

            CO2 output not falling enough? –> nuclear power plo#ants were closed, also a part of the energiewende, but not one that reduces CO2.

            constant CO2 output of the energy sector? –> Germany is exporting more electricity, so this has to be factored in!

            Energy intensive industry leaving the country? –> it is the opposite, Dutch aluminium companies want the cheap german electricity delivered to them!


            There are problems with the energiewende, but people need to dig deeper and look more closely to fully understand those.

        • robertok06 says:

          Correct… it is the lignite plants which do not ramp much, if at all… hard/black coal units do it every day.
          The linked figure is clear: lignite plants cut heavily their production during the weekends, especially when there’s a lot of wind/PV.

      • Nathanael says:

        The ruling parties oppose the Energiewende because they want the coal miner voter bloc. That’s all there is to it really.

  12. John F. Hultquist says:

    Above Figure 1

    … have declined by almost a factor of two since the subsidy-induced solar PV peak in 2010 but are expected to decline only slightly between now and 2010,

    The 2nd date, “2010” should be something else. 2020 ?

  13. A C Osborn says:

    Euan & Roger, Ed Hoskins over at the Talkshop has a very telling piece on Solar Energy based on David Mackay’s Guardian post.
    Basically DECC oversaw the waste of the equivalent of £30B.

    So the UK is doing basically the same thing, with basically the same result.
    Which Engineers have been telling them would happen for years.

    • Alex says:

      Those figures are somewhat exaggerated. Costs are not that high and CF is a bit higher than stated. In some respects the UK avoided the massive expense of Germany by coming in later to the solar game.

  14. SE says:

    The cost of one unit of electricity isn’t as critical to the functioning of a developed economy as people here seem to think.

    There are very few businesses where utility bills are critical to the profitability of the business.

    The economy can/will accept higher energy costs and still grow.

    In the UK our electricity costs about £500 / capita. People in the UK pay more for Sky TV. We aren’t scratting about in caves in some post apocalyptic wasteland. Most people probably spend more on coffee than they do on electricity. Yes electricity is extremely important, but so is air, and that’s very cheap too. We are in the middle of a 500 year period of human history where we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to surplus energy.

    So much so that people are walking around outside with a 64-bit supercomputers in their hand, looking for Pokemon.

    Need milk? In today’s word it’s perfectly rational to transport 2 tonnes of steel and glass over a distance of 10 miles in order to get 1 pint of milk, as you drive to Tesco 24.

    Feeling a bit cold? Don’t put a jumper on, just heat up 400m^3 of air and sit somewhere in the middle of it.

    Energy prices are only a problem when energy is very scarce. Currently the world has a vast abundance of energy and even why you really screw up your energy policy it doesn’t really move the needle for the average consumer. Most people barely notice the impact on their bills and therefore do not care.

    Energy is only a problem when you don’t have it (like air). In the 21st Century it is so utterly ubiquitous that we barely even notice we are using it. The price could double or even triple and the effects wouldn’t be too much at all.

    • singletonengineer says:

      “Energy prices are only a problem when energy is very scarce.”

      Not true.

      Relative energy costs have the same effect as higher prices for any business input – labour, taxes, etc. Raise the price of an input above that of your competitor and the result is plain to see – business follows the money.

      I am tempted to provide a list of businesses that are fleeing Germany but that isn’t my job. I didn’t make the counter-intuitive statement. Presumably SE has a list of businesses which have moved to Germany because that country has the most expensive electricity.

      SE’s assertions are his and his alone. It is up to him to justify his words, which are akin to claiming that gravity has no influence on weight.

      Is there any business for which input prices are of no concern? If so, energy is certainly not one of them.

      • gweberbv says:


        heavy users of electricity are exempted from the renewables surcharge. An aluminum smelter in Germany today pays probably less for electricity than its competitor located in Iceland. The ‘trick’ of the Energiewende in Germany is that it loads the burdon on those consumers for which electricity is usually not a big item of expenditure. And at the same time the oversupply induced by pushing renewables into the market leads to a fall of electricity prices for the big consumers. Just look at this:
        And that was 2013. Wholesale prices are even lower now.

        What is fleeing Germany and many other European countries is industry that relies on natural gas (e. g. chemical industry). US is happy to welcome them. But this is a result of (temporary) gas oversupply in US. Not a result of anything happening in the electricity market.

        • singletonengineer says:

          That is only correct if the nuclear power capacity that is being withdrawn is more expensive than the new coal/lignite capacity that is being added.

          It is also only true until Germany complies with the European Commission’s demand that unfair anticompetitive subsidies of industry via not applying the renewables surcharge to large users and charging it primarily to commercial and retail customers must cease, as I believe that it will.

          • OpenSourceElectricity says:

            EU commision so far has aprooved german practice.

            It is very hard to beat german lignite on price, according to NEP 2015 fuel costs for german Lignite is 1,5€/MWh thermal, so around 3,4€/MWh electric. (And no, there is no error with the decimal point)
            CO2 emissions cost already more than fuel if the data of this source is correct. (which is likely for a official paper)

          • robertok06 says:

            “EU commision so far has aprooved german practice.”

            I think you “forgot” this? 🙂

            On 10 May 2016, the General Court (“GC”) dismissed Germany’s appeal against the decision of the European Commission concerning the German law on renewable energy, which came into effect in 2012 (“EEG 2012″).

            Germany disputed the Commission’s finding that the EEG 2012 amounted to State aid despite the fact that the Commission largely approved the aid.”


            The Energiewende is equivalent to shooting oneself in the foot… two bullets, not just one!… one economically, and the second environmentally.
            If the Germans were three-footed they could also apply for a third bullet… ideologically…. a dumber idea is difficult to find in recent political history…. based on wishful thinking and ideology, void of any physical balance and down-to-ground common sense.

            Die Energiewende is a total failure: it will only be remembered in history books as the biggest economic loss of post-war times.

          • gweberbv says:


            the ruling will have no effect as the new German RE law (EEG2014) was already drafted according to demands from the EU Commission. But in the end this were only cosmetic changes with a lot of German electricity users still being exempted from the RE surcharge.

            Nevertheless Germany challenged the intervention by the EU Commission and lost. So, it cannot go even beyond the exemption scheme of the current law. But this scheme is already very generous.

            “… This all very much changed after the Commission started its in depth investigation into the EEG in 2013. The EEG 2014 was the first German renewable energy law that was materially shaped by the Commission’s view on state aid law requirements.

            In practice, all major German energy policy revisions have since been also looked into from the European state aid law perspective. …”


    • oldfossil says:

      SE carefully omitted energy poverty from his/her argument. While the wealthy don’t miss an extra twenty or thirty quid on their heating bills every month, the poor, the elderly and those on fixed incomes are having to choose between dying of starvation and dying of cold.

      • SE says:

        Sadly old and poor people are not critical to the functioning of a developed economy either. The economy can continue to function and grow without them too.

        Not that I am suggesting we abandon the old and the poor!

        If you actually read my post you will find it much less offensive.

    • stone100 says:

      SE, to me the real failure is not that the Energiewende is expensive (though that matters), the real failure is that it is not working towards getting us off fossil fuels and protecting our climate.

      • Leo Smith says:

        You really think it has anything to do with climate?

      • Stefan says:

        1st goal: get out of nuclear, though Miss Merkel was slow to do this, Mr Schröder startet it but the plans were set on hold when Merkel took the lead – at first she declared nuclear is cheaper thus prolong the use of it, then Fukushima made her change her mind for public acceptance

        2nd goal: reduce CO2, not as important as public opinion does not have a word here, why else are many German car makers self-proclaimed premium brands that are way over the top regarding fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. There is even a regulation to free tax on cars that are older than 30 years but maintained the way they used to be during their production years (even if that means they are burning 40L/100km)

    • Leo Smith says:

      I did the calcs. UK total energy consumption equates to a continuous average power of 300GW give or take.

      that’s 5GW per million population or about 5KW per individual, all day, every day. or about 15Kw per household.

      over a year of 8000 hours appx, that’s 40,000 kWh.

      at £100/Mwh that’s £4,000 per household per year.

      That cost is in everything you buy as well as everything you use energy wise, domestically.

      I dont think that is cheap at all.

      • gweberbv says:


        you are talking about primary energy. Paying 100 bucks per MWh of primary energy is indeed not nice. Because each time you convert it to electricity or movement, you can (usually) use only about 35% of it. But ff you can produce elctricity for something like 100 bucks/MWh you are perfectly fine.
        The roughly 600 TWh of electricity production in Germany would amount to 60 billions. If we use the US$ as a metric, this amounts to something like 1.5% of GDP. If we would strongly electrifiy everything that is possible, we might end up with 900 TWh consumption. So, that would mean electrictiy costs of a little more than 2% GDP.
        And to allow your energy-intensive industry to compete with low-energy cost countries, you can redistribute these costs a little bit on the domestic level.

        (By the way: According to the UK primary energy consumption stated on Wikipedia, total consumption is nearer to 250 GW than 300 GW.)

        • Ben Jamin' says:

          So my gas central heating is 35% efficient compared to 100% electric heating supplied by wind/solar?

          • gweberbv says:

            Ben Jamin,

            please note: “… each time you convert it to electricity or movement, you can (usually) use only about 35% of it.”

            Generating heat is the conversion process of FF where you do not have this penalty. However, if you need only low-grade heat, then a heat pump will allow you to produce 3 kWh heat from 1 kWh electricity (even a 5 to 1 ratio is possible). There you have the roughly 35% again.

        • Ben Jamin' says:

          Even Mad Mark “Zealot” Jacobson doesn’t knock more than 33% off primary consumption from a switch to renewables.

          For very good reasons. Hey I wouldn’t be surprised if it was less than that.

        • Leo Smith says:

          Transport is less than 30% of total demand.

          To make something like Portland cement using electricity, might well take more electrical energy than burning natural gas…

          Its not easy to pin down GB or UK total energy consumption without using any fossil, because we simply dont have a model of how the society would work without access to fossil energy.

          Would we still be smelting metals apart from titanium and aluminium?

          Would we actually be driving to work at all? Or would we stay at home and remote-work?

          Would we replace fossil plastics with say wood based compounds?

      • Ben Jamin' says:

        No, it’s not cheap. And if at the rate we are going it stays at £100mwh, that will be a miracle.

        System cost mwh of wind/solar rise higher with greater penetration. So regarding Germany, we ain’t seen nothing yet.

        This isn’t even the beginning of the beginning. Hopefully they’ll have the good sense to put a stop before it gets out of control. No wonder they are so keen to drag everyone down too.

        And its working.

        • robertok06 says:

          “System cost mwh of wind/solar rise higher with greater penetration. So regarding Germany, we ain’t seen nothing yet.”

          Exactly, as well explained in the paper by Lion Hirth et al., published on the peer-reviewed journal Energy recently (2013):

          ‘System LCOE: What are the Costs of Variable Renewables?’

          Levelized costs of electricity (LCOE) are a common metric for comparing power generating technologies. However, there is qualified criticism particularly towards evaluating variable renewables like wind and solar power based on LCOE because it ignores integration costs that occur at the system level. In this paper we propose a new measure System LCOE as the sum of generation and integration costs per unit of VRE. For this purpose we develop a conclusive definition of integration costs. Furthermore we decompose integration costs into different cost components and draw conclusions for integration options like transmission grids and energy storage. System LCOE are quantified from a power system model and a literature review.

          We find that at moderate wind shares (~20%) integration costs can be in the same range as generation costs of wind power and conventional plants. Integration costs further increase with growing wind shares.

          We conclude that integration costs can become an economic barrier to deploying VRE at high shares. This implies that an economic evaluation of VRE must not neglect integration costs.

          A pure LCOE comparison would significantly underestimate the costs of VRE at high shares. System LCOE give a framework of how to consistently account for integration costs and thus guide policy makers and system planers in designing a cost-efficient power system.”

  15. oldfossil says:

    Figure 1, Emissions by sector: Energy generation emissions tracked GDP from 2009 until 2015 when the economy tanked quite steeply, mainly due to falling exports, high energy prices being a possible factor, and emissions dropped only slightly.

    German voters are prepared to stomach quite a lot of personal hardship to achieve social goals. The immigrant invasion has been welcomed because of low birth rates and an ageing population. It’s a country of paradoxes, highly regulated with strong socialist leanings, yet up to recently a model of an efficient economy.

  16. Florian says:

    Thanks for another comprehensive article. I think it will take several brownouts or blackouts before politicians and the public wake up…
    On the matter of storage: what do you think of this British concept? they claim that compressed air mixed with a certain gas can be stored and released when needed. Since it got funding from DECC and the pilot plant operated for about two years, it looks like a more credible project to me. But since I am not an engineer, I might be wrong. Any thoughts?

    • Leo Smith says:

      “Highview can design bespoke Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) plants, that can deliver around 5MW/15MWh – to significantly more than 50MW/200MWh ”

      Whereas Dinorwig which barely scratches the surface of our storage needs is 2GW/3GWh

      The other thing to do is of course calculate GB energy storage needs in terms of Hiroshima bombs.

      (makes a change from Olympic swimming pools).

      And then figure out whether you would like to live next door to all that stored energy…

      Now I’ve seen what happens when a couple of watt hours of charged battery gets accidentally shorted.

  17. jmdesp says:

    One small remarks about the article. You write that the added generation has gone towards filling increased demand. But that’s not correct, there has been basically no increase in the electricity demand in Germany since many years.

    What actually happened is that whilst demand didn’t increase, exports have been rising very, very strongly, basically they are getting stronger and stronger as renewable production increases and every year it’s getting more obvious that there’s a direct connexion between the two.

    So the story behind the fact that renewable don’t really generate any CO2 reduction, is partly because of the nuclear shut down, but also because renewable production comes at unpredictable moments, so instead of causing fossil production to be shut down, causes it to be exported to other countries, therefore failing it’s CO2 reduction purpose.

    • meliorismnow says:

      That said, it is likely reducing CO2 in the countries to which it is exported. And hopefully some industry is starting to take advantage of free (albeit intermittent) energy.

      • Ben Jamin' says:

        Or it could be exporting industries to other, cheaper fossil fuel burning countries. Like China?

      • But the neighboring countries like the Netherlands are copying Germany, so in the end the EU will have lots of wind power that cannot go anywhere. All to “save” the planet. How ridiculous, all this will do nothing for “the planet”. And then, to cap it all, Hollande is going to close down nuclear electricity generation. What is the matter with these politicians? Why do they believe everything “greenpeace” says?

      • singletonengineer says:

        Ben Jamin claims that German exports of electricity are reducing the CO2 emissions of its neighbours. How that can be, when Germany’s carbon intensity is essentially constant due to reducing nuclear power generation is not clear. Indeed,it is a mystery as to why the reverse is not true.

        • gweberbv says:


          even if not a single PV module or wind turbine had been installed in Germany, still the country had (finally) opted out from nuclear power after the Fukushima accident. Thus, even more gas, hard coal and lignite would have been burned.

          Moreover, after the 2008/09 economic crisis electricity demand in Europe has contracted. This drives the most expensive power plants out of market. And this is usually gas, which would emit the lowest amount of CO2 (and also virtually none of the stuff that is really hazardous). In the absence of a policy to shut down coal/lignite plants this also leads to an increase of emissions per kWh.

          In other words: Without the expansion of renewables the situation would look much worse.

          It is also not true that the carbon intensity of electricity production is constant. The CO2 emission were decreasing slightly (roughly 20% since 1990), while generation was increasing (oughly 15% since 1990). See figures 3 and 4.

      • robertok06 says:

        “That said, it is likely reducing CO2 in the countries to which it is exported.”

        It doesn’t matter… the overall balance for the environment is negative (increased emissions), since 1 MWh generated in Germany by a lignite plant is accompanied by 1.1 tons of CO2 (not to mention all the other “nice” thing, arsenic, heavy metals, SO2, NOx, particulates, etc…)… while the 1 MWh not generated in, say, Holland would have been made by natural gas units, which would have emitted 0.5 tons of CO2 (and NO particulate, arsenic, heavy metals!…).

        The irony, and tragedy, for the Germans is that the deaths/chronic illnesses/etc… caused by the continuing exploitation of lignite/coal units falls mainly ON THEM!… and if one were to factor in the social/health costs of these 20-to-50 deaths/TWh then the money balance would become heavily negative… but, again, it is just another example of socializing the health costs, while privatizing the gains from selling the electricity… the famous “free market” which should make things go right, magically… 🙁

  18. mark4asp says:

    1) The low hanging, emissions reduction, fruit is taken. It will be more difficult to decarbonize transport, energy industries, and make any more progress in manufacturing. To achieve its target Germany must do better than in the past. They will do worse over the next few years.

    Notice a large fall (1990 -> 2014) in:
    * industrial use: 96m -> 61m
    * households: 131m -> 85m

    but far smaller falls in other areas:
    * transport: 164m -> 161m

    2) Intermittent German renewable energy is reaching its maximum grid penetration. According to Eurostat, in 2014, 60% of EU renewables came from burning plants and derivatives (bio-XXX). Biomass (AKA wood), bio gas, and bio fuel (about 40%, 10%, and 10%). This energy provides a renewable baseload. It can’t be expanded any further. Germany uses a surprising amount of biomass too: 71% of German RE was bio-XXX in 2013! Further RE expansion must come from intermittent wind and solar. Yet it can’t. The maximum penetration of wind/solar will be equal to peak power they deliver on the day of lowest demand. Lowest demand will be a summer Sunday. Germany now has about 39GWe of solar PV, and 62GWe of wind. I’d expect about 26GWe from wind/solar on a windy summer Sunday.

    a) European RE by country and by source in 2013 (Eurostat):
    b) Eurostat: EU RE by source:

    • meliorismnow says:

      Electrifying transport, which is what Germany is finally starting to do, will provide tremendous potential to shift demand. EVs can currently charge at whatever schedule the owner likes (which can currently correspond with TOU plans). In the future, they could be under instantaneous control by the utility just like water heaters. They could even supply power to the grid (V2Grid). All it takes is enough financial incentive, which admittedly costs more than curtailing or exporting surplus energy at negative prices.

      Eventually, the first world transitions to a mostly autonomous uber-based EV transport system where the fleet is charged at high voltage DC substations. At that point you no longer need subsidies, because EVs will be cheaper to operate and solar or wind will provide the cheapest energy /kwh, so the overprovisioning of EVs will pay for itself (both for access to cheaper energy, potential to sell back to the grid at higher price in rare circumstances, and have sufficient capacity to cover peak car usage events). Of course, in places where PV makes sense you still need to solve the winter period (with either plenty of hydro, nuclear, coal, or gas) but some of that can be reduced by adding in wind (especially >180m in places without good wind resources).

      • robertok06 says:

        “In the future, they could be under instantaneous control by the utility just like water heaters. ”

        I think you do not live in the real world… what you have described in this sentence will NEVER EVER happen.

      • gweberbv says:


        EVs won’t use that much electricity (maybe 20 kWh per 100 km) and will probably be charged during evening/night independent from the supply situation. TOU tariffs combined with ‘smart home’ might shift the time of charging by a few hours, but that’s it.
        Heating and to a smaller extent also warm water generation offers a much greater potential for shifting demand by a few days and in addition sucking up excess generation in large quantities.

        • OpenSourceElectricity says:

          This depends on regulation. When charging at work will not be a buerocratic nightmare any more, charging of a typcal vehicle can happen any time of 23-23,5 hours per day. But heatint in well insulated buildings offers even cheaper possiblilities to shift some TWh of load back or forth. Especially in Winter.

          • Alex says:

            This is what we’ve modelled for the UK, on a 0 degree C day in 2050.

            To get this, there needs to be a discussion between home heater and cars on the one hand, and the grid on the other.

            The renewable equivalent needs a few hundred GWh of storage, just for the day.

          • OpenSourceElectricity says:

            Alex, and why is heating so much more flexible upwards in your 0C model than in your renewable model?
            Be awre a usual house has enough storage capacity to keep the temperature for days, and it is common to have heatpumps and other electric heating switched off for several hours per day.
            So reaonable behavious would be to reduce heating to around zero at 0-4 o’clock, and increase it as done in your other graph from 12-24 o’clock.
            If some storage remains – there are plenty of TWh existing storage in europe.

          • Alex says:

            On home heating, both models assume a similar level of flexibility, and both make big assumptions about thermal capacity and insulation. .

            The nuclear model would be easier to fulfil, as you can rely on getting most of the heat at a specific time of day, rather than at a windy time of day. With the rnewables model, there will be some algorithmic error as the algorithm has to play safe to some extent, as the forecast wind may not materialise.

            Also, not all homes will be perfect homes with perfect owners. Some homeowners migth decide they want their home warmer in the morning, and then don’t mind it cooling during the day when they’re at work.

            Also, you have issues of capacity. I’m estimating the average home needs 90KWh/day. If it only has one 5KW heat pump, that needs to be on 18 hours per day.

            “If some storage remains – there are plenty of TWh existing storage in europe.”

            If the UK has a shortfall of renewables, so will the rest of Europe unless they’re on a different form of power – e.g. nuclear.

            Europe can burn through a TWh of storage in a few hours.

        • meliorismnow says:

          gweberbv, that’s almost double the efficiency of typical usage today (both with losses in charging, weather, use of AC, and highway driving). In the US, a household uses about 900kwh per month. If they converted all their (regular) driving to EVs, I’d expect EV usage around 15kwh/day or adding 450kwh per month. That a huge increase, all of which can potentially be shifted (mostly to night during the week, as you say, except for those with workplaces that (will) offer charging).

          If all of these households converted to autonomous uber EVs, we’re probably talking an increase to 20kwh/day for unshared cars (both from pickup & destination mismatch and slightly increased use due to reduced cost and ease) and 7kwh/day for shared ones but with way fewer vehicles which could be charged (or discharged) whenever best for uber etc (and therefore the utility). This scenario doesn’t require the current complexity of dealing with thousands of hot water heaters while trying to make it transparent to the consumer just to shift a few %), just agreements with major rideshare companies.

          • gweberbv says:


            if you can get 10% to 20% of the total miles driven to be electric, you are lucky. Compared to electrictiy usage of all sectors (not only households) this not so much. And as most people will probably not be able to charge at work, you end up with the possibility to charge the car fleet at a certain time during the night. Demand during night is low, so I would not be worried about the necessary production capacity. But I would also not be too enthusiastic about ‘storing’ RE production by charging the batteries of the EV fleet. For example usage of the PV peak is more or less impossible.

          • Alex says:

            In the UK, the average car drives about 250km per week, which would need about 40KWh (at the plug) based on Nissan Leaf figures.

            That would mean that most EVs will only need to charge about once per week. There will be more propensity to charge them at night and at the weekend, when they’re used less.

          • OpenSourceElectricity says:

            @gweber, charging at work is not so much a technical, but a juristical/regulatory issue. Today it is a nightmare of red tape to get this running. But it is possible to reduce this red tape and to have automatic solutions (sftware) for the remaining red tape.
            This will not be the first place where to charge cars, but it will become usual when more people drive electric.

      • Alex says:

        “Electrifying transport, which is what Germany is finally starting to do, will provide tremendous potential to shift demand.”

        Sorry, did I miss something?

        EVs are behind in Germany and don’t make as much sense thanks to high prices for electricity, unless you hook up the EV to your own panels.

        Electric heating is even worse – especially since you can’t rely on the panels when you need the heating (in winter). Electricity in Germany is six times the price of gas – why would I install a heat pump?

        • gweberbv says:

          For new buildings, about 1/3 is using a heat pump. Not paying for the gas connection and the chimney is probably the main argument. Moreoever, usually you have to add a solarthermal installation to the gas heater because with relying only on FF you cannot reach the energy standard that is necessary to obtain the building permittance.

          • Alex says:

            There is a block of 5 flats going up next door to me in southern Germany.

            I was surprised to hear that each one will have its own gas boiler.

            They do have solar heat collectors and mechanical heat recovery (standard stuff – makes sense), but no heat pumps.

            What would make sense in Germany is a fuel cell to convert cheap gas into electricity, and capture the heat. They’re still rather expensive though.

          • depriv says:

            @Alex: “They’re still rather expensive though.”
            That’s just the paradox of energy saving. The more you save, the longer the return of the investment.

            With some serious insulation and passive heat recovery it’s hard to talk about ‘return’ for anything else but the most simple gas heaters (and some ACs since they can also take care of excess heat).

            Some complex systems (insulation, AC, heat recovery, heat pump for warm water and heating, PV panels all for one building) are worse than any NPP regarding ‘return’.

            Aside subsidy, of course.

          • OpenSourceElectricity says:

            @depriv, no gas is very uneconomic in such cases. A heat pump does not cost significant more as a simple, small, efficient model than a gas heater, but does not need the whole gas infrastructure around, and can provide AC as a byproduct of heating.
            The electric grid is a must have, the gas grid is surplus for well insulated buildings.

          • Alex says:

            Gas is about 4.3c/KWh. Electricity is about 25c/KWh, so 5 to 6 times higher.

            In cold weather, a ASHP might give a COP of 2.5 for heating and a lot less for hot water.

            Plus I’d need underfloor heating – standard in a new build but tricky in an old building.

            I am considering a ASHP for use in the UK, which has good night time electricity prices.

          • OpenSourceElectricity says:

            Alex, where do you get these COP-Numbers????
            Here the data of a simple little Air to water heatpump: which costs less than 3000€ when bought at the right places.
            A COP of 2,5 would reqire a average temperature of -15°C or below with a well designed heating system, which does not happen in most parts of germany, and where it happens it happens locally and about one day in ten years. Typical values as average over a year are around 4 or a bit above 4.
            Alternative to underfloorr heating are wall heaings, ceiling heatings, or big radiators. All these versions work in practice, they just need to be calculated correct.

          • Alex says:

            There seems to be a big difference in the COPs claimed by manufacturers from those found in trials. For example – Energy Saving Trust – Getting warmer: a field trial of
            heat pumps
            The model we’ve developed assumes a COP of 3 at 0C, and 2.5 at -10C, which is somewhat better than the average real world figures, but worse than manufacturer claims.

            I would be interested to know why real world figures are so much lower than the claims.

            The figures you provided (manufacturer?) would be wonderful for the UK, where 7C is cold, and a 5.49 COP would be awesome.

          • Alex says:

            More info here:

            Average system performance factors:
            2.82 2.45
            Ground source system Air source system1
            Both averages are deemed to be higher than in Phase 1.

          • OpenSourceElectricity says:

            Additional about Gas- lowest electricity prices here in germany, if you take the lowest gas prices, are 23ct/kWh.
            With a well insulated house, but not passive house, you’ll need e.g. 3000kWh per year for heating, 1500kWh per year for hot water.
            Which would need e.g. 750kWh electricity for heating, or 175€, and e.g. 500kWh per yer for warm water. or 115€.
            For gas this would cost 120€ per year for the gas connection, varying with the region, with 90% efficiency of the boiler it would cost 215€ for gas, with 150kWh/yer to run the boiler and pumps (included in the COP of the heatpump) it would cost 35€ for electricity, and 30€ for chimney sweep, so it is 290€ for heatpump versus 400€ for gas.
            With 10.000kWh for heating, this would be 575€ +115€ for heatpump, and 478+120+35+30€for gas, so 690:672€ as advantage for gas. So only buildings with no significant insulation, or where nothing is done to distribute the heating properly within the house have a advantage with gas at the moment here.

          • depriv says:


            Sorry, but I can’t really see the ‘investment’ part in your calculation.

            You know, I wrote something like “That’s just the paradox of energy saving. The more you save, the longer the return of the investment.”

          • gweberbv says:

            The difference in theoretical (lab) COP values and reality is easily explained by the fact that heat pumps punish brutally all mistakes that a you would never notice when using a gas heater. Users and installers have to become familiar with this technology before you can expect them to use it properly.

            Example: If you use water in your heating system that is maybe 10 degree warmer than necessary for heating your house at the given outdoor temperature, a gas heater will maybe use a few percent more gas. In contrast a heat pump might consume 25% to 30% more electricity. Because the COP is stongly related to the temperature difference of your reservoir and the target temperature.

          • Alex says:

            I’m thinking of an Air to Air heat pump for use in the UK (in Germany it makes no sense).

            You say it punishes all mistakes? But Air to Air is dammed simple – how can you make a mistake?

            Basically, night time electricity is about 6p/KWh, Gas is about 3p/KWh. So with a COP of 2 or more, the operating cost is lower. (But I’d need a COP of 4 to be effective during the day).

          • gweberbv says:


            I cannot tell you much about air to air heat pumps. I don’t beliebe this is a viable option in countries with outside temperatures reaching significantly below 0 degree Celsius.

        • Nathanael says:

          Air-to-air heat pumps are viable down to roughly -20C. (You need to get a “cold weather rated” one, of course.)

          • Alex says:

            Heat pumps in Germany are not viable (economically) down to any temperature.

            They might work – badly – at -20C.

    • Nathanael says:

      As you know, the “maximum grid penetration” for “intermittent renewable energy” is 100%. In practice, >100% is practical thanks to curtailment. Don’t tell porkie-pies.

      The problem Germany currently has is a geographic imbalance. There are high power needs in Bavaria but Bavaria refuses to build wind turbines and tries to stop the construction of solar panels. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has more renewable energy than it can use, but no way to export it to Bavaria.

      We will need transmission lines.

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  20. halken says:

    Fresh numbers from Siemens Wind Power on offshore:
    “Siemens said it has committed to reducing offshore wind costs to €80/MWh including connection costs by 2025. Hannibal said the target of €100/MWh will be met by 2020.”

    I am not sure if connection costs are the same as grid connection, which is very expensive on offshore.

    • singletonengineer says:

      The link to the Siemens article in Windpower Monthly was interesting but leaves questions unanswered re connection costs.

      A related article, also about Siemens, supports my contention that Germany is losing some of its largest industries. In this case, Siemens has merged with an Ibedrola associate and will relocate the merged company’s headquarters to Spain.


      The lower half of the article makes very clear that the European wind power industry is in turmoil, with players including Areva, Adwin, GE, Siemens and Gamesa all in the mix.

      If I recall correctly, GE/Alstom/Mitsubishi are completing a partial spinoff of Alstom’s power assets including their wind turbines business which started a couple of years ago.

      This situation is extraordinary in any industry – if a shakeout is on the horizon, what are the root causes – technical limitations, competition from eg China, European market saturation, efficiency, synergies such as intellectual property, or elimination of competition? And what about the futures of the other European players? Time will tell, but M&A turmoil on this scale is not usually a sign of a healthy and confident industry.

  21. kennymac says:

    Expensive alternative energy is forcing people into energy poverty and is truly a crime against humanity.

  22. robertok06 says:

    Is anybody interested in the latest BS on nuclear and renewables?
    It’s peer-reviewed stuff!

    According to this demential way of thinking, Denmark, at 280 gCO2/kWh in 2015 would be much better than France at 45 gCO2/kWh, just because DK decreased its emissions by 20% with respect to 1990 while France only by 14%.

    Please note that one of the authors, Benjamin Sovacool, is a notorious green pasdaran, which has been treated like a schoolboy by James Hansen after Sovacool wrote a vitriolic commentary to the famous paper by Hansen and Kharekha on nuclear… here is the rebuttal by Hansen:

    The dementiality of the article, and the review, is that they simply add the % decrease or increase in emissions of the various countries in each group, and then calculate the average!… i.e. they take the +20% of Bulgaria and simply add it to the -14% of France…. although the latter has probably 4x as much electricity generated… it’s bordering pure nonsense…and it is peer-reviewed stuff!

  23. robertok06 says:

    A different and original opinion on how to decarbonize the electricity sector:

    (the linked dropbox file of the paper on Applied Energy)

    Without some sort of nuclear there’s no way to fully decarbonize the production… which is an abvious conclusion but here it is discussed in a careful and precise mathematical way.

    Although I don’t agree with all of it, I find it very interesting.

  24. robertok06 says:


    Maybe this typo, or mistake, has been already pointed out by someone else… in that case my apology, I did not have the time to read all of the 115 comments…

    “If we assume (optimistically) that all of it replaces lignite and that none of it gets exported we come up with 15.5 million tons using the 4kg/kWh emissions factor for lignite supplied by Volker-Quaschning.”

    4 kg/kWh must be wrong. The web page you quote states 0.4 kg/kWh… and the kWh is THERMAL, i.e. one has to divide this figure by the thermodynamic efficiency of the power station… which being, for most lignite/coal one, around 0.35 takes the emission per kWh electric to around 1 kg.

  25. singletonengineer says:

    The water content of brown coal/lignite varies widely and hence also thermal efficiency and carbon intensity. It is advisable to verify whether the figures quoted are on a dry or as-consumed basis. This is not always evident from tabulated figures.

    For example, figures of 47 – 70% water are quoted for Victoria’s lignite. Ref: Mineral Council of Victoria’s fact sheet at

    I suspect but am by no means sure that the apparent similarity of energy and of carbon intensity figures for lignite and bituminous coal is only when calculated on a dry basis.

    • OpenSourceElectricity says:

      In ealier times lignite was fired wet, later on half wet, and now systems are more and more getting in use drying the lignite almost completely wth waste gases before using it, lifting efficiency of lignite plants towards the efficiency of hard coal plants. But still they are coal plants. Just not significant worse any more than other coal plants.

      • singletonengineer says:

        O.S.E is probably entirely correct, except for his final short sentence.

        Lignite plants should not be allowed to get away with calculations of hypothetical carbon efficiency or industry comparisons based on fictitious water contents.

        Taking Australia as an example, where no new lignite plants have been built since Loy Yang B’s second and last unit in 1996. Every Australian lignite plant is a substantially worse emitter than any of the black coal counterparts, so each deserves to be targetted for more urgent shutdown.

        Perhaps a more precise focus would be to identify those power stations which emit more than (say) 900g CO2-equivalent per MWh electrical sent out. They would probably all be brown coal fired and they should all be listed for early brownfield redevelopment as nuclear power stations asap, to take advantage of the existing transmission systems, land, cooling water supplies and labour forces for O&M.

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  29. Nathanael says:

    It’s been proven that the “high residential electricity prices” in Germany have NOTHING to do with renewables deployment. They’re entirely due to cross-subsidization of German *industrial* electricity prices, which are rock-bottom.

    (For reference, this is an abusive industrial subsidy which is hurting every other country in the EU.)

    Anyway, Merkel is politically in thrall to the coal miners, hence the refusal to close the lignite plants and the deliberate attacks on solar and wind (they aren’t just removing subsidies, they’re adding taxes on solar and a “cap” on wind). She may be able to hurt wind deployment. She can’t stop solar deployment. Not even Spain’s tax on the sun, with its $25 million dollar fines for “illegal solar panels”, is capable of doing that.

    • Alex says:

      The high residential prices has everything to do with renewables deployment.

      Primarily, the 6 cents/KWh EEG goes to subsidising wind and solar. VAT is added in top of this. Heavy Industry is exempted, because, unlike people, they can move.

      The other big cost effect is that the major utilities – which a decade ago were making healthy profits, are now running a loss or bearly breaking even. The investors are paying for that.

      Merkel does realise that Germany needs firm capacity, which gives a choice of keeping nuclear, burning Russian gas, or burning German coal. Germany’s gone for the last option, which is the worst for the environment.

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