Blowout week 104

In a departure from the normal format I’m kicking off today with a few stories from Germany sent by Hubert Flocard. The second link should go to a Google translate page where the general gist of the stories should be apparent.

Else where there is news of renewables subsidies being cut everywhere, nuclear power expansion everywhere bar Europe, oil price woes, concentrating solar power in Chile, the marijuana harvest straining the US grid and France opts for cheese power over nuclear power.

Die Welt:  Sturmtief “Iwan” überfordert deutsches Stromnetz

Die Herbststürme sorgen für einen neuen Windstrom-Rekord in Deutschland. Doch die Leitungen sind überlastet. Damit das Netz stabil bleibt, muss fossiler Strom aus Österreich her. Das kostet.

Die Welt:  Storm “Ivan” overwhelmed German power grid

The autumn storms make for a new wind energy record in Germany. However, the lines are congested. Thus, the network remains stable, fossil electricity from Austria must be found. It costs.

“At around 32,600 megawatts yesterday reached a new record high, the wind feed in Germany”, the reported TSOs Tennet on Thursday: “The wind feed has thus still exceeded the value of 2014, which was in Germany at around 29,000 megawatts.”

Die Welt:  Stromkunden zahlen Millionen für Phantom-Energie

Weil Stromleitungen fehlen, müssen Windparks immer öfter abgeschaltet werden. Doch die Wind-Unternehmer werden auch fürs Nichtproduzieren bezahlt. Die Kosten dafür steigen rapide an.

Die Welt:  Electricity customers pay millions of phantom energy

Because power lines are missing, wind farms need to be shut more often. But the wind-entrepreneurs are also paid for not producing. The costs increase rapidly.

That many consumers in the coming year a higher electricity bill will flutter into the house, German Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) had already indicated: After increasing the so-called EEG levy to subsidize green energy production in the coming year to a record high of 6.35 cents per kilowatt hour.

Der Spiegel:  Regierung will feste Ökostrom-Förderung fast komplett abschaffen

Deutschlands Energiepolitik steht vor einem grundlegenden Wandel: Nach “Spiegel-Online”-Informationen plant die Bundesregierung, die Ökostrom-Förderung ab 2017 zu 80 Prozent per Auktion zu vergeben.

Der Spiegel:  Energy Transition: Government subsidies for eco inside out to radically

The fixed feed-in tariffs for renewable energy should be almost completely abolished. This emerges from a framework paper of the Federal Ministry of Economics for the coming Renewable Energies Act shows that SPIEGEL ONLINE.

Builders of new wind farms on land and at sea and of solar systems must therefore compete in auctions from 2017 to today. This corresponds to 80 percent of the current amount of newly built eco-electricity plants.

Die Welt:  Offshore-Branche steht vor nächstem Systemwechsel

Offshore-Windparks sollen künftig in Auktionen vergeben werden. Die Branche fürchtet eine Verstaatlichung von Planungsarbeiten, die damit einhergeht. Einen Gewinner könnte es allerdings geben.

Die Welt:  Offshore industry is facing next system change

Offshore wind farms are to be awarded in future auctions. The industry fears the nationalization of planning work that goes with it. There could be a winner, however.

In the coming years, Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) led federal Economics Ministry therefore wants to completely change the system for the expansion of renewable energies: For many years, could energy companies or cooperatives of residents wind turbines, solar panels and biogas plants without major restrictions bring to the grid, but they get 20-year fixed feed-in tariffs. Since 2014, the annual expansion of renewable energies within limits is determined. On top of that auction procedures are introduced in the coming years: the most favorable provider receives then applicable to all bidders framework contract for a new Ökokraftwerk. Ultimately, that means more government involvement in the now already proliferating planned economy of this major project energy turnaround.

Telegraph:  Solar subsidy cuts put up to 18,700 jobs at risk

Solar panel subsidy cuts could result in 18,700 job losses, ministers have admitted, as they confirmed payments to homeowners would be slashed in the new year.

The Government on Thursday said it would cut level of ‘feed in tariff’ subsidies for rooftop solar panels by 64pc – less severe than an 87pc cut first proposed in August.
The drastic reduction is nevertheless expected to deter more than 700,000 of the 900,000 households that would otherwise have installed the panels over the next five years.

Bloomberg:  China to Cut Wind, Solar Power Prices as Construction Costs Fall

China will cut the preferential rate it offers wind and solar power developers to reflect the decline in construction costs.
Tariffs for newly-built onshore wind farms will be cut by as much as 4 percent in 2016 from current levels and by another 6 percent in 2018 from 2016 tariff levels, according to a statement posted on the website of the National Development and Reform Commission. Reductions for new solar power projects will be as much as 11 percent in 2016.

Clean Technica:  Pakistan Cuts Solar Power Tariff By 25%

The fear of several investors looking to expand their footprint into Pakistan’s solar power sector seem to have come true as the national electricity regulator announced a sharp cut in feed-in tariffs.

Pakistan’s National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) has announced tariff reduction for solar power projects by around 25%. The new tariffs will be applicable for new projects starting 1 January 2016. At present, the tariff of US¢14.15-15.02/kWh is available to solar power projects based on their size, which can vary between 1 and 100 MW.

edie:  Cross-border energy markets ‘vital’ for EU renewables target

The EU energy governance report, states that the European Union is in danger of missing the binding targets to reduce emissions by 40% and ensure that at least a quarter of energy production is from renewable sources by 2030, if greater cooperation and cross-border transactions aren’t heavily implemented.

Baroness Scott of Needham Market, Chairman of the Committee, said: “The question for the EU is how to meet the twin challenges of reducing our reliance on fossil fuels while also ensuring abundant and affordable energy supply. We think the European Commission’s flagship Energy Union Strategy is broadly on the right lines but now is the time to ensure it is delivered by across Europe and by Member States domestically.

Telegraph:  Ministers ‘wasting millions’ on energy display gadgets for every home

Ministers have been accused of wasting millions of pounds of consumers’ money after insisting every household must be offered a gadget to display their energy usage – despite new evidence suggesting most families won’t use them.

The display units, which cost about £15 each to produce, are to be handed out ‘free of charge’ to consumers as part of the Government’s scheme to install “smart” gas and electricity meter in every home by 2020. The meters will send data back to suppliers, ending estimated billing.

A key Government argument for the £11 billion scheme is that households will also be able to monitor their energy usage in real-time via the display units, encouraging them to use less energy and save money.

Although households will face no up-front charge for the devices – meaning most are expected to accept one – their cost will be paid for by all consumers through levies on their energy bills for years to come.

Telegraph:  Energy security is a cause for concern

In The Road to Wigan Pier, George Orwell said “our civilisation is founded on coal, more completely than one realises until one stops to think about it”. At that time, in 1937, the mining industry employed more than one million men and powered the nation – but was already in decline. Coal production peaked in 1913 when more than 1,500 pits extracted some 290 million tons. By last year that had fallen to under four million. And today, the last deep mine in the United Kingdom, at Kellingley in Yorkshire, is to close. A small number of open-cast mines will be the only remaining producers and they may go within 10 years as the UK abandons coal entirely.

The Guardian:  The Bhopal boy set to prove David Cameron wrong on carbon capture

Sharma’s company, Carbon Clean Solutions, is backed by £3.4m UK government funding, has a laboratory at Imperial College London and aims to make capturing carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels affordable. The company’s technology – a special chemical – is currently being evaluated at the world’s biggest carbon capture test site in Norway and by companies in Europe, India and the US.

Making carbon capture and storage (CCS) work is seen as vital by both the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the UK’s official advisers, the Committee on Climate Change. Halting global warming without CCS will be twice as costly, they say.

The Guardian:  Government’s miserable record on energy policy

The business leaders, academics and environmentalists warning that we need a major U-turn in UK energy policy (Government ‘must change course’ after climate pact, 14 December) were clearly correct. They were focusing rightly on the need for renewables and energy conservation to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets. But it is also worth focusing on how we need many of the environmental measures that the government has cut back, delayed or abolished for economic and social reasons.

The Guardian:  Desert tower raises Chile’s solar power ambition to new heights

Rising more than 200 metres above the vast, deserted plains of the Atacama desert, the second tallest building in Chile sits in such a remote location that it looks, from a distance, like the sanctuary of a reclusive prophet, a temple to ancient gods or the giant folly of a wealthy eccentric.

Instead, this extraordinary structure is a solar power tower that is being built to harvest the energy of the sun via a growing field of giant mirrors that radiate out for more than a kilometre across the ground below with a geometric precision that is reminiscent of contemporary art or the stone circles of the druids.

Still under construction, the Atacama 1 Concentrated Solar Power plant is a symbol of the shift from dirty fossil fuels to a cleaner, smarter way to generate electricity in Chile which is leading the charge for solar in Latin America thanks to its expanses of wilderness and some of the most intense sunlight on Earth.

The Guardian:  Australia’s carbon emissions are increasing, government report shows

Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions increased in 2014-15, a report released with obscure timing by the Australian government has shown.

The December 2015 quarterly update of carbon emissions, which covers the period to the end of June 2015, was released with no fanfare on Christmas Eve. The quarterly update forms part of Australia’s international reporting of its emissions

It shows that Australia’s emissions increased by 0.8% last financial year compared with the previous one, and 1.3% when land use and deforestation were taken into account. Australia generated 549.3 mega-tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2014-15.

The Week:  Oil price in pre-holiday rally, but gains will be limited

The oil price is staging a pre-Christmas rally, on the back of better-than-expected inventory data and a broadly bullish report from the Opec producer cartel.

International benchmark Brent crude had fallen to below $36 a barrel on Tuesday, the third consecutive session it had hit a new 11-year low. Yesterday afternoon it began to lift and rose to around $36.50, before the latest data from the US energy watchdog gave the upwards move an added push.

The data from the Energy Information Administration showed US stockpiles fell by around 5.8 million barrels last year, notes Reuters, far better than the 1.1 million rise expected, which helped ease concerns about oversupply. Brent contracts were changing hands for $37.70 this morning.

This week marked the first in five years the US benchmark has reached parity with Brent, after a 40-year-old ban on exports by US producers was lifted in Washington. West Texas Intermediate was trading slightly higher this morning, at around $37.80.

CNBC:  Hoping for a Price Surge, Oil Companies Keep Wells in Reserve

The price of oil keeps dropping. But that didn’t stop a work crew from drilling a well recently on what was once a cornfield, carefully guiding the last sections of 13,000 feet of pipe spiraling into the hard Niobrara shale with a diamond-tipped bit.

Their well, one of hundreds drilled by Anadarko Petroleum in eastern Colorado’s Wattenberg field this year, could someday gush as many as 800 barrels of crude oil a day. But Anadarko is not planning to produce a drop of crude from the well for at least another year because the price of oil is now so pitifully low.

The well here is just one of more than 4,000 drilled oil and natural gas wells across the country producing nothing, but ready to be tapped quickly.

WSJ:  Japanese Court Rules Two Nuclear Reactors Can Be Restarted

TOKYO—A Japanese court said Thursday that the restart of two Kansai Electric Power Co. nuclear reactors could go ahead, reversing an earlier ruling and speeding up the return of nuclear power to Japan after the 2011 Fukushima accident.

Asia Nikkei:  Electricity-hungry India prime target for nuclear energy players

MUMBAI Electricity-hungry India is turning into a major battleground for nuclear power plant providers.

India already has 21 reactors in operation at seven sites, and the government plans to more than double the country’s nuclear generation capacity to around 13,500 megawatts over the next five years. It is aiming for an elevenfold increase by 2050.

A number of India’s existing nuclear plants are the result of collaboration with foreign companies, including GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Westinghouse Electric of the U.S. and Areva of France.

South China Morning Post:  Nuclear energy ‘essential’ to meet China’s climate targets, top official says

Nuclear energy is “essential” to meet mainland China’s 2030 climate targets, the nation’s top climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua told a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

But he said safety would be a priority, and the government was still considering when and where to launch inland nuclear projects.

“If we want to substantially reduce our dependence on coal and thermal power, renewable energies alone will not be able to account for as much as 20 per cent in total energy supply by 2030. We will definitely need nuclear energy,” Xie said.

The Economic Times:  Coal India output up 9% over last year’s production

NEW DELHI: Government today said coal output by state-owned CIL crossed 9 per cent over last year’s production adding that there is “still a very long way to go” amid the PSU eyeing one billion tonnes production target.

“Coal production by Coal India crosses 9 per cent over last year’s record production. Well done. Keep it going. Still a very long way to go,” Coal Secretary Anil Swarup said in a tweet.

Bloomberg:  Europe’s Hooked on U.S. Coal, But That Can’t Last

At the end of last week, the last deep coal mine in the U.K. and one of the three remaining ones in Germany closed forever. It seems symbolic, of course, in light of the new Paris climate agreement and Europe’s role as the global leader in sustainable, no-carbon energy, but the mines aren’t closing because of the green energy transition. The coal era is far from over in Europe, and the U.S. shale revolution is largely to blame for that.

The European Union still produces about a quarter of its electricity from coal. Germany, the continent’s largest economy and its biggest producer of wind and solar energy, generates 45 percent of its electricity from different kinds of coal. In the U.K., the share of coal in the energy mix is still above 20 percent, though renewable energy has overtaken it.

Reuters:  OPEC’s market share to shrink by 2020 as rivals keep pumping despite oil’s collapse

Global demand for OPEC’s crude will be lower in 2020 than next year as supply from rivals proves more resilient than expected, potentially fuelling a debate on the merits of its strategy to let prices fall to hurt other producers.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which a year ago refused to cut supply to retain market share against higher-cost rivals, in its 2015 World Oil Outlook raised its global supply forecasts for tight oil, which includes shale, despite a collapse in prices.

Daily Mail:  The new Cold War? Russia sends troops and missiles to the Arctic as Putin stakes a claim for the region’s oil and gas reserves

Russia is beefing up its military presence in the Arctic, sending troops and missiles to strengthen its position in the competition for the region’s extensive oil and gas reserves.
As well as deploying advanced anti-aircraft missiles to the region, President Vladimir Putin is overseeing the completion of six new bases designed to see off foreign competition for the natural resources.
It is estimated that billions of tonnes of oil and gas lie beneath the seabed, which is currently disputed territory.

CBS:  Paris climate goals mean emissions need to drop below zero

STOCKHOLM — If governments are serious about the global warming targets they adopted in Paris, scientists say they have two options: eliminating fossil fuels immediately or finding ways to undo their damage to the climate system in the future.

The first is politically impossible — the world is still hooked on using oil, coal and natural gas — which leaves the option of a major cleanup of the atmosphere later this century.

“The problem’s not solved because of this accord, but make no mistake, the Paris agreement establishes the enduring framework the world needs to solve the climate crisis,” President Obama said in a speech from the White House’s Cabinet Room. “It creates the mechanism, the architecture, for us to continually tackle this problem in an effective way.”

Salt Lake Tribune:  As marijuana industry expands, power demand taxes U.S. grids

The $3.5 billion U.S. cannabis market is emerging as one of the nation’s most power-hungry industries, with the 24-hour demands of thousands of indoor growing sites taxing aging electricity grids and unraveling hard-earned gains in energy conservation.

Without design standards or efficient equipment, the facilities in the 23 states where marijuana is legal are responsible for greenhouse-gas emissions almost equal to those of every car, home and business in New Hampshire. While reams of regulations cover everything from tracking individual plants to package labeling to advertising, they lack requirements to reduce energy waste.

Telegraph:  French power station generates electricity from cheese

Generating electricity from cheese could be the plot of an Asterix comic book, but that is exactly what is happening at a new power plant in the French Alps.
A by-product of Beaufort cheese, skimmed whey, is converted into biogas, a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide, at the plant in Albertville, in Savoie.

Bacteria are added to the whey to produce the gas, which is then used to generate electricity that is sold to the energy company EDF.

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60 Responses to Blowout week 104

  1. Roberto says:

    On the French news…
    ‘Bacteria are added to the whey to produce the gas, which is then used to generate electricity that is sold to the energy company EDF’

    EDF is obliged, reluctantly to buy… By the green intellighentsia running the show… e.g. Mme Royale… EDF exports 44TWh of electricity, it doesn’t need this ultra-expensive ‘renewable’ source… By the way, the emissions of any bio source are way up, at the top.

  2. garethbeer says:

    Nice blow-out Euan.
    Carbon Capture jogged my memory of how councils used to capture equally evil CFC’s from fridges not so long ago by slashing the pipe or something to decompress the coolant (and make safe) into atmosphere… I can see it being another expensive con for hand ringers, rent seekers and well paid operatives – ‘look everyone (bbc report without question) all that co2 is going into that secret magic liquid invented with a govt grant, look you can see it bubbling (que Maggie Philpin) it’s an absorbing it!’ In reality it’s going straight into the atmosphere…

    These dummy greenies have clearly forgotten that flora (not a grey margarine) absorbs co2, and are more content ripping trees out than planting them to save the earth!

    I know we are doing our best to upset Vlad (through foreign pol or is it lol), but can we just go and order 15-20 reactors off him – I’ve heard they’re relatively cheap, get delivered and actually do work instead of ordering from Citreon/Renault with bits falling off, constantly in the garage and are strap instead of a part-ex in 10 years! Hey we can even pay in cash – freshly printed of course!

    I need a drink!

    • Euan Mearns says:

      I think the Finns are building a Russian nuke and so it will interesting to compare their experience with Rosatom and Areva.

      I have to abide by my self imposed no booze before 17:00 rule, though there is a vacation flexibility clause in there.

      • garethbeer says:

        Should be scrap not strap (I hadn’t even had a drink then, get the 5pm rule gels nicely with must do something useful rule, that I adhere to, from vacuuming to fix the roof…).

      • Willem post says:

        The French plant is at least 5 years behind schedule and billions over budget.
        The Russian plant does not have a building permit, because Russian investors are allowed 40%, because the Finland government decreed financing to be at least 60% By EU sources.

  3. garethbeer says:

    And Marinjuna is green (pardon the crap pun) bio-fuels all over again!

  4. Hugh Sharman says:

    Bang-on Roberto!

    Biogas generated anaerobically, as described here, is typically 40% CO2 by weight and vents straight to atmosphere!

    It’s a neat way of disposing of wet, organic waste because, more often than not, that sort of waste will harm streams and rivers if dumped and the residue of anaerobic digestion (more often than not) can be a useful, nitrogen-rich fertilizer. The energy is a bonus.

    But of course, the process has become an untouchable icon of the “environmentalists” who would sooner turn surplus edible food into biogas than allow such food to be eaten by hungry humans or to be sold to local pig farmers; this still happened to the modest amounts of surplus food left uneaten by fellow pupils at my Welsh grammar school in the 1950s!

    I confess that last bit means I am indistiguishable from Sir Herbert Gusset (ret’d)! I must be getting old!

    • Euan Mearns says:

      The good old swill bucket?

      • singletonengineer says:

        Swill buckets were banned hereabouts decades ago, due to risk of disease transmission. No human refuse for Australian pigs, even the backyard variety.

    • PhilH says:

      Am I right in thinking that waste human food can no longer be fed to livestock for disease hygiene reasons, eg BSE?

      To call such food ‘surplus’ is by definition to say it’s not needed by humans. At least in the UK, anyone who is short of food (eg the users of foodbanks), is so for reasons of their finances (eg, not having received correct benefits), not for reasons of national shortage of food. We have to aim to overproduce food, because the variability of weather/climate makes each harvest uncertain. The question is then what do we do with the surplus food: just dump it or make some use of it?

      • garethbeer says:

        Find it quite incredible that perfectly good food is ‘biodegraded’ rather than fed to animals (who could care-less) pigs in particular… We’d rather feed them gm corn! Hmmmm

        Que Bono…

  5. Euan Mearns says:

    The story that caught my eye the most from CNBC:

    The well here is just one of more than 4,000 drilled oil and natural gas wells across the country producing nothing, but ready to be tapped quickly.

    OPEC, US and Global total liquids all up in November according to IEA. They just can’t seem to turn the stuff off.

  6. Hugh Sharman says:

    Brilliant posting as usual but you seem to have missed the Bloomberg story under the headline “This €1 Billion Power Plant May Never Be Switched on” (

    What happens to Germany’s electricity system when RWE, E.On, and ENBW finally go out of business and Vattenfall (read “Swedish tax payers) decides to “go home and shut the door” may be the “big” story for “Energy Matters” of 2016. The stability of the German grid depends crucially on these four companies whose power stations deliver 70% of German electricity but whose stock market value at the end of 2015 is 25% of their 2007 peak.

    Why should their shareholders (many of whom are German pensioners) willingly lose much more money than they already have?

    What ever happens to these four, we can be sure none will be very pretty, so just remember, you saw it here first on “Energy Matters”!!

    • gweberbv says:


      the reason for keeping non-profitable power plants in operation is very simple: Shutting them down is even less profitable. It may well be that EON, RWE et al. will not survive the next 10 years. However, the power plants currently owned/operated by these companies will not disappear. If they are crucial for grid stability, the German taxpayer will be happy to buy them for a token sum of – let’s say – 1 Euro.

      The true story of the coal-fired power plant where construction is stopped now is a little bit different: During the construction of the plant, a mistake by a contractor of RWE resulted in severe damage. RWE now sees the chance to get the money for the plant back by sueing the contractor. Without this very special circumstance RWE would seek to operate it as long as selling electricity covers the operation costs … and wait for better times.

      • Euan Mearns says:

        Gunter, I’m interested to know if you live in E or W Germany. How can you celebrate the state sponsored destruction of wealth creation?

        • gweberbv says:


          when the decision was made to ramp up renewable energies, a clear result was that the operators of FF plants would loose a big part of their business model. At the same time, for a reason I do not really understand, the major power companies ignored most of the renewables business. Now the shit hits the fan.
          Probably, our government could have done a much better job in mitigating this severe and relatively fast transition on the electricity market. But they leave it to the (wholesale) market to destroy overcapacities and to expropriate the investors of conventional power plants.

          I am not happy that the big power companies in Germany are close to bankrupty. However, I also do not see this as a major problem. This ‘destruction of wealth’ is well below the noise level generated by business-as-usual capitalism. In particular, if you take into account that a lot of industrial consumers enjoy extremly low electricity prices (those who can buy on the wholesale market and are exempted from the expenses for renewables). There, a lot of wealth is generated from the agony of German power plant owners. (Should sound familiar to everybody being affiliated to oil, gas or coal producers.)

          To satisfy your curiosity: I grew up in the Frankfurt region (the ‘big’ Frankfurt in West Germany – there is also a much smaller, less known Frankfurt close to the border to Poland) and a few years ago I moved to East Germany.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            when the decision was made to ramp up renewable energies.

            Gunter, this is critical. A decision was made by who? And why? And based on what evidence?

          • singletonengineer says:

            Frankly, I do not weep for the loss of coal-fired plant.

            It makes no sense at all to close functional zero-carbon nuclear power plant for party-political purposes Call it social hysteria if the mention of politics is not palatable – the result is the same, whether in Japan, Germany or elsewhere. Nothing is gained and much is lost.

          • Willem post says:

            The fossil fuel and hydro plants are the life preservers of wind and solar energy. Without them wind and solar SINK.

            To celebrate putting them out of business, is sheer folly.

          • Hugh Sharman says:


            Thank you for your very interesting perspectives. I believe a high fraction of the German voters does not care much for the old giants, so your views are definitely influencing German politicians.

            These companies are also massively important for UK consumers. Between them, RWE and E.On own a high fraction of UK generation, both renewable and fossil. The UK is desperately short of reliable, dispatchable capacity which, in my opinion, RWE and E.On are now both too poor and too corporately traumatized to be able to address realistically. Furthermore, where once they contributed to the UK’s national discussion, quite positively actually, they are now silent.

            According to the interview at, it seems that the German Renewables corporates are making loud complaints about the decision of the present German Government to slow down the expansion of wind and solar power.

            Such large investments need a stable business environment and long-term persectives, they say, and that is not the case in Germany, going into 2016! Now where ever did I hear that before? 😉 And from whom? Well, I seem to remember, none other than RWE, E.On etc!!

            It sounds like a real mess, especially if Czech CEPs continues with its intention to to build phase-changing transformers on its border with Germany. Won’t that be coming on stream during 2016?

          • gweberbv says:


            it is the job of the regulators to keep enough dispatchable capacity ready to operate to ensure grid stability and adequate supply for demand. Every hospital needs to have emergency diesel, likewise every country/regulation zone needs to have reserve capacity. Where is the problem? If a private company wants to shut down a plant that is needed for the system just say ‘NO!’ … and pay them for keep it ready to operate until hell freezes over (or you find an alternative).

            A little more than 10 years ago one of the biggest telcom companies in the world went bankrupt. As a result, exaclty how many homes were cut-off from telephone, cable, internet, etc.? It is not the company, it is the infrastructure that is important!

          • gweberbv says:


            the roots of the Energiewende go back to the late 70s and 80s (anti-nuclear movement, ‘anti-open-pit-lignite-mining-movement’, etc.). Since then a lot of decisions were made by a lot of people. You might need a phd thesis to portrait everything.

            The most important developments of the last 10 to 15 years (when new installed renewable capacity was skyrocketing):
            – Farmes could make good money with building medium-size PV plants (few 10 to few 100 kW peak power installations), wind (by earning the rent for the land) and biomethan. This was triggered by the feed-in tariff scheme installed by a socialist-green government. Farmers are important for the conservative parties. So, these parties which were not really in favor of the Energiewende were not able to stop it.
            – Local authorities in less-dense populated areas were quite happy to receive the tax payments of wind farms (while population and industry was fleeing these regions since decades). Thus, strong local support for wind farms.
            – Fukushima killing the nuclear revival initiated by the conservative-liberal government. Also acting as a counter-balance to the anger over high renewables costs in the public oppinnion.
            – Heavy-industry realizing that overcapacity on the electricity market will guarantee wholesale prices on a dumping level for at least a decade (while the biggest consumers of electricity are largely exemted from payments for renewables and grid extension).

            From my point of view these are the driving forces of the Energiewende in Germany. ‘Green’ guys were only needed for installing the feed-in tariff scheme (which is now started to be replaced by auctions) and to provide some moral/ethic basis for earning money with heavily subsidzed renewables.

          • robertok06 says:


            “If a private company wants to shut down a plant that is needed for the system just say ‘NO!’ … and pay them for keep it ready to operate until hell freezes over (or you find an alternative).”

            OK… but then you (“you” means the pro-renewable, anti-fossil/nuclear “green” intellighentsia) should stop telling people that the cost of electricity will be comparable to that of today, once the legendary Energiewende takes finally place… ’cause keeping power plants hot and ready to go for only few 100s hours/year is going to cost literally a fortune!…

            … but it is nice to see that, in the end, even hard-liners like you admit, in the end, the failure of the nonsensical Energiewende:


            … it’s noon… peak of (non)production for PV in sunny Germany…

            …. 7.9 GW with almost 40 GWp installed????… and this should be the future of Europe or even the planet???? … gimme a break, please.

          • gweberbv says:


            I am really sorry, but I fail to see a problem. Do you really consider a few billions per year as a ‘fortune’ for a few trillions national economy?

            Note that the electricity market is only a fraction of the energy market as a whole. As long as the national economy has to (and is able to) adjust to oil price variations of a factor of 3 within a few years, a few billions here and there for expanding the grid, paying for backup capacity, etc. is just peanuts.
            Much more important is grid stability.

            And what you completely ignore: The costs of grid extension and renewables installations are mostly up front costs. Keeping the stuff in operation costs only a few pennies compared to the initial investment. This is in contrary to all FF power plants.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Hugh, As you know we have same situation here in Scotland. Longannet will close (2.4 GW of coal power) to be replaced by occasional puffs of wind that only have any value if Longannet exists.

      • garethbeer says:

        Are they just closing the plant, is there anything written down as to its fate (is it being demolished/dismantled, with minutes of it being turned off, like the ones south of border)?

    • robertok06 says:

      From your link…

      “The shared electricity market between Austria and Germany was seen as a major achievement in 2002 but now it is coming under pressure from Germany’s increasing generation from renewables, showing the disintegrative side effects the energy transition can have if grids are not expanded.”
      … and yet the austrian govenrment is the one which has taken the UK over to courts over the cost of the EDF UK’s EPR at Hinkley Point… which would alleviate/eliminate similar congestion problems.

      It’s just another example of what happens when ideology takes precedence to science.

  7. singletonengineer says:

    I am the first to agree that I do not understand the details of the German/Austrian Common Bidding Zone, or for that matter, the detailed commercial nature of the links between Germany and its many neighbours referred to in the linked article, but it appears that there are two things happening here:
    1. Commercial agreements are being made that are unachievable in the real world due to the physical limits of existing infrastructure; and
    2. Costs of loop flows of electricity, especially when these flows lead to functional impairment of the high voltage interconnectors, are not being carried by those parties that are responsible for them.

    Is this evidence of a market failure or of lack of infrastructure?

    Both seem to arise from poor market rules, not poor infrastructure. In which case, the response should be amendment of the market rules in order to accommodate the real world constraints, rather than to leave the market untouched and to install physical constraints such as the plug in the bath referred to in the article, or the phase shifters which are being constructed by Poland et al.

    Who pays for the loop flows/use of the HV interconnectors? If not the those using them, why not? Or are they simply a “common economic good”, to be plundered at no or minimal cost by opportunists to the detriment of the many?

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Is this evidence of a market failure or of lack of infrastructure?

      It is in my opinion policy / market failure. The way the market is rigged, companies obeying policy can do whatever they want at whatever cost. The consumer just has to keep on paying the bills. That is until someone begins to ask questions. And the rules have now become fluid creating pause for thought, i.e. market failure.

      It seems to have become engrained in pop culture that renewable energy is good. But do we have any evidence to back this up? And equally engrained the concept that distributed generation is better than centralised. Where is the evidence to back that up?

      Distributed generation creates the need for VAST storage schemes and power lines everywhere with VAST trunks of power lines. What is good about that? See comments by Scottish Scientist.

      And policy has dispensed with the need for our legacy generating assets that are now fast disappearing. We are replacing a cheap system that worked incredibly well, with a very expensive one that doesn’t work at all.

    • robertok06 says:

      “a “common economic good”, to be plundered at no or minimal cost by opportunists to the detriment of the many?”

      Congratulations (really, I’m not kidding)… with this simple, clear and concise sentence you’ve summarized the core values of the moronic “green economy”… i.e. “grab as much as you can as if there was no tomorrow”… on the pretense of saving the planet.

      Unfortunately for them, this teaser by one of the geniuses of the 20th century clears things a bit:

      “It doesn’t matter who you are, or how nice your theory is…. if it disagrees with the experiment… IT’S WRONG!”…

      … and this hold for the global warming craze as well as the phyically impossible Energiewende… it’s stuff dating the early 60s… but the greens are known to be a bit slow…. let’s give ’em a bit more time… they’ll get it one day, finally.

    • gweberbv says:

      1) It makes sense to define common bidding zones (areas in which producers/sellers and consumers/buyers of electricity can exchange energy without taking into account physical constraints such as transport capacity).
      2) It makes also sense to adjust these zones according to market activity and/or changes in physical constraints.

      Splitting a common bidding zone makes sense when otherwise market players from subzone A would regularly demand more electricity from subzone B than can be physically transported by direct interconnectors between both zones.
      If both zones are isolated the overproduction in A needs to be reduced immediatly to preserve grid stability. Vice versa, zone B needs to ramp up production. However, when A and B are also connected via zone C, this zone unwillingly act as a transit route between the source (A) and the sink (B).

      Either one builds interconnectors fast enough to keep pace with market development (strong increase of renewables production in Germany with conventional power plants still in operation and desperately seeking for costumers abroad) or one has to readjust the binnding zones. From time to time, even a split between north and south of Germany is discussed.
      The inability to expand the grid at the same speed as wind generators are installed (PV is less important here because it is distributed much more uniformly over the country) is the main problem of the Energiewende right now. And most probably it is the reason behind the relatively slow increase in renewable capacity that is targeted by the government for the upcoming years.

  8. From – The Guardian: Desert tower raises Chile’s solar power ambition to new heights
    – the passage I would like to quote is this one –

    “In solar alone, we have 1,000 gigawatts of generation potential, but domestic demand is less than 20GW. In future, we could export energy to other Latin American countries,” said Patricio Rodrigo, the executive director of the Chile Ambiente corporation.”

    Note 1,000 GW!

    However, what the Guardian misses is that scientifically speaking, it would be possible to supply NORTH America from the Atacama Desert, or to supply northern Europe – us in Britain – from the Namib Desert in Namibia – both deserts which straddle the southern tropic, the Tropic of Capricorn, which enjoys the December solstice and the strongest sunshine in the world, just when the northern hemisphere is suffering the depths of the darkest time of winter and when we could do with solar power the most.

    The distance from the southern tropic to the North Pole is 12,630 km. So the development of HVDC technologies – subsea cables and the rest – to operate over those sorts of distances could power the north all year round from solar power.

    ABB is has developed 1,100 kV HVDC which they envisage for supplying (overland) at distances of up to 3,000km
    “ABB develops complete system solution for 1,100 kV HVDC power transmission”

    My estimate, assuming that the design transmission distance which is reasonable to engineer for is proportional to the transmission voltage squared, is that if 1,100 HVDC is used in bipolar mode +/-1,100 kV DC lines, as per the Brazilian Rio Madeira line of 2,375 kilometres using bipolar +/-600 kV DC lines, then distances of (1,100/600)^2 x 2,375 = 7,982 km are possible with +/-1,100 kV which would allow supply from the northern tropic at least allowing supply from the Sahara Desert to northern Europe or from Mexico to north America.

    So I estimate +/-1,100 kV allows the northern hemisphere to be supplied solar power from the northern tropic whereas a similar calculation (1,384/600)^2 x 2,375 = 12,637 km predicts that bipolar +/-1,380 kV HVDC would be more like what is required to supply the northern hemisphere from the southern tropic.

    Don’t ask me for cost estimates though. I’m just saying that supplying the north with solar power transmitted from the tropics is scientifically possible without estimating how hard and how costly the engineering would be. That’s for engineers to worry about, bless ’em.

    Scottish Scientist
    Independent Scientific Adviser for Scotland

    • JerryC says:

      Yeah, a 12,000 km power cable big enough to power western Europe might be kind of pricy. And the payoff is that you get to rely on Namibia for your electricity. Hmmm…..

    • Peter Lang says:

      Ball park estimate for total cost of transmission $1,500/ over land and 2x that undersea.

      But you also need to add the cost of energy storage, OR you need sufficient generating capacity in regions around the world so that regions at high sun time of day can supply all the world’s peak demand and you have to run trunk transmission lines around the world with sufficient capacity to supply all the world’s peak power from the regions in high sun.

      I expect you’d need total solar power station capacity of around 5x peak demand and transmission from every power station to every region with capacity to carry the peak nameplate power output from every power station to the peak demand for every region.

      Would you like to do the arithmetic to estimate the capital cost of that?

    • Peter Lang says:


      I’ve been thinking about your thought provoking idea of HDVC from solar power stations in southern hemisphere deserts to northern Europe. Nuclear power would be less than 1/10th the cost.

      Basis of estimate:

      Option 1: 10 GW HVDC transmission line from solar thermal power stations in southern hemisphere deserts

      Assume 20 x 500 MW solar thermal power stations which in combination can supply 10 GW power with equivalent capacity factor and availability as 10 x 1 GW nuclear power stations located in Europe.

      Storage needs to be either at the solar power stations or in Europe. The transmission line would have to be some 5 to 10 times higher capacity if the storage is located in Europe rather than at the power stations. Storage is expensive wherever it is located so let’s minimise the transmission line costs. Therefore, assume storage is at the power stations.

      Solar power stations will need to be widely distributed to minimise the effects of large weather systems and dust storms. Say they are dispersed and located at a radius of 1,000 km from the start of the HVDC transmission line. So, we need say 10 x 1 GW transmission lines to feed from pairs of power stations to the start of the transmission line.

      The solar power stations will need sufficient solar field and energy storage to supply say 5 days of full power 24/7 for 60 years (at equivalent of the 90% CF of the nuclear plants).

      Redundancy is needed in the solar plants and the transmission line. If the 10 GW transmission line trips and there is no redundancy, that is the same as 10 GW of nuclear power plants tripping at exactly the same time. This would probably bring the EU electricity system down.

      You calculated the HVDC line length would be 12,637 km from the Tropic of Capricorn to northern Europe. I’ll use 10,000 km for ease of calculations.

      I’ll use unit cost of $1,000/ – based on $1,364/ from Table 6 here: .

      Therefore, the cost of the HVDC transmission line is:

      $1,000/ x 10,000 MW x 10,000 km = $1.0 x 10^11 = $100 billion
      To that we must add:
      • 10 x 1,000 km x 1,000 MW transmission lines @ $1,000/ = $10 billion
      • Feeder lines in Europe
      • 20 x 500 MW solar thermal power stations with 5-days storage capacity @ $30/W = $300 billion
      • Total = $410 billion (but probably higher because of need for redundancy of solar thermal power stations.

      Option 2: 11 GW of new nuclear power stations in Europe

      10 GW new nuclear at say $5 billion per GW (NOAK cost) = $50 billion
      This would require negligible additional transmission cost.

      This option is less than half the cost of the HVDC transmission line and feeders alone, let alone the cost of the solar thermal power stations.

      Germany is building 10 new large coal power stations. If nuclear was built instead of coal, the additional capital cost might be say $20 billion (and lower operating cost through life).

      Therefore, the nuclear option would be less than 1/5th cost of the HVDC line alone and less than 1/10 the cost including the solar thermal power stations.

      The nuclear option would also be much more reliable and less prone to disruption by ISIS and dictators like Puttin.

      Clearly, the HVDC transmission from solar thermal power stations in the southern hemisphere is not worth serious consideration.

      • @Peter Lang
        Thank for your replies and your cost estimates.

        Regarding your estimate for transmission line costs based on the SOUTH AUSTRALIAN INTERCONNECTOR FEASIBILITY STUDY cost estimates, which I presume are quoted in Australian dollars, are all your cost estimates quoted in Australian dollars or US dollars?

        In other words when you wrote this

        “I’ll use unit cost of $1,000/ – based on $1,364/ ”

        were you converting AUD $1,364 to US $1,000, because that is about the exchange rate?

        Or was that a AUD $364/ discount you were factoring in for a 10 GW x 10,000 km line, savings for bulk orders etc, and your cost estimates are all quoted in AUD $?

        Can you likewise provide a link to a source from which you arrived at the “$30/W” factor in

        “20 x 500 MW solar thermal power stations with 5-days storage capacity @ $30/W = $300 billion”?

        Would that be quoting “$30/W” in on-demand power capacity with a 24/7 availability, after factoring in that to achieve 1 Watt on demand one would need to install some multiple Watts in nameplate solar power backed-up with 1 Watt-for-5-days of energy storage?

        I’m curious about the assumptions in that “$30/W” costing if any – such as what multiple of nameplate solar power and why is was “5 days of energy storage” you assumed?

        I’ve some idea of what would be required to provide on demand power from wind turbines operating in Britain and how much energy storage capacity would be needed to back the wind turbines up.

        I was able to run a computer simulation because we have good data from the Gridwatch website for UK wind power and demand.

        “Modelling of wind and pumped-storage power”

        My conclusion from my modelling was that one reasonable balance would only require 1.11 days of peak-power (1.77 days of average power) energy storage coupled with a maximum wind turbine power being equal to 5.5 times the peak-demand, with the installed nameplate wind turbine power capacity being even more than 5.5 times the peak-demand.

        Other balances of maximum wind power and energy storage capacity would also work equally well to serve demand. For example, one could perfectly well choose to install and use energy storage of 5 days of average power, and that would require less wind turbine power to be installed.

        So one could choose a mix of power and energy storage to achieve lowest cost if one had cost estimates for the wind turbines and pumped-storage.

        So what I am interested to know is whether your estimated “$30/W” comes from data acquired from some real Australian (or other southern tropic location) experience with solar power backed up with energy storage or if there exists a published computer model using appropriate solar power output data for solar power stations operating somewhere on the southern tropic, such as Australia?

        Also, if you intend to have the energy store located with the solar power in the southern tropic, what manner of energy storage did you assume for your costing of “$30/W”?

        There are so many possibilities involved at arriving at a cost estimate factor like “$30/W” I just wonder from where you have pulled out that “$30/W” factor from so that I can see what, if any details, there are to support that estimate?

        “$30/W” is a critical figure in your cost estimates because it gets multiplied up by 10 billion, so I would need to check that figure out before agreeing with your cost estimate for the solar power and energy storage.

        Also it may be worth considering the option of using existing energy storage facilities at the consumer end of the transmission line, in the north. It may be that pumped-storage hydro energy storage facilities get built anyway to back-up wind turbines.

        If existing energy storage at the customer location could be used then solar power in the southern tropic could be use to top up the consumer’s local energy stores via the transmission line. Therefore arriving at a cost estimate for the solar power without energy storage is of interest too.

        To be honest I had idly assumed without doing the sums which you have done that the cost of the transmission line of the order of 10,000 km, 11,000 km or 12,000 km would work out to be more than the cost of the solar power and energy storage to generate the power required, but apparently not, according to your estimate?

        Very interesting Peter and thanks again for your input into this question.

        • Peter Lang says:


          were you converting AUD $1,364 to US $1,000, because that is about the exchange rate?

          No. I rounded down for ease of calculations. Most of the cost figures I use are from around 2010 to 2012; at this time AUD and USD were roughly on par; AUD was up to 10% higher than USD at one stage and now is about 30% lower. My calculations are ‘ball’ park and have such huge uncertainties that the difference between USD and AUD is not worth worrying about.

          By far the greatest uncertainty is in the cost of the solar thermal power stations with storage to provide a reliable 10 GW feed into the HVDC line.

          Can you likewise provide a link to a source from which you arrived at the “$30/W” factor in “20 x 500 MW solar thermal power stations with 5-days storage capacity @ $30/W = $300 billion”?

          Would that be quoting “$30/W” in on-demand power capacity with a 24/7 availability, after factoring in that to achieve 1 Watt on demand one would need to install some multiple Watts in nameplate solar power backed-up with 1 Watt-for-5-days of energy storage?

          I’m curious about the assumptions in that “$30/W” costing if any – such as what multiple of nameplate solar power and why is was “5 days of energy storage” you assumed?

          I am very glad you asked that. I was expecting someone to jump all over it and say my estimate is rubbish. So thanks for asking without implying I am a nut case (someone may still do so 🙂 ).

          I originally did a simple ‘back of an envelope analysis’ for capital cost and LCOE of solar thermal with 15 h storage using Australian Government costs from the Department of Resources and Energy. That estimate is explained here:
          100% renewable electricity for Australia – the cost
 Download the pdf to see the detailed explanation in Appendix 1.
          And you can download the spreadsheet with the calculations and inputs here:

          The Australian Government updated the figures in the Australian Technology Assessment Report (AETA) 2012 report here:

          The AETA 2012 report, pp36-37, gives capital cost figures for solar thermal with and without 6 h storage (in 2009 USD/kW):

          Without storage: US$4,920/kW
          With 6 h storage: US$8,950/kW
          Therefore, 6 h storage and the solar field size multiplier cost = US$4,030/kW

          Now, here is the hard part. How many GW, of solar thermal power stations, spread over what area and over how many degrees of longitude, and how much energy storage is needed to supply a reliable 10 GW of power into the HDVC line?

          Gemasolar, Spain, has 15 h storage and it’s near useless in winter. I decided your concept was to tap the southern hemisphere summer to supply power to northern hemisphere winter and presumed you’d have an equivalent sized system in the northern hemisphere deserts to supply Europe in summer.

          We know that we can get large weather systems that last many days to a week and cover thousands of kilometres in diameter. So, I assumed we’d need sufficient storage to supply 5 days full power from 10 GW of solar power stations. I’ll assume there is sufficient sunlight in day time, for 9 h per day, to provide the power without drawing on storage. Therefore, we need 5 days x 15 h/d storage = 75 h storage at full power.

          I factor up the cost of the 6 h storage and solar field multiplier to 75 h and add the cost without storage (includes the power block etc.):

          US$4,030/kW x 75/6 + US$4,920/kW = $55,295
          Add 10% for Auxiliary load = US$61,439

          I then halved this figure – to reduce the expected abuse 🙂 – and came up with $30/W

          You could, of course, tackle this estimate in many others ways and with different assumptions – e.g. allow for the massive dust storms and a year to clean the mirrors afterwards.

          I look forward to discussion and other estimates of the cost to provide a reliable 10 GW power into the HDVC transmission line. Or better still, a cost estimate to deliver a reliable 10 GW to Europe.

          Oh, one more thing: there are 155 mostly good comments on the thread and another 67 comments on the response by Dr Mark Diesendorf, one of the authors of the EDM study I used as the basis for the proportions of technologies needed to meet the 2010 demand profile: .

          • Peter Lang says:

            BTW, regarding this in my comment above:

            And you can download the spreadsheet with the calculations and inputs here:

            you can remove protection on the spreadsheets if you want to change the inputs and run your own analyses.

          • Peter Lang says:

            For a fair, apples to apples, comparison with the option of building 10 GW new nuclear power plants in Europe, the HVDC line needs to be fed by 10 GW firm power. If the power is to be generated by solar thermal power stations in Nabib Desert, as Scottish Scientist suggested, then we need a design concept that can supply reliable firm power for 60 years (same design life as the nuclear power stations).

            I mentioned that one of the issues with solar thermal in deserts is the dust storms. How do we clean the mirrors after a dust storm. This link shows satellite and on the ground images of the 2009 dust storm that covered about 1/3 of Australia’s land area.

            “Air particle concentration levels reached 15,400 micrograms per cubic metre of air. Normal days register up to 20 micrograms and bushfires generate 500 micrograms. … The CSIRO estimated that the storm carried some 16 million tonnes of dust from the deserts of Central Australia,”

            How long should we estimate it would take to clean the mirrors of say 50 GW of solar thermal power stations (each with 15 h storage and solar field size to match) after a storm like that. The area to be cleaned may be some 100,000 ha spread over solar farms hundreds to thousand of kilometers apart in the desert in a politically unstable region.

            Ivanpah area is 1420 ha, with 173,500 heliostats for 377 MW net with no energy storage. 6 h storage needs 2x the field size and for 15 h storage needs 2.5x the solar field area. With 15 h storage on each solar farm we’d need perhaps 50 GW of total nameplate capacity to supply reliable 10 GW firm power.

            I’d welcome an improved concept and cost estimate for the solar thermal power stations located in the Nabib Desert to supply 10 GW firm power to the HVDC line for 60 years.

          • @Peter Lang


            it ought to be scientifically possible to supply from Australia to the northern hemisphere – south-east China, Japan and even the Russian Far East, assuming there could be developed new higher-voltage HVDC cables (I’ve suggested bipolar +/- 1,380 kV) long-distance subsea cables.

            South-east China, where the big demand for power is, is within reach of current HVDC transmission line technology of Tibet, which is an excellent site for solar power farms.

            So China can supply solar from Tibet in June and the northern summer but in December and the northern winter even Tibetan solar will be at a minimum and so China will always need to supplement its Tibetan solar with some other generator.

            From Japan, Tibet is not that much closer than Australia, and Japan likes its independence from China. China also may use all the solar which Tibet can offer and not wish to export any solar power from Tibet to Japan or to anywhere else. China may hog Tibetan solar.

            Japan too is keen to find a good energy solution after Fukushima and has made a start with its own solar farms

            I’m not the first one to suggest that Japan may wish to get its power from Australian solar power, if by other methods than long-distance subsea cables, such as shipping hydrogen.

            So Peter, it is not only the possibilities of supplying Europe from the Namib desert or supplying North America from the Atacama Desert, I had in mind. I think there could be similar opportunities for supplying the northern hemisphere from Australia too.

            Thanks for the explanation of how you arrived at your “$30/W” for solar plus storage factor.

            From one of the sources you referenced, the “Australian Energy Technology Assessment 2012” I quote this –

            “In 2010, the United States Department of Energy (DoE) implemented a program with the aim
            of achieving installed solar photovoltaic for $1/Watt by 2017. With the current rate of progress,
            the cost of utility-sized photovoltaic (PV) systems is predicted to reach $2.20/watt by 2016.”
            – from page 42

            So if the costs of the storage required can be reduced, something less than $30/W may be reasonable.

            What would be useful to calculate storage requirements with solar would be if Australia had a good raw data source for solar output with time, as we do with the Gridwatch for U.K. National Grid status data download for wind power.

            UK solar farm power data is harder to come by and not what’s needed anyway to estimate what power can be expected from a solar farm on the tropics.

            As for dust, well plants have a way of dealing with dust, cars have a way of windscreen wiping so it cannot be beyond the wit of man to develop an automatic way to clean solar panels or mirrors.

            There are interesting possibilities and I remain hopeful about long distance solar. I wish I had more time to investigate such matters in detail as they should be but I don’t right now.

          • Peter Lang says:


            I urge you to estimate the costs of your ideas before you publish. If you don’t estimate the costs of your concepts, they are likely to publish total nonsense. You may as well advocate piping hydrogen from the Sun!

            Before you can estimate costs you need at least a conceptual design. I gave you the basis of an estimate that came to $61/W for 10 GW with 75 h storage (I halved it and posted $30/W to be conservative, but it’s probably much higher than $60/W to provide firm power with solar thermal). 75 h storage is virtually impossible. Even 15 h storage is hugely expensive and can’t provide firm power through winter months. In fact Gemasolar, Spain, with 15 h storage, can provide full power only in summer months and only if there are no long periods of overcast weather. 15 h storage requires a solar field at least 3.5 times larger than for no storage. I showed you how to estimate the cost. Over to you.

            Ivanpah shows the expected cost of 377 MW with no storage and using lots of gas to heat the salt each morning, i.e. $2.2 billion. Factor up to 10 GW with 75 h storage (impossible but gives you a lower bound) and also estimate the cost for 50 GW with 15 h storage (this still won’t give you firm power as reliable as nuclear plants in Europe). Any way you look at it the idea is totally ridiculous. It’s one or more orders of magnitude more expensive than just building new nuclear plants in Europe where and when needed and less reliable.

            I’d suggest you get an experienced engineer to look at your ideas. They are impractical.

            Regarding the DOE’s 2010 hope of achieving $1/W for installed PV by 2017, it is irrelevant. It doesn’t include storage so cannot supply firm power.

            Regarding output of solar PV, residential PV is behind the meter in UK and Australia so power generated is not metered. In Australia, AEMO has just begun publishing power from commercial solar PV stations. But no need to get down to that level of detail. The costs of PV with storage are several orders of magnitude too high.

            I’ve given you plenty to enable you to estimate the costs of your schemes. I’ve also written comments on your pumped hydro idea on your web site. I could give you more, but you rejected the points I made and didn’t even read the link I provided before writing your responses, so I’d be wasting my time writing any more. Your comments reveal you have no practical expertise in pumped pumped hydro.

            You need engineering expertise to bring some pragmatism to your ideas.

    • robertok06 says:

      How about the losses over such long distances?… even at only 3%/1000 km (quoted in several places)… 0.97^12=0.7 … i.e. 30% is going to be lost along the road… not peanuts I’d say…

      • The whole purpose of considering higher voltage such as 1,100 kV or 1,380 kV HVDC lines for use over much longer distances is precisely to reduce the losses per 1000 km so that the losses over the whole design length remain about the same.

        Now assume 3% losses for 1000 km at 800 kV monopole or +/- 400 kV bipolar.

        Resistive losses per length scale in inverse proportion to voltage squared.

        3% losses for 1000 x (1,100/400)^2 = 7,562 km at +/- 1,100 kV bipolar (for supply from northern tropic, eg Sahara)

        3% losses for 1000 x (1,380/400)^2 = 11,902 km at +/- 1,380 kV bipolar (for supply from southern tropic, eg Namibia)

        So to redo your sum, Roberto.

        Supplying over 12,000 km at +/- 1,380 kV bipolar with losses of 3% and 97% transmitted after 11,902 km delivers

        0.97^(12/11.902) = 0.97^1.008 = 0.9697 or losses of 3%, still.

        • robertok06 says:

          “Now assume 3% losses for 1000 km at 800 kV monopole or +/- 400 kV bipolar.”

          No way… as you can see here…

          … or here…

          … losses for other than HVDC are MUCH higher than the figures you’ve cited, and 3%/1000 km for HVDC’s present technology is a good value.

          So, unless some unexpected and sudden technological breakthrough takes place, I MAINTAIN my calculation… 12,000 km electricity transfer via HVDC would entail at least 30% losses.

          Your estimates have too much wishful and not enough thinking I’m afraid. 🙂

          • @robertok06

            “other than HVDC” – Roberto

            “Other”, Roberto? Who is talking about “other”? I never mentioned “other”. I was talking about HVDC and HVDC only.

            I would remind you of these quotes from my first comment here –

            “ABB is has developed 1,100 kV HVDC”
            “1,100 HVDC is used in bipolar mode +/-1,100 kV DC lines”
            ” bipolar +/-1,380 kV HVDC would be more like what is required to supply the northern hemisphere from the southern tropic”

            So any reader ought to expect from my first post that I am discussing HVDC and HVDC only.

            But I am not talking about only about today’s HVDC technology but I am anticipating the development of HVDC in future using higher voltages, which would still be HVDC but HVDC at a higher voltage such as 1,380 kV HVDC.

            Whilst I would not use your words of “unexpected and sudden technological breakthrough”, you ought to think about ABB’s newly development of 1,100 kV HVDC technology.

            ABB is has developed 1,100 kV HVDC which they envisage for supplying (overland) at distances of up to 3,000km
            “ABB develops complete system solution for 1,100 kV HVDC power transmission”

            Now Roberto, if you want to comment in an informed manner you really ought to learn that the reason high voltage is used in power transmission is to reduce resistive losses and the higher the voltage, the lower the losses.

            It is EXPECTED, by scientists anyway, not “unexpected” that as you upgrade to a higher voltage, you can expect lower losses. This is what science tells us.

            So if I, you or anyone is calculating expected resistive losses then WE MUST SPECIFY AT WHICH VOLTAGE!

            Forgetting about the voltage is going to give you the wrong answer Roberto. Don’t forget to factor in the voltage, as follows –

            “Resistive losses per length scale in inverse proportion to voltage squared.”

            Which means, if you double the voltage, then you can go 4 times further with the same losses.

            Your calculation, Roberto, which you wish to maintain is based on assumption that the voltage remains the same or it doesn’t matter what the voltage is. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, Roberto.

            The voltage would NOT be the same with a new +/- 1,380 kV HVDC technology. Precisely, the voltage would be different, higher and that has to be factored in to any calculation of expected losses.

            I’m a scientist, I’m a mathematician and I don’t deal in “wishful thinking” but rather I do try to factor in all the relevant factors into a calculation.

            Roberto, I don’t have time to explain this to you further. Sorry but that is my final word on it.

  9. RDG says:

    Solar energy is like the Crystalline Entity on Star Trek. It will consume all energy generators in its path. Nuclear is so dead its just silly.

  10. Tim Kiser says:

    What do you renewable guys think about the oil surplus, price decline, and future policy’s of governments in response to lower cost oil. I see a price spike coming in a few years. Tim

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Future price spike inevitable for so long as we have capitalism. I think the only way to gain price stability is through price controls – we are already well on the way to a command economy. “Thou must use renewable energy no matter what it costs and no matter what price to the environment.”

      Predicting the timing of future price spike is incredibly hard. Hundreds of companies need to go bust first and thousands of already drilled shale wells need to come on line along with Iran. And future spike unlikely to go as high as prior spike since we are all maxed out on debt and the Chinese industrial revolution is complete.

    • garethbeer says:

      Seen figures between 400-650 billion per year of investment required for the next 25 years to maintain current oil production levels – cap ex is being slashed as we speak due to the too low oil price…

  11. Why do you keep quoting stuff you find on CleanTechnica? Not a place for reliable information.

  12. Euan Mearns says:

    In the meantime, the Ukraine is in full-blown collapse—all five glorious stages of it—setting the stage for a Ukrainian Nightmare Before Christmas, or shortly after.

    Phase 1. Financially, the Ukrainian government is in sovereign default as of a couple of days ago. The IMF was forced to break its own rules in order to keep it on life support even though it is clearly a deadbeat. In the process, the IMF stiffed Russia, which happens to be one of its major shareholders; what gives?

    Phase 2. Industry and commerce are approaching a standstill and the country is rapidly deindustrializing. Formerly, most of the trade was with Russia; this is now over. The Ukraine does not make anything that the EU might want, except maybe prostitutes. Recently, the Ukraine has been selling off its dirt. This is illegal, but, given what’s been happening there, the term “illegal” has become the stuff of comedy.

    Phase 3. Politically, the Ukrainian government is a total farce. Much of it has been turned over to fly-by-night foreigners, such as the former Georgian president Saakashvili, who is a wanted criminal in his own country…..

  13. RDG says:

    Its all about solar fuels. Above ground generation of fuel. Its all based nanotechnology. And nanotechnology has immense importance to future military applications. See how its all connected.

    What good is nuclear to the military? Completely useless. And yet the dumb ol engineers who endorse nuclear talk about what? Stupid worthless papers about paper nuclear reactors that don’t work. Kind of like building that worthless space shuttle and the ITER sham.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      RDG, I’m afraid you are writing incoherent rubbish and so I have placed you on comment moderation. If you come up with anything useful or interesting to say then your comments will be published.

      The US military has nuclear powered air craft carriers and submarines. Most of the major powers have nuclear powered submarines and in the UK the government has just prioritised the development of small modular reactors from the RR naval reactor design. The Mars Rover is nuclear powered and so is my computer here in Aberdeen and the Hydrogen busses.

  14. RDG says:

    Energiewende in Germany is the same as the Caliwende in California. Basic survival instinct.

    Gold Currency–>Oil Currency (Today)–>Materials Currency(Tomorrow)

    The diggers (KSA) are going broke because the welfare state is crushing them like a bug.

  15. robertok06 says:

    Wonderful green economy… almost one full year old but still valid:

    “Badly located renewable power plants cost Europe $100 billion: Davos report”

  16. robertok06 says:

    Happy 2016 to all of you!

    I just bumped into this open access paper on Energy Policy, about UK’s electricity generation, very interesting:



  17. Pingback: Australia's Largest Solar Plants Now Online - Boston Commons High Tech

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