Blowout week 155

This week we kick off with the good news that the Antarctic sea ice area has changed little since the time of Scott and Shackelton. All those who have feared for the worse can breathe a huge sigh of relief. We continue with a number of stories on nuclear power – is it clean, is it dirty or is it even renewable? And then we move onto coal – are we using less or more of it?

Telegraph: Scott-Shackleton logbooks prove antarctic sea ice not shrinking.

Antarctic sea ice had barely changed from where it was 100 years ago, scientists have discovered, after poring over the logbooks of great polar explorers such as Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton.

Experts were concerned that ice at the South Pole had declined significantly since the 1950s, which they feared was driven by man-made climate change. But new analysis suggests that conditions are now virtually identical to when the Terra Nova and Endurance sailed to the continent in the early 1900s, indicating that declines are part of a natural cycle and not the result of global warming. Estimates suggest Antarctic sea ice extent was significantly higher during the 1950s, before a steep decline returned it to around 3.7 million miles (6 million square kilometres) in recent decades which is just 14 per cent smaller than at the highest point of the 1900s and 12 per cent bigger than than the lowest point.

PBS: Trump’s cabinet could change the face of U.S. energy policy

President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees to lead energy and climate-related agencies hold views that could not be more different from the Obama administration. Here’s a guide to the things Trump’s cabinet picks have said on issues from natural gas fracking to wind energy to climate change science. Scott Pruitt, EPA: wrote that the evidence linking human activity to climate change was “far from settled.” Ryan Zinke, Interior: “It’s not a hoax, but it’s not proven science either. But you don’t dismantle America’s power and energy on a maybe.” Rex Tillerson, State: Since Tillerson took over the world’s leading energy company in 2006, Exxon Mobil’s political action committee has donated more than $7 million to Republican candidates, many of them outspoken climate change skeptics. Rich Perry, Energy: While Perry’s energy record is complex, his position on climate change is unambiguous. Perry — who ran for president in 2012 and again in 2016 — has consistently questioned the existence of climate change. At a 2011 event in New Hampshire, Perry said the climate has been in flux “ever since the earth was formed. There are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects,” Perry said. Other examples of Perry’s climate skepticism abound.

PBS: FBI in agreement with CIA that Russia aimed to help Trump win White House

FBI Director James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. are in agreement with a CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election in part to help Donald Trump win the White House, officials disclosed Friday, as President Obama issued a public warning to Moscow that it could face retaliation. Russia has denied being behind the cyber-intrusions, which targeted the Democratic National Committee and the private emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. Trump, in turn, has repeatedly said he doubts the veracity of U.S. intelligence blaming Moscow for the hacks. At a “thank you” event Thursday night with some of her top campaign donors and fundraisers, Clinton said she believed Russian-backed hackers went after her campaign because of a personal grudge that Putin had against her. Putin had blamed Clinton for fomenting mass protests in Russia after disputed 2011 parliamentary elections that challenged his rule. Putin said Clinton, then secretary of state, had “sent a signal” to protesters by labeling the elections “neither free nor fair.”

Oregon State University: PBS: Climate change likely caused deadly 2016 avalanche in Tibet

On July 17, more than 70 million tons of ice broke off from the Aru glacier in the mountains of western Tibet and tumbled into a valley below, taking the lives of nine nomadic yak herders living there. To perform a kind of forensic analysis of the avalanche, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences joined with two glaciologists from The Ohio State University: Lonnie Thompson and Ellen Mosley-Thompson. The most important fact about the avalanche, said Thompson, is that it lasted only four or five minutes (according to witnesses), yet it managed to bury 3.7 square miles of the valley floor in that time. He said something—likely meltwater at the base of the glacier—must have lubricated the ice to speed its flow down the mountain. “Given the rate at which the event occurred and the area covered, I think it could only happen in the presence of meltwater,” Thompson said. Other nearby glaciers may be vulnerable, he added, “but unfortunately as of today, we have no ability to predict such disasters.” Researchers could not have predicted, for example, that a neighboring glacier in the same mountain range would give way just two months later, but it did in September 2016. That avalanche appears not to have resulted in any deaths, and the cause is still under investigation. The researchers used satellite data and GPS to get precise measurements of how much ice fell in the first avalanche and the area it covered. They’ve since pieced together more answers by working with computer modelers who were able to replicate the avalanche virtually. In those simulations, the only condition that led to an avalanche was the presence of meltwater.“We still don’t know exactly where the meltwater came from, but given that the average temperature at the nearest weather station has risen by about 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) over the last 50 years, it makes sense that snow and ice are melting and the resulting water is seeping down beneath the glacier,” Thompson said.

World Nuclear News: IEA urges decision on Czech nuclear power expansion

Speaking at the launch in Prague of the Energy Policies of IEA Countries: Czech Republic 2016 Review on 13 December, Fatih Birol noted that nuclear is “one of the major pillars” of the State Energy Policy (SEP). Adopted in 2015, the SEP targets the expansion of Czech nuclear energy capacity in order to strengthen energy independence and security of supply. The Czech Republic has six nuclear units at two sites with an installed capacity of 3924 MWe and electricity generation of 26.8 TWh. Nuclear accounts for 32.5% of the country’s electricity generation. The IEA report makes four recommendations on nuclear policy to the Czech government: to work with utility ČEZ to ensure that all nuclear power plant operating licences are renewed well before their expiration; determine mechanisms of government support for the construction and operation of new nuclear power plants; choose a specific technology by 2020 so that permits can be approved by 2025, and construction can be completed before 2035; “minimise the burdens” of used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste on future generations “in all ways possible; determine, with ČEZ, how each type of decommissioning waste will be managed.

Arizona Capital Times: Utility regulator wants nuclear energy to count as renewable

An Arizona utility regulator has suggested that nuclear energy should count as a renewable power source, allowing it to compete with solar and wind.

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Andy Tobin proposed the change in a letter that implies he never supported the Renewable Energy Standard the state passed in 2006, which didn’t include nuclear energy as a renewable source. That legislation requires utilities like the Arizona Public Service Co. to get 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025. Currently, solar, wind and geothermal energy count toward that goal but nuclear does not. Arizona Corporation Commission chairman Doug Little proposed doubling that goal in August. He said that would put Arizona more in line with the goals of other western states. Arizona is home to the country’s most productive nuclear power plant, Palo Verde Generating station, which is about 50 miles west of Phoenix. It supplies about a quarter of the electricity for the state’s biggest power company. If that plant counted as renewable energy, it would reduce the amount of solar, wind and other resources needed to fulfill the 2025 goal. Tobin has proposed setting a “Clean Peak Standard” that would include traditional renewable sources as well as the amount of nuclear energy power plants produce when electricity demand is highest.

“The Clean Peak Standard offers great promise in moving the commission away from an obsolete commitment to arbitrary renewable energy goals that ignore significant zero-emission resources like Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station or other emerging technologies like energy storage,” Tobin wrote in his letter.

Sputnik News: Russia, Japan Sign Memorandum on Peaceful Nuclear Energy Cooperation

Russia and Japan signed Friday a memorandum on cooperation in the sector of peaceful nuclear energy during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to the country. Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took part in the signing of the document. Moreover, Russia and Japan are planning to join efforts in development of innovative nuclear technologies, as well as in overcoming the consequences of Fukushima nuclear disaster, Russia’s Rosatom nuclear energy corporation said in a statement on Friday. The statement added that the memorandum also implied cooperation in coping with the consequences of Fukushima accident.

Forbes: Nuclear energy a dirty word in South Africa

The nuclear reactors are still a plan on paper. But already the noxious debate over their future has made nuclear energy a dirty word in South Africa. To build or not to build – the stalemate over the proposed nuclear reactors to power the continent’s most advanced economy shows no sign of being resolved. The sharp divisions over a nuclear-powered future are now beginning to hurt South Africa’s nascent renewables industry. State power utility Eskom is dragging its feet on honoring government-brokered deals with private renewables companies. Its refusal to purchase 250 megawatts of power from wind and solar projects has left its Irish and Saudi Arabian suppliers fuming and in limbo. More than scuppering the deals, Eskom’s actions, critically, threaten to undermine the gains made by the country’s green energy program, which many have come to hail as the shining beacon of a renewables-based future . On the Fieldstone Africa Renewable Index or FARI, South Africa’s ranking has plummeted off the charts entirely, prompting concerns amongst investors over green energy’s future in the country. Its decline is ironic given the rainbow nation had topped the continent-wide list just four months ago.

New Europe: Germany to miss climate targets

Germany may not reach its 2020 target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 1990, according to a new report released by the German environment ministry on December 14. Its coal power plants are to blame. As reported by Deutsche Welle Germany has implemented several measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions since 2014. But environmental activists have warned efforts need to be greater. By 2015, emissions were down by just 27%. According to environmental campaigners including Greenpeace, Oxfam, WWF, Friends of the Earth Germany and the network Klima-Allianz Germany, the gap between government pledges and needed cuts could be more than 20 million tonnes of CO2. While the 40% reduction currently looks unrealistic, the environment ministry is still hoping to reach at least 37%. But environmental groups say emissions are more likely to go down by only 33.5%.

Guardian: IEA cuts coal demand forecast for fifth year in row

IEA says global coal use is flatlining as China continues to restructure its economy. The volume of coal used across the world fell for the second year running in 2015 and is set to stay below peak levels in 2016, reported the International Energy Agency (IEA). The influential thinktank – an autonomous Paris-based organisation – has downgraded its medium-term coal market forecast for the fifth year in a row and expects demand to plateau until 2021, but not fall fast enough to align with the international goal of holding global warming below 2C.

Daily Caller: The World Is Burning More Coal Than Ever, says IEA

“The world is burning more coal than ever,” reads a new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). “Now we are witnessing another halt, but, even so, if we consider coal consumption from a historical perspective, the world has never burned as much coal.” China is the main driver of global coal growth, and IEA expects coal use to keep growing until 2021 depending on what the Chinese decide. Environmentalists have tried to claim China is weaning itself off coal, but more recent reports indicate the communist country is mining more of it.

Times of India: Coal and cricket.

CHENNAI: The Indian spinners, led by local boy R Ashwin, would love a dry pitch to work their magic in the final Test against England starting here on Friday . But with cyclone Vardah wreaking havoc and the pitch for the Test match being under covers for the last few days, there’s some moisture still left on the pitch. The Tamil Nadu Cricket As sociation, though, found a novel method to try and prepare a pitch that is dry so that the England pace attack led by James Anderson doesn’t get too much advantage going into the Test. The groundsmen on Wednesday turned to burning coal in order to dry the strip to be used for the Test. They placed plates of burning coal over the stumps and then put it on the pitch to dry it quickly.
“Today we had probably kept the burning coal for about 30-45 minutes,” he told TOI. It’s not the first time that TNCA has come up with new ideas to keep a pitch in shape.Before a game in the 2011 50-over World Cup, a tent was set up over the pitch so that too much heat doesn’t lead to cracks. “It’s important to innovate to keep the track in shape,” the groundsman said.

CNBC: Massive Mongolia coal deposits could revive its flagging economy

Former frontier market darling Mongolia has had a tough time in a world of low commodity prices, with its government struggling to make ends meet, but a spike in global coal prices could see the country stage a comeback.

But following reforms in China this year to rein in overproduction, and growing demand in Asia Pacific, coal prices soared. The recovery in prices has spurred Mongolia’s hopes for a complex restructuring of the Tavan Tolgoi coal mine in the South Gobi desert, a move that would settle outstanding debt to Chinese aluminum producer Chalco Group. An end to the Tavan Tolgoi upset would make it easier to invite new investors such as Chinese state-owned firm Shenhua Group to help ramp up production and shipments to key market China at better prices. “Nothing has changed on the Mongolian side of the border, in terms of quality of the coal, the availability (and) the low production costs,” Layton Croft, an independent director at Mongolian real estate business Asia Pacific Investment Partners, told CNBC

Fortune: Solar power is becoming the world’s cheapest form of new electricity generation, data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) suggests.

According to Bloomberg’s analysis, the cost of solar power in China, India, Brazil and 55 other emerging market economies has dropped to about one third of its price in 2010. This means solar now pips wind as the cheapest form of renewable energy—but is also outperforming coal and gas. In a note to clients this week, BNEF chairman Michael Liebreich said that solar power had entered “the era of undercutting” fossil fuels. Bloomberg reports that 2016 has seen remarkable falls in the price of electricity from solar sources, citing a $64 per megawatt-hour contract in India at the start of the year, and a $29.10 per megawatt-hour deal struck in Chile in August—about 50% the price of electricity produced from coal. Ethan Zindler, head of U.S. policy analysis at BNEF, attributed much of the downward pressure to China’s massive deployment of solar, and the assistance it had provided to other countries financing their own solar projects.

Reuters: U.S. wind power enjoys a rebirth as solar’s obstacles mount

A year after Congress extended generous tax credits for renewable energy projects, the U.S. wind industry is thriving. Solar power companies, meanwhile, are hunkering down for a rough 2017. The tax credit renewal has boosted the long-term outlooks for both industries. But in the short term, the subsidies are far more attractive for wind power, which has spurred utilities to launch wind projects while they scale back or delay solar installations. Advances in wind turbine technology are also opening up new locations for development and driving a wave of spending to upgrade existing projects.In the last few weeks, power companies with large renewable holdings – including Southern Co, NextEra Energy Inc and Xcel Energy Inc – have announced plans to invest billions of dollars in wind. “We’re making a pivot now away from solar,” Southern Chief Executive Tom Fanning told a meeting with Wall Street analysts in October.

Sunwindenergy: Great Britain’s Solar Trade Association has signed an agreement to lease part of RenewableUK’s offices.

The move has practical benefits for both separate organisations and their different memberships. But it is also hoped that the creation of this “renewables hub” in London will foster a healthy exchange of ideas on the key strategic issues that are facing the energy sector as a whole, and the renewables industry in particular. RenewableUK and Solar Trade Association (STA) have previously collaborated on community ownership, smart power and embedded benefits. The associations have many common goals including securing the cheaper, more flexible system that enables easy integration of variable generators. Hugh McNeal, RenewableUK CEO, commented: “We’re pleased to be welcoming the STA into this office. It makes sense for our two organisations to work alongside one another in this way, sharing space and sharing ideas on how we both deliver for our members and enable them to deliver vital, modern, and affordable power for UK consumers.”

Daily Caller: Global Warming Law Would Cost Average Household $13,703

According to The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) report, The U.K government Climate Change Policy passed in 2008 may charge every British household an average of $13,703 in the year 2030. Reports say, in 2014 alone, the total Climate Change Act average charges, including levies, taxes, and subsidies is $415 for every British household. This amount may increase to $791 annually by 2020 and $1,110 each year by 2030. While the overall cost of the policy will triple the annual British National Health Service (NHS) budget. In addition to GWPF’s report published by a Conservative Member of Parliament for Hitchin and Harpenden, Peter Lilley says, “that the government only considered about one-third of the Act’s total costs while simultaneously overestimating potential savings from energy efficiency. The MP published the report after consulting 27 academics and scientists. According to The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) report, The U.K government Climate Change Policy passed in 2008 may charge every British household an average of $13,703 in the year 2030. Reports say, in 2014 alone, the total Climate Change Act average charges, including levies, taxes, and subsidies is $415 for every British household. This amount may increase to $791 annually by 2020 and $1,110 each year by 2030. While the overall cost of the policy will triple the annual British National Health Service (NHS) budget.

Holyrood: Whither Scotland’s green revolution?

With its wealth of natural resources to generate power from, wind and water in particular, green energy is a potentially major growth area for Scotland’s economy. A report from Ricardo Energy and Environment, commissioned by WWF Scotland, Friends of the Earth Scotland and RSPB Scotland, which was published in October, found that the most cost-effective way to meet climate targets would be to produce half of Scotland’s energy across heat, transport and electricity from renewables by 2030. But the sector has been beset by funding problems. The Chancellor’s recent Autumn Statement marks one year since the withdrawal of a potential £1bn UK Government investment in a flagship carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility in Peterhead. Peterhead was one of two places in the UK bidding for the funding, with Shell and SSE behind the plans, which was a Conservative manifesto commitment for the 2015 general election. But on 25 November 2015, the UK Government confirmed it was cancelling the previously committed funding just weeks before the final bids in the competition were due. Had it gone ahead, the funding was due to be awarded this summer. And earlier last month, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy published budgets for the next auction round of Contracts for Difference (CfD), which covered offshore wind, wave and tidal, but delayed access to the competition for remote islands, which the Scotland’s islands had been pinning their hopes on being included in.
The issue hinges on whether onshore wind power on the islands should be considered as a different technology from that on the mainland. The Conservatives committed to ending public subsidies for onshore wind farms in their 2015 general election manifesto, with funding to be focused on scalable technologies such as offshore wind.

Holyrood: Three billion barrels of oil underneath the UK continental shelf offer a “very significant opportunity”.

according to new research from Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), The research suggests the “small pools” of oil are based in around 350 unsanctioned discoveries across the UK continental shelf. But OGA said new technologies will be needed to extract some of the reserves. OGA head of technology Carlo Procaccini said: “We recognise the challenges operators are facing to develop these marginal oil and gas accumulations. Small pools represent a very significant opportunity to maximise economic recovery from the UK continental shelf. The OGA estimates there are around 10 to 20 billion barrels of oil equivalent which remain recoverable from the UK continental shelf. Dr Gordon Drummond, project director of The National Subsea Research Initiative, said the reserves have a “national importance” in terms of achieving maximise economic recovery of oil and gas reserves, adding: “they must be considered as an industry asset if they are to be capitalised upon”. He said: “Following an extensive mapping exercise, we now know exactly where these small pools are located and what is required to unlock their potential. If the subsea industry can rise to the challenge of economically tapping into these pools, the North Sea could have a whole new lease of life.

One step off the grid Google plans to be 100 per cent renewable next year

For six years, Google has aggressively purchased renewable energy to power the email accounts, searches, app downloads, video streams and other services that have become an integral part of daily online life. In the process, it became the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy on the planet. Next year it plans to go one step further, ensuring that it purchases 100 percent of the energy it uses to power its entire sprawling digital empire from renewable sources.

Forbes: Vanadium-Flow Batteries: The Energy Storage Breakthrough We’ve Needed

The latest, greatest utility-scale battery storage technology to emerge on the commercial market is the vanadium redox battery, also known as the vanadium flow battery. V-flow batteries are fully containerized, nonflammable, reusable batteries, using 100% of the energy stored. Presently, the largest V-flow battery in the U.S. is a 2MW/8MWh installed at the SnoPUD Everett Substation in Washington State by UniEnergy Technologies that is scheduled to come online in January 2017. V-flow batteries are fully containerized, nonflammable, compact, reusable over semi-infinite cycles, discharge 100% of the stored energy and do not degrade for more than 20 years.Most batteries use two chemicals that change valence (or charge or redox state) in response to electron flow that convert chemical energy to electrical energy, and vice versa. V-flow batteries use the multiple valence states of just vanadium to store and release charges. V can exist as several ions of different charges in solution, V(2+,3+,4+,5+), each having different numbers of electrons around the nucleus. Fewer electrons gives a higher positive charge. Energy is stored by providing electrons making V(2+,3+), and energy is released by losing electrons to form V(4+,5+). Vanadium flow batteries use the multiple valence states of vanadium to store and release charges. Energy is stored by providing electrons making V(2+,3+), and energy is released by losing electrons to form V(4+,5+). Flow batteries consist of two tanks of liquid, which simply sit there until needed. When pumped into a reactor, the two solutions flow adjacent to each other past a membrane, and generate a charge by moving electrons back and forth during charging and discharging. This type of battery can offer almost unlimited energy capacity simply by using larger electrolyte storage tanks. It can be left completely discharged for long periods with no ill effects, making maintenance simpler than other batteries. Because of these unique properties, the new V-flow batteries reduce the cost of storage to about 5¢/kWh.

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53 Responses to Blowout week 155

  1. Willem Post says:


    A 1 MW, 4 MWh V flow battery at Washington State University was commissioned in 2015.
    The turnkey system cost was about $3 million, or $750 per kWh.
    The useful service life is estimated at 20 years.
    It is used for peak shaving during peak hours and regulation during other hours.
    Even at optimum opération, the cost of storage has to be much greater than 5 c/kWh.

    • Roger Andrews says:

      During the 2003 King Island expansion a vanadium redox flow battery was installed at a cost of $4M (or $20,000 per kW), containing 55,000 litres of vanadium based electrolyte—one of the first such installations on a wind farm. This allowed up to 800 kWh of surplus electricity to be stored. The battery has an output power of 200 kW, making up around 3% of total capacity, and could be used to smooth the substantial variability in wind output over minutes to hours. When used in conjunction with a variable resistive load, a higher wind penetration is possible, permitting the substantial second to second variability to be controlled with the resistor, reducing the need to spill excess wind through throttling of the turbines. A short-term peak output of 400 kW can be supplied. As a result, there has been a substantial reduction in the use of diesel fuel, however the full diesel capacity must be maintained, including the need to maintain spinning reserve for system security.[5] However, the system proved to be not robust enough and failed after a relatively short life. It has been replaced with a 1.6 MWh “advanced lead acid technology” battery.

      Forbes is your number one source of disinformation where storage batteries are concerned.

    • David B. Benson says:

      A minor correction. The battery is in Pullman, home to the main campus of Washington State University. However, it is physically located on the grounds of SEL, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratory, which designs and manufactures regulatory equipment for the electrical power industry. Washington State University has no close connection with the operation of the battery, which I believe belongs to the local operating company, Avista Utilities.

      • Willem Post says:


        Forbes and Bloomberg are about on the same level regarding disinformation. Their interest is raising money for RE projects.


        Do you have access to operating data of the facility?
        It is used for peak shaving?
        How much is shaved each day; MW and MWh?
        What would have been the cost of that peak without shaving and with shaving?

        Is it being used for regulation?
        How many hours per day?
        What regulation facility does it replace or supplement?

        The purpose is to get some handle on cost savings due to peaking and due to regulation.

        Unless peaking charges, MW and MWh, are very high, there likely would be no savings with a V-battery, unless subsidized with cash grants up to the arm pits.

      • David B. Benson says:

        The battery in question was added after Avista Utilities was required to “must take” from the large, but only, wind farm in the Avista Utilities service area. The despatchable generators are over 100 km to the north and the wind farm is about 80 km in that direction, sharing the 245? KV feeder which comes to Pullman and points south.

        I am under the impression that the battery is for frequency control, added since as seen from the grid the power electronics on the wind turbines are “inertialess”, so offering no contribution to grid stability. I doubt any peek shaving is done by the battery. About 30% of Avista Utilities generation is from hydro, ample for any peak demand response.

        Avista Utilities is vertically integrated and completely regulated. The cost of the battery not covered by a DOE grant is just rolled into the regulated cost base.

    • Tom d says:

      UniEnergy Technologies has a link on their website that says the 2MW/8MWh V flow battery is an addition to other 2 lithium ion batteries of 1MW/0.5MWh each, on the SnoPUD site. The storage contracts for all three are appear to be worth 15 million, or $3,750/KW, $1,666/KWh.

      A review of a PG&E CAISO report that looked at an $11 million, 2MW/14MWh ($5,500/KW, $783/KWh) sodium sulfur battery storage array at the Vaca site, found that the break even cost for that system was $197/KW. That system costs 27x what it needs to, just to break even.

    • robertok06 says:

      Let’s not forget that DC to DC storage-release efficiency is 60-80%… i.e. large losses.

  2. Alex says:

    Ref Germany and emissions targets. Germany won’t meet the 2020 targets, and it gets a lot worse after that. There is about 8GW of nuclear plant scheduled for shut down in 21/22:

    • gweberbv says:


      we can make a quick estimate to what extend additional RE can replace the NPPs by the end of 2022.

      PV: 6 x 2 GW (hard to tell as rules will change by 2017), CF 11%
      Onshore Wind: 2 x 3 GW, 4 x 2.5 GW, CF 20%
      Offshore Wind: 5 GW, CF 40%

      This is roughly equal to 7.5 GW of nuclear power. At the moment, we have 10.8 GW of nuclear power in operation. So, emission in the year 2023 will probably be slightly higher per kWh of electricity produced than today.

      • Game over then (according to Gunther) for the energiewende.

        • gweberbv says:


          on the other hand, Germany will then have a RE penetration of about 40% in the electricity sector. Which would be really remarkable for a country of this size and industrial structure.

          • But they have no chance of getting their CO” targets and if you are correct, they will have added all this renewable energy to keep their CO2 emissions from the grid close to what they were able to achieve in 1997-1999.

            That would be over 20 years of no CO2 reductions. That scale of failure invalidates the renewable energy targets as the renewable energy targets are there for emissions reduction. The latter are now meaningless.

          • gweberbv says:


            you can make a point that phasing out nuclear power is the wrong thing to do if you want to cut emissions. But you cannot argue that expanding RE is a failure in this context.
            Without RE expansion Germany would burn much of more FF after the nuclear phase out.

          • Greg Kaan says:

            If the German grid could run with 40% RE penetration islanded, then that would be an achievement. Since German is so strongly interconnected to it’s neighbours, the RE penetration has to be assessed across the interconnected grids rather than just Germany in isolation.

            South Australia is a similar case.

        • Gunter

          Yes you can. It is perfectly valid to hold a scheme up to its stated aims, and review it.

          Two of the stated aims for the energiewende is that nuclear would be cut and, AND emissions would be reduced. And the way to achieve this was increasing renewable energy and specifically for this conversation, electricity and grid related.

          And it has been proven to be an utter and farcical failure that can only be defended if you are ignorant of what the energiewnede set out to do.

          Prolonging the emissions reduction as you assess to 2020 prolongs improvement out above 20 years. With regards to the central premise of emissions declining, from a grid perspective it amounts to doing nothing.

          • gweberbv says:


            the accelerated shutdown of nuclear power after 2011 was never part of a coherent strategy nor was this ever claimed. It was just something that needed to be done to appeal to the broad majority of the public regarding nuclear power as dangerous.

        • Greg

          I see what you are getting at and yes, overall the EU countries may have decreased their emissions from the grid due to German exports. Unfortunately we have some problems

          1. The Fraunhofer institute (who may be wrong, + others like Agora and the BZ) who are serious players in the monitoring of the energiewende consistently spin the tale that it is coal power that is preferentially exported and not renewables.
          2. Energywinde policies are only directed at Germany.
          3. I am not sure we are able to allocate accurately the CO2 balance across several grids in several countries.

          So our main players are saying that the benefit should be small (if at all) and we have no way of measuring it.

          One question; I dare say the German electricity grid probably could be islanded. I suspect import and export balances are to do with trade as much as supply. Do we have any examples of a requirement for the latter?

          • OpenSourceElectricity says:

            Two Thesis for this:
            a) generation capacity in germany is big enough to supply the country at any time.
            b) Ramp rates (beside nuclear) allows almost all power stations in germany to ramp up from Zero (but hot) standby to 100% in about 1 hour, the slowest within two hours, due to recent improvements to the power plants.
            Unfortunately I just remember the report which staed b) but I cannot find it without extensive search.
            If these Thesis are correct there is no cause why germany should not run stable in “island mode”.

            Beside this: Bundesnetzagentur, together with their counterpart in Austria always calculates weather germany+austria can run safe in island mode, and weather this also works if usual exports exist.

          • Greg Kaan says:

            Thesis a) is provable by summing up dispatchable generation across Germany,

            Thesis b) is pure rubbish. Ramping a lignite plant from hot standby to full capacity in 2 hours may be possible (I would want evidence of a plant being ramped in this manner) a very few times but would definitely cause excessive maintenance issues.

      • robertok06 says:

        What is it that you don’t understand in the sentence

        ‘one Wh of intermittent PV or wind IS NOT équivalent to one Wh of dispatchable ans baseload nuclear’?

        • gweberbv says:


          1 Wh of PV and Wind is perfectly fine as long as it is not surplus production. At the moment, Germany faces surplus production a few tens of hours per year. If we allow this to increase to a few hundred hours, RE grid penetration can be raised towards 45% easily. (Regional surplusses due to grid congestions as grid upgrades lack behind RE production are the only challenge so far.)

          Germany is NOT an island. And Germany will NOT shut down power plants that are necessary to cover peak demand while we have zero PV and zero wind production.

          • robertok06 says:


            1 Wh of PV and Wind is perfectly fine as long as it is not surplus production.”

            OK… so I reformulate my question:

            “Guenter, what is it that you don’t understand in the sentence ‘but we are talking about large-scale installation of intermittent RENS, i.e. CERTAINLY the need to store the surplus production’?” 🙂

            Germany HAS ALREADY shut down power plants that were necessary… what are you talking about????

            Nice try.

  3. Simon Cove says:

    Ref sea ice. I have not checked the references but why does he telegraph say this and the guardian the exact opposite.

    Number 11 in today’s arricle. Clearly one of the scientific tists or journalists are wrong or at least trying to paint a totally different picture. How the hell are you supposed to know? Merry confusing Xmas

    The 12 key science moments of 2016

  4. pyrrhus says:

    The Vanadium batteries “discharge 100% of the stored energy and do not degrade for more than 20 years.” Impossible, violates the Laws of Thermodynamics…Just another scam.

    • Stuart Brown says:

      To be fair “discharge 100% of the stored energy” just means you can completely flatten the battery without breaking it. You definitely have to put in more than you get out!

      As someone commented on the original article, you have to add the cost of the electricity you put in too – you can’t get electricity out cheaper than it cost to make in the first place.

      • pyrrhus says:

        Good point, although I don’t think that “100% flat” is possible either. But batteries not degrading means completely halting entropy, which simply cannot happen.

        • Greg Kaan says:

          See Roger’s comment on the King Island Vanadium Redox battery experience. They have been around for a long time yet lead acid still gets used and for good reason

  5. Stuart Brown says:

    Google plans to be 100 per cent renewable next year – from the article…

    ‘There’s a slight caveat, which is that Google won’t run entirely on renewables yet. It plans to purchase the equivalent of 100 percent of the energy it uses in the form of renewables through agreements with electric utilities, but the energy flowing to its data centers and offices isn’t solely from renewable sources. That’s due to a few factors, including the lack of 24/7 access to renewables’

    Let me see if I can fix that…
    That’s due to a few factors, including the lack of 24/7 power from renewables.

    What is more interesting is that they reckon they can get a good deal this way, especially given the last couple of lines in the article:

    ‘Global investments have also been rising. Renewable energy investments topped $286 billion last year, a record. That has helped drive costs down, making renewables cheaper and more appealing.’

    Nope, I don’t understand how spending a load of money makes things cheaper – $/MW maybe, but that money wasn’t spent on research!

    • gweberbv says:


      spending a load of money is exactly the way to make things cheaper. In particular such things as PV cells. Its all about optimizing processes by doing the same things millions of times, squeezing everybodies profit margins down to a minimum, distributing fixed costs over a vast amount of produced units, etc.

      • Jim says:

        Like Gulliver visiting a university which was extracting sunbeams from cucumbers to release them into the governor’s gardens during hard times.
        That was 400 years ago and some are saying sunbeams can run an electric train service to and from Sydney and Wollongong for 20 hours a day.

      • Leo Smith says:

        Spending a load of money on neverwozzas is the quickest way to throw good money after bad.

        But that’s ‘Green’ ‘Renewable’ for you….

      • Stuart Brown says:


        Perhaps I said that badly because I agree with you. If you make more than one thing fixed costs are spread over more units. Make a million things and processes are improved – yes, get all of that. That’s why I said it could improve the $/MW. But spending huge sums of money to build out PV or wind turbines does not automatically make the price of renewable energy cheaper – it just doesn’t follow. Like nuclear, wind and solar are all up front cost and no fuel costs, so it takes time to recover the initial spend. And the benefits of improved processes also come later not now.

        In the article: “Energy costs are the largest operating cost for our data centers,” Neha Palmer, the head of Google’s energy strategy, said. “There’s a perception that renewables can be more expensive and that’s just not the case.” In fact there is no quote to suggest Google use renewables for the sake of it. So this is interesting, because it means that utilities selling a renewable story are apparently cheaper than others and so Google will go with them. The cost of energy is very important to Google.

        So why are they cheaper? It seems to me, and it is beyond me to prove it, that renewables are blighted by subsidies of one sort or another. If there were no subsidies there would be no argument, so the industry should be keen to lose the subsidies! These come directly from over generous feed in tariffs or by forcing off more reliable methods of generation that still have to be there when the wind drops at night.

        And that’s why they can appear to be cheaper. Not having to add in the costs of a huge bank of batteries is a form of subsidy, and I guess Google would be off elsewhere instantly if one suggested Demand Side Reduction! It’s just PR for Google.

        Ein frohes Weihnachtsfest und alles Gute zum neuen Jahr! To you and to all.

    • Stuart

      Google are reported to have said that they will change their contracts to long term contracts primarily with baseload renewables and nuclear. I agree they will not get 100% but the intermittent issue is recognized.

      • Stuart Brown says:

        Don, yes indeed. Google say in the article “We’re technology agnostic but we’re not price agnostic,”

        They would quietly fold up their tents and build out marine diesel engines powered by bunker fuel if it was the cheapest and they could get away with it. As I replied above, it’s just PR IMHO.

    • Greg Kaan says:

      BTW The Google 100% renewable article is sourced from “One Step Off The Grid”
      This is a sister disinformation site to “RenewEconomy” also run by renewables advocate (probably not a strong enough descriptor but let’s be polite) Giles Parkinson.

      It has been republished from Climate Central (which I have no knowledge of)

      • steve says:

        As a non-scientist/engineer who is interested in the subject since doubting all the ‘greencrap’ and buying Mackay’s book when it came out, this stuff about going 100% renewable is obviously about sales to the gullible or public relations in the case of companies like Google.

        If I accept the offer from my energy company to be virtuous and buy their more expensive green tariff, then I will be buying more renewable/nuclear energy from the pool available to the company at any time. This means that they will be selling the rest to other customers, who will theoretically be buying more of the share of the grid which is not green. In any event, the mix of electricity generation will be the same, irrespective of who buys the green bit or doesn’t.. Energy sales companies do not control the proportion of wind or solar, but the weather does, while nuclear runs flat out when it can and gas, in effect is controlled by weather as it supports wind.

        It is surprising that hardly any customers realise this.

  6. John F. Hultquist says:

    All the nuclear energy news has become very entertaining over the past year. Not since about 50 years ago have things been of much interest until Germany started shutting plants. Some might be interested in the history of Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS) … the largest municipal bond default in U.S. history. The system’s acronym, pronounced “whoops,” came to represent how not to run a public works project.

    I would not bother with this sort of thing except that the name will likely be much in the news. The Trump pick for the Energy Dept. is James Richard “Rick” Perry, not Rich.

    If one searches for “Rich Perry” we learn he is an American jazz tenor saxophonist from Cleveland, living in NYC. It’s not important why I know this bit of trivia.

  7. Peter Lang says:


    Do you know the source for the $13,700 figure in the Daily Caller article? I didn’t find it in the GWPF report by Peter Lilley

  8. Leo Smith says:

    Posting from S Africa, Nuclear is not a dirty word, but brown envelopes allegedly handed to ANC officials to secure a Russian contract, are…

  9. A C Osborn says:

    Euan & Roger, yet another pumped storage program.
    This one is quite interesting if you really MUST have pumped storage.

  10. Greg Kaan says:

    For the oil drummers, is the recently released “U.S. Crude Oil and Natural Gas Proved Reserves, Year-end 2015” report of significance?

    The reserves appear to have been revised down quite significantly

  11. AC: “Millions of gallons of water” sounds like a lot, but a million US gallons is only 3,785 cu m and the Dinorwig reservoir, which is too small to be of much use for energy storage, contains a million cu m. And as Greg Kaan notes the challenges of converting a flooded underground mine into a pumped hydro system could be – well, let’s say I wouldn’t want to take them on.

    • OpenSourceElectricity says:

      Well, maybe someone picked up discussion from germany, with the difference that there only mines are considered where the main pipes and othern pumps are already installed, so the equipment to keep the mines dry. And also there is no real proceeding, since the additional work neccesary to make it a valuable storage, compared to the costs per m³ elsewhere seem to be too high.
      It might be different if the mine was built with the later use as storage in mind from the beginning. E.g. a lot of ways within the mine would be useful if they would have larger diameters also during mining operation. But the savings in mining operation do not fully pay this, so they keep crossections of all parts of the mine as low as econoical for the mine operation. For a use as storage the diameters could not be too big, every m² of crosssection stores extra enegy and makes water distribution more easy.
      Adopting the mine after it is closed down towads the neccesity of sotorage does not “lift” the value of these adoptions for mining operation befor, so creates less value, as if it would have been included in the design from the beginning.
      But since mines run for decades, and economy thins in quaters of year, as well as spendings would be today and additional earnings decades aherad this will not make much difference.

  12. robertok06 says:

    The vanadium battery article is just the usual green scam… basically no application whatsoever outside of the domain of network stability… no use on electric vehicles, for instance.

    This company…

    … claims 2h at a rated 25 kW, so 50 kWh at the rated power… with a weight of 560 kg for the “stack” of electrodes, and… listen to this!…

    “Electrolyte Weight 1400 kg x 2
    Electrolyte Volume 1000 L x 2”

    … so 560 kg, plus 2800 kg of electrolytes, and of course a nice and sturdy mechanical body capable of taking the weight and moments of inertia of this 2+ m3 volume beast… a couple of 100s kg?… so of the order of 3.5 tons… and all this for less than the energy storage of a Tesla Model S (85 to 100 kWh).
    I can see a, say, Nissan Leaf pulling a 3.5 ton trailer carrying a 2 m3 battery… what a joke.

    This is the kind of “revolutionary technology/object” which is good only to find savvy investors who pull out some money for the usual start-up… but no practical application on large scale, other than getting eventually some fat “incentives” from the ratepayers… 🙂


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