Posting in Cities
Offshore wind farms six times the size of New York City! Thousands of miles of power lines! Germany's shift from nuclear to renewables has been described as challenging as the first moon landing.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel aims to replace 17 nuclear reactors that supply about a fifth of the nation's electricity with renewable energy -- a transformation that will cost billions of dollars and require a penchant for risk.
According to the DIW economic institute in Berlin, the shift from nuclear to renewable energy such as solar and wind will cost upwards of $263 billion, or about 8 percent of the Germany's gross domestic product in 2011. But this about more than money. Right now, Germany might have reached a political and societal consensus to drop nuclear, but it lacks a clear technological solution, Stephan Reimelt, the CEO of General Electric's energy unit in the country, told Bloomberg News.
In other words, expect a lot of experimenting with certain technologies -- and with that some failures -- before Germany finds the right mix of energy sources to meet its post-nuclear needs without increasing its greenhouse gas emissions.
Germany's energy transformation is already shaking up the power industry, Bloomberg reports. At the end of last year, Germany had 53.8 gigawatts of wind and solar power capacity. On windy or sunny days, turbines and solar panels flood the power grid with electricity, which erodes the economics of natural gas-fired generators. That has prompted some power suppliers to shutdown gas-fired plants.
Meanwhile, Merkel's administration is pushing to generate 35 percent of its power from renewable energy by 2020. [It should be noted, that some say the government is sending mixed messages by cutting subsidies for solar energy.]
To achieve those renewable goals, Merkel's environment minister wants to add 25,000 megawatts of wind power capacity -- the equivalent of 25 nuclear power stations -- in the North Sea and Baltic Sea by 2030. Right now, there are about 200 megawatts of offshore wind plants in operation.
Wonder what that might look like? Imagine 5,000 turbines, each one reaching more than 300 feet into the air. One turbine would take up some 247 acres. Altogether, their footprint would cover 1,931 square miles -- just a smidgen less than the state of Delaware. Grid operators will have to add or upgrade 2,800 miles of high-voltage power lines to connect the turbines with the national power grid, Germany's economy minister estimated back in January.
What's perhaps more remarkable is Germany's plans aren't as aggressive as other European countries. Sweden, Austria, Spain and Slovenia have promised to add a bigger share of renewables than Germany by the end of the decade. Although it should be noted that those renewable energy goals will likely be mitigated by their richer hydroelectric resources.
- Nuclear down, CO2 up in Japan, Germany
- Fukushima’s Lesson: ‘Alternative’ nuclear, not ‘no’ nuclear
- Asian Super Grid: How Japan’s anti-nuclear plan could go nuclear
- European wind power remained steady in 2011
Mar 19, 2012
...and with the solar subsidies, one part of the experiment already seems to have gone wrong: one after another company is folding, after the public has invested big time. I am commenting this on my blog, always happy about feedback: http://energyingermany.com/2012/11/10/green-energy-subsidies-uk-should-look-to-germany-for-cautionary-tale/ Cheers Florian
I cant help wondering how many wind turbines farms can be built before they become unsightly. There are other types of renewable energy devices available, and some not even being allowed to be talked about. It is refreshing to here that wind and solar are becoming accepted, as an alternative to nuclear. I hope that green polices are the future, and that Green energy helps the planet breath.
[quote]One turbine would take up some 247 acres. Altogether, their footprint would cover 1,931 square miles...[/quote] This is nonsense. The footprint of a wind turbine - including access roads, transformers, etc. - is about 1% of the total area of a wind farm. The land can still be farmed and wildlife can still live happily around them.
The capacity factor of wind turbines is so pathetic that their environmental impact, in terms of the steel, concrete and rare-earth elements used, is massive. See: http://lftrsuk.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/how-green-is-wind-turbine-in-my-valley.html When does common sense displace the tortuous manoeuvres and intertwined cost calculations of those advocating renewable energy as the solution to the worlds clean energy needs. In one or two decades sustainable breeder reactors will relegate renewables to their low, single figure percentage of energy generation - where they belong. Let's hope those who have to accept that renewables are not the answer, will support Molten Salt Breeder Reactors and not Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactors. They will have to opt out of the debate altogether or support one or other of the breeder reactor types.
The EROEI (Energy Returned on Energy Invested) for wind is far higher the nukes. Solar is also higher than coal, gas and nuclear. See http://oco-carbon.com/2010/05/19/eroei-of-electricity-generation/ Molten salt / fast breeder nukes do not exist which is why no one is building them. Note: global renewable energy share increased 32% last year. Nuclear power declined 6%. Source IEA.
What about Professor Per Peterson's efforts? You do know it will be wall to wall breeder reactors soon, don't you? Nuclear - 3.35 tonnes. Wind - 680 tonnes. Now what is the Ratio???