June 04, 2016

Energiewende: Renewable energy lessons from Germany’s costly taxpayer funded experiments

Holly NicholasRebel Commentator

Eco-freaks love to tout Germany as the place to imitate if we want to make renewable energy mainstream, so I decided to look into some of the major problems they’ve encountered with their Energiewende program.

The first failure is the program requires massive government subsidies to operate and the country accelerated the program without planning, so it’s no surprise that $100 billion was wasted on the installation of roof top solar panels.

The major problem is the sun doesn’t shine in the winter so the most solar energy is generated when the least electricity is used – in the summer.

Often you’ll see a triumphant claim of impressive amounts of solar energy being generated and used in the country, but those figures come from the summer season.

In the case of wind, it’s usually a daily stat taken when the wind was blowing strongest that day. In reality, about 10% of energy throughout the year is renewable.

The next failure is that wind and solar power are intermittent – the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Renewable energy gets access to the grid when it’s available, essentially pushing thermal energy from coal offline.

Thermal plants were designed to run all day, everyday and now they’re only marginally profitable because this energy is still required when intermittent solar and wind energy aren't available.

There’s also no viable storage for wind and solar energy – it has to be used when it’s produced. That means back-up is required, which in Germany’s case, is coal.

The country started the Energiewende program as a result of a goal to eliminate nuclear in the year 2000, which provided as much as 25 per cent of power.

As a result of phasing out nuclear energy and using coal as the back-up for renewables, greenhouse gas emissions have risen in the country, exactly the opposite of what they implemented the energy program to do.

There’s a reason only 2 per cent of global energy is produced by solar and wind – they aren’t viable. They’re intermittent sources that can’t be stored. Plus, it takes a lot of work to concentrate these types of energy for use.

Solar panels and windmills have to be manufactured from rare materials that are mined and refined.

Until humans find a way to capture and store solar and wind to be used in a free standing facility without back-up, renewable energy plans are just an expensive and faulty government experiment funded by the public.

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commented 2016-06-06 20:11:17 -0400
The coal is not the foremost oxymoron.
The driving force behind the renewable energy for germany has always been to exit nuclear power…no matter what! Germany had by far some of the safest nuclear plants in the world up until when they got into the wind turbines (solar was a joke back then).
As current eco options can not substitue demand, Germany buys power from relative unsafe nuclear plants in the czech republic and france.
At the end of the day, they buy significantly more dangerous nuclear power for an incredibly high price – and all the eco warriors suddenly don’t seem to care
It does not matter if you are an economist or if you are die hard green – the german model is acomplete failure either way. However, as always left wing politicians and an artificially created industry are benefitting on the back of the dwindling middle class.
commented 2016-06-06 15:03:13 -0400
Zia Karl, take it from a Power Engineering student soon to be certified: Partial truth, at best. For starters, a coal energy plant can be made up of more than a dozen boilers and turbines; they don’t all need to be running continuously (The boilers have their steam run into a header — or steam collection point, if you will — and turbines are therefore not dependant on one particular boiler running) and indeed, in most cases more than one is left inactive in reserve in case of back-up/maintenance needs. Another point is that there is nothing stopping a coal plant from only running seasonally (in winter, as Ms. Nicholas mentioned, when demand is greater). The last point is that is usually gas-plants that are put in and out of service, as they’re the most quick and easy to deal with (little waste and clean-up). This type of throttling (entire boiler/turbine shutdowns) occurs regularly regardless of alternative energy sources, again, as demand is not always the same and a boiler will run less efficiently when below peak capacity.
commented 2016-06-06 10:54:14 -0400
Coal fired steam driven electric generators that are required to back up wind and solar are not shut down when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing because the boilers would cool and steam would not be available to drive the turbines until the water is brought back to boil. Brown outs and black outs would occur in the interim. It is a myth and a big lie that solar and wind displace coal, oil and gas fueled turbines. Boilers are continuously fired to keep them on standby. GHGs are not eliminated by solar and wind. It’s all a scam. Wake up people.
commented 2016-06-06 09:52:11 -0400
So let’s see here.
Solar panels need the sun to shine to work at peak efficiency. That means that during periods of heavy overcast skies, the solar panels will not operate at peak efficiency. Then we’ll need more solar panels to generate the pewer we need. Oh, and by the way has anyone ever considered nightfall? This is the period of time where there is no sunshine. This occurs at least once a day and can last up to twelve hours depending on where you live.
Wind turbines are great!
As long as there is wind.
No wind, no energy. How many days a year is there enough wind for these machines to operate at full capacity?
And since energy produced by these methods cannot be stored, we need to use it when it is being produced.
commented 2016-06-06 09:31:36 -0400
I don’t think Germany has higher rates than ontario
commented 2016-06-06 01:52:22 -0400
Andrew when it does not have to be subsidized then it is cost efficient , they have been working on solar for many decades now.
commented 2016-06-06 01:51:40 -0400
Andrew they are also highly toxic, so green is not what i would call them. The concrete for a windmill is highly toxic and buried at the level of the water table.
commented 2016-06-06 01:49:53 -0400
Andrew that is BS , why would they use ultra expensive minerals if there was an alternative? Do you ever think of what you write? And sorry but the cost is astronomical. And the recycle rate is not huge like you think.
commented 2016-06-05 19:53:41 -0400
You are dealing with a cult here, the dogma is AGW doom and fact, reason and stark contradicting realty means nothing to those deeply steeped in fear and an escape dogma – Wasted bandwith.

Making rational, factual appeals to persuade, essentially, deluded conditioned zombies. Climate doom zombies who will sacrifice their freedom, prosperity, and life to their paranoid delusion and willing will force you do the same.

The time for debate with these doom cults is over. If government and our civil institutions fail us in bringing reason to all these culture war belief systems, civil unrest will go hot – at this point I think it is something that has to happen for society to evolve evolve past self destructive political dogmatism..
commented 2016-06-05 12:40:32 -0400
“regan jonny commented 1 hour ago
Andrew Stephenson ever hear of winter , you know THE PART WHERE WATER FREEZES

Yes, the top two or three feet. Luckily we’ve invented a solution, which is reservoirs that are more than three feet deep. Winter does not stop hydroelectric production in Canada – the massive systems in both Manitoba and Quebec have harsh subarctic climates and work great, in fact, even Yellowknife derives much of its power from hydro), nor is pumped hydro significantly affected by it.
Drew Wakariuk commented 11 hours ago
Andrew if it is such a great efficient system then why the hell does it cost so damn much?

It doesn’t, not anymore. The technology has matured rapidly. Early contracts were indeed expensive due to immaturity but that’s no longer the case.
When will the left and their sheep stop calling it renewable, the wind turbine magnets and solar panels are made from the rarest most finite minerals on earth. Hardly renewable.

Rare-earth metals are endlessly recyclable (you don’t even really need neodymium for wind turbines, though the economics presently work out for it) . Unlike fossil fuels, which you dig out and literally watch as they go up in flames. Solar panels can be made from any number of materials, including silicon which is by far one of the most common materials on earth, again subject to economic considerations. Copper-indium is cheapest at the moment but plain old silicon is not far behind and is constrained solely by factory capacity… and there is a great deal of active research ongoing. The mineral rarity argument falls apart when you realize how many choices you have, “solar cells” are actually three or four parallel technologies all evolving rapidly.
commented 2016-06-05 11:58:56 -0400
Guy Fraser – I love your idea. You should lobby the liberals, and their coalition members, the NDP and the Greenies.
commented 2016-06-05 11:14:30 -0400
Andrew Stephenson ever hear of winter , you know THE PART WHERE WATER FREEZES
commented 2016-06-05 08:52:25 -0400
At the going rate, soon there will be only a dim light at the end of the tunnel for entrepreneurs in the fossil fuel sector.
Unlike socialites who only see government as an option, the entrepreneurs will invent a solution (s). And lo and behold the government will want to levy taxes on the new idea.
Say NO to carbon taxes. It’s a sham.
commented 2016-06-05 02:36:58 -0400
There is a difference between short-term thinking and long-term thinking.
Short-term: Coal is cheaper, solar/wind is expensive and it is hard to store.
Long-term: We are using up about 1% of the available oil/coal each year. It is a fuel from the age of the dinosaurs. In 50 or 100 years from now there won’t be much left. We need to start the transition away from these fuels.
commented 2016-06-05 02:32:01 -0400
Anon batteries are not green and very expensive.
commented 2016-06-05 02:12:37 -0400
Is it not possible to take the electricity generated by wind and solar, to charge small batteries? People can then buy green 9 volt batteries that were powered by wind and solar means. Doing this would make a lot more sense than to have the wind and solar plants send electricity through power lines for every day use.
commented 2016-06-05 01:50:18 -0400
Andrew if it is such a great efficient system then why the hell does it cost so damn much?
commented 2016-06-05 01:49:35 -0400
When will the left and their sheep stop calling it renewable, the wind turbine magnets and solar panels are made from the rarest most finite minerals on earth. Hardly renewable.
commented 2016-06-04 21:43:56 -0400
When the wind is not blowing … force by law all politicians who support wind power to stand in the fields and blow
commented 2016-06-04 21:31:40 -0400
Scott Evolution is a Hoax commented 4 hours ago
I got an Idea. It might not work, but its an Idea. These Wind mills. Rather than generate Hydro, why dont we pump water up into a tower built 500 ft in the air. enough to hold all the water these generators can pump.
Maybe it is or maybe its not efficient. just a off the top of my head Idea.
It works, and is being used (it’s called “pumped hydro”. There is even a small installation at Beck in Ontario)

" As usual, Andrew Stephenson is out to lunch.

The backup power plants used to supplement green energy are baseload plants such as coal or natural gas powered electrical generation. In Germany’s case, it is coal.

Renewable energy production cannot be controlled. It is either sunny and generating power or not. It is either windy and generating power or now.

There is no mass storage for electricity invented yet, so renewable energy production will remain useless until one is invented."

Obviously, you can “store” electricity by partnering them up with hydro generation. Quebec and Manitoba both operate wind plants but don’t have thermal “backup” at all, they back up with water which has minimal if any throttling losses. It’s actually quite efficient. In other provinces they use simple-cycle gas turbines, but they run those anyway to handle load fluctuations. There’s no net increase in fuel use, since the plants are being used anyway, and if it’s windy out can be a considerable savings.
commented 2016-06-04 21:25:56 -0400
Great story, Holly. " Man Made Climate Change" is the biggest scam in human history.
commented 2016-06-04 20:19:27 -0400
I should send you those pictures of a sailing crew in the pacific that witnessed the birth of an island from a sub-oceanic volcano and the vast emissions resulting from it. A rare sight to humans, which begs the question, how often does this happen, and how can it be controlled?
commented 2016-06-04 20:12:42 -0400
I’m sure everyone is well aware (excepting the truly stupid) of the facts you outlined. I’m just not sure why they ignore them
commented 2016-06-04 19:41:22 -0400
Good article Holly. I would only add that renewable energy sources as introduced by the Ontario Liberals and Alberta NDP are based on solving a problem that does NOT exist – CO2 emissions!! CO2 is not a cause of global warming to any significant or relevant degree and most credible scientists would correctly make the case that CO2 is vastly more beneficial to the environment and planet – it is plant food after all – than of any realistic concern. CO2 is at a significant LOW point in earth’s long history of millions of years so all the hysteria of reducing CO2 is exactly OPPOSITE to the health and well being of planet Earth and all living things..
commented 2016-06-04 18:41:12 -0400
don’t buy into those guys that come to your door and say, “it pays for itself”… sure…in 37 to 55 years if it lasts that long. I have barns and drive-in sheds and those guys walk right past the beware of dog signs. so I let Godzilla out… and all farmland should be a cell phone tower to like-minded people who want to meet the puppy.
commented 2016-06-04 18:36:56 -0400
Once as a business admin term paper I set out to prove that atomic energy was the most cost effective way to produce electricity. As long as the system doesn’t leak it is clearly the most ecologically sound….in fact coal fired systems put enough radio active waste into the air to warrant a shut down of any nuke plant if the coal mined has a high uranium content…like in Nova Scotia for instsnce. What I found out is that you should always be prepared to accept that your premise can be very wrong.

The cost of building, maintaining, and eventually dismantling a nuke facility…not to mention the waste management …..cannot possibly be offset by the electricity such a plant produces……so why do they do it?….Electricity is only a by product…..the primary product of nuclear plants is weapon grade plutonium….producing that is going to generate a lot of heat so you might as well harness that as steam turbine electricity. The other heat by-product of course is political heat from stockpiling too large an arsenal……the downsizing of nuclear plants is regulated by saftey propaganda and easily harnessed fear factor.

Out on the shooting range today (I live in PEI) I could see my breath at noon and it is June 4th 2016. If Leo DiCaprio (in spite of his performance in the Revanant) were put on top of Gros Morne mountain….just 1000 feet above sea level…in wet clothing….unable to get a fire going…he would be dead of hypothermia by morning….even in the hottest week in August….people from Los Angeles ….or Toronto for that matter…..find that hard to imagine.

@scott EIAH….instead of pumping water use mechanical displacement like the counter weights on a coo-coo clock and that eliminates contaminating the water with glycol for the winter freeze.
commented 2016-06-04 17:25:49 -0400
And it’s mentioned that German had to activate six coal-fueled electrical generating facilities to cover the massive capacity shortfall. The genius behind this green scheme was Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who is now the head of Nord Stream AG. (Gazprom) He also subsidized and built the massive natural-gas pipeline corridor from Russia. So much for the founder of Germany’s Green Energy program.
commented 2016-06-04 17:25:08 -0400
Approx. 5or6 years ago National Geographic had a story about a new kind of mini nuclear power plants. These could be set up for 1or2 to run individual cities depending on the size of the city. Also the waste would be much more manageable as they have found other uses for it. Never heard a peep about them since. Now why do you suppose that might be?
commented 2016-06-04 17:10:22 -0400
As usual, Andrew Stephenson is out to lunch.

The backup power plants used to supplement green energy are baseload plants such as coal or natural gas powered electrical generation. In Germany’s case, it is coal.

Renewable energy production cannot be controlled. It is either sunny and generating power or not. It is either windy and generating power or now.

There is no mass storage for electricity invented yet, so renewable energy production will remain useless until one is invented.