The Energy Collective Group

This group brings together the best thinkers on energy and climate. Join us for smart, insightful posts and conversations about where the energy industry is and where it is going.

10,029 Members

Post

100% Renewable Energy - The Only Way Forward

 

Image

It is a fact that non-renewable energies will, by definition, run out. It is also a fact that in the meantime, dependence on these energy sources is causing multiple existential global crises. If human beings are to preserve modernity and planetary habitability, we must soon shift to 100% renewable energy in all sectors. A fossil-free energy system is the only way forward as it results in socio-economic development and regional value creation.

The world’s leading scientists have issued a mandate that we must change our energy system to a sustainable one based on conservation, efficiency and renewable energy in the near future or risk losing planetary habitability. The energy transition is not a lifestyle choice; it is an essential way to combat climate change and save our planet. Fukushima and BP’s Deepwater Horizon catastrophe are only the most recent reminders of the hazards of our current energy system. Energy infrastructure is outdated and much of the world’s power generation capacity is nearing the end of its life. Major investment decisions to modernize the world’s energy system are unavoidable. Now is the time for the energy transformation.

There are many people who would consider themselves supporters of renewables but doubt the feasibility of 100% in the near future. Indeed, it is one of the biggest challenges humanity has ever faced. In times of economic crisis and budget cuts in most parliaments people are mainly concerned about jobs and price increases in their daily lives. However, the evidence shows that investments in renewable energies actually tackle these issues. Energy is a cross-cutting issue.

Looking at countries like Germany and Denmark that are successfully moving towards 100% renewable energy, we see that high citizen participation and regional value creation from decentralised renewable energy production are the key success factors.

In Germany renewable energy deployment has already resulted in more than 380,000 jobs. Especially in 2008 – the year of the global economic crisis – the sector proved its importance for growth and employment with an increase of more than 10%. By reducing costs for energy imports by € 6 billion in 2011, renewables enabled politicians to spend the limited resources on local development.[1] A study from the German Renewable Energy Agency (2010) calculates that German municipalities can expect at least € 1.2 billion a year in tax revenue from the use of renewable energies by 2020.[2] The more job-intensive a system technology or a value creation chain is, the more tax revenue municipalities can expect from their shares of the income tax.

The successful development of renewable energies has been a decentralised phenomenon in Germany. In almost every municipality in the country, a wide variety of stakeholders have in recent years brought many thousands of renewable energy systems into operation. Currently, over 80,000 citizens hold shares in collectively run systems for the generation of regenerative electricity and heat. Over 500 of the energy cooperatives founded in recent years have already invested a total of around € 800 million in renewable energy sources.[3]

Across the country there are over 100 regions that have understood the enormous potential of renewables and therefore implemented – and even, in some cases, already achieved – a 100% renewable energy (RE) target. These so-called 100 RE regions encompass about a quarter of the country’s population.

In a number of ways, municipalities have played an important part in the development of renewable energies in Germany and will continue to do so in future. They have far-reaching instruments of control with regard to the authorisation and installation of systems. They partially fund the installation of renewable energy systems and may even be involved in their operation as lessors through their municipal departments of public works. Increasingly, they are adopting their own renewable energies development goals and trying to attract companies active in the renewable energy industry to invest in them.

One may wonder how this is linked to the problem of empty coffers. The fact is that municipalities profit from positive regional economic development generated by the use of renewable energies by:
– saving fossil fuel costs
– creating jobs
– obtaining tax and lease revenues

Germany has undoubtedly raised the bar in terms of strategising energy sourcing, and setting the pace for renewable energy policies. Feed-in tariffs (FiTs) brought the country on this track as it acts as a connecting policy, linking people, policy, energy and economy.

However, Denmark is the only European country that has committed itself to 100% renewable energy in the electricity, heat and transport sector. Since the first oil crisis in 1973, the main objectives of Danish energy policy have been the security of energy supply, diversification in use of energy sources, environmental and climate aspects of the use of energy as well as cost effectiveness of energy supplies. The Danes obviously understood even back then that renewable energy technology can drive local development. In 2002, the Liberal-Conservative government tried to cut the renewable energy programs. However, renewable energy is so deeply rooted in the Danish population as the only realistic long term solution, six years later the prime minister declared the fossil-free society – meaning 100% RE – by 2050.

In this small Nordic country, € 16 million from local residents are being invested in renewable energies.  Over 100 wind turbine cooperatives have a combined ownership of three-quarters of the country’s turbines. The price per kWh for electricity from community-owned wind parks is not only competitive with conventional power production, but is actually half the price of electricity from off-shore wind parks. As electricity and heat are by law non-profitable goods, this enabled local community-based cooperatives to lead the energy transition.

Moreover, Denmark has also found an answer to the key challenge of integrating wind energy fluctuations: its solution is to combine heat and electricity generation (CHP) and implement decentralised district heating infrastructure, thus tripling energy efficiency and achieving decentralised storage. Solar and wind therefore do not stand alone. The Danes have managed to combine and integrate district heating and cooling, CHP and renewables to create truly autonomous systems.

Local CHP creates the basis for a decentralised energy structure. In many countries this infrastructure is already in place. With modest investments its fuel can easily be changed from fossil fuel to local renewable energy sources. With high total efficiency and two energy products from the same fuel source, cost of power and heat can be reduced. As an example, in 2007 Denmark had the fourth lowest power prices (before tax) for GWh-consumers in Europe according to Eurostat, trailing only Sweden, Norway, France and Finland being lower.[4]

The town of Hvide Sande on the Danish west coast shows how investments in renewables result in an immense development process on the local level. In December 2011 three wind turbines at the Hvide Sande harbour were set up. By Danish law, 80% of the turbines is owned by the Holmsland Klit Tourist Association foundation, a local business fund which initiated and financed the project. Hvide Sande’s North Harbour Turbine Society I/S pay an annual rent of €644,000 to the local harbour. The other 20% is owned by local residents living within a 4.5 km radius, as per the guidelines set out by the Danish Renewable Energy Act. This wind co-operative has 400 local stakeholders, and with an annual return of 9 to 11% the turbines are expected to pay for themselves in 7 to 10 years. The fund is used to initiate new business initiatives for the benefit of the harbour and local municipality.

Winds of change are blowing through the European energy sector. As we observe in Denmark, Germany and other countries, the cooperative enterprise model is highly successful, allowing people, local communities and regions to be the driving force of the biggest transformational process in Europe since the industrial revolution. In order to see these developments elsewhere in Europe, we need national political frameworks that enable citizens and municipalities to profit from this transition.

Powering a region with 100% renewable energy has been technically and economically feasible for a long time and is becoming reality all across Europe today. Feed-in tariffs kick started this development. Our task now is to adapt policy frameworks on all governance levels to this reality and to further develop best policies, like the feed-in tariff, because enabling policy frameworks on the national level trigger citizen participation and action on the local level. In order to set the scene for 100% renewables, the following policy principles are needed:

– provide market access for newcomers like citizens
– provide investment security to enable people to put their money on the right technology
– ensure direct benefits to communities
– increase efficiency of the energy system by combining heat and power
– create a level playing field between the renewable energies sector and fossil fuel industry

To that end, knowledge transfer and exchange between policy makers are vital. Networks between trailblazing countries must be established all over the continent to realize the implementation of a European energy transition to 100% renewable energies. Despite numerous good practices and successful policy instruments, this message does not always get through to policy makers in governments. We need to facilitate dialogue so that countries can learn from the invaluable experiences of other countries in order to avoid wasting scarce resources.

Anna Leidreiter's picture

Thank Anna for the Post!

Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.

Discussions

John Miller's picture
John Miller on January 8, 2013

Anna, both Germany and Denmark have made good progress over the years in expanding their renewable energy supplies.  Despite this progress both countries still rely primarily on fossil fuels to meet their energy needs.  The latest EIA data for International Energy Statistics shows that Germany and Denmark consume just over 80% fossil fuels (roughly half oil and half coal + natural gas) to meet their total energy needs.  Granted Denmark supplies a larger percentage of the balance of its energy consumption requirements from domestic renewable production, but it also imports a relatively high percentage of its total electric power consumption (about 1/3rd) from neighboring EU countries (produced from fossil fuels, hydro & nuclear plants).  Germany has a significantly lower percentage domestic renewable energy production capacity compared to Denmark (about half) and a lower need for electric power imports (only about 10% of total).  Germany however derives about 20% of its domestic electric power production from nuclear.  Denmark does not have domestic nuclear power capacity.

These Denmark/Germany energy statistics compare to the U.S. which supplies 82% of its total energy consumption from fossil fuels, almost 9% from nuclear, and just over 9% from renewables.  Total electric power imports are also about 1% from Canada (with a large percentage generated from natural gas and hydro).  Overall it appears that Denmark & Germany have made only slightly better progress than the U.S. in developing their clean energy supply mixes.

John Miller

Randy Voges's picture
Randy Voges on January 8, 2013

Anna,

Recommend you do more homework on pricing.  It's curious that the footnote links only to an individual's name (and only relates to 2007 prices!).  The IEA lists retail prices for electricity in their latest 2012 Energy Statistics document (link below) and it is striking that Denmark and Germany are easily the highest for household electricity prices ($409.17/MWh and $351.95/MWh, respectively; by comparison the U.S. is listed as $117.84/MWh).

http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/kwes.pdf

Also, the claim that "powering a region with 100% renewable energy has been technically and economically feasible for a long time" is problematic, to say the least.  Are you classifying hydro as renewable?  If so, then it makes the claim rather trivial.  On the other hand, if you are thinking only of new renewables (wind and solar with some biomass and geothermal thrown in) then that makes the claim highly dubious, in large part given that wind and solar are not capacity resources.

Steven Scannell's picture
Steven Scannell on January 8, 2013

The key to eventually getting to "100% renewable energy the only way forward" is to first understand and design the mechanical systems.  Electric grid systems are not good for scaled renewables. We know this.  There are other energy conversion systems for renewables usage, using off the shelf technologies.  The electric grid is best suited to fossil fuels, and not renewables.  A green grid conduit system of piped fuels and utilities, which can also carry a monorail, matches up with wind, wave, solar, geothermal and the rest. The pipes carry and store the energy, but non-electrical energy.  I call hydrogen "frozen electricity" because it can be made offshore, using electrolisis, then piped, converted back to electricity.  The large scale systems that can work well with the existing infrastructure are hydrogen based (from monorail pipes) at low pressure, made fresh from the offshore wind and wave grounds. Compressed air, or CAES at a conduit pressure of 8,000 psi is a future green fuel, and all from mechanical wind forces.  

I call the conduit system the tripe system, track-pipe.  The pipe facilitates our eventual shift to green energy by storage and transshipment of such within commodity utility parameters.  We have two main mechanical problems with renewables:  1. storage and shipment  and 2. conversions to applications.  With the pipes we have taken care of the storage and shipment, with a mega-system of pipes that carries a monorail system, multiple utilities such as water, sewage, broadband, natural gas, and of course the green fuels of hydrogen, CAES, oxygen rich compressed air (orca), and perhaps other green fuels. 

I think the mechanical ideas come before the will to change.  Change we must.  How to get to 100% is a great goal for a pilot program, and this should include vehicles.  Using a consortium model our existing and competitive utilities can be bought up going in, at favorable prices to them if they agree to be absorbed.  The utility v green systems fight need not continue. It is our biggest obstacle.  Capital reformation is our best bet, after we determine what the best mechanicals are for a fossil to green energy base.  The purchase of rail and utility assets may account for twenty percent of a total system cost. See the Tripe System Report at www.environmentalfisherman.com   It's a hybrid mega-system design. It's a hybrid system because we use mostly monorail or mass transit pipes to ship green grid energy and utilities.  Even though the system is simple using off the shelf components, it may take a couple years of design and prototype work to get us to the real planning table.  Some of these European systems are admirable for their effort, but they have the foundational mechanics quite wrong.   

Anna Leidreiter's picture
Anna Leidreiter on January 9, 2013

Thanks for all your constructive comments. Here some thoughts on that:

@Steven: I agree that the current energy system is not simply adaptable to RE technology. But I disagree on the fact that it is a technical/ mechanical problem. Converting our energy system is about more than replacing fossil fuel with sun and wind as new energy sources. Our current fossil fuel based energy system is characterized by complex centralized infrastructures where a) the fuel is transported to the plant and b) energy production and distribution is in one hand. The supply chain is vertical and the benefits are shared only among a few stakeholders. By nature, renewable energy technology is decentralised, has a horizontal supply chain and requires a completely different infrastructure and market. New ownership models are needed, as different stakeholders are directly involved in this transformation.

@AggieEngineer: Scientific evidences show that new renewables are ready for a 100% scenario. Marc Z. Jacobson, Professor of civil and environmental engineering at Standford University showed how that is even possible globally by 2030. Here some results:

  • The authors’ plan calls for 3.8 million large wind turbines, 90,000 solar plants, and numerous geothermal, tidal and rooftop photovoltaic installations worldwide.
  • The cost of generating and transmitting power would be less than the projected cost per kilowatt-hour for fossil-fuel and nuclear power.
  • Shortages of a few specialty materials, along with lack of political will, loom as the greatest obstacles.

(Download the report here)

@John Miller: thanks for clarifying this. I am aware of the fact that there are still major challenges and obstacles also in Germany and Denmark before we actually reached 100% RE. However, it is important to also point out successes and best policy approaches which brought countries, regions and cities on the right track.

Randy Voges's picture
Randy Voges on January 9, 2013

Anna,

I am familiar with the Jacobsen/Delucchi article.  The trouble is that neither one of them is an electrical engineer.  They make the common mistake of conflating energy resources (such as wind and solar) with capacity resources (i.e., dispatchable generation) which are essential to the security of the grid.  The section on reliability (with the usual pie-in-the-sky descriptions of geographic diversity and smart grid technology) is an excellent example of wishful thinking; they are essentially trying to describe a.perpetual motion machine.  To top it off, they overlook the cost of transmission ("Overall construction cost for a WWS system might be on the order of $100 trillion worldwide, over 20 years, not including transmission."), which is absurd.

 

Steven Scannell's picture
Steven Scannell on January 9, 2013

Yes, indeed new ownership and investment models are needed. Consortium based models for RE infrastructure can carry centralized systems, and be inclusive of all citizens as socially responsible investors, utilities and the government too.  The unwanted competition between green and old dinosaur systems, which are due to these vertical systems you mention, can be handled in this way very well.  Small add on RE systems, with forward thinking cooperative ownership systems in a non-profit energy arena ... all well and good in sentiment, but what are we going to do with all those old plants, if eventually they are squeezed out by green energy?  A green grid consortium approach can at least plan for this. We need capital reformation thinking just as well as we need the mechanical systems to be right.  The consortium is a key.  In this way you have the big utilities on the green side, pushing for the changes, right along with RE folks and the government.  

With centralized delivery of RE energy using the green fuels, the conduit system, which I call the track-pipe or tripe, is owned in common by a very broad based consortium.  So in this way a wind and wave mill owner would plug in and supply the "green grid" with the green fuels, and be paid per market prices.  This ownership of a common grid makes sense because fuel inputs can come from afar, and from multiple sources.  The financing of wind needs a comodity market for the product, other than electricity produced so intermittently. Isn't this true?  Utilities don't want to carry green dreams, they want to make money.  They can with the consortium.  A coal wind hybrid plant would simply use compressed air, bought from the grid, to triple its Kw per ton of coal. CAES and gas are common but we can expand to all steam plants, coal, nuke, gas, and then add auto's and trucks using hydrogen from the grid along with compressed air.  We don't need coal, oil, instead brains. The mechanical systems have to be scaled up.  The mechanical systems have to work well with existing infrastructure.  Wind to the electric grid is such a pain for utilities. 

Do you want to box the utilities out of the picture?  They have a part to play.  Do you think little green expensive toys will get us to a 100% green status?  That's been some slow going, and not too realistic.  I think you should read my report and learn about green fuels, how they're produced, stored, shipped, sold, and then interfaced with the old fossil systems.  Centralized green energy is the better way, and the existing utilities would be major players too, using a consortium based capital reformation.  Getting to 100% green, yes that's the job, and I guess we can argue about how it's done. 

John Miller's picture
John Miller on January 9, 2013

Anna, I encourage you to keep researching and posting your ideas on renewable energy.  Per the AggieEngineer and my comments (also originally educated-trained in Engineering) beware that some of the examples of countries that are often advocated as leaders in green energy solutions may not be as well developed as many perceive.  The technology challenges are still enormous.  Energy storage is a significant example where technical development and research probably needs much more focus in the future.  Industrial scale power storage is required for variable renewable power sources to truly be more successful in replacing baseload fossil fuels power generation.  The world has a long, long way to go before renewables actually become the dominate source of Developed countries energy supplies. 

Denmark and Germany have made greater progress in expanding their renewable energy supply vs. average Developed countries.  Despite this progress Denmark is still highly dependent on domestic fossil fuels and non-renewable electric power imports.  Remember when using Denmark as a renewable leader example, it has a relatively small total population of about 5.4 million; in between NYC and LA.  Germany has a population about 25% of the U.S. and probably serves as a more reasonable comparison example for other major Developed countries, including the U.S.

Nicholas Thompson's picture
Nicholas Thompson on January 10, 2013

If you really want to reduce emissions, have a reliable grid, and provide power cheaply to consumers, you can't ignore nuclear.  There are some great improvements that can be made with adding more hydro capacity, and building more wind and solar will be beneficial, but only to a certain point.  Once an electrical grid relies on 20-25% of it's power coming from wind/solar, it becomes very hard to keep providing power.  You cited Germany multiple times, when the fact of the matter is after shutting down 8 of thier nucelar reactors, the German electric grid became very unreliable, to the point that manufacturing companies are now leaving Germany.  Electricity prices have also skyrocketed there, with some families paying almost double for thier power.  Now to make sure they have enough power, they are looking at building coal plants, which is the exact opposite direction they should be going.  http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2012/08/31/germany-insane-or-just...
Current politics aside, France put itself in a situation where nearly 80% of their power comes from nuclear, which emits virtually no greenhouse gasses.  
The Jacobson and Delucchi article uses data from over 6 years ago, and makes many assumptions.  One of the starkest in my mind is that nuclear (which currently provides power at 2 cents/kWh) was averaged with coal and gas, which are more expensive and will continue to get more expensive.  They also assume that with huge investments in infrastructure, wind and solar costs overall will go down.  Yes, but so will costs for every source of power.  
Let's look at the situation rationally.  The only major commerical nuclear disaster in the US caused no deaths, and no increase in cancer rates.  The earthquake and tsunami in 2011 killed tens of thousands of people - no one died from radiation.  And those were reactors designed in the 1960's.  Nuclear power is safe, and the newer reactors are even better.  Newer designs can even use "nuclear waste" as fuel, which would give us thousands of years worth of power.  If you powered your entire life by nuclear power (your house, your car, your job...), the amount of waste that would be produced could fit in a can of coke.  It also takes less input materials than wind or solar per MWh, so some of those material shortages might not be a problem.  
If you want a serious solution to climate change, look at nuclear.  

Richard Viers's picture
Richard Viers on January 10, 2013

Although I am not by any means considered to be the foremost expert on the subject, I have spent the last few years doing intensive research and study of the renewable energy field. Prior to becoming interested in renewable energy because of the Kyoto accords, I was more of a hear no evil see no evil type, driving a semi for many years and owning several trucking companies.. In a nutshell, I was uneducated regarding renewable energy.  As my profile says, that has changed big time. I now advocate in every corner of the media, and every other opportunity I can.  This world is a very strong place, we have abused it for over one hundred years with every kind of polution we could possibly throw at it. Eventually if we continue on the bent we are on we will cause the Earth to say enough, and we will be cast off.  You and I know that the couse must continue to be pushed by inovators and believers in renewable energy.  I am hoping that we can create a world that is sustainable and renewable it is possible, but only if we all continue to advocate.

My Name is Richard Viers and I advocate for Alternative Energy Products.

http://alternativeenergyproductsgroup.com/wordpress

Edward Kerr's picture
Edward Kerr on January 10, 2013

Anna,

If you only know how true your assertions are, summed up in one sentence. "If human beings are to preserve modernity and planetary habitability, we must soon shift to 100% renewable energy in all sectors."  
At the crux of this ongoing debate we hear assertions and comments from the accurate and well meaning folks like JE Miller and Aggie Engineer. They point out the fact that the transition away from fossil fuels will be an expensive and monumental task. Truer words were never written. There is a major fly in the ointment in the two words planetary habitability. Because of just the relatively small (or though it was thought) amount of planetary heating that has already occurred, due to burning large amounts of fossil fuels, we have unleashed a monster that threatens to turn this world upside down, That monster is the Methane that is trapped in the permafrost and oceanic methane hydrates. In 2010 that methane started to be released into the atmosphere at unprecedented rates. The climate scientists who have their boots on the ground formed a group about 18 months ago to try to broadcast their concern about what this methane development might mean. Their blog is (http://www.ameg.me/). Another source of information is (http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/). A year or so ago Malcolm Light, a scientific member of that group posted the direst of warnings that is, to say the least, spiritually disquieting. It can be accessed here (http://arctic-news.blogspot.co.uk/p/global-extinction-within-one-human.html). If his calculations are correct (and I have yet to find anyone who can discredit them) then all of the banter, claims and counter claims, about if we can/can't or should develop a 100% renewable energy delivery system amount to little more than playing musical chairs on the Titanic.

The issue is no longer "can we afford it" but is now "can we NOT afford it?". There is a long shot chance of averting this catastrophe but it will require a concerted effort from several of the major countries of the world and considering our/their track record, I am not very sanguine that anything will happen. For obvious reasons I hope that they (and I) are totally wrong but things don't seem to be shaping up that way.

I suggest that anyone reading this do the research and if you come to the same conclusion that I have that you do your best to make the appropriate people (those who might actually be able to make something happen) aware of the situation.

Regards to all,

Edward Kerr

Tim Havel's picture
Tim Havel on January 10, 2013

Combined Heat & Power ordinarily means a fossil-fuel powered generator where the exhaust heat is used for space heating. In principle it could mean concentrated solar thermal, which is seldom practical at the community level and certainly not in Denmark. It could also mean biofuel powered generators, and I think there's quite a bit of that in Denmark but certainly not enough to cover all their heating needs.

One thing your article does not mention is the German invention of the "Passiv Haus", which makes it possible to heat your home just by inviting your friends over for tea (I exagerate, but only slightly). This makes Combined Heat and Power largely unnecessary, and so is an absolutely necessary, as well as proven and cost-effective, component of a transition to 100% renewables.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Mary Hartman's picture
Mary Hartman on January 10, 2013

Anna, 

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/new-coal-fired-plants-could-...  Germany is putting 23 new coal-fired power plants on-line.  The reality is that wind, solar and biofuels will not power their country.  Portugal was one of the most recent countries to stop the feed-in-tariffs for renewable energy; mainly because they are not economically sustainable.  I have heard the claim that economically and technologically we can achieve 100% renewables, with the majority planned to come from industrial wind.  Unfortunately we are doing with renewables what we did with dastardly coal: considered technology and economics without considering the environment.  There are absolutely no studies that discuss elasticity in the environment to guide us.  There is sufficient evidence to show that turbines cause a problem for bats and raptors.   It is difficult to know how many small birds die because there is no more left of a 4 gram bird hit by a 7 ton blade swinging 130 mph than there is when a bug meets the windscreen of your car when you are driving 60 mph down the road.  We ignore the environment at our own peril.  And let's not forget that industrial wind requires back-up from natural gas. 

Geoff Sherrington's picture
Geoff Sherrington on January 10, 2013

You state "However, Denmark is the only European country that has committed itself to 100% renewable energy in the electricity, heat and transport sector."

Using an acceptable definition of renewable energy, can you categorically state that when plans are completed, Denmark will be able to do away with all energy imports and be sef-sufficient on renewables? What happens when the wind don't blow and the sun don't shine?

Increasingly, and Germany is an example, it seems that some European countris are performing deliberate experiments on how do bring a country to its economic knees.

Geoff Sherrington's picture
Geoff Sherrington on January 10, 2013

Kent, ROFL when you claim that burning animal waste  or biowaste generally saves GHG emissions. It might by human definitions, but not in Nature. That organic material is labile and will put CO2/GHG into the air, whether you do it fast by burning or slow by normal decay.

You've made the classical error of doing near-static, short term analyses instead of long term dynamic analyses. If you use hot dry rocks for energy, they become cold dry rocks. And so on. Just give it time.

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on January 13, 2013

Anna, most of these anti-sustainable experts in the US were commenting while parked in their car during rush hour on a busy freeway with the engine running. They will dump numbers to prove nothing will provide enough energy for everybody to drive one ton cars from mall parking lot to mall parking lot, and shop in over-lit climate controlled environments for products shipped from the other side of the planet. And of course, they are right; in a perverse way.

The US is headed for a lifestyle adjustment one way or another. In my tourist area I've already seen tourists change from hauling 4 snowmobiles on their trailer to more modest 2 snowmobiles. And far more modest cars and motorboats hauled behind city bus sized motor home campers. Insanity is not a legitimate goal.

Mary Hartman's picture
Mary Hartman on January 17, 2013

Nonsense.  Germany's electrical rates are the highest in Europe - because of renewables, predominantly wind.  I don't where you are getting your information but I might suggest that you check with the German utilities to verify.  Wind energy always drives cost up.

Mary Hartman's picture
Mary Hartman on January 17, 2013

Germany stopped the use of nuclear power in their own country and imports from France.  There are no reports of coal plants going off-line in Germany, just 23 new coal-fired plants going on line.  Your assumption that I am opposed to renewable energy is way off the mark.  I just want renewable energy that works and is not just another way to shift money from taxpayers to Wall Street and foreign conglomerates - which describes industrial wind.  Anyone who does not know this fact has not followed the money trail.  

Germany's other conundrum is a lack of resources.  They don't have natural gas reserves or any other reserves to power their industrial nation.  That makes their goals like comparing apples to oranges.  We have plenty of reserves and would be wise to look at Germany ingenuity with regard to their coal plants.  These are not the dirty, slow to ramp up and down plants everyone thinks of when they consider big-bad coal.  But of course, you haven't looked but have, again, made assumptions.  Perceptions and assumptions are no basis for energy policy. 

Mary Hartman's picture
Mary Hartman on January 17, 2013

Xcel Energy has asked for an across the board 9% rate increase to offset the expense of being forced to buy wind power while electrical demand continues to go down.  In some regions of Minnesota citizens have experienced rate increases of up to 22% since the mandate to buy wind was passed by the legislature.  Enron established the framework for industrial wind here and elsewhere.  Doesn't that give you a warm fuzzy feeling?  

The international community has called for attention to the plight of bats dying by the thousands at the base of Germany's wind turbines.  Researchers following bats have found that many of them had migrated over 1000 miles before hemorrhaging to death when they flew near Germany's industrial wind facilities.  Bats are a Keystone species, which means that ecosystems collapse without them.  Reports on two Minnesota wind facilities show 20 bats per MW and 40+ per MW dying per year.  Bats are slow to reproduce so this wil lhave a detrimental effect on their populations.....which are necessary to maintain balance in an ecosystem.  

USFWS reports a 47% loss of raptors where industrial wind is installed.  (No, they don't all collide with turbines.)  Loss of habitat and habitat fragmentation are the leading cause of species extinction.  Clearly they are losing their habitat, which is being fragmented where birds spend most of their time - in the air.  Why is it that "greenies" ignore these obvious environmental issues, focusing on only the successes instead of learning anything from the failures all around them?

It appears that you, deCarso are the one only looking at one side of the ledger on this issue.  I am not opposed to renewable energy and am, in fact, a fan.  However, industrial wind cannot deliver the goods and is, as a matter of fact, environmentally destructive.  

Mary Hartman's picture
Mary Hartman on January 17, 2013

Germany's grid provider has said that wind can only reasonably provide about 10% of their electricity, which is why they are building 23 coal-fired plants.  I'm digging for the link to post their comments.  I'm not opposed to industrial wind but think people need to be realistic about what it can and cannot do.  There is a difference between what it can do and what we hope it can do.  After 40 years of working with it, we have a mature technology and have found it's limits. It's time to accept this fact and put our noses to the grindstone to find something that really works.  

Mary Hartman's picture
Mary Hartman on January 17, 2013

And Czechoslavakia is putting in a Switch to prevent Germany from dumping erratic wind power onto the grid at their border because it is having a destabilizing effect.  They are not the only country doing so.  

What makes you think I believe coal is "clean"?  It's absurd.  However, Germany's technology re: scrubbers is apparently extremely good, and the ramp-up, ramp-down capabilities of these new generation plants second to none.  Air quality in the US has improved steadily for the past 60 years, and we've been burning coal all along.  I'm sorry if that doesn't fit into your "sky is falling" scenario but it's a fact.  Coal is dirty, but new generation coal plants are great at capturing pollutants.  Deal with it - it's true.  

What "conspiracy theory" are you referring to?  For God's sake.  You faux greenies are really a paranoid group.  

 

Mary Hartman's picture
Mary Hartman on January 17, 2013

Wind doesn't avoid fossil fuel costs.  Wind requires back up from natural gas to stabilize the grid.  Last time I checked natural gas was a fossil fuel.  

Mary Hartman's picture
Mary Hartman on January 17, 2013

Typical, calling someone a "science denier" because they do not agree with your point of view.  It is a scientific fact that loss of habitat and habitat fragmentation are the greatest cause of species extinction.  It is a fact that the USFWS has noted a 47% loss of raptors where industrial wind is installed - loss of habitat.  It is a fact that Altamont Pass is one of the deadliest wind energy facilities in the US.  The cause of high mortality of golden eagles is due to habitat fragmentation in their air, where raptors spend time foraging for food.  It is a scientific fact that bats are a keystone species and without them, ecosystems collapse.  It is a scientific fact that industrial wind turbines kill bats at a rate of 3 - 50 MW per turbine per year.  It is a fact that the number of whooping cranes is rapidly declining after the installation of industrial wind in their migratory flyway and over-wintering habitat. It is a scientific fact that low-frequency noise is deployed as a military weapons system and that the symptoms caused by this weapon are the same as those reported by citizens who have industrial wind sited too close to their homes.  It is a fact that low-frequency noise can be measured, and has been measured inside homes that have been abandonned by citizens suffering from the effects.  It is a fact that those calling others science deniers continue to deny all of the above scientifically proven facts because it does not suit their agenda.  According to Westwood Professional Services, a wind industry survey company, permitting of industrial wind is political so science is not important.  The job is to influence the perceptions of decision makers.  Green tags, traded and sold, are "perceived benefits".  I am SO tired of wind energy advocates calling names and defending industrial wind while denying the science that tells us it is an industry driven by perceptions, not science.  There are 0 studies done to tell us how much elasticity there is in the environment, how much devastation it can tolerate as a result of industrial wind, before it collapses.  The only "studies" done related to economics and technology.  You cannot have informed, environmentally responsible implementation of any policy if you do not include the environment in the assessments.  

Mary Hartman's picture
Mary Hartman on January 18, 2013

I didn't defend anyone, but there you go again, making assumptions and jumping to conclusions.  No wonder you are so misinformed.  Political science and actual science are two completely different things.  Wind power isn't "reducing CO2 emissions and other pollutants".  Denmark and Germany have both deduced that.  I suppose you still believe in the hockey stick theory!  Which science do I supposedly deny?  

Mary Hartman's picture
Mary Hartman on January 18, 2013

I suppose you also believe wind power will reduce our dependence upon foreign oil, daCarso?  Wind power is far more expensive than conventional sources of electrical generation but the costs are buried in the capital expenditures and O&M.  The amount of power produced is no where near name plate capacity, which is substituted for actual capacity numbers, which are Trade Secret.  You clearly only read the rags that support your misguided conclusion instead of reading from all sources and making an independent determination.  But, you're far from alone.   

Mary Hartman's picture
Mary Hartman on January 18, 2013

This is why Minnesota Rural Electrical Association lost 70 million dollars?  Mandates force utilities to purchase wind energy when it can't be used and it can't be sold to consumers.  The utilities off-load it to MISO at a loss.  The losses rise with the installation of more wind.  If our government was really interested in reducing CO2 emissions they would work more diligently on electric automobiles.  Automobiles release more pollutants than coal fired plants, but you would know that if you were actually dealing with reality.  Wind can never be a baseload provider of electricity.  Never.  Ever.  It is simply not possible.  

Geoff Sherrington's picture
Geoff Sherrington on January 18, 2013

Up above, I asked

"You state "However, Denmark is the only European country that has committed itself to 100% renewable energy in the electricity, heat and transport sector. Using an acceptable definition of renewable energy, can you categorically state that when plans are completed, Denmark will be able to do away with all energy imports and be self-sufficient on renewables? What happens when the wind don't blow and the sun don't shine?"

Why the deadly silence? Only a fool would imagine that a country the size of Denmark or larger can be run entirely on the (artificially defined) renewable energy basis. Think aeroplanes powered by windmills that turn propellors on the wings as you drift off to the pleasant smell of whatever you are smoking.

 

Mary Hartman's picture
Mary Hartman on January 18, 2013

The excuse for installing industrial wind is that it will reduce our dependence upon foreign oil and reduce CO2 emissions.  We're doing both already.   If we were serious about it we would sink our money into the transport sector, improving on electric cars as we do not have the population base to economically sustain mass electric transit in most US states.  You're trying to sound intelligent and are trying to be condescending, which is very common to far-left liberals and right-sinded Repugnicans.  It's not working and diminishes anything and everything you have to say.  You clearly think you are the best informed and smartest poster on this site, but you are far from correct.  

Geoff Sherrington's picture
Geoff Sherrington on January 18, 2013

Re Kent Otho,

With all respect, I did not request a long, rambling essay.

Answer the question.

Can a country the size of Denmark close its borders and exist purely on renewables? Yes or No?

Clue. Imagine you are at Honolulu and think.

Steven Scannell's picture
Steven Scannell on January 19, 2013

Kent, great post, thanks.  I made some comments earlier in this thread.  Can you please read them and comment and also go to my report and have a look.  My design is a green grid for sustainables energy shipment and storage. All your systems seem to be moving forward.  I will need to learn about the aqueous.  

donough shanahan's picture
donough shanahan on January 24, 2014

Really this is a joy to read especially when I see 

Goodness, in 93, I read about the experiment of a German physicist with “microwave sonoluminensce” of diesel fuel in diesels which had the potential of cutting consumption by 50%.  When I wrote about that in an American journal, i was ridiculed. Today, that is S.O.P. in all diesels”

Say what? I actually have worked on making diesel on an inudstrial scale from a frac tower. Also

We re doing the same with silicon, copper and glass.  That means, we are slashing the raw material prices for silicon solar cells.  And by adding two layers of glass voltaic, one layer of plastic encased glass voltaic, and a fresnel lense system on top- we boost the efficiency of solar to 70%.”

NREL must be doing something wrong then as they quote the highest efficiency is in the mid 40’s from Sharp. 

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »