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EU is Losing the Energy Battle with Russia

Putin and Erdogan-sliderEurope’s grand strategy to become less import dependent on Russian gas, which has been discussed since the 1990s, looks more and more like a failure, as the new Russian Tsar, Vladimir Putin, is consistently wrong-footing the leaders of the EU, writes Cyril Widdershoven.

Russia’s re-emergence as a regional superpower, with growing interests in the Middle East, North Africa and central Asia, is causing shivers in Brussels and parts of Europe. The last few weeks has seen Russia’s European gas supply strategy boosted as Brussels and European leaders buckled in front of Russian pressure.

On October 28, the European Union gave Russia’s gas giant Gazprom the green light to increase its gas supply via the Nord Stream pipeline. Gazprom can now use up to 80% of the Opal pipeline in Germany which takes gas from its Nord Stream Baltic Sea pipeline to end-users in Germany and the Czech Republic. Up to now this was only 50%.

This increases Gazprom’s possibilities to bypass central European countries such as Poland and Ukraine. Brussels’ move is a direct slap in the face for these central European member countries, as they see it as endorsement of Russia’s military actions in Ukraine, Syria and the Baltic region. It means that the new tsar of Muscovy has tightened his hold on European gas supply. In an official reaction Gazprom stated that the new volumes will counter fledgling gas production from the North Sea and Groningen.

After decades of holding the EU membership carrot in front of Turkey, the West’s current approach, based on human rights, democracy and military interests, has forced Turkey to reconsider its place in history

Russia’s state gas exporter, which supplies around a third of the EU’s gas, can now use 30 to 40% of the other half of the 36 bcm pipeline. It has to set aside only 10% (or if there is sufficient demand, up to 20%), i.e. 1.bcm (or up to 3.6 bcm) for third parties. It could even gain access to the entire pipeline if there are no bidders, although it would have to sell the 10% of the half reserved for “third parties” at a price imposed by the regulator.

This decision shows that Brussels has conceded defeat in the continuing geopolitical battle between US and Russia. It demonstrated that Putin is master in the Baltics, Middle East and Turkey.

Energy hub

Putin’s statesmanship is without any doubt way superior to the strategic leadership of the European Union, Germany, the Netherlands or UK. The speed at which Putin has changed the regional geopolitical and military constellation of Europe’s hinterland and soft belly (Mediterranean) is frightening/ It has opened up a totally new situation in which a great many former European/Western allies are changing sides.

After decades of holding the EU membership carrot in front of Turkey, the West’s current approach, based on human rights, democracy and military interests, has forced Turkey to reconsider its place in history. Both Brussels and Nato have failed to understand the full extent of the ongoing political and economic changes in Turkish society. They have tried to push Turkey into complying with Western demands which could not be met.

Syria and Iraq are just proxy wars intended to reshape the Middle East permanently

At the same time, the role of Turkey as a potential energy hub for the European Union was taken for granted. Ankara would be forced to supply crude oil and gas from central Asia, Iran, Iraq or the Levant to Europe, but all on European conditions. The fact that Moscow and Ankara were at loggerheads only increased the pressure that Brussels was applying. No one understood that a new political-military elite was being groomed in the presidential palace in Ankara, based on a neo-realistic strategy, in which Russia and the Middle East would become more important to Turkey than the historical ties to Europe.

New friendship

Russia’s new tsar, Vladimir Putin, was however able to read between the lines. After the sudden removal of possible political-military opposition in Turkey, the path for a new friendship between Putin and Turkish president Tayip Recip Erdogan was clear. Full diplomatic, economic and military cooperation is again on the table. This has become even more necessary as both are looking for a regional power position in the Arab world. Syria and Iraq are just proxy wars intended to reshape the Middle East permanently.

Welcoming Turkey with open arms, Putin is bringing the country into Russia’s camp. Geopolitically it is a no-brainer: Turkey – as Nato’s second-largest military force – is a direct threat to Russian’s expansion in the Levant and Middle East.

Russia’s influence in oil and gas in the Middle East and North Africa has grown exponentially. Gazprom and its cohorts, Rosneft, Lukoil and Novatek, will be able to block or supply most of the new energy sources for Europe in the coming decades

If it chose, Turkey could be the cork that blocks the passage of Russia’s fleet and military to the region. But military considerations are not the only basis for the thaw. Russia has for the last decade tried to use Turkey as an instrument to block Europe’s possible energy independence from Russia. There are various new gas pipelines under consideration that would reduce the EU’s dependence on Russia, such as the Iran-Turkey gas pipeline, Iraq (North Iraq/KRG) to Turkey and the possible Egypt-Israel to Turkey offshore deepwater pipeline options. The position of Turkey is key to making these projects a success.

At the same time, Russia is also waiting for the EU’s green light for Turkish Stream, at least the part that would be built in the EU. The expansion of the gas pipeline to Europe, via Turkey, still depends on Brussels, according to Russia’s minister for foreign affairs Sergei Lavrov. The 31.5 bcm project, for which an intergovernmental agreement between Turkey and Russia was signed October 10, 2016, on the sidelines of the World Energy Congress Forum in Istanbul, plans to supply gas to Europe via Greece.

Half of the gas is meant for Turkish clients, the other half is destined for Europe. The European part is necessary to justify the investment. Both strings are to be ready by the end of 2019, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller told Putin in a transcript of a dialogue published on the Gazprom website late October, ostensibly to do with Russia’s preparedness for winter.

Turkish Stream, in combination with the planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline, will reduce the role of Ukraine in Russian gas transport to Europe, leaving that country at the mercy of Moscow.

Nightmare

European dreams that Arab or Iranian gas exports will come to Europe may come to naught as a result of the Russian-Turkish friendship. At the same time, Putin’s relationship with Iran, Iraq and Syria, means that the geographic routes for such endeavours will also depend on the Kremlin’s good will.

Putin’s policies, as have been shown the last years, rely on the facts on the ground. Russia’s influence in oil and gas in the Middle East and North Africa has grown exponentially. Gazprom and its cohorts, Rosneft, Lukoil and Novatek, will be able to block or supply most of the new energy sources for Europe in the coming decades.

Some analysts have been optimistic that the huge gas discoveries in Israel and Egypt, perhaps complemented by offshore production in Cyprus and Lebanon, will open up new supplies to Europe. Offshore gas production, pumped into LNG ships offshore or in Cyprus, would be out of reach of the super powers and regional war lords. Putin’s influence in this region was low, and would be constrained by Western interests and power politics.

The prospects for a Turkish energy hub for Europe and the capabilities of European countries to source gas exports from that part of the world look increasingly bleak

However, this situation also looks very different today. European and American interference in the Arab Spring, the removal of Arab leaders (and dictators), has increased anti-Western feelings. Russia’s historical allies, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and even Israel, are looking at Russia as the new power player in the region. Moscow’s eagerness and military capacity to support its allies, and to expand bilateral relations with others, has already resulted in long-term military arrangements.

The setup of a permanent naval base in Syria, military training exercises in Egypt, and growing military technology cooperation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and others, have all come at the expense of Western influences.

Analysts have linked these Russian initiatives to the ongoing slaughter in Syria and the fight against Islamic State/Daesh in Iraq, Yemen, and Egypt’s Sinai. But in the bigger picture, the growing naval presence of Russia in the eastern Mediterranean is and will be a direct threat to offshore oil and gas operations in the region. With a naval base in Syria and full-scale battle groups in the eastern Mediterranean, Moscow will be able to influence or even stifle the incipient energy co-operation between the littoral states Israel, Egypt, Cyprus and possibly Turkey.

Europe’s options to attract interest in these countries to export their gas volumes to European markets will be reduced as a result of Russia’s policies. The prospects for a Turkish energy hub for Europe and the capabilities of European countries to source gas exports from that part of the world look increasingly bleak.

by

This article was first published in a slightly different version in Natural Gas World Magazine, a new magazine for the international gas sector. It is republished here with permission.

Cyril Widdershoven is a long-time observer of the global energy market. Presently, he is owner of Dutch integrated risk consultancy VEROCY, while holding several advisory positions with international think tanks in the Middle East and the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Dr. Widdershoven earned his post graduate degrees at King’s College, University of London, Department of War Studies, and an MA in Middle East Studies at the University of Nijmegen, Netherlands.

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on November 23, 2016

Cyril – well surprise, surprise. You build in dependence on another’s country’s cheap exports, and before you know it you’re dependent on them.

Russia’s new tsar, Vladimir Putin, was however able to read between the lines. After the sudden removal of possible political-military opposition in Turkey, the path for a new friendship between Putin and Turkish president Tayip Recip Erdogan was clear.

Substitute, the U.S. for Turkey, Trump for Erdogan. And NATO for “the Titanic”.

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on November 23, 2016

I am hopeful President Trump will do what President Reagan did, unleash innovation. I remember standing in the hall asking Otto Schmitt in 1980, what will we do (President Carter had also created a sense of defeat). I didn’t like Otto’s projection, so I pushed fiber optics and microcomputers as hard as I could. I was the only biophysics student to study advanced genetics, biochemistry, solid state physics, and computers, with a background in agriculture. And the faculty didn’t have a clue about where scientific capabilities stood. What a historic technology quantum leap we have made since then thanks to massive investment in best, brightest, and hardest working young people.

All the recent bombs and BS have accomplished nothing. Goodbye Obama, hopefully Merkel and the EU. Oil is Russia’s wallet, did you think they would not defend it?? The richest, most advanced nations in history have ignored their own wealth, and failed all the world.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on November 23, 2016

You build in dependence on another’s country’s cheap exports

To be honest, I think they were bribed to.  Gerhard Schroeder was very well paid to be part of the Nordstream effort, selling out Germany’s indigenous nuclear capability to rely on Russian gas.  The German public still hasn’t figured out the scam yet.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on November 24, 2016

@EP, sorry but your ideas are far off reality.

The Nordstream pipeline from Russia through the Baltic sea to Germany was urgently needed for Germany as the existing pipelines passed through countries who asked ever increasing prices for the transit of the gas (in winter Belarus blackmailed to stop the flow of gas unless it got more money; so they got more money again).

The project stalled because it’s management couldn’t reach agreement with several countries along the Baltic sea. E.g. Sweden demanded that the pipeline would pass through the country (=nice rights-of-way income just as Belarus, etc)…
As Schroeder:
– showed during the hot discussion regarding the Energiewende that he could unite people (he even convinced the utilities in 1999 to agree with the Energiewende(!);
– was close with all the heads of state along the borders of the Baltic sea,
he was the right person to save the project (may be the only person)..

Selling out nuclear? No, Schroeder had no choice.
After the 1998 elections, the greens together with the socialist (Schröder) had the majority in parliament (Bundestag).
All nuclear out asap was a critical condition of the greens. That condition was also strongly supported within Schroeders own party.
So Schroeder had no choice…

Still it took ~2yrs before everybody could agree how the Energiewende would become a success. The costs were of course strongly debated and studied as well as support of the people (the greens wanted much faster).
In the end (2000) the greens ‘capitulated’ and agreed towards the 50yrs Energiewende scenario, which became law in 2001.

I assume that the utilities agreed in 1999 because they estimated that German population would reject the Energiewende, once confronted with the high costs (they had a promotion campaign:”cost too high and impossible).
But the predictions of the scientists: “Create a mass market and we’ll see a price-fall, etc.” became reality. E.g. solar costs decreased from ~70cnt/KWh towards ~7cnt/KWh.

So the costs stayed insignificant while the Energiewende accelerated and support for the Energiewende climbed from ~55% then towards ~90% now.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on November 25, 2016

@EP, sorry but your ideas are far off reality.

Schroeder Accepts Russian Pipeline Job:

BERLIN, Dec. 9 — Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder landed a job Friday as board chairman for a Russian-German gas pipeline that he championed while in office, a post that deepens his already close relationship with the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin.

At a groundbreaking ceremony about 250 miles north of Moscow, Alexei Miller, the chief executive of Gazprom, the Russian energy giant that holds a majority stake in the pipeline partnership, said the Schroeder-led board would be involved in “reaching all strategic decisions on all areas of the company’s activity.”

Can’t you ever stop lying, Bas?

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on November 25, 2016

Thank you for confirming that he accepted the job to save the stalled pipeline project. So the shareholders:
– Russian Gazprom; 51%.
– Dutch Gasunie; 9%
– French GDF Suez (now Engie): 9%
– German E.on and Winstershall; 31%
could look more hopeful towards the future.*)
And indeed he turned the project into a success!

Of course, as responsible German chancellor he championed the pipeline in the years before. , It was unacceptable that German gas supply stayed dependent on a blackmailing dictator in Belarus.

Your bribe allegation is just your fantasy?

Btw.
Such project can only become a success in close cooperation.
E.g. If the Dutch and German partners had pulled the plug, the pipeline may be installed but possible no sale of gas in Germany, even no transport to other countries (or only against extreme high prices)…
____
*) The project stalled for political reasons.
So it’s not strange that a politician with high status and good connections with all involved politicians, was recruited to get the project afloat again.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on November 26, 2016

Yes Bas, I agree: it’s not fair to blame politicians, in democracies, our “leaders” do a lot more opportunistic “following” than we like to admit. It’s the voting-eligible public that must take the blame for the policies of Schroeder, Trump, etc.

With regard to environmental policy, it is green groups which have sold out, rejecting safe, clean nuclear power, and accepting dirty (and in many cases imported) fossil fuel with a thin renewable veneer. (It still counts as selling out, even though most greens are getting paid not with money, but appeasement for inner demons).

In any sensible energy turn-around, most gas use for electricity and low grade heat should be eliminated, along with all coal use. It was a tremendous win for the fossil fuel industry when they teamed up with green groups to convince the public that replacing nuclear power was more important than replacing fossil fuel use! Greens are the sell-outs.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on November 26, 2016

Thank you for confirming that he accepted the job to save the stalled pipeline project.

No, he negotiated the pipeline deal with the expectation of taking the lucrative job as a payoff after his term, thus selling out his country for personal profit.

Your casual acceptance of corruption in pursuit of anti-environmental and frankly treasonous goals is noted.  I didn’t think my opinion of you could go any lower, but it just did.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on November 27, 2016

If Schroeder hadn’t accept the job then, Germany was forced to pay either
– the high blackmailed rights-of-way costs through Belarus; or
– the expensive Liquid Natural Gas from over-sea.
So he saved Germany a great amount of money!

Nordstream generated important benefit for Germany: Cheaper Russian gas as the transport costs became much lower. No long expensive rights-of-way to be paid to Belarus!

Benefits so much, that German utilities and Gazprom now want to invest in a nearly identical additional double pipeline throughe the Baltic Sea!
Even Polish utilities now want to buy gas from that pipeline, avoiding gas via the Belarus pipeline.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on November 27, 2016

Fossil fuel industry (such as the oil giants) is highly impopular with the Greens.

They prefer all nuclear out first, because nuclear is even far more dangerous than fossil.

Despite that, fossil fuel use declined 10%, while total electricity generation increased 6% since 2003 when the Energiewende really took off.

The Energiewende will also eliminate most fossil fuel use for electricity generation as it targets >80% renewable.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on November 27, 2016

…because nuclear is even far more dangerous than fossil.

You mean that “some people believe nuclear is more dangerous“, in spite of the fact that mainstream science finds that nuclear is much safer than any plausible combination of alternatives.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20928053-600-fossil-fuels-are-far...
There is no question,” says Joseph Romm, an energy expert at the Center for American Progress in Washington DC. “Nothing is worse than fossil fuels for killing people.

It is quite an unfortunate reflection on our current society, even in America, that some people think of nuclear accidents such the one at Three Mile Island, which clearly harmed no one, as being more important for energy policy than the 10,000 American who die every year (and the growing threat of climate change) from pollution & emissions caused by fossil fuel burning by power plants. As a result, politicians can still get elected by promising more coal production and use.

For this travesty, I blame the fossil fuel lobby and their so-called “green” accomplices (i.e. those activists who repeatedly and knowingly make extremely misleading statements, such as claiming that Germany’s modest reduction in fossil fuel use, which resulted almost entirely from modernizing comically inefficient East German coal fired plants and burning more Russian fossil gas, as evidence that Engeriewende will soon reach 80% renewables).

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on November 28, 2016

Fossil fuel industry (such as the oil giants) is highly impopular with the Greens.

Not really. The all important target for Greens is more solar, wind, along with cash prizes from government to make it happen. All else be damned, including cost, truth, and net emissions. If Greens need to build more coal and gas plants to do so, then they do so.

electricity generation increased 6% since 2003

No, German domestic consumption of electricity is the same now as then, as you well know. Export of more electricty at give away prices is not a justification for either i) maintaining German coal plants, nor ii) costly solar and wind tariffs. For Greens however, more solar and wind justifies any and all; see above.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on November 29, 2016

Nathan,
The problem for the public is that nuclear folks manipulate the figures greatly. So the public gets the feeling those cannot be trusted.

A typical example is James Hansen etal who assume 43 deaths due to Chernobyl, in order to arrive at the conclusion that fossil is more dangerous.

Despite such fraudulent manipulations, he is highly regarded by pro-nuclear folks. That contributes highly to the untrustworthiness of nuclear folks in my eyes and the eyes of the public.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on November 29, 2016

No, German domestic ….

So you agree that electricity generation increased 6% as I stated. If not check at AGEB.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on November 29, 2016

So tell where “greens” proposed to build more coal power plants in germany and did not oppose this? And germany exports electricity, at least till 2015 (newer data is not available) at higher prices than it imports electricity. Especially german export prices for power are well above the french export prices for power. So much to “give away prices”.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on November 29, 2016

tell where “greens” proposed to build more coal power

The program is called Energiewende, and has been quite succesful in not only maintaining the German coal fleet over the last 14 years, but modernizing it.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on November 29, 2016

Which is plain Nonsense. The “Energiewende” tells everybody that fossil power droduction will be pressed out of the market over time disencouraging any investment in fossil power plants. Despite knowing this, Several Utilities thought “Enegiewende” would not happen / would be cancelled soon, and bet several billions by investments into new power plants, which are now stranded assets. Which leads to situations like in Hamm, where a brand new coal power station with a damaged boiler will not get a repair, but will be knocked down because the repair of the brand new station is not economical.
It took the utilities a decade and many billions lost moey to understand that “energiewende” is really happening. And it has nothing to do with greens, just with the opposite. Read who supported the power stations, and who opposed it. (And no, although there was some modernisation of the fleet, it was just the usual modernisation according to age of the existing plants.)

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on November 29, 2016

Which is plain Nonsense. The “Energiewende” tells everybody that fossil power droduction will be pressed out of the market

That’s funny, your co-liar Bas Gresnigt has been making this claim for several months now:

the 340TWh in 2015 were partly generated with >30% more efficient power plants

It’s not surprising that you German Greens have tried to use the Big Lie technique (right out of Mein Kampf even!), but you really need to get your lies coordinated.  When you are saying fossil is going away, and Bas says that the brand-new lignite-burning carbon-belchers (capital assets with 50-year minimum lifespans) are 30% MOAR EFFICIENTER! and thus better for the environment than that terribly dangerous nuclear (which never hurt anyone outside the SovUnion), it makes people wonder if you really aren’t the liars we say you are.

And you’re doing all of this to save the coal industry from the threat of uranium.  I’d say shame on you, but it’s obvious that you don’t know what shame is or you’d never have written a word here.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on November 29, 2016

The lying liar Bas Gresnigt tells another whopper:

A typical example is James Hansen etal who assume 43 deaths due to Chernobyl,

What you attribute to Hansen as a fabrication is actually straight from the UNSCEAR.  That is from Hansen’s footnote 17, in case you’re unfamiliar with the meaning of superscript numbers in text in papers.

in order to arrive at the conclusion that fossil is more dangerous.

Against Bas Gresnigt who uses fabricated numbers in the hundreds of thousands, there is no comparison:  Hansen wins the credibility test.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on November 29, 2016

The “Energiewende” tells everybody that fossil power droduction will be pressed out …

I’m not interested in what E. says it will do, i.e. the narrative. I’m interested in what it has done: German coal capacity the same as it was 14 years ago, despite spending of €24B/year to promote solar and wind.

If you will, take a moment and look at the way in which you write on the subject: “…tells everybody … thought… cancelled soon … bet …situations like … understand … really happening … who supported ….” This is the narrative of the agitator, of the political operative, and not of the engineer or scientist looking for the facts.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on November 30, 2016

Well, You keep insulting and lying.
The right wing politicians favoured the new lignite and hard coal plants, but they are not green politicians, unless you declare the Tea party as a green organisation.

And I am also not green. But these are things which do not fit into your simlicistic picture of the world.
The new BOA+ Lignite plants (“+” including the improvements they received after construction are nice pieces of engineering, they are as efficient as hard coal plants, with low minimum load now due to dry coal burners, ramp up and down fast and have a high partial load efficiency. So compared with the old blocks they replace they are 30% more efficient surely, a correct number.

Nevertheless the greens here did fight them a lot.

And there is no threat from uranium. Uranium has priced itself out of the market, while not answering a lot of questions about remaining safety issues outside the pure engineering topics (black swans, the questions of reliability of organisations etc.) Once you find that you ride a dead horse it’s teme to get off the horse.

At the moment the political discussion – excluding the greens which are not a part of the federal gouvernment at the moment is about the coordinated phase out of coal power plants following nuclear phaseout. It’s not our habit to rely on imported power in times of high consumtion as france does, (see e.g. here : http://euanmearns.com/the-european-blackout-risk/) or to phase out something like coal in UK and then finding that the remaining generation might not be sufficient. So the question here is how many GW reaerves (expected to run 0 hours per year) will be neccesary at which time and which state of european grid expansion.

Nuclear does not solve any of the arising problems, since it’s too expensive and can not deliver residual load.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on November 30, 2016

And where is the big expansion of coal power to replace nuclear everybody claims it happened in germany?
It is not there.
And in a free economy companys are allowd to make wrong investment decisions. They pay high for these faults today.
And investment decisions are political, not technical.

And you will have problems to keep your narrative with constant german coal capacity going since next coal power closures are already scheduled. while also the Output (relevant for CO2 and other emissions) in TWh is shrinking, despite nuclear phaseout.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on November 30, 2016

Agree!
UNSCEAR is more guilty for denying the health harm caused by Chernobyl to the population by producing misleading info. As they also did regarding Fukushima by stating no radiation deaths, while first study showed the opposite in not evacuated areas. And the WHO expert committee concluded up to 7% more cancers to evacuated Fukushima children.

Yet we can assume that Hansen etal knew that the 43 deaths they used for their calculation was wrong. Considering the many publications such as the widely discussed book of the New York Academy of Sciences which concludes towards 825,000 deaths before 2006.
And most deaths stil have to come taking into account the latency (similar as with smoking, asbestos, etc) before health harm shows up.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on November 30, 2016

I’m interested in what it has done…

So you agree that we use the explosion, etc history of nuclear reactors to calculate the chance that new reactors deliver similar explosion, etc disasters.
Interesting as it implies a chance of ~1% that a new reactor end its life in a real disaster causing a harm of ~$200Billon.

So the owner of a nuclear reactor for power production, should pay an yearly insurance premium of 1%*$200B/av. life period of the NPP (~40years) =$50mln/year to govt (and public) as those take the risk.

Then still, it doesn’t include any compensation for the health damage to the public. But one can argue that other types of power plants (coal, etc) don’t pay that either.
Though it does imply a substantial subsidy which wind & solar don’t get as they don’t harm health of the public.

Hence, probably wind & solar should be subsidized far more in order to create a fair competition between the different methods of electricity generation.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on November 30, 2016

…where is the big expansion of coal power to replace nuclear everybody claims it happened in germany?
It is not there…

There is no “everybody” to refute; there are however 8 GW of biomass plants in Germany, most built during Energiewende, run as baseload, burning up half of the annual German timber harvest, along with increasing amounts of timber cut from protected land in eastern Europe.

…you will have problems to keep your narrative with constant german coal capacity

Constant German coal capacity over 14 years is a simple fact, not a narrative.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on November 30, 2016

Biomass in germany is based on biogas, not burning wood, you mix that up with Drax…..
And it’s also not running in baseload mode any more, since there are incentives to attach gas storage and increase engine power and follow demand during the last years, problem is the demand following is not monitored for the small uints, so in the online graph they are still shown as baseload. But they earn more money now when producing on demand.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on November 30, 2016

Sure, collect heavy insurance premiums for all the German reactors using RBMK, no containment designs, built to facilitate the non-existent German nuclear weapons program, and also collect premiums for German reactors located in 30m-40m tsunami zones.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on November 30, 2016

Biomass in germany is based on biogas, not burning wood,…


As of 2012:

…Germany is the greatest producer of wood, and wood is by far the greatest source of bioenergy in the country. Roughly 40 percent of German timber production is used as a source of energy, with the rest used as material.

You may be correct that biomass is not run as baseload. The Fraunhofer power data only provides monthly averages for biomass, so it’s unclear what happens on a daily, hourly basis.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on November 30, 2016

Wood is used here for heating, especially by people with own little forrest, but also as pellets. It is rarely used for power production.
In the future biogas power production should produce the same amount of power in less hours as residual load. 50 TWh in 2000 hours with peak production well above 25GW is what is needed of these systems, Which will require further impovements, especially in thermal management.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on November 30, 2016

1/2 the national timber harvest.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on December 1, 2016

exactly – branches, stumps, wood with faults etc. we do not throw away half of timber harvest like many other countries.

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