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Switzerland's Energy Strategy 2050: Repeating Germany's Mistake?

With the vote of May 21, the debate about new nuclear in Switzerland is closed for many years to come. Nevertheless, the ban on building new NPPs can be considered more of a “pro forma” law, because in any case, new nuclear plants were not planned in the near future mainly for economic reasons. Also, the Swiss utilities currently do not have the financial resources and the balance sheet to stem such a huge upfront investment. In order for new nuclear projects to make a comeback, the government energy policy would need to change with regards to nuclear power or carbon-free generation, similarly to the UK, before something can happen. This would have also been the case if the vote would have been “No” last Sunday. The big difference with the “Yes” is that we cannot even expect any discussion on the topic any time soon.

For the existing plants, there is no limitation of operating life. Some anti-nuclear groups still want to change this fact and reduce and/or limit the life-time of existing plants “on top” of the “Yes” vote of last Sunday, but it is questionable if there will be a majority for such an initiative.

It is neither necessary nor sensible to put the country before a choice between renewable energy and nuclear power, because it is wrong. The choice is not between renewables and nuclear power, because what is meant by everybody when saying “renewable” is solar PV and wind. And solar PV and wind cannot replace nuclear power. The choice is between fossil fuel fired power plant capacities and nuclear power. The Swiss government tried to avoid the debate about fossil fired capacity under all circumstances in the run-up to the vote, although the government agencies have been deeming new gas turbine power plants in Switzerland necessary for security of supply reasons (especially in winter). It went so far that government documents mentioning the need for gas turbines “disappeared” from some official websites. Some opponents of the Energy Strategy and some journalists tried to bring the topic up, but the broad public is not aware of this. In our opinion, if the public had really had an understanding that Solar PV and wind do not contribute to security of supply and that fossil fired capacity is necessary to replace nuclear capacity, then the energy strategy would have been approved by a much closer margin or even rejected.

Successful decarbonization has been achieved in the past by European countries like Sweden, France, Belgium, Finland and Switzerland – each time with expansion of nuclear power. The expansion of new renewable capacity in Denmark, Spain, Germany and Italy only had a little effect on the decarbonization. The UAE is on the path of a massive addition of carbon free electricity per capita, and the country is achieving this by building 4 new nuclear power units!

Now, the Swiss Energy Transition is sure to repeat the same mistakes of “Energiewende” made in Germany, even though all the facts are now already very clearly visible for everybody to see.

We are expecting to see a lot of negative effects in Switzerland over the next decade:

  • Continued promotion by the government of the myth that conventional base-load capacity can be replaced by solar and wind capacity, although this is clearly false
  • Long-term guaranteed (20 years) and very high subsidies for volatile generation technologies like solar and wind leading to massively higher costs for not much additional electricity, stifling innovation.
  • More import dependency from Germany (fossil) and France (nuclear), especially in winter as well as destabilization of the grid, increasing the risk for black-outs.
  • Increasing or not reducing carbon emissions
  • Increasing electricity prices for end-consumers, while smaller consumers pay more than larger consumers, making the energy transition counter-productive and unsocial.
  • All the while, the government will try to keep up the appearance that it can “steer” the energy and electricity supply towards renewables. The will have little or no success, but a huge apparatus of inefficient government agencies and subsidised industries will be built up as unintended consequence.

The result of Sunday’s vote is nothing short of a disaster for the Swiss people, economy and the environment.

Content Discussion

Thorkil Soee's picture
Thorkil Soee on May 25, 2017

Probably Germany will be the first to throw the towel in the ring and realize that the Energiewende was a politically motivated disaster.
About Energiewende: See http://wp.me/p1RKWc-11F
About Dunkelflaute: See http://wp.me/s1RKWc-90
My little country Denmark can get help from Norwegian hydro and Swedish nuclear.
At a cost.

Sean OM's picture
Sean OM on May 25, 2017

It isn’t a mistake. The Swiss people figured out the charade of Nuclear power. It is costly and requires money from the government to sustain and build.

You are correct Energiewind is a great example of what NOT to do. It’s poor implementation actually appears like it was designed to fail from the start. The US faced similar issues due to strong lobbying efforts as have many other countries.

The new technology has improved to the point where it is cost effective to implement. It is getting easier and easier to see. Utilities are starting to implement significant CO2 reductions and incorporate large quantities of renewables without raising rates.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on May 25, 2017

Wolfgang, there was a time not long ago when policymakers who weren’t authorities on a particular subject had no qualms about leaving the big decisions to experts. It was a time when delegating responsibility where appropriate wasn’t considered a weakness, but a mark of wisdom, a virtue.

That is being replaced by a zeitgeist where any bigmouth can be considered an authority solely by virture of his/her big mouth. So it’s encouraging to see a mechanical engineer speaking out – you not only know what’s possible, but why. And though someone may delegate to you responsibility relative to your expertise, we can’t always count on it.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 26, 2017

To call the Energiewende migration towards renewable a failure, shows that either the author is blind pro-nuclear or has no understanding.
The Energiewende is increasing renewable share of electricity with 2%/a, while the target was 1.5%/a. This year renewable will generate >35% of its electricity, more than nuclear ever did in Germany.

Especially since Germany is the only major country which already reached the Kyoto 1990 20% GHG reduction targets. It’s now at ~28% reduction while the 1990 Kyoto target specifies 20% in 2020! Read the detailed English UBA report.

USA is still around the 1990 level. Even the countries which the author post probably won’t reach the -20% Kyoto target in 2020. Near all those countries are lucky with better climate & more hydro, so they could start with a lower baseline.

A few of the myths in the posts:
For existing plants, no limitation of operating life.
The first NPP will close in 2018, the others will follow gradually in the years thereafter.

“… base-load … replaced by solar and wind … is clearly false.”
“… increasing the risk for black-outs.”

German electricity supply (already very reliable) became even more reliable in the past decade when wind and sun started to deliver significant part.
Denmark (>40% generated by wind) and Germany have most reliable electricity supply (>10times better than USA).

… solar and wind leading to massively higher costs
That is the past.
E.g. in Germany solar costs was $70/MWh in 2003 despite 20yrs guarantee. Those subsidies created a volume market which created massive price decreases for wind & solar and now storage. So those are now 2-5times cheaper than new nuclear.

Recently Germany tendered 1380MW offshore wind. The winners offered to install, operate and decommission for zero guarantee (=whole sale prices which were €29/MWh last year).

etc.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on May 26, 2017

Since recently all swiss nuclear was offline for a extended period of time simultaniously (they have broken down mainly, while others were on regular maintenance) swiss people could see that the country works fine without nuclar.
Swizerland has several TWh of hydropower storage, and more than enough tirbine capacity to supply the country and still sell peak / residual power to the neighbouring countries.
So variability of generation is not really relevant for swizerland, the yjust adopt output of hydropower accordingly. And balancing power with neighbouring coultries is also a no brainer for swizerland. Power connections to germany alone are strong enough to keep the country running on imported power. Connections to france and italy are similar strong, and all interconnecters are being expanded.
As far as accuracy and security (in this case of power supply) are concerned, swiss people are extremistic germans.
And since wind and solar today provide power below the costs which are needed to keep old nuclear open, this will not be expensive for swizerland.
By the way, you can buy swiss nuclear power stations at themoment, for 1€ per piece. You just have to carry the decomissioning costs, and the costs for the upgrades. Seems noone wants to buy.
So let’s see how long the swiss utilities are willing to carry the mounting deficits of the nuclear power stations, wnd when they will close them down.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 26, 2017

Switzerland is the only real democracy. Already from before Napoleon.*)
It’s the most stable and successful country of Europe, probably of the world.

Switzerland sores superior on all important metrics of human life:
– UN Human development index: Rank 2, USA rank 10.
– Av. life expectancy: 83.1 yrs, USA 79.1 yrs. A difference of 4yrs.
(even Cuba scores better with 79.6yrs).

Nuclear used its authority to misinform the public on a massive scale, hence forfeit it. E.g.

– Nuclear would be safe, while:
* Nuclear causes significant genetic damage to newborn up to 40km away
* Already near 1% of its reactors ended in a disaster harming health and creating a million deaths. And socializing near all costs.

– Nuclear would be cheap, while it’s one of the most expensive methods to generate electricity (2-5 times more than wind+solar+storage), emitting accordingly more Green House Gasses.

______
*) He never succeeded to conquer the whole country.
Hitler decided not to attack when his generals predicted it would take a lot of deaths (more than conquering France) and a year to conquer the well defended mountain passes to Italy.
Which would be a shame for mighty Germany and himself.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on May 26, 2017

Half of Swiss hydro is run of the river. The dammed hydro won’t be enough to balance a replacement of nuclear with wind and solar. Electricity trade can help, obviously, but then they will switch from cheap imports/valuable exports to the opposite: expensive fossil imports and worthless wind/solar exports when neighbors generally don’t need it.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on May 26, 2017

Other countries are better in per capita terms, and of course, Germany was helped immensely by a date coinciding with the reunification and the low hanging fruit of making East Germany more efficient.

The energiewende is an epic fail from a GHG perspective.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on May 26, 2017

You are lying as usual, Bas. You should be banned for spamming us with junk science.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on May 26, 2017

On the bright side, Switzerland and France is doing things in the right order. They move to a position of nuclear strength and no significant fossil production. Only then do they start to dabble in cute and immature alternative tech. If it doesn’t work out, they can backtrack and build more real power. The risk, of course, is that they’ll slowly increase fossil generation to match renewables.

I’d recommend a referendum that bars utilities from increasing fossil generation and another that requires them to import only non-fossil electricity.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 26, 2017

So let’s compare the emissions in electricity since 2000 which is the year the Energiewende was decided and ~10years after the reunification.

Its most important targets in order of priority:
1- move all nuclear asap as that is most dangerous;
2- increase renewable share in electricity from 6% towards 80% in 2050, with intermediate targets. Such as 35% in 2020, which target will be reached this year!

Results:
2000: renewable 6%; nuclear 29%; CO2 emissions 640g/KWh*)
2016: renewable 32%; nuclear 14%; CO2 emission 527g/KWh

An emissions reduction of 18%, despite major nuclear reduction!
I estimate that it’s a bigger reduction than near all other countries achieved this century!

Btw.
Note that this implies that emissions from fossil power plants also reduced significantly. Partly thanks to the new high efficient (at least a 30% increase) lignite power plants.
____
*) Figures from AGEB and UBA (Umwelt Bundes Amt)

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 26, 2017

The Swiss are rather accurate in figures, so they calculated all consequences as they also do with other referendums.

The responsible ministry concluded that it will cost ~€40/year per Swiss household.
Even poor Sweden can afford that. So why not in Sweden?
No longer the nuclear health risks and genetic damage.

Note that Switzerland is far richer…
So for them its really peanuts.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on May 26, 2017

Jesper, the swiss already tested this, unwillingly last year, and it worked fine with zero nuclear power.
Turbine capacity of swiss hydropwer is just below 14 GW, production is 36 TWh, 55% of demand in swizerland.
I find somewhere between 1-2 GW run of the river plants in swizerland, where do you find the others?
Several GW of the remaining ones are pumped storages with additional water input, and mostle storages for weeks or longer.
Demand per year in swizerland is 61 TWh, maximum demand around 8GW, so significant smaller than turbine capacity. So when wind and solar power are consumed first, and storages are kept full, there is always the possibillity to generate 160% of maximum demand by hydropower, and swizerland keeps adding turbine capacity. But maybe you want to buy the swiss nuclear plants, if you think they are so valuable? They desperately seek for someone who buys them, but nobody wants.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on May 26, 2017

The Swiss referendum was about new nuclear, not about nuclear phase-out, so there are no costs. In november, a nuclear-phase-out referendum was resoundingly defeated, as has similar initiatives been historically.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on May 26, 2017

Jesper, the swiss already tested this, unwillingly last year, and it worked fine with zero nuclear power.

Was that during high demand season? And please define “worked fine”. It worked “fine” for the Japanese too. High fossil imports, high prices and people scrambling to reduce use.

I find somewhere between 1-2 GW run of the river plants in swizerland, where do you find the others?

Wikipedia has a nice graph that shows half of hydro being run of the river.

Several GW of the remaining ones are pumped storages with additional water input, and mostle storages for weeks or longer.

That’s your typical nonsense, I presume. Pumped storage is usually a few hours worth.

Demand per year in swizerland is 61 TWh, maximum demand around 8GW,

That’s even more obviously untrue. 61 TWh is on average 7 GW. No way then max demand is only 8 GW.

But maybe you want to buy the swiss nuclear plants, if you think they are so valuable?

I haven’t said they are valuable. Lot’s of factors governing that. I’m just saying that if their hydro’s flexibility is eaten by domestic wind and solar, they will lose arbitrage from electricity trade. Of course Switzerland will survive closing down nuclear power and instead participating more in the continent’s fossil-RE-trade. Might not even be more expensive, I don’t know. But I do know it’d be a loss for the climate and environment.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on May 26, 2017

“Worked fine: nobody noticed, no additional fossil fuel imports, business as usual for everybody. Just no nuclear power station running.

As usual your data is trash compared to the question. This is not hydro capacity, but generation. Run of the river runs around the clock hydrodams run on demand.

About demand: germany has 84 GW maximum demand and 600 GW consumtion, divide this by 10 and you get also roughly the numbers I named for swizerland.

And since it’s cheaper to installore new wind and solar per kWh than to keep old nuclear running, the same amount ivested in wind and solar will reduce more CO2 than if it would be invested in keeping the nuclear plants running. Simple mathemathics. That’s why the plants also are worth nothing.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 26, 2017

The phase-out was already decided in 2011 (after Fukushima) by govt+parliament without much discussion.
The November initiative referendum was about speeding-up the phase-out of all nuclear.

I assume that pro-nuclear forces in govt/parliament got some courage from the “no” regarding the speedup, so they required a referendum with a clear picture about the costs of a transition towards renewable.

Now everybody has a clear answer about what Swiss people want:
1- no new nuclear;

2- the existing 5 nuclear reactors (in 4 NPPs) can continue as long as its clear that there is zero safety risk. Hence the closure of the first reactor in 2018;

3- lost generating capacity to be replaced by renewable. Swiss people agreed that some billions can be spend for that.

You can read all at Wikipedia, etc.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 26, 2017

@heinbloed,
Thanks for the link regarding the Datteln-4 coal plant.
It answers an intrigue question I had the last years:
“How can this new (though very up-to-date) coal plant compete against the new lignite plants? Especially considering the expansion of wind and solar. What future has this plant?”

Onshore wind
Looking at the 807MW onshore wind tender which resulted in guaranteed prices of €57/MWh during 15years, it seems to me that onshore wind is gradually loosing its cheap generation position to offshore wind (the Dutch 750MW offshore tender of last autumn was €55/MWh).

Considering the better options for further cost price decreases, offshore wind may soon become regularly cheaper than onshore. A pity for countries without sea borders.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on May 26, 2017

Worked fine: nobody noticed, no additional fossil fuel imports, business as usual for everybody. Just no nuclear power station running.

Fantastic. 40% loss of power production, no imports to compensate, yet nobody notices. Just another day in Helmut Coal’s World of Magic(tm).

About demand: germany has 84 GW maximum demand and 600 GW consumtion, divide this by 10 and you get also roughly the numbers I named for swizerland.

593 TWh (not GW). Then peak demand 24% over average demand. Your figures put Swiss peak demand 15% over average. OTOH, if I use maximum rounding allowances for your Swiss numbers (8.5 GW, 60.5 TWh), I get 23%. So ok, you might be right about that one.

And since it’s cheaper to installore new wind and solar per kWh than to keep old nuclear running

Every nuke is different. The Swedish Forsmark nuclear power plant reports fuel+production costs of 2 eurocents/kWh excluding capital but including contributions to decommissioning and waste handling. AFAIK, solar and wind is far from that, despite lavish subsidies and externalised grid costs.

the same amount ivested in wind and solar will reduce more CO2 than if it would be invested in keeping the nuclear plants running.

Wind and solar is more expensive to begin with. For deep decarbonization, you need huge amounts of storage and the costs become unbearable. That’s why Germany has stopped at 7% solar and pioneer wind countries continue to disappoint. Denmark is the sole exception, but it is a small country that use large neighbors to handle its wind.

Simple mathemathics.

Too simple.

That’s why the plants also are worth nothing.

Solar and wind plants are worth nothing as well, sans subsidies. Everything is having a difficult time with low price on carbon, slow demand and high subsidies to intermittent power.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on May 26, 2017

Ah, yes, forgot to answer this one:

As usual your data is trash compared to the question. This is not hydro capacity, but generation. Run of the river runs around the clock hydrodams run on demand.

Again, half the hydro is run of the river. That means only half is using dams. Usually, dams have limits on how much and little they are allowed to discharge. This is to protect downstream ecosystems and river banks. They are also filled on a seasonal basis and are low at certain points in the year and also have good and bad years. While hydro is very useful, it has its limits and obviously, it would be better for Switzerland’s capacity to integrate RE if all of it was dammed.

Also, obviously, there’s far too little European hydro balance large amounts of intermittent power. If Sweden, Norway and Switzerland use their hydro capacity to balance their own domestic fleets of wind turbines and solar installations, they can no longer help Germany, Denmark and others. There’s a reason that North Stream 2 is built, which will ship Russian gas that could supply half of Germany with electricity. (North Stream one can handle the other half.)

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on May 26, 2017

Yes, we know about your little game of establishing a self-complementing group of ideologues all touting the same lying (but movement-approved) sources.

That is why we keep calling for all of you to be banned.  You are all toxic.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on May 26, 2017

Well you can’T accept if noone notices when the nuclear fleet goes offline. Well face the facts.
And no there is no need for huge amouts of storage in big grids, but I know you are unable to accept mathemathics and physics of wind and solar and statistical behaviour of uncorrelated sources. And swizerland is very well connected to the european grid.
And as you can see, the swiss nuclear fleet also needs a full backup since output can drop below zero for weeks….

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on May 26, 2017

The dams in swizerland happily ramp up and down, that’s what they are built for.
And no we are still talking about capacity here, not energy. For residual load capacity is the key part. Seems you have problems to seperate capacity and energy.
And in large grids there is no need for huge storages, remember the thing with addition of uncorrelated sources, resulting in the deviation from average becomming smaller and smaller till it becomes negible.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 27, 2017

TEC moderators already banned at least one decent, polite pro-renewable commenter in response to scolding of pro-nuclear commenter.
I saw comments from him, Bas, at other blogs about the pro-nuclear censor policy at TEC. TEC not respecting the first amendment.

Jesper & EP try to evoke same censorship when they have no good response to reality based comments. Apparently they want to turn TEC’s comment section into a pro-nuclear applaud section.

Seems they succeeded in the past by simple unfounded scolding, as they do it now. Also by depicting me as Bas.

It suggests that TEC moderators are indeed open to censor & ban pro-renewable, also when those base themselves on reality and those who scold base themselves on their fantasy (as long as those are pro-nuclear).

It’s a pity as it degrades the comment section.

It would enhance TEC if they introduced a policy regarding comments (forbidding scolding, etc). Just as many others have.

Btw.
It’s amazing that German Siemens still sponsors pro-nuclear TEC. Won’t be a recommendation in the minds of the German public.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on May 27, 2017

Well you can’T accept if noone notices when the nuclear fleet goes offline. Well face the facts.

As intellectually honest as always. Again I said: “40% loss of power production, no imports to compensate, yet nobody notices.” There are implicit ANDs in my quote. The “no imports to compensate” thing is key. I have absolutely no trouble believing customers didn’t notice, but then there was fossil imports. Your own Germany routinely dumps huge amounts of excess lignite power on neighbors, for instance.

And no there is no need for huge amouts of storage in big grids, but I know you are unable to accept mathemathics and physics of wind and solar and statistical behaviour of uncorrelated sources.

Not at all. In all likelihood, I have better grasp of the mathematics than you do. I have a masters degree in engineering and I’ve taken reasonably advanced mathematics courses in statistics. But sources aren’t uncorrelated because you say so, countries won’t give up energy independence because you say so, semi-global grids won’t pop up just because you say so.

But what does pop up is Nord Stream 2, which will make landfall in Germany in 2019 or 2020. THAT is the result of anti-nuclear, pro-RE policies. In the run-up to the Swiss referendum, plans for more gas in Switzerland somehow disappeared from government websites.

And as you can see, the swiss nuclear fleet also needs a full backup since output can drop below zero for weeks….

So if that happens once every five years and could be supplied by nearby nukes in neighboring countries, then that’s equivalent to more or less monthly wide-area dunkelflaute events where Swiss (and other) power would need to be supplied by Kazakh solar or Scottish wind?

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on May 27, 2017

The dams in swizerland happily ramp up and down, that’s what they are built for.

So they are allowed zero output for as long as they want, and full output for as long as they want? Cool. In Sweden, that’s absolutely not the case. We have strict laws regulating this. Remember, I live in a country quite similar to Switzerland in hydro/nuclear setup, whereas you live in a land of open-pit lignite mines. Perhaps I have some understanding you don’t…

And no we are still talking about capacity here, not energy.

There will be little capacity to offer when there’s little energy (dams are low to empty). And a child should be able to understand that half the hydro being supplied run-of-the-river fashion makes for less hydro being dispatchable and available for balancing.

And in large grids there is no need for huge storages,

Yeah, that’s why you need Nord Stream 2, I guess. Because we’ll all be supplied by smooth RE electricity along an unlimited HVDC grid backbone. Sometimes we’ll all get solar from Ireland, sometimes from Donbass, sometimes from Libya, sometimes from Svalbard. The sun always shine somewhere, right?

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on May 27, 2017

What are you trying to say? Please articulate what you object to and what you claim.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on May 27, 2017

Germany now usualy dumps its nuclear power for satle outside the country.
And your grasp of mathemathics is low, and you are not the only one with e masters degree in engineering, just that I have one in economics, too. So what1?
Sources are uncorrelated because measurements for may years show that they are uncorrelated. Physicsn, natures laws.
Well nuclear fleets in neighboring countries most likely will not be prepared for this, but in a high or all renewables environment neighbours will be propared for it, beciause then it is well known that power flows in both directions, every day in a different pattern. It’s a part of the design. But nice, that as soon as we talk about nuclear, times of zero output can be compensated with generation from far away.
Well once you accept this, you also have to accept that it’s nearly only LCOE which remains to compare nuclear and renewables. LCOE of nuclear is too hogh by a large margin, it’s completely off the table. And there is no development in sight which might bring it back in a competitive price area.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on May 27, 2017

When power supply usually coms from wind and solar, dams are full as usual state. There is no cause to empty them, it will not safe any fuel in a conventional plant.
It#s not difficult to understand that the storage capacity in swizerland is far, far bigger than needed to compensate renewable output in swizerland, it is nearly anough to compensate germany + swizerland if aly cross border pwoer exchange would be forbidden. With cross border power exchange it naturally reaches further.
And remember nobody here requested North Stram 2, it’s a russian project.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on May 27, 2017

Germany now usualy dumps its nuclear power for satle outside the country.

How do you see the difference? Nuclear is good, lignite is bad, so lignite is what SHOULD be reduced when there’s excess power. But I’m not surpriset Helmut Coal don’t agree.

And your grasp of mathemathics is low

Feel free to believe that, but I have given you no reason to do so. Throughout school, I was the best in math.

you are not the only one with e masters degree in engineering, just that I have one in economics, too.

So you have a double masters and spend your time trolling this site in a language you can’t handle? Mature.

Sources are uncorrelated because measurements for may years show that they are uncorrelated.

Exactly which sources are uncorrelated? Danish and German solar?

Physicsn, natures laws.

Oh man, this sentence is so profound! Please let me withdraw everything I have ever said and sing the praise of renewables. This will be my new mantra: “Physicsn, natures laws.” It’s just like the Om mani padme hum, just better: Physicsn, natures law, physicsn, natures law, physicsn, natures law.

Well nuclear fleets in neighboring countries most likely will not be prepared for this,

Except that they already are. It’s not a secret France and Switzerland helps each other, for instance.

But nice, that as soon as we talk about nuclear, times of zero output can be compensated with generation from far away.

Come on, it’s not far away. The neighboring nukes are nearby. Far away is when you need to find uncorrelated wind or solar! A tiny country like Switzerland with 3 GW nuclear can certainly have times of zero output, but my own Sweden has 60% or more of average nuclear output at all times, and that low only scheduled during times of low demand. And that’s with a fleet of no more than 10 nukes.

You’re so fond of mathematics. When you have a fleet of nukes with CF of 85%+, with most of the downtime scheduled, and the unscheduled downtime makes for largely independent stochastic variables, how large fleet do you need for security of supply? Not very large, I can tell you. But OTOH, Europe is dark at the same time, and very, very large swathes often has similar wind patterns. If Germany had a fleet the size of France’s, that fleet would not fluctuate very much (either), whereas wind and solar is all over the place, all the time.

LCOE of nuclear is too hogh by a large margin, it’s completely off the table.

So why are we discussing referendums forbidding new builds? Because as soon as a government decides that “ok, electricity and deep decarbonization is a vital national interest, so let’s make nuclear cost of money low” then it is very competitive. You’re such a hypocrite when you pretend for instance off-shore wind is cheap and that new nuclear is expensive. You should simply be ashamed of yourself.

Jesper Antonsson's picture
Jesper Antonsson on May 27, 2017

When power supply usually coms from wind and solar, dams are full as usual state.

You have no clue what you’re talking about. You might know a thing or two about lignite, Helmut, but you’re clearly ignorant of hydro.

It#s not difficult to understand that the storage capacity in swizerland is far, far bigger than needed to compensate renewable output in swizerland

Of course not, since you “understand” whatever that makes RE look good.

And remember nobody here requested North Stram 2, it’s a russian project.

Except, of course, that former chancellor Schröder convinced his social democrats to press the coalition government for it, since he’s corrupt and since that’s the way to increase renewables. And except that financing is half European.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on May 27, 2017

Oh, this explains so much:

you are not the only one with e masters degree in engineering, just that I have one in economics, too.

This seems to be a common element among the more deluded Green-types.  Mark Z. Jacobson has a BA in econ.

Jarmo Mikkonen's picture
Jarmo Mikkonen on May 27, 2017

527g/kWh is pathetic. German electricity is 10 times dirtier than French:

http://www.environmentalprogress.org/big-news/2017/2/11/german-electricity-was-nearly-10-times-dirtier-than-frances-in-2016

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on May 27, 2017

Germany was helped immensely by a date coinciding with the reunificatio

Bas/Bentvets knows this quite well; it’s been pointed out dozens of times but she continues to mislead.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on May 27, 2017

The phase-out was already decided in 2011

And an early phase out was cancelled in 2014.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on May 27, 2017

Switzerland is the only real democracy

Nonsense. Several US states, larger than Switzerland, allow direct referendums.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 27, 2017

I know e.g. California. Many EU countries too, e.g. Italy.

But those still have a long road to go before they become real democratic, reach the democratic level of Switzerland with its quarterly referendum on all subjects about which there is difference of opinion.
At country level.
At kanton (=province) level.
At municipal level.

So Swiss citizen’s vote every 3 months on a number of subjects.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on May 27, 2017

Well you can’T accept if noone notices when the nuclear fleet goes offline

It’s one thing to plan the loss of a third of domestic power generation for month or two in a small grid when the hydro reservoirs are full domestically and abroad, ready to export. But it is unserious to glibly say nobody will notice a *permanent *loss of a third (40%). How much do you think can be lost and replaced with glib remarks? 2/3? All?

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on May 27, 2017

All new REs are now cheaper than ‘new’ atom or fossil power

Candles are cheap, but they can not replace dispatchable or baseload utility power either without help. So new intermittent power has fossil hiding behind the curtain, an expensive way to go, and predictably (October 2016):

German green energy surcharge rises to record

[http://www.dw.com/en/german-green-energy-surcharge-rises-to-record/a-36040052]

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on May 27, 2017

Those US states whose people call for things that the elites don’t like have their referenda overruled by unelected judges.  California’s had this done at least twice on major issues, specifically benefits for illegal aliens and gay marriage.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on May 27, 2017

Men In Black, not so secretly running everything.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 28, 2017

A country which reduced its GHG electricity emissions since 2000 more than Germany’s 18%/KWh??

Year 2000 is ~10years after reunification, hence those effects are no longer significant.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 28, 2017

@Mark,
Sorry, but your idea of a cancellation in 2014 is wrong.*)
In 2014 there was neither a national referendum regarding the subject, nor a decision by govt, etc.

I checked Wikipedia about the Swiss energy policy, and about the referendums.**)

There was in 2014 a referendum in Kanton Bern only, which concerned only the Mühleberg NPP there. It proposed to stop the NPP immediately, which was rejected. Though it survived that referendum, the Mühleberg NPP will stop in 2018 or 2019 (different sources state different dates).
_______
*) May be you got it from an English paper or site, such as Bloomberg. Those often contain wrong info regarding the transition to renewable, etc. in Germany and other foreign language areas.

Seems their correspondents have difficulty to understand what’s going on in countries with other languages,
or/and they publish alternative facts to please readers,
or/and ?.

**) Both pages are updated until 2017.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 28, 2017

Rick,
Sorry my original comment was not in response to your comment.
but to a comment from EP above which seems to have vanished…
Don’t know how it arrived at this wrong place,
So I deleted it. Sorry again!

Btw,
I clearly don’t agree with your oil idea, regarding Switzerland.
Neither that he attacked in N.Africa & Russia because of oil.
He also attacked Yugoslavia and Greece who don’t have significant oil either.

He would have been far better off if he had occupied the small Malta island, even while it would have cost him 20,000 dead para-troopers. He then could block all traffic to/from the Suez channel, and protect his supply ships to Rommel’s army.
Now Rommel’s tanks had no fuel at Al Alamein as all ships sent to N.Africa were bombed by planes from Malta (his troops also had ammunition shortages, etc. So the British could win that battle.

Hitler wasn’t a rational, economic thinking man. He was thinking in terms of honor and glorious victories. Conquering Greece incl. the island of Kreta (despite the many British troops at the island) brought that. While Kreta had no real military or economic value.

Sean OM's picture
Sean OM on May 28, 2017

The US electric CO2 emissions are down about 21% since 2005.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 28, 2017

Sean,
Thanks! So US does at least well on one climate metric!

Jarmo Mikkonen's picture
Jarmo Mikkonen on May 28, 2017

Finland, the UK come to mind. Both Finland and the UK are dumping coal, unlike Germany. And building nuclear.

In 2003, Finnish electricity CO2 emissions were around300g/kWh. In 2015, 97g/kWh. That’s over 60% reduction. By comparison, the 18 % reduction in Germany is truly pathetic.

Page 18 of the the document below:
https://tem.fi/documents/1410877/2937056/Nuclear+Energy+in+Finland

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on May 28, 2017

Jarmo,
Sorry, but your statement is opposite to the relevant graph 22 at page 18 of the PDF you link!

That graph shows that Finnish CO2 emissions per KWh increased by ~33% in the period from 2000 to 2007!
No data for the years after 2007.

So USA seems to be the only country which improved more regarding CO2 emissions per KWh since 2000 than Germany.

Btw.
Thanks for the interesting explanation in the PDF about Finnish subterranean nuclear waste storage.
Hope it won’t end in same disaster as in Germany, especial as it seems that the preparations are not much better.

Jarmo Mikkonen's picture
Jarmo Mikkonen on May 28, 2017

Bas/Bentvels,

Actually, you refer to 2000-2006 period. Unfortunately this graph does not show 2003 which I believe was the peak year for Finnish electricity-related CO2 emissions. But it was the only document available in English.

Here is a presentation in Finnish that shows values 2006-2015. Slide 24, if you please:

http://www.real.fi/Energiatyhmyrit/Energiavuosi_2015.pdf

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on May 29, 2017

If you would know something about statistics, you’d know that the dams will be full most of the time, beside the lulls for which they are kept as backup.
And I do ot see much pressure from SPD here in politics for north stram. It’s considered a severe problem. But explain me why was swedens gouvernment so eager to accept the plans for north stream so fast?

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