Chris Hayes, Dave Roberts on Germany’s Feed In Tariff

December 18, 2012

Despite some unevenness, bumps along the way, and a few major problems that need to be ironed out, Germany’s energy transformation continues, driven by a deceptively simple policy that has proven to be the most effective driver of renewable energy transformation worldwide.

Renewables International:

On Friday, Germany’s Manager Magazine reported preliminary figures for the German power sector, revealing that Germany exported more electricity in the first 3 quarters of 2012 than ever before. Nonetheless, some remain concerned.

According to preliminary figures not yet published by the BDEW, an association representing power and water providers, Germany exported 12.3 terawatt-hours of electricity in the first 9 months of 2012, compared to minus 0.2 terawatt-hours in the first 3 quarters of 2011 (effectively meaning that Germany was a net importer in the first 3 quarters of last year). The sudden nuclear phaseout last spring clearly reveals itself when we look at the statistics for the first 9 months of 2010, when Germany was a net exporter of 8.8 terawatt-hours. Nonetheless, experts remain concerned mainly about two things: the wide gap between peak power demand in the evening late in November; and the low value of German power exports relative to power imports.

In the evening in late November, power demand in Germany generally peaks for the year at around 80 GW. These hours are reliably always dark, so no power will come from photovoltaics. If there is also little wind power at that time, Germany will have to have that entire amount as dispatchable power generating capacity. The situation is not new, however, and it will not change; going forward, Germany will always have to have at least 80 GW of dispatchable power generating capacity, though not all of that need be fossil and nuclear – power storage will increasingly make up a small share of the pie, and gas turbines could increasingly run on biogas and gas made from excess renewable electricity (power to gas, itself a form of power storage).



11 Responses to “Chris Hayes, Dave Roberts on Germany’s Feed In Tariff”

  1. jimbills Says:

    The video brings up the point that the feed-in tariff was able to pass because it basically went in under the radar. Unfortunately, that’s the most likely way to pass something that could have major impacts on existing industry.

    If a powerful industry sees a threat to its business model, it will heavily lobby to kill that threat. I’d expect heavy propaganda and lobbying by the coal and natural gas industries if this came up in Congress. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be tried, though. Apparently, a few states are trying it already.

    Two related links:

  2. neilrieck Says:

    For more information about Germany’s FIT program: Video lecture (55 minutes) by Chris Turner at Toronto’s Rothman School of Management on March 8, 2012.

    Some of this stuff is described in chapter 3 of Chris’ book which you can read online here:

    BTW, individual electricity bills in Germany were tweaked-up by one cent per KWh with the proceeds going to green producers who only get money when they produce power (it is connected by a two-way meter). Nothing produced means no money transferred. It is individual investors (and home owners) who put up the money to create the green-power installations and it is those same investors who pay fees to maintenance companies to keep it going. This has produced 250,000 tax-paying green-collar jobs in Germany in the past 10 years alone. All of it without a single tax-payer dollar or government hand-out.

    • One wonders how much more advanced would be their progress if they HAD used some government dollars, or why it would be less appropriate to use government money rather then private money.

      Personally, I hate this idea that we somehow have the luxury and privilege of waiting for the private sector to eventually get around to half-heartedly embracing the change we need to save civilization as we know it. I think civilization is more important than that, but that’s just me.

      • neilrieck Says:

        The only way these programs work is if the government stays out. In fact, the FIT legislation would not have made it through the German parliament unless it was a zero cost venture to German tax payers (most thought it would never work). The German FIT program was copied from the Danes but I once heard this explanation from a German green-energy advocate:

        If politicians from party-X passed a law providing government money for a new solution, politicians from party-Y would make getting rid of the scheme an election promise. The same thing can happen whenever the government in question gets deep into debt. But with FIT, the money comes from consumer’s power bills. Consumers who want to save money will now be encouraged to conserve (use less power by using it more efficiently, installing insulation, etc). Some may use surplus cash by installing power generation equipment and selling it back to the grid but they will only receive money by actually selling generating power which means they need to maintain the equipment in good working order.

        Manufacturing, installing and maintaining renewable energy equipment is where the new 250,000 green-collar jobs come in.

        • “The only way these programs work is if the government stays out.”

          The ONLY way?

          Funny, I seem to remember some successful energy programs that were payed for with government funds.

          The Rural Electrification program which brought power lines to every home in the U.S.

          Every hydroelectric dam project.

          Every nuclear power plant ever built.

          100 years of gas, oil, and coal subsidies.

          Every public utility in the nation.

          Subsidies for residential and commercial energy efficiency.

          And that’s just energy programs, and off the top of my head. Seems to me that, around the world, most national needs are best met by national programs.

          Health care.


          Road programs

          General infrastructure

          Banking. International trade, etc, etc, etc.

          Yet, somehow, renewable energy ONLY works when the government stays out of it. That’s a pretty strange concept, if you ask me.

          • neilrieck Says:

            With all due respect, those projects were done when the political left and the political right met in the middle to work out compromises. With TEA party types pulling the right to the extreme right and compromise seen as a dirty word, I doubt if any of the things you mentioned could ever pass through congress today.

            Just my two-cents worth because I am seeing the same thing up here in Canada.

  3. […] energy pros and cons: Wind as renewable energyChris Hayes, Dave Roberts on Germany’s Feed In Tariff // IE Evitar seleccion de texto document.onselectstart=function(){ if […]

  4. andrewfez Says:

    Something’s afoot with solar and wind stocks……huge gains overnight.

    Also the latest in China is that they too will get a Feed In Tariff:

    Headline: Big week for solar and wind power

    “….There was also news flying around that China may increase its 2011–15 solar target from 21GW to 30–40 gigawatts. The country will introduce a new feed-in tariff early next year, offering production-based remuneration, as opposed to the capital grants awarded under Golden Sun….”

    Read more:

    • neilrieck Says:

      Deniers of all stripes like to throw out the following “red herring”: China is installing one coal-fired power station every week (the number of plants per week changes every time I hear the story). But the truth of the matter is this: China is exploring ALL power generation technologies.

      China now has some of the biggest hydro dam projects in the world; they have the largest solar manufacturing facilities in the world (Solyndra died as a consequence of “technology dumping” because China wants the whole world-wide market; the Japanese tried the same thing with silicon memory chips more than a decade ago); Chinese companies are building monster wind generators for both local consumption as well as export; I know China is playing with a pair of CANDU heavy-water nuclear reactors to see if they can be adapted to burn thorium (they have already been adapted to burn depleted uranium from light-water reactors). The first picture on this Wikipedia article shows the CANDU installation in China:

  5. […] 2012/12/18: PSinclair: Chris Hayes, Dave Roberts on Germany’s Feed In Tariff […]

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