It’s about Ownership. Why Germany Kicks Butt in Renewable Energy.

October 24, 2013

Cleantechnica:

Germany is racing past 20% renewable energy on its electricity grid, but news stories stridently warn that this new wind and solar power is costing “billions.” But often left out (or buried far from the lede) is the overwhelming popularity of the country’s relentless focus on energy change (energiewende).

How can a supposedly expensive effort to clean up the energy supply be so popular?

1. It’s about the cost, not the price

Most news stories focus on the cost of electricity in Germany, which has some of the highest rates per kilowatt-hour in the world.  But they don’t note that the average German electricity bill – about $100 a month – is the same as for most Americans.  Germans are much more efficient users of energy than most, so they can afford higher rates without having higher bills.  (Note to self: check out options for energy efficiency).

2. It’s about vision

Germany doesn’t just have an incremental approach to renewable energy, but a commitment supported by 84 percent of residents to get to 100% renewable energy “as quickly as possible.”  A few U.S. states have renewable energy visions (e.g. 33% by 2020, 25% by 2025) that approach Germany’s, but they’re mired in the notion that despite enormous savings to society in terms of health and environmental benefits, renewable energy shouldn’t cost any more today than conventional, dirty energy on the utility bill.  Germans have taken the long view (about energy security, price volatility, etc).

3. It’s about ownership 

I lied in #1.  Support for Germany’s renewable energy quest isn’t about cost of energy, but about the opportunity to own a slice of the energy system.  Millions of Germans are building their retirement nest egg by individually or collectively owning a share of wind and solar power plants supplying clean energy to their communities. Nearly half of the country’s 63,000 megawatts of wind and solar power is owned locally, and these energy owners care as much about the persistence of renewable energy they own as they do about the energy bill they pay. Not only do these German energy owners reduce their own net cost of energy, every dollar diverted from a distant multinational utility company multiplies throughout their local economy.

Below, related news from the US:

ThinkProgress:

Solar panels are not limited to wealthy homes — it’s the middle class that is the biggest adopter of solar power in the U.S.

A new Center for American Progress (CAP) study shows that solar technology is being overwhelmingly adopted in middle-class neighborhoods in the U.S., as more than 60 percent of solar installations are occurring in zip codes with median incomes ranging from $40,000 to $90,000 (see chart below).

The CAP report used residential solar installation data from the Arizona Public Service (APS), California Solar Initiative (CSI) and New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program (NJCEP) databases to examine solar adoption trends across income levels in the three largest U.S. solar markets – Arizona, California and New Jersey. In addition to showing that middle-class homeowners are driving rooftop solar adoption, the report also found that the areas with median incomes ranging from $40,000 to $90,000 have experienced the most growth. In fact, the neighborhoods with the most year-over-year growth from 2011 to 2012 had median incomes ranging from $40,000 to $50,000 in both Arizona and California and $30,000 to $40,000 in New Jersey.

These findings are in contrast with the current utility-industry narrative, which paints rooftop solar as a technology that is only being adopted by the wealthy. The contention then from many utility executives is that lower-income customers are subsidizing wealthy customers through solar policies, such as net metering. Earlier this year, Southern Company CEO Thomas Fanning told shareholders that if solar customers aren’t paying the utility for the use of the electric grid, then “…you in effect have a de facto subsidy of rich people putting solar panels on their roof and having lower-income families subsidize them.”

So America is winding up to kick butt in solar, as well. And the butts being lining up to be kicked, are those of any utility companies that insists on clinging to 120 year old business models in the face of new technology. Without new regulatory approaches, new science-and-technology based profit incentives  for  our electric industry – the revolution will still happen, but it will be a lot messier and more painful than it has to be.

61 Responses to “It’s about Ownership. Why Germany Kicks Butt in Renewable Energy.”

  1. Bruce Miller Says:

    My Question: Who pays for the disposal of the humanocidal wastes from American “enriched uranium secret” Plutonium creating reactors?
    My Next Question: What will become of these Fuckoshima styled reactors when American developed, American proven, Chinese re-engineered, Chinese modernized, Chinese renovated, Thorium LFTR technologies debut in 2017?


  2. “Ownership” by individuals is not kicking butt – it is an idea that is going to doom us all.

    Germany’s uptake of rooftop solar is way ahead of most places. And you can tout a 20% share of ->electrical generation<- all you want. But you are still putting lipstick on a pig.

    That 20% – how does that relate to the amount of electricity which will need to be generated to replace all carbon fuels in future? Is it even 5% of future needs? 10%?

    After 30 years of effort, by far and away the most successful solar implementation yields maybe 5% of future electrical needs. Meanwhile, 95% of energy use is still pumping CO2 into the air.

    Is a best-case-in-the-world 5% share after thirty years a rate at which we are going to stay under 2C increase in temps? How about 4C+? Answer: it doesn't look like it to me!

    This idea of ownership by individuals is an idea which is woefully inadequate. It will doom civilization. We need a HELLOFALOT more renewable energy deployment that that, and we need it asap.

    What we need is "ownership" by the public, all of the public, not a few homeowners – of a public utility working in the public interest that can do the job, the whole job, and on time.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      globally, after 40 years of deployment, solar PV reached 50 GW capacity in 2011.
      In the two years since, we have doubled it. We will double again in 2 more years, 2015.
      Remember the old brain twister –
      “There’s a lilly pad on the pond. Every day, it generates another lily pad, doubling each day.
      In thirty days, it fills the whole pond.
      Question: at what point did lily pads cover one half the pond?”
      answer: the 29th day.

      Similarly, if we had assumed in 1993 that internet development would follow the curve of the previous 30 years, we would not have looked for any kind of a game changer. It reached a critical mass.

      Look for stunning changes in the coming decade. Don’t assume the next 30 years will be like the last 30 years.


      • True.

        But rooftop solar is a limited source – homeowners only, and only some homeowners dependent on the finances, so I would not expect to see the needed continued growth there continue unabated. We will need large-scale development, and yet the people who like localized rooftop are not exactly gangbusters for decentralized. Whenever I post about large-scale projects, the lion’s share of responses are to argue for rooftop and “not rely” on government(!). Which I see as a big problem, don’t you?

        Jacobson and Delucchi

        (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CEMQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.rethinking2050.eu%2Ffileadmin%2Fdocuments%2FReThinking2050_full_version_final.pdf&ei=sVRpUtXXEpOgkQe58ICgAg&usg=AFQjCNHrO8A58q2KdgO3rW4-Hc90eQpAlQ&sig2=T5FyRx1uScyVXRwKHS1-PQ&bvm=bv.55123115,d.eW0&cad=rja)

        say this is what we will need, world-wide:

        “We estimate that 3,800,000 5MW wind turbines, #49,000 300MW concentrated solar plants, #40,000 300MW solar PV powerplants, #1.7 billion 3kW rooftop PV systems, #5350 100MW geothermal power plants, #270 new 1300MW hydroelectric power plants, #720,0000 75MW wave devices,and #490,000 1MW tidal turbines can power a 2030 WWS world that uses electricity and electrolytic hydrogen for all purposes.”

        We need to be talking about how to fund all that large-scale infrastructure, and -> we need to be falling in love <- with public large-scale projects.

        • ontspan Says:

          Rooftops of home owners only? Not really, there are large industrial roofs and agricultural buildings too. Those are used in Germany as well. In the Netherlands I talked to someone from the local municipality who used areal imagery to make an inventory of suitable rooftops and discovered that there was enough PV-suitable roof space to power the city.

          The local renewable cooperative utility also works with local social housing companies to install PV and sell the power to the occupants.

          A lot more is possible if you think outside the box.

        • Alteredstory Says:

          Saying that something is a limited resource isn’t very useful so long as that resource isn’t being exploited.

          We WILL hit a point at which rooftop solar can’t expand any more, but we’re nowhere near that point. The thing to do is to get there, and look for other things on the way there.

          In the meantime, we will be increasing efficiency, figuring out ways to put PV panels over parking lots, highways, and other such places, and making new advances in energy storage, efficiency, and generation.

          “But rooftop solar is a limited source” is a non-starter. It’s a useless comment.

          Your statement about “homeowners only” is also false on the face of it, given the number of commercial properties putting PV on their roofs, and the amount of roof-space owned by local, state and federal government.

          Large-scale projects are happening and will continue to happen, but exploiting things like rooftop PV as fully as possible will not only increase the share of renewable energy, it will also increase resilience by creating distributed power generation that can’t be knocked out all at once like a centralized power plant can.


          • You are both missing the point(s).

            1) Rooftop solar won’t get the job done – not even close. Find and read the Jacobson and Delucci paper – it is probably the most important document published on AGW in the past decade.

            2) Rooftop solar is the most expensive solar. It is not a wise way to spend limited monies.

            3) Most roofs are NOT located where the sun shines well. It is crazy stupid to spend money siting solar where the the sun doesn’t shine strongly very often, -> because the site of generation does not have to be the site of usage

            4) rooftop solar is uncoordinated spending.. How do you do intelligent planning, allocation, development of systems when rooftop solar goes up willy-nilly?

            5) rooftop solar is placing the burden of solar development unfairly on a few actors

            We can’t afford to wait to get a large national communal effort going. Rooftop solar is pissing away time, effort, dollars.

            When your grandchildren ask you why we did not fix AGW when we had the chance, you can proudly tell them you led the fight to piss away our window of opportunity on the ill-conceived notion of profligate spending on a form of renewable energy that never had a prayer of getting the job done, because “panels on roofs somehow seemed like a great idea”. Or something.

          • MorinMoss Says:

            A great solution that doesn’t get built is an even greater piss-away.

            Rooftop solar has lowered the BARRIERS to greater adoption and has lead to the “Green Tea” coalitions who are actually pressuring the GOP to
            Could anyone have foreseen anyone in the Tea Party would join hands with liberals singing “Hallelujah, give us solar”?

            Now there’s the potential to get the Right on board with extensive solar projects that may require gov’t backing with having to deal with “Remember the Solyndra” obstruction.

            Even Glenn Beck went solar on his ranch this year. He may be a loon, but he’s an influential loon.


          • In other words…. please try to fall in love with other forms of solar, not just rooftop.


          • I believe rooftop solar is more about resilience than any real replacement to the ignorantly wasted relation we have to energy today. If the local coal plant closes down unexpectedly or there is a serious collapse of economies and infrastructure, those with rooftop solar at least have some access to energy.

            Sometimes its good to have the energy source close at hand…

            If you check out most resilience projects they all mainly rely on solar for electrical power – as its cheaper to install and you can basically plug it up yourself as well.

            I don’t know about you, but somehow people (at least in the US) have been conned to Apple type servicing where you have to send your device in to service for a battery replacement. I do believe if we are going to get anywhere in the future we need to scale down seriously, and think standardization, easy installation, easy servicing, simple parts, simple technology. And closer proximity to electricity is one of them, even if its 1/10th of what you are used to.

      • MorinMoss Says:

        For America, it looks like the Green Tea Party may be the ones who push solar adoption to the tipping point of critical mass – something quite unexpected.

        I’ve long bemoaned the adoption of wind energy over solar in such a great disparity but it’s finally dawning on the sunny Southwest.

        Even Glenn Beck, who has been notoriously crowing about the failure of solar companies and threatened to fire employees who use CFLs, has gone solar this year.


        • The Green Tea party may be able to force a state of affairs such that they sell to the grid all day at prices that force conventional generators to shut down.  This also eliminates the reactive power and spinning reserve that those generators (which are the only ones under the control of the system operator) supply.  The result as soon as anything gets out of whack:  blackout.

          The alternative is for people to have their own batteries and supply their own reactive power, regulation and storage.  People don’t do this because it is multiples of the price of grid power; battery storage alone can cost 10¢/kWh.  Add amortization and maintenance of the balance of system, and what looks good based on raw energy cost at the PV terminals is no longer so attractive.


        • “I’ve long bemoaned the adoption of wind energy over solar in such a great disparity but it’s finally dawning on the sunny Southwest.”

          In reality, we have only erected a miniscule proportion of the number of solar and wind installations we will need in the future. It is way early days.


  3. Ok Roger. Future needs. Do the lily pad. If you have that growth, nothing can catch it. No use saying renewables can’t, conventional can’t either. Growth has to change, not supply. So which way do you get there? Arguing extremes is pointless. No, all energy use will not be electric. You missed the point of the article. Demand reduced to meet supply and Germans pay the same monthly bill. Then you rejected the cited studies showing middle income ownership. So provide a reference, don’t just disagree. As far as falling in love with large scale projects, there is no convincing argument that they are any better. In Denmark, Germany, and the US, many large wind turbines are shared ownership with towns, groups, and farmers. Since this has worked, why the extreme view that all projects be huge? Wind and solar do not need to be deployed that way. In fact, incremental building makes finance much easier to cope with than say a single large expenditure for a thermal plant. Less risk, less cost. Not that large is bad, but there are clear advantages to local distributed generation, incrementally employed. Particularly, local solar reduces peak demand which lowers everyone’s bill and shaves peak demand. The storage most envision necessary is simply wrong. The most valuable storage is a few hours worth used to shift peak solar generation to late afternoon to take advantage of high peak rates. There is no need for storage at 4am. Geothermal is one source that provides that today. Future solutions will require flexible responses and flexible thinking. Rigid thinking has no place here. You might note that air transportation is not yet fully electric.


  4. the butts being lining up to be kicked, are those of any utility companies that insists on clinging to 120 year old business models in the face of new technology.

    This has all the red flags of Mao’s Great Leap Forward, which reduced already poor Chinese peasants to utter misery by destroying their proven tools and utensils in the false promise that they would be re-forged into the trappings of modern industrial civilization.  Instead, they wound up with nothing.

    Most of the utility business isn’t driven by “a business model”, it’s driven by the physics of alternating current generation, transmission and distribution systems.  There is a small amount of energy stored in such networks, carried as charge in capacitors, magnetic fields in inductors (including the lines themselves), and the kinetic energy of rotating machinery.  Reactive power must be generated to support grid voltage, and the flow of power through lines cannot exceed threshold values because the two sides can literally fall out of sync.  You’ve got to have spinning reserve to take up the slack if generation goes off-line or breakers trip.

    If you mandate that the system operator MUST buy power from sources which don’t shoulder their share of these burdens, you corrode the safety margins built into the “120 year old business model”.  Ditto if you fail to properly compensate the system operator for arranging for these resources in the favored suppliers’ stead.  It will not end well, and those who blithely made the promises and imposed the mandates should be forced to pay for the consequences dollar for dollar and life for life.

    • Bruce Miller Says:

      Using the American measure, true enough, but Germans are harder to fool, not subjected to the Great Corporate American Propaganda Machines and in their accounting they did include the hidden costs of American nuclear energy: The leaks, the terrorist dangers, the high cost for centralization, the vulnerability to price fixing, the huge maintenance costs, the real costs for disposal of humanicidal nuclear wastes, decommissioning costs – all neatly tucked away in the U.S.A. or ‘amortized away for the future to pay”. Even as fuckoshima leaks away the future of the Japanese fisheries, and threatens all mankind with the longest-lived, plutonium-244, with a “half-life” ; of 80.8 million years, plutonium-242, with a half-life of 373,300 years, and plutonium-239, with a half-life of 24,110 years. All of the remaining radioactive isotopes have half-lives that are less than 7,000 years.
      Electronic ‘synchronization” is in use today, A.C. at 60 cycles is not the last word in useful electricity either. D.C. Led lighting with even lighter wiring is so possible, and higher frequency, higher voltage lessons are well illustrated in aircraft, and all over Europe where transformers half the weight of American ones serve well? German and even Chinese, Asian ingenuity, from a very much larger and deeper intelligentsia pool have led the way in energy economies for a while now. Will American developed, American proven, Chinese modernized, Chinese perfected Thorium LFTR technologies really ‘Change Global Energy Maps Forever’? Will the U.S. give way to the 21st century technologies or will they ride their 1920’s radial aircraft engine rip off Harley Davidsons into the sunset as the Pan Eurasian Alliances erupt before our very eyes? Have you deliberately denied the vast potential for stored charge in electric car batteries. lost the huge pumped water systems working in Germany today? Forgotten the power in Tidal generators, missed entirely the full time power from geothermal sources, not read yet of the hot salts Solar storage schemes in use today? Compressed air systems working today? nano-graphite super capacitors replacing even car batteries on this very net? The more recent nano glass insulators? nano graphine developments? Huge chemical storage systems operating as we speak? Carbon fibre and all aluminium electric cars on the roads today? inductive recharging in use in Spain today? Everyone with a very bright LED ‘flashlight’ with Li batteries now?


      • in their accounting they did include the hidden costs of American nuclear energy: The leaks, the terrorist dangers, the high cost for centralization, the vulnerability to price fixing, the huge maintenance costs, the real costs for disposal of humanicidal nuclear wastes, decommissioning costs – all neatly tucked away in the U.S.A. or ‘amortized away for the future to pay”.

        What sort of garbage do you fill your mind with?

        – Decommissioning is financed by funds kept by each utility.  It is apparently the ability to tap the decommissioning fund which made the balance-sheet case for decommissioning Kewaunee.
        – Leaks have harmed no one.  The “terrible tritium leak” at Vermont Yankee was less than you get in a self-lighting EXIT sign.
        – There are essentially no terrorist dangers at nuclear plants.  None have been hit because it’s almost impossible to even create a radioactive release, and the chance of any casualties (immediate or otherwise) is roughly nil; by the time a team could get into action, the military would be on the way and the reactor would probably be SCRAMmed by the operators.  For a terror job to result in perp-walked jihadis and yawns isn’t what Al Qaeda is looking for.
        – “Vulnerability to price-fixing”.  Yeah, they’re being targeted by price-fixers trying to drive them out of business, paying them less for their power than much dirtier generators.  Not what you meant, but what you meant is exactly opposite to reality.
        – “Huge maintenance costs”.  Operations and maintenance can cost as little as 1.7¢/kWh, including fuel.  If a plant gets too expensive to maintain, the operators decommission it.
        – “The high cost of centralization”.  Tell it to the solar advocates who propose that the USA get its power from Arizona and New Mexico all winter, with thousand-mile supply lines the only thing keeping folks from freezing in January cold snaps.  Oh, and don’t look up “Desertec” either.
        – “Humanicidal nuclear wastes”.  I’d ask you if you are similarly concerned about “humanicidal chemical wastes” or “humanicidal biological wastes”, but I suspect you’re not.  Now, about this “humanicidal” part.  How many humanicides, in round numbers, are we talking about due to the spent fuel at Fukushima?  All the nuclear power plants in Japan?  The USA?  That’s an easy number to grasp:  ZERO.  This “humanicidal” stuff is remarkably ineffective, wouldn’t you say?  Far less so than fly ash from coal, or people just falling off wind turbines.

        There’s an interesting angle to the waste issue in the USA.  The government banned reprocessing, then claimed ownership of all spent fuel and charged all nuclear plants 0.1¢/kWh toward disposal.  This money was supposed to build and operate Yucca Mountain.  But the government has welshed on its promises, mostly because of anti-nuclear activists put in charge at the NRC.  That would be people like you.  Curious, no?

        • Bruce Miller Says:

          Your treatise on China’s Pebble Bed Gas Reactors? American discovered, American developed, American perfected, Chinese re-engineered, Chinese modernized, Plutonium free, Thorium fissioning technologies? I feel this holds out hope for cleaner, safer, Plutonium free, near waste free, nuclear energy. Is there room for improvement even in the current American nuclear Status Quo? What is the story on re-using waste in a very different type of reactor, rendering the waste harmless? Why did this not proceed in America? Funds for decommissioning: are they collected in such a way as to allow for the massive devaluations we feel here in Canada from the Feds money printing schemes? As long as harmful spent fuel rods are stored, how can one remain assured of safety? Three Mile Island was a leak, or a fraud? The notion of Solarization of South Western U.S.A. included large relocation of workers into these areas to produce less costly product for the world’s markets? Easy to move workers, build more modern factories than take an at least 50% ‘transmission” loss on the energy? Not ‘anti’ anything that promotes the health and welfare of the Americas! Still seeking that “Ethanol only” engine that can “burn” water to cool it once it reaches a certain temperature equilibrium? Still searching hard for the video on the nitinol engine with a Fresnel lens fuel source, producing 2-3 H.P. in a backyard somewhere in America. Watching closely for better, domestic, Bio-diesel sources and 4 banger Chevy Cruise diesels – a domestic circle we need. Still a firm believer in the Independent, self-sufficient North American, supporting his government with all his force. I see on the web, the whole of the new Pan Eurasian reality using COE (Cab over Engine) utility trucks with full air bag protection, offering 1/3 more productive cargo space than U.S. ‘pick-up’ trucks? Still fascinated by Chinese electric bullet trains running over a decade now , 24/7, at 320 kilometres per hour. Canada needs these to run from Tar Sands to Calgary, Edmonton? Safer than highways in Canadian Winter Weather? Still convinced that super insulations were buried in patent hell by corporations, and could save huge amounts of fuel in north America? That would be people like me?


          • Your treatise on China’s Pebble Bed Gas Reactors?

            Oh, no, you don’t.  You don’t get to change the subject after I’ve just knocked off a whole list of your objections without you either (a) telling me where I got something wrong, or (b) admitting that I’m right.  Facts are facts, you either correct the record or stipulate to what’s there and stick to it.


      • all over Europe where transformers half the weight of American ones serve well?

        Europe operates on 50 Hz, and requires 20% more iron per kilowatt of transformer than American ones do.

        Have you deliberately denied the vast potential for stored charge in electric car batteries. lost the huge pumped water systems working in Germany today?

        I have actually calculated the numbers for EV batteries.  It would take about 1/2 Opel Ampera per capita to absorb and time-shift the existing German PV generation peak on sunny days.  That is TODAY, when RE is a few percent of German energy consumption.  EVs simply cannot scale big enough to handle the full Energiewiende.

        German pumped storage plants are going broke because of the rigged market prices under Energiewiende.  The finished system is supposed to have tens of billions of kWh of storage, but even the little they have now is losing money under the RE feed-in tariffs.  You can’t have it both ways.

        Compressed air systems working today?

        ISEPA project storing compressed air in sandstone aquifers:  a failure.  Ohio CAES plant using an old limestone mine as the air tank:  on hold indefinitely.  At least Ludington is getting another 300 MW power capacity from hardware upgrades in the pumped storage plant, but we’d need a thousand Ludingtons and more to bring about your vision.

        There’s a reason I cannot buy into that vision.  It is physically impossible.  I’m a realist, and that’s why I’m for carbon-free nuclear power.  It’s the only thing we have that can do the job, and we can’t delay.

        • Bruce Miller Says:

          My Bad! thought 400 Hz as found on some Aircraft had been adopted! At higher voltages too, with the advent of far superior insulating materials – making for lighter wiring, transformers Et. Al.
          I do feel that as they come to market, EV’s will be able to contribute an appreciable storage. Other means, as well, even societal changes, even working hours for factories, new factory technologies can help? Even home hot water heater schemes in Europe contribute? Better building insulation, heat ballasting?
          Are the pumping stations non-profit, government situations often found in Social Democracies? not meant to always seek ROI in direct profit, but to seek a more healthy society, as in Obama Care? American highway systems? Police Forces?
          As for ‘carbon free nuclear power’ I would say carbon free, plutonium free, advanced, Chinese Thorium fissioning nuclear power” we are not far apart there. My question to you: Can
          America be turned towards better, American, fissioning systems? Systems that produce no plutonium? Systems that are closer to 99% efficiency in converting fuel to heat? more scalable systems? (See CANDU’s from Canada?) (Thorium LFTR from U.S.A.?)
          Can U.S.A. and Canada learn and adapt the best for our particular situations? Can we expect advances, now happening at computer speeds, and economic times, also changing now at computer speeds, and the new economic fact, China, to help shape our direction into the future rather than painfully forcing ourselves into the Status Quo in America as defined by the Great Corporate American Propaganda Whores, and remain static in their ‘sweet spot” of highest ROI possible, with no other guidelines allowed, fully blinkered, trotting faithfully to the movie houses for our indoctrinations, and foregoing our own dreams imaginings, ideas, discoveries creative sciences?


          • My Bad! thought 400 Hz as found on some Aircraft had been adopted! At higher voltages too, with the advent of far superior insulating materials – making for lighter wiring, transformers Et. Al.

            It doesn’t work that way.  The insulation used in long-distance powerlines is air.  400 Hz doesn’t work for long distances, because phase differences across powerlines are crucial and the wavelength at 400 Hz is only 750 km (~450 mi).  The move is to HVDC at upwards of a megavolt; no phase-shift issues with DC, and one wire does the job of three in an AC circuit.

            I do feel that as they come to market, EV’s will be able to contribute an appreciable storage.

            Feelings don’t make things work or not work, physics and chemistry do.  Work the numbers, THEN you will understand what can and cannot contribute.  Can’t work the numbers?  Hit the books until you can.

            Here’s a hint:  the USA’s electric consumption averages close to 1.5 kW per capita.  If you electrify all road transport, you’ll boost that by about 40%:  call it 2.1 kW per capita.  Now multiply by how many hours or days you want the EV buffer to last.  That gives you kWh per capita.  A Chevy Volt has about 9 kWh of usable storage.  A Volt per capita wouldn’t supply the country from noon to dinner time.

            As for ‘carbon free nuclear power’ I would say carbon free, plutonium free, advanced, Chinese Thorium fissioning nuclear power” we are not far apart there.

            You seem to be fixated on “plutonium free” and “Chinese”, like you don’t really want them here.  I really don’t care about plutonium in the short term, because Pu in old fuel rods isn’t doing any harm and we can and should build reactors to burn it.  We should even make plutonium out of our U-238.  Not that thorium is a bad thing, but the USA alone has half a million tons of U-238 sitting around already mined and refined.  It’s a sin to throw that much carbon-free energy away, especially when you could run the country on it for 300 years.

            Can America be turned towards better, American, fissioning systems? Systems that produce no plutonium? Systems that are closer to 99% efficiency in converting fuel to heat? more scalable systems? (See CANDU’s from Canada?) (Thorium LFTR from U.S.A.?)

            Only if we start taking nuclear power seriously NOW, and eliminate the roadblocks and discrimination which has shut down 4 plants this year alone (Crystal River was probably gone regardless).  Otherwise, no one will invest the money in the next generation.

          • MorinMoss Says:

            A Chevy Volt has about 9 kWh of usable storage. A Volt per capita wouldn’t supply the country from noon to dinner time.

            No one is planning to power the entire country from BEVs or EREVs.
            If that’s the intent, the utilities will build lots of stationary storage.

            But having lots of quick-responding power sources that can throttle their demand or feed power back LOCALLY is a benefit in a crisis – which means that you won’t be running full-bore so you 2.1 kWh figure is ludicrous.

            And if it saves you from having to fire up some peaker plants for an hour or two, even better.
            I suspect industry won’t like a proliferation of V2G-capable EVs because it would mean that cheap / free nighttime power they’ve enjoyed for decades will vanish.


          • Reply to Morin Moss re-parented here.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      “This has all the red flags of Mao’s Great Leap Forward, ”
      I’ll see if I can find a fascist model more to your liking.


      • If think the deaths of 45 million Chinese in 4 years is something to shrug off, that says everything about you that needs to be said.

        Unless you’re actually planning to replicate it here, that is.  That’s another couple of levels more heinous.


  5. EP – Dont just keep spinning the same hack without reading the references. Your comments re backup are uninformed. Read WHY capacity is determined by demand, not supply. Look at the the demand curves. Go over to the california ISO and see what real everyday load and generation look like with solar, wind, and geothermal. Educate yourself. Total capacity is much larger than demand every day except the peak air conditioning demand in July or August. Even then its larger. That leaves plenty of room for renewables. Here, read first. Dont just dismiss references out of hand. Once you understand, then make comments on the referenced article.
    http://www.windpowermonthly.com/article/1192957/power-system-reserve—no-need-build-wind-back-up

    • ontspan Says:

      But, you know, EP has been around on The Oildrum site for years promoting nuclear. He knows all there is to know about power and sure thinks he knows it better then you, so don’t go about asking him to read or learn stuff, with him it’s nuclear before and nuclear after. 😉


  6. It occurs to me someone wishing to hide the reverse-Robin-Hood nature of rooftop solar mandates might think it clever to talk about median income without making it clear whether this means median personal income or median household income.

    A household with four people whose income is four times ($40,000 to $90,000) could have a household income of $240,000. That seems a bit rich.

  7. petersjazz Says:

    To produce you own electricity is economical. The production cost for my solar panels is about 1 SEK (in Sweden) for 25 years. I dont pay energy taxes on that. If I instead buy hydro power electricity from a utility company I pay 1.2 SEK where tax and distribution and profit is 0.8 SEK. The utility company Vattenfall is the most profitable company in Sweden

  8. daryan12 Says:

    Germany’s system of ownership is particularly important as it also explains why they have few problem with anti-windfarm NIMBY’s objecting to things. Given that people often end up owning the resource, then tend to see its value.


  9. Onstpan – Thanks. I wont try to convince him. There is value in contradicting falsehoods, tho, so I feel motivated to set the record straight. Deniers and armchair opinion slingers motivate me to dig deep for the real story. You have dug deep, too. Kudos.

    Mao’s Great Leap Forward, whaaat?
    How did that get in here? Reminds me of the passage from Monty Python’s Life of Brian where a spaceship with aliens suddenly appears in a 25 AD satire movie.


  10. Morin – Nice. I was tired of hearing the drivel about reactive power. Crock. Filed.
    Dont you wish you had a numbered list with links instead of having to repeat the rebuttal every time somebody quotes the same tired fallacy. We need a list like that for renewables.

    • MorinMoss Says:

      Yah, I may ask Zach Shahan or Bob Wallace over at CleanTechnica if they have such a list or are interested in hosting one.

      Sometimes the objections from contrarians are thought-provoking but far more often it’s just trying to whack the same cockroach over and over.

      If we could just point to a “refuted on line 459”, that would save us all a great deal of time.


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