In spite of Germany’s efforts to cut CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, coal-fired power generation continues to produce approximately 42% of Germany’s electricity.
Natural gas only produces 9% due to the high cost of natural gas, which is mostly procured from Russia. Nuclear, which is being eliminated, currently produces 14%.
As noted in Part 1, there is a recognition that coal must be kept as part of the mix to ensure the lights can be kept on when the off-shore winds stop blowing.
The story of German coal is rather complex.
The German dispatch rules require that electricity with the lowest fuel cost be dispatched first. This means that wind and solar must be dispatched before coal or natural gas.
This results in coal-fired power plants being unable to compete with wind and solar, so long as the wind blows and the sun shines.
This creates three laughable, but tragic results.
- The most expensive electricity, produced by wind and solar, is dispatched first.
- The least costly electricity must be dispatched after wind and solar.
- Coal-fired power plants are being dismantled because they can’t sell the low-cost electricity they produce. For example, in December, RWE decided to scrap its brand new Westfalen-D coal-fired power plant, that cost nearly $1.5 billion to build, before it was even fired up.
Furthermore, Germany exports 10% of its electricity, which is primarily produced by coal.
There is also the situation where most of the electricity generated by wind and solar is produced in northern Germany, while there is insufficient transmission capability to get the electricity to southern Germany. This is requiring a multi billion dollar program to build new transmission lines, which will increase the cost of electricity to consumers unless the government pays for building the transmission lines using taxpayer money.
In addition, Germany uses Lignite, a very cheap type of coal that emits more CO2 than bituminous or anthracite coal, while closing its hard coal mines. Germany is, in fact, the world’s leading producer of Lignite, where German labor unions are insisting that Lignite mines be kept open.
Germany, which has been lauded by environmental extremists as a leader in using wind and solar to cut CO2 emissions, may be seeing its energiewende program failing.
- Electricity prices for the average person are 4 – 5 times higher in Germany than in the United States … and probably going higher.
- The concept of distributed generation, a favorite of environmental extremists, seems to be being abandoned with Germany’s new focus on concentrated off-shore wind.
- Coal continues to be a major factor in the generation of electricity, where its 53 coal-fired power plants will be operating far into the future.
- Replacing base load power from nuclear plants with unreliable power from off-shore wind, while keeping coal-fired power plants in reserve, results in using CO2 emitting Lignite plants in favor of zero CO2 emitting nuclear plants.
- The major utilities, RWE and E.ON, appear to be heading toward bankruptcy.
With wind and solar having cut CO2 emissions by only around 18%, after taking into consideration the reductions resulting from the fall of the Soviet Union, while providing 30% of Germany’s electricity, cutting CO2 emissions 80% by 2050 by relying on wind and solar to provide 80% of Germany’s electricity seems far fetched.
More importantly, efforts by the United States to cut CO2 emissions can only lead to economic stagnation, at best, and more likely to a disastrous reduction of living standards.
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Nothing to Fear, Chapter 9, The Utility Death Spiral, explains why displacing fossil fuels with wind and solar will result in the bankruptcy of Utilities.
Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.
Link to Amazon: http://amzn.to/1miBhXy
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