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Germany Sets New Solar Power Record

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the bright-sunshiny-day dept.

Power 568

An anonymous reader sends this quote from a Reuters report: "German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour — equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity — through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank said. The German government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022. ... The record-breaking amount of solar power shows one of the world's leading industrial nations was able to meet a third of its electricity needs on a work day, Friday, and nearly half on Saturday when factories and offices were closed."

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568 comments

midnight (2, Funny)

harvey the nerd (582806) | about 2 years ago | (#40123005)

What percentage is generated at midnight?

Re:midnight (5, Insightful)

Shoten (260439) | about 2 years ago | (#40123031)

What percentage is generated at midnight?

Midnight isn't the problem; power consumption is quite low then, and only drops more as the clock continues, only to start climbing well after dawn. Power generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure has to be built for peak, and that's the problem. Fortunately, a lot of the peak load is during daylight hours. A lot of it is also in the evening as well, but it's not about finding a magic bullet, it's about helping cut back on (not eliminate) the need to use coal or nuclear power.

Re:midnight (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123155)

So how much is it when it is raining or cloudy?

Solar power works in some places, but even Saudi Arabia wants to build nuclear power stations (to be run by external personnel - basically hands-off nuclear stations) instead of rapid expansion of solar. As I stated before, good luck to Germany. They will need it.

Re:midnight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123163)

Midnight isn't the problem in late May, that's true. Midnight and early morning will be a problem in the winter, however.

But, yeah, it's not about one single silver bullet.

Re:midnight (5, Insightful)

Pentium100 (1240090) | about 2 years ago | (#40123175)

Working hours correlate well with sunlight in the summer, but winter is different - short days (less than 8 hours during winter solstice in my country (more north from Germany)) not much light during the days and everybody using more power (lighting) make solar power not practical in winter.

Re:midnight (3, Insightful)

willy_me (212994) | about 2 years ago | (#40123481)

Working hours correlate well with sunlight in the summer, but winter is different - short days (less than 8 hours during winter solstice in my country (more north from Germany)) not much light during the days and everybody using more power (lighting) make solar power not practical in winter.

Very true. Here in Canada, people often rave about how we could be using solar power; they just don't get it. Solar power is not an efficient solution in Canada, wind power makes far more sense.

But Germany reaching their goal of solar providing for 1/3 of their power would be an impressive feat. There are plenty of countries that have far more solar potential then Germany. If they can do it, then other countries like Spain should be able to do even more.

Re:midnight (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | about 2 years ago | (#40123215)

Midnight isn't the problem; power consumption is quite low then, and only drops more as the clock continues, only to start climbing well after dawn.

I bet winter is a problem, although maybe not quite so far south as Germany. Power demand is pretty heavy from sunset to sunrise with a big spike in the morning that doesn't tail off until well after 9am, long before the sun is up.

Re:midnight (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123363)

That is where you and I differ. For me it's all about cutting back on polluting power, which certainly includes coal, but I don't see as including nuclear. It's also about producing power efficiently and at a low enough cost that industry and the economy are not disrupted. It is still not clear that solar power can do this.

Re:midnight (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123449)

Only Euroweenie fucktards who pretend they want to pay $0.50 kw/h want to wean themselves off nuclear. Anybody with a clue is all for it.

Re:midnight (4, Informative)

Mashiki (184564) | about 2 years ago | (#40123047)

0 of course. That's when they're buying power from France's nukes though. Not to forget that they're already scrambling to find some way to subsidize [spiegel.de] all of this, [spiegel.de] because it cost too much taxpayer money. [spiegel.de] At the end of the day, the government is going off about how it'll pay all for itself, and the public is still left wondering where all the money is coming from, while the euro is tanking, and the economy looks like shit.

Re:midnight (5, Informative)

Knuckles (8964) | about 2 years ago | (#40123389)

The German nuclear industry was subsidized by at least 80 billion EUR from 1956 to 2007 (and 3.7 billion in 2006 alone) based on extremely conservative estimates, but likely much more. A study commisioned by Greenpeace arrived at a number of 203.7 billion from 1950 to 2010. According to WP at least, http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kernenergie#Deutschland [wikipedia.org]

Re:midnight (4, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#40123405)

Actually France has been struggling to meet peak demand with nuclear in recent years due to the hot summers we have been enjoying. Nuclear plants need to dump a lot of heat and when the ambient temperature gets too high they either have to drop to idle mode or dump hot water into lakes and streams, killing off the local wildlife and generally trashing the environment.

Of course this flaw does not mean nuclear is useless. I'm not a nuke-you-mentalist who writes off every other technology because it isn't perfect. However, this does highlight solar PV's strength - you get the most power when you need it.

Re:midnight (3, Insightful)

Dahamma (304068) | about 2 years ago | (#40123471)

However, this does highlight solar PV's strength - you get the most power when you need it.

People have to remember that many parts of the world (Germany, especially) actually uses *more* energy in the winter (and it's more important that it be available - AC for the most part is a modern convenience, but heat it necessary to survive), it's just not traditionally via electricity generation. Natural gas and heating oil are also non-renewable hydrocarbon-based energy sources. A long term solution to power needs to replace *all* form of non-renewable, CO2-generating energy...

Re:midnight (2)

Zorpheus (857617) | about 2 years ago | (#40123111)

That's not the problem since the consumption is low then.
The problem will be in the winter months in the morning and the evening, when the sun isn't shining and electric heating is running in some places. Well, last winter showed that this mostly becomes a problem in France, since they get power from Germany at these times, and use a lot of electric heating because of the low state-controlled electricity prices.
While I am ok with the switch to solar power in principle, it just does not work that easily with this high percentage of solar power, as the article claims. It only works without lots of new storage capacities because of the electricity exchange between the European countries. But the same is true for the high percentage of French nuclear power. While they generally export a lot of cheap nuclear power, they don't have the capacities to meet their peak demand.
The power network of Europe only work as a whole, which is why the switch to green energies better would have been organized on the level of the EU.

Re:midnight (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 2 years ago | (#40123505)

The power network of Europe only work as a whole, which is why the switch to green energies better would have been organized on the level of the EU.

Yeah, the EU has shown giant multinational government bureaucracies have been a great idea for organizing economies. Give them control over power generation as well and then people can end up both poor *and* in the dark...

It's Just Gigawatts (4, Informative)

Savantissimo (893682) | about 2 years ago | (#40123011)

It's just gigawatts, not gigawatts per hour.

Re:It's Just Gigawatts (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 years ago | (#40123063)

It's just gigawatts, not gigawatts per hour.

I was thinking that. Maybe they meant that average power output, over one hour, was 22 GW?

Re:It's Just Gigawatts (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#40123093)

A lot of people seem to intuitively like to think of energy capacity in terms of energy generated per hour, which seems to be what causes the confusion. You can use Joules per hour, but J aren't used conventionally in electricity generation; instead watt-hours, kilowatt-hours, and gigawatt-hours are used. But then if you want to talk about energy generation per unit time, you'd talk about how many gigawatt-hours per hour are being generated, GW*hr/hr. Which is of course just gigawatts. But now you have something that doesn't sound like "energy per hour" again, unless you know that a watt is a unit of power, and that power is already energy over time.

Re:It's Just Gigawatts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123205)

I was wondering about this too. I looked up wikipedia and it said this:

"Watts per hour properly refers to the change of power per hour. Watts per hour (W/h) might be useful to characterize the ramp-up behavior of power plants. For example, a power plant that reaches a power output of 1 MW from 0 MW in 15 minutes has a ramp-up rate of 4 MW/h."

I don't know why this is most relevant metric when talking about power production. Watts per hour seem to be useful when determining of peak demand can be handled but not in this case (and the reuters article kept referring to watts per hour).

Re:It's Just Gigawatts (0)

rrohbeck (944847) | about 2 years ago | (#40123279)

Yup. I refuse to read any article that starts with an obvious science fail. It can't be anything but a waste of time or, worse, misinformation.
Not saying that the German solar program isn't a great story, but hard economic numbers are almost impossible to find.

Re:It's Just Gigawatts (4, Funny)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | about 2 years ago | (#40123533)

I have only about a 1 in 10 success rate of explaining the difference between Power and Energy to people who don't know the difference.
Not because I am bad at teaching.
Usually I get through the first part, and then ask myself - "Why am I doing this to myself again?
Then I switch the subject to sports.
everyone walks away happy.

Re:It's Just Gigawatts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123285)

It's just gigawatts, not gigawatts per hour.

Unless it was an acceleration ;-)

Re:It's Just Gigawatts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123303)

Someone truncated the sentence and removed the information. It could be averaged over the one hour in the mid afternoon. Or could be the device can only work one hour at a time.

People that can't do science ended up in reporting and can't even get it right. This is not unlike people that say their internet speed is 10MB without knowing that's a unit of file size and not speed and should have been small 'b' for bit. 10 Megabyte? How long does that take?

Re:It's Just Gigawatts (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about 2 years ago | (#40123367)

A contestant on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader? once got the question "How many watts are there in a kilowatt-hour?"...

Re:It's Just Gigawatts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123361)

Great Scot! That's heavy.

Re:It's Just Gigawatts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123419)

Most likely it's gigawatt-hours, refering to total amount of energy produced during the quoted time period.
Check the units :

1Watt = 1 Joule per second [J/s]
1Watt-hour = 1 Watt * 1 hour = 3600 Joules
1 Gigawatt-hour = 1e9 Watt-hour = 3.6e12 Joules of energy

So a 22 Gigawatt-hours of energy produced per hour is same as ~8e13 Joules of energy per hour. That's a lot of energy!

BTW Getting 22 Gigawatt instantaneous power output is not too hard provided it's over a nice short time period (microseconds) - just use a bunch of capacitors.

The Winter of our Disconnect (3, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#40123021)

That's awesome! For summer...

I don't know how many of you have been to Germany, but it has a LONG winter, with heavy clouds going well into spring. Some places on earth it makes sense to try to fall back so heavily on solar, but Germany is not that place. They are SCREWED come the next long winter. They are either going to be paying out the nose for France's nuclear power, or having quite a lot of rolling blackouts...

Re:The Winter of our Disconnect (3, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#40123065)

Germany has a long term plan to eliminate the long winter problem:

Global Warming.

Re:The Winter of our Disconnect (0, Troll)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#40123241)

Germany has a long term plan to eliminate the long winter problem:

Global Warming.

Germany has a history of long term planning. Remember the "thousand year reich".

Re:The Winter of our Disconnect (1)

Surt (22457) | about 2 years ago | (#40123359)

The lesson there would seem to be: you cannot account for all externalities. And thus, long term planning is generally useless.

Re:The Winter of our Disconnect (4, Interesting)

rrohbeck (944847) | about 2 years ago | (#40123293)

As opposed to US politics, there is a consensus in German politics. Namely that politics is for the benefit of the people and society. Business is a part of that society, not the other way around.

Re:The Winter of our Disconnect (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about 2 years ago | (#40123349)

Germany has a long term plan to eliminate the long winter problem: Global Warming.

I'm not sure that's going to pan out. Solar panels generate power from light, not heat. (adding heat actually reduces the amount of power they can generate)

Re:The Winter of our Disconnect (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123081)

Sorry to disappoint you - sentences exactly like this have been spewing from the nuclear industry since the decision. Coupled with many scenarios of doom that would happen as soon as the first nuclear power generators were disconnected. Coupled with how the power price would immediately increase (it fell since then, even though the industry tried to keep it up).

And you know what - nothing happened. Germany is happily exporting power (even to the french with all their nuclear power. Because on really hot and cold days they do not have enough capacity. Kind of funny when thinking about it ) - and there are even some gas power plants that are being abandoned because we still have too much capacity (they are not viable at the current power prices).

So - no, we are not screwed in the next long winter, we will not be needing french nuclear power and we certainly won't be seing rolling blackouts.

Re:The Winter of our Disconnect (5, Informative)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#40123305)

It's premature to say what the net effect will be. There are time when Germany has a net surplus and exports to France (because Russian natural gas is more expensive than surplus German electricity). There are also times when Germany imports French power because French nukes keep cranking out the power around the clock and their economy is in the tank compared to Germany's.

Re:The Winter of our Disconnect (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123101)

This winter, dispite germany having shut down nuclear reactors, it was france importing electricity from germany. Not the other way around. the french have a bigger problem with cold winters, since they are using electrical heating excessively

Link regarding france importing electricity from germany:
http://climatecrocks.com/2012/02/14/renewables-helped-france-avoid-freezing-in-the-dark/

What nonsense units. (2)

SubstormGuy (734016) | about 2 years ago | (#40123025)

There is no such thing as GW/hr. Maybe they hit 22 GW of solar power. For how long? How much energy was actually delivered?

um (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123055)

"German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour......"
lol
get back to your crack american

Re:What nonsense units. (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 years ago | (#40123083)

Well, it the 22 GW was the average output over some hour, then it's:

(2.2E10 Watts ) * (3.6E3 seconds) = 7.92E13 Joules.

I think.

Re:What nonsense units. (2, Informative)

Shoten (260439) | about 2 years ago | (#40123145)

Actually, there is such a thing as GW/hr. Look at your electric bill...the measurement unit used there is kWh, or "kilowatt hour." One thousand of those is a GWh, or gigawatt hour. But that's a measure akin to volume; what is being discussed here is more like flow, so it's not accurate to call it that. Unless they're monkeying with the math...saying that a car reached "300 miles" in speed, letting us insert the "per hour" in our minds when in reality it went 15 MPH for 20 hours. More likely, they're just getting the terms slightly confused.

Re:What nonsense units. (3)

SubstormGuy (734016) | about 2 years ago | (#40123245)

Sorry, but you are wrong. Energy (in MKS units) is measured in joules, where 1 joule = 1 kgm^2/s^2. A watt is a unit of power (P=dE/dt) so 1 watt = 1 joule/s. A kilowatt hour is = (1000 j/s)(3600 s) = 3,600,000 joules. A kWhr (or a GWhr) is a unit of energy. A GW/hr is the unit that would be associated with the time rate of change of power, which is not a physical quantity of any interest here. So, yes, nonsense units.

Re:What nonsense units. (1, Informative)

Shoten (260439) | about 2 years ago | (#40123345)

No...because what they are talking about here is generation capacity. Generation capacity isn't measured in terms of units alone, but in terms of rate of delivery. This is important because generation and load have to stay in balance; that's a HUGE challenge with renewable resources like solar and wind, where environmental factors can cause generation to drop with little or no warning. It's also a challenge because peak load is what the grid has to be able to support; there are no significant resources available yet today (available, as opposed to merely 'invented') to smooth those peaks out. So if you're measuring joules, then this could be a 1 watt solar farm that runs for a billion hours...not very useful...or a 1 gigawatt solar farm that runs for 22 hours...a lot more useful. It's a subtle distinction but an incredibly important one. Generation capacity is all about maximum wattage capacity at any given point in time, not total watt hours delivered over time.

Re:What nonsense units. (2)

rrohbeck (944847) | about 2 years ago | (#40123307)

So multiplication is the same as division?
Fail.

Re:What nonsense units. (1)

turing_m (1030530) | about 2 years ago | (#40123445)

He's half right; the article is obviously referring to an analogue of acceleration. If m:distance, m/s:velocity, m/s/s:acceleration;
GWhr:energy, GW:power, GW/hr: increase in power per unit time

Those efficient Germans must be rapidly ramping up their technology. At the rate they're going, they'll be able to power their whole country (423GW on average) within 19 hours!

Re:What nonsense units. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123493)

" .........kWh, or "kilowatt hour." One thousand of those is a GWh, or gigawatt hour."

Wrong

1,000 x kWh = 1 x MWh (Megawatt hour)

A GWh is a million kWh

Re:What nonsense units. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123509)

Uh, isn't a thousand kilo of anything a mega?

So it's a million times a kw/hr is a GW /hr.

Right?

Re:What nonsense units. (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | about 2 years ago | (#40123545)

The unit of "flow" (energy per time) is watts. Not watt-hours (that would be a unit of energy), not watts per hour (not sure what that would be).

Re:What nonsense units. (4, Informative)

artor3 (1344997) | about 2 years ago | (#40123549)

No, you're completely wrong. In fact, it's difficult to even parse what you're trying to say.

Yes, there are units called "kilowatt-hours". Really, that's just a kilowatt multiplied by an hour. The existence of such a unit has absolutely no bearing on this discussion, since we're talking about "gigawatts per hour". To put it in units more familiar to you, the phrase "miles per hour" makes perfect sense. But the phrase "mile-hours" is basically meaningless.*

A gigawatt per hour isn't a unit of "flow". It would be more akin to a unit of acceleration. If your power plant generates 5 GW/hr, then that would mean it starts off generating nothing, and after an hour its producing 5 GW, and after 2 hours it's producing 10 GW, and so on. That's clearly not what the summary is trying to suggest.

*Before anyone gets pedantic, yes, GW/hr and miles*hours and cubits*Rankine/Farads are all meaningful in the mathematical sense. But in the practical sense, they're meaningless.

Gigawatts per hour! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123029)

So what is this gigawatts per hour? The derivative of power?

Re:Gigawatts per hour! (2)

Baldrson (78598) | about 2 years ago | (#40123207)

Its the rate at which they installed new power generation capacity. Those Germans are demons.

Wrong title... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123049)

...more like "Catastrophic overproduction by solar plants. German grid on the edge on collapsing, exporting huge amounts to neighbors, destabilizing their grids.
Meanwhile, Poland continues in their plans, to block unwanted electricity transfers from Germany"

Oh right, " the head of a renewable energy think tank "....

Solar doesn't replace other power sources. (5, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 2 years ago | (#40123059)

Unless there is a way of storing the energy generated, the capacity of solar plants cannot be included in the calculation of capacity to meet peak demand. In other words, even if the solar at peak could meet all your needs, you still can't retire any of the old plants, because the solar capacity is useless when the sun isn't shining.
And by the way, hydrogen is not an energy source, it is an energy storage media... meaning it could very well be used to store solar energy.

Re:Solar doesn't replace other power sources. (4, Informative)

mmmmbeer (107215) | about 2 years ago | (#40123099)

That's why they do, indeed, build in ways of storing the energy. In fact, they do the same with every other type of power plant, so they can run at only peak efficiency. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_storage [wikipedia.org]

Re:Solar doesn't replace other power sources. (0)

Rising Ape (1620461) | about 2 years ago | (#40123301)

What kind of storage system can work over seasonal timescales? That's the problem with solar, its production is anticorrelated with demand, producing very little in winter when electricity consumption is at its peak.

Re:Solar doesn't replace other power sources. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123393)

I don't know how efficient or practical it would be, but energy could be stored over seasonal time scales if it was used to produce hydrocarbons from water and carbon from the air or minerals.

Re:Solar doesn't replace other power sources. (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about 2 years ago | (#40123451)

Geothermal for example.
Still, solar power is not the single answer for all energy needs, the same as the hammer being not the only tool available.

Re:Solar doesn't replace other power sources. (5, Informative)

rtaylor (70602) | about 2 years ago | (#40123459)

Not certain where you are but in North America (Canada too) peak electricity consumption is during the hotest summer days and typically during the afternoon to early evening (3pm to 7pm).

20 years ago you were correct. Air Conditioning, however, completely changed that.

Re:Solar doesn't replace other power sources. (5, Insightful)

Shoten (260439) | about 2 years ago | (#40123117)

Why does everyone think that renewable energy sources will be the first technology ever that works completely the first time, solving all the problems right out of the gate? Nothing else has ever worked that way. You have to start somewhere...meeting a significant part of the needed generation part of the time is the first step to doing it much of the time. And then comes most of the time, and then maybe, heaven forbid, all of the time. Not all phones are VOIP yet either; that doesn't mean that VOIP is a failure as a technology. They haven't started blowing up their CTs and other fossil-based generation facilities just yet...

Re:Solar doesn't replace other power sources. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40123547)

Why does everyone think that renewable energy sources will be the first technology ever that works completely the first time, solving all the problems right out of the gate?

I don't know why. It's worth noting that renewable energy sources have been around for many decades, and aside from hydroelectric, still have the storage problem. It's interesting that solar takes up such a large share, but given the variability of solar, not necessarily interesting in a beneficial way.

They haven't started blowing up their CTs and other fossil-based generation facilities just yet...

Those facilities cost money to maintain even if they don't use them. The more reliant they are on variable power sources, the more they need such facilities above and simultaneously, the less efficient those facilities become (because they aren't running consistently). Also, German society is apparently highly allergic to anything that generates carbon dioxide. They might try to get rid of those other sources of power.

Even the current setup without non-hydro storage can work if Germany can continue to import power; solar (the example of the story) becomes so cheap that it more than counters the inefficiency and costs of backup power production; or if a large part of society accepts a less reliable power supply (some industrial tasks, for example, some cases of refrigeration, can work quite well on intermittent power supply, but one would need buy-in from much more than that).

Re:Solar doesn't replace other power sources. (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about 2 years ago | (#40123323)

even if the solar at peak could meet all your needs, you still can't retire any of the old plants, because the solar capacity is useless when the sun isn't shining.

True, but you could keep the old plants mostly idle on sunny days, and save fuel and/or reduce pollution that way.

I agree that in the long run we need a efficient energy-storage solution, though.

Re:Solar doesn't replace other power sources. (4, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#40123353)

You are half right. There are three types of solar power. You have PV panels which, as you say, provide whatever power is available from the sun at that instant and have no storage. Then you have solar thermal which can run all night because is stores energy in molten salt. Finally you have solar heating for water and buildings, which stores energy in said water or building.

You also have to remember that cooling is a major use of electricity in many countries. Since temperature is strongly correlated with light levels solar PV is actually ideal for covering peak demand in many places.

Re:Solar doesn't replace other power sources. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123375)

This kind of elementary bullshit is still what passes as informative on Slashdot in 2012? Yes, the poster is right but what are we really doing here? Going over the same talking points that we went over in 2007 just to stroke our egos about how "deep" our understanding is? If we're not advancing as users we may as well give it up now since we're just running in circles and repeating the same old shit.

Re:Solar doesn't replace other power sources. (2)

WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#40123395)

Hydrogen is the absolutely the WORST way to go. Costly to seperate from H2O. Fuel Cells remain costly, so you have to burn as an ICE or a thermal system. Far cheaper to convert excess electricity to heat and then feed that into a thermal system. Back it up with Natural gas.

Solar could replace other power sources IF (2)

barvennon (2643433) | about 2 years ago | (#40123523)

we built a network of superconductors between the sunniest deserts and the cold places where all the work is done...

And with wind power? (1)

midtowng (2541986) | about 2 years ago | (#40123073)

I would like to know how much of Germany's energy needs can be met with just renewables.

Re:And with wind power? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123183)

Wikpedia mentions that in December 2011 8000 GWh were produced by wind power.

combinations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123089)

If they combined this with nuclear power they could be leading the world in terms of clean energy. instead they are going backwards.

even with large cuts in energy consumption electricity generation needs to be doubled or tripled to de-carbonise a developed nation. that challenge is even more of a challenge if you want to shut off nuclear at the same time.

Not really meaningful (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123129)

The best case performance doesn't determine success, worst case does. How well do they perform when, for example, they have a month of overcast skies?

And it's only twice as expensive (2)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#40123139)

As I understand it, Germany's Feed In Tariff on green energy is almost the retail price of power (they buy energy produced by solar panels at hugely subsidized prices and charge consumers the tariff to cover it).

Oh, and combine this with other generation systems? Good luck with that; taking half your generating capacity offline for an hour or two (but not every day, and not always half) is a major problem.

Re:And it's only twice as expensive (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123255)

Ah, but germany does it differently at the moment. First - there is more energy usage during sunlight hours -- so there is not that much capacity that has to be taken offline.

Second - germany simply exports (more) power during these top hours. It is when power is more expensive and when the neighboring nations need power (germany has been one of europes power exporters for some time. One reason why the neighboring nations are worried - they cannot generate enough power in some cases. And that includes France).

Re:And it's only twice as expensive (3, Informative)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | about 2 years ago | (#40123385)

I thought this was nuts till I started looking up some numbers.
Germans are paying .23 per kwh. New Yorkers pay about .19.
So the question is what do New Yorkers get from their tax dollars, besides goofy politicians?
Meanwhile Floridians pay about .07/kwh. Which explains why I am glad the Germans are the "innovators" on this one.
All in all, still pretty impressive.

I'm calling bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123187)

Show me the data. 22 GW is an astounding amount of power. You don't just add that to the grid without having shut down dozens of other power plants. I'm thinking there was a misreading of the data and a lack of verification by Reuters before publishing.

December (4, Informative)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 2 years ago | (#40123203)

Talk to me in December when the sun is low on the horizon and there is a a major storm passing through Germany. How is that different than the quoted article?
1. Sun being lower produces less solar power.
2. Storms block most of the sun decreasing output of solar power plants
3. Snow accumulation can completely stop solar power production.
4. Winter causes higher demand for electrical heat.
5. Darker skies cause more use of lighting.

Taking the increased usage and decreased production into account power production from solar plants could easily drop from 1/3 or requirements to 5%. Instead of touting the optimal power output on a clear sky cool day they need to look at the worst case scenario. The issue with solar power is that you can not turn it on when you need it and that will never change.

Re:December (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123391)

That's when the wind mills might come in handy...
Nothing like a good storm to turn them blades...

Shameless politicking... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123229)

Not just Fukushima... the combination of that and upcoming state elections was what made Germany (or to be exact, the then pro-Nuke governing party) decide to abandon nuclear power. They had to do that so that their party wouldn't lose too many votes -- and one official even admitted it during a private dinner -- but they lost to the Greens anyway.

Energy costs are rising also in Germany (1)

steveha (103154) | about 2 years ago | (#40123263)

I don't read German, but Google Translate does. Looks like energy costs have gone up by 57% in the past decade; taxes on energy have gone up 1000% in the last 15 years.

"The de-industrialization has already begun," Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger warned in an interview with the Handelsblatt.

http://www.handelsblatt.com/politik/deutschland/kostenexplosion-merkels-strompreisluege-seite-all/6663536-all.html [handelsblatt.com]

steveha

TOO BAD THERE AIN'T NO SUN AT NIGHT, AY !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123275)

But who needs power at night !! Only the criminals, that's who !!

Germany !! GERMANY !! Above All Others !!

I call... (-1, Flamebait)

hackus (159037) | about 2 years ago | (#40123335)

BullllSh*t.

Given the Northen lattitude of Germany, as well as there is no source on how these numbers or claims where put together.

If this was Pheonix Arizona I would be inclined to let 22 Gigawatts claim slide.

But I am more inclined to believe that the general push to de-industrialize the west requires claims like this too be true politically, not really.

So I call B.S. unless someone has a indication on how they came up with this claim.

-Hack

Never struck me as timid (1)

amightywind (691887) | about 2 years ago | (#40123341)

Germany is committing economic hari-kari by getting rid of nuclear power. You shouldn't be so freaked out about Fukishima. Nobody died from that. Last I checked Germany isn't in an earthquake or tsunami zone. You Krauts never stuck me as timid people.

impressive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123347)

Anyway you look at it this is impressive only trolls would think it trivial.

This can only get better over the decade so expect gas and oil companies to fight this in the States every step of the way.

All worthless UNLESS (2, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#40123357)

you have storage. What is needed is to push electric cars that plug-in and give back. To really do that, they should have capacitors, not batteries.

In addition, a very smart move is to have cheap batteries and thermal storage. With thermal storage, you can change excess electricity into heat (alabit at a loss of efficiency), and then convert again back to electricity as needed. The real advantage is that Natural Gas (including coal converted to methane) can be burned on those days when AE and the storage does not meet demands. In fact, the ideal situation is if you have days in which you KNOW ahead of time that it will likely need extra energy (such as hot days to run ACs), you heat the thermal at night and use that as well as the NG.

I didn't realise... (0)

Ginger_Chris (1068390) | about 2 years ago | (#40123377)

That Germany was at such risk from a Tsunami or Earthquake.

I still don't understand why everyone is so up in arms about Fukushima, it got hit by a giant surge of water that leveled most towns and it was, for the most part, pretty fine. If anything it should be an endorsement of the technology.

Are these solar plants adequately protected... (2)

John Hasler (414242) | about 2 years ago | (#40123381)

...against tsunamis? Think of all the children who might be exposed to toxic chemicals should one of them fall over!

Fake ray bans, ray ban rb2132 are discount on sale (-1, Offtopic)

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Subsidising solar is a waste of money (0)

JOrgePeixoto (853808) | about 2 years ago | (#40123475)

Reducing *oil* consumption is the key.

Oil comes from very oppressive and aggressive places - Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Iran. By buying oil we fund a future Jewish genocide. We engage Israel's enemies militarily (thus enlarging the already excessive US military, and feeding anti-Americanism) with our right hand and throw bags of money at them with our left hand. This is *extremely* counter-productive; it would be very funny if it wasn't so tragic. The government should overtax gas-guzzlers (including SUVs!), subsidise economic/flex-fuel cars and lift the barriers on Brazilian ethanol. All the money for solar subsidies should instead go to biofuel.

iaap (0)

f3r (1653221) | about 2 years ago | (#40123479)

when energy ceases to be the problem, entropy will. You just cannot process infinite energy in a given volume. There is space left to wonder what the next major disaster will be.

About Utility Solar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40123537)

Does anyone have any resources they could point me to that will clarify how solar is used on a utility scale? In other words, I've gathered that for consumers you have one of two choices: 1) solar charge a battery bank or 2) directly power your home and use mains power when needed. How does this translate to larger scale operations where hundreds or thousands of houses are being supplied power from solar power? Are there massive battery banks or is it directly input into the grid and somehow maintained? Sorry if that was hard to read. I am new to electronics and can't help but ask this question.

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