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Germany Exports More Electricity Than Ever Despite Phasing Out Nuclear Energy

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the it's-not-easy-being-green dept.

Power 473

An anonymous reader writes "Der Spiegel reports that Germany has exported more electricity this year than ever before, despite beginning to phase out nuclear power. In the first three quarters of 2012, Germany sent 12.3 terawatt hours of electricity across its borders. The country's rapid expansion into renewable energy is credited with the growth. However, the boost doesn't come without a price. The German government's investments into its new energy policy will end up costing hundreds of billions of dollars over the next two decades, and it still relies on imports for its natural gas needs. It also remains to be seen whether winter will bring power shortages. Is Germany a good example of forward-looking energy policy?"

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Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932495)

How are your rates?
How hard is it to get a 3-phase drop for your new business?
Are you really going to have a shortage this winter?
Do the tax dollars you've put into this feel like they were decently spent?

People with less-progressive powergirds would like to know.

Re:Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932547)

Irrelevant: Rewewables or non progressive powergrids don't consequentially change this.
Irrelevant: See above.
No
Yes

Re:Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932615)

German here.

For private households, rates in 2011 were (on average) approx. 0.25 €/kWh (= 31 US $ / kWh). 0.036 € of this (0.045 US $) goes to renewable energy sources (mostly wind and solar), which is subsidized by the electricity consumers (NOT by the goverment, as some seem to think). In total, around 45% of the price is taxes and subsidies. Remember that we use less than US households though - the average 3 person household uses approx. 3500 kWh/a.

No idea about the 3-phase drops for new businesses... but I never heard of anyone not getting connected. New buildings _always_ get connected (by law). Germany is a pretty densly packed country, which helps a lot when doing infrastructure.

There will not be a shortage in the winter. There are still plenty of reserve plants, and the european grid is pretty well connected. Some 5 GW less will not make it collapse.

Re:Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about 2 years ago | (#41932803)

now there's another difference. am I correct in reading that as a portion of everyones bill goes to renewable costs? probably in a weighted contribution/costs manner (ie, logical manner)

cause that's way different than most of the US (in fact not heard of anywhere in us doing it that way, though could be wrong).
what they tend to do here (least the places i've lived) instead is you pay the normal rate for juice, however its made locally. and then if you want it from a "green source" cause youre "environmentally conscious", you can pay extra for electricy that comes from a green source...cause it's somehow different from normal electricity. and there was a big scandal recently cause someone found out they were paying the premium and it couldnt be determined just how much of their juice was from the regular old power plant down the road, cause the systems arent seperate.

Re:Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 2 years ago | (#41932867)

Your electric company is required to buy a proportion of its energy from renewable sources. That costs more than fossil electricity, hence the indirect subsidy.

Re:Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (1, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#41933039)

"and then if you want it from a "green source" cause youre "environmentally conscious", you can pay extra for electricy that comes from a green source...cause it's somehow different from normal electricity."

And the kicker is they dont change anything other than your bill. You CANT buy only "green" energy unless you go off grid and set up your own solar/wind farm.

Re:Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | about 2 years ago | (#41932813)

I keep my house at 74 in Texas, which ranges to 100+ (Fahrenheit) in the summer, and I rarely ever go above 3500. Are you sure you're 3 person house is lower than the average here in the U.S.?

As to whether or not it's worth it, the value is realized when oil availability decreases. Any new investments will have a very large up-front cost, as well as a higher cost for any new technologies (solar is a good example here where the ROI is rather low).

Wind is a different story though, and solar is rapidly changing with recent advancements. I'd be curious to see current ROI numbers for both of these if anyone has them.

Re:Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (3, Informative)

similar_name (1164087) | about 2 years ago | (#41932879)

You're way under the average for the U.S. then. In 2010, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 11,496 kWh [eia.gov]

Re:Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (0)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about 2 years ago | (#41933047)

You're way under the average for the U.S. then. In 2010, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 11,496 kWh [eia.gov]

He posted 3.5k/month, you're talking about annual averages while he's talking about monthly. He's using about four times the US average.

Re:Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (2)

jonbryce (703250) | about 2 years ago | (#41932889)

European houses tend to be much better insulated than American houses. Certainly in the UK, very few people have air conditioning. In southern Europe it is probably more common, but I don't think it is that common in Germany.

Re:Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932941)

I haven't had that experience anywhere in Europe. Lots of concrete and mortar from the UK to Bulgaria

I will say they've got some nice mild weather for the most part though.

Re:Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41933003)

I googled and found this link

http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=97&t=3

In 2010, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 11,496 kWh, an average of 958 kilowatthours (kWh) per month. Tennessee had the highest annual consumption at 16,716 kWh and Maine the lowest at 6,252 kWh.

Re:Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932825)

0.25 €/kWh (= 31 US $ / kWh).

0.25 € = 31 US$? Wow, I didn't notice that the dollar had such a strong inflation. ;-)

Re:Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932853)

0.25 €/kWh (= 31 US $ / kWh).

I didn't know Verizon had a presence in Germany!

Re:Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932661)

My rate is about 0.22 €/kWh on top of a bit over 60 € / year base cost.
As far as I can tell, 3-phase drops are pretty standard, even for private households.
Usually only 1-phase circuits are installed, but 3-phase for hobby welding/machinery are totally possible.
I do not expect any shortages in production but maybe regional problems in connectivity because of old power grids and harsh weather...
Regarding tax I don't feel like it was used well. A lot goes into subsidies which are not that transparent as they ought to be.

Re:Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932677)

1) As far as I know the average is 25 cent/kWh now in total, including all taxes. The official cost for renewable energies (EEG-Umlage) is 3.59 ct/kWh in 2012 and 5.28 ct/kWh in 2012.
2) I did not hear about any problems.
3) No, there will not be a shortage in Germany. Companies are required by law to have enough reserves. That is the reason why Germany is exporting so much power overall, and it is increasing the cost of power. Also, last winter showed that it is France who will get in trouble first, since they relied on German exports.
4) It is mostly financed over increased rates. Well, until now it did not drive the industry away, but we will see what happens in the future ...

Re:Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932689)

I pay 0.221€/kWh = $0,28/kWh, but this is not the cheapest provider in my area.
Every building, residential or commercial, has 3-phase connection and most times it is also available in the individual flats and offices.
No
Yes

Re:Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932785)

> How are your rates?
~ 0.22 Euro-cents/kWh
> How hard is it to get a 3-phase drop for your new business?
3-phase is standard, every home has it.
>Are you really going to have a shortage this winter?
I don't thinks so. The grid here is rock-stable and there are reserves in the European grid.

> Do the tax dollars you've put into this feel like they were decently spent?
The government is not spening, the bill is payed by the (private) consumers.

Re:Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (4, Informative)

Ozan (176854) | about 2 years ago | (#41932801)

Rates: on average €0.25/kWh
3-phase drop: is standard for every premise, even a 1-bedroom apartment has it
shortage in winter: no, Germany has been a net exporter of electricity for ages. Talks about shortages are usually corporate FUD.

To clarify: there is no tax euro spent on the electrical infrastructure. The conversion to renewable energy is financed by payment guarantees, which in turn are financed by the consumer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Renewable_Energy_Act [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932949)

3-phase question -> funny . In Slovakia (old east block - 150miles from GER) you get 3-phase to 95% of apartments/houses so its no isue( germany will be propably the same)
I see you are from US by your question. US power is mess as your Internet and Telecom providers. (blakout in NYC-dowtown - single point of failure.14th st)
Our power distribution is different then yours. We dont have transformers for every house, but only for bigger areas transformers owned by power company and therefore by default its 3-phase transformer (230V travels better distances). All underground cables are mostly 4 wire with RARE exceptions. Overhead cables are rare - and 4 wire.
I never seen a non 3 phase transformer for step down to from about 10kV/22kV to 230V.

Shortage i think will come cause many countries are closing Nuclear power.

Re:Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (1)

Ruede (824831) | about 2 years ago | (#41932957)

0,216 € per kwh up to ~0,26+ € every single fucking small flat has 3 phase connection. even though usually used for the oven. air conditioning runs fine with standard 230v shortage? lol only when some retard cuts a wire. well spent? hell no. germanys powergrid will be on the same level as the USA in ~10-30 years :(

Re:Could we hear some Germans tell this story? (0, Flamebait)

Medievalist (16032) | about 2 years ago | (#41933009)

NO. I have read every single Slashdot story on nuclear power ever (totally not kidding) and so I know that you must NOT ask the Germans!

See, as I have been frequently told by high-modded, insightful slashdot comments, without nuclear fission we will soon be crouched in our caves, eating raw meat among the shattered remnants of our once-mighty civilization, destroyed by the lack of bountiful and cheap nuclear energy. So I know that has to be the truth, despite what any Germans with their liberal "facts" might have to say.

Furthermore, I have frequently been told by the slashdot hive mind that Greens hate all technology and all forms of energy generation (and, in fact, the few intelligent ones also hate America!). Germany has had a powerful Green party for decades, and has an active sustainability movement with political representation. This proves that Germans are just filthy American-hating Greens who want to take away our God-given right to pollute everything in sight, and they will lie about the fact that they are all starving over there, and shivering in their unheated hovels, because they have foolishly spurned the benefits of nuclear power.

Or, to put it another way, the German reality is not in conformance with the Slashdot/Fox News ideology of nuclear fission, and therefore they must not be heard!

It's the American way. Germans hate us for our freedoms.

How does their per-capita (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about 2 years ago | (#41932499)

...usage rates compare with other nations?
How much usage do they have compared to what's generated?

Re:How does their per-capita (1)

pesho (843750) | about 2 years ago | (#41932583)

Excellent point. I have lived in Germany for several years and I can attest that they have invested heavily in energy efficiency.

Re:How does their per-capita (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about 2 years ago | (#41932715)

Actually I wasnt making a point per se. Just the first thing my engineer brain latched onto cause thats how I analyze things: how to quantify the statements in relation to others. For all I knew they could be generating trillions of watts and using none cause everyone uses coal. I know thats not really the case, but just saying, having never been to Germany I have no idea, though I am told europe in general uses far less energy per household than we in the US do.

Two usage examples I know of off top my head:
My grandparents use almost no electricy; enough to run the well pump and water heater on their farm, the AC/heater but only when needed (and for old people thats not often), and that's really about it. They pretty much sleep from dark to dawn so they dont use much light at night, and their house has plenty of natural light for the day, and they dont watch TV or use any other electronics really. And when their power does go out (often in way way rural california), grandpa just hits a switch inside the house and the generator sitting 200 feet away (for noise sake) kicks on.

On the other hand I use GOBS of it. My main computer draws a few kw/hrs of juice (nice gaming rig; the works), have an HTPC setup that constantly on and either downloading shows or reencoding my movie collection to NAS storage so can serve it up across the home network and watch it in any room. I keep the house around 68F, so that means loads of AC in the hot summers of OK. wife's computer. my "toy" workshop: power tools, arc welder, etc etc.

Re:How does their per-capita (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | about 2 years ago | (#41932899)

I keep the house around 68F, so that means loads of AC in the hot summers of OK.

Everything else you mention isn't a big draw; but for this one, sir, you should be ashamed of yourself. Unless you have some strange medical condition, setting your AC cold enough that most people would need a sweater is simply profligate waste.

List of countries by energy consumption per-capita (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932645)

Ask, and the internet provides:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_energy_consumption_per_capita

Pretty Cheap compared to the War on Terror (5, Insightful)

fast turtle (1118037) | about 2 years ago | (#41932501)

which has exceeded 3 trillion dollars. I'd gladly trade the money spent on war for a stable power grid that doesn't go down at the drop of a leaf

Re:Pretty Cheap compared to the War on Terror (2)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about 2 years ago | (#41932685)

which has exceeded 3 trillion dollars. I'd gladly trade the money spent on war for a stable power grid that doesn't go down at the drop of a leaf

Source? Last I saw it was just under $1.4 trillion cumulative for the last 11 years...

Re:Pretty Cheap compared to the War on Terror (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932749)

An that is just the financial impact on the US... I read in the BBC article that this was a figure quoted by Joseph Stiglitz (who is a financial genious IMO and has won a nobel prize in ecenomics) so this could be a better estimate than I could do.

But really you can't put a value on a single human life, let alone the 100's of thousands of people that have perished.... on all sides. This has also assisted the Taliban and other rougue groups by providing ample material for propoganda.

Re:Pretty Cheap compared to the War on Terror (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932789)

What does the war on terror have to do with the countries electric grid? Are you refering to the massive amounts of Oil we import from .... Canada? Mexico? South America? Or the very small (comparatively) amount we get from Saudi Arabia, which we haven't had hostilities with in forever?

Or are you referring to the fact that while the US imports the most Oil, we export the most refined Fuel?

Re:Pretty Cheap compared to the War on Terror (2)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 2 years ago | (#41932883)

The US exports the most refined fuel because we have the most refining capacity. It isn't 'produced' here. We're just the pass through from ground to pump.

It doesn't mean anything particularly useful; except of course that global warming will knock that refining capacity out more often in the future...

The point being that if we'd spent 1.4 trillion on our infrastructure here at home, perhaps, just perhaps, hurricane Sandy wouldn't have done quite so much damage to our electrical grid.

Re:Pretty Cheap compared to the War on Terror (0)

neonv (803374) | about 2 years ago | (#41932823)

which has exceeded 3 trillion dollars. I'd gladly trade the money spent on war for a stable power grid that doesn't go down at the drop of a leaf

... and you'd have a lot more bombs going off at home, which would probably exceed the cost of fighting it. When someone is shooting at you, sitting and taking it isn't an option. You may not like the war on terror, but ignoring it isn't an option. There isn't a single politician who claims that ignoring it is a good idea.

As far as energy goes, the cost of defending myself from getting blown up by someone that hates me isn't comparable to energy costs.

Re:Pretty Cheap compared to the War on Terror (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#41932997)

That's the problem with security spending...if it works, nothing happens.

Then, you get millions of Americans asking, "why the hell are we spending so much money just to have nothing happen?" You can try to explain, but it never works. I was surprised after 9/11 when people didn't start exploding in our malls. After all, that's what happened in Israel. It just...didn't happen. Partly due to a shortage of people wanting to explode, and partly due to our security measures. But what can you do when the legitimate opposition to our security agrees with the exploding people and wishes our society would cease to exist? Awkward.

Fearing the worst (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932505)

Let's see in 2022 how what the electricity output will be. I hope it won't be the same as today and especially not from renewable energy.

Alarmist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932847)

Funny how you don't "fear the worst" when it comes to climate change.

Farts smell good (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932513)

FARTING SMELLS GOOD

wood wood wood
Germany is fu :)

yay

Hundreds of billions? (5, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#41932515)

Hundreds of billions for something that you can sell and gives the country a renewable supply of energy?

That's a bargain compared to all the wars, bailouts, pork projects, mansions for the few, etc. the rest of the world is "buying" with it's tax money.

Re:Hundreds of billions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932555)

indeed; you can't even buy that many nuclear power plants for that money.

Re:Hundreds of billions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932727)

For comparison, total money spend on nuclear energy in Germany since introduction: 600 billions, mostly tax payer money.

Re:Hundreds of billions? (1, Interesting)

Artraze (600366) | about 2 years ago | (#41933035)

Nope.

The estimated base cost of a new AP1000 reactor is about $5000/kW [wikipedia.org] on the high side (though finance and other costs can add to that). So $100 billion would buy about 20GW of nuclear capacity. (A bit less if you pile on taxes, high interest rates, side projects, etc... 16GW seems to be about the standard in the US).

I'm having trouble pinning down what the German grid capacity is, but the average consumption in 2009 appears to have been about 63GW. The cited "hundreds of billions" is specifically 446, so even with the non-aggressive real world numbers they could install about 71GW of nuclear capacity. I'd guess that would be able to replace about half of their current generators. Not bad at all.

Re:Hundreds of billions? (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about 2 years ago | (#41932639)

mansions for the few

What makes you think that spending hundreds of billions of dollars on something won't involve at least some real success stories among the thousands of businesses with whom that money is spent? Why do you not want people to be successful in an industry that everyone says they wish was more attractive?

Re:Hundreds of billions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932733)

In other words, while the article mentions the planned costs, it ignores the expected revenues. So, what's the business case looking like ?
My bet is that the NPV of that one is positive !

Re:Hundreds of billions? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#41932829)

Actually, most of the European bailouts is paid by Germany. Also, total costs are not comparable, only per capita ones.

But , but (0)

Stuarticus (1205322) | about 2 years ago | (#41932537)

But renewables don't work! Subsidies for oil companies! Drill baby drill etc.

Re:But , but (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932613)

Isn't Germany currently building a ton of new coal-fired plants because 'renewables' are too unreliable to base an industrial economy on? Also, from what I've read, a number of energy-intensive companies have left Germany because they can't rely on having power when they need it, so that's probably freed up capacity that can be exported.

All they have to do is shut down all their industry and they could export Bazillawatts of power. Of course, they wouldn't have anything else to export.

Re:But , but (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932739)

Isn't Germany currently building a ton of new coal-fired plants because 'renewables' are too unreliable to base an industrial economy on?

These new coal plants replace old stinking plants built in the 70s or so. The new coal plants are more efficient (~40% or so of the energy are converted into electricity), and might achieve above 90% overall efficiency because the waste heat is used to heat residential buildings near the plant.

Re:But , but (2, Insightful)

mnooning (759721) | about 2 years ago | (#41932703)

>Subsidies for oil companies? That is a harmful myth. Being able to subtract losses from profits before paying taxes is NOT subsidizing the oil companies. It has the added advantage of giving incentives to look for more oil.

Re:But , but (2)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 2 years ago | (#41932901)

When the companies in question are making RECORD profits, whether you call it a subsidy or not, they don't need it.

Re:But , but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932927)

why are they any incentives? Free markets rule, right? The government should be doing anything for oil companies. You make money, you should pay taxes on it. period.

Re:But , but (2)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#41932967)

The high trade surplus does not clear for possible power shortages in winter . On particularly cold days when the sun is not even the wind blows, Germany is dependent, according to the Agency on a so-called cold reserve. At that include power plants in Austria.

Incidentally, "cold reserve" is code for "coal". All they have done by shutting down nuclear is to switch to coal. There have been other articles about this as well. Solar is great and all, but it doesn't generate base power load well.

RTFA (0)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about 2 years ago | (#41932569)

If I lived in Germany, I would buy a non-electric heater. Would hate to be stuck in a blizzard with no heat because my government decided that solar panels are the best way to produce electricity.

Re:RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932627)

Firstly, there aren't that many Blizzards in Germany. Secondly, most if not all houses have oil or gas central heating.

Re:RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932699)

I agree. I lived here for 31 years and I have seen one electric heater in that time. Also we have reserve power plants for this possibility. Some of them in other countries.

Re:RTFA (2)

dvdkhlng (1803364) | about 2 years ago | (#41932763)

Also a lot of houses have remote heating using residual heat from gas or coal power stations. This way these power stations get an efficiency rating of close to 100%, something that wouldn't be possible otherwise (due to the second law of thermodynamics [wikipedia.org] ).

Re:RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932959)

Doesn't help much when you need electrical power to run the burner and pumps of a central heating system. Only when you have furnaces in every room you don't need electricity.

2005 a blizzard deposited so much wet, heavy snow on power lines that dozens of big iron lattice power poles snapped and 250k people where out of power for days. But normally the german power net is very reliable.

Re:RTFA (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932681)

Actually most Germans heat without electricity. Old heating systems often run on oil, most newer ones run on gas (which can without problems be replaced by biogas because it's chemically identical) and increasingly wood pellets (made from the leftovers of sawmills). You even see an increase in prices for cheap furniture because it is made of this compressed sawdus which is now worth something instead of being thrown away :-)

Re:RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932961)

Wood pellet heating typically requires some electricity for an auger feeding the pellets into the burn chamber, and often a small fan within the unit.

Re:RTFA (2)

Stuarticus (1205322) | about 2 years ago | (#41932735)

If you lived in Germany you wouldn't be worried about powercuts because your government was able to build infrastructure without a bunch of halfwits complaining that they didn't want gubbermint in their electricks.

Re:RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932783)

If you lived in Germany, you'd almost certainly already have a non-electric heater. You couldn't afford pure-electric heating anyway (and that was true even in the time when nobody but a few activists even considered phasing out nuclear energy; note also that subsidizing some forms of energy via the electricity bill isn't exactly new in Germany; for a long time, the domestic coal was subsidized this way).

Re:RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932805)

If I lived in Germany, I would buy a non-electric heater. Would hate to be stuck in a blizzard with no heat because my government decided that solar panels are the best way to produce electricity.

Electric heating for your home is highly inefficient. So Germans generally dont use electrical space heaters :P
Denmark actually outlawed the installation of electric heaters in new buildings.

Re:RTFA (1)

dave420 (699308) | about 2 years ago | (#41932817)

You know next to nothing about Germany, it seems. Thanks for making that painfully obvious.

Re: Backup Heating (1)

lupine (100665) | about 2 years ago | (#41932831)

I installed a wood burning insert into our fireplace. It has a large glass door so you can still see the flames for ambiance. It is 70% efficient, using a blower to circulate heat and is designed to reignite smoke to reduce particulates. I gather wood locally from trees my neighbors cut down after summer storms.

So I can heat the house in the event of a power outage. I also have an inverter so I can use my prius as a generator to run the blower, router, wifi.

Re:RTFA (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about 2 years ago | (#41932863)

A well insulated house can easily be heated with a couple dozen candles with an outdoor temperature around 0F.

Re:RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932925)

Heating with electricity is quite uncommon here (because very expensive/inefficent)

Yup. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932589)

Yes. Any other questions?

"Let Germany Figure Out" EU's Renewable Energy? (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#41932591)

So I read the articles and I didn't see much reference to the EU's target of all member countries having 20% renewable energy in use by 2020. That date is fast approaching and I'm going to go out on a limb here and posit that Germany was (and still is due to the economic crisis) the country to pay up for this expensive infrastructure. Meanwhile neighboring countries like France, Poland, Czech Republic, etc are unable to build massive solar panel fields and instead might be trying to meet their own intermediary targets (like France's plan [wikipedia.org] ) by riding on top of Germany's output at least for the time being.

So, you know, I have no evidence of this nor do I have the numbers on all surrounding nations but is it possible that (like the summary says) this barrier to entry of hundreds of billions of dollars is putting Germany in the position as being the go-to source for companies and countries inside the EU that are struggling to meet government mandated goal posts for renewable energy? And are willing to pay a premium rather than the initial massive influx of cash required to get operations of these sizes up and running?

Anyone have numbers to back up or refute my above theory?

Re:"Let Germany Figure Out" EU's Renewable Energy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932951)

So you expect the countries around Germany to get German electricity for free?

So Net Loss (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932595)

So net loss. But, the time scale makes it easy to hide and the masses won't notice.

Sounds like Germany took a play from the U.SA. playbook.

Cue greenies telling me how wrong my position is because "saving the Earth is the greater good", or some such platitude.

Short answer: No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932609)

The answer to the question is: It remains to be seen. But I'm highly skeptical that ditching nuclear power in the short term is a good example of anything.

You can't compare these results in a meaningful way without having additional details. This will end up costing them hundreds of billions? Then they are subsidizing the production of the energy to keep the cost less or the same. If they lowered the cost, of course more people are buying. That doesn't mean this is viable in the long term. If they are merely keeping the cost the same, then this means that demand has risen (which raises prices on its own) and again, that's not long term viable. If the cost went up, more people are buying, AND they are subsidizing it, that's a disaster. It means cost, prices, and demand are all increasing and instead of producing energy as efficiently as possible (with e.g. nuclear) they are artificially limiting the production. Either someone else will come along and produce it for less, or everyone will end up paying more for less.

What are their production totals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932611)

How much are they producing, how much are they consuming? Does this article consider exports from one part of Germany that go to say Denmark, Poland, or Austria, while say France imports more into the Saar area?

Yes, I did read the Google Translation of the article, but I'm not going to trust it.

And that's not even figuring out the source. Now don't get me wrong, I'm glad for Germany's solar and wind investments, but if I were them, I'd phase out Coal first, then nuclear.

Except maybe any Soviet ones. Not that I'm thinking of Chernobyl, that was bad practice, but rather questioning the quality as a whole.

It only requires the will (3, Interesting)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#41932671)

This is not a victory for renewables, but for democracy. German citizens want to go renewable enough that they are willing to swallow the costs. Germany is a rich enough country to do that, and rich countries can accomplish amazing things when they have the will to do so. That doesn't mean renewable became any more viable economically, or that other poorer countries have any chance of replicating this feat.

Re:It only requires the will (0)

Antipater (2053064) | about 2 years ago | (#41932933)

So what you're saying is, the Germans are an example of the Triumph of the Will?

Cables (1)

spectrokid (660550) | about 2 years ago | (#41932683)

Germany will have to invest billions in (HVDC) power lines to carry all that volatile electricity around. Windmills are mostly in the north, solar in the south etc. Guess who will complain when they get an ugly power line in their backyard? The same people who protested the nuclear powerplants of course.
And by the way: lot of nukes are closed in europe because they found small fractures in the reactors. In Belgium even the government starts talking about brownouts this winter.

Re:Cables (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41933033)

And by the way: lot of nukes are closed in europe because they found small fractures in the reactors.

Can't be. After all, nuclear energy is safe, right?

Forward Looking Policy? (2, Interesting)

JWW (79176) | about 2 years ago | (#41932695)

No, they are not an example of good, forward looking policy. They are a horrible example.

They are replacing established, 0 carbon emission, nuclear power plants with other sources that have either higher emissions because of their construction (wind, solar) or with sources that just plain have carbon emissions from their operation (natural gas). I know natural gas is way better than coal, but they're replacing nuclear with gas which increases carbon emissions.

If we want to impact global warming we have to use nuclear power. Wind and solar don't have the capacity and it will take a loooooong road of building for them to even come close to replacing other forms of electricity generation.

I absolutely loathe how the same "green" advocates who harp about the need to solve global warming now INSIST that the best no CO2 power generation options we have right now be abandoned.

Sure there are arguments on whether building NEW nuclear plants will be good or economical at reducing carbon emissions, but we're talking about shuttering working power plants here.

If you believe global warming is a problem, then the worlds turning its back on its functioning nuclear power plants has to stop!

Re:Forward Looking Policy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932909)

You are misinformed.
Germany greenhouse gas emission are at least 20% less than 1990.

Re:Forward Looking Policy? (0)

sunking2 (521698) | about 2 years ago | (#41933007)

Let's see, what is so special about 1990? Oh ya, reunification! It's easy to improve your green house emissions when you have suddenly inherit Soviet era power.

Re:Forward Looking Policy? (5, Interesting)

should_be_linear (779431) | about 2 years ago | (#41932917)

it will take a loooooong road of building for them to even come close to replacing other forms of electricity generation.

This article is about Germany where it is obvious, that road is not that long, as everyone (especially nuclear lobbyists) was saying. In 2011, 3% of German electricity was produced by solar, in 2012 it will be over 5%, which is amazing 2% per single year only on solar energy. Wind energy is about 7% and is also growing at least >= 1% per year. Add to this new (wind) mega-turbines (>= 10MW per one turbine), and you see that pretty soon Germany will turn on non-renewable sources only in still more rare situations.

Wind = Gas (1, Insightful)

AwaxSlashdot (600672) | about 2 years ago | (#41932923)

Wind power is the best thing ever happened to Gas powerstations manufacturers.
For every wind farm, you need a gas powerstation of the same size to compensate when the wind is not blowing.

So, over one year, wind power rejects more CO2 than a nuclear plant of same capacity.

Re:Forward Looking Policy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932983)

Yes, Nuclear Power has no carbon emissions. They product tons and tons of waste we have no idea what to do with.

Global Warming is not everything, as are carbon emissions. The question is if we can afford to create more and more nuclear waste. I say no, at least not without a clear plan (transmutation, disposal, whatever).

I have no idea how you could get modpoints, though. You're not saying anything beyond a total biased post pro nuclear and contra everything else. I hardly call that a useful contribution.
You are reducing the whole matter to carbon (of which we even do not know if it contributes to climate change), which is just as shortsighted as wearing a blindfold and claim "everything is fine". In all honesty: It does not matter at all of global warming happens or not or if it has to do with carbon or not. Climate over the course of history has never been "stable", it always changed around, no matter the human influence or not. I am against putting waste into the atmosphere and want energy to be as green as possible - but if we humans plan to last with a high state of civilisation we better deal with naturally as well as unnaturally changing climate over the course of a hundred years.

Just going on producing lasting waste that radiates for 100s and 1000s and 100.000s of years and pretend it's not an issue at all just to evade some carbon seems to me to be a pretty dumb thing to do, though.

Re:Forward Looking Policy? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41933011)

Wind and solar don't have the capacity and it will take a loooooong road of building for them to even come close to replacing other forms of electricity generation.

That's exactly what we are trying to disprove. Yes, there are immense engineering challenges, but germany has a long and distiguished history of great engineers and I believe we can do it. It's like the moon landing in the 60s for the US, the goal is distant and we're not exactly sure how we are going to reach it, but the fact that the target stands is inspiring a whole generation of engineers to do what seems impossible. Now, the political challenges are a completly different topic...

Gross or Net kWh? (2)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about 2 years ago | (#41932723)

Exporting all those MWh is great, but are they just importing it back at night?

Re:Gross or Net kWh? (1, Funny)

fredrated (639554) | about 2 years ago | (#41932985)

Of course not, they use solar power at night.

It is important, the cost less so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932745)

I would not call it forward looking, because they do not seem to know exactly will happen, or if the strategy will work. The great thing is that someone had to try it on a large scale, and then try to fix the problems that will occur. Smart-grids, energy-storage etc. are all technologies that Germany will have to focus on. It will be a huge investment, but they will gain so much know-how worth much more.

A couple of math points (3, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 2 years ago | (#41932773)

1) Based on the summary numbers, Germany basically has the equivalent of 1.4 Gigawatts of spare capacity. Likely more as I'm sure they don't sell 100% of their excess capacity. This works out to enough to power about 1 million American homes.
2) The cost of the renewable energy looks like it will cost less than the war in Iraq did for the United States.

Draw your own conclusions.

Re:A couple of math points (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932987)

The real issue is that Germany has always been a huge energy exporter, they're also a huge energy importer. Their grid connecting North (renewable wind from the coast) and South (Bavarian industry) is absolutely terrible, so the north exports power it's power and the south relies on French nuclear and Czech coal.

Germans are good with PR though. Look at their exports and how everyone talks about them being masters of manufacturing. The US produces far more than Germany, but most of it is consumed in domestic markets. Of course why would Germany ever want to frame the discussion as having weak domestic markets?

Throwing Electricity away is the right expression (4, Interesting)

tp1024 (2409684) | about 2 years ago | (#41932793)

What are those exports? It's the solar power and wind power that can't be used for lack of domestic power transmission and simple lack of demand in the areas where it is generated. This power must be exported, because it cannot be consumed. Despite all that, wind turbines still have be shut down at peak generation - leading to a steady decline in actual capacity factors of wind turbines. (Don't worry about you money, of course feed-in tariffs are still being paid when turbines are shut down ...)

The most important question on those exports is hidden by the phrasing of those propaganda news: How much did germany get in return for those exports and how much did it cost to produce them? It doesn't take much in the way of imagination to conclude that it isn't much at all. Domestic power prices regularly drop to a fraction of the feed-in tariffs being paid for wind and solar power (occasionally dropping into negative territory) and exports are unlikely to offer better rates.

The result of all that? Germans will pay an average of 0.28 Euro - or about $0.40 per kWh next year, up from 0.25 Euro this year. With a clear trend upwards, as more and more wind turbines and solar cells that produce useless electricity come online. With the recent push for off-shore wind generation that will be 50-100% more expensive than solar power (depending on the scale of the solar power plant), this will only rise. Germany will catch up with the very highest electricity prices in Europe next year (Danemark) and is set to surpass them right thereafter.

Meanwhile, the need for transmission lines is still seen as a conspiracy of the electricity utilities by most "greens" in Germany. The need for serious storage capacity, which is already rather giant, is still not recognized.

This is what you call a bubble - worth on the order of $350bn and rising - paid by electricity consumers through their bills. The only people who profit from it are those who have enough money to pay for solar cells or wind turbines and the more money they spend on them, the more they get. A classic transfer of money from the poor to the richest of our society - all brought to you by massive lobbying of the Green party.

And you need to import too (1)

AwaxSlashdot (600672) | about 2 years ago | (#41932981)

When the wind is not blowing, either you need to activate a CO2 generating natural gas power plant (with increasing price of natural gas) or import from other countries that would gladly charge you top money for this energy you need and can't produce.

France is twice cheaper (1)

AwaxSlashdot (600672) | about 2 years ago | (#41932999)

France: 0.12 Euro per kWh.

Job Creation (1)

bobstreo (1320787) | about 2 years ago | (#41932795)

"Hundreds of Billions" over 20 years? That seems to be pretty inexpensive.

Also think of all the jobs for installing/servicing/billing that are being created.

With more adoption of solar/wind/tidal generation, the initial price of the equipment should go down, once
the Chinese market undercutting is "fixed"

Natural Gas: not enough for everyone (1)

AwaxSlashdot (600672) | about 2 years ago | (#41932839)

"it still relies on imports for its natural gas needs"

There is a limited supply of natural gas (I'm not talking about stocks and how long we could sustain on reserves of natural gas but on the limited bandwidth of existing and soon to be activated pipelines).

Natural gas is used for 2 usages in Europe: electricy production and home heating.
Germany is currently at the end of majors pipelines coming from Russia, the largery biggest provider of natural gas to Europe. So Germany can prioritized its own usages of natural gas for electricity production. In competition with households from all accross Europe using natural gas for heating who will see the price of natural gas rise.

So the decision to switch to natural gas for its electricity production, Germany impacts the expenses of households of all Europe.

PS: disclaimer: I'm from Europe, I'm not German and I use natural gas for heating.

Totally bogus (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932855)

The country's rapid expansion into renewable energy is credited with the growth.

That is so bogus. Germany relies on coal. It's replacing its nuclear generators with coal powered generators. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_Germany The thing about renewable generation is mostly a lie.

Those exports aren't welcome? (4, Interesting)

putaro (235078) | about 2 years ago | (#41932881)

Well, according to this article [bloomberg.com] , the neighbors don't want that exported electricity and it's causing problems with their grids.

To easy to debunk (1)

fredan (54788) | about 2 years ago | (#41932887)

When Germany need all of their power is during the winter, when temperature is well below zero degrees. During this period they will not export a single watt of energy out of Germany.

12.3 Twh = 12 300 Gwh = 12 300 000 Mwh.

12 300 000 Mwh / 273 days / 24 hours = 1 877 Mw per hour.

If you think renewables are expensive... (4, Insightful)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | about 2 years ago | (#41932919)

...just wait until you see how much those non-renewable alternatives like tar sands and coal-to-gas will cost you. And that's before you figure in the cost to clean up the mess they make.

Remember: deepwater horizon had a wellhead as far beneath the waves as Denver is above them, and the oil itself was farther below the seafloor than the peak of Everest is above sea level. Loooooooong gone are the days when you had to be careful with a pickaxe in Texas lest you set off a gusher.

Oh -- and it's petroleum that fertilizes our crops and powers our transportation infrastructure, and we've already burned up half of the planet's total reserves. The easy-to-get-to and high-quality half, of course.

Like it or not, the days of cheap energy are done and gone with. If we're smart, we'll bootstrap ourselves to a solar-based energy system, which won't be cheap, but it will give us more power than any of us can imagine. There's enough insolation just on America's residential rooftops to power the entire planet, for example. If we invest wisely, as Germany is doing, we'll sacrifice a little bit of short-term comfort for a lifetime of luxury. If we invest poorly, as Obama will have us do with his "Drill, baby! Drill!" energy plan... ...well, if we actually follow through with that, we're well and truly fucked.

Cheers,

b&

Read the fine print (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41932975)

Germany has been subsidizing nuclear, gas and coal energy for decades and invested billions from tax payer money into research and subsidization. One example: Building a wind turbine somewhere, the owner has to have an insurance covering 100% of the cost of possible problems due to faults and breakdowns, e.g. during storms. A nuclear power plant in contrast only has to insure 1% (in words: ONE percent) of the costs of a meltdown. Have a look at Fukushima and get figuring: so far, 137 billion USD for cleaning up that mess (and of course, the insurance only takes the predicted value, which is far less than that cost).
If the renewable energies would have been subsidized the same in the past two decades, the total cost of producing this energy would be by far lower than the cost of nuclear energy.
So, if you want to really discuss this issue, have a look at all sides and subsidizations. There's a study you might want to check out (unfortunately, I have not found an english verison yet), which results have been summarized here: http://www.heise.de/tp/artikel/37/37513/1.html. If you do not understand german, just check out the graph in the middle, showing the (normal and hidden) subsidizations of different energy sources in germany.

Wrong title (1, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#41932989)

I know the author was trying to tout renewable energy, but the fact of the matter is they turned off their nuclear plants, and ramped up how much coal their burning. Now, you might not like Nuclear, and I could argue with you on that... but coal is far far worse than Nuclear will ever be. This is a net loss for the environment. We need to turn off the coal, turn on the nuclear, and develop the renewable. Nuclear wont last forever, but it's the cleanest fuel we have for now.

Wind and solar are mostly hot air (3, Informative)

jeti (105266) | about 2 years ago | (#41933013)

There's a lot of talk about wind energy in Germany, but in truth most of our energy stems from coal and natural gas plants. And that's not going to change in the foreseeable future. Check out the up-to-date statistics on power production in Germany [eex.com] that eex provides.

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