Archive for the ‘Alternative Energy’ category

Red Tape Halts Green Energy

July 14, 2010

H/T to reader DirkH

The German edition of the Financial Times has a story today on wind energy’s latest debacle in Germany: treehugger-bureaucrats. In one corner we have environmentalists demanding the installation of wind energy to avert a climate catastrophe, and in another corner you have environmentalist bureaucrats stopping windparks in order to protect local wildlife.

Green offshore windparks clash with green German bureaucrats.

Meanwhile, energy prices for the consumer are going through the roof.

The Federal Office For Nature Protection (no joke!), responsible for approving offshore wind parks,  is having second thoughts about the foundations used for offshore windmills because “they pose a threat to wildlife”.  As a result that have stopped approving any additional windmills until further notice. This is confirmed by a letter to the FT from the Federal Office For Nature Protection.

The FT reports that 2 types of foundations are used for anchoring offshore wind generators. In one type, huge piles are rammed into the seabed by 15,000 blows delivered by a heavy pile driver. But the noise this work creates is disturbing the whales, and they are leaving their living areas for quieter places. That has to stop.

The second type of foundation is the so-called gravity foundation made of concrete. But the heavy concrete pads end up sealing the seabed and thus damage crabs and mussels. Can’t have that either. According to the letter:

Gravity type foundations cannot be considered as an alternative foundation because they are installed on the seabed using  acoustic ramming. A better way would be to use a foundation that is installed using some sort of boring process.

Technically this is possible, but there exists no company to do it. Meanwhile investors and the numerous companies that are currently installing offshore windparks in Germany’s North Sea now face heavy losses. The FT writes:

Severely impacted are companies that are deep into the approval process. This is because the approval processes are lengthy and costs millions of euros, as they entail comprehensive expert attestations and environmental impact studies.

Needless to say, offshore windpark companies are outraged. And all companies that are in the approval process have left out the question on foundations – fearing not being granted approval. But without a foundation, it’s impossible to put up a windmill – thus every approval becomes worthless.

Lawmakers are also outraged by the delays. Yet, the Federal Office For Nature Protection insists it is not imposing a moratorium of any kind, and that rather it is only trying to find a way to bring offshore wind energy production in harmony with nature.

According one German Parliamentarian, Torsten Staffeldt.

The Federal Office For Nature Protection is drifting into absurdity. If we continue like this, we’ll never reach our goals for expanding offshore wind energy.

Well I’d hate to disappoint Herr Staffeldt, but that point has long been reached and surpassed. Worse yet – the treehugger wars are just beginning.

NEW Scare Replaces UN’s Now Defunct AGW Scare. Biodiversity And Species Are Dying 100 Times Faster Than Previously Thought!

July 13, 2010
There’s been talk recently about a new scare that environmentalists have come up with to replace the all-but-defunct AGW scare.  The evil villains are, again, the very thing that have made our lives immensely better: INDUSTRY. The new scare is: industry is destroying biodiversity.   

Today at least two of Germany’s leading online news outlets are reporting on industry’s threat to biodiversity, based on a UN study. Both Stern here and Die Zeit have almost the same title:   

UN: Corporations Driving Ruthless Destruction of Nature   

And both articles are almost identical, indicating they were likely press releases from the UN itself. According to Die Zeit:   

Species, even complete ecosystems, are disappearing at an unprecedented speed. Companies refuse to protect nature, the damage is in the trillions of euros.   

Species are dying 100 times faster than previously assumed. The environmental damage that is caused by the world’s 3000 leading companies is estimated by the UN to be 1.7 trillion euros, this from a study from the UN Environmental Program UNEP.   

According to UN Environment Director Achim Steiner:   

The natural capital of the planet is being destroyed on a massive scale.   

Many economists are still blind to the enormous impact on the diversity of animals, plants and other forms of life and their role in the function of the ecosystem.   

The UN study says that awareness for environmental protection is increasing the most in Africa with 50% of company managers viewing environmental pollution as a threat to their business, 45% in Latin America and only 20% in Europe.   

The UN study will be made public at the International Conference for Species and Biodiversity on Tuesday in London.   

Readers ought to recall how it’s the UN itself and government politics based on UN climate fear mongering  are actually in large part responsible for their claimed massive destruction of nature. Read:
Europe’s Latest Green Megafolly. Burning Forests To Save The Planet!  

And maybe the UN has realised that it wasn’t getting anywhere by nagging and blaming the citizens of the planet. Now it probably thinks it can get more support by demonising industry.

Exasperated German Environment Minister To Environmentalists: “Show Us Your Proposal!”

July 12, 2010

Environmentalists say windmills are (not) for the birds.

Not long ago environmentalists stridently demanded mankind stop its addiction to fossil fuels and convert to renewable energy sources, like wind power. And so some countries did just that. But now we’re finding out that environmentalists don’t like that either. 

Today Der Spiegel online reports that environmentalists are going to court and challenging almost every planned windpark project under the sun, now claiming they are a threat to birds and wildlife.

For example in 2007 the company Neue Energie Berlin GmbH was getting ready to install Hamburg’s first windpark in an industrial zone called Pankow-Nord. It seemed like a model project for responsible energy production. But before too long, the project ended up getting challenged in court. The environmental protection group called Nabu filed a lawsuit claiming the planned 180-meter tall windmills endangered the only two remaining red kite bird pairs in the city. The project was halted.

Eventually, the court decided the birds were not at risk and gave the project the green light. The nests after all were three kilometres from the construction site. The case clearly illustrates that not only are windparks riddled with technical probelms as reported read here, but also face huge, costly legal obstacles.

Because windparks generally are situated out in the countryside, conflicts with natural wildlife habitats are inevitable. Environmental lawsuits against planned windparks are mounting and threatening to throw sand into Germany’s vision of a green future. Indeed, according to Der Spiegel, Germany’s Minister for Environment Norbert Röttgen warns: 

That of all things, precisely the environmental activists are putting plans to expand renewable energy at risk. 

The exasperated Minister Röttgen then demands 

that the German environmental organisations put forth their own plans as to how they think wind energy and biomass plants are to be intensified without billions of euros in investments getting blocked by ecological objections. 

Currently environmentalists are barricading against government plans for further expansion of windparks in the North Sea. Already 4400 square kilometers of sea area are now planned for offshore windparks. But environmentalists now cite dangers to sea birds and whales. Der Spiegel writes: 

A total of 95 offshore-parks are planned to be built in Germany’s so-called  Excluded Business Zones  and thus will seriously encroach on the living space of protected species such as the red-throated and Arctic divers. Even the Federal Office for Nature Protection says the birds will respond by making a wide circle around the windmills. There’s also a danger that construction noise will harm the protected common porpoise. 

The regulators at the Federal Office for Nature Protection say: 

For this reason not every place in the Excluded Business Zone will be permitted.

So indeed it looks like billions of euros emarked for investment in wind energy are about to hit the big green legal wall.

Europe’s Latest Green Mega-Folly: Burning Forests To Save The Planet – “Worse Than Coal”

July 3, 2010

Europe's energy policy is accelerating large-scale deforestation.

We all know how do-gooder governments all over Europe and USA like to spend billions of dollars on every conceivable save-the-forests program worldwide.  

Well, it turns out they’re also spending billions on subsidising “green” wood-based bio-energy, which in fact is having the opposite effect, and thus contributing to the accelerated mass-destruction of forests worldwide. In the kooky world called “Green”, things always seem to work as follows:
 
1. Conjure up a fictitious future catastrophic problem, like AGW.
2. Demand governments enact programs designed to avert the catastrophe.
3. Watch these programs inflict real, massive environmental, social and economic damage right now.  

Here’s yet another perfect glittering example from the world of Green.  The Global Forest Coalition has released a damning report WOOD-BASED BIOENERGY: THE GREEN LIE, which shines much light on Europe’s latest green mega-folly.

Journalist Stephen Leahy reports on it here: Europe’s Green Energy Portfolio Up in Smoke.  

Here are some excerpts:  

* In Europe’s vaunted green energy revolution 68.5% of its renewable energy portfolio comes from biofuels and burning wood for energy,  

*27 million tonnes of wood biomass will be needed annually to supply planned power stations in the UK (United Kingdom).  

* At least one million hectares of forest annually will be needed to feed the dozens of planned wood-fired power plants in Britain alone.  

* The Netherlands is burning one million tonnes of wood annually. Germany is burning up to 16.5 million tonnes – mostly imported – and plans to double this figure by 2020.  

*Deforestation eats up 13 to 16 million hectares every year and is responsible for 20 percent of the global warming emissions.  

Deforestation is already a big problem globally without the biofuels boom. Promoting the use of wood material for biofuel will only accelerate deforestation.  

According to Anne Petermann, executive director of the Global Justice Ecology Project:  

We have an enormous deforestation problem already, there is no way massive increases in wood to feed bioenergy furnaces could ever be sustainable.  

Leahy writes that particulate emissions from wood-burning are worse than coal, putting public health at risk. Biomass burning emits more fine particulates than coal. These invisible particles can damage lungs and make asthma worse.  

Then there is all the energy and emissions involved in cutting, processing and shipping wood many thousands of kilometres from Africa, South America and Canada.  

Helena Paul of science watchdog EcoNexus  

Wood biomass energy is twice as crazy an idea as maize ethanol was.  

Clearing the forests in Borneo to make way for palm oil plantations. Source: http://maps.grida.no/go/graphic/extent-of-deforestation-in-borneo-1950-2005-and-projection-towards-2020

Not only are wood-based biofuels ecologically disastrous, but they are also economically unwise:  

Subsidies in Britain will cost taxpayers about three billion dollars a year for the biomass power plants now under construction or planned, reports Robert Palgrave of Biofuelwatch.  

Journal Science has bioenergy lands covering half of the planet’s arable lands by 2065.  

Helena Paul sums it up:  

The potential for disaster is absolutely enormous if this takes off in Europe and America.  

Someone ought to remind Ms Paul what led to these disastrous policies in the first place. One may suggest that it was the green movement’s overzealous drive to save the planet from a highly exaggerated manmade climate change claim, all fueled and fanned by the media and kook green groups.

Summary And Conclusions Of The Scientific Advisory Board Report Buried By Germany’s Ministry Of Finance – English Translation

June 30, 2010

In my recent post here I wrote about a ZDF story on an Expert Assessment Report, led by Prof. Dr. Kai Konrad of the Max Planck Institute and a team of finance researchers, on Europe’s and Germany’s climate policy. The report is titled:

Climate Policy Between Emissions Prevention and Adaptation
Expert Assessment By The Scientific Advisory Board Of The Federal Ministry of Finance

Note: The report itself is not a product of the Max Planck Institute, as some have mistakenly believed. The lead author is Dr. Kai Konrad of the Max Plank Institute, who is also vice chairman of the Finance Ministry’s Scientific Advisory Board, the actual producer of the assessment report. The members of the Scientific Advisory Board participating in the expert assessment are listed below at the end of this post.

You’ll recall the assessment report was so damning that the Finance Ministry took it down from its website. When you read the following summary and conclusion you’ll see how it completely contradicts the government’s current policy, which is to prevent CO2 emissions and to subsidise alternative energy. This is a finding that was embarrassing for the government.

Note that the authors of the assessment report take the position that CO2 is bad for the climate, i.e. the more CO2 that is produced, the worse the climate will become. They are finance experts after all, and not climate experts – obviously.

I’ve translated the all-important Part 4, Summary and Conclusion (bold print is my emphasis), which is as follows:

4. Summary and Conclusion

Economic and political action on global warming can be categorised under two kinds of measures: 1) measures that aim to slow down global warming (prevention) and 2) measures that aim to react to global warming (adaptation).

With adaptation measures, the beneficiary and the cost-bearer are the same. Decisions concerning many adaptation measures can thus be decided by the private economy. In the cases where this is not possible, the extent of adaptation measures can be handled by the local, regional or national politics.

But when it comes to measures for preventing CO2 emissions, the circle of beneficiary and the cost bearer splits apart. A meaningful reduction in emissions through uncoordinated, single country initiatives cannot be achieved. Effective emissions reduction with respect to global climate protection can be accomplished only through global coordination. In the past, global coordination has proven to be difficult and hardly successful. Despite various international attempts and considerable use of resources on the part of some countries, a worldwide climate policy has not been reached.
The theory of international public good offers an economic explanation as to why the international climate policy has not reached its ambitious goals up to now. That’s why suspicions that the current efforts will not lead to any success are being confirmed
.

This assessment yields the following results:

The uncoordinated, single-country go-it-alone approach leads to unachievable emissions reductions. Many polluters hardly participate in avoiding emissions. It has to be expected that only the more populated, economically strongest, environmentally aware and climatically threatened countries will make any notable efforts to undertake emissions reductions.

• Efforts by single countries to act as a leader in climate protection and to influence climate policy by imposing emissions reductions on itself can cause other countries to slack off in their own climate-policy efforts rather than intensifying them. As a result, taking a leadership role in climate policy leads to, as a rule, higher costs in that country without assuring any decisive improvement in the global climate.

• Special efforts and leadership initiatives made by individual countries also do not necessarily improve the situation for a global climate agreement, but rather can actually imperil an agreement. Diminishment of remaining benefits arising from worldwide climate agreements make the realisation of an agreement more improbable.

• Also unfavourable are agreements among groups nations of the international community of nations. Such agreements greatly burden  the participating countries economically, and serve to benefit the countries that do not participate. Despite the high costs, the positive climate effects of such group-nation agreements can end up being very small. Moreover, coalitions of nations can actually worsen the chances of an international worldwide climate treaty.

However, in no way do these arguments speak against continuing international negotiations. Effective international climate agreements are urgently needed. The arguments listed above do, however, speak against going it alone nationally, taking a leadership role, in preventing CO2 emissions.

When it comes to implementing measures for adaptation to climate change, there are no problems like those listed above. Measures for adapting to climate change do not have the problems that measures for prevention have. Adapting to climatically related environmental changes do not have the “free-rider” problem, where one incurs the costs and the other reaps the benefits. The circle of beneficiary and cost-bearer are mutual when it comes to adaptation measures. The strategy of adaptation thus offers opportunities for a unilateral, cost-effective national climate policy in a wide variety of impact areas (e.g. against flooding or storm damage). At the same time, such a policy augments the chances of an international emissions limitation.

The adaptation strategy leads to an immediate climate cost reduction in one’s own country, independent of  international agreements.

• If a country invests in national adaptation measures, it also improves its bargaining strength in negotiations for a climate treaty.

• When all countries take up adaptation strategies, it results in – when compared to an ideal, worldwide combination of both instruments – a strain that in the end favours adaptation instead of prevention. The economic-political result would be worse than the one from a non-existing prosperity-maximizing world government, but better than the result that would arise from foregoing an adaptation strategy.

• Without adaptation measures, more prevention measures would have to be undertaken due to reasons of precaution and in view of the uncertainty of climate impacts from irreversible CO2 emissions. Adaptation buys governments time to more precisely research climate impacts.

The way for some especially motivated industrial countries to use comprehensive unilateral early contributions and subsides for alternative energy is misguided with regards to a timely, binding and adequately scaled climate policy. Even worse, it is to be feared that this policy not only has been and is very expensive for Germany and Europe, but also that it is an obstacle to reaching an effective worldwide climate policy. In view of the fact that emissions reduction is an internationally public good and in view of strategy effects, the Advisory Board recommends options for adaptation to climate change be examined and pursued more vigorously by single countries than in the past. The strategy of adaptation does not only ensure immediate adaptation to climate change, but also increases the chances for an effective international agreement to reducing emissions.

Directory of members of the Scientific Advisory Board at the Federal Ministry of Finance
Prof. Dr. Clemens Fuest (chairman)
Prof. Dr. Kai A. Konrad (vice chairman)
Prof. Dr. Dieter Brümmerhoff
Prof. Dr. Thiess Büttner
Prof. Dr. Werner Ehrlicher
Prof. Dr. Lars P. Feld
Prof. Dr. Lutz Fischer
Prof. Dr. Heinz Grossekettler
Prof. Dr. Günter Hedtkamp
Prof. Dr. Klaus-Dirk Henke
Prof. Dr. Johanna Hey
Prof. Dr. Bernd Friedrich Huber
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Kitterer
Prof. Dr. Gerold Krause-Junk
Prof. Dr. Alois Oberhauser
Prof. Dr. Rolf Peffekoven
Prof. Dr. Dieter Pohmer
Prof. Dr. Helga Pollak
Prof. Dr. Wolfram F. Richter
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schreiber
Prof. Dr. Hartmut Söhn
Prof. Dr. Christoph Spengel
Prof. Dr. Klaus Stern
Prof. Dr. Marcel Thum
Prof. Dr. Alfons Weichenrieder
Prof. Dr. Dietmar Wellisch
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wiegard
Prof. Dr. Berthold Wigger
Prof. Dr. Horst Zimmermann

Max Planck Institute Finance Researchers Call Europe’s Climate Policy A Failure

June 28, 2010

Prof. Kai Konrad and his team of finance researchers at the Max Planck Institute call Europe's climate policy a failure.

Hans von Storch’s blog brings our attention to an excellent German report by normally green ZDF public television.

The report takes a critical view of Europe’s energy policy and reaches the conclusion that it’s a failure. My last post Billions Of Euros For Nothing Called A Success Story illustrates this beautifully.

The ZDF interviews a leading finance researcher, Professor Dr Kai Konrad, and here’s what the ZDF report says:

 - Start clip (German)-, content in English:

After 20 years of conference after conference after conference, a sort of traveling climate circus on a worldwide tour, Copenhagen became the highpoint of absurdity in December of last year – a political and media overkill with the aim of nothing less than to rescue the planet. The conference failed yet again. It all gets down to money.

Professor Dr. Kai Konrad is a distinguished finance researcher at the prestigious Max Planck Institute in Munich and a close advisor to the Federal Ministry of Finance. He and a team of researchers drew up an expert assessment of Germany’s climate policy.

The assessment was so damning that the Ministry quickly removed it from its website.

The assessment took a hard look at the 1st Commandment of climate policy: reduce CO2 emissions, and how a relatively small group of countries decided – unilaterally – to reduce CO2 emissions. The researchers writing the assessment deemed this a grave error. Professor Konrad says:

When a small group of countries sit down and say they want to  do something good for the climate, and reduce their emissions, it has practically no effect on the total amount of emissions worldwide. It means the rest of the world picks up the slack and just emits more.

In effect it means that the countries who cut emissions incur all the costs but no benefits. And the countries that don’t cut emissions, profit. So it’s highly worth it for these so-called “free-riders” who don’t sign on. What has the Kyoto protocol produced?

Since 1990 worldwide CO2 emissions have increased 36% and the few countries that have reduced their emissions have had immense costs, estimated to be $150 billion.

When it comes to CO2 emissions, the European Union is a global power. Especially Germany has been a leader in cutting emissions – already 20% less than 1990. Professor Konrad says:

The fact that Europe is a leader in cutting emissions will only lead to other countries slacking off, and thus the costs are merely shifted from the countries that don’t play along to Europe. So whatever progress Europe makes in cutting emissions just gets lost to countries like USA and China.

And so the circus goes on. The other countries are happy about the cuts, and the EU carries all the costs. Europe’s Climate Commissar estimates the costs will be:

€500 billion ($620 billion) in the next 10 years.

Germany is the leader in this craziness, and is expected to cut emissions by 40% by 2020. This is to be accomplished by Germany’s EEG Gesetz, or Energy Feed-in Act, which forces power companies to purchase renewable energy at exorbitant prices from anyone who produces them and to deliver them to consumers, who then must pay through the nose. Professor Konrad says (in summary):

From a theoretical point of view, the EEG brings no benefit. It brings nothing because the system of buying CO2 emissions certificates doesn’t work.

All the certificates do is ensure that the CO2 gets produced elsewhere. Professor Konrad:

The Feed-in Act is to be criticised in my view because it is no longer transparent as to what an enormous redistribution it creates and the huge subsidies that flow out of the pockets of consumers and into the hands of those who profit from it.

By the end of the year German consumers will have paid €62 billion ($75 billion) without seeing any CO2 reduction. In Professor Konrad’s and his colleagues’ view:

The policy of avoiding the production of CO2 is a failure, nationally and globally.

As a result, Professor Konrad’s recommendation is to use a different strategy (one that even the earliest and most primitive of man used):

A D A P T A T I O N

The researchers say this policy would be much more successful, and certainly much cheaper than the current CO2 elimination policy.

- End clip -

Now, I wonder if our clever politicians will muster the intelligence that even our early Neanderthal ancestors had millions of years ago, and adopt this strategy?

Don’t hold your breath.

Minister Tanya Gönner Calls Hundreds Of Billions Of Euros For Nothing A Success Story!

June 26, 2010

Genius minister Tanya Gönner calls heavily subsidised and costly energy a success story.

Mayor Hans-Martin Moll

Like in many countries in Europe, politcal parties in Germany, whether right or left, are big boosters of re-engineering society in order to save it from the fantasized self-inflicted climate catastrophe. People who speak up face risk feeling the wrath of the many climate-doctrine-following drones and zombies. And as the level of absurdity reaches intolerable levels, people are indeed speaking  up.

One such person is mayor Hans-Martin Moll of the town of Zell am Harmersbach in Germany. He has written a letter addressed to Tanya Gönner, Minister of Environment in the state of Baden Wuerttemberg and a member of the conservative CDU party.  The European Institute For Climate and Energy (EIKE) features Moll’s letter here in German.

Mr Moll, who is also a CDU member,  has become very concerned about the CDU’s aimless drift, led by Angela Merkel, in the direction of “green illusions” over the last years. Chancellor Merkel is advised by alarmists like Hans Joachim Schellnhuber and Stefan Rahmstorf.

What takes the cake for Mr Moll is Tanya Gönner’s declaration that Germany’s EEG Act is a complete success, and that it ought to be continued. The EEG Act forces power companies to buy renewable energy from anyone who produces it at fixed, exhorbitant prices that are guaranteed for years. (More info on the EEG Act here). Moll writes:

Producing power with coal or nuclear reactors costs between 2.5 and 4 cents per kwh. The EEG forces the consumers and the economy to pay 43 cents per kwh for photovoltaic power, or about 15 times more than the reliable, steady supply, conventional power.

And to make this hugely subsidised power of any use, billions of euros more are needed for expanding the power grid, for adding necessary over-capacity, and for “imaginary storage technologies”, which are physcially and geographically completely illusionary.

You call this a success story? I call it a political swindle of the citizens. Only in a communist centrally planned economy has such a thing ever been done.

Consumers and the economy had to fork out already 12 billion euros in 2009 for a completely useless and ideological nonsense. This EEG Act which you call a success story will cost hundreds of billions of euros.

Moll does not mince any words. Indeed the amount of CO2 that Germany may save by 2020 will be offset by Chinese economic growth within just a few months. It amounts to nothing. But it is a very expensive nothng.  CO2 reductions in Germany will have zero impact on the climate, assuming that added CO2 has a noticeable impact on climate. Moll writes:

With this kind of politics, the only thing that is sustainable is the harm done to the consumer, the economy and the jobs for our future generations.

This swindle must not only be reduced, it has to be eliminated completely. The same is true for wind energy.

Energy policy is going precisely in the Green parties’ direction. Their target is not the environment, rather it is the dismantling of industry.

Mr Moll concludes with:

I do hope the conservative CDU party will wake up soon, recognise this huge error, and that it will endeavour to pursue a real energy policy that is based on natural science and common sense.

I couldn’t agree more with Mr Moll. As people start speaking up, other people will start listening.

German Solar Energy Gravy Train – The Coming Meltdown

June 22, 2010

At the government feeding trough.

Other blogs have mentioned today a report from the German financial daily, Handelsblatt here, but didn’t provide many details, and so I’ve decided to shine a little more light on the article. It is indeed frightening.

The German government has been generously subsidising renewable energy sources for years now, and it’s going to cost the German consumer a bundle – and soon.

The big price driver is solar energy. Year after year more and more panels are getting installed on German roofs and far surpassing even the most optimistic projections. But that shouldn’t be a surprise because Germany’s Energy Feed in Act (EEG Gesetz) guarantees solar energy system operators a fixed tariff for 20 years, making solar energy systems extremely lucrative for those who have them.

According to the Rhine Westphalia Institute for Business Research (RWI) the net costs of all photovoltaic system installed between 2000 and 2010 add up to a whopping $107 billion, Subsidies for renewable energy are going out of control.

An open letter written by Johannes Lackmann, former director of the German Association of Renewable Energy, caused many to take a closer look. Lackmann warns:

Companies are positioning themselves on the same square as the old industries, who failed to modernise and keep up with the market demands because they came to rely on generous subsidies paid by governments to survive. The EEG Act must not be allowed to be misused as cushion to sleep on.

Indeed the extreme comfort of the EEG subsidies will lead to an additional 9000 MW of solar energy capacity to be mounted on roofs this year alone in Germany. It’s a run-away train that will have serious consequences.

Recall that solar energy generators are guaranteed payment for 20 years. For systems going online this year, an average of almost $0.40/kw-hr is guaranteed by law until 2031. By comparison conventional energy is traded on the EEX  exchange for just over 6 cents. The huge difference is passed on to the German consumer.

According to the RWI the net costs for all photovoltaic systems installed between 2000 and 2010 over their 20 year operating life will add up to $107 billion. According to the Handelsblatt:

This sum is more than one quarter of the entire German annual federal budget. Yet the amount of solar energy as a share of the total energy produced is still puny despite the huge subsidies. It is only 1 percent.

Just the photovoltaic systems installed this year will lead to an additional $33 billion dollars in costs over their 20 year operating life. Electrical energy rates will climb 10% in 2011. Energy giant RWE just announced it will increase rates by 7.3% in August.

Sure Germany has cut back the subsidies – some, but the prices of solar panels and systems have fallen even faster, and so as a result they are even more lucrative. Lackmann thinks reductions in subsidies are long overdue, and the industry will not be doing itself a favour attempting to fight them off.

They don’t provide any incentive for investment in R&D. Leading German solar companies invest less than 2% of their sales turnover in R&D. This is far below what a company like Siemens invests in R&D.

Offshore Windparks Hampered By Huge Technical And Cost Problems

June 14, 2010

Up in smoke

German sceptic site Readers Edition has a good story today about the Alpha Ventus windpark, Germany’s first offshore windpark, which officially started up with much media hype last April. It’s made up of twelve 5-MW turbines. It’s a €250-million pilot project that serves to spearhead several other coastal power plants in the coming years. 

The wind farm is operated by energy companies Eon, Vattenfall and EWE and is supposed to provide power to about 50,000 households. The project has been heavily criticised by environmentalists because of its threat to migratory birds. 

But for now environmental problems are the least of concerns for the project’s backers. Technical problems have hampered the project from the get-go. Today it has been reported that two of the twelve wind turbines had been shut down for weeks. 

Originally estimated to cost €189 million, the Alpha Ventus park has been plagued by cost overruns and delays.  In late summer and autumn of 2008, bad weather made installation of the first 6 turbines impossible.  Then the equipment to install the monster turbines was not available. Next there were major problems with the transformer facilities. 

A few weeks ago the temperature of the bearings in the turbine made by Areva Multibrid was too high and thus they had to be taken out of operation. Now the turbines have to be removed from their 500+ ft. high towers and the bearings have to be replaced. Repair works will take weeks and extend into late summer. It’s still unclear if the other four of the Multibrid turbines have a problem. The remaining 6 turbines are made by Repower and are reported to be running smoothly. There are no reports on how high the costs for the troublesome dismantling and repair works will run. 

And if that weren’t bad enough, the construction works on the massive Bard Offshore 1 commercial windparks have been delayed as a 300-foot foundation column crashed onto the construction ship Wind Lift 1 three weeks ago. Now other turbines have to be thoroughly inspected. The Bard project foresees the installation of 320 five-megawatt class turbines over the coming years. The cost for the first 80 Bard turbines alone is climbing far beyond original estimates. First they were estimated to cost over €500 million. Now it’s estimated costs will exceed a billion euros. German online newspaper projects the costs will even reach €1.2 billion. 

The promoters of the offshore projects cannot say they weren’t warned of the risks of installing windparks in the North Sea’s harsh conditions. The Nysted offshore windpark and Horns Rev park in Denmark are examples, and have struggled with big problems. For example in 2007 a transformer malfunction occurred at Nysted just 4 years after being commissioned, causing a months-long shutdown. At the Horns Rev windpark there were problems with the turbines only 2 years after they had gone into operation. World leading turbine manufacturer Vestas had to remove all 80 turbines, haul them onshore and perform extensive repairs. Luckily these turbines were only of the smaller 2 to 2.3-MW class, and so much easier to do repair works. Repairs and maintenance on the 5-MW monsters will be much tougher and expensive. 

But as long as windpark companies continue to have the full backing of wasteful governments, costs won’t matter.

UPDATE, 17 June 2010: I’m delighted to see one of my favourites, James Delingpole, has featured this post at his blog here. Thanks!

The Green Movement’s Death-Farms

May 13, 2010

Thanks to reader ThomasJ, who provided this link to a Norwegian documentary about bird-killing windfarms. It might take a few moments to load. And although the clip is in Norwegian, the pictures themselves tell the story. The Norwegian windfarms are turning once majestic landscapes into a nightmare. http://www1.nrk.no/nett-tv/klipp/282395 

I’m also amazed at the number of websites, blogs, documentaries, reports, etc. popping up and casting light on this large-scale avarian slaughter by windmills. Expect resistance to this failed experiment to grow. The Green Movement is quickly proving to be an abject folly.

Aren’t all those windmills along Norway’s prestine natural coastline just lovely?

Update: No problem littering the landscape with bird-chopping windmills – but try putting up a new bridge. http://www.thelocal.de/society/20100513-27141.html

Update: More bird killing


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