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Why wind needs feed-in tariffs (and why it is not the enemy of nuclear)

by Jerome a Paris Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 03:18:17 AM EST

An argument often heard against wind is that it costs a lot in public subsidies for a solution that will always have a limited impact (because it still produces only a small fraction of overall needs, and because of its unreliability linked to its intermitten nature). This is an argument worth addressing in detail, especially when it is pointed out, as the graph shows, that wind is already almost competitive with the other main sources of electricity, which suggests that it might not even need the subsidies then (and the increase in commodity prices since that graph was prepared using 2004 data, only reinforces that argument).


We are on the brink of a new energy order. Over the next few decades, our reserves of oil will start to run out and it is imperative that governments in both producing and consuming nations prepare now for that time. We should not cling to crude down to the last drop - we should leave oil before it leaves us. That means new approaches must be found soon.

The above, from an article by Fatih Birol, the increasingly strident chief economist of the International Energy Agency, suggests that we need to develop all non-carbon based energy sources as quickly as we can to avoid the coming energy crunch from oil depletion. He suggests to push nuclear energy, but that may not be enough - and, as I will show below, the best way to push nuclear is also the best way to promote wind power...


Now, if you look at the graph above, it is very easy to see that the long term cost components of wind power and gas power are very different. Nuclear is quite similar to wind in that respect (more, in fact than the above graph suggests), and coal is quite similar to gas.

Wind turbines, once built, generate almost free electricity - they require only some basic maintenance and servicing. That means that they have a marginal cost of production close to zero (ie each additional kWh of production only requires more wind, but no actual spending); that also means that their main long term cost is the repayment of the initial construction cost, in the form of debt repayment and return on capital for the investors.

This has two simple consequences:

  • the cost of wind power is essentially set at the time of construction, when the parameters of the financing of the initial investment are agreed, in the form of debt service plus a set return, over an agreed period of time, typically 15-20 years. That cost is fixed and will not vary in accordance with the price at which electricity is actually sold.

  • once installed, wind power will always be dispatched - with its negligible marginal cost of production, it will always be cheaper than alternatives, and the only reason not to take such free power will be technical constraints from the network (which I'll discuss later). When dispatched, wind power will move the dispatch curve, and ensure that the marginal cost of production required at that point ot satisfy demand will be lower than if wind power were not available - ie wind power displaces the most expensive power source that would have been needed otherwise, typically a gas-fired plant.

The second argument, as the Economist noted, brings savings to all electricity consumers - in fact, in Denmark, such savings are now higher than the subsidy paid to wind power producers, thus creating a net gain for the country. This, in itself, is enough to justify subsidies, given that no other economic actor than the government can create such a gain, as it is diffuse and spread amongst all electricity users; by imposing a feed-in tariff, which similary spreads the extra money paid to wind power producers amongst all electricity users), the costs and benefits appear in the same place, and the gain is obvious and immediate. This is a perfect example of a smart regulation which benefits everyone.

The first consequence noted above is a bit more subtle and needs to be discussed in more detail.

As noted, wind power has high fixed costs, while gas power has low fixed costs but higher variable costs - the cost of procuring fuel. At a time of steadily increasing gas prices, that might seem like an advantage for wind, but, in fact, it is not. The reason for that is that, in today's liberalised markets whereby electricity prices are driven by the marginal cost of production, power prices tend to follow that of gas, since the marginal producer is usually a gas-fired plant. Thus, the variability of gas prices is mirrored in electricity prices, and a gas-fired plant does not really see its competitive position in the market change.

On the other hand, a wind farm, with its fixed costs, makes a lot of money when gas prices (and thus electricity prices) are high, but stands to lose money should at any point electricity prices come down again. The short term profitability of wind farms is driven by factors totally outside of their control (gas prices, which are themselves driven, in the medium term, by oil prices). Should that short term profitability be negative for too long, that can spell trouble for the investment (ie bank loans might be in default - even if temporarily - and the investors then stand to lose the project to the banks. And if that's too likely to happen, banks simply won't lend, because any default (even a temporary one) causes losses and headaches. Essentially, investors and banks must bet that gas prices will stay high enough every single one of the next 15 years for the project to avoid trouble.

To express things differently, the competitiveness of a wind farm - decided at the time of investment - depends on how low the gas prices might go over the next 15 years, whereas the competitiveness of a gas-fired plant depends mostly on the existing power plants - to know the plant's position on the dispatch curve, and thus its likely use. To a much lesser extent, the relative variations of gas and coal prices will also play a role, but this has a second-order impact on revenues.

In short, a gas-fired plant presents a much lower risk profile at the time of the investment, in the sense that the risk of catastrophic loss (from long term price movements) is much less, and that the somewhat higher short term price risk is easier to manage (and financial markets are happy to provide their services there).

That different risk profile is, of course, the reason why wind power needs to be supported in some way by public authorities: markets, left to themselves, will invest in the very technologies (gas and coal) that are the source of all our worries, founded or nor, on the energy front: climate change (coming from carbon emissions), and security of supply (coming from the likely depletion of resources in the long term and the perceived unreliability of suppliers like Russia in the short term).

And the public authority has an actual incentive to encourage wind farms: the long term fixed nature of its price structure presents an unsurmountable risk for the private sector, but it does embed very real value for any entity able to bet on the very long term: a guarantee that prices will be no higher than that fixed cost, whatever the price of oil, in 20 years' time. The markets, except for very specific cases (energy intensive industrialists that know their energy needs in the long term, are not necessarily concerned about temporary interruptions and value long term average prices rather than short term ones), are currently unable to give a value to what is effectively a very long term option on electricity prices - but that value is there.

We know we'll still need electricity in the next 20 years; public policy that works to provide a cap to how high the price of that electricity can go sounds like smart policy - and smart politics.

In fact, on the basis of the value of that option, it can be argued that feed-in tariffs, which provide a stable, guaranteed price to wind power and thus allow the relevant investment to be made with the high-probability perspective of a decent return , are not a subsidy, but a fair transaction, whereby the public authority purchases the guarantee of capped prices in the future in exchange for somewhat higher prices today. The exemple of Denmark quoted above, and the current trends for oil prices, suggest that this is a transaction likely to be highly profitable in the long run, in fact, and thus not at all a subsidy.

Tax credits, as provided in the USA, are a similarly  effective mechanism, as they provide a guaranteed minimum income to wind farms and thus ensure that the minimum long term power price threshhold required to make the investment in a wind farm a sensible one is much lower than it would otherwise be, and thus that such investments can be made today - and indeed they are, as the current boom in windpower in the US shows. And the cost-benefit analysis is likely to be similar once wind reaches a sufficient penetration in the market.

A third mechanism that would work as well is NOT the green certificate market regulations used in a few countries (the UK, Australia, Italy), but would rather consist in authorising public authorities to provide financing to the power sector. Given that the main cost of a wind turbine is the fixed financing cost, if you loser the aplicable interest rate and/or required return on capital, you also lower the long term cost of production. Public authorities can borrow money a lot more cheaply, and over much longer periods, than private sector entities, so the cost difference can be quite significant - it can halve the cost for nuclear plant, for instance. And they would not even need to actually provide funds, as this could take the form of payment guarantees. Thus, the public entity would bear that risk of periods of low power prices in exchange, once again, for having a growing portion of power generation coming from carbon-free, capped-cost sources. and the beauty of such guarantees is that they can be provided to all power sources (ie including gas and coal fired plants) in order to avoid the accusation of distorting competition: the cost impact is a lot bigger on wind or nuclear than on gas or coal, and thus the investment decisions will be correspondingly influenced. Charging a flat fee for such a guarantee would make the mechanism transparent and "fair."

The lesson from all this is that wind power does not need subsidies if you make it possible to take into account long term perspectives rather than short term risks. And the same argument applies to nuclear power, so the two technologies are perfectly aligned in that respect - one could even argue that mechanisms that allow to take into account the long term cost/benefit analysis would boost nuclear even more, given that nuclear power plants present the additional risk, from a private investor's perspective, that it is a huge discrete investment, ie it is hard ot invest a small amount in a nuclear plant, you need to sink at least a couple billion euros. Wind farms can at least come in chunks of a few million a piece but, with nuclear, you need to bet big each time, and very few private sector players can afford to concentrate their risks like this.

Of course, this discussion has not even discussed the fact that most existing technologies other than wind are heavily subsidized, either directly, or because they do not have to pay for the externalities they cause. The most obvious example being the lack of price paid, until emissions trading actually comes into force, for the carbon dioxide emissions from gas- or coal-fired plants, or the direct subsidies paid to coal mining in many countries.

.

At this stage, nuclear advocates might agree with my points and conclude that we need to focus on building nuclear plants, given that wind, being unreliable and small-scale, can never "do the job."

I'd argue that, while personally favorable to nuclear, it's not the easiest solution to deploy in many countries. Given that the State will always bear the ultimate risk for very long term waste management, for catastrophic accident insurance (both impossible to price by the private sector) and for overall safety and security regulation, and that price "support" as proposed above further implicates public authorities, my position is that nuclear power should be run by publicly-owned entities - the EDF model. Under such a model, nuclear can indeed provide a large chunk of our electricity needs.

But even in countries where this model can be applied, there should be no limitation to the development of wind power, and no need for nuclear advocates to demean or mock wind power. Given that it is essentially the same regulatory framework that favors both technologies (with specific regulatory requirements for waste on the one side, and for network reinforcement on the other), they are objective allies in the public debate on energy.

Display:
on DailyKos: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/3/2/114943/7075/512/467302
on The Oil Drum: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3688

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 12:04:42 PM EST
Wind
Don Quixote meets Wall Street - financing wind farms
Energy - some good news (for once)
The future of power generation
Wind power: birds, landscapes and availability (I)
My detailed dissection of Robert F. Kennedy Jr 's misguided Op-Ed on Nantucket Wind in the NYT (original title: Robert F. Kennedy Jr is a lying, deceitful, pathetic NIMBY SELL OUT)
Something to take your mind off indictments: Windfarm blogging
Wind power now CHEAPER for US retail consumers
USA to become world leader in wind power in 2005
2005 was a great year for wind power worldwide
Alternative energies: wind power
wind power: debunking the critics
Wind farm kills eagles in 'large numbers'
My job
No technical limitation to wind power penetration
Wind power: some lessons from 2006
5MW with location picture (by PeWi)
Solar Photovoltaic vs Wind (by Laurent Guerby)
GE CEO: nuclear uncompetitive against wind without subsidies
Offshore wind blogging
2007: record year for US wind industry
Wind exajoules

Recent related diaries on energy policy
Competition is a policy, not an objective
Experts disagree on market liberalisation
Will the next German election be a referendum on nuclear energy?
EU Energy inconsistencies and lies
So is energy strategic or not?
Markets are just magic
Even CATO libertarians say energy deregulation does not work
Energy: the fundamental unseriousness of Gordon Brown
The markets will provide (subject to the weather)
UK govt does not like some market prices

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 12:27:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was much less "wind oriented" a few years ago... But it seems your efforts do pay, as I'm starting to think it's worth the investment :-)

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman
by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 12:33:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can somebody explain a bit more the rather high emissions from PV?

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 12:53:53 PM EST
Production of silica wafer.

However, there is R&D into reducing the energy imput there, and renewables can be used, too (German wind turbine maker Enercon uses some of its own turbines at its chief plant, and I recall a top German PV maker aiming for in-house energy production, too.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 01:21:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good, so I don't have to vandalise PV installations to save the climate ;-)

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 02:22:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Tories had an article on energy policy earlier this week in the FT. Magicla thinking at its best:


Step one would be to prevent ministers talking about the extra power bills it is our painful duty to pay and start offering an immediate future of lower energy costs. The need is to associate a greener future not with still higher gas and electricity bills, or with dubious payback calculations decades ahead, but with lower utility bills now.

Step two is to let $100 oil do the "taxing" and incentivising. No further green consumer taxes - over and above the already ferocious ones on petrol - are required. The driving factor is that this time (as opposed to experience in the 1980s) oil will stay expensive. The private sector will research, develop and deliver the biofuels that make commercial and environmental sense.

The same goes for wind farms, for which the UK consumer is paying some of the highest subsidies in Europe on their already inflated electricity bills - with questionable results. Markets will filter out the unprofitable wind projects and leave the few good ones to make money. The same goes for new nuclear power. Press the nuclear industry to compete and deliver even safer plants, built more quickly and with less toxic waste, and it will do so - maybe with a bit of planning help but without levies on the already overlevied consumer.

Step three - probably the least popular in some circles - is to face the fact that the multiple opportunities for innovation and development in low and clean energy are going to come from private sector technology and privately financed research. Government-funded research will make the wrong choices and crowd out the market winners.

How do you define "biofuels that make environmental sense" and "safer nuclear plants" without government decisions?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 01:01:10 PM EST
Jerome, The Market(TM) is always right. You should now that by now.

The private sector will research, develop and deliver the biofuels that make commercial and environmental sense.

Cellulosic ethanol, this kind of stuff. Not really there. The great issue is how to avoid competition against food production in terms of products (the corn abomination) or land use without regulation? How do you avoid destroying primary forests in 3rd world countries? But who cares? The Market(TM) will provide as it always does.

The same goes for new nuclear power. Press the nuclear industry to compete and deliver even safer plants, built more quickly and with less toxic waste, and it will do so - maybe with a bit of planning help but without levies on the already overlevied consumer.

This one is fairly easy. Merchant plants. That's the worst way of developing nuclear power and the only model that gives an incentive to the owner to take undue risks with the plant as it cannot average unplanned outages over multiple plants. Tory efficiency at its best. The Market(TM) will provide as it always does.

That being said, the notion that nuclear plants require or deserve special subsidies is a canard and the Tories are correct in that sense.

Step three - probably the least popular in some circles - is to face the fact that the multiple opportunities for innovation and development in low and clean energy are going to come from private sector technology and privately financed research. Government-funded research will make the wrong choices and crowd out the market winners.

The Market(TM) will provide as it always does. The Market(TM) doesn't care about the realities of R&D and engineering. The Market(TM) creates its own reality.

The Market(TM) is always right.

by Francois in Paris on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 05:17:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... its The MarketTM


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 06:32:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A question/request on terminology: do you consider a feed-in law a "subsidy", as opposed to "support"?

In my understanding, a "subsidy" means extra money paid from tax money, and thus doesn't describe a proper feed-in law (though there are 'feed-in laws' that involve a compensation of the price difference to distributors by the state, for example Hungary...). A feed-in law is a guarantee on the entire price, whether it's above or below the market price. Treating the entire price as if it were the extra price, and calling it subsidy, is one of the nasty tricks of its detractors.

So I would make a consequent distinction in the text.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 01:30:51 PM EST
Feed in laws would be subsidies if the money came from the state, but that is not necessarily the case, e.g. in Germany under the Erneuerbare Energien Gesetz the situation is that the power companies have to buy renewables at this rate.

There's a even an ECJ judgment stating that this is not 'State Aid', as I'm sure you will all be very interested to learn ;-)

From the judgment:

THE COURT,

in answer to the questions referred to it by the Landgericht Kiel by order of 13 October 1998, hereby rules:

  1. Statutory provisions of a Member State which, first, require private electricity supply undertakings to purchase electricity produced in their area of supply from renewable energy sources at minimum prices higher than the real economic value of that type of electricity, and, second, distribute the financial burden resulting from that obligation between those electricity supply undertakings and upstream private electricity network operators do not constitute State aid within the meaning of Article 92(1) of the EC Treaty (now, after amendment, Article 87(1) EC).

  2. In the current state of Community law concerning the electricity market, such provisions are not incompatible with Article 30 of the EC Treaty (now, after amendment, Article 28 EC).
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 04:44:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure what you mean by feed in tariffs - could you explain a bit more.

I think one of the problems with wndfarms is that they aren't big enough. Power generation firms aren't interested in small projects, the want to build big and reap big returns. A company like GE had revenues of $170 billion last year, adding in even $100 million from wind projects wouldn't even be noticed.

Each wind project requires local licensing, overcoming NIMBY, setting up financing, etc. For not much more effort one can create a much bigger conventional power generation project. Firms are now so big that they are only interested in super sized efforts. Small, local or regional firms that are willing to develop wind projects are just not going to make enough of an impact on the way the financial community views the field.

Municipal electric systems (in the US) worked well for 70+ years, but the selling off of the public sector that started during Reagan hasn't come to an end yet. Perhaps this option is viable in Europe, but in the US policy is still tilted toward privatizing everything from roads to the military.

Even leaving aside the externalities of conventional power generation, there are so many people living off the (hidden) doles given to the fossil fuel industry that it will be nearly impossible to level the playing field. Think of all the value that the industry gets from the roads, railroads, shipping and pipelines needed to transport fuel. No one wants to see the gravy train come to an end. What can wind offer to these people in the way of compensation? Nothing. Tell the Santa Fe railroad that they should close shop because their lucrative coal hauling business in New Mexico is going to be replaced by wind and solar. I can name the senators who are owned by the coal and oil industries, there are none for the wind sector.

It's not technology that is limiting growth, it's power politics.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 01:40:11 PM EST
  1. A feed-in tariff is a mechanism whereby wind power projects get a guaranteed fixed price for each kWh produced. That price is paid by the local utility, which is forced to purchase all the electricity produced by the wind farm, and is allowed to pass on that cost to its retail customer base in a regulated way.

  2. Wind turbines are now a bigger business than gas turbines, worldwide. Wind turbines probably amounted to $5 billion turnover for GE last year, hardly an insignificant amount.

  3. your point on political influence is spot on, but now that companies like GE, Shell, Siemens and big utilities have jumped on the wind bandwagon, things are changing significantly. And wind has the great advantage that it creates a lot of local, visible jobs (a lot more than the industries it competes with), so its political clout is growing, especially as it has clout in rural areas that are being revitalised by its presence.


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 01:47:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are feed in tariffs in widespread use? I am doubtful that US utilities would go for something like this unless forced to by government regulation. The entire business of long distance electricity trading only arose because firms could game the system.

When utilities were either municipally or locally owned the interconnects were solely for regional load balancing and backup capability. Now firms think nothing of building a plant where environmental restrictions are lax and shipping the electricity a thousand miles away.

Enron was only unique in that it got greedy and got caught. Selling electricity on the spot market has never made sense to me, so requiring a firm to buy at a fixed price for an extended period of time seems to go against current (US) trends. If there is a movement in the other direction I would like to hear about it.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 04:18:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... government regulation, but since a feed-in tariff is a government regulation, that's not an insurmountable problem there.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 06:37:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As BruceMcF said; and yes, feed-in tariffs are now in use in most EU countries (though there are great differences between them).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 05:05:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As a member of our local Economic Development Council (God help me) I've gotten no pushback on the idea of developing a wind farm but, rather, support and interest.

From a rancher's POV, which are the ones that matter here, having a turbine blade whirling around 10 meters above their cows or sheep heads is No Big Deal.  Neither the cows nor the sheep give a darn and the lease-payments for the use and access are, or can be, a significant source of income.  The use of windmills (AeroMotors) to provide water for stock is so common as to be unnoticed; thus, the psychological 'buy in' is present.  

From the communities POV the jobs provided by a wind farm are quality jobs: high paying, stable, future orientated.  Maintenance and repair need to be done on site so those jobs cannot be out-sourced.  Maintenance and repair are technical jobs requiring a level of skill (Intellectual Capital) meaning once here there is a strong incentive to put more turbines in suitable location to avoid the time and expense of training.  Even the addition of 5 full-time jobs, minor in the major population areas, would be a major boost to the local employment and to the local economy.

Inclusive, the reaction in these parts is support that can have the adjective "enthusiastic" attached.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 02:03:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In amurka you're absolutely right, it's not about cost or technology, it's about power politics.  and has been for three decades.

Small point.  GE sold roughly $4 Billion in wind turbines in the US in 2007.

As to your main point, the projects are getting bigger and bigger.  Don't have time to check the details, (you can at the AWEA projects site) but i believe one is already approaching 800 MWs.  There are several other large ones, each growing incrementally.

At least in the open plains like west Texas, that is the trend and it's increasing.  For Europe it's not really possible, and must be done in large numbers of small increments.  However, the scale of offshore projects in the North Sea is also on the scale of power plants.  Thames Estuary is over a 1000 MWs.

Wish i could comment more, thanks J.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 01:49:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On a bit divergent note, I do think smaller-scale projects are an advantage, and do not think that we should set up the wind industry to suit (and further empower) existing power companies.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 01:54:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo, you're absolutely right that wind's potential for decentralization is one of the key advantages.  It's just that in some areas of amurka's huge Great Plains resource, there's nothing but space.  So in effect what's happening in west Tejas and Panhandle is merely making use of the resource and attendant conditions there.

In many other areas the projects are much smaller, though generally still a bit bigger than Euro projects.  On the order of 60 to 120 MWs.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 02:08:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Projects in the Dakotas and NW Iowa will in the end be massive ... if locally owned, they would end up being a major export base industry for those areas (which suggests that it is in the interest of those states to pursue the public financing track for local owners, even if the local owners are consortia of counties and municipalities) ... projects in a place like Ohio are likely to be smaller, except of course when it is time to go offshore onto Lake Erie.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 06:40:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why is local ownership important?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 09:26:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because it means that economic value which is created locally stays local instead of being hoovered up by Wall Street, or more likely, by Sovereign Wealth Funds doing to the US what the US did to them.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 09:53:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And it means that local communities have a reason to support rather than oppose these projects - they see the benefits accrue directly to them.

OTOH, local ownership models work better with small-scale development, as in Germany.  For the large stuff, you're talking governments or corporations.

by IdiotSavant on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 12:32:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact, the upper Great Plains (Minn et al) has a relatively strong community windpower program.  I don't know the details, but it allows individual farmers and groups to own their own projects.  John Deere Capital has provided financing and turbine servicing, and i'm certain others are involved as well.  The program is being used as a model for other areas.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 01:34:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. This local/distributed mantra. That's something that really bugs me. As if it had any great virtue.

There is a model that works very well and that has proven itself in France : the public monopoly. It can invest at low capital cost, plan for the very long term and work for everybody's benefit, independent of wealth, status and geography. It's a creator of solidarities, like Social Security in the US has managed to survive 70 year of unrelenting right-wing assaults because it has always served everybody and it's just too big to attack. The same thing organized at the state or county level would have never survived.

What the localists forget is that local anything is a recipe for parochialism. Mine. Mine but not the neighbour's. And then it creates a lot of small operators with no economy of scale, expensive, fragile both in terms of service and of financial strength. You don't care if a plant breaks down when you have 200 of them. That's 199 left to take over the load. But if you have only one, you're screwed. And all those little operators are wonderful targets for large corporations to take over, one by one. Plus localism just multiplies opportunities for corruption and back-room deals.

The US has already gone through a similar experience, with the goodness and virtue of localism decreed from high above by ideological wankers.

It was for wireless carriers. The diversity sucked big time, failing to provide any serious service and setting down cell phone technology and services big time in the US. And now, the "diversity" is gone as nearly all the small operators have been picked one by one by the big ones, above all ATT, and the US is left with is an unregulated oligopoly with a bad regulatory framework and a service that still sucks. It would have been much simpler to auction a couple of national licenses and condition them to strict requirements on universal coverage, pricing and quality of services.

Pretty much the same thing happened for cable operators. The local cable co-ops have been picked one by one by Comcast and friends. Their service sucked. They never the technology heft and the economy of scale to do anything better. And now, it's still the same horribly expensive crap and any notion of local control is gone.

That notion of localism only works in theory. It doesn't survive 5 minutes in the real world. It completely ignores the basic lesson of the industrial age - standardization, economy of scale, universality, general ownership. Those are the only principles that work and deliver the goods as soon there is a natural monopoly or oligopoly as there always is for any large scale infrastructure.

by Francois in Paris on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 03:28:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and this is all the more true whenever you have actual network effects.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 04:23:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes to both approaches. Let a thousand flowers bloom - and any other such cliches, because they are true. We need to build via every approach available. If a government monopoly can be approved, go for it.

Here in the U.S., that ain't going to happen for a little while yet. Meantime, as Crazy Horse points out, it's happening in many places on various scales. He leaves out the massive wind farms in Wyoming and the medium-sized farms going up in Oregon. He probably doesn't know about the smaller farms planned for several locations along the Columbia River.

It's true that the NIMBY factor, plus financing and permitting, all present delays. But, interestingly, they also create publicity via the standard reportorial affinity for adversarial situations. The public debate is feeding the interest, not suppressing it.

You may not know either that we have 'feed-in' tariffs here in Washington state. That, and the referendum initiative that we approved in 2006 is creating a demand that has already outstripped supply.

As to nuclear - government monopoly only, as Jerome suggests.

paul spencer

by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 05:05:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i've actually walked some of them, so yes, i do know much of what's going on in the US.  I've prospected the Columbia River sites, walking the hills years before there was a singly turbine.  Wyoming, sure, i've even been to several dozens of ridges in Montana where there's not yet a single turbine.  i've walked the deserts of West Tejas, and taken strip chart data from the Adirondaks.

it's not just let a thousand flowers bloom, here's an instance where it's actually working.

btw, i left out lots of windfarms around amurka in my various descriptions and comments.  i still can't believe there's a 300 MW facility near Lake Erie... which the locals love (at least as i'm told.)

There's windfarms in pennsylvania, where there's only marginal wind.  But the factories are there, supported by the Steelworkers Union, hard to beat that.

There's even a thousand MW project just across the border in Mexico, hoping to be built by the former San Diego utility subsidiary Sempra because they "don't need no stinkin' badges" in Mexico, though the wind itself actually doesn't halt at the border.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 05:30:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As an "ideological wanker" with no ideology to defend, I'd just like to say you don't understand the concept here.

The object is to give the landowners something more tangible than the paltry royalties given by the US developers.  Which this does, without losing any economy of scale, because construction, service and mainenance are performed by the same local crews who do the big projects.  when it's isolated by geographical area, there is no loss of efficiency.

"This local/distributed mantra. That's something that really bugs me. As if it had any great virtue."

Since we're talking about the production of electricity, one would think that even the non-parochial would be able to understand the globally accepted electrical engineering principle that diversified sources of generation spread throughout the grid are a vast benefit, proven over and over not only in northern Europe but in China and India, and even the spread out US midwest.

Economies of scale, including French state support, may well be perfect for high level operation of significant nuclear power (it certainly works better than in the US), but it is simply not replicable for windpower in the US.

And by the way, no one here is saying that locally owned windpower is the only way to go, far from it, but it is an absolute part of the mix.

Another reason that locally owned windpower has taken a small hold in the US is to right the wrongs perpetrated on the resource owners, the farmers and ranchers, who were taken to the cleaners by the majority of wind developers.  They were paid piddling royalties, and given false production stats, so that's where the impetus for local ownership comes from.  Right, Anglo Disease Windpower planted the seeds for other financing methods.

IN a just world, your public monopolies are benevolent.  In the US, they almost never were.  In actual fact, the federally granted utility monopolies were predatory to the nth degree.  In fact, the then largest US utility began by taking over small hydro projects in the Sierra Nevada at gunpoint.

I too believe energy is too important to be left to the free market, but what works in France for nuclear would not work in the US.  I would love to head the EDF windpower group in the US, and in fact i talk to them as they are one of the biggest forces in the US industry.

But the pablum here against local ownership, especially considering the absolutely small portion of the industry it represents, is way offbase.

"""That notion of localism only works in theory. It doesn't survive 5 minutes in the real world. It completely ignores the basic lesson of the industrial age - standardization, economy of scale, universality, general ownership. Those are the only principles that work and deliver the goods as soon there is a natural monopoly or oligopoly as there always is for any large scale infrastructure."""

Since it's already working in the upper Great Plains, and since the landowners like it, and since they don't get ripped off, and since it's great for the grid, and since the same economies of scale are provided by centralized financing, construction, O&M... what exactly are your problems?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 05:20:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since it's already working in the upper Great Plains, and since the landowners like it, and since they don't get ripped off, and since it's great for the grid, and since the same economies of scale are provided by centralized financing, construction, O&M... what exactly are your problems?

It's not going to work for long. Wall Street will take care of it.

That's what you don't get. If you accept this kind of small scale, privately financed developments, you accept Wall Street. If it's private, Wall Street will clean its clock as soon the opportunity comes. At the slightest difficulty, they will come with their bridge loans, their convertible bonds and their PIPEs.

The point of a public monopoly is to tell the market and the finance guys to fuck off once for all, to tell them "not for you", not for short termer greedy assholes. Too important to let them fuck with it.

And every time the libertarian/autonomist wing on the left goes on those "small is beautiful" "local, yeah!" crusades, they end up validating free-market ideology, throwing good government in a vicious circle of decay and incompetence and giving sweet, juicy little targets for Wall Street to make a quick buck at everybody's expense.

There are certain things where the optimal solution is big gov and public ownership. It'd be nice if this battle was only against the right wingers, not half of the left on top of that.

In the meantime, US health care sucks, US energy sucks, US railways suck, US basic education sucks (arhh, local school boards! Please, someone abolish them ...), US telecoms suck, US cable sucks, US highways are full of potholes and US bridges are falling in the river. The US is turning in a 3rd world country and it's going to go that way as long it doesn't understand that capitalism and private ownership are perfect for manufacturing shoes but are a fucking disaster when it comes to running a country.

In a just world, your public monopolies are benevolent.  In the US, they almost never were.  In actual fact, the federally granted utility monopolies were predatory to the nth degree.  In fact, the then largest US utility began by taking over small hydro projects in the Sierra Nevada at gunpoint.

AFAIK, save for TVA, those were not public monopolies but state-sponsored private monopolies. A public monopoly has only one shareholder, the government, and in practice, none if it is setup as an independent agency.

by Francois in Paris on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 07:27:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It'd be nice if the battle were only against the right wingers, not half of the left on top of that

Can I steal that line?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 07:33:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mig, steal everything you want.

I see you've just promoted PES's nuclear diary. You really want a food fight, do you :>

by Francois in Paris on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 07:37:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Stolen.

It'd be nice if the battle were only against the right wingers, not half of the left on top of that — Franšois in Paris
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 8th, 2008 at 07:21:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Francois in Paris:

It's not going to work for long. Wall Street will take care of it.

That's what you don't get. If you accept this kind of small scale, privately financed developments, you accept Wall Street. If it's private, Wall Street will clean its clock as soon the opportunity comes. At the slightest difficulty, they will come with their bridge loans, their convertible bonds and their PIPEs.

Hmmm...

I think what you maybe miss is that Wall Street is fucked.

Period. Peak Credit.

The only clock they'll be cleaning is the one in their kitchen.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 07:58:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't worry. They'll come back. They always do.

If you'd run a "where are they now" on all the Enron geniuses, there's a handful in jail but I don't think there are many burger flippers in the remaining cast.

How do you spell "hedge funds"?

E . N . R . O . N

Cheers !

by Francois in Paris on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 08:56:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course the bright people in need of an ethics transplant go where the money is, and that's hedge funds.

But hedge funds don't CREATE money like Banks do, they just punt it around, and the Bank prime brokerages cream them as they do.

That doesn't mean we haven't reached Peak Credit (and therefore Wall Street is fucked) - in fact it supports the thesis.

And anyway - how many Hedge Funds are on Wall Street ?!!

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 06:21:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But hedge funds don't CREATE money like Banks do, they just punt it around, and the Bank prime brokerages cream them as they do.

Don't worry, everybody takes its cut. And if they don't, they walk away and start over. And when they loose, to quote the immortal words of George Parr, it's not them who will suffer, it's your pension fund.


by Francois in Paris on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 06:36:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
private ownership are perfect for manufacturing shoes but are a fucking disaster when it comes to running a country.

that is so true...

'economic growth' is great for getting peasants running water, schools, hospitals, good transport links, internet access, solar panels etc. at the 'bottom end' of the food chain.

the same system taken to its absurd level, we see bitter fruit now in the ponzi scheme enronisation of huge wodges of public trust finance, which should be in the hands of low-risk, honourable, sober treasurers, not rabid yuppie gamblers' anonymous predators who, when weighing human against economic costs, always come down in favour of the latter, chewing up finite planetary resources, homogenising and de-skilling ancient cultures and spitting out misery for the many, and a gilded cage of paranoia for the few.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 08:54:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you accept this kind of small scale, privately financed developments, you accept Wall Street. If it's private, Wall Street will clean its clock as soon the opportunity comes. At the slightest difficulty, they will come with their bridge loans, their convertible bonds and their PIPEs.

None of this happened in the local ownership and small-scale-project dominated wind 'market' in Germany, Denmark and Netherlands, and the German PV 'market' even more so. What's more, outside of the USA, private finance can also work on a large scale, with large local regional monopolist private owners of both grid and generating capacity, e.g. Germany until 1998. If you want to paint with a single brush, we could say that nothing works under the Anglo Disease, be it state-funded projects or distributed power with distributed ownership.

But, as someone supporting distributed power with distributed ownership, yet opposes any rail privatisation, I am not one who sees the same solution everywhere.

In the power sector, I do support centralised state ownership of the grid, as well as centralised state ownership or at least coercive coordination of establishing reserve capacities. The state should also be in control of energy policy, and a feed-in law is a (strong) tool of energy policy.

Wind farms, and renewables in general, are not for short-term greedy assholes, unless the financing structure is very fucked up. Local farmers aren't in for it on the short term, either.

To supplement Crazy Horse, the suggestion of parochialism is off also because of the intermittency of most renewables including wind, thus linking up in a coordinated grid is essential. Against your economies of scale is the factor of redundancy and grid stability, while distributed power is not without economies of scale (it is in fields not connected to turbine ownership, manufacture and maintenance).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 05:01:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I know all that, I just wanted to emphasize a point towards rdf that you didn't make, without wanting to contradict you.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 04:30:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You wrote earlier about an order of priority, which should have renewables before nuclear. This article seems to have it in the opposite order, though that may be due to tailoring it to a certain audience.

However, more practically, should there be a nuclear feed-in tariff, how would that order of importance be reflected?

Today, in zeroeth order, feed-in tariffs establish an equality (at present, of all renewables). On a deeper level, the price level (relative to production costs as well as market prices), the time period it is guaranteed for, influence relative fortunes. So does the relative capital strength of the existing industry: say wind today can live on much tighter margins than geothermal or solarthermal (and I think nuclear could live on even tighter margins).

Then there is the issue of the yearly decrease of price levels. How fast it is, also determines relative fortunes (what decrease R&D in an industry is capable to follow). But there is also the thing that in principle, the ultimate aim is to make the supported production mode 'market-competitive' in terms of average prices [even if average prices is not the basis on which the market really works]. How would this apply to nuclear?

Ultimately, if successful in pushing out existing alternatives, feed-in tariffs bring the supported modes into conflict: a conflict over quasi-guaranteed market shares. This conflict is not apparent when the modes concerned are renewables as yet giving only 5-20% of total generation. (It exists nevertheless -- witness the fights over the 2005 and the next modification of the German feed-in law, wind versus PV and biogas.) But if the issue is 30-60% of generation or more, the conflict will become much more explicit.

On a final note, what do we do about marginal production in the future? I think the ultimate replacement of gas needs a special effort. In that problem, I include France. In my understanding, due to a certain inertia of nuclear, France actually depends on its exports to Italy and France for elasticity.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 01:52:32 PM EST
I did not really assign any priority between wind and nuclear, and the arguments I presented don't really either.

As you know, I'm favorable to nuclear, but would still rank it after wind - while saying that it's a necessary part of the mix, at least for the next generation (30-40 years).

As to your point about eliminating gas use, I doubt it's possible or desirable - as the most flexible source, it makes sense to keep gas-fired plants for peak demand, and rapid system adjustments. But that can happen with plants that have only 5-10% effective capacity rates in fine, so the gas consumption will be quite low altogether. I agree that this applies to France as well.

A medium term solution will be the development of things like plug-in hybrid cars, which can provide a LOT of decentralised storage capacity to the network.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 02:05:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I did not really assign any priority between wind and nuclear, and the arguments I presented don't really either.

The last three paragraphs seem to be arguing for leaving a place for wind besides nuclear, which does establish order, but as I implied, I realise you are addressing more vehement nuclear advocates there.

As you know, I'm favorable to nuclear, but would still rank it after wind

Yes, and half of my comment aimed to explore how that ranking should be expressed in practice (with the rest ruminating about whether it even could, with the policy tool at discussion).

as the most flexible source, it makes sense to keep gas-fired plants for peak demand, and rapid system adjustments

Yes, I agree, but in what timescale are you thinking? 10 years, 20 years, 50 years?

A medium term solution will be the development of things like plug-in hybrid cars, which can provide a LOT of decentralised storage capacity to the network.

But they would also mean a significant increase of overall electricity consumption.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 05:19:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps this is the place for a graph illustrating a difference between German and English terminology, which came up between us over a year ago.

In English, "baseload" is all the pre-determined power. In German, only the constant part of it, while "medium load" is the pre-determined variable power. The first is typically nuclear, lignite and hydro, the second typically [hard] coal; and peak load typically gas and hydro. The issue of balancing also covers the "medium load" part, not just peak load. On the medium term, much of the "medium term" may migrate to peak load and thus gas.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 06:56:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
which came up between us over a year ago.

Found it, it was when we discussed geothermal.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 10:19:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As usual, it seems Sweden uses the German model too.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 11:08:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
France actually depends on its exports to Italy and France for elasticity.

is that a typo, dodo? to whom else does france export electricity other than italy?

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 05:33:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a UK connector, which certainly used to import baseload overnight - dunno what happens now.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 05:36:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany.

But Germany is also a net exporter, so they export even more power to Austria and Poland etc than they import from France.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 09:29:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The net French exports to Germany transit to Northern Italy (via Austria and Switzerland) and the Netherlands.

But melo is right about the typo, I meant Spain.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 04:19:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Why wind needs feed-in tariffs (and why it is not the enemy of nuclear)

Wind turbines, once built, generate almost free electricity - they require only some basic maintenance and servicing.

That means that they have a marginal cost of production close to zero (ie each additional kWh of production only requires more wind, but no actual spending); that also means that their main long term cost is the repayment of the initial construction cost, in the form of debt repayment and return on capital for the investors.

This has two simple consequences:

You are of course assuming that "Money" has a cost, and therefore that finance "Capital" has a cost.

But that need not be so.

If you simply "unitise" production (probably using a trust or other legal "wrapper" - but conceivably Preference shares bearing no interest, but redeemable for energy) and thereby create a "Pool" of units (eg MegaWatt hours) in future production, this pool is to all intents and purposes identical to an (un-geared) "Exchange Traded Fund" investing in energy.

These units may be sold at the existing market price, or at a discount, which would give an implicit return on capital. The market would decide what, if any, return that would be.

These "units" would be redeemable against energy consumed, and therefore comprise what is essentially an undated and ungeared futures contract allowing a "hedge" against energy price rises. ie if prices fall, the investor loses on his units, but pays a lower energy bill to compensate him.

Using this form of "asset-based" finance, the Cost of Capital is essentially zero, because you are "unitising" something that will cost you nothing.

Provided that the asset produces enough energy to redeem the units sold forward (an "Equity" risk for the investors, requiring the services of investment bankers and so on), then the project has been "self-financed" at zero cost.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 01:55:01 PM EST
Also there is the grid capacity and fragility issue. I suppose ET is aware of the problems in Texas last week.

Texas' near miss with rolling blackouts Tuesday night may appear at first blush to be a sign of the failings of wind power -- more than 80 percent of the state's wind turbine energy went offline when a North Texas cold front stilled the air. But the state's grid operators say a problem they could normally handle was complicated when a number of traditional power plant operators failed to provide the amount of electricity to the grid as promised. The details behind the close call may seem esoteric, but it's an important distinction to make in a state where wind power is the fastest-growing source of new projects and the margin between power supply and demand grows tighter.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/5583763.html

Texas and Oklahoma and Colorado and Nebraska are big places, and there's lots of wind but no people, so the cost of the grid improvements and improved operational procedures need to be factored in as well.

Incidently, Colorado just got its first wind infrastructure company, Vestas Wind Systems blade factory.

http://www.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_8414944

Ironically, this new plant is right down the street from the site of the failed 300 MW Fort Saint Vrain high temperature gas cooled nuclear plant, dismantled a few years ago due to unsatisfactory performance.

by asdf on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 02:29:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There was a crowing diary by a pro-nuke diarist on DailyKos. I replied with this comment:


If you're down to relying on such a marginal incident to promote nuclear, you sound really, really desperate.

Let's see:

  • interruptible customers is how EDF (the most nuke-intensive utility in the world) deals with abrupt changes in demand or supply. That's how it's meant to work; it's not an emergency, it's a feature;
  • a 1400 MW brutal change in supply is what you get if one nuclear plant is down, for whatever reason (and that happens occasionally). You then follow the same procedure, without hearing wind advocates crowing about how nuclear is UNRELIABLE!!!;
  • from your example, it looks like several power sources were down, or unreliable or unavailable at the same time (since the system was nowhere near its full capacity). But it's so easy to put the blame on wind alone.
I'm supportive of nuclear energy myself, because it's so much better than coal and because I agree that renewables are unlikely to provide enough baseload power for a while yet, but I just don't get the permanent sniping by pro-nuclear advocates against wind. I'm sure you agree that coal is a bigger danger than wind, so can we focus our efforts on getting rid of coal rather than on bashing wind?

As to overall unreliability, the fact remains that each kWh of wind displaces a carbon-based kWh, even if the same is not true for MWs.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 05:19:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the fact remains that each kWh of wind displaces a carbon-based kWh

Yes, but it doesn't necessarily displace the fuel consumption and the CO2 emission at the same degree. It all depends on how reliably wind farms can commit to a specified production for up to the start-up time of the back-up fossil fuel plants. Otherwise, the fossil fuel plants must remain in hot stand-by with a very high fuel consumption while doing nothing.

It looks like this is what happened to Texas. They got caught with their pants down, the wind on strike and no planning between wind producers and fossil-fuel producers.

Even the fastest combined cycles gas plants take more than four hours from a cold start to come on-line at their full rated power if you want to remain within somewhat acceptable NOx discharge levels and stress on the turbines (General Electric US patent 6978620B2 2004).

I genuinely have no clue what's the reality of committed power reliability for a wind farm so I'm not going to throw the book but that's something wind proponents need to address seriously with hard numbers.

---

Regarding nukes, when a serious modern plant aka Areva EPR or MHI APWR goes off line, it's 1,650 to 1,800 MW that go MIA, not 1,400 MW. Don't be demeaning to nukes :)

That being said, unplanned and unwarned outages for internal causes are really a rarity with nukes. They are very reliable on that respect.

Out-of-the-blue outages are in the largest majority from external causes like what happened in Florida few days ago: a glitch on the grid, load shedding, loss of grid and the reactor scrams for safety reasons.

But that's more a regulatory requirement and a legacy from the integrated operator days than a technical necessity. Nukes were built at a time when the grid was assumed to be extremely stable and operated under a single operator. Hence this type of event was considered very rare and addressable in a centralized manner. Hence the regulatory requirement for immediate scram on loss of grid and the fact there is no provision in the plant for load bypass.

A variable steam bypass on the secondary circuit around the turbines directly from the steam generators to additional high-temperature condensers would solve that issue with no additional cooling requirement in the case of air cooling towers. For sea-water or on-the-flow cooling, a larger cooling provision is required to maintain acceptable discharge temperature. If the load drops or goes away, the plant just pisses the unused heat away. A bit stupid but fast and not very problematic given the very low cost of nuclear fuel. The real issue would be changing the regulations to allow that.

Otherwise, most of the remaining unplanned outages are related to things like limits on water discharge temperature but that kind of outage takes places over hours or days and gives enough time to start back-up fossil-fuel plants from cold (US context) or ramp-up other nukes (France). The rest - mechanical breakages, false alarms and the like - are really rare past the shakedown period on a new plant.

by Francois in Paris on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 06:55:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... its a matter of putting it in place. Modular pumped storage hydro to deliver six hours of electricity at the average output of a wind farm would give time to get a thermal back-up source running.

Of course, the broader the transmission range, the greater the reliability of wind power, as wind farms at widely separated locations have higher system availability than each individual wind farm.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 08:28:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Geographic decorrelation works, to a point.

http://www.eurotrib.com/comments/2008/2/22/132124/905/36

In the case of Texas, it seems at first blush it actually works pretty poorly. Somewhat flat, at least from the meteorology point of view, hence a very large weather pattern, the same pretty much everywhere. Plus an adverse correlation between seasonal and intra-day wind frequencies and consumption (lower winds overall in summer and lower winds in the evening at peak load).

It can make sense overall but it really requires tight coordination between the different sources.

And pumped storage, sure - it helps any type of generation - but where?

Anyone dabbling in electricity needs to remember that "acceptable" for grid availability means 99.99%, less than an hour of load-shedding a year. The fact that the grid itself is falling apart in the US by lack of maintenance and investment doesn't help. But even with lowered US expectations, any solution that reaches only 96% or even 99% has a problem. 99% means nearly 4 days without juice a year. That's 3rd world.

by Francois in Paris on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 11:40:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And pumped storage, sure - it helps any type of generation - but where?

I've only driven through that territory once, but from the national topographic map its looks like there are ample useful elevations pretty much anywhere from the Llano Estacado west ... and of course, more in New Mexico.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 04:00:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bruce,

Pumped hydro works when the geography is right.

The investment is more or less a function of the reservoir sizes (cost of the dams) and of the distance between the two reservoirs (cost of the penstocks). But the energy you store and recover for a given volume of water/investment is proportional to the altitude difference between the two reservoirs. And it has to be really steep to make sense.

A good example of pumped hydro is the Grand'Maison (data view) / Verney (data view) pair in the French Alps. The altitude differential is more than 3,000 ft between the two reservoirs spill-way levels (928 m : 1698 m for Grand'Maison, 770 m for Verney) but they are less than 8 miles apart (Verney is SW of Grand'Maison). You don't find everywhere.

by Francois in Paris on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 05:32:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reminds me of the

Great Battery of Kimberley

doodle of a Diary I did a while ago....

Wherever there's a big hole, there's potential...

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 06:04:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Electric mountain. I want one.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 06:11:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... storage hydro, where from what I understand you need a good drop of somewhere around 100m or more for each of the units to be effective, and steeper is by and large better from a capital cost standpoint. I believe there are suitable drops in a number of areas of west Texas from the Llano Estacado on west.

Traditional pumped hydro has to be either added to an existing hydropower facility or faces far higher regulatory hurdles than modular pumped storage hydro would, since traditional pumped hydro has to be connected into the watershed.

You raise an important point. The power industry has demands for power generation that focus on what is most convenient to the power industry, and sets aside costs external to the market, such as reckless experimentation with the world's climate or exposure to risks of political sabotage. It is the responsibility of government to impose the framework upon the power industry that ensures that it can pursue its own commercial interest without acting counter to the public interest .. that reflects those external costs to the power industry so that it pursue the lower full cost technology rather than the strongest free ride technology.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 09:59:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Talking about Texas, I see a golden opportunity.

Texas has a huge wind resource and a strong will to exploit it.

Texas has plenty of baseload gas.

Texas is planning about 10 new nuclear reactors.

The reactors will displace the baseload gas which can be converted into balancing load for the wind farms.

Win-win-win.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 10:52:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]

It all depends on how reliably wind farms can commit to a specified production for up to the start-up time of the back-up fossil fuel plants. Otherwise, the fossil fuel plants must remain in hot stand-by with a very high fuel consumption while doing nothing.

The "high fuel consumption" is all relative - it's high per kWh produced, but no so much in overall terms, so it's an acceptable trade off.

And you might find this text interesting.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 04:33:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "high fuel consumption" is all relative - it's high per kWh produced, but no so much in overall terms, so it's an acceptable trade off.

How much? I don't have hard numbers so I'd like you to come up with them as this is a wind problem :)

But my limited knowledge of rotary and thermal machines tells me at least 20% from rated power consumption to maintain pressure, minimal flow and, most important, temperature. Maintaining a stable temperature is absolutely essential. Otherwise you break things like exchangers or turbine blades on fast ramp-up. Maintaining a stable temperature profile is also vital in the flue system for pollution control or you start spewing NOx and, if there any halogen in the fuel, dioxins.

~~~~

Your link is too long to do it justice and properly eviscerate it.

It's BS. The guy is simply projecting his British incompetence on the French system.

He's flat out wrong about nuclear "inflexibility". Wrong as in "just plain wrong". EdF performs load following with its nuclear power plants and even shuts down some of them over weekends to kick them back online in the wee hours of Monday mornings. That's why the capacity factor of French nukes is pretty low - 75% vs. 90 to 95% in the US - but their availability is much higher - 85% to 95%.

He's also completely off-base on EJP. It's about grid reliability and the fact that EdF - by virtue of being a well-run monopoly with high technical know-how - has been in a position to do load management way, way before it was cool.

EdF is simply taking advantage that for many industrial clients, even the level of reliability offered by EdF is not enough. So those clients MUST have a backup no matter what. When an industrial oven looses juice, you don't lose just the melt and a day of production. You loose the oven. The clean up is done with circular saws, jack-hammers and cutting torches and the oven has to be rebuilt pretty much from scratch. For things liek aluminum refining, a lose of power for more than a few hours is simply catastrophic. The entire plant is lost. So EdF is giving those clients with backup that deal so it can shed load very quickly if something goes wrong. And some other customers with high electricity bills make the math and jump on board. The result is a very stable grid.

When I was in Paris, nearly two year, I've had all in all 0 blackouts. Zero. I was in the 15ème. I know that there are more problems in some of the inner arrondissements because of the age of the local distribution equipments and the difficulty to maintain and replace them (very cramped sheds, low accessibility, street work is a nightmare, etc.). But EdF reliability for consumers is pretty amazing.

In comparison, since I've been back in the US in the tender care of PG&E - not even two years - I can count at least 6 times without juice at home or at the office. Actually I even had to buy a special alarm clock with an integrated battery backup, one that rings the alarm even without grid juice, not just to keep the hour. And thanks God, there are showers at the office.

And the rant about overnight water heaters. Please...

At this level, I'm not sure if it's Anglo disease or Mad Cow disease.

by Francois in Paris on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 07:06:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but it doesn't necessarily displace the fuel consumption and the CO2 emission at the same degree. It all depends on how reliably wind farms can commit to a specified production for up to the start-up time of the back-up fossil fuel plants. Otherwise, the fossil fuel plants must remain in hot stand-by with a very high fuel consumption while doing nothing.

It looks like this is what happened to Texas. They got caught with their pants down, the wind on strike and no planning between wind producers and fossil-fuel producers.

Well, that seems to be Anglo de-coordination at work again.

In a normal country,

  1. there has to be a wind predicting service (projecting ahead say on a scale of 24 hours),
  2. from that, the power from grid-connected turbines is projected,
  3. other producers plan their (stepped baseload) generation accordingly,
  4. the differences between prediction and actual weather/power generation need fine-tuning, which fits in the framework of normal power system stability management via regulating running power plants (and in which wind itself is now included, too). (In Germany, that's usually done in the 15-minute regime.)

At regional level (which is relevant here), changes due to weather are on the timescale of hours, just enough time to fire up that gas plant in case of total wind silence. This is a different issue from quasi-instant power loss (like shutdown due to high wind or malfunction for a single turbine, or power line disruption for an entire farm).

Even the fastest combined cycles gas plants take more than four hours from a cold start to come on-line at their full rated power if you want to remain within somewhat acceptable NOx discharge levels and stress on the turbines (General Electric US patent 6978620B2 2004).

But warm start (start after overnight shutdown, NOT from running on standby) can be as low as 40 minutes.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 06:44:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, no, no.

Not under normal conditions for a CC plant. Either you kill the plant and you pay the bill later in maintenance or you spew pollution in huge amounts by using abnormal mix or PC to speed up the approach to temperature.

And there's no time scale on Siemens pretty chart...

The best GE can do with a CC plant is a ramp-up to 100% in 90 minutes on a hot start after 8 hours shutdown.

Siemens must be endowed with some unknown form of genius. What they propose is really outside of the norm and they state a 20 years expected life time on their systems. I'm curious to see in what shape their Benson boiler will be after 7,000 fast ramps.

I'll believe Siemens in four or five years when there is a little bit of experience on those types of procedures.

Those babies run at 250 bars and 600°C. They were all the rage in the late 50s, early 60s when they were first introduced and then they started to spring cracks everywhere due to static stress and temperature cycling and a lot of plants switched back to subcritical boilers with the traditional drum and superheater. The technology has clawed its way back and is now the norm in new coal and CC plants and is really efficient. But the industry has learned to be very gentle with supercritical boilers. Not your average cooking pot.

by Francois in Paris on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 08:03:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You then follow the same procedure, without hearing wind advocates crowing about how nuclear is UNRELIABLE!!!;

Well, apart from some...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 05:22:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if you have access to zero-cost capital, I can put you in touch with investors who want to develop windfarms...

But you yourself admit you don't:


These units may be sold at the existing market price, or at a discount, which would give an implicit return on capital. The market would decide what, if any, return that would be.

Unless I'm mistake, the "return" on capital is a "cost" of capital.


These "units" would be redeemable against energy consumed, and therefore comprise what is essentially an undated and ungeared futures contract allowing a "hedge" against energy price rises. ie if prices fall, the investor loses on his units, but pays a lower energy bill to compensate him.

You assume, again, that investors are interested in lower energy bills. They are not. They are interested in a return on capital, and the sale of the natural hedge you mention to outside parties is not so simple over the very long term required for capital-intensive investments like wind farms. That wasprecisely the point I was trying to make in my diary above.


Provided that the asset produces enough energy to redeem the units sold forward (an "Equity" risk for the investors, requiring the services of investment bankers and so on), then the project has been "self-financed" at zero cost.

That "provided" is the biggest project risk, and you just push it aside casually. It doesn't work like this.


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 05:22:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe that I do actually understand -based upon practical market experience to the highest level - not only how risk and reward work but also the scale of the challenge we face in addressing the systemic hole in which we find ourselves, and from which we cannot IMHO dig ourselves out of while in it.

Investors are interested in a return on Capital for sure: but it's a "Real" return on Capital after inflation that they are after.

Whether bankers choose to recognise it or not, it is the deficit basis of Money as Debt which is one of the direct causes of inflation - whether it is created ex nihilo by governments or by the banking system itself.

Why do people buy gold? There is no "return" on that other than the fact that it may offer a "Real" return by holding its value.

The same applies to energy, commodities and all the rest: Exchange Traded Funds invested in energy and commodities are a rapidly growing asset class, as are Real Estate Investment Trusts.

What I am proposing is simply a new take on the vehicles which "frame" these asset classes, through the creation - inter alia - of "Energy Pools" and "Land Rental Pools" structured in a way which, I believe, may eliminate conventional conflicts and complexity.

Such a "Flight to Simplicity" in asset classes, would of course be resisted by those who profit from complexity and conflict, but they will not be able to stop a phenomenon which builds "from the ground up", and moreover one where those of their number who "break ranks" will profit at the expense of the later adopters.

I certainly do not push aside the risk of major projects: I believe as you do, I think, that the public - collectively (and that need not mean the Jacobin "State", but something more participative)- should be involved in sharing that risk through a rational Public/Private enterprise model.

I believe that the future of banking lies not in credit intermediation but in service provision. A completely new architecture is not just needed, but is evolving as we speak as an inevitable consequence of the "Telluric" shifts driven by "Peer to Peer" connectivity.

I'm not saying I have all the answers: but I do think that I have identified a possible new architecture which between us we may be able to use to build the necessary new system.

As NBBook's latest shows, the (deficit-based) system is fucked, and IMHO the answer is an (asset-based) alternative - "Debt/Equity swaps" on a massive -indeed national and global - scale.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 06:23:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Investors are interested in a return on Capital for sure: but it's a "Real" return on Capital after inflation that they are after.

Tying this in with NBBrooks' excellent diary, how would one go about calculating the "actual profits" made by investors asking for their 10%+ as inflation rises higher--I'm thinking: if you are right then about now is a good time to produce figures showing that ALL investments will run behind inflation (inflating away the $1 trillion--have I got that right?  That we're now all paying our part of the debt via an across-the-board rise in prices starting with food, now raw materials, and then items produced using said raw materials?)--

Not sure that makes sense, but it would be a useful graph for investors if one existed showing that their actual 10%+ extra money was now lagging behind (systemically) the necessarilyl over 10% rise in costs.

Then two points:

  1. Can you point to ANY communities/classes who are benefiting now and immediately from your model(s) as prices rise across the board?  Examples are good for analysis

  2. How are govts. going to deal with the need for state payments (wages, pensions, benefits) to at least keep more-or-less pace with rapidly rising prices?


Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 06:53:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In New Zealand, we don't do feed-in tariffs (our policy culture still being in the grip of neo-liberals).  However, we're fortunate in that wind seems to be perfectly competitive in our electricity market.  This is because we have a good wind resource (both strong and steady, leading to capacity factors Europeans wouldn't believe), high gas prices, and are an isolated market wrt the latter (no pipes, and no facilities to ship it in via tanker).  All we've really had to do is convince the business community that carbon will cost, and suddenly we have wind farms popping up all over the place.

Unfortunately, these are large installations (by NZ standards, anything over 100MW is "large" - though I understand that a 700MW windfarm is pretty big on the international scale as well); we don't have the distributed generation paradigm seen in e.g. Germany.

The upshot: appropriate policy depends on where you are.  For Europe, feed-in tariffs are a good idea.  Probably for the US as well (though there may be areas with a sufficiently strong wind resource that they are unnecessary).  In NZ, not so much.

(Sadly, it will be a while before our policymakers are convinced of that fact, and will stop trying to impose overseas neo-liberal policies regardless of local conditions).

by IdiotSavant on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 03:18:33 AM EST
This diary makes the case for windpower as nearly competitive with gas under the cited market conditions, with wind having a bit higher long term risk premium, despite the fixed lifetime cost of energy.  I take no issue with this analysis, except to say that current market conditions do not reflect reality.

The real argument about energy technologies and their cost is actually about the degree of externalities to be factored into the equation.  The table on externalities presented is open to significant question.  First, let's question what's there:  There's no noise during construction of coal, lignite or nukes?  No noise during the transport of how many thousands of cement trucks?  No damage to crops from stack effluents?  How is it acid rain destroyed the water quality of the northeast US and that has no effect on crops?  What of the studies downwind of Kaiparowits coal plant on the Navajo Rez?  Wind and nuclear have the same 0.002 material cost?

How is the cost of 0.99 cents health care arrived at for lignite?  At what value are the 40,000 premature deaths in Germany, or the 70,000 in the US, at least according to the EPA in 1999?

What's missing?  Real externality estimates?  This study shows lignite at 4.8 cents.  What of the German studies putting lignite at 07-14 cents per kwh?  How are the global warming numbers derived, using what assumptions?  Did someone decide to publish Munich Re's confidential actuarial charts?  Could the health costs of grandfathered coal plants actually be significantly higher than what's stated here?

What's missing?  Security costs?  Do we have a number yet for pipeline protection, or the direct military costs of securing supply?  Have we quantified the social cost of global energy instability and increased tensions?

Do we truly see accuracy of externalities when the entire nuclear fuel cycle has less global warming cost than the equivalent numbers of windmills?  Did we forget to mine and process the raw fuel, and build vast stable deep underground storage facilities?

So let's step back and hazard an opinion, that because of all kinds of power politic reasons, the externalities quoted in the diary significantly underestimate the cost of conventional technologies.  This of course means that in reality, windpower is already far cheaper than ANY of the other technologies.  It's just that true externalities are not now, nor have ever been, included in the market cost of energy.

The real story of subsidies, feed-in tariffs, and other measures designed to level the playing field is that they hardly move the frame of debate when weighed against the ignored hard costs of energy supply.

Let's debate the cost of windpower while ignoring the oil depletion allowance, the grandfathering of coal plants in the US, the black cloud from China's stacks now reaching California.  Let's ignore the cost to society of the decimation of the Ogoni in Nigerian oil fields or the Huarani in Ecuador's.  Let's ignore the 500 ft drop of the water table in Arizona to feed the coal slurry lines decimating Navajo lands or the cooling facilities of Palo Verde, world's largest nuke at 3,825 MWs.  (Despite that the facility uses treated sewage for cooling.)

The real story of renewables, nuclear and energy in general is the story of quantifying externalities. Until that happens, we are fumbling around debating the borders and ignoring the core issue.  When externalities reflect reality, there will be no more debate at the wisdom of feed-in tariffs, for they won't be necessary.

Windpower will then take its rightful place as the lead technology in electricity supply.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 04:44:18 AM EST

Enjoy life while you can'

Climate science maverick James Lovelock believes catastrophe is inevitable, carbon offsetting is a joke and ethical living a scam. So what would he do?

He dismisses eco ideas briskly, one by one. "Carbon offsetting? I wouldn't dream of it. It's just a joke. To pay money to plant trees, to think you're offsetting the carbon? You're probably making matters worse. You're far better off giving to the charity Cool Earth, which gives the money to the native peoples to not take down their forests."

Do he and his wife try to limit the number of flights they take? "No we don't. Because we can't." And recycling, he adds, is "almost certainly a waste of time and energy", while having a "green lifestyle" amounts to little more than "ostentatious grand gestures". He distrusts the notion of ethical consumption. "Because always, in the end, it turns out to be a scam ... or if it wasn't one in the beginning, it becomes one."

Somewhat unexpectedly, Lovelock concedes that the Mail's plastic bag campaign seems, "on the face of it, a good thing". But it transpires that this is largely a tactical response; he regards it as merely more rearrangement of Titanic deckchairs, "but I've learnt there's no point in causing a quarrel over everything". He saves his thunder for what he considers the emptiest false promise of all - renewable energy.

"You're never going to get enough energy from wind to run a society such as ours," he says. "Windmills! Oh no. No way of doing it. You can cover the whole country with the blasted things, millions of them. Waste of time."

This is all delivered with an air of benign wonder at the intractable stupidity of people. "I see it with everybody. People just want to go on doing what they're doing. They want business as usual. They say, 'Oh yes, there's going to be a problem up ahead,' but they don't want to change anything."



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 10:02:51 AM EST
Shorter Lovelock: "Please buy my books." He's deep into the controversy industry at this stage.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 10:11:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i think lovelock has lost his marbles. this outburst is delirious, and would be amusing if it weren't so effing fatalistic.

part of me agrees with him, which is the scary side.

thanks james...you're really helping....not!

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 10:34:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Windmills! Oh no. No way of doing it. You can cover the whole country with the blasted things, millions of them. Waste of time."

He's unfairly dismissive of wind. It wouldn't take millions of turbines to power the fixed stuff in the UK. The order of magnitude would be around one hundred thousands 5MW turbines and 50,000 sq km of dual-use land - about a 5th of the country or it has to be off-shore - more expensive per pop but better capacity factor. And of course, it'd require a beefed-up grid and back-up generation.

And no, the UK is not going to become a rescue raft for the rest of Europe. Rather for Bangladesh.

-----

I'm not surprised by his tone. If I were one of those old scientific fogeys who spent their life actually looking the problem, at the facts, screaming from roof tops and getting no attention, I'd be bitter and discouraged from all sides. Fuck, Edward Teller, aka Dr Strangelove himself, was talking about that in the late 50s, that fossil fuels would bury us (but the guy had so many crazy ideas per minute, he was bound to be right about something). So, with all the righteous holier-than-thou wankery and greenwashing going on, no surprise if he's dismissive.

by Francois in Paris on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 09:40:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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