Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

Solar energy - a (German) success story

by Jerome a Paris Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 07:24:48 AM EST

As end-year statistics are beginning to be published, a rather heartening image emerges for the solar industry, slightly different from what a casual observer may have in mind (high subsidies, Chinese imports, bankruptcies left and right):

Germany 2011 solar installations exceed expectations

Due to a surge of demand in December, Germany's 2011 total solar installations reached 7.5GW, exceeding installations in 2010 and expectations. (...) Germany's revised 2011 installations caused many research institutes to change their 2011 global installation estimates from 17GW to 23GW.

Solar surge drives record clean energy investment in 2011

Total new investment in clean energy increased 5% to $260bn in 2011, despite the sluggish global economy and a painful squeeze on manufacturers. (...)

2011 highlights include a 36% surge in total investment in solar technology, to $136.6bn. This was nearly double the $74.9bn investment in wind power, which was down 17% on the previous year. (...)

“The performance of solar is even more remarkable when you consider that the price of photovoltaic modules fell by close to 50% during 2011, and now stands 75% lower than three years ago, in mid-2008."

Further solar power expansion in Germany leads to minimal additional increase in electricity price

The German Solar Industry Association (BSW-Solar) estimates that the share of solar power in the German electricity mix will increase in the next four years by 70 percent, from around four percent in 2012 to approximately seven percent in the year 2016. As a result, according to Prognos AG, electricity prices will increase by nearly two percent. (...)

"The cost controls that the legislator has applied to the support for solar power are working."

In other words, the solar industry, largely driven by Germany (although Italy and China will have installed almost as much new capacity in 2011), is enjoying record investment and massively falling costs. This happened largely on the back of the German support system, designed to be simple, open to all (and in particular to retail investors) and flexible (the support level is adjusted once or twice a year to follow actual costs). That system, by guaranteeing a good level of demand and stable returns for investors made two things possible: (i) cheaper financing for projects and (ii) investment in production capacity in R&D over the medium term, both of which make cost reductions possible.

As a result, solar energy has reached the scale necessary to be a visible part of the system, even though most production is decentralized, and is reaching 'grid parity' at the same time - i.e. it now costs more or less the same for a retail investor in Germany to buy power from the grid or from a solar system. If these trends continue, and there is no reason today to believe it won't be the case, parity with wholesale production costs could be the next target, and again, on a scale that makes a difference.


Display:
All great news, but why the 17% reduction in investment in wind energy?  Have we reached peak wind?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 08:17:18 AM EST
Could it be that solar investments are done mostly by private citizens and wind installations by bigger companies?

In November I went to the Black forest after almost two years and I was amazed about the increase of solar panels. In some villages it looked almost easier to count the houses without solar panels. However, I did not see any wind installation where I thought they could be privately owned.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 08:54:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That must be because wind doesn't really make sense in a residential setting (as Crazy Horse is fond of pointing out) and out in the middle of a field it doesn't make sense to build anything below the MW range.

Whereas a square metre of solar panel has the same efficiency wherever you put it, and in a residential setting it doesn't compete with other land uses since it's mounted on roofs.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 09:01:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep, thats what I implied with my comment, but expressed badly.

However, it still looks to me as if private citizens are more willing to invest their money in energy than companies are.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 09:09:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it still looks to me as if private citizens are more willing to invest their money in energy than companies are.

Have you had a chance to check whether industrial parks are as full of rooftop solar installations as residential areas?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 09:13:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All kinds of businesses I see driving from Bischofswiesen to the Passau area have solar panels on their roofs and even solar installations that are stand-alone and substantial. I can't discern the ownership of some of the stand-alone solar fields I see.

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher
by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 01:01:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All good points, but the 17% reduction is on total global wind investment not local German investment and so my query is whether wind energy investment has peaked or whether we are simply seeing a temporary blip in what has always been a volatile market. Is wind investment becoming less attractive compared to other investments, or are we approaching saturation of suitable sites in some markets.

Obviously the global financial crisis has impacted on investment generally, and the increased affordability of solar may also have "crowded out" some investment that might otherwise have gone to wind. Solar is obviously much more scalable/flexible than wind and may also need less grid infrastructure enhancement. Even in Ireland there are increasing numbers of standalone street signs powered by standalone solar panels - and I have even seen one with a small wind rotor attached as well!

I could see huge expansion of solar in poorer third world countries with warmer climates and poor generation and transmission infrastructures as the cost of solar continues to go down.  Wind will always be more of an industrial scale technology requiring greater scale/investment/infrastructure/technology and it doesn't look like there is the same scope for cost reduction as there is with solar.

So are we moving from wind to solar as the leading renewable technology on an ongoing basis? Obviously there is scope for both as the intermittancy patterns are different, but has wind passed its peak?


Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 09:26:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BNEF (at the link below) provides a breakdown of investment per sect excluding small distributed capacity:

Wind is largely flat, but still larger than solar. what's missing in that graph is the massive volumes of small solar.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 09:56:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 09:57:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You also see that 2011 was shaping up to be a good year, until the financial crisis of the later part of the year, which definitely slowed a number of things down.

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 09:58:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem in 2011 may turn out to have been peak finance, not peak wind.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 10:10:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just like 2009 was peak sanity.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 10:21:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe in Europe.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jan 14th, 2012 at 02:48:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It looks like new construction in China is down after massive increases up to 2010 which resulted in lots of capacity built but not connected to the grid. Volumes are also significantly down in the USA because of the regulatory instability.

Europe will be largely stable.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 09:17:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome a Paris:
It looks like new construction in China is down after massive increases up to 2010 which resulted in lots of capacity built but not connected to the grid

why don't they put them where those empty towns are?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 03:16:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 09:18:18 AM EST
deck...table to left should add to 2.3bn, not 3.2bn.

Oops!

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 10:02:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]


The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 10:03:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
About 3 GW out of last year's 7.5 GW total was installed in December alone. This is yet another last-best-chance rate-cut bubble, as in the current system, the Januarty 2012 rate degression was set in the autumn based on installations in the 12 months up till then, and set they were at 15%. There will be another rate cut in July, and only 225 MW have to be installed until April for that cut to be the maximum 15%, too.

So far panel prices kept dropping at a similar insane rate:

If the industry survives 2012, feed-in tariff opponents will have to bury a few favourite arguments...

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

by DoDo on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 03:10:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
,,, still insane. That graph needs redrawing with the x axis set at zero, and the feedin tarrif for wind added in for comparison. Actually, you know what, I am now annoyed at the way people tout this insanity as a success. Diary by tonight.
by Thomas on Sat Jan 14th, 2012 at 12:28:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good, another instalment in the how to lie with charts series!

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jan 14th, 2012 at 03:31:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More like another instalment in the how to give wrong answers to the wrong questions series.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jan 14th, 2012 at 05:23:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or another instalment of more heat than light: religious debates edition in the comments.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jan 14th, 2012 at 05:57:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More like in the diary.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jan 14th, 2012 at 06:35:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The one for wind? Why?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jan 14th, 2012 at 04:28:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because it puts the tarrif for solar in perspective. The lines for wholesale power prices with and without taxes would also be useful. Speaking of. Ive been trying to find numbers for actual output from german solar on a more fine grained basis than "Per year". Google is being remarkably unhelpful. So are the free resources of the IEA, the german economic ministry and eurostat.  A breakdown of how much of the german feedin tarrif is paid to each renewable sector is also eluding me. Am I just being a complete failure at googling or is this stuff really all behind paywalls?
by Thomas on Sat Jan 14th, 2012 at 04:44:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because it puts the tarrif for solar in perspective.

On a graph not showing the solar feed-in tariff but showing the solar module price index?... In addition, to repeat this to you yet again, there is not much perspective to be given by comparing feed-in tariffs for different technologies. All aim to give new technologies the chance to bring down prices by technological development and the realisation economies of scale on a stable sub-market. And you can cry insane all you want, but show me another technology that brought down prices 58% in five and a half years, with feed-in laws or without.

In the meantime, I prepared a first graph showing a comparison that may make sense, one between the feed-in rate and the module price index, this time showing the Y axis starting at zero:

However, I think a log graph makes more sense than one with the Y axis starting at zero:



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

by DoDo on Sat Jan 14th, 2012 at 05:22:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ooops, I forgot to edit the diagram titles, will do so in case I re-post.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jan 14th, 2012 at 05:31:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The lines for wholesale power prices with and without taxes would also be useful.

This one is without taxes. The relevant tax is VAT, which is 19% since January 2007, and was 16% before.

Regarding intra-year solar output and a breakup of EEG costs, I'll look for those later today.

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

by DoDo on Sat Jan 14th, 2012 at 05:29:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Katrin on Sat Jan 14th, 2012 at 06:31:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you very much. Exactly what I was looking for.
by Thomas on Sat Jan 14th, 2012 at 07:12:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some comments on those sources:

  • Leipziger Strombörse: you can display or download hourly production data there, unfortunately, only for each chosen day separately.
  • BDEV: the interesting part is in the document titled "Energie-Info: Erneuerbare Energien und das EEG: Zahlen, Fakten, Grafiken (2011)" linked on the right. There is a monthly production graph for PV on page 12 (and for wind on the previous page). You'll find a bar graph showing the time evolution until 2010 of both production and feed-in payouts on page 37 (and the same with an estimate for 2011 and a projection until 2016 on page 65). The evolution of the difference between feed-in payouts and market price, as well as the annual average market price, is shown on page 32 (with the warning that the 'market price' of fed-in electricity is calculated on the basis of time averages, thus the merit order effect is not included).
  • BSW-Solar: you'll find a price - feed-in rate degression comparison similar to mine on page 4. The structure of the electricity price for non-industry consumers is shown on page 6, with a prediction for price increase until 2016 and the factors in it.

Some additional sources:
  • EEG-KWK-G: this page links pdfs with the annual feed-in payout statistics (third tables, "EEG-Vergütungen in Euro").
  • SFV (click "Alle Jahre"): this is an association that tracks the production of (at present) thousands of single installations. They have tables for average monthly production per generating capacity (with two methods of averaging) back to 1991.

Finally, on what the feed-in law is about. From the feed-in law itself. Last year I quoted longer passages, here I reproduce the part relevant to the PV price reductions achieved (with my emphasis from back then kept):

...die Technologien zur Erzeugung von Strom aus Erneuerbaren Energien [müssen] laufend fortentwickelt werden. Dies trifft insbesondere für die Fotovoltaik zu. Um diesen Prozess zu fördern, werden die Vergütungssätze dieses Gesetzes nach Energieträgern und teilweise auch technologiespezifisch differenziert sowie degressiv ausgestaltet. Dadurch wird ein Anreiz zu Innovation und Effizienz gesetzt. Darüber hinaus ist die reale Preisentwicklung zu berücksichtigen. Ziel ist es, die Techniken zur Erzeugung von Strom aus Erneuerbaren Energien möglichst schnell zur vollständigen preislichen Konkurrenzfähigkeit gegenüber den konventionellen Energien zu verhelfen......the technologies to generate electricity from renewable energies have to be developed further continuously. This is true above all for photovoltaics. To foster this process, the feed-in rates of this law are shaped in a way that it differentiates according to energy source and partly also according to technology, and is degressive. That way, the incentive for innovation and efficiency is set. Furthermore, the real price development is to be considered. The goal is to help technologies that generate electricity from renewable energies achieve complete price competitiveness vs. conventional energies as quickly as possible...


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jan 14th, 2012 at 04:40:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A few words about rate-change bubbles (the first of which I covered in Turbulent times for solar power). The key factors are the following:
  1. Whenever politicians begin to speak about strong rate cuts, they are creating an uncertain investment environment, and thus those who consider an installation will bring their investment forward.
  2. If a strong rate cut is half a year or a year in the future, the industry will try everything to compensate for it by cutting prices (especially if, as now on the German PV market, there is strong price competition from developing-world producers). If (if!) it manages to match the rate cut, just before the rate cut, profit margins will be phenomenal, thus new investors will rush on the market.

The end result will be that, one one hand, the market will heat up rather than cool down as intended; on the other hand, development of the technology will be accelerated (and the lowered prices will then bring a spread of the technology in the rest of the world, too).

Now then, if the intent had been to just bring about a significant rate reduction, this could have been achieved without bubbles with modest cuts at a higher frequency, say every quarter or month. But, what was the rationale for strong cuts?

  • Was it to limit feed-in payouts? Feed-in payouts don't come from the government budget and thus tax income, but from distributors and thus indirectly from customers (where large industrial customers enjoy an exception). Thus, a demand for feed-in payout limitation would have to come from customers – but all polls show that, quite the contrary, even after 12 years of an established industry campaign that blamed all their price increases on the feed-in law, people would be willing to pay more.
  • Was it to restore equal opportunities for different renewables in getting capital? This is again fishy, because it ignores the different sources of investment different technologies can attract. A homeowner or a small company may choose to install PV panels on its roof, but is unlikely to play a role in the financing of an off-shore wind farm, a small hydroelectric power station, or a geothermal plant (not to mention solar power abroad like Desertec).
  • Or was it a (failed) attempt to stifle competition for established industries?

Of course, even if power customers haven't turned against a feed-in-law-supported mode of power generation, there is a rationale in synchronising rate reductions with price reductions: forcing the industry to not slag off with development that is to achieve further price cuts. Single large cuts, however, can stop development by choking the market. on the German PV market, however, for now we have accelerated development instead.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jan 15th, 2012 at 06:39:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very good summary argument, DoDo. I'm not sure that one could expect prices to change monthly, for i don't believe costs drop at that speed.

In fact, it would be more appropriate to see what margins are for the producers. Some of the price drops are due to technical/manufacturing progress, some to economies of scale, and some are simply strategic, expecting to capture market share.

These third kind of price drops may be actually dangerous for the industry, because it affects the financial headroom of the company, and increased market volatility. Neither of those conditions sends proper signals to the industry.

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

by Crazy Horse on Mon Jan 16th, 2012 at 03:39:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Incidentally, what I wrote is now reportedly the industry proposal towards industry minister (and FDP party secretary) Philipp Rösler:

WDH/'FTD': Solarbranche legt eigenen Kürzungsvorschlag vor | FTD.de WDH /'FTD': solar industry presents own reduction proposal | FTD.de
Das neue Modell der stetigen Kürzung soll den Zubau reduzieren. Bisher wird die Einspeisevergütung immer zum 1. Juli und zum 1. Januar gekürzt. Davor kommt es regelmäßig zu enormen Schlussverkaufseffekten, die in Zukunft vermieden werden sollen. Noch unklar ist, ob die Anpassung in Zukunft vierteljährlich oder monatlich erfolgen soll. Aus Sicht der Branche ließe sich so das Marktgeschehen verstetigen.The new model of continuous reduction is designed to reduce annual new installations. Until now, the feed-in tariff is reduced on 1 July and 1 January. Prior to [these reductions] usually enormous clearance sale effects occur, which are to be avoided in the future. It is still unclear whether in future the adjustment should be made quarterly or monthly. From the perspective of the industry, this would be the weay to stabilize the market.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 19th, 2012 at 09:26:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FIT's rule, at least the way they have been done in Gremany. But the reasons to do certain technologies seem to be changing. Originally, solar PV was a boost to the German chemical  and chemical equipment industry, then the construction/installation industry, and now it's one of the better investments that a lot of German's can do for a reasonable amount of money. Commercial scale wind , even if most of the investment is done with bank loans, still requires a substantial amount of money. And the needed space aound a 2 to 3 MW sized turbine is a lot more than for a 25 kw PV investment.

So PV has evolved to significantly a possibility for many (or at least a lot of) German's of middle class income and savings to put their savings into a safe investment and  avoid the casino stock market or really dumb ideas like American or Irish real estate. And while the return would not interest a varmit Vulture capitalist, i bet it beats what banks are offering. And then there are those Soverign Bond funds.... And while the daytime electricity is useful, for serious average quantities of electricity, biogas, biomass and wind seem to be more oriented to that. But those aren't necessarily small investment sized friendly, at least yet. Geez, mabe there is a market for that, though it may be a lot of work....

Here's my take on this amazing a "makes the world a better place" phenomena.... Way to go, Germany. And thanks, Green Party!

http://wagengineering.blogspot.com/2011/12/germany-jobs-and-pv-electricity-some.html

Nb41

by nb41 on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 11:09:44 AM EST
I don't know the percentage, but a fair amount of annual onshore wind capacity in Germany is financed by funds in which the middle class invests.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 11:24:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, great. But, if you have E5k or E10k of savings that might be pulling in 1% at the bank and want to actually own your investment, or at least be a major owner in it, PV would seem to be the way to go.

The neat thing about the offshore surge in Europe appears to be that pension funds are investing in offshore wind projects, and some of the big utilities are also doing that, but such investments in corporate utilities also mean that you get to co-own nukes, coal and gas sourced generation, too. And who wants to do that...?  And if there are funds that can and do only invest in wind projects, great, but the returns in the form of dividends might be in the 1% to 3% range. Investing in stock is partly a gamble that the value of the stock might go up in addition to the meager (at least, in the US) dividend payments, which often rival present bank interest rate these days.

And if there are bond funds that only invest in wind, also great. But again, then you are one of many, and probably a small part of it, too.

I guess I am spoiled by the U.S. - there are just squat for chances of investing in all renewable projects for ordinary people. And apparently no "all wind" bond funds either. And investing in stock... generally pretty yucky yields in terms of dividends only. As for stocks in all wind developers - not that possible, since those tend to be private partnerships, and ones like Iberdola now also have other baggage, too. And investing in a company like GE (GE Capital has interests in lots of wind farms) - well, kind of immoral, but then we are talking money (they also still do nukes, coal, gas, and scads of military-industrial stuff). And as for municipalities/municipal electric utilities funding wind farms - well, that would be nice, but I have not found those yet, either.

But, it would be nice to be able to buy bonds that only fund wind developments, especially municipal developments....

Nb41

by nb41 on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 12:24:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I meant wind only funds packaged by some of the developers, marketed to the public through normal advertising.

Municipal utilities are grouping together to fund offshore.

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

by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 12:51:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Any idea when such a novel idea will take root where you once resided? Darn, more reasons for Envy aside from the "I'm not "Mittens" Romney, or whatever his acronym is" reason that so many of us no doubt have...

Nb41

by nb41 on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 01:52:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
when Murdoch is indicted, Fox is broken up due to monopoly on mental pollution, fundie xtians and scientologists are "mandated" to shovel lobbying money for congress into the people's supreme court, and the law of the seventh generation forces one to use the word poison when discussing conventional fuels.

Alternatively, when hell doth overfreeze. Or the Cubs win the world series.

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

by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 03:20:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So it's a Rosanne Rosanadana situation - "Never mind....." it's so elementry...

Nb41

by nb41 on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 05:51:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The only comment I have for now is that a solar panel installed in central Germany generates half of the electricity it would in southern Portugal...

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.
by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 11:22:01 AM EST
The lack of a HV European transmission grid really bites then. Otherwise you could have gotten German investment to put panels in Portugal and share the energy generated...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 11:29:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but you also have to factor in the incremental capital cost of the transmission network required, and the costs of transmission loss.  Anyone know a simple formula for calculating transmission loss as a function of transmission distance for a given voltage? At one point does it become uneconomic to transmit solar energy over long distances?  Does it make sense to transmit solar energy not just South/North for increased yields, but also East West for increased daylight window?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 12:19:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As a quick estimate, HVDC is a capital investment of roughly $1.5 million/km (above ground, land based). The losses are supposed to be about 3% per 1000 km.

Nb41

by nb41 on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 12:26:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks. Losses much less than I would have guessed.  Almost immaterial in the context of the efficiencies a larger grid can facilitate.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 12:47:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Luis de Sousa:
a solar panel installed in central Germany generates half of the electricity it would in southern Portugal...

this burns, when i think about greece and southern italy too.

entire countries' economies have been hijacked by the energy status quo...

many firms must have done well off this growth, with corresponding employment benefits.

why has no-one pushed for this in the oh-so-poor, PIIGS countries, heck why isn't it a EU initiative? lend them more money to install solar and lower their energy bills, all these bigwigs and their endless meetings to eke out more loans to repay interest on old loans, and this is like an 800lb gorilla!

giving crooked governments more money is a fish, giving the people solar is like giving them a rod and reel.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jan 13th, 2012 at 03:38:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]