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In addition to the last graph you posted above, I like to flag this one:

which shows that basically only two types of generation capacity have been built over the last decade: gas and renewables (mainly wind, aind increasingly solar).

There are two lessons there:

  • the policy measures put in place for renewables work; these developments are quite remarkable when one considers the significant hostility of the utilities and large chunks of the political world to renewable "subsidies"
  • if left to its own devices, the deregulated European markets would built nothing but gas-fired plants, making a joke of our carbon emission commitments and of our supposed security worries about Russian supplies

Gas power is actually more expensive than wind power, but it is more profitable and less risky in a fully deregulated market environment. So the continued push for deregulation is, quite simply, stupid.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 3rd, 2010 at 10:36:53 AM EST
You can't make that point more strongly or often enough; we might even find policy-deciderers realizing it soon.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Wed Feb 3rd, 2010 at 10:41:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, can you fish up some real-world capacity factors for gas-fired power plants?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 3rd, 2010 at 03:11:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you have roughly 1,100GW of capacity and 4,000TWh produced, so a capacity factor or 45% or so.

You can get individual capacity factors by type of generator at the links.

Gas is at 450 GW and 800 TWh, so a capacity factor below 20%...

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Feb 3rd, 2010 at 03:35:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nitpick: 877 TWh, so 22%. Even if all of them are peakers, surprisingly low -- I wonder if it is similar in Europe.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 3rd, 2010 at 04:23:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With these numbers, the comparison between gas and renewables in the diary is not really correct. For PV you have approximate capacity factors:

Fixed system, Netherlands: 10%
Tracking system, Netherlands: 12%
Fixed system, Sicily: 17%
Tracking system, Sicily: 22%

(PV calculator here).

I don't know much about wind capacity factors, but I seem to remember a figure above 30% for offshore wind in the North Sea.

Real capricorns don't believe in astrology.

by tomhuld (thomas punkt huld at jrc punkt it) on Wed Feb 3rd, 2010 at 06:20:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The overwhelming majority of European PV is fixed system, and most of it is in Germany. This figure is on one hand pushed up by PV in Spain, on the other hand, down by non-ideal siting (roofs not facing South, trees and hillsides), so I felt the ballpark figure from there (1/9 or 11.1%) could be applied. Now I did a second check on that, estimating the average capacity factor for Germany from total generation and installed capacity (uncertain due to the high growth of the latter), and got around 10.5% -- so it seems non-ideal siting counts less, and the EU average could be around 12.5% or one eighth.

Similarly, while offshore can even reach 40%, the overwhelming majority of European wind (73 out of 75 GW) is on-shore, and it can be well below 20% on some locations. Again I have the TWh and GW numbers for Germany, in 2008, the average capacity factor was around 21.5%, which is contrasted with higher numbers in virtually every other country on the Atlantic coast, so one fourth should be about right as EU average.

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

by DoDo on Thu Feb 4th, 2010 at 04:09:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I found a diagram with 2008 pie charts for generation and generating capacity. Feeding them into a spreadsheet, I get:

Type of generationCapacityNet generation (TWh)Capacity factor
(%)(GW)(%)(TWh)(%)
Total100%147.1100%59946%
Nuclear14%20.623%13876%
Lignite14%20.623%13876%
Coal19%27.919%11446%
Natural gas16%23.514%8441%
Wind16%23.57%4220%
Other non-renewable11%16.26%3625%
Other renewable (incl. big hydro, biofuel)10%14.78%4837%

As I expected, the capacity factor for gas is higher than in the USA. As for the 46% for coal plants, note that they are mainly used for 'intermediate load' (pre-scheduled stepped variable generation; mainly to balance the expected daily variation, but also planned shutdowns of baseload plants and predicted wind/solar intermittency).

If the EU-wide average gas-fired plant capacity factor is similar to the German one, then the wind and gas plants installed in 2009 will deliver roughly the same amount of electricity a year.

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

by DoDo on Thu Feb 4th, 2010 at 04:49:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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