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... renewable energy to the rest of Europe and North Africa is something I would love to see.  Along with good food and possibly spare fresh water, it's the essential component of life we can contribute in the long term. If only as much money and effort had been spent on this as the supremely parasitic Irish Financial Centre and property speculation.
by Pope Epopt on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 11:58:30 AM EST
I think you put your finger on a key point about the post 2003 Celtic Tiger boom.  Most of the borrowed money which fuelled the boom when on property speculation and speculative development - not on the development of productive assets like wind farms and smarter electricity grids.

If the economy had been directed by true entrepreneurs rather than bansters/financial engineers and property speculators, we wouldn't have had the asset price bubble and crash that we now have - and would be better able to afford any interest costs arising from productive investment.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 12:13:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And that's the problem right there.

Speculation is economically destructive. There's no complicated theory to this. Either you're building useful stuff, or you're gambling and making shit up to no useful purpose.

You can of course do both. If wind farms had been built, there's no guarantee that there wouldn't have been a wind farm bubble - like the dot com bubble, or the rail bubble, or the defence bubbles, or the tulip bubble.

Bubbles and crashes will keep happening until accounting models make an explicit distinction between casino speculation and useful investment.

My prediction is that if you eliminate casino speculation to the maximum practical extent, you'll have a much more stable, prosperous and productive economy - for everyone except the speculators, who will be forced to get a proper job.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 01:36:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even a wind farm bubble wouldn't be that destructive - it might depress electricity prices and make some farms uneconomic - but the benefit of lower electricity prices (and lower carbon imports and footprints) would have been a net benefit to the rest of the economy/society.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 02:10:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At this stage of the renewable energy game, there cannot be a windpark bubble. Though if conditions are "too good" (which won't ever happen), you might get some fringe technology installed, or less than ideal windpark siting.

At higher incursion levels of course one must be more careful, but we're a long way from such high penetration of the grid. But at such higher levels, it's also likely the grid has evolved as well.

the key point for this diary is that the proposed interconnection is originally part of the Europe-wide supergrid idea first proposed by an Irishman years ago. so the proposal is actually playing catch-up to a plan long since adopted by the industry as necessary.

which i suppose is a really good event.

for those who wish to discover more about the European Supergrid, google Eddie O'Conner/Airtricity. (He's now the leader of Mainstream, which has won some Round Three offshore windparks.)

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

by Crazy Horse on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 03:30:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At this stage of the renewable energy game, there cannot be a windpark bubble.

What about China?

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

by DoDo on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 04:24:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good Question.

But you can't judge China by western standards. They planned to use the bubble to establish manufacturing facilities, and only later to gradually move to european performance standards. But it's a completely different economic system, in which they've achieved their first goals. (and it was planned that way, as i work with some of the people who advised them, and gave trainings for leaders.)

It doesn't matter to them that the turbines are not producing to usual standards. (That was also part of the equation.) But now they're already moving to achieve the next goal, which could happen in 3-5 years. And for at least one company, is almost there.

The plan was to build a manufacturing base. Which the ultimate winners would take over. (If the concrete is poured correctly, and the in facility cranes carry the right tonnage, then it doesn't matter which turbine the facility is building.) This they've done.

To speak of China is a separate diary.

What Ireland is beginning to want to accomplish is genau Richtig, if they do it right. If they can make people comfortable with machines in the hills.

They will not have for offshore the same level of port facilities as the UK or "Schland." But they don't need them.

The main point is to use the renewable resources where they exist, and build a grid which is designed to achieve those goals. So Ireland has a surplus to export. Build a fookin' interconnect, done.

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

by Crazy Horse on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 05:43:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not quite - you need international agreements on feed in tariffs and supplier obligations - and, ideally, a European market for selling surpluses - spot and forward. Does that exist in any extensive way yet?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 06:22:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not sure about all of EU, but Sweden is connected to most neighbours (at least Norway, Denmark, Germany,  Poland and Finland (additional cable from Forsmark to Åbo being built this summer by a Norwegian company)) and except for Vattenfall's manipulations, it appears to work fine both technically and institutionally.

If the same is true for all non-island EU states as I think it is, connecting Ireland into the existing framework should be easy.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 03:33:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes and no.

there are no international tariffs or supplier obligations, those are handled by governments and utilities, and it works. the capitalist spot markets don't work very well yet, at least by my standards, but Yurp will likely get dragged kicking and screaming to get them right at some point.

always interesting to compare the German feed-in model with the UK ROC scheme, a byzantine neo-lib mess. though there's discussion of even that changing.

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

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 05:45:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the capitalist spot markets don't work very well yet, at least by my standards, but Yurp will likely get dragged kicking and screaming to get them right at some point.

How should the "electricity market" work?

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 04:03:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You should pay people for two different services, because they are delivering two different services: One service is providing power when they tell you they can provide power (with higher price for better ability to forecast). The other is providing power when you want power. In other words, you pay one sort of price for MW and another sort of price for MWh.

Of course the coal-burners are going to scream bloody murder over this, because they like being able to extract rent from the spot market while not running liquidity risk due to being fully amortised. But screw them.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 04:08:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you mean payment for capacity, as distinct from payment for power?

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 11:06:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm meaning payment for dispatchable power as distinct from baseload power.

In practise, that means paying people for maintaining idle capacity. So in practise it means paying people for capacity.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 11:55:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For stored power systems ~ and dammed hydro is stored power, its stored before conversion to electric power ~ paying for dispatchability is not precisely "idle capacity" ~ its capacity has both a total power stored dimension as well as a throughput dimension.

Quick dispatch from thermal power inside the power up cycle is spinning reserve, which loses ground to stored power with either increases in the cost of fuel or decreases in the cost per kWh storage capacity of stored power.

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 Tue Jun 28th, 2011 at 11:49:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How critical an international feed-in tariff is, depends on what proportion of total power generation is exported.

That is, if you build assuming that 25% is exported, and the domestic feed-in tariff on the 75% comes close enough to covering the capital cost, then even if the exports sometimes shoot themselves in the foot selling into a marginal cost external market, they'll also sometimes sell into a high marginal cost external market.

On the other hand, a domestic feed-in tariff high enough on a 25% locally consumed share to maintain the resource so that you can sell 75% power on an external market, with both three times as much revenue from the volatile price market and also more frequently shooting yourself in the foot ... that may be untenable, unless you have enough hydro (conventional or pumped) share in your total energy supply to hold power off the export market in low price periods and sell into peak demand pricing.

I'd not be surprised if Sweden was in the "unless" clause at the end of that, using wind power to in effect replace local hydro power consumption and therefore allow more lucrative dispatch hydro into peak demands in export markets.


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 Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 03:15:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Presumably EU internal market rules mean that an Irish utility selling into the UK market has to be granted the same price and access terms as a British utility, and so the bigger question becomes whether the feed in tariffs are high enough to cover at least marginal costs.

Are there any restrictive rules on who gets FITs and access and who does not?  No doubt British baseload suppliers will start complaining if their plants are run at even less capacity to facilitate Irish wind energy?

It seems to me an EU Supergrid doesn't make sense without an EU market access (and perhaps pricing) policy.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 05:47:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Covering marginal cost does no good ~ its got to contribute to the capital cost.

How dependent it is on how effective the UK promotion scheme still depends on what share is going to be exported. That is, a less than ideal promotion scheme in the UK would still be some extra revenue, on top of domestic revenue. After all, part of the time that the wind is blowing well in Ireland, it won't be blowing as well in the UK ~ including both weather systems passing through and diurnal wind patterns ~ especially offshore wind in the North Sea off the east coast of Scotland.

At the notional 50% given in the story, either substantial capital subsidy or firm feed-in tariffs on exported wind would seem to be required ~ and from the story, that seems to be what is on offer.

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 Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 07:25:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is some kind of EU pricing policy, as Sweden was recently due to EU regulations forced to split the electricity market into four geographical parts. I only know this because I was looking to switch company and now you have to check the prices in your region. So I do not know what regulations or how they are supposed to help anything.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sun Jun 26th, 2011 at 04:51:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... preferably gas in building not only a renewable energy infrastructure, but the second-order infrastructure to maintain the renewable infrastructure.

I don't know if anyone has done the figures on energy and raw material availability, but I'd like to think it is possible without reducing the population.

by Pope Epopt on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 05:01:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You might find this article of mine today in Asia Times of interest....... Price Dollars in Gas

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Jun 22nd, 2011 at 08:43:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reads well.  Your success in getting long and somewhat technical articles published by the Asia Times is to be admired.  How come they are more receptive to your ideas that European/US publications?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jun 23rd, 2011 at 07:47:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess that by comparison to Henry Liu's tours de force my efforts are mere trifles......

By the way, I just sent them a distinctly untechnical piece on the IEA oil release which I called 'Quantitative Greasing', to sort of coin a phrase in relation to fighting inflation by pouring oil on a troubled market.....

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 04:42:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...and as to receptivity in the East, that's a very good question....

...note also that I'm still 'Big in Iran' with a couple of major pieces, including that Asia Times one, already in Farsi....

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 04:45:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 25th, 2011 at 05:49:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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