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La facture d'électricité des Français augmenterait de 50% d'ici à 2020French electricity bills to increase by 50% by 2020
La facture moyenne d'électricité d'un ménage français va s'alourdir de 50 % d'ici à 2020 à cause des investissements élevés du renouvelable et ceux croissants du nucléaire, selon un rapport de sénateurs présenté mercredi 18 juillet. Sous réserve, souligne le texte, d'une législation et de comportements de consommation inchangés.
Citant des projections de la Commission de régulation de l'énergie (CRE), ce rapport estime que la facture annuelle d'un ménage type ayant souscrit l'option heures pleines-heures creuses - et a priori équipé d'un chauffage électrique - atteindrait 1 307 euros en 2020 contre 874,5 euros en 2011.
The average electricity bill of a French household will increase by 50% by 2020 because of high investments in renewables and increasing investments in nuclearenergy, according to a Senate report presented on Wednesday, July 18. Subject, says the text, to unchanged legislation and consumer behavior. Citing projections of the Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE), the report estimates that the annual bill of a typical household having subscribed the option "peak/off-peak hours" - and a priori equipped with electric heating - reach 1,307 euros in 2020 against 874.5 euros in 2011.
"Se pose aujourd'hui la question d'énormes investissements, on peut parler de 400 milliards d'euros à horizon de vingt ans", a souligné le rapporteur écologiste de cette commission, Jean Dessessard. Sur l'augmentation de 433 euros attendue sur la facture (qui est hors TVA), 28 % viendront de la taxe dite CSPE (contribution au services public de l'électricité, qui inclut notamment les tarifs d'achats subventionnés des énergies renouvelables), 37 % des réseaux électriques et 35 % de la production d'électricité elle-même. "This raises the question today of huge investments, we can talk about 400 billion euros in next twenty years" , stressed the rapporteur of the commission, the ecologist Jean Dessessard. The expected increase of 433 euros on the invoice (that is excluding VAT), 28% will come from the tax known as CSPE (contribution to public services of electricity, which includes subsidized purchase rates for renewable energy ), 37% from electrical network charges and 35% from electricity production itself.
Il ressort des évaluations des sénateurs que les coûts de l'électricité nucléaire française sont encore sous-évalués : en incluant les travaux de maintenance post-Fukushima, la commission les évalue à 54,2 euros par mégawattheure. C'est plus que l'évalution du rapport de référence publié par la Cour des comptes au début de l'année (49,5 euros) et plus que le prix de l'accès régulé à l'électricité nucléaire historique (Arenh), c'est-à-dire le prix officiel du courant nucléaire, qui est de 42 euros depuis le 1er janvier.The evaluations of the senators indicate that the costs of French nuclear electricity are still undervalued: including maintenance work post-Fukushima, the commission evaluates to 54.2 euros per megawatt hour. This is more than the evalution of the baseline report published by the Court of Auditors at the beginning of the year (49.5 euros) and more than the price of regulated access to nuclear power history (ARENH) that is to say the official price of nuclear power, which is 42 euros since 1st January.
Le rapport, comme celui de la Cour des comptes publié au printemps, relève aussi des "incertitudes" supplémentaires notamment sur le démantèlement, plus les coûts d'assurances pour un accident ou des frais de recherche. Des coûts qui porteraient le total à 75 euros le mégawattheure, même si la Commission s'est refusée à effectuer officiellement cette addition "parce qu'on n'a pas voulu rajouter des incertitudes aux incertitudes", selon M. Dessessard.The report, like that of the Court of Auditors published in the spring, also points out further "uncertainties" including the dismantling, plus the cost of insurance for accidents, or research costs. Costs that would bring the total to 75 euros per megawatt hour, while the Commission declined to make this addition officially "because we did not want to add uncertainties to uncertainties" , according to M . Dessessard.
L'ÉOLIEN TERRESTRE, "UNE FILIÈRE COMPÉTITIVE" onshore wind, "A COMPETITIVE INDUSTRY"
Les travaux de la commission, présidée par le sénateur UMP Ladislas Poniatowski, ont été adoptés par tous les membres à l'exception des communistes qui ont voté contre, dénonçant une logique de "justification de l'augmentation du coût de l'électricité". Des sujets sensibles comme l'avenir du nucléaire ont aussi été évacués en annexes, et n'ont pas fait l'objet d'un vote, ont précisé les membres de la Commission.The findings of the commission, chaired by Senator UMP Ladislas Poniatowski, were adopted by all members except the Communists who voted against, denouncing a logic of "justification for the increased cost of electricity ". Sensitive issues such as the future of nuclear were also evacuated into appendices, and have not been put to a vote, said the Commission members.
Côté renouvelables, les sénateurs relèvent que l'éolien terrestre est "d'ores et déjà une filière mature et compétitive", avec un prix de 82 euros du mégawattheure. L'éolien en mer reste encore beaucoup plus cher - plus de 220 euros - tandis que le photovoltaïque culmine toujours entre 229 à 371 euros, même si on est redescendu de sommets de 580 euros du fait du tour de vis sur les tarifs d'achat.On the renewables side, the senators note that onshore wind is "already a mature and competitive industry" , with a price of 82 euros megawatt hour. Offshore wind is still much more expensive - over 220 euros while photovoltaic is from 229 to 371 euros, even if it has dropped down from highs of 580 euros due to the tightening of rates of purchase.
La France, qui s'est engagée à atteindre 23 % d'électricité renouvelable en 2020 (contre 13 % l'an passé), reste l'un des pays les moins chers d'Europe pour l'électricité. Mais les sénateurs soulignent que la consommation étant plus élevée, la facture totale se retrouve gonflée par rapport à nos voisins. Les économies d'énergie, le stockage d'électricité et les réseaux intelligents sont considérés comme les pistes pour alléger les factures.France, which is committed to achieve 23% renewable electricity in 2020 (against 13% last year), remains one of the least expensive of Europe for electricity. But senators pointed out that because consumption is higher, the total bill is inflated compared to our neighbors. Energy conservation, electricity storage and smart grids are considered the tracks to alleviate the bills.
NÉCESSAIRE TRANSITION ÉNERGÉTIQUE NEEDED ENERGY TRANSITION
Evoquant "le prix à payer pour amorcer la transition énergétique", la commission estime que "l'augmentation provisoire du prix de l'électricité due aux renouvelables, incontestable, doit donc être prise pour ce qu'elle est : un investissement nécessaire pour l'avenir".Referring to "the price to pay to begin the energy transition" , the Committee considers that "the temporary increase in electricity prices due to renewable is undeniable, and must be taken for what it is: a necessary investment for the future ".
La publication de ce rapport est censée permettre d'éclairer le débat sur la transition énergétique prévu à l'automne par le nouveau gouvernement. Ce débat est une promesse électorale du président de la République, François Hollande, qui s'est engagé à développer les énergies renouvelables de façon à réduire de 75 % à 50 % la part du nucléaire dans la production électrique d'ici à 2025 et à fermer d'ici à 2017 la centrale nucléaire de Fessenheim (Haut-Rhin). Le gouvernement a par ailleurs décidé de limiter la hausse de l'électricité à 2 % au 1er août et réfléchit à un "réforme structurelle" des tarifs de l'énergie qui passerait par des prix progressifs distinguant les consommations essentielles et celles de confort.The publication of this report is supposed to allow an informed debate on energy transition, planned for the autumn by the new government. This debate is an election promise of President of the Republic, Francois Hollande, who is committed to developing renewable energy to reduce from 75% to 50% the share of nuclear in electricity generation by 2025, and close by 2017 the Fessenheim nuclear power plant (Haut-Rhin). The government has also decided to limit electricity price rises to 2% on 1st August and is considering a "structural reform" of rates that would use progressive prices distinguishing between essential consumption and comfort consumption.

This is a consensus report by an all-party committee. I won't comment the PC position, because I'm feeling charitable today.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 06:51:29 AM EST
One of the things that I do not understand is why there is so much talk about offshore when onshore seems a much more interesting approach...
by cagatacos on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 07:32:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is considerable and developing local opposition to onshore wind projects. There's a good share of NIMBYism in that, but also environmental concerns about implantation of industrial structures in rural areas, including the impact on the landscape.

If you'd asked people ten years ago about their perception of windmills, there'd probably have been a majority for saying they were esthetically pleasing, a "green" symbol, reassuring because non-polluting or dangerous, etc. Now a lot of people will tell you they disfigure the countryside, are oppressive, make people ill, and are only there to make a pile of subsidy money for rich people. Some incumbent energy industry/ies has/ve been doing a PR job...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 09:01:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That in the UK seems to be very much the case, but I wonder (i) is it the same elsewhere? and (ii) are any other reasons (more "rational")?
by cagatacos on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 09:11:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's the same in Sweden. No one likes the windmills, except people who live far from them. The solution for us is that someone figured out that Sweden is a sparsely populated country mostly covered in deep forests, where the population density is even lower. So you add 20 metres to the height of the turbines and put them in the forests, where they cannot be seen except from a pretty short distance.

And lo and behold, Swedish forests are owned mostly by massive corporations (google SCA + Statkraft) and cooperatives, so it's easy for the power companies to make deals with them.  

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

by Starvid on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 11:00:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's the case in rural France.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 12:08:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"More rational" reasons : as I say, concerns about the environmental impact of industrial structures in previously untouched areas (woods and hills), concern about previously unspoiled landscapes. These may shade into NIMBYism, but not necessarily.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 12:11:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm. There are no "previously untouched areas" in France or the UK. They have been fashioned by human stewardship for thousands of years.

In previous centuries, people had a more pragmatic approach to unsightly windmills. They knew they needed the energy. These days, we have our priorities wrong.

That's not to say that all potential wind sites should be used indiscriminately. Actual nuisance should be reduced. Seeing windmills on the skyline doesn't count as a nuisance.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 12:18:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seeing windmills on the skyline doesn't count as a nuisance.

The right to define a nuisance lays with those who live next to it.

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

by Starvid on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 12:52:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, and the farmers leasing out a few hundred square meters of field space to allow a turbine to be constructed have spoken with their signatures on the dotted line.
by asdf on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 01:38:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The people who live next to the turbines are often not the same ones as the people who own the land. For example, the previously mentioned company SCA is erecting turbines close to where some of my friends live, and this company own land equal to more than half the area of the Netherlands, 2.6 million hectares.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 02:25:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When I talk about "skyline", I'm talking about five or ten km away, not the people who live next to the windmills, who are interested parties and must be listened to.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 03:39:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the windmill had been invented in India 3000 years ago they night have been studded with multicoloured gods and demons, their basse daily laved with coconut water and festooned in marigolds and tuberose.
Om

'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 Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 01:29:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"previously untouched" by industrial installations or industrial agriculture.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 03:55:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and one which is, naturally, not said loudly, is that the strongest opponents are often the owners of the land on which the wind turbines are NOT situated, who are jealous of the income of the guys with the wind tribunes (which amounts to something like 10,000 euros per year per turbine, for a loss of a few square meters of usable land).

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 12:34:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's one thing that such cncerns exit, but just how widespread are they in the population really? A problem in Britain has always been that a loud anti-wind minority has been assumed to represent a silent majority. Do you have a French poll on the subject?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 01:15:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For example, a recent poll on "spoiled landscape":

Holiday plans affected by windfarms - Environment - Scotsman.com

A total of 80 per cent of people in the UK - and 83 per cent of Scots surveyed - said the presence of a wind farm would not affect their decision about where to stay when on a holiday or short break in Britain.

When asked if wind farms spoiled the look of the countryside, 52.1 per cent of people in both Scotland and across the UK disagreed, with a further 29.3 per cent in the UK and 28.3 per cent of Scots saying they neither agreed nor disagreed.

Only 18.7 per cent in the UK and 19.6 per cent of Scots said wind farms did spoil the look of the countryside.

The most in-depth poll I saw which focused specifically on local opinion, was also from Scotland nine years ago, and found that people closest to the wind farms are the most supportive:

Public Attitudes to Windfarms: A Survey of Local Residents in Scotland

  • People living close to windfarms (within 20 km) like the areas they live in, mentioning the peacefulness (28%), scenery (26%), rural isolation (23%) and friendly people (20%) as particular strengths. When asked to say what the shortcomings are, most commonly mentioned are a lack of amenities (20%), poor public transport (18%), and lack of jobs (8%). Just five people (0.3%) spontaneously mention windfarms as a negative aspect of their area.

  • Three times the number of residents say that their local windfarm has had a broadly positive impact on the area (20%) than say that it has had a negative impact (7%). Most (73%) feel that it has had neither a positive nor negative impact, or expressed no opinion.

  • People who lived in their homes before the site was developed say that, in advance of the windfarm development, they thought that problems might be caused by its impact on the landscape (27%), traffic during construction (19%) and noise during construction (15%). However, only 12% say the landscape has been spoiled, 6% say there were problems with additional traffic, and 4% say there was noise or disturbance from traffic during construction.

  • ...People living closest to the windfarms tend to be most positive about them (44% of those living within 5km say the windfarm has had a positive impact, compared with 16% of those living 10-20km away). They are also most supportive of expansion of the sites (65% of those in the 5km zone support 50% expansion, compared with 53% of those in the 10-20km zone).

  • Similarly, those who most frequently see the windfarms in their day-to-day lives tend to be most favourable towards them (33% of those who see the turbines all the time or frequently say the windfarms have had a positive impact on the area, while 18% of those who only see them occasionally say the same).



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 01:36:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't cite a poll offhand, but I have personal knowledge of a groundswell of opposition to windmills in rural areas of SW France and in the Mediterranean coastal strip of Languedoc (flat, uninspiring landscape for the most part). I know people in hilly country who are undoubtedly "green-minded" who are passionately determined to prevent skyline wind projects (and they are succeeding). And the coastal opposition seems to veer towards threats of violence and sabotage (I have seen roadside graffiti threatening the "wind lobbyists" with the "rising anger" of the people).
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 03:01:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  • Can you say if this is the case of a loud minority or a wider majority?
  • How much connection is there to the UK? Merely import of rhetoric, or organisational connections?
  • How much involved are farmers in wind projects in that region? Not at all, they only lease land, or are given shares in projects, or are there even community projects fully owned by locals?
  • Is your sample big enough to differentiate public opinion in areas where there are windmills already and areas without?


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 03:42:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I'm not running a poll organisation... ;)

On the first question, I have been surprised by the number of people I've heard express fairly virulent anti-wind opinions. And the movement is wide enough to stop local projects not far from where I live.

I'm aware of no connection with the UK. This movement (as far as I can make out) is endogenous. It took off from the coastal areas.

Afaik farmers (as such) are not so much involved in the hill projects - landowners may be. They can lease and pick up rent. In some cases they can build their own projects (possibly after having bought land for the purpose). But there are also local-authority projects (one of which, locally, see above, is not going to see the light of day because of widespread opposition).

The more you go towards the Med coast, the more built projects there are, and the more virulent the opposition.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 03:54:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In hilly area, the place to put wind farms is on the crests. And it's also on those crests that the hiking trails go through... hiking trails that provide most if not all of the non-agriculture local business. And hiking on a path transformed into an industrial-strength dirt road for the purpose of building wind mills is not as romantic as on a smaller path !  (not to mention hiking while the windmills are being built).

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 10:08:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In hilly areas in Appalachia, the working alternative is to blow the crests sky high in mountain top removal coal mining.

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 Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 05:42:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No coal has been mined in France for 20 years... And also, there are alternative places to put windmills such as offshore or the Rhône valley which is thoroughly industrialised and has a reasonable wind resource.

The Massif Central is more densely populated than Appalachia, also.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 08:29:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It may be that the UK is particularly favorable terrain for that tactic ~ in the US, that may well be successful in holding up deployment of onshore wind in some states, but in a state like Iowa, the farmers want the money from the leases and the state sure as hell better not stand between the farmers and those lease payments.

This kind of issue doesn't even require a Republican farmer to vote for a Democrat ~ just turn out to vote against an anti-wind and for a pro-wind Republican delegate to the county Republican convention.

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 Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 09:46:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It depends where you are, also. In places like Texas and Colorado, huge wind farms are possible because nobody lives anywhere nearby. In Indiana, they're more visible but still in a rural area. If you start putting them in suburbs, it's going to get ugly fast.
by asdf on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 12:31:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well.  I don't think that anyone is planning on putting them in the suburbs.  Nonetheless the largest windfarm in Indiana is in Benton County  (2 projects, ~1000 MW), which is technically in the Lafayette Metro area.  You can actually see the towers from most places in Fowler, which is the county seat.  It doesn't really seem to have stirred up that much protest.  

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 06:56:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "best" reason for preferring offshore to on is that offshore winds are stronger and steadier.
by jam on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 10:55:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The North Sea continental shelf is really special. Where else on the planet is there a comparable geological base for offshore wind?

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 11:01:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe Indonesia?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 11:56:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some candidates:

North Sea
Caspian Sea
Indonesia/New Guinea/Norhtern Australia
New Zealand
East China Sea
Orhotsk Sea
Bering Straits
Falklands
Hudson Bay

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 12:41:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
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 Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 05:40:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thats why there is sabre rattling about the Falklands!

(No, not really.)

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

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Jul 22nd, 2012 at 08:04:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
beyond geology is to be near a significant (and credit worthy) load center...

That seems to take most of your list off - leaving possibly New Zealand and (some of) the Great Lakes. The North East of the Us is probably the only other area which makes sense: otherwise Japan will make a lot of sense for floating technology, once it's made to work at a decent cost.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jul 22nd, 2012 at 05:17:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
New zeeland doesnt really have much use for... any. power sources other than conventional hydro, tough. It is essentially "Norway, southern hemisphere edition" as far as hydro resource goes.
by Thomas on Mon Jul 23rd, 2012 at 02:53:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Except local opposition stopped a number of projects, which were more akin to Island's; as is the presence of geothermal. Wind does have a chance, especially as New Zealand has some of the world's best on-shore sites (capacity factors like for North Sea off-shore wind farms or higher).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 23rd, 2012 at 03:15:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seems like Shanghai would be a significant and credit worth load center if the manufacturer of the wind turbines paid their workers in ¥RMB.

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 Jul 23rd, 2012 at 03:23:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.
by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jul 23rd, 2012 at 03:30:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So long as the Chinese have an economic need to discount the Yuan Renminbi against the dollar, not quite as strong a load center in US dollars, but if they decide to shift the weight of their basket-peg away from the US$, then certainly, those paying workers in US$ as well.

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 Jul 23rd, 2012 at 03:37:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems to me that printing RMB to buy dollars to pay for a wind farm would depress the RMB against the US$ just as effectively as printing it to buy Uncle Sam's IOUs and stockpile them at the central bank. This not so? And if it is not so, then why aren't more African countries printing local currency and buying out Uncle Sam with it?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jul 23rd, 2012 at 03:42:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The way that a nation avoids becoming exposed to an exchange rate meltdown a la many Southeast Asian nations in the Asian Financial Crisis is avoiding excessive debt denominated in foreign currency.

Which is why the parenthesised part of "a significant (and credit worthy) load center" brings the country of manufacture into play: in what currency is the credit being created? If its being created in Yuan Renminbi, then Shanghai is both a substantial and a quite credit worthy load.

But if the credit is drawn on an electrical utility, rather than on the Chinese government, the fact that China plays neo-mercentalist games with their currency raises reasonable suspicions about the multiple-decade credit worthiness of an enterprise that sells in Yuan Renminbi, if its loan is denominated in € or ¥ or US$.


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 Jul 23rd, 2012 at 04:00:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The way that a nation avoids becoming exposed to an exchange rate meltdown a la many Southeast Asian nations in the Asian Financial Crisis is avoiding excessive debt denominated in foreign currency.

Quite. But the Chinese government has enough reserves to cover the gross Chinese hard currency debt, so there is no overriding need to continue to depress the exchange rate by adding to these reserves rather than by buying real stuff. If you buy the real stuff you want with dollars bought with your newly minted currency, it will also depress the exchange rate.

But if the credit is drawn on an electrical utility, rather than on the Chinese government, the fact that China plays neo-mercentalist games with their currency raises reasonable suspicions about the multiple-decade credit worthiness of an enterprise that sells in Yuan Renminbi, if its loan is denominated in € or ¥ or US$.

I'm not sure how you get to that conclusion, unless you believe that the Chinese government will further depress the exchange rate at some point? The sign of the exchange rate pressure looks wrong for a simple cessation of mercantilist gamesmanship to impair the solvency of such an entity.

It looks to me like political risk would be a lot more significant than vanilla currency risk over a 20-30 year period.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jul 23rd, 2012 at 04:16:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It looks to me like political risk would be a lot more significant than vanilla currency risk over a 20-30 year period.

In what way, shape or form are they in any way distinct and separable for a country that is pegging its exchange rate? The exchange rate risk is a policy risk, combined with a risk of losing a capacity to enforce policy.

Substantial credit risks here are (1) the exchange rate risk and (2) the default risk of the actual borrower. From the perspective of US-based consortium raising funds in US$ capital markets, that default risk has to be seen as quite substantial. By contrast, for a Chinese-based consortium raising funds in China, converting what foreign exchange they require on a current rather than capital basis, the default risk seems likely to look much better compared to other investment opportunities in China.

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 Jul 23rd, 2012 at 06:28:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was thinking of currency risk in terms of loss of ability to maintain a peg and subsequent movement of the floating rate.

Of course, loss of ability to maintain the peg is not always distinguishable from loss of willingness to maintain the peg. But it usually is, and I think it is useful to distinguish between the risk of a foreign government deciding to screw your investment over and the risk of a foreign government being unable to decide not to screw your investment over. The latter is a risk which can be forecast with some delicacy. The former is far closer to a Knightian uncertainty.

I find that it usually pays dividends to separate those two sorts of risk.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2012 at 04:26:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the abstract I guess, but the current pegging regime of China is to peg at a discount against a basket of foreign currencies, which eliminates the risk that they will be unable to maintain the peg. The risks that a creditor raising funds in US$ and having their electricity bought in Yuan Renminbi faces are (1) that China opts to increase the discount at which they are pegging, and (2) that China opts to reduce the weight of the US$ in the currency basket that they peg against, opening up the Yuan Renminbi / US$ exchange rate to greater volatility.

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 Jul 24th, 2012 at 06:40:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure, Shangai is a real load center, problem is that they have access to 2c/kWh coal-fired power, so there's not going to be a case for offshore wind until that changes. I would not trust a government that says "I'll pay you 12c/kWh for 15 years if you do offshore wind" in such circumstances, especially not China's.

Even Russia is not able to sell gas to China given how cheap coal has been.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2012 at 05:10:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also - rather relevantly to this thread, China has astonishingly low construction costs for fission reactors. Largely because they have a very experienced heavy construction sector, which keeps the projects on time and on budget. At this point, odds are fairly good that the first EPR to sell power will be selling it to Chinese consumers - Now, whether this is a viable path to a low-carbon china depends on how much they could scale up their build programme before running into bottlenecks.
by Thomas on Tue Jul 24th, 2012 at 05:32:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, given that we can be reasonably confident that the current rate of domestic coal production cannot be maintained through to the end of the current decade.


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 Jul 24th, 2012 at 06:42:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Is nuclear energy more expensive than offshore wind?
offshore wind, which currently benefits from tariffs in the 120-130 GBP/MWh range in the UK

That's ~160€/MWh. Is the French Senate estimate of 220€/MWh realistic? Are there reasons why UK offshore would be cheaper?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 08:44:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wouldn't the UK have access to the North Sea resource?

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 Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 09:47:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
True - the UK has better offshore wind resources than France.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 09:54:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome can confirm, but I'd assume that the main drivers for differences in cost per MWh are in the denominator ~ say, (arbitrary figures) average 40% yield vs average 30% yield. Though there'd also be an establishment cost, which could result in a country with more installed capacity being further down a degressive feed-in tariff schedule.

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 Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 10:00:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's the wind levels on one side, and the balance of project depth and distance to shore (which depends on what your coastal areas is like). The North Sea is unique in not being deep (not beyond 40m and often quite less) over hundreds of square miles. So you don't need bigger foundations as you go further out, only a longer cable. That has a real impact on the cost side.


Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 12:32:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well... the French government is trying to kick-start a homegrown offshore wind industry (against the spirit of the EU which forbids industrial policy of course). They apparently didn't have any such concern in the UK. This presumably adds a bit of cost, because you're talking about creating an industry practically from scratch.

The UK now presumably has a certain amount of sunk-cost infrastructure for servicing the building of offshore farms, lowering the cost of additional farms. I guess.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 09:53:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
220 EUR/MWh is on the high side, given that bids were supposed to be below 175 EUR/MWh in most zones (200 EUR/MWh in a couple) and that you need to add about 20 EUR/MWh for transmission costs.

But yes, the wind resource is not as good off the French coasts as it is off the UL coasts.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 10:02:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the technical side, how are the measurement campaigns set up when the masts should be offshore? Do you build a platform just of the mast offshore or do you trust data points in the vicinity (lighthouses?)?

Rien n'est gratuit en ce bas monde. Tout s'expie, le bien comme le mal, se paie tot ou tard. Le bien c'est beaucoup plus cher, forcement. Celine
by UnEstranAvecVueSurMer (holopherne ahem gmail) on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 02:57:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't actually need onsite data offshore - correlation with met data from not-too-distant sources is good enough - offshore wind is predictable over long distances and you can use mesoscale studies (modelisation done using NOAA data for instance).

The one tricky issue offshore is wake effect (i.e. the impact of one row of turbines on the production of the row "behind" them) as it can be quite significant (10-30% for individual rows) in some wind directions - both from the wind fair itself as from neighboring ones.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 04:12:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks. Some further questions if you have the time...

Do you use raw NOAA data or GFS + validation using other meteorological models? GFS afaik underestimates wind speeds, especially for higher speeds, so I would be curious to see how one corrects for that.

As far as wake losses are concerned, I suppose your regular 2.5/5 diameter rule does not apply... but why is that? Is it because wake effects do not move linearily with rated power?

Rien n'est gratuit en ce bas monde. Tout s'expie, le bien comme le mal, se paie tot ou tard. Le bien c'est beaucoup plus cher, forcement. Celine

by UnEstranAvecVueSurMer (holopherne ahem gmail) on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 04:27:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What 2.5/5 diameter rule?

Spacing is determined by the energy-weighted wind rose.  But it takes anywhere from 12 to >20 diameters before upwind turbulence has decayed and boundary layer mixing has replenished the energy taken out by the upwind row.

No project developer uses such spacing today, which puts extra load cycles on the downwind turbines in any direction.. There should be a happy medium, with well understood tradeoffs between energy capture and excessive load avoidance. But proper spacing greatly increases cable costs as well, so... it's often not under major consideration.

We'll have to wait for more operational data from the low rpm greater diameter WTs to see how great the problem is before there's a chance of establishing a rule of thumb. This can also be an underestimated problem between projects, when they are clustered with a narrow shipping lane between.

The science is obtained incrementally.

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

by Crazy Horse on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 08:06:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Offshore these days is typically spaced 7 diameters apart in the prevailing wind direction and 5 in the other direction.

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 12:16:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You do get higher correlation by having a mast to use as a base station. The most expensive ones are complete research stations, which can be used for wave and current measurement and environmental issues. They can run over €3M, which can be shared between projects. Germany has built two in the North Sea and one in the Baltic. FINO 1 was operational since 2003, and FINO 3 since 2009.

You can visit FINO 1, 2, and 3 on the web, starting in english HERE.  You can get live speed data and images. FINO 3 cost €12M which includes years of research and measurement projects. It measures to 105m, with a 15m lightning rod taking it to 120m.

There are less expensive versions primarily aimed and wind and wave measurement. The technology of floating stations is gradually gaining acceptance as well, or at least entering the market, usually LIDAR or SODAR based. Here's a test of one model:

I believe many of the larger projects will need to have a station, because there is no substitute for onsite data. This can help with power curve verification as well as wake analysis, so should prove cost effective, especially if shared.

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

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 05:03:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yes - which means you don't need wind masts at every project location, which is what I meant.

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 12:19:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yup. And the FINO masts are a perfect example of valid government funded infrastructure (which you comment on often), which provides significant value to project financing. The German masts were funded by the government, the EU, and private research groups on the studies.

When such base stations are established, then short-term floating LIDAR and turbine sited measurements can be very well-correlated.

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

by Crazy Horse on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 01:01:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The most depressing part, especially in the way it was reported in the French media, is to see EELV (Greens!) senators (unwittingly?) propagate the message that, of course, the price of electricity will double by the end of the decade, because of the "heavy investments in renewable energy", feed-in tariffs and other subsidies. Talk about shooting oneself in the foot...

If you wanted to ingrain the perception that "renewable energies = taxes and subsidies" even deeper in the French public, you couldn't have done any better. This is the not so subtle message that has been pushed by conventional wisdom and corporate media; many ordinary folks now believe that solar or wind are at best, a speculative bubble or even a scam to subsidize their hard won tax euros to politically connected lobbies.

Of course a large part of that perception is 180 degrees from the reality, but never mind, this is that very perception that's going to shape the upcoming political debates in the near future (just like: we must reduce state spending to reduce state debt level).

Many people's reaction to these news are along the lines: forget about solar and wind mills (un-serious), what we need is more nuclear power plants (serious).

by Bernard on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 03:49:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The main problem with Le Monde's write-up, and it's not EELV's fault, is that they quote prices for nuclear which, although higher than those previously quoted, manifestly refer to existing nuclear capacity. Whereas the renewables pricing is manifestly about new build; thus, we are invited to compare apples to oranges.

Having consulted the report itself, it mentions the projected price of electricity from new build (EPR reactors) at 70 to 90 euros/MwH.

(It also mentions in passing, that the price guarantee demanded in the UK by EDF, of the order of 90 to 110, is higher because of the merit order effect, i.e. they are afraid that demand for nuclear electricity would be uneven because of renewables!)

(I note that you cite the error made by most of the press, equating a 50% increase in prices with a doubling, i.e. 100% increase... innumerate journalists...)

The courageous answer for EELV, I suppose, is to do like the PC... deny reality because it's inconvenient.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 05:01:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed, it's how the Senate report has been spun in the mainstream media: "doubling" of electricity bills (elementary arithmetic be dammed), selective quoting of EELV senators attributing some of the reasons to investments in renewable energy, little mention (if any) of the cost of nuclear that's not so cheap after all...

No, denying reality is neither courageous neither good strategy, unless you're a rabid right-winger of course. But for those of us who favor fact & reality based policy, the reality is not always "inconvenient": haven't we read right here that wind "makes power too cheap" and that, all things considered, nuclear energy is not so cheap, to the point where investors start backing off?

Those are certainly worthy points to bring into the debate, especially for EELV. Instead, the perception that's likely to remain for the overall French public is that wind and solar are costly and "un-serious" "gadgets" for tree-huggers. Not a smart move, I'd think...

by Bernard on Sat Jul 21st, 2012 at 08:22:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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