Tue Oct 23rd, 2007 at 04:45:42 PM EST
Bernhard at MoA writes:
Back home from my too rare rides through the north-German country side. Indeed, the landscape is changing.
Folks there build windmills to repel elephants - thousands of huge windmills. The newest rage is to tear down the smaller ones even when they are only ten years old. They get replaced with bigger windmills - "repower" is the word. Aside from being better in holding off pachyderms, the new types generate about ten times more windy energy than the older ones.
Additionally every farmstable which has a roof somewhat towards south is now packed with sun collectors. Farmers literary rent their roofs away. My brother plastered our parents old house, a bigger business building, with 2,000 square feet of collectors and the electricity he sells will recoup the investment within 8 years. After those the panels will generate safe net income of several thousand Euros per year.
Lacking big powerstations, the area I visited has always been an electricity importer. Now the regional electricity utility is exporting lots of megawatts to other parts of the country.
On the way home I listened to a radio interview with the chief economist of Deutsche Bank. He expects the German export boom to continue despite a looming recession and pointed to the global run for alternative energies. Asked if a higher Euro would be drag on German exports of windmills and the like to the U.S. and elsewhere he said flat out: "No. They can't buy this stuff anywhere else. We are two generations ahead of everyone else on this."
Fine with me - now can we please stop exporting arms?
There are some interesting aspects in how decentralized electricity generation effects energy transportation and the general architecture of grids. 'Balancing the grid', i.e. the just-in-time on-demand control of electricity generation, needs to be more localized and must involve many more generating sources than before.
While these changes are very desireable, energy monopols that own big powerstations plus major parts of the grid are holding things back. There is a case to be made that electricity grids should be state owned monopols and their architecture determined by energy security in the widest sense (i.e. no wars for oil), not by profane profitability.
As you all probably remember, I am a big fan of decentralised energy generation. And I hope the rest of the industrialised nations are listening and taking notes when a German engineer says They can't buy this stuff anywhere else. We are two generations ahead of everyone else on this.
This is where anyone with any sense should be trying to position themselves. The US (and the US-centric nations of WhitefellaWorld) is like a steam-powered culture failing to adapt to ICE; it is an ICE-powered culture failing to adapt to renewables, devolution, and efficient design. Quaint, perhaps, but also filthy, dangerous, and heavily armed...
I note that last time I looked, the Germans were way ahead of everyone else on parabolic-solar-Stirling generators as well. And I note that when I ride light and heavy rail in California, the rail cars are made either in Japan or Germany. The new US national anthem [with apologies to Kander and Ebb] should perhaps be "Tomorrow Belongs to... Er, Someone Else."