Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Lazy Quote Diary: Bernhard on German Windmills

by DeAnander 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."

Display:
yes, this article of bernhard's was a major wake-up call for me.

what i'd like to know is why other countries, like sunny italy, is allowed to lag behind so far, and for such dubious reasons.

energy should be top of everyones' list, yet it seems like only germany and spain have given the green light to serious change in this respect.

er, hello?

barroso....LEAD!!!

'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 Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 12:50:11 AM EST
yes, this article of bernhard's was a major wake-up call for me.

Amen for two reasons:
"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.

By my calculations, 2,000 square feet = 185.8 m^2, that's 340 of these
http://www.unlimited-power.co.uk/sunpower_high_efficiency_solar_pv_panels.html
@394.08 each = gbp 133,987.20 + VAT and fitting and control gear ... with a payback time (at current rates) of 40-50 years (depending on how much the control gear costs).  < Imagine my puzzled expression here! >  I wonder (again) whether I'm on the same planet ...

Secondly, someone commented that they were installing enough PV to generate 3x their usage.  I ran the calculations for me: two people living (I thought) fairly frugally (compact fluorescent throughout, no TV or tumble-driver, electric oven, fridge, freezer, kettle, but heating and hot water from gas), using on average 100KWh/week -- about 5MWh/year.  To generate this I'd need 30 panels -- nearly gbp 12000 + control gear + taxes -- and more roof-space than I have!

So perhaps 5MWh/year is not frugal!  Did I mention the computers?

http://www.dti.gov.uk/files/file20328.pdf says that in 2003, average domestic electricity consumption was 4600 kWh per household (3918 KWh in the N.East where I am).

So this is a wake up call to me: There I was smugly thinking: I was "doing my bit", "ahead of the pack".  Obviously I'm not.  I'm going to have to think about whether a household of 2 needs an always-on house-server (music, internet, email, ...) but that's "only" using 130W as I write, I'm going to have to look at a lot more than that :-(

by cbatjesmond on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 07:26:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the solar salesman told me that with 20kw panels, €150,000 investment, i was looking at a tax-free revenue contract income of €30,000 per year, and no more metering my own use.
'the time has come', he said, beady eyes glittering with lucre-love, 'to get rich off solar in italy'...

meanwhile, still waiting for various permits to put up a measly 2.5 kw!

'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 Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 10:00:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How long has it been melo?

Probably sometimes Italian architecture needs to be protected esthetically but I just can't wait to see concrete monstrosities or cheap corrugate farm sheds to be paneled shut...

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 12:18:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the permits have only been applied for quite recently, what was really time consuming was to get correct, unbiased information, or sometimes, any information at all.

most things kinda run like this, so i'm not so surprised.

what's needed is a consumer agency studying the field and providing a database of the different panels, their longevity, yield, price etc.

it can take weeks for an engineer to come over and give you diametrically opposite advice to that of the engineer here a few weeks earlier.

ENEL advertises that they are proactive, but don't return my calls.

we are in a time-eddy of corruption here....italian telecom takes care of its french clients better than its italian ones.

broadband still a distant dream too...

still, when it all does come, it will be worth the wait.

i agree that the attention to stopping the kind of urban blight so evident in other parts of italy is laudable, even though they go too far the other way.

'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 Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 01:24:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the solar salesman told me that with 20kw panels, €150,000 investment, i was looking at a tax-free revenue contract income of €30,000 per year, and no more metering my own use.

Times like this, I regret living so far north: from what I can see, you'll collect about 50% more energy at 45N than 55N (or I'll collect 2/3).  And it would take a lot longer to recoup the investment.
by cbatjesmond on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 01:42:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well there are advantages to choosing a more southerly location, for sure...

but if germany can do it...

'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 Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 01:49:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany has a feed-in law. Meaning: solar panel installers who connect to the grid can sell their surplus electricity at a fixed price to the distribution companies, a price still well above market price (though, heh, below some peaks of market-traded electricity).

To give you a figure, a roof-mounted array of 31 kW gets 46.82 Euro-cents/surplus kWh if installed this year (this figure is reduced for new plants by 5% each year).

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

by DoDo on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 02:13:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Last time I enquired, I was looking at about £2000 for inspections and certification for the privilege of giving my surplus back to the supplier.

We've changed suppliers since then: I must check again, but I somehow doubt it will be as advantageous as in Germany!

by cbatjesmond on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 02:40:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks dodo!

what would that yield as an income? taxed or not?

'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 Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 04:26:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I hear Italy is going to catch up soon. they offer a pretty good rate for wind power... The only problem is that it's renegotiable in the future, so not entirely risk free. It's not barring investors though. I think the there layer decision making process (city, region... forgetting the third one) makes it pretty hard for outsiders to enter the market. Furthermore the wind market has been handed over to russian investors for the most part.

The other very good thing about italian laws regarding wind power is that they allow you to build in other countries: albania is on the list because there are lines accross the adriatic.

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 Oct 25th, 2007 at 11:22:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How did your exam go?
by Fran on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 11:25:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ahah my exam...
Not the best... I have another in two hours but it's easier. It's more math so that suits me.

I was up for this morning's salon again... but that's just because I went out =).

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 Oct 25th, 2007 at 11:34:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Fran on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 11:39:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem in Italy less concenrs wind (they are in the 1000MW-club) and more photovoltaic solar power (much more Sun than in Germany, but a fraction of installed power).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 01:28:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
when I ride light and heavy rail in California, the rail cars are made either in Japan or Germany.

Heh. When I ride light rail/subway in Germany, the rolling stock is often Canadian .

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 03:02:17 PM EST
Owned. But manufactured in factories they bought up in Europe (Talbot 1995, ADtranz = ABB Daimler Benz Transportation [ex ABB, AEG, Henschel] 2001, a lot more), along with the technology. In part the same is true for GE Energy's wind branch (ex Enron, ex Tacke), whose development centers on Germany and production on the EU.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 04:47:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Meanwhile, there has been not insubstantial outsourcing to the new EU members (less complete construction, more parts), although development is still in the West.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 04:49:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I read that diary too with a sinking feeling at the deliberate inaction of the British govt.

I just get so tired of the way the British always choose the worst, most short-sighted policy.

When I get to actually building houses in Bulgaria, I'm hoping to incorporate a lot of green technology into them. I was very interested in the Greek building that uses green air-conditioning.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 12:00:18 PM EST
Solar use in south Europe goes back more than 2000 years.  Entire cities were built on passive solar principles.  And many houses in north Africa were built using solar coolers.  In fact, Roman law included rights of access to the sun.

See:  A Golden Thread: 2500 years of Solar Architecture, John Perlin

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

by Crazy Horse on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 06:32:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A stray news snip caught my eye this morning...

The Israeli government is now threatening power cuts in Gaza as collective punishment technique...  a very vivid illustration of the advantages of localised micropower, and of the often-unacknowledged reasons behind disparagement of same by governments and corporate bosses.  Those who own your powerline -- to the degree that your comfort and safety depend on electricity from that power line -- can punish or control you by deliberate interruption of service.

In one of the most solar-rich pieces of real estate in the world, people will be deprived of electricity if/when state agents cut off the centralised power supply to their area.  If PV panels and mobile solar-stirling were ubiquitous in Gaza, this threat would be far less effective...

...Sunfrost makes a refrigerator/freezer that will keep small qties of food (or meds) frozen if connected to a single 75w pv panel...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 06:01:23 PM EST
Collective punishment? I'm sure that's meant to be illegal

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 06:14:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Israel's defence minister has approved sanctions against Gaza, including cuts in the supply of electricity and fuel to try to halt rocket attacks.Ehud Barak authorised the cuts, which are expected to follow immediately after rocket attacks are launched.1025 01

Palestinian leaders say the measure amounts to collective punishment.

Israel supplies 60% of the electricity for Gaza's 1.5 million inhabitants - but last month Israel declared Gaza a "hostile entity".

By formally declaring Gaza "hostile", Israel argues it is no longer bound by international law governing the administration of occupied territory to supply utilities to the civilian population.

But the position accepted by the international community is that Israel remains legally responsible for the coastal strip, despite withdrawing two years ago, because it still controls Gaza's borders, airspace and territorial waters.

 (from url above)

But... since when has the expansionist Likudnik faction in Israel cared about legal or illegal, any more than the Cheney/Bush gang in the US?

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 06:18:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
wasn't there a time during Bush I's period in office when rater severe economic threats were made that stood for a while?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 06:41:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Surrendering our future

While Germany races to deliver renewable energy, Britain's sluggish policies will cost its citizens dear

When Britain and Germany raced to scale up their aircraft industries for war in the 1930s, the British competed rather well. Recovering from a late start, we rapidly produced machines capable of winning the Battle of Britain.

Today, the two nations are on the same side in a different battle, but Germany alone is mobilising as fast as it did 70 years ago. Our common enemy is global warming, and it is already at our gates. But while our German allies are turning out the renewable energy equivalents of Messerschmitts by the factory-load, Britain is again slow to spring into action. Worse, as we learned yesterday, officials responsible for UK mobilisation have told the prime minister it is impossible for us to build modern-day Spitfires in any number. We should instead oppose European targets set recently for such mobilisation and join other laggards in order to persuade the Germans to scale back their own efforts.

(...)

Fell spelt out Germany's success with renewables. In 2000, when he and other parliamentarians pushed through a law to fast-track renewables markets, such sources contributed 6% to the national electricity mix; the target was 12% by 2010. Three years ahead of the target, they are approaching 14% - and have created 200,000 jobs in the process.

International investment patterns tell the story. Some $1 trillion, globally, will go into energy this year, and more than $100bn of that will be invested in renewables. Renewables make up just 2% of the global mix, excluding large hydropower schemes, and yet about a tenth of global energy investment now flows into them.

(...)

In 2006 the cost to the average German household of the tariff was £12 a year. The average UK household paid £7 a year under the renewables obligation, but that delivered significantly less renewable capacity. German windpower capacity is 10 times that of the UK today, and the energy it produces is 30% cheaper; German solar power capacity is 200 times that of the UK.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 06:12:19 PM EST
Solar power for the UK sounds a bit oxymoronic, but why in heaven's name my homeland isn't throwing all its resources into tidal generation, I have no idea.  Its northern latitutde makes it a natch for powerful tide operated turbines.

Maybe the fumes from burnt oil rot the brain?  we do seem to be getting stupider and stupider.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 06:20:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, the UK is leading in tidal power prototypes, but even so they aren't too ambitious. Also, Northern Germany doesn't get much more Sun than Britain, so they could very well build that, too. But what Britain has most is still wind -- the country could cover all their need with wind. But the support scheme and the activism of anti-wind groups limits development...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 04:49:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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

Top Diaries