Sunday, May 13, 2012

Environmentally Friendly Blackouts

What happens when a nation succumbs to environmentalism and tries to rid itself of dirty energy?

What happens to it when it mandates clean sources of renewable energy?

You guessed it: the lights go out.

Currently, the Obama Environmental Protection Agency is hard at work trying to revolutionize the way we produce electricity. It wants to shut down coal burning sources in favor of solar panels and windmills.

They are so much cleaner that no one asks whether they can do the job.

Everyone loves “renewable energy.”  If we are worship the goddess Nature, She will bountifully provide all the energy we need. How could She not?

The renewable energy mania has not yet become fully operational in America. Before we go too far down the road, we should examine what out-of-control environmentalism has produced in another place, that being Germany.

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, Germany has become a laboratory for crackpot environmentalism.

Happily for us, but not for the German people, the cost of renewable energy is an extreme risk of power outages. That is, blackouts.

The choice is not between coal and wind; the choice is between coal and nothing.

The German newspaper Die Welt, reports:

Last winter, on several occasions, Germany escaped only just large-scale power outages. Next winter the risk of large blackouts is even greater. 

Last year the situation was very bad:

The dramatic tone of the report by the Federal Network Agency (FNA) on the near-blackouts last winter is hard to overestimate: although the cold spell was short and mild, the situation in the German electricity network was “very serious” according to the Agency.

Next winter is likely to be worse:

Next winter, which will possibly be even more severe, everything could get much worse, officials warn. Because then even less base-load gas- and coal-fired power plants will be available to reliably compensate for wind lulls and the almost complete absence of solar power for months.

Wind lulls and less sunshine… who would have imagined such a thing?

Whose fault is it?

The culprit for the looming crisis is the single most important instrument of German energy policy: the "Renewable Energy Law" (EEG). It stipulates the priority of green electricity supply. What was once useful as an aid for the market introduction of wind and solar power, has today, 12 years later, disastrous side effects.

It pushes those plants which alone can guarantee a stable power supply, i.e. gas- and coal-fired power plants, out of the market far too early. More and more facilities are being decommissioned. The result is a significantly higher risk of large-scale power outages, so-called blackouts, whose duration and propagation is hard to predict.

How much will blackouts cost?

The economic cost of a wide-scale blackout are measured in billions of Euros per day. If power outages last longer, one has to expect a high number of deaths. The most important test of energy policy is now the stability of power – so far only the cost of the green energy transition has been focused upon.

Because the federal government does not have the guts to start an overdue and fundamental debate about the usefulness of a 12-year-old, now totally outdated, "launch aid" called EEG, it now threatens to over-steer, with the green energy transition ending up in a crash. Fasten your seat belts.

Reactionary environmentalists so love Nature that they are even willing even to sacrifice human lives to Her. 


anna said...

China is doing it, they have old coal burning power plants they are updating them to make them cleaner and more efficient, and they are exporting some of their renewable energy technologies and the cleaner coal technologies (along with some of their engineers) here, because they're ahead of us. The updated plants last longer, burn less coal and cause less environmental damage. Their power plants are partly (mostly) state owned, so they don't have to answer to shareholders about quick profits, but if it weren't a smart business move, they would not be making it. It seems China is the first nation/corporation.

We need regulations in place to allow power producers to plan ahead, and invest in technologies and research that will bring us into this international market. As long as it's every man for himself, no one will take a chance on something new - their shareholders wouldn't put up with that.

Obama doesn't want to shut down existing power plants, he wants to have a plan that goes into the future so our businesses don't get left out, he includes coal and nuclear in his plans, against his own base. Right now there are already plenty of power outages, from equipment that should have been replaced before it broke. PG&E has workers round the clock fixing downed power lines after even mild storms, when the lines could have been put underground decades ago. Here we only fix things once they actually break and actually cause losses and here we generally just patch them back, we don't replace them with something that could last.

I love democracy and capitalism, don't get me wrong, but they come with some built in inefficiencies.

David Foster said...

"As long as it's every man for himself, no one will take a chance on something new - their shareholders wouldn't put up with that."

That's why the American computer industry is still focused on vacuum-tube mainframes programmed in assembly language, and why container freight was never adopted by the railroad and ocean shipping industries.

Dennis said...

AMEN David Foster,
Interesting that this country has innovated, created, produced and leads in most areas without government involvement. Even the Communists began to figure out that no government agency could ascertain all of the requirements necessary to bring any product to market. If there is one thing that the government is not is efficient.
Much of this is true because there are few innovators in the government. What we really need is to get the HELL out of the way. The only thing the government is capable of producing is a "eight track tape" version of anything it touches. It is why there are so many failures and bankruptcies is the solar companies. Paying for failure should be borne by the innovator, not the taxpayer. The innovator should also reap the profits.
R&D consists of making a lot of mistakes before figuring out what works. Even if one works with a MENS (Mission Elements Needed Statement) there are a myriad of problems to be faced and solved.
ONE CANNOT JUST ORDER SCIENCE OR INNOVATION TO HAPPEN! No one person or entity has the wherewithal to be that prescient or knowledgeable.
Interesting that David Packard and Bill Hewlitt developed computer technology in their garage, grew it into and industry, but failed to see the need of personal computers. The vast majority of innovation comes from some guy working in his basement and not from established sources. Once one adds layers upon layers of organization innovation goes down. One gets the "rice bowl" affect.
Ideas are wonderful things, but they take a long time to put into place.

David Foster said...

"Interesting that David Packard and Bill Hewlitt developed computer technology in their garage, grew it into and industry, but failed to see the need of personal computers"

Ditto with Ken Olsen of Digital Equipment Corporation, who also could not see the need for personal computers. And Thomas Edison was such a fanatic believer in DC power that he fought viciously (very viciously) against the superior AC technology promulgated by Tesla and Westinghouse.

Imagine an alternate history in which all electrical development had been controlled by the Central Bureau of Electricity Research and Development, headed by Thomas Edison and his designated successors...

Dennis said...

Kind of what one gets with a national arts council who determines what art gets paid for and is acceptable. I wonder how Jazz, et al would have fared?
From what I have read Edison fought to control almost everything he got his hands on. If one did not go through him, and he was likely to steal those ideas, one did not get approved by the powers that were in control.
One wonders how a Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and other innovators would have done and what the R&D world would be like.