Solar Energy Storage System Wins A 2013 German Renewables Award

Solar Energy Storage System Wins A 2013 German Renewables Award | 26/11/13
by Nicholas Brown

A new German energy storage system has received a 2013 German Renewables Award at a ceremony which was held earlier this month in… Germany. The system is called the ASD Sonnenspeicher. It is was created by Automatic Storage Device (ASD).

Electricity lines in Germany. Image Credit: Shutterstock.
Electricity lines in Germany. Image Credit: Shutterstock.

I’m sure that Germans will be pleased to hear that it is manufactured in Germany, which happens to be a country that has made impressive progress where the growth of solar power and energy storage is concerned.

There may be some serious merit behind the award, as the system can switch itself on and off almost instantaneously (12 milliseconds), according to ASD. This is wonderfully dispatchable compared to typical coal power plants, which can take three hours to start. ASD notes that this system can also switch between its lithium-ion batteries and the power grid within 1 millisecond.

Interestingly, the managing director of ASD, Walter Wolfram says that he designed the system because he could not find a suitable energy storage system for his home.

The energy storage system comes in different sizes, such as the Sonnenspeicher 300, which is 4.8 kWh; the Sonnenspeicher  600, which is 8.06 kWh; and the Sonnenspeicher 900 and 1,000 models, which are 13.44 kWh. The systems can, naturally, be used residentially or commercially.

Prof Andreas Reuter, director of Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology, explaining the judges’ decision to award “Innovative Product of the Year” to ASD, said:

The ASD solar storage system sets new standards by storing solar energy much more efficiently. It eases the burden on the grid and uses intelligent power management to maximise on-site consumption.

The system therefore has the potential to significantly help Germany and other countries reach their energy policy goals.

This article, Solar Energy Storage System Wins A 2013 German Renewables Award, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Nicholas Brown has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, geography, and much more. My website is: Kompulsa

Green Energy Is Grassroots Energy In Germany

by Giles Parkinson

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Even the cemetery chapel has solar PV.

Originally published on RenewEconomy.

(Note: This is part of a series of interviews and stories that will run over the next few weeks looking at Germany’s Energiewende, and the transition of Germany’s energy grid to one dominated by renewable energy. You can find them all in our Insight section).

One of the most misunderstood aspects of Germany’s energy transition is the assumption that this is top-down mandate to adopt green energy. Nothing could be further from the truth, and one key statistic underlines this point: the major electricity generators account for just 7 per cent of the renewable energy that now makes up nearly one quarter of the county’s  electricity production. The rest has come from farmers, households, communities and small business.

There is a bunch of reasons why this is so. For many, it is their dislike of nuclear. For others, it’s the opportunity of maintaining a lifestyle, finding independence, or retaining ownership of a family farm. For many it is an environmental issue, for others it is an economic one.

When the price of livestock plunged after the outbreak of “mad cow” disease, the Reinbold family in the village of Freiamt, just north of Freiburg, were worried about losing their farm which had been in the family for generations.

So they turned to biogas to generate electricity and waste heat: They now grow crops of inedible corn, grass and rye and have two small turbines that have a combined capacity of 360kW. Waste heat is fed to the school and nearby homes, the liquid waste from the biomass goes to neighbouring farms. Another turbine will provide heat for the village pool and the hostels, which are popular with hikers.

“It’s more work in summer outside in the field,” says Inge Reinbold, of the need to tend crops rather than cattle. But less work in winter. And despite the large investment, she feels she has risk-proofed the family farm. “Now we have a fixed price for 10 years,” she says. They get 10c/kWh for their biogas electricity – and three solar arrays owned by her three sons gives them a further income.

Higher up the valley, we visit the Schneider family, which has gone even further, installing a heater that uses wood chips instead of oil, and hosting two community-owned wind turbines on their property (pictured below), which features 80 dairy cows and a much admired Schnapps production facility in the basement. (You can see a video here).

freiamt

The Schneider family farm – dairy cows, schnapps making, 100kW of solar PV and two wind turbines.

They, too, have around 100kW of solar in four arrays on the house and barn rooftops. The first was installed at a cost of €4,000/kW and got a feed-in-tariff of €0.49/kWh the most recent as installed at a cost of €1,000/w, and got a FiT of €0.32. The FiT is now around 15c.

(And it should be noted that when German farmers put solar on the rooftop they don’t muck around. Many of them have 30kW on the house and another 30kW on one or more barns if they have them. The Schneider household, Victorian planning authorities could note, is 400m from its turbine. The proximity may have made their schnapps somewhat more potent).

Now Freiamt, a collection of five small hamlets in the foothills of the Black Forest with a total population of 4,200, provides more than 200 per cent of its electricity needs, the locals claim. Five turbines, including the two on the Schneider property,  account for ¾ of this, with the rest made up from two biogas plants,  251 solar rooftops, about 150 solar thermal collectors, wood-chip heaters and four run-of-river hydro’s, which are coming back into vogue after a century of neglect.

The sense of independence is ingrained into the mentality. Most of the farming families were attracted to the area 500 years ago when the Monastery at St Peter, just down the road, offered freehold land to farmers who settled into the area and independence from the Dutch overlords).

“Now you see farms starting to look at battery storage,” says Erhard Shulz, the founder of the locally based Innovation Academy, and my guide for the day. “Independence is very important. That is why the families came here 500 years ago, for independence from the Dutch. Now it is for independence from the nuclear and the fossil fuel companies. This is very important.”

Most other villages in the region are taking similar action to Freiamt.

In Forchheim, the Binder family has invested in a 1.7MW biogas plant using two old ship motors. The aim is to generate 25 per cent of the local gas requirements, which would make the local area independent of Russian gas, which is imported at great expense.

In Weisweil, a village of 2,100 people, solar is installed on nearly available rooftop. Thirty locals pitched in to put a 50kW solar system on the roof of the local school, which also introduced energy efficiency and replaced heating oil with wood chips. Even the chapel in the cemetery has a 22kW solar system on the roof, installed by the local bank which feeds 50 per cent of the earnings back into the community. The village boasts 700w of solar PV per habitant. (In Australia, it is around 125w per capita).

“You need communities like this,” Shulz says. “Someone has to be in front so that others can follow.” Other towns are looking at investing too.

The village of Kenzingen is considering 5 community owned turbines.  The larger town of Ettlingenden and the surrounding district, with its population of 22,000, aims to be 100 per cent renewable for its electricity by 2030, and 50 per cent for its heating needs.

The goal for Etlingenden contrasts with that of the major local city of Freiburg, which is looking to achieve the same goal in 2050. “The centre of initiative is in the small villages,” Shulz says. “People using their own money to invest in hydro, biogas, solar and wind turbines. They don’t wait for the government and the utilities.”

Shulz, who was a student at the time of the anti-nuclear protests in the 1970s that served as a launched for the green energy movement, and later the Greens Party, is a part owner of six wind turbines, seven solar installations and two run of river hydro plants. The number of co-investors ranges from 10 to more than 500, depending on the installation.

This is typical of the country and one of the reasons why no party that got elected to parliament in the recent elections opposes the so called Energiewende, or energy transition. It is one of the driving forces of the policy. The major generators have been blindsided, to the point where the biggest of them, such as RWE, are considering abandoning their traditional business models and moving to a “value add” business that could assist the rising “pro-prosumer” and a new market.

Finally, Shulz take me to the village of Wyhl, where the state government wanted to build the nuclear plant in the 1970s. Shulz takes me to a stone inlaid with a plaque at the site of Wyhl fight, about 50m from the banks of the Rhine river that separates Germany and France. The land had been cleared but was stopped by a protest of 50,000 people. (See some archive video here). It is now a nature reserve. The plaque reads, “We said no.”

Wyhl is now a “solar village”. Virtually every commercial rooftop has solar installed, as do many houses, and solar accounts for between 40 and 50 per cent of its electricity needs. All the solar is owned by the community.  “We have gone from nuclear to solar,” Shulz says. “Now we say no to fossil fuels.”

See also out story Should Australian communities buy back their grids, which traces the history of Schönau, which was the first village to do so in Germany, and our interview with the Australian-born mayor of Green City Freiburg, How the crazy green energy citizens became mainstream in Germany. 

(Thanks to Craig Morris, a Freiburg-based journalist who writes the Energy Transition blog (EnergyTransition.de), for allowing us to share some of his videos. More will be featured in our other stories. You can see all his episodes here).

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This article, Green Energy Is Grassroots Energy In Germany, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Giles Parkinson is the founding editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, an Australian-based website that provides news and analysis on cleantech, carbon, and climate issues. Giles is based in Sydney and is watching the (slow, but quickening) transformation of Australia’s energy grid with great interest.

‘Crazy’ Becomes The Norm In Germany After Tremendous Green Progress

by Giles Parkinson

Freiberg, Germany sets sails on Energiewende
Freiburg, Germany sets sails on Energiewende.

(Note: This is part of a series of interviews and stories that will run over the next few weeks looking at Germany’s Energiewende, and the transition of Germany’s energy grid to one dominated by renewable energy).

“They told us we were crazy.”

It is a phrase you often hear from Dr. Dieter Salomon – the Australian-born mayor of the German city of Freiburg – a city so much at the vanguard of the green transformation that is currently underway in Germany that it calls itself – Green City Freiburg. It probably feels that it needs the extra words to reinforce the point – because green, or at least green energy, is now mainstream in Germany.

Salomon, who was born in Melbourne but moved back to Germany with his family at the age of 3, has been mayor of this city of 220,000 people at the edge of the Black Forest since 2002. And in many ways, the story of Freiburg and its attitude to renewables, energy, and sustainability, is a microcosm of what is now occurring in the broader economy.

It goes back to the 1970s, when an unlikely coalition of farmers — many of them wine makers, academics and students — forced the state government to cancel plans for a new nuclear power plant at Wyhl, just 25kms north of the city. It was a ferocious battle (see a video here), culminating in a showdown that attracted a rally of 50,000 people. It remains, Salomon says, the only nuclear power plant that has been successfully prevented from going ahead, even thought the country has now committed to closing all by 2022.

Dieter Salomon, the Australian-born mayor of Freiburg
Dieter Salomon, the Australian-born mayor of Freiburg

“The prime minister of the state (of Baden-Württemberg), told us we were crazy and said that we don’t build this plant the lights will go off,” Salomon says in his offices in the heart of the Medieval old quarter of the city. “That was 40 years ago, people still remember that comment because the lights haven’t gone off.”

More than a decade later, the “crazy” accusation was levelled at the city again, this time by the local newspaper when the council decided, six weeks after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, to install a long-term program to wean the city off nuclear and fossil fuels, and into renewables, energy saving, and energy efficiency.

“They told us it was a crazy decision,” Salomon says. Despite preventing a new power station, the local utility still relied on nuclear for 90 per cent of its electricity needs. “They told us it was not possible.” Now, the local utility contracts almost all its outside needs from hydro-electric sources in Austria.

The Solar Ship in Freiburg

Freiburg argues that it earns its “Green City” sobriquet from that initial spirit of defiance against nuclear and its subsequent focus on innovation, and sustainability.

It boasts a carbon neutral quarter known as Quartier Vauban, where in some sections the citizens voted against the use of cars; the “Solar City” and “Sun Ship” (pictured right), a residential area that features “energy plus” housing, meaning the houses and adjoining commercial buildings produce more solar electricity than they consume during the year.

There is the famous “Heliotrop”, a unique circular home that rotates so that its massive solar PV array and solar thermal collectors can follow the sun. (See video here).

The town has more than 100 “passive houses”, has retrofitted a high-rise residential building to “passive house” status (see another video here); and new homes have a requirement that restricts the consumption of heating oil to 1.5 litres per square metre per year. That compares to the average consumption of 30 litres/sqm/year a decade ago. Space heating in Germany consumes twice as much energy as electricity.

New housing projects are not begun until a tram line is built. The city estimates that 30 per cent of journeys are done by public transport and 27 per cent by bicycle. Car movements account for just 30 per cent of movements within the city. It is building three new tram lines to ensure that every home is within 500m of public transport.

Freiburg has also become a hub of innovation and industry. I lunched at Solar Fabrik, the first carbon-neutral solar module manufacturing facility. The city is also the home of numerous research facilities, most notably the Fraunhofer Institute for Sustainable Energy, which has grown from 60 people to more than 1,300, and is the second largest solar research institute in the world.

“Freiburg was quite different from rest of Republic,” Salomon says. “They thought we were the crazy guys from the Upper Rhine Valley. But now it is mainstream.” But, he concedes, “a lot of people complain that we don’t do enough, that what we have done is nothing, that we have to do more.”

Indeed, despite its credentials, Freiburg now trails other cities in the deployment of renewables. It gave itself what seems to be a modest target of generating 10 per cent of its own electricity needs through renewables by 2010, but came up well short.

freiburg wind
Picturesque Freiburg, Germany.

It has six turbines on the hills overlooking the town, and solar PV on the stadium, and virtually every other public building that can support it, as well as many private homes. But it still only generates 6% of its own electricity needs through these means. Despite being in the sunniest region in Germany, there is just not that much wind and sun to go power the city within the narrow boundaries of the city, and few biomass or hydro opportunities. About 50 per cent of its energy needs (mostly heat) comes from combined heat and power plants.

Now it has set a target of 100 per cent renewables for the Freiburg region, which includes the surrounding areas that have 650,000 people. It aims to do this by 2050. It will use the open spaces and resources of the surrounding areas for more wind turbines and solar farms, biomass plants and run-of-river hydro. And, Salomon hopes, geothermal. (Some smaller towns scoff at such targets, saying that they have already reached 100 per cent renewables, or even more, in some villages. The region of Emmendingen, which forms part of Freiburg and has 25,000 people, aims to be 100 per cent renewable by 2030).

The Green Conundrum: Fundies vs Realos

Salomon was elected mayor in 2002 – the first Green mayor of a large city in Germany — and re-elected in 2010 (they have eight-year terms). He’s what is knows an a “Realo”, as opposed to a “Fundie”, or fundamental Green that refuse the corridors of power.

It’s been a battle that has raged with the Green Party since it was founded more than three decades ago. The Green Party shared power with the Social Democrats in Berlin a decade ago, and the same arrangement is in place in Badem-Wurrtemburg, where Freiburg is located. The state’s capital, Stuttgart, also has a green mayor.

But in the federal level, the Greens have snubbed the opportunity of forming a Coalition with Angela Merkel, despite being the first party approached. Some say it is because the Fundies rule again in Berlin, others say it is because the centre-right has stolen its thunder by rejecting nuclear and supporting renewables. Still, others are frustrated that the Greens are not sharing power, because the energy transition would likely be quicker than with a centre right/centre left coalition.

For Salomon though, being Green and in government is “quite normal”. “When I was re-elected 3 years ago, I represented the mainstream of Freiburg.”

He says he needs to be a “realo” in more ways than one, because his party has just 13 out of 48 councillors. There are 10 parties represented to the council. “I have to have majority support in the council or I cannot govern,” he says.

Salomon is confident that the Energiewende – the national energy transition that will see it phase out nuclear altogether by 2022 and become a nation predominantly powered by renewables — will succeed.  This is despite a lot of vested interests trying to make political capital out of rising electricity prices.

“A lot of countries are looking at Germany,” Salomon says. Some of them don’t want us to reach our targets, others are hoping that we do. When it works in Germany, a lot of other countries are going to copy it.

“I know some countries think we are crazy, including the British. But now they are building new nuclear power plants with the French and the Chinese. The money they guarantee for every kilowatt hour is more than we pay for solar. Now, that is really crazy.”

See also our story Should Australian communities buy back their grids, which traces the history of Schönau, which was the first village to do so in Germany.

(Thanks to Craig Morris, a Freiburg based journalist who writes the Energy Transition blog (EnergyTransition.de), for allowing us to share some of his videos. More will be featured in our other stories. They can be found here).

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This article, “Crazy” Becomes The Norm In Germany After Tremendous Green Progress, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Giles Parkinson is the founding editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, an Australian-based website that provides news and analysis on cleantech, carbon, and climate issues. Giles is based in Sydney and is watching the (slow, but quickening) transformation of Australia’s energy grid with great interest.

Germany Finances Major Push Into Home Battery Storage For Solar

by Giles Parkinson

As the level of renewable penetration rises to 40 percent in Germany within the next 10 years, in-home and in-business battery systems are expected to experience rapid growth.
As the level of renewable penetration rises to 40 percent in Germany within the next 10 years, in-home battery systems are expected to experience rapid growth.

Originally published on RenewEconomy

The German government has responded to the next big challenge in its energy transition – storing the output from the solar boom it has created – by doing exactly what it has successfully done to date: greasing the wheels of finance to bring down the cost of new technology.

Over the past five years, Germany has been largely responsible for priming an 80 percent fall in the price of solar modules. Now it is looking at bringing down the cost of the next piece in the puzzle of its energy transition – battery storage.

At its disposal is the giant state-owned but independently run development bank KfW. It performs in the clean energy space a similar function to Australia’s recently created and imminently doomed Clean Energy Finance Corp, but at such a scale that is not contemplated in most countries, possibly with the exception of China.

It has assets of more than €500 billion, and lent €73 billion last year – with one-third of that targeted at renewables and climate investments. Over the past three years it provided €24 billion in loans for energy efficiency investment in homes, leveraging a total investment of €58 billion, helping insulate and seal more than 2 million homes, employing 200,000 people a year and saving more than 150 million tonnes of carbon.

Six months ago, it began a new program to finance the introduction of battery storage into homes and small business, which it says is absolutely essential if the “energiewende” the German expression for its energy transition – is to successfully move to the next phase and beyond 40 percent renewable penetration.

The energy storage financing program has generated a higher than expected response. Already 1,900 homes and small businesses have put their hands up for loans and grants (provided by the Environment Ministry) to install new solar systems and a battery storage system in their home. Around €32 million in loans has already been allocated and €5 million in grants, about 10 percent of the sums allocated in the initial phase of the program.

Unlike the subsidised uptake of solar PV enabled by the deployment of generous feed-in tariffs, the support mechanism for energy storage is more cautious. Indeed, KfW is looking for investors who are willing to take a loss on their investment.

“The market for energy storage systems is very young  … batteries are still very expensive  … and the economics don’t yet work,” program manager Dr. Holger Papenfuss, told RenewEconomy in an interview in KfW’s sprawling headquarters in Germany’s financial centre of Frankfurt this week.

In fact, even with the assistance of the loans and grants, it is still not economically viable. Which is why KfW has stepped in to ensure that the commercial banks provide the funds for development.

The program is relying on “early adopters” and “renewable pioneers” – the same profile that were the first to get into electric vehicles, or solar panels a decade ago – who have the money and are willing to accept a negative return on their investment. Right now, Papenfuss says, people would be better off selling power to the grid.

So what’s motivating them? Being independent of the large power producers, and hedging bets in the face of rising electricity prices.

According to Papenfuss, households will spend between €20,000 and  €28,000 on solar and battery, depending on the size of the system. The battery component – it is targeting lead acid and lithium-ion batteries – is between €8,000 and €12,000, and the grants for this average around €3,000 (or about 30 per cent of the battery cost).

The average loan for the whole system is around  €17,000, but it is not offered at a discount. At just 1.5 percent, the interest rates probably don’t need to come down any lower in any case. KfW’s function is to simply ensure that funds are made available for deployment by commercial banks, who may not touch an unprofitable venture otherwise.

Papenfuss says KfW is targeting 20,000 to 30,000 under its loan program, suggesting a commitment of at least €300 million.

KfW’s aim, according to Axel Nawrath, a member of the KfW Bankengruppe executive board, is to ensure that the output of wind and solar must be “more decoupled” from the grid. Which means that the grid is not necessarily required to accept the output just because the wind happens to be blowing a lot at the time, or the sun is shining.

“The success of the energy turnaround will entirely depend on integrating electricity from renewable sources into our energy system on a reliable, permanent basis,” he said in his announcement earlier this year.

Storage means that the energy output can be held in reserve. The idea is to even out the peaks and troughs which is making it difficult for other generators to stay in business. This is seen as critical as the level of renewable penetration rises to around 40 percent – a level expected in Germany within the next 10 years.

In a perfect world, the output might look something like this graph below, as illustrated  by Citi in a recent analysis. It would spread solar and even wind output through the day, and cause less headaches for the other plants required to fill in the gaps between the variable output of wind and solar.

citi-storage (1)
Citi energy graphic shows the disrepancy between energy generation profiles with and without battery storage.

According to Papenfuss, households participating in the scheme will spend between €20,000 and €28,000 on solar and storage, depending on the size of the system (the average size is expected to be around 7kW for the solar array and around 4kWh for the battery).

The battery component is between €8,000 and €12,000, the grants average around €3,000 (or about 30 percent of the battery cost) and the average loan for the whole system is around €17,000.

The program is not open to systems of more than 30kW, and nor is it open to solar arrays that were installed before December 31 last year. They are deemed to have already gotten a good enough deal from the FiT’s.

Papenfuss says that to make sense, battery storage needs to be half the cost it is now. This program is designed to set that price fall in motion. He expects the costs to start to fall in 2014, and within two years could be offering a positive return. At that point, he says, the grant component is likely to be withdrawn, although the loan finance program will likely continue.

Over the longer term, KfW hopes that the program will help define standards for use of storage systems.  Papenfuss expects storage systems to then focus on wind power and other larger solar systems – allowing owners to earn a fee for storing energy and releasing it at certain times.

(Editors note: Rather than listening to the new Australian parliament debate climate change and clean energy, RE’s editor has chosen to flee, at least temporarily, to Germany, where he has discovered most politicians believe that planet Earth is, in fact, round. This is the first of a series of articles on Germany’s energiewende, its energy transition that will likely have  a major influence on the pace of change in the rest of the world. Many want it to succeed, some want it to fail).

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This article, Germany Finances Major Push Into Home Battery Storage For Solar, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Giles Parkinson is the founding editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, an Australian-based website that provides news and analysis on cleantech, carbon, and climate issues. Giles is based in Sydney and is watching the (slow, but quickening) transformation of Australia’s energy grid with great interest.

Germany Solar PV Report, A Must-Read For Any Energy Reporter

by Zachary Shahan

One of our Dutch readers, Remco van der Horst of Better Energy, recently passed along an excellent report on various aspects of Germany’s solar power boom. The report actually reads more like a fact-checking of common claims (in media and politics) regarding Germany’s rapid energy transition. It is easy to read, organized by common questions/claims, and full of interesting facts. I actually learned a few things from this one that have been itching at my mind for awhile.

I definitely recommend checking out every question and at least the short answer for it. However, I’m pulling out a few of the key ones and sharing them below. Have a look!

2. Does PV contribute significantly to the electric power supply?

Yes.

As estimated on the basis of figures from [BDEW3] and [BDEW4], PV generated 28 TWh [BDEW4] of power in 2012, covering approximately 5.3 percent of Germany’s net power consumption (compare section 20.8). Taken as a whole, renewable energy (RE) ac- counted for around 25.8 percent of net power consumption, while the proportion of Germany’s gross power consumption covered by PV and RE stood at 4.7 percent and 23 percent respectively.

On sunny days, PV power can cover at times 30 – 40 percent of the current power consumption. According to the German Federal Network Agency, PV modules with a rated power of 32.4 GW had been installed across a total of around 1.3 million plants in Germany by the end of 2012, meaning the installed capacity of PV has exceeded that of all other types of power plants in Germany. See Figure 1.

renewable energy germany

Solar PV Prices Will Continue To Fall

“The price of PV modules is responsible for more than half of a PV power plant’s investment costs. The price development of PV modules follows a so-called price learning curve, in which doubling the total capacity installed causes prices to always fall by the same factor. Provided that significant efforts continue to be made to develop products and manufacturing processes in the future, prices are expected to continue to fall in accordance with this rule.”

Solar PV Lowers The Price Of Electricity & Cuts Into Utility Profits

“The feed-in of PV power has legal priority, meaning that it is found at the start of the price scale of power being offered. With fictitious marginal costs of zero, PV power is always sold when available. It is, however, predominantly generated during the middle of the day when power consumption experiences its midday peak and during these periods, it displaces mainly electricity from expensive power plants (especially gas-fired and pumped-storage power plants). This displacement lowers the overall electricity price and, in turn, the profits made by utilities generating power from fossil fuel and nuclear sources (Figure 8). It also lowers the utilization and profitability of traditional peak-load power plants.”

Here’s a conundrum that I think doesn’t get enough attention:

“The feed-in of PV electricity reduces the stock market price through the merit order effect and paradoxically increases the calculated differential costs. According to this method, the more PV that is installed, the more expensive the kWh price of PV appears to be.”

“The cheaper the electricity price becomes on the Leipzig European Energy Exchange (EEX), the more the EEG levy increases and thus the more expensive electricity becomes for private households and small consumers.”

Fossil Fuel & Nuclear Subsidies

3.8 Are the fossil fuel and nuclear energy production subsidized?

Yes.

A study from the Forum Green Budget Germany [FÖS2] states: ‘For decades, the conventional energy sources of nuclear, hard coal and brown coal have profited on a large scale from government subsidies in the form of financial assistance, tax concessions and other beneficial boundary conditions. In contrast to the renewable energies, a large portion of these costs is not accounted and paid for in a transparent manner. Rather, funds are appropriated from the national budget. If these costs were also to be added to the electricity price as a “conventional energy tariff,” they would amount to 10.2 ct/kWh, which is almost three times the value of the Renewable Energy Tariff in 2012. Up to now subsidies for the renewable energies have amounted to 54 billion euro. To compare, from 1970 to 2012 subsidies for hard coal amounted to 177 billion euro, for brown coal at 65 billion euro and for nuclear energy at 187 billion euro respectively.’

conventional energy subsidies higher

Nuclear energy is simply far too expensive and risky to warrant investment.

“The risks of nuclear power predicted by experts are so severe, however, that insurance and reinsurance companies the world over are not willing to offer policies for plants generating energy of this kind. A study conducted by the Versicherungsforen Leipzig sets the limit of liability for the risk of the most serious type of nuclear meltdown at 6 trillion euros, which, depending on the time period over which this sum is built up, would increase the electricity price per kilowatt hour to between 0.14 and 67.30 euros [VFL]. As a result, it is essentially the tax payers who act as the nuclear industry’s insurers.”

Industry Exemptions Raise Electricity Prices For Normal People

“Policy makers determine who finances the transition to renewable energy. They have decided to release the majority of energy-intensive industrial enterprises which spend a high proportion of their costs on electricity from the EEG levy, and are planning to ex- tend this level of exemption in the future. It has been estimated that more than half of the power consumed by industry shall be largely freed from the levy in 2013 (Figure 19) with the level of exemption totaling 6.7 billion euros. This increases the burden on other electricity customers and in particular householders who account for almost 30 percent of the overall amount of power consumed.”

Coal Production Increased Because of Broader Market Dynamics (Beyond Germany) & Because It Takes A Long Time To Shut Down & Start Up Coal Power Plants

“Electricity is exported during the day, because it is hard to throttle back coal-fired plants (lignite) due to their inertia or because it is simply lucrative to produce power in Germany and to sell it in other countries (bituminous coal). In countries other than Germany, gas-fired plants also became unprofitable. The statistics convey a clear message: Compared to the first quarter 2012, electricity exports in the first quarter 2013 increased by ca. 7 billion kWh. During the same period, the electricity production from RE (Figure 21:) decreased by 2 billion because of weather conditions [ISE4].”

electricity exports Germany

Solar PV & Wind Power Are Complementary

“Due to the country’s climate, high solar irradiance and high wind strength have a nega- negative correlation in Germany. With an installed capacity of 30 GW of PV and around 30 GW of wind power in 2012, the amount of solar and wind power fed into the grid by September 30 of that year rarely exceeded the 30 GW mark (Figure 29: ). Therefore, limiting feed-in from solar and wind at a threshold value of nearly half the sum of their nominal powers does not lead to substantial losses. A balanced mix of solar and wind power generation capacities is markedly superior to the one-sided expansion that would be brought about through the introduction of a competitive incentive model (e.g. the quota model).”

.solar pv and wind power complementary

Increasing Solar Power Is Needed For Storage To Make Sense

The common talking point is that energy storage is needed for solar power to dominate the grid. However, Fraunhofer points at that more solar power is actually needed in order for energy storage to make sense.

10.6 Does the expansion of PV have to wait for more storage?

No.

Although the EU commissioner Guenther Oettinger in an interview with the newspaper FAZ (2 April 2013) said: “We must limit the escalating PV capacity in Germany. In the first place, we need to set a tempo limit for renewable energy expansion until we have sufficient storage capacity and an energy grid that can intelligently distribute the electricity.”

In fact, the situation is the opposite. Investing in storage is first profitable when large price differences for electricity frequently occur, either on the electricity exchange market EEX or on the consumer level. Currently investments in storage, specifically pumped storage, are even being deferred because cost-effective operation is not possible.

First, a continued, further expansion in PV and wind capacity will cause prices on the electricity exchange EEX to sink more often and more drastically. On the other side, the reduced amount of nuclear electricity due to the planned phase out and more expensive electricity from coal-fired plants due to CO2-certificates or taxes will cause price increases on the EEX at other times. This price spread creates the basis for a profitable storage operation. If the price difference is passed on to the final customer through a tariff structure, then storage also becomes an interesting alternative for them.

A study from the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) comes to the conclusion that surpluses from renewable energies are a problem that can be solved [DIW]. By making the electricity system more flexible, especially by eliminating the “must-run” basis of conventional power plants which is presently at ca. 20 GW and establishing a more flexible system of biomass generated electricity, the electricity surplus from wind and solar energy can be reduced to less than 2 % by 2032. The DIW takes the grid development plan 2013 as its basis [NEP] with an installed PV capacity of 65 GW, onshore wind capacity of 66 GW and offshore wind of 25 GW respectively.

In other words, what’s really needed is to cut slow, inflexible, “baseload” power from coal and nuclear power plants in order to move.

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This article, Germany Solar PV Report — A Must-Read For Any Energy Reporter, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

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Zachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.