Europe Exits Fossil Fuel, will hit 30% Renewables by 2017

by Zachary Shahan

Following up on a Credit Suisse report stating that ~85% of US energy demand growth would come from renewables by 2025, we thought it would be good to take a look at the energy trends in Europe as well.

Actually, one of our readers pitched this idea prior to the publishing of that article, and did most of the research for this piece. I then had the pleasure of putting it together to create the primarily positive (with one notable hiccup) non-fiction story below. Enjoy!

Let’s start with the broad overview. UBS analysts in 2013 reported that utilities in Europe need to shut down 30% of their gas, coal, and oil-fed power capacity by 2017 — not necessarily to fight global warming, cut pollution, or cut fuel imports, but because the renewable energy revolution is pushing fossil fuels off the grid.

In other words, increasingly cheap and fast-growing renewables are killing fossil fuels in Europe

“Producers must close 49 gigawatts of capacity to stabilize profits at 2012 levels, analysts led by Paris-based Per Lekander wrote in an e-mailed report,” according to Rachel Morison of Bloomberg.

“That includes 24 gigawatts of ‘mainly cashflow positive capacity’ on top of the 7 gigawatts that utilities already plan to shut and an additional 18 gigawatts of closures expected to be announced.”

“The most important driver has undoubtedly been the remarkable increase of renewable capacity, and in particular solar, mainly in Germany,” Per Lekander said.

Image Credit: Nuclear Energy Agency and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development, via @SamHamels
Image Credit: Nuclear Energy Agency and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development, via @SamHamels

Unfortunately, the most closures are projected to be of natural gas power plants. Coal power’s big exit is projected to get rolling in 2015.

However, that’s not to say no coal power plants are being closed or kept off the grid until 2015. Back in August 2013, it was announced that a coal power plant in Finland would shut down due to its failing competitiveness.

“Finland’s largest utility, Fortum, is closing a coal-fired power plant in Inkoo, west of Helsinki,” yle wrote.

“Built in the mid-1970s, the 750 MW plant has rarely been used in recent years, only supplying backup power to the Nordic grid during periods of peak demand. It has long been a loss-maker. This is partly due to falling electricity prices in Europe, driven by Germany’s shift toward renewable energy.”

The Finnish government, in the meantime, has committed itself to transitioning to a clean, renewable energy future — only logical, right?

And in the center of much of the clean energy revolution, Germany, dozens of coal power plants have been canceled or closed in recent years.

In Germany, dozens of coal power plants have been canceled or closed in recent years, with others 'walking the plank'.
In Germany, dozens of coal power plants have been canceled or closed in recent years, with others ‘walking the plank’.

It’s true that coal power production increased in Germany in 2012, but you have to put that into some context to understand why. What many people don’t know is that many coal power plants were previously planned for Germany.

The renewable energy revolution hasn’t increased the need for coal power plants, as many misinformers would have you believe, but has resulted in the majority being dropped. Closing of nuclear power plants, combined with high natural gas prices in Europe, however, did result in a slight rise in coal power production.

Natural gas is clearly the fossil fuel getting hit hardest in Europe at the moment. As Tino Andresen and Tara Patel of Bloomberg wrote in March 2013.

“Three years ago, Germany’s largest utility spent 400 million euros ($523 million) building a natural gas-fired power station. Later this month, the company may close the plant because it’s losing so much money.”

EON’s Irsching-5, the power plant in discussion, only operated 25% of the time in 2012!

The factors for the quick death of such an expensive plant were varied, though: “As Europe’s weak economy holds back electricity demand, cheaper coal, requirements to buy renewable energy and the collapsing cost of carbon permits are undercutting gas-fired plants.”

But it’s not only happening in Germany

“Gas-fired plants are stopped three days out of four,” Gerard Mestrallet, chief executive officer of GDF Suez, France’s former gas monopoly, said at a briefing on Feb. 28.

“The thermal industry is in crisis. There is overcapacity.”

The story is essentially the same in the Netherlands, Spain, the Czech Republic, and other European countries.

In the end, the story is actually rather simple: as more renewable energy comes on line, something has to go off line.

Aside from nuclear power plants that are being shuttered due to old age and citizen demand, the big loser at the moment is natural gas. However, coal is on its way out too, just a bit more slowly. Of course, if there was a higher price on carbon, or other fossil fuel market dynamics changed, we could see those two switch places on their way out the door.

Anything more you’d like to add? Chime in below.

Keep up to date with the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our main cleantech newsletter, or by stalking our homepage. We’re not Kim Kardashian’s Twitter feed, but I think we’re more interesting.

This article, Europe’s Fossil Fuel Exit — 30% Of Fossil Fuel Power Capacity To Close By 2017, UBS Analysts Project, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Zachary ShahanZachary 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.

1 Million EVs In Germany Within The Decade An Achievable Goal According To VW CEO

by Nathan

Image Credit: Volkswagen
Image Credit: Volkswagen

The goal of having over one million electric vehicles on the roads of Germany within the decade is an achievable one, according to Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn. At a recent panel discussion in the northern European country, the noted CEO stated that VW was committed to the ambitious goal set by the German government and would do it’s part in helping to achieve it.

There is a catch, though — Winterkorn thinks that plug-in hybrid vehicles should count towards that goal — not just fully electric vehicles. While PHEVs are certainly a big improvement of gas-mobiles, they simply don’t do as much to help limit carbon emissions and to move away from fossil fuel dependency, as fully electric vehicles do. By including PHEVs, the ambitious goal would end up relatively watered down — though, perhaps including PHEVs would be a net positive anyway? They are a vast improvement over gasmobiles and conventional hybrids.

Volkswagen is currently planning on having at least 14 electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid vehicle models available in Europe by the end of next year — including an electric version of the Golf sedan and the Up! city car. A number of other notable German automakers, such as BMW, have begun to make moves into the EV market. BMW’s first designed-from-the-ground-up EV model, the i3, is being released in Germany later this month.

Autoblog Green has more: “Executives from German automakers such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz have squawked about the challenges of meeting stricter emissions standards set for 2020 by the European Union, though those companies’ cars tend to skew more towards the heavier, luxury variety than Volkswagen. Still, like VW, both of those companies have plans to soon expand their stable of EVs and plug-in hybrids, most notably with BMW’s soon-to-debut i3. Plug-in vehicle sales in Germany doubled last year, albeit to just 4,157 vehicles, Bloomberg says, citing the automotive industry association VDA.”

On a related note — despite the seemingly huge market in Germany, sales of Tesla’s Model S have been rather low in the country. It’ll be interesting to see if Tesla can make the necessary adjustments in strategy and crack that market.

Keep up to date with the latest EV news by keeping an eye on our EV news archives or subscribing to our free EV newsletter.

Repost.Us - Republish This Article

This article, 1 Million EVs In Germany Within The Decade An Achievable Goal According To VW CEO, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Nathan For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity. – Ecclesiastes 3:19

.

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Top 10 Gigawatts: Offshore Wind Power Capacity [Infographic]

by Amber Archangel – Special to JBS News

Originally published on 1Sun4All.

This infophoto shows the current information available on offshore wind in a graphic form, so we can easily see the big picture. It will be fun to update this in a year and look back at the progress that’s been made. It will also be wonderful to see the United States participate in the offshore industry.

offshore wind

When we discuss gigawatts of offshore wind, the place to begin is megawatts. The wind farms that are operational at this time are all megawatt (MW) in size. There is one project underway in the United Kingdom that will be more than 1 gigawatt (GW) in size. The planning consent has been granted for what will be the world’s largest offshore wind farm at Triton Knoll, off the Lincolnshire and Norfolk coast. It represents a £3.6 billion investment, around 1,130 jobs created and will provide power to 820,000 homes.

According to RenewableUK:

Great Britain has been the world leader in offshore wind since October 2008, with as much capacity already installed as the rest of the world combined. Total offshore generating capacity in UK waters is currently around 3,653 MW, providing power for around 2 million homes.

In addition to the capacity already installed, a further 3.8 GW is either in construction or has planning approval, and a further 7.8 GW is in the planning system. One of these projects that in the planning system is the 1.1 GW Rampion Offshore Wind Farm. It will be located off the Dorset and Hampshire coasts, near Brighton & Hove.

The US Department of Energy reports:

Offshore wind represents a large, untapped energy resource for the United States, offering over 4,000 gigawatts of clean, domestic energy potential – four times the nation’s current total generation capacity. According to a recent report commissioned by the Energy Department, a US offshore wind industry that takes advantage of this abundant domestic resource could support up to 200,000 manufacturing, construction, operation and supply chain jobs across the country and drive over $70 billion in annual investments by 2030.

This article, Top 10 Gigawatts: Offshore Wind Power Capacity (Infographic), is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

is an artist, painter, writer, interior designer, graphic designer, constant student of many studies and founder of 1Sun4All.com. Living with respect for the environment close at hand, the food chain, natural remedies for healing, the earth, people and animals is a life-long expression and commitment. As half of a home-building team, she helped design and build harmonious, sustainable and net-zero homes that incorporate clean air systems, passive and active solar energy as well as rainwater collection systems. Archangel is fond of private aviation, would love to fly in the solar airplane and install a wind turbine in her yard. She is a peaceful, courageous soul who believes that clean energy is helping our economy and helping our world; she enjoys contributing to this effort.

Germany’s looming skills shortage

Germany’s Looming Skills Shortage | 16/11/12
by Siobhán Dowling

BERLIN, Germany — It’s a problem many other European countries would dearly love to have.

Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, is in the throes of a skills shortage. With the lowest unemployment level in two decades, firms are finding it increasingly difficult to find well qualified workers.

That’s right: In a world where millions of talented people are hopelessly idle, a shortage of qualified workers threatens Germany’s economic performance.

In fact, Frank-Jürgen Weise, the head of Germany’s Labor Office, recently warned that the skills squeeze could hinder the German economy more than the debt crisis.

According to the German Chamber of Commerce (DIHK) this is among companies’ biggest concerns at the moment.

“Every third company we surveyed said that they saw the skills shortage as one of the biggest risks to the development of their business over the next 12 months,” Stefan Hardege, head of the DIHK’s labor market unit, told GlobalPost.

Many sectors are hit, he explained, but companies that rely on engineering and other technical skills — the core of Germany’s powerful export economy — are particularly affected.

The problem is already costing a fortune. About 92,000 engineering jobs were not filled last year, leading to an estimated loss of about 8 billion euros, according to a study published in April by the German Engineering Association (VDI) and the Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW).

The VDI says in March, 2012 there were 110,400 unfilled engineering jobs in Germany, an increase of 26 percent on the same month last year. The states of Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia were particularly badly hit.

Meanwhile, there are currently 38,000 open positions in telecoms and IT, according to industry association BITKOM.

More from GlobalPost: Is Germany catching the euro zone virus?

There are several causes for the shortage, including demographic change; a failure to educate enough young people to meet industry’s needs; barriers to female participation in the workforce; and the difficulties that skilled foreign workers have had in moving to the country.

Executives worry that the problem will only get worse in future decades, as demographic change starts to bite. After all, Germany has one of the lowest birth rates in Europe. Over the next 50 years the population is expected to shrink by 17 million from the current 82 million.

By 2025, Germany will face a shortage of about three million workers, predicts Weise, of the Labor Office.

Industry has complained about the trend for years, and politicians are starting to address it.

In early June, Chancellor Angela Merkel gathered ministers and industry and labor representatives in the Meseberg Castle outside Berlin for a summit to address the shortage. It was the third such meeting she has held in recent years.

After the meeting, she said that one way to address the problem would be to create a proper European labor market. She pointed out that while Germany is searching for workers, many other countries are suffering from high unemployment.

She also said that education should be improved for young people with immigrant backgrounds, and that more needed to be done to make work more flexible for women, so that they can combine families and careers.

On women, Merkel has a good point, and one that has been the topic of vigorous debate. Many German women only work part time because of a lack of adequate childcare facilities. And while the government has pledged to provide state daycare places for 35 percent of 3-year-olds by 2013, implementation is lagging behind. Furthermore, critics warn that a proposed new state payment to stay-at-home parents, known as Betreeungsgeld, will act as a disincentive for women who might otherwise have sought work.

Currently, only 11 percent of engineers are women. And though more young women are now taking technical courses at universities, they still lag behind the boys.

Michael Sommer, head of the German Trade Union Confederation, also urged better training, saying that 1.5 million young people lacked proper qualifications.

“The complaints from employers and the government about the skills shortage is not credible as long as they don’t do more for the employment and further training of young people, women, migrants and old people,” he said.

Two-thirds of companies say that young people are finishing school without basic skills, according to Hardege, of DIHK.

Meanwhile there is also a lack of high tech graduates. VDI estimates that there is an annual need for 80,000 new engineers yet only around 50,000 are currently graduating from universities.

Germany has many programs to encourage people to study math, science and the like at university, but the drop out rate is around 50 percent.

Industry representatives want Germany to attract more skilled workers from abroad. Already, steps are being taken to loosen up Germany’s previously outmoded immigration system. Last year it opened up immigration from Eastern Europe, which it had initially hesitated to do, thus losing out to countries like the UK and Ireland who availed of workers from

Poland and other countries

Furthermore, the government is making it easier for highly qualified workers from non-EU countries to work in Germany, by reducing the minimum salaries that such immigrants have to earn once they arrive. Instead of the previous minimum salary of 67,200 euros, now very highly skilled professions such as doctors and engineers, can earn just 34,944 euros a year, while other skilled migrants will need to earn 44,800 euros.

The Education Ministry has also made the recognition of foreign qualifications easier. That is not only of benefit to those abroad but also to the thousands of foreigners living in Germany for years who have not been able practice the professions for which they trained back home.

Meanwhile the government is launching an information campaign aimed at attracting talent both at home and abroad. While the www.fachkräfte-offensive.de provides information to companies and workers in Germany, www.make-it-in-Germany.com is aimed at well qualified foreigners, and includes both job offers and information about working in the country.

At a recent launch of the campaign, Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen warned of the problems that industries face.

“There is work there that is not being done, and there are orders there that are not being filled,” she said.

Economics minister Philipp Roesler, whose department is also involved in the campaign, warned that the looming skills shortage could be a “growth brake” for Germany. He said he wanted to see more skilled workers coming to Germany, adding:

“We will start further advertising campaigns in those European neighboring states like Spain, Italy and Portugal, where there is high unemployment.”

Indeed migration from those countries has already started to increase, due to the lure of Germany’s strong economy.

Yet Hardege of the DIHK says more need to be done.

“It is not that well known that Germany is looking for skilled workers or which workers are being sought, or what kind of possibilities for migration exist, and that it is being made easier and less bureaucratic than before,” he said. “So it is important that this is actively communicated.”

Many industry representatives would also like to see a points system like that in operation in Australia and Canada, whereby immigrants are selected on the basis of how their skills match the gaps in the labor market.

“A points system would certainly be the easiest and most efficient way because it is more flexible and less bureaucratic,” Hardege argues. “And it allows workers abroad gain an overview: can I come, can I not, what qualifications have what points? Furthermore, domestically we would be in a position to steer immigration based on the needs of the labor market.”

Yet German politicians seem to balk at the idea. After her summit Merkel said that there was no need for such a system when there was already a pool of labor available in the EU.

“We have freedom of movement in 27 countries. Everyone who has found or is looking for work can come to us.”

Read the original article here: This article first appeared on GlobalPost, June 25, 2012 and has been reblogged with the kind permission of the authour, Siobhan Dowling.

@SiobhanDowling

Berlin · http://siobhandowling.wordpress.com/

Dublin-born editor and journalist, reporting from Berlin, mainly for GlobalPost and the Guardian.

Tags: Economics, Germany, Jobs. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Export nationalism — MY COMMENT

by John Brian Shannon

Read Hans Kundnani’s article here.

The solution for more success cannot be aiming for less success!

But this is one of the counter-intuitive prescriptions being offered up to Eurozone members in order to stabilize an imbalance presently occurring between uber-successful Germany on the one hand — and the (economically, at least) failing Eurozone member nations on the other hand.

The astounding post-WWII success story named Germany is one that other nations in Europe should be emulating.

Instead of Germany trying to slow down to the speed of the other Euro nations — those nations should be gearing-up with German assistance, to become full partners in Germany’s success. Which will then become their success!

Let me say it another way. When one finds a good working model, one does not abandon that model – he seeks ways to improve on the performance of that model.

There is nothing wrong with the German model. I quote your words, Hans, to prove my point: “Germany will have a trade surplus of $220 billion in 2012 – bigger than any other country in the world, including China. (The institute predicts Germany will also have a trade surplus with China for the first time since 1988.) If there is a new “economic miracle”, it is one produced by exports.”

What needs to happen in Europe is harmonization with Germany — not the other way around, for such would be a slow spiral of economic death for the continent.

How would that work in practice? In this post, I describe but one way out of many possible ways to accomplish that goal.

All manufacturers know about ‘just-in-time-delivery‘ of parts to a manufacturing location. It is the time-tested method (and really, the only method in use nowadays) for cost-effective and profitable manufacturing, whether it be ‘white goods’, cars and trucks or electronics — among other manufactured goods.

The Euro nations need to produce billions of parts for German manufacturers and reliably deliver them in a timely fashion to German companies. This way, nations become part of their own solution and part of Germany’s success — which leads to an even greater Eurozone success story.

The ‘have not’ nations of Europe must become part of the solution, becoming ‘have’ nations in the process. And they can if they follow an outstanding (and longstanding) German success model.

In a larger context, the next 24 months may well be Europe’s coming-of-age moment, the place where it shakes off U.S. post-WWII control and direction to become a fully-fledged sovereign entity with a semblance of shared success and wealth – or it will begin a long, slow regression into what it once was, a collection of fractious, medieval states.

John Brian Shannon

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ABOUT JOHN BRIAN SHANNON

I write about green energy, sustainable development and economics. My blogs appear in the Arabian Gazette, EcoPoint, EnergyBoom, Huffington Post, United Nations Development Programme, WACSI — and other quality publications.

“It is important to assist all levels of government and the business community to find sustainable ways forward for industry and consumers.”

Green Energy blog: http://johnbrianshannon.com
Economics blog: https://jbsnews.wordpress.com
Twitter: @JBSCanada