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Germany Exports More Electricity Than Ever Despite Phasing Out Nuclear Energy 473

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-not-easy-being-green dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Der Spiegel reports that Germany has exported more electricity this year than ever before, despite beginning to phase out nuclear power. In the first three quarters of 2012, Germany sent 12.3 terawatt hours of electricity across its borders. The country's rapid expansion into renewable energy is credited with the growth. However, the boost doesn't come without a price. The German government's investments into its new energy policy will end up costing hundreds of billions of dollars over the next two decades, and it still relies on imports for its natural gas needs. It also remains to be seen whether winter will bring power shortages. Is Germany a good example of forward-looking energy policy?"
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Germany Exports More Electricity Than Ever Despite Phasing Out Nuclear Energy

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2012 @10:59AM (#41932495)

    How are your rates?
    How hard is it to get a 3-phase drop for your new business?
    Are you really going to have a shortage this winter?
    Do the tax dollars you've put into this feel like they were decently spent?

    People with less-progressive powergirds would like to know.

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Friday November 09, 2012 @11:18AM (#41932671)

    This is not a victory for renewables, but for democracy. German citizens want to go renewable enough that they are willing to swallow the costs. Germany is a rich enough country to do that, and rich countries can accomplish amazing things when they have the will to do so. That doesn't mean renewable became any more viable economically, or that other poorer countries have any chance of replicating this feat.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2012 @11:18AM (#41932677)
    1) As far as I know the average is 25 cent/kWh now in total, including all taxes. The official cost for renewable energies (EEG-Umlage) is 3.59 ct/kWh in 2012 and 5.28 ct/kWh in 2012.
    2) I did not hear about any problems.
    3) No, there will not be a shortage in Germany. Companies are required by law to have enough reserves. That is the reason why Germany is exporting so much power overall, and it is increasing the cost of power. Also, last winter showed that it is France who will get in trouble first, since they relied on German exports.
    4) It is mostly financed over increased rates. Well, until now it did not drive the industry away, but we will see what happens in the future ...
  • by JWW (79176) on Friday November 09, 2012 @11:20AM (#41932695)

    No, they are not an example of good, forward looking policy. They are a horrible example.

    They are replacing established, 0 carbon emission, nuclear power plants with other sources that have either higher emissions because of their construction (wind, solar) or with sources that just plain have carbon emissions from their operation (natural gas). I know natural gas is way better than coal, but they're replacing nuclear with gas which increases carbon emissions.

    If we want to impact global warming we have to use nuclear power. Wind and solar don't have the capacity and it will take a loooooong road of building for them to even come close to replacing other forms of electricity generation.

    I absolutely loathe how the same "green" advocates who harp about the need to solve global warming now INSIST that the best no CO2 power generation options we have right now be abandoned.

    Sure there are arguments on whether building NEW nuclear plants will be good or economical at reducing carbon emissions, but we're talking about shuttering working power plants here.

    If you believe global warming is a problem, then the worlds turning its back on its functioning nuclear power plants has to stop!

  • by tp1024 (2409684) on Friday November 09, 2012 @11:28AM (#41932793)

    What are those exports? It's the solar power and wind power that can't be used for lack of domestic power transmission and simple lack of demand in the areas where it is generated. This power must be exported, because it cannot be consumed. Despite all that, wind turbines still have be shut down at peak generation - leading to a steady decline in actual capacity factors of wind turbines. (Don't worry about you money, of course feed-in tariffs are still being paid when turbines are shut down ...)

    The most important question on those exports is hidden by the phrasing of those propaganda news: How much did germany get in return for those exports and how much did it cost to produce them? It doesn't take much in the way of imagination to conclude that it isn't much at all. Domestic power prices regularly drop to a fraction of the feed-in tariffs being paid for wind and solar power (occasionally dropping into negative territory) and exports are unlikely to offer better rates.

    The result of all that? Germans will pay an average of 0.28 Euro - or about $0.40 per kWh next year, up from 0.25 Euro this year. With a clear trend upwards, as more and more wind turbines and solar cells that produce useless electricity come online. With the recent push for off-shore wind generation that will be 50-100% more expensive than solar power (depending on the scale of the solar power plant), this will only rise. Germany will catch up with the very highest electricity prices in Europe next year (Danemark) and is set to surpass them right thereafter.

    Meanwhile, the need for transmission lines is still seen as a conspiracy of the electricity utilities by most "greens" in Germany. The need for serious storage capacity, which is already rather giant, is still not recognized.

    This is what you call a bubble - worth on the order of $350bn and rising - paid by electricity consumers through their bills. The only people who profit from it are those who have enough money to pay for solar cells or wind turbines and the more money they spend on them, the more they get. A classic transfer of money from the poor to the richest of our society - all brought to you by massive lobbying of the Green party.

  • by putaro (235078) on Friday November 09, 2012 @11:36AM (#41932881) Journal

    Well, according to this article [bloomberg.com], the neighbors don't want that exported electricity and it's causing problems with their grids.

  • by should_be_linear (779431) on Friday November 09, 2012 @11:40AM (#41932917)
    it will take a loooooong road of building for them to even come close to replacing other forms of electricity generation.

    This article is about Germany where it is obvious, that road is not that long, as everyone (especially nuclear lobbyists) was saying. In 2011, 3% of German electricity was produced by solar, in 2012 it will be over 5%, which is amazing 2% per single year only on solar energy. Wind energy is about 7% and is also growing at least >= 1% per year. Add to this new (wind) mega-turbines (>= 10MW per one turbine), and you see that pretty soon Germany will turn on non-renewable sources only in still more rare situations.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2012 @11:46AM (#41932987)

    The real issue is that Germany has always been a huge energy exporter, they're also a huge energy importer. Their grid connecting North (renewable wind from the coast) and South (Bavarian industry) is absolutely terrible, so the north exports power it's power and the south relies on French nuclear and Czech coal.

    Germans are good with PR though. Look at their exports and how everyone talks about them being masters of manufacturing. The US produces far more than Germany, but most of it is consumed in domestic markets. Of course why would Germany ever want to frame the discussion as having weak domestic markets?

  • by Artraze (600366) on Friday November 09, 2012 @11:50AM (#41933035)

    Nope.

    The estimated base cost of a new AP1000 reactor is about $5000/kW [wikipedia.org] on the high side (though finance and other costs can add to that). So $100 billion would buy about 20GW of nuclear capacity. (A bit less if you pile on taxes, high interest rates, side projects, etc... 16GW seems to be about the standard in the US).

    I'm having trouble pinning down what the German grid capacity is, but the average consumption in 2009 appears to have been about 63GW. The cited "hundreds of billions" is specifically 446, so even with the non-aggressive real world numbers they could install about 71GW of nuclear capacity. I'd guess that would be able to replace about half of their current generators. Not bad at all.

  • by joh (27088) on Friday November 09, 2012 @12:14PM (#41933273)

    You're way under the average for the U.S. then. In 2010, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 11,496 kWh [eia.gov]

    Wow! I just got my yearly bill yesterday, my consumption in the last 12 months was 959 kWh. (I'm in Germany, this is electricity from pure renewable sources (mostly hydroelectric), I'm paying 22 Euro a month). OK, no AC here, no electrical heating either (except for water). I've been fairly power-conscient since moving last year though, mostly LED lighting, hardly any standby power for anything and I got rid of nearly all electrically powered kitchen utilities etc.

  • by Mike_EE_U_of_I (1493783) on Friday November 09, 2012 @01:27PM (#41934057)

    This is not a victory for renewables, but for democracy. German citizens want to go renewable enough that they are willing to swallow the costs. Germany is a rich enough country to do that, and rich countries can accomplish amazing things when they have the will to do so. That doesn't mean renewable became any more viable economically, or that other poorer countries have any chance of replicating this feat.

    I agree with the first part of what you wrote, but not the second. Germany has purchased so much solar PV that it has pushed the PV industry far down the experience curve. This results in far lower PV prices for everyone else.

        I've been saying for years now that basically the entire world should be sending a Christmas card to Germany every year. The Germans took a HUGE economic hit that wound up making solar PV much more cost effective for everyone.

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