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Power Earth

Half of Germany's Power Supplied By Solar, Briefly 461

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the now-imagine-if-solar-and-nuclear-worked-together dept.
assertation (1255714) writes with this interesting tidbit from Reuters about the state of solar power in Germany: German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour — equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity — through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank said. The German government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022.
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Half of Germany's Power Supplied By Solar, Briefly

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  • by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @11:35AM (#47315385)

    I've seen headlines elsewhere that just say "Germany Now Gets Half Its Power from Solar". "Now" is misleading in that context.

    This is a noteworthy milestone, and a good sign, but let's not exaggerate it.

    • by Motard (1553251)

      What does 22GW look like? If all of the collectors and ancillary equipment were in the same place, how many acres would the facility be?

      • by BobNET (119675) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @11:52AM (#47315639)

        What does 22GW look like?

        About 18.2 De Loreans.

      • What does 22GW look like?

        About 18 of these [wikipedia.org].

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Thanshin (1188877)

        In the US, on average, 61,6 acres.

      • by Noah Haders (3621429) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @01:19PM (#47316527)

        What does 22GW look like? If all of the collectors and ancillary equipment were in the same place, how many acres would the facility be?

        An actual answer:

        if you converted all of Central Park in Manhattan to solar it would generate about a GW at Peak. So Germany's 22GW record is roughly equivalent to 22 central parks. Or, approxmiately the size of Manhattan. Or, about 29 sq mi, and you can search google for "what is the size of X" to find your favorite metric.

        source, an earlier poster [slashdot.org] linked to this NREL paper [nrel.gov] saying that an average solar footprint was 8/MW peak.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by UrsaMajor987 (3604759)
          Another side benefit is becoming less dependent on natural gas (from Russia). Imagine if a significant amount of our energy came from a source that Putin controlled.
        • by Radtastic (671622)
          Finally, something that can be measured in Libraries of Congress! (284, assuming 540 miles of 12" shelving. (http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/wash/dc79.htm) )
      • by Shoten (260439) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @02:54PM (#47317523)

        What does 22GW look like? If all of the collectors and ancillary equipment were in the same place, how many acres would the facility be?

        It looks like about 2 percent of total generation capacity in the United States (which has a bit more than 1,000 GW).

        And this is something that makes me crazy when talking about Germany's initiatives. I think what they're doing is fantastic, and definitely the way of the future, don't get me wrong. But there are posts in Slashdot that are the equivalent of, "Oh, let's just do the same thing here to...it looks easy!" And nothing could be farther from the truth.

        Issue 1: Geographic size.
        Renewables are great in that they *can* be cheap and are, almost always, quite clean. But in the US we have a couple of challenges. One, the best place for wind farms is not too close to large population centers. Sure you can put a few wind turbines here and there, but if you want meaningful amounts of power, you need to take advantage of lightly-populated regions with lots of reliable wind...and these aren't exactly close by to cities. Given the amount of area that a solar farm takes up, the same holds true there as well, though not always to the same degree of distance. Now, enter VARS. Without voltage support, the power won't travel these long distances. T. Boone Pickens made this mistake...he got ready to build out large wind farms, and then suddenly discovered that the distance over which the power had to travel to get to the people who needed it was a nightmare.

        Issue 2: Balancing.
        Power grids must keep generation and load in balance. Otherwise, you get multiple bad things, including underfrequency and overfrequency events. I won't go into the full details of that (it's a rabbit hole) but suffice to say that it is very very bad. And the balance doesn't just have to be within X power company, as they are interconnected with their neighbors. Entire groups of such companies themselves are organized into managed groups under the control of a Balancing Authority. In some markets there's energy trading, and in others it's more tightly regulated so that such speculation isn't permissible.

        But I digress. Under the old way (nuclear, hydroelectric and fossil fuel generation) load was variably predictable and uncontrollable by the power companies, but generation was something they had solid control over. If load went up, they either increased output at a plant or spun up reserve capacity...if load went down, they went the other way. But when you have renewables, you lose a degree of that positive direct control. The wind slows down and your wind turbines suddenly push less power. The sun comes out and you suddenly have more watts on the grid than you want to have. In Hawaii, HECO has issued a moratorium on new solar panels on homes, [greentechmedia.com] because it's so bad that it's threatening to destabilize their grid...the only grid on the planet where one single modern power company has control of the whole thing. (Hawaii isn't interconnected because, well...see above over 'nightmare of pushing power over long distances'.) And just the number of people who have their own photovoltaic panels on their homes is causing them grief. Because of how unpredictable sunlight is...in Hawaii. Yeah, it really is that freakin' bananas. It was expected based on their ideal combination of zero interconnectivity, steady weather and fairly stable power consumption levels (not having industrial facilities makes load prediction pretty easy) that they could support 20% penetration of distributed power generation using PV. They're at 10% now, and in trouble.

        So, yeah...in short: Germany's done a great job leading the way. But their power grid is 1/20th the size of ours in terms of power generation/usage, and their nation is also a fraction of ours in size. So what they did can't just be copied and pasted into the US to get us to the same proportion of renewable generation.

    • by alexander_686 (957440) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @11:44AM (#47315529)

      Is it a good sign? Why? It is my understanding that Germany has passed the point where solar makes any sense.

      Solar tends to be expensive in relation to other electrical sources. The only reason why German has so much solar is because of expensive subsides from the government - which I would argue could be spent better on improving the efficiencies on the user side..

      Also, adding more solar won't cut down on C02 emissions. Solar power is variable and in Germany is backstopped by coal power plants. Coal power plants in standby mode still chomp though a fair bit of coal, so adding more solar is not going to help there.

      Of course, all of what I am saying is based on how things are today. I hope and believe that tomorrow's technology will address these issues. But for today..

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @11:57AM (#47315701)

        "Expensive" is very different from "too expensive". Some countries (probably most of them other than America) value things other than money. Things like "not risking dying from radiation sickness" and "not poisoning the world for future generations" are often high on that list.

        I'm actually quite pro-nuclear, but I'm even more for safer, renewable sources. Nuclear is a stopgap, and if we can push enough research to improve alternative technologies (which is starting to happen "thanks" to things like Fukushima) and just leapfrog it that would be great. Even if it's expensive.

        • by alexander_686 (957440) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @12:16PM (#47315933)

          No, expensive is expensive when there are cheaper and better options available.

          If I can cut a ton of carbon emissions by switching to solar for a $40 subsidy or by adding insulation to an attic for $20 why chose the more expensive option? Why not opt for more wind power or more efficient appliances? I have found that many Greens focus on feel good actions instead of focusing on the cold hard results. Actions (and money) is spent on nice sounding projects with mushy ill-defined goals and measurements.

          In particular, why spend money subsidizing solar if adding more solar is not going to reduce carbon emissions or other issues with coal? Now you are just burring money for no good reasons. In Germany's case, it implies that money needs to be spent in other areas such as upgrading the power grid to efficiently use the solar and wind power that they already currently have.

          This is one of the reasons why I advocate a carbon tax. Or, if you have a different concern, tax & regulate that.

          • If I can cut a ton of carbon emissions by switching to solar for a $40 subsidy or by adding insulation to an attic for $20 why chose the more expensive option?

            If you could insulate a loft for $20 this would not be a discussion: at that price I'd pay for my neighbours as well! Unfortunately the real cost of insulating is far higher, try several thousand dollars and on most newish homes is standard - our loft is basically half full of polystyrene balls. Also the house construction in the US and Canada is typically wood which provides far less insulation than the cavity walls construction used in the UK and the cost of fixing that would be really prohibitive.

          • by Bertie (87778) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @01:16PM (#47316503)

            They do both.

            I live in Berlin. It can be damn cold there in the winter. My apartment building is around a hundred years old, but it's been fairly recently refurbished, so it's well insulated. As a result, my heating bills are around €100 a year. The only radiator I really use is in my bedroom, and it only gets turned on halfway at most.

          • by Rei (128717) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @01:17PM (#47316521) Homepage

            Of course, carbon taxes hurt your goods competitiveness internationally. Which is why I support CAT (the carbon equivalent of VAT), or more generally, PAT (Pollution-Added Tax). All goods get taxed on embodied pollution when they enter a PAT zone and refunded when they leave a PAT zone. Thus nobody gets a competitive leg up by gutting their environmental regulations. And it should be in compliance with existing WTO rules.

          • by Uecker (1842596) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @03:20PM (#47317767)

            No, expensive is expensive when there are cheaper and better options available.

            With external costs to society and unclear investment risks, it is not always easy to say what cheaper and better is.

            If I can cut a ton of carbon emissions by switching to solar for a $40 subsidy or by adding insulation to an attic for $20 why chose the more expensive option?

            This is only a useful comparison if you heat with electricity, which almost nobody does in Germany.

            Why not opt for more wind power or more efficient appliances?

            As Germany does. Wind and solar complement each other fairly well. By sudsiding solar with a tax on energy price, Germay also encourages more efficient appliances. With nuclear, the subsidies came from general taxes, which reduces energy price and encourages more energy use.

            I have found that many Greens focus on feel good actions instead of focusing on the cold hard results.

            Germany's energy policy is producing convincing results.

            Actions (and money) is spent on nice sounding projects with mushy ill-defined goals and measurements.

            Really? Energy policy has been debated for decases in Germany and there is a well-defined goals and a lot of monitoring (and there have been many feasibility studies).

            In particular, why spend money subsidizing solar if adding more solar is not going to reduce carbon emissions or other issues with coal?

            I am not sure what you are talking about. Scaling up solar obviously reduces carbon emissions. It does not automatically solve the issues with coal - which in Germany is really cheap and secures a lot of jobs. The problem with coal in Germany is that it competes with gas. But this is a different problem.

            Now you are just burring money for no good reasons

            I don't think so and you did not bring forward any convincing argument.

            In Germany's case, it implies that money needs to be spent in other areas such as upgrading the power grid to efficiently use the solar and wind power that they already currently have.

            True. But you haven't really pointed out how spending the money on other areas would be better... Most things you mentioned Germany is also doing and the mix seems reasonable to me.

            This is one of the reasons why I advocate a carbon tax. Or, if you have a different concern, tax & reg

            There is a carbon tax in Europe. You have to buy carbon certificates. Unfortunately the price is low because of lobbying and the recession.

        • Things like "not risking dying from radiation sickness"

          For this to be true you also need all your neighbours to stop using nuclear power and unfortunately Germany is right next door to France which has a huge nuclear power generation capacity. Remember how far the radioactive fallout cloud from Chernobyl went? The result is that Germany now still faces all the disadvantages of nuclear power without receiving any of the advantages.

        • by Sibko (1036168) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @02:30PM (#47317319)
          Are you fucking kidding me?
          "Nuclear is a stopgap" and "not poisoning the world for future generations"?

          You know how many people have died over the past 60-odd years from radiation poisoning? Direct deaths, including incidents like assassinations and laboratory accidents? 10,000, maybe? Nope. 5000? Nigga we ain't even close yet. 1000? Keep going. 500? Hahaha, get real buddy.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

          Over 60 years of nuclear power and widespread use of radioactive material and there are less than 400 (estimate 200-300) deaths from direct radiation exposure. You can bump it up to ~10,000-20,000 when you include estimates on cancer related deaths. But you know what? If we're going to count cancer related deaths for nuclear, then how about we count pollution related deaths for coal, oil and gas?

          Think you can guess? Maybe 100,000 per year?
          Try 7 million: http://www.who.int/mediacentre... [who.int]

          Even if you went batshit crazy with estimating nuclear's impact - with crazy greenpeace numbers like a million deaths that they pull out of their collective asses. You still come NOWHERE NEAR coal, oil or gas. In fact, by metrics like amount of power produced per death, Nuclear is the safest we have available. Nothing else beats it, including Solar, Wind and Hydro.

          http://www.forbes.com/sites/ja... [forbes.com]
          http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/... [nextbigfuture.com]
          http://motherboard.vice.com/en... [vice.com]

          Enough with your bullshit FUD. There is nothing wrong with, and there has never been anything wrong with Nuclear. All the facts are stacked against you and all you've brought against it are lies and bullshit fearmongering to convince people who are ignorant of what the nuclear statistics actually look like. I'm fucking sick and tired of you anti-nuclear liars. All you do is help ensure we keep guzzling oil, coal and gas. I don't think the oil industries could've gotten better shills if they paid for them.
      • by Layzej (1976930) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @12:37PM (#47316137)

        In Germany citizens and co-ops own about half of the solar capacity. So it is the average tax payer who both pays for and benefits from the subsides. It represents a real democratization of the energy market. "Not only has energy production in Germany been pried from the hands of the “Big Four,” namely the four utility giants that had dominated the German energy market, but it is now also radically decentralized." - http://climatecrocks.com/2014/... [climatecrocks.com]

        It is amazing what they have achieved. Especially in the face of doubters who predicted rolling brown outs that never materialized. The next revolution needs to come in storage. I'm optimistic.

        • by mlts (1038732) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @01:28PM (#47316627)

          It verges on astounding. I've read for years that Germany has ceded sovereign control of its land to Russia for natural gas, and that German citizens would freeze by the tens of thousands if Putin turned off the taps. However, Germany is still going strong and doesn't have brownouts or rolling blackouts as naysayers have been saying would be a certainty.

          This doesn't mean nuclear power is bad. The ideal would be to work on the latest generation plants, maybe even thorium plants. However, due to NIMBY syndrome and fearmongering, any advances in nuclear power are swept under the rug, while anything that might happen bad with 50-60 year old plants that (by moratoriums in place) cannot be upgraded/replaced will be blasted on the front pages of any periodical or website.

          I do agree about storage. I'm hoping Germany is a frontline player when it comes to higher energy density per volume and weight when it comes to batteries. If a battery is made that even comes within an order of magnitude of gasoline or diesel's energy by volume, this would fundamentally change transportation as we know it.

        • So it is the average tax payer who both pays for and benefits from the subsides.

          No, it is the average renter (who doesn't have any roof to put photovoltaic modules on) who pays extra taxes, while chinese manufacturers and german landlords benefit from the subsidies.

        • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @03:11PM (#47317679)
          Remarkable that they had the wisdom to replace zero-emission nuclear power with a dozen new gigantic coal plants, including several that burn brown coal? Congratulations, welcome to the 18th century! While the greenhouse emissions from the USA are falling like a rock in the last 5 years, Germany's CO2 output is spiking upwards and reaches record levels every year. And for all this, Germans have to pay some of the highest electricity costs in Europe. I'm not saying that Germany can't eventually get their act together, but to me it looks like they're off to a very bad start.
      • by golodh (893453) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @03:20PM (#47317765)
        As always there are other considerations apart from purely economical ones. In Germany they are given weight while in the US their weight is often set at zero until there is a crisis.

        There's a big difference between the US and Germany: the US has an awful lot of territory, so it can afford to waste and pollute large tracts of it (which it still does on a regular basis), yet have sufficient clean land for other purposes. Germany is a lot smaller and more densely populated, and it has to exercise a lot more caution with its environment than the US

        Besides which, Europe as a whole seems to import 33% of its oil and 48% of its gas from Russia. Now consider that Russia seems to be sponsoring environmental groups in Europe that oppose fracking. Why would that be, you think?

        Given Russia's showdown with the Ukraina (annexing the Crimea and turning the screws on by jacking up the price of natural gas) and Putin's determination to err ... restore Russia's political clout and former "glory", wouldn't you do your level best to try and worm your way out of energy dependence on Russia? The Germans seem to be doing exactly that.

        In other news ... China is busily overtaking the US as largest economy, and it has no oil, no gas, but loads of coal. It's also the world's manufacturing hub. And then there's India growing steadily. Population growth in Asia is still massive (in absolute terms) and its prosperity is steadily rising. With that inevitably comes an increased energy footprint.

        I believe than in the coming 10-20 years energy prices will be determined by what happens in Asia, not in the US or Europe. And the only way I see oil prices go in that period is up. Way up. Solar seems to be a pretty solid investment from that point of view.

        So on balance I'd say that Germany's investment in solar energy is not a stupid move and should probably continue.

    • "Now" is misleading when the article is 2 years old?
      • by aliquis (678370)

        "Now" is misleading when the article is 2 years old?

        lol :D

        Oh well, more recently they hit 74% with all renewable energy combined:
        http://thinkprogress.org/clima... [thinkprogress.org]

        Maybe the 50% is correct for this year or other pages have just picked up the hype and not checked the sources or noticed the dates either.
        http://www.thelocal.de/2014061... [thelocal.de]
        http://www.forbes.com/sites/qu... [forbes.com]

        Did I Fucking Love Science got it wrong?
        http://www.iflscience.com/tech... [iflscience.com]

        More 2012:
        http://www.marketwatch.com/sto... [marketwatch.com]
        I can't see a year here:
        http://theweek.com/speedreads/... [theweek.com]

        Anyway, even if it has h

        • lol :D

          Oh well, more recently they hit 74% with all renewable energy combined: http://thinkprogress.org/clima... [thinkprogress.org]

          Maybe the 50% is correct for this year or other pages have just picked up the hype and not checked the sources or noticed the dates either.

          This includes wind, the slashdot article is only talking solar. I am less impressed by so called achievement of briefly generating a large percentage of the country's demand at a period of very low demand after spending hundreds of billions of euros than you are. That they are even spending more to build coal plants to make up for the unreliability is even less impressive when one looks at the actual goal of reducing carbon. I suppose if momentary bursts of power output were the goal, it would be a rousing

    • by Mr D from 63 (3395377) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @11:50AM (#47315607)

      produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour — equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity

      And for the entire week, those same solar cells produced the equivalent of about 3 or 4 nuclear stations. For a week in mid-winter, it is more like the equivalent of 2 nuclear stations. Luckily, they have their new coal plants that are cranked up when the solar is not producing for a large portion of the day.

      As of 2011, Germany had already spent over 100 billion Euros subsidizing solar. This level of subsidization could easily produce over 20 nuclear plants and would basically end the further need for carbon free electrical energy spending, while offsetting much more carbon in a shorter period of time. Not to mention the vast economic benefits to the country from supplying a majority of the plant components versus buying from Asia. But, Germany will continue to spend even more, sending vast sums of money to Asia in efforts to just 'keep up', while their electricity prices continue to skyrocket, resulting in higher costs for business and manufacturing.

      Apart from the low lattitude band of land where the solar conditions are optimal, a combination of wind, gas, and nuclear is the most effective and practical approach to significantly reduce carbon emmissions. If you are one who is against nuclear no matter what, then wind and gas are the next best option. In all cases, energy efficiency improvement investment is signfiicantly undervalued in terms of carbon reduction return. Alas, many will still prefer the green badge of solar honor over the practical solutions.

      This article spells it out as well, albiet with over-use of negative adjectives. The facts are correct;

      In 2012 Germany had one third of the world's solar panels, and at one point these panels generated over half of Germany's electricity demand. This is how things are normally put. But it as rather like talking about a third rate golfer and only referring to the time he almost won the US Masters. Yes, Germany got 50% of its electricity from solar one afternoon. Throughout the year it only produced 5%. The 5% is what really matters. The 50% gets all the headlines.

      And solar is an awful source of energy in a country as cloudy and as far north as Germany. Electricity has to be available when we want it. Germans, like many Europeans, most want the stuff around 6 pm on a cold Winter evening. This is an incredibly reliable peak in demand. Yet, the electricity supplied by Germany's solar panels at 6 pm on a cold December is also incredibly reliable: zero

      http://theenergycollective.com... [theenergycollective.com]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ZeroPly (881915)
        We have more than enough people telling us how difficult things are and how we shouldn't try - yours is just another voice in that cacophony.

        What we need are people who tell us how to make it work. Nuclear plants might be necessary for a very long time, but they should be secondary to renewable sources.
        • If we develop great leaps in energy storage technology, the game changes and we can shift largely to wind. We can and should continue to work on such things, be we can't depend on those happening when we have nothing on the table right now that suggests success is likely any time soon.

          A balance of ther right sources makes sense. There will always be differing opiniond on where to strike that balance and how much we should be willing to pay. But I think its pretty clear which sources make the most sense t
        • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @01:23PM (#47316563)

          We have more than enough people telling us how difficult things are and how we shouldn't try - yours is just another voice in that cacophony.

          I think hes explaining why its dumb to rely on solar in a fairly northern, cloudy country when there are so many better options.

          And Im not seeing the categorical difference between his post and yours, in terms of naysaying-- you're naysaying nuclear as a long term option-- except that he gives good reasons for his opinions. You're simply stating that nuclear is a bad option, with no real reasoning applied

      • by mdmkolbe (944892)

        a combination of wind, gas, and nuclear is the most effective and practical approach to significantly reduce carbon emmissions

        Wind and nuclear I understand, but how does gas significantly reduce carbon emmissions? Isn't it still burning stuff and thus producing CO2? How is gas better than coal in this respect?

        • by Firethorn (177587)

          but how does gas significantly reduce carbon emmissions?

          An energy source doesn't need to be 'carbon free' to reduce CO2 emissions. Coal is essentially pure carbon, while natural gas is a carbon fixed to four hydrogens. Burning Coal yields pure CO2(in theory), burning CH4 gives you CO2 and H2O
          Burning coal:
          C + O2 -> CO2. Approximately 2,249 lbs per MWh. [epa.gov]
          CH4 + 2 O2 -> CO2 + 2 H2O Approximately 1,135 lbs of CO2 per MWh, or half that of Coal.

    • Surely the fine summary should read "The German government decided to abandon nuclear fission power".
      Sounds like they're finally starting to figure out how to make fusion work economically.
    • by bigpat (158134)

      "Now" is misleading in that context.

      More than just misleading unless the headline was written at the moment it was true. 50% for a few moments when the sun was at its peak is great, don't mean to rain on the solar parade, so to speak. But if it was 50% for a few minutes on a cloudless day in Summer when the Sun was at its highest in the sky... then the stories are lacking a critical piece of information to judge the overall progress towards greener energy... Like what is the actual percentage of power over a realistic period of time? So

    • by PortHaven (242123)

      But America with it's Southwest could achieve this goal fairly easily compared to Germany.

  • Winter is coming (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @11:36AM (#47315399)

    Would be more impressive in February.

    • by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @11:46AM (#47315547) Homepage Journal

      Is there a point to this post, exactly? I mean, I get the capacity variation is both a real concern and a common kind of FUD regarding solar, but this data point isn't about that.

      It's about how rapidly a changeover in energy production to sustainable can occur. Germany was one of the world's biggest nuclear energy producers(France being the leader of that pack), and they've gone from that to one of the biggest solar producers in only a year or so.

      With a really large economy, without losing much GDP. The point that's being demonstrated is that a power infrastructure changeover can be done without sacrificing being a first world nation along the way.

      • Because you want to get the most bang for your buck. I can sympathize because I am in the same boat.

        I live in the northern latitudes. In the winter I have high energy demands (some electrical heating) and very short periods of daylight. Assuming the storage issue was solved, I would still need to build a huge array that I would use for only 3 months of the year. During the summer 90% of the array would be idle. I am in a specialized case, but for the more general case in my area the numbers would be somewhe

      • by khallow (566160)

        With a really large economy, without losing much GDP.

        Let's not get hasty with the judgments here. GDP can be gamed in a variety of ways, such as the broken window fallacy. Just because GDP hasn't yet declined significantly doesn't mean that the underlying economy is healthy. This may well work out for Germany, but I'd like to see some more years put in first.

        • How is permanently cutting out a trade dependency a broken window fallacy? That's practically the definition of economic investment. I'm not trying to articulate a "creates jobs" argument here.

          • by khallow (566160)

            How is permanently cutting out a trade dependency a broken window fallacy?

            Which hasn't actually happened, let us note. Germany remains dependent on nuclear power, it's just nuclear power from France now. They also remain dependent on natural gas from Russia and coal power from Eastern Europe. Buying relatively expensive energy from elsewhere and then selling them extremely low priced renewable in return isn't what I'd consider a good trade.

            And they made this happen at the cost of doubling the price of electricity in Germany. Germany might pull it off, but I don't think they wi

            • No, but peak of 50% is pretty damn good progress on that kind of thing. We're talking about huge improvements in short time frames.

              100% renewable is a pipe-dream. 50% consistent and 75% reliable peak seems reasonable within a decade with this kind of progress.

    • It's summer in February, you insensitive clod!

      (At least in my hemisphere.)

  • Gigawatts per hour (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AvitarX (172628) <me@nOsPAM.brandywinehundred.org> on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @11:36AM (#47315409) Journal

    Amazing, in 24 hours it'll be 528 gigawatts, amazing ramp up of production.

    • by Megane (129182)
      But how much will it be in 12 hours?
    • by ganv (881057)
      Good to see I wasn't the only one who noticed the bad units. :) For those who missed it: Power is measured in Watts, which is energy per unit time (J/s). If you have 22 GW/hr, that is a rate of increase of power provided, so AvitarX calculated that after only 24 hours they would have 22*24=528 GW of solar power being produced, which is ridiculous, but that is what the post indicates.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @11:37AM (#47315417)

    Yeah, but everybody knows they get more sunlight than the U.S... fox news said so ;)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYDVdqWOXxY

    @foxyloxy

  • Gigawatts per hour (Score:5, Insightful)

    by enriquevagu (1026480) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @11:44AM (#47315523)

    Note that gigawatts are power units; gigawattshour are energy units and gigawatts per hour is wrong and misleading. I would expect that the editor would correct such basic mistakes, even tough they come from the linked article.

  • by rahvin112 (446269) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @11:45AM (#47315545)

    The most interesting part about Germany's Solar deployment is that they have almost no utility scale deployments. Almost every deployed panel is on the roof of a building of a privately owned residence or business.

    This is contrast to the US were better than 50% of the deployed panels are utility scale deployments. Fact is if everyone deployed panels on their homes and businesses south facing roof's we'd have more power than we could ever use. Germany is proof of that.

    • by silas_moeckel (234313) <silas@[ ]inc-corp.com ['dsm' in gap]> on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @12:02PM (#47315775) Homepage

      Might have something to do with the ridiculous pricing in the US. Every licensed installer in my state charges 6-10x the wholesale panel price and will only do a fixed bid install that is about 4x the T+M labor cost. To get any of the government subsidies you must use a licensed installer. In effect I can put up the 100 or so pannels to meet my current needs for 30k including skilled labor yet the cheapest installer it looking for 100+ with the government programs taking it back down to 80 meaning they are making 70+k on whats quoted as a 2 day job with a 5 man crew.

      We need to put a stop to the installer language on the government subsidies, simply having the various trade inspectors sign off seems ample proof, but that is a whole different discussion.

      • by Firethorn (177587) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @02:19PM (#47317199) Homepage Journal

        Every licensed installer in my state charges 6-10x the wholesale panel price and will only do a fixed bid install that is about 4x the T+M labor cost.

        Citation? Which state? My Anecdote: I walked into the solar place in my town and the first thing they proposed when I laid out my situation was that I do the install myself. About the only labor I couldn't do myself would be the final hookup. They'd provide the plans and instructions.

        I'm not seeing any requirements to use a licensed installer here [dsireusa.org]. It might be a state/city requirement.

        In effect I can put up the 100 or so pannels to meet my current needs for 30k including skilled labor yet the cheapest installer it looking for 100+ with the government programs taking it back down to 80 meaning they are making 70+k on whats quoted as a 2 day job with a 5 man crew.

        100 panels? How much electricity do you use? 25 would cover the average household in the USA(10,837 kWh/year [eia.gov], each panel producing 437 kWh/year [nrel.gov], even in the middle of the country). Standard panels today are 250-300 watts each. Even the cheapest pallet [wholesalesolar.com] of 20 300 watt modules will run you $5,270, or $26,350 in panels alone, without racking or inverters(~$4.5k). Checking other online sites shows similar pricing.

        As such, wanting it done for $30k means the workers would be doing it for free. The $70k worth of 'labor' does seem inappropriate.

    • by Bryan Ischo (893) *

      Read the other comments before posting, it will save us all some time. All that Germany proved is that in ideal conditions on one afternoon solar contributed significantly to their energy supply. Solar only contributed 5% of their total power over the year. That is hardly proof that such a methodology can scale as you suggest.

    • by Catbeller (118204)

      American incomes have been stagnant, or declining in real purchasing power for thirty years. That hasn't not happened in Germany, which allows unions to exist - and operate properly.
      A large number of the American middle class are months away from losing their homes, given a health cost issue or a job loss, a situation that doesn't happen often in Germany.
      We are adopting private solar plants at a slower rate primarily because a chunk of our middle class can't afford it, not with the hell that they've been ta

    • by Firethorn (177587)

      The most interesting part about Germany's Solar deployment is that they have almost no utility scale deployments. Almost every deployed panel is on the roof of a building of a privately owned residence or business.

      Probably has to do with the form Germany's subsidies takes.

      we'd have more power than we could ever use. Germany is proof of that.

      Yeah, like we'd ever use more than 640k of memory... If the power is there we'll use it. To make aluminum, power our new EVs, etc...

      Still, we have a pretty good example in Hawaii. Due to most of their electricity being oil generated and predominately sunny(but not too hot) weather relatively close to the equator they've actually managed to get to the point where they could have a day where they bust 100% at this point. It's reached the point that

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Great editing job /.! The article is more than 2 years old...

  • by raymorris (2726007) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @11:46AM (#47315553)

    It wasn't nearly half of the POWER used in Germany at that moment. It was, for a moment, about half of the public ELECTRIC grid, in a country where electric is unpopular because it's becoming outrageously expensive. Most of the power used in Germany is not from the public electricity grid.

    Here's a thought experiment:
    Germany could shut off all of their generators, so there is no electricity on the public grid.
    They could then attach a single 9-volt battery to the grid, so the only power on the grid would be a few watts from that little battery. The headline could then be:
    100% of German electricity provided by one 9-volt battery!

    What Germany has actually done is simply a less extreme case of the thought experiment. They've shut down generators, so less power is available. It's not that solar is providing the needed power, the power simply isn't available like it used to be. By supply and demand, as well as tariffs, electricity has become far more expensive, so people have turned more and more to other sources of energy. You won't see a lot of people driving electric cars in Germany because the cost to charge them makes it prohibitive.

    • Strangely those other sources probably pollute far far more than the fission power plants they are replacing.

    • "It wasn't nearly half of the POWER used in Germany at that moment. It was, for a moment, about half of the public ELECTRIC grid, in a country where electric is unpopular because it's becoming outrageously expensive. Most of the power used in Germany is not from the public electricity grid."

      Do people have their own household generators running on natural gas or something? I could understand that power for heating could mostly come from gas, but presumably that is only needed in the winter? ( Does Germany ev

  • Solar is good for alleviating peek load if the weather is right. It needs a storage component to deal with base load and generally be useful. It baffles me that the generally rational and stoic Germans are headed down the road of PV. It amounts to a feel good policy coupled with a hedge on the middle class and above electricity prices (as they own homes and can get the funding to install it). Mandated grid buyback effectively fleeces everybody else via higher rates as they still need to have enough peek

    • by Uecker (1842596)

      As you correctly point out solar is good for peak load. Nuclear has the opposite problem: it is only good for base load while demand changes a lot during the day. So you would need a storage component as well if you want to power everything with nuclear.

      But you you can mix energy sources. Solar + wind is relatively stable in Germany and instead of having storage, you can ramp down other energy sources and save fuel (hydropower, biomass, gas, coal). You can also export and import electricity and average prod

  • I don't know why they are making such a big deal about 22 Gigawatts briefly. Is it really worth bragging in this day and age? In 2014? It is on the record someone generated 1.21 Gigwatts briefly at 10:04 PM November 5, 1955 using some home made contraptions, extension cords and a lightning conductor, in Hill Valley California. By Moore's law, we should be generating so much more than mere 22 Gigawatts.
  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @11:53AM (#47315647)

    The German government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022.

    I didn't realize Germany was in Tsunami territory.

  • Unbelievably lame. There is no such unit as a "gigawatt per hour".

    You can't even be sure what this means, if anything.

  • was pushed back to the bottom of the stack by the 31 triple coal plant that powers six cities.

  • It seems Germany is leading the way in showing, by example, that every bit of American futzing about solar power and unions is, to put it down hard, a load of cultish crap designed to make rich people much richer.
    They are an economic powerhouse with strong exports, a union-based worker's economy, and now they've shown you can run 50% of an industrial economy off the power of the sun, in something less than ten-twenty years. WHILE they absorbed a pauperized East Germany after the Soviets finally gave up. Oh

    • by jittles (1613415) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @12:23PM (#47316013)

      It seems Germany is leading the way in showing, by example, that every bit of American futzing about solar power and unions is, to put it down hard, a load of cultish crap designed to make rich people much richer. They are an economic powerhouse with strong exports, a union-based worker's economy, and now they've shown you can run 50% of an industrial economy off the power of the sun, in something less than ten-twenty years. WHILE they absorbed a pauperized East Germany after the Soviets finally gave up. Oh yep - they innovate like mad. With health care for everyone. Randites, avoiding the No True Scottman fallacy, examine why you are wrong on this. Seriously, before your wreck us beyond repair.

      Uhh you understand that this was over a holiday weekend (3 day weekend) and that they were only briefly meeting that demand on an especially sunny afternoon? Germany has a lot of cool and cloudy weather. I spent almost a month of June 2013 in Germany and it was cloudy and cold 70% of the time.

    • by Firethorn (177587)

      It seems Germany is leading the way in showing, by example, that every bit of American futzing about solar power and unions is, to put it down hard, a load of cultish crap designed to make rich people much richer.

      Couldn't one say the same about solar in Germany? After all, Germany is paying 36.25 cents per kWh, [wikipedia.org] the USA is paying 8-17.

      and now they've shown you can run 50% of an industrial economy off the power of the sun

      Actually they've shown that you can reach 50% during a sunny national holiday when most of the industrial equipment is turned off. Going by annual energy production they're more at 5%. [fraunhofer.de]

      Hawaii would actually be a bit better, but they have their own problems [huffingtonpost.com] relating to having so much solar installed it's a threat to grid stability.

      And I say this as a guy who was seriously looking at put

  • Electricity in Germany is about 3x as expensive as it is in the US. Electricity is not just what you pay at home, but it's a big component of the price of goods and services, so German consumers are paying a premium for this.

  • by Solandri (704621) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @12:13PM (#47315901)
    The units on gigawatts/hr works out to energy/time^2. I'm not even sure what that means. Rate of acceleration of energy use?

    Assuming the Reuters reporter never took physics and the actual figure is 22 gigawatts, while it's an impressive amount, it's peak production. Solar has just about the worst capacity factor (ratio of average production to max peak production) of any energy source. If you look at Germany's solar statistics [wikipedia.org], they produced 31400 GWh in 2013. The average of their 2012 and 2013 installed (peak) generating capacity was (32.643+35.948) / 2 = 34.296 GW (averaged to take into account new plants coming online through the year).

    34.3 GW * 8766 hours (1 year) = 1.08 * 10^18 joules
    = 300673.8 GWh of potential solar production - i.e. how much the plants could have produced if they were operating at max capacity the entire year.

    So their solar capacity factor is just 31400 / 300674 = 0.1044.

    Compare to U.S. average capacity factors of [eia.gov]
    0.9 for nuclear
    0.7 for geothermal
    0.64 for coal
    0.4 for hydro
    0.35 for offshore wind
    0.22 for onshre wind
    0.145 for PV solar in the U.S. (not on chart)

    So if Germany's peak solar production was equivalent to 20 nuclear plants, that means their entire installed base of solar plants has only eliminated the need for two nuclear plants. (There's some wriggle room here because they're comparing a peak load power source to a base load power source, but I'm just rolling with the comparison they made.) This is why you don't compare power production technologies based on peak production. It's like comparing the fuel efficiency of different cars only when they're going downhill - it unreasonably favors cars with low drag coefficients even if they may have inefficient engines. You should be comparing average production through the year (equivalent to peak production * capacity factor). Just like you should be comparing the average fuel efficiency of cars across all use cases.
  • by ab8ten (551673) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @12:19PM (#47315977)
    ...and Slashdot covered it at the time: http://hardware.slashdot.org/s... [slashdot.org]
    I think the submitter meant to post this story, which is about the new record of 24.2GW: http://www.iflscience.com/tech... [iflscience.com]

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