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Power Hardware

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

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 @12:12PM (#41932615)

    German here.

    For private households, rates in 2011 were (on average) approx. 0.25 €/kWh (= 31 US $ / kWh). 0.036 € of this (0.045 US $) goes to renewable energy sources (mostly wind and solar), which is subsidized by the electricity consumers (NOT by the goverment, as some seem to think). In total, around 45% of the price is taxes and subsidies. Remember that we use less than US households though - the average 3 person household uses approx. 3500 kWh/a.

    No idea about the 3-phase drops for new businesses... but I never heard of anyone not getting connected. New buildings _always_ get connected (by law). Germany is a pretty densly packed country, which helps a lot when doing infrastructure.

    There will not be a shortage in the winter. There are still plenty of reserve plants, and the european grid is pretty well connected. Some 5 GW less will not make it collapse.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2012 @12:14PM (#41932645)

    Ask, and the internet provides:

  • Re:RTFA (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2012 @12:18PM (#41932681)

    Actually most Germans heat without electricity. Old heating systems often run on oil, most newer ones run on gas (which can without problems be replaced by biogas because it's chemically identical) and increasingly wood pellets (made from the leftovers of sawmills). You even see an increase in prices for cheap furniture because it is made of this compressed sawdus which is now worth something instead of being thrown away :-)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2012 @12:28PM (#41932785)

    > How are your rates?
    ~ 0.22 Euro-cents/kWh
    > How hard is it to get a 3-phase drop for your new business?
    3-phase is standard, every home has it.
    >Are you really going to have a shortage this winter?
    I don't thinks so. The grid here is rock-stable and there are reserves in the European grid.

    > Do the tax dollars you've put into this feel like they were decently spent?
    The government is not spening, the bill is payed by the (private) consumers.

  • by Ozan ( 176854 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @12:29PM (#41932801) Homepage

    Rates: on average €0.25/kWh
    3-phase drop: is standard for every premise, even a 1-bedroom apartment has it
    shortage in winter: no, Germany has been a net exporter of electricity for ages. Talks about shortages are usually corporate FUD.

    To clarify: there is no tax euro spent on the electrical infrastructure. The conversion to renewable energy is financed by payment guarantees, which in turn are financed by the consumer. [].

  • Totally bogus (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2012 @12:34PM (#41932855)

    The country's rapid expansion into renewable energy is credited with the growth.

    That is so bogus. Germany relies on coal. It's replacing its nuclear generators with coal powered generators. The thing about renewable generation is mostly a lie.

  • by similar_name ( 1164087 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @12:36PM (#41932879)
    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 []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2012 @12:42PM (#41932949)

    3-phase question -> funny . In Slovakia (old east block - 150miles from GER) you get 3-phase to 95% of apartments/houses so its no isue( germany will be propably the same)
    I see you are from US by your question. US power is mess as your Internet and Telecom providers. (blakout in NYC-dowtown - single point of failure.14th st)
    Our power distribution is different then yours. We dont have transformers for every house, but only for bigger areas transformers owned by power company and therefore by default its 3-phase transformer (230V travels better distances). All underground cables are mostly 4 wire with RARE exceptions. Overhead cables are rare - and 4 wire.
    I never seen a non 3 phase transformer for step down to from about 10kV/22kV to 230V.

    Shortage i think will come cause many countries are closing Nuclear power.

  • by jeti ( 105266 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @12:49PM (#41933013) Homepage

    There's a lot of talk about wind energy in Germany, but in truth most of our energy stems from coal and natural gas plants. And that's not going to change in the foreseeable future. Check out the up-to-date statistics on power production in Germany [] that eex provides.

  • by bfandreas ( 603438 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @01:07PM (#41933211)
    You don't need an AC in Germany. We have mild summers and mild winters. So there goes one major factor.

    But there is also the cultural factor. For instance every fridge, washing machine, anything that remotely uses power has a big fat sticker with the energy efficiency class on its side. Nobody likes to buy something with a B on it when you can spend a bit more that says A.
    This goes even further. We use so little water that lakc of water seriously threatens our drains. So the utilities started to flush them.
    Most of the cars you see in the inner cities are quite small. And a lot of them are highly fuel efficient. Bigger cars used for commuting are diesel powered. You'll see a lot of Blue Motion Volkswagen that are so fuel efficient they put a Prius to shame.

    The head of our government is a physicist. That propably also helps. They tend not to be that easily bullshittable. She can do the maths herself. Also one of our states is governed by the Green party.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2012 @01:11PM (#41933245)

    The German AC above posted his consumption at ~3500kWh/a, or ~3500 kWh per year. The topic was about consumption per YEAR, so I'd assume the GGP was talking about kWh per year. Unless he wasn't, and his post only serves as an example of how much extra energy the Americans use.

    BTW, here in Brazil we use about 1500 kWh per year for a 3-person house in uptown Rio de Janeiro, with the AC on for 8-10 months straight.

  • by bfandreas ( 603438 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @01:30PM (#41933443)
    We didn't have to give up any luxury for that.

  • by datapharmer ( 1099455 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @01:39PM (#41933553) Homepage
    Ummm... yes it does. Concrete block has an inherent R value of 1.28 where wood siding is about 0.8.
  • Re:But , but (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tx ( 96709 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @01:43PM (#41933587) Journal
  • Re:But , but (Score:4, Informative)

    by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <> on Friday November 09, 2012 @01:59PM (#41933757) Homepage

    But renewables don't work! Subsidies for oil companies! Drill baby drill etc.

    They don't work.

    Here in Ontario(Canada), it's cost electricity users $20B in subsidies so far, and is costing the average rate payer right now about 3c/KWH on top of their electricity bill on ToU billing at peak. By 2016, Ontario is projected to be at 16c/KWH one of the highest in North America. This is all because of subsidies, or the FiT(Feed it Tariff) program. Where utilities get paid at a higher rate than they can sell for. Usually between 40-60c/KWH.

    But hey, look above. A german mentioned that they're paying 0.45c/KWH right now. Enjoy that screw over, though he didn't mention that nearly 800k germans can no longer afford electricity [] and have been cut off. Though the article is considered dated from June of this year, and it's figured to be over 1 million germans now.

  • by polar red ( 215081 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @02:08PM (#41933861)

    look up 'cavity wall' which has been pretty much standard in europe since the sixties; and since the eighties they where standard equiped with insulation aterial between them. I expect by 2020 [] to be the building standard in most of europe.

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @02:17PM (#41933939)

    Pretty amazing. Those low numbers aren't attainable here. You'd die of heat exposure.

    How did Americans survive before the advent of air conditioning?

    I lived in Memphis, TN for 5 years without any air conditioning - summertime temperatures were regularly well into the 90's with high humidity. Those in the southwest where there is low humidity in the summer can get by with "swamp coolers" to cool their house, but in Memphis my only reprieve was a whole house fan - a big 3 foot diameter fan that sucked air up into the attic through a central hallway - brought a nice breeze in through all open windows. Things got uncomfortable on the hottest days, but I was never near death.

    If you're really living in an area where you'd die of heat exposure if the air conditioning fails, I'd move someplace safer.

  • "There's enough insolation just on America's residential rooftops to power the entire planet, []

    Lets say you can get solar efficiency of 30%.
    Solar drops about 1kW per sqr meter.
    So that's 300 watts per sqr meter.

    in 2008 the world used over 142,000 TWhs
    there a 10 trillion sq meters in the total US, not just roof tops.

    that means each sq meter would need to generate 14.2 kWh
    so... yu are wrong

    That said,I believe that it should be part of the housing code to put solar on roof tops.
    And the saving over 20 years will more then pay for it over time.

    And before anyone sways 'it will raise the price of the house" I say 'no shit.'

    "Obama will have us do with his "Drill, baby! Drill!""
    WTF are you talking about?

  • by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @02:41PM (#41934217) Homepage Journal
    While coal plants burning trees may be a little sketchy, don't dismiss biomass combustion out of hand. Newer, purpose-built reactors are quite efficient and very clean.
  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @02:47PM (#41934291)

    rates in 2011 were (on average) approx. 0.25 â/kWh (= 0.31 US $ / kWh) [corrected]. 0.036 â of this (0.045 US $) goes to renewable energy sources (mostly wind and solar), which is subsidized by the electricity consumers (NOT by the goverment, as some seem to think). In total, around 45% of the price is taxes and subsidies.

    By way of comparison, average retail electricity rate in the U.S. is about 0.11 USD / kWh. It varies by region but that's the national average,

    • Average production cost for coal is about 0.04 - 0.05 USD / kWh.
    • Average production cost for nuclear is about 0.05 - 0.07 USD / kWh (and because someone will bring it up, yes this includes construction and decommissioning. Nuclear produces a helluva lot of power for a small amount of waste - powering a U.S. home for 30 years generates about a tablespoon of waste vs. a traincar of coal slag.)
    • Average production cost for wind is about 0.09 - 0.15 USD / kWh. I've heard some of the newer installations go as low as 0.07.
    • Average production cost for solar (excluding subsidies) is about 0.25 - 0.45 USD / kWh.

    So 0.25 â/kWh is high enough to make even solar occasionally viable. So you have a lot more than 45% taxes, or your power companies are robbing you blind, or you have very inefficient electrical production plants. The penchant for Germany quality actually works against you here, as you waste a lot of money on unneeded quality (e.g. every network cable I saw in Germany was shielded, even the 1 meter ones). So the last explanation is not entirely impossible.

    On the other hand, this does answer the question of what negative impact high energy prices will have on the economy of a leading first world nation - not a lot.

    Remember that we use less than US households though - the average 3 person household uses approx. 3500 kWh/a.

    Average use per home in the U.S. is 11,500 kWh / yr. This is partly due to the average home size in the U.S. being roughly twice that of Germany (2700 sq. ft, or 250 sq. meters vs 125 sq meters).

    Any why the hell won't slashdot let me post a Euro symbol in my preview when the gentleman from Germany quite obviously could?

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Friday November 09, 2012 @05:44PM (#41936081) Journal

    And the kicker is they dont change anything other than your bill. You CANT buy only "green" energy unless you go off grid and set up your own solar/wind farm.

    You obviously can't buy only green energy - by the time the current gets to you, there's no way to distinguish anyway - but you can affect the overall composition of the pool. So if you've signed up to pay more, your power distribution company will source power from more green suppliers next month - so, overall, fewer kWh gets provided by gas plants, and more by e.g. hydro, even though "yours" are not necessarily so.

    At least that's how it works in WA.

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