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EU Power

86 Percent of New Power in Europe From Renewable Sources in 2016 (theguardian.com) 194

Renewable energy sources made up nearly nine-tenths of new power added to Europe's electricity grids last year, in a sign of the continent's rapid shift away from fossil fuels. From a report on The Guardian: But industry leaders said they were worried about the lack of political support beyond 2020, when binding EU renewable energy targets end. Of the 24.5GW of new capacity built across the EU in 2016, 21.1GW -- or 86% -- was from wind, solar, biomass and hydro, eclipsing the previous high-water mark of 79% in 2014. For the first time windfarms accounted for more than half of the capacity installed, the data from trade body WindEurope showed. Wind power overtook coal to become the EU's second largest form of power capacity after gas, though due to the technology's intermittent nature, coal still meets more of the blocâ(TM)s electricity demand.
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86 Percent of New Power in Europe From Renewable Sources in 2016

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  • Clearly (Score:5, Funny)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday February 09, 2017 @03:03PM (#53834523) Journal

    Clearly this evil, and an attack on fine upstanding God-fearing fossil fuel companies who have been so victimized by the evil uber-wealthy climatologists out to make the world into a Stone Age Communist Collective. Won't somebody think of the Kochs?

    • Re: Clearly (Score:4, Insightful)

      by thesupraman ( 179040 ) on Thursday February 09, 2017 @03:40PM (#53834769)

      Um. No.
      While I know your knee is busy jerking.. You have got your over zealous reaction wrong.
      You are supposed to be complaining about the way this is saving us from the devising destruction that nuclear power will spill all over our children real soon now.. not the evil oil companies.
      This is Europe replacing nuclear power, not (on the whole) oil.

      It is also, as is often the case, highly biased reporting. They use the inflated capacity of assuming these sources can all product at peak capacity 24/7/365. Which of course is not true for the majority of them. Once you allow for their actual protection you see it falls back under 20â..... but then that's not a story, is it.
      The SD state of affairs is that the greens in Europe are managing to get one form of clean energy (nuclear) replaced with another (solar and wind) that actually kills many more people, while actually increasing demand for hydrocarbon based power to fill in the gaps in base load.

      Congratulations.

      Of course now the other knee will jerk with a whole lot of 60s era paranoia about how radiation is evil and will destroy us all, while ignoring the fact that the existing problems with nuclear power have almost all been produced by the green movement by stalling development of newer safer and more efficient designs and making the cost of regulatory oversight so high that old plants have to be kept running way past their design lifespans.

      I guess that's with another congratulations right there.

      But no.. Pat each other on the back for having increased demand for hydrocarbon based power generation.. good job!

      • I don't think the green movement had much to do with Fukishima, but way to go find a scapegoat.

        If nothing else, nuclear is insanely expensive, and it isn't renewable either. You still have to dig uranium and other isotopes out of the ground.

        • by denzacar ( 181829 ) on Thursday February 09, 2017 @06:01PM (#53835583) Journal

          Nuclear could become (with magic and prayers) cheap and renewable as farts - it will still be a security risk.
          "Yeah but this new reactor design..." doesn't matter either.
          You still have to build nuclear reactors in places where there will most likely be social upheavals resulting in wars in the next 50 years.

          Cause those are the places where most people are being born, which means more energy needs, which means more powerplants - built in future Syrias.
          Did someone say ISIS dirty bombs? Anyone? Anyone? NSA?

        • its also subsidised so the consumer does not pay the real cost. Its also an expensive pain to commission and decommission and also a prime target within a war scenario.
        • They had nothing to do with the accident per se. But they certainly inflated and hyped the problem way beyond reason and caused Japan's economy to sink deeper into depression as a result for the (needless) total shutdown. Yet the reactors are being restarted. It's not like there are a lot of economically viable alternatives for a country like Japan.

      • Re: Clearly (Score:5, Informative)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Thursday February 09, 2017 @04:35PM (#53835097) Homepage Journal

        Nuclear in Europe is insanely expensive. As in, you would be insane to pay those prices for it. Even with massive over-build and backup storage, wind is far cheaper. There is just no economic case for nuclear any more, at least not here.

        Rant all you like about environmental nutjobs and NIMBYs, but it's investors and governments who are killing off nuclear. That and the returns on renewables are far better than could ever be hoped for from developing new nuclear designs to replace they crappy ones we have now.

        By the way, did you know that Germany built -5 new coal power stations. Minus 5, as in they built some new ones but closed even more, ending up with 5 fewer and the new ones are cleaner to boot. Even China hit peak coal a couple of years back and is now on the decline.

        • Re: Clearly (Score:4, Informative)

          by Trogre ( 513942 ) on Thursday February 09, 2017 @07:24PM (#53836007) Homepage

          You're not getting this.

          Wind is not a base load and can't ever be so long as you don't have a guaranteed 24/7/365 air flow or massive battery reservoir.

          Solar isn't for obvious reasons (night time and clouds exist).

          Both wind and solar presently serve to supplement base loads, not replace them. That means they provide power when they can, not when demand dictates.

          At the moment the only viable base loads are hydro, coal or nuclear.

          • Wind power plants are almost always combined with natural gas plants, so when the wind stops blowing, the natural gas can fire up almost immediately. Natural gas is also cheaper recently because of fracking.

            So when you see a new wind farm being built, know that it is economical to build thanks to the power of fracking :) Tell that to a hippy.
            • by Trogre ( 513942 )

              Yikes, really? That's bad on several levels.

              I realize I should have said fossil fuels rather than coal in the GP.

              • It's bad, but it's still better than coal, so I don't really worry about it too much. Actually worrying in general is overrated.
            • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

              And hippies will tell you that any carbon emissions saved by burning natural gas are easily offset by the carbons used in natural gas production - putting the issue of man-made earthquakes and poisoned ground water aside entirely. That solar and wind power generation can be spaced across the grid - with spare power being stored via hydrostatic batteries - reservoirs or water towers in arid climates. No big whoop, with hydroelectric damns and water towers still in use that were built more than a century ag

          • Re: Clearly (Score:5, Insightful)

            by david_bonn ( 259998 ) <davidbonn@mac. c o m> on Thursday February 09, 2017 @09:01PM (#53836577) Homepage Journal

            I am often struck by the way that the current debate about intermittent renewable power is strikingly similar to the arguments between net heads and bell heads two decades previously. The funny part from a historical standpoint is that both were kind of right.

            You also miss an important point. The other factor that is important in power generation is if it is dispatchable. By dispatchable I mean can she adjust the power generated quickly to meet demand. Current nuclear and coal plants require long startup times and current nuclear plants can't throttle their power output very well, which makes them much less valuable in a world with a lot of renewables. Combined-cycle natural gas, on the other hand, is easy and quick to start up so it is very dispatchable.

            There are a few other factors that somewhat mitigate the intermittent nature of solar and wind. The first one, kind of obvious, is that you know more or less in the near future how much power you will be able to produce from these sources (we know when the sun rises and sets, and weather forecasts 24 hours out are fairly accurate -- especially if you just want to know if it will be sunny or windy). The other is that if we have a larger geographical distribution for solar and wind, the intermittency problem is somewhat mitigated -- it is unlikely to be cloudy and windless everywhere at the same time. Finally, there are other ways to store energy than batteries. If you have an old-style hot water heater rather than an on-demand system, you are essentially storing energy in the hot water tank -- and it would be plausible to have a system that would heat your hot water when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. You can do similar things with heating and air conditioning systems in buildings, and even to a lesser extent in refrigerators or freezers.

            You will still need some storage, but probably not as much as you think.

            • by radl33t ( 900691 )
              Anti-renewable arguments have always fascinated me. At their vary nature, these arguments are one form or another of: "Advances in IC manufacturing, power electronics, and software, will disrupt and fundamentally change every industry on earth, except apparently the electrical grid."
          • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

            Wind is not a base load and can't ever be so long as you don't have a guaranteed 24/7/365 air flow or massive battery reservoir.

            Baseline Bullshit - you simply build your generating capacity across the grid. Coal and nuclear power is already moved hundreds of miles over power lines, so space your solar and wind generation across the same distance - the chances of a region being windless and sunless over hundreds of miles at a time is zero. Excess energy can be stored in hydrostatic batteries - pump water i

            • by Trogre ( 513942 )

              Baseline Bullshit - you simply build your generating capacity across the grid. Coal and nuclear power is already moved hundreds of miles over power lines, so space your solar and wind generation across the same distance - the chances of a region being windless and sunless over hundreds of miles at a time is zero.

              No it isn't. I wish it was, but for practical purposes of generating electricity, it's nowhere near zero.

              Excess energy can be stored in hydrostatic batteries - pump water into a reservoir, then re

          • massive battery reservoir

            Is exactly what we're moving towards.

            For instance, BMW is taking all used batteries from customers that changing to larger battery packs in their electric cars, and using them for energy storage. These battery packs still have significant capacity left, so they're ideal for applications where a slightly worse capacity:weight ratio isn't a hindrance.

            I know Tesla is doing the same thing in the US, with their power banks.

            Small steps, but we are actually doing it.

          • You're staying stuck in last century thinking, this is a new way of generating and storing power. Power stations in the UK are currently buying in battery storage to use when demand spikes as its quicker than firing up a gas/coal station. Wind and solar are currently supplementary but will become more and more dominant in the future as the infrastructure increases. Go back to when the first coal and hydro power stations etc where created and see how they did for the first 10-20 years.

            This is not going
          • And you don't need to use batteries for your energy reservoir, you can use a literal reservoir. Pump water to large reservoirs, use gravity to feed the water to turbines when energy is needed. Artificial hydro, baby.

        • Lies. "nuclear in Europe" is not "insanely expensive". It's just EPR that's the problem. The remaining 2nd generation nuclear reactors work just fine and cheap thank you. As should a decent design like AP1000 once they get experience building them. EPR is just too complicated (too many parts) and people already knew it when the design was announced.


      • "...replaced with another (solar and wind) that actually kills many more people"

        Wait, what?

        [grabs popcorn]

        How do you figure?
  • by XXongo ( 3986865 ) on Thursday February 09, 2017 @03:05PM (#53834533) Homepage
    Makes sense. Conventional power plants are a well established field, there's not going to be a lot of new ones. Solar, on the other hand, had seen a major drop in price over the last five years; it makes sense a lot of solar is being added.

    When the new power gets to the point that the amount of power produced is not small compared to the existing sources, this will be interesting-- the grid will have to adapt to the time-variable sources.

    • the grid will have to adapt to the time-variable sources

      Stubborn grid -- why can't it just go ahead and get its act together now?

    • by davecb ( 6526 )
      Where I have my cottage, we have a former iron mine on top of a hill above the river, about 3/4 full of water. Add a nice modern turbine/pump asembly and you have a storage mechanism for solar and wind power. It's an old trick, but the old moter-gerarators they use in Brazil weren't as efficient as modern stuff. https://vimeo.com/63846372 [vimeo.com]
  • I find blocâ(TM)s are very demanding

  • I have no idea what the actual number is, but the legacy non-renewable systems will vastly outweigh the new renewable. But it is definitely a step in the right direction.
    • by jopsen ( 885607 ) <jopsen@gmail.com> on Thursday February 09, 2017 @03:49PM (#53834809) Homepage

      I have no idea what the actual number is

      Then by all means make up statistics rather than googling it, why don't change your username to Trump? :)

      In 2014 renewable energy made up 25.4% of all energy production in the EU.
      Source: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/s... [europa.eu]

      Now don't be fooled there is lots of similar stats here, like:

      Renewable energy sources accounted for a 12.5 % share of the EU-28’s gross inland energy consumption in 2014.

      (Presumably because not all energy is consumed, read the details if you care, but read before you bash).

      The goal remains:

      The EU seeks to have a 20 % share of its gross final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020

      Similarly, in 2014, the US was a 11%, source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
      (note. don't confuse electricity production for total energy production).

      All these stats are from 2014, clearly things a better now, given most new energy production facilities are renewable.

  • by Wycliffe ( 116160 ) on Thursday February 09, 2017 @03:34PM (#53834717) Homepage

    I checked and the USA was even lower at only 61.5% of new capacity being renewable. I was surprised there was any non-renewable being built new. If we truly started "phasing out" non-renewables then you would expect new capacity to be 100% renewable or even above 100% (if existing non-renewable plants were being shut down). I didn't realize we were still building *any* new coal/gas plants. I knew the existing ones were still being used but surprised that they were still building new ones. I'm surprised with as much renewable that is being built that our energy usage is going up fast enough to need that much new energy.

    • Those numbers probably just mean new plants that produce power, not net capacity increases. It makes sense to shutter an older, less efficient (or more expensive to repair) fossil fuel plant and to replace it with newer natural gas combined cycle equipment.

    • Much of the new non-renewable capacity is upgrades to old stuff. For example, in Germany they are closing old coal power stations and replacing them with a smaller number of new ones, which are cleaner (but still suck) and better able to follow load and thus help support renewables.

      Since they only count new builds and don't subtract all the old stuff going offline, you get 86%.

    • We still need coal for base and peak-power though, and new plants are still build, though mainly to replace old dirtier coal plants.

      • As soon as you have an high enough level of wind and solar, traditional base load is no longer needed, as it is replaced by wind and solar.

        • by Imrik ( 148191 )

          Only if you have adequate storage to overcome any temporary lack of generation.

          • No.

            Storage has nothing to do with "base load" ... perhaps you want to read what base load actually is.

            • by Imrik ( 148191 )

              A traditional base load constantly meets the minimum demand of the grid. If you have a relatively windless night, you can't generate enough power to provide that base. Assuming you have enough generation to meet demand in general, the problem is storing that power to allow constant output.

              • When I know that 5% of my demand is always fulfilled by renewables I can reduce my base load capacity by 5%.
                No storage needed.

                When do I know that? When I have records of significant long time about my power production with renewables.
                So: there is no problem with storage.

                • by Imrik ( 148191 )

                  In order to get 5% always fulfilled without storage you would need massively more than that in production. To completely convert your base load to wind and solar you either need to be able to store some of the energy or you need to have enough generators that even in the worst conditions you're still generating enough power to meet minimum demand. The latter would require you to have far more capacity than would be used on anything like a regular basis.

                  • Sigh ...
                    In order to get 5% always fulfilled without storage you would need massively more than that in production
                    Of course!!!!
                    But we ... as in Germany, or many other countries of Europe, already have that!!!

                    To completely convert your base load to wind and solar you either need to be able to store some of the energy or you need to have enough generators that even in the worst conditions
                    Wrong again!!
                    A load following plant or peak plant or balancing plant is completely capable of producing "base load". Facepal

          • Only if you have adequate storage to overcome any temporary lack of generation.

            Not that big a problem with wind actually. We can store for that long. The bigger problem is hydros. Given a bad season rain or mild winter, the dams can have an entire year with under projected energy. That is when Sweden. normally a net exporter, needs to import massive amounts of energy because they don't have coal plants anymore.

    • I was surprised there was any non-renewable being built new.

      Why would you be? We still need baseload power and so far renewables that are easily accessible to any country have yet to step up to this claim. The Dutch just brought a new coal plant online early 2016. Nice and new CCS technology, base load, but non-renewable none the less. Natgas based peaking plants are cropping up everywhere, and the French are still working on major nuclear projects.

      You won't get 100% renewables until you solve the baseload / peaking problem. That won't happen for a while yet.

  • While the 86% sounds great, what is the kWh adjusted number? It could be as low as 45% with that metric. kWh is king in terms of pollution.
  • For years, politicians were (publicly) in a state of denial about fossil fuel supplies while they proclaimed that fusion would soon solve all of life's problems.

    Fusion using tokamaks as currently envisioned isn't sustainable even in theory, but they would be huge, centralized power sources that governments could easily control (thus, the only sort that gets any funding, whether viable or not. ) Fission power has too many problems, and would take a few decades to make a difference at best. No other source of

    • I'm not clear here. Are you saying the sun is going to stop shining, the wind stop blowing and the tides stop surging?

I bet the human brain is a kludge. -- Marvin Minsky

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