Germany says solar and wind have won technology race

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The minister responsible for Germany’s ambitious Energiewende, or energy transition, from coal and nuclear to renewable energy says it is clear that solar and wind energy have won the technology race.

In an interview with RenewEconomy in Abu Dhabi last week, special minister of state Rainer Baake said the task now for Germany was to focus on integration, “digitising” the electricity grid, and on storage, efficiency, and other energy uses such as transport and building and industrial heat.

bakkeBaake, attending the International Renewable Energy Agency annual summit, said renewable energies were becoming cheaper and cheaper. “They are taking over,” he told RenewEconomy.

“So far nobody else has supplied the industrial economy with secure and price-effective electricity from solar panels and wind turbines. I am confident we can succeed and that we will have a superior energy system.”

Germany created its renewable energy support scheme in 2000, and Baake says the purpose has been about testing technologies. And it is clear which technologies are the winners.

Hydro had risen incrementally from 4 per cent to 4.1 per cent, and showed no possibility of further increase; geothermal did not work; and while biomass worked, its expansion has other environmental and food production issues.

“So there are two clear winners, and they are wind and solar,” Baake said. “We have learned how to produce electricity with wind and large-scale solar at the same cost level as new coal or gas generators.

“The question about the Energiewende is not a question about technology anymore. We have them.

“It is not a question about costs, because these new technologies produce at same costs as the last ones (technologies). And, I should point out, they are much cheaper than nuclear.

“The question now is whether we will be able to reinvent the power system so it can operate efficiently at reasonable cost and security with growing penetration of wind and solar.

“We want this Energiewende to be economically efficient – not just an ecological success story, also an economic success story.

“If it is not an economic success story, then nobody will follow us and we will lose support in Germany.”

germany storageThere is no doubt that the Energiewende has had its critics. Most, unsurprisingly, are associated with the fossil fuel and nuclear industries who have so much to lose if Germany succeeds. And most of this criticism, as Craig Morris has so patiently documented on the Energy Transition and Renewable International web-sites, does not stand up to scrutiny.

Otherwise, Baake says the Energiewende still enjoys strong political and public support.

“There is a strong national consensus. There is not one party in parliament that opposes the goals of the Energiewende. Of course we have debates over how to do that. But that is healthy, because there are always alternatives.

“Yes, some people in business community and media and say the old world with nuclear and lignite (brown coal generators) was much nicer. But that is our democracy.

“We know that the public wants the Energiewende. Recent polling shows 87 per cent want their electricity to from solar, and 78 per cent want their electricity to be from wind. 8 per cent want their electricity from nuclear.

“That is very clear. I personally believe that the process is irreversible. But there is a lot of potential to make mistakes. That is why we need careful political decision making and deciding on the smartest options.”

Baake’s own decisions have also come under scrutiny, particularly his push to replace the feed-in tariff regime which had been the basis of the Energiewende since 2000, with reverse auctions.

Baake argues this will help reduce costs and ensure the cheaper prices. Others are not convinced, and are concerned that the auction mechanism will make it difficult, if not impossible, for small and community-based projects to compete.

solar germanyThey point out that it is community ownership that has underpinned the Energiewende and its popular support.

Baake seems unfazed by these criticisms. His focus is on digitisation and on new market mechanisms to ensure that the variable output from wind and solar can be incorporated into the grid and underpin a major industrial economy

Digitisation is critical for the communication and software that will drive the integration of renewable energy, storage and the emergence of new business models – only about 10 per cent of which have become clear.

The German government is looking to define a legal framework and industry standards for digitisation, and to address “public sensitivities” around the issue of data security.

“The roll-out of smart meters has failed in some countries because it wasn’t properly addressed. We will have highest standard that I know.”

These standards will enable focus on storage, interconnection, aggregation and trading.

“Once we have these new standards, there will be many new business opportunities,” Baake said. “Right now we might only see 10 per cent of the business models that will gain from that. I am confident that will be game changer for the future.”

Another focus is on flexibility, and designed a market structure that rewards scarcity. Baake is not in favour of price caps on the wholesale market, nor is he in favour of so-called “capacity” mechanisms.

“You have to reward flexibility. If someone has capacity needed only few times in the year, we have to be able to cash in on that scarcity. We have to remove price caps.

“And we decided against capacity market. The theory behind capacity markets is wrong. The assumption is there is market failure, that only kilowatt-hours are traded rather than kilowatts. But when you take a closer look, they asking for subsidies.

“If I deliver electricity to you it is in a contract in kilowatt-hours (kWh). I can only deliver that if I have the capacity (and flexibility) to produce it. The only one (market failure) we found was lack of price caps.

This approach is being taken on to the European market, where the EU singed a common paper last June that agreed for no intervention in the market even in times of scarcity.

Scarcity is not something that Baake expects to see in fossil fuels. The implied carbon budget from the recent Paris climate change agreement means that nearly all fossil fuel reserves will have to be left in the ground.

“We won’t see peak oil, we will see very cheap fossil fuels. So we need an exit strategy (from brown coal) otherwise the good intentions from Paris are not going to work.

“My own country has got to discuss the exit from lignite, while other countries have got to look at oil or hard coal resources.” Australia might be included in the latter.

Baake says it is increasingly clear that big business is getting on board. The country’s two biggest utilities, RWE and E.ON, have chosen to split their businesses, and separate the “old energy world” from the new one.

That may have been driven by a desire to duck looming bills to finish the nuclear age – primarily the high cost of dealing with waste and other issues, but Bakke says the government has put a stop to that.

“The business community has understood that new business models have emerged and you have to be in it. There is no going back.”  

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  • humanitarian solar

    Its an article about large scale solar and wind and the ideal of the happy, intelligent and harmonious grid. Nice. So back to where we’re at in this country, how bout a $ comparison of battery and inverter prices to get the wind and solar stored and delivered for homes, businesses and communities??? If you can do that favourably, I’ll regard the distributed paradigm with solar and wind as won. It’s time to get some real articles on this site, so we as a country can take some responsibility. There’s hundreds of thousands of households coming off generous tariffs this year – in NSW, Victoria and SA.

    • Gary

      Distributed wind can provide at least 70% of a baseload supply at a cost of $90-$120/ MWh:

      Wind variability

      Wind / Gas baseload cost

      • humanitarian solar

        Sounds promising. If I were a City Council in a suitable area, I would want to have some of that and solar, with some storage, to ensure the township has some advocacy power to get decent electricity rates from the larger grid. I’d want to begin with enough to get us through any outages from those long supply lines, as a result of flood, cyclones or fire. If I were cashed up, I’d want to have more, to have more advocacy power with the local grid or ditch it.

      • john

        Present wind energy costs are below $90 MWh.

        There is a link there to department of energy relating to costs in us dollars of 2.5 c Kwh or $25 MWh you can check it out.
        Note this is 2013 figures so may need an update which possibly will be lower still.

      • Concerned

        And not indication of installed capacity and actual yearly output?

    • john

      humanitarian and I would venture to say quiet a few of them will install battery backup and some may just bit the bullet and go off grid.
      The costs look like about +- 14c KwH so why not?

      • humanitarian solar

        Exactly, precedents have already been set with households, businesses, suburban developments and city councils – already taking things into their own hands. Taking back our power is just the beginning. Transport is next.

        • john

          As to transport it is apparent that with transport besides trains there is a move for busses using battery power.
          As to personal transport in the urban environment and for short trips up to 300km with present vehicles this is not a problem.
          Yes I am talking not about Tesla but the newer EV’s coming onto the market and they are saying 200 miles which is 300 km between charges.
          That distance has to be suitable for anyone who lives in an urban area and takes a trip on weekend to the far beach or inland.
          The cost is $37k US so that would be pretty steep atm in Aussie dollars but take into consideration service and fuel costs before just looking at the price.

          • humanitarian solar

            City Councils are our local level of government so it seems reasonable each of them get at least one charging station in their local area, or a few, if its a large geographical area.

          • john

            Very true in Europe charging stations are visible everywhere, as are solar panels over parking areas and canals.

          • humanitarian solar

            So there’s almost unlimited opportunities for local leaders to act throughout every level of our culture. This sitting on our hands and waiting for a federal government has to end. That’s the chief learning from Paris. States and Territories, City Councils and Community Groups, can act on behalf of their members and communities, to secure a better deal and a more reliable energy and transport infrastructure.

          • john

            Very true in fact there were a large number of Cities people at the COP21 and looking at the actions they are taking it is pretty clear that small government will be the first to move in this area.
            Look at the ACT look to Northern Rivers area.

          • Concerned

            Must work well in the European winter indeed.Have any of you actually lived in Germany?

          • humanitarian solar

            Hopefully there’s an online resource where City Councils can publish white papers about how they have set up their own independent grids, charging stations and transport.

          • john

            EV manufactures have covered that with APPs to give you the information.

  • humanitarian solar

    It’s like your unconsciously trying to convince someone. Who is that? Our government of the day? Most of your readership are already on board. It’s like preaching to the converted and I’m getting bored. You’ve got one year to bring the needed professionals together, to solve a problem for hundreds of thousands of people, and publish.

    • JonathanMaddox

      RenewEconomy is a journalistic resource, documenting a small part of what’s happening in the world, which just incidentally includes hundreds of thousands of people solving problems every day.

      • humanitarian solar

        When a state motoring organisation like RACQ or NRMA does a review of a car, it gives $, features, comparisons with other similar technology. Hype and glam about future products might appeal to a minority of readers. Though most people want to see real reviews of technology they are integrating into their lives. The purpose is understanding the technology, so it can be applied.

        • JonathanMaddox

          If you want country-specific product comparisons, try ,, , etc.

          Since solar PV systems don’t tend to crash into each other or break down and leave people stranded on the open road or unable to get to work, we don’t seem to be setting up quite the same well-resourced mutual insurance and membership service organisations we have for cars, which might have published the sort of in-depth product reviews you’re looking for.

          Moreover, people can get quite passionate about the looks and the driving experience of cars, in a way that domestic appliances have never quite inspired. You do occasionally get quite good one-off product reviews of washing machines and even solar inverters in Choice, but it’s not the same as Motoring Australia or the Drive section of the SMAge which always have something to say about a car I’ve never heard of.

    • Ian

      Whoa, slow down mate, Giles does a great job of keeping this whole renewables thing fresh. Of course his articles are didactic. Germany has taken the renewables lead and intended themselves to be an example to the rest of the world, and Giles has offered his journalistic podium for them to speak to us. I think this Dude Bakke or Baake is referring to a more robust energy marketplace when he talks about digitising the grid.

      Bakke uses words like smart meters, storage, interconnection, aggregation, trading, other energy uses such as transport , building and industrial heat.

      This is the new thing. It’s solving the problem of intermittancy. How do you cater for huge amounts of wind and solar power which produces in dollops and then sits idle? Well, you store it or share it or make use of it when available. How would you store energy? Chemically in batteries, as potential energy in pumped storage, as heat in building and industrial plants. How do you create flexible loads that can take advantage of the intermittant power production? smart meters, digitisation, putting value on scarcity. Finally, how do you share the abundance in one place with the scarcity in another? Interconnection, aggregation and trading.

      There’w’are, the German’s are at it again, solving problems, trying to involve hundreds of thousands of people, and saving the grid, to be sure.

      • Ian

        Epitomised by Germany’s situation, renewables have reached an impasse. Renewables generation has become so damned cheap that nothing comes close to matching it. What to do about the times when there is no renewables output? All those smart loads, storage and interconnections are expensive. The renewables seedlings are ready for planting, but what about the field. Has it been tilled and dressed and prepared for planting.? Are the storage, smart loads, interconnections, new loads like transportation and building and industrial heat management, and trading legal structures been put in place to accept renewables? Has government lead in this regard? Has it organised, prepared and controlled the ‘ field’ making us ready for the switch to renewables? Are those solar and wind seedlings going to whither and die before the garden beds are ready? How much money has gone into electrifying transportation, where are those smart meters, where are the government white papers on fair trading of distributed electricity generation and proper rewarding of scarcity? Has the wind commissioner looked at finding value in the grid when the prospect of very cheap and reliable off grid electricity looms?

        I cannot understand why the government chooses to support industrial scale solar. It’s like growing more seedlings when the field is still hard and barren. Subsidise battery technology in cars and busses, and in home storage, build pumped hydro to smooth out the grid supply, do those things that make us wind and solar ready.

        • humanitarian solar

          Ok I agree with you on this last para especially. Batteries can do allot for homes, businesses and communities at all levels, to create a resilient local electricity service and begin to get an ability to relate to the larger local grid. In other words batteries/storage give us the ability to have a gatekeeper, of what gets in and what gets out – in relation to the next level up of the grid. That applies at all levels, homes, businesses, suburbs, City Councils, geographical areas.
          However I doubt someone is coming to the rescue to sponsor the most worthy cause of batteries/storage – as ARENA and others are focussed upon large scale solar. So where does this leave us? We need REAL APPRAISALS OF CURRENT BATTERIES/STORAGE SYSTEMS NOW IN THE MARKET OR WITH DATES OF ARRIVAL. Here we need articles helping all of us understand how the inverter/charger negotiates with the larger grid it is in, the options it gives us, the features we may need, the costs relative to other manufacturers. If analysts wish to analyse, then analyse comparing that. We’ve got less than a year.

      • humanitarian solar

        Hi Ian, for the sake of the environment I’ll necessarily be direct. In Australia we don’t currently have a Minister responsible for implementing renewable energy, so the German situation, at this point in time, is completely different to the Australian. What if your intellectualizing about the problem, in a way that has no direct import for the Australian situation? This is what I’m getting at. Many of the writers on this website are very comfortable in their intellects, intellectualizing about the problem. Lets be honest. Is this really serving our present situation to implement renewable energy? My understanding is our current federal government has been so lagging behind the rest of the world, that what we learned from Paris is it is up to individuals, individual businesses, individual City Councils, individual States and Territories, to begin. Most of those do not have the luxury of a local cooperative grid, and necessarily need to begin by thinking about how they can begin to get some lobbying power with a historically dominant and monopolizing grid. What that means is thinking about how storage/solar/wind can be applied at a micro level first and then working to the macro, and yet the intellectuals among us just cant stop themselves intellectualizing and therefore can’t see the immanent opportunity before us, of hundreds of thousands of households and business about to come off generous feed in tarrifs in NSW, Victoria and SA. So sorry, I disagree with your point of focus on learnings from Germany, as there is some time before the zeitgeist in this country is ready to play ball in the way you are hoping for. Therefore, it is a required discipline of all of us to focus upon the opportunities in the here and now.

  • Greg Lowe

    His last name is spelt Baake, not Bakke.

  • Jens Stubbe

    Interesting that they now seem to mean to go anywhere with their energy policy in Germany. So far they have been slow foot dragging and very annoying to deal with. They have not stopped their huge brown coal subsidies and not accepted the wishes of the utilities to be allowed to close down loss making coal power plants and they have not built efficient HVDC structure. The Nordic countries have brought charges against Germany for EU for obstructing free trade.

    Without geothermal Germany cannot go 100% renewable on domestic resources and geothermal is definitively an option in large parts of Germany and would most certainly benefit from German R&D investments. Deeming geothermal out of the game while dreaming about storage and smart meters is downright foolish.

    The idea that reverse auctions will bring cost down faster is very interesting since just north of their borders wind power is cheaper. In Denmark we use a combination of reverse auction for large offshore and a FIT for onshore that rewards high capacity wind turbines.

  • Math Geurts

    Some additional information: there is considerably more wind than solar in Germany, and that even if all solar plants <10kW are considered to be rooftop the share of rooftop in Germany's solar power production is rather modest.

    • Andrew Newman

      Not surprising as Germany gets about as much sun as Alaska.

      • JonathanMaddox

        There’s little overlap between the latitude ranges of Alaska and Germany, in the southernmost Aleutian islands and southern Jutland. Mainland Alaska is all further north than mainland Germany. German solar PV installations are overwhelmingly in the south, circa latitude 49°N, and a long way from the sea which means less fog and cloud cover than coastal regions (all of southern Alaska is coastal). A typical southern German city like Nürnberg would get around 1700 hours of full sunlight each year, as opposed to 1100 at Juneau.

        • newnodm

          Seattle might be a solar better analogy to Germany. I’m sure OZ is much sunnier.

          • Andrew Newman

            Indeed it is.

        • Andrew Newman
          • snowmuffin

            In the case of solar power latitude is the overall prominent factor though. The peak demand for electricity in Junea will be in December/January for heating and lighting but there will be less than 7 hours daylight, as opposed to June/July that receives over 17 hours daylight but less demand for heating and lighting. Compare that to Tuscon where demand will likely peak in June and July for refrigeration/air conditioning and gets over 14 hours of daylight hours. However in December and January Tuscon will still get 10 hours of daylight but demand will be lower.

        • Jens Stubbe

          Denmark is to the north of Germany but still has better insolation as the weather is clearer and the pollution is less.

          Also as Denmark is cooler and windier the solar panels yields more in Denmark. The problem with solar in Denmark is however that it produces at times where the demand is small and we already have the cheapest electricity production cost so solar is of limited net value.

          Personally I think it was great that the Germans invested in solar because it brought the state of art forward.

    • Wilhelm Guggisberg

      Something terribly wrong about the wind renewables is the scarcity of Rare Earth necessary ingredient Neodymium (and Dysprosium for the electric car and other similar use battery industry) that makes it unfeasible at moderate global scale in the medium term. Also it is the most environmentally degrading and toxic (including radioactive) mining you can imagine. So another reason to go Nuclear…

  • Math Geurts

    The facts: there is almost 40 GW PV installed in Germany which produced about 38.5 TWh in rather sunny 2015. That makes about 7.5% of Germany’s power consumption. Around 10% of this 38.5 TWh comes from rooftop solar (Australian style < 10 kW). So rooftop solar delivers about 0.2% of Germany's energy consumption. A rather modest contribution to the Energiewende.

    • Frank

      I question your 10% figure as it likely leaves out self-consumption. Regardless….70% of solar capacity in Germany is owned by individual citizens. Who cares if it’s on the roof or in the field?

  • humanitarian solar

    Rainer comes across more as an economist than an electrical engineer.
    To a simple electronics technician, the piece of equipment which carries out the “storage, interconnection, aggregation and trading” IS THE INVERTER/CHARGER!!!
    What is it that decides when the battery is charged by an external AC source, or when AC is produced by the inverter to supply the load? You. You do. You do this when you program the inverter/charger. It is the thing which links you, the person, the business, the City Council, to your next level up in the grid. It is the thing whose features decide whether it can accept one AC source (a grid) or two AC sources (perhaps a grid and a generator). The inverter/charger is the thing you program that follows your orders of how you wish to relate to the external world, based upon whether the external world is being fair to you or not. You are the policy maker, the inverter/charger gives you various levels of interaction profiles.

  • humanitarian solar

    Perhaps people with grid-connect systems are unfamiliar with how the hybrid inverter/charger works.
    Lets imagine the simplest solar system and imagine we’re on a boat. We have a solar panel cable dropping down to our regulator, which adjusts the voltage just right to charge our battery. So the sun is trickling power into our battery and every now and again we want to grab AC to run an electrical appliance. We flick the switch and the inverter goes and gets the DC out of the battery and converts it to AC (inverts). So we’re sailing along happily and suddenly a low battery alarm goes off. What to do now? We’ve greedily taken out more power than the sun put in. Perhaps we had a party. Perhaps we are ok in summer but not in winter. What are our options? Most inverter/chargers can handle one or two AC sources. If we have a generator on hand, a smart inverter which we have programmed may have already started up and be endeavouring to do some catch up for us, generating some power to replace the shortfall in the battery. What if we don’t have a generator, a diesel one or a wind turbine? What then? We have to use less power or sail into port and throw out a cord from our inverter/charger to their grid, so the charger can charge the batteries. Perhaps we don’t regularly have enough power to run high amp loads like the washing machine or air conditioning or hot water booster. So we sail into port at various times of the week or year, throw out our cord from our inverter/charger. We can tell our inverter/charger how much power we want to get. The inverter/charger is programmed to be our servant.

  • humanitarian solar

    I’ve got a secret. I’ve got a secret solar system. What I mean by secret, is there’s no observable changes in the meter box, so no grid knows I’ve got it. It’s legal. It could be thought of like an off grid solar system. Off-gridders don’t have to worry about the grid and its complexity with its rules, changing tariffs, smart meters, gross meters, net meters and neither do I. I think its BS. I can’t imagine why anyone at this period of history, would want a meter especially installed to get on the export/import merry-go-round. It’s not worth exporting power at the present time. My inverter/charger is classed as a “Remote Inverter with Charger Facility”. To the grid, my inverter/charger looks like any other electrical appliance. Since I have a few batteries, the system is never designed to export. If the grid ever got fair, I could hook the inverter/charger up to a computer connected to the internet, and reprogram the inverter/charger to be able to export with a variety of profiles for interacting with the grid. For now though, all the inverter/charger is designed to access the grid for, is to charge the batteries in winter if I’m desperate or to top up the inverters peak power output, if I wish to run a high power appliance or I switch on too many appliances at one time. So presently the inverter/charger just silently sits behind the meter, mediating the few times I might need to connect to the grid. When I get more cashed up, I could get the electrician to disconnect the grid from the “AC in” terminals of the inverter/charger, and instead connect them to a generator or wind turbine. This would require me getting another solar array up, so I’m not presently ready, though my little inverter/charger is silently biding its time, either waiting to get a better deal from the grid and thereby announce its presence, or disconnect entirely. This is why I really like the flexibility of the inverter/charger and reading up on all the options it can do for me. I also didn’t have much money for batteries so only bought a set of Lead Acid ones which unfortunately don’t have a great round-trip-efficiency, though its much much better than exchanging power with the grid. Though the inverter/charger is lithium ready, in fact there’s a custom setting on the inverter/charger, so all the voltage charge thresholds can be preset, enabling any battery type to be charged. So I don’t think the grid is worth interacting with currently, so my gear sits behind the meter as a mere passive recipient of the grid, and when it consumes power, to the grid it might look like a kettle or any other electrical appliance. Imagine having a battery charger that charges your boat battery. My solar system is like that, with the inverter/charger throwing out a request for power if it needs a bit of extra juice. This is why the hybrid inverter/charger is called so, its like being off grid though the inverter/charger can still silently sing out for help as needed.

    • Joris75

      You are still depending on the grid.

      You are just not paying for all the services the grid provides you any more.

      Other people are paying for your services now.

      Your solar installation appears cheap to you because it allows you to have taxfree energy as well as parasitizing the ability of the grid to provide reliable power.

      If everyone did what you do, the grid would go down and never come back up. Your activity is the definition of unsustainability.

      Now, I realise that expect – like Mr. Raabe – that new technologies will allow a 100% renewable energy system at no extra cost. Hence, your activities are in your opinion sustainable. Unfortunately, there is no reason to assume this technology will ever be available. In fact, it’s more likely it will not.

      As of today, nuclear power is still the only known scalable clean energy technology which competes with fossil fuels.

      The significance of this fact is simple. It means that antinukes have only to explain who will pay for the significant extra cost of any non-nuclear solution to the climate/energy nexus. Until now, antinuke energy policies have been executed purely by raiding the finances of citizens and fossil fuel companies to cover the extra cost.

      In europe alone, utilities have lost 600 billion due to having to provide free backup services to wind and solar investors. This is unsustainable. It is why the energiewende will fail, if it is not honestly addressed very soon.

      • Wilhelm Guggisberg

        Apparently we will have to wait for its final collapse, people are so ignorant and deluded they can’t even do simple arithmetics. Common people will pay as usual and there won’t be any accountability because they will tell decisions were consensually and democratically taken by significant majority.

  • Andrew Newman

    Well, in Germany it’s a race where nuclear and coal are not allowed and where large scale hydro, gas or biomass are now discoraged.
    In that very specific technology race, I would have to agree.
    Geothermal and fusion power in Germany are expected to remain small. /s

    • nakedChimp

      They don’t have the space for more ‘large scale hydro’.
      And if coal or nuclear were an option they would succeed elsewhere in the world.. don’t see it happening.
      This leaves biomass (being used) and gas as competition.

      • Scorch

        >And if coal or nuclear were an option they would succeed elsewhere in the world.. don’t see it happening.

        • Ronald Brakels

          France would definitely be the best example to show that nuclear power is not succeeding. From the highest penetration of nuclear power in the world to now replacing older reactors with renewables, it’s not really possible to spell out that nuclear has failed any more clearly.

          • Sam Gilman

            Nuclear will still be part of the mix in France. In what sense does “being used to make a large proportion of electricity” represent failure? By your own logic, that solar provides less than wind and biomass in Germany shows that it is “failing”.

            I really think it would be a good idea to put forward arguments that you genuinely believe in.

          • Ronald Brakels

            I don’t think I can, Sam Gilman. After reading your comment many basic english concepts were blown clean out of my skull.

          • Sam Gilman

            Fair enough if you don’t want to defend your poor argumentation.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Why would I want to defend an arguement that I don’t believe in? That makes no sense at all, Sam.

          • Sam Gilman

            Decarbonisation is a serious issue.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Sam Gilman, either you were telling the truth that I don’t believe what I wrote, in which case there is no point in me arguing about it, or you were lying in which case there is no point in having an arguement with a liar.

          • Sam Gilman

            Ronald, the point is that you are making an argument that if the exact same logic is applied elsewhere you would obviously not be convinced by it. Challenging you as to whether you genuinely believe it is to ask you to reflect on this.

            Do you think solar is failing if it is partnered with other sources on a grid?

            Do you think nuclear is failing if it is partnered with other sources on a grid?

            You seem to say yes to the second, but I would guess you would say no to the first.

          • Andrew Newman

            Increasing renewables in France is a political decision, not an economic one.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Okay, that’s nice. I’m sure that statement will turn out to be every bit as accurate as your graph has turned out to be so far.

          • Wilhelm Guggisberg

            And utter madness!

          • Wilhelm Guggisberg

            Are u denying the undeniable? How cheeky! If they are really doing that it’s utter madness.

      • Andrew Newman
        • Ronald Brakels

          You might want to give reality a bit of a slap. It doesn’t seem to be matching up with your graph.

          • Andrew Newman

            You mean fantasy?
            Wake up and smell the CO2. Pop out of your bubble.
            Nuclear is projected to do far more to decarbonize than wind and solar combined.

          • Is projected by whom? Even conservative IEA said:
            Wind and solar, alone, says the report, would potentially provide 22 per cent of annual electricity sector emissions reduction in 2050 under the 2°C scenario. (Nuclear, it says, would account for only 8 per cent of reductions.)

          • Andrew Newman

            We are not on a two degree scenario.
            Enough fantasizing.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Since 2013 oil use is up. Coal levelled off in 2014 and fell slightly in 2015. You can see it levelling off on your graph but then it shoots up again. The 50+ gigawatts of solar PV that were installed last year would produce over 73,000 terawatt-hours which is more than the barely perceptible increase for solar in 2015 on the graph.

            You may say that these are just temporary aberrations and you have special reasons for thinking that the graph will be overall correct in the long term, but you cannot say reality matches the graph so far. Look it up if you don’t believe me.

            You mentioned nuclear power. I don’t have a good figure for 2015 so I don’t know if it is up or down from last year. I do know that in 2014 it
            generated about 9% less electricity than it did at its peak in 2006. And due to the limited number of new nuclear builds, total nuclear generation is set to fall as older reactors are retired and this will have a major effect from around 2020 on.

          • Andrew Newman

            Solar PV installations was projected to be 57 GW in 2015. However projections and actual installation trends have become separated. (IEA)
            Solar installation 2013: 37.6 GW
            Solar installation 2014: 38.7 GW
            As you can see it is very unlikely that actual installations reached 50+GW in 2015.

            Maybe even unlikely to reach 40 GW.

          • Ronald Brakels

            So you can clearly see, whether using the 50 gigawatt or 40 gigawatt figure for PV, that the tiny increase on the graph isn’t nearly enough for 2015 and so the graph so far does not match reality. Add in solar other than PV and the discrepancy becomes even larger.

          • Andrew Newman

            Agreed, graph of solar should be a bit higher.

          • Mike Gitarev

            2015 was also the highest ever for installation of renewable
            power capacity, with 64GW of wind and 57GW of solar PV commissioned
            during the year, an increase of nearly 30% over 2014.

          • Sam Gilman

            You can follow all nuclear plants coming online, being retired and construction starts here:


            If you look at 2015 “highlights”, you’ll see a clear net increase in capacity. New starts too outsize what was retired. China is planning to bring online 6-8 reactors a year every year for the next few years.

          • Mike Gitarev

            73000 GWh or 73 TWh.

  • Miles Harding

    Great, though Germany’s success with solar and wind is, it still only amounts to a small fraction of German energy needs.

    One source I saw estimated the renewable component being about 11% of German electricity, probably in line with solar contributing 7.5% to the electricity supply, according to the Fraonhofer report. It would probably be reasonable to halve this fraction if fossil fuelled transport and industrial processes are also included, making renewables about 5% of German energy needs.

    Considering the amount of RE plant and equipment already installed, that other 95% is a real problem, which leads me to think that our present industrial society is fundamentally incompatible with sustainability and is doomed to fail within the next 50 years or so.

    This industrial civilization currently faces multiple existential threats from:
    a) Climate change and pollution,
    b) Energy resources,
    c) Material scarcity.

    All of this points to the pressing need to redefine society’s goals, aspirations and practises, something that is not going to happen while the political mantra remains “growth at any cost”.

    • onesecond

      Your numbers are totally wrong. In 2015 32,5 % of electricity demand in Germany was met by renewables and all sectors combined renewable energy is at around 14%. In the last year alone the share of renewable electricity jumped 5 percentage points. There is no technological problem to meet all of Germany’s energy demand with renewables, the biggest problem is the staunch oppostion of the coal lobby that already succeeded to launch plans via the ministry of economy to scale back the target for renewable electricty for 2025 to only 45% although we are on a path to achieve 50% renewable electricity by 2020 if we didn’t change anything.

      • Mark Pawelek

        It’s irrelevant how much electricity Germany makes from renewables because it is not reducing German greenhouse gas emissions. There have been no emission reductions for seven straight years now (2009 to 2015 inclusive).

        • onesecond

          Sigh. Germany could shut 15 GW of lignite and coal plants right now in addition to the nuclear phaseout and not risk any supply security, while only increasing the wholesale price by 0.6 cents/kWh. There are studies for this and look at the electricity that gets exported from Germany. That this is not happening is thanks to the coal lobby and their unions. So technically you are right, it doesn’t matter how much electricity we produce from renewables as long vested interests impede the shutdown of coal plants. But don’t think that renewables couldn’t replace a big chunk of coal power plants. On the other hand it is pretty unfair to take the big world recession year of 2009, where CO2 emissions fell everywhere due to decreasing economic activity and draw a straight line to 2015. The overarching trendline from 1990 to 2020 is clear and is currently set to deliver a reduction of 36% of greenhouse emissions, while additional legislation is envisioned to reach the official minus 40% goal, which is extremely impressive compared to e.g. Australia or most of the world.

  • humanitarian solar

    If households and businesses are interested in the practical aspects of solar systems, there’s a sister site to this website, called, which has “Forums” where people discuss solar systems and other topics, which can help us with a starting point for engaging our solar installer or ordering parts from shops, eBay etc. I’m hoping there will be lots of support on and in the coming months, for people in NSW, Victoria and SA, who will be finishing their government feed-in-tarrifs – in the final quarter of this year. On the larger community level, it would be great if ARENA could keep helping vulnerable remote communities, with their implementation of RE.

  • The article’s title nearly prevented me from reading but I couldn’t let the blatantly stupid and/or corrupt point of view. Leading civilization to ruin is not a very nice thing to do. Call it ignorance, call it evil, these days with information so easy to come by they amount to the same thing. Nuclear is not more expensive than wind or solar. Germany’s plan has been an utter failure. The idea of replacing nuclear energy with wind and solar was an impossible task. Germany should be thanked for showing the world just how absurd the idea really is. Germany now has more coal plants making their share of electricity production more than 50%. While Germany tries to shut down their perfectly good clean energy from their nuclear reactors France is continuing to set the example of a very low carbon energy system with over 70% nuclear energy.

    • humanitarian solar

      One can’t have nuclear on every street corner so its not good for a democratic and egalitarian world. Solar and wind are on every street corner, so its able to be a “distributed paradigm” and that’s why the general population like it. It gives them hope. It’s more likely to spread the money around, and create less of a gap between the haves and the have nots, therefore, a distributed paradigm is better. It’s better for the whole economy, as its better for all of us.

      • I don’t have hope for wind and solar because no matter how many street corners or roof tops you cover it will never be good enough. They are provide low energy and a very low reliability rate. As soon as you remove the base load sources like coal and nuclear the wind and solar energy are useless for keeping the city functioning in any kind of reliable or economic or environmentally friendly way.

        Nuclear energy is terribly misunderstood. You and all others need to stop and investigate why people like myself a musician with nothing to gain would favor nuclear energy. You will find many of the myths are untrue.

        • humanitarian solar

          I can’t build nuclear and yet I have been able to learn solar. So that’s what I did. I paid $7600 for parts and calculated it will power the property in summer. I couldn’t afford more now though I’ve got spare roof spaces left, including a 100m2 shed for future EV. So I don’t need a nuclear power station on my property.

          • You may be able to recover your investment over time but you won’t ever be able to control when the sun shines or when the wind blows. So maybe there is a small role for wind and solar but certainly not when it comes to replacing or powering a modern city.
            Ontario, Canada where I live has closed down all of it coal plants. This would not have been possible without the nuclear power that produces over 60% of our electricity. The dream of 100% renewable is an unrealistic dream that if we fail to understand will bring us all to ruin. The oceans will be the first to go then your grandchildren.

          • humanitarian solar

            As an example, Australia is two thirds the size of the USA but only one eighth the population density. There’s a fair bit of sun and open space here.

          • In a sparsely populated region solar can succeed. Especially when a blackout or brownout doesn’t cripple the region.

          • Ike Bottema

            Uh … I thought we were talking about Germany? Where is your rooftop exactly? If it’s in Austrailia perhaps you stand a chance of realizing your “democratic and egalitarian world”.

          • Math Geurts

            As climate change is a global problem even a very high share of solar in exceptional sparsely populated Australia does hardly contributes to the solution. In Germany the share of solar is small.

          • humanitarian solar

            Both top down and bottom up approaches can invigorate a country towards renewable energy. Different technologies sometimes lend themselves more in one field of action or another, however the skilful person does not narrow down options. It’s being able to capture opportunities from different styles and motivations. Some technologies will be a right fit for some communities and others will lean towards a different implementation.

          • Ike Bottema

            Someone should study your profound comments more thoroughly using the following:

          • Wilhelm Guggisberg

            This research study is pure gold my friend! 🙂

      • With the small molten salt reactors now under development, you’ll be able to have nuclear in every town to provide base load power cheaper than coal. Solar and wind on every street corner are fine, but to replace all fossil fuels with them would require vast solar and wind farms that will wipe biodiversity out wherever they’re sited. Why haven’t German environmentalists recognized this obvious flaw in their Energiewende? Are they being funded by lignite interests?

        • humanitarian solar

          I’ve got enough roof space already here now.

          • Ike Bottema

            Oh really? So you have panels on your roof then? Do you heat your home from those panels?

          • humanitarian solar

            This is an Australian website and many of us are looking at new policy platforms of our ministers and looking at how to respond with our properties. Yes I have solar hot water and rarely need to hit the electric booster in winter with three people. The solar power system is designed to power the house almost autonomously in summer and progressively less so in other seasons. The $7600 solar system will have less than a 10 year payback which is reasonable for a small 1.5kW array with a hybrid inverter and 9.6kWhr lead acid batteries. The inverter is Lithium ready once the world has gone through its battery shakedown process and the rest of the system is designed to be able to be expanded in stages. Hence I agree with your later comments Australia stands a chance of realising a democratic and egalitarian world. We also run the property largely with rain water and work with permaculture practices to produce some fresh food.

          • Ike Bottema

            Sounds like you have it all figured out. But what about those poor suckers stuck in Sydney or Melbourne or …. ? The article is about Germany; what are the chances they can acheive your “democratic and egalitarian world”?

          • humanitarian solar

            Looking at a “Peak Sun Hour” diagram of Australia, the entire coast of NSW and Victoria, which includes Sydney and Melbourne, receive 6.5PSH in summer. In winter the PSH varies considerably with Sydney receiving 3PSH and Melbourne receiving 2PSH. Working with Melbourne, the PSH means the solar panels will generate their rated output for the equivalent of two hours and hence a 1.5kW array will generate 3kWhr of electricity a day or 3kWhr/day – which will get taken off the household’s electricity bill. It sounds like your in a cold area as you found it hard to believe water could be heated by the sun. I’m on the coast of NSW and my last electrify bill in summer was 4.1kWhr/day (normally it would be 5.5kWhr/day). If your in a cold area this may amaze, that by integrating “passive solar” techniques and techniques like spinning roof extraction vents, roof insulation, cross ventilation, the electricity bill of an energy efficient house can be reduced considerably in many areas of Australia. In summary, the PV generates less than half its power in winter, however PV is the cheapest part of the solar system and arrays are easily built in stages, roof by roof, as people get more money. Most importantly, many rural areas are effected by grid outages from wind, fire and flood, as we have much longer electricity supply lines with a low population density. In the absence of the grid, any stand alone power a household has becomes critical for water pumping, refrigeration and communications.

          • Ike Bottema

            I agree that there’s a lot of potential in direct solar heating coupled with ground heat storage. At least there are no losses from conversion to electricity. Applied on a community level it could get benefits of scale. BUT there’s no way to cut off the grid umbilical cord without suffering energy poverty.

          • humanitarian solar

            I respect your view for your country. In Australia there are remote areas that don’t have a grid and in certain fringe of grid areas, the grid/s appears to have engaged reverse gear and either accepting a planned retreat or looking to reduce the nature of the grid.. It appears too expensive putting telegraph poles across one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world – especially when most people live on the coast.

          • Ike Bottema

            Check out what’s happening with nuclear energy then. Advanced nuclear concepts allow smaller reactor footprints. Several designs are below 200 MWt, one as low as 7MWt. For example StarCore with their 30MWt VHTR and Terrestrial Energy with their IMSR80 80MWt reactor designs and both being Canadian firms are fixing their sights on remote communities, a goal that would seemingly appeal to yourself and other Australians living in more remote locations. Check it out. True, not here yet, but advanced nuclear is on it’s way!

          • humanitarian solar

            I’m sure there’s countries out there with extensive experience with nuclear and extensive experience developing nuclear technologies. Apparently the time period of dealing with waist is getting less and less and who knows, this could be reduced to lifetimes. If the waist can be effectively stored and the timeframe is reducing, then nuclear might present an avenue forward for different sized communities as you mention.

          • Ike Bottema

            Sure Australia doesn’t have any experience but on the other hand aren’t saddled with the existing stuff. So Australia can truly leapfrog … just as China is planning. Yes water-cooled solid-fuel reactors have significant spent fuel inventories — still nowhere the scale of coal flyash though, we’re talking only a football-sized field a meter deep.

            However those spent fuel assemblies still have 95% of the potential energy still remaining. So really I don’t get the whole kerfuffle over Yuca mountain getting axed. Those spent fuel stockpiles are valuable fuel that could power any reactor site upgraded with a fuel re-assembly plant and a few breeder reactors for perhaps a century!

            You talked about waste. Well that football-sized field would be reduced to a pile that would fit between the hash marks! AND that waste would remain harmful for only a few hundred years, not the thousands of years for that spent fuel.

          • humanitarian solar

            Ok sounds like nuclear is truly progressing. Australia also isn’t as cold as Canada and hence in the mean time we have the sun and building rooftops, and redesigning for passive solar principles and PV harvest. Individual Australians can easily move forward with that by buying parts on eBay.

          • Ike Bottema

            Again, the key question will be – can the grid umbilical cord be broken without suffering energy poverty? You say storage is coming. I doubt that based on the scale of the shortfall, also material scarcity for the amounts required as well as limits imposed by chemistry and physics realities. So should we bet our future on the chance that the storage dilemma can be solved? I’d rather take an approach that doesn’t put all our eggs in that particular basket.

          • humanitarian solar

            Lithium batteries are already integrated into Australians’ lives. I’m looking forward to a new Makita 18V Lithium Ion drill and impact driver, then I’m getting the skin for the brush cutter/line trimmer. The Lithium batteries seem to deliver plenty of power for power tools. I imagine the applications will keep evolving for adding a UPS feature to homes and to increased levels of independence. With the power generation itself, I agree its good to diversify into a variety of sources and I think small scale offers a great deal of flexibility.

          • humanitarian solar

            This is the sort of Lithium gear Australian’s currently use.

          • Ike Bottema

            Hey let’s talk power tools! I take it you’re a Makita fan. I went for Ryobi and Ridgid myself. I bought my first portable Ryobi tools (18V) when NiCads were still being used but of course lots of problems. Typically they only lasted one or two years before they just gave up the ghost. I ended up with lots of tools though, because there’s quite the selection of different tools beyond the obvious drill, impact driver, circular saw, and recip saw, things like random orbital sander, jig saw, hi-speed cutout saw, router, caulking gun, etc. … oh yeah even a portable compound mitre saw! A few tools are a waste of money; the brush trimmer, vacuum(ok once in a while it comes in handy), and chain saw but they came with that I really wanted. 🙂

            So I was very glad that they (finally) came out with the Li-ion battery version because I’d invested a lot in Ryobi (though admittedly not same quality as Makita) I now have 7 Li-ion batteries that I cycle for the various Ryobi tools I have though some of them are now not holding much of a charge. :(.

            I found that the Ryobi high use tools like circular saw, recip saw and drill weren’t up to the abuse so bought an 18V Ridgid set. I find the impact gun can be too aggressive for wood screws so use it more for mechanical work (nut and bolt spinner) Coot thing about Ridgid is that they have a lifetime warranty on their tools including batteries! Good thing too because I’ve had to replace all four of my batteries after about 5 years of heavy cycling. I just bought a Ridgid 12V drill and impact driver for $100 that comes with a charger and two batteries, same lifetime warranty! (Can you tell I’m impressed?)

            Anyway back to the program, note that all the batteries I own amount to maybe 720Wh of storage. That would power a 60 watt light bulb for the night. Wow! And note that I’ve had to replace several batteries already. So would I be able to power my home with Li-ion technology? What would my battery specs have to be?

            Energy requirement: I’ll just use my summer usage as I use electrical heat during the winter – no way I could heat my home from solar. Summer usage is about 600 kWh/month, so that’s about 20 kWh/day. Assuming I’ll want to buffer 50% of solar generated for evening and night usage and that I could get about 80% efficiency from voltage conversions, that would mean I’d need 13kWh of storage.

            Battery Specs: I’ll use my power tool batteries as the basis because there’s not going to be much improvement in power density. Both a Ryobi and Ridgid 18V, 4Ah Li-ion battery measures 4cm H x 7cm W x 11cm L and weighs 720grams (I figured about 80% is the battery material i.e. excluding plastics etc so 580grams) and cost me about C$50 each.

            Calculations: Assuming I’d want to buffer 50% of solar energy for overnight (i.e. ignoring cloudy days) and that I could get 80% efficiency in DC>AC voltage conversion, that works out to 174 74Wh batteries thus equivalent to a single battery measuring about 0.38 m per side (assumes no cooling channels), weighing about 100Kg and @ 75% discount from individual 72kWh batteries, would cost about C$2K. I’m not sure how long such a battery would last but based on my power tool experience, perhaps a couple of seasons, so that’s C$1K per year just for the buffering — I’d still have to generate the juice.

            Note that 600kWh per month electrical usage is fairly modest (about half of average Canuck household, a little less than average Aussie household) and that I’d be without my computer at night after cloudy days. So I’d be suffering from energy poverty in comparison to what I enjoy now. So that’s my contribution to thinking locally.

            But thinking a bit more on the level of my fellow man, I offer the following readings:
            – In case you’re thinking that same thing as what’s happened to electronics will happen in battery tech:
            – Powerwall economics:
            – No immediate cost drops in forecast due to supply shortages:
            – Role of batteries in grid stabilization and storage:
            – Doing the math for a nation-sized battery:
            – Off-grid storage considerations:

        • Mark Pawelek

          This argument about energy decentralization is just another fake anti-nuclear power concern. Remember what James Lovelock said: “Every argument against nuclear power is false”

          By humouring the anti-nukes like this you let they wallow in their fantasy concerns (which don’t really matter to most of them anyhow!).

          • It may be fake anti-nuclear, but it’s a legitimate concern because being dependent on the grid does have its downside. Attacks by extremist groups could shut down the electric supply for everybody on the grid. It would take something like the Carrington Event of 1859 (a gargantuan solar flare) that could cut off electricity for everybody, whether they’re on the grid or off, but that phenomenon is not weaponizable, yet.

          • humanitarian solar

            What your saying is a centralised power supply is an easier military target by for example, extremist groups. Therefore, a distributed power supply paradigm creates a more resilient power supply from a military perspective of having less primary targets. There’s also many articles on this site about Australia’s extremely long electricity supply lines, vulnerable to wind, fire and flood. We are two thirds the size of the USA and one eighth the population density.
            With the other part of your comment, are you suggesting scientists are trying to simulate a solar flare phenomenon which would hence have the capability to disable, temporally, an electricity grid? If so how long? If the solar flare phenomena is weaponizable, are there any types of electricity generation that are less vulnerable to these flares?

          • Don’t read anything into the “yet” at the end of my comment. I’m suggesting nothing. There is no way to simulate a solar flare without nuclear weapons in space, something that can only be accomplished by fictional organizations such as SPECTRE.

            And “humanitarian solar”, it’s not clear at whom your comment was directed, but there is nothing ethnocentric about calling for the global elimination of CO2 emissions, nor calling for the adoption of nuclear power to achieve that goal. Are you ignorant of the fact that CO2 respects no political boundaries? When will Australia stop burning coal and start developing carbon free sources of energy that do not require fossil fuels as backup when the sun’s not shining or the wind’s not blowing?

          • humanitarian solar

            Well if your into astrophysics, I guess I need to take your word for that. I hope your directing your abilities and energies into technology for the upliftment of humanity.
            With your second para, my comment was directed at Mark with his reductionist argument around anti nuclear sentiment, when the discourse is somewhat more wholistic in nature. Decentralisation is a discussion with its own merits, without making the discussion about mere content – e.g. nuclear, wind, solar or LNG. One of my qualifications is as social worker and they tend to be interested in strategies that benefit a whole community not only the technically minded or an elite in business or socio-economic terms. Yes I’m aware CO2 respects no boundaries, and share your regrets about my governments current slow pace to transition away from coal. With your last sentence, in your view, couldn’t batteries effectively back up wind and solar?

          • Batteries can theoretically back up wind and solar, as could melting salts, or pumping water uphill, but none of these storage methods is expected to fall in price enough to replace fossil fuels as backup, for years, if not decades.

            A bigger problem with renewables is the sheer acreage that must be covered with solar panels, wind turbines or biofuel crops. Nuclear has a much smaller footprint, which makes it much preferred by conservation biologists who want to preserve what little open space is left for all the other species occupying this planet. How much smaller? England’s Hinkley Point C nuclear power station will cover 430 acres and provide 3200 MW of electricity day and night. To get the same average power from renewables would require 130,000 acres of solar farms, or 250,000 acres of wind farms.

          • humanitarian solar

            Strong argument for nuclear. And lets not think in either/or. There’s already building rooftops which can be employed, hence there’s an immediate avenue, albeit a small scale avenue, that motivated and aware concerned citizens can employ on our own properties. We need strategies that both governments, and the leading edge of humanity can employ in their own back yards. Are you interested in having some power generation onsite where you live?

          • I sure am. I’d like to see solar panels on all rooftops in town (Milpitas, CA, USA), and over all the parking lots too. But right now it’s only economically feasible because of government subsidies that far exceed those given to the nuclear industry, when calculated per kilowatt-hour generated. Every little bit of clean energy helps, but I’d like to see government subsidies directed where they can produce the most clean energy per dollar.

          • humanitarian solar

            For me dollars need to be balanced with social justice goals, of spreading the money around and empowering all citizens. In this sense, small local generation, on your property, has an advantage.

          • I see you’ve been doing your homework. But so what? My interests should be of no concern. Read any book on biodiversity, or better yet “The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert, and you’ll see that the human footprint on every continent totally disrupted the natural order long before Europeans got there. Wherever humans venture they knock off the biggest land animals and top predators. Northeastern Australia used to be rainforest, until people arrived and killed the herbivores who munched on the undergrowth, setting the stage for fire to carbonize the forest when a big drought hit 41,000 years ago. Now it’s only home to drought-tolerant species. No, humanitarian, the problem is not overcrowding, it’s overgrazing for energy. The land footprint per person on the planet can be minimized with almost any form of nuclear power, whether LWR or MSR, and wilderness maximized.

          • humanitarian solar

            When you speak with me, you bring your whole person, including your historical experience of your environment and culture. It is an illusion of science, there can easily be “objective observation” as we are situationally connected with the substance of the sun, the moon and the stars, as well as our immediate natural environment. We can feel this connection when we quieten down our minds and we’re in agreement our passion is to live in balance with nature as much as we can. I’ll have a look at the book sometime. My uni studies included Ken Wilber. With my history, I did operational service in a country with an intermittent grid and rightly or wrongly that still influences me today. In Australia our grid is changing and the solar system here with hybrid inverter and batteries, are to add a UPS feature to this property, as well as take the only current opportunity I have to reduce my carbon footprint. Having being once an electronics technician, I can relatively easily learn about solar and add more panels on every NE, N and NW roof space. My government is slow to transition away from coal, though I can now on this property. We’re also learning to grow a food forest with permaculture principles. It may not be as Australia once was, and yet its the best the people here presently know how to do.

          • Wilhelm Guggisberg

            With small modular Thorium molten salt nukes you don’t need a centralized grid, but totally independent fractioned ones, and cheaper as coal.

          • humanitarian solar

            Your above argument is ethnocentric as this is an Australian website, we don’t have nuclear and hence the topic of decentralisation does not concern nuclear. In Australia we have coal, LNG and renewable energy. So I don’t know what area of the world your in, though your anti-nuclear or pro-nuclear argument is uppermost in your mind. Your comment is an error of perception called projection – projecting your hangups and psychological conflicts onto others.

          • The only argument against nuclear power that isn’t false is one I’ve heard used against fusion. Both would remove any limits to the growth of human populations, and result in so much fragmentation of the natural landscape by humans and their transportation infrastructure that virtually all non-domesticated animals larger than cats would be driven to extinction.

      • Math Geurts

        “Solar and wind are on every street corner, so its able to be a “distributed paradigm” and that’s why the general population like it.”

        Yes, there is solar on every street corner and the general population likes it, however it is just a tiny share of Germany’s demand for energy. The facts: there is almost 40 GW PV installed in Germany which produced about 38.5 TWh in rather sunny 2015. That makes about 7.5% of Germany’s power consumption. Around 10% of this 38.5 TWh comes from rooftop solar (Australian style < 10 kW). So rooftop solar delivers about 0.2% of Germany's energy consumption. A rather modest contribution to the Energiewende. It gives many people hope but it is a false hope. It gives some people money. For them it is good.

      • Mark Pawelek

        One can’t have a mobile phone factory on every street, nor a ship yard, water purification plant, nor a myriad of other essential industrial concerns.

        I don’t see greens protesting against every centralized industry.

        • humanitarian solar

          It’s really looking at the facets of each industry and deciding upon the implementation of our values. I personally don’t have spare cash to support any particular industry, although I like the value stance of Australian Ethical Investment and think they are a leader in that field. I have my superannuation with them. This link describes their decision making process for investment. I’m in resonance with it.

  • Wilhelm Guggisberg

    Are you kiddin’ here? I thought the article’s claim was an ironic sarcasm! Energiewende is categorically a total failure! Germany could be doing as France, clean and cheaper Energy 70% Nuclear.

  • Mark Pawelek

    What is the point of winning the technology race if German greenhouse gas emissions stay the same?

    There have been no German greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions now for the last 7 years (2009 to 2015 inclusive). After Fukushima, they retired 6888 MWe of nuclear plant. This year they plan to retire another 2572 MWe of nuclear plant. In a years time, it will be no GHG emission reductions for 8 consecutive years. They now have 80,000 GWe of solar and wind plant (split 50:50), most of it installed post-Fukushima.

    • Mark Pawelek

      Pro- renewable energy / anti-nukes must be the most cynical people on earth.

    • calculus_ask

      After 2009, electricity exports from Germany have increased.. you need to account that also.. but you are right in pointing overall Germany hasnt reduced Greenhouse gas emissions from this thermal electric plants..

    • Jovica Vukša

      As noted, there is a lot of work in front of us. Coal, oil, nuclear…one step a the time.
      Smart choice by removing nuclear first

    • BasM

      You mix long term with fluctuations due to flourishing economy, etc.

      Check the great GHG reductions Germany achieved already: 27% below 1990 Kyoto level, which is far more than any other major country. Nuclear USA even no reduction at all while it emits >30%/pp more than any other country!

      Regarding electricity supply there were also reductions, shown by the graph below. Realize that they export now ~8% of the produced electricity:

  • Sparafucile

    Meanwhile, the head of March of Dimes credits the organization for winning the fight against birth defects, and the Barack Obama claims credit for fixing all problems with the US Healthcare system.

    This self-serving idiocy is propaganda.

  • humanitarian solar

    It is hard to compare the humble solar panel to the nuclear power plant. The solar panel produces less power. The solar panel can be purchased on eBay and put up by the most unsophisticated among us. Yet people like it. How is this so? Likewise, rain water falls onto the landscape, runs into rivers, and then there’s allot of trouble to pump it out and into a reservoir, add chemicals to make it safe, then pump it up all the highest hills in the area, so it can gravity feed into taps for us. Then often people don’t appreciate all this effort of centralised provision of water, and just go and get it out of the sky.

  • humanitarian solar

    What would facilitate the implemention of wind and solar, and harnessing local resources generally, is the selling of State owned grid/s to local City Councils. Only they are best located to administer geographical resources.

  • humanitarian solar

    Article and Discussion Summary:
    We began discussing the prospects of solar and wind to power Germany and considered the same for Australia, then our friends from the USA and Canada jumped in to mention we’re missing out on other forms of essential base load power that can backup renewables. Additionally, the question was raised about whether batteries are a fantasy or a technological reality?
    In terms of paradigms, there emerged the contrast between traditional centralised generation versus having little semi-independent generators all over the country. The unique characteristics of the Australian grid/s were discussed, our problem of long runs of telegraph poles, and our challenges with wind, fire and flood.
    Finally, the issue of the degree of autonomy, we, Australian’s, on our properties, in our City Councils, States and Territories – what level of autonomy, and hence service reliability, is a practical reality? Based upon nature’s renewable resources in each of our geographical areas, to what degree can each of our communities be relatively self-sufficient? Do we need to continue to avail ourselves of big industrial generators, of scale, or to what level of scale, to supply our local geographical areas? Is the backbone local or is it centralised?

  • Mark Pawelek

    Just as I said : there have been no German CO2 emission reductions since 2009. German CO2 emissions have actually increased slightly since 2009. The majority of Germany’s nuclear power is yet to close, so we should not expect any CO2 emission reductions in Germany until 2023 at best.

    If the point of renewable energy is not to reduce GHG emissions, what purpose does it serve?

  • Math Geurts

    In 2015 in Germany solar PV delivered 139 PJ out of 13335 PJ final energy demand (1,04%). Growth of solar PV capacity in Germany: in 2009: 85%, in 2010: 73%, in 2011: 44%, in 2012: 34%, in 2013: 10%, in 2014: 6,6%, in 2015: 4%

    Solar has won technology race in Germany? When will 2% of 13335 PJ be reached?