Thursday, June 14, 2018

GWPF Newsletter - Green No More: Germany Rejects EU’s Green Energy Ambitions








Germany On Track To Widely Miss 2020 Climate Target 

In this newsletter:

1) Green No More: Germany Rejects EU’s Green Energy Ambitions
EurActive, 12 June 2018

2) Germany On Track To Widely Miss 2020 Climate Target - Government 
Clean Energy Wire, 12 June 2018 

3) Germany’s Energy Transition: A Cautionary Tale For Europe
EU Reporter, 12 June 2018  

4) Vernunftkraft: Compendium Of Germany’s Energiewende
Vernunftkraft, June 2018 

5) Stranded Assets Booming: Coal Prices Double As Demand Rises
Financial Times, 11 June 2018

6) Reality Check: This Hated Commodity Is Making Investors Rich
Banyan Hill, 12 June 2018

7) UK Wind Power Becalmed
GWPF Energy, 12 June 2018 

Full details:

1) Green No More: Germany Rejects EU’s Green Energy Ambitions
EurActive, 12 June 2018

Voters across Europe have lost faith in politics partly because of “unachievable targets” on renewable energy, said German Energy Minister Peter Altmaier, who rejected calls from a group of other EU countries to boost the share of renewables to 33-35% of the bloc’s energy mix by 2030.


German Minister of Economy and Energy Peter Altmaier arrives for a Council meeting of European Energy Ministers in Luxembourg, 11 June 2018. [EPA-EFE/JULIEN WARNAND]

Altmaier made the comments during an on-the-record exchange between the 28 EU energy ministers, who are gathered in Luxembourg today (11 June) for a meeting of the Energy Council.

Energy ministers are expected to thrash out a joint position on three clean energy laws which are currently being negotiated in the EU institutions – the Renewable Energy Directive, the Energy Efficiency Directive and a regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union.

“Germany supports responsible but achievable targets,” Altmaier said from the outset, underlining Berlin’s efforts to raise the share of renewables to 15% of the country’s overall energy mix.

But he said those efforts also carried a cost for the German taxpayer, which he put at €25 billion per year. “And if we are setting targets that are definitely above 30%, that means that within a decade, our share has to be more than doubled – clearly more than doubled,” Altmaier pointed out.

“We’re not going to manage that,” Altmaier said referring to an objective of putting 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2020 in Germany. “Nowhere in Europe is going to manage that,” he claimed. “And even if we did manage to get enough electric cars, we wouldn’t have enough renewable electricity to keep them on the road,” he stressed.

What’s needed, he said, is “a compromise that prevents us from having an unachievable target” at European level.

“Citizens across Europe are losing faith in politics. When they see that we are setting very ambitious targets and that a few years later we’re deferring this, we are way off their expectations.”

Higher-ambition coalition

Altmaier’s statement was dismissed as “pathetic” by Claude Turmes, the lead Parliament negotiator on the governance regulation, who will become energy minister of Luxembourg at the end of the month.

Still, Germany’s declarations poured cold water on expectations from other EU countries, which have called for higher ambition on the EU’s “clean energy package” of legislation.

Luxembourg and Spain, which spoke before Germany at the Council meeting, both supported the European Parliament’s call for higher targets on renewables and energy efficiency, backing a 35% objective for both. The Netherlands, France, Denmark, Sweden, Italy and Portugal were also among those calling for higher targets on renewables and energy efficiency than those currently on the table.

Talks on the three proposed EU laws are expected to conclude on Wednesday (13 June) during three-way talks between the European Parliament and the EU Council, with the European Commission acting as mediator.

Opposition from Visegrad group

But the chances of reaching an “ambitious” agreement closer to the Parliament’s position during the so-called “trilogue” talks now appears slimmer without full backing from Germany.

The Visegrad group of countries comprising the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland reiterated their opposition to raising the EU’s level of ambition. Hungary, for instance, said any increase in the renewable energy target should trigger a new impact assessment from the European Commission, a lengthy procedure that would delay the adoption of the directive.

Not all hope is lost however, according to Turmes, who noted that shifting positions from new governments in Spain and Italy have lifted the blocking minority against a 33% objective for renewables and energy efficiency.

Full story


See also GWPF coverage of Germany’s green energy fiasco

2) Germany On Track To Widely Miss 2020 Climate Target - Government 
Clean Energy Wire, 12 June 2018 

The German government is about to concede officially that the country is on course to widely miss its 2020 climate target. 

The economic boom, the pressure of immigration, and high emissions in transport mean that the energy transition pioneer is headed for a greenhouse gas emission cut of only 32 percent compared to 1990 – in contrast to the official target of a 40 percent reduction, according to a draft of the government’s Climate Protection Report, which was seen by the Clean Energy Wire and is due to be published on 13 June.

“It is to be expected that greenhouse gas emissions will decrease by around 32 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 with the measures implemented to date. This will lead to a gap of about 8 [percentage points],” states a draft of the Climate Protection Report seen by the Clean Energy Wire.

In 2014, the government initiated a "Climate Action Programme". But the additional policies were not enough to close the gap to the 2020 goal of cutting emissions by 40 percent, due to “surprisingly strong economic development and the surprisingly strong population growth,” writes the government in the report, which is due to be published following a cabinet meeting on 13 June.

The report even warns that its emission forecasts “must be considered rather optimistic in light of the current climate protection trends.”

Full story

3) Germany’s Energy Transition: A Cautionary Tale For Europe
EU Reporter, 12 June 2018 

Colin Stevens

For all the bravado, Germany’s Energiewende may be more cautionary tale than success story for other nations looking to modernize their energy sectors. At the heart of the policy lies a fundamental hypocrisy: despite Germany’s commitment to expanding its renewable energy capacity to replace lost nuclear plants, the country’s carbon emissions are currently on the rise.



The hasty decision to close all 19 nuclear power stations in Germany by 2022 was made in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, only a year after Chancellor Angela Merkel had decided to extend the plants’ lifespan. This policy reversal was coupled with plans to eliminate the use of fossil fuels by bringing renewables’ share of the German energy mix up to 60 percent by 2050.

Despite its seemingly sensible foundations, the Energiewende’s first years have revealed the problems the model poses for both Germany and the rest of Europe. Energiewende is hardly just a domestic issue: one of its basic tenets is that the country has nine neighbours with whom it can exchange power, either selling surplus energy when renewables overproduce or importing it from Austrian, Polish, French and Czech power stations when German renewables underperform.

While Germany has managed to bring renewables’ share of electricity generation up to 30 percent, the previous steady decline in carbon emissions – 27 percent from 1999 to 2009 – has sharply reversed since Germany decided to phase out nuclear. Instead of falling, emissions have instead risen by four percent in the years since. Why the worrying uptick in emissions? Because renewable energy is still inherently intermittent.

Barring major advances in battery and storage technology, Germany will be forced to retain other domestic energy sources for decades to come. If nuclear power is ruled out, coal plants will continue to run in their place and pollute the atmosphere in the process. Even worse, many thermal power plants in Germany burn lignite, a specific type of hard coal which emits more CO2 than almost any other fossil fuel. Whereas natural gas exudes between 150 and 430g of CO2 per kilowatt-hour, lignite clocks in at a staggering 1.1kg of CO2. Nuclear power only gives off  16g of CO2 per kilowatt-hour.

Full post  

4) Vernunftkraft: Compendium Of Germany’s Energiewende
Vernunftkraft, June 2018 

Germany’s Energiewende – where we really stand



In March 2017, the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy published a brochure announcing that the Energiewende, its renewable energy revolution, was ‘a success story’.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Energiewende has the goal of making Germany independent of fossil fuels in the long term. Coal, oil and gas were to be phased out, allowing drastic reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. However, these goals have not even begun to be achieved.

The Energiewende was only driven forward in the electricity sector, which, accounts for only one-fifth of energy consumption. There were hardly any successes in the heating/cooling and transport sectors.

And so carbon dioxide emissions in Germany have been rising since 2009, even though well over a hundred billion euros have been spent on the expansion of solar and wind energy over the same period. The financial obligations undertaken in the process will continue to burden taxpayers for another two decades and will end up costing German consumers a total sum of around 550 billion euros.

Despite this enormous effort, security of supply is increasingly under threat. At the same time, people and the biosphere are suffering; wildlife protection has become subordinated to climate mitigation, even though the possibility of achieving the goals of reducing carbon dioxide emissions is becoming increasingly distant and the measures for the energy transition seem to become more and more questionable from a constitutional point of view.

In this review we would like to inform a public debate and set out a reasonable course for energy policy in Germany.

Compendium (pdf)

5) Stranded Assets Booming: Coal Prices Double As Demand Rises
Financial Times, 11 June 2018

Prices have more than doubled from 2016 lows, boosting profits of big producers



Thermal coal, tagged the least-loved major commodity by analysts, is defying sceptics, with prices rising to the highest level since 2012 thanks to strong Asian demand.

High-grade Australian thermal coal, the benchmark for the vast Asia market, was quoted at $112.60 a tonne on Monday by Argus Media.

The fuel, which is burnt in power stations to generate electricity, has now jumped 130 per cent from its 2016 lows, boosting the profits of big producers such as Glencore and Peabody. The price of South African thermal coal has also hit a six-year high as consumers in Asia scramble for supplies.

While thermal coal is being phased out in Europe on environmental grounds, it still accounts for about 40 per cent of energy consumption in emerging markets, especially Asia.

Demand from India, Japan and South Korea has been robust in the first five months of the year, while an early summer heatwave has lifted imports into China despite Beijing’s efforts to keep a lid on domestic coal prices.

Full post

6) Reality Check: This Hated Commodity Is Making Investors Rich
Banyan Hill, 12 June 2018

U.S. coal use declined for the eighth year in a row. American electric producers are switching to cleaner sources like natural gas and renewables. That doesn’t mean American coal producers are suffering though.
American coal is finding new homes abroad. After years of falling exports, 2017 marked a dramatic shift.

Take a look at the chart below showing annual coal exports:



Coal exports grew by 61% last year, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The fastest-growing consumer is Asia — specifically India.

China is getting on board with cleaner energy like natural gas. But Indian electric producers are still reliant on coal. Coal supplies half of its grid with power.

India may be rich in coal reserves, but this supply is mostly low quality. Newer power plants need high-quality coal, which America has plenty of.

The EIA estimates that America has nearly 350 years of coal reserves.

Other sources of demand include Japan and Europe. The tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011 disrupted clean energy plans. The nuclear accident slowed the nation’s nuclear energy program.

European power is shifting away from coal, but metal production still used over half of U.S. exported coal.

The trends in international coal are unlikely to change in the short term. Despite a push from developed nations to switch away from coal, its role as an energy source won’t disappear anytime soon.

Some major miners, such as Rio Tinto and BHP, are backing away from coal to have a cleaner reputation. But cutbacks in coal production are helping to limit the supply. This drives profits higher for the remaining players.

Full post

7) UK Wind Power Becalmed
GWPF Energy, 12 June 2018 
Dr John Constable: GWPF Energy Editor

Wind power output in the United Kingdom since the end of May has been at low and extremely low levels, confirming, yet again, the observation that wind power contributes little or nothing to security of supply, and so requires a duplication of resources implying a reduction in overall system productivity and so higher costs to consumers.

This is “Onshore Wind Week”, but Aeolus, the fickle god of the winds, has tested his celebrants’ resolve in the run-up to this festival  by refusing to blow more than the occasional puff at the United Kingdom’s 9,000 wind turbines (7,000 onshore, 1,800 offshore). In fact, output from the total wind capacity of approximately 16,500 MW has been low to negligible since the 30thof May.

Metered output is available from the Balancing Mechanism Reporting Service (BMRS) for about 11,836 MW or 65% of the wind fleet. The remaining 35%  is not visible to the system operator, but on the assumption that it performs as well as the visible capacity we can estimate the total output.

In the whole of May wind power visible in the BMRS generated 2.2 TWh of electrical energy, so the full total would have been approximately 3.4 TWh. The same calculation for the period 1–10th of June suggests a total wind generation of 0.31 TWh, implying a daily average amounting to less than 1/3 of that in the previous month.

In fairness one should note that June has historically often been a low wind month, but this year’s output does seem to be modest even by those historical standards. Indeed, for some hours on some days the fleet output was effectively zero. On the 3rdof June, for example, between 07.00 and 13.00, during the morning ramp, output from all 16,500 MW of UK wind power fell to some under 100 MW, a load factor of 0.6%. It must be remembered that this was not a matter of choice, but just what the winds had to offer at that moment. The following chart is the half-hourly fuel mix chart for that day, calculated from the Balancing Mechanism data by Dr Moroney at REF:

 

Figure 1: Half hour metered UK electricity fuel mix data for the 3rd June 2018. Vertical axis: Megwatts; horizontal axis, half-hourly Settlement Period.  Source: United Kingdom’s Balancing Mechanism Reporting Service, reprocessed and charted by Renewable Energy Foundation.

Gas fired power stations, represented by the dark yellow band, are obviously following load, and have thus filled in for absent wind, a fact that can be confirmed by noting that gas fuelled generation accounted for 45% of electricity in May, a level typical for the whole of the previous year, but have generated 51% of megawatt hours so far in June, a level rarely exceed in preceding months.

It should also be noted that load on the system is low, at just under 30 GW, so there is no question here of the operator struggling to get by. The system managed perfectly well, indeed it seems to run more smoothly and certainly more cheaply without wind.

Full post 

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.

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