Saturday, 2 April 2016

Carbon Brief : What they leave out in their pseudo-criticism of Energiewende

My reply to Carbon Brief article on German Coal. Written in the style of a letter to Carbon Brief (or not, given I'm a sloppy stylist!):

  1. Let's begin with the "planned levy on the oldest and dirtiest coal plants" which did not happen. After closing so much nuclear power plant, spending so much money on 80,000 MWe of solar and wind (about 50:50), Germany can hardly afford to increase the cost of energy even more can it? Especially when all the costs fall on consumers and few costs fall on industry. With so many consumers being disconnected from the grid because they are unable to pay for expensive German electricity.
  2. You quote Energiewende but don't list all the criteria specified by it. There are at least 6 criteria. "Fighting climate change" is but one. This gives the reader a false impression of German energy policy, implying that Energiewende is primarily about fighting climate change, which it never was.
  3. Germany is burning coal because it meets its energy demands. As simple as that. Intermittent renewables can not meet demand. They are dependent on time of day, season and weather. It is absolutely essential to provide power from fossils when renewables don't work.
  4. Another reason why Germany is burning far more fossil than planned is because the carbon intensity of intermittent renewables is a fraudulent stat. In two ways. First the fossils used to provide power when intermittents don't deliver run more inefficiently. Fossils waste heat which is not used to make electricity. Fossil plants cycle up and down more often, or they must keep burning even when their generators are not delivering, or both. Renewables will not work without dispatchable support, like fossil fuels.1
  5. Gas is an alternative to coal with half the carbon intensity. Germany phased out some gas in favour of coal because Energiewende also specifies "reducing energy imports", "energy security", and "strengthening local economies". AKA preferring coal over natural gas. Yet you must already know that because you read Energiewende. Right?
  6. The Carbon Brief criticisms of German coal burning might make sense if they expanded it to also criticise Energiewende itself and the German nuclear power shutdown. A pity Carbon Brief declined to take that opportunity in their article. Missed scoring couple of goals with opps' goalposts undefended. Which side are you playing for?

Your article gives the impression that Germany can easily close down coal-fired electricity without hurting itself. It can not. That's why they are burning so much coal.

As in "Will not work" : without blackouts.

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