Most new 2009 EU powerplant was
wind oops, gas
Smell of coffee not yet widespread in Brussels
Brussels bureaucrats have issued a statement trumpeting the "fact" that renewable energy sources - particularly wind - accounted for the majority of new power station capacity installed in the EU during 2009. However, the truth is that European dependence on fossil gas worsened seriously last year.
Under the headline "Renewables account for 62% of the new electricity generation capacity installed in the EU in 2009", analysts at the European Commission Joint Research Centre published their annual "renewable energy snapshots" report yesterday.
The main problem with this is that generating capacity is a fairly meaningless number when applied to most forms of renewables. A wind or sun farm usually puts out well under 30 per cent of its rated maximum output over time, as opposed to "thermal" plant (mostly fossil and nuclear) which runs at load factors of 75 to 90+ per cent.
Thus it is the output of the plant over time which counts, far more than its rated maximum capacity. And when we look at the new powerplants installed last year in the EU this way, we see that in fact far more energy will be generated by new gas-fired equipment (28 Terawatt-hours each year) than by new wind (20 TWh/yr) or solar (5.6 TWh/yr).
A more truthful header for the EC bureaucrats' annual summary would have been "European dependence on gas worsens still further" despite the huge subsidies and incentives which have been poured into renewables. Gas power is not just a carbon emitter: it is also becoming more and more a security issue as North Sea fields play out and supplies have to be imported (across various gas-hungry nations) from Vladimir Putin's Russia.
The authors of the report (pdf) do seem aware at some level that all is not well, despite the desire for a positive header on the press release. On page 6 they suddenly crank up the font size and select red ink to bellow:
The renewable electricity sector will not come by itself. Without increased political support... these predictions will not come about. In addition, the different renewable energy sources will need for the next decade substantial public R&D support as well as accompanying measures to enlarge the respective markets, as cost reduction and accelerated implementation will depend on the production volume and not on time!
The renewable electricity sector already receives enormous levels of government support, however. In these straitened times it will do well just to keep what it has, let alone obtain even more.
So it would seem that in fact the renewable electricity sector will not come. ®
"Steam plants hot all the time" is total utter rubbish but lives on...
"If you can't rely on it - and you can't - then you need to keep the steam plants hot, all the time"
Utter uttter utter rubbish, usually circulated by anti-renewable bigots. Please don't repost this rubbish.
In any decent Grid installation, a hierarchy of backup capacity is available to cover planned and unplanned outages. Pumped storage can go from zero to a few hundred MW per installation in seconds. CCGT (combined cycle gas turbines) are a bit slower on the uptake but not much, and the UK has a *lot* of those courtesy of the insane post-privatisation "dash for gas". Beyond those, you can have multi-GW-rated fossil-fueled steam stations which are close to readiness but not actually generating; they use a lot less fuel than when operating in spinning standby than when actively supplying the Grid. If you need more capacity at short notice than you can deliver, you tell your big customers on "interruptible" contracts that they are going to have to switch to their backup supplies for a few hours while a cold fossil-fired station warms up. Etc.
Get yourself a frigging clue, man.
You need some of all of these whether your Grid is mostly powered by renewables or mostly powered by classical fuels or by nukes. There's just as much chance of an unexpected loss of capacity from a nuke as their is of unexpected loss of capacity from a fossil powered station, arguably more actually because of the safety first principles.
So, in summary, rubbish.
"We should be burning coal to generate electricity in the short term, it's bugger all use for anything else!"
There's a lot to be said for that, especially when you consider how much gas we've wasted on electricity generation, gas which now can't be used for other applications where only gas made sense. Thanks Maggie.
We need to learn from the french experience...wheather we like it or not, the only short term reasonable alternative to fossil fuel, as a reliable supply of energy, is nuclear fission.
Well look at the upside
"Utter uttter utter rubbish, usually circulated by anti-renewable bigots. Please don't repost this rubbish."
At least they are recyling thier rubbish and not producing any new rubbish.
Mines the one made from hemp.