Wetterbedingte Produktionslastverschiebungen kommunizieren

To communicate production time shifts in response to weather conditions.

At least one company in Germany is offering a service that communicates to its clients’ high-electricity-consuming factories when local electricity networks are running low on power. This would be in times of low sunlight and low wind, or possibly even artificially high demand caused by the opportunity to export electricity to a neighbor. The client factories then check whether their present processes would permit a production rearrangement to switch to less electricity-consuming manufacturing or even a delay, and in return they receive cash from the utilities for the timely power use reduction.

A “smart” factory profiled in Der Spiegel that needs a lot of energy to run its silicon-melting ovens can reduce its power consumption by up to one-third within minutes after receiving notification. For this, it can get up to 15,000 euros per month from the electricity network operator.

The electricity consumption management company profiled in Der Spiegel has about 100 clients for this service, including paper factories, water treatment facilities, public buildings and a brewery, adding up to about 650 megawatts. The service said their timely communication can replace coal-burning power plants that are only used during demand peaks and replace capacity markets used to hedge utilities’ overproduction safety margins.

The necessary framework of laws is not yet complete, said a representative of the service: the big utilities now are the ones to decide which companies can join such paid time-shifting arrangements in power-intensive manufacturing. They frequently take a very long time to permit new factories into the fold. There’s also a regulatory problem that needs to be ironed out in that factories that increase production when there’s a surplus of electricity in the wires are fined heavily by the utilities right now, even though they’re doing the utilities a favor.

(VET ah bed INKED ah   proad ooked see OWNS lost fair SHE boong en   com moon it’s EAR en.)

Grosse Kohlelition

Grand “coal”-alition.

Since the 22 Sep 2013 Bundestag election, Germany’s second-largest political party, the socialist S.P.D., has had a new boss: Sigmar Gabriel. He managed to get his party to agree to form a grosse Koalition with Chancellor Merkel’s largest political party, the conservative C.D.U. (and its Bavarian state branch, the C.S.U.), even though this effectively eliminated opposition from the Bundestag and usually causes the S.P.D. to lose voters after unethical compromises of its core principles. After delivering the S.P.D., via much talk, singing rousing songs and an up-or-down vote on whether to rule, Mr. Gabriel became the deputy chancellor of Germany and took on two cabinet ministries: Economics and Energy. He announced he would “reform” Germany’s switch to renewable energy sources, the awesome Energiewende, to cap government support of solar and wind power because he wanted to reduce electricity prices for consumers. The reporting indicated Mr. Gabriel has no plans to significantly reduce the C.D.U.’s exemptions, “industry privileges,” granted to high-volume electricity-consuming companies, which goes up by about 1000 companies/year and which the E.U. competition authority has said if not stopped or at least better organized may be reason for that authority to kill the Energiewende entirely. In fact, ZDF heute journal correspondent Stefan Leifert said, the new minister has refused to specify which important industries will get which rebates to their contributions to the Energiewende.

Mr. Gabriel’s hand-picked successor as head of the S.P.D. is a representative of coal workers, from the Industriegewerkschaft Bergbau, Chemie, Energie (IG BCE, “industrial union for mining, chemistry, power”).

Because Bavaria has been investing in biofuel systems, the C.S.U. was not 100% behind kneecapping the Energiewende when Mr. Gabriel submitted his reform proposals on 30 Jan 2014. Bavaria’s Economy & Energy minister Ilse Aigner (C.S.U.) explained that biomass electricity generation is a reasonable alternative for times when there are low quantities of sun or wind.

(GROSS ah   COAL a lee tsee OWN.)

Netzentgeltbefreiung

“Network fee exemption.” All electricity consumers in Germany have been sharing the costs to build alternative power sources and now to build new power lines to connect alternative power sources, such as the wind parks out in the North Sea, to the power grid. All electricity consumers in Germany? Well, not quite. Businesses that consume a lot of electricity have been getting exemptions from the government, and those businesses’ unpaid share of the costs has then been redistributed among everyone else, mostly private individuals and families. On 06 Mar 2013, the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court overturned the rebates to high-volume electricity-consuming businesses from the shared costs of building the new power lines, saying the Energiewirtschaftsgesetz [Energy Industry Act] does not allow this exemption.

Update on 14 Jul 2013: The E.U. is investigating the legality of high-electricity-consuming businesses’ exemptions to the German EEG-Umlage and Netzentgelt (this investigation was started in March). If the competition commissioner decides the rebates were impermissible, they might even be eliminated with retroactive effect, leaving companies owing millions of euros. State aid to companies in Europe must be approved by the E.U. commission, said Manager Magazin, to prevent competitive distortions.

Update on 26 Aug 2013: There’s still a paucity of power lines connecting the North Sea wind power parks to the mainland grid. Two of three finished German windparks are connected to the mainland. Not only are power line builders behind on connecting existing ocean windmills, but the maps in German television news show there’s so much more area there that has been zoned for windparks yet to be built, which will also have to be connected up. They’re looking for investors. A “Cuxhavener Appell” was signed by investors in North Sea German wind parks seeking planning security. Chinese companies might be very good at building this infrastructure.

Update on 13 Dec 2013: The E.U. Commission has initiated proceedings against Germany’s EEG-Umlage because of the hundreds of rebates to it that were granted to high-power-consumption businesses. Multiple countries filed complaints about it in Brussels, saying the German exemptions to its own law distorted competition in the domestic European market. The formal start of the proceedings is scheduled for Wednesday, 18 Dec 2013. Experts writing opinions for the E.U. competition authority’s investigation said the rebates to companies were a problem but the payments to small renewable-energy feeders contributing electricity to the system were “not overcompensated,” meaning fine, Süddeutsche.de reported. A German Green party member of the European Parliament accused E.U. energy commissar Günther Oettinger (German CDU) of using the E.U. competition authority’s (understandable!) problem with CDU-granted exemptions to the EEG-Umlage to try to endanger Germany’s entire investment program in renewable power sources, rather than work with Brussels to eliminate the sole sticking point, one that his party would be rather well-placed to fix. Süddeutsche.de said there was great opposition in the European Parliament to the Commission’s announcement that it would try to declare Germany’s entire Renewable Energies Act an impermissible subvention, rather than just the exemptions granted to it “which Berlin has steadfastly refused to touch.” Mr. Oettinger should send a clear message to Brussels that Berlin is now willing to talk about reducing the exorbitant exemptions, the Green party said.

Update on 14 Dec 2013: Spiegel.de reported that E.U. competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia is trying to hurry up and change the E.U.’s Energiewende model before the E.U. election in spring 2014. He will announce plans on Wednesday, 18 Dec 2013, they said, for auctioning off renewable energy subventions (“market premium” model) rather than guaranteeing them (“fixed premium”). His preferred model has been shown to result in the E.U. in countries’ building fewer renewable energy generation sites than planned.

Spiegel.de said it saw internal E.U. documents indicating the following troublesome European components in the competition commissioner’s plan for changing E.U. renewable energy policy. The promised fixed prices for purchasing clean electricity for a defined number of years that have resulted in so much renewable energy construction in Germany are “a thorn in the eye” to Mr. Almunia and his Competition office, said Spiegel.de. Instead, he wants electricity to be purchased from renewable energy generator operators at market prices plus a premium decided in an auction-type process. To keep the premium as low as possible, construction of new renewable-source generators is to be opened up to competitive bidding, with the contract awarded to the builder offering to accept the lowest premium on the electricity their site will produce. Spiegel.de pointed out this adds obvious uncertainty to the apparent profitability of building new renewable energy generators, large and small, but also less obvious uncertainty, such as: companies that win these auctions could go bankrupt, leaving the rewewable energy infrastructure construction project and/or electricity seller high and dry in future years.

According to its new coalition government agreement, Germany had planned to switch to the electricity market price + premium model, but not before 2017 and then “only if certain relevant pilot projects were successful.”

Spiegel.de said some members of the E.U. Commission felt Mr. Almunia’s “market premium” model was suitable for Europe, now, and some felt it may be suitable for countries in which the switch to renewable sources [Energiewende] is well-established but not for countries starting out on that path. In his draft guideline, which he’s trying to push through before the springtime election, he changed a definition that might make Germany’s success in this area an obstacle for member states attempting to replicate it: the definition of a mature technology was changed from a certain percentage of the electricity consumed by a country to a certain percentage of the electricity generated by the entire European Union. “Solar, wind (on land and sea), hydropower and biogas plants already exceed Mr. Almunia’s limit” in the E.U., Spiegel.de said, meaning that “in future they could only be supported [subventioned] by competitive bidding” even in countries just starting down that path, even in countries less wealthy than Germany.

In addition to creating a high impediment for countries in which technologies redefined as “market-mature” have not yet been built to competitive levels, Spiegel.de quoted opponents to the measure as arguing, this “direct marketing” model allegedly doesn’t work as promised. “Small electricity operators will need a marketer to sell their electricity,” and this marketer could go bankrupt, after which the operators couldn’t sell their electricity and would lose their right to a subvention [Förderung]. Banks would see the increased risk and raise interest rates on loans for constructing renewable energy sources. Building new renewable generators would become less attractive, meaning the market premium would have to go up for construction to occur: in the end, this model could prove more expensive than Germany’s current system (now being copied by over a dozen E.U. member states Spiegel.de said) while resulting in less construction of the new infrastructure.

(Nets ent GELT beh fry oong.)

Stromspeichertechnik

Electricity storage techniques or technology. ZDF heute journal reports that a new storage method is being tested near Stuttgart: excess electricity produced by solar and wind power is converted to methane which can be stored in a natural gas network. When insufficient “renewable” electricity is generated, the stored methane is converted back to electricity.

I found an article explaining that they are using electrolysis to split water into hydrogen and oxygen and then chemically reacting the hydrogen with carbon dioxide to make methane.

(SHTROME shpy chher   TECHH neek.)

Ökostromumlage

“Environmentally-friendly electricity contribution” or “share in the costs”; this is a subvention to build more solar and wind power-generating capacity in Germany. Paid by electricity consumers, this contribution will probably increase in 2013 from ~3.6 to ~5.3 eurocents/kWh, or by an additional ~60 euros per average German household.

On 07 Oct. 2012 the president of the German Federal Cartell Authority asked for this contribution to be modified because he said it will soon be as high as the price of electricity on the Exchange.

Angela Merkel’s coalition partner, the libertarianesque FDP, advertises itself as a party that lowers taxes and deregulates in the interest of simplification (though it appears to me they have trouble finding projects that do this while actually simplifying and while actually benefiting average voters and not e.g. rich people). The FDP has now called to reduce value-added tax on electricity as compensation for the Ökostromumlage. Angela Merkel’s environmental minister (CDU) disagreed, saying he first wanted to find out how their partner party would compensate for the lost budgeted funds. The Green Party said it refuses to lower subventions for alternative power sources.

Update on 10 Oct 2012: Angela Merkel’s environmental minister (CDU) is now calling for a new Ökostromumlage law.

Update on 21 Oct 2012: Tagesschau.de reports that an internal SPD paper is also calling for a value-added tax rebate on electricity. The paper also calls for student allowances (BAFÖG), the base welfare income for people seeking work (Grundsicherung für Arbeitssuchenden, EUR ~690/month) and housing allowances (Wohngeld) to be “adjusted” for the electricity contribution increase.

(ÖÖÖ koh strome oom log eh.)

Energiewende

The “energy transition” from nonrenewable energy sources to a sustainable-power economy.

Update on 16 Jul 2013: After Germany began its phaseout of nuclear power by shutting down eight of its seventeen nuclear power plants in 2011 and yet was a net exporter of electricity in 2012 e.g. to France, which kept its nuclear power plants but suffered brownouts, German utility companies are now indicating they are considering shutting down dozens of coal and gas power plants as well because they are not profitable enough in the current renewable energy boom. Power plant operators want to be paid by the government for keeping the power plants available as backups, despite supply-driven reductions in their electricity selling prices. The Bundesnetzagentur can however force them by law to keep the power plants restartable, sans compensation.

(En erg EE venn deh.)

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