Top Renewable Energy Expert Warns Of Collapsing Euro Energy Supply…Germany’s Energy Policy “Suicidal”

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Vahrenholt DkSWhat follows is Professor Fritz Vahrenholt’s reaction to German power giant E.ON’s decision to split off its fossil fuel and nuclear power generation operations, and Russia’s announcement it has cancelled the construction of South Stream gas supply pipeline to Europe.
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This week two events have occurred and will have serious impacts on the European and German energy market: 1) the withdrawal from conventional power generation by Europe’s and Germany’s largest power company, E.ON, and 2) Russia’s canceling the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline. The public reaction in Germany was quite subdued. That in itself shows how little the German public comprehends the issue of power supply stability.

But this is exactly what these two events are all about.

E.ON accepts that there is no longer any future for coal and nuclear power in Germany, as this is the will of the federal government and the German public. That is indeed suicidal for Germany as a location for business, and E.ON knows it. The forced shutdown of nuclear power plants, without compensation, and the loss-intensive relegation of coal and gas power plants to serve as uneconomical back-up power plants for the most-unstable renewable energies, has left a deep impression on the bottom lines of German power producers.

E.ON will place all its conventional operations into a subsidiary company, which will then be put on the auction block. E.ON’s abandonment is striking proof that a market-oriented commitment in Germany’s energy sector is politically unwelcome. Ultimately it is E.ON’s silent wish that in the end – with political guarantees from the German government – a buyer will take over the risk of producing conventional energy in Germany. If it is not the state-controlled companies in France or Russia, then it will be the German state itself who will take over the supply of energy, and certainly over the coming years – after one of the feared brown-outs. That of course will be because of politics. But the political reaction will claim: The energy supply has to be placed in the hands of the state because the market failed. Perhaps the managers at E.ON saw it coming, and so are now attempting to salvage a part of the capital.

With regards to Russia’s sudden cancellation of the South Stream pipeline project, this is also a question of securing an uninterrupted supply. In the wake of geopolitical tensions Russia is pulling out, surely in part because of the pressure from the falling oil and gas prices which are making the project increasingly uneconomical. Russia is turning to China for a solution.

And also here the German public has been surprisingly subdued. As politics pretty much has blocked the possibility of producing its own shale gas, a major part of the political left is busily attempting to torpedo the planned TTIP trade agreement with the USA, which also would include natural gas. Yet Germany continues on as if it’s business as usual, because the overwhelming majority believes wind and sun will suffice. A look out the window can be enlightening. Just as I am writing this, the PV production in Germany is zero – it’s dark outside – and the wind is hardly blowing…I’d estimate producing a maximum of 5000 MW in total, a tiny fraction of Germany’s total demand. Who is going to supply the other 50,000 MW that will power the German Rail, steel mills, subways, water supply, and my desk lamp and laptop?

One thing is now certain: It’s not going to be E.ON.

Fritz Vahrenholt

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Fritz Vahrenholt is Honary Professor of Chemistry at the University of Hamburg, former Environment Senator of Hamburg, was on the board of Deutsche Shell AG 1998 – 2001, CEO of REpower Systems AG wind turbine company 2001 – 2007, and RWE Innogy renewable energy from 2008 to 2012, and co-author of the climate science skeptical book Die kalte Sonne (English version: The Neglected Sun).  In 2012 Vahrenholt was elected chair of the Deutsche Wildtier Stiftung, a German foundation for the preservation of wildlife in Germany. He is also a member of the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Photo credit: Die kalte Sonne.

 

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20 responses to “Top Renewable Energy Expert Warns Of Collapsing Euro Energy Supply…Germany’s Energy Policy “Suicidal””

  1. Asmilwho

    “The public reaction in Germany was quite subdued.

    That in itself shows how little the German public comprehends the issue.”

    I personally think that this shows how badly the German public are being served by the left-dominated media & education

  2. John F. Hultquist

    Thanks Pierre. This is the clearist statement on this I have seen.

    He mentions the lack of wind and solar as he looks out the window. None to speak of. Likewise in Washington and Oregon. In fact we have an air stagnation alert until next Tuesday. Sky is 100% overcast so solar – not much here anyway – is not producing much. The wind turbines are likely drawing load rather then producing. I can’t tell for sure. They were at zero as December came, then on the 2nd the wind ramped up a little. By mid-morning Wednesday it was making little bounces along the bottom of the graph. In the evening it pegged on zero and remains there. Not enough to power a “desk lamp and laptop.”

    For those that want to see:
    http://transmission.bpa.gov/Business/Operations/Wind/baltwg.aspx

    1. ducdorleans

      if anyone is interested, I compiled some numbers from the Belgian grid operator Elia.be …

      it is the 5 day period from 29.11 up to and including 03/12/14 … (have to admit that I took this period on purpose … hardly any wind, and all the time overcast … but such periods happen just happen all the time … in fact, including 4/12 would have made the numbers worse …)

      the graph is here: http://imgur.com/XDC69qp

      renewables, who nominatively are rated at about half the total demand here in Belgium, accounted for a whopping 4% of demand during those 5 days …

      the shortfall in energy was +/- 1.12E6 Mwh …

      (we have here the pumped hydro power station at Coo -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coo-Trois-Ponts_Hydroelectric_Power_Station
      – whose output is equal to that of a major nuclear power station … about 1100Mw … but for 5 hours only …)

      only about 200 of those would have been needed to fill the shortfall in energy … (because that is what we need, don’t we, 100% renewables ?) …

      peace of cake !

  3. tom0mason

    “In the wake of geopolitical tensions Russia is pulling out, surely in part because of the pressure from the falling oil and gas prices which are making the project increasingly uneconomical. Russia is turning to China for a solution. “

    Yes! Russia for all its faults does want to earn money and doing business with Europe does not look like the best way of doing that.

  4. simpleNewz - NoTricksZone RSS Feed for 2014-12-06

    […] Top Renewable Energy Expert Warns Of Collapsing Euro Energy Supply…Germany’s Energy Policy “Su… […]

  5. A C Osborn

    As I have mentioned on previous Energy posts the Conventonal Generators have a lot of “Power” (pun intended), they can literally shut down any country they want by making excuses for not generating. ie Safety Checks, Faults, Plant closures on economic grounds, safety grounds or pollution grounds.
    Or they can do what E.ON are doing and that is to give the operating problems caused by stupid government legislation to someone else to worry about.
    Just suppose someone inimical to Germany was to buy that section of their business and promptly shut everything down until the Government agreed to pay much higher prices for their energy production.

    1. DirkH

      Last year or so EON and others already threatened to shut down peaker gas plants – they are used so scarcely now, due to the mandated preferance of wind/solar power, that they cannot be maintained economically anymore.

      Looks like someone inimical to Germany – i.e. the German government – was not forthcoming with any help and EON’s decision to split all of it off is the result.

      1. A C Osborn

        Oh, I do like that “Looks like someone inimical to Germany – i.e. the German government”

  6. Mervyn

    What stuns me is how, for example, almost every British MP at the time supported the UK’s Climate Change Act, yet they did not have the brains to understand that the Act was effectively an economic suicide note for the UK.

    1. lucklucky

      Politics are done by a narrative build by journalists which 99% of them neo-marxists of one strip or another. In fact most of them are not even aware of the fact they are just “useful idiots”, narcisists.

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  9. Val Martin

    The Sweedes are now suing Germany for losses due to closing down its nuclear power plants. Solar and wind do not work. So E.on is getting out while there is something left to salvage. When measured over one year. Wind farms are net producers of electricity.

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