Has Germany failed or is this another viewpoint!

A new analysis answers the question “should other nations follow Germany’s lead on promoting solar Power?” That question was asked on Quora and answered by Ryan Carlyle, BSChE, and a Subsea Hydraulics Engineer. His detailed and well reasoned answer is the most forceful possible NO. According to Carlyle Germany’s program has the “absurd distinction” of hitting the trifecta of bad energy policy: bad for consumers, bad for industry, and bad for the environment. So while misguided greens point to Germany as a solar success, a rising tide of opposition and resentment is growing among the German public.

Along with all the other troubles besetting the world, Germany has watched its economy, the so called “engine of Europe,” stumble. This is mostly attributable to the horribly botched shift to a renewable energy economy. In Carlyle’s own words:

I was shocked to find out how useless, costly, and counter-productive their world-renowned energy policy has turned out. This is a serious problem for Germany, but an even greater problem for the rest of the world, who hope to follow in their footsteps. The first grand experiment in renewable energy is a catastrophe! The vast scale of the failure has only started to become clear over the past year or so. So I can forgive renewables advocates for not realizing it yet — but it’s time for the green movement to do a 180 on this.

Pretty strong stuff, but as good skeptics we should demand evidence to back up these statements. Fortunately, the author provides data to back up his claims. Here are some of Carlyle’s “awful statistics”:

Germany is widely considered the global leader in solar power, with over a third of the world’s nameplate (peak) solar power capacity. Germany has over twice as much solar capacity per capita as sunny, subsidy-rich, high-energy-cost California. (That doesn’t sound bad, but keep going.)

Germany’s residential electricity cost is about $0.34/kWh, one of the highest rates in the world. About $0.07/kWh goes directly to subsidizing renewables, which is actually higher than the wholesale electricity price in Europe. (This means they could simply buy zero-carbon power from France and Denmark for less than they spend to subsidize their own.) More than 300,000 households per year are seeing their electricity shut off because they cannot afford the bills. Many people are blaming high residential prices on business exemptions, but eliminating them would save households less than 1 euro per month on average. Billing rates are predicted by the government to rise another 40% by 2020.

Germany’s utilities and taxpayers are losing vast sums of money due to excessive feed-in tariffs and grid management problems. The environment minister says the cost will be one trillion euros (~$1.35 trillion) over the next two decades if the program is not radically scaled back. This doesn’t even include the hundreds of billions it has already cost to date. Siemens, a major supplier of renewable energy equipment, estimated in 2011 that the direct lifetime cost of Energiewende through 2050 will be $4.5 trillion, which means it will cost about 2.5% of Germany’s GDP for 50 years straight. That doesn’t include economic damage from high energy prices, which is difficult to quantify but appears to be significant.

Here’s the truly dismaying part: the latest numbers show Germany’s carbon output and global warming impact is actually increasing despite flat economic output and declining population, because of ill-planned “renewables first” market mechanisms. This regime is paradoxically forcing the growth of dirty coal power. Photovoltaic solar has a fundamental flaw for large-scale generation in the absence of electricity storage — it only works for about 5-10 hours a day. Electricity must be produced at the exact same time it’s used. The more daytime summer solar capacity Germany builds, the more coal power they need for nights and winters as cleaner power sources are forced offline. This happens because excessive daytime solar power production makes base-load nuclear plants impossible to operate, and makes load-following natural gas plants uneconomical to run. Large-scale PV solar power is unmanageable without equally-large-scale grid storage, but even pumped-storage hydroelectricity facilities are being driven out of business by the severe grid fluctuations. They can’t run steadily enough to operate at a profit. Coal is the only non-subsidized power source that doesn’t hemorrhage money now. The result is that utilities must choose between coal, blackouts, or bankruptcy. Which means much more pollution.

The emphasized passages are the author’s from the original posting.

Carlyle presents his case in four sections: 1) Wrong place, wrong tech to start the green revolution; 2) Supply Variability; 3) Displacing the wrong kinds of power; and 4) The kicker. The post is quite long and comes with copious references. I will not be going into details of all four arguments here but rather, presenting some of the highlights.

With the recent controversy over industrial scale, concentrating solar plants, renewables advocates constantly point to Germany as an example of how large-scale rooftop solar power can work. Unfortunately, given Germany’s geographic location and climate it’s a stupid place to push solar panels. Other places have a much better climate for solar panels as shown in the map below.


Global annual solar irradiance.

As Carlyle explains: “Between the northern latitude, the grey weather, and the Alps blocking much of the diffused morning sunlight from the south, Germany is a terrible place for solar power. When you put the US side-by-side on the same scale, you realize that Germany has the same solar power potential as dismal Alaska, even worse than rain-soaked Seattle.”

Though I disagree that Alaska is dismal—I graduated from West Anchorage High School more years ago than I like to remember—his point is that for solar power it sucks. Being an engineer, the author then presents a myriad of numbers and calculations all pointing to the inescapable conclusion that Germany’s solar power boom is being driven entirely by politics. Moreover, the growth of solar power is not economically justified, nor can it continue without massive political interference in Germany’s power markets.

With respect to supply variability, the author points out that a major problem with expanding solar power is, ironically, oversupply. On sunny summer afternoons, Germany actually exports power at a loss compared to generation costs because it needs an excess of solar panel area at other times to meet its needs. Excess solar power actually forces conventional power plants to shut down, thereby lowering the capacity factor of coal & gas plants. “Yes, this means large-scale solar adoption makes non-solar power more expensive per kWh, too!” he argues.

The reason this happens is because there is no effective way to store solar generated electricity for use at night. This forces conventional plants to ramp back up at sundown to make up for the drop in solar generation. This is illustrated in the graph shown below taken from a CA-ISO report.


Non-renewable power generation “Duck”.
Each point in the “duck chart” portrays the hourly demand for non-renewable electricity generation (i.e. electricity production from fossil fuel power plants) in California over the course of a March day for each year between 2013-2020. As Carlyle explains:

People often complain about wind power being unreliable, but when you get enough wind turbines spread over a large enough area, the variability averages out. The wind is always blowing somewhere. This means distributed wind power is fairly reliable at the grid level. But all solar panels on a power grid produce power at the same time, meaning night-time under-supply and day-time over-supply. This happens every single day, forever. At least in warm countries, peak air conditioning load roughly coincides with peak solar output. But Germany doesn’t use much air conditioning. It’s just a grid management nightmare. The rate of “extreme incidents” in Germany’s power grid frequency/voltage has increased by three orders of magnitude since Energiewende started.

These severe output swings have reached the point where Germany’s grid cannot operate without importing power from neighboring countries to soak up the variability. This is because the ramp-down of solar output in the evening happens faster than the rest of Germany’s generation capacity can ramp-up. What happens if the rest of Europe follow Germany’s lead and go solar? Where will the makeup power come from? Perhaps Putin’s Russia.

With regard to displacing the wrong type of power, residential solar has legal right-of-way over utility-scale wind in Germany. This means that wind and non-renewables must both throttle down when the sun shines brightly. Here is the analysis:

The majority of electricity worldwide comes from coal and nuclear base load plants. They are big, efficient, and cheap. But base load generation is extremely difficult and expensive to throttle up and down every day. To simplify the issue a bit, you cannot ramp nuclear plants as fast as solar swings up and down every day. It takes several days to shut down and restart a nuclear plant, and nuclear plants outside France are not designed to be throttled back, so nuclear cannot be paired with the daily oscillations of PV solar. Supply is unable to match demand. You end up with both gaps and overages.

This leads to the need for plants that can run when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. Plants that can also be ramped up quickly. This leaves out nuclear plants, which can take days to start up, leaving natural gas “peaker” plants the normal way to handle variable power demand. But Germany has minimal domestic natural gas resources (Putin smiles in the background), plus load-following gas plants are very expensive to operate. As a result, Germany is building more coal plants, and even re-opening old ones. It’s inefficient, but coal plants have better load-following capabilities than nuclear. The end result is that solar is forcing the displacement of nuclear and a resurgence in coal.

The “kicker” according to Carlyle, is the increased use of biomass—i.e. wood—to feed those recommissioned coal plants. This, he claims, is even worse than using coal because it continually destroys a carbon sink (forests) to create a carbon source. “Germany is so focused on meeting renewables targets that it is willing to trample the environment to get there,” he writes. “They’ve managed to make renewables unsustainable! It’s tragicomic.”

The main point in the article’s summary is: “You can’t build more PV solar than the rest of the grid can ramp up/down to accept. The necessary grid storage for large-scale solar power is a “maybe someday” technology, not something viable today. Calls for 50% of power to come from solar in our lifetimes are a fantasy, and we need to be realistic about that.”

That is the same message we presented in The Energy Gap, and pretty much the same message you will get from any knowledgeable engineer who works in the power industry. If someone tells you otherwise you can be sure to find a government subsidy at work. Bottom line? Green mandates don’t work. They hurt the public, they hurt industry, and in the long run they hurt the environment, and that’s not being green at all.

Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical.

Source: The Resilient Earth

Posted in Solar, Wind, PV, Rooftop, DISCOM, Grid Storage, Residential, Commercial, Grid Connected, Global Warming, Grid Interactive Distributed Solar Energy Systems, Climate Change, Greenhouse Gases, Germany, Pollution | Tagged , , , , , ,

MNRE invites proposals for 52MWp rooftop installations on Public Sector Utilities across India through MGAs

Installation of aggregate / cumulative 52 MWp equivalents Grid Connected Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Power Plants on the roofs of Government/ Commercial/ Institutional/ Residential/ Industrial buildings located in various States across the country through Multi Government Agencies (MGA).

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy invites offers/proposals for installation of Grid Connected Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Power Plants in various States across the Country under National Clean Energy Funds from the Multi Government Agencies (MGAs) i.e. Govt. Deptts. Govt. Institutions, PSUs & their subsidiaries, DISCOMs, DMRC, National Housing Bank, Commercial Banks, Railways, Army, Financial Institutions/Financial Integrators, etc. in the country. These projects can be installed in the Government / Commercial/ Institutional/ residential buildings located in various States in the country.

The Grid Connected Solar Rooftop has emerged as large potential area for generating solar power using unutilized space on rooftops. This can be possible if the States have conducive solar policy to allow the grid connectivity, Regulators have issued tariff order for appropriate tariff, net-metering/feed-in tariff and the grid connectivity and the Distribution Companies agree to allow grid connectivity and purchase the electricity on feed-in-tariff or through net metering arrangement.

Brief about project

The project envisages installation of aggregate/cumulative 52 MW equivalents Grid connected Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Power Plants on the roofs of Government /Commercial/ Institutional/residential/Industrial buildings located in various places across the country. The project capacity may increase depending upon the actual market cost with in the overall approved outlay. Projects will be set up on the concept of Net Metering/Feed-in-Tariff on Pilot Basis.

The individual project will normally range from 10 kW to 500 kW size. The projects below 10 kW upto 1.0 kWp may also be considered for residential/small office sector. For minimum 1.0 MW project allocation, the projects will be set up on open tender basis.

The projects/ targets will be allocated to the MGAs depending upon their requirements and capabilities. The Grid Connected Rooftop SPV plants will be setup in a project mode with minimum 2 MWp and a maximum 10 MWp project size comprising of many grid connected rooftop SPV plants ranging from 10 kW upto 500 kW and even small plants upto 1kWp for residential sector.

The generated solar power will be utilized for captive application and the surplus power
will be fed to the grid.

Click here for the entire document

Click here for the source document requesting state agencies for rooftop space requirements

Posted in Climate Change, Commercial, Crystalline, Grid Interactive Distributed Solar Energy Systems, MNRE, Net Metering, PV, Renewables, Residential, Rooftop, Solar | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No legal sanctity to Tangedco’s transparent bidding process for power purchase from 52 companies, says TNERC

The State’s solar mission has come to a nought.

The Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) has passed an order stating that there is no legal sanctity to the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation’s (Tangedco) transparent bidding process for solar power purchase from 52 companies.

“The bidding process has no legal sanctity for consideration under Section 63 of the Electricity Act, 2003,” said TNERC members S. Nagalsamy and G. Rajagopal in an order on Monday, a copy of which is available with The Hindu.

“The petitions suffer from the prerequisite of transparent bidding process in accordance with the guidelines issued be the Central government,” the order said dismissing the Tangedco’s petitions to approve its proposal to purchase 708 MW of solar power from 52 generators within the State for 20 years.

Reproducing Section 63 (Determination of Tariff by bidding process) of the Electricity Act, 2003 in its order, the commission said the words “in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Central government” in the section were significant.

The TNERC said the petitioner had averred that there were no Central guidelines and the Ministry of Renewable Energy had issued draft guidelines only on December 27, 2012 – that is after the tender invited by the Tangedco.

As specified in the Section 63, the Centre’s guidelines were a prerequisite for the transparent process of bidding. Therefore, the Tangedco’s bidding had no legal sanctity for consideration under Section 63 of the Electricity Act, 2003, the TNERC ruled.

When the Tangedco contended that they followed Tamil Nadu Transparency in Tenders Act 1998 for conducting the bidding, the TNERC said it was an accepted principle that “If a statute directs a thing to be done in certain way that thing shall not be done in any other way.”

“It is legally invalid to follow any other terms / procedure for the bidding process,” the TNERC said categorically.

Source: TheHindu

Posted in Commercial, DISCOM, Grid Connected, India, News, Power Generation, PV, Renewables, Solar, Solar Policy, Tamil Nadu | Tagged , , , , ,

Tamil Nadu TNERC announces new tariff for Solar at ₹ 7.01 per KWh PV and ₹ 11.03 per KWh Thermal

The Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) has announced new tariff for solar power producers who put up plants in the state. They would be paid Rs 7.01 per unit of power generated from a solar photovoltaic plant, and Rs 11.03 for a solar thermal power plant.

“The tariff isn’t great, but we will go ahead with the project since we have land, funding,” said M Umapathi chairman and managing director of Voltech Group, which is planning a 10MW plant near Tuticorin. “The tariff is at least better than the one of Rs 6.48 that was proposed in the draft plan,” he said.

Since the announcement of the TN Solar policy in 2012, solar activity in the state had virtually come to a standstill. Sections of the policy were caught in legal tussles and tariffs on projects were undecided. Now, with the new tariff package, solar power generation is expected to pick up.

“The tariff of Rs 7.01 is a general tariff for any solar power plant that is set up in the state. A decision on projects under the solar policy will be out very soon,” an official source said.

Preparing for an increase in solar power generation, the TNERC is also expected to increase the solar component of the Renewable Power Obligation (RPO) from 0.25% to 2% since the state electricity utility would need to create demand to sell the solar power that is generated. The RPO mandates all companies and certain other entities to procure a certain portion of their power needs from renewable sources. “An order regarding this will come soon,” a source said.

Tariffs (per unit) in states which have announced a solar policy:

Rajasthan – Rs 6.45 Andhra Pradesh – Rs 6.49 Punjab – Rs 7.2 Uttar Pradesh – Rs 8.1 Normative, generic tariff given by Central Electricity Regulatory Commission – Rs 6.99

Source: TOI

Posted in CSP, Grid Connected, News, Solar, Solar Policy, Tamil Nadu | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Karnataka farmers can now generate power & sell it to the grid at a tariff of Rs 9.56 per unit and a tariff of Rs 7.20 per unit on availing of subsidies

The 15-month-old Siddaramaiah regime has come up with a scheme for the agriculture sector, which if goes according to the script, might turn farmers net sellers of solar power to the grid.

The government is geared up to roll out what it calls the solar farmer scheme. With the help of subsidies or on his own, a farmer can switch to solar-powered irrigation pump (IP) sets. He can use as much electricity as he needs and sell the surplus to the grid.

If the farmer has invested on his own, he will get a tariff of Rs 9.56 per unit. If he has taken subsidies, he will get a tariff of Rs 7.20 per unit. The energy department is targeting the farm sector because it accounts for an estimated 38-40% of the total power consumed in Karnataka. There are an estimated 2.5 million IP sets in use, and they run on free electricity. The power subsidy to the farm sector has grown at an average rate of 18% since 2007, and the government has budgeted Rs 6,700 crore for this fiscal year.

“The biggest complaint of farmers is that they get part of the regular power supply at night. If they switch to solar power, they can not only get the power during day time, but can also can earn some income by selling the surplus,” energy minister DK Shivakumar told ET.

The Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Limited (KREDL), the agency under the energy department, has plans to replace 2500 IP sets in five districts with solar-powered pump set systems of 5 HP-capacity this year. Since most farmers can’t afford a solar pump system as it requires an investment of Rs 1.25 lakh per kilo-watt (KW) capacity, the government is working on plans to rope in the private sector.

According to GV Balaram, managing director of KREDL, a farmer running a 5 KW solar photo-voltaic panel and selling one third of the power generated can earn about Rs 23,900 a year as one KW panel can generate an average of 4.5-5 units a day. The Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) provides subsidy for IP sets only up to 5 HP, and Karnataka has written to MNRE urging it to increase it to 10 HP.

There are, of course, concerns within the government about the power purchase costs shooting up if a good chunk of farmers switch to the scheme.

The average cost of power purchase in Karnataka is Rs 4.30 per unit from non-hydel channels while the average cost of solar power purchase is in the range of Rs 6.93 and Rs 8.40 a unit.

Power utilities are required to see 10% of the energy that they buy is sourced from non-conven tional sources, and there are concerns in the finance department that breaching this cap might increase purchase costs.

According to Balaram, the state electricity regulator has fixed the solar power purchase obligation at 0.25% for 2014-15 and the same will reach 3% by 2021 under national solar mission guidelines.

“We have to scale up our solar capacity to at least 2000 MW from the current levels of under 50 MW, and add 0.25 % each year to reach these levels. The financial burden from increased purchase costs of solar power will in any case be passed on to consumers by the regulator,” he said.


Posted in Grid Connected, Grid Interactive Distributed Solar Energy Systems, India, Karnataka, Net Metering, PV, Renewables, Solar, Solar Policy, Solar Pumps | Tagged , , , , ,

Draft Scheme for Development of 20GW Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar power projects – Circulation for Comments Sept 2014

MNRE through this scheme plans setting up 25 solar parks, each with a capacity of 500 to 1000 MW; thereby targeting around 20000 MW of solar power installed capacity. These solar parks will be put in place in a span of 5 years and the solar projects may then come up as per demand and interest shown by developers.

At the state level, the solar park will enable the states to bring in significant investment from project developers, meet its Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) mandates and provide employment opportunities to local population. The state will also reduce its carbon footprint by avoiding emissions equivalent to the solar park’s installed capacity. Further, the state will also avoid procuring expensive fossil fuels to power conventional power plants of equivalent installed capacity.

The solar park will provide a huge impetus to solar energy generation by acting as a flagship demonstration facility to encourage project developers and investors, prompting additional projects of similar nature, triggering economies of scale for cost-reductions, technical improvements and achieving large scale reductions in GHG emissions. Some Ultra Mega projects may be set up in these Parks or entire parts may be an Ultra Mega Power Projects.

Click here for the full document

Posted in India, MNRE, Power Generation, PV, Renewables, Solar, Subsidy, Transmission and Distribution | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Punjab now approves net metering for Solar – targets 100 MW

India’s Punjab state approved a policy allowing businesses and households to earn credits for solar power produced on rooftops as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to accelerate installations to combat blackouts.

The state cabinet passed a net-metering policy that’s expected to drive 100 megawatts of rooftop capacity in the northwestern state, Amarpal Singh, chief executive officer of the Punjab Energy Development Agency, said today.

Net-metering is a system that credits people for energy they can’t consume on-site. Those generating solar power will feed the surplus into the grid and earn credits to reduce their next electricity bill. The local power distributor will pay them for any remaining credits at the end of October each year, said Singh on the sidelines of a conference in Noida, near Delhi.

Delhi regulators introduced a similar program this week for the nation’s blackout-prone capital as state-level policy makers spearhead an effort to replicate rooftop solar booms that have made countries like Germany and Japan among the largest photovoltaic markets in the world despite getting far less sun.

Modi’s administration has pledged to broaden India’s solar industry beyond large, utility-scale plants in the desert. Power Minister Piyush Goyal is seeking to spur smaller, more distributed solar installations by fitting everything from farm irrigation pumps and village huts to mall rooftops with photovoltaic panels.

Punjab is promoting both small rooftop projects and large farms, Singh said. The state is identifying land for a 1,000-megawatt solar project and expects to call for bids shortly, he said.

The state will also build a 200-megawatt solar plant to supply agricultural feeder lines used by farmers, Singh said. About a fifth of India’s electricity is used in agriculture to run irrigation pumps and is supplied nearly free of cost by state utilities.

Punjab intends to eliminate agricultural power subsidies by feeding all of the electricity from the solar plant to farms, Singh said. Any excess generated will be sold at market rates.

Posted in DISCOM, Energy Minister, Government, India, Net Metering, Pollution, Prime Minister, Renewables, Residential, Rooftop, Solar, Solar Policy | Tagged , , , , , , ,