Top Five Green Energy Stories Today

5. France has decided to build 2 gigawatts worth of wind turbines offshore, as its nuclear plants age and updating them or replacing them becomes expensive and unpopular. France gets roughly 80% of its electricity from nuclear plants. It is the 20% coming from hydrocarbons that desperately needs to be replaced by sources such as wind power.

4. In Germany, wind and solar are still rapidly increasing as a share of German energy-producers (renewables produce about 20% of German electricy but only 8 percent in the United Kingdom.

3. About 7 gigawatts of solar energy installations were put in, in the United States in 2011. That is roughly equivalent to 7 nuclear reactors. The US has a little over 100 of such nuclear reactors.

2. Mexico is considering becoming only the second country to pass a really strict hydorcarbons law.

1. Morocco, which has no oil of its own to speak of, is doing a big wind project. Morocco hopes to build 4,000 megawatts in wind and solar power capacity by 2020 which would be about half its energy needs.

16 Responses

  1. 5. Unfortunately, since France has more baseload than it really needs, the rest needs to be dispatchable power. Wind, as intermittent power, is particularly unsuited to be combined with nuclear power.

    4. The UK, however, is planning to increase its reliance on nuclear power to combat global warming. Germany has great plans for green energy, but in reality, due to their nuclear shutdown, they have paused any carbon reduction ambitions for the forseeable future.

    3. 7 gigawatts of solar energy is equivalent to roughly 2 reactors, since the sun doesn’t shine most of the time.

    • That 7GW of solar (assuming he means photovoltaics, not stuff like water heaters), was more like a single GW. I think Germany installed 7GW, but due to reductions in the FIT rates, 2012 is expected to be flat installation wise in Europe as last year. US PV is expected to double this year (to 2 GW ish), but thats not enough to make up for the slack in the market comong from European cutbacks. First Solar and SunPower have announced layoffs, and seeral german PV production companies have shut down. The US is still way behind the solar curve wrt. Europe. Installation costs for rooftop in Germany are much cheaper than in the US also, we have to get installation costs down, panels are now dirt cheap.

      • Germany should subsidize the instalation of solar panes in Egypt or Saudi Arabia. It could achieve twice the carbon reduction per euro of subsidy. Insolation in those deserts is twice the average level of Germany.

        To prevent Global warming it doesn´t matter if CO2 is reduced in Germany or anywhere in the world. That´s why Germany will reduce about twice the CO2 if it subsidized panels to be istalled in the SA or Egypt.

  2. Actually France gets about 10% of its electricity from hydroelectric generation. After nuclear, the remaining 10% comes from fossil fuels.

    France did not profit from the great North Sea oil and natural gas bonanza of the 1970s and 1980s as it doesn’t have any offshore claims to the productive areas unlike Holland, Denmark, Norway and the UK. Most of France’s coal reserves have been mined out over the centuries of industrialisation so nearly all the carbon they burn has to be imported and external suppliers can always turn off the taps (see Saudi Arabia in 1973 and latterly Gazprom in the past few winters). Enough uranium ore to fuel all of France’s reactors for a year would fit in one modestly-sized ship, and that’s before reprocessing of spent fuel. I suspect France has several years worth of cheap uranium oxide (50 dollars US per pound at current prices) in reserve just in case.

    As for offshore wind the publicly announced figure of 2GW should be downrated to about 600MW as the capacity figure generally for wind power is 30%. It’s also intermittent and the modern world (high-speed trains, hospitals, water treatment plants etc.) doesn’t cope well with intermittency in the electricity supply. It can be helped by adding storage but that is expensive in itself and doesn’t add to the total generating capacity, only smooths out some of the bumps.

    As an aside, renewables-heavy Germany has a carbon footprint of about 10 tonnes of CO2 per person whereas nuclear-heavy France’s footprint is about 6 tonnes/person.

    • i’ve been reading about france battling leaks from nuclear plants for i don’t know for how many years.

  3. Wow, the nuke worshippers are out in force. Fukushima didn’t make you folks bat an eyelash, did it? If Japanese engineers are incompetent at nuclear, whom should we trust?
    Saying that it’s worth it that a major country has to wall off one of its counties every few decades as a death zone is as crazy as Madeline Albright saying 400,000 dead from our sanctions on Iraq was “worth it”.

    It’s not worth it, guys. It’s the beginning of the barbaric process of kicking people off the lifeboat that won’t stop with energy issues, each of the rest of us hoping we won’t be the next one to be sacrificed. Whether sacrificing New Orleans or veterans or the Greeks or Fukushima to higher priorities, it’s like the Roman legions withdrawing and leaving the Dark Ages in their wake.

  4. When barack tells me that speculators are responsible for high gasoline prices do I have to thank those same speculators for the lowest natural gas prices in twenty years?
    Let’s not get stupid: high gas prices — faster than anything else– destroy demand.
    Why does my beloved Bernie sanders wet himself for low gas prices? Why does my beloved Barack engage in this utter bullshit.

    • Note that those ultra-low natural gas costs will now cause many of the drillers to go broke, until production is slashed and the big operators get their price back. Yet the country is so besotted with the idea that its energy problems have been solved that it will get whiplashed – they’ve already spent all the money they expect to get back in future savings!

      That’s the problem with speculators – they exaggerate price moves in a country where people are barely making ends meet and can’t withstand instability.

  5. Wind turbines, green energy, all of that sounds great, the problem is that all the artificial boosting that is being put behind it does not change the fact that most of these products are not independently viable. Until they become economically self sustaining, the start grants are just a waste. With new oil and gas discoveries happening daily on a large scale, the price of oil and gas will not keep climbing indefinitely. It support the contention that we need to let the green industry mature on its own merits.

    • Maybe that same logic applies to the financialization of the “world economy,” all those quadrillions of “notional value dollars,” and our TBTFs here at home, and all the subsidies and regulatory protections that continue for the critters who manufacture the demand for all that carbondioximethanization machinery that “we” are told we yet again can just stay addicted to, come Hell or high water, because the crap won’t really hit the fan until our n(great)grandkids inherit the earth, and enraged, dig up our bones to abuse, since we will be long gone, free from retribution, unobliged to make restitution…

      Since, too, the “start grants” for all the industries, coal, steel, railroads, petroleum (that for one gets to take the stuff it sells back to us from public rocks, a “commons” if you will, and gee, pay a pittance for the leases and then often not even pay the lease money and hide the amount they actually extract and short-change on what they do pay, and of course the Horizon mess will never be “paid for” by BP) that fuel and drive our enormous consumption are long since “sunk costs…”

      But not to worry, all the muscle is on the side of the takers and users and the rest, and isn’t it hilarious that a few people “live simply, that others may simply live,” while those who “can afford it” use millions of gallons of potable water on their acres of estate plantings and “water features” and air-condition 50,000-sq-ft “homes,” etc.? Whatabuncha suckers!

    • Your the victim of well funded misinformation. We are still using oil faster than we discover it. And the new stuff is much more difficult to coax out of the ground. The general upward trend of price is likely to continue (unless the world economy craters like in late 2008).

      Of course stuff like wind/solar don’t really compete against oil -except in a place like Saudi arabia which burns oil to make electricity.

  6. @super390: Nuclear is crazy, fossils are crazy, damming rivers is crazy, burning lots of biomass is crazy. But this craziness adds up to some 95% of our energy supply, and it would be crazy to try to make do with just 5%.

    So why don’t we just expand solar and wind to 100%? That isn’t crazy, is it? Unfortunately, costs and intermittency makes that crazy too!

    Since every option is crazy, we need to start counting beans to minimize craziness. You can only call this rational approach “barbaric” if you have the luxury of not having to make the tough decisions yourself. As a parameter in my bean counting, global warming is THE existential threat to mankind. Germans obviously don’t agree since they close down nuclear before lignite, coal and gas.

    • The alternative is to reverse what we have been doing to get into this mess:

      Redistributing wealth to the 1% while cutting wages on half the nation, which then creates an irrational terror among them of higher oil prices since they fear they can’t cut back on anything else enough to offset them. The rich are able to get away with their crimes by keeping the supply of dirty energy, bad debt, and sprawl going so we can keep cutting our short-term cost of living.

      Put the rich back to where they were in the ’60s, and tax them to pay for the development of cleaner energy and support better wages for everyone else so we can afford to pay a few % more for our energy sources.

      Note that this is what Germany has done, since it never let its wealth get so polarized in the first place, and now its clean energy subsidy is successfully reduced every year. Last year Germany got its unemployment rate down to the lowest level in 20 years. Yes, Germany still pollutes because it is full of factories staffed by the best, highest paid workers in the world. What’s our excuse? That we’ve been hammered so hard by our owners that we will gladly become a 3rd world country exporting raw materials to survive.

      • So, no counting beans, just let the rich pay for developing cleaner energy? That’s very convenient, I guess, but doesn’t really address the urgent problem of choosing among all the crazy energy options.

        I don’t like the idea of portraying environmental action as something that someone else should pay for, btw. Smart environmental action often cost nothing at all. Higher gas taxes in the US, for example, would save US consumers’ money. Double the price at the pump and you get twice the mileage from smaller, cheaper cars. That’s a net win. And half of what you pay then, you’ll pay to yourselves. Even more win. It’s the same with electricity.

        But I do agree that Germany have been footing a huge, huge bill for getting solar PV panel costs down, but it’s very questionable whether this has been worthwhile. If you look at the German feed-in tariffs of 2012, you’ll see that PV still requires at least €0.18/kWh to get built, on top of Europe’s highest electricity rates. On-shore wind needs just a fraction of this FiT. The numbers are here:
        link to germanenergyblog.de

        France has higher per-capita energy consumption than Germany, but much lower carbon emissions per capita. Policy decisions indicate that it will stay that way for the forseeable future.

  7. we will be caught with our shorts down and will really be hurting if we don’t gird ourselves and prepare beforehand for the next inevitable “oil shock.” alternative energy is a national security issue! we’re being left behind:

    In Spain, on 8 November 2009 wind power production reached the highest percentage of electricity production till then, with wind farms covering 53% of the total demand.

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