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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #5)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 10:24 AM

6. Implication vs reality

"Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government says RWE AG (RWE)’s new power plant that can supply 3.4 million homes aids her plan to exit nuclear energy and switch to cleaner forms of generation. It’s fired with coal.

The startup of the 2,200-megawatt station near Cologne last week shows how Europe’s largest economy is relying more on the most-polluting fuel. Coal consumption has risen 4.9 percent since Merkel announced a plan to start shutting the country’s atomic reactors after last year’s Fukushima disaster in Japan.


The implication of the Bloomberg business article is that decisions taken in response to Fukushima have resulted in the existence of the 2.2GW coal plant near Cologne, wouldn't you agree?

However, the required time for planning and construction of such a plant make that an impossible proposition. In fact, the government of Merkel has long been dedicated to both nuclear and coal - they are oriented around industry and give ground on environmental issues only as much as is required to maintain their coalition.

The planning for this plant was part of a preFukushima strategy to improve their emissions profile by shutting down older, dirtier coal plants while bringing new, more efficient coal plants online. From your article:
The so-called BoA coal plant near Cologne shows how new fossil fuel plants, which are more efficient than their older models, “not only help to reduce carbon emissions but can also make an outstanding contribution to the success of the energy industry’s transformation,” Environment Minister Peter Altmaier, who was present at the plant’s opening last week, said in a statement distributed by RWE.


The actual, undeniable ramping up of renewable electricity is, in fact, dwarfing any increase in fossil consumption. More importantly, that increase in renewable generation coupled with the reduction of nuclear sets the country firmly on the path to a new economic structure for their energy sector. Again, from Bloomberg:
RWE says coal plants are key to ensuring supply security as Germany raises the market share of renewable generation to at least 35 percent by the end of the decade, and to 80 percent by 2050. BoA, which has an efficiency of 43 percent, can raise or lower output by 500 megawatts per unit within 15 minutes, Peter Terium, RWE’s CEO, told reporters in a call on Aug. 14.


This economic structure produces a spiral effect where the costs of electricity from large centralized plants steadily rises while the costs associated with wind and solar continue to decline. Note from the quote how their new coal plant is designed to rapidly reduce output:
It can “step in immediately when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining,”


While the ramping described probably does not mean any significant reduction in that plants coal consumption, it does mean that they will be selling a steadily decreasing amount of electricity; a fact that translates into a requirement for increased per unit costs to meet expenses.

That increased cost, of course, opens the market for renewables ever wider.

The actual issue with coal in Germany is actually not a bit different than it is here - coal mine owners and coal mine workers are a potent political force. Buying into the constant attempts to scapegoat renewables as the reason behind the forces pushing fossil fuels just plays into their hands.

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kristopher Jan 2013 OP
kristopher Jan 2013 #1
muriel_volestrangler Jan 2013 #5
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muriel_volestrangler Jan 2013 #7
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