Greens Reframe Spain’s Green Bankruptcy Fire Sale as “Renewed Interest”

de-icing-wind-turbine

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

How does a green describe the catastrophic aftermath of the $16 billion Abengoa Solar Bankruptcy, the largest renewable corporate collapse in history?

Feeding frenzy in Spain’s renewable energy sector

A wind of change is blowing on Spain’s renewables: companies and investment funds have been on a buying spree, taking advantage of the know-how and growth prospects of a sector still limping out of a crisis.
In 2015 “total transactions reached 5 billion euros ($5.7 billion)”, says Joao Saint-Aubyn, a Madrid-based energy expert at global consultancy Roland Berger.

The biggest by far were the acquisition last year by US private equity firm Cerberus of renewables specialist Renovalia for about one billion euros, and investment group KKR’s buy-out of solar group Gestamp Solar for a similar amount.

And the spending frenzy is unlikely to die down, as German giant Siemens eyes up wind power group Gamesa, and Cerberus is thought to be considering joining forces with US billionaire George Soros to devour T-Solar and its solar farms.

Polo adds that another strong point of Spain’s wind energy sector is that companies involved in the entire production line are present in the country.

The know-how of companies has allowed them “to win projects elsewhere in the world,” says Rubio.

Gamesa for instance is among the world’s five biggest wind turbine manufacturers and is well established in several emerging countries like India, Brazil and China—of high interest to Siemens.

In order to keep growing, however, they need money.

“But many (wind farm) owners are struggling to cope with their debt,” says the AEE, after the sharp drop in public subsidies.

Read more: http://phys.org/news/2016-05-frenzy-spain-renewable-energy-sector.html

In the aftermath of the Paris Agreement, three major energy investment strategies appear to be emerging.

One strategy assumes that deeply indebted, cash strapped governments can be squeezed for more subsidies – that politicians can be relied upon to stick to their regularly “revised” commitments to generously subsidise uneconomical renewable energy schemes.

The second strategy is speculative – nuclear fusion, next generation nuclear. Technologies which promise a spectacular payoff, once technical hurdles are overcome.

The third strategy is based on evidence and evidence based forecasts of a tremendous ongoing global rise in fossil fuel usage, and massive ongoing investment in an energy sector which does not rely on government subsidies to make a profit.

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171 thoughts on “Greens Reframe Spain’s Green Bankruptcy Fire Sale as “Renewed Interest”

      • I read Charles Leerhsen”s book: “Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty” a few months ago. It was eye-opening in the amount of lies that were perpetrated about Cobb.

    • Front page story on this Morning’s (MON May 2 2016) San Francisco Chronicle.

      ” S.F. flips the switch for greener energy “” By Lizzie Johnson.

      San Francisco Public Utilities just switched on free green clean renewable solar energy from “Clean Power SF” to deliver wind green power to 7800 residences and businesses.

      California is aiming for 33% of of its power from green sources by 2020; four years from now.

      But San Francisco is aiming high.

      San Francisco is planning on ….. > 100 % < ….. green renewable clean energy by 2030.

      Right now SF customers are automatically switched to Clean Power SF unless they opt out.

      But right now SF customers have the option to demand 100% free clean green renewable electricity for just $6 to $15 more ! Doesn't say whether that is per megawatt hour or what; just it's more.

      Did I say this green wonderment comes from a new farm of bird grinders, which are 260 foot high towers. From the picture, I would guesstimate the fan blade length is about 156 feet each blade.

      The butt end of the cylindrical featherable joint of the blade seems to be right around six feet diameter, possibly seven feet. So these are big suckers.

      Clean Power SF doesn't say when they will payback the cost of building this crap from the energy profits they make on their free clean green renewable self sustaining no backup wind power.

      G

  1. Spain literally taxes the sun by the way.

    You need a license in Spain to collect solar as far as I know. There are inspectors that can inspect your property at whim, no court order, and fine you if you dare to collect the sun without paying your toll.

    • Popularly called the ‘Sun Tax’, it was to help ensure those with solar generation who are connected to the grid & benefit from the grid, paid their fair share of the grid’s availability for when the sun wasn’t shining over their property.

      AFAIK, that tax was applied only to those with grid connections.

      It may however, soon be withdrawn – “Parliament In Spain Removes Punitive ‘Sun Tax’ ”

      http://cleantechnica.com/2016/03/10/parliament-spain-removes-punitive-sun-tax/

    • Was that to ensure they weren’t using generators to collect tariffs at night from their solar panels?

      • If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street
        If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat
        If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat
        If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet

  2. Supa Nova then a white dwarf!
    It is true we have modelled the demise of our sun, laboratory scale in Spain

  3. How does a green describe the catastrophic aftermath of the $16 billion Abengoa Solar Bankruptcy, the largest renewable corporate collapse in history?

    Well, obviously it’s a “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

    The phenomenal universe, the laws of thermodynamics and economics, and implacable reality couldn’t possibly have had anything to do with it.

  4. But many (wind farm) owners are struggling to cope with their debt, …

    My first thought was that bankrupcy would allow the assets to be sold at a price at which they would be profitable.

    My second thought was that interest rates are very very low right now. If the windmills aren’t profitable now, they will never be profitable … well maybe if oil goes to $200/bbl.

    • Oil won’t get to that level until the frackable reserves are nearing depletion. As oil climbs above $100/bbl, the incentive to frack shale reserves, tar sands, and thus produce, because high enough that prices stabilize… unless of course if Obama’s foreign policy results in the MidEast-Persian Gulf oil fields go up in flames and radioactive fallout in a nuclear war.

    • I think the lack of profitability means they consume more energy than they make available.

      So you never get a head, no matter what real energy supplies cost.

      G

  5. I love reading about Green disasters and the failure of green energy programmes. It gladdens the heart when the carpet baggers meet their respective Waterloos although some poor taxpayer has already been fleecded.

    • “It gladdens the heart when the carpet baggers meet their respective Waterloos ”

      Hey! I resemble that!

    • Yeah it’s amazing; they all seem to run out of steam just as they belly up to that 100 watt per square foot barrier; and then the fat hits the shin.

      Gotta be some fundamental physical limit there somewhere Lawrence !!

      g

  6. The businesses might be going bankrupt, but you can BET that the owners aren’t ;-)

  7. As a professional and MBA in the field, it might sound surprising but I’m not so confident in financial experts and firms. I’m from engineering, not financial, background: but the MBA opened me the world of corporate finance. While, for many financial experts, engineering world is still some kind of magic tricks going on. This said, I think that cost analysis often miss out three points:
    – (real) load factor: 80% for gas and coal, 90% for nuclear, 10-15% for solar and 20-25% for well-spaced wind (no, closer wind turbines don’t work better);
    – reliability: producing 15-20% a year, and often in unpredictable way, does not mean just that 1MW installed is less worth than 1MW installed of e.g. nuclear; it means other, hidden costs, on the grid, on the gas-fired backup plants, on the storage, on the user (it’s not nice at all for factories, to have overloads nor blackouts) etc.
    – political bias: that’s clear enough here, I think; but I’d like to add that as political favour is good at time X, it can vanish at time X+n for every reason (see nuclear in Western Europe), from public opinion switches to unaffordable costs for state finances.
    I think that a good part of “green economy” is indeed good (sorry for the joke), but another good part is a financial bubble, fed from state subsidies and strong marketing for private investors. As other bubbles, when it really bursts, many people (firms) will be hurt.

    • So you are an MBA.

      So what Business are you currently Masterfully Administrating, and what is your after tax profit margin (annualized) ??

      Or are you just an MBA academic.

      I’d like a $1 for each otherwise successful business, I have watched MBAs Administrate into the ground.

      G

  8. After Receiving $191 Million in Taxpayer-Backed Loans, Spanish Solar Company Files for Bankruptcy

    According to Ex-Im’s records, the bank authorized more than $300 million in loans and loan guarantees to Abengoa and its subsidiaries, with more than a dozen transactions approved from 2007 to 2015.

    Is it the Export-import Bank of the United States (an independent, self-sustaining Executive Branch agency […] it is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States, EXIM assumes credit and country risks that the private sector is unable or unwilling to accept)?

  9. In order to keep growing, however, they need money.

    Only the greens would regard taxpayer-funded subsidies as economic growth

  10. From your first link above:

    “It just tells you everything that’s wrong with these programs,” de Rugy said. “The decisions are made based on politics and who you know. The more your know, the more double dipping you’re able to do.”

    Say no more!

  11. Watch for Cerberus and KKR to flip this stuff, both are masters at dressing up a pig and selling it as choice beef. Wouldn’t be surprised if they get the EU and IMF to back these “newly reorganized and highly efficient new enterprise(s)”

  12. Wind power is mostly intended to draw subsidies, not produce power, so the crucial factor is the willingness of the politicians to provide subsidies. Forced purchase programs are de-facto subsidies, and if anything the wind producers should be taxed to support the conventional generators required to back up their unreliable supply. In Texas, the local power company offers deep discounts to customers on smart meters who will use power in the wee hours, when they are required to buy wind power there is otherwise no demand for.
    Without practical utility scale energy storage, wind and solar are manifestly impractical.

    • Even then, although the value of said energy would be raised, so would the cost, on top of an already ridiculously-expensive energy.

  13. Who exactly are buying these “white elephants”? I must be an idiot, as I don’t understand how anyone is making money off of these highly inefficient wind generators. As Tom Hanks says in the movie “BIG”, I don’t get it.

    • Who cares?
      By the time the greenies, banks and lawyers finish with Spain, I will be able to buy Toledo for a song.

    • It is actually a very simple way of making a lot of money. It is well known in the mining industry, and has been used to varying success in others. I strongly suggest you watch the original Mel Brooks movie The Producers for a quick primer. The remake of the movie is rather poor in comparison.
      A mine is a hole in the ground with a loud mouth liar on top. I have had personal experience watching this close at hand a few times. I refuse to go down that road.

      • I read many of the stories of the famous Comstock Mining period in Nevada. Investors were scammed over, and over, and over again as the dream of making easy money seemed too good to pass up.

    • J. PHILIP P…
      Say you get grants and investor money and build a $1M business (land, buildings, equipment, and other stuff). Then you declare bankruptcy.
      The so called “Vulture Investors” (link here) will make money from your misfortune, including continuing to harvest any remaining subsidizes.

      ps: White elephants are “gifts” — not bought

  14. What a pity that Sander got shot in the eye by ‘The Swede’, he’d have been right in there with the other vultures. (Apologies for linking to the Cayman Islands tax sheltering Scott Trust tax dodging Autotrader eco hypocritical Graun. but it’s quite amusing including their complete bewilderment/denial that the green hypocrites were the baddies)

    http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/apr/16/follow-the-money-recap-episodes-9-and-10-a-thrilling-and-fittingly-messy-finale

  15. ‘The second strategy is speculative – nuclear fusion, next generation nuclear. Technologies which promise a spectacular payoff, once technical hurdles are overcome.’
    Next generation nuclear in the form of the molten salt reactor technology, has no technical hurdles to overcome. Molten salt reactors have operated since long ago. The only hurdles they faced was their
    use of a graphite moderator, which took up too much space in the core, preventing the use of low level radioactive fuel, and the need for a container metal resistant to the corrosive effects of the molten salt
    core. A new moderator material has solved the first problem and a new metal alloy that can withstand the corrosive effects has been created. There are no technical hurdles for this newly revised reactor technology. The big advantages of molten salt reactors is 1) low cost to manufacture – they can be built in a factory and shipped to the build site 2) they can burn nuclear wastes and also burn thorium and uranium
    and extract virtually al of the fuel’s energy (versus 2-4% for a typical reactor), making fuel costs, regardless of type, an insignificant cost . The resulting material after burning is of low level radioactivity – it is easily stored and returnns to backgroubd levels in less than 150 years, eliminating the nuclear waste problem,
    for all intents and purposes 4) it can produce power cheaper than any other technology, fossil fuels included. 5) the reactor is inherently safe – impossible for a meltdown or to eject radiactive substances
    into the envirnment. See Transatomic Power for info concerning their design, now being tested.

  16. Remember the Dot Com bubble burst. The S&L bubble burst. The housing & banking bursts? Be prepared for a green bubble burst. If we enter a cooling trend and the systems fail, then who gets left holding the bag? The investors? Nope – they will likely get a government bailout. Nope – again, and again, we pay for the foibles of others, because they have inside contacts. A political donation goes a long way, these days? The truth is coming out about the power plays behind the scenery. Bull-feathers!

    • Should there be a significant cooling trend after we’ve crippled our electrical generating capacity, many people very well could pay with their lives. It gets a might cold in North Dakota and Minnesota.

      • That’s exactly what will happen. In fact, it’s already happening in the UK at least (and, I suspect, in Germany).

      • I “feel their pain” of the folks in the Dakotas. Minnesota? It may not be what they hoped for, but it IS what they voted for.

      • So it’s working!
        Green investment => deindustrialization => lower CO2 levels => lower temps

        OK, the last outcome is speculative but the other 2 are surefire results

      • Dakotas got it made. They fracked their way to comfortable bliss.

        Minnesota; not so schmart !

        g

    • A political donation goes a long way
      ==========
      the best government money can buy.

    • Regarding the 2008 GFC, it’s easy to remember the GM bailout; the Freddie Mac / Fannie May bailouts; the CitiGroup bailout etc. It’s easy to forget how IndyMac and Lehman Brothers imploded.

      My point is: in the case of the GFC the government did the unthinkable to fend off the unimaginable. With major financial institutions failing left and right, big companies (eg. GM, Citi) threatening to topple, and catastrophic levels of debt tied up in Fannie May / Freddie Mac (which the Clinton administration encouraged them to take on, with Bush allowing them to continue), Yes, some CEO types helped themselves to the government largess, but I would argue that it was certainly the preferred outcome to the entire system crashing down. Even as it was, investors lot big time. Don’t forget that the primary investment was various creatively packaged sub-prime mortgages, and as housing crashed out so did those investments. Even today, peoples 401K’s are years behind.

      Now to the coming green crash. Of course there will be a bailout, and of course some upper types will cash out handsomely. But investors? They will be out in the cold. If a government steps in, these companies will be effectively nationalized, meaning the state owns them and the investor doesn’t. This is as it should be: anything that requires government money to exist a) probably shouldn’t exist in the first place; or b) should be an entirely state-owned entity.

      • It will be interesting to see how all those pension plans divesting fossil fuel stocks and buying renewables explain their losses to the pensioners when the bubble bursts.

      • I don’t blame the government for stepping in with the bailouts. I do blame them for short sighted policies that enabled and encouraged this to occur in the first place.

  17. You cannot replace baseline power with intermittent power and run a modern economy. All that would do is force everyone to buy their own generators.

    We lived in Port Moresby, PNG for a year. Power outages were common. Often a couple of times a day. Every business had a backup generator. The government had to pass a law making it illegal to run your own generator when the mains had power, because it was actually cheaper to run your own generator.

    • I don’t think you can extrapolate your experiences in papua new guinea to a modern economy ;)

      • benben, as if Germany or Dennmark have had good results with renewables in actual service–8 percent substitutuion rate? at double or triple the prices in the US?

      • Hey tom, you’re exaggerating by quite a wide margin. It’s more like ~ 50% higher (not 300%), which, as a fraction of total income of a family is still pretty negligible. And the energiewende has a very high support under germans (92% !!). Germany and Denmark have perfectly stable electricity grids with renewables producing ~50% of total electricity in 2016. As the saying goes, you are entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts ;)

        Cheers
        Ben

        http://www.statista.com/statistics/263492/electricity-prices-in-selected-countries/

        http://energytransition.de/2012/10/key-findings/

      • >>I don’t think you can extrapolate your experiences
        >>in Papua New Guinea to a modern economy ;)

        Oh, I think you can. During the NE blackout of 2003, a vast swathe of the US went back to the Neolithic Age within a day or two. Had this outage been in mid-winter, it would have been very serious, because nothing works in the modern world without electricity. No water, sewerage, fuel, heating, bread, transport, money, food, supermarkets etc: etc: Think about it.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northeast_blackout_of_2003

        R

      • Yes ralfellis, and the US has almost no renewables but did experience massive outages. What does that tell you? It tells you that the US is massively underinvesting in infrastructure (that’s what you get if you don’t want to pay taxes). And indeed an outdated energy infrastructure cannot deal with renewables. This is very true. But an outdated energy infrastructure can’t deal with a heavy snowstorm either. But as a European, I don’t particularly care about outages in the US. The grid in my country is more than capable of dealing with both storms and renewables!

        Still has nothing to do with PNG. I’m sure the grid in the US is not that bad ;)

        Cheers,
        Ben

        (also my previous comment, I should have said 50% in west-germany)

      • While they might not have a modern economy, there are many cities in the developing world where rolling blackouts are normal several times per day. You have to learn when to take a bath to have hot water and lights to see what you are doing. The rolling blackouts are required due to insufficient generating capacity. Supermarkets in US have a backup generator in case of outage. I doubt they run them all of the time but suspect the supply contract with the power companies restrict their use to exercise, maintenance and outages.

      • benben,

        The point is that if a society follows the yellow brick road to this Emerald City, people will be forced to use the same strategies they now use in Port Moresby.

      • I understand the point that is trying to be made, it’s just that it’s not true, as we can see from the FACT that scotland, west-germany and denmark are up to 50% renewables with absolutely no grid stability problems and very high public support (and yes also 50% higher electricity prices than the US), while a country like the US has experienced massive blackouts even with negligible renewables.

      • I love it when socialists assume that the answer to every problem is more govt spending.

      • solar has become incredibly cheap…

        But still totally unreliable. I tried running a cat collar radio boundary with a solar cell, on the edge of the tropics, to stop our sweet feline wandering into the park and munching something endangered.

        The cell was rated 3x required energy – but we had to keep an eye on the weather – even moderate cloud cover under the brilliant tropical sun sometimes caused the device to brown out.

        Dubai has clouds too – even in winter when it doesn’t rain, the sky frequently clouds over. And I haven’t even mentioned the abrasive dust storms the sometimes experience.

      • “benben May 2, 2016 at 9:07 am

        I understand the point that is trying to be made, it’s just that it’s not true, as we can see from the FACT that scotland…”

        Where is your supporting evidence Scotland produces upto 50% of power needs through renewables. And why is ScottishRenewables building in East Anglia?

      • And I don’t think you can extrapolate the situation in Europe to North America.

        One ice storm a few years back put the HV transmission lines in Quebec out for a month’s time.

        Flying debris in violent wind storms cut power lines.

        benben, stick to Europe about wind and solar power!

      • Other Ben, looking at that, I’m not seeing the “50% from renewables” stat in your links. Where is that?
        1: Considering the hype that came from Britain getting 20% last year, I am seriously skeptical of this stat. Even 50% of capacity is unbelievable. 50% actual achieved? I just don’t believe it.
        2: you can’t count hydro in this. No one is debating the efficiency of dams.
        3: You shouldn’t count biomass either. Wood burning is hardly environmentally friendly. (note, ignoring those, Britain got less than 10% from solar and wind in 2015).
        4: Biased polls conducted by organizations with obvious agendas are very poor sources of information.
        5: Yes, energy is a small direct cost for people and businesses. However, it is a significant indirect cost, as it raises the prices of everything up and down supply chains.

      • Hey other Ben! So Scotland is at ~50% of actual energy production, not nameplate capacity. However, you’re right, this does include all renewables. But you can easily see that, extrapolating the extraordinary growth rates of wind and solar in the past 12 months that have happened to achieve this 50%, you’d get very far very quickly. And that is logical considering wind costs as low as 30$/ MWh (no subsidies!) while coal costs 60-80$/ MWh. Anyone burning coal now is burning money (coal companies are actually demanding subsidies now to ‘keep jobs’, haha). Hence all the bankrupt coal companies :)

        http://www.scottishenergynews.com/renewable-energy-sector-hits-50-of-scottish-electricity-generation-target-12-months-ahead-of-schedule/

    • Eric, thanks for your reply. Firstly, lets rejoice that we can agree on basic facts! The price of renewables is falling so fast that for moderate amounts (e.g. up to 30% of your demand, beyond that point you’d need to invest in more backup power) it already makes perfect economic sense for some sunny or windy countries. I say ~ 30% because any stable grid always maintains a hefty amount of spare capacity, even if you have 100% fossil fuel based generation (a fact that people often like to forget). Coal fired power plants also randomly break down every so often and that is a massive 500MW you lose in one go.

      Then, your cat. I assume your cat didn’t do any load balancing ;) Anyway, you’re right of course, it’s complicated. But as experience in many western European countries has shown, on a large scale it’s completely possible to go beyond 50% renewables without building additional reserve capacity (just because of the fact that over a large geographical area, there always is wind and sun somewhere). It’s just a matter of putting your engineers to work and maybe coordinate with some major consumers of electricity.

      And once the price of renewables + storage goes below the price of natural gas even load balancing isn’t a consideration any more. This is not the case at the moment, but seems inevitable in the coming decade. I’m really looking forward to the moment when both skeptics and greenies alike can cheer for renewables, just because they are cheaper than fossil fuels, and reduce our reliance on nasty regimes ;)

      Cheers
      Ben

      • What’s it like living in Cloud Cuckoo Land?

        I suppose it must be a lot like Camelot:

        I know it sounds a bit bizarre,
        But in Camelot, Camelot
        That’s how conditions are.
        The rain may never fall till after sundown.
        By eight, the morning fog must disappear.
        In short, there’s simply not
        A more congenial spot
        For happily-ever-aftering than here
        In Camelot.

      • It’s interesting, these type of replies. I mean, everyone here agrees that it makes economic sense to go for the cheapest energy option. Everyone can click the link and see that renewables are very very cheap compared to fossil fuel. And yet you’d rather put effort into making silly poems. How strange!

        Modelling results and global warming, you can read into that whatever you want, but the stuff being discussed here is just facts. No interpretation necessary. I honestly wonder how long the crowd here can go on ignoring reality :)

      • benben says:

        Everyone can click the link and see that renewables are very very cheap compared to fossil fuel.

        benben, you’re either a juvenile, or very foolish and credulous, if you believe ‘clicking a link’ will get you honest information. If only life were that simple.

        What you’re doing is ignoring subsidies. When you do that you’re not being honest.

        FACT: Clean coal power is produced for ≈6¢ – ≈9¢ per kWh.

        FACT: Windmill and solar power cost more than 25¢/kWh.

        Which is cheaper?

      • FACT: DB hasn’t been clicking any links for the past five years.

        “Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) had floated tenders for expansion of the Dubai solar power park. DEWA has reported that it received 5 final bids. The lowest bid among them is at a record-breaking 2.99¢/kWh, which makes the project the cheapest-ever in the world.”

        These are just financial disclosures, not some kind of political flame war. Dubai doesn’t give a @#$ about what the Western world thinks of its renewable programs.

        Also, DB, you made some very unpleasant statements about the suffering of people in third world countries in a previous comment. Could you perhaps refrain from responding to my comments in the future? I do not enjoy interacting with people capable of such acerbity.

        Cheers,
        Ben

      • benben,

        I will be happy to refrain from commenting on your posts in the future. It’s very simple: just stop commenting. Problem solved.

        But when you post what appears to be nonsense, it’s best to set the record straight for any new readers. You are welcome to respond, of course. And I will reply, maybe ad infinitum.

        You have the key to break that cycle.

        Oh, and thanx for corroborating my point that fossil fuel is cheap, especially when there are no onerous subsidies.

      • benben you are a fool who has been listening to much to “renewable” propaganda to often. Renewables simply do not work. Period. And no, West Germany DOES NOT get 50% of it’s energy from so called renewable.

      • good bye DB!

        Stan, I can’t find the proper refs now. But Germany as a whole is at ~33% renewables, of which by far the most is in west germany not east. So let’s not hair split on the exact percentages but agree that it is quite high for such a massive, densely populated and industrialized area!

        Cheers

      • Benben,

        The price of renewables is falling so fast…
        More likely the market is flooded with bankrupt stock.

        30% of your demand, beyond that point you’d need to invest in more backup power
        The solar panel didn’t work at night, or within an hour and a half or so of dusk or dawn. And this is on the edge of the tropics, where the sun is almost directly overhead at midday. So if I can only rely on 30% capacity on a normal day (and this is a gross overestimate – there were entire days it didn’t work), that has to be adjusted for night + 4 hours (assuming 12 hour night, 16 hours of night), and it has to be adjusted for up to a week of bad weather, when the device didn’t even make the 30% capacity.

        So we need:
        24 / (12 – 4) * 3 = 9 x rated capacity just for break even, not including extra capacity to cope with 7day+ outages due to poor weather.

        I don’t “believe” in the basic technology, in this case I had a need which wasn’t easily answered by plugging into mains power. The solar system performed so poorly, I have now made the effort to run mains power to the system, so the cat doesn’t keep slipping over the barrier during frequent solar brownouts.

      • benben says:

        good bye DB!

        Good, glad you’re taking my advice and leaving the commentary to the adults here.

        And you had to see the comment posted 20 minutes after yours, by Stan. Now that you’re leaving, you won’t get hurt feelings from being labeled a fool. Byebye, Benben.

      • Hey Eric, you’re totally right, without battery back-up solar does not really make sense in small communities (and I can’t imagine you’d want to build a 300 foot wind turbine for your cat!), except if fossil is really expensive so you can afford all those batteries (e.g. islands). But on a continental scale with good energy infrastructure it’s a completely different ball game. You can compare the two of course if you want, but it wouldn’t be a very relevant comparison.

        Anyway, I understand the skeptics towards climate change models, but I hope you guys keep an open mind to the purely economic rationale of renewables (and the geopolitical bonus of not throwing massive amounts of money at nasty countries).

        Cheers,
        Ben

      • The reserve capacity is in the next country over.

        Thats even worse than my 9x over capacity – so they need enough capacity not only to cope with their own likely suboptimal days, but also with brownouts and blackouts in other countries, maybe more than one?

        Just how much arable land do you plan to give over to renewables?

      • Chris,

        Your link says:

        The pricing – revealed by its energy ministry at a ministerial round table at the International Renewable Energy summit in Abu Dhabi…

        ‘Scuse me if I look at that with a jaundiced eye. As one of the commenters pointed out:

        …here is how things (unfortunately) still work in Eastern Europe. Lowest bidder wins (the winner is always backed by an influential decision maker within the government as they share the profits). After some time, when things quiet down, there is all of a sudden a made up reason to increase the price for whatever that needs to be done and then again and again. So the price many times doubles the original bidding price that came from the bidding process.

        You can stop deflecting at any time. We’re comparing Europe and the US, not Abu Dhabi and Morocco.

      • Maybe Eric, but the prices qouted are per actually delivered kWh, not namaplate capacity. So it is kind of irrelevant that the capacity factor is lower. Unless you’re seriouusly constrained for space, but the EU is not (neither is the US), so whatever

      • “benben May 2, 2016 at 10:07 pm

        Hey Eric, you’re totally right, without battery back-up solar does not really make sense in small communities …”

        Without some form of backup, solar makes no sense at all for any community

    • Hang about benben. Scotland has 85% of the UK’s hydro-electric energy resource and bully for them. That’s the ultimate backup for any additional, unreliable wind and solar which can be used to pump water back uphil,l but where does that leave continents like Australia? We’re not all wet, miserable, billy goat lands that need plenty of whisky by the fire. Far from it and the Akubra and sunscreen are pretty superfluous on a balmy night.

  18. arthur 4563,

    You have been listening to too much MSR flackerey

    The US government had MSRs when they were making Plutonium in the 1940s and 1950s.

    Yes the corrosion problems you mentioned did exist. But by far the worst problem the fluctuations in chain reaction rates caused by eddy currents in the molten salt which intensified output to problematic levels. Thereby producing near runaway conditions on occasion. Prior to TMI, the worst nuclear fission reactor problem occured in an MSR.

    I other words, the MSRs could not be guaranteed not to runaway, merely due to random, uncontrolled, concentrations of nuclear reactants due to turbulent flow.

    It is just what everyone wants…an uncontrollable and unpredictable nuclear fission reactor!

    That is why the MSRs were abandoned early in the fission reactor age.

    • @ Stas Peterson – Turbulence in Molten Salt Reactors:

      Stas thanks for writing this, of course you’ve opened a new line of inquiry for me in my investigation of the feasibility of MSRs and also Liquid Metal Reactors. I’ll be following up on this and appreciate your orthogonal viewpoint. Having studied thermodynamics and turbulence for other reasons this should have been something that occurred to me earlier but it didn’t. Thanks to you, now it has.

  19. Bad news has now been banned. The silent treatment is a common tactic in advocacy over reach and related party messaging.

  20. The drivers are still renewable. The technology, not so much. Neither is it “green,” even in the marketing sense. Perhaps it’s possible to evaluate each solution on its merits, in context, or not.

  21. Most journalists and politicians never fail to amaze me when they comment on our UK Energy and Power problems. They parrot whatever the Green Industries tell them, whilst the Industry and its supporters avoid the open free competitive commodity market that the Energy/Power market was, and should still be. They are being allowed to distort, and even destroy such an essential market mechanism with fraudulent publicity, subsidies, tax breaks and even minimum price guarantees – all directly or indirectly paid for by us.

    The Industry and their supporters, as well as almost all Ministers and MP’s, never advise us of the real total costs to us all resulting from the use of renewables such as Wind Turbines which, as an engineering system comparable to the base load fossil fueled plants being replaced, require essential dedicated duplicate capacity and inefficiently run Gas Turbine standby plants to maintain ongoing power supplies during frequent no/low wind conditions. They also need enhanced and additional Power Transmission works to connect remote WT’s to the areas of actual Power Demand.

    Overall we are presented with an unnecessary and over-expensive total UK Power Generation system cost where no amount of R&D tinkering with actual Wind Turbine engineering inefficiencies will ever make the use of WT’s within this system economically viable – they will still be a burdensome cost and are also environmentally ineffective. The total Wind Farm comparable base load system, including the above mentioned essential additional works, will never compete with other available base load power generation systems. There is a massive insurmountable cost difference between such a WT/inefficient GT standby/Transmission Line base load system and, say, an efficient GT base load system acting alone which requires no such necessary additional works.

    In addition, the Industry and these same journalists and politicians never tell us that these UK WT’s will only save us a small fraction of CO2 compared with running their standby GT’s alone as base load units which, in turn, will generate a global CO2 saving of an even smaller fraction of the ongoing increasing levels of global CO2 emissions from the Developing Countries for very many years to come. This renders the inclusion of WT’s in the UK Energy Policy environmentally totally ineffective – even if reducing CO2 levels was necessary! We cannot isolate the UK’s atmosphere from the rest of the world!

    These same people also never explain that efficient GT’s operated inefficiently as WT standby units also require subsidies because such GT operation is otherwise not commercially viable. Inefficient WT’s require subsidies which generates a need for GT subsidies – an obscene situation! This is yet another unnecessary cost that the taxpayers and consumers have to bear! You couldn’t dream this up even in your worst nightmare!

    Most journalists and politicians then wonder why UK industries and manufacturing continue to decline, skilled and better paid jobs become scarcer, all our prices keep rising, exports have at best stalled, our debts keep rising and our Balance of Trade gets decimated! Neither do they seem to understand why the Power Generation companies back off from the heavy R&D investment normally needed to continually discover and develop the innovative engineering solutions which will improve process efficiencies, and even provide new processes – all of which will drive down their unit costs, maintain their market share in their cost leadership market and provide commercial survival. Any such proper Power Generation R&D investment would directly assist in maintaining and improving UK competitiveness, and sustain and recover strategic industries and exports.

    Why should these Renewable Energy/Power companies pay for this essential R&D work, when the politicians maintain the present crony capitalism soft market and simply require taxpayers to pay increased costs to the Power Suppliers to carry on with what they are doing and what they are getting away with. There is little, if any proper commercial pressure on them and little real competition.

    Better paid, higher skilled jobs are also not generated by these renewables, but are in fact destroyed by them – as now identified in many countries, because of the resultant unnecessarily high energy and power costs they generate which in turn drive up all domestic, commercial and industrial costs and overheads and which, in turn, drives down competitiveness. UK WT exports are also a pipe dream as are UK Solar Power Units; both are similarly grossly expensive non-base load Power Generation systems. In the USA and elsewhere in the West, they are not commercially viable without massive subsidies and many large companies have failed once subsidies are reduced let alone removed entirely. The Developing World can produce them more cheaply given their lower cost bases, the extent of the Technical Transfer to them over the last 30 years or so, and the amount of money they, themselves, are spending on R&D!

    Some politicians, even Green Industry supporters, only now ask for more efficient and cheaper renewables, but this is 20 years too late, and is only starting now because they and the present renewable supplier/operators can no longer sustain their lie that renewables are cheaper or will soon be cheaper or that they will generate a net increase in skilled jobs and promote exports. We have already squandered £billions on this Green mirage and lost thousands of skilled jobs to this religion – all to our ongoing disadvantage! The Industrial Revolution continually illustrated the benefits of open competitive free market mechanisms in this Industry: wind replaced horse power, water replaced wind power, steam replaced water power, electricity fueled by coal, gas, oil and then eventually nuclear power replaced earlier forms of electricity generation etc., etc. All this was driven by Suppliers’ self-interest and their ongoing essential need for greater system capacities and cheaper unit costs which were required for them to survive in a highly competitive business environment and without any subsidies, tax breaks or guaranteed minimum prices.

    Cut out all subsidies, tax breaks etc. and include – if needed, a tax based on an agreed present day value cost per tonne of CO2 generated by each base load Power Generation system for advised future works ultimately needed due to the supposed future effects of CO2, and then let the market decide! Stern and others have already carried out such a present day CO2 cost estimate. However, such an environmental cost “benefit” from renewables such as WT’s goes nowhere near making WT’s commercially or environmentally viable in a competitive free market. What it does show is that allocated subsidies to the Power Generators, funded by such taxes, based on their CO2/Gwhr power generated compared to, say, replaced Coal Fired Power Stations is only a fraction of 1 pence per Kwhr, and not the extortionate subsidies being handed to them daily!

    Fracking in the USA demonstrates what benefits true open free competitive market mechanisms can still be provided in this Industry by way of cheaper gas and cheaper power from Gas Turbines, and with resultant uncompetitive Coal Fired Plants shutting down. A direct result has been the re-generation of previously failing or failed strategic industries with their highly skilled, better paid jobs – all driven by lower energy/power costs. Surely this is something simple enough even for our politicians and mainstream journalists to understand!

    The Greens and Power Suppliers should be promoting only UK R&D investment in true cost effective base load renewable Power Generation Systems such as Thorium Reactors and, in parallel, Gas Turbines using the cheaper gas now increasingly available to fill the Energy Gap in time until fossil fuels such as gas become scarce or too expensive and until such time that Thorium Reactors Power Stations are available. The Chinese and Indians already have High Level Thorium Reactor R&D Programmes based, initially, on the USA’s proven Pilot Trials in the 1970’s, so why can’t we? Uranium Reactors are now far too expensive, too complex, of increasingly doubtful safety, take too long to complete and will now be too late to fill the UK’s Energy Gap. They also have massive “hidden” de-commissioning and toxic waste management costs.

    • Great post. I hope benben reads it and learns some reality vs the fairytales he wallows in from CleanTechnica and other green sites

    • @macawber, who writes:

      The total Wind Farm comparable base load system, including the above mentioned essential additional works, will never compete with other available base load power generation systems

      (emphasis mine).

      Never is a very long time. While I certainly agree I’ve yet to see a viable competitor for fossil fuel, I would hesitate to say one will never be developed, or that there is no reason to explore development of alternatives in the present. The time to deploy a technology that will literally save or doom the human race is not in the eleventh hour and I would think that obvious?

      Clearly, it isn’t yet time to consider the wholesale conversion to “fill in the blank” renewable; that time hasn’t come. But it is time to explore the alternatives. It most certainly isn’t time to hitch our economic wagon (and survival) to those technologies, but we must explore them and we should explore them on scales that are a bit bigger than “toys”.

      Should we begin taxing the general populace for these experiments? Not in a capitalist economy, no. The risk of development lies with the developers, who history have proven to be correct in every measure. If there’s no reason to think I might one day make a profit from my research into alternative energy, there’s no reason for me to do the research and development. No motive.

      The fallacy is government should fund energy research using public funds. Should we perhaps provide tax incentives for this research? Hard to say. Should we outright fund it with no expectation of success? Absolutely not. Neither you nor I can, in general, differentiate the merits of molten salt nuclear reactors and wind turbines and we never will, as a general population, be able to do so. This is the exact purpose of capitalism; people who care become educated. People who are educated and motivated make good decisions. That’s how it works.

  22. This is a normal stage of modern capital intense business ventures, variously called cramdown, the golf course model, and planned failure.

    The first investors burn through resources buying land, fighting government and neighbors in court over clearing beloved undeveloped space, uncovering site issues like ground water, absorbing retaliatory taxes, fees and personal grudges, then suffering early revenue insufficient to recover costs. The first project leaders walk away burnt out but having made good income for several years. The first round of investors either loses everything in bankruptcy court or retain a smaller position versus new money.

    The second project leaders inherit under-maintained resources at a big enough discount to turn the business around for new investors, even on low revenue. Locals have gotten used to what they had called an eyesore and property values have reached a new equilibrium. If the original concept has any value the business takes off. Even the “crammed down” first investors might get a decent return from their smaller stake.

    I’m not saying these wind farms were a great idea, especially since that first round of investment was partly provided at government gunpoint. However I believe , now that its actual costs will be erased from the balance sheet, it will work out well for the second round bargain investors.

    • I’m not saying these wind farms were a great idea, especially since that first round of investment was partly provided at government gunpoint. However I believe , now that its actual costs will be erased from the balance sheet, it will work out well for the second round bargain investors.

      How so? Figuring maintenance (repair, replacement and other operating costs) against revenue potential for an unspeakably unreliable source of power that simply cannot compete on a price basis with electrical power generated using petrochemical fuels or even existing fission systems, any “second round bargain investors” taking over these herds of white elephants should be doomed by the laws of economics and thermodynamics no matter how wishful is the thinking applied.

      • Wind Turbines by their very nature, are doomed to shake, and grind themselves to pieces. Well that is the horizontal aircraft like propeller types.

        The now apparently long gone omnidirectional vertical wind turbines, at least in the smaller sizes they were, were presumably quite reliable, since they were not asymmetrically stressed. But just not scalable to main load power, and of course still subject to wind availability.

        The biggest single impediment to practical reliable wind power in my view.

        The fact that a drop in wind speed to 50% of the designed maximum load operating wind speed, wipes out 87.5% of your generating capacity.

        They ONLY generate SOME power SOME of the time. Can’t do full time design load non interruption.

        G

      • Agreed! This investment model is seen all over the planet in every crappy, run-down restaurant. Once it was brand new, fashionable and reasonably busy. It never did really provide a decent return on investment, though . And that was in the beginning when maintenance costs were low. 5 or 10 years on is another story and things get ugly. The restaurant is saddled with asinine green power bills while the politicians have removed the asinine subsidies to campaign on balancing the budget which they have no intention of doing anyway!

      • @George E. Smith, who writes:

        The biggest single impediment to practical reliable wind power in my view

        And in the same sense the biggest single impediment to practical reliable fossil power is the availability of fossil fuel, its consistent price, and the failure characteristics of internal combustion engines? Single impediments? Repair, replacement and other operating costs? Exploration and extraction costs? Market whims? Sort of a joke there George? No other real problems?

        Come now. Let’s be honest with each other, because it’s my experience no one else will be.

      • In a country with boundless youth unemployment, that maintenance will be done by labor the oriiginal optimistic management considered unqualified. The equipment will be run in condition that would have shut it down before. Parts that were special order will be replaced by junk. No debt load makes up for the lost subsidy, which will eventually come back in some form or another.

        Dreaming? You’ve never met a partially recovered addict holding together a 25 year old beater at 10 mpg on $20k a year part time at Lowes. People make stuff work.

      • Well Bartleby,

        Not sure what you are driving at.

        Plenty of fossil fuels available and collectively they provide the vast majority by a large factor of all the human ingenuity sourced energy used on earth, and always at a price that keeps them at the top of the free market heap.

        And every fossil fuelled contraption I’m familiar with, has a very simple power control function in that available useful work increases almost linearly and instantaneously with supply of the fossil fuel.

        My personal transportation for example, simply requires a slight pressure from my right foot to supply increased fossil fuel to speed up my chariot immediately.

        And no matter what time of the day, I choose to press on that loud pedal, the same power surge is always instantly available.

        I’ve got three of those unreliable internal combustion engines that you mentioned. All of them are Japanese Subaru engines, and between the three of them they have about 175,000 miles total.

        So far as I am aware, every single time that one of those three engine computers has delivered an ignition spark signal to one of the 12 spark plugs in those three engines, the result has been another successful ignition and power stroke. Never ever missed one ignition, from engine start to shut down.

        Now we have made many trips to local and remote fuelling stations over that 175,000 miles and not even once, did the fuelling station ever have a problem in delivering all of the fuel that my chariots were capable of carrying at the time. Never ever had any sort of supply problem.

        And as for cost (price) my fossil fuel is the cheapest liquid I can purchase, next to the 25cent per gallon reverse Osmosis bulk water, I buy for drinking. So no supply or cost problem there.

        Also, not one of my three Subachariots, has ever come close to hitting a bird, but we do occasionally hit bugs.

        But then the one my wife drives, carefully supported and provided a safe home and feeding facility to her own resident spider, which ingeniously build its ramshackle confused web across in front of the driver side outside mirror. As a result when parked in the driveway at night, the mirror reflected the street light across the street, so that flying insects would fly into the mirror seeking that image light.

        Well it took that spider, about 5 seconds flat (tops) to come out and collect the next meal, and safely wrap it up and pack it behind the mirror. We enjoyed that family pet for over a year, before it ran afoul of the wind; yes there’s that evil wind again destroying critters. While driving back from a trip to Oregon, the spider was trying to mend some web damage caused by the wind, and it got sucked away; hopefully to find new quarters, somewhere in southern Oregon.

        For a shorter while there; maybe three months, I also had a guest spider (same species) residing in my driver side mirror; same gig too; but I thing he found an even better place to set up his restaurant.

        All in all I can’t see any down side to my fossil fuelled machines. If wind powered sail-cars were legal in California, on the roads, I might give it a try, but I have my doubts, as to the practicality. When the light turns green, the California Vehicle code decrees that the traffic ” Shall proceed ” immediately and not wait for a gust of wind.

        So Bartleby, I don’t see the gist of what you are getting at.

        G

  23. REPLY TO benben “ the US has almost no renewables
    The USA is a big and diverse place. Instead of “no”, try “only a small percentage of.” However, here is an interesting chart for parts of Oregon & Washington:

    http://transmission.bpa.gov/business/operations/wind/baltwg.aspx
    The blue line at the top is “Hydro” while the green line at the bottom is “wind.” A High Pressure system just settled over our region and the wind turbines have stopped. The chart is updated every 5 minutes.

    My electricity is from water or hydro-power and some folks consider this renewable. Because of wind or drunk drivers taking trees or poles down, my electricity has been off about 4 times (a few minutes or hours each time) in 25 years.
    Meanwhile, Venezuela cut power for four hours a day to save energy and it is not because the rain has stopped.
    http://euanmearns.com/?s=Venezuela

    • yes… well, beyond that you want me to replace ‘almost no’ with ‘only a small percentage of’ (which is more or less the same?), what is the point of this comment?

  24. Re: BenBen’s comment above:
    “And the energiewende has a very high support under germans (92% !!). Germany and Denmark have perfectly stable electricity grids with renewables producing ~50% of total electricity in 2016.”
    Well, firstly, we don’t have figures for 2016 – because (and this may come as a surprise) we’re only four months into 2016.
    But, we do have figures for 2015. And they are 5.9% solar, 13.3% wind, 7.7% biomass (a.k.a burning wood and waste) and 3% hydro.
    Hydro is a conventional source of energy, and so is burning wood.
    The reason that the German grid is not unstable is because:
    1: they only derive less than 20% of their electricity from wind and solar.
    2: they are connected to all the countries that surround them, and these countries can effectively absorb German surplus and cover for the German deficits. i.e. Germany is using the rest of Europe as a giant battery.

    Your next point is that Energiewelde enjoys almost universal public support in Germany.
    Yes, that is because of the hundreds of millions spend, much of this was given to small solar producers as a kind of sweetener. Plus, Germany and the E.U. and various pressure groups have been extremely busy brainwashing everyone into believing in total nonsense. For example may people have been fooled by “Germany produced 50% of it’s energy from Solar” memes.
    Such misinformation is widespread and people have been widely deceived.

    But – I think what we should also note is that there have been other times in the last century when certain political projects in Germany enjoyed almost unanimous public support.
    And I can not mention any of these specific catastrophes which ultimately destroyed the lives of many tens of millions of people – because to do so would invoke a childish internet convention designed to prevent the current generation of fools from learning from history.

    In short – best of luck with spreading the misleading propaganda. Yes, many believe it. No, it does not tell us that the Energiewende disaster has been a success. Estimates come in at 300 euros cost per tonne of CO2 saved. Which is in the region of comically expensive.
    It’s a massive joke. But lots of people have made vast amounts of money out of the gullibility of the public.
    And the project has greatly served the interests of Gaz Putin and his pal and business partner, Gerhard Schröder. (a.k.a. Gaz Gerd).
    Well done for helping Russia to get rich with your blind allegiance to the cause.

    • So firstly, yes you are right I should have said west-germany (which I corrected in a later post), which was at ~45% renewables and will be up to +50 taking into account the new capacity built recently. Secondly, yeah that’s true of course. But we’re quite good at modeling the electricity grid (and with we I mean a team of engineers at my university + the big energy companies), and they project that we can go much much further than current levels without any trouble. Now, you don’t have to believe that, but the electricity companies themselves clearly do. So lets just agree to disagree and wait a few years? If it goes wrong it’s my country that falls over, not yours ;)

      Also, for the love of god, please stop making all these WW2 references. Putting up a couple of solar panels has nothing to do with genocide and it is very unpleasant.

      Finally, the germans did not want to replace coal (or any fossil fuels) with their enegiewende. They wanted to replace nuclear with renewables. And this goal was achieved perfectly. So it’s very strange to pretend that the germans wanted to replace coal with renewables when they didn’t.

      • “Also, for the love of god, please stop making all these WW2 references.”

        Yeah, I kind of noticed certain topics to be off limits in the Federal Republic. With the relatives in Croatia, we talk amongst ourselves of such matters freely, openly, and constantly. What a country — it is just like back in America!

      • Everything is perfectly logical — except when it isn’t.

        An engineering professor leading a scientific conference was explaining to the foreign participants the logic behind Diesel automobiles. The Diesel fuel in considerably cheaper, but that is balanced by a multi-hundred Euro registration tax on Diesel automobiles. This was claimed to have the harmonious consequence that only motorists who drive many miles — such as sales representatives — drive the more fuel efficient Diesels whereas persons with much lower mileage and fuel consumption drive gasoline automobiles, achieving an optimum allocation of production of Diesel automobiles.

        Soon afterward, I was watching the BBC warning of an imminent truck-driver strike in the Federal Republic. Turns out that the reason Diesel fuel was cheaper was that the tax was much lower, and the reason for that had nothing to do with allocating the supply of Diesel automobiles to motorists driving longer distances. It had everything to do with the truck drivers being a political faction demanding lower fuel taxes, but now there was labor unrest because the authorities wanted to raise the tax on Diesel fuel. Automobile drivers purchasing Diesel automobiles was an unintended consequence of the benefit negotiated by the truck drivers, the yearly registration tax on Diesel automobiles being what Americans call a “Band-aid” fix to the drain on the government treasury.

      • “Paul Milenkovic May 2, 2016 at 6:25 pm”

        Also in the UK the Govn’t encouraged low or no emission vehicles, with the respective low and no road TAX. It was so successful the consequence was that REVENUE dropped off so much that now low and no emission vehicles now attract a road TAX!

      • I’m pretty sure that they originally intended to phase-out (or phase-down) coal.
        But then shifted their concerns suddenly to the total abandonment of nuclear following Fukushima.
        I may be wrong, but the introduction to the wikipedia definition seems to suggest that CO2 reduction and fossil fuel use abatement were the original target:
        “The Energiewende (German for Energy transition) is the transition by Germany to an energy portfolio dominated by renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable development. The final goal is the abolition of coal and other non-renewable energy sources”
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_transition_in_Germany

  25. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/instability-in-power-grid-comes-at-high-cost-for-german-industry-a-850419.html

    Quote from the link above:

    “…Sudden fluctuations in Germany’s power grid are causing major damage to a number of industrial companies. While many of them have responded by getting their own power generators and regulators to help minimize the risks, they warn that companies might be forced to leave if the government doesn’t deal with the issues fast…….

    It was 3 a.m. on a Wednesday when the machines suddenly ground to a halt at Hydro Aluminium in Hamburg. The rolling mill’s highly sensitive monitor stopped production so abruptly that the aluminum belts snagged. They hit the machines and destroyed a piece of the mill. The reason: The voltage off the electricity grid weakened for just a millisecond.

    Workers had to free half-finished aluminum rolls from the machines, and several hours passed before they could be restarted. The damage to the machines cost some €10,000 ($12,300).

    In the following three weeks, the voltage weakened at the Hamburg factory two more times, each time for a fraction of second. Since the machines were on a production break both times, there was no damage. Still, the company invested €150,000 to set up its own emergency power supply, using batteries, to protect itself from future damages.

    “It could have affected us again in the middle of production and even led to a fire,” said plant manager Axel Brand. “That would have been really expensive.”

    At other industrial companies, executives at the highest levels are also thinking about freeing themselves from Germany’s electricity grid to cushion the consequences of the country’s transition to renewable energy…….

    The problem is that wind and solar farms just don’t deliver the same amount of continuous electricity compared with nuclear and gas-fired power plants……..”

    ****************************

    http://www.eurodialogue.eu/Wind-energy-surplus-threatens-eastern-German-power-grid

    From the link above:

    “…….Wind energy surplus threatens eastern German power grid…..

    More than one third of Germany’s 21,500 wind turbines are located in the nation’s east. This concentration of generating capacity regularly overloads the region’s electricity grid, threatening blackouts…..”

    *******************************

    Benben, there are probably numerous other articles on the web that I could find links to on this subject, but I think you get the general idea. It’s all too easy to ignore the problems with renewables affecting the grid when you are 100% supportive of them. Unfortunately Benben, ignoring those problems doesn’t make them go away.

    • We posted within one minute of each other on the same topic. Please take the time to read my comment which is above yours. And my comment also was intended to address the delusions of BenBen.
      A slight coincidence, it seems.

      • Thanks indefatigable. I read your post and it was quite enlightening for me. I never thought of the rest of Europe as a giant battery for Germany which keeps its grid from being unstable….or more so.

        I don’t know if I’m right about this, but I’ve always thought of energy generation (from renewables or anything else) as mostly a physics and engineering issue. It seems to me that we in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere are not listening to those physicists and engineers, or at least not enough anyway. Do the renewable energy pushers (or most of them) have any such background? I don’t know. If they don’t, it readily explains why we are squandering billions of dollars and euros on something that largely doesn’t work.

        Anyway indefatigable, thanks for your comment.

    • I would point out that this is 2012. There were problems at the beginning. I know, my country almost experienced a massive blackout because of overproduction. But if you talk to any engineer working on the western european grid (I wonder why you never see any of them comment on a blog like this!), they will tell you, as they have told me, that these problems were hard engineering problems, but they have been solved by now.

      So by all means, continue to believe the world is a static place. It’ll leave you in the dust before long!

      A nice quote from the article I linked to above: “Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) had floated tenders for expansion of the Dubai solar power park. DEWA has reported that it received 5 final bids. The lowest bid among them is at a record-breaking 2.99¢/kWh, which makes the project the cheapest-ever in the world.”

      So you can continue to read 2012 articles about how expensive renewables are. True business men look at the current costs and decide that fossil fuels just aren’t worth it.

      I look forward to the moment this realization hits the skeptic crowd and we can all rejoice together at using the cheapest energy source available ;)

      • Benben – You are quite correct to point out that solar P.V. is on track to become extraordinarily cheap, (when the sun shines and energy is delivered). The price per watt has been approximately halving every seven years or so – since 1979.
        I have always been suggesting that we should have been developing pumped hydro capacity to absorb this energy and redeliver it on demand. And big hydro in general. Based on the low cost.
        At least, until we come up with a cheaper form of energy storage.
        But hydro has faced continual long-term resistance from the same pressure groups who now promote solar.
        I’d also be happy to see the adoption of an intelligent grid, or even cheap rates for noon consumers.
        I like solar P.V. It has a very significant role to play in world energy provision in the future.
        I just hate the lies, propaganda, politics and the often needless waste of taxpayers money.

    • This will play out differently than one would think. These mediation measures are just a short term response. The combination of high cost and low reliability will drive much of this industry to places like China where they are commissioning coal plains weekly.

  26. The market is screaming at the top of its lungs, “GRID-LEVEL WIND/SOLAR IS INSANE!!”, yet feckless politicians continue to flush $billions of taxpayer money down the wind/solar toilet, because they know better….

    Just let the free-market decide winners and losers in any market/industry. Government intervention through subsidies, research finds, loan guarantees, special tax breaks, penalty regulations on competing industries, rebates, low-interest loans, etc., distorts the market process and assures slower innovation, higher prices, uncompetitivness, misallocation of limited resources, wasted labor, etc.,…

    What will it take for this essential reality to be understood by leftists???

    Fascism, mixed-economies, Socialism, Communism, Crony Crapitalism, etc., never have and never will work…PERIOD! (TM).

  27. Re: BenBen’s comment above:

    This was the true picture of the German disaster by the end of 2013:-

    New German Goverment Scales Back Renewables Policy 16/12/13 Bloomberg
    EU Launches Probe Over German Renewables Law 13/12/13 Reuters
    Germany’s New Government Embraces Coal To Counter Rising Energy Costs 12/12/13 Arne Delfs, Bloomberg
    German Households Face Annual €30 Billion Cost For Green Energy Subsidies 05/12/13 Daniel Wetzel, Die Welt
    The Poor Need Cheap Fossil Fuels 04/12/13 Bjorn Lomborg, The New York Times
    Germany Plans To Curb Green Energy Transition 01/12/13 Deutsche Welle
    Germany Sets Out Plan To Rein In Surging Green Energy Costs 28/11/13 Henning Gloystein and Christoph Steitz, Reuters

    It has got a lot worse since then.

    • A lot can change in a couple of years. I find it telling that I link to 2016 articles and the skeptic crowd keeps referring back to 2012, 2013. The energy market is in a completely different place right now.

  28. I read the rest of the article: http://phys.org/news/2016-05-frenzy-spain-renewable-energy-sector.html

    Eric, it seems to me that you’re painting an unrealistic picture and you fail to articulate the article in its entirety. Phys.org is generally fair and balanced, doesn’t engage much in hyperbole and will only publish an article if it has some scientific value. If you read the article in its entirety, it’s not all doom and gloom; much of the remaining article, those sections which you have omitted, paint a picture quite the contrary to your opening characterization of “Renewed Interest”. *Some day*, all the oil and coal will be gone and that day is fast approaching. Forget global warming, there won’t be anything left to burn (including the uranium reserves), and all we’ll have left will be renewables.

    I’ll quote the *rest* of the article as follows.

    “Last year, Spain was in fifth position worldwide for wind power, with installed capacity of 23 gigawatts—the equivalent of 23 nuclear reactors—and in eighth place for solar power after China, the United States and Germany.

    This high ranking came despite near-zero investment in the sector over the past few years as the economic crisis hit.”————

    The inference in this last sentence is that they were doing just fine until Wall Street screwed the pooch. They were doing fine *without* public subsidies until the *whole world* almost went belly-up. Don’t blame Spain or the industry, put the blame squarely where it belongs, on the front doorsteps of Goldman Sachs, Citi, Chase and the rest of the merry band of pirates and thieves who pay rent on Wall Street.

    And how about this little tid-bit:
    “Sun aplenty and wind-swept regions make the country an ideal candidate for renewables, but generous subsidies doled out by the former Socialist government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero really helped get the 70,000-strong sector going, until the financial crisis hit in 2008.”———–

    Again, it wasn’t their fault or the fault of an industry trying to cope with a *worldwide financial crisis*.

    “The Socialists were forced to implement spending cuts as the country teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, and the conservatives continued this policy after they came to power in 2011.”———

    Again, not their fault or the fault of a socialist political structure. The current, relatively conservative government of Mariano Rajoy is doing no better.

    And here’s part of what you left out:
    “Spain’s return to growth—its economy expanded 3.2 percent last year—and pledges by authorities to stop changing the sector’s regulations have attracted investors back to the country.

    The fact that renewable companies can no longer count on as many subsidies as they once could have reduced the value of their assets, making them more attractive for buyers, says Luis Polo, head of the AEE Spanish Wind Energy Association.

    And Spanish companies are “on the cutting-edge internationally,” says Borja Rubio, an analyst for brokers XTB.

    Spain has long been associated with windmills thanks to Miguel de Cervantes’s famous novel “Don Quixote”, but it now boasts leading research centres such as the giant Almeria Solar Platform in a deserted, arid region in the south of the country.

    The country’s engineers also continue to innovate, and have for instance developed the prototype for a bladeless wind turbine.

    Polo adds that another strong point of Spain’s wind energy sector is that companies involved in the entire production line are present in the country.

    The know-how of companies has allowed them “to win projects elsewhere in the world,” says Rubio.

    Gamesa for instance is among the world’s five biggest wind turbine manufacturers and is well established in several emerging countries like India, Brazil and China—of high interest to Siemens.

    In order to keep growing, however, they need money.”
    —-end quote—-

    Sounds pretty good to me with this last sentence quite telling. It’s all about *growth* – in the Renewable Energy Sector. Growth requires capital and in the current worldwide economy, the only people with any capital are the ones who’ve stolen it or who are hoarding it – read my comments above about Wall Street.

    And lest you wax gleeful over the follow-up story linked on that same page: “Clouds gather over Spain’s renewables sector as aid cut”, that story has a publication date of February, 2012 and is old news by now. As mentioned above, the conservative government of Mariano Rajoy took drastic measures at the time, essentially employing a tourniquet to stop the hemorrhaging, with the measure having been deemed “temporary”. And, as a political aside, in case you haven’t been following the emerging news from Spain, Mariano Rajoy and his government are pretty much universally despised with the left-of-socialism Podemos party making quite a splash.

    You see, Eric, it’s academic, we’ll need another source of energy after all the oil, coal and uranium are gone. Don’t ask your buddies Charlie or Dave for help; they already have their mansion in the sky and won’t be coming back for you.

    Any ideas?

    Hey, I got one; lets rub two pieces of flint together next to some dry grass and leaves.

    QED

    • In order to keep growing, however, they need money.”

      Why? Companies which are doing well, winning lots of international orders, generate their own money.

    • ” *Some day*, all the oil and coal will be gone and that day is fast approaching. … and all we’ll have left will be renewables.”

      Yes we will have the sun and wind but without coal and oil we will not be able to manufacture the devices to capture solar and wind energy. Unless you mean by renewables burning wood, installing skylights and making windmills out of wood and rope.

      By the way when the dollar value of an asset goes down, it does not improve the practical value of the asset. If you believe that I have an old volvo, it burns oil, and has become unreliable of late. I’ll give you a good price on it.

    • Madigan, you can cherry-pick all the puff pieces you want, but the basic fact is that fossil fuels are abundant, and the countries that use them efficiently and cheaply prosper.

      • “the basic fact is that fossil fuels are abundant, and the countries that use them efficiently and cheaply prosper.”

        Nice generalism, but totally untrue. Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Iraq – not exactly a prosperous list. Unless you call SA prosperous due to the government handouts to citizens.

    • You sort of ” forgot” the fact that prior to the financial crisis the Spanish economy was blasting into the stratosphere with 25% of activity coming from construction. Completely unsustainable, worse than the U.S. and nothing to do with Goldman Sachs. Just another Socialist fiasco!

    • “Last year, Spain was in fifth position worldwide for wind power, with installed capacity of 23 gigawatts—the equivalent of 23 nuclear reactors

      Installed capacity is not the same as realized capacity.

    • Re: “Last year, Spain was in fifth position worldwide for wind power, with installed capacity of 23 gigawatts—the equivalent of 23 nuclear reactors.”
      A better comparison would be the Three Gorges Dam, which happens to be 22.5 gigawatts.
      BUT, wind does not deliver its full “capacity”.
      You would be lucky to receive 1/3 of this on average in reality.
      So, ALL of Spain’s wind turbines can provide 1/3 of the energy deliverable by the Three Gorges Dam.
      BUT IN A TOTALLY UNCONTROLLABLE MANNER.
      Sounds brilliant. (sarc)
      And that’s before we examine the relative cost.
      Here in the U.K. off-shore wind receives about 5 times the wholesale electricity rate as a special compensation for being an unbelievably expensive way of generating electricity.
      I expect that the situation in Spain is not dissimilar.
      I wonder why the Chinese got so smart, at exactly the same point in history that the Europeans completely lost track of reality.

  29. A wind of change is blowing on Spain’s renewables: companies and investment funds have been on a buying spree, taking advantage of the know-how and growth prospects of a sector still limping out of a crisis.

    It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the bids for the bird-shredders are coming from salvage companies.

  30. Funny, innit, how while they are busy ramming “renewables” down our throats, they are all the while screaming how great they are for the planet and how “cheap” they are becoming.

  31. It sounds like the more a technology costs to generate energy the more appealing it is to investors?

    The probable reason for this is that the primary purpose of wind and solar power is to siphon money from government treasuries, which apparently in this age of certain climate apocalypse, is very easy to do.

  32. “What does that tell you?”

    Tells me that BenBen did not bother to read the root cause analysis or the one for the 1996 outage in the west.

    “The grid in my country …”

    Which county is that? I do not think you can support your statement. As an American in the power industry, I do not think there is much we can learn from Europe except how to tax ratepayers.

    I worked in Spain for a year. Loved the country, but power was not reliable.

    Do you have ice storms, tornadoes and hurricanes? Forest fires? Power is restored fast because utilities from around the country come to the aid of their neighbors.

    • Netherlands, which hardly compares to Spain (I love Spain but it’s a bit of a mess). Kit P, American energy infrastructure is like the rest of your infrastructure. There are no potholes in my country. America is full of them. Does that mean you don’t know how to fill potholes or need to learn from the netherlands how to fill them? No, you just make the societal choice to not pay the taxes necessary to support your infrastructure. That is fine. It’s a choice. You keep the money and you keep the shitty roads. Cheers!

      Ben

  33. Its the EU money go round. The Spanish banks are so deep in hock to these wind “assets” that they are threatening to bring down the banks and the Spanish economy. So enter the “white knight” arm of the international finance industry who ride to the rescue and buy up the assets with the certainty that the ECB/EU bureaucracy will provide the necessary funds to ensure a profitable deal. Instead of the restricted transfer of funds from the ECB to national governments it will be disguised as a development or social program and come from central funds – meaning transfers for the countries in the north that still (just) have functioning economies. This way they avoid having to do debt relief for the other EU countries that are either underwater (Greece) or going under water -Italy, Portugal … The EU is run by the banks and hedge funds,as their role in hiding the Greek debt before accession shows, and their ability to have the ensuing debt transferred to the tax payer. Like the whole global warming scam its a ponsy scheme.

  34. I would call it more of an ‘estate sle’ because the parent program is almost certainly dead and the Spanish government will not likely try to raise it again.

  35. “Netherlands, which hardly compares to Spain….”

    Yes, the Netherlands is a crime ridden cesspool. Spent a week there in 1992 evaluating a nuke plant. One of the older engineers in our group was robbed and beaten in broad daylight.

    I have lived many places in the US and have met many narrow minded people like BebBen. They judge the whole world by their little corner.

    I have lived miles down a dirt road in the mountains. One big pothole.

    BenBen does what narrow minded people do when their mindsets are challenged. Change the subject. The subject was BenBen’s assertion about the grid. Now it is infrastructure in general.

    BenBen also has mindset about wind and solar. He links websites with similar mindsets. There is no basis in fact that wind and solar has lower environmental impact. That is a professional evaluation based on reading many life cycle analysis.

  36. Government subsidies are the only thing that has got them this far, once trump gets control of the Whitehouse those will all come to an abrupt end !

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