Thursday, July 08, 2010


More than six billion humans face extinction every year. And every year millions die. If the death rate accelerates it is hard to predict the overwhelmingly catastrophic consequences.

Inspired by Ecologist who says:

More than 25% of flowers face extinction – many before they are even discovered
I wonder if he didn't spell his name wrong. Mistakes happen. I'm just wondering if it shouldn't be Ecoligist.

And where did I find this person? At the Guardian UK's enviro blog where they claim Germany will get all its energy from renewables (or France) by 2050.
I wonder what their plan is for days when the wind doesn't blow? Or days when it blows too strong? Solar I guess until the sun goes down.

Except for one minor problem, German subsidies will be shifted from solar to wind.
The German photovoltaic industry knew bad news was on the way, and it could have been worse. Last week, Germany’s Environment Ministry recommended a shift in subsidies from solar energy installations to offshore wind farms. The solar sector breathed a collective sigh of relief because the subsidy could have easily been significantly cut or completely eliminated. Nevertheless outraged, the German Solar Industry Association issued a statement complaining that its members were in “a sensitive phase of development and [face] harsh competition with Asia.”

With Germany's impressive track record of renewable energy legislation, we have to wonder if the future will cause fickle investors to flock to wind now that solar subsidies have been cut in Germany. On the surface, this might look like a victory for wind power, but if you do a bit of digging, a different picture emerges.

Germans get 13% of their energy from renewable sources, but little of this energy comes from offshore wind farms, and the technology has been struggling to get out of the starting blocks. "The development of the offshore wind industry has gone forward more slowly than expected," said Michael Schroeren, a spokesman for Germany’s environment ministry. "And the cost of these new technologies is also higher than was expected." By shifting subsidies from solar to wind, the German government is essentially signaling to the market that wind isn't doing that great, and that the technology needs all the help it can get.
And why is a subsidy even necessary? Simple. Solar and wind are not competitive without lower cost collectors and really low cost storage. Otherwise you have to keep coal and natural gas plants on hot standby to make up for instantaneous declines in output. And of course on a really good day when solar and wind are producing more electricity than needed the excess is just wasted. And you still need the fossil fuel plants on hot standby - just in case. So where is the subsidy for storage? Not in evidence.

It looks to me like a classic case of ignorant politicians leading a stupid people. Well, in the long run the Germans (and every one else for that matter) always get what they deserve. Let us hope they get it good and hard and soon. Pour encourager les autres. Nothing like a Greek tragedy to wake people up.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

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