Author Topic: Most EU countries will hit their 2030 renewable energy targets ahead of time  (Read 3279 times)

rcjordan

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EU blindsided by ‘spectacular’ solar rollout – POLITICO

 23 countries are slated to reach their solar installation targets by 2027

https://www.politico.eu/article/solar-power-global-emissions-climate-crisis-eu-blindsided-by-spectacular-solar-rollout/

BoL

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For me the elephant in the room is the demand when the wind isn't blowing and sun isn't shining. Probably sounds a lot like the greener energy sceptics yet I'm all for it.

But it is an ultimate truth. Without storage and peaker plants energy would be cut off at some point. Maybe part of the answer is forcing the population to accept there's cheap times to use electricity vs expensive. I think that's the best way. Reality is that people have been used to energy for 100 years or so and fossil fuels will be erratically priced from here on in. So take your pick.

Has to be said though, the LCOE of wind and solar and how they've decreased in orders of magnitude, that surely takes care of a lot of the cost angle. Yet it isn't the answer to the problem in itself, something more in terms of storage (and its levelised cost of storage) or alternative generation needs to happen.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2023, 06:50:03 PM by BoL »

Torben

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> For me the elephant in the room is the demand when the wind isn't blowing and sun isn't shining.

Spot on!

In Denmark we have huge wind turbine farms at sea and they often produce a lot more energy than we need. We will keep expanding wind energy and that's great. The problem is that in the winter time we usually have a period of 5 to 15 days where it is cloudy and there is no wind so no green energy.

Normally if there is no wind in Denmark it's probably windy in the UK and green energy will be distributed where needed. But sometimes as we have seen this summer, wheather systems span large parts of Europe and static for at long time. It's not uncommon that large parts of northern Europe have no wind power at the same time.

There is no storage solution for this. We need nuclear power

ergophobe

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>> Probably sounds a lot like the greener energy sceptics

Maybe, but you're also correct. Green energy advocates have long said that once you get past some number (30% or so I think) from intermittent sources, things get more challenging. Beyond 50% they become very challenging without baseline supply from storage or nuclear or gas.

>> often produce a lot more energy than we need.
>> cheap times to use electricity vs expensive

This is a hard problem. Electricity auctions are, I believe, minute by minute and fluctuate massively. There have been days when California has had to *pay* Arizona to take electricity in order to stabilize the grid. In other words, each marginal watt has negative value at a certain point. There have always been fluctuations, but high percentages of intermittent sources make those fluctuations greater.

The flip side is that consumers need a certain amount of predictability. The compromise in my area (PGE, 16 million customers) is that there are expensive and cheap times, but always at the same times of day and the max differential is only about 2.5X ($0.25/kWh vs $0.64/kWh). For most people it's less (those rates are for people with a special EV charging plan with a separately metered charging station; my range in the summer is $0.36 to $0.53, so about 1.5X)

One consequence of this is that if I charge my PHEV at the peak rate on my plan that is the equivalent of $7.68/gallon. Even in California that would be very expensive gas. At summer off-peak rates it's still the equivalent of $5.22/gallon which is cheaper than gas around here, but more expensive that most of California.

Anyway, the point is that even though the price differential between peak and off-peak does not come close to matching the daily price fluctuations, it is a pretty good incentive. Imagine that if you knew that the gas at the gas station would be $5.22 every morning, but $7.68 every evening. You definitely would not fill up in the evening very often. If the price fluctuation matched the actual fluctuation in the market, we'd spend most evenings by candlelight (but the cost of generation is only a small part of our cost, so the consumer price should never have the same massive fluctuations as the energy auction prices).

>>that surely takes care of a lot of the cost angle

Here rates have just gone up and up. The cost of generation is not what drives our prices. It's the distribution system, specifically all the lawsuits to the tune of billions of dollars that PGE has paid due to faulty equipment causing fires and the many many billions more they have to spend to bury lines, upgrade transformers and otherwise make the system less prone to causing fires. The electricity could be free ("too cheap to meter" as they promised in the 1950s) and we would still pay a lot.

This dynamic is likely to play out on Maui as well. These fires will spike their rates.
https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2023-08-17/maui-wildfires-hawaii-climate-change-fossil-fuels-oil-costs

>> There is no storage solution for this.

Many have been proposed. Some have been built (gravity storage for excess power from nuclear plants). Others have been built at a small-scale. A local community lost its power lines in a 2018 fire and PGE did not replace them, but instead built a micro-grid using solar and battery storage. They won't be building a server farm there anytime soon, but it's working for the small community. I don't think storage is impossible, just very hard and very costly, which brings us to...

>> We need nuclear power

We do, but at least in the US, we won't get it, at least not on the timeline we would want in order to meet climate goals. I have no doubt that China could get these built, but not here.

Utility-scale nuclear is way too costly in the US. Georgia just brought a new plant online in March (first since 2016, second since the 1990s), but many think it will be the last large-scale nuclear plant ever built in the US. The project that was expected to cost $14 billion actually cost $34 billion and rather than taking 4 years took 11. Financially, it was a mess for pretty much everyone (except maybe construction workers).
https://apnews.com/article/business-environment-united-states-georgia-atlanta-7555f8d73c46f0e5513c15d391409aa3

Even existing nuclear plants have been getting decommissioned because they cost more to keep online than it costs to build new baseline capacity using natural gas, which can be ramped up and down as well.

The new, small, Gen4 reactors in development show a lot of promise in theory. Bill Gates has made some big bets on this. But so far it's looking like the Gen4 reactors will be available much later than projected and at much higher costs. So we need to build Gen 3 reactors now, but we won't for cost reasons, yet we can't really wait for the Gen 4 reactors to make it through all the hurdles.
https://www.canarymedia.com/articles/nuclear/georgias-big-new-nuclear-reactors-could-be-the-last-built-in-the-us

Well... I guess I'm just a ray of sunshine today. My apoligies. I didn't mean to sound so pessimistic. But these are hard problems and there are no magic spells that will make them go away.

BoL

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> ray of sunshine

On the positive side, there are some countries who are geographically blessed for hydro. Perhaps even run-of-river hydro that are far less prone to intermittency... at least before any major drought.

Canada consistently has 2/3rds or so of its electricity generation from hydro.

Geothermal energy seems to be nascent but potentially could solve a lot of heating requirements.

Hydrogen could be useful for off-grid and heavy industry. A sticking point seems to be that it's not worth deploying the hydrogen generation to take advantage of the occasional times when there's an over abundance of green energy, allowing for green hydrogen. Makes sense, who wants to generate their product only a fraction of the time with the same full CAPEX.

I'm reasonably optimistic. Maybe it requires a step change in our thinking, e.g. load shifting. There's been 100 years of so where people have been blessed with relatively cheap fossil fuels. I can't fault them/us for having that opportunity, clearly something needs to happen just looking at the energy source itself as it's getting more scarce and more costly to acquire.

An ideal-ish solution would be long distance HVDC lines but that plays more into politics and less energy independence for countries. Interesting times for sure.

ergophobe

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>> I'm reasonably optimistic.

Despite my pessimistic and dour post yesterday, I am too actually. I think there's a lot of movement on a lot of fronts. It's a shame we didn't start this in earnest when we first knew there was a problem, but that can't be fixed now. It is genuinely going to be a case of better late than never.

BoL

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>Utility-scale nuclear

Always seems to be the easy answer. Here in the UK, The incumbent government blamed a coalition they had in 2010 for delaying their deployment. Five years later they were in government themselves and 8 years later not much progress.

IMHO there's a Western opulence about it all, an expectancy that it's always there and cheap while the rest of the world are catching up and expect the same quality of life. They're probably willing to work more for it too. Maybe some sacrifices or lifestyle changes are needed.

My footprint is still above the world average, so no room to talk about how others should live their life.

>optimistic

Hopefully the answers are close

rcjordan

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>nuclear

I think the war in Ukraine has put a huge dent in future nuclear power generation because of the national security issues when a country is at war.

Torben

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Sweden is planning to double its nuclear power

rcjordan

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