Craig Morris


About: Born in the United States, Craig Morris (@PPchef) has been living in Germany since 1992. In 2002, he founded Petite Planète, a translation and documentation service focusing on IT and renewables. He is the author of the book Energy Switch (2006) along with numerous articles in both English and German on energy technologies and policies. He writes every workday at Renewables International – and, of course, he is a frequent contributor to the Energiewende Blog.



Posts by this author:

The duck is safely afloat in California

20 Jul 2016   by   Comments (2)

“The duck has landed,” writes California-based energy expert Meredith Fowlie about renewables pushing demand for conventional power at midday below the overnight level. But what Californians call a technical limit is, in reality, a political one, as Craig Morris’s comparison with Germany reveals.

Solar water heating panels and solar photovoltaic panels in Berkely, California

Solar water heating panels and solar photovoltaic panels in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Alfred Twu, edited, CC0 1.0)

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The benefits of community energy in Ontario and elsewhere

14 Jul 2016   by   Comments (1)

The Toronto Renewable Energy Cooperative (TREC) highlights some of the global estimates about payback to communities that allow their citizens to invest in renewable projects. But Craig Morris’s overview of the statistics shows the lack of comparable hard data.

Killean, Puslinch, Ontario

Solar panels on a home in Killean, Puslinch, Ontario. The benefits of community solar are under debate (Photo by Laslovarga, edited, CC BY-SA 4.0)

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Will Germany reach its 2020 target for renewable power this year?

13 Jul 2016   by   Comments (6)

In the first half of 2016, 36.4 percent of the electricity produced in Germany was renewable according to preliminary data. The target for 2020 is only 35 percent – and that figure does not include power exports.  Renewables seem to be cutting into both coal power and nuclear; gas is up. Craig Morris explains.

Wind Turbines in a field (Photo taken somewhere along the DB Bahn ICE route from Hamburg to Berlin, Germany)

German wind turbines; renewables may be on track to achieve its renewable energy targets (Photo by Tony Webster, modified, CC BY 2.0)

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What to do about the disenfranchised? Enfranchise them!

08 Jul 2016   by   Comments (1)

For those of us who call for greater energy democracy, Brexit is a challenge. After all, doesn’t it demonstrate that the public is easy to fool and cannot be trusted to make decisions based on facts rather than emotions? To draw the right conclusions for all of Europe, it helps to understand how the Energiewende strengthened democracy in Germany. Craig Morris calls for more democracy, not less.

Brexit EU flag missing one star

Is Brexit the start of a slippery slope, or the beginning of a renewed focus on citizen needs? It depends on how we react. (Photo by Pexels, modified, CC0 1.0)

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Media silence on urgency of climate change?

29 Jun 2016   by   Comments (5)

Is the media doing a bad job covering climate change and the energy sector? If not, why do so many experts think so? A group of them recently met in Germany to discuss the issue. Between practitioners (journalists) and outsiders (climatologists), what was missing was media analysts. Craig Morris explains.

Dieter Janecek (MdB, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), Gerd Wessling (Co-Autor und Mit-Übersetzer "Einfach. Jetzt. Machen!‟ und Vorstand, Transition Netzwerk e.V, Bielefeld), Foto: www.stephan-roehl.de

Dieter Janecek of the German Green Party has said that there is not media silence on climate change in Germany ( Photo by Stephan Röll, modified, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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German government hands power sector back to energy corporations

24 Jun 2016   by   Comments (0)

The Energiewende is a federal energy policy that started off as a grassroots movement. Just a few years ago, investments in the sector clearly revealed those origins. But amendments implemented in 2014 changed the trend fundamentally. If the government does not address the issue soon, one can only include the outcome is intentional. Craig Morris takes a look.

A lot of modern looking houses with solar cells on their roofs.

A sustainable housing community in Freiburg, Germany. (Photo by Andrewglaser, modified, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Is Denmark the real energy transition leader globally?

17 Jun 2016   by   Comments (0)

For decades, the Danes have been an inspiration to and role model for German and independent proponents. But the story of what they specifically get right is not well understood in the English-speaking world. Now, American journalist Justin Gerdes has filled that gap with a short Kindle book. Craig Morris says it’s a must-read.

Von der Küste aus sind Windräder im Meer zu sehen, im Vordergrund ein kleines Haus

Germany gets all the attention with its Energiewende, but who do the Germans pay attention to? Denmark.(Photo by CGP Grey, modified, CC BY 2.0)

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Amendments to German Renewable Energy Act (EEG) take shape

13 Jun 2016   by   Comments (3)

Last Wednesday, the German cabinet finalized the details of what will become known as the EEG 2016. An astonishingly wide range of commenters agree on one thing: it’s bad. By Craig Morris.

Windräder auf einer Wiese

In the negotiations about the German EEG 2016, the biggest battle was about wind energy. (Photo by Dirk Ingo Franke, modified, CC BY-SA 1.0)

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French nuclear under pressure – from German renewables?

03 Jun 2016   by   Comments (8)

In late May, strikes reduced nuclear power production in France. Yet even more plants were offline a few weeks earlier without any strikes at all. German and European renewable electricity may have been one reason why France switched off so many nuclear plants that weekend. Craig Morris takes a look.

The nuclear power plant in Paluel, France.

On March 31, the nuclear plant Paluel 2 “just barely escaped catastrophe,” as Le Parisien put it. (Photo by Bodoklecksel, modfied, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Is Denmark slowing down its energy transition?

01 Jun 2016   by   Comments (4)

The Danes announced plans in May to cut back on the cost and speed of their energy transition. The debate sounds practically identical to the one in Germany, where the government also aims to slow down its Energiewende. But a Danish expert says Denmark remains on course. Craig Morris investigates.

The statue of "the little mermaid" in Copenhagen

The Danish government in Copenhagen plans to fund renewables trough taxes rather than through electricity consumption. (Public domain)

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German legislators fight over policy rollback on renewables

25 May 2016   by   Comments (3)

This month, the German government met with state representatives but failed to reach an agreement. The second meeting is scheduled for May 31. At the moment, both sides have simply agreed to disagree. Berlin wants to dramatically slow down the energy transition, and some states will have none of it. Craig Morris explains.

A onshore wind farm in Lower Saxony, Germany

Onshore wind power – the cheapest source of renewable electricity in Germany by far. (Photo by Philip May, modified, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Pushback against onshore wind power in Germany gets real

23 May 2016   by   Comments (1)

Up to now, public support for wind power has been very strong in Germany. But recent changes to German law have encouraged local groups that oppose wind farms. The relegation of competence from the national to the state level means that smaller groups have a larger impact. Craig Morris explains.

Two wind turbines, a blue and cloudy sky, in the left top corner a bird.

Have wind turbines become the main killer of birds? (Public domain)

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EU court rules against Berlin in dispute with Brussels over renewables policy

19 May 2016   by   Comments (1)

Last week, the EU General Court sided with the European Commission in all respects. At issue were German feed-in tariffs and the industry exemption to the surcharge that finances them. Craig Morris spoke with two of Germany’s experts on the issue: Severin Fischer and Matthias Lang.

A red building, it's the European Court of Justice.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg. (Photo by Cédric Puisney, modified, CC BY 2.0)

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Understanding record-low 3-cent solar in Dubai in context

12 May 2016   by   Comments (1)

In April, a renewable energy auction in the United Arab Emirates produced an astonishingly low price. At 2.99 cents per kilowatt-hour, solar power suddenly costs half as much as it did a year ago. It has thus practically reached the level experts hoped for 2030. Craig Morris explains.

The skyline of the city Dubai from a helicopter.

A winning bid of a record-low 5.8 cents in Dubai drew international attention in late 2014. (Photo by Tim.Reckmann, modified, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Germany nearly reached 100 percent renewable power on Sunday

11 May 2016   by   Comments (12)

After surpassing 80 percent renewable electricity for a few hours last year, Germany may have briefly reached around 95 percent on May 8. But the news is not only cause for celebration – a boundary has also been crossed. We are now entering the hard territory. Craig Morris explains.

A grassland and windmills

For a few hours, renewable electricty in Germany reched a new peak on Sunday. (Photo by Dirk Ingo Franke, modified, CC BY-SA 1.0)

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German public became educated, not fearful, after Chernobyl

02 May 2016   by   Comments (2)

Six months after the Chernobyl accident, Klaus Müschen and Erika Romberg – two researchers at the newly founded Öko-Institut – summarized previously published energy scenarios on nuclear in the institute’s Energiewende book entitled Electricity without nuclear. Craig Morris takes a look.

People are demonstrating and holding a banner which says "No to nuclear energy" in German.

The German Greens had proposed a nuclear phase-out in 1984 in the Bundestag. (Photo by Bündnis 90/Die Grünen Nordrhein-Westfalen, modified, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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German PV auctions reach record low price, but most bids still lose

27 Apr 2016   by   Comments (3)

Germany completed its fourth round of auctions for ground-mounted photovoltaics this month, and the government is pleased with the outcome in light of the continued falling prices. The Undersecretary in Germany’s Energy Ministry also speaks of “intense competition” as a positive outcome. The other side of that coin is a lot of losing bids – not to mention those who didn’t bother to take part. Craig Morris explains.

PV Installation

PV has never been so cheap in Germany: the price has fallen to 7.4 cents . (Photo by Wayne National Forest, CC BY 2.0)

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Nuclear written off before Chernobyl

26 Apr 2016   by   Comments (0)

30 years ago, Chernobyl made the public fear radioactivity, thereby setting back the progress of nuclear technology – most articles you read today about the accident probably say something along those lines. For Craig Morris, that reading is a major accomplishment for the nuclear sector. The real story looks much worse.

Monument and the reactor number 4 under the so-called sarcophag.

Reactor 4 under the “sarcophag” with the monument in front of it. (Photo by Tila Monto, modified, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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First stirrings of call for ban on non-EVs in Germany

22 Apr 2016   by   Comments (3)

Don’t add Germany to the list of countries officially considering banning sales of cars running on gasoline or diesel just yet. But several prominent people are pushing the government to take steps in this direction. One of them is Energiewende Undersecretary Rainer Baake. Craig Morris explains.

Traffic jam on a freeway in Germany.

Cars running on diesel or gasoline – are they going to be banned soon in Germany? (Photo by Radosław Drożdżewski, modified, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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California has too much coal and nuclear

18 Apr 2016   by   Comments (5)

“Texas and California have too much renewable energy,” writes Technology Review this month. “California has too much solar power,” Vox.com chimes in. Nonsense, says Craig Morris, a political arrangement is being passed off as a technical issue. Stop protecting nuclear and coal; get rid of baseload.

Windmills in California with a sunset in the background.

Is there too much wind and solar power in California? (Photo by Tony Webster, modified, CC BY 3.0)

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Energiewende: killing the right industries

06 Apr 2016   by   Comments (7)

A new piece by German economics daily Handelsblatt claims to shed light on the “dark side” of “Germany’s massive push into renewable energy.” It comes across as a strained attempt to find a cloud hidden behind a giant silver lining. But despite covering the topic quite broadly (the article has around 2,000 words), the article is nonetheless unbalanced: the examples given are unconvincing; the gaps, glaring. By Craig Morris.

People are preparing for a demonstration for the energytransition in front of the main station in Berlin.

Many people in Germany regularly demonstrate for the Energiewende and more renewables. A new Handelsblatt-article is now giving the impression, the Energiewende is killing industries. (Photo by Molgreen, modified, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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RWE splits into two

01 Apr 2016   by   Comments (1)

On April 1, German coal power giant RWE split into two companies: one, containing conventional energy; the other, renewables. Craig Morris explains.

The blue letters RWE on a high building, next to it a tree.

Utility RWE follows E.On and splits into two different companies: One for nuclear, gas and coal and one for renewables, grids and sales. (Photo by HOWI, modified, CC-BY-3.0)

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Why people come together in community projects

24 Mar 2016   by   Comments (2)

How can public acceptance of utility projects be increased? Policymakers want to allow citizens to invest in such projects, but the focus is insufficient. Citizens want more than just financial benefits. By Craig Morris.

Community-renewables

People come together in cooperatives to do the right thing, get to know each other, and create a sense of community. (Photo by Black Rock Solar, modified, CC BY 2.0)

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Global energy transition conference bigger than ever

22 Mar 2016   by   Comments (0)

On Thursday and Friday last week, the German Foreign Office invited dignitaries, business people, and the press to the second Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue. The event was roughly 50 percent larger than in the previous year. And once again, it revealed that not all decision-makers are on the same page when it comes to the global energy transition. Craig Morris explains.

WP_20160317_09_11_00_Pro_LI

Last year, the Energy Dialogue drew some 900 visitors, roughly twice as many as the organizers originally hoped for. This year, 1,300 people came. The main hall was bursting at the seams, so the discussions were streamed on large screens in adjacent rooms. Photo: Craig Morris.

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German coal is worthless

17 Mar 2016   by   Comments (6)

Vattenfall has failed to find a buyer for its coal assets in Germany. The focus is now on alternative models, such as a fund to protect workers. Craig Morris explains.

The coal power plant Jänschwalde

The coal power plant Jänschwalde was visited by German cabinet minister Peter Altmaier on March 11, 2016. (Photo by J.-H. Janßen, modified, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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German retail power rate stable as share of renewables increases

09 Mar 2016   by   Comments (1)

For the past four years, the average retail power rate in Germany has been stable, even though the share of renewable electricity rose from nearly 25 percent to 32.5 percent. Clearly, renewables are now so competitive that fast growth no longer has a major cost impact – not even in Germany. Craig Morris explains.

Offshore wind park in the middle of the sea.

Altough Germany prioritizes the more expensive offshore wind, the cost increase in the country is over. (Photo by Kim Hansen, modified, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Did French officials downplay nuclear incident? Is French media now?

07 Mar 2016   by   Comments (8)

Last week, German media reported that the shutdown of a reactor in Fessenheim, France, should have been classified at a level of greater danger. While the German media focus on the event itself, French media have turned the issue into a “he said, she said” dispute. The coverage reveals the tradition of transparency in Germany – and the lack thereof in France. By Craig Morris.

The nuclear power plant in Fessenheim

The nuclear power plant Fessenheim at the French-German border. (Photo by Florival Fr, modified, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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What will the nuclear phase-in eventually cost Germany?

03 Mar 2016   by   Comments (2)

For months, Germany has been debating how to cover the cost of the country’s nuclear waste repositories. Just when you think an agreement has been reached, more proposals are put on the table. Craig Morris explains.

German energy sector historian Joachim Radkau is giving a speech next to a big screen with a presentation.

German energy sector historian Joachim Radkau says German utilities, originally skeptical of nuclear, were offered limited liability in order to enter the sector in the 1960s. Now, it seems their liability for decommissioning and disposal might also be limited when they leave the sector. Photo: Craig Morris

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Can utilities be trusted with the energy transition?

23 Feb 2016   by   Comments (6)

Utilities that invest heavily in renewables outside of their territory often show little interest to do so at home. Craig Morris takes a look.

Behind a field of solar power cells there are a some windmills.

In 2014, NextEraEnergy claimed to be the “world’s largest generator of renewable energy from wind and the sun.” (Photo by Brian Robert Marshall, modified, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Germany – a nuclear fusion leader

18 Feb 2016   by   Comments (5)

The news of the recent successful plasma experiment at a nuclear fusion research facility in Germany went wild on social media, but a lot of people wondered what kind of sense it makes for a country with a nuclear phase-out to be conducting research in nuclear fusion. In fact, Germany is a leader in nuclear fusion in two ways. Craig Morris explains.

Nuclear-Fusion

80 million degrees Celsius in a bottle. (Photo by Damien Jemison/LLNL, modified, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Low oil prices hit German pellet giant

16 Feb 2016   by   Comments (0)

A company called German Pellets has filed for insolvency. As recently as 2013, it was the largest pellet producer in the world. Low oil prices were given as one reason for this development, but that’s not all. Craig Morris reports.

(Photo by Dierk Schaefer, modified, CC BY 2.0)

Low oil and gas prices have put renewable heat under pressure – but the problems at German Pellets are to be found in-house. (Photo by Dierk Schaefer, modified, CC BY 2.0)

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Gas makes a (small) comeback in Germany

11 Feb 2016   by   Comments (1)

Natural gas is considered a better complement to wind and solar power than coal or nuclear both in terms of the flexibility of gas turbines and carbon emissions. But gas prices in Germany have remained high in recent years, and the carbon price has been too low to incentivize a switch from coal to gas. Now, there are signs that gas turbines are once again profitable. Craig Morris reports.

HKW_Nossener_Brucke,_Dresden,_Germany

The low gas price is making natural gas profitable even at a very low number of operating hours. (Photo by Marek Ślusarczyk, modified, CC BY 3.0)

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Wind and solar power boom worldwide

04 Feb 2016   by   Comments (0)

Global installation figures are rolling in for wind and PV, and they look fantastic. The future is also bright: the forecast is for further growth. Single countries used to dominate these markets, but increasingly everyone is building. In fact, developing countries now invest more in renewables than the developed world does. Craig Morris takes a look.

Renewables_Thailand

With their large capacity added, the big countries get all the attention. But there is a renewable energy movement everywhere. (Photo by Asian Development Bank, modified, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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2015 was second biggest year ever for wind installations in Germany

02 Feb 2016   by   Comments (0)

We recently wrote about record wind power production in 2015, which was partly due to windy conditions. But a lot of new capacity was also added. Unfortunately, the rush reflects the storm before the calm; the onshore sector in particular fears the switch to auctions. Craig Morris explains.

Turbine-construction

Germany now has around 41.7 gigawatts of wind power installed, equivalent to more than half of peak power demand. (Photo by Jumanji Solar, modified, CC BY 2.0)

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German government is happy with PV auctions

28 Jan 2016   by   Comments (3)

Two weeks ago, the German Energy Ministry published its official review of the first three rounds of pilot auctions for ground-mounted PV. It is already clear that the policy will be expanded – the shortcomings of the auctions are not even mentioned. Craig Morris investigates.

The renewables sector, which community projects have dominated up to now, is currently being handed back to conventional energy companies. (Photo by Jan Boedecker, modified, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Is renewable electricity now driving coal prices?

26 Jan 2016   by   Comments (8)

It’s official: more money was invested in renewables and more generation capacity added in 2015 than ever before. Conventional wisdom has always been that low fossil fuel prices would make renewables uncompetitive even as the cost of renewable energy continues to drop. In that view, fossil fuel prices drive investments in renewables. It’s not happening, however, so maybe it’s time to consider the reverse paradigm: renewables driving fossil fuel prices. Craig Morris investigates.

Coal prices are at rock bottom, and coal companies have been hurt badly. (Photo by Marcel Oosterwijk, modified, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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How Germany helped bring down the cost of PV

20 Jan 2016   by   Comments (2)

A new study published by the Öko-Institut investigates Germany’s historical expenses for renewable electricity – and solar power in particular. In passing, the study highlights Germany’s contribution to the current low price of solar power worldwide. Craig Morris looks into the matter.

Solarfeld_Erlasee,_1

“The Germans were not really buying power — they were buying a price decline,” Hal Harvey, a US clean energy expert. (Photo by Rainer Lippert)

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2015: Germany’s record wind year

18 Jan 2016   by   Comments (2)

Last year, wind power production in Germany increased by around 50 percent – and the country already had the third largest fleet of wind turbines worldwide. But the biggest improvement is in minimum power production. Your German word for the day is “Dunkelflaute.” Craig Morris reports.

Prinses_Amalia_windmolenpark_4

2015 was the first year of significant offshore wind power production in Germany. (Photo by Ad Meskens, modified, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Can Germany reach its renewables target for the energy sector for 2020?

14 Jan 2016   by   Comments (6)

Last week, we discussed changes in the German power sector in 2015, particularly how Germany is scheduled to overshoot its target for green electricity. Today, we focus on all energy (power, heat, and motor fuels). To our surprise, the target of 18 percent renewable energy by 2020 is not out of reach. Craig Morris explains.

The progress in 2015 – an increase of possibly 1.8 percentage points – would be the largest in history if our calculation proves accurate. (Photo by Florian Gerlach, modified, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Germany is 20 years away from 100 percent renewable power – not!

05 Jan 2016   by   Comments (12)

In 2015, Germany added more renewable electricity than ever before in a single year, bringing the share of green power in total supply up to 33 percent. But the government seems keen on slowing down this growth. What is really happening? Craig Morris investigates.

German_Government_Renewables

Germany would only need another two decades to reach 100 percent renewable power – theoretically. (Photos by SteKrueBe, modified, CC BY-SA 3.0 and Marie-Christine Schindler, modified, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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What happens during windstorms in Germany?

23 Dec 2015   by   Comments (2)

In 2004, Germany adopted a target of 20 percent renewable power by 2020. Critics thought it would be hard to reach. But five years before that deadline, renewables rarely fall below the old target, which has since been raised. Craig Morris takes a look.

Belwind

The level of 20 percent renewable electricity production – once thought hard to reach by 2020 – has become hard to fall below in 2015. (Photo by Hans Hillewaert, modified, CC BY-SA 4.0)

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Is the German nuclear phase-out fundamentally botched?

21 Dec 2015   by   Comments (0)

A recent editorial at Reuters charged that German nuclear policy is uncoordinated, particularly because the cost of nuclear waste disposal is still unclear. In reality, Merkel’s 2011 phase-out was a return to a former plan only briefly abandoned. And Germany’s phase-out budget looks pretty good internationally. Craig Morris explains.

640px-Kernkraftwerk_Mülheim-Kärlich_2012

The nuclear decommissioning and repository fund is the original sin of Germany’s nuclear phase-out. (Photo by Holger Weinandt, modified, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE)

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Europe is ready for the winter – except Poland

14 Dec 2015   by   Comments (8)

The Poles have limited power imports from Germany in order to reduce “loop flows” through the country. Now, grid experts at the European Network of Transmission System Operators (Entso-e) warn that the country may no longer have generation and power import capacity to meet demand. By Craig Morris.

Poland has set up phase shifters to limit the amount of electricity coming from Germany. (Photo by the_riel_thing, modified, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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Who is the “cold man of Europe”?

11 Dec 2015   by   Comments (2)

Energy poverty is sometimes held to be related to renewable energy. In reality, the cost of fossil energy for heat and motor fuels plays a larger role – as do general poverty levels. Most of all, statistics are hard to compare, and Germany combats poverty, not merely “energy poverty.” Craig Morris takes a look.

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Reliable data about actual disconnections is simply not available. (Photo by Lablascovegmenu, modified, CC BY 2.0)

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100 percent renewables in 139 countries

09 Dec 2015   by   Comments (6)

Stanford’s Mark Jacobson and Mark Delucchi made headlines at the end of November for their pronouncement that 100 percent renewable energy is possible in most countries. The publication came out in time for the COP 21 conference in Paris. The findings do not overlap with what researchers in Germany publish. Craig Morris explains.

3594164_9f21d08d

Two Frauenhofer studies produced numbers far from what the Stanford researchers reached. (Photo by Mat Fascione, modified, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Wind power ties for #1 electricity source in November

02 Dec 2015   by   Comments (4)

[UPDATE] Record wind power production put German wind farms in the pole position last month, though critics will still complain that two types of coal counted separately should be counted together. By Craig Morris.

Wind turbines on Fichtelberg, Germany

In Germany, wind power generation reached unknown heights this November.

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The new Coal Atlas

25 Nov 2015   by   Comments (0)

Friends of the Earth International and the Heinrich Böll Foundation (which runs this website) have joined forces to produce an international version of the Coal Atlas originally published in German earlier this year. Craig Morris reports.

Coal Atlas

The Coal Atlas offers insights into the role, risks and future of coal in energy systems around the world.

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Renewable power curtailment skyrockets in Germany

23 Nov 2015   by   Comments (3)

The German Network Agency has published an overview of power curtailment in 2014. While the level has reached a new high, it is still in line with what is normal in other countries. Craig Morris takes a look.

Wind Turbines and power lines

Particularly for wind power, curtailment can become an issue. (Photo by High Contrast, modified, CC BY 3.0 DE)

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What the US Keystone protests and the German nuclear phase-out have in common

19 Nov 2015   by   Comments (0)

People who want to change the world need to understand why some campaigns are successful while others aren’t. One US commentator has investigated the Keystone campaign’s success in this respect. The overlapping with the German nuclear phase-out is salient. By Craig Morris.

Keystone and nuclear protests

The anti-Keystone movement and the German anti-nuclear movement share a lot of characteristics that allowed both movements to ultimately succeed. (Photos by tarsandaction/Emma Cassidy, CC BY 2.0 & Hans Weingartz, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE, modified)

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What will the Energiewende cost?

18 Nov 2015   by   Comments (8)

Researchers from Fraunhofer ISE have published a new report investigating the net cost of Germany’s energy transition. The good news is that the German government’s current goals are likely to be affordable. The bad news is that 100 percent renewable energy is less so.

Cost calculation

In terms of cost, there is a huge difference between an 85% and a 100% renewable energy system.

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How lax EU standards could enter the US

17 Nov 2015   by   Comments (0)

Europeans fear that the TTIP free trade agreement between the United States and the EU would water down their environmental standards, but the recent diesel emissions scandal shows that the opposite could be the case. Craig Morris explains.

Car Pollution

Coming to a street near you: lax European car emission standards. (Photo by
Simone Ramella, CC BY 2.0)

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If Germany had four times more solar…

16 Nov 2015   by   Comments (6)

Germany is the country with the most photovoltaics installed worldwide. A new study now says that solar in combination with batteries would allow a lot more PV to be installed. Craig Morris says the investigation confirms his worst fears.

Battery Storage

Battery storage for PV can provide benefits to individual households – but is it actually economically desirable on the grid level?

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Slippery slope towards French nuclear phaseout

13 Nov 2015   by   Comments (3)

Like all Western countries, France has an aging fleet of nuclear reactors. If it does not extend the service lives of its existing fleet, it will have to build new reactors. Otherwise, the country will have an undeclared nuclear phaseout. Craig Morris explains.

Gravelines Nuclear Power Plant Control Room

The technology of the 1970s – today: Nuclear Power Plant in Gravelines, France. (Photo by Serge Ottaviani, modified, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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German power exports more valuable than imports

12 Nov 2015   by   Comments (1)

Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) has added a new section on power trading to its Energy Charts website. Craig Morris says it dispels the myth that Germany is dumping excess renewable electricity on neighboring countries at low prices.

Power Lines

Germany is not giving away free electricity, in fact its net exports earn the country almost €2 billion.

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Low gas prices as opportunity for environmental taxation

04 Nov 2015   by   Comments (0)

Germany’s eco-tax was successful, but it has not been updated for 12 years. Environmental economists met in Berlin in September to discuss “ecological basic income.” Craig Morris reports.

Gas station nozzle

Tax the bads, not the goods. (Photo by REK / pixelio.de)

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Greenpeace wants to buy German coal fields

02 Nov 2015   by   Comments (2)

Swedish utility Vattenfall is looking for a buyer for its lignite assets in Germany. In addition to interest from the Czech Republic, environmentalists would like to take over the assets – in order to leave them in the ground. Craig Morris reports.

Open pit mine Nochten

Vattenfall-owned open pit mine in Saxony. Greenpeace wants to invest here in order to divest. (Photo by Julian Nitzsche, modified, CC BY-SA 4.0)

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German power outage only once every four years

30 Oct 2015   by   Comments (0)

The German government has announced the (modest) progress being made with grid expansions. Further delays are expected. Nonetheless, German electricity reliability remains at a high level. But what about those reports of grid operators frantically intervening to prevent blackouts? Craig Morris reports.

Grid expansion in Germany

Even without the planned grid expansions, Germany has one of the most reliable grids worldwide. (Photo by Alexrk2, modified, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Germany hardly needs industry demand management

28 Oct 2015   by   Comments (0)

As in other countries, German industry can be asked to change power consumption in order to stabilize the grid. Now, it turns out that the policy option is used so seldom that it is to be done away with – another sign that the concern about fluctuating renewables on the grid may be exaggerated. Craig Morris reports.

Flexible Demand vs. Baseload

Energy generation is fluctuating more due to renewables – one way to deal with this is demand management. But currently, the market for industry demand management is not big enough.

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The right lessons from the Energiewende

21 Oct 2015   by   Comments (2)

Foreign onlookers are interested to know what lessons can be learned from Germany’s energy transition. In a recent article, a German energy sector executive drew conclusions for the outside world themselves. Craig Morris can’t follow the logic.

“In Germany right now, you see a market distorted by political changes, unpredictable changes” – really?(Photo by David Iliff (http://bit.ly/1RUy5vd), modified, CC BY-SA 3.0)

“In Germany right now, you see a market distorted by political changes, unpredictable changes” – really? (Photo by David Iliff, modified, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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German renewable energy surcharge – record high or stable?

19 Oct 2015   by   Comments (2)

Last week, Germany’s four transit grid operators announced the renewable energy surcharge for 2016. The reactions to it show how confusing the whole matter has become. Craig Morris reports.

Offshore wind is the most expensive renewable power source in Germany - nevertheless, it is promoted on a large scale (Photo by Rob Farrow (http://bit.ly/1kjE7dv), modified, CC BY-SA 2.0)

The renewable energy surcharge will rise to 6.35 cents per kWh. Offshore wind remains the most expensive renewable energy source. (Photo by Rob Farrow, modified, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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The demise of coal in Germany and globally

15 Oct 2015   by   Comments (6)

Germany opened a giant coal plant last month, but little is in the pipeline at present. Worldwide, coal faces a bleak future – somewhat unexpectedly. Craig Morris reports.

Global trade prices for coal have fallen even more than the price of oil (Photo by Hubert Berberich (http://bit.ly/1Own5W4), modified, CC BY 3.0)

Global trade prices for coal have fallen even more than the price of oil (Photo by Hubert Berberich, modified, CC BY 3.0)

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0.07 percent of German electricity comes from fresh timber

14 Oct 2015   by   Comments (1)

Charges that Germany is cutting down its own and possibly the world’s forests for its Energiewende continue to crop up. But it turns out that the amount used to generate power is small – and almost all of it seems to be waste recovery. Craig Morris looks into the issue.

It is important to differentiate between waste wood and fresh timber. (Photo by Dan Hogben, modified, CC BY 2.0)

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Does Germany even have enough space for renewables?

12 Oct 2015   by   Comments (0)

A new study finds that Germany has physical space for roughly 50 percent more onshore wind capacity than the country would need for 100 percent green electricity – and the official target is only 80 percent. Craig Morris takes a look.

Sheep grazing below a ground-mounted solar array in Bavaria: people who say solar arrays and wind farms take up space should remember dual usage. (Photo by Craig Morris)

Sheep grazing below a ground-mounted solar array in Bavaria: people who say solar arrays and wind farms take up space should remember dual usage. (Photo by Craig Morris)

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The co-benefits of community energy

08 Oct 2015   by   Comments (1)

Proponents of renewables (including this website) often praise “energy democracy.” Nonetheless, hard data on the benefits are few and far between. Now, a new study provides an overview. Craig Morris reports.

Do community projects provide greater returns to locals than utility projects? (Photo by naturalflow (https://www.flickr.com/photos/vizpix/4544572654/in/photolist-7VA87W-f3i9Zs), modified, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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The VW scandal is an opportunity for the Energiewende

01 Oct 2015   by   Comments (2)

Some foreign onlookers predict that Volkswagen’s emissions fraud will discredit German climate efforts. German climate campaigners see the event as an opportunity to bring the energy transition to the transport sector, as Craig Morris writes.

Volkswagen Scandal

How big of a problem is the Volkswagen scandal really? Could it be an opportunity for the Energiewende? (Photo by Christopher Dombres, modified, CC BY 2.0)

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Are we losing Denmark next?

30 Sep 2015   by   Comments (4)

The news has hardly been reported in English yet, but the new conservative governing coalition elected in Denmark this summer plans to abandon the country’s ambitious targets for a carbon-free economy. The move could provide a precedent for Germany. Craig Morris reports.

Is Copenhagen abandoning Denmark's climate goals? (Photo by Alyson Hurt (https://www.flickr.com/photos/alykat/), modified, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Is Copenhagen abandoning Denmark’s climate goals? (Photo by Alyson Hurt (https://www.flickr.com/photos/alykat/), modified, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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New German cogeneration proposals

24 Sep 2015   by   Comments (1)

Germany’s energy transition is mainly one thing: an electricity transition. Little is happening with transportation and heat. Now, the German government has proposed new rules for cogeneration. Craig Morris says the reception can be summed up in one word: disappointing.

Mini-Cogeneration plant

Municipal cogeneration plants aren’t only efficient, they can also look elegant, as this plant in Swabia proves. (Photo by Bene16, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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German support for renewables high, low for nuclear and coal

22 Sep 2015   by   Comments (0)

A recent survey conducted among the German public finds continuing support for the Energiewende. Furthermore, only a third said the cost was too high. Craig Morris says a closer look also reveals that people who already have systems close by are less likely to oppose them.

Acceptance of solar power

Solar power plants enjoy the highest support of all electricity generation systems – particularly from those ones living close-by. (Photo by Ben Cavanna, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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UK: next renewable energy market to go?

10 Sep 2015   by   Comments (2)

In a recent blog post, Craig Morris talked about how the Spanish and Italian wind and solar markets have recently collapsed. Today, he turns his attention to the UK, where the future also looks bleak. And he says renewable energy campaigners should demand “fair payment” and reject the term “subsidy.”

Windfarm in Scotland

The UK’s government is destroying the country’s renewable industry. (Photo by David Skinner, CC BY 2.0)

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Happy with 25 percent wind and solar? The case of Italy and Spain

09 Sep 2015   by   Comments (1)

While the world celebrates unprecedented renewable capacity additions, there are clear signs that this growth stops for wind and solar at a small share of the market. Italy and Spain are perfect examples for this, explains Craig Morris.

PV installation in Italy near Recanati

Italy’s PV market has come to a screeching halt. (Photo by gianni del bufalo, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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28 billion annually for the Energiewende?

02 Sep 2015   by   Comments (2)

A new study is making the rounds. It puts the price tag for renewable electricity higher than ever before. And it makes the same mistake as other high estimates – no subsequent savings are subtracted from these calculations. What happens if we do that? Craig Morris investigates.

If you want to calculate the system cost of the Energiewende, you can't only look at expenses.

If you want to calculate the net cost of the Energiewende, you can’t only look at expenses, you have to look at the savings too.

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Switzerland and Denmark: two hubs of power trading

31 Aug 2015   by   Comments (2)

The Swiss and Danish electricity sectors have quite a bit in common. Both are flooded with electricity from all sides. Yet, their power mixes are very different. The Danes have mainly wind and coal; the Swiss, primarily nuclear and hydro. The power lines were mainly built for coal and nuclear. Craig Morris takes a look.

Both Denmark and Switzerland act as intermediaries for power trade .

Both Denmark and Switzerland act as central intermediaries for European power trade (Photo by Katie Strandlund, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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Switzerland temporarily nuclear-free

27 Aug 2015   by   Comments (2)

In August, the fifth of five nuclear plants in Switzerland went off-line, but only for two days. There were no blackouts. Craig Morris investigates.

Leibstadt, Switzerland

Swiss turned off all its nuclear power plants – and the lights stayed on. (Photo by Hansueli Krapf, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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How the European power sector copes during the heat wave

26 Aug 2015   by   Comments (0)

The summer is drawing to a close in Europe, and it was one of the hottest ever. Thermal power plants (coal and nuclear) had to ramp down production in numerous countries due to a lack of cooling water, but the heat also affected solar power production. Craig Morris reports.

Low water level in river Rhine, August 2015

Low water levels and high temperatures, as the Middle Rhine experienced them this August, can force thermal power plants to reduce their output or shut down completely. (Photo by Franz Ferdinand Photography, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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Earth to Gates: we are good to go

24 Aug 2015   by   Comments (4)

Billionaire Bill Gates claimed this summer that breakthroughs are needed for the energy transition and that funding should be diverted from current technologies towards R&D. Craig Morris wonders what would have become of Microsoft if we had waited for Ultrabooks before buying computers.

Computing in the 1980s

If you always wait for the next big thing to go on sale, you will never actually purchase any piece of technology. But if we hadn’t purchased the computers shown above, we wouldn’t have gotten the great stuff we use today.

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How France could go nearly 100 percent renewable

20 Aug 2015   by   Comments (2)

French think tank négaWatt published a study back in 2011 investigating how the country could switch almost completely to renewable energy. Now, the analysis and an overview of charts has been made available in English. Craig Morris investigates.

Picnic in Paris

Parisians know best that not having a car but spending time with friends instead can be pretty luxurious. (Photo by Gideon, CC BY 2.0)

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Climate protesters shut down German lignite field

18 Aug 2015   by   Comments (0)

Over the weekend, protesters entered coalfields outside of Cologne as a part of the Ende Gelände campaign (loosely translated: “terminal terrain”). The goal is to “keep coal in the ground.” Craig Morris wonders if the event, which unfortunately became violent, is the beginning of a successful divestment movement.

#EndeGelaende

Stop digging, keep it in the ground! (Photo by Tim Wagner, 350.org, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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German offshore wind progress

17 Aug 2015   by   Comments (0)

In the first half of 2015, more offshore wind power capacity was added in Germany than the country previously had. The government is reportedly considering raising its target for 2020. Craig Morris explains.

Offshore wind park in front of Borkum

Germany already has a total of 668 offshore wind turbines. (Photo by eLKayPics, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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Blacked out German grid

12 Aug 2015   by   Comments (2)

German think tank Agora Energiewende has produced a paper showing the lack of transparency for grid data. Proponents of distributed renewable energy have complained for years that they cannot verify the need for new grid lines. Craig Morris explains.

Grid Expansion

If possible grid expansions are to enjoy political legitimacy, the necessity for new grid lines has to be made transparent. (Photo by Ralph Kuehnl, CC BY 2.0)

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How small German power consumers subsidize industry

10 Aug 2015   by   Comments (5)

German retail power rates are high, but industry electricity prices are low. A recent comparison of countries bordering the Netherlands reveals what an outlier Germany is. Craig Morris investigates.

Residential houses in front of lignite power plant Niederaußem

In Germany, residential consumers finance the cheap power prices of industrial consumers. (Photo by Achim Raschka, CC-BY-SA-3.0)

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New charts for 2015 – and evidence that the cost debate is over

06 Aug 2015   by   Comments (4)

As a part of our annual update, we have created a few new charts and updated some old ones. The Energiewende story has also been updated to reflect the latest data and policy developments from 2014. Craig Morris focuses on a single chart today. Since October, the underlying analysis could have been updated, but – tellingly – no one has seen fit to do so.

Critics of the Energiewende only cared about the social equity of power prices as long as it suited their agenda. (Uwe Schlick  / pixelio.de)

Critics of the Energiewende only cared about power prices and their impact on social equity as long as it suited their agenda. (Uwe Schlick / pixelio.de)

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Did German solar top nuclear for the first time?

03 Aug 2015   by   Comments (5)

In July, Germany may have had more solar power than nuclear power for the first time in history – much sooner than anyone expected. It was a close race, and nuclear is likely to retake the lead for the foreseeable future. Craig Morris explains.

Green power

Solar beat nuclear in a photo-finish.


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Energy prices not making Germany uncompetitive

30 Jul 2015   by   Comments (3)

Most of the talk about high energy prices in Germany focuses only on retail electricity rates. But firms pay different power prices, and their expenses on energy may focus more on fossil fuels for heat than electricity. Furthermore, German labor is expensive and may often be a bigger budget item than energy. Craig Morris summarizes the findings of two recent studies.

Assembly line at Audi Ingolstadr

Germany exported as many goods in 2014 as never before. (Copyright: AUDI AG )

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Renewables briefly covered 78 percent of German electricity

28 Jul 2015   by   Comments (10)

On July 25, Germany surpassed the old record of 74 percent renewable electricity. But perhaps the most interesting aspect is power trading between France and Germany on that day. Craig Morris explains.

Wind and solar

Lots of sun + lots of wind = new record.  (Photo by bby_, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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Divestment blueprint

27 Jul 2015   by   Comments (1)

The Carbon Tracker Initiative and Energy Transition Advisors recently published recommendations for fossil fuel companies to manage a future in which their assets will be stranded. Craig Morris investigates.

Carbon emissions

Stranded assets vs. stranded humanity.

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“5 megatrends” for a global energy transition

21 Jul 2015   by   Comments (7)

The WWF and German renewable power provider Lichtblick have joined forces to produce an overview of five ways in which the entire world is transitioning to renewables. Craig Morris reviews the five megatrends, which were published only in German.

Renewable megatrends

You’ll never believe number five!

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No business case for lots of wind and solar

15 Jul 2015   by   Comments (6)

In recent years, the increasing competitiveness of wind and solar power has been widely hailed. But there is a cloud to this silver lining – power production does not match power demand. As a result, the actual value of wind and solar power will decrease as we get more of it. Craig Morris says policymakers should pay attention.

Solar power and the grid

The more solar and wind power we have, the more important it becomes to match power demand.

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German government adopts watered-down carbon plan

02 Jul 2015   by   Comments (0)

The plan to implement a sort of national carbon emissions trading scheme specifically to clamp down on electricity from lignite is now officially dead. Last night, the German government adopted a different plan with a broader focus. Aside from the coal sector, no one seems to like it. Craig Morris investigates.

Coal Protest

300.000 signatures for a coal phase-out and a number of protests didn’t help: The German government gave in to coal interests. (Photo by Christian Mang / Campact, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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Biomass – the growth is over in Germany

01 Jul 2015   by   Comments (5)

Because biomass can be used not only to generate electricity, but also as a source of heat and motor fuel, it makes up the largest chunk of renewable energy in most countries by far. Craig Morris says, however, that the growth of biomass is largely over in Germany.

Biogas plant in rural Germany

The gold rush for biomass is over. (Photo by Martina Nolte, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE)

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Is Germany reliant on foreign nuclear power?

30 Jun 2015   by   Comments (5)

It’s back again – the claim that Germany will rely on foreign base load, especially nuclear, in its energy transition. Craig Morris wonders why proponents of nuclear power understand the technology and markets so poorly.

Cattenom nuclear power plant

Turns out that the myth of German dependence on French nuclear is not much more than hot air: Even when German power demand reaches its peak, it exports power to France. (Photo by Les Meloures, CC BY-SA 1.0)

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Germany’s next nuclear plant closes for good

26 Jun 2015   by   Comments (7)

And then there were eight… This weekend, the Grafenrheinfeld nuclear plant in northern Bavaria will shut down permanently. It is the first nuclear plant to close since 2011.

Grafenrheinfeld from above

Replacing the power produced by the reactor in Grafenrheinfeld is not a problem by itself – but the Bavarian government is currently unwilling to consider alternatives. (Photo by pilot_micha, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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How batteries can stabilize the grid

23 Jun 2015   by   Comments (2)

With Tesla’s announcement of battery storage systems for households, storage for photovoltaics has become a major news item. Furthermore, one of the main questions about the energy transition is how the grid will be stabilized without central power plants. Craig Morris visited German battery firm Younicos and got an answer to this question.

(Photo by Craig Morris)

Batteries are a key technology for a decarbonized world. (Photo: Craig Morris)

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Prokon as a test for community energy

18 Jun 2015   by   Comments (0)

German utilities have gone on a shopping spree, taking over struggling planning firms to gain sorely needed expertise and assets. The trend can be heralded as a sign that these firms are finally taking part in the energy transition – or as a potential threat to the community cooperative movement that fostered the Energiewende all along. Craig Morris says the fate of Prokon is exemplary in this respect.

Wind turbines during sunset

Prokon investors will get a second chance – and can choose between two scenarios with very different implications.

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Grid defection and why we don’t want it

16 Jun 2015   by   Comments (2)

The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) recently deepened its investigation into retail and commercial power customers using solar and battery storage instead of the grid. Craig Morris says the study is especially useful because it shows utilities that fighting the trend will only make things worse.

Solar-powered houses on the mall

Going off-grid is becoming realistic for US customers, especially with increasingly efficient house designs.

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Germany to miss its renewable energy target for 2020

10 Jun 2015   by   Comments (4)

While Germany roars ahead with renewable electricity, too little is happening with heat and transportation. Now, a study finds that Germany is likely not only to miss its carbon reduction target by the end of this decade, but also the target for the share of renewables in all energy. Craig Morris says the Germans are clearly stumbling through their Energiewende – and that’s good news for other countries going down a similar path.

The role of transport in the energy transition

If Germany wants to fulfill its climate targets, it needs to be more ambitious with heat and transport.

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May the Energy Union begin!

08 Jun 2015   by   Comments (0)

Today, 12 European Council Energy Ministers signed a joint declaration for closer collaboration in the electricity sector. Craig Morris says it may help assuage criticism that Germany is “going it alone” with its Energiewende.

Renewable Energy Union

Germany has signed a joint declaration on electricity with its neighbors today. (© European Union, 2015)

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Legacy solar and Germany’s Next Surcharge

02 Jun 2015   by   Comments (3)

By 2030, Germany will gradually no longer have to pay for its most expensive solar arrays installed at the beginning of this decade. But the power will probably still be generated. Craig Morris investigates the probable impact.

What will happen with German rooftop solar when it falls out of the feed-in tariff one day? (Photo by Túrelio, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE)

What will happen with German rooftop solar installations after they start falling out of the feed-in tariff? (Photo by Túrelio, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE)

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Will onshore wind farm owners be told they can’t rebuild?

01 Jun 2015   by   Comments (1)

In a recent study, Berlin-based think tank Agora Energiewende estimated future cost impact of renewable electricity in Germany. One of the assumptions deserves more attention: the shrinking of net onshore wind growth. Craig Morris investigates.

(Photo by Dirk Ingo Franke, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Will repowered wind turbines be pushed out of the feed-in tariff? (Photo by Dirk Ingo Franke, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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The cost burden of offshore wind

28 May 2015   by   Comments (4)

A recent paper by Berlin-based think tank Agora Energiewende finds that Germany is paying now for cost reductions in the future. While other countries can expect rising power costs, German costs will stabilize and then begin to drop in the 2030s. Craig Morris explains.

Alpha Ventus

Offshore wind will cause higher costs than PV in the future. (Photo by Martina Nolte, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Zero German coal plants as a reaction to Fukushima

27 May 2015   by   Comments (5)

Reading headlines like “Germany’s nuclear cutback is darkening European skies” makes Craig Morris despair over the state of journalism.

On this photo we present to you all coal power plants that were planned in Germany due to the nuclear phase-out: none. (Photo by glasseyes view, CC BY-SA 2.0)

On this photo, you can see all coal power plants that were planned in Germany due to the nuclear phase-out after the Fukushima accident: zero. (Photo by glasseyes view, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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German power bills are low compared to US average

26 May 2015   by   Comments (9)

In 2015, the average German household power bill fell slightly from 85 euros to 84 euros per month. What’s more, that level is relatively low compared to US averages. But Craig Morris says comparisons are not easy.

American residential power bill

A lot of American households have higher electricity bills than their German counterparts. (Photo by alliecat1881, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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What developing countries are learning from the Energiewende

13 May 2015   by   Comments (1)

Last year, Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) published a survey of the BRICS countries, revealing their opinions on Germany’s energy transition. In April, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) followed up with a study focusing on developing countries. Craig Morris reports.

PV in Morocco

Germany’s Energiewende has lead the way, now developing countries around the world are embarking on their own energy transitions. (Photo by Isofoton.es, CC BY 3.0)

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Solar twice as expensive in US as in Germany

11 May 2015   by   Comments (3)

What difference does policy make? Craig Morris says that a comparison of the low prices for installed solar arrays in Germany with more expensive arrays in the US is a good way to start answering that question.

Solar Power in Louisiana

More sun and higher prices? Some US states set the wrong incentives for solar development. (Photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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How British biomass makes German coal look worse

30 Apr 2015   by   Comments (1)

At the beginning of April, British climate NGO Sandbag published a press release entitled “For the first time, 4 out of 5 largest EU emitters are German lignite producers.” A shift took place between the fifth and sixth positions because the British Drax coal plant increasingly runs on imported biomass. Craig Morris says paying more attention to producers and less to consumers would help us see the issue in a clearer light.

clearcutting vs. strip mine

Clearcutting in Oregon vs. lignite strip-mining in Germany: False dilemma in a world that should instead rely on renewables and efficiency. (Left photo by Walter Siegmund, CC BY-SA 3.0, right photo by Klaus Th. Erdmann, CC BY-SA 2.5)

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Why is UK wind power so expensive?

29 Apr 2015   by   Comments (6)

The British government seems willing to pay high prices not only for new nuclear, but also for renewables. Given the country’s amazing wind conditions, it does indeed seem that the British are overpaying for wind power in particular. Craig Morris thinks he knows why.

Better conditions - and higher prices? (Photo by Christian Reimer, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Better conditions – and higher prices: The UK overpays wind power. (Photo by Christian Reimer, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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German utilities split over modest coal clamp-down

27 Apr 2015   by   Comments (0)

The German government wants to limit emissions from coal plants that are more than 20 years old. Why the age demarcation? Why not just limit total emissions – or phase out coal entirely? Craig Morris says some clever Realpolitik is behind it. Best of all, it’s working.

Neurath Coal Power Plant

Clouds loom over lignite power production in Germany – but what could become a burden for big utilities, might help a number of others. (Photo by Marcel Oosterwijk, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Counting carbon from the source

24 Apr 2015   by   Comments (0)

We need to leave carbon in the ground. Yet, carbon emissions are counted at the source of consumption, not the source of extraction. Craig Morris says the different approach would put countries like Scotland, Norway, and Denmark in a much different light.

norwegian oil platform

Out of sight, out of mind? The extraction of oil and gas does not count into Norway’s carbon emissions. (Photo by tjodolv, CC BY 2.0)

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Suppressed French report says 100% renewables is possible

23 Apr 2015   by   Comments (10)

Over the Easter break, French daily Le Monde reported that an official study for a conference to be held last week was being held back. The energy experts investigated a 100 percent renewable supply of electricity by 2050. Craig Morris got hold of a copy, which still lacks an executive summary. So he wrote one.

Eoliennes

France has the potential for 100% renewable electricity – but the subject is too touchy for the country’s political leaders.

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Bavaria and natural gas – not the best combination

20 Apr 2015   by   Comments (1)

The southeastern German state of Bavaria is arguably not much of a team player in the Energiewende. The state government does not want wind turbines, and opposition to new power lines ostensibly to bring in wind power from the north is fiercest among Bavarians. One proposal to fill the power gap is gas turbines. Craig Morris points out a few reasons why the strategy seems unrealistic.

Windturbine in Munich

Single wind turbine in Munich – the Bavarian government blocks further wind power and power lines development. (Photo by Thomas Wojcik, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Energiewende shuts down most efficient gas turbine

16 Apr 2015   by   Comments (3)

Siemens spent half a billion euros developing the most efficient gas turbine in the world. Last year, it sold no electricity at all, but was only used to stabilize the grid. Now, the unit is to be taken off the market and put into standby reserve next year. Craig Morris says the story shows how important it is not to confuse engineers with policymakers.

SGT5-8000H

Even the most efficient turbine in the world needs to shut down if it doesn’t produce what the energy market needs. (Photo by www.siemens.com/presse)

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German fracking law takes shape

14 Apr 2015   by   Comments (0)

Two weeks ago, the German government sent its bill for shale gas production to Parliament for approval. And once again, we read both that Germany has banned and approved fracking. Craig Morris explains what is really going on.

Fracking Well in Lower Saxony

Germany has some conventional gas wells already – but fracking regulations remain politically controversial. (Photo by Battenbrook, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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The Energiewende – made in the USA

13 Apr 2015   by   Comments (4)

To many people, both inside and outside Germany, the Energiewende seems special. Questions therefore often focus on where the Germans got the idea. Craig Morris says they stole it from an American.

Soft Path

Germany’s Energiewende owes its intellectual roots to Americans like Amory Lovins who conceptualized a soft energy path based on decentral renewables and efficiency.

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World Energy Council (WEC) survey finds Energiewende not model for the world

10 Apr 2015   by   Comments (0)

The results of the survey published in German in February were made available in English (PDF) last month. They show overwhelming international skepticism towards the German Energiewende. Craig Morris says the findings are in line with the WEC’s tradition of skepticism towards renewables. And a comparison of previous WEC surveys on the Energiewende is illustrative.

Wind Power in Brazil

If Germany managed to start an energy transition despite its mediocre natural conditions, so can countries like Brazil or China at lower cost today. (Photo by Carla Wosniak, CC BY 2.0)

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The magic of efficiency revealed

09 Apr 2015   by   Comments (2)

Germany aims to reduce its energy consumption by 50 percent by 2050 relative to 2005. It sounds like a fanciful target, especially if the country continues to grow economically. But in reality, Craig Morris says, there are two simple steps to this goal, which do not seem so magical once you know them.

Passive House

Technical solutions like passive house designs are available, but there is a lack of political courage to tackle untapped efficiency potential in the heating and transport sector. (Photo by Green Energy Futures, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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What energy democracy looks like

07 Apr 2015   by   Comments (0)

One of Germany’s political foundations, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, has produced a video in English explaining the term “energy democracy” to North Americans. It was made in cooperation with labor unions and thus focuses on job creation. Craig Morris likes the presentation but fears some main points might not be highlighted enough.

(Screenshot of the Video under Fair Use)

The future of energy could be democratic. (Screenshot of the video under fair use)

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Berlin hosts first international governmental conference on the Energiewende

30 Mar 2015   by   Comments (0)

On March 26 and 27, the German Foreign Office held a high-level conference on the Energiewende in Berlin, subtitled “towards a global Energiewende.” Energy Ministers and Foreign Ministers from a number of countries attended. Craig Morris reports.

 (Source: www.energiewende2015.com)

The conference attracted participants from more than 50 countries. (Source: www.energiewende2015.com)

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Don’t call it a coal phaseout!

25 Mar 2015   by   Comments (2)

A paper leaked last week reveals the German government’s plans to clamp down on emissions from coal power. But the plans are not a done deal – the meeting on Thursday, which was originally to be held last Saturday, has been boycotted once again. By Craig Morris.

(Photo by smitty42, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Don’t get your hopes up for a swift German coal phaseout just yet. (Photo by smitty42, CC BY-ND 2.0)

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“One power plant per company”

19 Mar 2015   by   Comments (0)

The 1985 book entitled The Energiewende is possible not only described the problems that the energy transition faces, but also proposed some solutions. Craig Morris describes them.

Solar Village

30 years ago, the authors already called for decentralized & democratized power production. (Photo by blu-news.org, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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“Impossible for investments to lead to losses”

18 Mar 2015   by   Comments (0)

In his previous post, Craig Morris began his summary of the 1985 book entitled (in German) The Energiewende is possible. Today, he sheds light on how the trend towards large power plants created unnecessary costs in the process – although more efficient distributed cogeneration was an alternative.

Kraftwerk Niederaussem

German utilities consciously overbuilt conventional capacity to bring down industrial power prices, shifting the cost burden onto consumers. (Photo by Stodtmeister, CC BY 3.0)

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“Energy wasted by design”

17 Mar 2015   by   Comments (1)

In 1985, German researchers at a newly founded institute called Öko-Institut published a book called “The Energiewende is possible” investigating why no progress had been made since the original proposal five years earlier. Craig Morris says the book’s analysis can be summed up in one word: brilliant.

Coal Power Plant in Weisweiler

In the last century, a few big utilities dominated the German power production – bringing into existence the centralized power market structure as we know it today.

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Lower energy consumption in Germany explained

12 Mar 2015   by   Comments (0)

Germany consumed 4.7 percent less energy in 2014. Now, the AGEB – the group of economists and utility experts that collate the official statistics – has published its own explanation. By Craig Morris.

Wind Farm in Brandenburg

Germany’s power productivity increased by 5.3% in 2014. (Photo by Alexander Franke)

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“Seasonal storage not needed for now”

10 Mar 2015   by   Comments (0)

German renewable energy lobby organization AEE has published another meta-study, this time reviewing the wide range of scientific investigations into power storage. As Craig Morris explains, the main finding is in line with other recent publications – storing excess renewable electricity from the summer for the winter will not be necessary for a while.

(Photo by Oesterreichs Energie/Martin Vandory, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Pumped-storage can be one solution to level out the intermittency of future power production – but broader deployment isn’t necessary just yet. (Photo by Oesterreichs Energie/Martin Vandory, CC BY-ND 2.0)

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Germany is not burning US forests

05 Mar 2015   by   Comments (2)

In December, American citizens petitioned the European Commission to “stop cutting our forests.” It turns out that Germany plays only a marginal role. Craig Morris investigates.

Logging in Arizona

The United States exported more than 3.2 million short tons of wood pellets in 2013, mainly to Europe. (Photo by Kaibab National Forest, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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French nuclear power history – the unknown story

03 Mar 2015   by   Comments (4)

In their last post, Craig Morris and Arne Jungjohann show the impressive overlapping between French and German energy goals. Today, they investigate historic targets for nuclear and renewables in the two countries. One key finding is that French nuclear history is not properly understood.

Saint-Laurent-des-Eaux

France has a long history of nuclear power – but the program missed its ultimate goals. (Photo by energy.gov)

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Few new German energy co-ops in 2014

24 Feb 2015   by   Comments (0)

According to a study published in January, only 29 citizen energy cooperatives were founded in Germany last year. The German Citizen Energy Alliance says the low number is a sign that the energy sector is being handed back to big business. Craig Morris investigates.

Gembeck

The Energiewende is a democratic movement – but the wind has turned for citizen cooperatives. (Photo by GLSystem, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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The French energy transition and the Energiewende – a comparison

23 Feb 2015   by   Comments (4)

Repeatedly, critics of Germany’s energy transition say that France’s transition is a better model to follow. A closer look, however, reveals an impressive amount of overlapping. Craig Morris and Arne Jungjohann investigate.

Berlin & Paris

Two plans, similar goals – the German Energiewende and the French Transition énergétique. (Left photo by Stefan Georgi, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, right photo by Yukitake Kuriyama, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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What electricity really costs

18 Feb 2015   by   Comments (0)

Green Budget Germany (FÖS), an environmental taxation organization, published an update of its study on the true cost of power in January. Craig Morris investigates.

Coal and wind

It is common knowledge that coal power is dirtier than renewable energy. The fact that it has received more subsidies is less known. (Photo by missresincup, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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German government did not just approve fracking

16 Feb 2015   by   Comments (3)

After an article in Euractiv claimed that the German government had approved fracking, the Guardian made a few phone calls, including to a French campaigner. Craig Morris says that German media have remained silent on the matter for good reason – the news item is a canard.

Unlikely to become a common sight in Germany anytime soon: Fracking well in Louisiana (Photo by Daniel Foster, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Still unlikely to become a common sight in Germany anytime soon: a fracking well in Louisiana. (Photo by Daniel Foster, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Renewables have made power cheaper for German industry

11 Feb 2015   by   Comments (0)

A study published by German university researchers for German engineering firm Siemens finds that the renewable power installations built since Fukushima have not affected the retail rate, but they have brought down wholesale rates considerably. Energy-intensive industry has benefited the most. But Craig Morris says there is something for the nuclear camp to criticize.

Renewables replacing nuclear power

Without renewables, the German phase-out of nuclear that (re-)started in 2011 would have been much more costly, especially for industrial consumers. (Photo by Doblonaut, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Capacity reserve or strategic reserve?

09 Feb 2015   by   Comments (2)

In mid-January, German State Secretary in the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy Rainer Baake spoke at a Handelsblatt conference about the future power market design. We need to get used to a few new terms, Craig Morris explains why.

Rainer Baake

Baake giving some insight in the government’s ideas for the future power market design. (Photo by EUROFORUM/Dietmar Gust)

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Zürich on the path to a 2,000-Watt Society

04 Feb 2015   by   Comments (1)

The City of Zürich’s Environmental Department says that the town is moving further away from the target it adopted in 2008 in a referendum.

Zürich

Germany has its Energiewende; Zürich, the 2,000-Watt Society. (Photo by MadGeographer, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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German government announces new rules for solar

29 Jan 2015   by   Comments (0)

As requested by Brussels, Germany is taking the first steps to switch from feed-in tariffs to a system of reverse auctions by 2017. This year, the first rounds will be held for photovoltaics. Craig Morris investigates.

(Photo by pgegreenenergy, CC BY 2.0)

Reverse auctions will account for up to 500MW of new PV development in Germany this year. (Photo by pgegreenenergy, CC BY 2.0)

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Did Germany reject or just postpone capacity payments?

28 Jan 2015   by   Comments (0)

The big news from Germany in the energy sector in January is the government’s apparent rejection of a capacity market. But energy giant E.ON says the issue will not go away. Craig Morris explains why Germany is likely to get a small capacity market through the backdoor.

Grosskraftwerk Mannheim

One block of the coal power plant in Mannheim is part of the strategic reserve for this winter.

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49 percent of Germans doubt success of Energiewende

26 Jan 2015   by   Comments (0)

Two surveys published in January show where the public and the business world perceives shortcomings in Germany’s energy transition. Support remains high, however. Craig Morris investigates.

Opinion Poll on Energiewende

Two thirds of Germans want the energy transition to go faster. (Photo by berwis / pixelio.de)

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Solar eclipse will simulate widespread solar power storage

22 Jan 2015   by   Comments (2)

On 20 March 2015, a partial solar eclipse will pass over Germany. Craig Morris says the impact will provide a glimpse of a future in which most households not only have solar roofs, but also battery storage.

(Photo by Schtone, CC BY-SA 3.0)

What does a solar eclipse have in common with battery storage? More than one might think, at least for PV. (Photo by Schtone, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Silver lining to cloud over PV

15 Jan 2015   by   Comments (0)

In 2014, installations of new photovoltaic arrays in Germany fell to almost a quarter of the level sustained from 2010 to 2012. Craig Morris says the performance nonetheless remains impressive relative to the size of the German grid.

For new PV installations to be profitable, owners have to look for creative solutions in Germany. (Photo by Kauk0r, CC BY-SA 3.0)

For new PV installations to be profitable, owners have to look for creative solutions like direct consumption in Germany. (Photo by Kauk0r, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Wind roars on in Germany

13 Jan 2015   by   Comments (3)

Preliminary figures show that 2014 was a record year for wind power in Germany. Craig Morris says the performance will unfortunately be hard to repeat.

Wind Turbines in Sunrise

2014 was a historic year for wind power in Germany. (Photo by CrashSunRay2013, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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Power from fossil fuel drops to 35-year low in Germany

08 Jan 2015   by   Comments (5)

Unofficial energy sector estimates for Germany for 2014 have rolled in over the past few weeks. Craig Morris provides an overview.

Wind Power

King Coal no longer rules in Germany. (Photo by Crux, CC BY-SA 2.5)

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What German energy supply looks like

29 Dec 2014   by   Comments (3)

How much of its energy does Germany cover from solar energy, and how much of it comes from lignite? Before you read Craig Morris’s answers, go ahead and take a guess. Maybe you read a number recently?

(Photo by Joeb07, CC BY 3.0)

Is lignite really Germany’s primary energy source as Deutsche Welle claims? (Photo by Joeb07, CC BY 3.0)

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All I want for Christmas is new taxation – and….

19 Dec 2014   by   Comments (0)

Have you been naughty or nice this year? If you were the former, congratulations – you just helped the federal budget. As Craig Morris points out, our efforts to do the right thing have a hidden price tag – they reduce tax revenue. Most of all, he wonders why more people haven’t asked for the thing he wants for everyone from Santa this year.

Santa Claus

Merry Christmas!

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Is Germany now bad for traditional utilities?

15 Dec 2014   by   Comments (2)

And then there were three… E.ON, one of Germany’s Big Four utilities, is selling its conventional power plant fleet. Is this a special case, or is E.ON setting an example for the other utilities? Craig Morris investigates.

Gas Power Plant in Irsching, part of reserve capacity in Germany (Source : Dominik Zehatschek/E.ON)

Utilities heavily invested in natural gas are suffering most – E.ON was one of them. (Source : Dominik Zehatschek/E.ON)

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Electro-mobility gets going in Germany – albeit slowly

11 Dec 2014   by   Comments (0)

Germany is a bit of a laggard when it comes to electric cars, and the Energiewende has not focused on the transport sector enough. But it seems like this is about to change. Craig Morris investigates.

emobility

Carsharing companies have started to embrace electric mobility in Germany, but it has remained a niche technology so far. (Photo by Julian Herzog, CC BY 3.0)

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What neighboring countries think of Germany’s energy transition

10 Dec 2014   by   Comments (1)

Last month, BP – the oil company – conducted a survey in five countries bordering Germany to see what they thought about the Energiewende. Craig Morris investigates.

European Map

The Energiewende has put Germany’s energy politics on the map – even among average citizens of neighboring countries. (Photo by Alexrk2, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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German government passes climate package

04 Dec 2014   by   Comments (3)

Yesterday, Chancellor Merkel’s cabinet officially adopted a set of new laws to help the country reach its 2020 carbon emissions reduction target of 40 percent relative to 1990. Craig Morris says the winner is… efficiency!

energy-oriented modernisation

Energy-oriented modernisation will be key for Germany’s effort to reach its 2020 carbon emission targets. (Photo by Nicor, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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German utility giant to sell all conventional power plants

01 Dec 2014   by   Comments (2)

E.ON, one of Germany’s two biggest power providers, announced over the weekend that it plans to sell its conventional power plants and focus on renewables, the grid, and “customer solutions.” Craig Morris says the real message has been overlooked.

Eon Board

E.ON’s management presenting their historic decision to split up the company in order to avoid further losses in the conventional power market. (Source: E.ON)

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The call for a German coal phaseout

25 Nov 2014   by   Comments (0)

This month, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the European Climate Foundation presented a study conducted by Germany’s Institute for Economic Research (DIW). It found that Germany could reduce its carbon emissions considerably and stabilize the power market by shutting down numerous coal plants. Nonetheless, it is unclear whether the government will heed the findings, as Craig Morris explains.

Lignite Mine Juechen

Starting a coal phaseout is great for the climate, great for EU industry policy, great for the German utilities and good for renewables – but utilities need to be pushed by politics first. (Photo by Kateer, CC BY-SA 2.5)

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World’s longest superconductor in operation in Germany

20 Nov 2014   by   Comments (0)

One benefit of Germany’s energy transition is supposed to be technological innovations. The new superconductor currently being tested in Essen is a good example of how the Energiewende could ensure German technological leadership. Craig Morris says the project also shows what the future looks like for large utilities.

Transformer Station

Superconductors might make many transformer stations obsolete. (Photo by wdwd, CC BY 3.0)

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The Italian success story

10 Nov 2014   by   Comments (1)

Over the past few years, Italy has made tremendous progress with renewables. In fact, despite all the differences, the similarities with Germany are striking, both in terms of progress and obstacles. Craig Morris spoke with Giuseppe Onufrio, head of Greenpeace Italy.

Rome – a city that has reinvented itself continuously over the past few millennia in a country that is itself undergoing a swift energy transition. Photo: Craig Morris

Rome – a city that has reinvented itself continuously over the past few millennia in a country that is itself undergoing a swift energy transition. Photo: Craig Morris

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Lessons from Belgium for Germany

05 Nov 2014   by   Comments (1)

In his previous post, Craig Morris tells the tale of Ecopower, a renewable energy co-op and energy provider. Today, he investigates how it takes part in auctions, the quality of which is crucial.

Belgian Wind Power

German energy coops fear headwinds from auctions instead of a FiT. In Belgium, auctions already exist – and coops have adapted. (Photo by NguyenDai, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Best in class: Belgian energy co-op Ecopower

03 Nov 2014   by   Comments (0)

A cooperative in Flanders is wildly successful. But the Belgian co-op is two things at once: a builder of renewables and a power provider to its investors – a rare combination in Germany. Craig Morris looks at Ecopower’s success.

Hydro Power - Molen van Rotselaar

Ecopower started with small hydro plants, such as this one in Rotselaar. (Photo by Dirk Vansintjan, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Prague to support renewables more

27 Oct 2014   by   Comments (1)

Last week, the Czech government proposed a bill, which is now to be reviewed in Parliament. The renewables community is speaking of a step in the right direction, but the battle is still uphill, as a sociologist explained at a conference our Craig Morris attended.

Czech PV installations

Relicts of the Czech solar boom that has since been restricted due to politics – will renewables get a second chance? (Photo by Karelj, CC BY 3.0)

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How competitive are renewables with conventional power?

21 Oct 2014   by   Comments (0)

A new meta-study published by German renewables organization AEE reviews around a dozen recent studies on power generation costs from both renewable and conventional energy sources. The trend is clear, and one of the studies is a clear outlier. Craig Morris explains.

PV & Coal

Renewables are becoming increasingly competitive with conventional sources of power. (Photo by EnergieAgentur.NRW, CC BY 2.0)

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German reliance on market players makes energy policy legal

16 Oct 2014   by   Comments (0)

In his previous post, Craig Morris talks about how the renewable surcharge will drop for the first time in 2015. But there is another interesting aspect to the issue. Germany allows transmission grid operators (TSOs), rather than a government entity, to calculate the charge. For the EU, that distinction is the difference between legal and illegal.

Wind Power in France: While the differences are rather technical, the European Court of Justice

Wind Power in France: While the legal differences are rather subtle, the European Court of Justice ruled against the French Feed-In Tariff while allowing the more market-based German one. (Photo by Pinpin, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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A first: German renewable energy surcharge shrinks

15 Oct 2014   by   Comments (1)

The outcome was roughly predictable at least as far back as January, but today Germany’s four transit grid operators (TSOs) announced the specific figure for the renewables surcharge for 2015. But the decrease is so small that retail rates might not even be affected. Will the government at least admit its new policies are not the reason? Craig Morris investigates.

The renewable energy surcharge will shrink in 2015, possibly lowering consumer prices - but the government should not boast this as their success. (Photo by  Rudolpho Duba  / pixelio.de)

The renewable energy surcharge will shrink in 2015, possibly lowering consumer prices – but the government should not boast this as their success. (Photo by Rudolpho Duba / pixelio.de)

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Is offshore wind the big story?

14 Oct 2014   by   Comments (0)

Increasingly, we read that offshore wind in Germany is getting going. While the news is good, it overstates the role of offshore wind in the country’s energy transition. Craig Morris explains.

(Photo by Martin Doppelbauer, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Compared to onshore, offshore wind power plays only a subordinate role for Germany’s Energiewende. (Photo by Martin Doppelbauer, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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The price of new nuclear revisited

09 Oct 2014   by   Comments (4)

The European Commission just gave the go-ahead to a strike price for new nuclear power in the UK – essentially feed-in tariffs. Since it is adjusted for inflation, how can it be estimated over a period of 35 years? Craig Morris investigates.

Hinkley

Power from Hinkley Point C won’t cost the taxpayer 109€/MWh, but closer to 150-200€/MWh – which makes it even less competitive with renewables. (Photo by Richard Baker, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Cash cow of power sector goes dry

08 Oct 2014   by   Comments (0)

Over at Renew Economy, our colleague Giles Parkinson reviews a study by HSBC showing that “generators are to be the biggest losers” in the energy transition currently taking place worldwide. Today, Craig Morris talks about what that looks like in Germany.

Photo of better days in the early 90s - coventional German power plants have increasing difficulties to stay profitable.

Photo of better days in the early 90s – conventional German power plants have increasing difficulties to stay profitable. (Photo by Rainer Weisflog, Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1990-0629-013, CC-BY-SA)


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How BRICS countries view the Energiewende

06 Oct 2014   by   Comments (0)

Regular readers of this blog have a good overview of how North America and the UK view Germany’s energy transition, but what do emerging economies think? The Konrad Adenauer Foundation has taken some comprehensive surveys. Craig Morris investigates.

(Photo by  GovernmentZA, CC BY-ND 2.0)

The German Energiewende’s success isn’t its domestic impact, but being an international leader that proofs that a swift transition to renewables is viable. (Photo by GovernmentZA, CC BY-ND 2.0)

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Can the energy transition make Germany independent of Russian gas?

30 Sep 2014   by   Comments (4)

A new study by Fraunhofer IWES investigates how much natural gas could be offset by renewables and efficiency, and one graphic indicates the implicit message that the energy transition could make Germany independent of gas imports from Russia by 2030. Craig Morris investigates.

Heat Image of a Housing Block - (Photo by Martin Abegglen, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Heat image of an apartment building – energy efficiency in the housing stock will play a big role if Germany wants to achieve partial or total independence of foreign gas. (Photo by Martin Abegglen, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Doing something about the weather

24 Sep 2014   by   Comments (1)

As the saying goes, everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it. One grid analyst recently told a German grid operator it was time to take action. Craig Morris investigates.

Sunny Freiburg in Winter. (Photo by Emily, CC BY-SA 2.5)

Sunny Freiburg in Winter – due to passive houses and solar, it actually needs less power than even experts would expect. (Photo by Emily, CC BY-SA 2.5)

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German Energy Bloggers grow and grow

22 Sep 2014   by   Comments (0)

Over the weekend, Germany’s Energieblogger met at SMA’s headquarters in Kassel for a barcamp to discuss the hottest topics in the renewables sector, do some strategic planning, and – most importantly – finally have a face-to-face chat with colleagues they otherwise only communicate with virtually. The group has grown tremendously over the past year and is now a major collective voice for the Energiewende. Craig Morris explains.

Energieblogger

More than a marginal voice: About 50 Energy Bloggers attended this weekend’s meeting. (Photo: Craig Morris)

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Nervousness behind the scenes in Berlin

19 Sep 2014   by   Comments (2)

Craig Morris just spent three weeks in Berlin and other German cities speaking with a slew of energy experts off the record. Today, he talks about the nervous mood in the wake of the recent policy changes.

EU Flag on Reichstag building

Is the German government using European policy changes as an excuse to turn away from a citizen-driven Energiewende? (Photo by amira_a, CC BY 2.0)

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Is Europe burning America’s forests?

15 Sep 2014   by   Comments (3)

A recent article at Grist.com under this subtitle “biomass backward” charges that “the European Union and its well-intentioned clean energy rules” are the reason for “denuded fields in the South.” Craig Morris, himself a Southerner, says something about the situation certainly is backward. But he says progress will require a deal between the US and the EU.

Wood Pellets are a green heating choice - if sourced locally and sustainably.

Wood Pellets can be a green heating choice – if sourced locally and sustainably. (Photo by Amaza, CC0 1.0)

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Renewables K.O.-ed by EROI?

08 Sep 2014   by   Comments (14)

If it takes too much energy to make generators of renewable energy relative to what these units produce, the energy transition will not be possible. A new study by nuclear researchers finds that the need for storage and backup makes the EROI of renewables too low. Craig Morris investigates.

Wasserkraftwerk am Inn

King of renewables: Hydro power is the most efficient power source in terms of energy payback. (Photo by Rufus46, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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How Eurosolar would have amended the EEG

03 Sep 2014   by   Comments (1)

In January, Eurosolar produced a memorandum during the debate about changes to German energy policy. Craig Morris says the discrepancies and overlapping between the memorandum and what actually became law in August shows where there is disagreement and general consensus.

Alpha Ventus

Offshore wind power continues to be oversubsidized – one of the things Eurosolar criticized during negotiations for the current EEG. (Photo by Martina Nolte, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE)

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German Audit Office says Energiewende too expensive

01 Sep 2014   by   Comments (1)

In August, the Bundesrechnungshof (BRH), which reviews the federal government’s finances, found that the Energiewende is proceeding without proper coordination. Up to now, there have only been press reports about leaked versions of the paper, which has yet to be made public. Craig Morris reviews what we know.

(Photo by Eckhard Henkel, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE)

The German Bundesrechnungshof says the Energiewende is too expensive – but does not make many suggestions on how to make it cheaper. (Photo by Eckhard Henkel, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE)

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German government willing participant in Energiewende

28 Aug 2014   by   Comments (5)

A recent Time article entitled “Germans happily pay more for renewable energy. But would others?” has a refreshing focus but makes obvious mistakes. Craig Morris says it also shows how hard a time the Anglo world has properly understanding the Energiewende.

Germans continue to support the Energiewende, because its benefits are spread democratically. (Photo by  Rudolpho Duba  / pixelio.de)

Germans continue to support the Energiewende, because its benefits are spread democratically. (Photo by Rudolpho Duba / pixelio.de)

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German exports of renewable technology

27 Aug 2014   by   Comments (2)

One of the reasons to be a first mover is technological leadership. Germany is recognized as such a first mover in wind power, biomass, and solar. New data reveal the extent to which Germany has succeeded, as Craig Morris explains.

Container Terminal Hamburg

The majority of renewable technology produced in Germany is exported. In the photo: Container Terminal in Hamburg. (Photo by Tobias Mandt, CC BY 2.0)

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German grid more stable in 2013

25 Aug 2014   by   Comments (3)

It’s bad news for the folks insisting that renewables are wreaking havoc on the grid – last year, the average number of minutes of power outages in Germany fell below the already leading level of 2012 and below the average over the past seven years. Craig Morris looks into the situation.

Grid and Wind Power

Even though critics often paint scary scenarios, growth in renewable energy and grid stability are no opposites at all. (Photo by David Iliff, CC-BY-SA 3.0)

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Renewable energy patents boom in Germany

21 Aug 2014   by   Comments (0)

Germany may not have much sun, but it is positioning itself to sell products to those who do. But while some solar manufacturers continue to struggle, German patent registrations have boomed in recent years – not only for solar, but for wind power as well. Craig Morris investigates.

(Photo from www.siemens.com/press)

The German renewable energy law helped stimulate innovation as the number of patents registered on renewable energy technology multiplied. (Photo from www.siemens.com/press)

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French labor union openly opposes nuclear

12 Aug 2014   by   Comments (2)

This is big news – for the first time, French labour union General Confederation of Labor (CGT) has spoken out clearly for the closure of France’s oldest nuclear plant. The reasons given argue against nuclear in general. Craig Morris investigates.

Fessenheim Nuclear Power Plant

The pro-nuclear coalition in France continues to crumble, as biggest French union CGT debates its position on nuclear and further operation of Fessenheim nuclear plant. (Photo by Florival fr, CC BY SA 3.0)

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German government’s three-year Energiewende plan

04 Aug 2014   by   Comments (5)

The German Industry Ministry (BMWi) recently published a chart presenting an overview of the government’s roadmap up to the end of 2016. Craig Morris says it is encouraging to see how much wider the scope is than just the power sector, but he noticed that one thing is still missing.

Traffic Jam

While Germany’s Energiewende has picked up speed, efforts to make the transportation sector more sustainable seem to be stalled. (Photo by Radosław Drożdżewski, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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White Rose: CCS gets going?

30 Jul 2014   by   Comments (1)

The EU has provided 1 billion euros in funding in order to leverage another 0.9 billion in private investments for a major new carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in the UK. Craig Morris investigates why Energiewende’s supporters are not more enthusiastic.

White Rose CCS Plant

White Rose – an innocent sounding name for a CCS project. (Photo by Department of Energy and Climate Change, CC BY-ND 2.0)

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What solar grid integration costs

28 Jul 2014   by   Comments (2)

The price of solar has plummeted in recent years, but as the share of solar on the grid increases, associated costs will be incurred: idling backup capacity, forecasting errors, etc. Now, leading US researchers have tried to put a price tag on those costs. Craig Morris says the situation they describe for 2027 looks a bit like Germany today.

PV installation over the parking space of Arizona State University

PV installation above a parking lot of Arizona State University. PV is even more efficient in Arizona than in Germany, as solar irradiation is more than twice as high and solar power production is more aligned with daily power demand cycles. (Photo by Kevin Dooley, CC BY 2.0)

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Angst… that the Energiewende will work

24 Jul 2014   by   Comments (2)

The Institute for Energy Research (IER) says angst is a main driver behind the Energiewende, which will fail to reduce emissions without shale gas, especially without nuclear. Craig Morris says some critics sound like they are a bit afraid themselves – that the Germans might pull off their transition without fracking or nuclear.

Wind Power

The biggest fear of critics of the Energiewende is not that it will fail – but that it will succeed. (Photo by Günter Hentschel, CC BY-ND 2.0)

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Are US industry power prices that much lower than Germany’s?

22 Jul 2014   by   Comments (0)

Two German research organizations have investigated claims that low US power prices might entice German firms to relocate. As Craig Morris reports, they found a mixed bag of enticements without a clear signal that German firms should leave.

Buna-Werke Schkopau

Industrial consumers in Germany pay lower power prices than they would in Massachusetts and many other US states – while enjoying a more reliable grid. (Photo by gynti_46, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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German industry electricity prices are becoming more competitive

21 Jul 2014   by   Comments (1)

It’s not easy to assess the impact of the Energiewende on industry. On the one hand, German wholesale power prices are lower than in neighboring countries and falling. On the other, we read that German industry pays above-average prices for power. Now, a study by Green Budget Germany (FÖS) provides a revealing comparison. Craig Morris investigates.

Industry in Wiesbaden

Full speed ahead: German industry power prices are becoming more competitive. (Photo by Martin Fisch, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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A global overview of carbon leakage

18 Jul 2014   by   Comments (0)

The world counts carbon emissions by country where fuels are combusted, i.e. where the CO2 is emitted. A new study shows how great the differences are when we count products consumed. Craig Morris takes a closer look at how Germany, the UK, Russia, China and France fared in the study.

Cargo Ship

Not only jobs are shipped overseas, but also our carbon footprint. (photo by Rob124, CC BY 2.0)

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Germany’s excess generation capacity

14 Jul 2014   by   Comments (0)

Over the past decade, German power firms made considerable investments in new conventional capacity. At the same time, German SMEs, energy cooperatives, and ordinary citizens made considerable investments in renewable generation capacity. The result is excess capacity. Craig Morris takes a look at some of the country’s energy experts who did not see this outcome coming.

Grafenrheinfeld

The lights at the nuclear power station Grafenrheinfeld and other conventional power plants in Germany might go out faster than planned. One of the reasons: excess capacity. (Photo by MarcelG, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Did Germany give thumbs up or down to Fracking?

10 Jul 2014   by   Comments (0)

Depending on who you ask, Germany just imposed a temporary moratorium on fracking or just opened the floodgates for it. As always, the truth is somewhere in the middle, with opposing camps reading the worst into the facts for their own political campaigning. Craig Morris says the situation in Ukraine is illustrative.

Fracking Well in Louisiana

Unlikely to become a common sight in Germany anytime soon: Fracking well in Louisiana (Photo by Daniel Foster, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Convincing German coal mining communities to go green

08 Jul 2014   by   Comments (0)

Reports on German coal mining sometimes depict the destruction of villages as something new – and almost always as an ironic new outcome of the Energiewende. In reality, it’s a continuation of a century’s business as usual. And German citizens are not the defenseless anti-coal victims they are portrayed to be. In reality, it’s not easy to convince local communities affected by mining that renewables are a better option. Craig Morris investigates.

(Photo by Bert Kaufmann, CC BY 2.0)

Surface coal mining is part of Germany’s contemporary energy landscape. But it isn’t the result of the Energiewende. (Photo by Bert Kaufmann, CC BY 2.0)

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Why didn’t Germany have a coal phaseout?

07 Jul 2014   by   Comments (1)

Why was a nuclear phaseout easier than a coal phaseout in Germany? This is one of the most frequently asked questions we hear. Craig Morris has an answer about the historic reasons – and it’s not what you’re expecting. For the potential of a future coal phaseout, he has co-authored a new study.

Wyhl

The terraced farmland of Kaiserstuhl near the Black Forest just a few minutes from Wyhl, where the grassroots Energiewende movement began in the 1970s. (Photo: Craig Morris)

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What’s happening with biomass in Germany?

03 Jul 2014   by   Comments (1)

Biomass is the largest source of renewable energy in Germany, but the German government has scaled back support in recent years. Under the amendments to the German Renewable Energy Act to become law in August, support would be reduced even further. Craig Morris investigates.

Wood pellets

Wood pellets can be a sustainable source of heat and power. (Photo by EnergieAgentur.NRW, CC BY 2.0)

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Bundestag adopts new rules for renewables

01 Jul 2014   by   Comments (0)

The lower house of the German Parliament voted nearly 80% in favor of the proposed amendments to Germany’s Renewable Energy Act (EEG) on the last Friday in June. Craig Morris takes a look at the main changes and examines why some people are upset, and others aren’t.

Plenary of the Bundestag

On June 27th, the German lower chamber voted in favour of the proposed reforms of the renewable energy law. ( (c) Deutscher Bundestag / Thomas Trutschel / photothek.net)

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Actual outcomes of auctions in France, Brazil, and the Netherlands

25 Jun 2014   by   Comments (0)

The recent IZES paper on proposals for Germany’s future energy policy provided an overview of how the switch to reverse auctions might look based on experience in other countries. Craig Morris says the outcome of the switch is obvious. Does it match the German government’s goal?

Wind Power in Brazil

Brazil already relies on reverse auctions for renewables – what are the outcomes? (Photo by The Danish Wind Industry Association, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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Getting energy policy design right

24 Jun 2014   by   Comments (0)

Bidding processes are used in various economic sectors, and with good reason. But do those reasons apply to the energy sector – and, in particular, to Germany’s energy transition goals? Craig Morris presents the findings in a recent study by IZES.

Offshore Wind Power in the UK

The UK utilises reverse auctions as a policy for renewables – at the same time, wind power is more expensive than in Germany. (Photo by Harald Pettersen/Statoil, CC BY 2.0)

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The goal of market competition

23 Jun 2014   by   Comments (1)

A recent IZES study discusses specific energy policy models Germany could adopt if it discontinued feed-in tariffs as proposed by 2017. To see what policy design is best, we first have to define the goals. Craig Morris investigates.

Centralised PV

Reverse auctions could lead to more centralized PV and fewer rooftop installations. (Photo by eclipse.sx, CC BY 2.5)

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Policy watershed approaching

20 Jun 2014   by   Comments (2)

By 2017, Germany aims to do away with feed-in tariffs and switch to reverse auctions. A new study by the German Institute for Future Energy Systems (IZES) compares the two policies in a study (PDF in German) published in May. Craig Morris starts an overview of the discussion with the presentation of the background today.

PV

PV growth in Germany has surprised most observers. (Photo by Andrewglaser, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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The German Coal Conundrum

17 Jun 2014   by   Comments (7)

Is Germany building new coal plants to replace nuclear despite the country’s green ambitions? Many observers conclude so. But an in-depth look reveals that the growth of renewables has more than replaced nuclear power over the past decade. Coal is not making a comeback in Germany. However, German policymakers should reduce the country’s coal dependency sooner than scheduled.

The German Coal Conundrum

Photo by Craig Morris

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Shale Gas for Europe?

16 Jun 2014   by   Comments (0)

Given the continent’s reliance on Russia as a source of natural gas, would it not be logical for Europeans to start producing their own shale gas? After all, we have seen what the effects have been in the US with regards to energy prices. In March, researchers at E3G looked into the matter and found that the success of shale gas in the US is overstated and not transferable to Europe. Craig Morris investigates.

EU Shale Gas Revolution: Facts vs Fiction read more

OSCAPE: Oxygen Capture and Storage – and possible Eruption

10 Jun 2014   by   Comments (2)

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is sometimes touted as a promising technology for the future. But as Craig Morris points out, the technology is nothing new; it simply does not exist the way it is portrayed. Recent events in Canada and the US suggest that Germany’s lack of interest is sensible.

CCS

CCS is an expensive, untested end-of-pipe technology – the best carbon is the one that is not emitted at all. (Photo by Bodoklecksel, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Developing and Emerging Countries take the Lead

05 Jun 2014   by   Comments (0)

Paris-based renewables organization REN21 has published the latest edition of its annual Global Status Report. The 2014 edition finds that, while Europe and North America have become roller coaster markets for renewables, developing and emerging countries have picked up the slack and could be the future leaders. Craig Morris investigates.

The price of PV has fallen dramatically since 2011, so overall expenditures are down – but don't misunderstand this as less investment. More PV than ever is going up, especially in developing countries. (Photo by REN21)

The price of PV has fallen dramatically since 2011, so overall expenditures are down – but don’t misunderstand this as less investment. More PV than ever is going up, especially in developing countries. (Graph by REN21)

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The End of the Tunnel

04 Jun 2014   by   Comments (0)

China has set a goal of 12.5 GW of newly installed photovoltaics annually by 2017 – a level equivalent to more than a third of the global market in recent years. Japan is also booming. Craig Morris says the news is more than a light at the end of the tunnel for the solar sector – it’s the end of the tunnel.

Broken Solar Wafers

Germany’s solar sector – rising like Phoenix from the Ashes? (Photo by Solarworld)

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Will the real renewables surcharge stand up?

30 May 2014   by   Comments (0)

Everyone seems to agree that the renewables surcharge in Germany is a bad indicator of the cost of the country’s energy transition. Today, Craig Morris proposes a solution to the communications problem.

Calculation of Cost

Calculating the different components of the renewables surcharge isn’t as trivial as it seems – differing interpretations are used by political actors for their purposes. (Gabi Eder / pixelio.de)

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Feed-in tariffs – a policy for the future?

27 May 2014   by   Comments (2)

The Heinrich Böll Foundation, which also hosts this website, recently produced a 132-page study (PDF) entitled “Energiewende 2.0” on the future of Germany’s energy transition. In a recent post, Craig Morris summarized the findings. Today, he has a bone to pick with its portrayal of feed-in tariffs.

The FiT was key to developing bottom-up renewables in Germany. (Photo by  Wikswat, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The German FiT is key to residential renewable development in Germany – whoever replaces the policy risks limiting energy democracy. (Photo by Wikswat, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Industry complaints “hardly worry German public”

23 May 2014   by   Comments (0)

A recent study (PDF) published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, which funds this website, describes the debate surrounding the Energiewende. One of the arguments confused Craig Morris, but he was happy to read the author’s description of who’s complaining – and who isn’t.

(Photo by sramses, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The German power sector will have to undergo structural changes to accomodate renewables. The paper Energiewende 2.0 discusses possible strategies. (Photo by Stefan Ramsaier, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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German government to push through energy policy reform

21 May 2014   by   Comments (0)

Industry Minister Gabriel is sticking to his plans to have amendments to the country’s Renewable Energy Act finalized at the beginning of June. His critics charge that he is trying to get around the democratic debate.

King and Queen Coal: Sigmar Gabriel and his party collegue Hannelore Kraft, both Social Democrats, are known to be supporters of coal.

King and Queen Coal: Industry Minister Sigmar Gabriel and his party collegue Hannelore Kraft, both Social Democrats, are known to be supporters of coal industry. Gabriel has been denouncing the Energiewende as too expensive for consumers to gather support for his policy reforms – but done little to make sure that falling wholesale electricity prices trickle down to consumers. (Photo by Moritz Kosinsky / Wikipedia)

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Dutch Greens call for EU Energy Union

20 May 2014   by   Comments (1)

The Dutch Green Party wants to have a Green Energy Union for renewables. But Craig Morris says the Dutch are learning the wrong lesson from Germany. He paraphrases Bill Clinton: “Its energy democracy, stupid!”

Energy Democracy (Photo by blu-news.org, CC BY-SA 2.0)

The key to understand the Energiewende’s sucesses is energy democracy. (Photo by blu-news.org, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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A bad bank for nuclear

14 May 2014   by   Comments (0)

Over the weekend, there were reports of talks about the creation of a “bad bank” for German nuclear plants, which are to be shut down successively by the end of 2022. Critics charge that the proposal is yet another attempt to privatize profits and nationalize losses. But Craig Morris has a bit more understanding for the firms’ position.

Utilities should have made reserves for financing the storage of nuclear waste - but want to socialize the cost now. (Photo by  segovax  / pixelio.de)

Utilities should have built reserves for financing the dismantling of nuclear power plants and storage of nuclear waste – but want to socialize the cost now. (Photo by segovax / pixelio.de)

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German power prices negative over weekend

13 May 2014   by   Comments (2)

Germany set a new record on Sunday, May 11, by getting nearly three quarters of its electricity from renewable sources during a midday peak. Nonetheless, Craig Morris says the resulting negative prices are both good news and bad news.

On May 11th, power prices were negative for several hours in Germany.

On May 11th, power prices were negative for several hours in Germany. (Source: EPEX)

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The wrong lessons at the New York Times

07 May 2014   by   Comments (2)

On May 1, the entire editorial board at the New York Times published an article revealing an astonishing unfamiliarity with easily accessible facts. The NYT argues that Germany’s energy transition proves that the world needs nuclear. Craig Morris explains.

So why exactly should nuclear be the solution? Safer, broader support, more sustainable and already cheaper than new nuclear: Solar Power. (photo by nic_r, CC BY-SA 2.0)

So why exactly should nuclear be the solution? Wind and solar power are available today, enjoy broad social support and are already cheaper than new nuclear capacity. (photo by nic_r, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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And the winner is… Passive House!

02 May 2014   by   Comments (2)

Last week, the 18th International Passive House Conference took place. As the long tradition shows, this approach to architecture is nothing new; it was a proven success in the 1990s. The building sector unfortunately has not proactively adopted the Passive House Standard, choosing instead to wait until EU law essentially requires it at the turn of the next decade. Craig Morris investigates.

Passive Houses a niche for residential buildings? Even office towers can be built as passive houses, as the RHW.2 in Vienna proofs. (Photo by Raiffeisen Bank/Manfred Burger)

Passive Houses architecture a niche for residential buildings? Think Again! Even office towers can be built according to the Passive House Standard, as the RHW.2 office tower in Vienna proves. (Photo by Raiffeisen-Holding/Manfred Burger)

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The cost of the energy transition in the power sector

28 Apr 2014   by   Comments (4)

The Heinrich Boell Foundation’s Brussels office has published a study investigating the cost of a transition to renewable electricity. Craig Morris says the study impressively shows that individual renewable technologies are the best option, but he wonders if the study will convince all doubters.

Wind Farm in Brandenburg

Onshore Wind is already competitive with coal today – not to mention the ever rising cost for new nuclear power plants.  (Photo by Alexander Franke)

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Energy policy designed to keep industries at home

22 Apr 2014   by   Comments (0)

It is ironic that there is so much talk about the Energiewende hurting Germany’s energy-intensive industry, for as Craig Morris points out these firms are the biggest winners in the German energy transition.

Steel Production in Germany

Steel made in Germany –  cheaper thanks to the Energiewende (Photo by Alexander Franke)

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In midst of energy transition, German economy never healthier

17 Apr 2014   by   Comments (1)

There are increasingly reports that the Energiewende is hurting German industry. Yet, such concerns come at a time when the German economy has never looked better. Craig Morris explains.

(Photo by Martina Nolte, CC-BY-SA-3.0 de)

German exports are at an all time high. (Photo by Martina Nolte, CC-BY-SA-3.0 de)

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Reality check: massive overcapacity on German power market

11 Apr 2014   by   Comments (0)

Foreigners sometimes quote statements made by industry experts and politicians over the past decade to show that the country did indeed conscientiously build coal to replace nuclear. That’s true, but as Craig Morris explains the outcome was that, contrary to these expert expectations, renewables replaced nuclear, so we are now left with excess coal capacity. Part 2 of a 3-part series.

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Laying Germany’s coal renaissance to rest

10 Apr 2014   by   Comments (0)

In 2011, Germany switched off 8 of its 17 nuclear plants. Since then, the country has made headlines not only for its campaign to reduce energy consumption and ramp up renewables – the “Energiewende” – but also for increasing production of coal power in 2013. So is Germany’s energy transition in reality more a switch to coal than to renewables? And is renewable electricity incapable of replacing the country’s nuclear power? Craig Morris investigates in part one of a three-part series.

(Photo by Frank Vincentz, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Lignite-fired Boxberg Power Station in 2009 with the newly commissioned unit under construction on the left – exception or part of a bigger coal renaissance in Germany? (Photo by Frank Vincentz, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Overview of new charts

04 Apr 2014   by   Comments (3)

As Craig Morris explained last week, our website underwent its first major revision at the beginning of the year. Today, he presents and briefly explains some of the new charts.

Sigmar Gabriel will be the new minister for the economy and the Energiewende. He was previously minister for the environment between 2005-2009. (Photo by blu-news.org, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Sigmar Gabriel is the new minister for the economy and the Energiewende. He was previously minister for the environment between 2005-2009. And as the German government and its policies change, this website will continue to be updated. (Photo by blu-news.org, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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German government debates energy policy details

01 Apr 2014   by   Comments (0)

Today, the German coalition is meeting with governors of the 16 German states to discuss details of the highly anticipated amendment to the Renewable Energy Act (EEG). Craig Morris says the public – including the sectors affected – have practically no time to respond. What he really wants – but is unlikely to get – is an estimation of what is needed annually.

A coal power plant in Karlsruhe. (Photo by Andreas Zachmann, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

A coal power plant in Karlsruhe. (Photo by Andreas Zachmann, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Website update completed

27 Mar 2014   by   Comments (0)

The Energiewende continues to evolve, not only with new data, but also with new legislation and new topics. Last month, this website therefore received its first overhaul. Over the next few weeks, we would like to draw your attention to a few of the changes.

Targets

Enjoy this chart while you still can – these targets are likely to be revised in the next few months.

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E.ON threatens premature closure of nuclear plant

24 Mar 2014   by   Comments (2)

One common question from pro-nuclear Energiewende critics is what Germany would look like today if it had not switched off 40 percent of its nuclear capacity in 2011. In recent weeks, we have gotten a taste of the answer: massive voluntary shutdowns of coal and nuclear. Craig Morris investigates.

Gas Power Plant in Irsching, part of reserve capacity in Germany (Source : Dominik Zehatschek/E.ON)

Eon’s Gas Power Plant in Irsching, part of reserve capacity in Germany. Originally praised as one of the most advanced facilities in the world, the plant hardly runs any longer and is unprofitable. (Source : Dominik Zehatschek/E.ON)

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The right to make your own energy

19 Mar 2014   by   Comments (2)

This week, the European Commission will respond to Europe’s first citizens’ initiative, this time for the “right to water.” Craig Morris wonders whether making your energy is not also a right.

Energy Democracy

Protest for energy democracy and a bottom-up Energiewende in 2013. (Photo by Jörg Farys, CC BY NC ND)

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Germans face high fossil fuel costs

17 Mar 2014   by   Comments (2)

Germans are increasingly investigating “energy poverty” – and discovering that electricity is a smaller item than motor fuel and heat. The State of Baden-Württemberg, where our Craig Morris lives, recently published an overview for the state.

Exhaust Fumes

Germans spend more on motor fuel and heating than electricity. (Photo by Simone Ramella, CC BY 2.0)

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German imports of nuclear power – the myth revisited

11 Mar 2014   by   Comments (12)

When Germany shut down nearly half of its nuclear capacity in the week after Fukushima, critics charged that the country would only be importing more nuclear power from its neighbors as a result. Craig Morris says it is a physical impossibility.

Cattenom

Inflexible, outdated, potentially dangerous – and certainly not more important for Germany’s energy mix since Fukushima – French nuclear power. (Photo by Stefan Kühn, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Net-metering not “self-reliant”

07 Mar 2014   by   Comments (8)

Over the past month, Craig Morris has commented on the debate surrounding net-metering (NEM) versus feed-in tariffs (FITs) several times in this blog. Today, he signs out of the discussion by pointing out that neither constitute going off-grid.

Going off grid

Producing as much electricity over a month as you consume doesn’t automatically mean you are self-reliant. (Photo by Transition Heathrow, CC BY 2.0)

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Closer look at German energy dependence on Russia

04 Mar 2014   by   Comments (0)

In social media, one new meme seems to be that Germany is too dependent upon energy imports from Russia to take a strong stand on Ukrainian independence. Craig Morris says those commenters confuse energy with natural gas, and they overlook Russian dependence on Germany and the EU.

GUM department store in Moscow

The GUM department store in central Moscow overlooking Red Square, where military parades are often held. Will the current crisis in Ukraine have mainly commercial impacts, or will it become more military? (Source: Harry-Hautumm | pixelio.de)

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Autoproduction to get around the EEG?

04 Mar 2014   by   Comments (1)

The French call it “autoproduction”; the Germans, “own consumption.” Whatever you call it, it’s becoming more popular, which may be why the German government wants to have it cover the cost of the transition as well. Craig Morris says recent policy proposals constitute an about-face and warns against stop-and-go policy support.

Self Consumption

Own consumption – first encouraged, now under scrutiny. (Photo by Gumtau, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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A bad bank for German hard coal?

28 Feb 2014   by   Comments (6)

Germany’s power plants fired with hard coal might soon run for fewer and fewer hours each year, being increasingly offset by renewables. Now, a labor union has called on power firms to sell these power plants to a “national company” as hard coal is phased out. Craig Morris says the firms like the idea.

Coal renaissance in Germany?  (Photo by FireRaN, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Coal renaissance in Germany? Actually, power firms struggle to keep their existing coal power plants profitable. (Photo by FireRaN, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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The state of Germany’s solar sector – the worst is over

25 Feb 2014   by   Comments (1)

On February 13, the Böll Foundation, which funds this website, held an all-day conference on Germany’s energy transition. Craig Morris says one industry representative may have been overly pessimistic about Germany’s early commitment to solar.

(Photo by Jon Olav Eikenes, CC BY 2.0)

Germany’s long commitment to solar has not been in vain. (Photo by Jon Olav Eikenes, CC BY 2.0)

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Feed-in tariffs – do they discourage efficiency?

20 Feb 2014   by   Comments (6)

By all accounts – you can take the IEA’s recent statements on the matter if you like – feed-in tariffs are the main policy driver behind renewables and photovoltaics in particular. Craig Morris wonders why the policy has such fierce opponents – and why they misrepresent the policy so much.

Why turn off your inefficient air conditioning when net-metering doesn't reward that behaviour? (Photo by Shai Barzilay, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Why would you turn off or replace your inefficient air conditioning when net-metering does not reward that behavior? (Photo by Shai Barzilay, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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What future role for today’s utilities?

18 Feb 2014   by   Comments (0)

We live in an age of quickly changing business models, and the trend is clearly towards Big Box megastores – to the detriment of mom-and-pop shops. But Craig Morris says the energy sector is shaping up to go in the opposite direction.

Adlkofen

Energy by the people, for the people. (Photo by Wana-Gond, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Feed-in tariffs do not guarantee anything

11 Feb 2014   by   Comments (1)

Feed-in tariffs only pay for power produced, which depends on the weather – and no one can guarantee that. So while the foreign press repeatedly speaks of guaranteed profits from feed-in tariffs, Craig Morris says German investors in wind and solar power have a different story to tell.

Germany covered in clouds - the weather (Photo by NASA).

Western Europe including northern Germany covered in clouds: Weather patterns affect renewable energy production – even yearly averages don’t entirely level out. (Photo by NASA).

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The run on the bank

06 Feb 2014   by   Comments (0)

A giant German wind farm planning firm recently filed for bankruptcy, and the event made headlines. Craig Morris says the press coverage does not always clearly explain the difference between feed-in tariffs and “Genussrechte,” something that does not exist in English but could be translated as “participatory rights.” The event makes him think of an old Jimmy Stewart movie.

Unclear future ahead for Prokon. (Photo by pandrcutts, CC BY 2.0)

Unclear future ahead for Prokon investors. (Photo by pandrcutts, CC BY 2.0)

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Criticism of feed-in tariffs often actually about solar

05 Feb 2014   by   Comments (3)

Recently, Craig Morris discussed an article that misrepresented feed-in tariffs (FITs). He also spoke with the two people quoted in the article, one of whom felt misrepresented – while the other was a prominent German spokesperson for renewables. He found that people describing policies are actually often talking about the technology effects, which the policies in question do not change.

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Gainesville’s solar FITs discontinued

03 Feb 2014   by   Comments (1)

A few years ago, the City of Gainesville, Florida, drew some attention for its implementation of feed-in tariffs for solar. At the beginning of 2013, the policy was suspended, however. The strangest thing for Craig Morris was not the apparent glee with which some alleged supporters of renewables, including from the solar sector, expressed upon hearing the news. It was their inability to get the story right.

Gainesville, FL

Gainesville, FL, installed a lot of solar capacity after it introduced a FIT. Still, the program was discontinued. Craig Morris analyses the reasons. (Photo by William M, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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What the EU’s 2030 targets mean for the Energiewende

29 Jan 2014   by   Comments (5)

The EU is to have carbon emissions targets, but nothing binding in terms of renewables or efficiency for specific member states. Craig Morris reports on what one energy expert in Brussels thinks the effect might be on the German Energiewende.

Opinions differ if the Commission's proposal will set fire to the German Energiewende.

Farmers burning their harvest in front of the European Commission building in Brussels. The European Commission has put forward unambitious targets on carbon emissions. Opinions differ on whether it will seriously handicap the German Energiewende. (Photo by Teemu Mäntynen, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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False enemies: emission reductions, renewables, and efficiency

27 Jan 2014   by   Comments (2)

The EU’s new targets for 2030 are only for emissions trading. Anything adopted for renewables will not be binding, and we have yet to hear about efficiency at all. Craig Morris says we’re not going to get anywhere until we focus on all three.

Nuclear Power in the UK

The UK has successfully reduced carbon emissions from the power sector over the past two decades more than any other EU country except Germany. But instead of spearheading future progress, the two countries bicker over details – because their previous success came along much different paths. (Photo by Matthew Strmiska, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Intermittent or variable?

23 Jan 2014   by   Comments (4)

Wind and solar power are often considered unreliable, especially by their detractors. But Craig Morris recently realized he needed to change his terminology – after learning how intermittent conventional power plants are.

Coal and Wind in Winter

Under extreme weather conditions, conventional power plants regularly become more intermittent than (fluctuating) renewables. (Photo by JV Virta, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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German energy targets: “at most” replaces “at least”

21 Jan 2014   by   Comments (3)

On Wednesday, the German government is to discuss the new proposals for energy policy revisions. The focus is on price. Craig Morris back-calculated what needs to be done to hit the government’s official targets, for instance for 2020.

Wind Installation

A treshold for annual wind installations might impact investors’ willingness to build additional capacity in Germany. (Photo by eXtension Farm Energy, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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What role will shale gas play in the Energiewende?

20 Jan 2014   by   Comments (5)

International onlookers sometimes wonder when shale gas will get going in Germany. Americans in particular think, based on their own shale boom, that the Germans could reduce their carbon emissions and lower their energy prices with shale gas. Craig Morris says the situation looks much different within Germany.

Shale Gas in Poland

Shale gas well in Poland – most likely to stay an exception in Europe, where public opinion towards shale gas is largely critical. (Photo by Karol Karolus, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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The renewables surcharge could drop

15 Jan 2014   by   Comments (0)

Two items that make up more than 10 percent of the German renewables surcharge could shrink considerably over the next year, possibly enough to keep the surcharge from rising further. Whether retail power prices rise or fall, however, depends on more factors than simply this surcharge.

(Andreas Morlok  / pixelio.de)

The renewables surcharge might stop rising – and positively affect retail power prices. (Andreas Morlok / pixelio.de)

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Curtailment of renewable electricity drops – Monitoring Report Part 3

13 Jan 2014   by   Comments (3)

In his last installment on Germany’s Network Agency’s Monitoring Report, Craig Morris looks for indications that renewable electricity is wreaking havoc on the grid.

(Photo by Kurrat, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Curtailment of renewable electricity is only a minor phenomenon in Germany – at least for now. (Photo by Kurrat, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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MWs are not MWhs – Monitoring Report Part 2

10 Jan 2014   by   Comments (0)

Today, Craig Morris returns to the Monitoring Report published in December by Germany’s Network Agency to discuss what the organization expects over the next five years.

Germany's centers of industrial production remain in Southern Germany, but that is not necessarily where most renewables were built. (Photo by Nico Kaiser, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Germany’s centers of industrial production remain in Southern Germany, where most conventional power plants are planned to be closed down. (Photo by Nico Kaiser, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Reserve capacity – Monitoring Report Part 1

09 Jan 2014   by   Comments (0)

In December, Germany’s Network Agency, which oversees the electricity grid, published its monitoring report for 2013. Craig Morris does us the favor of reviewing the full German edition. Today, he focuses on what the report says about reserve capacity.

Gas Power Plant in Irsching, part of reserve capacity in Germany (Source : Dominik Zehatschek/E.ON)

Gas Power Plant in Irsching, part of reserve capacity in Germany. (Source : Dominik Zehatschek/E.ON)

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New Year’s resolutions for the energy transition

06 Jan 2014   by   Comments (1)

Germany has a new governing coalition this year, and the new Energy and Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel says the entire Energiewende needs to be relaunched. Craig Morris has no problem with that opinion – as long as we remain focused on the right outcome.

Happy new year 2014 (Photo by derhypnosefrosch, CC BY-NC 2.0)

2014 will most likely bring a lot of policy changes to the German Energiewende. (Photo by derhypnosefrosch, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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Happy holidays from the depths of Germany’s “winter gap”!

25 Dec 2013   by   Comments (1)

In his last post of 2013, Craig Morris addresses his readers who have accused him of “cherry picking” over the year. He says the fruit from the top tastes the best. We just hope he doesn’t hurt himself up there – and that you don’t either when you’re putting the last decoration atop your Christmas tree. Best wishes for 2014 from all of us at EnergyTransition.de!

Merry Christmas

Happy holidays to all our readers! (Photo by baerchen57, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Germans gladly conserve power for the energy transition

23 Dec 2013   by   Comments (3)

Amidst all the hubbub about high power prices in Germany, Craig Morris says we have lost sight of the difference between prices and costs. What matters most to consumers, he says, is power bills.

Power Cost

Consumers don’t care as much for cost per kWh as for the monthly or yearly bill. (Photo by GG-Berlin / pixelio.de)

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What Germany’s new cabinet means for the Energiewende

16 Dec 2013   by   Comments (1)

On Sunday, the key posts were announced for Chancellor Merkel’s new cabinet. Craig Morris says a number of appointments make it clear that the new government aims to do what Germans do best: find a consensus.

Sigmar Gabriel will be the new minister for the economy and the Energiewende. He was previously minister for the environment between 2005-2009. (Photo by blu-news.org, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Sigmar Gabriel will be the new minister for economics and energy. He was previously minister for the environment between 2005-2009. (Photo by blu-news.org, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Grimmest forecast for power prices still in line with inflation

12 Dec 2013   by   Comments (0)

A new study released by a major critic of the Energiewende finds that power prices are expected to continue to rise. But Craig Morris is surprised at how low even the worst forecast is. He says politicians are now stepping in to protect consumers now that the biggest hikes are behind us.

Wind Turbines on Hill

Power prices – the biggest increases might already be behind Germany. (Photo by Teratornis, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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P2G gets going

11 Dec 2013   by   Comments (6)

At the end of November, Germany’s Thüga Group exported the first hydrogen made from electricity into the country’s gas network at a point in Frankfurt. Craig Morris says the event could be the beginning of something big.

Powered by wind. (Photo by baracoder, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Powered by wind. (Photo by baracoder, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Energy democracy in danger

05 Dec 2013   by   Comments (0)

Recently, our blogger Craig Morris stated that both coalition parties have capable proponents of renewables, but he only mentioned one from the Social Democrats. He says he left out the conservative CDU/CSU intentionally – because he was saving the best for last.

Josef Göppel addressing Bundestag

Josef Göppel, one of the CSU’s outspoken supporters of bottom-up renewables. (Photo by goeppel.de)

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Something to copy from Germany: transparency of energy data

04 Dec 2013   by   Comments (0)

Over at the AWEA blog, our colleague Michael Goggin recently wrote of a new record. Craig Morris says the most interesting part was that the data are not publicly available.

Open electricity markets need open data. (Photo by Martin, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Open electricity markets need open data. (Photo by ~Martin~, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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The Energiewende will not be televised

02 Dec 2013   by   Comments (0)

In a few weeks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel could officially begin her next term in office now that the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats have reached a coalition agreement. Craig Morris takes a look at the reactions to the new proposals, which Matthias Lang recently summed up here.

Won't make the renewable sector happy: The Coalition Agreement. (Photo by CDU / Laurence Chaperon)

Won’t make the renewable sector rejoice: The Coalition Agreement. (Photo by CDU / Laurence Chaperon)

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Heating and fuel more expensive than power

27 Nov 2013   by   Comments (0)

German renewable energy association AEE has produced a simple chart comparing average household expenses for electricity, motor fuel, and heating oil. While everyone is focused on the rising cost of power, it turns out that the other two items have increased faster since 2000. Craig Morris investigates.

Radiator

Germans pay a lot more for heating than for power – let alone renewables. (Photo by Bios, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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German energy consumption up

25 Nov 2013   by   Comments (1)

The AGEB (Working Group on Energy Balances), which tallies official energy statistics for Germany, expects consumption to increase by just over two percent this year. Craig Morris takes a look at the organization’s overview for the first three quarters.

Berlin in Winter

A winter day in Berlin – The exceptionally long and cold winter in 2013 caused a rise in gas consumption in Germany. (Photo by optikfluffel, CC BY 2.0)

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2.5% of German power is coal for export – and counting

20 Nov 2013   by   Comments (2)

But because of the way we count carbon emissions, German coal power exports to its neighbors (including France, which is a major net importer of German electricity) will make Germany’s carbon balance look a bit worse than it is in reality. Craig Morris explains.

French Transmission Line

French high-voltage lines – most likely carrying exported German coal power. (Photo by REMIBRIDOT, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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“4,000 subsidies for renewables”

13 Nov 2013   by   Comments (0)

Sometimes, Der Spiegel misconstrues issues so well that even experts have trouble understanding what is meant. Instead of a full rebuttal, Craig Morris takes a look at the two main claims in a recent article.

Renowned for getting it wrong on Renewables: Der Spiegel (Photo by  Wolfgang Meinhart, GFDL)

Renowned for getting it wrong on Renewables: Der Spiegel (Photo by Wolfgang Meinhart, GFDL)

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In defense of Passive House architecture

12 Nov 2013   by   Comments (3)

The Guardian reported this month on an energy-saving approach to construction. Craig Morris says that, in attempting to present “both sides” of the story, the journalist misses the point.

A Clunky Prison? The first passive house built in NY tells another story. (Photo by BASF, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Clunky? Dismal? The first passive house built in Hudson, NY, tells another story. (Photo by BASF, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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Denmark surpasses 100 percent wind power

08 Nov 2013   by   Comments (19)

On November 3, wind power production in Denmark exceeded the level of power consumption. Craig Morris says the event was not even especially exceptional.

(Photo by CGP Grey, CC BY 2.0)

(Photo by CGP Grey, CC BY 2.0)

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Germany to shut down 12 power plants

07 Nov 2013   by   Comments (0)

At the beginning of the month, Germany’s Focus Magazine reported (in German) that the German Network Agency plans to allow 12 conventional power plants to be shut down. Craig Morris reports.

Increasingly uncompetitive in Germany: Coal Power.

Increasingly uncompetitive in Germany: Coal Power. (Photo by richard.brand, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

 

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German PV feed-in tariffs to drop by 1.4 percent

05 Nov 2013   by   Comments (1)

In Germany, feed-in tariffs for new solar arrays drop each month, but by varying rates dependent upon recent installation volumes. Craig Morris points out that, while German solar proponents mainly complain about the market slowing down, new installations continue to overshoot the government’s target.

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German utility embraces Energiewende?

31 Oct 2013   by   Comments (1)

Reports have trickled out – and made a bigger splash than the droplets of information may warrant: German energy corporation RWE plans to revise its business strategy. Craig Morris says the new ideas have been obvious for years, but a new ad by the firm shows that the company’s heart still isn’t in it.

Black or Green? German utility RWE seems to suffer from schizophrenic disorder recently. (Photo by HOWI, CC BY 3.0)

German utility RWE seems to be undergoing a change of heart, but no official policy has been announced. (Photo by HOWI, CC BY 3.0)

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Citizens own half of German renewable energy

29 Oct 2013   by   Comments (1)

German renewables organization AEE has updated and simplified its statistics on green energy ownership. Craig Morris says the new figures are much easier for foreigners to understand.

The initiative "Energiewende in Bürgerhand" is one of many civil society actors promoting the idea of energy democracy. (Photo: buergerenergiewende.de)

“We are the Energiewende”: The initiative “Energiewende in Bürgerhand” is one of many civil society actors promoting the idea of energy democracy. (Photo: buergerenergiewende.de)

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Zero net emissions by 2050?

24 Oct 2013   by   Comments (0)

Germany’s Environmental Agency (Umweltbundesamt or UBA) has come up with a proposal for a 95 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, far more than the country’s current goal of an 80 percent reduction. Craig Morris points out that the recommendations are intended not only for a German audience.

Agriculture might be the single biggest source of CO2 emissions by 2050. (Photo by southgeist, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Agriculture might be the single biggest source of CO2 emissions by 2050. (Photo by southgeist, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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The misleading focus on cost

23 Oct 2013   by   Comments (0)

Recently, our Craig Morris explained that German retail rates are poised to stabilize even if the renewables surcharge continues to rise slightly. Today, he points out why we cannot expect the cost impact of feed-in tariffs to go down until around 2030 – and why that is not such a big deal.

(Photo by lichtkunst.73  / pixelio.de)

As the EEG guarantees payments for 20 years, today’s surcharge equal the cumulative costs of the past installments. (Photo by lichtkunst.73 / pixelio.de)

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Coming soon: an end to rising power prices

20 Oct 2013   by   Comments (2)

On October 15, Germany announced the renewable surcharge for 2014, which is roughly 1 cent higher per kilowatt-hour than in 2013. Craig Morris says there are signs that an end to higher prices is near. And you don’t have to take his word for it.

Electric Meter

Slowing down – energy price increases for consumers in Germany could come to a halt soon. (Photo by Alexander Franke)

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Agora proposes EEG 2.0

17 Oct 2013   by   Comments (2)

The Berlin-based think tank for the Energiewende has published its own proposal for revisions to the Renewable Energy Act, which specifies feed-in tariffs. The renewables community is up in arms. Craig Morris explains.

(Photo by Florian Gerlach, CC BY-SA 3.0)

If Agora’s proposals were implemented, installation of two of the three renewable technologies in this photo would probably stop. (Photo by Florian Gerlach, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Brussels, feed-in tariffs, and state aid

14 Oct 2013   by   Comments (0)

After the summer break, EU officials are back to work, and their long-awaited plans for state aid in the energy sector are taking shape. Craig Morris says there is good news and bad news – and a lack of clarity.

Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger will come out with the European Commissions position on FITs soon. (© European Union, 2013)

Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger will come out with the European Commission’s position on FITs soon. (© European Union, 2013)

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Reforming the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) – Equitable cost-sharing

09 Oct 2013   by   Comments (0)

In his series on how German energy policy needs to change, Craig Morris has focused on keeping costs down, but today he talks about spreading them around fairly. The issue is not just industry exemptions, but also grid costs in general.

Test (Uwe Schlick  / pixelio.de)

A reform of the renewable energy sources act is due, especially to decrease the financial burden on consumers. (Uwe Schlick / pixelio.de)

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Reforming the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) – An end to feed-in tariffs?

07 Oct 2013   by   Comments (2)

In his last post, Craig Morris discussed two market failures and argued that energy corporations need to assume more responsibility for risk in the energy transition. Today, he adds two more market failures and says small investors can shoulder more of the burden, but only if they have more information.

(Photo by vitkor's view, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Not every kilowatt-hour of electricity introduced in the grid is equally useful. (Photo by viktor’s view, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Reforming the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) – Market solutions for market failures

02 Oct 2013   by   Comments (2)

Germany does not yet have a new coalition, but the debate about German energy policy reform is in full bloom. Today, Craig Morris talks about the changes that would affect energy corporations – and can’t help noticing the German penchant for market-based instruments and efforts to limit governmental intervention.

The new government will need to tackle

The new government will need to tackle challenges around grid development and a possible capacity market. (Photo by FireFace13, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Tweets to the Telegraph

26 Sep 2013   by   Comments (3)

Assaults on the Energiewende continue unabated. Craig Morris says rebuttals are becoming hard to write because the arguments in the original articles do not flow from one to the other.

And yet they move

Attacks on the Energiewende continue – and yet they move. (Photo by Thaddäus Zoltkowski, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Community ownership – is it crowdfunding?

25 Sep 2013   by   Comments (1)

Recently, the UK’s Sam Friggens spoke of community ownership in Germany as crowdfunding. Craig Morris wondered why he had never heard the Germans call it that, and he could think of two reasons – one small, the other big.

Bioenergyvillage Juehnde (FNR/Jan Zappner)

Bioenergy village Juehnde, in which the biogas plant is owned by a local cooperative of citizens. (FNR/Jan Zappner)

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The three phases of renewables integration

19 Sep 2013   by   Comments (0)

What exactly would a new Renewables Club focus on? Today, Craig Morris takes a look at the World Resource Institute’s proposals, which he finds convincing. But he still has one question.

Renewables Club

What could they talk about? (BMU/Ute Grabowsky, photothek.net)

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World Resource Institute calls for Solar Economy Club

17 Sep 2013   by   Comments (0)

In a recent (and unfortunately undated) paper, the WRI points out that the world is not on track to slow down global warming and proposes a solution: a new club of nations, whose members would work together. There would be strict requirements for membership as well, as Craig Morris explains.

(BMU/Ute Grabowsky, photothek.net)

The recently established Renewables Club during their first meeting in Berlin. Does just another forum for dialogue help, though? (BMU/Ute Grabowsky, photothek.net)

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“Less liberalized” Germany

13 Sep 2013   by   Comments (0)

In his last post, Craig Morris reviewed parts of a US labor union study, whose author calls it a “discussion document.” Craig accepts the invitation – and has one of his own.

Germans can pull the plug on their energy provider and switch to others to save money or to choose green electricity (Axel Hoffmann  / pixelio.de)

Germans can pull the plug on their current energy provider and switch in order to save money or to choose green electricity. (Axel Hoffmann / pixelio.de)

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US labor unions call for energy democracy

11 Sep 2013   by   Comments (0)

A new campaign for renewables in the US focuses on something too often overlooked in the debate there: community ownership. Craig Morris is pleased to see the campaign’s work, but he nonetheless has some things to critique.

Queue in front of wind turbine

Renewables democratize energy ownership and help create good jobs. (Photo by Michael Pereckas, CC BY 2.0)

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The Dutch energy transition

04 Sep 2013   by   Comments (3)

At the end of August, the Dutch government announced slightly different targets for renewables, and some interesting details are in the works. Nonetheless, the country still is not on course to meet its target for 2050. For that matter, neither is Germany, as Craig Morris points out.

Historically an early adopter of renewables (Photo by Kent Kanouse, CC BY NC 2.0)

Windmills, part of Dutch landscape and distant relatives of today’s wind turbines. (Photo by Kent Kanouse, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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German electricity getting cheaper on exchange

26 Aug 2013   by   Comments (4)

In mid-August, Germany had its first normal workday on which peak power prices were below base prices, and futures prices are also down. Craig Morris provides an overview and warns proponents of renewables not to rejoice too soon at the demise of conventional power.

Obsolete mammoth: Niederaußem Lignite Power Plant and one of the most inefficient in Europe. (Photo by Stodtmeister, CC BY 3.0)

Dirty, inflexible, obsolete: Niederaußem Lignite Power Plant in North Rhine-Westphalia and according to the WWF one of the most inefficient power plants in Europe. (Photo by Stodtmeister, CC BY 3.0)

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Germans still overwhelmingly support Energiewende

19 Aug 2013   by   Comments (2)

A few weeks before the German parliamentary elections, a consumer advocacy group has published a survey of public opinion on the country’s energy transition. The findings are clear: Germans support the goals of the Energiewende. Nonetheless, Craig Morris has some nits to pick with the poll’s questions.

Protests like this one in Berlin for the democratization of the grid show that citizens agree with the goals of the Energiewende but want to be taken seriously as actors.

Protests like this one in Berlin for the democratization of grid and electricity production show that most citizens agree with the goals of the Energiewende – but want to be taken seriously and involved as actors. (Photo by Uwe Hiksch, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Calls for end to “priority access”

08 Aug 2013   by   Comments (1)

EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger says Germany must review its Renewable Energy Act (EEG) immediately after the elections in September. He specifically has his eye on priority grid access for renewables. But Craig Morris says there is always “too much” renewable power for power firms.

Commissioner Oettinger speaking at a press conference.

In November 2012 Günther Oettinger presented the Commission’s position on how to restructure the internal energy market, which could impact and limit the design of renewable support schemes in all member states. (© European Union, 2013)

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The solar compromise

06 Aug 2013   by   Comments (0)

The EU and China have settled their trade dispute over PV imports. Craig Morris says the deal will mainly make people outside the sector happy.

Solar Panels

Reason for the dispute: Chinese solar panels have been undercutting the European competition while being accused of price dumping. (Photo by Mike Baker, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Load management in Germany – the potential

02 Aug 2013   by   Comments (5)

Experts say that industry can help the transition to intermittent renewables by shifting power demand. Now, German think tank Agora Energiewende has published the English translation of its report, which our Craig Morris reviews.

Stuttgart

Stuttgart, one of southern Germany’s industrial powerhouses and home to countless industrial electricity consumers like Daimler-Benz (Photo by pjt56, CC BY 3.0).

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German Energy Transition is favorable to business and industry

31 Jul 2013   by   Comments (1)

The German Environmental Ministry (BMU) and German industry association BDI have produced a brochure of 22 examples of how creative German companies are striving in the green economy. Craig Morris says the publication shows how focused the German business world is on the energy transition.

A combined cycle gas turbine with over 60% net efficiency - one of the examples

A combined cycle gas turbine with over 60% net efficiency- one of the examples for how German companies (in this case Siemens) profit from the growing green economy. (Siemens Press Picture)

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Germans not worried about sluggish offshore wind progress

23 Jul 2013   by   Comments (1)

An article over at the Economist sums up the obstacles facing offshore wind in Germany fairly well, as a comparison with recent forecasts reveals. But while the report is well researched and accurate, Craig Morris says it nonetheless misses the point by taking offshore wind to be a crucial part of the Energiewende.

(Photo by Nuon, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Offshore wind power plays a minor role in Germany’s Energiewende. (Photo by Nuon, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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Citizen ownership of grids

19 Jul 2013   by   Comments (0)

On July 5, the German government signed an agreement with the country’s four transit grid operators for citizens to invest in grid expansion. But as Craig Morris explains, not everyone is happy.

Berlin Panorama

Berlin is one of many cities in Germany in which citizens are trying to buy back the grid from private investors. (Photo by Jules Holleboom, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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The laws of nature are immutable, not the laws of man

18 Jul 2013   by   Comments (1)

How do America’s future environmentalists view Germany’s energy transition? Craig Morris recently spent a day with a group of students from the US and found some things encouraging, others not.

Green Roofs in Freiburg

One of the things that impress the group of visitors from North Carolina the most was something generally taken for granted in Freiburg: green roofs. (Photo: Craig Morris)

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German smart market begins

11 Jul 2013   by   Comments (5)

On July 1, the market for lower power consumption rollout in Germany, with firms now being paid to reduce their consumption. Craig Morris provides an overview.

Skyline Bremen

Under certain conditions firms can now be paid for not using energy when supply gets tight. (Photo by Pascal, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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French labor union calls for energy transition

09 Jul 2013   by   Comments (1)

Just a few weeks after complaining about how French labor unions don’t support renewables, Craig Morris now gets to eat his hat. He says he’s glad to do so if it helps get the word out that France’s energy transition will create more than 600,000 jobs by 2030.

The wind for nuclear might be turning in France.

In France, the wind for nuclear might slowly be turning: Among others, the French labor union CFDT has started to openly speak out for renewables. (Photo by TtoTheStreet, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Storing excess nuclear and fossil power

05 Jul 2013   by   Comments (4)

Under a recent blog post here, numerous readers commented that green gas could be made from electricity when the price on the power exchange is low or even negative. Craig Morris says that is exactly what will happen – it’s just not “green gas.”

CO2 to Methanol plant

CO2 to Methanol plant in Iceland. (Photo by ThinkGeoEnergy, CC BY 2.0)

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EEX opposes capacity markets and supports marketing green power

02 Jul 2013   by   Comments (0)

The power exchange in Leipzig, Germany, has published a position paper on the Energiewende in German. Craig Morris sums up the main points.

Demand management is one suggestion of EEX - and could be implemented through adding smart meters in consumers' houses. (Photo by steve hanna, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Demand management is one suggestion of the EEX – smart meters could help implement price signals for consumers. (Photo by steve hanna, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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The sweet spot of electric mobility

27 Jun 2013   by   Comments (1)

All eyes are on Tesla as the only car company that is currently making money on all-electric vehicles. Nonetheless, Craig Morris thinks Tesla is coming at the issue from the wrong end.

Twike

A Twike, an alternative electric car that can also be powered by pedaling. (Photo by Franko30)

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Power to gas – when will it be competitive?

25 Jun 2013   by   Comments (13)

In the long run, Germany will need seasonal storage of solar power from the summer for the winter. German researchers are banking on “power to gas” (P2G). Craig Morris takes a look at how far away we are.

Gas Pipeline

Pipelines offer storage capacities for excess energy – but the conversion of electricity is not quite there yet. (Photo by Buridans Esel, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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A roadmap for the energy transition

20 Jun 2013   by   Comments (3)

Last December, the IFEU Institute of Heidelberg co-published a roadmap for the Energiewende. Martin Pehnt, a co-author of this website, helped direct the project. Craig Morris says the ideas are quite practical.

Energiewende Roadmap

Mapping the detailed need for change in a different way: IFEU’s Energiewende roadmap. (Photo: IFEU)

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PV + battery storage not affordable in foreseeable future

17 Jun 2013   by   Comments (11)

A new study by German think tank Agora Energiewende looks into what solar power with storage would need to cost to be competitive with other optimized growth scenarios. Craig Morris says the findings need to be heeded.

solar and wind

Does it make more sense to install wind and solar capacity where it is most efficient or put them close to where demand is highest? (Photo by bby_, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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German nuclear plants and the flood

11 Jun 2013   by   Comments (0)

For the second time in 11 years, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Austria have experienced a “once-in-a-century flood.” Craig Morris takes a look at how nuclear plants in the area are faring.

Flooding in Passau

Passau, as many cities in southern and eastern Germany, has been particularly severely hit. (Photo by Stefan Penninger, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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What Americans think about Germany’s energy transition

10 Jun 2013   by   Comments (8)

In May, Rainer Baake and Jennifer Morgan published an article at Bloomberg recommending German renewables policy to Americans. Craig Morris found the reader comments especially interesting, both in what was said and what was completely left out.

Germany or the US? While on the surface things might look similar,  things get confusing of one looks more closely. (Photo by Jeffrey G. Katz, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Germany or the US? While on the surface things might look familiar, discussions can get confusing when one looks more closely. (Photo by Jeffrey G. Katz, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Focused capacity markets or strategic reserve?

07 Jun 2013   by   Comments (0)

Green politician Oliver Kischer has published a critique of the proposals being tossed about for a new power market design, and he comes down heavily in favor of focused capacity markets. Craig Morris takes a look at the reasoning.

Power Line

The design of power markets is a matter of contention in Germany right now. (Photo by Marc Duchene, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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“Focused” capacity markets – what’s that?

31 May 2013   by   Comments (0)

The renewables sector is generally open to the idea of capacity payments, provided the design is “focused.” WWF Deutschland has already made such a proposal. Craig Morris provides an overview.

Irsching Power Station

Irsching Power Station, a combined-cycle power plant that uses gas to produce both electricity and heat, for which reason it is more efficient than classical gas turbine plants. It is used as a peak load power plant and recently caused discussions as E.ON wanted to shut down one block due to unprofitability while the Federal Network Agency argued that its production capacity was needed to stabilize the grid. (Source: E.ON)

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Has the age of capacity markets only just begun?

29 May 2013   by   Comments (3)

Germany has an “energy-only” power market, meaning that all payments are based on the kilowatt-hour. If a plant does not run much, it earns less – and gas turbines are suffering the most. But as Craig Morris points out, Germany is a bit of an exception within the EU – for how much longer?

high-voltage power line near Ludwigsburg

To integrate renewables into energy markets, more dispatchable capacity is needed. Capacity markets are one way to incentivize the availability of capacity. (Photo by WeiterWinkel, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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Labor unions – pro-nuke or pro-renewables?

24 May 2013   by   Comments (2)

In Germany, labor unions are strong supporters of renewables, which is not the case everywhere. A recent paper by a German labor union leader explains the history, which is a good example of the struggle between midsize firms and large corporations, says Craig Morris.

Wind Turbine Construction

Nowadays, renewables provide far more jobs in Germany than the rest of the energy sector combined. (Photo by Loozrboy, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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The commercial sector discovers “own consumption”

21 May 2013   by   Comments (3)

The figures for ownership of renewables in Germany indicate a shift from private citizens, who still make up about half of investments, to the commercial sector. Craig Morris says some people saw this coming.

Photovoltaic Power Station in Lower Saxony.

Photovoltaic power station in Lower Saxony. (Photo by Martina Nolte, CC-by-sa-3.0 de)

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German renewables still ground-roots movement

15 May 2013   by   Comments (5)

German renewables organization AEE has published the update of its pie chart of ownership for 2012. Craig Morris explains what the different categories are.

Bioenergyvillage Juehnde

Bioenergyvillage Juehnde, one of thousand examples of communal energy cooperatives throughout Germany. (Photo: Bioenergiedorf Jühnde)

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The flattening of peak and base prices

13 May 2013   by   Comments (4)

The difference between the price of electricity at times of low demand (baseload) and high demand (peak load) has shrunk dramatically in Germany over just the past few years. As Craig Morris points out, one result is that pumped storage no longer pays for itself.

Pumpspeicherwerk Rönkhausen

Pumped-storage power station Rönkhausen in North Rhine-Westphalia as seen from above. (Photo by Dr.G.Schmitz, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… a nuclear fuel rod?

09 May 2013   by   Comments (3)

Nuclear power is often considered “domestic” even when the uranium is imported. Craig Morris can’t help noticing how we are concerned about dependency upon oil and coal imports, but not uranium.

Uranium mine in Australia

If this uranium mine does not look French to you, it is because France does not have any. (Photo by Bidgee, CC BY 2.0)

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German renewables community united

07 May 2013   by   Comments (4)

American Ozzie Zehner is looking for “alternatives to alternative energy.” Craig Morris agrees with practically everything he says but nonetheless feels that Zehner’s approach is self-serving. Orgs in the US all protect their own industries. Who is left to call for a true energy transition?

Vauban, Freiburg

The neighborhood of Vauban in Freiburg is a good example for the pervasiveness of environmentalism in Germany. (Photo by s4tomorrow, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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Coal power causes roughly 3,000 deaths per year in Germany

02 May 2013   by   Comments (1)

The campaign against coal power continues in Germany. Two new studies come to relatively similar estimates of the number of people who die every year from coal emissions in Germany alone – and one organization says some EU standards are more lax than those in China and the US. Craig Morris wonders whether the various numbers from different studies will convince skeptics.

Coal is relatively cheap, because environmental and health costs are externalized. (Photo by Elsdorf-blog.de, CC BY 3.0)

Coal is relatively cheap only because environmental and health costs are externalized. (Photo by Elsdorf-blog.de, CC BY 3.0)

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Germany builds minus six coal plants after nuclear phaseout

29 Apr 2013   by   Comments (16)

In a recent paper about Germany’s energy transition, Craig Morris found one particular claim that he wanted to investigate: have the Germans built any coal plants to make up for lost nuclear power since 2011?

Coal Power Plant Mannheim

Unit 9 of the coal power station in Mannheim was the last German coal power generation unit to receive a building permission in 2009 – two years before the nuclear phase-out was put into place. No new projects have been allowed since and six have been cancelled. (Photo by Engelberger, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Wanna be 30 percent renewable in 2014? Just consume German power

26 Apr 2013   by   Comments (0)

In a recent article about the German energy transition, a researcher in the US looks at the challenges Germany faces. But Craig Morris thinks the report says more about Americans than about Germany.

Solar Roof

The Energiewende is not a result of top-down but bottom-up policies. (Photo by twicepix, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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German reliance on coal from the US

24 Apr 2013   by   Comments (1)

A German NGO has joined the call for a German coal phaseout – and invited a US activist to Germany to raise awareness about where Germany’s hard coal is coming from. Craig Morris wonders whether the discussion is focusing on what’s important.

Lignite Strip in Saxonia

A lignite strip mine in Saxony and, as Germans call it, the “lunar landscape” it leaves behind. Photo: Craig Morris

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Watts per m2 – say what?

19 Apr 2013   by   Comments (1)

A recent scientific paper wondered whether the potential of wind power worldwide has not been overestimated. Craig Morris could not help noticing that the calculation was based on something he has never seen it used in the German debate: watts per square meter.

WIndfarm in California

Watts per m² – Germans are not worried about theoretical limitations. They just build renewables and realize in the process that they can make more energy than they need. (Photo by Alexander Franke)

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“Efficiency lacks a loud lobby”: An interview with Florentin Krause

17 Apr 2013   by   Comments (0)

Recently, our Craig Morris did a three-part book review of the original “Energiewende: growth and prosperity without petroleum and uranium” from 1980. He then spoke with one of the authors, Florentin Krause, who had a few bones to pick with Craig’s reading – and with the current implementation of the concept in Germany.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/24046097@N00/3961050471

While the share of Renewables in electricity production has multiplied in Germany, issues of efficiency as well as other sectors like transportation and heating remain to be addressed. (Photo by romainguy, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Dubious reports about “Energiewende in doubt”

12 Apr 2013   by   Comments (1)

The Anglo world repeatedly reads news about Germany’s changes to energy policy as a sign that Germany is abandoning renewables. Craig Morris says the misunderstanding is cultural; the success of Germany’s switch to efficiency and renewables, macroeconomic.

Protest in Berlin

The Energiewende continues to enjoy broad social support in Germany. (Photo by 350.org, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Let’s not forget community ownership

11 Apr 2013   by   Comments (0)

A recent report at USA Today throws together a lot of disparate problems to explain why renewables are “losing their shine” in Europe. As Craig Morris points out, feed-in tariffs are not subsidies, Europe is not Germany, and we still overlook the main driving force behind the German energy transition.

Community Ownership is key to acceptance of higher electricity cost. (Photo by 4028mdk09, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Solar Panels on the roof of residential houses in Heidelberg – Community ownership and environmental concerns are two key reasons to understand the broad acceptance of higher electricity costs. (Photo by 4028mdk09, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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“The Era of Coal is Over” – In Los Angeles!

08 Apr 2013   by   Comments (0)

The City of Los Angeles has announced that it plans to replace coal power with renewables, efficiency and natural gas starting immediately. Craig Morris wonders how doomed coal is in the rest of the US – and in Germany.

Los Angeles is leading the way towards Renewables. (Photo by Thomas Pintaric, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Los Angeles is leading the way towards Renewables. (Photo by Thomas Pintaric, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Calling for a Coal Phaseout: The Health Costs

05 Apr 2013   by   Comments (2)

Opponents of wind turbines charts that they kill tens of thousands of birds each year. How many birds died from coal plant emissions? The question is rarely asked, but Craig Morris has been following the subject for more than a decade and finds the human death toll from coal power is much bigger than the number of birds killed by wind turbines.

sheep under photovoltaic panels

Though ground-mounted solar panels do take up space, they can coexist with grazing animals, as this sheep farm/solar array in Bavaria demonstrates. Image: Craig Morris

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Seasonal Power Storage – The Challenge for Solar

04 Apr 2013   by   Comments (0)

A recent article at Slate.com is a refreshing exception to the frequent misreports. Nonetheless, Craig Morris has a few nits to pick and says that the bad news for Germany is the good news for the United States.

(Photo by Mike Baker, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Growing capacity of solar also means growing need for power storage. (Photo by Mike Baker, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Looking back at the Energiewende 1980 – Time for a Coal Phaseout

30 Mar 2013   by   Comments (1)

In this final installment looking back on the first book on the Energiewende of 1980, Craig Morris looks at the many things the book gets right and wonders whether it might provide good reasons to finally call for a coal phaseout in Germany.

The dark side of domestic coal.

The dark side of domestic coal – the surface mine of Garzweiler. (Photo by Raimond Spekking, CC BY-SA-3.0)

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Looking back at the Energiewende 1980 – Nuclear Cannot be Efficient

27 Mar 2013   by   Comments (3)

In the late 1970s, the first major protests against nuclear power had already taken place in Whyl and Brokdorf. Perhaps no other publication better reveals what the arguments against nuclear were back then than the original book Energiewende. Craig Morris was mainly surprised at the early focus on overall efficiency.

Often negclected, yet part of the solution: Higher efficiency. (Photo by Dirk Duckhorn, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Often neglected, yet part of the solution: higher efficiency. (Photo by Dirk Duckhorn, CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Looking back at the Energiewende 1980 – 55 Percent Coal?

26 Mar 2013   by   Comments (0)

The term “Energiewende” did not come about in 2011, but rather in the late 1970s, and it was canonized in an eponymous book from 1980. But a close read reveals that “Energiewende: growth and prosperity without petroleum and uranium” is not about phasing out coal at all – quite the contrary, as Craig Morris reports in this three-part series.

AKW Brokdorf

The Brokdorf nuclear plant, one of two main places where the German anti-nuclear movement started. The plant will be one of the last to go offline in 2021. (Photo by Alois Staudacher, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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From Coal to Renewables – The Jobs Perspective

22 Mar 2013   by   Comments (2)

Over at the Washington Post, environmental blogger Brad Plumer rightly points out the social responsibility we have in the switch from old technologies (coal power) to new ones (renewables). Germany has quite a bit of experience switching coal miners to green jobs, and Craig Morris knows the German word for it: Strukturwandel, or structural change.

Zeche Zollverein

Proud witness of German Strukturwandel – Zeche Zollverein in Essen, former mining complex and today UNESCO world heritage site and exhibition space. (Photo by Adva, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Germans Driven by Facts, Not Fear – Deal With It

14 Mar 2013   by   Comments (1)

Why the moral indignation at Germany’s attempt to switch to renewables? When checking into Germany, Craig Morris advises Americans to leave their vituperation at the door. Germans of different political camps speak respectfully with each other and are guided by facts, not ideology – with, he regrets, the exception of Der Spiegel.

Wind Turbines in Field

Der Spiegel might think otherwise, and yet it moves. (Photo by Guerito, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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Count Nuclear Waste, Not Just CO2

12 Mar 2013   by   Comments (9)

How much carbon does the average American or European emit per year? How much does the world emit? And if you know the answers to those questions, maybe you can also tell Craig Morris how many tons of nuclear waste the world has? He tried, and failed, to find out.

Radioactive Waste

Radioactive Waste in Nevada – how much is there? (Photo courtesy of National Nuclear Security Administration / Nevada Field Office)

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Our Discussions on Nuclear Power Should Include a Peace Dividend

11 Mar 2013   by   Comments (0)

On the second anniversary of the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Craig Morris talks about what – despite the flood of information – still needs to be better understood and why the debate about our future energy supply should include a peace dividend.

A commemoration of the Chernobyl disaster in 2011, only weeks after the Fukushima nuclear disaster had occured.

A commemoration in Vienna in 2011, remembering the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 as well as the Fukushima nuclear disaster which had only occured a few weeks earlier. (Photo by Manfred Werner, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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EU Drives German Energy Policy

08 Mar 2013   by   Comments (5)

Yesterday, the German government held a press conference on the energy transition, which apparently put a lot of reporters to sleep. During the event, Environmental Minister Peter Altmaier found time to engage in a debate with us on Twitter. Craig Morris thinks he won that debate, by the way. And the real news came out of Brussels, not Berlin: German energy policy may violate competition rules.

The chemical industry in Germany is one of the main industrial consumers of power and often excluded from the surcharge and even grid fees. (Photo by Gerd W. Zinke, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The chemical industry in Germany is one of the main industrial consumers of power and often excluded from the surcharge and even grid fees. (Photo by Gerd W. Zinke, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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Feed-in Tariffs For Nuclear, Anyone?

07 Mar 2013   by   Comments (0)

Feed-in tariffs are often referred to as a startup mechanism for a fledgling technology (renewables), and it is assumed that they will be done away with at some point. Craig Morris wonders why the nuclear sector now needs them after 50 years of subsidies.

Chernobyl

The Chernobyl Memorial in front of the reactor ruins. Only a few weeks ago, the provisional container above the reactor collapsed.

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The German Energy Transition and its Neighbors – Part 4

05 Mar 2013   by   Comments (0)

Is Germany not simply switching off its own nuclear plants in order to import nuclear power from its neighbors? It turns out that nuclear plants in neighboring countries have always run at full capacity and simply cannot be ramped up any further to sell more to Germany. Craig Morris discusses the recent findings of a report by the German Institute for Applied Ecology (Oeko-Institute).

Fessenheim Nuclear Power Plant

The Fessenheim Nuclear Power Plant on the French side of the Rhine on the Franco-German border. (Photo by Florival fr, CC BY SA 3.0)

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We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

03 Mar 2013   by   Comments (0)

Everyone understandably looks towards the future to see how Germany will manage to increase the share of renewables in its power supply, but occasionally it’s worth taking a look back to see how far we have come – far, far further than both critics and supporters expected. Craig Morris takes a look.

Ant Nuclear Protest 1979 in Bonn, Germany.

We’ve come a long way – early anti-nuclear protest in Bonn in 1979. (Photo by Hans Weingartz, CC BY-SA 3.0)

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The German Energy Transition and its Neighbors – Part 3

01 Mar 2013   by   Comments (1)

How are Germany’s Eastern neighbors Poland and the Czech Republic reacting to the German renewable energy surge? Craig Morris discusses a recent study by the German Institute of Applied Ecology (Oeko-Institute) on the country’s energy transition and its impact on power flows with its neighbors.

Poland

Poland – a net importer of electricity from Germany that is mainly powered by coal, with renewables still far away. (Photo by CEE Bankwatch Network, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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The German Energy Transition and its Neighbors – Part 2

27 Feb 2013   by   Comments (0)

Delineating between commercial and physical power flows is not a task for the faint-hearted. Fortunately, researchers have done the work for us – and found that power is sold when it is cheap, not to prevent blackouts. As part of a four-part series, Craig Morris discusses a recent study on this matter conducted by the German Institute of Applied Ecology (Oeko-Institut).

Wind Energy in France. (Photo by olympi, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Wind Energy in France. (Photo by olympi, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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The Green Proposal to Keep the Cost of Renewable Power in Check

26 Feb 2013   by   Comments (0)

A few weeks ago, German Environmental Minister Peter Altmaier (Christian Democratic Union – CDU) said he planned to redesign German energy policy so that the renewables surcharge passed on to ratepayers would not rise any further. Altmaier provided details last week, just days after the Greens produced their own counter-proposal. Craig Morris takes a look at this proposal.

(Photo by epSos.de, CC BY 2.0)

(Photo by epSos.de, CC BY 2.0)

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The German Energy Transition and its Neighbors – Part 1

22 Feb 2013   by   Comments (1)

Germany has been criticized for the impact of its energy transition on Poland, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland, all of which charge that uncontrolled surges in renewables are destabilizing their grids and/or reducing the profitability of conventional power firms. As part of a four-part series, Craig Morris discusses a recent study on this matter conducted by the German Institute of Applied Ecology (Oeko-Institut).

Power lines near Heilbronn, Germany.

Power lines near Heilbronn, Germany. (Photo by matthiashn, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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The German Government’s Energy Solidarity Plan

20 Feb 2013   by   Comments (0)

Last week, German Environmental Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) and Industry Minister Philipp Rösler (FDP) reached an agreement to scale back industry exemptions to the renewables surcharge, slow down new wind and solar projects, and take money back from existing renewable power generators.

Demo gegen die Schwarz-Gelbe Energiepolitik

Protest against the latest efforts of Altmaier to slow down and shipwreck the Energiewende.
(Photo by campact, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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