National Public Radio examined the fallout of Germany’s decision to abandon nuclear energy. The country’s goal is to have solar, wind and other renewables replace nuclear power and account for nearly 40% of the nation’s energy in a decade, and 80% by 2050. “But already the revolutionary plan and its ambitious timeline are in doubt. There are deep concerns about rising energy costs, and some citizens are mobilizing against fast-track plans for an expanded electric power grid. “A major problem is that the extensive grid required is not yet in place to move the electricity from the offshore windfarms to where it is needed in the rest of the country. And building that 2800 km grid is likely to face a strong backlash from neighbouring communities and environmental groups.” The fact is, the post-Fukushima consensus in Germany has given way to growing concerns about rising electricity costs. The debate is intensifying over just who will pay for the transition to renewable energy, how it will happen, how fast — and through whose backyards.”

Still with Germany, der Spiegel said Grid Instability Has Industry Scrambling for Solutions. Sudden fluctuations in Germany’s power grid are causing major damage to the equipment of a number of industrial companies. While many firms have responded by getting their own power generators to help minimize the risks, others warn they might be forced to leave the country if the government doesn’t deal with this quickly. “Executives at the highest levels are also thinking about freeing themselves from Germany’s electricity grid to cushion the consequences of the country’s transition to renewable energy.” The problem stems from the unreliability of solar and wind compared with nuclear and natural gas-fired power plants. To match traditional energy sources, grid operators must be able to exactly predict how strong the wind will blow or the sun will shine. However, such an exact prediction is very difficult. Even when grid operators are off by just a few percentage points, voltage in the grid slackens. That has no affect on normal household appliances, such as vacuum cleaners and coffee machines but for high-performance computers that control industrial operations outages lasting even just a millisecond can quickly trigger system failures.

In a related post, hydrogenfuelnews noted the electricity grid is becoming a major concern in many countries as they cope with updating their technology to incorporate renewable energy sources. On the same topic, the BBC added that electricity grids are the key to South Asia’s power problems (with video).

The Local Germany reported consumers are to pay for energy guzzler cuts. “Hundreds of firms that use a lot of energy are to be freed from grid charges, leaving small companies and consumers to pick up the €440-million bill for the let-off in 2012 alone.” 178 firms have been exempted from the rising power grid charges so far and this number could rise to in excess of 200. The exempted costs will be picked up by consumers and small businesses. Grid charges are used to cover the maintenance of Germany’s power network. These charges are expected to increase substantially in the next few years as a result of the country’s planned electricity transition from nuclear to renewable sources.

TriplePundit told us General Motors is producing cars with solar power in Germany.

The Oman Daily Observer wrote about the continuing energy crisis in Pakistan. “India may claim the world’s biggest blackout, but in neighbouring Pakistan an endemic energy crisis blamed on years of mismanagement cripples the economy and makes millions of lives a daily misery.”

The Onion had fun with India’s recent massive power blackout. The BBC took a more serious tone with South Asia’s energy crisis demands collective action.

There were discussions of the role solar might play in fixing India’s burgeoning electricity needs. Renewable Energy World posted World Takes Hard Look at India Grid, Promises of Solar while The New York Times published Ending Blackouts, One Solar Lamp at a Time.

Energy Live News told us how the use of diesel generators are increasing in Africa as power shortages never stop.


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1 Comment on The Energy Blog World: The Week in Review (Part 3)

  1. Elroy Jetson says:

    Germany won’t have any trouble getting wind generated power across the country if they follow the Canadian province of Ontario’s example. Just strip rural communities of the right to have any say in the location of these projects and impose it. Who needs democracy these days anyways?