Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Germany returns to coal – and in a big way

December 29, 2013

Reality strikes.

Reblogged from http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/

By Paul Homewood

image

 

http://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/2013/11/germany-initiates-new-generation-of-coal-fired-new-builds.html

The new coal fired power plant, which began operations last month in Walsum, along with the one launched in Lunen earlier this month, represent the start of Germany’s new generation of hard coal power stations.

Altogether, ten new hard-coal power stations, of 7,985MW capacity, are scheduled to start producing electricity in the next two years. This is in addition to the two lignite, or brown coal, power stations, with capacity of 2875MW, which came on stream last year.

From PEI:

 A new generation of hard coal-fired power plants has been initiated in Germany with the activation of the 725 MW Walsum facility in Dortmund. 

Steag GmbH started Germanys first new power plant fuelled by hard coal in eight years, allowing the generator and energy trader to take advantage of near record-low coal prices that have widened profit margins.

While electricity output commenced this week, the plant will begin commercial operations later in the year following “optimization works and testing,” according to an email statement.
It marks the start of Germany’s biggest new-build program for hard coal stations since its liberalization in 1998. Ten new hard-coal power stations, or 7,985 MW, are scheduled to start producing electricity in the next two years, according to information from German grid regulator Bundesnetzagentur and operators.
Coal prices have fallen to their lowest price in four years, making this type of facility extremely attractive from a profitability standpoint.
Generating electricity by burning coal currently makes a profit of 9.16 euros a MW-hour, compared with a loss of 19.31 euros a MW-hour from 
gas-fired power, according to data compiled by Bloomberg based on next-year German power prices.

The 10 new units will boost German hard coal generation capacity by 33 per cent to 32,432 MW from 24,447 MW as of Oct. 16, regulator data show.

 The Bundesnetzagentur website also lists coal plants due for decommissioning by 2018, and the capacity of these total 1458MW, a much smaller number, so it seems clear that most of the new capacity is intended to replace nuclear.

The combined capacity of the new plants, including the two lignite ones, based on 80% utilisation, will supply 13% of Germany’s total electricity generation.

It is worth comparing this new coal capacity with the UK’s offshore wind capacity, either existing or coming on stream in the next four years. As I pointed out last week, this amounts to 8.2GW, a similar scale given the UK’s lower overall demand. However, rather than supplying regular, reliable power all year round, it will supply, at best, only 40% of this capacity. For this, we will be paying some £3bn a year in subsidies.

In contrast, the new German coal plants are expected to produce a profit of 9 euros/MWh.

It is also worth noting that Germany have a batch of new gas power stations coming on stream, adding capacity of 2.6GW. As neither these, nor the coal plants, will have Carbon Capture fitted, it is difficult to see how Germany will reduce CO2 emissions in the next few years.

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German hard reality is 10 new hard coal power plants to generate 8GW

November 18, 2013

It was inevitable.

The ridiculous energy policies in Germany in subsidising renewable energy and shutting down nuclear plants is backfiring. Green Energy policy in Europe has been at the cost of about 15 million jobs in lost growth opportunities.

They left themselves no option but to return to coal.

It is only a matter of time before the intransigent “green” lobbies of Europe are forced to face realities and cut back the wasteful subsidies on renewable energy and allow the fracking of shale for gas and to return to nuclear power. It has been a costly 3 decades of “green” madness.

1. RT News: 

Germany’s ‘green energy revolution’ costing billions

In the wake of Fukushima, Angela Merkel said Germany would phase out nuclear power by 2022 and subsidize renewable energy. Average German consumers can’t afford the ‘green’ subsidies as they drive up energy prices and suck profits from energy companies.

In the next 27 years, Germany will spend 550 billion euro on renewable technologies like wind and solar, in the hope of attaining 80 percent renewable energy by 2050. 

“It’s being sold on the message it’s either wind energy or radioactive catastrophe, this plays on fear, and makes money for wind energy providers,” Petra Dahms, anti-wind power activist, told RT. 

According to the Cologne Institute for Economic Research, Germany’s energy costs are 40 percent higher than in neighboring France and the Netherlands. …… 

2. Bloomberg

Steag Starts Coal-Fired Power Plant in Germany

Steag GmbH started Germany’s first new power plant fueled by hard coal in eight years, allowing the generator and energy trader to take advantage of near record-low coal prices that have widened profit margins.

The 725-megawatt Walsum-10 plant, located near Dortmund in the western part of the country, began electricity output today, the Essen-based company said in an e-mailed statement. It will probably start commercial operations later in the year after “optimization works and testing,” it said.

The plant is the first new hard-coal-fired generator in Europe’s biggest power market since 2005. It marks the start of Germany’s biggest new-build program for hard coal stations since its liberalization in 1998. Ten new hard-coal power stations, or 7,985 megawatts, are scheduled to start producing electricity in the next two years, according to information from German grid regulator Bundesnetzagentur and operators.

“Coal prices recently fell to their lowest price for over four years in October and carbon prices are half what they were two years ago, making coal-burn extremely attractive to generators in terms of profitability,” Gary Hornby, energy markets analyst at Inenco Group Ltd., said by e-mail today.

The price for coal used in thermal plants for delivery to Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Antwerp next year, dropped to a record low of $80.25 a metric ton on Oct. 14, according to broker data compiled by Bloomberg. The contract traded at $81.60 at 2:51 p.m. London time, broker data show.

He-she-it (der-die-das) now legal for babies in Germany

November 4, 2013

The German language has long had 3 genders. The rules are deceptively simple but I did not find it easy when learning the language.

German, besides capitalizing all nouns, goes them one better and adds a third gender: neuter. The masculine definite article (“the”) is der, feminine is die, and neuter is das.

It gets confusing when a girl can be masculine as in das Madchen or a boy can be feminine (die Junge) or when the sea can be all three genders – der Ozean, das Meer, die See. The sun is feminine (die Sonne) while the moon is masculine (der Mond).

If you’re going to guess, guess der. The highest percentage of German nouns are masculine. … All German nouns, regardless of gender, become die in the nominative and accusative plural. So a noun such as das Jahr (year) becomes die Jahre (years) in the plural. Sometimes the only way to recognize the plural form of a German noun is by the article: das Fenster (window) – die Fenster (windows). 

Rivers can be masculine (der Rhein) or feminine (die Donau) but never neuter. But rivers outside Europe are always masculine! Most chemical elements are neuter but some are particularly virile and masculine (hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorous). Names of cars are masculine (der Mercedes, der VW, der BMW) but names of motorcycles, ships and aircraft are feminine (die BMW, die Titanic, die Boeing 787).

One in about 2,000 births is a transgender birth to some extent. Germany is now the first European country to acknowledge this legally. The view is growing that the gender paradigm is not the simple dimorphic view but represents a bimodal continuum.

Gender continuum blackless et al

Gender continuum blackless et al

BBC:  Germany has become Europe’s first country to allow babies with characteristics of both sexes to be registered as neither male nor female. Parents are now allowed to leave the gender blank on birth certificates, in effect creating a new category of “indeterminate sex”.

The move is aimed at removing pressure on parents to make quick decisions on sex assignment surgery for newborns.

As many as one in 2,000 people have characteristics of both sexes.

Greens fail in Berlin referendum

November 4, 2013

In Germany the greens believe that it is worthwhile to pay exorbitant prices for electricity if it is from renewable sources. That “feel-good” view does not quite pass muster in not so good times. It is beginning to sink in through the German electorate that the shift away from nuclear and coal is not only very expensive, it also achieves nothing.  A referendum called in Berlin to satisfy the Greens’ needs to reduce coal utilisation has failed to garner enough votes to go forward.

BBCA bid to renationalise the electricity grid in the German capital Berlin has narrowly failed in a referendum. 

The measure was backed by 24% of those eligible to vote, but a quorum of 25% was needed for it to pass. It had been supported by green groups, who believe the current provider relies too much on coal. Opponents said it would burden Berlin with debt.

The wording had called for Berlin to set up a public enterprise to trade in electricity from green sources and sell it to residents. Voters were also asked to decide whether the city government should open the way for the grid to be taken back into public ownership.

There has been disappointment in Germany that privatisation of the energy grid has not always led to the hoped-for falls in prices and improvements in quality. The switch from nuclear to solar and wind power has also led to a steep rise in electricity costs.

But the authorities in Berlin – which is already 60bn euros (£50bn; $80bn) in debt – said the city could not afford to renationalise the grid.

Berlin has the dubious pleasure of paying the highest electricity prices in Europe (which may ensure a place for some residents in their imagined green heaven but may lead them to bankruptcy in this life). Berlin residents pay more than twice the price that Helsinki residents pay.

Forbes: 

Residential-Energy-Prices-by-City-EU-2013

The good people of Berlin pay more for electricity than residents of any other major city in the European Union, according to the Household Energy Price Index for Europe.

VaasaETT, an energy think tank based in Helsinki, Finland, tracks monthly prices of electricity and natural gas for utility customers in the capital cities of 23 European countries.

The price customers pay per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity varies by as much as 127% across these 23 countries.

After adjusting for purchasing power, Berlin becomes the place with the most expensive electricity in Europe followed by Prague and Lisbon.

Meanwhile, Helsinki has the cheapest electricity followed by Stockholm. …

 

German Catholic Church (and the Bishop of Limburg) are wallowing in taxpayer’s money

October 18, 2013
Photo: DPA

Bishop of Limburg, Franz-Tebartz Van-Elst photo DPA (via The Local)

The excesses of the Catholic Bishop of Limburg, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, have been much in the headlines. But what I  certainly had not realised was to the extent to which the Catholic Church in Germany is financed by public money.

It certainly seems to be a case of wallowing in a trough of taxpayer’s money – which the taxpayer cannot easily opt out of and which is subject to few controls.

The Bishop’s expensive habits catalogued here at The Local (Italy) include:

  1. a luxurious complex being built next to Limburg Cathedral in the state of Hesse. Earlier this week it emerged the costs had overrun by ten times the initial estimate from around €3 million to €31 million.
  2. €350,000 on built-in-wardrobes,
  3. €25,000 on a conference table 
  4. €783,000 on a garden
  5. his own apartment in the complex is costing €3 million with €478,000 going on furnishings (the bishop’s bathtub cost €15,000)
  6. guest rooms will cost €1.1 million
  7.  the new chapel costs €2.67 million

Jochen Riebel, the spokesperson for the diocesan finance council, told newspaper the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung the bishop was “either a sophisticated deceiver or that he’s just plain sick.” 
A commission is being set up by the Catholic Church in Germany to investigate the spending. 
The bishop’s expensive tastes have landed him in the headlines before. He was criticized last year after magazine Der Spiegel revealed he flew first class to India to visit poor children.  
And on Thursday prosecutors claimed the bishop made false statements in affidavits submitted in two civil claims against Der Spiegel after the article appeared. They have now called for a punishment which could include fines

But it is the financing of the Catholic Church in Germany which is even less healthy than the Bishop. Another article in The Local (Italy) reports:

Limburg Cathedral Wikipedia

Its wealth has been estimated at €430 billion with interests ranging from television stations to mineral water. 

The €31-million bill for Franz-Tebartz Van-Elst’s residence, including €15,000 on a bath tub and €350,000 on built-in-wardrobes, has put the finances of the Catholic Church, much of which comes from taxpayers and state subsidies, into the spotlight.

Carsten Frerk, an outspoken critic of the Catholic Church in Germany, estimated its wealth at around €430 billion with about €140 billion of that in capital, theFrankfurter Allgemeine newspaper reported. Frerk researched the church’s ledgers for a year for a book published in October 2010. But only a small part of the church’s finances are public and many of their records remain secret.

Bild newspaper reported on Thursday the church was Germany’s second-biggest employer after the state, running everything from schools and kindergartens toTellux, the TV company which makes the Tatort crime drama.  It also makes money from its breweries and selling mineral water called Adelholzener. The church also owns ten banks, countless insurance businesses and 30 housing associations, Bild reported.  

The church’s largest public form of income is the “church tax”, a system whereby taxpayers register their membership of a church or religious group, and a percentage of their tax goes to that church. The tax dates back to the medieval tithes, a one-tenth share of goods collected by churches in the Middle Ages. …. The Catholic Church collected €5.2 billion in church tax in 2013, a 15 percent increase on 2000. But in order to keep up with inflation, it would have needed an increase of 22 percent. …….. it also receives a state subsidy every year, a throwback from a still-valid 1803 agreement between them and the government of the day. 

The subsidies paid to the Catholic and Protestant churches out of the treasury this year hit a record high of €481 million, €6.6 million more than in 2012, reported the Humanist Union of Germany (HVD). Alongside these benefits, the church enjoys exemption from corporation, trade, income and capital gains tax thanks to its status as an “organization of public rights.” Universities also have this status, but have their finances are partially controlled by the state, while the churches do not have this oversight.

….. The scandal has also led to some churches revealing the extent of their reserves. Cologne, the largest and reportedly richest diocese in Europe, said on Tuesday it had reserves of €166 million in 2012. The small diocese of Trier had a reserve of €84 million, Reuters reported. Tebartz-van Elst’s seat, in the small town of Limburg – with a population less than a thirtieth of Cologne’s – holds reserves of €100 million.

But no matter how enormously wealthy the Church is, the vulgarity of the Bishop of Limburg takes some beating.

 

Germany also has its “idiot” projects

October 17, 2013

Every country has its share of bizarre, wasteful and idiotic projects – usually paid for by the taxpayer. Most are just bungling though some are because certain politicians wish to favour a particular constituency or a particular contractor.

Bureaucrats in Germany are usually – from my limited experience – exceptionally rational. But Germany too has its share of “idiot” projects.  The “Black Book” is compiled by the German Taxpayer’s Alliance.

Some examples from The Local:

€435,000 was spent on building two bridges for field mice in In Bieberbach in the state of Baden-Württemberg. If the mice don’t use the bridge no-one can photo DPA

€435,000 was spent on building two bridges for field mice in Bieberbach. If the mice don’t use the bridge no-one can. photo DPA via The Local

  1. Two bridges for field mice in Biberach, Baden-Württemberg so that the animals can safely cross the road. The bridges alone cost around €435,000 and surveillance costs amounted to €35,000. They have not been built for human use.
  2. A memorial to the early years of Germany’s Autobahn built in a roadside lay-by in North Rhine-Westphalia. The remains of a concrete road bridge sat at the roadside of the A2 motorway but these had to be cleared for safety reasons. Rather than simply removing them, however, authorities built a memorial bridge from the remains one-and-a-half kilometres away in the lay-by. The bridge to nowhere cost €310,000 when removal would have cost €108,000. 
  3. Planners managed to spend €400,000 on a bicycle path which simply ended after 300 metres in the middle of nowhere.
  4. The German government also paid for a metal concert in China by the lesser-known German band “Drone”. Unfortunately “after the first few beats of the intro, it was clear that the Chinese were not into metal.”
  5. Costs of the Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg have risen from €77 million to €800 million.
  6. Berlin’s new airport, meanwhile, is costing €162,000 a month just to keep clean, while its opening is continuously delayed.
  7. An operating theatre in Düsseldorf’s university hospital cost €200 million but three years on it has still not been used due to inadequate fire safety precautions. A further €2 million has been spent on paying cleaning, heating and other bills for the as-yet unused ‘Operative Medicine II’ clinic.
  8.  Authorities in the town of Meschede in North Rhine-Westphalia when they left the heating on in their empty offices for eight years. Nobody turned the radiators off when the offices were emptied in November 2000, racking up a bill of €42,000 for the taxpayer. 

German power play – silly EU CO2 rules for cars delayed at least till 2024

October 15, 2013

It’s the right decision of course. The proposal was for yet another one of the many EU rules where the benefits are doubtful and the implementation would have had no measurable effects on the desired outcome.

But entirely due to German protectionism for its performance car industry – and much to the disappointment of Ford – the limit of 95g of CO2 per km for any vehicle’s emissions has now been delayed at least till 2024!  Well Done Germany!

E 350 BlueTec

E 350 BlueTec

“The emissions limits are part of the EU’s drive to switch Europe to a low-carbon economy and slow the impact of climate change.”

The EU’s CO2 restrictions proposals for power plants and for aircraft and this one for cars are part of of a long line of  “feel-good” proposals which the Greens are so fond of — full of sound and idiocy, accomplishing nothing. So far the EU has not proposed any restrictions on CO2 in human breath.

Hopefully by 2024, the idiocy of CO2 restrictions will have been recognised.

BBC: 

The German government has persuaded its EU partners to delay introducing new limits on CO2 emissions from cars. Environment ministers agreed to revise a deal, reached in July, that set a limit of 95g per km for the average car. That target for CO2 emissions was to take effect in 2020.

But Germany, famous for its high-performance cars, says the 95g limit should not take full effect until 2024. 

Green activists deplored the new delay as a “shameful sop” to polluters.

A leading German Green Party MEP, Rebecca Harms, accused Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel of “riding roughshod” over the EU’s democratic process, because the 2020 agreement had already been reached between the European Parliament and the Council – the EU ministerial grouping.

“Weakening the agreed 2020 limits, which have long been known, is a shameful sop to German car manufacturers and will slow the development of new technologies to deliver more efficient and less polluting cars,” Ms Harms said after the ministers’ vote. …. 

The UK was among the countries that supported the German environment minister’s position on Monday, German ARD news reports.

The German minister, Peter Altmaier, said “it’s not a fight over principles but how we bind the necessary clarity in climate protection with the required flexibility and competitiveness to protect the car industry in Europe”.

Correspondents say there has been intense lobbying by luxury carmakers such as BMW and Daimler, maker of Mercedes, over the EU legislation.

The emissions limits are part of the EU’s drive to switch Europe to a low-carbon economy and slow the impact of climate change.

Oktoberfest is hardly over and snow arrives in Bavaria

October 11, 2013

Oktoberfest only ended last week and 20cm of snow has already fallen in Southern Germany. A few weeks earlier than “normal”. But not to worry. Global Warming is here. Climate models cannot be fooled by little things like local weather and reality.

snow in Bavaria, 11th October 2013 photo DPA

Snow in Bavaria, 11th October 2013 photo DPA

The Local: Winter has arrived in southern Germany with the first heavy snowfall hitting Bavaria on Thursday night and Friday morning. 

The snow caused traffic chaos in the Garmisch-Partenkirchen area – a popular ski resort. Schools and kindergartens were closed, a police spokesman said on Friday, while authorities advised people to stay indoors.

Trees which have collapsed under the weight of the snow are also posing a danger for drivers and pedestrians. On one stretch of road out of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, 15 trees blocked traffic. 

But the early winter weather also brought happier scenes with the first snowmen being built. Snow has also fallen in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg.

NoTricksZone reports:

Meteorologists warned us that snow was on the way and would fall below the 500 m elevation in southern Germany and elsewhere. Moreover, they warned us that this winter could be one of the worst in 100 years for Central Europe. ….. 

Online Die Welt here writes:

‘It began to snow in the Bavarian capital of Munich yesterday evening at about 6 p.m. Many of my meteorologist colleagues had believed this to be improbable,’ said meteorologist Dominik Jung: ‘This year winter has struck early and unusually severely. South of Munich up to 20 centimeters of snow was able to pile up.’”

Die Welt adds that schools have been closed in some localities, 22,000 households in Austria have lost power, trains have come to a standstill, and traffic has been in chaos.

Frost is expected to spread across southern and middle Germany this weekend, reports www.wetter.net,Temperatures down to -4°C are expected under clear skies in some local areas.

 

 

Will the UK Lib-Dems go the way of the German FDP?

September 26, 2013

Last Sunday’s election results were an unmitigated disaster for the FDP in Germany. Historically – and going back to 1949 – it was unprecedented. They have no seats in the Bundestag for the first time. Sharing power in government has not helped them.

(All charts from Wikipedia)

FDP seats won

FDP vote percentage

There is a parallel to be drawn with the UK though the German proportional representation system has generally been kinder to the FDP than the UK “first past the post” system has been to the Liberal Democrats. But when times are bad the PR system of Germany is also more ruthless. The FDP dropped from an all- time high of 14.6% of the vote in 2009 to 4.8% last Sunday. The Lib-Dems were at 23% in 2010 and are currently at 10%.

File:LibDem vote-seat percent.PNG

Votes and seats won by the Lib-Dems

Today’s modern Lib-Dem party is not quite the Liberal party of old. In my youth I read about the great days of the Liberal party of Gladstone and Lloyd George (and even the young Winston Churchill). I thought quite highly of Jo Grimond and David Steele. But the merger of the Liberals – proposed by David Steele – with the break-away Social Democrats  from the right of the Labour party in 1988 has created a strange animal which has no true identity of its own. Like the ancient chimera with the head of a lion, the body of a goat and the tail of a snake the Lib-Dems today try to combine mutually repellent ideologies and produce rather confused, fascistic do-gooders. With figures like Nick Clegg, Chris Huhne (now disgraced), Vince Cable and Ed Davey in their ranks they are enjoying their moment in the sun but are suffering from the twin fantasies that the tail wags the dog and that they know best what is good for others.

That their time in government supporting the Tories will be to their electoral detriment in the next general election seems very likely. Whether they will be wiped out like the FDP is unlikely in the British system but a comprehensive collapse is not inconceivable. Like the FDP which participated in a government dominated by Angela Merkel, the Lib-Dems are propping up but are totally dominated by Cameron’s conservatives.

Like the FDP, the Lib-Dems now run the risk of forcing their normally middle-of-the-road base towards the left or the right.  Like in the FDP, their traditional supporters in academia and the education system and the welfare services are going to move leftwards as the Lib-Dems give in to the Tories (with student tuition fees for example and for Helath Service cuts). The Lib-Dems have been the “green” face of this government but Cameron has been quite adept at using them for cover (as Angela Merkel has also done with the FDP). The disastrous cost of the renewable energy policies in Germany and the UK are seen as being more the fault of the Greens/FDP in Germany and of the Lib-Dems in Britain. Their ususal support among the environmental “do-gooders” is likely to shift leftwards for the moderates and greenwards for the more extreme. The traditional support from small shop keepers and small businesses is likely to shift rightwards.  The NSA scandal has hit the civil liberties image of the FDP as being a colluding party within the ruling government and so also for the Lib-Dems.  The support of The Guardian for the Lib-Dems can be compared to that of Die Zeit and Der Tagesspiegel for the FDP.

The general election in the UK is due in May 2015 (Scotland independence referendum intervening in 2014) and this gives the Lib-Dems 18 months to demonstrate that they have an agenda of their own. But this requires them to repudiate much of what they have agreed to while in government and will lead to a level of schizophrenia.

My guess is that the Lib-Dems will be reduced to less than the 10% they are currently polling at (from the 23% they had in the 2010 election). Philipp Rösler has just resigned as the FDP chairman. Nick Clegg will need to do the same in 2015 – though one could argue that the Lib-Dems might do better if they got rid of him before the election. They could do with a leader who is not as light-weight as Clegg or tainted as being Cameron’s poodle (but who?).

They will probably slip behind UKIP who are also at about the same 10% level but seem to be imploding. 2015 then will be a straight Tory-Labour fight. Neither Cameron or Milliband are particularly impressive as leaders. And so it will be a battle to see who is better at losing. And Milliband may be the more prone to losing an election.

Angela Merkel triumphs – could even govern without the FDP?

September 22, 2013

Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU have made a very strong showing at over 42% and the exit polls are predicting that both the FDP and AfD (Alternative for Germany) will both miss the 5% threshhold and get no seats. But the FDP and the Greens are the big losers and the AfD are sending a clear anti-European message even if they get no seats.

Angela Merkel is only 2 or 3 seats away from having her own majority without any coalition partners.

The SPD are around 26% and the Greens are down to 8%.

This could give the CDU/CSU around 298 seats in the Bundestag. With the SPD at around 185 seats and the Greens at about 57 seats it is even conceivable that Angela Merkel could govern without any coalition partner dragging her down. It is highly unlikely that the SPD/Greens would call upon the 59 or so seats of the Far Left.

The tactical voting to help the FDP that I was half-expecting does not seem to have taken place.

The Greens will have little leverage.

The way is now clear for a slow reversal of the disastrous nuclear policy pushed by the Greens though Angela Merkel will have to be very dainty on her feet to make this U-turn.


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