May 29 News: German Solar Systems Meet Half Of Midday Electricity Needs Over Weekend

A round-up of the top climate and energy news. Please post other links below.

German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity – through the midday hours of Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank has said. [Guardian]

The record-breaking amount of solar power shows one of the world’s leading industrial nations was able to meet a third of its electricity needs on a work day, Friday, and nearly half on Saturday when factories and offices were closed….

Germany has nearly as much installed solar power generation capacity as the rest of the world combined and gets about four percent of its overall annual electricity needs from the sun alone. It aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2020.

An advance guard of 18-wheelers is scheduled to roll into a business park in Cheyenne, Wyo., this week to unload components of a supercomputer called Yellowstone. This 1.5-quadrillion-calculations-per-second crystal ball will model future climate and forecast extreme weather. [Washington Post]

According to hurricane researchers, the spell of relative calm between major hurricanes is mainly due to the random variability that is inherent in the weather and climate. [Climate Central]

Southern California Gas Co. is trying out an unusual new technology that uses the sun’s rays to provide air conditioning as well as power. [Los Angeles Times]

The Army and Air Force are confident they can each meet a White House target to produce a gigawatt of renewable energy on their installations by 2025. But it’s going to depend on industry’s ability to make good business deals to construct those projects. [Federal News Radio]

So what does the presumptive GOP nominee really believe? And how would he address climate change if elected president? One person who may well know is Gina McCarthy, who Romney tapped for top environmental posts in Massachusetts. But these days she’s not talking—presumably because she’s working for President Barack Obama as a top-ranking political appointee at the Environmental Protection Agency. [Mother Jones]

With crude prices bouncing around above $90 a barrel, many companies are trying to wring the oil out of their operations. [Los Angeles Times]

The debate may be continuing about global warming, but the ground reality here is that dozens of streams and brooks of Kullu district have dried up completely, while many others are about to disappear. [Times of India]


15 Responses to May 29 News: German Solar Systems Meet Half Of Midday Electricity Needs Over Weekend

  1. Leif says:

    My back yard Solar PV meets ALL my summer needs plus another month in the “bank” right here in the Pacific NW.

  2. Doug Bostrom says:

    Natural gas rebranded as “low carbon green energy” in Europe.

    Part of the extremely annoying and stupid details:

    Gas rebranded as green energy by EU

    Energy from gas power stations has been rebranded as a green, low-carbon source of power by a €80bn European Union programme, in a triumph of the deep-pocketed fossil fuel industry lobby over renewable forms of power.

    In a secret document seen by the Guardian, a large slice of billions of euros of funds that are supposed to be devoted to research and development into renewables such as solar and wave power are likely to be diverted instead to subsidising the development of the well-established fossil fuel.

  3. wili says:

    So if Germany, not known as the most sunshiny place in the world, can get this high level of their electricity from solar, surely nearly every place can get comparable levels.

    This is arguably the most economically and industrially advanced countries in the world, and they are on the cusp of running completely on renewables.

    Relatively modest reductions in energy use, a bit more management of load, some improvements in efficiencies, advances in storage and of course more wind and solar power will get them there in the next few years, as far as I can see.

    If anyplace can figure out the electrical engineering challenges of dealing with these variable loads on the grid, Germany can. And the lessons they learn will be invaluable for adoption of renewables elsewhere.

    Note that they have an even higher level of capacity from wind, plus some hydro. These all tend to supplement each other–winds in this region are mostly likely to be highest when the sun blocked by clouds, and sun is often brightest during calm, high pressure systems. Hydro allows for storage when the other sources are plentiful, storage that can be drawn on in the rare moments when neither of the other two are available during peak times. I would think cooperation with hydro-rich Switzerland would help here, too.

    As far as I can see, the big challenges are:

    1. getting wind energy from the north down to the sunny south and vice versa.

    2. providing sufficient energy during peak hours in the late afternoon and early evening.

    Improved powerlines should help the former; conservation, efficiency, storage and load management could help the latter.

    In any case, these are not unsolvable problems.

    Germany is showing the world that a (the?) top industrial economy can be run predominantly (and soon completely?) on renewable energy.

    It is long past time for the rest of the world, especially those of using the lion’s share of ff/deathfuels, to follow their impressive lead.

  4. Eric L. Hanson says:

    Your article states that “German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity – through the midday hours of Friday and Saturday…” While true, let’s not forget that shortly after midday electricity production starting trailing down and went to zero at sunset. Nuclear power plants can and do work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  5. John Tucker says:

    Electricity firms top EU CO2-polluters list

    German energy firm RWE is singled out by the study as the heaviest polluter as it relies heavily on coal and lignite for electricity production. Out of the 44.5 gigawatts (GW) of electricity RWE produced in 2007, 24.8 GW were fuelled with coal and lignite, according to the study. ( )

    Yes and what will the output be in 12 hours?

    Why didn’t it make as much electricity as 30 coal plants or 40 NG ???

    How incompetent. How is this “climate progress” again?

  6. otter17 says:

    Germany is my favorite foreign country.

  7. John Tucker says:

    It was a ridiculous comparison. Nuclear plants are not carbon emitters. It shows you where priorities are here.

  8. John Tucker says:

    Also Nuclear power is NOT intermittent – its impossible for it to be “replaced” by solar – It cannot be ramped up so quickly. The option for Nuclear replacement in Germany by solar is 90% gas and 10% solar in creating a equivalent situation.

    Nuclear is a high capacity constant base-load source of power. It is not “replaced” by a single intermittent technology. It competes with other large scale constant base-load sources – like coal.

    Intermittent Renewables “compete” with Natural gas.

    Germany is the worlds fourth largest consumer of coal for electricity.

  9. AA says:

    Well good for them and all but you’re being a little unrealistic. Germany is nowhere near 100% renewables… its at about 20%.

    It’s a big jump from 20% to 100%. In fact, the higher the percentage of renewables, the harder it is to add more (variability becomes a real issue, nat. gas peaking units go away, land for solar and biomass becomes scarce, best wind sites are already developed, etc).

    We need to be honest with our assessments of what has been accomplished. The frightening thing is that, for all Germany has accomplished, in Climate terms they are just getting started.

  10. AA says:

    Well, in CP’s defense, it’s a link to a Grauniad article.

  11. Andy says:

    Germany should “bail out” Spain by supplanting their remaining nuclear power with new solar thermal plants in that country’s sunny interior.

  12. John Tucker says:

    True, but i wish they would take the initiative here and correct it before posing it.

    Is that really too much to ask ?

  13. John Tucker says:

    One day later:

    Europe Power-Tight supply lifts spot prices

    FRANKFURT, May 30 (Reuters) – European spot electricity prices rose on Wednesday due to lower wind and solar power forecasts in Germany and ongoing nuclear tightness in France, traders said.

    German solar power projections were falling to below 10,000 MW of peaktime capacity use compared with over 15,000 MW seen in
    the recent sunny weather. ( )

  14. MorinMoss says:

    No, coal must go (first).
    Much as I admire (somewhat unsunny) Germany for their astounding solar deployment, their ambition to mothball their nuclear plants is misplaced.
    They have at least 5 of Europe’s Dirty Thirty.
    Replace those by any means necessary, before closing so much as one nuke power station