Energiewende was not ‘thought through’ says Siemens boss

A senior boss at German power engineeing giant Siemens has conceded that his home country’s Energiewende – or energy transition – from nuclear to renewables had been a”disaster” and was”not thought through”.

But Lothar Balling, executive vice-president of gas turbine solutions, said he remained convinced that Germany would achieve its target of delivering 80 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2050.

Balling was speaking at POWER-GEN Middle East, which recently took place in Qatar, told the audience that the decision to ditch nuclear in favour of renewables was both a”role model and a disaster”.

“It was a very public decision and it was not thought through,” he said. He explained that since the decision in 2011 in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, Germany had suffered several energy challenges, many caused by the inability of the grid to cope with power from wind farms. He said in 2009 there were 285 forced shutdowns of wind turbines – by the end of 2011 this had rocketed to more than 1000.

He said”flexible generation is the key at the moment” and added there were also significant challenges surrounding regulation and transmission.

However he joked that the famous German resilience to find solutions to problems would result in the country getting the situation”under control”.

His optimism was shared by Andreas Wiese, executive director of German engineering and consulting company Lahmeyer International, who said he was”100 per cent” sure Germany would hit its 2050 target.

More delays push back Olkiluoto 3 due date to 2016

The reactor pressure vessel at Olkiluoto
The reactor pressure vessel at Olkiluoto.
Credit: Areva

Progress reports from the consortium developing the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor in Finland have shown that further delays are expected in bringing the plant into operation.

Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) said it is preparing for the possibility that the plant may be further delayed until 2016. The reactor was originally intended to commence operations in 2009 but has experienced several setbacks, with TVO stating last year that it expected it to be delayed until 2014.

Based on progress reports from the plant supplier, a consortium comprising French nuclear engineering firm Areva and Germany’s Siemens, TVO said the production start may be postponed until 2016.

The Finnish utility confirmed it had asked the supplier to update the overall schedule after the last delay was announced, but that it still had not received”an adequate schedule update”.

Areva chief executive Luc Oursel has said the reactor will ultimately cost $10.7bn.

Germany suffers drastic drop in gas generation

Gas-fired power generation fell by 27 per cent in Germany last year according to the latest figures from the National Association of Energy and Water (BDEW).

Many of the country’s energy providers opted to switch to cheaper coal and rely on renewables thanks to high gas prices in 2012.

When looking at natural gas used in power plants, plants with combined heat and power (CHP) and district heating plants it reportedly fell by 14 per cent.

“This development in the use of gas-fired power plants illustrates the critical economic situation in which operators of such power plants find themselves,” said Hildegard Müller, chairman of the BDEW’s Executive Board.

Coal-fired power plants, both hard coal and lignite-fired plants, accounted for almost 44 per cent of the country’s gross electricity demand, up around 1.5 per cent on 2011.

Renewable energy continued its growth in importance as an energy source during 2012, with its combined share from wind, solar and biomass rising to 21.9 per cent, compared to 20.3 per cent in 2011.

UK faces EU fines of £250,000 a day

The UK is facing potential fines of up to £250,000 ($393,000) a day, for failing to implement European Union (EU) internal market rules in Northern Ireland.

The rules in question are to do with separating energy production and supply, as well as simplifying third-party access to private networks.

“Delays in implementation of the EU Internal Energy Market rules have negative effects on all players and are therefore not acceptable,” said EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger.

The European Commission has referred the UK to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to meet a March 2011 deadline to transpose the directives into national law.

The directives do not yet apply in Northern Ireland, but are in force throughout the rest of the UK.

The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said EU rules would be implemented in Northern Ireland by April of this year.

The Commission has recommended that the UK be subject to a daily penalty of £127,000 for each directive from the day of the court’s judgment until each directive is fully transposed.

The suggested penalty reflects the”duration and gravity” of the infringement. The court, however, could order a different penalty.

In a statement to Power Engineering International, DECC expressed its disappointment with the punitive action being taken at European level.

“The UK is very supportive of the single energy market [in Europe}, which brings benefits to both consumers and business right across the EU.

“It is regrettable that a fine has been proposed by the Commission at this stage given the significant work completed in the UK in relation to these directives with the remainder due to be completed by April 2013.”

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