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On Renewable Energy in Germany: Growing Slower Than You Think

Thomas, I really don't understand your repeated comments regarding the use of the BP data set. You want Robert to use a final energy consumption based analysis. He used a primary energy consumption based analysis. Clearly both are quite valid means of analysis. If you want to repeat his analysis using a different data set, and see how it changes (or if it changes) his conclusions, please do so in another article. We would love to publish that at TEC.

However, its a perfectly valid method to convert energy sources to primary energy equivalents, so as to compare BTUs on a roughly equal basis. A BTU of potential energy locked up in a carbon-carbon bond is clearly less valuable than a BTU of heat, which in turn is less valuable than a BTU of electricity or a horsepower of motive force, which in turn is less valuable than a BTU of focused energy in a laser, etc. Second law of thermodynamics and all that. So analysis that compares BTUs on a final enery consumption basis in essence treats a BTU of electricity as equal to a BTU of high pressure steam as equal to a BTU of low-grade heat etc. This is fine for some purposes, but there are clear reasons why an analyst might prefer to take a different approach in other cases: e.g. to convert all values back to primary energy terms, which means accounting for conversion efficiencies etc. The trick then is how to deal with things like nuclear and renewables, which don't consume carbon-carbon bonds like most other fuels. In this case, many analysts will convert a BTU of final energy as renewable electricity to an equivalent BTUs of carbon-based combustion energy at a typical combustion efficiency level. This is clearly an approximation, but its a well accepted effort to get things into apples to apples terms.

So please, if you want to focus on different analytic methods, go ahead and show us why one method versus another really matters, rather than insinuate that BP's statistical review -- a widely cited data source -- is bogus or nefariously trying to make one fuel look better than another, simply because it is published by an oil and gas company. At the Energy Collective, you've got to go beyond making guilty-by-association type arguments like that.

Thanks,

Jesse Jenkins
Digital Community Strategist
TheEnergyCollective.com

August 30, 2013    View Comment    

On Renewable Energy in Germany: Growing Slower Than You Think

Great point Robert.

August 30, 2013    View Comment    

On Fear Mongering Over Water Leaks at Fukushima Nuclear Energy Plant

Thanks for this post Rod. For some related readings that reach much the same conclusions, see:

Jesse

August 28, 2013    View Comment    

On Renewable Energy in Germany: Growing Slower Than You Think

" What's really striking is that despite incessant talk of energy revolutions, the energy mix in almost every modernised country has undergone less change in the last two decades than any time since 1950."

That is striking! Looking forward to the next post in this series.

Jesse

August 27, 2013    View Comment    

On Electricity Utilities Must Evolve or Die: Are They Up to the Task?

Thanks for clarifying. In the future, if you hit Reply below a particular comment, your comment will appear as a threaded response to that original comment. Makes the conversations easier to follow!

Jesse

August 20, 2013    View Comment    

On Electricity Utilities Must Evolve or Die: Are They Up to the Task?

Hi Steven,

Was this in response to the article or one of the comments below? Thanks,

Jesse

August 20, 2013    View Comment    

On Electricity Utilities Must Evolve or Die: Are They Up to the Task?

I have indeed read the Edison report, and while it is focused on effectively playing defense against emerging challenges, please read the Eurelectric report for a decidedly more proactive stance. And I also read the Bloomberg article you linked to; it is cited several times in my article above. What it says is that traditional generation assets are no longer the profit centers they once were. That doesn't spell the end of the electric power system as a whole! It means business will evolve to find new ways to deliver value to end consumers and returns to shareholders. Read the Eurelectric report to see how European utilities are thinking about this challenge.

August 20, 2013    View Comment    

On Electricity Utilities Must Evolve or Die: Are They Up to the Task?

Bob, Eli is referring to natural gas competing with electricity for various household and business energy services, including heating and cooling (HVAC), which gas can easily provide today, as well as electricity generation, which gas may also soon be competitively providing via fuel cells, microturbines and other gas-fueled distributed generation technologies. 

No one is talking about returning to the "dark ages" before the advent of electricity! I'd challenge you to step out of this binary between electric utilities as they exist today (and basically have since the days of Edison and Tesla) and the kind of dark age you envision a pre-dating the emergence of the electric utility sector. There are any number of possible "utilities of the future" that may emerge through an evolution of the power sector. What's happening now in Europe is likely just the first glimpse of what may come, or at least the kinds of forces driving evolutionary change.

And remember, this isn't just my speculation: my article cites two reports from the electric power sector itself - Eurelectric and Edison Electric Institute, which collectively represent the largest utilities in the world. So I'd encourage you to check out those reports for more...

Jesse

August 20, 2013    View Comment    

On Electricity Utilities Must Evolve or Die: Are They Up to the Task?

Thanks Eli. And yes, Bob, I'm not talking about the end of the electric power sector, rather its evolution. You are right that modern civilization doesnt last long without reliable electricity access. The question is what kind of business models and technology systems will provide that reliable access in the future? Will that system look the same as today? Will today's business models be up to the task? Or will many go bankrupt (aka "die") while others evolve and capture the rewards (aka "thrive")? Those are the kind of questions I'm probing here. Cheers,

Jesse

August 20, 2013    View Comment    

On The Future of Energy: Why Power Density Matters

I'm not 100% sure, but I believe this post sets the record!

Jesse Jenkins
Digital Community Strategist,
TheEnergyCollective.com

August 12, 2013    View Comment    

On The Future of Energy: Why Power Density Matters

I'm not 100% sure, but I believe this post sets the record!

Jesse Jenkins
Digital Community Strategist,
TheEnergyCollective.com

August 12, 2013    View Comment    

On Rethinking the Role of Carbon Prices in Climate Change Policy

The whole idea behind a carbon tax is to shift relative incentives for purchasing decisions by all economic actors. That means that the price signal created by the tax necessarily has to be passed along to all purchasers. So even if you could somehow force producers of fossil fuels to pay the tax and not pass along the resulting increase in their costs of business to their customers (and I'm not sure how you would do that), you wouldn't want to. It would defeat the whole purpose of the carbon pricing measure. 

August 2, 2013    View Comment