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Published on March 17th, 2016 | by Guest Contributor


Germany Uses 0.07% Of Its Area For Solar

March 17th, 2016 by  

Originally published on Lenz Blog.
By Karl Lenz

The report by the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy on the first couple of solar project auctions notes on page 6 an estimate of about 25,500 hectares of real estate used for ground-based large scale solar projects in Germany.

German flagThat’s 255 square kilometers. Germany’s total area is 357,168 square kilometers.

So those 255 square kilometers add up to a whopping 0.07 percent of Germany’s total area.

Most of that are conversion areas (Konversionsflächen), which means areas formerly used for public purposes, most of them former military installations. At the end of 2014, 61% of projects were installed on this kind of areas. Another 28% were former farm land, and the remaining 11% are areas adjacent to roads.

Since there are many former military installation areas available in the former East Germany states, recent development activity in the large scale segment is most active there. It is more important to have cheap access to land than to have more insolation for these kind of projects.

Reprinted with permission.

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  • Bob Fearn

    What about German solar on roofs and buildings? What percent of their solar is on the land?

  • Roger Lambert

    A large percentage of the land to be devoted to solar and wind is not land that is actually ‘lost’ to power generation. It simply becomes dual-use instead of single use. You can still farm crops on wind farms, you can still graze sheep and cattle amid solar farms. And the flora and fauna of the Mojave might actually flourish under and around the PV panels of a solar farm.

    What you can’t do, though, is build more housing, roads or factories there. Solar and wind farms could be dedicated green spots – farms or parks.

  • ROBwithaB

    … and they shall beat their words into ploughshares…

  • Brian

    One Giant solar power plant, in the state of Nevada, 100 miles wide, and 100 miles long, could provide all the electricity the nation uses. I see no reason why a massive amount of decentralized solar power plants and wind farms across the nation, couldn’t provide all the electricity the nation needs.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I don’t either Brian.

      But you tend to gloss over the problem of supplying electricity when demand arises.

    • Simple INDIAN

      Rather than that have some on East Coast, Mid-East and West Coast, this will enable to have more energy from renewables. Putting a big plant in Nevada is a big risk if the sky is cloudy.

      Or a big Wind Plants in Texas if wind speeds gets reduced for some period of time.

      • Bob_Wallace

        I doubt Brian was arguing for one centralized solar farm but just describing the relative amount of land required.

        The best solution is probably to overbuild a small percentage everywhere and use that over-capacity to feed into areas that are having cloud or low wind problems. The wider one can cast their renewable energy capture net the easier it is to keep the grid supplied.

      • Brian

        Bob is right. We would never build a large centralized solar power plant due to loss in transmission, and environmental concerns, but I was simply making the point that building a large network of micro grids, decentralized solar power plants, wind farms, and solar on homes businesses, brownfields, former landfills, or any vacant land, across the nation like you suggested in the West coast, Midwest, and East coast, we could supply all the electricity we need.

  • John Norris
    • Simple INDIAN

      If the conversion rate increase for solar from say 14% to 30%, same area will produce more power.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Our best panels are now in the range of 20%. Getting to 30% would take a major effort or breakthrough. But you’re overall argument is sound. Higher efficiency = less land required.

  • Bob_Wallace

    The US could produce 40% of electricity now used with panels covering less than 6,000 square miles. 40% is about the optimal amount of solar.

    According to the EPA we’ve got 23,400 square miles of brownfields. That’s 4.2x what we’d needs.

    There are approximately 3,806,000 square miles in the US. 40% solar would cover less than 0.16%.

    • John Norris

      Bob, I agree on needing fast-response NG backup for a while. But why the 40% limit on solar? Is that without storage?

      • Bob_Wallace

        40% is a largely a guess on my part. I figure about 40% solar, 40% to 50% wind and the rest other renewable sources (hydro, geothermal, tidal, biofuel).

        The US gets a rough average of 4.5 solar hours per day on an annual basis. That’s 19% of the time. But since solar coincides with peak demand we will probably exceed the 19% number based on demand. (Production hours might be extended some by active tracking.)

        The wind blows a lot more hours of the 24 hour day. We’ll use electricity direct from the source as much as possible in order to avoid storage costs. That argues for more wind than solar.

        I just checked to see what solar/wind proportions Jacobson’s Solutions Project came up with for the US.

        Solar 48.1% (including thermal solar)
        Wind 48.4% (on and offshore)
        The rest from hydro, geothermal, tidal.

        My guesstimation doesn’t seem to far from their calculations.

        • neroden

          Due to the distributed and unstoppable nature of solar and battery installation, and the “self-sufficiency” motivation involved, I expect both to be overdeployed relative to some sort of central-planner’s idea of optimal.

          Therefore I expect solar to cover the *full* daytime load *plus* the early evening, with lots of fairly small batteries saving excess daytime solar for the early evening. Wind is probably going to cover most of the night, as well as cloudy days, with short-term excesses going into batteries, again.

          Wind isn’t distributed, and faces much higher NIMBY problems than solar. Wind deployments have already slowed down to linear growth, and appear to be limited by the thicket of permitting. Solar deployments are still growing exponentially and there’s no reason why they would stop doing so. Batteries look likely to do the same.

          It doesn’t make central-planning economic sense, but when you look at the individuals who are deploying solar (both rooftop and utility-scale merchant projects) and batteries (both home/business and associated-with-solar-farms or associated-with-wind-farms) you see that they have distinct advantages for the people fronting the money, who do not trust the utility companies, and do not want fights with the local zoning boards. So I think we’ll see relative overdeployment of both solar and batteries.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’d suggest you don’t overestimate the number of people who are pissed enough at utilities companies to cause them to actually expend the effort to install their own solar/storage.

            I think we might mislead ourselves as to how high those numbers are because we spend time on sites where people with those attitudes tend to cluster. It’s kind of how almost everyone here thinks EVs are wonderful yet we each know several people who know little to nothing about EVs.

            With all the concern over Y2K I know of only one household concerned enough to stock up a lot of food and only one to purchase a solar system. (They never installed it I bought their unused panels at a sweet discount.)

    • SkyHunter

      Geothermal coupled with rare earth mineral extraction is the cleanest and greenest source of lithium.

      • Bob_Wallace

        But is there an adequate supply? Tesla’s Gigafactory will need 20 to 25 pounds of lithium for each battery pack and they intend to be making 500,000 packs per year by 2020. That’s about 5,625 tons per year. I’m not sure we’re getting much, if any, out of the Salton Sea geothermal waste stream yet.

        • SkyHunter

          True. But it is not the only source. Hopefully the technology will be expanded, due to the multiple income streams.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Are you aware of any other geothermal plants that are pulling up lithium along with the hot water?

          • SkyHunter

            All geothermal brine contains lithium, not in the same quantities, but it is there. Brine is a major source of lithium.

          • Bob_Wallace

            What sort of quantities are we talking about? How much geothermal water could we put into evaporation pools? How much lithium would be produced in a year?

            I can see geothermal plants as ‘a source’. I need some data that tells me it would be a significant source.

          • SkyHunter

            The evaporation pools are horrible. The new process removes the metals by reverse osmosis and injects the water back into the ground.

  • Brian

    More proof that Germany, and other countries could easily replace dirty coal and natural gas with clean solar, and wind power. Other countries have banned natural gas fracking including France, unfortunately we have misinformed people here that think NG is the only alternative to dirty coal, when solar and wind, which continue to quickly fall in price, are the clear alternatives.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Brian, I’m still waiting for you to furnish data showing that it’s better to keep burning coal than using natural gas.

      • Brian

        It’s not better to burn dirty coal instead of using natural gas, buts that’s the false choice, your trying to advance. NG is not the only alternative to dirty coal. One solar power plant 100 miles by 100 mile square in the state of Nevada, could provide all the nation’s electricity. Of course this would take up to much land, and energy would be lost in transmission, so this would never be built, but the point is that if we decentralize solar, by putting it on every home business, commercial warehouse building, vacant lot, brownfield or former landfill that we can, along with a dramatic increase in both on shore and offshore wind, we could provide all the electricity the nation needs. It only takes 18 to 24 months to build a wind farm or solar power plant, so why build NG plants, and continue to use NG fracking, and pump poisonous toxic chemicals into the ground, and threaten our water supply, when we know NG will be phased out eventually anyway. Wind and solar are much cheaper when you factor in the cost of having to continuously drill for a steady supply of natural gas. NG is also explosive, and Oklahoma has seen a dramatic increase in earthquakes.

      • Brian

        Battery storage is beginning to evolve, with the Tesla Powerwall, which will store solar generated electricity for homes. Larger batteries are already being built to store power for solar power plants and wind farm. Solar thermal power plants can store power in molten salt in the desert. Electricity use is declining, so we have time to replace are dirty coal plants with clean wind, solar, and geothermal power, without NG. lso by building a massive amount of decentralized solar power plants, and wind farms, intermittency can be eliminated.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Yes, battery storage is starting to play a role but it’s years from being a meaningful player. It’s still too expensive, especially for long term storage.

          You do realize that the Sun does not shine 24/365, nor the wind blow. And that we need something to fill in between sunny and windy times. That’s the role natural gas is now playing.

          We may not need many more natural gas plants. But we’re likely to need the ones we have for many years into the future. It may take us 30 years to replace all the coal and most of the NG with wind and solar. But even then we’ll likely need those NG plants a few hours every year.

          • Oscar Martín

            There is other ways to avoid fracking and more CO2 emissions.
            We could use other forms of storage designed for long term. I see flow batteries as a promising technologies.
            The key of flow batteries is decoupling power and storage. Hydrogen could be used too, although with significative greater loses.

            We could generate the remaining electricity in a cogeneration process too, avoiding to need dedicated plants. These plants could work with biomass. District heating with biomass + better insulation + solar thermal + thermal storage is a excellent choice for home heating. With cogeneration, this add a extra electricity source that you can regulate on demand for bad weather season, and storage the heat to use it in any case. Displacement between generation (by electricity demand) and consumption (heat for night) generate a small loses, but very less that using fuel only for a only one purpose.
            And, in last place, huge differences in prices between bad weather and good weather days could be managed by smartgrids in the future so consumption could adapt in great extend to the availability of renewable energy.

            We must be prepared for the possibility of a severe climate change where emissions should be reduced dramatically.
            If the worst scenarios don’t came, then we could implement theses ideas with more time and more refinement and lower costs before reach global scales. But if these escenarios came, we must be ready.

          • Jenny Sommer

            There are multiple ideas to manage without storage. We will need a mix of everything possible and it has to be cheap.
            Batteries will always be expensive for local storage, their only advantage is siting.
            The cheapest centralised storage solution is still pumpeduphydro at ~100€kWh but it’s land and water use is not great at between 10-30kWh/m².
            There is a storage solution though that could cut water usage by 3/4 and has a potential storage density of 2MWh/m² while the cost would drop with size of the scheme (100€kWh for 0.5GWh storage to under 1€kWh for 1600GWh+).
            Check out the hydraulic rock storage which is developed in Germany.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We’d be happy to check out the hydraulic rock storage in Germany if there were any.

            (There’s a difference between interesting ideas and things that have been proven to work, Kitegirl.)

          • ROBwithaB

            The hydraulic rock storage would be extremely difficult and expensive to construct.
            But there are other ways to utilise the abundance and density of rock vs water.

          • Jenny Sommer

            What let’s you think that? There have been bigger construction projects realised.

            I’ll leave that to the German engineers, geologists and accountants but so far they are pretty confident it can be done with known technology and beat any known form of storage on cost.

            Rock itself would be a pretty bad storage medium. I know there are some ideas of towing old traincarts up a hill or whatever. The strength of the hydraulic rock storage is it’s unprecedented scale/capacity.

          • globi

            Switzerland has already 8,800,000,000 kWh of hydro storage capacity and Norway has 84,000,000,000 kWh of hydro storage capacity.

            Germany has been trading electricity with Alpine countries and Scandinavia for decades.

            Why would it not do so in the future and instead build expensive storage contraptions? That would be just as silly as Switzerland building corn farms and banana plantations in the Alps just because it has to import 40% of all food in order for its population not to starve.

          • Jenny Sommer

            I see no reason to built expensive storage contraptions either.

            Innovative people and are just constantly looking for the least cost solution. A very cheap storage solution (100 times cheaper than conventional hydro in the Alps) could come handy for seasonal storage. Not right now with only ~30% RE supply. Beyond 2025-2030 this is exactly what is needed.
            What are the alternatives?
            Extremely expensive decentralised Battery storage (unless flow batteries get down to under 5-10€/kWh), more capable RE (KiteGen), demand management and transmission (which by all means is needed right now also).
            Just feed the computers with the data but my guess is that under 1€/kWh storage capacity will go along way against batteries, conventional PuHS and P2G2P.

            84GWh Scandinavian storage doesn’t quite cut it…it’s around an hour of demand depending on the time of day. Now we want to electrify some more…demand will probably go up a little.
            Germany alone used 604.9TWh in 2013.

          • globi

            Norway has 84’000 GWh of storage capacity and not 84 GWh!
            How much does 84’000 GWh of that 100-times-cheaper-storage-capacity cost?

            Luckily PV and Wind produce about the same amount every month.
            It’s not like 364 days ‘Superdarkcalmperiod’ and 1 day ‘Superbrightsuperstormperiod’. So, no-one will have to store 605 TWh or even just 1/12 that amount.

          • Jenny Sommer

            Europe has about 170TWh of storage but only 54 GW capacity.

            Norway got 84TWh worth of stored hydro in reservoirs but only 23400 MW generation capacity.

            I don’t know how much capacity or storage depth would be needed to back up Europe but I guess somewhere between 3-7 days in Energy.

            There’s about 1TW of capacity installed, 54GW would certainly fall short in a high RE penetration scenario.

            I don’t understand why you would develope expensive PuH instead of the least expensive solution?

          • globi

            Actually Europe has already 150 GW of firm hydro power capacity and 220 TWh (220’000 GWh) of storage capacity:

            Increasing power on existing storage lakes is inexpensive as additional turbines can be added without building more dams.

            There are plenty of natural rocky walls in Switzerland which need to be secured on a regular basis. This is incredibly costly and its highly doubtful that a non-natural much larger wall would actually be somehow more stable and not require elaborate, expensive fixing and stabilizing structures.

            Heck, building tunnels is already an extremely expensive process.

          • Jenny Sommer

            Increasing capacity often requires new shafts. 20-40km tunnels in rock. That’s not as trivial as adding turbines.
            There are more things to consider like the ecosystem upstream in case of some reservoirs. There is a limit to how fast you can deplete a reservoir. A lot of things to consider in any case.
            Then you still got 40-50% of storage in Norway and need to distribute power to and from there. Expanding transmission even to the existing 23400MW of capacity isn’t a trivial task either.

            We will have to see how expensive/cheap a new technology is first.
            Then we can determine weather it is worth building or to which extend we should rather expand firm capacity, transmission, storage or other possibilities.

            If you plan on substantial PV share you will need more storage.
            With predominantly wind and a paneuropean supergrid we should be set with existing storage. (from reading Czisch)

            What’s so bad about having a potentially cheap new storage technology?

          • globi

            If its cheap to cut out square km’s of rock, then it is much cheaper to cut out tunnels, since it is essentially the same process with difference that far less rock needs to be cut and moved.

            Besides that there’s already an HVDC line between Norway and the Netherlands. China is even building dozens of HVDC lines. If China can afford this now, Europe can afford it in the future (should it seriously build out PV and wind power):

          • Jenny Sommer

            The benefit of a HRS is much higher than retrofitting relatively small reservoirs.
            The storage doesn’t become cheaper if you add more turbines.
            Do you have any cost for retrofitted hydro capacity?

            If existing storage is enough and we just need more transmission… fine.
            If not – all options will be on the table.
            If locally centralised HRS beats retrofitted hydro+transmission it will get built.

          • globi

            Adding pumps and turbines to an existing reservoir is about $1/W:

          • Jenny Sommer

            And that’s too expensive.
            Besides this would have been a very short shaft.
            That’s exactly what I am talking about. Relatively small scale hydro storage is not economical today but we will need cheaper solutions in the future that will also work where the storage is needed.
            Germans believe they will need such storage solutions in the future and the HRS looks like a good solution.

          • globi

            Besides that the shafts have a length of several km.
            Show us how you can deliver on demand power with excess storage capacity for less than $1/W and which last over 80 years.

            Keep in mind, that most conventional power plants which are currently producing power have cost more than $1/W (and consume fuel on top of it).

          • Jenny Sommer

            If it is enough to add generating capacity to existing 100€/kWh storage capacity it will get built. For now it is too expensive all along.
            It’s no option for Germany though.

          • globi

            The existing storage capacity of 220’000 GWh is essentially free, because it already exists.

            Again show us a new storage plant which delivers power at less than $1/W?

          • Jenny Sommer

            That’s the cost of capacity. What would have been the price of the power from Grimsel 3?
            The storage capacity itself was expensive so if might make some sense to recover some by adding capacity.

            The generating part of a new HRS wouldn’t cost more, it could deliver new storage capacity 5-100 times cheaper though.

            You believe existing storage will suffice and that it is cheaper to move power all through Europe rather than store it more locally?

          • globi

            That’s the cost of capacity.
            No it’s the cost of the added pump/turbine power to an existing dam.

            What would have been the price of the power from Grimsel 3?
            It’s in my post. Don’t you know that the unit for power is W and the unit for cost is $?

            Europe doesn’t need even need the existing 220’000 GWh of storage capacity given the fact that European wide nights and calm periods are simply far too short.

            Expanding the grid is significantly cheaper than building more storage.
            China is building single transmission lines with a capacity of 10 GW.

          • Jenny Sommer

            When you add a pump you add capacity (W).
            When you increase the storage volume you add storage capacity(Wh) (100€/kWh PuHS and under 1€kWh HRS)
            The cost of the power is a function of those costs, operating time, operating cost and operating life and decommissioning of the facility.
            $/MWh is what matters.

            If that’s right that we don’t need more storage capacity we still need more generation capacity and much more transmission.

          • Jenny Sommer

            Securing rock is known cost and already part of the calculation.
            The people behind the HRS are very aware of the engineering challenges.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If someone wanted to build storage today in Europe what would be the low cost option?

          • Jenny Sommer

            We need to talk about the future. There is no need for storage at the moment. Around 2020-2022 will get interesting.
            Then we will first develope hydro capacity where it is possible and even that will face fierce opposition.
            PuHS has a landuse problem. 10kWh/m² and a lot of possible sites are protected or would lose tourism if developed.
            Nobody likes new hydro here
            Why not develope new storage with up to 2000kWh/m2, much less siting problems, 1/4 the water use for when it will be needed?
            All that might look completely different in the US but in densly settled Europe this are major problems.
            Transmission is also a problem here. Just look how difficult it is to get built transmission through Germany.

            There might comes a better solution for local centralised storage but 10x 160GWh would get Germany over 24h with very little grid extensions, very little landuse and manageable water use.

            What do you not like about the idea?

          • neroden

            Years from being a meaningful player? Hmm. Yes… about 2 years.

            There are immense, immense pre-orders for the Tesla Powerwall and Powerpack. We already know that everyone ordering the Powerwall wants the daily-cycling version, so much so that the “backup only” version is not being offered any more. Tesla is scaling up the Gigafactory as fast as possible to meet this market.

            And its competitors are building their own factories and slashing their own prices in order to try to compete — especially now that they see how large the market is at that price.

            I think battery storage will be a meaningful player within 3 years. Specifically for evening and nighttime, which is quite predictable.

            We probably will use those existing NG plants for a few hours every year. But I don’t think it’ll take 30 years to get to that point.

            Using a straightforward exponential projection, we should completely saturate the US electricity market with solar power in roughly 2027, though of course it might slow down because it’s approaching saturation. That does it for daytime power, and even for early evening in the east (where power can be moved from the west where it’s still light out).

            Nighttime energy usage is roughly 1/3 of the total. In 2027, if the nukes keep operating, and using pessimistic wind estimates, hydro + wind + nuclear will be producing enough. Wind deployment has gone linear rather than exponential, but it’s not quite clear what the rate is; higher estimates for wind deployment make the nighttime load problem easier to solve (if the nukes are shuttered which many of the oldest probably have to be). It’s also become clear that there are gonna be a lot of batteries installed, whether it seems to make overall sense or not, and they will be used to soak up the excess solar power in the day and deploy it at night. We’ll probably have enough batteries and wind to handle that within about 5 more years, say 2032. Insulating people’s houses will lower nighttime usage as well.

            At that point or a bit later — call it 2035 — we’ll be using the NG plants only for multi-day solar outages. So really I figure they’ll be reduced to that role in 20 years, not 30.

          • Bob_Wallace

            We’re now getting about 65% of our electricity from fossil fuels. And another 19% from nuclear, most of which will have to be retired in over the next 30 years.

            To replace most of the 65% of fossil fuel with renewables in ~20 years (2016 to 2035) we’d have to be converting over 3% of our generation from fossil fuels to renewables. Then add in another percent to cover closing nuclear plants.

            Finally, add more renewables to charge our likely rapidly growing fleets of EVs and PHEVs.

            Would all that require a 5% per year or higher replacement rate? We have yet to experience a year in which we’ve converted 1% to wind and solar. We’re limping along at about half a percent.

            We might get to a 5% per year rate but it might take us ten years to get to that speed.

            What’s your criteria for a meaningful player when it comes to storage? 1% of total electricity being time shifted by new storage? 5%?

          • Bob Fearn

            Bob, remember 1939 or in the US 1941??
            A crisis was vigorously attacked an the job was done. We now face a greater crisis and we must do the job. Saying we can’t do it does not help

          • Bob_Wallace

            I don’t remember either year. I wasn’t born until near the end of the war.

            Being attacked by another country is a much more immediate and obvious danger than is climate change. When people looked at what Germany was doing in Europe and Japan was doing in Asia it was clear to all that if we didn’t react rapidly we could be toast in only a handful of years.

            Now we’re looking at a problem that is much less obvious and will develop much, much slower. I’m not saying we “can’t” solve the problem quicker, clearly we could. In 2009 Jacobson and Deluchhi laid out a plan to get the entire planet on 99% renewable energy in 20 years. They also said it would take a WWII effort to get the job done.

            What I’m saying is that we probably won’t abandon fossil fuels in 20 years. Probably not in 30 years. We don’t have WWII levels of fear and concern.

          • Bob Fearn

            Correction. YOU do not have WWII levels of fear and concern. Anyone who has studied climate change does.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’m very well educated about climate change and the dangers we face.

            The general public is not.

            Pretty much every American was aware of Pearl Harbor within a couple of days after the event.

          • Bob Fearn

            Make another post after millions have died. Maybe 50 years.

          • Bob_Wallace

            What’s your problem, Bob? Are you pissed at me because most people are not worried enough about climate change?

            Or do you just like to shoot messengers?

          • Bob Fearn

            My problem is that there are millions of, “very well educated about climate change” Americans who think we can take decades to get rid of fossil fuels when every peer-reviewed climate scientist disagrees.

          • Brian

            Your absolutely right. We need to take action now to address climate change. Time is not on our side.

          • Brian

            I have to agree with Bob F. According to the IPCC, we don’t have much time. Doesn’t the rise in world temperatures scare you? Wasn’t 2015 the hottest year on record? We need to take action now, to address Global Warming, and half measures, are not enough. All dirty fossil fuels must be left in the ground.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The IPCC released a set of ‘solutions’. The most extreme (most likely to keep us under 2C) was that we needed to stop emitting CO2 by 2050 and then we needed to start pulling some CO2 out of the air and re-sequestering.
            The way I look at it you are suggesting we don’t do anything now to get coal off our grids. Since you are so opposed to using natural gas you leave very limited ability to incorporate wind and solar on the grid and close coal.

          • ROBwithaB

            Batteries are fine for daily cycling.
            Long term storage is a thornier problem.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Biomass burned in converted coal plants is a workable solution.

          • TatuSaloranta

            And not only is NG less clearly less polluting than coal, power plants can be started/stopped quicker. So until RE replaces all of existing non-NG fossil (mostly coal, but also peat, diesel oil) plants it seems pointless to fight NG.

          • Brian

            If you want safe drinking water, it does make sense to fight NG. Yes, NG plants can be started and stopped quicker, and they are cleaner, than dirty coal plants, but they need a continuous supply of NG to burn. Wind farms and solar power plants don’t require a steady supply of fuel, so they are much cheaper, and cleaner to operate. Also the fracking, and earthquakes like those in Oklahoma are a problem with NG. Ontario replaced a dirty coal plant, with a solar power plant. We could do this to every dirty coal plant. It only takes 18 to 24 months to build a solar power plant or wind far. It makes no sense to build an NG plant, when wind and solar, which are dropping fast in price, are more efficient, and cleaner. Yes, the sun doesn’t shine everywhere, and the wind doesn’t blow continuously, but by building a large network of RE plants, we can eliminate intermittency problems.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Brian, how about giving us the data for the amount of water that has been degraded by NG fracking. And the amount that has been degraded by coal mining.

            Which is the larger problem?

          • Steve Thayne

            Battery storage in a grid setting removes the need for a disproportionate amount of fossil fuel because of it’s speed of response in meeting peak demand – there are also factors relating to the quality of the grid that are important here.

            Add in the efficiencies of distributed storage being used locally – saving the 8% of grid transmission losses – and battery storage already stacks up.

            Island communities are already demonstrating this – like the micro grid on the Isle of Eigg in Scotland which is 100% renewable using storage.

            Colonel Sanders of KFC lost a lot of money in his early days in a business trying to sell gas lighting for homes – they believed the Electric grid arriving locally was years away. They were wrong and those who believe renewables and storage are far off are wrong too.

            The parts of the world that try to block this change will only encourage distributed and local generation and consumption – prosumers.

            The parts of the world that are Open to the change are already starting to on the basis of cost alone – note the recent shift of conservative politicians in Western Australia.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The EIA says 6% loss for transmission and distribution combined. Most of the loss at the distribution (local) level.

          • Bob Fearn

            Hey Bob, the sun does shine 24/365. It would be a bitch putting that sucker out and restarting it every morning. Also natural gas is no better than coal when it comes to climate change. That being the case we have to get serious and stop burning things, including NG. Have a read –

          • Brian

            Ageed 100% Bob W is stuck on this false belief that we must use NG, or using dirty coal is the only other alternative. We can scale up solar and wind like China and other countries are doing, and provide 100% of our baseload power from renewables. Both NG and dirty coal are bad for the environment, and can be replaced with wind and solar. Also solar can be put on homes, former landfills, brownfields, warehouses, and canals like India is doing. Solar micro grids can be built almost anywhere. All dirty fossil fuels should be left in the ground.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Brian, you’re starting to post absurd stuff.

          • Brian

            No, 2015 was the hottest year on record. We don’t have time to use NG for a bridge fuel. The effects of Global Warming are already irreversible and getting worse. The IPCC has admonished us that time is running out, but you lack the common sense to listen to the scientist. Free your neurons.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Brian. Do you have any clue at all what is meant by ‘using natural gas as a bridge off coal’?

      • Ulenspiegel

        You can only spend money once and in Europe NG is much more expensive than onshore wind.

        Therefore, to replace coal with NG is IMHO stupid.

        • Brian

          Agreed. Offshore and onshore wind will leave NG in the dust. England leads the world in offshore wind, and has proven the renewables are a much better source of power than NG, or dirty coal. The price is also dropping quickly, making wind and solar much more attractive than NG.

    • Lou Gage

      Brian, Please note that the land useage factor used above is only for large land based systems. Apparently, the Germans use much more in other types of solar systems. Also, the former power plant you later cite is planned to produce far less than the coal plant it replaced.
      From a report…A ‘Symbolic’ Power Plant?

      “The solar farm will
      be a much smaller operation than the old coal plant: It will produce 44
      megawatts of electricity, or little more than one per cent as much as
      the nearly 4,000 megawatts the old coal plant generated.” Still I think it is a good reuse. Lots of industrial building are waiting for solar still.

      Solar and wind will likely always or for the foreseeable future backup beyond batteries.Lou Gage

      • Brian

        Thanks for the correction.

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