Peak stupid carbon mitigation. Are we there yet?

We must be close to it in New South Wales and this is how things were going overseas recently. Some of the performance figures  are remarkable and the situation in France is absurd with a move from nuclear power towards the unreliables. So read about  The Decline of RE in Europe.  The upside of the story is that the rate of installation was falling in 2018 and it has probably fallen further

From the peak installation rate in 2010 the European commitment to RE installation  reduced by more than half in 2018.

Five countries are the main RE protagonists in Europe.  Together Germany, UK, Spain, Italy and France account for more than 75% of European RE installations, with Germany far ahead due to the “Energiewende” policy that is now 20 years on.


Italy has shown poor capacity performance mainly because it has committed to a large proportion of Solar power, whereas Spain has maintained relatively good performance by ignoring Solar power and relying much more on Onshore wind.

Germany has a continuing poor performance because of it insistence on Solar power in its cloudy northerly context.

The UK has had a reasonable performance but that has recently fallen due to the large proportion of ineffective solar power in the UK.

Costing. There is a mass of detail on comparative costs, too complex to summarize but all showing that investing in RE is not a cheap way to keep the lights on. See the excess cost of RE.  The first link on the page shows UK figures and the third is the EU.Germany.  The total installation is now rated at ~104GW with a combined output of ~17.3GW, (capacity factor of ~20%) providing ~20% of German electricity generation. Onshore wind represents ~50% with a low capacity factor near 18%. Local opposition  has grown to the point where new work has practically stopped. Solar fields account for  ~41% of German RE but the dreary north is the last place in the world for solar and the capacity is less than 10%

Spain went hard and early and broke the economy.

Italy has about 28GW RE installed, producing ~4.6GW, that is ~14% of Italian electricity generation. The low capacity factor at ~15% is caused by a large commitment to Solar rather than Wind power.

 United Kingdom went hard with the 2008 Climate Change Act and by 2018 had ~35GW of  RE installed, second only to Germany.  The overall capacity factor is less than 20% and it nominally provides ~15% of United Kingdom electricity demand although it is hard to see that when you go to the total of primary energy use and look for the sun, wind and hydro!

Solar surged for a time thanks to two successive minsters in the  Department of Energy and Climate Change under the  Liberal Democrats coalition, namely Chris Huhne and Ed Davey. The UK has a cloudy northerly climate and they have the worst capacity factor in Europe, possibly in the world,  averaging only ~8%.

France is worthy of a special mention  for going woke late in the day. They went nuclear very early in the piece and in 2017 they the had lowest CO2 emissions per capita of any developed country. Recently they made a growing commitment to Weather Dependent Renewables and their CO2 emissions are now rising! Work that out.

The provision of relatively cheap CO2 free energy in France is one of the country’s major industrial achievements and they make a bundle of money selling excess power (more than 7%),  to the United Kingdom and Germany.

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13 Responses to Peak stupid carbon mitigation. Are we there yet?

  1. NoFixedAddress

    Not forgetting ‘California Dreaming’.

    California Will Use Diesel This Summer (and Imports) To Keep The Lights On

  2. Why is the rate of installation falling a bright side ffs?? It still means an increase in the number of units surely? And even if the installation number were constant the rate would be decreasing as the base number increased.

  3. Mark M

    Watched the neighbor put up a windchime opposite the bedroom window and dreaded the thought of asking them to take it down.
    That was 4-5 months ago & I haven’t been woken one night since.

  4. Colonel Bunty Golightly

    Are we there yet? No, not by a long shot! The grifters are just getting into their stride and the public with help from the ABC and the rest of the MSM have bought into the con big time. Most of the politicians know it is a rort but getting re-elected is much more important than doing the right thing by Australia’s energy future. They justify it by looking at it as a trade off so that they can remain in power for our better good.

  5. Ben

    Corporations don’t help. Take Alcoa, who boast of ‘73% renewables’ in their 2019 Sustainability Report. But it turns out this 73% is the proportion of RE used in smelting, just one of the processes used to make aluminium. And on further reading, this 73% is almost all hydro, only a smidge of electricity usage is actually from wind and solar. Continue reading and you observe that direct energy (heat) is 99.999% coal, gas, oil and diesel.

    The wrap: Alcoa use almost zero wind and solar, despite claims of 73% RE. Corporate spin.

  6. Aynsley Kellow

    Rafe, the increase in GHG emissions in France is because of the increasing amount of wind on the system. The nuclear plants cannot cycle up and down quickly enough to cover the variability of wind, so they apparently have increased the amount of (single pass) gas turbine generation. Result: increased GHG emissions through increasing renewables.
    My favourite still has to be the solar plant in Spain that was using diesel generators to run lights at night, such were the subsidies for renewables. But then Spain (in my only visit in 2012) was sending itself broke building airports with no demand for plane and, of course, rail links to (not) device them.
    It’s not that long ago that Germany was still subsidising coal while trying to phase it out.
    It’s the genius of the ‘European Project’.

  7. NoFixedAddress

    My favourite still has to be the solar plant in Spain that was using diesel generators to run lights at night, such were the subsidies for renewables.

    Still mine also Aynsley Kellow

  8. Rafe Champion

    I call it a tie, although the two cases are strictly speaking in different categories,
    The Spanish case is a rort, it was illegal and it probably stopped when the authorities found it.
    The French case is a deliberate policy that increases emissions when the aim of the exercise was to reduce them.
    The first instance is an example of entrepreneurial ingenuity, the second is something else to do with the way governments make decisions. See the “irrigation” theme that I posted the other day, setting up a massive scheme without checking the supply of the essential factor of production. The response by the wind industry is another example of entrepreneurial ingenuity to exploit opportunities provided by the government.

  9. NoFixedAddress

    Rafe Champion
    #3511413, posted on July 13, 2020 at 6:40 am

    I call it a tie, although the two cases are strictly speaking in different categories,


    Your a spoil sport.

    I love encouraging people to get solar because I tell them to get floodlights so they always have the light on.

  10. Alex

    I see Telstra has advertised in The Australian today as follows. Is anyone able to show that TLS are still the beneficiaries of coal?

    How we went carbon neutral
    By Lyndall Stoyles
    July 9, 2020
    Today we are proud to announce that we have been certified carbon neutral in our operations, receiving Climate Active’s largest certification in Australia. We’ve also become the second telecommunications business in Australia to do so behind our Belong brand, who gained certification in December last year.

  11. Rafe Champion

    What sort of replies do you get NoFixedAddress?

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