As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, Germany and California represent the two leading edge large economies with the most alternative energy deployment and the most ambitious plans for future deployment. It’s good to see that the issues that I discuss about increasing cost of renewables with increased deployment are starting to be addressed as the problems are becoming real. This is the first plan I have seen that actually proposes synthetic fuel for long term storage. Germany has very little sunlight in winter so seasonal storage is far more significant for them than for California.
The scale of new additions is large and still only reflects a fraction of German electricity generation and does not cover the other two thirds of energy beyond electricity. Overall it represents an expenditure of at least $500B over about twenty years or about $25B/year. Germans, while positive on clean energy in general have become NIMBYs in particular, especially for wind and electricity transmission. It's not clear there is the political will to maintain this level of clean energy expansion. Germany has the highest cost of electricity and there is growing opposition to this high cost. Implementing this plan will raise costs significantly.
The scale of storage and gas synthesis proposed is way too low to balance the renewable energy proposed. This would probably mean burning lots of natural gas. However, the small scale proposed is probably realistic considering the immature state of storage and synthesis technologies that are still in their infancy and not yet deployable at scale. This is far from 100% renewable electricity generation and gives some indication of the impracticality of the various proposals (like California’s) to hit 100% renewable electricity.
Stratosolar can solve the intermittency problems and provide a much lower cost of generation. This makes it politically viable as it reduces the cost of electricity and avoids the NIMBY problems.
By Edmund Kelly