New version of Toledo Talk

    July 30, 2007

Gernan people allowed to make cash going solar!!!! - In Ohio, if you install enough solar or wind to get your meter to zero, from that point on all you get is what is costs you to make the electricity. (aka ripoff). In Germany, they are making some cash, regular people, when they install solar.


Germany leads solar energy market

Ashley Seager | London

29 July 2007 11:59

Hanno Renn, a Freiburg taxi driver, invested in a communal solar electricity system on a building in the German town in 1993. “Everyone laughed and said I was wasting my money,” he says.

But now he has paid off his investment and earns a regular income from the electrical company for the power he generates. “I have had the last laugh,” he grins.

Renn is part of a revolution in renewable energy that is sweeping across Germany and bringing citizens of every kind into the fight against global warming.

While a new report from the Centre for Alternative Energy says Britain could, with sufficient will and effort, go zero carbon in only 20 years, Germany’s figures put the British government’s claims to be leading the world on climate change into perspective.

Germany has 200 times as much solar energy as Britain. It generates 12% of its electricity from various renewables, compared with 4,6% in Britain.

It has created a quarter of a million jobs in renewables -- a number that is growing fast. Britain has only 25 000, a number that represents the amount of jobs created in the industry in Germany in the past year alone.

Freiburg, a town of 200 000 people in the Black Forest, has almost as much solar photovoltaic (PV) power as the whole of Britain. Dr Dieter Worner, director of Freiburg’s environmental protection agency, admits that such is the competition among German towns that Ulm has just overtaken Freiburg as solar capital of the world.

“But we are still expanding rapidly. It’s a sporting contest,” he says.

Indeed, by the time Britain starts its first eco-town in 2016, Germany will have 50 or 60 eco-cities. Small wonder that the Labour government has quietly dropped the pledge it made six years ago to catch up with Germany by 2010.

In Germany, too, the higher production has pushed prices down sharply. A typical 3kW PV system costs about £17 000 in Britain but less than £10 000 in Germany. Worner says prices have halved in the past seven years and will do so again in the next seven.

The secret of German success is the “feed-in tariff” (FIT). Anyone generating electricity from solar PV, wind or hydro gets a guaranteed payment of four times the market rate -- currently about 35p a unit -- for 20 years.

This reduces the payback time on such technologies to less than 10 years and offers a return on investment of 8% to 9%. The cost is spread by generating companies among all users and has added about one cent/kilowatt hour to the average bill or an extra £1 a month.

The Germans introduced the FIT in 1999 and tweaked it in 2004, since which time things have gone mad. FITs have now been adopted in 19 European Union countries, and 47 worldwide, but not in Britain. German renewables firms are now world beaters and the German economy has been strengthened, not weakened, by a rush into renewables. Britain, by contrast, has a few installation companies mainly importing German equipment.

At the recent Intersolar trade fair in Freiburg, the air was heady with talk of expansion, cutting-edge technologies and intense competition. And everyone says the reason is the FIT.

Take Q-Cells. The company started making silicon PV cells in eastern Germany in 2000 with 19 staff. It now has 1 200 and expects by 2010 to have 5 000 staff. It is one of the fastest-growing companies on the planet and is the world’s second-largest maker of PV cells, after Sharp of Japan. It exports more than half its product.

“The feed-in tariff changed everything -- it is that simple,” says Stefan Dietrich, Q-Cells spokesperson. Demand is such that Bavarian farmers, with large barn roofs and fields, are the biggest customer group for PV in the world, he adds. Jurgen Kaiser-Gerwens, finance director at Schott AG, a maker of PV cells and of “concentrated solar power” -- solar collectors that concentrate the sun’s rays to heat a fluid and drive turbines -- agrees.

“The FIT gives companies a good basis for planning, but also makes them become more efficient and competitive. It is a win-win win -- for the industry, the government and individuals.”

Kurt Krannich, head of Krannich Solar, one of Germany’s biggest solar energy distributors, says, though, that the future could be bright for Britain if only the country introduces a FIT and lets the Germans supply Britain’s solar energy.

“Then I think Britain could catch Germany up in just three years,” he says. -- © Guardian News & Media Ltd 2007

posted by prime3end to politics at 2:23 P.M. EST     (10 Comments)

Comments ...

Canada has something similar where electricity generated by consumers using renewable resources like hydro results in a payment of up to 8x the power company's residential rate per kwh.
posted by thenick at 02:48 P.M. EST on Mon Jul 30, 2007     #

A good friend who works for First Solar told me several years ago that Germany has a number of very lucrative tax incentives for solar power. As a matter of fact, he said that German firms were their largest customer.

Also, I think First Solar has already completed its plant in Germany and may be shipping locally.

posted by paulhem at 03:24 P.M. EST on Mon Jul 30, 2007     #

A buddy in engineering told me a few weeks back that the best solar panels in existence today still will never yield as much energy as it took to create them over the lifetime of the panel.
posted by thetoledowire_com at 03:39 P.M. EST on Mon Jul 30, 2007     #

The secret of German success is the “feed-in tariff” (FIT). Anyone generating electricity from solar PV, wind or hydro gets a guaranteed payment of four times the market rate...This reduces the payback time on such technologies to less than 10 years and offers a return on investment of 8% to 9%.

Another way of saying this is that the market currently provides a 40 year payback with a return of about 1%. That's less than a third of the return that you can get with a savings account right now. Which is to say that it is not economically sustainable. To be truly sustainable, an energy source has to be BOTH environmentally sustainable AND economically sustainable.

The cost is spread by generating companies among all users and has added about one cent/kilowatt hour to the average bill or an extra £1 a month.

Yes, because very little of the renewable energy is being produced in relation to all the energy being produced. If all the energy were to be produced this way and "spread among all the users" their bills would be 4 times as much - I'm guessing that that would be a bit more than £1 a month.

German renewables firms are now world beaters and the German economy has been strengthened, not weakened, by a rush into renewables.

I loved this part - no backup, no explanation - just an off the cuff statement and we move on.

Well, hold on a second. First off, they aren't even producing enough to cause more than a £1 a month increase to all the other buyers - so there is no way this minimal use can have a measurable effect on the economy either way. And second, as already pointed out - the cost of this renewable power is 4 times that of the conventional. So if we were to scale this out to all energy produced, how could increasing the the cost of energy by 400% help the economy?

The answer is it can't. To the contrary it would totally tank the economy. Look what happens to our economy when the cost of gasoline increases by just 30%. That, again, is simply not a sustainable system.

posted by babbleman at 03:47 P.M. EST on Mon Jul 30, 2007     #

The person(s) that comes up with an energy source that is cheaper than fossil fuels will be the next Microsoft times 1000.

Here is the problem with feel good, bad math, socialist programs like this one in Germany:

First, all of what is being spent on renewables in this program represents capital that is taken out of the economy - meaning there is less available for the new Microsoft to raise for R & D.

Second, by increasing energy costs, the economy is not growing as fast (or it is shrinking faster) than it would be otherwise. Once again, this further reduces available investment capital for the new Microsoft to come up with a real solution.

Third, the new Microsoft has only one fourth of the incentive to develop the technology. That is, to be profitable, their technology only has to be 1/4 as efficient as it needs to be to be financially sustainable.

So, really, nothing about this works.

posted by babbleman at 04:09 P.M. EST on Mon Jul 30, 2007     #



Our foreign interests in the mideast,, OIL, is killing us as a country, our constitution is butt paper to the oilmen who run ,, ruin the country. The bill of rights is nothing now.

How much more do you want to lose sticking with oil and coal and nuclear? We almost lost lake erie twice to besse, almost lost detroit and the lake to Fermi 1. At the projected burn rate of coal by 2050 , half the Appalcian mountain range will be GONE,, FLAT AS A PANCAKE,, please factor the mountain range into your economic considerations. Put a price on your constitutional rights. OIL dependence is making them scarce as a republican who believes in the bill of rights.

Solar and wind are the best options we've got, and I'd like to see the engineer stand behind his calculations. I'd also like to see the engineer factor in the costs I've listed above.

Also consider, that after the war on Terra,, I mean terror , is over, (if ever) (never if we stay dependent on foreign oil) we will still be spending 100 billion dollars per year to keep ready the armed forces and weapons sysems required to strike the mideast for the next event that might interfere with our oil supply.

Our dependence on oil fed the Saudi bank acocunts that fed the 911 terrorists, and the terrorists in Iraq and Afganistan. The Saudis continue to fund the Madras schools that brainwash children to carry bombs. Good thing Osama's family, the royal Saudi faimily, is friends with the Bushes and Cheney. Long time business associates I hear. So have the engineer figure in the cost of all Arab funded terrorists events past and future.

After his math is done, I think he will consider that solar and wind are pretty damned good choices.

posted by prime3end at 06:50 P.M. EST on Mon Jul 30, 2007     #

Prime, adhering to engineering and economic fundamentals is not narrow thinking - it is practical.

Your considering the cost of wars and terrorism is absolutely valid. And absolutely correct in as much as if the world stopped using fossil fuels the current threats from the middle east would be defunded - which is exactly what we need to do.

The way I see it, there are two ways to defund the terrorists.

One is to invent an energy source that devalues and makes fossil fuels obsolete (which will hopefully solve your environmental concerns too). The second is to forcibly break up the concentration of ownership of oil in the Middle East - which is what we are doing with the war. You talk about the cost of "foreign oil" but the problem is not that it is foreign - the problem is that it is not free. Freedom, in whatever form - free markets, eliminating government ownership, democracy - will cut the terrorists off at the knees. Freedom will protect itself - so wherever possible decentralizing the power is key. Indeed, it is the centralization of that resource that gives power to the fanatical religious freaks now.

You, however, bring a third option to the table - fighting centralized power with centralized power. Rather than stoking a red hot economy with freedom to invent an energy source that will devalue the terrorists' power, you are suggesting that freedom be reduced such that the domestic market be restricted to a far more costly source of energy than fossil fuels. Here are the two fatal flaws with that:

First, the US imports around 10%-15% of the worlds oil supply. It uses about 25% but produces somewhere around half of that so the net import is like 10%-15%. That leaves 85% - 90% of the worlds' market for the terrorists to sell to on basic market terms - the product that is the cheapest, not the product that is the most idealistic. So if the US stopped using oil tomorrow, it would not defund the terrorists.

Second, increasing our cost for energy by a factor of 4 (using the numbers from your article) compared to our competition (other countries) in the global economy would rapidly drop our economic strength thus defunding our own defense (among many other things).

So, basically, we would reduce our own power while hardly denting theirs. That is not practical and, as I said before, not truly sustainable.

From a practical perspective we need to do two things - pound like hell on the Middle East to decentralize the world's most valuable resource from a bunch of whackos while at the same time pump up the economy at home so that it can produce an energy technology that renders the Middle East's useless. The former is the short term solution, the latter is the long term - but we have to work on both now.

posted by babbleman at 09:31 P.M. EST on Mon Jul 30, 2007     #

Well the third claim,, your dislike of centralized power. That centralized power is necessary in a country of a few hundred million people, especially since greed based corporations , with their money, pre-select every candidate before we even get to vote on them. If the vile greed of a few, is to be the kings word for the whole country, then nothing is free. Nothing. Nobody is talking about restricting anyone to anything. All I'm saying is , where the heck is my subsidy for installing solar panels??????? Where is my subsidy for installing wind?????? Where the hell is the damn electric car, that (emphasis) RIGHT NOW WOULD GET 300 MILES ON A CHARGE WITH THE NEW NANO-LITHIUM ION BATTERIES. Charge time 1-3 hours, less time at a high power charg station. This alone would bust big oil, because it will catch on in the rest of the world. Check out the tesla, Its an electric, 0-60 in 4 seconds sports car, 200-250 miles per charge at high performance. These batteries would give 300+ miles per charge in an EV-1, the ones GM shredded , ripping them out of the hands of people leasing them in California. GM didn't need to make electric zero emission cars anymore, none of the automakers did, because they had bought the head of the California air resources board, made him head of a hydrogen fuel deal. He had a vested interest in making sure the zero emission mandate was repealed , and so it was, just 4 months after he was appointed head hydrogen man.

Babbelman, I disagree that the solar cells would be more expensive by a factor of 4, you agreed with the war expense, why isn't it now in your figures,, please re-read the costs that I propose are associated with our use of foreign oil.

You speak of freedom as if we control who our leaders are. Even if we did, they are bought and paid for before we can even blink. Freedom doesn't mean CORPORATE FREEDOM, they should be OUR slaves, instead, they run us and they RUIN our country because their only consideration is greed and they buy our leaders, quite blatantly. Decisions based on greed and control by corporations, rarely consider the real needs of a country. And they could give a damn about any of our rights, in fact they hate our even remembering that we have rights.

You won't understand the equation till you factor on the costs I have previously listed. Also, jeez you think pounding more on the mideast will fix something???????????????? Dear God man that just makes more terrorists. Iraq is a perfect example of what happens when an occupying army overstays its welcome,and doesn't have the same objectives as the people in Iraq. Our objective , to secure oil for American multinational oil and gas companies. Their objective, to get us the hell out of their country at any cost, so that they can then kill each other and figure out who the post sadaam leader will be. Our presence only strengthens their resolve, and turns moderates into extremists. Any leader with a living brain cell would be ordering a manhattan project sized effort to quickly develop the nano-lithium battery for electric cars, ordering the automakers on board, all of them. The effort would include solar , wind, and massive solar concentrating stirling engine driven power stations. NASA folks claim these are ready for utility scale electrical production, NOW. Only one is being built, in California, it will roughly match the power output of Davis Besse when done.

We need to expand solar and wind and solar-sterlings as if our coutry depended on it. The alternative is bush's eternal war. WEll **** that.

posted by prime3end at 10:19 P.M. EST on Mon Jul 30, 2007     #

Prime, I appreciate your passion on the issue of existing alternative energies. But at some point, trust me, you will have to face the fact that if you can't win economically with your energy source in the global market, it is a waste of time.

You say that Nobody is talking about restricting anyone to anything, but to get a nation to buy something that costs more than it would otherwise cost requires force to quell the freedom to choose (see organized labor). You can wrest control of the US government to require its citizens to pay a higher price for energy than its world competitors, but you can't force the world competitors to use that energy source too. And the competitors won't use it. They will use what's cheapest. Because when their cost is lower, the products they sell will be lower, so they will grow and we will shrink.

You say that I have to consider the cost of war into our cost of energy.

But first, our war is not because of our dependence on the oil - it is because our enemies are using their oil wealth to attack us - but that wealth of theirs doesn't come just from the US. We are not a slave to Middle East oil. Only half of what we use is imported - so, at best, we are only half of a slave to others. And not all of those others are from the Middle East.

And second, even if we were solely dependent on Middle East oil and the war were solely for the purpose of managing our cost of the oil, that cost of war wouldn't affect our global competitors. That is, the cost of energy globally is the same for everyone. If we have internal costs with getting that oil here (fighting a war) doesn't mean that the rest of the world has that same internal cost.

On your distrust and combative approach to corporations - please understand that a corporation is a highly decentralized organization of wealth. Corporations are not, as you assert, a singular concentration of wealth that is apart from and competes against individuals (as it turns out, that is exactly the definition of the US government). To the contrary, corporations are owned by individuals, employ individuals and buy from individuals. There are over 30 million corporatations in this country vying for the individuals to invest in, employ and buy from - and none of them use a police force to extract their investment, employment or purchases from you. On the other hand, there is one US government and it is more than 10 times larger than the largest corporation and it uses force to extract 60% of your income to feed itself. I apologize for the digression - but the economic ignorance on which the corporate hate myth sits never ceases to amaze me.

And finally, you say jeez you think pounding more on the Mideast will fix something? Dear God man that just makes more terrorists.

Here is the problem with that idea. Terrorists have the same fundamental needs that we all have - they have to have shelter and eat. And there is no way to acquire shelter and eat by spending all day training to kill non-believers in your religion. However, if someone is willing to feed and shelter you if you spend all day training to kill non-believers, then you can easily spend all day training to kill non-believers. So, my point is - the problem is not that hatred is sheltering and feeding terrorists because it can't - the problem is whoever is providing the shelter and food so that they can concentrate on their hatred. Food and shelter costs money - someone is providing food, shelter and training to people that hate. Yes, shooting at them makes them hate us more - but depriving them of their sponsors makes their hate irrelevant because without their sponsors they will have to spend their days finding food and shelter instead of training to kill us.

posted by babbleman at 11:48 P.M. EST on Mon Jul 30, 2007     #

Babbleman, you seem to forget my primary point, that there IS NOT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND THE CORPORATIONS, THEY ARE THE SAME ENTITY. Whatever regulation exists, in the cycle of time is knocked down, and re-created by the outrage of the people when they are raped of their health or their cash.

You are talking in circles, and seem to think that economic output is the only quality of life. Wrong thinking dude. The cheapest product, if manufacturing it KILLS you child, is not worth anything. We have an opportunity , the corporations, right now, to set the standards on clean air, and what was their choice? How did they instruct their puppets in control of the country for 6 years? They told them to tear down the clean air act and piss on the clean water act, and thats exactly what the neopiglicans have done, as instructed by their masters. If government is your enemy as you seem to assert quite strongly, then you had better check out the degree to which a few greedy hog murderous corporations control them.

There is no way you have addressed the calculation I have been trying to get you to look at. The issue is that its always cheaper to NOT kill you children with pollution, and NOT indulge in policies that put the nation on a path to eternal war.
Doing the right thing for the country and the world is a conflict of interest to the oil companies and their lackeys in the exec branch and cabinet.

Have you read the P.N.A.C. report yet? Cheney, Pearl, Wolfowitz, Cheney, they planned this war in the 90's while part of a neocon think tank. they tried to get clinton to invade in order to achieve global military and economic domination of the world by the U.S. Read the report, its online.

posted by prime3end at 01:37 P.M. EST on Tue Jul 31, 2007     #

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