No. 2 / April 2019 65570 www.newenergy.info magazine for climate action and renewable energy BRIDGE OR BARRIER? The controversial role of natural gas Winds of change Paradigm shift in store for turbine service Much to learn Comparing climate policy in the US and Europe
is now available as an e-paper No. 1 / February 2019 65570 No. 1 / February 2019 65570 www.newenergy.info magazine for climate action and renewable energy magazine for climate action and renewable Going mobile Going ng ng ng ng ng ng ngngnng mobmobmobmobmobmobmobmobmmobbileilelileileeilee Going mobile The apps transforming pppp pp The aThe apps pps trantransfor sformingming ggggg g turbturbine eeeeeeee ine servservice ice turbine service Green Newewwwwww DeDeDeDeDeDeDeDeDeDeDeD al al alal al alal aaal Green New Deal Green New Deal ReshReshuinuingg ReshReshuinuingg gg Reshuing gy p gy p US eUS energnergy poy policylicy US eUS energnergy poy policylicy y y US energy policy Enjoy a free trial of the e-paper at www.newenergy.info Future FFFFFFFFFFuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuutttttttttuuuuuuurreeee Future fuel ffuuell fuel Unlocking the potential potential UnUnlUnUnUnUU ockockinging ththee Unlocking the potpototententnnn ialial pp of hydrogen of f hydhydydrogrogroooorogrogogoo enennenenen of hydrogen yy y ggggg g Read all about the switch to renewables on your tablet, smartphone or laptop. Subscribe online at www.newenergy.info/subscriptions
Marching in place It is a peculiar feeling – you are brimming with tension, and yet unable to move. The writer Franz Kafka coined a term for this very condition: “stehender Sturmlauf ”, which can be roughly translated as “stationary march”. This concept aptly describes the situation in which the energy transition currently ﬁnds itself. Grandiose declarations of intent are in no short supply – the problems are simply too great to be swept under the carpet. Late last year, for instance, energy commis- sioner Miguel Arias Cañete announced the EU’s new 2050 climate strategy, which details how Europe can become a climate-neutral economy by 2050. The plan is built around well-known ideas – Europe must entirely eliminate fossil fuels from electricity generation, pull out all the stops with regard to energy efﬁciency, and switch to clean energy for mobility. However, even the country with the highest GDP in the bloc – Germany – is showing little sign making a serious effort to achieve these goals. On the contrary: Germany (along with eastern Europe) not only continues to op- erate some of Europe’s dirtiest coal-ﬁred power plants, but is also taking a leisurely approach to getting rid of these carbon belchers. And even after 2038 – the sched- uled deadline for Germany’s coal phase-out – the plan is to stick to fossil fuels. On the premise that reliable baseload power will be needed long into the future to bal- ance out the ﬂuctuating feed-in of renewable energy from the sun and wind, natural gas is currently being hailed as the answer. This is the argument used to justify proj- ects like the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The ofﬁcial line is that the gas projects are a private sector commitment. If future climate policy decrees a phase-out of natural gas, the risk is borne by the companies. What is more, there is always the option of quickly switching from fossil gas to the clean-burning synthetic version. This is true as far as transport is concerned: a high proportion of hydrogen, which can be generated from green electricity, is not a prob- lem for the natural gas grid. However, consumption is another matter. This is a crucial issue, as the Federal Government has announced that the energy transition can only succeed with the help of (natural) gas-ﬁred power plants. The only problem is, building these plants does not currently make economic sense – and they are likely to require retroﬁtting at some point anyway. A carbon pricing reform could help matters, but this has been ruled out by the economics ministry for the current legislative term. Are policymakers working on a natural gas phase-out that (a) lies in the very distant future, or (b) will be predictably expensive due to the need for subsidies or even compensation payments for the companies affected? This is the topic of our cover story (page 18). Perhaps there is another way out of the energy transition’s “stationary march”. Young people all over the world are currently taking to the streets every Friday to protest for climate action. Others are following suit: more and more adults are joining the movement, founding initiatives such as #ArtistsforFuture, #DoctorsforFuture or #EntrepreneursforFuture. Scientists have been especially vocal in their support: the #ScientistsforFuture movement has launched a petition signed by 27,000 scientists from Germany, Austria and Switzerland expressing solidarity with the students (page 9). The protests continue – and could play a part in helping reason to prevail when Europe- ans head to the polls in May. Best wishes, Jörg-Rainer Zimmermann Editor-in-chief Editorial new energy 2/2019 3
Tunnel vision: natural gas projects like the Nord Stream 2 pipeline have been criticised as short-sighted by environmentalists. 18 ENERGY POLITICS BUSINESS 3 | Editorial 6 | Cooperation with EREF 16 | News: Investor group demands climate trans- parency, European Commission to investigate Innogy takeover, U-turn by Tesla, ﬁgure of the 8 | News: Carbon cap for EU trucks, impasse over month. geoengineering rules, support for school strikes, clean energy still growing, EEG state aid ruling overturned, progress for Energy Union. TECHNOLOGY COUNTRY MARKETS 11 | News: China completes mixed power plant, Vienna leads in smart city index, Australian coalmine blocked. 12 | Guest article: George Frampton discusses the climate challenge on both sides of the Atlantic. 4 new energy 2/2019 17 | News: Eggshells for energy storage, carbon capture breakthrough, “super sponge” harvests drinking water from the air. COVER STORY 18 | Bridge or barrier? Although relatively clean – at least compared to coal – natural gas is still a fossil fuel, and its long-term use is difficult to reconcile with the goals set out in the Paris Agreement on climate change. Is the current spate of investment in pipelines and terminals misguided? 24 | Reinventing gas Gas turbines oer a remarkably efficient and ﬂexible form of energy generation. They could have a key role to play in the energy system of the future – if researchers can tweak them to run on clean alternatives like hydrogen. , l o o p d r o n / r e g d e R m T i i i , 2 m a e r t S d r o N : s o t o h P , a p d / r e n t t ü B s n e J : r e v o C n i l r e B n i y m e d a c A n a c i r e m A / r e h c s i n r o H e t t e n n A
Contents 32 12 A new challenge: ﬁnding the best way forward for ageing wind turbines is a growing concern for service companies. Hard choices: George Frampton discusses the energy transition in the US vs. Europe. Service 10 | Events 10 | Addresses 46 | Company directory 47 | luftpost newsletter Cooperation with Deutsche Windtechnik WIND 32 | Service for ageing turbines This year’s edition of the BWE Service Survey reveals a slight dip in scores as a new challenge looms on the horizon. 42 | Crash tests in the ice tank Trials at the Hamburg Ship Model Basin simulate the eects of sea ice on turbine monopiles to optimise their structural design. ENERGY PEOPLE 45 | News: Gunnar Groebler, Ivor Catto, Tony Adam, Neil Robson, Klaus Schäfer, Christopher Del- brück, Keith Martin, Eckhardt Rümmler, Tim Meyerjürgens, Wilfried Breuer, Björn Nullmeyer, Hermann Albers, Bärbel Heidebroek, Andreas Jesse, Björn Spiegel, Joachim Wierlemann. new energy 2/2019 5
In the pipeline: 2,000 of the roughly 9,000 steel pipe segments needed for the Nord Stream 2 project await assembly in the port of Sassnitz on the German island of Rügen.
TECHNOLOGIES _Cover story Full throttle – in the wrong direction? New pipelines in the Baltic and the Mediterranean, a proliferation of LNG terminals on the North Sea coast – Europe is enthusiastically expanding its natural gas supply lines. A commonly cited reason is the impending phase-out of coal-ﬁred power generation. However, in view of our 2050 climate targets, we should also be investing in the transport and heating sectors – and leaving the fossil fuel methane behind. By Frank-Thomas Wenzel A nd the loser is… natural gas. This verdict sums up an analysis of Ger- many’s primary energy consumption ﬁg- ures for 2018 by the Working Group on Energy Balances (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Energiebilanzen). Consumption of the volatile fuel fell by 7.3 percent last year – a substantially greater decline than that seen in overall energy consumption. One explanation for the higher-than- average contraction is the drop in heat- ing needs of homes, offices and other buildings observed last year as a result of comparatively mild weather. This ef- fect was compounded by a growing share of renewables in the electricity mix and higher prices, according to the experts of the working group. The massive hike in oil prices after the summer of last year had a delayed knock-on effect on the price of gas, while a surge in the cost of carbon allowances further diminished the fuel’s desirability for power plant op- erators. The 7.3 percent reduction means that Germany consumed natural gas with an energy content of around 3,000 pet- ajoules (PJ) last year – in other words, the fuel still retains a substantial lead over renewables, and remains Germany’s second most important primary energy carrier behind petroleum, which is used above all to power motor vehicles. On the other hand, the 7.3 percent reduction is consistent with the script of the energy transition and the fight against climate change. Some 40 years from now, Germany and other countries hope to become virtually carbon free in a bid to keep global warming below 2C (ideally 1.5C) as required by the Paris Agreement on climate change. Once nu- clear and coal have been phased out, this will also mean waving goodbye to natu- ral gas. In fact, all of these things must occur simultaneously. A number of recent news stories paint a very different picture, however: in the Baltic Sea, well over 300 kilometres of a new pipeline known as Nord Stream 2 have already been laid. The conduit, which is expected to be complete by the end of the year, will bring 55 billion cu- bic metres of natural gas to Germany, from where some of it will be sent on to other European countries, allowing Rus- sian state-owned gas monopolist Gaz- prom to increase its exports to the EU by a third. Meanwhile, the Baltic Pipe project – a gas pipeline connecting Norway to Po- land via Denmark, with an annual ca- pacity of ten billion cubic metres – was recently given the green light. And by 2025, massive pipes are expected to carry methane extracted off the coast of Israel more than 2,000 km to Cyprus, Greece and Italy. (...) This is an abridged version of the article – the full text is available in new energy issue 2/2019. a p d / r e n t t ü B s n e J : o t o h P new energy 2/2019 19
TECHNOLOGIES _Cover story More than a bridge Gas-ﬁred power plants will play a key role in the energy supply of the future. Researchers are therefore working to make them more ﬂexible and efﬁcient – and able to run on climate-friendly fuels such as hydrogen. By Jan Oliver Löfken W ith an efficiency factor of 60.4 percent, the 561-megawatt (MW) Irsching 4 gas power plant on the Danube river in Bavaria is one of the most efﬁcient of its kind anywhere in the world. Nevertheless, the full potential of this cutting-edge technology remains un- fulﬁlled: Irsching 4 is currently languish- ing in the grid reserve, called upon only when additional power is needed to bal- ance the power grid. This is because in light of the low trading price of electric- ity, operating the plant at full capacity is simply not economically viable. This could soon change, howev- er. The impending phase-out of nucle- ar and coal-ﬁred generation could bring the Irsching 4 facility – and many others like it – out of their slumber. Dozens of gas power plants all over Germany are becoming more and more likely to have their output dialled up in the near fu- ture. There is even talk of building ad- ditional plants. 24 new energy 2/2019 Accordingly, Germany has little rea- son to fear blackouts as a result of nucle- ar and coal capacity being taken ofﬂine. The combined capacity of the country’s gas turbines is almost 30,000 MW. Run- ning at full throttle, they could theoreti- cally generate a whopping 260 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity – almost half of Germany’s total annual production of 648.9 TWh. However, in reality gas was only used to generate 83 TWh in 2018. The unused capacity is consider- ably greater than the amount of electric- ity generated from lignite (146 TWh), bituminous coal (83 TWh) or nuclear (76.1 TWh). “Of course, this is a huge oversimpli- ﬁcation,” says Peter Kutne, head of the Gas Turbines division at the German Aerospace Centre’s Institute of Combus- tion Technology in Stuttgart. No power plant in the world runs at full capacity for all 8,760 hours in the year. Servic- ing is required in addition to the con- trolled start-ups and shut-downs needed to stabilise the power grid, and Germany is not a copper plate able to effortlessly conduct electricity from where it is pro- duced to where it is needed. Moreover, only around half of the electricity gener- ated from gas in 2018 (44 TWh) was fed into the public power grid. The other half was consumed primarily by indus- trial companies, which favour gas-ﬁred power stations for their electricity needs
Microturbines in the lab: researchers at the German Aerospace Centre are working on highly ﬂexible compact power plants. in light of the ﬂexibility, reliability and useful waste heat they offer. Even so, Germany has plenty of gas power plants to gradually ﬁll the gap left ﬁrst by nuclear and then by coal plants well into the next decade. The United Kingdom is already setting an example with its coal phase-out, scheduled to be complete by 2025. From 2014, its previ- ously underused gas power stations have been in increasingly high demand – not least thanks to a carbon tax of around GBP 18 (EUR 20) per tonne. The US has also made a considerable dent in its carbon emissions in the wake of the fracking boom. This is good news for the climate: (...) This is an abridged version of the article – the full text is available in new energy issue 2/2019. R L D : o t o h P Carbon emissions per kWh generated: 369 grams Natural gas: Bituminous coal: 899 grams Lignite: 1158 grams Source: German Environment Agency new energy 2/2019 25
TECHNOLOGIES _Wind power Service for ageing turbines The latest BWE service survey reveals a slight decline in operator satisfaction with the turbine service provided by both manufacturers and independent service companies. Nevertheless, novel strategies adopted by two companies are bearing fruit. Meanwhile, the continued operation of turbines no longer eligible for funding after 2020 holds a new challenge in store for the industry. By Michael Hahn 2 018 was not a good year for wind power in Germany. After the record expansion ﬁgures of the previous years, new installations plummeted – failing to meet even the industry’s already low expectations. In all, just 743 new tur- bines with a combined capacity of 2,400 megawatts (MW) were erected, com- pared to over 5,300 MW in 2017. In spite of this development, there are cur- rently around 29,200 operational wind turbines in Germany – more than ever before. These turbines need servicing, so there is no prospect of service technicians running out of work any time soon. When it comes to ensuring the ser- vicing and maintenance of their ma- chines, wind farm operators can choose between independent service companies 32 new energy 2/2019 and manufacturers. The latter have re- alised that turbine service can be a lu- crative business. Particularly at a time when the domestic market is faltering, service is a crucial pillar. Moreover, the turbine fleet is growing older, and the industry is on the verge of a paradigm change: from the end of 2020, many tur- bines will lose their eligibility for fund- ing under Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Act, meaning that operators will be faced with the decision of whether to dismantle their turbines, explore repow- ering options, or simply continue oper- ating them. Service is a crucial factor in this re- gard. In order for turbines to continue to turn a proﬁt at current electricity ex- change prices, suitably lean maintenance and servicing plans are needed. All-in- clusive packages such as full service con- tracts are unlikely to stand a chance in the new environment. All across the industry, independent service companies and turbine manu- facturers are working on concepts to enable and products designed continued ageing turbines. Just how successful they will be, and how happy operators will be with the service they receive, remains to be seen. (...) operation of This is an abridged version of the article – the full text is available in new energy issue 2/2019. f i a l / s r e t l e W n o d r o G : o t o h P
Service from top to bottom: two technicians in the nacelle of a Vestas V90.
Subscribe to the switch to renewables! No. 1 / February 2019 65570 www.newenergy.info magazine for climate action and renewable energy Subscribe online at www.newenergy.info/ subscriptions Going mobile Goinnnnnnnnnnng gg gg g g ggg g momomommmmmmmm bibbibibibibibbb leeleleleeeee The apps transforming ggggg TheThe a apppppppppppppps s ss ss ssssss trtrtrttrrananannananannnnnnsfsfsfsfsfsffsfsssfororooooo mimingngngngngngngggg t tururbibineneneneneneneen sssssssssererererererererereererere vivivivivivivivvvvvvicecececeece turbine service pp Green Neew wwwwww DeDeDeDeDeDeDDeDeDeDeeDeealalalalalalaaalaa Green New Deal g ReReshshuuiningg Reshuing USUS e enenergrgy y popolilicycy y US energy policy gyy p No . 3 & 4 / Aug us t 2018 65570 Future fuel www. ne wener g y. inf o magaz ine fo r c l ima te ac t ion and renewab le ene rgy Unlocking the potential aaa aaa of hydrogen ee No. 5 / October 2018 65570 www.newenergy.info magazine for climate action and renewable energy Climate action vs. wildlife conservation An unnecessary conﬂict PPAs A lifeline for ageing wind farms Smart sensors and ﬂoating foundations Developments in turbine technology 15.02.19 12:22 e d . e e s e d n a . w w w Blessing or curse? How digitalisation will affect our climate Hard t imes ahead German wind industr y under pressure Andrew Whee ler The new EPA chief ’s agenda 15 .08 .18 14 :29