This group brings together the best thinkers on energy and climate. Join us for smart, insightful posts and conversations about where the energy industry is and where it is going.

Joe Deely's picture
Partner Deely Group

Involved with high-tech for last 30 years. Interested in energy.

  • Member since 2018
  • 1,965 items added with 235,396 views
  • Jul 22, 2020
  • 4373 views

A very good read on electricity generation the first half of year in EUR-27.  Good conditions for renewables so far in 2020. 

Coal took the brunt, falling by 32% across the EU-27. Of that, hard coal fell by 34% and lignite fell by 29%, in the first half of 2020, year-on-year. But the fall in fossil fuel was so severe that even gas generation registered a fall of 6%. This led to a CO2 reduction of about 23% (76 million tonnes) in the EU power sector.

This happened despite a large drop in nucelar generation in France, and smaller drops in Sweden and Germany.

Going forward the emphasis on coal reduction is primarily focused on Poland and Germany as these two countries account for about 2/3 of total EUR-27 coal generation in the first half of 2020.

 

Joe Deely's picture
Thank Joe for the Post!
Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.
More posts from this member
Discussions
Spell checking: Press the CTRL or COMMAND key then click on the underlined misspelled word.
Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jul 22, 2020

Poland definitely seems like it's going to be the trickiest part of Europe to ween off of fossil fuels-- I wonder what it will take for their deeply coal-entrenched economy to truly embrace the transition

Ron Davison's picture
Ron Davison on Jul 23, 2020

I love to look at these curves.

RE is smilling

coal is frowning

:)

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jul 24, 2020

I notice how you show gas down by 6% in Europe during a global pandemic, but coal statistics only for Germany. Clever, but not clever enough.

Germany has never been more dependent on fossil fuel gas in its history - or on foreign oligarchy Russia to deliver it. That statement will be as true in 2030 as it is today:

"Germany has also ensured a relatively high level of natural gas supply security, despite a heavy reliance on imports (93% of supply). The Russian Federation is by far the largest gas exporter to Germany, followed by the Netherlands and Norway.

Although the German government is focused on a massive expansion of renewables, the phasing out of both nuclear and coal generation will increase Germany’s demand for natural gas in power generation, including as a backup fuel source for renewables; hydrogen derived from renewable sources holds potential as a longer-term solution.

The uptick in demand will increase Germany’s already-high call on natural gas imports. Moreover, at the same time that Germany’s own production of gas is small and declining, its gas imports from European sources are also set to fall in the coming years, especially from the Netherlands."

https://www.iea.org/reports/germany-2020

The charade that renewables are useful for providing energy security, that they are "beating" coal in Germany, is about as convincing as it is in Ohio. Is replacing one fossil fuel with another progress? I don't think so.

Mark Twain: "There are four kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, statistics, and renewables" - or something like that.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Jul 24, 2020

I notice how you show gas down by 6% in Europe during a global pandemic, but coal statistics only for Germany. Clever, but not clever enough.

Paranoia - it'll destroy ya.

Check out the second chart in my comment which shows statistics by country Y-Y.  The black in that chart is coal by country and the orange is NG. See how that works?

Also - if you actually read the article you will find a very detailed spreadsheet showing all data by country.  You can see in both the chart and ss that NG was up slightly for Germany over the time period (+ 2TWh)  while coal was down 31 TWh.

I am surprised that you didn't seem to notice that nuclear generation was down 45 TWh. This was primarily from huge drop in France.

Where's your comment on that?

 

 

 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jul 24, 2020

"Check out the second chart in my comment which shows statistics by country Y-Y.  The black in that chart is coal by country and the orange is NG. See how that works?"

I see you're ignoring the fact imported gas generation, not renewables, is replacing coal; that you're assuming this global pandemic and financial downturn will last forever. Yes, I see how that works - par for the course.

 

Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on Jul 25, 2020

I´m a bit surprised that France seems to be backing off nuclear so quickly, as indicated.  And there does not seem to be an acccompanying increase in natural gas use.  Will be interesting to see what happens post-pandemic.

Regardless,  the pace of reducing its nuclear dependence is accelerating:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-edf/france-could-shut-next-two-nuclear-reactors-sooner-than-expected-idUSKBN1ZK0RL

"France’s oldest two reactors at the Fessenheim nuclear plant will stop production in February and June this year."

"“If certain conditions relating to electricity prices and the evolution of the European electricity market are met, the closure of two additional reactors could happen in 2025-2026,” the public consultation document on energy policy said

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Jul 26, 2020

Actually, those two French reactors that shutdown at Fessenheim were scheduled to close when the new EPR comes on-line at Flamanville (in 2024).  The politicians just pulled the date in a bit to appease the anti-nuclear folk who kept attacking it:

"In September 2014 a parliamentary report was presented to the National Assembly confirming that there were no technical reasons for closing the plant, and closing it in 2016 would cost the state some €5 billion, including some €4 billion in compensation to EdF. It was currently generating average annual profits of some €200 million and allowing it to continue operating after 2016 until 2040 would result in profits of some €4.7 billion."

from https://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/count...

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Jul 26, 2020

Hmm, much of the changes in the European electricity market seem to be driven by the pandemic; it seems wrong to be so gleeful about the situation: hundreds of thousands of people have died and hundreds of millions are in financial peril, but at least the renewables numbers look good?

Also, the EMBER source article seems to be giving credit to renewables for lucky weather.  The output surge in hydro is clearly weather related, and the surge in windpower is likely mostly due to weather.

The huge dip in nuclear output in France is attributed by the author to staff shortages at plants, but the data clearly shows nuclear is being used as a source of flexibility to accommodate a large demand decrease (~ 20%), presumably pandemic related and temporary, as well as a hydro increase.  (There is a whole section on the need for more flexibility in the European grids).

The German numbers reflect a more modest 10% demand decrease.  In their case, coal is the source of flexibility, but it apparently fell short of the need, because they had a big increase in the number of hours with negative electricity prices (nearly 5% of the time), as well as a big increase in imports (perhaps as a result of negative prices in neighboring countries).

The article does close with a more somber assessment that installation of new solar and windpower installation will be lower this year, and the previous pace needs to double or triple to meet modest climate goals.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Jul 26, 2020

The important lesson from this study is that on the margin coal is in deep trouble.  The drop in demand caused by Covid illustrates this. It doesn't matter that coal will recover somewhat once demand recovers and/or the weather isn't as favorable. 

Renewable generation will keep getting added in the EU and it will replace coal.

When demand dropped coal generation was the first to go... this has happened both in EU and US. Here is data from the latest EIA Monthly report on capacity factors for"baseload" coal vs wind.

The output surge in hydro is clearly weather related, and the surge in windpower is likely mostly due to weather.

Wind generation overall was up 11.9% in data from this report.  Wind capacity in EU was up 8.1% in 2019. So, mostly due to increase in capacity.

Also, not sure where you got your demand numbers ( you said 20% drop for FR and 10% for DE).  As stated in the article the overall drop in demand was 7% (actually 6.7%). Looking at data - Germany had a 5.5%(14TWh) drop and France had an 8.3% (20TWh) drop in demand.

I am still somewhat puzzled that France did not have a large increase in nuclear exports.  Exports were only up 0.6 TWh in FR. Why wasn't even more of the German coal replaced with French nuclear? Its cheap - right?

 

 

 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jul 26, 2020

Nuclear is cheap, but Merkel likely wants to play down the hypocrisy of closing nuclear plants at home while being forced to rely on those of its nextdoor neighbor.

And burning coal / biomass is good for the German economy. Energiewende policy has never been to let environmental health stand in the way of selling coal, solar panels, wind turbines, and wood chips.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Jul 27, 2020

The changes in European electricity demand came from the graph, "Big Changes in Electricity Generation in 2020".  The 7% number was for Europe as a whole, not France, which the graph shows dropped by 20%.

Good question about  why French nuclear power exports into Germany were not higher.  One factor may be a limitation in the grid interconnection.  Also, while nuclear plants can and do load follow, the more variable renewables a grid has, the more rapid that load following must be.

Perhaps France 62 GW nuclear fleet can load follow fast enough to cover they own 15 GW wind fleet, but Germany's 60 GW of windpower and 50 GW of solar is too much?

In addition to the large environmental footprint, a big concern with large deployments of renewable energy is the requirement of very large amounts of grid flexibility.  Maintaining a large fossil fuel penetration provides this flexibility for free, but of course it can also be obtained for extra cost in the form of super-grids, energy storage, demand-response etc.  (The Ember article seems to assume flexibility is an entitlement.)

So the future of renewables is really a question of how long people will be willing to keep throwing money at the problem.  For the coal-phaseout in particular, there is also the question of whether Europe will be willing to increase their dependence on fossil gas suppliers like Russia and Iran.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Jul 27, 2020

The changes in European electricity demand came from the graph, "Big Changes in Electricity Generation in 2020". 

I believe you have misinterpreted that graph - which is meant to show changes by TWh - in generation.

If you look at the spreadsheet that accompanies the article - you will see that overall demand in France dropped by about 20 TWh.  This matches the graph.

Overall demand(again from spreadsheet) for France in Jan-Jun 2019 was 245 TWh. So the drop was 20/245= 8.3%

For the coal-phaseout in particular, there is also the question of whether Europe will be willing to increase their dependence on fossil gas suppliers like Russia and Iran.

Coal generation - now about 470 TWh left in EU-28 -can easily be displaced by additional renewables before 2030. For example, solar and wind rose by 64TWh in 2019 vs 2018.

Toughest part in replacing the coal will be to get Zero Carbon generation into Eastern Europe.  Maybe they will build some nuclear and/or some offshore wind?

Note: in some countries - UK for example - NG generation will be declining substantially between now and 2030.

My biggest worry for NG generation in EU would be whether or not it will be needed to replace lost nuclear generation.  Will new EU nuclear generation be enough to replace closing nuclear by 2030?

Source:

 

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »