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.

Post

Solar Stories: Prosuming and Energy Resilience

Sussex Energy Group's picture
Sussex Energy Group

Creating sustainable energy systems will be a defining challenge for humanity in the 21st century and one that requires an understanding of the technological, economic and political dimensions of...

  • Member since 2018
  • 52 items added with 30,919 views
  • May 3, 2018
  • 3595 views

Your access to Member Features is limited.

The Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED) Communications Team crossed the train tracks to attend a talk at the University of Brighton Falmer campus hosted by Boingboing, an organisation providing opportunities to learn about resilience. This time their Resilience Forum featured a speaker from SPRU, Dr Nicolette Allen, who was invited to talk about energy resilience.

Nicolette, who recently finished her Phd at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), looked at the way solar panels installed in one of the most disadvantaged communities in the South East, have changed the practices of seven families over the course of a year. She made a video about her findings which she also showed at the talk.

People living in fuel poverty can feel powerless to do anything about their situation, often having to prioritise cooking a meal for the family over heating their home. Watching the prepayment energy meter constantly and worrying about running out of power on a daily basis is not only disempowering but can be incredibly damaging to people’s mental health.

By receiving the solar panels, these families were able to take control of their energy use and their finances by becoming ‘prosumers’: producing and consuming their own energy. The project showed how much energy consumption is embedded in everyday life and how it is not straightforward to become a prosumer at all. Certain practices, like cooking the children’s meals, could not be adjusted to when the sun was shining. They were part of the family routine that needed to be maintained. Others, like putting on laundry, were more flexible.

Nicolette found that prosuming was transformational in some cases. Not only were the families able to save money, they became more engaged with their energy use and some of them even tried to implement changes in other areas. It is moving to hear their thoughts on the experience and how much difference it has made to their lives.

Resilience is often defined as “Beating the odds whilst also changing the odds”. These families did just that.

Nicolette currently leads a project on water sustainability and affordability. Find out more about her work.

Nora Blascsok

Original Post

Sussex Energy Group's picture
Thank Sussex 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.
Willem Post's picture
Willem Post on May 4, 2018

NORA,

The German government decided to reduce solar feed in tariffs, because too many solar systems on distribution grids were excessively disturbing these grids during variable cloudy weather.

Expensive, short-lived battery systems needed to be added to stabilize these grids.

In addition the value of solar to the German economy was decreasing as more solar capacity was added, because if externalities, as explained in this article.
http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/wind-and-solar-hype-versus-r...

Instead of romanticizing, it would be better to learn from German’s outrageously expensive ENERGIEWENDE experience.

GERMANY’S SOLAR INDUSTRY CRASHES AND BURNS

– Feed-in tariffs for new solar systems were 49.2 eurocent/kWh in 2007; were 12.7 eurocent/kWh in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
– Investments for new solar systems were 5.5 b euro in 2007; 19.5 b euro in 2010; were 2.40, 1.62 and 1.58 b euro in 2014, 2015, and 2016, respectively.
– Solar sector employment was 38,600 in 2007; peaked at 110,900 in 2011; was 31,600 in 2015.
– Annual solar system capacity additions were over 7000 MW in 2010, 2011, and 2012; decreased to less than 2000 MW in 2014; were less than 600 MW in 2017.
– Annual solar electricity generation stagnated during 2014, 2015, and 2016, due to decreasing annual capacity additions.
– Solar legacy electricity cost was about 53 eurocent/kWh in 2005 and 2006; slowly decreased to about 27 eurocent/kWh in 2017.
– German household electricity prices were 15 eurocent/kWh in 2000; were about 30 eurocent/kWh in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. See figure 4 in Fraunhofer URL.

http://notrickszone.com/2018/04/21/green-failure-german-solar-industry-c...
https://www.thegwpf.com/green-mega-flop-german-solar-industry-crashes-an...
https://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/content/dam/ise/en/documents/publications/...

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on May 4, 2018

The story about disturbances in distribution grid is simply not true. Come here and search for such disturbances and the battery systems you talk about.
12,7 Euro cent is only for the smalles rooftop system, not for lagrer scale rooftop systems or utility scale systems. Installation of solar systems is rising again, I think since 2014 every year.
Also you should not only look at residental prices, commercal prices are more interesting. here the data from Erostats:

eurostat Power prices per kWh for “medium size industries” (500 bis 2.000 MWh per year)

2005
Germany: 7,8 ct
Danmark: 6,46 ct

France: 5,33 ct
Shweden: 4,62 ct
Slowakei: 4,62 ct
Belgium: 6,95 ct
Hungary: 7,01 ct

2016
Germany: 7,88 ct
Danmark: 6,02 ct

France: 7,14 ct
Shweden: 6,11 ct
Slowakia: 10,47 ct
Belgium: 8,5 ct
Hungary: 7,29 ct

The latter 5 countries with high nuclear share in europe.
It can easy be seen how nuclear power becomes cheaper for businesses every year /irony off

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on May 4, 2018

Willem,
Sorry but your comment contains many incorrect statements:
The most visible:
Solar feed in tariffs were not reduced because of (the cost of maintaining) grid stability or batteries or so, but because the high Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) would increase the Energiewende levy greatly.

The target was an increase of 2.5GW/a. Every year the FiT was adapted. If too much was installed in past year, the FiT went down more than the ~8%/a regular decrease.
But in years 2010-2012 the price decreases during the year were so high that at the end of those years a real boom developed.

To bring the expansion under control again, a quarterly adaptation scheme (based on installation rate in past 12months) was installed in 2013. Just at the end of the huge price falls of solar. And the EU installed import taxes (~45%) on solar panels.
Hence far less than the target of 2.5GW/a was installed in the years thereafter. So no decrease of FiT’s and in 2017 even an increase.

It resulted in 2.27GW new solar in 2017. So near 4times your 600MW. They are now more or less on track again regarding the targeted expansion of solar (2.5GW/a).

Note that in the past 10years the average installation rate was 3.9GW/a, substantial higher than the target installation rate of 2.5GW/a. Hence the costs are also higher than budgeted.

Willem Post's picture
Willem Post on May 5, 2018

Bas,

About 1550 MW were added in 2015 and 2017, and 1750 MW in 2017.
The goals were 2500 MW/y.

During variable cloudy weather, the outputs of solar systems varies excessively, if there are many solar systems on a distribution grid. This requires batteries to reduce the variations.

Willem Post's picture
Willem Post on May 5, 2018

Bas,
According to Fraunhofer, total installed was
2017; 42,980
2016; 40,720
2015; 39,220
2014; 37.900

The additions are below 2500 MW/y

Willem Post's picture
Willem Post on May 5, 2018

Helmut,

Please read the last paragraphs in my article:
Wind and Solar Hype and Reality. The URlL is in above comment.

It reveals the many costs not charged to owners of wind and solar, in addition to the costs of the various subsidies.

As a result, the cost of wind and solar appear to be much less than in reality.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on May 5, 2018

Most of new German solar now is rooftop as the FiT only remains for rooftop. Consequently the capacity factor is ~10% due to poor and fixed sun angle, shadowing, etc. New capacity now is equivalent ~half the capacity installed by utilities in years past in terms of generation useful for domestic consumption.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on May 5, 2018

Also you should not only look at residental prices, commercal prices are more interesting. here the data from Erostats:

Only if magic tricks are of interest: look over there while the switch occurs over here. The surcharges supporting solar and wind are paid for by residential users.

Jarmo Mikkonen's picture
Jarmo Mikkonen on May 5, 2018

Germans pay FITs for solar in the tune of 10 billion euros per annum.

Generation is 40 TWh so a kWh of solar electricity in Germany costs consumers 25 euro cents per kWh in subsidies. That’s 250 euros per MWh.

Wholesale rates are 3 cents/kWh. Or 30 euros per MWh.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on May 5, 2018

The Energiewende started in 2000 with a solar target of 52GW in 2050.
Assuming they continue with 2GW/a (EEG 2017 targets 2.5GW/a), then they will surpass that target in 2022…

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on May 5, 2018

Why do you stick to 1750MW for 2017, while you can read in the link in my comment that Fraunhofer states 2270MW?

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on May 6, 2018

Sorry Willem, but in that link you make many connections which are either not relevant or do not exist.

Connections of the type:
Scandinavian countries which have highest taxes in the world, score always very high (in the top 5) on the UN happiness index.
USA 18th, behind all NW-continental EU countries.
So USA should follow those countries with taxes…

Or:
Denmark has highest consumer prices for electricity (~30cnt/KWh). Denmark scored in 2016 highest in the world on the UN happiness index.
So if a country want their citizens to become more happy they should follow Denmark regarding consumer electricity prices…

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on May 6, 2018

Those high costs are mainly pay-offs for the investments made in the first decade of the Energiewende which started in 2000.*)

This spring, German utility scale PV was contracted for 4.8cent/KWh, despite Germany’s poor insolation. That is less than the cost price of electricity produced by a new fossil plant (coal or gas) here in NL or Germany.
And the PV-solar costs are widely predicted to decrease further
towards 2 – 3 cent/KWh.
________
*) Then PV-panels were a factor ~10 more expensive. During that decade investors got guarantees that they would get ~50cnt/KWh*) for all electricity**) produced during 20years.

It was necessary to create the mass-market about which scientists predicted that it would bring the costs of PV-panels a factor 10 down.
Now we can all enjoy the benefits of cheap PV-panels thanks to those investments.

**) Included electricity consumed by the producer himself!

Jarmo Mikkonen's picture
Jarmo Mikkonen on May 6, 2018

Bas,

it looks like the info in your link is wrong. In its other publications Frauenhofer clearly states otherwise, e.g.:

2. Are we reaching our annual capacity target?

No.
In 2017, 1.75 GW of new PV power plant capacity was reported to the Federal Network Agency in Germany (as of 2018-31-01), which corresponds to almost 2% of total new PV capacity worldwide.

https://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/content/dam/ise/en/documents/publications/...

Jarmo Mikkonen's picture
Jarmo Mikkonen on May 6, 2018

That will be an interesting date because EEG-based FITs expire once 52 GW of solar capacity is reached.

Solar installation crashed in Germany when FITs were reduced to current level (= max. 12 cents/kWh for rooftop solar.).

Not hard to guess what happens when they fall to zero.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on May 7, 2018

Please explain the context between money payed or not by people generating power with wind and solar, and the prices payed by small and medium sized enterprises to get power from the grid? Your answer seems to belong to a different post / tread / site ?

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on May 7, 2018

they are also payed by small and medium sized commercial, only huge commecial users of power are exempted. Since it is often claimed that high power prices will cause an exodus of business from countries with higher shares of wind and solar, the prices for commercial users are of more interrest than consumer prices. Consumer prices would be of interest if consumers would be against more wind and solar power generation, which is not the case.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on May 7, 2018

There is no need of battteries in the distribution grid, because the distribution grid in germany is dimensioned for far bigger loads, and befor a PV generator is connected to a grid, it is always calculated if the maximum power of the inverter (all inverters in the area combined) could lift the voltage in the cable above the maximum allowed voltage.
Learn a bit more about germany, and the german mentality in engineering before writing fairy tales abeout germany.

Willem Post's picture
Willem Post on May 7, 2018

Jamo,

The LEGACY cost of solar was 27 c/kWh in 2017, per Fraunhofer. See my first comment.

It is VERY SLOWLY decreasing as about 2000 MW/y at about 12.7 c/kWh or less is added to the solar mix.

So when solar aficionados are bragging Germany is generating a lot of solar on a sunny day, and other generators are generating very little, the energy cost, c/kWh, if the German MIX for that day was VERY EXPENSIVE.

Jarmo Mikkonen's picture
Jarmo Mikkonen on May 7, 2018

Germans will keep on paying that bill beyond 2030. The total cost of this program will be around 200 billion in Germany.

Comparisons are sometimes useful. Just two nuclear reactors in Germany, Gundremmingen B and Grafenrheinfelde, produced as much electricity until their early closure as will all the the current solar panels in Germany from now until 2030. And they did not cost 120 billion euros to consumers.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on May 7, 2018

Jarmo,
That’s old info from Jan.2018 in a report.
The Data-chart info is updated regularly.

Willem also takes Data-charts more serious as you can conclude from his comment below:
“According to Fraunhofer, total installed was
2017; 42,980
2016; 40,720
….”

It implies that 2017 saw an increase of 2260MW of solar power.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on May 7, 2018

Nonsense. In the class you cite rates for above, “medium size …”, Germany is ~7 ct per KWh. You pretend this rate is unsubsidized and competitive. The RE surcharge burden for that class, if any, is a trifle compared to residential fees. The RE surcharge alone for residential is 6 to 7 EU ct per kwh.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on May 7, 2018

…will be an interesting date because EEG-based FITs expire once 52 GW of solar capacity is reached…

That is, FiTs on new German PV installation expire with certain milestones. Existing PV collects the FiT for 20 yrs, on the order of $10B per year, quite a bill for a system that takes the winter off and spikes well above demand in summer.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on May 7, 2018

If what you say was accurate and relevant, then German PV share of generation would be accelerating instead of stalled for the last several years.

The *value* of new German solar is a fraction of the value of existing German conventional power.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on May 7, 2018

Wonders of the modern age. Shakespeare, the Psalms, Confucius are all retired. Now, the UN defines happiness.

The post hoc, ergo propter hoc clown show is tedious.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on May 7, 2018

There is no need of battteries in the distribution grid, because the distribution grid in germany is dimensioned for far bigger loads

This is wrong on many levels:

1.  The system as a whole requires loads.  It cannot have net generation.  Generation and loads are not interchangeable.  Every bit of power has to go somewhere, on a time-scale of milliseconds.

2.  Getting a bigger fraction of generation from PV than PV’s capacity factor requires generation in excess of instantaneous demand.  The only way to do this is to time-shift generation, meaning storage.

3.  Pumped hydro and batteries are the only feasible methods of time-shifting (and batteries are arguable).

4.  Pumped hydro cannot be sited as desired.  Batteries are it.

5.  Since the distribution network is sized for maximum local load while the transmission network is sized for maximum net load (a smaller value), if local generation comes close to the limits of its part of the distribution system it will exceed transmission limits.  This forces renewablistas to put batteries in the distribution system, QED.

6.  In practice, the provision of essential grid services requires that intermittent generation comprise far less than 100% of actual demand.  This requires batteries in the system at much smaller levels of unreliables.

Willem Post's picture
Willem Post on May 7, 2018

Jarmo,

On a sunny day, much solar electricity is generated at 27 eurocent/kWh, and very little by the other generators at about 5 eurocent/kWh, thus the mix of electricity costs at least 20 eurocent/kWh, and part of that mix is exported at near-zero or negative wholesale prices.

Jarmo Mikkonen's picture
Jarmo Mikkonen on May 7, 2018

Mark, it is true that the last FITs are paid until beyond 2040.
But the bulk expire by 2033.

My main point is that once FITs are gone, so will be the incentive to install solar by private citizens. Only big solar parks will be built, based on bids in auctions. It’s a goodbye to so-called energy democracy.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on May 7, 2018

Jarmo,
That may be true, but those NPP did not create major cost price decreases of PV solar; from ~ 60cnt/KWh at the start of the Energiewende towards ~5cnt/KWh now.

Opposite those NPP’s became substantial more expensive in past decades as their safety had to be improved and improved after major accidents….

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on May 7, 2018

Thanks to the mass production caused by the German Energiewende in the first decade of this century, the world saw last year more new PV capacity than all other generation capacities together!

We should thank the Germans for their expensive courage!

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on May 7, 2018

They have every ~ 3years a new Energiewende law (now EEG2017, before EEG2014, etc).
I assume that the EEG2020 or 2021 will change that limit of 52GW. It was a discussion item in the preparations for EEG2017.

This year the EU minimum import price restrictions for PV solar panels are gradually reduced. Those even will end at the end of the year.
I assume that it will create substantial price decreases for PV-panels, hence small rooftop solar will flourish with a FiT of 12cnt/KWh and the prices for larger solar farms may sink below 4cnt/KWh.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on May 7, 2018

Willem,
Less than 30% of the 2.3GW new solar in 2017 was small rooftop which enjoys the high FiT of 12.2cent/KWh.
Roughly 50% is tendered which delivered prices between ~4.8cnt/KWh and ~6.5cnt/KWh.

Jarmo Mikkonen's picture
Jarmo Mikkonen on May 7, 2018

I looked at that data chart. The monthly chart stated that solar capacity in December 2016 was 40,720 MW.

January 2017 showed 41,430 MW. In other words, Germans installed 710 MW of solar in January, according to Frauenhofer data chart.

Bundesnetzagentur told that installations in January 2017 amounted to 117 MW.

https://www.pv-magazine.de/2017/02/28/photovoltaik-zubau-nach-jahresendr...

Willem Post's picture
Willem Post on May 7, 2018

Bas,

In 2017, average FIT was = 0.30 x 12.2 + 0.70 x (4.8 + 6.5)/2 = 7.615 eurocent/kWh, which reduced solar FIT from 27 c/kWh to (40720 x 27 + 2260 x 7.615)/42980 = 26 c/kWh; i.e., each year about 1.0 c/kWh.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on May 7, 2018

Capacity is not generation, Neo, and as you well know, appearances [and solar capacity] can be deceiving.

In 2016, global solar PV increased 75 GW (less than ’17).

Source: (global TWh increase, 2016)
o Wind: +131
o Hydro: +120
o Solar: +77

o NG, global primary energy consumption: +57 MTOE, or +251 TWh if converted to electricity.

o Coal. In the ten years ending ’14, coal increased about +1000 MTOE, or 4400 TWh if all converted to electricity. Globally, another 209 GW of new coal is under construction as of Jan ’18. All of this was done without a 10-50 ct/kWh FiT.

Given the PV experience of stagnation at 5 to 8% share of generation, the time required to replace that ten years of coal build with PV is infinite.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on May 7, 2018

The german grid – and especailly the interconnected Eurasian/african grid is far frem producing net power from solar generation.
The distribution network in germany is dimensioned for local net load + a huge margin for safty and future growth. And if the transportation grid gets to a limit it is far cheaper to extend the transportation grid at high and highest voltage than to add storage. Expansion of the transportation grids is done in germany as well as almost everywhere else.
Grid services can be provided by hydropower, biomass, wind power in a high enough amount. But here a small amount of batteries can help in the future, with a hour of storage size to provide more services, but here a small fraction of the total demand is enough. But that was not the point in discussion, in discussion was the claim of willem that the extension of solar power in germany was stopped because batterys were needed, which is nonsense.

Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on May 8, 2018

@EP,
Pumped hydro and batteries are not the only feasible time-shifting. Loads do it because they then get cheaper electricity; Aluminum smelters, etc.

These mechanisms (variable loads) also make your point 2 invalid.

Furthermore there is upcoming PtG. Not needed yet, but will be when wind+solar generate ~50% of all electricity.
PtG with good storage can and will shave over-production as it implies low electricity prices.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on May 8, 2018

Pumped hydro and batteries are not the only feasible time-shifting.

They are the only way to time-shift supply to hours when there is no supply.  You are equating incommensurables again, Bas.

These mechanisms (variable loads) also make your point 2 invalid.

So how DO you propose to power street lights, water treatment systems, sewage and stormwater lift pumps, and other things which need 24/7 electricity by demand-side management, Bas?  Just wait and let everyone’s cellar fill up with rainwater or sewage until the sun comes back?

I would love to see you try to live by the means you insist everyone must adopt, but you’d never actually let your assertions be proven false by your own personal example.  Those who pay you wouldn’t allow it.

Furthermore there is upcoming PtG.

Ah, yes.  A technology which only multiplies the cost of its (already costly) input energy by about 2.5 plus amortization and O&M, and is in widespread use exactly nowhere.

PtG with good storage can and will shave over-production as it implies low electricity prices.

On the one hand, you’re assuming massive over-production to feed the hungry PtG systems.  OTOH you’re assuming that uneconomic wholesale prices will curb over-production.  You can’t have both.  Any scheme which assumes such contradictions has already failed before the first piece of hardware is purchased.

David Hervol's picture
David Hervol on May 10, 2018

It’s amazing that 100% renewable advocates can’t follow (or won’t follow ) this logic. We must not be in Kansas anymore Toto. Pretty basic stuff. Maybe lawyers and activists have a plan to petition the government to change basic physical laws.

Helmut Frik's picture
Helmut Frik on May 10, 2018

The adddition in 2015, which could be seen in the 2016 Numbers of PV was slightly above 50GW. As it looks like additions this year will be around 130GWp, so adding most likely around 180 TWh generated electricity to the grid, and it will be well above 300TWh addition per year in 2020 as it looks like for Solar power. Times are changing fast.

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 »