Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
There is a real need:
  • to pay for capacity which needs to be available for when wind is not blowing, but which is going to produce much less electricity than before, and
  • to help the utilities adapt to what is a major shift in the system (and given that we still need them, and pushed them in the past 20 years to make 40-year investments on the basis of a different model, it is not unfair that society bear some of the cost of the transition)

Problem is that these issues are never discussed as such; renewables are presented as expensive and uncompetitive when what they are really is incompatible with the business model of the utilities; regulation is made needlessly complex to hide the fact that the goal is not only to support renewables but also to help utilities deal with the situation (ie transfer money to them discreetly).

And the ignorance of regulators is sometimes stunning.

  • At a recent French-German meeting on renewables, I asked a senior official at the French ministry of energy what he thought of that fact that large industrial users were not paying for the gross cost of the support regime for renewables (which means that (1) retail consumers see their prices increase more than needed while industrial users see their prices go down thanks to the merit order effect, and (2) this creates a competitive advantage for German-based firms vs French-based ones) and he had not the slightest idea what I was talking about.
  • At another recent conference, where both the senior economist of one of the large utilities, and a senior energy EU official, I asked if we shouldn't be more open about how renewables hurt the incumbents, so that regulation focuses on transparent correctives rather than tricks that are noxious (renewables are bad-mouthed, it's costly, and the underlying problems are not solved); again, no reaction beyond the usual "renewables cost money, we need more perfect markets, EU-wide market, blabla"

The more I see these "debates", the more I am impressed by the German regulatory framework, and the more I am nonplussed by the lack of action in France (which is still dominated by the "nothing but more nukes" mindset).

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Dec 26th, 2012 at 10:48:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
....a dis-intermediated market, and the direct monetisation of energy through the use of prepay instruments.

For renewable energy such as wind this monetisation will require a change in the market architecture, since this energy is sold by producers to utilities at a low wholesale market bid price. But intriguingly, such a transformation in market architecture is in the interests of the intermediaries themselves  - whether risk intermediaries (aka banks) or trading intermediaries (aka utilities) - since it enables them to minimise their capital requirement by outsourcing credit and market risk to end users, and that is increasingly what is going on.

The really interesting possibility is the monetisation of and investment in carbon fuel savings, because of course such savings - eg a Bristol Green Deal will be made at the retail price.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Dec 26th, 2012 at 11:48:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not everything in German energy policy is aboveboard, as merkel's transition continues to play favorites on a grand scale.

Berlin to Exempt 1,550 Firms From Electricity Surcharge

The opposition Green Party estimates that the companies will save up to €4 billion ($5.3 billion) as a result. The electricity bills for private energy customers and smaller businesses will increase by a commensurate amount.

"It is breathtaking," says Felix Mathes, an analyst at Öko-Institut, a consultancy on environmental sustainability. In many cases the criterion for exempting companies from the charge -- the need to preserve international competitiveness -- doesn't apply, he says. "At least half the companies don't belong on this list," he says.

The list includes coal mines of the companies RAG and Vattenfall, slaughterhouses of poultry businesses such as Wiesenhof, and a number of animal feed producers. Among others on the list are regional makers of sausage and cheese, chocolate factories, solar and bioenergy companies, the Munich municipal utility, oil company Exxon and even the publisher of regional newspaper Weser-Kurier, Bremer Tageszeitungen AG. (My local paper, which is not competitive with anything. CH.)

An extra added benefit is that the companies which profit from the exemption (Exxon? !!!), can also use the proportionately higher consumer charges to rile up the people against "the renewable subsidy."

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Dec 26th, 2012 at 12:39:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And isn't the European Commission interested in this disguised subsidy in favour of the international competitiveness of national/regional champions?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2012 at 02:52:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you give us the correct link to that article?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2012 at 02:52:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spiegel: Berlin to Exempt 1,550 Firms From Electricity Surcharge.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2012 at 03:57:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gracias Migs

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Dec 27th, 2012 at 04:23:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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