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So Where Does the EU Get Its Electricity From?

by ManfromMiddletown Fri Apr 9th, 2010 at 07:52:27 AM EST

I've been spending a lot of time lately looking at the sources of electricity production lately. I'm going to be finishing a dissertation on the political economy of wind energy development in Spain.  And I've been wondering how the different countries of the EU stack up when it comes to electricity production.  First things first, 55% of the electricity produced in the EU comes from fossil fuels, with coal(31%) and natural gas (22%) making up the lion's share of that.

While the share of coal should come as no surprise, because it is so prevalent in the region, the size natural gas-fired production should be.  Given the amount of complaining about the Russian "energy weapon" that goes on, you would think that the least that could be done would be an effort to move away from this, not toward it.

front-paged by afew


All countries in the EU are not equal, in that some get considerably larger parts of their electricity from fossil fuels than others.

While countries like France and Sweden are able to get by with less than 10% of the electric power coming from fossil fuels, there are some huge surprises like Denmark where just over half of power comes from coal and another 18% comes from natural gas.  Further, the small island members (Cyprus and Malta) get all of their power from oil.  And, natural gas fired production provides 55% of generation in Ireland and Italy, while the UK gets 42% of its power from the same. Again, given the talk about a Russian energy weapon, it's shocking that gas is being used for electricity.

On the up side, there's starting to be movement in Central Europe on wind energy.  It seems that the reliance either on nuclear, coal, or gas plants there is a legacy of communism, however several of the countries have good wind power potential.

I don't know how seriously to take this, but the Romanian Wind Energy Association is saying that they expect to have 545 MW of wind power capacity installed by the end of the year (up from 14 MW last year) and something like 14,000 MW of connection requests have been made.

Even half that (at a 30% capacity factor) would produce 18,396 GwH annually.  That's almost 30% of current Romanian electric power generation.

And in Spain, the solar energy revolution is just beginning, with the introduction of solar thermal power using mirrors to concentrate power instead of photovoltaics. There are currently 232.4 MW (capacity) of solar thermal power in operation in that country, 1993 MW (capacity), and another 1080 MW (capacity) announced.   Altogether that is 3305 MW of thermal solar capacity. At a 15% capacity factor, that's 4343Gwh annually, or 1.4% of Spanish production. If that capacity factor could be pushed to 40%, that would allow 3.8% of Spanish electricity to come from the sun.

I suppose that this has been a lazy picture diary, but I thought that it would surprise every one here where their electricity is coming from.

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According to that map, only three EU countries have a low (0-20%) fraction of fossil power: France, Sweden and Lithuania. Guess what they all have in common?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Apr 7th, 2010 at 07:38:40 PM EST
Three-eyed fish and confusing cinema?



And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Wed Apr 7th, 2010 at 08:50:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Come to think of it, I am not aware of whether I have seen any Lithuanian films, but the blurb for Forest of the Gods does not make it sound very confusing. Depressing, perhaps.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Apr 8th, 2010 at 11:11:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For the purpose of energy security and sensitivity to supply side shocks, you should look at total per capita or per unit of GDP consumption.

France: 1.5 TEP per capita
Germany: 1.5 TEP per capita
Sweden: 1.6 TEP per capita
EU15: 1.5 TEP per capita

Rien n'est gratuit en ce bas monde. Tout s'expie, le bien comme le mal, se paie tot ou tard. Le bien c'est beaucoup plus cher, forcement. Celine

by UnEstranAvecVueSurMer (holopherne ahem gmail) on Fri Apr 9th, 2010 at 11:13:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is it energy or electricity we're talking about here? It must be energy.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Apr 11th, 2010 at 04:55:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.theoildrum.com/story/2006/8/31/194053/962 suggests that there is a lot of energy trading between Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Germany. In the map, how is this accounted for?
by asdf on Wed Apr 7th, 2010 at 08:43:23 PM EST
I took the data from the International Energy Administration website.

The give imports and exports, but they don't specify partners.  That would probably be something that you'd have to delve into national databases to get at.

What I've put up here is only the gross generation.  Many states export and import power so basically, generation≠ consumption.  Germany imports power from France, but is a net exporter overall.

As far as those 4 countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Germany.)

Trade (GWH)
             Denmark  Sweden  Norway Germany
Imports      10427    16052   5285   45953

Exports      11377    14736   15320   62508

So there is a lot of trade, but we don't know with who.  Norway has a huge electricity surplus, and gets nearly 100% of its power from hydro.  Germany produces a lot from coal, and has a more modest surplus, accounting for size differences. Norway has a production surplus of 7.3%, while Germany has an export surplus of only 2.6% of total production.

Trading across an integrated grid could help up the percentage coming from non-hydro renewables, because hydro could be held in reserve to be used when wind or solar wasn't covering demand.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Wed Apr 7th, 2010 at 09:07:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's even more complicated if, as discussed in that article, Denmark buffers the variability of its wind generation, and Norway buffers its hydro storage plants, against Germany's coal-fired supply...
by asdf on Wed Apr 7th, 2010 at 09:27:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes.  That's the limitations that you face when trying to compress information into a single map.  What would be even more interesting is get a picture of what goes on at the interconnects.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Wed Apr 7th, 2010 at 11:05:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You will be wanting to go to this conference: Innovative Smart Grid Technologies Conference Europe (ISGT Europe), October 2010, Gothenburg.

http://www.ieee-pes.org/component/jcalpro/view/73/99999999

by asdf on Thu Apr 8th, 2010 at 09:48:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nord Pool - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Nord Pool market (the Nordic Power Exchange) is the single power market for Norway, Denmark, Estonia[1], Sweden and Finland. It was the world's first multinational exchange for trading electric power.[2][3] As of 2008[update], Nord Pool is the largest power derivatives exchange and the second largest exchange in European Union emission allowances (EUAs) and global certified emission reductions (CERs) trading.[4] The derivatives and emission allowances and credits market is operated by Nord Pool ASA while the physical electricity market is operated by Nord Pool Spot AS. The international derivative products, the clearing house and the consulting services are provided through the cooperation with NASDAQ OMX Commodities.


Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Apr 8th, 2010 at 05:24:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Basically, the European system is slowly moving away from coal to gas and wind.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Apr 8th, 2010 at 06:12:21 AM EST
Given the amount of complaining about the Russian "energy weapon" that goes on, you would think that the least that could be done would be an effort to move away from this, not toward it.

... this is irony, n'est-ce pas? After all, the complaining about the Russian "energy weapon" does not arise from a serious concern that the Russians will decide to deny themselves the export revenues from selling natural gas to the EU.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Apr 8th, 2010 at 11:17:28 AM EST
I think that terms of access matter. Switching to natural gas fired power stations is predicated on natural gas being quite cheap.  The problem is that the increased use of gas for electric production raises the price, so it's no longer cheap. I believe that there was a cycle with petroleum fired stations during the 1950s through the 1970s.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu Apr 8th, 2010 at 05:07:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Switching to natural gas is not necessarily predicated on natural gas being particularly cheap ... when there are CO2 emission limits, the higher share of BTU's generated by the hydrogen content of the methane means lower carbon fee costs.

It would be interesting to break down the new gas generation capacity between the less efficient, but lower capital cost, turbine peaker plants and the more efficient combined cycle plants.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Apr 8th, 2010 at 06:21:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
predicated on natural gas being quite cheap

Jerome hammers every so often that this is not the main driver of investment in gas fired plants.

Instead, he argues, debt financing terms favor short recoup times and thus production characterized by low capital costs.

One could add that being margin producers, gas-fired plant owners in practice do not have to worry about gas prices as they are electricity price setters.

Rien n'est gratuit en ce bas monde. Tout s'expie, le bien comme le mal, se paie tot ou tard. Le bien c'est beaucoup plus cher, forcement. Celine

by UnEstranAvecVueSurMer (holopherne ahem gmail) on Fri Apr 9th, 2010 at 11:18:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
cheap gas prices in the 90s certainly helped the industry reach the size it got to (and the ability of the private sector to invest in it) by ensuring that gas-fired power plants would be used enough during the day (ie as semi load or even base load) to ensure that they would indeed become price setters...

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 9th, 2010 at 12:04:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about Europe, but in the US, there were two types of natural gas plant built during the late 1990s through the start of the 2000s: Baseload and peaking.

It's notable that the capacity factor of natural gas fired plants in the non-utility is very, very low.  

What's interesting is that the capacity of these plants is more than enough to provide backup generation for the introduction of wind and solar to the grid in a number of states.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Apr 9th, 2010 at 12:37:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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