Recently, there have been interesting contributions to the old and crucial question of what acceptable levels for solar power costs would be.

Solar is becoming pretty cheap

On the hopeful side, David Keith from Harvard reevaluates his position on this issue. Whereas several years ago he was skeptical about the ability to produce power from solar (unsubsidised) at grid-competitive rates, he now admits that we actually saw a 50% decrease in costs (he is looking mostly at industrial-scale solar, not rooftops I believe), which brings solar power an impressive step closer to becoming a serious part of the enrgy mix.

This happened by gradual improvements in costs structures of existing technology. The below graph illustrates this - but keep in mind that it only shows costs of the panel odules themselves, not all costs of getting them installed (e.g. human labour, inverter etc). Looking at overall costs, costs per installed Watt went from $6 in 2007 to around $3 in 2014

By Delphi234 - Own work, CC0,

Another cost figure is Dollar per kWh (usually measured as LCOE=costs divided by produced electricity over the full lifetime). Keith argues that unsubsidised, industrial-scale solar PV can be delivered at four cent per kWh in good (sunny) locations (here is an actual deal from 2014 with that price between FirstSolar and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy, but I'm not sure subsidies aren't part of this particular price).

Keith argues further that by 2020, in the best locations, we could see costs of two cents per kWh.

Compared to other new sources of supply, this would be the cheapest electricity on the planet.

Not sure how he classifies "new" here. Anyway, here is a more conservative view on cost developments per kWh from Europe (which has less suitable locations):

By S-kei - Own work Data source: EPIASolar Photovoltaics Competing in the Energy Sector—On the road to competitiveness, September 2011. PDF-format. See page 18, figure 8, European PV LCOE range projection 2010-2020 by segment., CC0,

Keith sees a few consequences of falling costs of solar:

1. Wind seems to lose to solar if these trends are any indication for the next years (costs and efficiency for wind power have been quite flat)
2. Prices in power markets will reshape around the availability of cheap solar power (in effect, sunshine), making it hard for coal and nuclear to compete.

Next to location, the big variable in any equation involving solar is the intermittency of sunshine.

David Keith addresses consequences with regard to this, as well. He sees strong cases for gas turbine backup and long-distance electric transmission (from places with good sunshine to places with less). In addition, it might become worthwhile to move intensive electrical demand (e.g. aluminum production) to where power is cheap (where there is sunshine).

Btw, due to its low environmental impact, Keith still sees a role for nuclear power (as many others outside of Europe are recently stepping up to say).

Solar is not cheap enough

The intermittency problem is also appearing in another recent discussion about the costs of solar. People are discussing the "value deflation" effect of solar power (or renewables in general).

This effect simply states that the marginal value of a solar panel decreases with the amount of already existing solar power capacity. It's due to solar power being a price-taker - it accepts the price which the market pays at the very moment when sunlight is being converted into electricity. And if there are more price-takers, the price the market will pay in that sunny moment goes down.

Some studies show that increasing the share of overall solar power by 15% can decrease the money you can earn with them by 50%. A nonlinear deflation effect!

So - whereas today we have arrived at 3$ per installed Watt, which people like David Keith wouldn't have thought doable (within this time frame) and which is turning out to be quite cost-competitive, we might have to drive costs of solar down by much much more in the upcoming decades, should the share of solar increase significantly. A goal of .25$ per installed Watt (decreasing current costs by a factor of 12) would be safe, according to Varun Sivaram and  Shayle Kann, assuming batteries and demand response are not present.

Batteries and demand response might actually be developed further (I have been working on the latter), but they will hardly solve the value deflation problem completely. No one knows by how much, but not by more than 50% probably. And in some locations, there might never be a deployment of such additional technologies, or much less so than in developed countries. A target of .25$ per installed Watt was deliberately chosen by Sivaram and Kann to be a safe bet.

So is that an impossible goal? Certainly with the current technology. Swanson's law (see graph above) will probably run its course soon, unless a technology switch happens. I believe this is similar to semiconductors (see Moore's law), where several major innovations kept the law going longer than people had expected.

Nanotechnology seems to be ripe to deliver such innovations. One example are Perovskites which can lead to cheap, thin & transparent coatings which can deliver electricity from sunlight. They can also very soon be used in hybrid solar cells, providing a stepwise ladder to commmercialisation (and a building block to a smooth continuation of Swanson's law). Also, the human labour costs for installing panels might be reducable by automation (e.g. by advances in robotics).

Only time will tell if such savings are possible. As David Keith's admission shows, it is not easy to get these predictions right.



13 May 2016 - 23:28
# lastedited 13 May 2016

As GermanyEnergyBlog reports, the German government has a green paper out, in which it states that something has to happen in the electricity market to better compensate flexible generation or consumptions (for which they use the term "capacity"). They consider two alternatives: Redesigning the existing market, or simply adding a second market for capacity. In the words of the green paper:

Do we want an optimised electricity market (electricity market 2.0) with a credible legal framework that investors can rely on and which allows electricity consumers to independently determine through their demand how much capacity is maintained – or do we want to set up a further market alongside the electricity market for the maintaining of reserve capacity (capacity market)?

Of course, I link to this discussion because it lies close to what my research has been concerned with the last few years. I favour to solve the issues of trading electricity and trading options on electricity within one market, if possible. This sounds more complex at first, but actually makes it much easier for market participants to be involved with both concepts. Even though my market design proposal ABEM is inspired by dynamic settings with smaller players (e.g. smart grids), the basic idea is applicable even in a larger market setting.

As it happens, an article summarising this proposal has just been accepted for publication in the Journal of Multiagent and Grid Systems.

Furthermore, GermanyEnergyBlog states that ultimately,

acceptance of price peaks in wholesale market is decisive. The key question is whether occasional price peaks in the power market will be accepted.

True, and probably the reason why the second market will come. Onto a world with much more complexity in participating in the electricity markets, where we explicitly pay several players (those with flexibility, or "capacity") for the feat of existing.

I have also looked into this question of peak price acceptance, from the standpoint of mechanism design in a complex setting. I have been interested in indicating whether price patterns are comprehensible and designing dynamic pricing strategies where a maximal price boundary is promised in advance.

05 Nov 2014 - 21:28
# lastedited 18 Jun 2015

Prof. Severin Borenstein from Berkeley University makes a very readable micro-economic case against peak-time rebates (PTR). When PTR are the method to incentivise demand to become more efficient w.r.t. to the supply and the grid in peak times, consumers are paid to use less then some pre-decided amount on energy-intensive days. I share many of these concerns and I think some of them also work as a good foundation for an argument for explicit valuations of flexibility in energy consumption (which has become a theme to much of the work I did over the last 4.5 years).

Prof.  Borenstein's arguments, in short, are as follows:

  • Baseline consumption is set against past behaviour, which sets wrong incentives. "When my baseline for peak-time reduction is based on consumption during other high-demand days it undermines my incentive to conserve on those other days." It even lowers incentives to buy devices that use less energy in general.
  • It is a very marginal payment. Just above the baseline, the incentive to use 1 kWh less is given, then just below the baseline it is gone. Only those consumers a little above the baseline will be interested, others will be too far above it to care. Not what you want as a mechanism designer.
  • You'll also reward "free-riders", people who accidentally use less than the baseline. Wasted money.
  • Consumers with stable consumption are hurt more than consumers with random and erratic behaviour, because you are not punished for going over, only reward for going under the baseline. He has a nice small example for this.

Borenstein, as well as the commentators on this article, agree that real-time pricing (RTP), which I mostly refer to as dynamic pricing in my work, is a far better option from an economist's point of view, but that domestic electricity consumers will probably not willingly accept it (even if RTP saves cpnsumers money overall, compared to PTR), as it is quite complex to use and there is a danger of suffering unforeseen price peaks.

Besides providing good arguments for RTP, this article also provides some support to the notion I use to define how we can/should identify tradable flexibility in energy systems. Especially the lack of a natural baseline against which to measure the contribution (of using less energy at a specific time) resonates with me. I argue that without a reference point, the economic valuation of flexibility becomes very questionable.

To trade flexibility explicitly, both parties should first agree on a reference point and possible deviations. Then, one deviation can be chosen. One could put a value on offering all the possible deviations or only put a value on the one realised deviation. I'd like to see market/pricing mechanisms that do it in this explicit way, which is mostly done in some sort of two-settlement procedure (one example is ABEM).

RTP, on the other hand, can bring flexibility into the trading of energy, but more implicitly. I cannot provide a full-fledged economist argument here, but the sketch would probably go like this: Let's assume that we can separate your normal behaviour (mostly independent from prices) from your possible flexible behaviour. The equilibrium in the RTP market which would be realised without your flexible persona implicitly serves as the reference point for the flexibility you can offer. The residual demand or supply curve for your flexible persona starts from there, and when you can buy or offer electricity on that curve, your flexibility is useful to the market, and in turn to you. In this way, market prices serve as a signal that brings out the necessary flexibility.

However, we know that equilibria are only a helping hand in imagining economic settings, and are almost never observed in the real world. Thus, this idea of a reference point is very implicit indeed. I believe that mechanisms, which can make the reference point for flexibility explicit, are actually easier to use in the end.


15 May 2014 - 23:10
# lastedited 19 May 2014

Recently, the operators of power exchanges in North-Western European countries (in cooperation with the transmission grid operators) have begun to couple their day-ahead trade using one majestic algorithm. Also, roughly the same set of players just signed an agreement to integrate their intraday trade with each other in a similar manner. I have some comments about the level of dynamics going into this process and how little we will be able to understand single effects.

First of all, this development is in line with the rough guideline which the European Commission set out in their recent multi-year plans. The goal is to reduce price differences between regions. Specifically, local markets will keep running, so nothing much seems to change for bidders, but the markets run "implicit auctions" between each other to determine how to make best use of available cross-border transmission capacity. In general, the efficiency of a market increases if there is more buyers and more sellers and the number of possibilities to make agreements increases (i.e. regularly-held auctions find agreements and new prices for them much more often than long-term service and import/export contracts). This is especially important if the good is perishable (storing electricity is not the best economical option) and the local conditions are different (i.e. different countries have different generation portfolios and different weather conditions). Several cross-country connections have already been installed in recent years, so the physical means to interchange exist.

Besides such general economic considerations, I wouldn't be too sure that all citizens in Europe will be better off, short- or medium-term. But I won't go into this discussion here. I have a deal with the complexity involved. European Commisioner Guenther Oettinger says that this will happen:

"Fragmented European energy markets will soon be history."

But the local markets will exist for the foreseeable future. And they are all quite different in their way of working. The bid formats are different, e.g. constant price/quantity blocks, piecewise linear functions, or non-linear functions. Not to speak of the many different ways to specify reserve capacity. The method of clearing bids also differs of course, even if the bid formats are comparable. The timing of bidding and clearing is very often different.

I have talked to someone who was told first-hand about the making of the algorithm. It finds price-coupling solutions for the integration of these electricity markets. The problem it has to solve and the way it goes about doing it boggle the mind. I won't go into much details here. Suffice it to say, the number of constraints that have to be satisfied is high, such that normal solvers of linear programs will not suffice (prices for the day-ahead case are supposed to be computable within 10 minutes). Very modern computer science techniques are used to approximate a solution, in order to be fairly sure that the solution is close enough to the optimum.

I believe the people involved did a decent job figuring this out. But I cannot take their word that we have a good idea of what happens under the hood here.

We're not completely sure how this coupling algorithm performs. We can have a rough idea, but if there is a weird effect, we probably will find, more often than not, that we have no means of finding out what caused it. Because, let this be said, the local markets which are coupled together here, are not very well understood themselves. I concur that they are fairly well-understood. Debacles like the electricity crisis in California 2001still might happen, but most markets run in a stable manner. Probably this mega-market will also run mostly stable. However, for markets on the country level, debates are still ongoing which market clearing rules and bid formats are better and why that would be. No real agreement between economists so far, as I learned in my literature reviews. Mostly markets are set up to see if they will do well, and are analysed later.

Thus, we are having a hard time in these local markets to explain weird effects. Plus, there are very difficult novel problems only on the local level, like the interplay between day-ahead and intraday activity.

With this stochastic algorithm added on top of this bundle of markets, where does this leave us in terms of ability to go down the layers of abstractions, should we need to do that, and find out what is causing effects? Will we need to pay expensive consultants to tell us what they believe happened, without ever being sure?

As we do in other corners of our civilisation, we are creating massively complex systems. Here, the inability to understand what is going on is clearly built into the approach, as we build the next layer.

28 Feb 2014 - 17:57
# lastedited 12 Nov 2014

The group is called Advanced Energy Management Alliance (AEMA). They have former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chair Jon Wellinghoff on the advisory board, so they will not behave like greenhorns. Founding members include Comverge, EnerNOC, IPKeys, Johnson Controls, Landis+Gyr, which are all providing technology around demand response technology. Only Wal-Mart represents actual consumers. I hope this disproportional representation changes soon, otherwise one can be excused for assuming that the group exists to sell gadgets.


04 Feb 2014 - 23:15
# lastedited 12 Nov 2014

Dutch electricity network companies told the government that they want the functionality to shut off devices remotely removed from the specifiation for smart meters. And, as reports, the Dutch government agrees.

As I wrote earlier, I and many observers agree this functionality would do more harm than good (think: security nightmares of malicious hackers shutting thousands of houses off). Now, several experts (DNV Kema, TNO and Radboud University) officially agreed, which tipped the opinion of the ministry of economic affairs.

The main point is that providing the necessary cyber security for this functionality over the whole lifetime of the meters (>30 years) would be too expensive. In addition, experts advised network companies (who agreed) that they would probably not use this functionality to balance out supply and demand anyway, so a possible benefit broke away, as well. A non-economical point would be that no-one wants to live in a house with a shut-off button someone else controls.

The only main functionality of smart meters that remains in the specification now is the ability to transmit current usage information to retailers and/or network companies. The Dutch plan is to make network companies offer a smart meter to every household until 2020. Reportedly, only 3% of households rejected one in trials, so a ratio of 80% among all households until 2020 is in principle possible.

This is only a development in the small Netherlands, but as the reasons were formulated in economic terms and discussions have started in other countries (e.g. the UK, as reported in my earlier article I linked above), we can be hopeful that one of the potentially worst technological ideas in a long time will not be implemented after all.

19 Nov 2013 - 22:51
# lastedited 20 Nov 2013

RWE, one of the big and established companies in the European energy generation sector, was among the signees of the recent petition claiming that power producers in Europe can't make enough profit anymore. Though there might be some truth in that, the whiny tone in that message clearly  marked this as pure lobbyism in my eyes.

Now we hear something more substantial. RWE wants to reposition itself proactively, in order to generate the profits they think they should generate:

Now they want to “push Europe’s energy transition”. In their strategy paper, they talk about moving away from pure generation volumes or market percentages of generated electricity, towards “creating value”: “we will position ourselves as a project enabler, operator and system integrator of renewables.” So they want to sell expertise (consultants?) and make money by governing systems (e.g. be responsible for balancing), as they expect a “significantly higher level of regulation and administrative intervention” for the future.

So they have accepted that in one way or another, the energy world of tomorrow will be different. Everyone should appreciate that, as RWE sat there with their old business model like a giant turtle, blocking everyone's view.

The (to me) most interesting bit is their view on developments in market mechanisms. As I quoted above, they believe that there will be nessecarily more regulation (which is a direct consequence of renewables, one might say, as balancing becomes more tricky). They also believe that the current market mechanisms are going to be replaced soon:

“Last but not least: Currently, backup capacity is needed but not adequately remunerated. This is the result of an ultimate and irreversible distortion of the present market design. This situation will end at the end of this decade at the latest.”

Probably true. They don't say how they'd like to be paid for backup capacity (upfront or on delivery, which I find a highly interesting question). However, they have one reactive and one proactive answer to this observation:

  1. Less traditional generation capacity. RWE will be “scaling down and restructuring our portfolio to maximise its flexibility and efficiency.”
  2. Lobbying. RWE will “fight for the most reasonable market design” and “offer its expertise in order to contribute to the political opinion forming process”.
28 Oct 2013 - 10:43

Smart meters in the UK will come with an option to shut things off in households, which is unsettling for many people given the state of cyber-security we have witnessed recently:

I'm glad this is being said in an important newspaper. Actually, most of the critique towards smart meters in recent years has been about whether we want to give up usage data, given possible privacy violations. That is a discussion worth having, but in my opinion the discussion about the remote off-switch switch is much more important. I never saw the need for it and during the few years that I've been interested in this field, I think I've seen many who have previously supported it come to the same conclusion. So maybe that the off-switch is still in the specification is actually a state of several years ago and doesn't actually have overwhelming support among experts anymore - you know there is always terrible inertia in such standards.

Actually, support of the off-switch was never so that you could unhook non-paying customers, as the article says, but rather a dream of a novel tool to optimise the grid balance. I believe it comes down to central versus decentral optimisation/planning. If the utility or anyone who contracted flexibility from households can then (within this contract) act on their behalf (shutting something off temporarily), they now need to solve this optimization problem all alone, at their central point: when to regulate which connections how much, given outside circumstances. If only a market price is communicated, the problem becomes decentral: each connection makes their own decision, based on the price.

There are a couple points to make between these two (roughly-painted) approaches, I won't be able to make them all here. Let me just make two:

1. For the system designer, the central planning is a rather classic optimization problem while the decentral implementation one is rather a market design problem, which lets control signals (prices) develop (within some well-defined bounds) by the decisions of the many and it also leaves open a space for technological innovation at household level. A classic optimization problem is more appealing because we feel we have the right hammer for that nail available. However, we will then need to make strong assumptions about the underlying model. This also holds for market design, but at least there are less points of failure and in general less hybris on the part of the designers (especially in a world that luckily is as tightly regulated as the electricity world is).
2. Such adjustments for grid balancing do not make sense for small appliances. There are only a couple use cases which provide large enough room for flexibility, like industrial freezers. On the household level, which are relevant for this smart meter discussion, we have not many yet. We can expect to have electric cars and heat pumps, though. Those two use cases will be significant in size, but also in importance. Who would like to give up all control about transportation and temperature control to some utility with an off-switch?

19 Aug 2013 - 10:45
# lastedited 19 Aug 2013

I have been gathering price histories from the UK wholesale power market APX to use in future scenarios for the retail level. I noted that it is interesting to look at patterns between months, for example January 2012 vs. May 2012:

Above is January, below is May 2012. Each line is the price over one specific day in that month, themonthly average is indicated by a black dotted line. There are basicly two peaks during a day, during office hours and in the evening, when people come home.

The most interesting takeaway for me is that the variance in the data is much lower in January than in May. Also, in January the average price is lower during the day, but higher in the evening than in May.

02 Aug 2013 - 17:42

The U.S. electricity network has many owners and thus they face a similar planning problem as we do in Europe, in order to lower needed investment costs and also to integrate renewables [1]. In Europe, the problem spans across all not-yet-connected nations, in the U.S. it is the state level which borders off parts of the grid. The grid planning problem has engineering dimensions (which connections to build/strengthen inside and between existing grids to cope best with expected developments) and economic dimensions (long-term investment questions intersect with plans to design new markets and to maybe even merge them to some degree, e.g. a european-wide market level), but the elephant in the room seems to be the ability to reach any consensus between stakeholders:

The technology, the engineering skill and even the money are all available, experts say, but the ability to reach agreement on such a grid is not.

Will Obama slash the Gordian Knot at some point? Will the E.U. do it? Who is more able to wield that sword and who is better able to find a compromise that is atually good and will work? And will China, in the meantime, run away with their ability to simply push through plans in a centralised manner? And will that be catastrophic or actually work well?


22 Jul 2013 - 0:56
# lastedited 24 Jul 2013

A new market has been rolled out in Germany on July 1st (summary in this article), which is one of the few that deals exclusively with reserve capacity. In particular, it is about what I call virtual supply: consumption that can be turned off, which has the same effect as turning on some generator. Actors can take part if they offer at least 50 MW of consumption that can be shut down by the system operator (either within seconds or within 15 minutes) and are directly connected to the transmission grid. They can place bids for what they would like to be paid for this service (for offering this ability) in a monthly auction. They'll also get some money for each time this service is actually used.

It is still under discussion how much we need capacity markets. Some people argue that paying generators for sheer existence is the only way that fast-reacting gas power plants will return their investments at all these days. I'm not too sure that this mechanism would turn out any cheaper than what happened with the rather static (and thus expensive) close-to-life-time subsidies for installations in the renewable sector. Maybe they'd make it work better, but it's not easy.

However, I'm glad that before we decide about how to finance new generation facilities, this low-hanging fruit is already being plugged: There is lots of capabilities in industry to shut off demand flexibly, and it is time to find out their economic value - and to hold auctions for this flexibility more often than we have done previously.

In general, I am not sure if this is the best market mechanism (in terms of economic efficiency as well as usability). The information in the article is sparse (here are more details about the bid structure, in German), but for instance, they have to make decisions about two prices: The one for availability (being there) and the one for actually providing flexibility (getting turned off). I had my own thoughts about simplifying this model. We can also not be sure if this system can be gamed or not.

However, the market operators say they want to "learn" with these kinds of settings before we really depend on them. All good luck to them! The market already reacts and the first consultants already offer support for bidding in this system.

02 Jul 2013 - 12:31

A nice summary on this from a report by NERC (Organization of US electrical grid operators). I summarise even further:

Weather extremes (e.g. heat waves) cause peaks. Long sustained states like drought endanger operation of facilities, e.g. water-cooled generation plants. Drouhgts, specifically, are bad for hydro-generation. Storms break things in the grid (the U.S. has lots more overland lines in the low voltage levels of their grid, so they are more exposed to this than Europe is). Renewables like solar and wind are also partly caused by climate change (they are a supposed solution), but if they are growing in percentage, they also make it harder to operate the grid.

07 Jun 2013 - 17:44
# lastedited 13 Jun 2013

Here is an overview over minutes of disconnections from power in various countries:

(from here, data from 1992-2001)

Some countries (in blue) are really impressive, e.g. Japan with only six minutes. The U.S. average above three hours and Brazil even above 18 hours. Nonetheless, this is probably the gold standard, against we will measure ourselves in the future, when we have less money to keep the infrastructure at this level. Not to speak of technological developments like renewables, which can further decrease delivery quality .

30 May 2013 - 9:32

The targets include critical infrastructure of the energy system, including chemical processing. Most companies that were targeted so far manage to keep employee computers apart from the IT that runs actual critical industry processes, but as experience from the last one or two decades show, not all companies manage to draw this line well. And modern power systems can be a bunch of domino pieces even with todays level of integrated control, as the power outage of 2003 in the northeastern U.S. has shown. Hopefully some decentralised control and protection can be build in over the next decade, to make the system (on MV and HV levels) safer and not more critical.

15 May 2013 - 9:31

The term 'energy transition' is used in every country slight differently. For example, Germany installs Renewables, the U.S. wants to be independent from foreign oil and developing countries want to have a well-working energy system with stable supplies. 

The article also has a short overview over energey transitions humanity has already seen. according to Smil (2010), the first was the taming of fire, the second was agriculture and the third was the utilisaion of fossil fuels. The fourth is then electrification (invention of devices, standardisation and the making of the grid). One could thus say we are amidst the fifth, which the authorof this article (Christian de Perthuis)  can't really describe as easily as the first four - he says it will free us of fossil fuels and result in a low-carbon industry.

Anyway, he rightly points out that transitions took a long time to take effect (at least several decades). I would add that maybe even the definition phase (of what is actually about to happen in the given socio-technological context) always took some time and obviously we are not done with that phase yet.

However, that is my takeaweay. The author closes with the following statement:

The elasticity of the concept of energy transition suits decision-makers nicely because it allows them to postpone choices regarding climate issues, though doing so makes future decisions all the more difficult. The history of energy systems, defined as complex assemblies articulating mixes of primary sources with the forces of transformation and types of use, teaches us that transitions take much longer and are more structuring than seems at first. Committing to them on the wrong basis risks paying much more in the long run. 

23 Apr 2013 - 12:23

[The article is in German.] It first discusses how the security hole in the software of the heating system was discovered. The company cooperated quickly on creating a fix, but the initial implementation was indeed very bad work. In addition, it is still common practice to leave a standard password activated on such devices, such that service personnel can easily get access. With internet-access, this is, in addition to software holes, deadly.

Such things are bound to happen again and again and only harsh security audits can at least provide some security in the future for such systems.

Several attack angles are discussed later in the article, for instance turning off price constraints (leading to very high operation costs) or overheating such that the building substance is damaged.


17 Apr 2013 - 9:56
# lastedited 27 May 2013

In short: A for-profit solar power installer wants to build a solar installation on city property, operate it and sell the power to the city. The local electric utility sues, as they have the monopoly on supply in that territory. The district court ruled in the installer's favour. This ruling sets an interesting predecent but it is also important in the light of discussion about subsidies, which the (for-profit!) installer received to install renewable generation.

From the utility standpoint, business becomes smaller. The court said that the city property will not be fully supplied by the solar panels, so the utility is still needed. However, if this becomes the norm, utilities must reconsider their whole cost/benefit structure. In the US, they are already thinking about that:



12 Apr 2013 - 17:38

In short: "it is possible to make practical containers" ("may be somewhat heavy", though), and acceptable targets concerning loss of fuel over time can in principle be reached (using compressed-gas systems at 700 bar).

08 Apr 2013 - 17:09

Japan realised they have too few options on their hands to import energy and are subject to price swings. Primarily, they are worried about the uncertainty in contracts (as for liquefied natural gas (LNG)) where the price is linked to the oil price. To list these future contracts on the Tokyo Exchange could de-couple the price of LNG from oil.

05 Apr 2013 - 14:00
# lastedited 05 Apr 2013

The carbon trade system in the EU is one of the first in the world, but it is not working very well at the moment. The amount of available allowances is not adjusted correctly in order to create useful incentives. The two new proposals are to

  1. limit the amount of carbon allowances in the EU- ETS
  2. consider implementing a carbon price floor

17 Mar 2013 - 20:38

This article argues that three milestones are likely to be missed:
- start of market coupling
- development of network codes
- network extension


Their policy advice:
- complete vertical unbundling (split up actors into generation, transmission, retail like in NL)
- introduce a network control center on European level
- plan network extensions on a European scale
- share costs for network extensions between the actual stakeholders

27 Feb 2013 - 3:05
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013
Most interesting are the considerations that success of this market depends on the successful building of coalitions and technological standards.

12 Feb 2013 - 9:13

Their price forecasts basically assumed that the price will stay stable, close to where it was at the time the forecast was made. During the recent crisis, they assumed the price would return to pre-crisis levels and then remain there. The link goes to a German site, but the picture speaks for itself (the actual oil price is the black line).



It seems the IEA has a more political agenda (promoting stability) than being in the business of producing accurate forecasts.

06 Feb 2013 - 2:57
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013
The energy island idea: Build an artifical island where pumped hydro storage is implemented off-shore. Here, they want to pump waters 15 meters up. I heard the idea when it was pitched in The Netherlands (I think they wanted to let water down into a dam ring and pump it out, though) and it was rejected there as being to costly. That will probably also happen to this proposal. The Netherlands simply built a cable to Norway which was cheaper and makes both sides happy.

06 Feb 2013 - 2:27
The Texas market is one of the more interesting ones, I have to say. The regulators seem to take market design seriously, wind energy is booming and apparently now the retail markets are also becoming innovative.
I'm not endorsing this offer as beneficial for the market or for TXU, though. It's interesting, that's all.

[Thanks to Felix Claessen for the link]

31 Jan 2013 - 8:32

Feed-in tariffs would be leveled off for the future and payouts would be delayed for new installations. The power-consuming industry would also contribute to the "Energiewende" by getting rid of upper price levels for them. The concept might not make it into law.

Pundits say that it doesn't really address the organisational shortcomings of the Energiewende and wouldn't really change all that much in the next two years anyway. Plus, the the main motivation might be strategic: to simply avoid the Energiewende becoming one of the major issues during the upcoming election campaign. [pundit's comments, german]

29 Jan 2013 - 3:03
# lastedited 18 Mar 2013
23 Jan 2013 - 1:28

The certification of retail energy as "green" is being criticized since a while. The principle is this: Producers of green energy get a certificate for having produced green energy. These certificated can then be traded on their own, and the buyer is allowed to attach it to non-green energy that he sells to his retail customers. In the Dutch press, there is now a neat example of how it goes wrong.

Norway produces almost exclusively green energy. Thus, their producers are issued lots of certificates. However, their Norwegian customers already know that all Norwegian energy is green, so there is no demand for the certificates for the Norwegian producers to set themselves apart from other Norwegian producers. Thus, they sell the certificates, for instance to non-green producers in the Netherlands. This is a kind of market failure, since the certificates that were given out to Norwegian producers have no actual value in Norway. It is a form of a subsidy in a market where this subsidy has no effect but create extra profits. [dutch]

Thanks to Felix Claessen for the link.

17 Jan 2013 - 4:49
14 Jan 2013 - 14:47
07 Jan 2013 - 3:16
The Chaos Communication Congress is the yearly event of the CCC (the Chaos Computer Club, a very geeky organisation of IT experts, mostly in the realm of cyber-security and digital rights).

This talk is given in english by a researcher from the Fraunhofer institute and covers (intentionally dry) the goals, players and technical specifications of smart meters in Germany, and the possible implications for usage and infrastructure. I recommend mostly the Q&A session at the end, which lasts for ~20 minutes), which can also be watched on its own.

Description of the talk:


01 Jan 2013 - 8:27
The goal is to protect the polish network from the German wind power peaks.
It is time for the north-south connections to be built...

[Article is in German]

23 Dec 2012 - 10:48
20 Dec 2012 - 5:57
France considers introducing a progressive energy tariff, where consumers are rewarded or fined if they used less or more than the average consumer, respectively.
This article argues that such tariffs are
* inefficient - they disregard that different households have different price-elasticities, that different load patterns exist and that there is a rebound-effect, as consumers do not understand the system
* and unfair (it rewards people living in a well-insulated house for their behaviour during that time).

19 Dec 2012 - 10:08
The slides show the power mix in Germany and then show conventional versus wind and solar production on an annual, monthly and weekly basis (also some exemplary days are given). It can be seen how complementary wind and solar are and also how plannable these sources are. The import/export balance is also very interesting (Germany was net exporter in 2012).

If they keep updating it through 2013 (which I expect), the URL probably needs "2013" instead of "2012".

11 Dec 2012 - 1:31
The question how to ensure capacity becomes more pressing, where-ever intermittent electricity generation makes up a considerable ratio of the mix.
Now there are two governments who have made a decision how to react:

"[The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT)] decided to raise ERCOT’s offer cap from the current $4,500/MWh – the highest of any organized market in the US – to $5,000 in June 2013, $7,000 in June 2014, and $9,000 in June 2015. (...) Offer cap, of course, is the maximum amount that generators can bid in the wholesale auction. The higher the offer cap, the more money generators, especially those with flexible peaking units, typically natural gas-fired plants, can make during those few hours when they are dispatched. This has been identified among the factors prohibiting more investment in new peaking generation, resulting in the dreaded resource adequacy and dangerously low reserve margins predicted by ERCOT."

"Concerned about having sufficient capacity during periods of high demand, the French government is introducing a decree that would require electricity suppliers to buy and pay for peak load capacity from the end of 2013. The obligatory certificates would have to match their forecast needs 3 years in advance. The scheme is intended to discourage the closures of uneconomical plants and encourage generators to construct new flexible plants that can be easily turned on and off. (...) The main challenge in France is not lack of capacity per se, but rather lack of flexible capacity. "

"[Texas'] decision to stick to its energy-only market was hailed by pure energy-only market enthusiasts. The move by France to introduce a capacity scheme, likely to be adopted by Germany and possibly others, suggests that the debate about the virtues of energy-only vs. energy and capacity payment schemes is far from over."

29 Nov 2012 - 10:35
In 2011, the instances where generated electricity (from the East and North) couldn't be transported to where it is needed most (the West and South) were more frequent than in 2010.
Specifically, reducing generator output happened four times as much as in 2010. Between Thueringen and Bayern, every fifth hour was problematic. Turning off generators (of renewable energy) completely happened three times as much. Until now, this was, however, enough to at least guarantee service quality for all citizens.

New transmission connections are direly needed but there is controversy where to put them and citizens refuse to have them near where they live, which prolongs the construction date.

28 Nov 2012 - 10:27
Mainly, he argues to install things (e.g. renewable capacity) only if they "economic and technical sense".

Kohler: The operator of a solar plant should be getting a message, namely that it's up to him to market the electricity he produces.

That sounds reasonable at first (and I agree with his general statement that we should only construct what actually makes sense). However, we really need a good and fair market system before you can really demand such thing from the system participants. The demand side gets guarantees, as well, right? I'm not entirely sure about the industrial demand, but I think it's pretty close to a connection guarantee if you open up a new factory or anything like that. And energy prices are not localised at all, so why should anyone bother thinking about location?
And why should it only be the supply side? In an optimal future setting, industrial demand also takes (local) energy and grid connection price into account when they decide where to locate. Then, the northern areas start to look better. Maybe cheap energy would even create job in Northern Germany and rural Bavaria.

He also is doesn't really fancy capacity market (same here), but instead says we should simply subsidise regular backup capacity:

Kohler: Anyone who guarantees the security of supply in the future has to be paid for it, even if his power plant is only needed at certain times.
SPIEGEL: Some receive subsidies for supplying green energy, while others are paid so that they'll be available in case it rains or the wind doesn't blow. It doesn't sound very market-based.
Kohler: It can indeed be organized in a market-based way throughout Europe by using so-called capacity markets. But that doesn't do any good. We have to synchronize the addition of more solar and wind energy systems with an expansion of the overall system, or the energy revolution will be a failure.

He closes with an interesting statement about the accuracy of energy forecasts:

Kohler: In the 1970s, they believed that there is an annual 6-percent linear increase in the demand for electricity. That number was used to estimate how many nuclear power plants had to be built. It was also the reason I went to work for the Institute for Applied Ecology (Öko Institut) in Freiburg at the time. I thought the calculations were fundamentally wrong. Today we have a solar and wind euphoria, instead of a nuclear euphoria. We believe that there will be a 10-percent decline in electricity consumption by 2020. And, once again, we assume that this change will be linear. But I'm sure that we're probably going to be wrong this time, too.

23 Nov 2012 - 3:04
The International Energy Agency and the US administration were the only producers of global outlooks. Now China has founded an own institute for that and presented their first report from their perspective.

Most frightening is that they are frank about the climate challenge:

> On Climate Change targets the view is given that the 2 degree target as addressed by the UNFCC is not realistic, and that international governance lacks any mechanism to promote renewable energy, whose development is still based on national government support.
> “There will be hardly be any breakthrough in two core technologies that are highly related with global energy security and climate change. (...) lithium batteries will suffer from high energy consumption and high pollution under current technologies. (...) Carbon Capture and Storage (...) is facing some fatal problems"

At least some honesty, the debate needed that. But that will not lead China to take any alternative path. Even worse,

> The perception is that an abundant supply of coal in China exists (I asked this question to Dr. Yang Yufeng at the meeting, about which he replied that China has more than a 100 years of supply left.)

One positive note:

> "Under the framework of the UN or G20, the international community should build a global mechanism of sharing advanced technologies."

On a more practical note, China realises it has only very high-level control of demand, which is not godd for anyone. They aim at better local mechanisms:

> In the words of Dr. Yang Yufeng, “Make our demand more Scientific!.” Whereas currently China has great control at the macro level of energy, it lacks mechanisms to install incentives and management options at the micro-level. Therefore the Chinese Energy Institute recommends bottom-up energy data measurement, based on which control measures (both technology wise and behavioural constraints) can be instituted


21 Nov 2012 - 1:04
She describes that Texas has better competition than other U.S. states, because the regulators restricted the utilities to providing network-related services, so that the other supply chain levels (i.e. retail offerings) become open for competition.
Interestingly, The Netherlands also did this, while other EU nations held back. They are the Texas of Europe in this regard.

"The best feasible approach to such a situation, in which a regulated monopolist sits in the middle of a vertical supply chain with competitive or potentially competitive markets on either or both sides, is to quarantine the monopoly by restricting its market participation to its regulated functions. The best way to do this is to separate the ownership and control of the regulated functions from the other vertically-related functions."

In a paper, published tomorrow, she makes the case for quarantine of monopolists, using two of the most favourite examples in recent smart grid discussion: An assumed (or hoped-for) parallel between the recent mobile technology revolution and smart grid technology, and the ever-delayed arrival of the smart home:

"The example I have in mind as a counterpoint, the example I want to explain and understand, is consumer-facing electricity technologies, like thermostats and home energy management systems. For the past several years there has been considerable innovation in this space, due to the application and extension of digital communication technology innovations. But despite the frequent claims over the past few years that this year will be the year of the consumer energy technology, it keeps not happening."

16 Nov 2012 - 14:24
The ministry responsible for spending billions of Euros on extending the network will soon reach a verdict. Currently, citizens and experts can still weigh in. They have access to large amount of usage data - but that is only for current and past usages, not for future scenarios. Also, not even all experts can actually compute what happens when certain cables are built or not built and how likely any given societal benefit of any given option is - the problem is vastly complex (that's why computer scientists should be called to help in network planning). This is just being realised in Germany on a larger scale (i.e. bigger newspapers).

In addition, the cost analysis sometimes leaves out important details. For instance, the cost benefit of a cheaper power plant is taken into consideration, but not the additional costs of the extra cable which would be needed to make it available to all of Germany. Germany does not even define if it wants to be exporting electricity in 20 years or not. Currently, the network plans would support that. It is unclear to me if that would be most profitable for the owners of coal power plants in the east (as an expert claims in the interview linked to below), or wind farm owners (who would export during peak times). It is also unclear to me how much of these exporting capabilities are considered mandatory by the EU (who plan an integrated european market). It is clear that network operators would like to extend their network, because it will generate money for them, which has to be paid for by the users (that is: all German citizens).!104690/!104694/

01 Nov 2012 - 5:55
The EU is moving the Emission Trading System (ETS) into the third phase. In general, more emission allowances have to be auctioned and less can be freely given away by governments as they please (which adds artificially low prices). Critics say that these adjustments are too small and the amount of cheap allowances is still so large that prices will remain low (meaning little or no incentives to actually invest in low-carbon technology, which is the main reason the ETS exists).

There is also a short summary of a recent discussion about the problems of the ETS:

30 Oct 2012 - 10:54
"Although deregulation of the energy market in the 1980s supposedly led to more competition, the reality is more similar to a monopoly within each region of the UK."
"Companies supplying electricity to UK homes where they inherited the network from the former utility boards are operating a near monopoly."
"Figures published in Parliament in a written answer to the shadow Energy Secretary, Caroline Flint, show that there is little real competition. Firms last night claimed the figures show the loyalty of customers they inherited from the boards, but Ms Flint said the companies appear to be exploiting consumers' unwillingness to shop around. With a baffling array of more than 500 tariffs on offer, consumers are often loath to switch."

"The time has come to create a tough new regulator to police the energy market properly, and force the energy companies to pass on price cuts to the public.", said Ms Flint.

It seems that switching providers is too difficult. Companies seem to have divided the turf among them, each being a happy near-monopolist where they operate and all of them agreeing that customers should not have it easy to compare.

Nonetheless, the article also includes the retailers' reactions. They all sound like this one: "We would fully expect our customer retention rates to be higher than those of our competitors because of our exceptional standards of service (...)"

21 Oct 2012 - 14:51
18 Oct 2012 - 7:45

Here at the ISGT conference, Prof. Anke Weidlich from Hochschule Offenburg correctly described four objectives of flexibility (one specific example is Demand Response):



  • Minimization of power procurement costs
  • Minimization of balancing power procurement costs
  • Support for congestion management
  • Pooling for participation in balancing markets (e.g. Virtual Power Plants (VPP)), thus achieving a shared economy of scale

There are other objectives I can think of:

  • Power quality support (e.g. Voltage regulation)
  • Provision of some certainty that black/brownouts are less likely through your existence (this objective is a current topic in Germany)

There might be even more.


Prof. Weidlich said that in the end, flexibility can only be used once. However, while there are a number of objectives, there are actually only two kind of actions when being flexible towards the power system: doing (generating/consuming) more than planned or less than previously announced. It is of course possible that objectives are complimentary - that one of the two actions can be of positive value in more than one of the above-mentioned objectives at the same time (e.g. a VPP which provides balancing power and thereby also helps with congestion management). Actually, installing the infrastructure for demand response will probably only pay off if all of these objectives are to some part realised.


The question is how to (explicitily) realise several objectives at the same time, given that any bidder can only offer flexibility once.


The challenge is to design mechanisms (e.g. market mechanisms) in which flexibility can actually be offered once, and then be allocated in order to work towards as many objectives as possible, at the same time. The alternative would be to have distinct markets for each of these objectives or at least the need to offer the flexibility in six distinct bids (well, technically, a VPP is simply an aggregator, so we are talking about possibly five markets for the usages listed above). A way to combine minimization of power procurement costs with congestion support is the system of Locational Marginal Pricing (LMP) practiced in the US. In my recent publications [1] [2] and [3], I proposed a combination of offering flexibility towards the first two objectives mentioned above. These mechanisms are already quite complex and it was hard work to design them. Adding more usages, e.g. a market mechanism that can can satisfy three objectives would be even harder. Especially in the light of a diverse actor/market landscape - the days where all objectives are handled by one central authority are long gone.


While I meet a lot of people who praise the many objectives of flexibility in power systems (also here at ISGT 2012), I have yet to come across significant appreciation for the challenge of combining them, though.


P.S. To avoid confusion: I would assume that Prof. Weidlich does acknowledge that market design challenge. She also acknowledges another important market design problem - the implementation of fairness in the tariff system of tomorrow (article in German).


[1] Nicolas Höning, J.A. La Poutré. Reduction of Market Power and Stabilisation of Outcomes in a Novel and Simplified Two-Settlement Electricity Market. Proceedings of IEEE/WIC/ACM International Conference on Intelligent Agent Technology 2012, 2012.
[2] Nicolas Höning, J.A. La Poutré. Flexible Consumers Reserving Electricity and Offering Profitable Downward Regulation. Proceedings of the Third IEEE PES Conference On Innovative Smart Grid Technologies 2012, 2012.
[3] Nicolas Höning, H. Noot, J.A. La Poutré. Integrating power and reserve trade in electricity networks. Proceedings of the International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, Taipei, Taiwan, 2011.


17 Oct 2012 - 10:27
# lastedited 07 Nov 2013
On the one hand, it is amazing that the US still don't require all new houses to be energy-efficient (e.g. well-insulated).
On the other hand, 26% is not a bad measure for a voluntary action that costs money up-front. Let's hope people are smarter than the government and the trend gets even better.

16 Oct 2012 - 14:55
I am currently at the Innovatve Smart Grid Technology 2012 conference.
Let me share some random notes from the plenary session on "Smart Grid Perspectives and Solutions":

Jochen Kreusel of ABB, talking on global energy matters, compares outlooks for the US, Europe and Asia. He makes sure to show us a map of Europe that contains Greenland. Makes the rest of Europe look rather small, but I think it might serve a different point.

Helmar Rendez of Vattenfall:
* Forget about storage capacities of E-Vehicles: if one million cars would actually exist in Germany, he claims they could only store 7 minutes of german electricity demand (during day-time).
* Berlin will never be able to power itself by all-local renewable generation.

Ronny Belmans (KU Leuven) asks if we actually need a new grid. Good question. For instance, the rail system could move to high-speed trains without a major upgrade. He expects that the current grid will remain in place until at least 2020 and can carry us towards the 20-20-20 targets of the EU. However, afterwards we need to start upgrading the basic grid technology - the current one will by then be as outdated as sailing ships were once, when coal-powered ships replaced them.

Question from the audience: affordability will probably prevail (especially considering the recession), is the renewable electricity-dominated scenario actually likely under that assumption?
J. Kreusel: we do not yet have wide consensus, true, but it is not only Europe that goes into this direction. We still have unexpected developments like shale gas, but also the sudden drop in PV costs.
H. Rendez: I like change - it means opportunities (and I want to make money for my company). We must think in scenarios and take risks. No risk, no fun - and I want to have fun.
L. Schmitt (of Astom): We look at it as a portfolio of solutions and we are not putting all our eggs in one basket.
R. Belmans: This will not be the final solution, true. Consider how the The German government rapidly changed course recently (Fukushima). But the request for a more flexible way of using demand and supply is not new. We have not changed our approach to grids since 60 years and the IEA (Intl. Energy Agency) has been consistently advocating a more efficient usage for 15 years now.

15 Oct 2012 - 7:35
Taking both production and expected lifetime into account, the answer is 'maybe, especially if coal is used to power both'.

"The study highlights in particular the "toxicity" of the electric car's manufacturing process compared to conventional petrol/diesel cars. It concludes that the "global warming potential" of the process used to make electric cars is twice that of conventional cars.

The study also says - as has been noted many times before - that electric cars do not make sense if the electricity they consume is produced predominately by coal-fired power stations."

"Although EVs are an important technological breakthrough with substantial potential environmental benefits, these cannot be harnessed everywhere and in every condition."

10 Oct 2012 - 15:31

One big regulation force in the EU at the moment is to integrate the markets of countries with one another. If more capacity is traded, the combined social welfare should increase, as buyers find more sellers and the other way around. A second assumption is that prices for electricity should decrease, as suppliers would need to give way from their current position of strong market power.

This blog post reports on empirical results from the last decade, where it is shown that the second assumption does not seem to hold: Prices were not significantly lower when two markets (e.g. the German and the French market) were coupled (note: the definition of "coupled" is that prices between the markets at the same time were within 5% of one another).

The author and also commentators speculate on why that might be and possible reasons are manifold - the electricity markets are influenced by many outside factors. However, one idea of the author is worth mentioning: "One possible explanation could be the sometimes unusual shapes of electricity cost curves. (...)This possibly needs to involve supply function equilibria to address the effects of oligopolistic competition in market integration."

I have been using supply functions in my papers as well, for their smooth state transition behaviour during market clearing and their usefulness in multi-unit auctions when market outcomes are uncertain.

01 Oct 2012 - 8:51

"Hyundai said that it targets both public and private fleets and announced that it has already signed contracts with cities in Sweden and Denmark to lease the ix35 Fuel Cell in their municipal fleets."


[Thanks to Felix Claessen for the hint]

28 Sep 2012 - 0:56
"Telvent calls OASyS “the hub of a real-time telemetry and control network for the utility grid,” and says on its website that the system “plays a central role in Smart Grid self-healing network architecture and improves overall grid safety and security.”

But according to Dale Peterson, founder and CEO of Digital Bond, a security firm that specializes in industrial control system security, the OASyS DNA system is also heavily used in oil and gas pipeline systems in North America, as well as in some water system networks."

There are two concerns about what the damage could be:

"hackers could embed malware in project files to infect the machines of program developers or other key people involved in a project. One of the ways that Stuxnet spread — the worm that was designed to target Iran’s uranium enrichment program — was to infect project files in an industrial control system made by Siemens, with the aim of passing the malware to the computers of developers."

"Hannah wouldn’t say whether attackers had downloaded the project files or altered them. Project files contain a wealth of customized information about a specific customer’s network and operations, says Patrick Miller, president and CEO of EnergySec, a nonprofit consortium that works with energy companies to improve security. “Almost all of them will give you some details about the architecture and, depending on the nature of the project, it may go deeper,” he says. Project files can also identify key players in a project, in order to allow hackers to conduct additional targeted attacks, he said. Additionally, project files could be altered to sabotage systems, he says. Some project files contain the “recipe” for the operations of a customer, describing calculations and frequencies at which systems run or when they should be turned on or off."

27 Sep 2012 - 1:21

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently attempted to standardise how demand reponse of retail consumers should be compensated in U.S. markets [1].
In response, 30 economists wrote a protest note [2]. The main criticism is about the recommendation that the compensation for demand response (for energy not used) should be the full market price (in this case the Locational Marginal Price (LMP)). The economists argue that the consumer should still pay the retail price (so, in effect, be compensated with LMP minus the retail price) and I fully agree. In fact, I used a similar setting in a recent publication [3] where I propose a novel market mechanism for procuring demand response capacity.

The protest note says: "Like other call options, the amount the demand-response provider receives must be offset by the strike price (here, the retail rate). Failing to subtract the retail rate, by contrast, allows the consumer to sell its electricity at full rates without ever having bought it."

This sounds simple enough if you think about it, but the FERC argues that "the Commission is not limited to textbook economic analysis of the markets subject to our jurisdiction, but also may account for the practical realities of how those markets operate." In fact, they mainly think of their measure as a subsidy to increase the ratio of flexible demand resources: "Removing barriers to demand response will lead to increased levels of investment in and thereby participation of demand response resources (and help limit potential generator market power)."

However, if they do get the incentives wrong, market failure is a very probable outcome.


[3] Nicolas Höning, Han La Poutré: Flexible Consumers Reserving Electricity and Offering Profitable Downward Regulation, In: Third IEEE PES Conference On Innovative Smart Grid Technologies (to be published December 2012)

25 Sep 2012 - 2:07
"Toyota, which had already taken a more conservative view of the market for battery-powered cars than rivals General Motors Co and Nissan Motor Co, said it would only sell about 100 battery-powered eQ vehicles in the United States and Japan in an extremely limited release."

" 'The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society's needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge,' said, Uchiyamada, who spearheaded Toyota's development of the Prius hybrid in the 1990s.
Toyota said it was putting its emphasis on that technology, an area in which it is the established leader. Toyota said on Monday it expected to have 21 hybrid gas-electric models like the Prius in its line-up by 2015. Of that total, 14 of the new hybrids will be all-new, the automaker said."

24 Sep 2012 - 16:16

Energy demand growth has been steadily decreasing in the western world (currently at .7%).
While efficiency improvements are one reason, structural factors are also notable. Most importantly, producing industry moved to the developing world. Also interesting: House sizes have been incresing (with wealth) during the last decade, but as more people live alone and the recession eats up wealth, that trend might be reversed soon.

23 Sep 2012 - 15:36
Owners of power plants need to tell the government about plans to retire a plant 12 months in advance. The government can then forbid the retirement if it deems the plant crucial for blackout or brownout avoidance. This mostly concerns gas power plants in the south, to tackle supply problems during winter. Pundits agree that the problem is underregulation, but of course the (long-term) course of action is unclear.
While some call for a reversal of market liberalization ("the free market can't allocate reserves"), others call for an actual market for mid- and long-term reserve capacity.,1473634,1752...
21 Sep 2012 - 4:20
Since 2005, mainly prices of food and transportation and costs of accommodation (heating, electricity) have increased. All of these can be traced directly to increasing prices of energy.
Overall, inflation is still modest (2.1%) in Germany.
20 Sep 2012 - 1:11
this blog post explains shortly what the project has done and plans to do in the next phase. It also explains that the proof-of-concept is of a technical nature, inhowfar smart grid customers, network operators and the wholesale market can be connected. It has yet to tackle the incentive issue for responsive demand.

20 Sep 2012 - 0:56
Peak demand has been surging, therefore the regulators are heading to drastic action.
The key measures include:

* allowing large power users direct access in the wholesale electricity market for the first time
* changed electricity tariffs to encourage more energy usage in off-peak times of the day, such as the afternoon and late evening
* open up the sale of household and small commercial electricity, such as from rooftop solar panels, to buyers other than electricity companies

They want to spare themselves huge investments in the infrastructure by cutting peak demand, starting with big users. Small consumers are not mentioned yet, as the smart meter discussion in Australia is currently "toxic":

Thanks to

11 Sep 2012 - 4:53
A visualisation of the trend of improvements over the last 5 years. The graph uses as data all cars purchased in a month.

11 Sep 2012 - 4:40
Currently, the Canadian government is paying most of the costs upfront, so while some movement is being made on the technical side, the economic side of carbon avoidance remains in its infancy. If the price for carbon goes up, however, Shell could actually make a profit on this venture.

Interesting overview of prices per tonne of carbon:

* Alberta charges 15$, contemplates charging 30$ some day
* The (broken) European carbon market is only at 10$ currently
* This new project takes 72$ to capture one tonne

06 Sep 2012 - 0:50
04 Sep 2012 - 9:13
29 Aug 2012 - 2:31
This article references and cites a New York Times article that is behind a paywall, but the meat is there:

An interesting economic venture seems to be to take over the whole investment, but install the panels at the consumers' premises. The consumer also does not have to care about maintenance. All he knows is he is paying a fixed rate for 20 years. The seller speculates on increasing electricity prices, which is profitable if he sells any power that the consumer is not using on the market.

However, pricing of renewable energy is probably over-regulated. Innovative experiments in pricing approaches do not happen for this reason, claims the article. An interesting question of mine: How much consumer protection does regulation currently achieve? Because experiments in pricing tend to be unfriendly to consumers who seek stability.

28 Aug 2012 - 7:05
"This is a valuable long-view chart from the Energy Information Administration showing how natural gas plants and wind turbines have been the dominant sources of new electricity generation capacity in the United States in recent years."

Thinkprogress is critical of this development and shows the vast differences betwen states:

For instance, Obamas home state Illinois just added 800 MW of coal generation.

"Bottom line: The U.S. grid is slowly cutting its carbon intensity. Unfortunately, the U.S. (and global) climate is rapidly deteriorating. Avoiding far more extreme weather and devastating droughts post-2040 would require taking U.S. electric generation carbon emissions to near zero by 2050. There just is very little room for new natural gas and no room for new dirty coal."

23 Aug 2012 - 6:00
21 Aug 2012 - 7:47
The article actually mentions how the minister for energy is reluctant how to implement an incentive scheme to speed up the replacement of old heaters. But it is important that something is done abolut the fleet of old heating systems in german appartments.
As I've talked about here earlier, the heating situation is tricky, because home owners have no incentive to install more efficient heating systems if they do not live in the appartments themselves. To repeat the experiment of giving money to everyone who scraps an old system to buy a new one, like Germany did with cars recently, seems like a blunt solution to an intricate problem to me. Why not implement or at least add a legislation update, where the benefits for renters are (partly) used to pay for the fixed costs for the new heating system, i.e. to incentivise the house owner to install more efficient systems?
17 Aug 2012 - 8:29
This initial competition among 10 stores will use some advanced techology, i.e. smart meters and real-time consumoption displays.
Mostly it is about raising awareness, and also gathering some low-hanging fruits. They also want to observe which efficiency innovations stick after the competition.

What is missing is that not all kilowatts are the same. If dynamic pricing were part of the stores' environment, the competition would immediately become more interesting, because the innovation would become about when to consume and when not to consume.

16 Aug 2012 - 6:55
14 Aug 2012 - 11:30
In the ongoing trial, the company wants to get some of its investments (which, like in all big projects, tripled the initially announced costs) back from consumers, but the municipality wants to check first if the project actually benefitted all consumers.

"There were 'unreasonable expectations from our customers in Boulder.' said Karen Hyde, a vice president at Public Service Company of Colorado, an Xcel subsidiary."

"'I don't believe the company has delivered the smart grid system that they described and the Boulder community was excited to host,' Kara Mertz, manager of Boulder's local environmental action division, said in a filing."

09 Aug 2012 - 6:03
Citizens can put their panels on the munipalities' roof and therefore compensate their own consumption with solar power. demand was four times higher than (initially) offered space.

08 Aug 2012 - 7:40
In a trial running since June 2012, the TSO Elia used the technology of Ampacimon ( to measure the sag and vibrations of overhead lines. On this basis, they tested inhowfar the cable can carry more capacity (because the wind that leas to these vibrations probably cools the cables) and inhowfar they can predict this extra capacity an hour in advance.
In short: In regions with a lot of wind power generation, a lot of wind means that more power needs to be transported, but luckily, the wind also cools the overhead cables, such that they actually can carry more load than usual. A win-win situation.

Translated article:


08 Aug 2012 - 3:19
07 Aug 2012 - 7:13
"It had all the makings of a disaster movie: More than half a billion people without power. Trains motionless on the tracks. Miners trapped underground. Subway lines paralyzed. Traffic snarled in much of the national capital.

On Tuesday, India suffered the largest electrical blackout in history, affecting an area encompassing about 670 million people, or roughly 10 percent of the world’s population. Three of the country’s interconnected northern power grids collapsed for several hours, as blackouts extended almost 2,000 miles, from India’s eastern border with Myanmar to its western border with Pakistan."

05 Aug 2012 - 6:42
Policy considerations about making buildings more energy efficient.
Trade-offs, recent observations and recommendations.

The primary recommendations:
- Establish national building refurbishment targets
- Create an EU energy performance certificate scheme

Secondary recommendations:
- Facilitate the design of building refurbishment market frameworks
- Continue to widen and strengthen technology standards and labelling of building refurbishment technology, products and materials.
- Develop a building refurbishment technology roadmap.
- Use EU funding to support the implementation of the previous recommendations.

27 Jul 2012 - 2:40
The EEBUS concept, developed by a medium-sized electronics company (on funding from the German government), has managed to be accepted by most of the big players in the german electricity and device manufacturing landscape as the coming de-facto standard to connect and communicate with housholds to the smart grid (after this article came out, even EON came on board, which is big news for them):

They have a whitepaper here:
I learned some details about the concept, but it is still missing some concepts, especially when it comes to the part about managing energy. What does the XML contain, semantically, which is sent to houses? On which terms can demand response happen? I guess they are still working on that and the biggest achievement so far has been of political nature.

24 Jul 2012 - 3:32
A short discussion what capacity markets are and the open question why they are not doing what they are designed to do (at least recently) in New York.

19 Jul 2012 - 1:44

They let small consumers form a Virtual Power Plant which can regulate demand downwards and thus make offers on the spot market: “We hope to show that even these small customers can help balance the grid, based on actual need within the hour,”

"Through the four-year, €21 million (US $28 million) EcoGrid project, about 2000 households there will be connected to an island-spanning network that will enable homeowners to cut back their electricity usage at times of peak demand and sell that unused wattage back to the grid at market rates."

I wonder if no-one considers the game-theoretic strategy of turning things on before an expected price peak, so that turning it off leads to un-deserved profits. In effect, a Virtual Power Plant is colluding to drive up prices on the spot market. We are on the track to involve more and more capacity in real-time markets and we have to be wary of speculative effects during peaks, also from small players who aggregate.

I believe some ahead-planning (e.g. bidding to reserve electricity, which has to be paid in full if not used for balancing) would lead to a solution with less speculations, even if it requires better planning software within the homes.

13 Jul 2012 - 7:33
The power system goverened by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is under discussion, amongst others by the Brattle group and BP, who all argue for more decentralisation of the market and less central planning.

13 Jul 2012 - 2:13
Many trials had positive response, but were biased towards early-adopters, who signed up for the trials voluntarily.
A trial that randomly selected customers had disappointing results.

In my eyes, it is not going to take off unless significant savings can be realised, which will have to wait until the electricity bill is actually more expensive than takning the family out for dinner.
Until then, it is just about learning what is understandable and what is not.

13 Jul 2012 - 1:33

According to a new calculation by the German Federal Network Agency, Grid operators vastly overestimated the cost of developing Germany's electricity grid.
Rather than "at least" 2 billion per year, costs are seen to be close to 1.2 billion per year.
One reason for the difference is that grid operators included all infrastructure costs over the next 10 years, while the new report excludes costs that would have happened anyway, even if Germany had stuck with nuclear energy.

11 Jul 2012 - 8:16
The "new technologies" are renewables and the "second look" is about renewables as well as local storage becoming cheap enough for this to become an interesting option for facility design and manegement. Dynamic pricing as a further incentive for such a setup (i.e. use local power if grid price is too high) is not even mentioned as a further motivation for the near future.

05 Jul 2012 - 8:46
03 Jul 2012 - 7:49
"In 2009, the European Commission--which has antitrust powers in the European Union--had fined the two companies 553 million euros ($689 million) each for agreeing not to compete on each other's national gas markets. The court has now cut those fines to EUR320 million each. "

29 Jun 2012 - 7:40

Renewables drive power prices down in today's market, maybe even more than they should, because power markets, which use the merit-order effect, were not designed around power sources with zero marginal costs.

Quote from a german utility:

'“Renewables have shifted the merit order and now it’s like we have two different markets, one for renewables with 20 years’ guaranteed FIT, and one competitive for conventional power plants,” Thorsten Korner, the head of energy trading at Stadtwerke, told Bloomberg. “We have to think about integrating renewables and how we will organize 80 percent renewables on the grid by 2050.”'

The article goes on to say:

"However, new sources from grid flexibility would be needed to manage the daily fluctuations from solar and wind generation, and this needed to come from a suite of supply- and demand-side options, including flexible conventional generation, grid storage, new transmission, more responsive loads, and changes in power system operations.
NREL estimates such a scenario would result in average annual retail electricity price increases of 0.8 per cen to 1.2 per cent – compared to around 0.3 per cent on the baseline scenario. But tis was based on technology costs estimated in 2010. Solar PV is already half its price then, and the costs are likely to be significantly lower than forecast.
The bottom line, however, is the need for a complete transformation of the current electricity system – including generation, transmission, and markets."

28 Jun 2012 - 7:49

Is the shale gas boom a ponzi scheme, a bubble that will burst?

Also: An interesting article (and comments) about a possibly frightening reality about shale gas financials:

And The Oil Drum has an interview with one of their members, a geological consultant, tooting the same horn:

27 Jun 2012 - 7:38
"In 2011, just 4% of Dutch energy was produced from sustainable sources and without a new strategy, that will rise to just 9% by 2020. The EU target is 14%."

"The report - An Outlook for Renewable Energy in the Netherlands' - also criticises government policy for being ineffective, partly because it is altered every year."

26 Jun 2012 - 3:20

Adoption of gas-powered vehicles is not as fast as policy-makers would like them to be, but a recent report says the conversion is already economical for trucking fleets as well as retailers.

22 Jun 2012 - 5:22
"The public looks to large institutions for leadership in saving energy, believing that individuals alone can't make much of a difference. Nearly two-thirds look to the energy industry to show the way toward energy conservation, and nearly 6 in 10 say the government should play a leading role. Democrats, college graduates and people under 50 are the most likely to hold industry is responsible for increasing energy savings."

20 Jun 2012 - 5:34

While in global averages, the trends remain similar to other decades, the last decades shows very different energy patterns between mature and emerging economies. Also, one important fact emerges: "These shifts show how powerless governments are in the face of big shifts in international energy flows."


14 Jun 2012 - 13:26
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013
After two former KEMA leaders step down, the new boss, David Walker, is a DNV man.

14 Jun 2012 - 1:57
12 Jun 2012 - 13:29
Expected increase in gas demand and difficult interaction with existing (and developing) electricity market structures are a big challenge for the power industry.

12 Jun 2012 - 2:05
An argument against mandated price increases. Instead, the bigger market participants will probably take on risks as they see fit.

The core argument is here:

"The market risks are divided up between retailers and generators and very little of it is pushed out directly onto the consumer.
Obviously, whatever risks generators take on will be reflected in the prices they’ll seek in contracts with retailers, and whatever risks retailers take on will be reflected in the prices that retailers offer to consumers. But competition among generators to contract with retailers and competition among retailers to sell to consumers should work to do well one thing that the usual rate-regulated monopoly power systems do poorly: competition should shift risks onto the market participant who can most efficiently manage the risks. Consumers typically are not the best able to handle the risks, so competitive markets usually won’t stick them with the risks."

I think one should indeed give market participants in a deregulated market time to search their preferred risk level. However, we do have to remember that not all small consumers are able to carry some risk. If dynamic prices happen, some part of consumers will take on risks and through their flexibility help to kep overall supply costs down. Others will pay their part through increased average prices. If the market is indeed competitive, these small consumers will also find their acceptable risk/price level.
Regulation should not regulate these things, but pay attention to the consumers that need protection. If some consumer is not able to be flexible or to understand a dynamic contract, they need a fixed contract. And if they are to poor to pay increased rates, they may need support. In my view, this is where most discussion should be headed.

06 Jun 2012 - 0:47
"An important question—not only whether the transmission grid should be reinforced or not—is also how this power exchange layer has to look like and how it can be developed from the present situation. Two models are plausible: the Camel Model and the Dromedary Model. The Camel model envisages a power exchange between the transmission and distribution grid over a relatively light weight medium-voltage network, mainly for backup purposes because of the before mentioned local use and balancing. Alternatively, the Dromedary model assumes that both the large-scale transmission system and the local mini and microgrids are connected firmly to each other, via a well-developed and strong medium-voltage network to enable power flows from the bottom up."

29 May 2012 - 15:18
Also an interesting comment section (as always over there).

29 May 2012 - 13:15

Instead of the traditional charging at night, the main observable strategy seems to switch towards two cycles, charging at night as well as at midday, when the photovoltaic installations peak their output. Which means that they have to get rid of their stored energy quicker, as well.

29 May 2012 - 10:03
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013
Of course, it doesn't really include topics like storage and glosses over the problem of how to connect different markets and different times of the day, but that is conscious. This article tries to bring across how technological developments, politics and the state of markets overlap, make predictions harder and harder and will culminate in whatever happens in the nect 10 years.

29 May 2012 - 5:16

When electrification of transport is discussed, many forget that transport of goods is one of the biggest chunks of this issue. To get freight on the rail is one solution. Here is another candidate, which wants to combine the advantages of electrified transportation that needs no batteries with the flexibility that freight trucks provide (because they can in fact go from any A to any B, without reloading the freight in between).

"Los Angeles may be one of the first global cities to adopt a new electric freight trucking system, unveiled by electrical engineering giant Siemens Corp. last week at the 26th Electric Vehicle Symposium, or EVS26."

"The eHighway’s so-called catenary system uses diesel hybrid trucks outfitted with software that senses when an overhead electrical line is available and automatically connects or disconnects as needed. When the trucks’ rooftop connectors are attached to the electrical lines, the trucks run entirely on electricity. When the connectors are lowered, they run on a hybrid electric propulsion system similar to the Toyota Prius. In hybrid mode, the trucks save 30% on diesel fuel."

"But there is a downside: Siemens estimates the system will cost between $5 million and $7 million per mile to build."


Edit: It is being discussed in Germany now, as well.
Costs: 14 billions

26 May 2012 - 14:31
Mostly a nice article for laymen, about Norwegian efforts to become big in pumped storage.

In the end, facts take over:

"Meanwhile, with the €1.4-billion project "NorGer," the Norwegian company Statnett is planning an almost 600-kilometer-long high-voltage power line on the seabed. The direct current cable should, starting in 2018, transport 1,400 megawatts between Norway's southern coast and the Netherlands. "NorGer can come," the Dutch Environment Minister Stefan Birkner said last week. He said his country had achieved the necessary preconditions. "The approval process is very advanced," he said.

But many uncertainties remain. It will be disputed where exactly in the North Sea underground cables will be connected to the German high voltage grid. The station must convert the direct current from the cable into alternating current that can be used on land. Under discussion is a newly constructed facility near the community of Moorriem in northern Germany and a location at the site of the off-line nuclear power plant Unterweser, on the German North Sea coast.

It also remains unclear who will pay for the cables. At Statkraft, they are not ruling out the possibilities of requiring participants to take part in a consortium or buy certain quantities of transmission capacity. Regulatory reasons would prohibit them from building the cables themselves.

Other European countries are also interested in Norway's energy. The Netherlands has had a connection to the Norwegian grid since 2008, thanks to the cable "NorNed." The Danes are connected to their northern neighbors with several cables ("Cross-Skagerrak"). England ("HVDC Norway-Great Britain"), Scotland ("NorthConnect") and recently even Iceland are thinking about cable projects. The British and Dutch and also connected with the newly operational "BritNed" cable. "

25 May 2012 - 13:44
"China will fail to meet its carbon and energy intensity targets unless it makes dramatic changes to its electricity grid, a groundbreaking new report finds."

"They have the goals and the targets, but they don't have the regulatory policies in place," Chandler said. "They acknowledge the problem, but the difficulty is in reforming that state-owned system, and there I haven't seen any real movement towards resolving the reforming of governance."

More from the article: "Price reform, the report authors say, is critical for rapid deployment of efficiency technologies. Calling the existing power pricing system "distorted and chaotic," they say China must turn to consumer-based peak-load technologies of grid management.
Chandler called for mandating more aggressive energy-intensity reductions in industry and building-sector energy-using devices. He also recommended restructuring the economic development incentives to favor services and light manufacturing and regulating carbon emissions to limit the construction of new coal-fired power plants.
Finally, he believes China will need the establishment of a power planning agency charged with overseeing environmental and economic goals as well as power-generating targets. Overall, though, he isn't optimistic about prompt changes."

So they build all the solar power modules for the west, with no intention of using them, or using wind power. What if they made the carbon reduction targets also only for the west? Maybe this report only brings to light what everyone in China's inner circle already knows.

20 May 2012 - 15:10
They ask to use less in peak hours due to the shutoff of nuclear capacities after Fukushima (nuclear energy was 30% in Japan).
Whatever will actually happen during summer, and whatever strategies of the important players in Japan actually are, I find it noteworthy - this might be one of the first times that a highly industrial country asks its citizens to prepare for necessary adaptions in demand behaviour. We might see more of it.

20 May 2012 - 15:01
The government-inspired intitiative is an attempt to standardise the data format and how consumers can access their data across multiple utilites that have smart meters installed at consumers houses.

"The Green Button data could include the following types of information:

* hourly load profile for past billing period plus current period to date,
* fifteen minute load profile for most recent 15 days,
* daily load profile for past month or year,
* monthly summary only data,
* energy usage and energy demand readings,
* gas, water usage profiles
* yearly summary data with monthly parts.

Based on available data from some partaking utilities, the US government has launched the "Apps For Energy" challenge, where developers compete to find the best way for consumers to browse their data and get tips on how to lower their bill.
Here is an example entry in the competition (voting runs until May 31, 2012):

There is nothing smart or dynamic in all this, but it might be a start in the direction of a common infrastructure for data.When dynamic pricing arrives to more and more contracts, it might be useful.

18 May 2012 - 3:30
The sold network includes 12,000 kilometers (7,460 miles) of gas transmission pipes, the biggest in Germany. E.ON is amidst a vast asset sale programme intended to finance an expansion into emerging markets. They earlier sold their electricity grid to dutch network company TenneT.

16 May 2012 - 13:34

Here is a link to an earlier discussion, in which a petition in Germany is mentioned that aimed at regulating smart-meters such that sending data always is an opt-in setting:

15 May 2012 - 12:52
"Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche and Volkswagen have all announced at the Electric Vehicle Symposium 26 that they will agree to support a new single-port fast-charging technology that will recharge vehicle EV batteries in just 15 to 20 minutes."

10 May 2012 - 5:25
"Escalating consumer opposition is delaying efforts to deliver power more efficiently because the gadgets anchor next- generation transmission grids. Several utilities, including one owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), are holding off on roll-out plans until regulators decide whether they can force consumers to pay costs for the technology that utilities also refuse to pick up. Smart meters, so called because they allow real-time usage monitoring, originally were pitched by the industry as a boon to consumers for increasing control over consumption. While the effort won grants from the Obama administration, consumer advocates say benefits have yet to materialize as promised."

"While the companies anticipate cost savings, they’ve pushed for the expense of buying and installing the new meters to be passed on through customer bills."

10 May 2012 - 5:25

At the end of this month, Google, Microsoft and Cisco will all have canceled their ambitious home energy management projects


Interesting further links:

Venturebeat (from 2010): 3 ways Microsoft Hohm trumps Google PowerMeter in vision, clarity

Gigaom (2012): 5 reasons why Microsoft Hohm didn’t take off


08 May 2012 - 16:03
03 May 2012 - 8:20
PriceWaterhouseCoopers surveyed "72 senior power and utility company executives in 43 different countries".


Besides the main point in the headline, here are some other snippets from the executive summary:

"investment has become more difficult. 78% report that the financial crisis and economic downturn has had a medium to very high impact on shortage of capital for infrastructure projects."

"The industry is confident that smart grid technologies will be in place by 2030"

"the overwhelming industry sentiment in our survey is that a fossil fuel subsidy phase-out is improbable and that such subsidies will persist into the next decade."

"Some see a potential ‘power to gas’ breakthrough in electricity storage. Nearly one in five in our survey even go so far as to say it will be the most common form of electric storage by 2030."

01 May 2012 - 2:24
Last week, I attended a talk by Teun Graafland from Shell.

The three most interesting points I took away:

* Shell often produces two future scenarios to enable them to think about what is probably coming (up to 2050). Recently, they made two, "Blueprint" and "Scramble", where the former means a cooperative, pro-active and structured approach to the energy problem and the latter means a self-interested, reactive and non-effective approach ( Overall, Shell decided to be realistic (or pessimistic): Both Scenarios broadly assume a bussiness-as-usual approach and even in 2050 see only ~60% of renewables.

* Shell completely stopped any research in Carbon-Capture-and-Storage technology (CCS), because the technology has acceptance issues. He didn't mention technological problems, though I am sure those actually exist, too.

* Research-cooperation between companies as well as between companies and government is sharply on the rise. Mr Graafland mentioned an EIRMA-study which points out that the level of cooperation of today actually was similar in the beginning of the last century. Following a U-shaped curve, it simply was very low in the middle of the century. This seems to point to an interesting insight about the 20th-century.

28 Apr 2012 - 14:58

Good overview over the problems and who proposes what way out of it. As it is rather long, I tried to paste the excerpts here I found most important to the situation (but do go and read it in full if you have 10 minutes): 

"Strangely enough, the person speaking out most about the need to fix the ETS of late has been EU energy commissioner Günther Oettinger rather than EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard. At a dinner organised by the European Energy Forum in March, he argued that the current EU carbon price of €6 a tonne is too low to change the European energy system and that something needs to be done about it. He would support a Commission proposal to that effect by September, he announced, while warning at the same time that a carbon price of more than €20 a tonne would not be acceptable to European industry in the present economic climate."

"But when the scheme was set up, it was also presumed that the declining cap would give rise to a price signal to drive low-carbon investments. EU policymakers assumed a carbon price about six times what it is today – close to €40 a tonne rather than €6 a tonne. “€6 a tonne is not a signal for low-carbon investment,” says Jesse Scott, Head of Environment and Sustainable Development at EU electricity association Eurelectric. Giovanni Bertolino, Head of Carbon Regulation at Italian energy giant Enel agrees: “The price is far below expectations and not providing the right incentive for power companies to make the investments needed to meet future climate goals.” For Sanjeev Kumar, Senior Associate at think tank E3G in Brussels, the problem is more acute: “Policymakers have given huge subsidies [in the form of free carbon allowances] and they’re not getting anything back.”"

"The main two reasons for the oversupply [of certificates] are: the recession (as production dropped so did emissions) and overlap of the ETS with other decarbonisation policies, in particular the EU renewable energy directive."
ETS needs to be "more flexible and it also needs to incorporate expectations on future targets and policies, such as those suggested in the 2050 low-carbon roadmap.”
"'Renewables reduce the carbon price but not carbon emissions. There is still as much CO2 allowed under the cap."

"The solution with the most political life in it is undoubtedly the so-called "set-aside", or taking a number of allowances - the most oft-quoted figure is 1.4 billion - out of the carbon market. The main advantage of this option is that it could be done in a matter of months rather than years."

"Apart from the set-aside, the other main option for fixing the ETS is adjusting the so-called “linear reduction factor”, or the rate of decline of the cap. This is currently set at 1.74% a year. For many set-aside supporters increasing this to 2% or even 2.5% would be a more elegant alternative than the set-aside. It's a political hot potato though, because it’s an explicit tightening of the cap. It will have to come at some point – the 1.74% will not get the EU to the 80% emission cut in 2050 that European leaders have committed to – but it will require a full political debate that many say the ETS cannot wait for right now."

"Many stakeholders believe that the decisive players for the set-aside debate over the next few months will be Commissioner Oettinger and Germany. "

25 Apr 2012 - 8:09
23 Apr 2012 - 7:15

"Last year, Wellinghoff's agency issued a controversial ruling that in wholesale electricity markets, energy that customers don't use (dubbed "negawatts") should be worth as much as energy generated. That means utilities will soon have to pay big customers—and eventually consumers—who save power during peak periods. "

19 Apr 2012 - 2:07

This has the advantages over pumped water storage facilities of being cheap to build and easily deployable. How efficient it can be is not clear yet:

"The efficiencies in the system still need to be proven out at a large scale, and all areas of friction need to be eliminated where possible. Systems with a lot of moving parts tend to lose efficiency as more parts are added. And it remains to be seen if the efficiency levels can be maintained for a larger 1 MW system."

Anyway, Bill Gates is already investing.

"Energy Cache is already in discussions with grid operators in deregulated markets like ERCOT in Texas, PJM, and California ISO in California. Power producers and utilities will be the end customers for Energy Cache, but the grid operators will be the gate keepers to the early market of selling energy storage."

10 Apr 2012 - 4:42

Image originally from here.

30 Mar 2012 - 14:16
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013
29 Mar 2012 - 11:18
29 Mar 2012 - 4:08

"In Germany, photovoltaics is pulling the price of power on the spot market in the afternoon down into the level of prices in the dead of night. A comparison of last week with mid-March in 2008 shows how great the impact is."

Keep in mind the name of the website when interpreting, but they source the data directly from Epex.

They also note that base load prices have gone up in the same time, with an interesting discussion (maybe missing nuclear base power, or high coal prices?) beginning in the comments.

27 Mar 2012 - 15:11

He claims that his MIT spin-off company will soon produce scalable battery technology that is cheap to manufacture.
See also:

Investors include Bill Gates and TOTAL.

LMBC’s product will be modular. When integrated onsite, the modules have the footprint of a shipping container, and the system will be rated at 500 kW with 2 MWh storage capacity.

26 Mar 2012 - 12:03

At first, it seems like a good deal for tax payers, because the money comes from fines that the state won in compensation from generation company NRG for causing the energy crisis a decade ago.

On the other hand, "the settlement will benefit NRG, which has gotten into the electric car charging station business and branded it eVgo. The company will be building the $100 million charging network over the next four years. (...) If all goes well, NRG will not only build the network but also own and operate it."

So the generation company will own the new infrastructure, not the state of California. That is not in the taxpayers interest (to say it nicely), does not send a message that manipulating markets will have consequences and it also does not seem to be a good idea to develop a competitive market for EV charging.

26 Mar 2012 - 1:54
26 Mar 2012 - 1:39

Dr. Tom Murphy is an associate professor of physics at the University of California and since a couple months runs the popular energy blog Do the Math which takes an astrophysicist’s-eye view of societal issues relating to energy production, climate change, and economic growth.

He gets asked about many things concerning the energy challenge we face, but here he gets asked about the smart grid idea:

" What role do you think the smart grid has to play in the future?

Tom Murphy: I'd sooner have smart people than a smart grid, deciding that it's in our collective interest to scale back energy use at a personal level. Failing that, a smart grid helps distribute demand in such a way that intermittent renewables are more easily accommodated (using energy when it's available). Some things may work well like this, but I don't think this is a realistic way to hide variable energy supply from the consumer. They may be irked that they lose control over when the laundry decides to start, possibly resulting in clothes smelling of mildew, or that they are not present to fold clothes at 2 AM when the dryer is finished. Loss of control may not play well. If, instead, informed people accepted limitations of future energy supplies, and modified their own behaviour accordingly under their own control, we would break the habit of people taking energy for granted: an attitude that the smart grid attempts to preserve. We want greater personal awareness of energy, not less."

A question about energy price development:

" Oil companies are mainly driven by the aim of pleasing shareholders, which generally means pursuing large dividends and high share prices. Surely this profit seeking mentality is detrimental to the advancement of green energy technologies, as the companies have little incentive to seriously invest in new types of energy whilst old, cheaper types still exist. What are your views? Is there any way to change this dynamic?

Tom Murphy: I sense that plenty of people are waiting to cash in on green energy, and investment begins to flourish when energy prices soar.  But as soon as high energy prices trigger recession, demand flags, prices crash, and the volatility wipes out many green efforts.  A year or two of high prices is simply not long enough for a transformation, which takes decades to accomplish.  I hope that we can tolerate smoothly and continuously escalating energy prices for conventional sources, but those high prices hurt large segments of the (conventional) economy and self-generate volatility.  In principle, governments could "artificially" keep energy prices high enough to maintain the impetus for developing alternatives, pumping the revenue into a national alternative energy infrastructure.  But governments are bound by voters who simply don't want sustained high energy prices.  I don't know how to evade this dynamic in a functioning democracy, except via education about the challenges we face - including a sober confrontation of the fact that failure is a likely result of our not bucking up to the challenge."

22 Mar 2012 - 2:05

The author claims that EU policy of subsidising renewables (rather than taxing CO2) hinders development of the gas sector Two money quotes:

"The trouble is that Europe has quietly abandoned its carbon dioxide policy, based on emission pricing, in favour of a renewable energy policy based on direct (and very high) subsidies. This shift has dire implications for gas. Because emissions from the power sector are capped under the Emissions Trading Scheme, aggressive renewable deployment depresses the carbon price, allowing coal to remain competitive against gas."

"If their (rightful) lobbying for moving back to carbon pricing and away from subsidies is not successful, the best the gas industry can hope for is that Europe’s (and the UK’s) renewable energy policy proves so costly and problematic that it collapses under growing political pressure."

21 Mar 2012 - 5:42
20 Mar 2012 - 9:23
19 Mar 2012 - 7:49
16 Mar 2012 - 6:56

They want to cut energy usage. However, no information as of yet if they will introduce dynamic pricing to make this happen. All that is known is that electricity is too cheap in South Korea, not even covering generation costs. It seems to me that that dynamic pricing on electricity will be introduced first in Asia.

One more interesting bit from the article: "South Korea, the world’s biggest producer of ships, televisions and computer memory chips, plans to legislate a cap- and-trade carbon trading system."

14 Mar 2012 - 7:10

From the article:

In 2008 Feldheim decided to take control of its own grid. Cutting out the middleman was a natural step since the town was producing all of its own energy right in its backyard. But when E.on refused to sell or lease its energy grid, Feldheim, with help from Energiequelle, had to build its own smart grid. They completed the grid in October 2010 with each villager contributing €3,000 ($3,972). Now Feldheimers pay about 31 percent less for electricity and 10 percent less for heating. The project has created about 30 jobs in Feldheim.

"It was all built piece for piece, with each step an individual building block," says Knape. "We didn't know where it would go, or how we would do it, but we knew it was important to move in this direction."


Feldheim captured lightning in a bottle, but whether visitors will be able to replicate its success remains in question. Despite challenges, towns across Germany are taking energy provision back into their own hands rather than waiting for federal government efforts, says Marthol. "There is no town in Germany that is not thinking about the energy revolution," he says.

10 Mar 2012 - 14:54
08 Mar 2012 - 2:44


They use an agent-based simulation (using their own PowerACE framework) to show how the merit-order in Germany (sorting supply in the market according to marginal costs) reduces supply prices and thus distributes some of the burden of introduction of renewables (from fixed feed-in tariffs) from consumers to suppliers.

02 Mar 2012 - 2:36
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013

These are frequency deviatons caused only because electricity is traded in blocks of 15, 30 or 60 minutes. At every full hour, large deviations occur due to switching.
This increases costs of first-level reserves, paid by the taxpayers.
This problem is due to market deregulation, pure demand-following did not have this problem.

02 Mar 2012 - 2:35
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013
29 Feb 2012 - 2:54
28 Feb 2012 - 1:13

Traders feared high prices in the cold evenings in early February, because french eletric heatings were increasing demand massively in the interconnected european market. They purposly underreported the demand of their customers, in order to buy the missing part on the reserve market, which is secured in advance and has fixed prices. Because this was a common strategy, a blackout was very likely.

Proposals to reform the german reserve electricit markets include:

* trading reserve energy always more expensive than spot market prices.
* trade it closer to the time of consumption (now it is a week in advance)
* secure higher amounts of reserve capacity

18 Feb 2012 - 17:29
13 Feb 2012 - 15:57
13 Feb 2012 - 15:45
13 Feb 2012 - 3:28

"Over the past 20 to 30 years, every important building component has improved in energy performance. From air conditioners to lighting to windows, construction crews today have an array of green technologies at their disposal.
Once they're put together, though, the finished building performs no better than its predecessors of two or three decades ago. The parts have gotten better, but not the whole."

They argue that the parties who construct a building have a prisoner dilemma - like situation, when they each go to work: "None of them wants to be responsible for a building that is too hot or stuffy, can't heat its water or is too dim. So when each party gets to his part of the blueprint, he leaves no room for doubt. A 100-ton chiller becomes a 150-ton chiller, which will never be maxed out and will always operate below its peak efficiency. As for the windows, they may be three times more energy-efficient than their predecessors. Still, the architect asks for three times more windows than the average building has because it looks sleeker."

They are in year 1 of a 5-year project with the clear goal to convince local industry to change its ways. Interesting.
They want to retrofit an old building to show that it makes economical sense to have a wholesome energy efficiency design. But they don't seem to tackle the main problem: The ones who build and/or own the building are probably not the ones paying the energy bills. In my eyes, this is the problem with energy efficiency in buildings.

08 Feb 2012 - 7:15

Each month, a wind farmer can decide if he wants to sell on the spot market (as opposed to get the currently fixed subsidy per kWh which is independent of timing).
If he decides to sell on the spot market, he gets a subsidy for this, which might make it worthwhile.
This is supposed to help renewable generators to get used to the spot market.
Some criticise that it doesn't help the market structure at all.!87085/

06 Feb 2012 - 5:44
# lastedited 13 Mar 2013

1. Don't hold your breath.
2. Why do we invest so much in research in Fusion and so little in energy storage research? Maybe because using the sun isn't as prestigeous as building our own small sun?

31 Jan 2012 - 7:58

One discussed idea is a capacity market, which only pays for availability.
Critics say that this would be a subsidy that is implemented because another subsidy (the renewable-funding called EEG) has undesirable effects.
I think a capacity market would actually be implemented for technological reasons foremost, because we need planning security.

30 Jan 2012 - 7:26

This percentage has been stable for the last 3 years in a row. Does that mean the dutch energy market is as mature and competitive as it can be? It's hard to say...

27 Jan 2012 - 3:42
23 Jan 2012 - 16:01
23 Jan 2012 - 3:07
20 Jan 2012 - 5:40
18 Jan 2012 - 4:35
17 Jan 2012 - 10:17
11 Jan 2012 - 5:18
(click image to see large version)
06 Jan 2012 - 2:49
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013

Paul-Vincent Abs, head of EON subsidiary firm "E wie Einfach" about customers who want cheap as well as green energy, retail marketing and revenue management in the current electricity markets.

05 Jan 2012 - 4:25

In this video podcast, Will McNamara, a Senior Principal Consultant for KEMA in the Americas, outlines some of the ways the Smart Grid will help utilities gathers crucial real-time data about grid performance, enabling better service and more reliable energy provision.

05 Jan 2012 - 3:18


"In the end, I think nuclear is likely to play an increasing role in our energy story. Energy hardship will trump concerns over waste, proliferation, and safety. As long as such hardship does not bind us in an Energy Trap or plunge us into dysfunction, we will likely build more plants. But because nuclear does not smack the primary problem right on the kisser (fossil fuel substitute), I doubt it will be heralded as the answer to our prayers, and imagine that its role will be correspondingly modest.

Are you as disappointed in my non-committal answer as I am? Perhaps I could have saved us all a lot of time, and just said: “Meh.”"

03 Jan 2012 - 7:42
22 Dec 2011 - 15:38
21 Dec 2011 - 5:40

Actually, their electricity is 100% green, but the gas is not, they only compensate for the emissions.

21 Dec 2011 - 4:33

Assessment of planning problems within the Network Expansion Problem, concerning multi-objective , multi-preference neotiations, both on the US and the EU side:

"To assess whether European and American measures are an effective answer to anticommons, let us identify the four reasons that make them so troublesome:
1) complementarity: if the consent of all regulators is needed, coordination costs increase;
2) sequentiality: when the decisions of regulators are not simultaneous, there is the danger that preferences of first-movers and late-movers are not aligned, so again coordination costs may increase;
3) fragmentation: the higher the number of regulators (or levels of decision-making) involved, the higher the probability of disagreements;
4) bargaining: agreements among regulators will be more difficult when they display heterogeneous preferences or pursue different missions. Equally relevant is the availability of an authority of last resort."

20 Dec 2011 - 1:31
20 Dec 2011 - 1:23
14 Dec 2011 - 2:12
13 Dec 2011 - 7:20
13 Dec 2011 - 7:13

They want to coin the buzzword "Markets 3.0" for the third decade in electricity market evolution, now that dynamic pricing and such things actually emerge on a big scale.

12 Dec 2011 - 15:02

From last Wednesday.

Text - (right now only dutch, english follows, he says)

Video - (requires Microsoft Silverlight to watch, thanks, TU Delft)

09 Dec 2011 - 3:04
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013
06 Dec 2011 - 7:24
01 Dec 2011 - 8:31

The CO2 reduction goals for 2020 will almost certainly not be reached without incentives.

Just shortly before that, the belgian PV sector has asked for a reduction of their own subsidies [NL, PDF]:

They probably saw it coming.

01 Dec 2011 - 2:33
30 Nov 2011 - 10:22
30 Nov 2011 - 1:10
29 Nov 2011 - 7:11
23 Nov 2011 - 5:42
22 Nov 2011 - 6:16
21 Nov 2011 - 12:25
16 Nov 2011 - 5:03

News from yesterday [no pdf]:


More details in initial press release a few months ago:


They predict that 2020 4GW capacity can be installed.
They call themselves "Nationaal Actieplan Zonnestroom" and propose how to remove some still existing barriers.

11 Nov 2011 - 4:28
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013


"the overwhelming weight of academic studies conclude that feed-in tariffs — or fixed-price mechanisms — perform better at delivering  renewable energy quickly and equitably than quota systems"

09 Nov 2011 - 3:40
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013
Today: The BBC

It is really dangerous to do unbalanced reports on this, because their
bills are at the base of people's opinions on our energy policies.

09 Nov 2011 - 3:40
08 Nov 2011 - 16:32
06 Nov 2011 - 13:53

This weeks's economy-part of DIE ZEIT (a quite important german weekly newspaper):


  • Seven articles dealing with energy/climate/peak oil.
  • Six big ads in which companies position themselves within the energy world to come.
03 Nov 2011 - 4:17
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013
02 Nov 2011 - 8:56
01 Nov 2011 - 18:25
01 Nov 2011 - 7:09

It can produce a steady electricity flow or produce gas for cars. It
is also a combined-heat-and-power plant. It is a first prototype and
very little is being said about the building and operation costs (of
course, little can be said at this point about probable extra
revenues, as well).

25 Oct 2011 - 13:51
25 Oct 2011 - 13:38

This could store more than a day of Germanys electricity demand. This person claims that costs per kWh are very low compared to other storage methods, and are using comparatively little space.


25 Oct 2011 - 8:34
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013


"Die derivatenhandel is voor veel energiebedrijven een belangrijk instrument voor het afdekken van de fysieke handel. Energiehandel gaat voor een groot deel om spul wat uiteindelijk gewoon geleverd moet worden: gas, stroom en CO2-rechten bijvoorbeeld. Maar de derivatenhandel wordt door sommige spelers, binnen en buiten de energiehandel, gebruikt als speculatie-instrument, waarbij de werkelijke levering van een product niet meer relevant of zelfs ongewenst is. Het is deze laatste handelsvorm waar de Europese Commissie de uitwassen van wil bestrijden, maar de energiesector vreesde dat de eerstegenoemde daar onder zou lijden, met beschadigde marktwerking tot gevolg.


Voor zover Marbus kan overzien lijkt de Commissie het onderscheid tussen bovengenoemde twee handelsvormen te beschermen. De laatste vorm wordt aangepakt, de eerste wordt ontzien. Dat tot grote opluchting van de sector. "Wat dat betreft zijn wij erg positief", aldus Marbus. De
Europese branchevereniging Eurelectric lijkt dezelfde mening toegedaan. "De erkenning van de Europese Commissie dat er geen rechtvaardigheid huist in het herdefiniëren van de grenzen tussen fysieke en financiële energiemarkten wordt verwelkomd", staat in een gezamenlijk persbericht van Eurelectric, Eurogas en de European Federation of Energy Traders (Efet)."

25 Oct 2011 - 4:43
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013

Hopefully a new trend: energy profile (efficiency, local generation)
becomes an important important for house valuation.
Of course, a grid-connected battery would add value here, as well.

21 Oct 2011 - 7:17


This is an opinion piece arguing that current EU energy policies are misguided and confused. Essentially the author claims that all current efforts in the direction of renewables, smart grids and market liberalisation will not work out as planned. Nuclear is expensive as well. Instead of focusing on these, we should simply rely on shale gas.


It is a good read if one wants to understand how criticism against modernisation of electricity infrastructure, communication and trade is usually raised.


I link to it because it is published on a EU policy blog which also featured commisioner Oettinger a couple months earlier. I do find however, that, similar as green optimists, the author is not able to make substantial points to underlie his personal opinions about what is right for society.

Consider this snippet:


"Rather little penetration of electric vehicles (EVs) in Europe’s car fleet would in fact be needed to make the goal of raising the role of renewable energy in electric power production and final end-user consumption even more completely unreal and impossible to achieve. At a penetration rate of 7 percent of Europe’s current 210 million car fleet, replaced by EVs each typically needing 5 kW charge for around 5 hours, up to 7 times a week, peak electric power demand in Europe
could easily rise by 50 000 MW at certain times of the week, such as Sunday evenings, when EV charging would be intense."


Here he makes a point for smart grids/demand response which he dismissed only few paragraphs before. The author rejects a world with dynamic prices for end-users, because he expects negative effects (price volatility). This is no ground for neglecting the possible
positive effects.


He has a point though that given the ongoing financial crisis, policies need better grounding as to what their benefits are and especially how they will integrate with other expected developments.


Finally, I have to note that he does not talk about environmental impacts of gas fracking (see for instance here:,
just as nuclear proponents didn't do that until recently.

21 Oct 2011 - 2:40
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013

King introduced a new way to measure energy quality, the Energy Intensity Ratio (EIR), that is easier to calculate, highly correlated to EROI and in some ways more powerful than EROI.


EIR measures how much profit is obtained by energy consumers relative to energy producers. The higher the EIR, the more economic value consumers (including businesses, governments and people) get from their energy.

18 Oct 2011 - 10:48
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013

We'll soon have to invest massive energy to get us out of energy shortage. A massive problem, especially when employing a short-sighted elite.


Also a frightening point why dirty energy (e.g. tar sands) will remain attractive, even if their EROI is comparably low: better ratio of variable to fixed costs.

18 Oct 2011 - 10:17
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013


... "a remarkable accomplishment for a modest farming community that has been able to invest in new municipal infrastructure without going into debt. "

17 Oct 2011 - 3:07
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013
17 Oct 2011 - 3:01

More than a century ago, Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse engaged in a nasty battle over alternating and direct current, known as the “War of Currents.” Both men knew there was room for but one American electricity system, and Edison set out to ruin Westinghouse in “a 
great political, legal and marketing game” that saw the famous inventor stage publicity events where dogs, horses and even an elephant were killed using Westinghouse’s alternating current. The two men would play out their battle on the front pages of newspapers and in the Supreme Court, in the country’s first attempt to execute a human being with electricity.

17 Oct 2011 - 3:00
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013
16 Oct 2011 - 11:15


This article argues that the long running debate over peak oil between geologists and economists is a distraction. There is a price at which oil becomes unaffordable to consume and therefore to produce. The affects of this are already beginning to play out in the global economy.


I found this via Harvard Business review:

10 Oct 2011 - 2:28
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013
10 Oct 2011 - 1:47

The government plan


- neglects to say how the projected mobility growth (50%) shall be fueled
- makes the Netherlands more dependent of fossil fuels, not less, and as such is risky for coming generations
- should not only call for investments, but also in pricing systems to reach efficient usage
- neglects to incorporate climate change anywhere
- forgets to talk about necessary changes to the electricity infrastructure

28 Sep 2011 - 7:02
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013


For the last part, I have a quote from the paper:


"Er lijkt een ontwikkeling gaande, zowel Europees als nationaal, om de uitvoering van publieke
doelen, die invloed hebben op de relatie leverancier/klant 'op te dragen' aan de netbeheerders ,
omdat deze meer als een verlengde arm van de overheid kunnen worden beschouwd en de
kosten ook eenvoudiger kunnen worden doorgeleid naar burgers, terwijl zij daarmee op een terrein kunnen komen dat niet tot de taken van de netbeheerders behoort.

Destijds is zeer weloverwogen ingevoerd dat er onafhankelijke netbeheerders moesten
komen die, geheel onafhankelijk van de productie en levering van energie en exclusief,
zorgdragen voor het beheer van netten en transport/distributie van gas en elektriciteit in Nederland (een wettelijk verklaarde monopolistische publieke taak). Dit om de energiemarkt te ondersteunen (en niet te verstoren) en om de kosten voor de consument zo laag mogelijk te houden. Kennelijk borgen de Elektriciteits- en Gaswet onvoldoende dat de netbeheerders zich uitsluitend met deze activiteiten bezighouden en geen andere kostenveroorzakende en risicovolle activiteiten in binnen- en buitenland ondernemen.

Wij vinden dit een belangrijk aandachtspunt voor de overheid gezien de grote ontwikkelingen die op de energiesector afkomen, zoals de smart grids en het elektrisch vervoer."

28 Sep 2011 - 6:20
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013
28 Sep 2011 - 4:15
23 Sep 2011 - 0:58
22 Sep 2011 - 14:37

 "When I say that mass-market polycrystalline panels are typically about 15–16% efficiency, I often see people's nose wrinkle, followed by dismissive mumbling that 15% is still too low, and maybe they’ll wait for higher numbers before personally pursuing solar. By the end of this post, you will understand why this response is annoying to me. At 15%, we’re in great shape: it’s plenty good for our needs. Let’s do the math and fight the snobbery."

22 Sep 2011 - 13:35
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013
21 Sep 2011 - 3:18
20 Sep 2011 - 6:49

Professor Gerard Smit (Computer Architecture for Embedded Systems group, faculty of Electrical Engineering of the Technical University of Twente) will give a presentation about the DREAM-project at an Almende Research Meeting on Friday 30 September at 15:00h.

The DREAM-projects (Dynamic Real-time control of Energy Streams in Buildings) is one of thirteen projects to be awarded an NWO Smart Energy Systems-subsidy.

19 Sep 2011 - 15:03
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013

* Consumer technology is still nascent
* Regulations are the biggest barrier to the smart grid
* The benefits of improved reliability are undersold
* Utilities are struggling to reinvent themselves
* EVs are likely to accelerate change

18 Sep 2011 - 14:02
18 Sep 2011 - 11:57
17 Sep 2011 - 4:14
Executive result slides [PDF]:

some findings:
- impact on the share of EV in the whole car fleet do not differ
dramatically between their scenarios
- overall electricity consumption on the national grid differs
dramatically, though. They expect that coal and gas will be used for
this increase
- many positive impacts like clean air will not be noticable until
about 2025 or later

16 Sep 2011 - 0:44

Op 5 september heeft de coöperatie Zeenergie namens de opstellers, die zich verenigd hebben in het consortium INZET, een aanvraag ingediend in het kader van de subsidieregeling Intelligente Netten van het ministerie EL&I.


Het consortium heeft grote ambities. In de eerste vier jaren wil het consortium 50% van de 10.000 huishoudens en circa 1.000 bedrijven verleiden tot aansluiten op het intelligente netwerk. Productie en opslag zijn de technische uitdagingen van dit project. Maar minstens
zo belangrijk is het dat consumenten bereid zijn om mee te werken aan deze nieuwe vorm van energielevering. Die levering wordt namelijk mede in balans gebracht door het beïnvloeden van de vraag naar energie. Niet op elk moment elk apparaat aan kunnen zetten wordt de praktijk!
Hoe gaat dat uitpakken en bevallen? Dit zal zorgvuldig worden onderzocht in dit project.

Consumenten zullen daarom ook beloond worden voor hun medewerking aan dit project. Dit zullen ze terugzien in de vorm van een lagere energierekening. Naar verwachting zal 50% van de energievraag bij huishoudens en 33% bij bedrijven op den duur stuurbaar zijn. Via de
coöperatie Zeenergie kunnen de consumenten ook zelf duurzame energie gaan produceren met zonnepanelen en windmolens. De consument wordt daarmee prosument.

14 Sep 2011 - 14:43
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013
The retailer Oxxio stops supporting the ones they already sold and
hand their operation over to the network companies:

01 Sep 2011 - 14:32
# summarizes: 

"Het profiel van een sector is volgens AWT bepalend voor de kansen die Europees beleid de sector biedt. Duidelijk mag zijn dat profiel 1 het meest en profiel 4 het minst aantrekkelijk. De negen topsectoren zijn Energie, Water, Voedsel, Tuinbouw, High tech, Life sciences, Chemie,
Logistiek en Creatieve industrie. Geen van deze sectoren valt volgens AWT binnen profiel 4, en zes van de negen sectoren passen volgens AWT bij profiel 1. Energie en Life Sciences hebben profiel 2 gekregen, de Creatieve Industrie valt als enige binnen profiel 3.

De zwakke innovatieve bedrijvigheid maakt het in het geval van de energiesector lastiger om te profiteren van Europees beleid, schrijft AWT: "In vergelijking met sectoren met zowel een sterke kennisbasis als sterke innovatieve bedrijvigheid is de aantrekkingskracht voor infrastructuur en onderzoekers hier minder door het ontbreken van innovatieve bedrijvigheid. De deelname vanuit de private sector aan infrastructuur- en onderzoeksprojecten is hier dan ook beperkt. Voor onderzoekers zijn er minder mogelijkheden om door te groeien naar het bedrijfsleven (minder publiek-private mobiliteit) en dat maakt Nederland minder aantrekkelijk om te blijven.""

01 Sep 2011 - 14:04
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013

Note that this is again a biased article (see the url), but an interesting point to make nonetheless: Aren't earthquakes and droughts drivers of intermittency for big fossil fuel plants? Of course, this intermittency is on a different time scale (years, months) than sun and winds (hours).

29 Aug 2011 - 16:07
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013
29 Aug 2011 - 15:57
24 Aug 2011 - 15:31

Some quotes that are of interest to research:

"This will benefit the educated and the techno-savvy, but pensioners, the ill and the vulnerable in society may be baffled and therefore penalised."

"Only last week, the regulator, Ofgem, ordered the power companies to reform their pricing and to stop confusing customers who, they said, were were being "bamboozled" with more than 300 different energy tariffs."

"If electricity companies are allowed to vary the price that they charge their customers by the hour, how much more difficult will it be to challenge them or ensure they are acting fairly?"



The Guardian also printed a response to these reservations in a later edition:

but do note that the author of this response is biased towards industry: "Steve Cunningham is the chief executive of Landis+Gyr UK & Ireland"


24 Aug 2011 - 3:57
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013
19 Aug 2011 - 12:54
17 Aug 2011 - 6:51
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013

Interesting discussion, also about how to show correlations in graphs, but note the strong bias on this website.

15 Aug 2011 - 14:57
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013
09 Aug 2011 - 14:40
04 Aug 2011 - 6:28

704 million per year is the number you get when you substract
- the millions that were to come from the nuclear industry for letting nuclear power run longer (an agreement from before Fukushima)
- research into getting rid of nuclear waste
- research into Fusion power (600 million for a technology which might only be available in 2050)
- relabeled research money from other sectors

In 2010, it was 600 million.
The point of the article is: Germany is not really making an effort to rebuild the energy economy, they just claim it.

04 Aug 2011 - 5:01
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013

A couple of points why smart inverters are needed to facilitate integration of renewables:

  • differentiate between a true unintentional island case and a case where grid support from the PV plant is required.
  • make solar power more dispatchable by treating all inverters as a sort of "virtual power plant."
  • The efficiency of the solar power plant as a whole depends not only on electrical conversion efficiency, but also on efficacy of the maximum power point tracking algorithm in the inverter. The maximum power point tracking (MPPT) algorithm adjusts PV system voltage
    continually as environmental conditions change to extract maximum energy from the solar array.
  • solar inverters, which typically represent some 6%-8% of the system cost, have caused about 80% of system downtime. 

A new technology lets each solar panel be its own AC source. More efficient (it is claimed), but also potentially interesting for algorithmic optimisation of the operation of a large array of panels, I think.

02 Aug 2011 - 3:21
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013

Partly, this is triggered by the recent developments in Germany following Fukushima, but also rising gas prices are to blame:

But that is only the official story, in which Eon is not to blame. Here is a (german) comentary actually looking a bit further back:!75476/
The stock index of Eon had fallen to 23 Euro from 50 Euro before Fukushima already. RWE had the same fate. It seems likely that the big german energy companies are just late to the restructuring process. They need to find their core businesses, a process where the dutch
market already is far ahead.

02 Aug 2011 - 3:02
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013

He says believers in a free market should also believe that the market
will react positively to such an incentive, instead of forecasting

19 Jul 2011 - 14:05

see also here:
It might be that, due to the federal structure, more wind capacity
will be implemented in the nexr year than actually needed,
disregarding efforts of transmission capacity and storage.

Keywords: planning, incentives, decentralisation, infrastructure

18 Jul 2011 - 4:17

The Gemasolar plant in Fuentes de Andalucía – which began operating barely a month ago – was able to keep the juice flowing using an innovative technique that stores energy in molten salt. This allows for up to 15 hours of electricity production in the absence of solar radiation, stretching the plant’s production into the night and keeping it running during heavy cloud cover.

15 Jul 2011 - 1:55
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013

"Gemeentes heffen verschillende vormen van precario, een belasting voor gebruik van openbaar terrein binnen de gemeentegrenzen. Kabelprecario is daar een voorbeeld van, hoewel niet alle gemeentes deze variant hebben ingevoerd in hun boeken. Sterker: een meerderheid van de Nederlandse gemeentes int geen precariobelasting bij nutsbedrijven. Ongeveer veertig gemeentes, groot en klein en verspreid door het land, doen dat wel. 

Die willekeur maakte de belasting ongewenst. Een netbedrijf rekent die kosten namelijk door naar al zijn afnemers. Die afnemers draaien dus indirect op voor de voorzieningen van slechts een paar gemeentes uit het netwerkgebied van hun netbeheerders, zonder dat daar democratische inspraak tegenover staat. "

15 Jul 2011 - 1:25
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013
12 Jul 2011 - 4:55
07 Jul 2011 - 15:12
07 Jul 2011 - 14:28
07 Jul 2011 - 14:25
07 Jul 2011 - 5:41
  • verlenging van de termijn voor gascontracten van vier naar zes jaar vooruit
  • spread contracts, te beginnen met een time spread (ook wel calendar spread genoemd). Bij een timespread koopt een handelaar een future, en vérkoopt hij tegelijkertijd een future met een eerdere afloopdatum, bijvoorbeeld met een week of een maand verschil. Op deze manier kan gebruik gemaakt worden van het verwachte verschil in volatiliteit tussen de twee contracten -waarbij de gewenste situatie is dat het verder weg gelegen contract een lagere volatiliteit heeft.
  • Daarnaast is APX-Endex sinds vrijdag gestart met een nieuwe methode om tussentijds en aan het eind van de handelsdag settlement prices vast te stellen voor termijncontracten.
  • marktkoppeling in Noordwest-Europa

06 Jul 2011 - 3:31
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013
01 Jul 2011 - 0:19
28 Jun 2011 - 5:07
27 Jun 2011 - 3:34

"De maatregel voorziet erin leveranciers van elektriciteit te
verplichten een bepaald aandeel van deze stroom duurzaam in te kopen.
Niet via het stelsel van garanties van oorsprong waarmee nu al aan
consumenten groene stroom uit bijvoorbeeld Scandinavië wordt verkocht,
maar via een nieuw certificatenstelsel: producenten in Nederland
krijgen een nieuw leveranciersverplichtingscertificaat per groen
geproduceerde megawattuur, die vanwege de verplichting waarde krijgt."

27 Jun 2011 - 3:28
27 Jun 2011 - 1:51
# lastedited 17 Mar 2013
27 Jun 2011 - 1:48
24 Jun 2011 - 14:00
23 Jun 2011 - 7:07
22 Jun 2011 - 14:43