Renewables Update

Vattenfall makes unexpected, clear statement in Japanese

19 February 2015 Tomas Kåberger, Chair of Executive Board, Japan Renewable Energy Foundation

After two decades of resistance, the European Electric Power Companies are in a process of rapid progress. In the early 1990s, German Electric Power Companies claimed more than 4% renewable electricity could not work, claiming grid stability issues. Since grid ownership was separated from ownership of power plants no such claims are present. Grid companies, lika Danish Energinet or German 50-Hertz, have proven that 40 % wind- and solar-power can be managed.

Still, even if grid companies have successfully managed to integrate large shares of new renewable electricity, the remaining EPC hav suffered and continued to complain. The reason is simple: As renewable power har entered the power market prices of electricity have fallen. Coal and nuclear power plants earn less money for the electricity they produce, and many such power plants have been closed.

In cities, local energy companies have build biomass fueled co-generation plants supplying heat to houses and producing electricity for the market. Household have put solar panels on their roofs and farmers have put panels on there houses and on their land. Wind power plants have been erected on agricultural land providing extra income for farmers.

For long, traditional power companies were not investing. In Europe, individual, co-operatives and new actors were the significant investors in the new power generating capacity.

But in the last year, after suffering losses, and writing off old power plant assets for several years a change has started among European Electric Power Companies.

EOn, a major German EPC, announced last year they would get rid of their old thermal power plants. These plants would be separated into a company that they would give another name and other owners. Eon, in the future, will be a company investing in renewable electricity and smart grid services for their customers. [1]

Vattenfall, a Swedish owned company with Power plants in many European countries, have announces they are trying to sell their fossil fueled power plants. In a statement, contradicting their earlier strategy, they now announced on the web site that “100% renewables is possible”. [2]

The head of Vattenfalls expanding Wind Energy Business Unit is cited referring to the experience of the isolated Spanish power system where wind and solar is more than a quarter of capacity and electricity generation:

“Ten years ago the grid operator worried about 4 GW of installed wind capacity. They said the system would become unstable at 8 GW. Today the system works like clockwork and there is 23 GW installed wind capacity. Plus solar power. This transition has proven that wind can be converted into a grid stabiliser,”

In fact, Vattenfall is at the same time demonstrating in the Netherlands that wind power can support the grid stability. A wind farm owned by Vattenfall is providing such support to the Dutch grid company TenneT who will pay the wind farm extra for supporting grid stability. [3]

The physics of electricity is the same in Japan. The same technologies are available in Japan. But the Electric Power Monopolies in Japan seem to mislead the media, the public and politicians. They continue to resist economic progress for Japan, forcing the Japanese people to rely on imported fossil and nuclear fuels instead of making use of domestic renewable resources.

[1] http://www.eon.com/content/eon-com/en/media/news/press-releases/2014/11/30/new-corporate-strategy-eon-to-focus-on-renewables-distribution-networks-and-customer-solutions-and-to-spin-off-the-majority-of-a-new-publicly-listed-company-specializing-in-power-generation-global-energy-trading-and-exploration-and-production.html/
[2] http://news.vattenfall.com/article/100-renewables-possible
[3] http://corporate.vattenfall.com/news-and-media/news/2015/how-dutch-wind-power-will-stabilise-the-grid/