Updates: Missing Wind, Lazy Assembly, Gas Wars

Germany’s energy generation mix, March 6 to April 6. When the wind and solar lag, the conventional (and related CO2 emissions) spike regularly. Click for larger view.     Source: Agora Energiewende, via Steve Milloy, @JunkScience

by Steve Haner

The German Energy Mix in March

When you dig in, the amount of data available on energy usage is stunning, and the presentations are often quite clear and informative. Case in point is the illustration above of Germany’s energy mix during March, in the news now as Europe seeks to wean itself from fossil fuels imported from Russia. But it cannot go without fossil fuels. For that matter, neither can Virginia.

Germany is far more dependent on onshore wind than offshore wind, as you can see in the chart. You can see the daily peaks and troughs from solar.  The vast majority of the delta between their output and the demand line is made up of conventional fossil fuels and apparently nuclear is in that category of “conventional.” But Germany is down to a handful of operating nukes now.

The power output tracks demand well, but the upper thin line shows the fluctuating CO2 emissions that go along with the coal and gas Germany will be using more of, unless Europe opens itself to modern drilling techniques to release gas in its shale formations (a.k.a. fracking) to retire coal.

Speaking of wind, check out this page from time to time. On windy days the output (again, watch both onshore and offshore) can be quite impressive. But not all days are windy. In the German example above, 19 of 31 days required big- time back-up.

Assembly Had Plenty On Agenda: Municipal Natural Gas Providers

Had Virginia’s General Assembly been inclined to work rather than whine and posture, there was plenty for the legislators to do during their paid sojourn to Richmond Monday. For example, one key energy issue oft-mentioned in Bacon’s Rebellion could have been resolved with a Senate vote on a completed  conference report.

House Bill 1257 as introduced created a broad right to use natural gas and a prohibition on any local government seeking to restrict its use through ordinances. The Senate Democrats refused to protect consumers to that extent, believing the green catechism that natural gas is a devilish brew, but a conference report on the bill does create some ground rules if a city such as Richmond wanted to kill off its own gas utility service.

Basically, the compromise focuses only on that issue and confirms the original bill’s requirement for three years of notice and a mandatory effort to find a private company to take over the distribution to retail customers. That narrow bill was fine with House Democrats, with all present on March 12 voting aye.  The Senate went home without taking it up that day and did so again Monday, April 4. Other conference reports languish, as Bacon’s Rebellion has told you.

When told again by the Democrats or their loyal media cheerleaders that Monday was a wasted day, and they were called to town with nothing to do, recall this list in the daily floor calendar of other issues hanging fire in conference reports, all or any of which could have been resolved with time to get to the cocktail hour. Some are intertwined with the budget, but many are not. The word you are looking for is lazy. They are asleep on their wall.

Opposition Rallies to Stop Hampton Roads Gas Expansion

The Bacon’s Rebellion report about the dual and related applications at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission dealing with gas lines into Hampton Roads wasn’t breaking news. It was sparked by a recent local media report, and Virginia Mercury had also covered the applications when first filed at the end of 2021. Yet the FERC file to date wasn’t showing signs of strong opposition.

But the recent coverage and update in its status stirred the opposition to issue a call to action.

TELL FERC: NO MORE GAS BUILDOUTS IN VIRGINIA. TransCanada Energy is planning to replace 50 MILES of pipeline. This action could have HUGE consequences for the natural landscape, and it will send Virginia in the wrong direction on climate.

For those of you who agree Virginia’s economy should sink further into energy poverty, sign up for their effort here. For those of you who believe natural gas remains vital, as an alternative fuel for home use and as a key industrial asset with no easy replacement, perhaps this time you should wake up and get on the project’s mailing list.

After the defeat of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the Virginia Natural Gas Header project and the two independent power plants it would have served, and the continuing effort to crush the Mountain Valley Pipeline, this is probably Virginia’s last chance to reverse its reputation as a violently anti-energy state.  Virginia’s Gasmageddon. (See first item and the illustration above for what our life will be like if they succeed.)

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


28 responses to “Updates: Missing Wind, Lazy Assembly, Gas Wars”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    Over the longer run, I don’t know if I’d bet against Germany finding a path to a more self-sufficient approach to energy.

    Right now, as we speak, there are pipelines carrying gas and oil through Ukraine that have NOT been destroyed neither by Russia nor Ukraine.
    So Germany can still operate. Apparently Germany needs the energy and Russia needs the money.

    At the end of the day, Germany and others will move the technology forward to become more self-sufficient but likely not 100% anytime soon. If there will be a breakthrough with hydrogen or newer, safer nukes I’d put my money on Germany. The US space program was started by German scientists… (yeah, there’s that bad word “science”).

    For heat – earth-based heat pumps are about twice as efficient as air-based heat pumps. They cost more up-front but recoup that within a few years.

  2. Germany classifies ‘wood’ as a renewable energy source — most of which is imported from the US via fossil fuel burning freighters. Gotta love that logic

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      We could stoke the boilers with wood.

      1. oromae Avatar

        They may as well. Their coal is lignite and their pits mines are the size of cities.

    2. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

      We lost so many trees in that January snow storm…I could power Europe for a day just from the dead wood behind my house.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Ooooh, there’s a joke in there somewhere.

  3. As you say, Steve, there is a lot of public info out there about electric energy generation and consumption. You don’t have to look at German websites to see the daily grid generation mix; here’s the same for the mid-Atlantic United States. Look here. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to see, for example, the wind and solar power generated on the PJM grid in each hour, and older historical data is there if you want it.

  4. energyNOW_Fan Avatar

    In our recent trip I-68 to I-70, it was an unusual Monday in the Maryland mountains, none of the wind turbines we saw were spinning…I guess it was a low wind day. Most generally they are spinning though.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      I remain surprised that the utilities are putting all their eggs (well, our eggs, right?) into offshore plans. Onshore WTG facilities are so much more reasonable to build, far lower O&M, and I for one would be fine with them being in the mix. I keep hearing that the vast majority of people want to get rid of fossil fuels, but apparently the NIMBY response to turbines on ridgelines or shorelines still scares utilities? I know VA is not the best location, compared to Texas or the Great Plains. (And I predict the Virginia Capes are not going to keep up with the North Sea, either.)

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Well, they CAN’T install them on ridge lines. Those are overcrowded with 5g microwave towers… they make them look like weird Norfolk Island pines.

      2. LarrytheG Avatar

        There are quite a few places where turbines can be both onshore and offshore where they are not easily seen by most people.

        In SW Va, the mountain ranges are in parallel and “folded” such that the interior peaks are hidden by the outer ranges.

        On the East shoreline of the Eastern shore, there are large areas of wetlands that have no houses nor roads.



        and when you get right down to it, it’s also quite easy to shield solar from view.

        The 5000 acres of solar being built in Western Spotsylvania cannot be seen from
        any road .


        1. Nancy Naive Avatar
          Nancy Naive

          Offshore has several advantages. 1) fetch, 2) thermal differences with nearby shorelines, 3) out of the sight of all but the wealhier Republicans.

          1. Lefty665 Avatar

            I vote for door number 3. Out of sight and it’s magic. Just flip the switch and it’s there.

          2. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Like NatGas… until it explodes.

          3. Lefty665 Avatar

            Be glad we’re not in California. PG&E has managed to kill quite a few of both its gas and electric customers, And, their rates are considerably higher than Dominion’s. It’s a twofer.

          4. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Of course, a 1200sqft mid-century modern fixer-upper with original pink&gray boomerang Formica built-ins doesn’t sell for $1.25M either.

          5. Lefty665 Avatar

            Yeah, there are lots of reasons to stay far away from that coast. Had a kitchen table with boomerang Formica and aluminum legs when I was a kid. Not sure I miss it, but thanks for sparking the memory, those synapses haven’t fired in a long time.

          6. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            Yeah, me too. So modern.

          7. Lefty665 Avatar

            Now about tail fins…

  5. As you say, Steve, there is a lot of public info out there about electric energy generation and consumption. You don’t have to look at German websites to see the daily grid generation mix; here’s the same for the mid-Atlantic United States. Look here. Scroll down to the bottom of the linked page to see, for example, the wind and solar power generated on the PJM grid in each hour, and older historical data is there if you want it (Virginia is one of the 12 states largely within the PJM grid).

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Nice. Looks like coal covers ~1/5 still, and renewables >1/10. Maybe we can stretch our fossil fuel to cover the as yet unborn generation. Maybe. Sure hope they’re up to the task of finding energy for their kids.

  6. LarrytheG Avatar

    There are 10,000 inhabited islands in the world. Almost all of them have to import fuel to power the electric. It’s almost never natural gas and almost always diesel fuel and electricity costs 3-4 times what it costs in Virginia and is more expensive than even in Germany.

    If people on these islands used electricity like most Virginians do, their electric bills would be $900 a month.

    So do those folks live in caves because of the cost of electricity?

    nope. But they do have a dramatically different lifestyle with regard to what they use electricity for and how much of it.

  7. LarrytheG Avatar

    these are chicken houses – they are all over Virginia and the Eastern Shore and this is where you get your chicken from if you like chicken.

    As far as I can tell, not a peep from the anti-solar folks when it comes to these viewshed-killing chicken houses.


    and this is an Amazon distribution center where any of us that have ordered something from Amazon get it and as far as I can tell, never an argument about spoiling the viewshed or “destroying” farmland:


    Methinks all the hooray about wind turbines and solar is a bit selective and much hypocritical.

    1. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Should be panels on those roofs… 🙂

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Agree but they went up before solar was a “thing” and they very much dot the landscape in some places and as far as I know, nary a complaint about screwing up the ‘viewshed’. Not the also mention the smell – and what happens with the chicken poop scooped out of those buildings.

  8. Lefty665 Avatar

    Something I wonder about. The discussion seems to be 100% green or nothing with the problem being that solar and wind are irregular sources. Why not generate most power with solar, wind, nuclear (hey, I lived not far from North Anna for 25 years, it was a lot better than being close to a coal plant) and back filling the gaps with fossil generation? That would cut emissions way down and buy the time needed to solve the problems of electricity storage to bridge generation gaps.

    That sort of looks like what the Germans are attempting, except that they’ve dumped their nuclear too soon, and they’ve got that inconvenient kerfuffle over Russian gas.

    1. William Chambliss Avatar
      William Chambliss

      That’s the Dominion plan for Virginia, Lefty. It helps that they also have the world’s largest battery in place here (Bath County pumped storage facility). Like Steve, I don’t see how we do without some gas in the mix.

      What the coops and Appalachian Power are going to do is another matter. Neither has any nuclear to lean on.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Don’t know if it is the largest but it’s limited to about 75,000 houses out of maybe 3 million in Virginia.

        And keep it mind, it uses more power than it actually generates also because it has to pump back what flows to generate.

        The pump-storage concept is predicated on the idea that there is excess power available on the grid at night – so either nuke or gas has to run to power the pump-up cycle.

Leave a Reply