Open Thread

Open Thread 23

The last Open Thread is feeling a tad dated, so time for a new one…

The Open Thread is a general discussion forum, where you can talk about whatever you like — there is nothing ‘off topic’ here — within reason. So get up on your soap box! The standard commenting rules of courtesy apply, and at the very least your chat should relate to the general content of this blog.

The sort of things that belong on this thread include general enquiries, soapbox philosophy, meandering trains of argument that move dynamically from one point of contention to another, and so on — as long as the comments adhere to the broad BNC themes of sustainable energy, climate change mitigation and policy, energy security, climate impacts, etc.

By Barry Brook

Barry Brook is an ARC Laureate Fellow and Chair of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Tasmania. He researches global change, ecology and energy.

1,180 replies on “Open Thread 23”

According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative page on Mayak the disposal of wastes into the river ended by 1970.


So it is much ado about nothing. The river and its humans have benefited from the half lives of the visitors.

In a way, I regret not hearing more about the effects of the extreme pollution from other events in the area. What is the effect on the bottom-feeding fish of the lakes, spending their lives in ferociously radioactive mud? Similarly, what is the effect on the wildlife in the forbidden zone downwind of the Kyshtym explosion of 1957?


@Eclipse Now,

My natural assumption was that you were interested in understanding the truth behind German domestic electricity prices which is a little more complex than the chart implied. But we’ll do it your way and give you a simplified figure for the cost of German renewables per kWh backed by the minimum number of links.

In this link

Click to access Agora_CP_Germany_web.pdf

on page 22 the diagram shows that around 50% of the electricity use is by large industrial users. On page 24 it says that most large users are exempt from taxes and figure 11 shows that this includes the EEG (renewables) surcharge. On page 23 the household bill split shows 6.24 Eurocents / kWh EEG renewables subsidy paid by households. This is a cost recovery surcharge – the German government do not put tax money directly into it. If all the large industrial customers are exempt from the EEG surcharge (but no small industrial or commercial customers) then the true level of the renewables surcharge is about half of 6.24 Eurocents, or 3.1 Eurocents.

So 3.1 Eurocents on the price of electricity is an approximate estimate of what the German renewables policy actually costs.

As David Benson rightly says, German household electricity taxes are not that different on a percentage basis to those in France. However, since German distribution/networking companies are notoriously inefficient, that means the base per kWh from which those taxes are levied is much higher than in France.

This can be seen in page 1 where the grid charges at 24.6% are higher than the cost of wholesale power at 21.3%.

So in absolute terms taxes per kWh in Germany are around twice those of France, despite being the same percentage.

Just to make you think about it a bit more, the EEG renewables subsidy paid by German households helps to reduce the cost of power around noon, because of the large quantity of German solar power installed. Germany typically does not reduce generation at this time, but exports the excess instead. Some of this cheap power goes to France.

Now look at this link

The EDF (Electricite de France) chief is saying that the excess German renewable power France receives is then re-exported at higher prices to other countries such as UK, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.

In other words, EDF are saying that some but not that much) of the 6.24 Eurocents / kWh paid by German households as a renewables surcharge ends up subsidising electricity prices in France.

Here is the domestic electricity prices chart amended to remove the renewables subsidy cost and renewables generation from Germany.

Germany is still among the most expensive, even without the cost of renewables.


Book: “Why We Need Nuclear Power; the Environmental Case” by Michael H. Fox, 2014
German feed-in tariff for wind power is 57 cents.  That’s wholesale.  I am paying 7.5 cents retail. 


Here’s a comprehensive list of the 2014 renewable energy feed-in tariffs and the rate at which they reduce (provided installation targets are met).

There’s nothing remotely approaching 57 eurocents / kWh nowadays. That price was offered more than 10 years ago to kick start things.

For larger renewable installations Germany is moving to auctions every few months with an annual new capacity target for each major type of renewable generation. Ground mounted PV systems have already moved over.

Bidders have to pay a significant deposit to make sure they are serious.


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