The renewable power develops at the expense of China
Renewable power is a paradox. On news lines it became already more favorable than coal and just about will win against gas, the price of the equipment flies down, and its efficiency is uncontrollably torn up, the price of «green» electricity is so low that common people are even paid extra for its consumption! Outside news lines wholesale price for electricity continuously grows because of the growing share of renewed and increasing efficiency does not wish to reflect in development. However, how we were inclined to philippic concerning renewable power, it should be noted that in 2017 investments into this sector grew but again at the expense of China. And the European Union continued reducing investments.

In an abyss for oil

Crisis in the market of hydrocarbons became a heartrending experience for renewable power. Massive information campaign which sent to audience joyful messages did not help even that the renewables successfully endure crisis, showing floodability in difficult economic conditions. «They do not comply with gravitation»! In 2015, despite the storming crisis in the market of hydrocarbons, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), investments in renewable power increased on 4% to record 328.9 billion dollars (thereof 87.5% was spent on construction of power plants).
It turned out that objective economic conditions influence all equally. Also it happened that first of all reduced are the most expensive projects both in the field of oil and gas production and in the field of renewable energy sources. And as renewable energy sources by default are more expensive pleasure than traditional power, and reductions in this area are more noticeable.
In 2016 investments into renewable power failed on 18% — to 287.5 billion dollars. It is less than the indicators of two previous years. At the same time the record on investments in researches and development was set up — the indicator grew from 32.2 billion to 42 billion dollars. The main losses fell on the least steady sector — on solar power. Investments were minimal since 2010 — 116 billion dollars (in 2015 — 172 billion dollars).

The transaction of OPEK+ became a sign event not only for the market of hydrocarbons but also for renewable power. Stabilization and then increase in prices for oil opened the second wind of renewable energy sources. Investments into sector grew not only for 2017, but it is also retrospective.

Hier kommt die Sonne

According to the specified data of BNEF, investments for 2016 rose to 324.6 billion dollars. It is growth on 37 billion dollars. We cannot fail to be glad for the branch in which by specification such money can be found. In 2017 investments in renewable power grew rather specified data on 3% to 333.5 billion dollars.
It is important, that even within the revised data all the same it is considered record 2015. By the way, the new indicator by this year also became higher – 360.3 billion dollars.

In total in 2017 160 GW of the generating capacities based on renewable energy sources were put into operation: 56 GW of wind power stations (VES) and 98 GW solar. And there is a wish to exclaim after one known band: Hier kommt die Sonne — the sun ascends! Nearly 161 billion dollars was invested in solar generation. It is more than a half of this sum – 86.5 billion dollars was provided by China.
On all sectors of «pure power» investments of the People’s Republic of China reached 132.6 billion dollars — 24% higher than an indicator of 2016. The second for volumes of investments country is the USA which could increase investments on 1% only (to 56.9 billion dollars). The States concentrated not on renewable power and on development of gas generation. Besides, in 2017 the USA became net exporter of gas. That is they could take out more natural gas than it was necessary to buy in foreign markets. However the difference between import and export made 4.2 billion cubic meters and falling of domestic demand for gas – 7.9 billion cubic meters. The weather was warmer than previous year.

Essentially important for our country is that fact that long-term reduction of investments into renewable energy sources were continued by the European Union. In 2017 it, according to the revised data, reduced investments on 26% — to 57.4 billion dollars.

Investments were reduced by one more key player — Japan. Investments of this country into renewable energy sources decreased on 16% — to 23.4 billion dollars.

Decrease in investments at pillars of renewable generation shades that fact a little that investments were increased by Australia, Egypt, South Korea and Mexico. But total contribution of these countries is extremely small. It is obvious that the only real driver of renewable generation, as well as in all previous years, is China. Without it, even taking into account revision of data of BNEF, investment into RES would continue falling.

Main engine

China is the main engine of renewable power since 2013. This country reduced investments in the branch only in 2016 (after 11 years of continuous growth) that immediately affected universal indicators. Let’s remind that in the second half of 2016 China revised plans for RES till 2020: from 150 GW of solar and 250 GW of wind generating capacities to 110 GW and 210 GW respectively.
However in 2017 the People’s Republic of China placed about 58 GW of solar power stations into operation. A considerable share of a gain provided East and the Central China. And for the first three quarters of 2017 the volume of development of the «solar» electric power for the first time exceeded 100 terawatt-hours. It is 72% more than in the first quarter 2016.
By the end of 2017 the rated capacity of the generation working at renewable energy sources in the People’s Republic of China reached 650 GW, having increased on 14%.

At the same time China reduced coefficient of idle time of wind power stations. Unclaimed capacities are specifics of the Chinese renewable power. The People’s Republic of China does not put the sun and wind in base, like, for example, the European Union sins. Renewable generation works in accordance with general practice. Thus it is possible to avoid unreasonable replacement of traditional power plants from an energy balance and to keep stable effective development of all system of power supply. Chinese power engineering specialists gradually widen bottlenecks of system of distribution, and also conduct works on accumulation of demand.

The coefficient of idle time of wind farms in 2017 decreased on 5.2%, and the volume of the unclaimed electric power developed on them fell on 7.8 terawatt-hours.
According to BP if in 2016 China made at the expense of solar and wind power stations of 360.9 of 6133.2 terawatt-hours of total development, in 2017 – 471.7 of 6495.1 terawatt-hours. As we see, the gain of electricity generation advances a gain of renewable generation. The coal generation which provided in addition 197.3 terawatt-hours became the main source of growth.
In the middle of 2018 new rules of investment and subsidizing of photovoltaics were published in China. According to Xinhua agency, since the beginning of June the nation-wide tariff for connection of renewable generation decreased on 0.05 yuans for 1 kilowatt-hour (about 0,008 dollars). A problem of this tariff is to stimulate use of renewables. And governing bodies of the country declared that until the end of the current year there are no plans for building of the general objects of generation solar energy. The People’s Republic of China will concentrate on building of new objects of the distributed generation which power will make 10 GW.

It is remarkable that China did not begin to make change in a subsidy for projects of «solar» generation of rural level which are directed on fight against poverty.
By 2020 the People’s Republic of China plans to increase a share of renewable and not fossil energy resources in the general structure of consumption to 15%. By the end of the 2020s at the expense of renewable sources it will be developed 1900 terawatt-hours. It will make 27% of total amount. Let’s remind that in 2017 about 18% of the electric power in China was made on hydroelectric power stations (1155.8 terawatt-hours) and only 7% fell to a share of the sun and wind for the same period.

Wind blows into atom

It would be naive to claim that the European renewable generation is something insignificant. After all the total power of wind farms in the European Union by the present moment reached about 169 GW (thereof 158.3 GW are entered into the period from 2000 to 2017) and solar – 107.3 GW. Together they occupy 29.5% of rated capacity in the EU (wind — 18%, the sun – 11.5%). For comparison: gas — 20%, coal — 16%, atom – 12.6%.

However renewable energy sources provided only 18% of total development of the European electric power. Certainly, 18% are an essential size, especially if to compare to indicators of ten-year prescription. But it occurs in the conditions of the maximum preference as renewable generation has a priority access to networks. Efficiency of so prompt development of renewable energy sources causes a lot of questions.

We already wrote earlier that traditional power plants in the EU are exposed to frank discrimination. Besides owing to a number of conditions the main affected party is gas generation. Repeatedly gas generation was specified in the extremely optimistic forecasts for renewable energy sources as an important component of a power supply system of future Europe on which shoulders the honorary duties will lay down to maneuver at consumption differences. But the severe reality forces to ask a question who will pay for the gas power plants which are standing idle waiting for their times.
In the recent past we already observed how the companies had to close new effective generation because it simply could not get access to a network — owing to abundance of renewables. Who will pay for that gas power plants did not work in the most effective mode, giving out in a network cheap electricity, and stood and were waiting for their times? That is the moment when wind ceases to blow and the sun will set? Will it be really suggested to pay common European consumer again? After all it is obvious that expenses and risks should be put in a tariff, differently it will be more favorable to owners to close power plant.

But we will leave still difficult situation of the European gas generation. In this situation important fact for us is that nobody and nothing prevents wind and the sun to open their potential for 100%. That we see: in 2017 wind farms of the EU made 336 terawatt-hours of electric power. These are 11.6% of the all-European consumption — certainly an outstanding indicator. But the efficiency of rated capacity makes 22.7% only. Sun indicators by tradition timidly dance around 11-13%. How many renewables is it necessary to replace traditional generation?

For example, in 2017 the German nuclear power plants made 72.16 terawatt-hours (13.1% of total amount) and wind power plants – 103.65 terawatt-hours (18.8%). Thus the rated capacity of nuclear power plants in Germany makes 9.52 GW and wind power stations — 56 GW. That is it is necessary to increase the rated capacity of wind power plants on 70% approximately to replace atom of which Germany still plans to get rid by 2022. That is 39-40 GW of wind power plants are necessary still at least.

For the annual volumes of input of wind power plants which passed since 2011, sign for renewable energy sources, in the European Union without sharp jumps increased from 9.8 GW to 15.6 GW. Since 2015 sea wind power generation started developing actively. If in 2016 10.9 GW of land and 1.6 GW of sea wind power plants were put into operation, in 2017 these indicators equaled respectively 12.5 GW and 3.15 GW. It made 55.2% of all generating capacities entered in 2017 in the EU.

Input of solar power stations in 2017 continued to be reduced — to 6 GW. It is 700 MW less than in 2016 and 3.5 times less than in 2011. Ironically in this regard to remember how in 2013 the European Union made an attempt to protect domestic market: it was decided to limit import of the Chinese solar panels to 7 GW a year, and moreover — to impose on volumes anti-dumping tax.
Germany is the main engine of the European renewable generation in general and wind power generation in particular. In 2017 in its territory, according to WindEurope, 42% of all new European wind power plants – 6.58 GW were built and at the next persecutor, Great Britain, — 4.27 GW. These two countries put into operation 3 GW of sea wind power plants — over 95% of total amount.
Thus, at preservation of the current rates of input of wind power generation Germany requires about six years for wind «blew» into atom. But there is one more question — reliability question.

50% — wind and the sun

Problem of the renewed is in their unpredictability and uncontrollability. You do not receive electricity when it is necessary for you and when the corresponding environment meets. It is obvious minus in comparison with traditional generation. And here we reasonably will not concern vexed and extremely large-scale question of maneuvering by capacities.

At the beginning of 2017 Germany already faced large-scale shutdowns because of cloudy windless weather. And after all they are not the only ones who were overtaken by such trouble. State South Australia in the second half of 2016 refused coal. And if on average in Australia, according to Fortune, a share of renewable power makes 7%, South Australia brought it to 45.6% (31.2% — wind, 14.4% — the sun). Gas in this region provides 49.1% of power generation. With transition on renewed South Australia faced double growth of wholesale prices for electricity and frequent shutdowns.

How do Germans plan to maintain stability of power supply system if they follow the coalition agreement and will bring a share of renewable generation in an energy balance to 65% by 2030? In 2018, according to Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, 28.4% of all developed electricity is a share of the sun and wind in Germany. And 37.7% account for a share of coal. Nevertheless Europe develops renewable generation not only under slogans of fight for ecology but also as a way to increase power safety of the region. Will power safety increase with increase of renewable energy sources share?

The answer to this question indirectly contains in the fresh forecast of development of world power of BNEF till 2050. If to trust it, through in three decades the sun and wind will provide 50% of all electricity generation. This miracle will happen due to decrease in expenses. It is supposed that the cost of average photo-electric installation will fall on 71% by 2050. It is surprising that expenses still need to be reduced. After all the news was made public repeatedly that renewable generation is cheaper and more favorable than traditional. However, thus nobody hurries to cancel a «green» tariff, but it is not the main news.

And if an asteroid arrives

In 2018 BNEF brought in the forecast data about lithium — ion batteries — autonomous and working together with renewables. The authors of the forecast hope for emergence of cheaper batteries when speak about an enormous role of renewable energy sources in 2050. Also it is necessary to agree that if there are similar technologies, if they are rather cheap if they are supported with sufficient mining extracting capacities, of course, renewable generation will get rid of key negative lines. These batteries will allow accumulating electric power at surplus and to compensate consumption peaks.
We believe that it was necessary to pay attention to batteries just because of numerous questions of stability of power supply systems in which the surplus of the renewables is observed. Besides, the rated capacity of stores of energy grows. So, in Germany the power of batteries of general purpose in 2017 doubled, having reached 230 MW. Certainly, the first step is the hardest one. But in country scales these volumes of stores are fragments. For successful work the power of batteries should be increased by orders. And it, in its turn, generates a question concerning prospects of renewable power: where does ecology come in?

Renewable energy sources develop first of all under «green» slogans. There are no emissions, minimum impact on environment etc. But the farther, the more crutches and props renewable generation demands. At first it becomes clear that rare-earth metals are necessary for production of the equipment and extraction and production of a number of materials requires a huge amount of acids. Now the speech is about distressful lithium — ion and sulfur-sodium accumulators.

Yes, of course, objections are obvious: sometime there will be new technologies, charge density in batteries will be enormous and materials for their production — safe and easily available. But meanwhile all renewable power hopes for traditional technologies of accumulation of energy which reached a threshold of the development. It does not matter which region – Austria, Germany or any other region. If this region decides to create stores for support of renewable power, first of all it loads mining branch with work. Then — chemical productions. And at the end of an operational cycle there will be a need for safe and extremely expensive utilization.

It is impossible to predict seriously development of any branch, leaning on a prediction of the future break, especially as break in the field of stores of energy is predicted not the first decade. Why not to build forecasts of development of power recognizing that the asteroid will crash into the earth?

Set of news that break in the storage of energy took place, appear illusion. And it is impossible to construct steadily working system with prevailing share of renewable generation which would be much safer for environment on the existing base. After all it is impossible to go on about environmental risks of oil and gas production and at the same time to close eyes to environmental risks of other extracting and processing industries.

The renewable power though became the mass phenomenon on a global scale but cannot still function without support of traditional generation. Thus in present conditions, at an actual level of development of technologies it would be a fatal mistake to expand thoughtlessly and uncontrolledly the sector of renewable energy sources. It demands thoughtful and the most accurate approach, as well as readiness to make a compromise without declaring a crusade against traditional power.

And meanwhile in the first quarter of 2018 investment into renewable power decreased again on 10%, having shown the worst result from the failure third quarter of 2016.