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Germany has embarked on a large-scale Energiewende (energy transition)—a policy-driven shift away from nuclear and fossil energy to a renewable energy economy. Following the Fukushima disaster in 2011, the Federal government oversaw the immediate closure of eight nuclear plants, with the rest of the stations to be shut down by 2022. The government also is maintaining its target of cutting GHG emissions by 40% by 2020 (compared with 1990 levels) and by 80% by 2050.
However, the financial cost of the shift is causing concern. In May, the International Energy Agency released a review of German energy policies that commended the country for its commitment to developing a low-carbon energy system over the long term, but emphasized that further policy measures are necessary if the Energiewende is to maintain a balance between sustainability, affordability and competitiveness. “The fact that German electricity prices are among the highest in Europe, despite relatively low wholesale prices, must serve as a warning signal,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven as she presented the report, Energy Policies of IEA Countries – Germany 2013 Review.
At the recent Siemens Energiewende-Dialog (Energy Transition Dialogue) in Berlin, the company presented a three-point plan with specific proposals for the cost-efficient implementation of the Energiewende in Germany.
The Three-Point Plan is based on Siemens’ analysis of the status quo relating to the energy transition. High electricity rates are burdening private households and industry alike and threatening Germany’s competitiveness, the company noted.
For private households, electricity rates were nearly 40% higher than the European Union average in 2012; for industrial facilities, 20%. Levies for renewable energies will reach a new high of roughly €16 billion (US$21.4 billion) this year. These costs are primarily borne by consumers.
In addition, despite the rigorous development of renewables, carbon dioxide emissions are increasing, because the energy mix increasingly includes coal-fired power plants that emit large quantities of CO2 to compensate for weather-related fluctuations in power generation from renewables and the closing of nuclear plants.
Siemens stands behind the energy transition. However, the project is currently at a critical stage. We need decisions that will maintain our country’s competitiveness over the long term. Our aim is to achieve a sustainable energy system with secure supplies and affordable electricity.—Peter Löscher, President and CEO of Siemens AG
According to a survey of more than 250 German customers in various industries conducted by Siemens, more than 80% of the respondents believe the current Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) needs revision. More than 90% cite affordability and security of supply as the biggest challenges to a successful energy transition.
Siemens proposes giving up a fixed target for renewables and focus on reducing CO2 emissions in the future instead. The country should give greater priority to high-efficiency combined cycle power plants and wind power, the company suggests. With efficiency ratings of more than 60%, an advanced combined cycle power plant emits less than half the CO2 produced by a new coal-fired power plant, and wind power is well on its way to be able to deliver electricity as cost-effectively as conventional energy sources.
This scenario would ensure that Germany meets its climate targets, Siemens said. At the same time, the investment and operating costs for the energy transition could be cut by more than €150 billion (US$200 billion) by 2030 than with an unchecked expansion of renewables.
The climate goal can be reached by 2030 with fewer renewable energy sources at substantially lower costs. An energy mix with 40 percent green energy—rather than the planned 50 percent by 2030—is both ecologically as well as economically sensible.—Peter Löscher
The Three-Point Plan. The pillars of Siemens’ Three-Point Plan are a restructuring of the electricity market; increasing energy efficiency; and a European coordination of the energy transition.
1. Restructure the electricity market. Five measures for restructuring the electricity market are geared to enhancing investment security and transparency in the energy market.
The first two measures entail a fundamental revision of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG). Renewable energies should prevail on the market in the future without levies, Siemens says. The regulations for plants that are already in operation, however, would remain unchanged to guarantee investment security and legal certainty. To date, renewables have had feed-in priority over conventionally generated power from combined cycle and coal-fired power plants.
As a first measure, this “feed-in priority” should be replaced by a “feed-in responsibility”. In the future, providers of renewable energies would have to market their electricity just as reliably as other suppliers. To guarantee their supply commitments, they must secure their capacity with flexible power plants or with storage. This would create an energy market in which only the amount of electricity actually in demand is fed into the grid.
The second measure aims at making the support of renewable energies more dependent on the rules of competition and thus more cost-effective. One possibility here is auctions. For example, the investor offering the lowest feed-in tariff would be awarded the contract to build a new wind farm.
As a third measure, Siemens is proposing a European regulation for reducing CO2 emissions, such as by strengthening trade in CO2 emissions certificates in Europe. In addition, a fleet regulation for power plant fleets modeled after the automobile industry would be an effective way to limit the average CO2 emissions of the power utilities and further reduce emissions. Utilities with a fleet of aging power plants would then be forced to improve their CO2 balance step-by-step.Key recommendation from the IEA report The IEA review of German energy policy made a number of key recommendations for the government, including: Ensure that the large-scale transmission and distribution developments, including investments that are necessary if the Energy Concept (Energiewende) is to succeed, are put in place in a timely manner and maintain a regulatory system that provides sufficient financial incentives and investment security for mobilizing the necessary investments in distribution. Develop suitable mechanisms to manage the cost of incremental renewable energy capacity via cost-effective market-based approaches, which will support the forecast growth of variable renewable electricity generation that brings new capacity closer to market needs, supports investments in appropriate locations and complements planned network expansion. Assess, in co-ordination with all relevant stakeholders, the extent to which the present market arrangements enable the financing of economically viable investments in new flexible gas-fired generation and cost-effective electricity storage. Part of this assessment is the need to examine the suitability of capacity markets as a transitional measure to support the adjustment to a post-nuclear power system. Take strong measures to ensure that the costs of the Energiewende are minimised and allocated fairly and equitably across customer categories and limit the growth of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) surcharge attributable to the deployment of additional renewable energy capacities, while drawing all benefits from the rapid decrease in technology costs that has occurred. Develop policies that convey a clear understanding of the role of gas in the Energiewende and ensure that the short-term boom in coal use by the electricity sector does not crowd out investment in flexible gas-fired capacity.
The advantage, according to Siemens, is that long-term and binding emissions targets and regulations for emission certificate trading up to 2030 would give power plant operators leeway to optimize their fleets and invest in new technologies.
A fourth measure relates to the fixed costs of the electricity system, such as the grid or EEG levy. Siemens proposes that these costs would no longer be included in the electricity price but covered via a fixed-cost, flat-rate payment for the grid connection.
All consumers who use the power grid would thus pay an equal share of the costs—regardless if they produce electricity and how much, or what they consume. To date, homeowners with solar collectors have the advantage that they contribute only a small share toward maintaining the power grid since they consume less grid electricity.
The fifth measure aims at maintaining the winter reserve for electricity to guarantee year-round security of supply—even when renewables feed less electricity into the grid. Germany’s Federal Network Agency and the grid operators would define a specific amount of electricity to be maintained as reserve capacity for peak demand. In the medium term, however, it must be decided politically whether Germany introduces a capacity mechanism as in other countries in order to compensate for the provision of power plants.
2. Increase energy efficiency. Rising electricity costs can be partly offset by systems that use less energy. Siemens strongly advocates speedy implementation of the European Energy Efficiency Directive in Germany, because there is huge potential in energy efficiency. Buildings with energy-efficient technology could, for example, generate savings of up to 40%, while efficient electric drives in industry could reduce consumption by up to 70%.
Increasing energy efficiency, however, often requires up-front investments. With intelligent financing models, modernization can be undertaken with no preliminary investment costs for the customer. Instead, these costs are paid entirely from the energy savings, Siemens says.
Along with energy efficiency measures, Siemens recommends the selective regulation of consumption. This means, for example, that consumers voluntarily disconnect themselves from the grid for short times during peak load periods and are rewarded with special compensation.
3. European coordination of the energy transition. The energy transition should be understood as a project that must be coordinated on a European level and driven by close cooperation among the individual countries, Siemens suggests. Separate regional and national solutions increase the costs for all countries moving to sustainable energy systems.
A study carried out by Siemens and the business consulting firm of McKinsey presented 20 international solutions along the entire energy value chain, from power generation and distribution to improving the energy efficiency of buildings, industry and transportation. The US, for example, leads the way in the selective regulation of power consumption through the temporarily reduction of demand. And in the process of modernizing their energy systems, Denmark and the Netherlands are already successfully auctioning wind farms.
The US Maritime Administration (MARAD) Office of the Environment has issued two funding opportunities; the first (DTMA-91-R-2013-0020) will award up to an estimated $900,000 for up to 2 projects that demonstrate criteria pollutant emissions of carbon emissions reductions from marine vessels through repowering, re-engining, or using alternative fuel/energy.
The second (DTMA-91-R-2013-0009) will award up to $500,000 for a comprehensive study on the issues associated with the bunkering (supplying a ship with fuel) of LNG for marine vessels. One of the largest obstacles to widespread take-up of LNG as ship fuel—and hence its viability as an option to meet ECA (Emission Control Areas) requirements—is the lack of a bunkering infrastructure, according to Lloyd’s Register. (Earlier post.)
Vessel emission reduction pilot/demonstration project. MARAD has been partnering with other government agencies, industry, and academia on efforts to reduce vessel and port air emissions and greenhouse gases as well as support the use of alternative fuels and energy sources.
Several MARAD efforts are underway to address emissions reductions, specifically through development of planning and modeling tools and in-situ testing of alternative fuels, repowers, and emissions reduction technology.
With this RFP, MARAD is seeking to provide cost-share funding through cooperative agreements for US-flagged vessels that operate on inland, coastal waterways, or the Great Lakes. Eligible applicants include vessel owners, operators, or sponsors. Awardees must demonstrate a reduction of air emissions such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), particulate matter (PM), or carbon through an approved emissions testing scheme.
Emissions data must be made available to MARAD and can be used publicly. Shoreside equipment upgrades or shore power projects are not eligible for funding.
MARAD intends to use the results/data of the demonstration projects to support further work related to air emissions reduction research and to assess the public benefit of incentives.
Projects that will be funded under the RFP include engine conversion/retrofits; the use of alternative fuels; or the use of alternative technologies. MARAD will not fund more than 50% of the total cost of the project. Of particular interest to MARAD is the use of natural gas (LNG or CNG) as a marine propulsion fuel.
Bunkering study. MARAD has been partnering with other government agencies, industry, and academia to determine the feasibility and likelihood of using natural gas as a propulsion fuel in the maritime sector. MARAD recently completed a study—reported in the February 2013 “Status of the US-Flag Great Lakes Water Transportation Industry”—that focused on the feasibility of using natural gas on the Great Lakes as well as converting existing steamships.
(In December 2011, MARAD entered a 5-year cooperate agrement with the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute (GLMRI), a consortium of the University of Wisconsin–Superior and the University of Minnesota Duluth, to address environmental issues that face shipping and marine transportation, including natural gas fuel applications. One study under this agreement is to explore the LNG supply chain needed to support the fuel demand for the fleet with the potential for this fuel to be used by other modes of transportation.)
Results of that study as well as discussions with several agencies identified specific issues related to using natural gas as a marine fuel that still need to be resolved, most notably infrastructure needs and bunkering. MARAD intends to fund a study that addresses these issues in more detail.
The funded study will focus on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and is designed to address specific issues related to bunkering and infrastructure at ports or marine accessible terminals.
The study must address infrastructure; bunkering and safety; and training requirements.
Infrastructure. Identify and provide an analysis of the most realistic options for delivering natural gas to a vessel, assuming the quantities needed for fueling oceangoing vessels, lakers, and inland tugs. The analysis should compare advantages and disadvantages of using various modal supply methods and potential barriers.
Identify the barriers associated with co-locating bunkering infrastructure for multiple modal uses.
Identify gaps in the existing regulatory framework for providing oversight of various phases of the LNG supply chain including production, storage, transportation, and fueling.
Identify the agencies that regulate shoreside bunkering facilities and what authorities they have. Are there any conflicting jurisdictional issues?
Bunkering and Safety. Identify safety/security requirements that should be in place for vessel bunkering operations from water and/or land given that natural gas is already being used as a fuel for trucks/buses and other transportation applications. Is a safety or security zone required? If so, what is the appropriate size of such a zone? This task must include a safety analysis and risk assessment.
Identify risks/hazards associated with conducting other operations during bunkering. Note any risk mitigation, as necessary.
Identify differences in risk between bunkering from shoreside structures versus bunkering from vessels.
Identify safety and security regulations that are required for shoreside infrastructure in support of bunkering operations. Identify similar regulations for in-water bunkering.
Identify the areas of current bunkering regulations that need to be standardized to promote a national framework.
Identify how bunkering operation requirements interact with other environmental regulations.
Training Requirements. Identify the level of crew training that will be required in bunkering operations for safety and to reduce methane slip and LNG spillage.
Identify the safety equipment and training needs for local first responders for bunkering whether shoreside or aboard a vessel.
The US Maritime Administration is the agency within the US Department of Transportation dealing with waterborne transportation. The Maritime Administration works in many areas involving ships and shipping, shipbuilding, port operations, vessel operations, national security, environment, and safety.
The European Commission has adopted two proposals to ensure that, by October 2015, cars will automatically call emergency services in case of a serious crash. The “eCall” system automatically dials 112—Europe’s single emergency number—in the event of a serious accident. It communicates the vehicle’s location to emergency services, even if the driver is unconscious or unable to make a phone call. The EC estimates that eCall could save up to 2500 lives a year.
This draft legislation will ensure that from October 2015, all new models of passenger cars and light duty vehicles would be fitted with 112 eCall and the necessary infrastructure would be created for the proper receipt and handling of eCalls in emergency call response centrers—ensuring the compatibility, interoperability and continuity of the EU-wide eCall service.
Today’s proposals are a milestone for safer roads in the EU. Last year, 28 000 persons were killed and 1.5 million were injured on EU roads. When an accident happens, every minute counts to rescue injured victims. The eCall technology has great potential to save lives in shortening dramatically the time of intervention of emergency services and this across the EU.—European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for Transport
The data received through the eCall system will allow emergency services to provide assistance to vehicle drivers and passengers more quickly, thus helping to save lives and to treat injuries rapidly. Estimates suggest that eCall could speed up emergency response times by 40% in urban areas and 50% in the countryside.
In addition to the road safety benefits, eCall will also have a significant impact on reducing the congestion caused by traffic accidents and on reducing secondary accidents caused by unsecured accident sites. Industry also benefits via the many companies that are involved in the delivery of technologies, components and services used in different aspects of eCall including in-vehicle systems, wireless data delivery, and public safety answering point systems. Moreover, it is expected that the in-vehicle equipment introduced by eCall could be used for additional added value services (such as the tracking of stolen cars).
eCall is activated automatically as soon as in-vehicle sensors detect a serious crash. Once set off, the system dials the European emergency number 112, establishes a telephone link to the appropriate emergency call centre and sends details of the accident to the rescue services, including the time of incident, the accurate position of the crashed vehicle and the direction of travel (most important on motorways and in tunnels). An eCall can also be triggered manually by pushing a button in the car, for example by a witness to a serious accident.
The Commission is proposing two pieces of legislation to help create and implement the system:
A Regulation concerning type-approval requirements for the deployment of the eCall system (and amending the related Directive 2007/46/EC)—making the vehicle fit for eCall; and
A Decision on the deployment of the interoperable EU-wide eCall—making the public infrastructure fit for eCall.
Once the proposals are approved by the Council and Parliament, the Commission is aiming to have a fully functional eCall service in place throughout the EU (as well as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) by 2015.
(A hat-tip to Tatiana!)
BMW is unveiling the all-new BMW 4 Series Coupe, previewed as a concept last December. (Earlier post.) Launched as the latest generation of BMW’s sporty mid-size Coupe, the two-door model will be available from launch powered by a six-cylinder in-line gasoline engine in the BMW 435i Coupe, a four-cylinder gasoline unit for the BMW 428i Coupe and the four-cylinder diesel for the BMW 420d Coupe. (The US market will see only the 428i and 435i models.)
All the engines use the latest BMW TwinPower Turbo technology and deliver output ranging from 135 kW/184 hp to 225 kW/306 hp. In addition to the engines with optimized fuel economy, the car’s lightweight construction concept (although the new BMW 4 Series Coupe has grown in terms of dimensions, it is between 20 and 45 kilograms lighter than its predecessor) and aerodynamics—headlined by the Air Curtains and Air Breathers—also help to increase efficiency.
Other EfficientDynamics technologies applied include Auto Start Stop, Brake Energy Regeneration, Optimum Shift Indicator and on-demand operation of ancillary units.
ECO PRO mode gives the car the potential to cut fuel use by as much as 20%. In conjunction with the optional automatic transmission, the BMW 4 Series Coupe now also features a coasting mode for the first time. Another innovation is the Proactive Driving Assistant.
One additional gasoline and two diesel engines will be introduced later this year: the BMW 420i Coupe, BMW 430d Coupe and BMW 435d Coupe, plus two BMW xDrive options. The gasoline-fueled BMW 420i Coupe will develop 135 kW/184 hp and can be combined with BMW xDrive.
xDrive will also be available from the autumn for the BMW 420d Coupe. The BMW 430d Coupe will produce 190 kW/258 hp and maximum torque of 560 N·m (413 lb-ft). Topping the range will be the BMW 435d Coupe (exclusively available with xDrive), with maximum output reaching 230 kW/313 hp and peak torque of 630 N·m (465 lb-ft).
The current line-up of diesels features latest-generation, common rail direct injection, turbocharging and an all-aluminium construction to deliver high torque, smooth running and unsurpassed efficiency. In addition, the diesel engines come equipped with advanced BMW BluePerformance technology, combining a diesel particulate filter and oxidation catalytic converter with a NOx storage catalyst to meet the future EU6 emissions standard.
A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, with an eight-speed Sports automatic gearbox, which allows the driver to change gear manually as well using shift paddles on the steering wheel, available as an option. The BMW xDrive intelligent, all-wheel-drive system can be ordered as an option from launch for the two gasoline-engine variants.
In conjunction with the optional automatic transmission, a coasting mode is now also available for the first time. In ECO PRO mode, this function decouples the powertrain as soon as the driver backs off the accelerator at speeds between 50 and 160 km/h (approx. 30 – 100 mph), allowing the car to glide along with no engine braking effect and burning minimal fuel. The BMW 4 Series Coupe offers a further innovation in the form of the Proactive Driving Assistant. Likewise in the interests of reducing fuel consumption, this function advises the driver of the ideal moment to ease off the accelerator when approaching corners and speed-restricted zones as well as towns and roundabouts.
Located just rearwards of the BMW 4 Series Coupe’s front wheels are Air Breathers designed to reduce drag around the wheel arches. The Air Breathers and Air Curtains underline the sporty character of the car’s design and provide evidence of the aerodynamics devised by BMW as part of its BMW EfficientDynamics development strategy.
The BMW 4 Series Coupe has a longer wheelbase, wider track and lower ride height than the previous-generation BMW 3 Series Coupe. Its lower suspension brings the car’s center of gravity down to below 20 inches (500 mm), giving it the lowest center of gravity of any car in the current BMW line-up. As a result, the new BMW 4 Series Coupe is inherently one of the sportiest series-produced cars in the BMW range.
BMW 420d Coupe. The diesel unit features latest-generation common rail direct injection technology, turbocharger with variable turbine geometry and precise solenoid valve injectors. The engine delivers maximum output of 135 kW/184 hp at 4,000 rpm and peak torque reaching 380 N·m (280 lb-ft) between 1,750 and 2,750 rpm. Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) takes 7.5 seconds; the agile diesel can accelerate up to 240 km/h (149 mph).
Average fuel consumption is 4.7 – 4.8 liters per 100 kilometers (50 – 49 mpg US) and CO2 emissions between 124 and 126 grams per kilometer (EU test cycle, depending on the tire format specified).
BMW 428i Coupe. BMW’s technology package for the 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine includes High Precision Direct Injection, twin-scroll turbocharging, Double-Vanos variable camshaft control and Valvetronic fully variable valve control.
The engine generates maximum output of 180 kW/245 hp at 5,000 – 6,500 rpm and peak torque of 350 N·m (258 lb-ft), which the driver can access between 1,250 and 4,800 rpm.
Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) is 5.9 seconds; the car has an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph).
Average fuel consumption of the BMW 428i Coupe in the EU test cycle stands at 6.6 – 6.7 liters per 100 kilometres (35.6 - 35.1 mpg US), with CO2 emissions of 154 – 156 grams per kilometer. The optional eight-speed Sports automatic gearbox also opens up further potential for fuel savings in the BMW 428i Coupe: combined fuel consumption of between 6.3 and 6.4 liters per 100 kilometers (37.3 - 36.8 mpg US) and CO2 emissions of 147 – 149 grams per 100 kilometers.
BMW 435i Coupe. Equipped with High Precision Direct Injection and Valvetronic fully variable valve control, the 3.0-liter engine with aluminum crankcase develops maximum output of 225 kW/306 hp between 5,800 and 6,000 rpm. Peak torque of 400 N·m (295 lb-ft) is generated as low down as 1,200 rpm and remains on tap up to 5,000 rpm.
Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) is 5.4 seconds (4.9 seconds with xDrive) on the way to an electronically limited 250 km/h (155 mph) top speed. Average fuel consumption is between 7.9 and 8.1 liters per 100 kilometers (30 - 29 mpg US) and CO2 emissions range from 185 to 189 grams per kilometer (EU test cycle, depending on the tire format specified).
When fitted with the optional eight-speed Sports automatic gearbox, combined fuel consumption is 7.3 – 7.4 liters per 100 kilometers (US), while CO2 emissions are between 169 and 172 grams per kilometer.