Las Vegas and Southlink in Germany?

Category: SONSTIGE


Story: ”last call for flight 521 from Boston to Las Vegas“ – I am boarding the flight and I really wonder, what do I exactly do in Vegas? Well, initially it`s cheap. Our hotel has a huge Casino in the entrance area, but lodging is cheap and a 12 oz steak goes for $5… The next day we get up early and drive around, through Nevada, to find locations for wind and solar farms. Three days later, we see an interesting powerpole, only about 60-90 ft high.

Most powerpoles transmit 3 phase power through 3 wires, but this one, why does it only have 2 wires? And why, little pole, do you have such big wires?

And where do you poles come from, and where do you go? We decided to follow it, for hours, for days and for weeks: It started in northern Oregon at the mighty Columbia river and it crossed three states to go into Los Angeles!

We had discovered one of the major powerlines in the West, the Pacific DC intertie, for 40 years now bringing cheap renewable waterpower from Oregon to the population centers of Southern California.

High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) – a tiny pole for big power! 3,000 Megawatts.

In Germany, the issue is that cheap wind power is available in the North, onshore and off-shore. However, the population centers are to the West and South. Power to the South is especially important, because of the scheduled shut down of all nuclear power plants by 2022, many of them are in the South and power needs to be replaced by wind and solar energy. The German Energiewende (energy system transition), with already 25% renewable power today, mostly from wind and solar, and this is expected to increase to 80% by 2050.

To bring cheap wind power from the North to the South, the German government has approved a new 500 miles HVDC powerline called Southlink (1), from Hamburg to Grafenrheinfeld in Bavaria. It is scheduled to become operational by 2022 concurrent with the shutdown of southern nuclear plants in that year.

Now, what do the economics look like?

With about 3 cents cheaper wind power in the North (2), the 4,000 MW Southlink HVDC line has a payback time of 11 years, after which it will generate 350 million Euros annually, which is approximately half a billion US Dollars of “Zero Emission Profit” – all to the benefit of southern ratepayers!

Economics: Here is how we calculated the estimated benefits:

Southlink is expected to cost “in the lower one digit billions”, so for ease of calculation we are assuming 4 billion Euros for this 4 Gigawatt link.

If you calculate 3 cents transmission costs, you need 133 billion kilowatt hours of power to payback the costs of the line.

The average full-load hours of wind are estimated to be 33%.

Here is the calculation of the payback time:

4 million kW per hour x 8760 hours/year x 0.33 full load hours x 0.03 cent/kWh cost advantage northern wind power = 350 million Euro cost advantage per year. (4 million kW=4 million kWh per hour)

In summary, the cost advantage of northern windpower through the 4,000 MW Southlink powerline is 350 million Euros per year / approx.. $ 0.5 billion.

4 billion Euro Investment Southlink : 350 million Euro cost advantage p.a. = 11 years payback time.

In summary, the payback period of the 4 bllion Euro Southlink powerline is 11 years.

After this payback time, Southlink produces an annual 350 million Euro / US$ 0.5 billion “zero emission profit“.

Southern ratepayers will smile.

Note: Each kWh wind power will offset conventional power with associated 0.5 kg (approx.. 1lb) CO2 savings.

Impact: Southlink 500 miles to link cheaper northern Wind power from Hamburg to Bavaria in the South

  1. http://suedlink.tennet.eu/fileadmin/tennet/Downloads/14_Broschuere_SuedLink_korr12.pdf

  2. http://www.wind-energie.de/sites/default/files/download/publication/kostensituation-der-windenergie-land-deutschland/20131112_kostensituation_windenergie_land.pdf


Latest update 2014
CO2 savings 6 million tons per year
Zero Emission Investment €4 billion once
Payback 11 years
Zero Emission Profit €350 million per year after payback
Potential 12 billion kWh for 4 million homes per year
Country Deutschland
Rating +++
Author Ingo Stuckmann
Start of story 2014
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