Imagine if someone stated that there was a company losing money and asked what could be done about it. Then someone else came up with an answer and said: “Oh, that is easy; all you have to do is reduce costs until the company makes a profit.” Then everyone applauds the wise answer, and nobody thinks to ask: “How do you reduce the costs?”
This illustration is so silly that nobody with an iota of intelligence would take such a ‘solution’ seriously. But, sadly, in engineering and technology, this type of thing happens all the time. There are so many individuals who come up with really foolish technology ‘solutions’. This attitude is extremely irresponsible. We technical guys become highly irritated by this, since it is us who have to fix up the mess afterwards.
The issue of renewable energy is fertile ground for such ‘solutions’ to be spread around.
Recently, someone in the technology department at professional services firm KPMG South Africa said: “Globally, we are witnessing the emergence of what is known as the Internet of Energy, powered by interconnectivity.”
Well, I can say: “No, we are not.” My reply to the statement by the KPMG fellow is that it is totally misleading and inaccurate. This is irresponsible pie in the sky.
Let us make something clear: the nuclear power in France works, the wind power in Germany does not. France also has the lowest electricity price in Europe, and Germany the highest.
I find it interesting that the fact that Germany has restarted the building of coal-fired power stations is totally suppressed by the media. In Germany, three new coal-fired plants are already up and running, with 20 more in the pipeline. Why does the media not tell us this? Why does the media not tell the public that Germany now produces more carbon dioxide than it did before its wind energy conversion.
Wind and solar energy is intermittent. Get it – intermittent! So, the Germans cannot get a reliable flow of electricity. What they have done is come up with the idea of a ‘smart grid’. It sounds grand and modern, but it is not. It is silly, expensive and unreliable. The argument is that wind is always blowing somewhere, so the idea is to have a huge computer- controlled switching system. As one wind farm stops producing, randomly, the ‘smart grid’ will switch another one into the area.
Bear in mind two important factors: Germany is smaller than the Karoo and is electrically connected to the entire pan-European grid as a backup. When Germany is in trouble, for example, it imports nuclear power from France.
Then the extreme greens climbed on the bandwagon. This is the rock-around-the-rainforest crowd. They want millions of households to have solar panels on their roofs, and they want small wind turbines all over the country, like weeds in the lawn. They postulate that you will not need any power stations at all because all these millions of little power sources will be interconnected through Internet switching and supply an Internet of Energy that is somehow kept stable by a smart grid switching system.
The KPMG fellow says we are about to witness the emergence of such an Internet of Energy. No, we are not. It does not work anywhere. The smart grid concept does not work anymore. Remember, Germany brings nuclear power in from France whenever it is in need, which is often.
There is no ‘improved operational efficacy’ in this fanciful dream. Nobody explains how you jack up your 12 V dc rooftop solar output to the thousands of volts of ac required to drive an electric locomotive.
The Internet of Energy is a desperate attempt to patch up a sinking ship in a rough sea. It is not a magical solution to the power needs of Africa. All African countries need real electricity. That means stable power stations that produce reliable electricity all the time.
Bear in mind that there is not a single town in the entire world that runs entirely on renewable energy. One has to wonder why.