Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Non Nuclear Winter

I'm sure everyone has seen the news items about the severe cold wave that most of Europe is now experiencing. After an unusually warm and mild early winter, last week a Siberian cold front invaded and we are seeing a prolonged profound freeze which is the longest I have experienced here. Luckily, it hit before the fruit trees went into bud. I am sure I lost a lot of plants on my property. Now there is about 6 inches of snow on the ground, my rural road doesn't get plowed, but the farmer has to come down here on his tractor for the cows. 
I'm lucky, I have a few weeks of wood sawn and split and the fuel tank for the central heating was just filled. Being a sturdy Michigander, this feels kind of normal to me in a nostalgic way. 
view out of my window.
The high temp is -4C today!
Pretty cold and I'm waiting for the heating repair man to show up!
But the rest of the country is not prepared for this. No one knows how to drive in the snow. The schools will be out for a few days because there is no transportation and I don't think I will see mail delivery until Thursday.
Even more drastic, in the North and along the Atlantic Coast, the cities of Brittany are experiencing power outages. Why? Because Frances much touted nuclear energy system cannot meet the demand. The power frid infrastructure has not grown with the real consumption. A big issue brought up in the last few weeks is the outdated inadequate security of the plants, thanks to Greenpeace! The response of the energy industry here was to use the security upgrades as an excuse to jack power charges to the consumer.
It also focused the public on the real costs of government subsidized nuclear power here. So much is propaganda, smoke and Public Relation clouded mirrors.
This only highlights the dramatic decision of Germany to phase out their Nuclear Power plants last year after the Fukushima disaster.  I wrote about the far reaching and visionary German energy management system that has already been implemented back on November 11, 2011. Germany is now putting together a very forward energy grid management model that integrates all forms of energy production, solar, wind, fossil, water from commercial and private producers. Excess energy is stored, and systems are used to store that energy in the most efficient way, such as excess electrical power instead of being stored in short term batteries is sued to generate gas, which can be stock piled of r a long time. Then of course, it can be sold.
The doomsayers and corporate anti ecologists were all predicting massive energy shortages for Germany this winter. Instead, Germany is already in the position of being able to export electrical power into Frances aging grid. The German energy prices are well below Frances and coming down. Here is the real time report.
On Friday evening, spot market prices hit 15.1 Cent in France. In contrast, Germany’s price was at 11.1 Cent at the time. France is importing electricity right now, while Germany is exporting. One reason for that is that France uses much more electricity for heating than Germany. In the French Bretagne, citizens are asked to reduce their consumption.
On Friday there was high demand of 70 GW around noon in Germany and only about 2 GW of wind power available. There still was no problem whatsoever.
Yesterday and the day before solar contributed between 6 and 8 GW to the grid around noon. Grid stability is excellent, there are many power plants on standby which get no piece of the action. The grid management companies all say that solar contributes a lot to that stability, even in this season.
The future of energy management is going to become one of the major issues in the upcoming April/May French Presidential Election. For the Socialist Candidate, Francois Hollande, Frances Non Nuclear Winter could not have come at a better time to help him maintain his early lead in the polls. The Socialists have made a reform of Frances energy future a major platform issue.


dog gone said...

Hey - you're having the winter WE usually get here in MN.

It was so warm in January that we were referring to it as June-uary.

Stay warm, and good luck with the trees and plants. We're worried about trees having started to bud here as well.

microdot said...

Garrr...I cannot believe that I am waiting for the plumber, or someone like him....Our central heating went out this morning and I think it's a clogged fuel line. Tonight will be the coldest night yet.
We are lucky, the chauffagist just called back and is on his way...but I have 2 friends who are suffering from frozen water pipes...most construction here is not built with this kind of cold in mind. So, luckily, I have a surplus of foam pipe covers and a few rolls of insulation and just spent 2 hours at the neighbors with a blow torch thawing and insulating pipes! Here I have a big fire in the chimney, my wife is making a gateau au riz, which I adore and we have a mont d'or cheese which I will put in the oven with bread crumbs over it and that's dinner tonight with some air cured ham and boiled potatoes! I'm going to go out and play with the dog, who loves the cold.....

Engineer of Knowledge said...

Hello Microdot,
I saw the weather news and noted that your winter weather was pounding you hard. Living in the country myself as you know, I was hoping you were doing OK being on the remote edge of civilization.

I hope you still have electric so you could a least run an electric heater in the bedroom at night taking advantage of your wife’s, and dog’s shared body heat. :-)

On a side note I wanted to ask you to help me with a question. Is the correct phrase in French "je ne sais pas quoi" or is it reduced to just "je ne sais quoi."

microdot said...

well of course, correct formal french would always have the pas...but colloquial french often drops the pas....the difference is the english equivalent of the difference between the formal, I do not know what: je ne sais pas quoi, and the slang , whatever: je ne sais quoi.....It is very common, the way most people talk....
in french slang, how ever, you can really shorten things using pas....no good is pas bon.....It's not right becomes pas correct....you do not pronounce the s in the world pas unless in most cases the next word begins with an "s" sound. so pas bon is pah bon....
It's a crazy language, but then again so is english.

Engineer of Knowledge said...

Hello Microdot,
Thank you for the French lesson. I am going to copy and paste it to a word doc. so I can refer to this if need to at a later date. I was having this debate with an old school teacher of mine and I thought that I was correct in using the pas in my statement. You are my "Go To" guy when it comes to French..... it is a language I play with trying to learn on my own and expose to my youngest daughter because I think it is important.

microdot said...

Late yesterday afternoon, the chauffagist arrived...I'm always gratified to discover that when I call an expert it was for a problem I could never have figured out on my own...he had to replace a few seriously soiled valves and cleaned stuff....he seems to think the fuel being sold now is responsible for a rash of problems like this...
The heat came back on and we had our coldest night yet here...how cold? so cold that some of the oaks in the forest are making noises like guns going off in the night when the water in the layers of the wood freezes and expands!