Craig Morris writes about recent comments from Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser.
Morris takes issue with a comment about Alaska pineapples. According to Kaeser, it makes as much sense to have solar in Germany as to grow pineapples in Alaska. That comment has more punch in the original German version (Ananas in Alaska) because of the alliteration that gets lost in translation.
Morris doesn’t agree with that. And he discusses some problems Siemens had with their unfortunate timing.
I think Morris is right to point some criticism at Siemens.
I recall that the Siemens losers were the first to jump ship at Desertec because they were unable to afford the membership fees.
I also recall that they were the world’s leading solar manufacturer 15 years ago, in 2000, and left that business just before solar took off to its exponential explosive growth. Unfortunate timing, that one.
On the other hand, I kind of like the “Alaska Pineapple” comment (though I hate pineapples in real life, one of the very few things I completely refuse to eat).
That’s because this anti-solar talking point fires back quite neatly. If Germany, with the solar resources of Alaska, can get to one third of noon peak demand from solar alone, what can all those other countries with much better solar resources do? And if Germany could do it while solar was much more expensive, again, what can China do now that prices are down (and will never get up again)?
There is another point. It doesn’t make much sense to produce pineapples in Alaska if they can be produced cheaper elsewhere, because you can easily transport pineapples from one country to the other. That’s not true for electricity. As long as we don’t have the large scale power lines connecting the Sahara to Germany that the Desertec project wants to build, you need to produce electricity where it is consumed. It doesn’t matter that you can get three times more solar for the same price in Africa if you can’t export that to Germany.