Stunning Absurdity From Germany’s Energy Feed-In Act…Wind-Park Operators Earn Most When Turbines Are Idle!

Rudolf Kipp at the skeptical website Science Skeptical here writes about one of the incredible (but very real) absurdities of Germany’s “EEG” renewable energy feed-in act, which forces power companies to buy all green power that gets produced, whether needed or not, and even power that doesn’t get produced.
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When the wind turbine is idle…
By Rudolf Kipp
(Translated, edited by P Gosselin)

For some weeks now I have been observing from my window the operation of an Enercon 101 wind turbine. On many Sundays when there is a fair amount of wind its rotor remains idle. Next to it there are smaller 1 MW turbines which continue turning. At first I thought little of this. After all on Sundays not as much electricity gets consumed. Yet, this is true only in an indirect way. Electricity from the wind turbines are usually given the right of way into the power grid before fossil-fuel generated power. That means when the wind turbines are switched off because their power is not needed or the grid is not able to take it in, the wind-park operator gets compensated. Here the amount of compensation is not determined by the actual wind strength prevailing at the time the turbine is idle and the corresponding amount of energy that would have been generated, rather it is determined by the turbine’s rated capacity. According to the German feed-in law, an Enercon 101 turbine with a rated capacity of 3 MW must be compensated 90% should it be ordered to remain idle and not feed-in energy.

That means the turbine I saw standing idle 10 hours on a Sunday was compensated to the tune of 10hrs x 3MW/hr x 90% = 27,000 kWh. At 15 cents per kwh, the turbine operator is entitled to €4050.00…for nothing.

On the other hand if the very same turbine had been allowed to operate under the prevailing moderate wind conditions on that Sunday, thus putting out say 33% of its rated capacity, then it would have fed in 9900 kWh into the grid, meaning the turbine operator would have earned only €1485.00…for 9900 kwh of real electricity.

What a wonderful business you can make with the German feed-in act! Doing nothing gets rewarded to the max, bringing in multiple times more money than if you actually delivered something!

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Just for your information, the average output for a wind turbine in Germany is only about 20% of its rated capacity.

 

9 responses to “Stunning Absurdity From Germany’s Energy Feed-In Act…Wind-Park Operators Earn Most When Turbines Are Idle!”

  1. Ric Werme

    I don’t get it. It shouldn’t be to difficult for the grid operator to put in a box close to the turbines that is just a big resistive load. Then instead of paying for the idle turbine, they could demand its power, dump that in the load (they could boil water so you could monitor it), and pay for the actual power generated.

    At least that’s what a clever, bureaucracy hating Yankee would do. 🙂

  2. DirkH

    Great observation by Rudolf. I didn’t know this peculiarity of the German FIT regime. 17% capacity factor for on shore when operating, 90% when idle while the grid cannot absorb it. Genius. The warmists are the best fraudsters on Earth.

    1. DirkH

      Used to be 20% on average but dropped to 17% as more and more wind turbines get built in suboptimal settings; best spots already taken.

  3. John F. Hultquist

    Note the phrase “ordered to remain idle” in the text and disregard the capacity aspect.
    An investor takes the government at its word – we want green energy and will see that you get a proper return on your investment. So, an expensive 3MW turbine is built at great cost, including interest and foregone investment opportunities. Accountants, economists, and lawyers are employed to craft a document that guarantees the investors the return they desire for the use of their money. The government has accountants, economists, and lawyers that accept the terms wanted by the investors.
    Having “ordered” the turbine to remain idle, the investors still are entitled to the return on investment agreed to.
    If I had a major cash pile to invest I would look for advice from the accountants, economists, and lawyers that the company hired and not those that worked for the government.

  4. Stephen Richards

    I think this is the same regime in the UK. Here, in france, I’m not sure. It has been difficult to get any official info. I asked one of the wind companies but they wouldn’t confirm.

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  7. ClimatePete

    Yes you get some weird things happening. In some US states wind generators sometimes supply power at negative wholesale prices – they get a subsidy anyway, so they can go negative up to the value of the subsidy and still make money.

    The important thing is that when wind energy is available then it should always be used instead of gas or coal generation – because it uses no fuel.

    Wholesale pricing ought to depend on what happens most of the time, not what happens occasionally.

    If the power payment rules are really absurd – those responsible should change them. However it won’t be long before new wind farms gets no subsidy or preferential treatment at all as it is almost economic now with no subsidy.

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