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