German Black Forest Wind Turbines Yielded Only 11.8% Of Rated Capacity In 2014! … “Frightening Results”

The European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE) has a report here analyzing the 2014 wind energy output of the German state of Baden Wurttemberg (BW), home of the world famous Black Forest, which in turn is home to the cuckoo clock.

Well, it turns out that not only the clocks in BW have gone cuckoo, but so has its energy policy!

“Frightening” results

A few years ago the traditionally conservative South German state elected a green Prime Minister, who vowed to shut down the state’s nuclear power plants and to install wind energy in its place. BW is not exactly the best place for wind power. EIKE writes that the Gegenwind- Straubenhardt wind power protest group compared actual wind energy production to the expected figures. The results, EIKE writes, are “frightening”.

By the end of 2014 BW had 397 wind turbines with 678 MW of total installed rated capacity. The yield and result, EIKE writes:

All wind turbines in Baden Wurttemberg produced a total of 699,564 MWh of power. That corresponds to an annual mean wind power feed-in of 79.9 MW or 11.8% of the available annual mean of 676.9 MW.”

Only 11.8%!

The following chart shows the output of BW’s wind turbines for each month:

Figure 1: Wind power feed-in (red) and installed rated capacity (green) over the year 2014. Source: TransnetBW

Readers can see the multiple times wind power went almost completely AWOL, like early December, early August, or the end of March through the early part of April. Pathetic.

The breakdown of the operating hours of wind power output shows just how pathetic wind energy really is.

* 339.75 hours (= 14.2 days = 3.9%) saw zero wind (0 MW), no power was generated at all!

* 1403.50 hours (= 58.5 days = 16.0%) power output was under 7 MW (1% of rated capacity).

* 3614 hours (= 5 months = 41.3%) power output was under 5% of rated capacity

* 5308 hours (= 7.4 months = 60.6%) wind power was below 10% of rated capacity.

Here we see that conventional power plants always need to be on standby, and most of the time they have to be filling in for the often AWOL wind turbines.

The industrialization of Germany’s Black Forest region with ugly skyscraper-dimensioned wind turbines is a hell of a price to pay for so little in return.


20 responses to “German Black Forest Wind Turbines Yielded Only 11.820 Of Rated Capacity In 2014! … “Frightening Results””

  1. AndyG55

    Any idea how many of the Black Forest’s avian dwellers get chopped each year?

    They used to write songs about walking in the Black Forest.. now it would be a death-metal song !

  2. sod

    Average capacity factor inland in Germany is rather low ( 17.6%).

    Thre are several explanations for the even lower result found by the EIKE analysis but the most liekly one is, that they mighht be counting wind plants that don t exist(any longer) into nameplate capacity.

    Interesting study, with good data. Thanks for linking this!

  3. DirkH

    Note to little sod: Those spikes that you see in the chart are, well, not too useful for factory machinery … that is designed to be always on. Yes, you heard that right. We build factories that need a constant uninterrupted electric supply. Every time the power drops off – even if only for fractions of a second – you can basically throw away whatever is on the assembly line at that moment, clean up the mess of any left behinds, and start over. Which takes hours.

    Of course, all factories could simply install a backup power plant. So, double infrastructure, dead capital for most of the time, always to be maintained for the moments it’s needed… and double the raw materials usage, as a double infrastructure needs twice the metal, the concrete etc etc…

    And that’s GREEN?????

    1. Colin Megson

      Plonk 1000 tons of steel and concrete in pristine countryside, destroying ecosystems and wildlife, and all it can power is an industrial electric motor weighing under 2 tons.

      It’s an horrendous imbalance of resource use and any pseudo-environmentalist supporting this technology should be declared insane:

  4. Ric Werme

    Vermont’s capacity factors are less than the turbine builders estimated, but they’re better than 11.8% that’s got to be a financial disaster.

    Here’s a URL from Vermont, most of the information is from Vermont projects. They’re getting some 25%

    1. sod

      “Vermont’s capacity factors are less than the turbine builders estimated, but they’re better than 11.8% that’s got to be a financial disaster.”

      Capacity factor is absolutely not understood by people reading and commenting on this page.

      The number is completely useless, when not put into a context.

      Simple excmaple: plant A has a capacity factor of 1%, but is producing power at 2ct per kwh, while plant B has capacity factor 99% but costs 50ct per kwh.

      The values have to be put into contexct (how old are those turbines, where are they, what did they cost, how excpensive is electricity in that country at the time, when those turbines generate electricity.)

      1. Graeme No.3

        The cost of building the plants has to be paid for.

        And you got the costs the wrong way around. A coal plant running at 99% capacity is generating more power than wind turbines at 1% capacity. So the costs are divided among more units of output, hence each unit is cheaper.

        Germany has the highest percentage wind turbine capacity in Europe and the highest electricity prices.
        Denmark has the next highest percentage wind turbine capacity and the next highest electricity prices.
        South Australia has the highest percentage of wind turbine capacity and the highest electricity prices of the 4 SE interconnected States.
        How does that prove that wind power is cheap?

  5. John F. Hultquist

    Whenever I read of a massive outlay such as for a wind farm I wonder about the other uses that money could have gone towards. The defination of “opportunity cost” includes the notion of “next-best alternative.” My thought is that a wind farm is low on the list of alternatives, nowhere near 2nd place. Your list likely would differ from mine but where do you place wind?

    An opportunity cost is defined as the value of a forgone activity or alternative when another item or activity is chosen. Opportunity cost comes into play in any decision that involves a tradeoff between two or more options. It is expressed as the relative cost of one alternative in terms of the next-best alternative. Opportunity cost is an important economic concept that finds application in a wide range of business decisions.

  6. AndyG55

    You cannot make a wind turbine without using coal. !

    You cannot deliver and install a wind turbine without using tools and materials made using coal.

  7. handjive

    Wind turbines are made using energy from coal at about 4 cents per kWh and provide energy thought to cost of the order of 10 cents per kWh.

    In effect, they are machines for taking cheap, stable and reliable energy from coal and giving it back in the form of an intermittent and unpredictable dribble at more than twice the price.
    That is one thing.

    But what stops wind turbines from being renewable is that the making of wind turbines can’t be powered using energy from the wind turbines themselves.

    If power from wind turbines costing 10 cents per kWh was used to make more wind turbines, then the wind turbines so produced would make power at something like 25 cents per kWh.

    The cost would compound away and any society that attempted to run itself on wind energy would collapse.

    Wind energy as a component of a power system relies upon transfer of energy at its inception from another source. It is not renewable energy.

    It is no consolation that solar power from photovoltaic panels is much worse in this respect.

    1. sod

      “Wind turbines are made using energy from coal at about 4 cents per kWh and provide energy thought to cost of the order of 10 cents per kWh.”

      The prices of wind power are dropping. so in 2035, you can take cheap wind power for 50$ per MWh and build expensive coal plants for 110 $ per MWh with em (or 80$, when you ignore the carbon tax)
      (page 70)

      Stability of the grid is important, not stability of a single power source. Most countries today can easily have 20% wind without any real changes to their stability, solar might even improve grid stability by cutting of peak demand.

      1. Graeme No.3

        Actual outcomes may differ depending on a variety of factors, including product supply, demand and pricing; political stability; general economic conditions; legal and regulatory developments; availability of new technologies; natural disasters and adverse weather conditions (page 2)

        Just because it appears on the internet doesn’t mean it will happen.
        Just because you think it should happen doesn’t mean that it will happen.

        1. sod

          “Just because it appears on the internet doesn’t mean it will happen.”

          The BP report is possibly the most conservative source on this topic that you can find on the internet.

          Basically everybody else expects wind and solr prices to drop below gas SOONER.

          Apart from the community here, who knows things better than every expert on the planet.

  8. Colin Megson

    For all of 2014, the whole 37,000 MW nameplate capacity of all of Germany’s wind turbine fleet was just 15.85%

    Each 115m high monstrosity, weighing 100s of tons, could just about boil 80 x 3 kW electric kettles, weighing 80 kg.

    1. sod

      80 kettles (with 3kw, pretty extreme) running 24/7.

      This is a badly missleading comparison!

      1. DirkH

        You’re right. the wind power output would leave the kettles cold 80% of the time. During the remaining 20%, 400 kettles would be needed.

        1. AndyG55

          not only that, but odds are that they would get to ‘tepid” then the wind would stop blowing, and when the wind came back, you would eventually be able to start hoping to get a cup of tea.

          Here’s a challenge, sod,

          In the evening, leave your grandma’s basement and go outside every half hour, and if there is no wind, turn off your mains power switch.

          Only when there is sufficient wind outside, can you turn it back on.

          Hint, make sure you have used any frozen meats etc from your fridge before you do this.

  9. AndyG55
  10. Germany’s Rush to Wind Power Not Working Out Too Well | 357 Magnum

    […] Granted the data is from one German state, but this is the problem with a lot of wind installations. German Black Forest Wind Turbines Yielded Only 11.8% Of Rated Capacity In 2014! … “Frightening R…. […]

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