Fred F. Mueller at the European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE) here writes about how the storm that swept across Europe in late March exposed the lies of the German Energiewende (transition to renewable energies).
With the current rate of growth in renewable energy installations, Mueller writes that it’s just a question of time before the grid gets overloaded just by the renewable energies under certain weather conditions and that it will no longer be possible to dump the surplus uncontrollably fed in power into neighboring power markets.
Mueller writes how at the end of March Germany saw a combination of high winds and lots of sunshine. During the recent storm there was lots of wind energy production accompanied by lots of solar power production due to large gaps in cloud cover.
According to German flagship national daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) the surplus energy led to massive costs to power consumers and double digit million costs for the power grid operators, who naturally will simply pass these costs along to the consumers. The situation in late March was so precarious that hundreds of wind turbines were ordered switched off.
The FAZ reports that a record amount of power was fed into the grid due to the strong winds and abundant sunshine: At 2:15 pm a total of 44 gigawatts of sun and wind energy were fed in, which equals the power output of 31 nuclear power plants.
EIKE author Rolf Schuster has compiled the data on installed solar/wind capacity in Germany as of the end of February 2015: a total of 78 gigawatts of capacity that comprises 40 gigawatts of wind and 38 gigwatts of solar. Had the storm hit later in the spring, the situation would have been even worse because more solar power would have been produced, probably another 10 gigawatts.
Rolf Schuster compiled the results of the storm in Table 1: Datum = date; Stunde = hour; Preis = exchange price; Menge = amount; Summe1 = sum 1; Summe2 = sum 2.
Table 1: The nominal exchange losses stemming from the negative prices on 29 – 30 March. Note: Every figure under 50 €/ MWh in reality means that most conventional power plants had to incur losses (Figures from EEX: Table Rolf Schuster)
According to the data in the hours leading up to the storm, power with a market value of almost 3 million euros had to be “given away for free” to foreign markets at negative prices. However, Mueller writes, that was only a small part of the costs. Grid operators wound up losing anywhere from 10 million to 60 million euros during a three day period. According to the FAZ, a total of 20.3 gigawatts of reserve capacity had to be used in order to stabilize the power supply in south Germany. Moreover hundreds of wind turbines had to be taken offline. Yet the affected windpark operators still got paid for the power they did not produce – as is required by Germany’s renewable energy feed-in act. These costs eventually get paid by the consumer.
This time the power grid withstood the overloading from the storm. But Mueller writes that whoever believes the worse is now behind and we all can sit back and relax with the knowledge the power grid can withstand anything, they are being terribly naïve. In Germany within the scope of the Energiewende, it is planned to install approximately 330 gigawatts of wind capacity and possibly 100 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2050.
The result, Mueller writes, is that already on moderately windy and sunny days the grids will become overloaded with “green power” because there is still no storage technology available. The physics is clear: this will inevitably lead to a “collapse in the power supply”. Here so-called “power autobahns” (major cross-country transmission lines), which certain profiteers of the Energiewende are trying to sell us as the wonder cure against the consequences of their own politics, aren’t going to help.