“Alarming Results” From Fraunhofer Institute Study On Grid Overloading From Wind, Solar Power…Crippled Cities

As Germany piles on more sporadic energy from wind and solar into its power grid, stability concerns are growing.

Increasingly volatile energies like wind and sun are turning out to be more of an expensive nuisance rather than a benefit.

Researchers at the Germany-based Fraunhofer-Instituts für Optronik, Systemtechnik und Bildauswertung, Institutsteil Angewandte Systemtechnik (IOSB-AST) have studied the risk of grid overloads caused by renewable energies at the community level, the online Ostthüringer Zeitung (OTZ) writes here.

The result, reports the OTZ:

Already in just a few years power will have to be stored locally as well. […] And the answers in their study are, depending on the perspective, thoroughly alarming or spurring for policymaking and economy.”

According to the OTZ, a team of researchers led by Peter Bretschneider at the Fraunhofer’s IOSB-AST conducted a 3-year study, where they literally built a statistical mock-up city of 30,000 that included a downtown, residential areas, commercial district, solar installations and wind parks. “A total of 1847 residential and business buildings that included everything from grandma’s little house to office complex for public officials.”

And so that the mock-up city simulates what is typical today in Germany, it also had everything a town would expect to have with the current German feed-in act:

4456 ‘grid elements’, i.e. power lines, transformers, large points of consumption and feed-in systems, foremost photovoltaics on the roofs.”

Even the homes were provided with the thermal insulation that they are expected to have later on.

The OTZ continues:

Next the Fraunhofer scientists electrified their simulated city. Then using meteorological data they allowed the sun to rise and set, the wind to blow, the temperatures to change – just like in real life.”

Next they extrapolated outwards to the expected conditions of the year 2018 and 2023, leaving the local power grid unchanged and allowing more wind and solar energy to come online as expected from the provisions of the feed-in act. How did the city’s power grid fare? The OTZ tells us the shocking results, and they aren’t pretty:

Already today in the simulated city one of the 14 network nodes gets sporadically overloaded. In 2018 the impacted transformer comes under serious stress 22 days a year, and so does another transformer. Five years later three nodes are impacted by long-term frequent back-feeding of surplus solar energy in the medium-voltage grid. At least one cable in the area exceeds ‘the limits of thermal loading’. […]  ‘Yes, a transformer would be glowing – and the cable would go up in smoke,’ system engineer Sebastian Flemming explains the results in layman’s terms.”

The OTZ asks what this all means for the citizens? Flemming responds: “Blackout, for the entire city.”

In the wintertime this would be most inconvenient, and for some possibly even fatal.

Flemming adds that even if a blackout were averted, the wild frequency fluctuations in the grid would have “grave consequences” for many electrical appliances and systems. The OTZ writes:

None of today’s productions systems in the economy could function under such fluctuations, especially everything that is computer-controlled.”

In other words, it would not even take a blackout to cripple a city.

The OTZ then asks what can be done with the surplus electrical energy that will surely result from the wind and sun. Here once again the financially and technically unfeasible storage systems get brought up. Another solution mentioned is the conversion of the electricity into heat for supplying warmth to homes.

But the online OTZ daily writes that solutions appear to be a ways off, and so it warns:

Time is running out: According to the study, beginning in 2018, the first transformers are threatened with prolonged overloading.”

Do these findings of the Fraunhofer Institute surprise us? Not at all. It’s been known for a long time that the feed-in of solar and wind power leads to crazy, uncontrolled power surges in the grid. Supply stability remains the glaring problem that too many among us continue to deny.

Prepare for blackouts!

23 responses to ““Alarming Results” From Fraunhofer Institute Study On Grid Overloading From Wind, Solar Power…Crippled Cities”

  1. sod

    “Bliebe das typische Ortsnetz so, wie es heute aufgebaut ist, bekäme es mit der Zunahme örtlich erzeugter erneuerbarer Energie schon bald Probleme. Bereits jetzt würde in der simulierten Stadt einer der 14 Netzknoten sporadisch überlastet, 2018 später würde der betreffende Trafo schon an 22 Tagen im Jahr gravierend leiden und ein zweiter ebenfalls. Fünf Jahre später wären drei Knoten durch häufige Rückspeisung überflüssigen Sonnenstroms ins Mittelspannungsnetz von dauerhafter Überlastung bis zur „Betriebsmittelaufgabe“ betroffen, mindestens ein Kabel im Ort würde die „Grenzen der thermischen Belastung“ überschreiten, wie es die Forscher im sachlichen Wissenschaftler-Deutsch formulieren.”

    The long quote in the original statement above has an important sentence at the beginning of the paragraph:

    “IF the typical local grid would stay as it is today, it WOULD get difficulties with more local alternative power production”.

    http://www.otz.de/web/zgt/suche/detail/-/specific/Auch-in-Thueringen-Blackout-Gefahr-durch-Sonnenstrom-407636755

    So this boils down to: IF we do not do anything, one cable will start to smoke in 2023.

    The article also talks about solutions: The worst solution, according to the article would be 700 container sized batteries (that is actually not that much in a town of 30000!)

    It is also talking about alternatives (storage as hot water) which would not change the city at all.

    Please read the full article, if you can read german or use a translation tool..

    1. DirkH

      ” The worst solution, according to the article would be 700 container sized batteries (that is actually not that much in a town of 30000!)”

      Again, the renewables fanatics demand everybody else pay for more infrastructure that we never needed before all our bloc parties decided to out-green each other. And again, they demand we waste more resources – in this case, for 1.8 million container-sized batteries to be placed across Germany. (and, they say, hey, 1.8 million containers full of battery is actually not that much! Let’s say each one lasts 5 years, so we only need to buy 370.000 a year or about 1000 a day! Hey it’s not that much! It could be worse!)

      1. DirkH

        I can’t quite get over the ludicrousness of it all. The mass of batteries required would be TWICE that of all cars in Germany combined, assuming 1 ton per car, 40 mill cars, and 40 tons per “battery container”.

        A new industrial revolution! All for fixing one immediate short term problem of the Energiewende! This gives an entirely new meaning to the word WASTE.

  2. John F. Hultquist

    I have several clocks and other gadgets that reset (the clocks to 12:00) when the power nods off and then comes back. I have 2 battery clocks that link with a satellite to maintain a correct time. Extended power failures are rare – someone hits a pole with an auto or a tree falls over the lines – and results in outings lasting 3 to 4 hours. Either situation requires a visit to each gadget that reacts to the power glitch. Say each takes a minute to fix and you have 6 of them. So, 6 minutes, or 10% of an hour. One could go on with this, make a few assumptions, and calculated the money cost of each power glitch – by family, city, country.
    Repeatedly having this going on will add stress to each person having to deal with it. Stress is harmful to health. So the costs are not going to be only monetary.

  3. KTWO

    No such study, model, or simulation will change many minds unless a disaster happens.

    The contest is not about pursuing a sane energy policy, it is a struggle about how man is to be ruled.

    I personally believe batteries will improve enough to make storage practical and affordable at homes, ala the Musk scheme. But that is opinion and not fact.

    And IMO the facts mean little or nothing in choosing alternative energy policy. It is all about who rules.

    1. DirkH

      “ala the Musk scheme.”

      I helped develop such a battery gizmo in 2009 and 2010. Same technology, Li Ion plus inverters, Musk is offering nothing new, as back then, so now, these boxes are simple state of the art tech, but uneconomic except in certain island settings, and must be subsidized into existence.

      I don’t know how Musk always gets the subsidies he needs, for his cars, for his rockets, for his battery boxes (it’s ALL boring state of the art technology – and none of it produced in a newer, more cost effective way!) – maybe he provides the political caste with drugs, who knows.

      1. KTWO

        I used Musk Scheme only because I knew readers would instantly know what I meant. “Musk Scheme” was the first term that came into my lazy mind.

        You are quite right, competitors offer equal or better product already. Musk so far seems to offer no advances with his battery packs.

      2. sod

        “it’s ALL boring state of the art technology – and none of it produced in a newer, more cost effective way!”

        I disagree a little. The economic success is contradicting your position (which actually is not that far from mine).

        There obviously is something special about the tesla car and talking about the home battery, i see two things:

        1. the rumoured price before the reveal was at least twice the final price. This should have sparked outrage, if the final version is a “normal” price (or even worse than competitors.

        2. the battery allows full daily cycling and comes with a 10 years warranty. In discussions on this blog, i constantly get told that neither of these things is possible. So either he is a serious fraud, or we have a little bit of special thing.

        On a final point, i would also not underrate plug and play capability (yes, a tech nerd could get a cheaper system from old car batteries, but few people could build or even just use that!) and safety and coolness factors (marketing has some effects).

        1. henkie

          Dear Sod,
          if you take the effort and have a look at the technical specs of the pan sonic 18 650 a, then you will see the degradation curve due to charge/discharge cycles. And yes, probably Musk has better batteries by now, but the problem still exists with all Li-ion batteries. A warranty should include the minimal capacity. (I don’t know the details). But even so, do some calculation and you will find, that if you take into account the depreciation due to capacity loss, you end up with a kWh price that is a multifold of the current grid price. Even when you use the low/high rate scheme that seems to be profitable in the USA. Only in situations where there is no grid it could be useful to have a battery backup for a PV. But a dieselgenerator is much cheaper and as reliable.

          1. sod

            “But even so, do some calculation and you will find, that if you take into account the depreciation due to capacity loss, you end up with a kWh price that is a multifold of the current grid price. ”

            somebody with a critical view at the battery has done some calculations here:

            http://rameznaam.com/2015/04/30/tesla-powerwall-battery-economics-almost-there/

            May be the battery is also better than you think it is?

      3. henkie

        Musk is not even including the inverters, they have to be purchased and installed separately. And as far as I know, each PV system in Germany has to be equipped with a remote controlled off-switch, to be able to prevent grid overload by the grid operator? What about battery powered inverters? Do you know this, DirkH?

  4. David Appell

    Isn’t it interesting that some people happily accept model results when they give results they like, and don’t when they don’t?

    1. henkie

      Dear David Appell,
      there is a big difference between engineering modelling and scientific fiction modelling. The first works, gives confirmation, saves money and is indispensible, the second does not work yet, costs only money without any benefit and can be missed since it only adds confusion. The chip inside the device (with millions of transistors) that you used to post this useless comment has been successfully modelled. As to the complexity of those models.

  5. JJM Gommers

    The frequency of local power outages has risen dramatically in my country The Netherlands, each time there is a problem with the transformers. But the above article explains why.!
    I start to have doubts what they are doing, anyway costs of the electricity bill will go up.

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