German Renewable Energy Woes Mount: Costly Battle Against Blackouts …”More Expensive Than Ever Before”!

By now we have all learned that wind and solar energy are highly volatile sources, and thus massively strain the power grids they get fed into once a certain scale is reached. This is now especially the case in Germany, a country that has, in an uncontrolled manner, aggressively installed wind and solar energy over the past decade.

Little wonder the German government stepped in and recently scaled back the subsidies.

But the recent government action has come too late. Yesterday Germany’s flagship daily the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung here posted a DPA news release on the mounting woes of the German Energiewende (transition to renewable energies). It begins with:

In 2015 grid operators had to intervene in the power grid like never before in order to prevent the lights in Germany from going out. The bill will be picked up by the consumer.”

During windy days, wind turbines often produce too much energy, energy that no one needs, and grid operators such as Tennet in turn force wind parks to close down to keep the grid from melting down. However, the grid operators still have to pay these shut down wind farms for the power that would have been produced. As more wind power comes online, wind park operators are forced to shut down more and more often, but with pay. The result – more costs for the grid operator. These costs from payments for unproduced electricity of course get passed along to the consumers. The FAZ writes:

The power consumers are going to feel this development over the coming year, as feed-in tariffs for green energy now make up 20% of the electricity bill.

The result? Costs from feed-in tariffs are expected to rise another 6% or more this year alone, the FAZ writes.

The German flagship daily also writes of numerous grid bottlenecks and unstable conditions, and grid operators are frequently forced to intervene to prevent blackouts – often temporarily shutting down regular power plants in an attempt to relieve overloads – thus making them unprofitable.

As more and more wind and solar energy are added on without any notion of planning, Germany’s power grid is now in dire need of massive revamping. Huge power transmission lines need to be built across the country in order to balance out the huge regional power overloads cause by volatile wind and sun. Not only is this going to take time, but it is also going to cost many billions more, the FAZ reports.

 

36 responses to “German Renewable Energy Woes Mount: Costly Battle Against Blackouts …”More Expensive Than Ever Before”!”

  1. John F. Hultquist

    Somewhere near the beginning of the German Energiewende there is (my guess) a report or statement outlining all the problems mentioned in this report. Wikipedia claims this planning was underway prior to 1980 and that the plan was “… initially strongly opposed, …”
    That would have been 35 years, or so, ago. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung might have the resources to search for statements from that time frame from those opposed. Likely some of the folks from then are still alive. Such a person was likely marginalized for the past 35 years. I have a friend (math and computer type) that was working for a machine-tool company in the U.S. years ago and the industry went to Asia – for all the various reasons. He became a dentist but still is much interested in scientific issues.
    Surely there are similarily smart energy types from the 1980s that would enjoy being on the front page of a major newspaper saying “I told you so.”

    1. DirkH

      “Surely there are similarily smart energy types from the 1980s that would enjoy being on the front page of a major newspaper saying “I told you so.””

      German press is called Lügenpresse for a reason; they are communists to a man and will defend the renewables madness to their death; as it is their means to destroy an industrialized nation that they hate.

  2. sod

    Sorry, please read the comments to this disastrous article rippling through the german papers these days:

    http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/unternehmen/blackout-abwehr-kostete-2015-eine-milliarde-euro-a-1072438.html

    In short, this is garbage. There is zero control over the companies running the grids. Basically these are spinoffs of the big power companies and with their main business falling apart, they are trying to put out false numbers about the grid.

    It is their job to run a grid, that can handle business. They failed to keep the grid running. Now they are trying to get additional money from the state.

    Nothing to see here. Move on!

    1. DirkH

      “It is their job to run a grid, that can handle business. They failed to keep the grid running. Now they are trying to get additional money from the state. ”

      Ah, you’re applying leftist tactic number one: Blame someone else for a problem you and your fellow warmunists caused with your silly unreliable low-energy collection random generators, and forcing their output on a perfectly fine grid.

      Socialism goes from failure to bigger failure; in a ripple effect, by design: The goal is to destroy a functioning society – then blame it on the enemy and use it as an excuse to install a Gulag system. In the barracks, all will be better! Promise!

    2. yonason

      “It is their job to run a grid, that can handle business.” – sod the obtuse
      I.e., “I don’t care if it’s impossible, just do it!”

      “These severe output swings [due to solar power fluctuations] have reached the point where Germany’s grid cannot operate without importing power from neighboring countries to soak up the variability. This is because THE RAMP-DOWN OF SOLAR OUTPUT IN THE EVENING HAPPENS FASTER THAN THE REST OF GERMANY’S GENERATION CAPACITY CAN RAMP-UP. What happens if the rest of Europe follow Germany’s lead and go solar? Where will the makeup power come from? Perhaps Putin’s Russia.” [my emphasis]
      http://theresilientearth.com/?q=content/germanys-solar-failure

      1. sod

        “THE RAMP-DOWN OF SOLAR OUTPUT IN THE EVENING HAPPENS FASTER THAN THE REST OF GERMANY’S GENERATION CAPACITY CAN RAMP-UP. ”

        sorry, but this false claim was made 2014 and the grid is still running.

        Storage (power wall) will soon remove the “duck shape” of a high PV grid. The daily data with a little storage will look pretty flat.

        In short, solar PV is actually taking stress out of the grid, as it is in good agreement with peak power demand (in most parts of the world).

        1. yonason

          Yep, the grid is rock-solid, riiiiiiight.

          “In order to keep the power system stable, twenty power companies operating in Germany get paid for pledging to add or cut electricity within seconds, according to data from the nation’s four grid operators. The utility companies have gotten paid as much as 400 times the wholesale electricity price by participating in the balancing market.”

          And it isn’t just Germany’s grid that’s at risk, but her many neighbors which have to take up the excess when it’s available, and for which they are ill equipped. Maybe they can fix the problem, but it will be a major effort and expense for all involved.
          http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-07/german-green-power-forces-neighbors-to-bolster-blackout-d

          ASIDE – in winter months solar power is at best about 10% of rated capacity. That’s like buying one of these and only driving it during the day in rush-hour city traffic.

        2. DirkH

          “Storage (power wall) will soon remove the “duck shape” of a high PV grid. The daily data with a little storage will look pretty flat.”

          You can’t be a green, as you promote building multiple redundant infrastructures, which is wasting resources. So, warmunists are obviously not interested in efficiency or avoiding resource wastage. “A little storage” == about a billion kWh? Do you have any idea of the price of Lithium and its availability. Obviously not. You are devoid of ANY technical knowledge yet you keep talking about technology. A willfull ignorance often found in Leftists.

          “In short, solar PV is actually taking stress out of the grid, as it is in good agreement with peak power demand (in most parts of the world).”

          Yes, for instance in Arizona. In Germany, with 800 sun-hours a year? Ridiculous notion.

        3. Moose

          Powerwall you say. 10 kWh for 3500 USD. Any idea how many you would need to cater for lets say 50% of the energy use of a household in a year?
          No? You will need 175 powerwalls at a total cost of 612500 USD per household.
          Yeah, lets do that.

    3. Walter H. Schneider

      Poor sod, please be so good and explain why “this is garbage.” Explain also what “this” is.

      Not that I have anything in particular against you, but you do need to follow certain rules if you wish to gain credibility. If there is one thing that is worse than unsubstantiated assertions, it is when the unsubstantiated assertions relate to unspecified subjects.

      “This”, without any other characteristics or circumscriptions, is quite simply too imprecise a designation. FAIL!

      1. sod

        “Poor sod, please be so good and explain why “this is garbage.” Explain also what “this” is. ”

        This report, the basis of this blog post.

        I read it before it showed up here and i was actually just waiting for a post about it.

        In short, the guys running the grid are not independent actors, who are giving a neutral assessment of the situation. Instead they have an interest in several points:

        1. getting additional money

        2. protecting their “parent” company, while all of those are in deep trouble because they missed the “energiewende”

        3. putting the blame for problems on other companies and business ideas.

        Somehow i must have missed the reports about accumulated monetary damage caused by failing fossile and nuclear plants. They cause much bigger spikes than solar does.

        Where is the calculation of the cost of Belgiums failing nuclear power plants?

        Where is the deeper look, which would also add up BENEFITS of solar PV to the grid (removing the peak) and where is a calculation that is adding the value of new grid structures?
        (we constantly get told about the costs. If you buy a new car, you must not only look at the cost, but also at the value of the new car!)

        1. Wijnand

          Escuse me for butting in, but “protecting their parent company”?
          Who are you talking about? Who are these “parent companies”? Are you suggesting that for instance Tennet is owned by or under influence of, say, E.ON? (Who by the way is raking in the dough with their wind farms and just sold all their non-renewables?)
          Please explain and please provide evidence for this statement. Thanks.

          1. sod

            “Please explain and please provide evidence for this statement. Thanks.”

            Transnet BW is a 100% daughter of EnBW:

            https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/TransnetBW

            RWE is still holding a part of Amprion.

            https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amprion

            But the connections are much more complex. There are many personal relationships (the grids were a part of the local power company before, the people often still are the same) and an interdependency (the grid relies on the big companies for stabilisation).

        2. DirkH

          sod 19. January 2016 at 10:31 AM | Permalink | Reply
          “2. protecting their “parent” company, while all of those are in deep trouble because they missed the “energiewende””

          The typical tactic of Leftists / Totalitarian statists: Blaming companies for the problems caused by idiotic totalitarian rulings of their beloved Total State.

          I don’t care whether you are an Internationalsocialist or a Nationalsocialist; your central planning cannot work in either case as demonstrated by von Mises in 1920.

          But again – you won’t know that, as you are a willfully ignorant Totalitarian.

    4. Analitik

      Yeah, right. The grid operators have suddenly decided to make work for themselves, forget about maintaining grid stability and let the cost spiral out of control because all this is in their interest. When one of the German grids (north or south) collapses, I’m sure you’ll blame the grid operators too.

      sod, learn something about economics, business, mathematics, maths and physics before slander companies that are doing their best to provide an essential service while being able to pay their workers and provide a decent return for investors.

    5. K. van der Pool

      Hi Sod,

      Moving on? Why? It’s just getting interesting:

      The grid seems to be working fine. The North-South connection is just to bring one lignite plant’s worth of gigawatt-hours from way up in the North Sea to way south in Bavaria:

      http://www.klimaretter.info/energie/hintergrund/20481-offshore-die-angst-vor-der-delle

      Moreover, all these gigawatts, much needed in 2022 for all sorts of worthwhile and profitable activities in Bavaria, go to zero at times, like today:

      http://www.netztransparenz.de/de/Online_Hochrechnung_Wind_Offshore.htm

      What to do in the meantime?
      Batteries, no doubt! Compressed air, surely! Pumped hydro, maybe? Virtual Power Grids to the rescue? I’m pretty sure you have a solution. Maybe a few more corncobs into the biogas vessel?

      Question: what happened to the vaunted ‘decentralized power generation’ of the Energiewende? Bringing power from A to B, 1800 km, does not seem terribly decentralized.

      Best,
      KvdP

    6. Analitik
    7. Analitik

      And look how the renewables are making it profitable for the coal industry because of all the exported power that they are now generating as excess. If renewables are helping them to make money, why are the their main businesses falling apart?
      They must really be a bunch of dumpkopfs running those big power companies..

      http://www.faz.net/aktuell/wirtschaft/fruehaufsteher/erneuerbare-decken-ein-drittel-des-stromverbrauchs-14001460.html

  3. yonason

    You don’t have enough electricity to power your home? Well, don’t let that little detail stop you from purchasing an electric car you can’t afford, and won’t be able to keep charged enough to go anywhere.

    That, and more insanity, foisted on you by the idea people of the UN and their surrogates infesting the EU.

  4. edmh

    If further evidence were needed, for the numbers for the major European Renewable Energy adherents using values quoted by Renewable Energy industry sources across Europe see:

    https://edmhdotme.wordpress.com/european-renewable-energy-costs-and-performance-2014/

    These capital and running cost comparisons shown there strip out all the positive profitability effects of government regulation and subsidies that are being applied to Renewable Energy, those being the only things that still make Renewables a viable business proposition.

    Accounting for the capacity factors as they are reported by the Renewable Industry, (the actual electrical output generated as compared to the Nameplate capacity of European Renewable installations is about 18% overall). These when combined with comparative costings from the US government Energy Information Administration, the overall capital cost of all European Renewable Energy installations (Solar and Wind Power) averages out at about €29billion / Gigawatt.
    That overall capital value accounting for the capacity factor applicable to Renewables in each European country is €29billion / Gigawatt. It is derived from the combination of:
    Onshore Windpower ~€14.2 billion/GW
    Offshore Windpower ~€41.4 billion/GW
    On Grid Solar Power ~€48.5 billion/GW

    Overall running costs can be compared with Gas Fired generation, including the costs of fuel, which are continuing to diminish, and on Grid Solar Power across Europe is about 14 times.

    Germany of course is the country in Europe most advanced Renewable commitment.
    In 2014 in total Germany had installed about 79GW of Renewables, which amounted to 31% of European Wind Power and about 44 % of European Solar Power. However as Germany is a cloudy, Northern country it has the worst overall Renewable capacity factor in Europe at 13.2%. At 10.4% Germany has a slightly better Solar performance than the UK at 8.6%, whereas the European average is up to 12.1%. Germany’s wind power performance is the lowest in Europe at 15.8% and compares poorly with the UK at almost twice that capacity figure of 31.3%. This is accounted for by the more performant commitment in the UK to offshore Wind installations.

    It can be estimated that the capital cost of these German installations approaches €0.42 trillion, giving the highest capital expenditure / head in Europe of €5,143 as compared with France at €1,099 and the UK at €1,630

    According to Renewable Energy supporting sources by 2014 European Union countries had invested approximately €1 trillion, €1,100,000,000,000, in large scale Renewable Energy installations. This expenditure has provided a nameplate electrical generating capacity of about 216 Gigawatts , nominally about ~22% of the total European generation needs of some 1000 Gigawatts. But the actual measured output by 2014 reported by the Renewable Energy Industry sources has been equivalent to 38 Gigawatts or more like ~3.8% of Europe’s electricity requirement.
    Accordingly the whole approximately 1000 Gigawatt fleet of European electricity generation installations could have been replaced with dispatchable, lower capital cost Gas-fired installations for the €1trillion of capital costs already expended on Renewable Energy in Europe.

    The Renewable Energy contribution to the electricity supply grid is inevitably erratic, intermittent and non-dispatchable, (not necessarily available when needed).
    So that 3.8% Renewable Energy contribution to the grid is often not available when needed. Obversely as its use is mandatory and generators have feed-in obligations to take Renewable Energy whenever available this can cause major grid disruption if the Renewable Energy contribution is suddenly over abundant.

    The Renewable Energy industry could not exist without the Government mandated subsidies and preferential tariffs on which it depends. Therefore it never be a truly viable business proposition
    Viewed from the points of view of the engineering viability, capital and running costs of a Nation’s electricity supply grid, Renewable Energy would never be part of the generating mix without its Government mandate and without Government market interference.

    references:

    EurObservER-Wind-Energy-Barometer-2015-EN-2.pdf
    http://www.eurobserv-er.org/wind-energy-barometer-2015/

    EurObservER-Photovoltaic-Barometer-2015-EN.pdf
    http://www.eurobserv-er.org/photovoltaic-barometer-2015/

    Cost comparisons are have been clearly made by the US EIA

    US EIA electricity_generation.pdf 2015 Table 1
    http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm

  5. sod

    If you want to understand how the grid works (and you speak German), watch this video “How to cause a blackout and how to protect the grid from a blackout”:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaCiVvBD-xc

    1. sod

      Note especially minute 34 (and 35) of the video: Trading electricity is causing grid disruptions on the scale of the sudden loss of 3 nuclear power reactors. This happens periodically every full hour.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaCiVvBD-xc

      1. K. van der Pool

        To me, this seems like a testimony to the stability of the grid. Whats your point?

        1. sod

          “To me, this seems like a testimony to the stability of the grid. Whats your point?”

          My point is that nobody is asking what costs are caused by grid disruptions caused by trading contracts always ending on the full hour (or at least the risks caused by them).

          I also have not heard a huge discussion of the costs caused by the cascading blackout that was caused by an error during the ship transport discussed in the video.

          Those running the grids have an interest in focusing the talk on grid problems caused by renewables and on giving a value to that problems. They simply do not do the same, if their own false decisions or problematic power plants cause problems.

          1. K. van der Pool

            Sod, you are dishonest.

            In the video, Mathias Dalheimer explained very carefully that the trading disruptions are a normal ‘Handelsartifakt’ even when the equivalent of three nuclear plants (!) are switched in and out of the net, e.g. for transmission from nuclear France to Austria. Totally routine, no costs or risks involved. As you said, it happens every hour on the hour.

            I suggest you pay attention to the rest of the presentation: the rotating mass of FF driven generators, and therefore instantaneous stability, is switched out of the system when there is a large windmill component present. Now there is less rotating mass available and the system is far more vulnerable.

            A question: what has the ten year old ‘Norwegian Pearl’ screw-up to do with wind energy and why would we discuss this? Mathias brought it up only to illustrate that
            1) grids have tendency to progressively fail (‘ausfallkaskaden’) and
            2) the behavior of the net is counter intuitive.

            Demagoguery much, Sod?

      2. Walter H. Schneider

        Right, poor sod, you are arguing that creating grid instability is a desirable outcome of bringing unreliable renewable energy sources on-line.

        You’ve got a serious problem.

  6. Steve C

    Another factor, of course, is the one mentioned on WUWT today: “Bankers Reaping the Rewards of German Green Energy Instability”
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/01/19/bankers-reaping-the-rewards-of-german-green-energy-instability/
    All those “Rewards” have to come from somewhere, and German electricity consumers are that “somewhere”.

  7. John F. Hultquist

    Where I live, we have snow.
    Haven’t seen ol’Man Sun it 2 weeks.
    Snow is hanging on the Pines – I think there is green under there.
    Snow in trees == no wind.
    Got the wood stove fired up and the catalytic combustor is hot.
    Fans helping to keep the whole house cozy.
    We are connected to a reliable grid.
    Well, except for shoveling that global warming white stuff that keeps falling.
    I got the memo — it is not supposed to be there — it did not get the memo.

  8. David Appell

    Denmark: 42% of its power generated from wind in 2015.

    1. DirkH

      David Appell 20. January 2016 at 4:28 AM | Permalink | Reply
      “Denmark: 42% of its power generated from wind in 2015.”

      He also does not know that in European countries, ONE SEVENTH of primary energy consumption is electricity. So – Denmark has produced 6% of its energy needs with wind turbines, if David’s number is correct.

      David surely has NO IDEA about the enormous amounts of calories constantly transported across European borders by…

      …Natgas pipelines.

      But as he used to be a part-time science journalist, he might even be able to find out using a search engine.

      1. sod

        “He also does not know that in European countries, ONE SEVENTH of primary energy consumption is electricity. So – Denmark has produced 6% of its energy needs with wind turbines, if David’s number is correct.”

        This is a plain out stupid view of things.

        Wind of course will only effect electricity at first. Adding energy consumptions that wind will never replace (for example heat, will mostly come from better insulation) is just a direct attempt to mislead people.

        At the same time, you totally forget that the factor 7 will change, if we use electricity to replace other energy uses (for example an electric car will be more efficient).

        Look, i started to eat more healthy. by replacing 20% of my food. That is utterly useless in your view of things, as food is only a tiny percentage of health (sports, sleep, stress, medical checkups, …).

  9. German Renewable Energy Woes Mount: Costly Battle Against Blackouts …”More Expensive Than Ever Before”! – sentinelblog

    […] No Tricks Zone, by P […]

  10. dennisambler

    This Eon Netz report has been around for years and re-posted many times on many sites, yet it told in advance what would happen with the ever increasing imposition of wind energy.

    http://docs.wind-watch.org/eonwindreport2005.pdf

    “Wind energy is only able to replace traditional power stations to a limited extent. Their dependence on the prevailing wind conditions means that wind power has a limited load factor even when technically available. It is not possible to guarantee its use for the continual cover of electricity consumption. Consequently, traditional power stations with capacities equal to 90% of the installed wind power capacity must be permanently online in order to guarantee power supply at all times.”

    “In total, the wind farms in the E.ON control area fed around 11.3 billion kWh into the grid, (2004). The wind farm operators in the E.ON control area
    received feed-in remunerations totalling around € 1 billion.”

    In 2004 two major German studies investigated the size of contribution that wind farms make towards guaranteed capacity. Both studies separately came to virtually identical conclusions, that wind energy currently contributes to the
    secure production capacity of the system, by providing 8% of its installed capacity.

    As wind power capacity rises, the lower availability of the wind farms determines the reliability of the system as a whole to an ever increasing
    extent. Consequently the greater reliability of traditional power stations becomes increasingly eclipsed.

    As a result, the relative contribution of windpower to the guaranteed capacity of our supply system up to the year 2020 will fall continuously to around 4%.

    In concrete terms, this means that in 2020, with a forecast wind power capacity of over 48,000MW (Source: dena grid study), 2,000MW of traditional power production can be replaced by these wind farms.”

  11. David

    The energy transition may take this form: a green facade, windmills and solar panels, and hidden in the background a huge diesel generator backup capacity.

  12. Mervyn

    In 2015 grid operators had to intervene in the power grid like never before in order to prevent the lights in Germany from going out. The bill will be picked up by the consumer.

    “The bill will be picked up by the consumer.” That is precisely what is wrong with today’s weak western leaders including Angela Merkel. They implement very badly thought out policies knowing that when it becomes blatantly obvious they are very bad policies, hey … the bill will be picked up by the consumer!!!!!

    That is criminal negligence on the part of the bad policy makers.