Germany has seriously overestimated how much its neighboring countries are able to help out in the event wind and solar energy fail to deliver, thus putting it’s power supply at risk.
One of Germany’s strategies for making its energy supply renewable is to rely on its neighbors to step up when green energies fail to deliver.
As the country adds more volatile wind and solar energy to the grid, Germany hopes that neighboring countries will cooperate in helping to stabilize the power grid in the event the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine — especially after the country shuts down its remaining nuclear power plants and starts to shut down old coal plants. Nuclear and coal power make up the lion’s share of Germany’s stable baseload power supply.
“A dangerous miscalculation”
However, it appears German officials have made a major miscalculation: citing a recent study, journalist Daniel Wetzel at Die Welt writes: “Europe cannot bail out the German power supply. This is so because “hardly a neighboring country has any remaining extra power plant capacity.” The Die Welt economics journalist then calls the German strategy “a dangerous miscalculation.”
In 2014 the German Ministry of Economics assumed the country could rely on 60 gigawatts of over-capacity in related adjacent markets in Europe, but it turns out that the figure was overstated by a factor of 3 to 4. Consequently on windless and sunless days, Germany could end up missing considerable amounts of power.
As a result, soon all over Europe power stations with ‘secured power’ that can produce independently of current wind and sun conditions will be missing.”
He also adds that as every European country strives to add more wind and solar capacity, more of their baseload capacity plants are being shut down as well, which only makes the situation increasingly worse when sun and wind do not show up. The point is rapidly coming where there will not be sufficient baseload capacity to keep the grid stable.
One solution, Wetzel suggests, would be to install gas-fired power generators so that they could be fired up in times of low wind and solar output: “However, new gas-fired plants are being built nowhere because refinancing under the conditions of the Energiewende appears as being too risky,” Wetzel reports.
In a nutshell, as Europe expands its wind and solar capacity, more baseload capacity will be needed. But instead of adding it, Europe is reducing it, and thus making the supply and grid stability worse.
As for Germany, it is increasingly dawning on politicians that designing energy infrastructure is best left technical and electrical engineering experts, and not to climate -catastrophe obsessed politicians and green activists who seem to think such complex systems can be built up ad hoc as you go.
The price of this slipshod politicized approach could wind up being very painful in the midterm future.