Last week a couple of North Sea storms swept across Europe, which is typical for this time of the year. And with them came strong winds, which are now reported to have had a detrimental impact on Germany’s power grid.
Daniel Wetzel at German flagship daily Die Welt here reports that though storms “Iwan” and “Heini” brought “a record high wind power production” of 32.6 GW to Germany, it “overloaded the power grid” and necessitated the import of expensive fossil fuel power from Austria to balance the grid and prevent its collapse.
During the stormy weather all 25,000 wind turbines in Germany produced at full capacity which overburdened the grid. Die Welt writes that national transmission line operators are forced to fall back on so-called winter reserves, or power plants in southern Germany and Austria which “are rented exclusively for stabilizing the power grid“.
“That’s expensive,” Die Welt’s Wetzel writes.
Wetzel explains that the reserve capacity of 200 und 2200 megawatts from the south are needed in order to create a sort of “counter pressure” against the wind power coming in from the north and thus keep the grid “balanced and stable.” Die Welt explains that a part of the grid stabilization process involved shutting down huge wind parks, for example Brandenburg grid operator E.dis and Tennet had to shut down hundreds of megawatts of wind capacity. This is expensive because the unproduced power still has to be paid for. This is required by Germany’s quirky renewable energy feed-in act.
In total the emergency measures needed to stabilize the power grid by Tennet alone will cost consumers 500 million euros this year, Die Welt reports.
The emergency grid intervention measures show how precarious Germany’s power grid has become. Die Welt quotes Tennet management Chairman Urban Keussen:
Both the intervention in the conventional and the renewable energy supply are emergency measures. They are not suited for securing the power supply over the long run.”
That means the grid is already on the brink. Keuseen says that these interventions are costly and that the costs will be passed on to consumers. Just in Tennet’s area alone the interventions will cost Germans 500 million euros in 2015.
According to Die Welt, Keussen describes a high voltage transmission system that is “tense” and says that there will be “more costs and risks of supply uncertainties” should the grid fail to be upgraded soon.
What a mess. We have a policy-made disaster just waiting to happen.
Germans may want to consider buying portable generators this winter.