German electrical power analyst Verivox here issued a press release announcing that electricity will be more expensive in the coming months for many German households: 75 primary utilities are increasing their electricity prices by an average of 3.4% in February alone – this according to a study by Verivox experts.
At the start of the year some 354 power utilities cranked up the prices. This means that about half of all utilities have increased their power prices during the first months of 2017.
Rising feed-in charges, grid fees and costs
One reason for the increased prices is the higher renewable energy feed-in charges, reports Verivox. At the start of the year they climbed to a record 6.88 cents per kilowatt-hour. Verivox writes that the prices for power are now at “record levels”.
Wind and solar power disappeared in January
Meanwhile the online Die Welt N24 here reports how wind and solar power practically completely disappeared over a period of weeks during the dead of winter in Germany — as a high pressure system with fog and windless days persisted over much of central Europe — and “brought Germany’s power supply at the limit“.
The German site writes that renewable energy lobbyists prefer to be silent during the long and dark winter months, adding: “In January the German green energy systems as power suppliers went almost totally AWOL weeks long“:
Chart above shows Germany’s total power consumption in January (upper curve) compared to solar (yellow) and wind (blue) energy. From January 16 to January 26 wind and solar power almost disappeared entirely. Chart source: Agora here.
Over the past years Germany has taken a number of conventional power plants offline, and now officials worry that there is no longer sufficient steady base load available, and that there thus needs to be an incentive to install new gas power plants. Currently no power companies are investing in such new plants, and are in fact taking more and more offline due to a lack of profitability. This is increasingly putting the grid at risk. The consequences? Die Welt N24 reports:
The lack of controllable power plants put the grid operators during the January doldrums already under heavy stress.”
According to Stefan Kapferer, Head Director of the BDEW German Association for Energy and Water Management: “The German government itself sees that that the current market system is not adequate to guarantee supply security. Otherwise it would not be keeping different power plant reserves on the market and adding new ones.“
In summary, Germany is still taking more conventional power plants offline, but ordering them to remain on standby (at a loss) as reserves for cases like those we saw last month. Policymakers are playing Russian Roulette with Germany’s power grid.