New Study Concludes Europe Will Always Require 100% Back-Up By Conventional Energy

This post is one for the wind-energy-clingers, who refuse to admit how bad it really is.

A new German paper assesses wind energy in Europe . The results are devastating. It concludes that wind energy requires almost 100% backup and that the more capacity that gets installed, the greater the volatility.

The paper appearing at the VGB, authored by Thomas Linnemann and Guido Vallana, finds that “the total wind fleet output of 18 European countries extending over several thousand kilometers in north-south and east-west direction is highly volatile and exhibits a strong intermittent character.”

In other words the power supply across the European grid fluctuates wildly and thus cannot work well. The paper’s abstract continues:

An intuitively expectable smoothing of this wind fleet output to an amount, which allows a reduction of backup wind power capacity, however, does not occur. In contract a highly intermittent wind fleet power output showing significant peaks and minima is observed not only for a single country, but also for the whole of the 18 European countries. Wind energy therefore requires practically 100% back-up. As the (also combined) capacities of all known storage technologies are (and increasingly will be) insignificant compared to the required demand, backup must be provided by conventional power plants, with their business cases fundamentally being impaired in the absence of capacity markets.”

Extreme volatility

The paper then provides a solid analysis, and charts showing why this is the case. Below their Figure 1 illustrates the extreme volatility of onshore and offshore German wind energy over the year 2016:

Germany’s wind energy output ranges from over 30,000 MW to almost zero. Source: ENTSO

Germany’s wind parks have produced only a fraction of their rated installed capacity, rarely ever reaching 20% annually with an average of 17% since 1990:

The capacity utilization of German Windparks from 1990 to 2016. Source: BMWi

The paper concludes:

The available (secured) permanent electrical output of the German wind parks thus remains always below 1% of the installed rated capacity, or expressed in other words: Every year there was at least a quarter hour in which 99% of the rated capacity of the German wind parks was not available and where practically 100% of plannable backup energy dominated.”

Moreover an anylsis of weak wind phases over the 2010 to 2016 period shows that “there were at least 160 phases 5 days long or more where the output from German wind parks fell below 5000 megawatts and a 10-14 day phase of weak wind days occurred every year.

Read (German) entire study here.

86 responses to “New Study Concludes Europe Will Always Require 10086 Back-Up By Conventional Energy”

  1. BoyfromTottenham

    Hi from Oz. This result was totally predictable, as any (honest) power engineer would acknowledge. Why did billions get spent on 19th century technology? Please ask your political representative.

  2. Don B

    Contrary to the Greens’ claim that the wind is free, it is actually horribly expensive. Denmark and SA pride themselves on having the world’s greatest concentration of wind power, but they don’t brag about this:

    “South Australia will overtake Denmark as having the world’s most expensive electricity when the country’s major energy retailers jack up their prices this Saturday.”

  3. tom0mason

    “Germany’s wind parks have produced only a fraction of their rated installed capacity, rarely ever reaching 20% annually with an average of 17% since 1990”

    That is a killer line as most wind energy companies sell their products as having 24% to 38% Capacity Factor rating (depends on the region and location). I wonder what the Germany expected rating was when they bought them. (I note that Australia has unrealistic ratings see HERE and HERE )

    Of course everyone soon sees a graph like the one above but wind park operators always come back with some baloney about short term vs. long term figures.

  4. SebastianH

    If you look just at offshore wind, then you get a capacity factor of 33% for the year 2016. I am sure some of the wind turbines at the coast and/or some windparks in the sea reached 38% if you look at more detailed reports.

    1. ClimateOtter

      Question for you in that case, Seb: how Many offshore wind turbines would be required to provide 100% of German needs 100% of the time?

      1. SebastianH

        Nobody is expecting to cover the load with wind 100% of the time. It’s a combination of power generation and storage and for the time being conventional backup that will enable high percentages of renewable energy in the grid.

        1. AndyG55

          But they ARE expecting to have to cover 100% for wind because it can NEVER provide base load power.

          Wind really is a waste of time, environment and money.

          Its a WHY BOTHER situation which only exists because of the scientific LIES of the AGW totalitarian scammers..

        2. Jeremy Poynton

          “Storage”. We are years away from having anything resembling the storage required to make it feasible. You seem to be living in a fantasy land

          1. SebastianH

            Are we? Battery factories will produce large amounts for the auto industry and grid storage industry as well. Tesla announced today that they will build a 129 MWh battery in South Australia until December. To stabilize Germany’s grid you would need 100-200 such facilities … why not? If the price is right, this can be both more flexible and cheaper than a gas powered peaker plant.

          2. AndyG55

            “Tesla announced today that they will build a 129 MWh battery in South Australia until December. ”


            And do you know how long that will last WHEN wind fails to deliver, as in most often does.

            ITS A JOKE, seb

            WAKE up!!

            And the CO2 and pollution in manufacturing those batteries will NEVER be accounted for, will it seb.

            The whole renewable FARCE is a waste of time and money. Countries should have stuck with the RELIABLE, CHEAP, coal and gas fired for SOLID, STABLE electricity supply.

            Instead they install a second, costly, intermittent and unreliable system using massive amounts of taxpayer funding, destroying their reliable grid supplies in the process.

            And all to make basically zero reduction of a totally beneficial, ESSENTIAL FOR LIFE trace gas, which has absolutely ZERO downside at increased atmospheric level we can ever attain.

            The whole thing really is at the very pinnacle of moronic idiocy.

          3. tom0mason

            Of course it’s perfectly logical to mine the world for lithium using lots of fossil fuels to process it, but it is not sensible to mine coal and make the energy directly from that.

            Humm, maybe I missed something.

    2. AndyG55

      So What.

      Its UNRELLIABLE, and not “on call”

      It still needs 100% back-up.. so why bother with it at all. !!

      Really does come into the category of “WAFWOTAM”

    3. tom0mason

      And the maintenance cost of off-shore generation is?

      Well it’s much more than on-shore generation and far more hazardous.

      1. SebastianH

        The LCOE of offshore vs. onshore is not that much bigger. Considering that it is a relatively new type of power generation this could easily become cheaper than onshore (because of the higher capacity factor).

        In Germany at the last wind power auction, there was a bid that required no subsidies.

        1. tom0mason
  5. Juergen Uhlemann

    A nice day here in Ireland, but not for the wind energy.
    Quite flat with a short peak of about 9% of the installed capacity.

  6. Brian RL Catt CEng, CPhys, MBA

    Just to point out the science fact of the nonsense about renewables having a net negtaive effect on CO2 verus better unsubsidised choices w/o renewables. Do the joined up maths. Renewables can only make CO2 emissions from the overal grid expensively worse versus just preferring gas and nuclear to duplicating fossil with renewables. Simple maths of the joined up grid. Work the two scenarios. It’s not hard.

    How? Preferring to “offset” fossil with intermittent renewables on the grid can only offset their generation and CO2 emissions by their duty cycle, so 33% maximum for Wind/Solar/Water in the UK, at 2 or 3 times the wholesale price (UK).

    Compare this to replacing coal with gas, clean and 60% less CO2/KWh than the coal replaced, then both with nuclear, you get >40% plus CO2 reduction overall by replacing all coal with gas on an initially equal mix of gas and coal, if that matters to you, and 100% reduction with cheapest, safest and with lowest environmentally impact of all using nuclear. All w/o subsidies or renewables.

    More. faster, cheaper low CO2 energy, as much as needed, when needed, affordably and sustainably, for as long as there is a human race, at least until the ice age wars as we start to cool into the next 80,000 years of ice, as has happened on this cycle at least 5 times before. So the solution is fraud on the generation science facts, promoted by fraudsters for personal gain, however received. Lobbyists, politicians, scientists who support an obvious science denial for grants, ego and travel, etc. They are a fruadulent climate change establishment that enforces deceitful consesnus because the science facts prove the obvious fraud.

    What about the supposed problem that overpriced renewables must make worse in science fact?

    Re CO2:

    The plants ate all the CO2, why would they stop because statistical computer modelling and its hard of physics mathematicians got involved?

    CO2 Is Controlled Mainly by Plants, Proven as More Than Capable of Mopping Up Huge Amounts, and Keeping it at Trace Levels when emissions increase. No runaway temperatures, ever. It’s greening up as we watch, to mop up the 100ppm so extra humans may have added, not a problem for plants.

    Plants reduced CO2 from 95% of the atmosphere and maintained it at low and declining levels well below 1% for most of the Earth’s life, converting it into our predominantly oxygen and Nitrogen rich atmosphere and supporting oxygen fuelled life and the carbon cycle humans and plants depend upon, maintaining CO2 at the lowest possible level to support that state therafter, varying growth to CO2 level..

    Where is this in the models of climate so called “science”, which has to make do with “consensus” – because this is not real deterministic cause and effect science, these models are statistical guesses using numeric model approximations, that are adjusted by their owners to prove a correlation, not cause and effect. These are self evidently floored on the basic reality above, extrapolating data about a s complex system we don’t understand using assumptions we can’t prove – and plant denial.

    “Climate Science” using such modelling methods can’t ever prove a scientific law, just pretend to apply them, with its own bias/guesses abou which ones make the biggest difference and how they interact. THis approach can’t prove any laws of hard science cause and effect, ever. Just correlation, maybe. One of Feynman’s pseudo sciences.

    Even the BBC says plants ate all the CO2. So why should they stop now? Because some climate modellers have been told to assume so?

    The models that set out to prove CO2 is guilty are just another statistical forecast, like expecting long term economic and weather forecasts to be precise to a high level of significance. where cause and consequence can never be proven, – no control planet for a start.

    There is good evidence to say that CO2 is actually increased as a consequence of oceans warming, which releases CO2, so are a lagging indicator of global warming, not a cause in fact. It’s also the most obvious reason.

    Plants have clearly exhibited adaptive control on the long term climate record, over Billions of years. Since they cleared it from the dominantly CO2 and water vapour atmosphere created by volcanoes, plants have reliably controlled CO2 through volcanic extremes, mass extinctions, asteroid strikes, plus continental drifting and its volcanic and changing circulation consequences for ocean currents, as continents moved around. “CO2 – No problem.”

    The whole nonsense of climate change caused by the relatively small amount of CO2 from energy use, 100ppm added to the natural 300ppm over 200 years, simply fails the simple plant challenge, never mind the test of predictive accuracy or statistical significance within the temperature noise of our peak interglacial climate record, measured over less that a human lifetime, insignificant in any real global clmate periodity – weather, perhaps, evidence of CO2 related cimate change, no.

    And, don’t forget, the bogus renewable energy “solution” imposed in the name off reducing falsely accused CO2 emissions makes these emissions expensivey worse in science and engineering fact. What’s to like on the science of climate change causes and renewable energy? Nothing stands up to inspection, at a very basic level. A structural fraud on the fact, wasting Billions pa in most major 1st World economies to make the supposed problem worse, as well as all the other measurements of affordability, adequacy, sustainbility, etc., by law.. J’accuse!

    THis is a legalised climate change protection racket run by a deceitful load of elected and academic racketeers, who profit hugely from wasting our money on this double deceit, which makes insiders richer at the expense of everyone else who pays their bills, on every measure of the policies they pass into law. It’s called malfeasance.

    1. tom0mason

      Thanks for the comment, I absolutely concur.

      As a point of note, it is not only plants but also the ocean. So many AGW advocates blindly apply Henry’s Law to the CO2 argument without testing to see if it is applicable. As any half descent chemist will know oceans and seas are a complex chemical and biological mix, from which such simplistic ideas do not match with the chemical reality well.

      1. tom0mason

        See –
        My starter paper is ‘Carbon Dioxide Exchange Between Atmosphere and Oceans and the Question of an Increase of Atmospheric CO2 during the Past Decades’ by Roger Revelle and Hans E. Suess, dated Sept 4, 1956.
        Determination of the rate constants for the carbon dioxide to bicarbonate inter-conversion in pH-buffered seawater systems by K.G. Schulz
        a,*, U. Riebesella, B. Rostb, S. Thomsb, R.E. Zeebec

        Henry’s law describes only the physical equilibrium between the phases and may only be applied to the fraction of the gas that is molecularly dissolved and not chemically bound [Pra69, Dan70, Wil77]. Henry’s law coefficient depends on the type of the gas and the solvent, the temperature, the total pressure and in the case of salt solutions it also depends on the ionic strength of the solution.
        also see –


        I have a few other reference books/papers.

        1. tom0mason
  7. AndyG55

    OT, Greenland has just recorded the COLDEST July temperature evah in the NH !!!

    1. Jeremy Poynton

      That’s because it is in record melt. So we are told.

  8. AndyG55

    Off Topic…. BIG WOW !

    Michael Mann in CONTEMPT OF COURT ruling. !!

    1. Green Sand

      Yup, Stick Mann looks skewered.

      1. AndyG55

        I really HOPE its true ! 🙂

        A stint in jail would wipe that super-silly smirk off his face…

        … unless he liked it.

    2. tom0mason

      But it gets worse for Mann —

      …But it gets worse for the litigious Penn State professor. Close behind Dr Ball is celebrated writer Mark Steyn. Steyn also defends himself against another one of Mann’s SLAPP suits – this time in Washington DC. Steyn boldly claims Mann “has perverted the norms of science on an industrial scale.” Esteemed American climate scientist, Dr Judith Curry, has submitted to the court an Amicus Curiae legal brief exposing Mann. The world can now see that his six-year legal gambit to silence his most effective critics and chill scientific debate has spectacularly backfired…

      The self-styled ‘Nobel Prize winner’ Dr. Michael ‘hockey stick’ Mann certainly lives in interesting times.

      1. Jeremy Poynton

        Sadly, the author of this is a proven fantasist re Ball and Mann. Very sadly. He announced the demise of Mann in this case a few years back. Nothing happened. Wishful thinking

        1. tom0mason

          Anyone can make mistakes. Is he never to be forgiven, or are you a Puritan where vengeance rules, or a Fabian where continual incremental bad-mouthing whoever you perceived as an opposition goes on forever?

  9. BoyfromTottenham

    Hi from Oz. Regarding the ‘cost’ of wind energy, take a look at a wind farm cooperative in Australia:
    Their 2016 annual report clearly shows that 70% of its revenue comes from our government’s LRET (large scale wind and solar subsidy) scheme, and only 30% from selling their actual electricity. The LRET scheme allows the wind farm to create and sell essentially worthless ‘renewable energy certificates’ for about A$90 per MW generated, which power retailers have to buy, raising the retail cost of their electricity whilst subsidising the ‘renewables’ generators by double the cost of their generation. Clearly, without the LRET subsidy, wind and solar generation would not exist, and consumers would pay far less for reliable baseload power.

  10. Tuulen Tupia | myteurastaja

    […] Uusi Tutkimus Päättelee Euroopan Tarvitsevan Aina 100% Perinteisen Energian Varavoimaa […]

  11. nzrobin

    Hi Pierre, the above problems of intermittance, lousy economics and inability to dispatch are certainly all essential points, but there’s another one too, dynamic stability. Not many include at this aspect. Its quite a difficult concept but imperative for the grid to work. It is about the second by second requirement for grid energy balance and how synchronously locked rotating inertia works to provide stability.

    And so lately I have written half a dozen posts, attempting to explain power system stability in a step by step way. Here’s a link to the introduction, Links to the other five posts are contained in the introduction. There’s still a few more posts to come, analysis of a frequency excursion, what is synthetic inertia, and a summary.

    1. tom0mason

      A fine write-up, well done.

    2. SebastianH

      The inertia from large power plants is a nice added service, but can’t this service be provided by digital components? It works in small scale solutions (home inverter), why shouldn’t it work large scale?

      1. AndyG55

        No, it can’t. If you had any knowledge of how electricity supply networks function, you would know that.

        Unfortunately you have shown an abject inability to learn… anything.

      2. Robin Pittwood

        I intend to do an article on synthetic inertia. ‘Synthetic inertia’ can help with stability, but synthetic inertia is actually more like a governor droop response than inertia. It is very expensive, response power is limited by inverter capacity and duration by battery capacity.

        1. SebastianH

          Looking forward to reading your article.

          The costs of such solutions should come down with widespread implementation. And limited power/duration can be solved by increasing numbers. Lots of “smart transformers” with battery backup distributed all over the grid should be able to stabilize any fluctuation of the load as good or even better than current reliance on inertia.

          1. AndyG55

            WHY BOTHER with this idiotic expense.

            We have cheap solid, reliable sources of electricity, why use expensive , unreliable non-alternative

            It really is idiocy based on non-science.

            This anti-science CO2-hatred is destroying economies and has to stop.

  12. Hans K Johnsen

    A look at the yearly consuption of electrical energy within Germany will show it to be almost identical to the yearly production of energy from “back up power plants” alone. All the wind and solar energy is traded, often at negative prices, with neighbouring countries.
    Energiwende is a lie too big to be exposed.

  13. Paul Miskelly

    Hi All,

    With regard to the findings of the paper by Thomas Linnemann and Guido Vallana reported here, you might be interested in the following paper:

    Miskelly P C 2012 Wind Farms in Eastern Australia – Recent Lessons,
    Energy & Environment Vol. 23, No. 8, December 2012.
    Available at: .
    (I successfully downloaded a copy just prior to preparing this posting,
    so the paper is most certainly still available from the publisher.)

    The data presented in the paper is the total wind farm output on the Eastern Australian grid, geographically the most widely dispersed single interconnected grid in the world. The data is that for all of the wind farms then-registered with the AEMO, the grid operator,
    at 5-minute instants, for the period of the full calendar year 2010.

    Although, due to my lack of proficiency in German,
    I am unable to read the content of the Linnemann and Vallana paper
    in detail, it seems to me from its published synopsis that our papers’
    respective findings may be quite similar even though they examine the
    performance of wind farms in very different parts of the world.

    An examination of the more recent data for the eastern Australian grid,
    over any period, shows no diminution in the volatility
    in total wind farm output, even though there is now a far greater
    installed wind generation capacity on the Eastern Australian grid
    at the present time than in 2010. This lack of diminution in volatility
    is entirely in line with my 2012 paper’s findings.

    Best regards,
    Paul Miskelly

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this. More information at our Data Privacy Policy