German Electricity Imports Hit New Record, Rise 43.3 Percent in First Half Of 2020!

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You would think that with all the added wind and solar energy in Germany, along with all the conventional power plants on standby, all totaling up to huge unneeded capacity, there would be no need to import any power at all. Well, think again.

Photo: P. Gosselin

The German epochtimes.de here reports that German imports of electricity in fact: “rose by 43.3 percent to 25.7 billion kilowatt hours in the first half of 2020 compared with the first half of 2019.”

The epochtimes.de explains further:

One reason for this was the declining share of domestic feed-in from base-load-capable, mostly conventionally operated power plants, which mainly use coal, nuclear energy and natural gas. As a result, electricity was imported to cover the demand for electricity, especially when there was no wind or darkness. The main import country for electricity was France with 8.7 billion kilowatt hours.

Overall, however, more electricity was still exported from Germany.”

What the article does not mention, however, is the reason for the rise in export from Germany. On windy and sunshine-plenty days, Germany produces more electricity than needed, and so is forced to dump the excess power into neighboring foreign markets – often at negative prices. The negative prices, in combination with the mandatory feed-in tariffs and excess production capacity, all means higher costs for consumers.

Little wonder that at close to 35 US cents per kwh, Germany’s electricity prices are among the highest in the world.




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8 responses to “German Electricity Imports Hit New Record, Rise 43.3 Percent in First Half Of 2020!”

  1. Sean

    You’ve alluded to it but it would be interesting to know what total cost was to import those 25.7 billion Kw-hrs vs. the “price” in return to export the excess wind and solar.

  2. RickWill

    The Australia electricity market is very sophisticated compared with the European market. There is no longer any preference for weather dependent generation in The Australian market. However all the small scale rooftop solar gets into the grid unless the local voltage is above the 10% over rated voltage of 230V.

    The interesting situation now for South Australia is that rooftop solar can supply almost 70% of the demand. On a typical spring Sunday lunch output last week was 959MW and grid scale generators 330MW. That was only possible by exporting 380MW to Victoria. The rooftop cannot be centrally controlled so is potentially destabilising. By November the grid demand in the state could be LESS THAN ZERO.

    Anyhow the wholesale price in the market often goes negative and that forces the grid scale generators to curtail output – they are NOT compensated for that.

    It has got to the situation where the wholesale price is no longer a true indication of the price being paid for electricity because the operator often ‘directs’ gas plants to stay connected and producing for system stability. Directs are very common now and are costing almost as much as the average reported wholesale price. The cost of directions are recovered outside the wholesale price.

    In February, when the SA-Vic connector was out of actual due to a storm, the cost of directions added $200/MWh to the cost of electricity in SA. The reported wholes price was $100/MWh. Ultimately consumers pay.

    Another factor now apparent is that coal generators are bidding a block of energy near the floor price to ensure they scheduled during the negative price swings. That forces the weather dependent generators out of the market when the price falls below minus $40/MWh, the current sunsidised level. For now the coal generators can recover the negative cost swings by bidding high for the energy during the evening peak when the solar is not doing much.

    It is quite common to see negative wholesale price in some region in Australia during the middle of the day:
    https://www.aemo.com.au/energy-systems/electricity/national-electricity-market-nem/data-nem/data-dashboard-nem#price-demand
    But the negative price does not tell the whole story if dispatch able generators are being directed to produce for stability reasons and getting compensated for those directions.

  3. pochas94

    In other words, to avoid blackouts you need spinning reserve, which can often cost more than you’re saving with wind and solar. So you may as well just goose the spinning reserve and forget about wind and solar.

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  6. BoyfromTottenham

    Rickwill – you said: “There is no longer any preference for weather dependent generation in The Australian market.”. What about the approx A$40/MW subsidy provided by the sale of LRET certificates by the large scale renewables generators (which the retailers are forced to buy)?

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