Germany’s Wind Power Debacle Worsens: Too Much Power One Day, None the Next
Like South Australians, Germans are attempting to run on sunshine and breezes and in both places the results have been an unmitigated disaster. When power output depends on the weather and whether the sun is up and the sky isn’t clouded up, results can, as they say in marketing blurbs, ‘vary’.
During January of this year, wind and solar power output totally collapsed for days on end and pushed the German grid to the brink of collapse. The Daily Caller reported at the time that:
Germany’s power grid almost collapsed in January due to poor performance from wind turbines and solar panels, according to data from a major trade union.
Wind and solar power plants under-performed in January, 2017, because of cloudy weather with little or no wind, setting the stage for massive blackouts.
A major blackout almost occurred Jan. 24 and was only prevented when German energy suppliers “also took the last reserve power plant,” Michael Vassiliadis, head of the union which represents power plants IG Bergbauchemie Energie, told reporters. The country’s power grid was strained to the absolute limit and could have gone offline entirely, triggering a national blackout, if just one power plant had gone offline, according to Vassiliadis.
“The renewables could not even offer five percent [of total power demand.] Coal, gas and nuclear power kept the country almost in the first place under the electric current,” Vassiliadis said.
Germany was forced to recommission coal power plants to simply keep the lights on.
From famine to feast and back again, Germany’s renewables rush has not only threatened to plunge the Country into the Dark Ages, the chaos being caused in the power market is sending power costs through the roof. Here’s NoTricksZone.
Engineering PhD Calls Germany’s Renewable Energy Drive “A Disaster” And “A Debacle”
No Tricks Zone
2 May 2017
Firstly, wind energy protest organization vernunftkraft.de posted a chart showing the sheer absurdity of relying on the haphazard electricity supply that wind and solar energies are.
Last Sunday Germany saw windy and sunny conditions, meaning the country’s installed wind and solar systems were running at high capacity. This however led to excess power flooding into the German grid, and thus a plummet in exchange electricity prices.
Market exchange price of electricity on the EEX Leipzig exchange. On April 30 and May 1st 2017, wholesale prices went deeply negative. Source: EEX Marktdaten Strom, by Rolf Schuster. http://www.vernunftkraft.de/uploads/Ahlborn.pdf
The chart above shows that electricity was in fact sold at negative prices, dipping to an astonishing low of almost 75 euros per megawatt hour.
Unfortunately the money to pay people to “buy” the electricity never gets paid to the consumer. Rather it gets paid mostly to foreign wholesalers. Yet, the German grid operator needs to recoup the money it paid to have the wholesalers to accept the power. In the end, the domestic consumers in Germany wind up with the bill.
How much did the negative prices seen over the past weekend end up costing the German consumers? One reader calculated it and came up with the figure of over 41 million euros! And because May 1st was a national holiday, the demand for German power was low, and there was no use for all the extra power flooding into the grid. It’s like cooking dinner – after everyone has already eaten. And because there is no fridge, the garbage man has to be called and paid to dispose of it. So far electricity cannot be stored on a meaningful scale.
Wild supply variability
Continuing on the folly of Germany’s renewable energy, engineering expert Dr. Detlef Ahlborn authored a post at the European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE), declaring the transition to renewable energies a failure and that it will remain so as long as a solution for storing the energy is not found.
Again the huge problem is the extremely erratic, uncontrolled supply of the power, as the following German wind energy supply chart clearly illustrates:
More variable than rolling a die
Dr. Ahlborn describes the extreme variability of wind power in Germany as follows:
The variability of German wind power production is about 70% greater than the numbers you’d see rolling a die. If German power providers ran their plants like throwing a die, the power would flow more uniformly.
Of course wind energy proponents like to say that the solution is a European-wide integrated network where if the wind is not blowing in one region, then excess power in another region can fill in the gap. After all, “the wind is always blowing somewhere in Europe” they like to say. However, the following chart plainly illustrates that this is far more a fallacy than a truth.
Wind production by the 15 European countries (dark blue) and by Germany (light blue). Chart by Rolf Schuster
Very often when there’s plenty of wind in Germany (or very little), the case is the same in the rest of Europe. With that kind of supply, good luck trying to balance any grid that is overly dependent on wind energy.
Ahlborn writes that combining the power grids to form one large one only serves to add up the variability and not reduce it.
“Unworthy” for Germany
Summarizing Ahlborn calls the total result of wind energy so far “bitter”:
This Energiewende [transition to renewables] is unworthy for a country with such a tradition in science and technology. We could have known if we had just given it a bit of thought. But who wanted to know?
We’ll find out at the latest when we start looking for those who are responsible for this debacle, and policymakers attempt to run from taking responsibility for this disaster. Our former economics minister has already taken the first step.
To that, EIKE added: It can only be hoped that the former economics minister (Sigmar Gabriel) will cause less damage in his new position as foreign minister.
No Tricks Zone
Uncontrolled Infusion Of Green Electricity Leads To Record-Breaking NEGATIVE Power Prices
No Tricks Zone
3 May 2017
As mentioned here yesterday, Germany saw sunny and very windy conditions last Sunday and the following national holiday Monday –leading to a huge power surge into the German power grid. But because many industries were closed during these two days, demand for electricity was low, see chart below:
The chart above also shows both the very high infusion of solar, onshore and offshore wind into the German power grid on April 30th and early May, and the low overall demand.
The result: Huge supply + little demand = crashing prices.
The huge feed-in of wind and solar energy did not occur without problems, especially in the southern state of Bavaria, the German online BR24 reports here.
BR24 writes that for the first time ever in Bavaria “wind turbines had to be shut down on a large scale – because there was too much power in the grid,” this according to the Bundesverband Windenergie (Federal Association for Wind Energy). There was also criticism that the wind turbines were shut down instead of the state’s nuclear plants.
BR24 adds that “many wind turbines in Bavaria had to stop for hours because no one wanted to take the power” and that this was the first time this had ever happened in Bavaria.
According to the Fraunhofer Institute, “two thirds of Germany’s conventional power production was switched off” on Sunday in order to prevent the grid from turning into a giant toaster.
And because the base load (the grid’s backbone) cannot be adjusted rapidly or taken offline line to meet the rapid changes, the BR24 adds:
But the coal power plants continued to operate – despite the negative power prices of minus ten cents per kilowatt-hour.
It’s not possible to turn off the coal plants because once you do, the critical baseload disappears and the grid risks becoming an uncontrollable wild bronco.
And when you are forced to sell your very own product at a negative price (minus ten cents per kilowatt-hour) just to get rid of it, then you get a pretty good idea of just how obscenely distorted the market has become because of wind and solar.
Yet the energy masterminds of Germany and Europe intend to double or even quadruple this folly in the future.
So what about the losses incurred from the negative prices? You guessed it! They will be passed along to the German consumers, who already pay among the highest electricity rates in the world.
No Tricks Zone