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Germany and "green" energy
  • With a steep growth of power generation from photovoltaic (PV) and wind power and with 8 GW base load capacity suddenly taken out of service the situation in Germany has developed into a nightmare for system operators.

    The peak demand in Germany is about 80 GW. The variations of wind and PV generation create situations which require long distance transport of huge amounts of power. The grid capacity is far from sufficient for these transports. The result is a remarkably large number of curtailments of RES (Renewable Energy Sources).




    • Wind power peaks seem not to be simultaneous with PV peaks. This means that PV does not add its full peak capacity to the grid problems during high wind periods.
    • The main part of the German wind power is installed in the northern part of the country while the main part of the PV capacity is installed in Bavaria. The nuclear moratorium has created the most serious supply problems in the southern part of Germany. This observation suggests additional PV generation to relieve the supply problems.
    • PV generation cannot reduce the need for peak capacity. The reason is that there is no PV generation during the evening peak load.
    • The regulating work which must be made by controllable power sources grows considerably with the growth of wind power and PV. TenneT is one of Germany’s 4 main grid operators. In the TenneT area a calculation for April 2011 has shown that wind power alone would extend the regulating range by more than 50%, while the actual combination of wind power and PV has doubled the regulating range.


    23% of the Hours in Q1 2012 Affected by Interventions

    The number of interventions has increased dramatically in Germany from 2010/11 to 2011/12.

    Feed-in reduction was initiated 197 times during the winter season 2011/12 compared to 39 times the previous year.

    In 184 cases wind power caused high feed-in from distribution grids into the transmission grids. 5 cases were remarkable and affected the entire grid


  • 28 Replies sorted by
  • basically, there is more energy produced than can be used. coal-fired power plants for example cannot be run below 50%, so it's the wind mills that get shut down first. Ironically, the operators of the wind-mill plants get a refund for each wind mill they have to shut down due to energy overload. So the end user is paying for energy that doesn't even exist.

    Extension of grids is primary goal but it's going too slow.

  • @stip

    And you really read whole article? I mean the link provided.

    It is not about excessive energy, it is about quite the opposite thing.

    And it is about simple fact that energy produced by so called "green" technologies is costly, very unreliable and impose unnecessary load on distribution network.

    As for German problems, it is easy to see that they will be worse by each year because of choosen approach.
    Japan is good illustration of future Germany.

  • Photovoltaic (PV) energy generation has negative affects for end users, due to the fact that the main problem is not the consumption but the demand. Peak demand is usually early in the morning and late afternoon this is when, factories start up or shut down, hot water for showering and cooking occurs. In most cases the sun is not up or strong enough to have a impacting affect at these times. Once the photovoltaic (PV) do kick in they bring users savings in consumption, but because power generation companies loose out on the lower consumption in the daytime, they have to increase to cost of Kwh units. Their problem is that they still have to provide the peak demand at any time.

    The solution is to manage the peak demand commercially as well as domestically. On three phase industrial users there are solutions such as power factor correction, harmonics, soft/sequance starting of machinery. Wireless switching (zigbee devices) can manage commercial as well as domestic users to manage the timing that their equipment switches on in peak times (mainly hotwater). Most people would not even know that their water is being managed. There are systems available that can measure a houshold's usage patterns and manage accordingly.

    Led lighting can decrease consumption drastically for example: gu10 lights can go from 50w to 3w and flourecent tubes can go from average 58w + 5-10w for the ballast to 18w to 28w depending on size. Imagine the impact in cities with buildings with 1000-10000 tubes per building. These tubes also require 20x less replacing or maintainance. and if they do is usually just the small driver. they claim 10000 hours per light.

    These types of complete systems can pay for itself within 1-2 years. and will save between 40% and 60% of peak demand. Then we can close many power stations around the world. Once energy users become much more efficient then wind power, tide power, and various hydro and other solutions can take the bulk of the energy usage.

    A friend of mine has all this technology (not that its secret but has to be managed well) and also the database to manage wireless meters with switches. He had to close the business as the decision makers both political and energy companies either could not understand this concept or it did not suit them to actually use less energy.

  • As for German problems, it is easy to see that they will be worse by each year because of choosen approach.

    I really disagree. these problems will get less and less. The decision for this huge energy transition was backed by great majority of german population although everyone was informed that it will be a rocky road. The goal is to have 80% renewable energy by the year 2050. It is already at roughly 20%, growing faster than planned. the weak part are the grids right now, not the concept, as well as some mismanagement from government, for example too high subsidies of photovoltaic. The secretary of environment just got replaced because he worked too slow btw

  • @jakef

    Concerning your paragraph, article has the same points.

    Second, I advise to look at energy consumption, And specifically look at how much takes consumption for indoor lighting.

    Third. Led lighting is good, but about 90% bullshit, as products can't keep up with their promises. Showing poor spectrum (read - significant productivity drop for workers), quick degradation (mostly due heat damagind phosphors used), and very bad real life.

    Then we can close many power stations around the world.

    This is one of the most idiotic thing that I heard.
    In any normal society you can find use for energy.
    If some idiots want to close power station it does not mean that they must not be hanging on the ropes.

    Once energy users become much more efficient then wind power, tide power, and various hydro and other solutions can take the bulk of the energy usage.

    It'll never happen, check energy report I posted recently. Propaganda want people to belive it, but reality bites.

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev I agree that you make some good points, i dont know all the different qualities of LED lighting or whether all are flawed. Lighting is only a small portion of the global demand. The spectrum of light difference would be interesting.

    My main point is that if energy is managed on a big scale you will see a dramatic drop in peak demand which is a big problem. (Power factoring being one of the contributors)

    As i understand, many governments have grants for "green energy" and many companies are abusing that with impractical technology such photovoltic being one as explained above, and the decision makers dont see this or dont want to see it. I've sat in a meeting in South Africa with the head of grants at Eskom (one of the largest consumers of coal in the world) and he said that managing energy still does not take people off the grid and that their grants for solar water is taking water off the grid, i just shook my head. Those solar water heater's hard wired to the grid, kick in before the sun come up when people get ready for work and kick in again just when the sun goes down and they shower before bed; no affect to demand.

    For me this is just interesting, maybe we wont be closing down power stations but bringing the peak demand down wont hurt :)

  • I think the future of Solar is in individual homes. About ten years ago we took our farm completely off grid and use solar, small wind generators and a bio-diesel generator to take up the slack.

    It is inconvenient although the plus factors outweigh the minus for me.

    I was with Virginia's regulatory Agency for many years and can't imagine trying to use Solar on a commercial basis.

  • Living in Germany I pay both taxes and add-ons to electrical energy prices that are used to subsidize non-fossil, non-nuclear power sources. And while I certainly agree that some mistakes have been made - such as privileging photo voltaic power over other sources, or the temporary denial of the issues with wind power generators near housings - I do agree with the general goal to get rid of the nuclear and many of the fossil power plants in the long run.

    Regarding subsidies: Do not forget that in the past, billions of tax-financed subsidies were put into nuclear power. It's dishonest to chide the "alternative power" industry for taking subsidies, while not mentioning how much money was spent on other forms of power generation. And the subsidies for nuclear power are all but ended: Germany, like many other countries, sits on a large pile of nuclear waste for which no plausible disposal concept exists. And already the corporations that ran the power plants that created that waste a sneaking out of their responsibility to dispose it safely: One of the earliest waste sites that was used (the "Asse") has proven to leak, now requiring billions to get the waste out of there and to clean up the mess - and the power corporations say "that's not our problem, have the state pay for that".

    The situation in Japan clearly exposes the real problem of nuclear power - which is not that reasonably safe power plants could not be built: It is the accumulation of risk for a large magnitude desaster that no insurance is commercially available for. And while the owners of TEPCO disregarded even mandatory safety procedures for decades, they increased their profits, while increasing a risk which now, as desaster struck, has to be payed for by the Japanese public - not by those who filled their pockets from the TEPCO profits, before. Thus the public spending on the Fukushima desaster is now not much different from a subsidy. Just require those who want to build a nuclear power plant to pay an insurance that covers even the (small probability, but large scale) meltdown desaster scenario, and you'll see that no nuclear power plant will be built - except maybe in some extremely sparsely populated, desert-like regions in the world, where the cost of such a desaster could be limited.

    Regarding power grid bottle necks: Yes, the power grid needs enhancement to cope with the increasing rate of volatile energy sources. But the complaints regarding the situation in Germany sound somewhat exxagerated when you watch them from a global scale: There have been no significant power outages here for decades. Many other countries, even though using realiable conventional energy sources, had lots of such outages. If you leave it to corporations to decide whether to invest in a more reliable power grid or to save costs, being more profitable and gamble on "let's hope nothing bad will happen", then you are bound for serious power outages. So far, I am happy to see that politicians in Germany do understand the importance of a reliable power grid, so they do enforce enhancements of the power grids, even if that is sure to make the companies running those nets complain (and they do). In addition to enhancements of the power grid, more engery storages will need to be build, that, too, is a technological challenge, but certainly not a bigger one than building a fission reactor.

    Regarding LED lighting and other ways to reduce energy consumption: I personally do operate several LED lights at home, and (unlike bulbs) there are of course very different models with very different color, so you have to pick and choose what suits your requirements. "Warm, bulb-like" LEDs are available, they may currently still be a little more expensive than "cold white" or "yellowish" ones, but you can buy them if you want. And there are many other possibilities to reduce electrical energy consumption, as with better stand-by circuits, more efficient insulation of refridgerators etc. etc. - I am certainly not someone who wants himself "back in a cave, heating with a wooden fire", but fact is that my personal electrical power consumption has reduced over the last 5 years without any negative effect on my comfort or well-being.

    I would not recommend every country to jump into the "alternative energy" adventure by now, since it will certainly be a "bumpy road", cost some money, and require new technology. But Germany is certainly one of the countries best prepared for taking on this challenge, as it is densely populated, relatively wealthy, and there is a broad consensus that investing into alternative power sources and energy saving now is better than to wait until rising fossil fuel prices will force us to.

  • Green energy is only green for those who profit off it. For the rest of us it's unnecessary, too costly and not ready for prime-time. 40-60 mile range electric cars for example. Now on a personal level I'm all for being as environmentally friendly as possible. I turn out the lights when I leave a room, drive a fuel efficient car, and encourage others to do the same.

  • @karl +1


    Green energy is only green for those who profit off it. For the rest of us it's unnecessary, too costly and not ready for prime-time.

    I think it's a desired goal to have most energy supplied from renewable sources in the long term, germany are starting today to get there 40 years from now. It's not something that can be done overnight and without drawbacks or for cheap, but by now all experts in germany, including the 4 biggest energy suppliers, agree that it can be done.

  • If they can come up with a energy storage solution, it will make green power technologies far more viable, for grid power. Decentralized power is still of benefit, as it mitigates transmission losses. Solar hot water heating should be high subsidized and sewerage plant gas for cooking should be pursued. High efficiency vertical fridge/freezers need to be made the norm.

    It's good to see Germany leading the world again with the need engineering expertise

  • my english is not so well to discuss here totaly. fact is: the humans need energy, and lets think that "green" energy is just another word for "alternative" and "renewable" energy. Its fact that it costs more for the consumers and thats what dissapointing a lot of people. But we have the other fact that in around 40 years from now we have no oil and coal anymore to feet 10 billions of people, so what? we need new technologies or we need to go these complicated roads from now on, but i won't jump back to the tree in 40 years.

    I am a german and i bought a house some month ago (its in construction yet) but the first i did, was looking for energy and heating alternatives. For 2 reasons, first i want save money in the future and i wanna be independet of the oil mafia. Of course i paid around 12000 euro just for solar panels and batteries and i bought a "ground heat pump" for 11000 euro... it was fucking pain in the ass to invest, but somehow i feel cool with it.

    My next investement will be a E-Smart for Job and a E-Bike for fun.

    Conclusion for me, "green" energy is something what we need to live, everybody who has the chance to invest in that, should do... and you will see you will feel somehow good.

    I am pretty sure that our goverment is doing it well for alternative energy in the future, when all these countries from european union won't eat our last money. :P

  • Stip has it right: the grid is THE problem here in Germany, and it is largely political - as usual! Just trying to convince cities, towns and private residents of a radical rebuild of the distribution system has turned into a gargantuan struggle. "You want to put a six-kilometer stretch of transmission towers in my backyard? Fuck that!" That's before the funding is found for the construction and right-of-way costs etc. Everyone in the energy field knows that local power generation makes a lot of sense, but that would entail a complete rethink of how we make and distribute our power. Politicians and business interests tend to favour large mega-projects, regardless of their ultimate cost.

  • Germany will solve this problem, and we will play catch-up.

  • Fossil-based and nuclear power generation have many decades to mature while renewable energies still have much ground to cover. Introducing wind and solar do require at a minim an upgrade, if not a total rethink of the (currently one way) distribution plant (a dimension that tends to be ignored given the issues of costs and who is paying, etc.). I believe smart grid will have a role to play in meshing together fossil-based and green power. As with any new tech, they do get better with time and it will take time to iron out the weaknesses found. One can already see wind turbines getting big, and and PV solar getting much more efficient at the panel and system levels. Adding storage with wind and solar could also help smoothing out the peaks. At my home in California, I have PV and batteries just as on a sail boat.

    I actually can understand the sort of "kamikaze" strategy taken in Germany and Japan to stop nuclear reactors. In the short term, it will create some chaos, but in the mid term, that is one way to push their industrial base to come up with innovative solutions before others can do, and then you have the next export champs, just as BMW or Toyota, but in power generations. On the other hand, if one say, if I do this, there is this problem and that problem, oh well, as we all know all (at least most) politicians cannot decide, so nothing get done for the next 30 years (as in the US now).

  • Okay wth are we supposed to do when we can't pump crude oil out of the ground? Fart power?

  • Okay wth are we supposed to do when we can't pump crude oil out of the ground? Fart power?

    why not, that's how Master Blaster powers Bartertown in Mad Max II :) A pretty visionary movie regarding this topic btw.

  • Cow's are farting Methane – so why not ?

  • If we put the billions of dollars of oil subsidies into solar, we would have free electricity in five years, forever.

  • If we put the billions of dollars of oil subsidies into solar, we would have free electricity in five years, forever.

    It is such humour, right? How about look at the energy report (see the blog)?
    How about calculate evergy required to produce solar panels required to replace current solutions?
    I can assure you that as you do this point, you won't like result.

  • @brianluce We go to the sea. Look at Brazil and the times coming.

  • Today, wind and solar energy are largely subsidized. Solar does take up a lof of space, and locations that are truly sunny are usually far from population centers (excepting California) and industrial zones. And there are no truly green tech per se. Both solar and wind do have an impact on fauna and even with wind, it is now found that wind farms create very dry micro climates. I am sure as we roll out more solar and wind, we will understand better their impacts on the environment. I do not believe oil will run out as soon as predicted, since I am sure human will learn to drill deeper and deeper plus you can get oil from rocks - that is shale oil although this is a highly polluted exploitation. The issues will not be when a given source of energy will run out, it is when it will become too expensive for most to afford and this happens quite a lot sooner. Just like the best time to find a new job is when you still have a job, the best time to find alternatives is when you still enjoy plenty of oil.

    So far, we only focus on production, I believe there is a lot to do with conservation. In the past 100 years, oil is mostly consumed by a few countries like the US or Western Europe, those that are developed. Now that we have to add 1.5B of Chinese consumers and 1.2B of Indian consumers, etc. if everybody consumes at the rate human did last century, there won't be enough for everyone. Smaller car engines, fluorescent and may be led, etc. are all good 1st steps. But I believe in this coming century, we will need to retake a look at urbanization trends (I doubt even in the US folks can live so spread out in suburbs when gas hits $50/gallon) and the commerce model. Yes, labour can be very cheap in China and eslewhere, but 10 years from now, transport costs will not be laughing matters.

  • I do not believe oil will run out as soon as predicted

    What is this belief based upon?

  • @brianluce : because the governments don't actually disbelieve climate change, they on the contrary encourage it in order to melt down arctic ice and gain access to gigantic reserves of oil. (Not to mention canadian tar sands).

    Anyway, the whole problem is energy demand. If tomorrow everybody stops using petrol cars and uses either electric cars or electric public transport, the demand in electricity would be impossible to manage without nuclear power. So we're stuck with oil untill someone finds a better source of energy, or a better way of life.

    One solution could me micro-production : via solar panels, mini wind turbines, biogas and stuff like that, every household could produce its own energy.... but the big problem is that this requires huge manufacturing costs (in energy and resources) to equip every household with these things.

    Maybe that at some point we will have to realize that this is an impossible equation.....

  • but the big problem is that this requires huge manufacturing costs (in energy and resources) to equip every household with these things.

    This costs are not big, they are unsustainable. Most of so called renewable energy production rise happens because of biofuel. Generally you can see consequences of this in the corresponding food prices.