Monday, 28 October 2013

Wind and solar power put German net stability at risk - cost of a 60 minute blackout: 600 million euro!

Germans are beginning to see the reality of Angela Merkel's hastily undertaken energy transition policy. The huge subsidies for wind and solar power have led to ever increasing utility bills both for households and businesses in Germany, and - what is really worrying - the stability of Germany's electricity generation is at risk.

The German think tank Hamburger Weltwirtschaftsinstitut (HWWI) has now published a study, according to which the cost of even a short energy blackout - one hour - would be close to 600 million euro - no small amount, even in rich Germany.

Particularly Germany's industrial engine in the south should be worried, according to the study:

In the light of past experiences in Germany, the scenario of a county-wide blackout underlying our analysis may seem unlikely. However, recent studies point to considerable dangers for network security resulting from the shift in German power supply towards renewable energies (Dena, 2010). In this regard, a major drawback of electricity generation through wind and solar energy is its dependence on current weather conditions. An ongoing expansion of these energy sources will thus cause overall power supply to become more volatile and less predictable. In general, this renders the task of balancing feed-in and consumption volumes at each point in time more difficult for network operators. This is aggravated by a spatial shift of generation capacities. Due to climate conditions, the installation of wind turbines tends to be more profitable in the northern part of Germany, especially when considering the potentials of offshore wind parks. Already today, the result is a gap in the supply potential of electricity between North and South. At the same time, high-demand areas are still concentrated in West and South.---

A North-South divide is apparent, where the north appears more saturated in terms of electricity. In the South, only a few counties have high levels of electricity saturation, which are the locations of larger conventional power plants. Considering the fact that several of the nuclear power plants, primarily located in the South, have been terminated in 2011 and the remaining are set to be shut down in 2022, the level of electricity autarky in southern Germany will further be on the decline. The consequential need for long-distance power transmission will put further pressure on transmission capacities.

No wonder then that the CEOs of Europe's four largest energy companies recently called for an end to subsidies for wind and solar power:

The stability of Europe’s electricity generation is at risk from the warped market structure caused by skyrocketing renewable energy subsidies that have swarmed across the continent over the last decade.
This sentiment was echoed a week ago by the CEOs of Europe’s largest energy companies, who produce almost half of Europe’s electricity. This group joined voices calling for an end to subsidies for wind and solar power, saying the subsidies have led to unacceptably high utility bills for residences and businesses, and even risk causing continent-wide blackouts


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