German power grid at risk of widespread blackouts

Posted: September 25, 2014 by oldbrew in Energy, Uncertainty, wind

[image credit: Wikipedia]

[image credit: Wikipedia]


Pierre Gosselin at Notrickszone reports:

‘There was a time when Germany’s power was mostly generated by the traditional sources of coal, nuclear, oil, natural gas and hydro. These sources were reliable and keeping the power grid under control was a routine matter. Germany’s power grid was among the most stable worldwide. But then came Germany’s renewable energy feed-in act, and with it the very volatile sources of sun and wind.’

‘As a result, today’s German power grid has become a precarious balancing act, and keeping it from collapsing under the load of wild fluctuations has become a real challenge.’

Full report: EIKE: German Power Grid More Vulnerable Than Ever…”On The Brink Of Widespread Blackouts”!.

Talkshop comment: this was all predictable from the start. How the supposedly competent Germans so willingly fell into the intermittent energy trap is only a mystery if the ridiculous political dogma driving their energy policies is ignored.

Britain is now approaching the same state of instability for much the same reasons although – unlike Germany – nuclear power has not been excluded for future use.

Comments
  1. colliemum says:

    Ah well, once Germany starts rationing energy use because they have to, we’ll see the same here.
    Isn’t that exactly what all who’ve been ‘fighting’ for green crap want?
    Mind you – Whitehall, Westminster and all local councils will be exempt, because they must demonstrate to us plebs that they are important, we are not – but we must nevertheless pay for it/them.

  2. oldbrew says:

    Obsession with wind and solar power seems to be creating an inverse relationship between the price of electricity and the reliability of its supply.

  3. michael hart says:

    Perhaps the European Commission will propose a ban on the use electrically-heated showers during peak periods? Or maybe just set a limit on the water temperature?

  4. oldbrew says:

    Belgium is also on the edge: ‘The companies that manage our country’s electricity supply network have provided province by province lists of the streets that could be hit by power cuts this winter. Eandis, Infrax and Sibelga hope that this will serve to warn customers that will be without electricity, should supply problems arise this winter.’

    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2014/9/25/belgian-brownout-german-emergency-british-plan.html

  5. Petrossa says:

    Reblogged this on Petrossa's Blog and commented:
    Yet another example of reality meeting wishful thinking. If only they hadn’t bet their entire economy on ‘alternative’ energy… Now they’re just without anywhere to go but onwards on this wasteful path. The incredible disregard for laws of nature is stunning especially since Angela Merkel has a beta background. Perpetual motion machines are just not possible so obviously there is a huge price to pay for inefficient unreliable energy production. It boggles the mind how delusional an entire population can become. Luckily they serve as a good example on how not to do it. For that non-germans can be thankful

  6. oldbrew says:

    Austria wants to take Britain to the European Court of Justice if its subsidies to a new nuclear power station are allowed by the EU – as seems likely.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/11119631/Austria-to-launch-legal-challenge-if-EU-approves-British-nuclear-plan.html

  7. Joe Public says:

    @ michael hart says at 12:03 pm

    Perhaps the European Commission will ….. set a limit on the water temperature?

    Human physiology determines ‘safe’ water temp.

    Existing NHS guidance is as good as any:

    44oC For an unassisted bath fill
    46oC For an assisted bath fill
    41oC For shower applications
    41oC For washbasin applications
    38oC For bidet applications

    However, to control Legionella, hot water should be stored at or above 60oC.

  8. oldbrew says:

    Der Spiegel reports that some major German industries are voting with their feet, others are considering doing the same.

    ‘But companies haven’t stopped investing altogether — they are simply no longer investing in Germany. Bavarian carmaker BMW is currently spending $1 billion on turning its Spartanburg, South Carolina plant into its largest worldwide. Daimler now assembles the new C class for the American market in the town of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. And painting equipment manufacturer Dürr expanded its factory building in Shanghai last year so that it matches the size of its headquarters in Bietigheim-Bissingen, near Stuttgart.’

    ‘Since the fracking boom has lowered energy prices, the United States in particular has blossomed as a preferred site for German companies. In May, BASF CEO Kurt Bock announced a new €1 billion investment, the largest in company history, on the American Gulf Coast. In explaining the decision, the executive noted that natural gas in the United States costs only a third of what it does in Germany. Technology giant Siemens even went a step further, announcing that it will run its entire business from offices in the United States in the future.’

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/low-german-infrastructure-investment-worries-experts-a-990903.html

    BMW Spartanburg [credit: motortrend.com]:

  9. DedaEda says:

    No problem, Czechs have plenty of electricity from their nuclear plants to sell for a right price!

  10. You have to love the Germans for doing dumb stuff so the rest of us won’t have to. Thanks to their Greens (who have real political clout) Germany is attempting to run a major industrial econony on wind and solar.

    Although wind and solar are minor components of the German electricity generating portfolio, their share is growing at the expense of nuclear and coal. Already the stability of the German grid has deteriorated in an alarming way:
    http://notrickszone.com/2014/09/24/eike-german-power-grid-more-vulnerable-than-ever-on-the-brink-of-widespread-blackouts/

    [mod note] the same link is in the post above

  11. oldbrew says:

    @ DedaEda

    You say ‘no problem’, but there is one.

    ‘Czech electricity grid company ready to block German wind power’

    http://coldaircurrents.luftonline.net/2013/11/czech-electricity-grid-company-ready-to.html

  12. Graeme No.3 says:

    oldbrew:
    The Poles are ahead of the Czechs, as they’re sick of the disruptive effect on their black coal based of north German wind farms. So too the State of Michigan, which is trying to block excessive electricity flows from Ontario, which is blamed as the reason for their big blackout in 2003.

    Curiously Ontario is trying to switch lots of hydro off by installing wind turbines, which will only make the problem worse. That won’t slow down the efforts in Michigan at all.

    The other problem that Germany’s neighbours face is the surge in solar PV should there be a sunny day in Germany. There is so much power coming into the system that it has to be exported at a loss. Of course that surge of cheap power disrupts many generators, pushing up their costs by limiting their profitable operating time. So pumped storage, gas and even nuclear are being shut down or forced to close, just as they have in Germany. Coal fired is cheapest but has the most CO2 emissions and becomes the only recourse left; so the effect of “renewables” is increasing emissions.

  13. oldbrew says:

    Graeme: yes it’s a recipe for trouble all along the line. Once renewables get past 15-20% of the total input it gets even harder to manage, but some countries like Germany are pressing on anyway.

  14. Apologies for linking something that was in the original (very interesting) post. This issue should be getting much more attention than it is. However it will instantly become front page news when the power grid in Germany or other significant industrial economy collapses.

    Here in the USA we are starting to become aware of this side effect of “Renewable Energy”. While the “Main Stream Media” here never mentions it I listened to AM radio when driving to the Carolinas last week and was delighted to hear a discussion that was aimed at raising awareness in Washington.

  15. oldbrew says:

    gc: it’s surprising today’s politicians seem totally unaware their own careers will be toast if or when mass power cuts take place due to their one-eyed energy policies. The public won’t stand for it.

  16. hunter says:

    If the goal of government subsidies to power sources is to help consumers, improve the environment or enhance the quality of power to the nation, then every penny spent on wind is wasted.

  17. gallopingcamel says:

    @oldbrew,
    To use a baseball expression you just hit one “Out of the Park” with this post. It would be hard to overstate the importance of this issue. It may turn out to be the reef that wrecks the loony energy policies based on fraudulent “Climate Science”.

    As others have pointed out, “Climate Science” is an oxymoron. That does not seem enough for a fraud that makes the “Piltdown Man” seem trivial. What about “Oxymoron of the Century”?

  18. oldbrew says:

    @ gc: put it this way, who would want to be a manager of the German national grid these days?

    I wonder if they sleep well on cold winter nights 😉

  19. Once or twice a year I visit John Cook’s SKS to marvel at the pompous nonsense posted there.

    So it was quite a shock to read something that made some sense:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/did_wind_power_replace_nuclear_in_UK.html#commenthead

    None of the comments picked up on the issue of grid stability. I would have drawn that to their attention but I am totally banned at SKS along with my wife, my sister and my brother. Probably my dog too!

  20. oldbrew says:

    The first SKS commenter points out:
    ‘once wind reaches the curtailment point (about 25% of total generation) its costs begin to escalate rapidly.’

    Broadly speaking that’s the point where there are too many wind turbines too much of the time. Battery storage may sound viable until you work out how many would be needed and what the costs would be.

    I don’t have any figures but Germany can’t be far off the curtailment point.
    Meanwhile here’s the UK approach: beg for extra capacity…

    http://www2.nationalgrid.com/Media/UK-Press-releases/2014/National-Grid-tenders-for-balancing-reserve-services-to-meet-market-changes/

    ‘These services would only be used as a last resort to balance the system in the very unlikely event that there is not sufficient generating capacity available in the market.’

    So unlikely they are prepared to spend millions of pounds on it 😉

  21. oldbrew says:

    Germany on the brink of power failures this winter, says official report.

    http://notrickszone.com/2014/10/08/german-federal-analysis-sees-massive-threats-to-security-and-reliability-of-electric-power-supply-system/

    The blackouts have already started – in the report itself:

    ‘The report’s summary adds: “Secure management of the expected critical situations requires comprehensive measures.”

    This all means that on a cold winter day, Germany’s power grid could very well collapse and citizens be left in the cold and dark for hours or even days. Parts of the report have been blacked out, which is hardly reassuring to the reader.’