What happens with German renewables in the dead of winter? 

Posted: February 9, 2017 by oldbrew in Energy, government, ideology
Tags: , ,

A Merc in the murk

A Merc in the murk

The ideologically-driven dash for renewable energy in Germany is heading towards a natural obstacle hiding in its winter weather. Will ‘traditional energy’ always be there to provide security of supply when needed?

Germany has a reputation for being a renewable energy leader – but some believe that the nation’s long, still and dim winters threaten such green aspirations, reports DW.COM.

The “dark doldrums” conjures images of the deep Middle Ages, when the only light to be had flickered from a tallow candle. In fact, it is the loose translation for the German word Dunkelflaute, which describes this time of year, when neither sun nor wind are to be found in great abundance.

And this is the very scenario some are suggesting could plunge the nation into, if not quite a re-enactment of its medieval past, then energy uncertainty. An article published recently in the German daily “Die Welt” warned that the Dunkelflaute could be pushing Germany’s power supply to its limits.

Drawing on statistics from the Agora Energiewende energy think tank and policy laboratory, the report said that on the days around January 24, 2017, as much as 90 percent of the country’s power was provided by coal, gas and nuclear. And not by renewables – which does not, the article continued, bode well for national plans to transition to a clean, green energy future.

Stefan Kapferer, Managing Director of the Federal Association of the Energy and Water Industry (BDEW) told DW that January was marked by a combination of lower-than-average temperatures, a high demand in electricity and extreme fluctuations in input from wind and solar power.

“Flexible, conventional power stations are essential if we are to stabilize the electricity network,” he said. “We have to be able to cover energy demand regardless of the weather.”

And that, Kapferer continued, implies a need for flexible gas and coal power stations, and further down the line, combined heat and power plants.

This would make it possible to “integrate renewables into the energy provision system,” so they become “supporting pillars” of supply.

The report continues here.

  1. oldbrew says:

    Even the Germans can’t make winter days last longer or the wind blow on demand.

  2. oldbrew says:

    Green Energy Is Causing Power Shortages In Europe During An Awful Winter

    Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2017/02/09/green-energy-is-causing-power-shortages-in-europe-during-an-awful-winter/

    Maybe the penny will drop one of these years.

  3. […] Source: What happens with German renewables in the dead of winter?  | Tallbloke’s Talkshop […]

  4. I note that the article avoids including graphics from Agora-Energiewende that illustrate the folly of the Energiewende; but DW includes the absurd declaration that Germany just needs more “storage”; apparently from somebody who cannot or who will not do the arithmetic.

    The article further fails to explain that Germany exports electrical power that is a surplus because of the spinning reserve required to maintain a somewhat-reliable supply grid that’s disrupted by wild fluctuations of wind and PV power; the disrupters having priority of supply.

    Germany’s “oversupply” would evaporate if its nuclear fleet were shut down without replacement. But replacements, in the form of new coal-burning power stations, are under construction and planned. Those, in combination with the older power stations maintained on the grid to maintain the 100% spinning, conventional reserve, required for wind and solar; could mean that Germany will by 2025; exceed its 1990 CO2 emissions.

    Germany’s prime locations for wind power generation have been exhausted. They’re now devastating protected landscapes and on the fringes of parks to build out more wind power; but even a doubling of it seems implausible; especially given Germany’s population density. It would take around a 5-fold development of wind power to provide the energy necessary to fill the gaps between “renewable” supply and actual demand.

    Will German taxpayers and electrical power consumers pay 5 times as much for electrical power and happily live in veritable industrial parks of wind turbines? Just to feel that they’re doing something good for the environment? That’ll take a lot of psychotropic medication.

    Agora-EW supply figures of total electrical power consumption for 2015 in their summary report.

    Around 600 TWh was consumed in 2015; 426 TWh came from conventional generation (excluding hydro) and 119 TWh from Wind+Solar, wind doing the heavy lifting with 80TWh of that. Nuclear power alone provided 92TWh of the conventional share; greater than the share of wind power.

    Thus, to replace just the nuclear share; it would take well over a doubling of installed wind power. That is without considering the intermittency and unpredictability of wind. Intermittency that would need to be compensated by either adding more spinning reserve; or by increasing storage.

    Hydro storage is the most-feasible but the required size makes it impractical (and socially unacceptable) in Germany. Hydropower after all delivered just 20 TWh of electrical power in 2015. Storage requirements would span months so around a third of annual consumption has to be allowed for; i.e. 200 TWh or ten times existing hydro-electric resources.

    That estimate is without taking into account ecological and actual hydrological considerations including the source and sink basin requirements for the pumped quantities.

  5. michael hart says:

    I sense that the schizophrenia of European electricity supply and demand is fast approaching a crisis point in a year or two. I just hope the politics isn’t as bad. The terrible thing is just how much of the problem seems so predictable. The sensible engineers and planners must have been over-ruled or intimidated and frightened into not doing their job properly.

  6. oldbrew says:

    In the end they’re talking about running two parallel national electricity systems, one with fossil fuels and one with renewables, so the costs will reflect that.

    Whatever renewable output is (down to and including zero % for wind and solar), the traditional sources have to fill the gap to make it up to 100% of needs. So renewables don’t replace anything, just give a part-time alternative.

  7. hunter says:

    Skeptics of “green” energy demands are vindicated. Wind and solar power is unreliable, expensive and an assault on the environment. On top of that, wind and solar is useless unless the weather cooperates. Running and paying for two power grids is the very definition of “scam”. End it now.

  8. oldbrew says:

    To answer the ‘what happens’ question…

    Date: 11/02/17 Jürgen Flauger, Handelsblatt

    Conventional power plants played a crucial role in meeting Germany’s energy requirements during dark and chilly January. Now suppliers are demanding market reforms.


  9. JuergenK says:

    Unknown journalist has created a stupid word: Dunkel.flaute.

    A Flaute is a calm, no wind in the sails of a ship.
    One could call it a “wind.calm”.
    And now we have light and no light and the equivalent new word should be Licht.flaute (“light.calm”) not a Dunkel.flaute (“dark.calm”). It isn’t a “dark.calm”, it is a “light.calm” because it is no lack of darkness, but lack of brightness.

    Next time you want to create a new word, please start up your brain first, dear unknown journalist 😉

  10. oldbrew says:

    Juergen – some of your German dunkel Bier is not bad 😎

  11. JuergenK says:

    oldbrew –
    have you ever been to Kloster Andechs in Bavaria? It houses the oldest and biggest remaining independet brewery in Germany. Their stuff is really gorgeous. Because of its high alcohol content (13%) this beer is more like a Spanish vino roja. The taste however is much more voluminous than the that of those vino rojas from Spain.
    No beer for very thirsty people, though.
    Visiting the cloister in summertime can be quiet an experience. First you have to climb up a mountain, then, soaked with sweat, you go into the building with its thick walls and a darkly and cool atmosphere where you can already cool down a bit.
    Then you sit down on one of those old benches (like pews) and order your beer and meal. While looking over the valley you might start a conversation with one of the well-travelled waiter monks.
    One very soon gets the impression of a completely different world from a time very long ago.
    When I was there I found the contrast startling. The dark walls and darkly shadows inside and the bright and wide valley outside and below. I felt like being in a movie about the “Dark Ages”. Although a lot of “dark” here, ones feels immediately at peace. The threatening world of today with all its speedy crazy Zeitgeist stays outside.
    I really enjoyed staying there for quiet a while, listening to the adventures of my waiter (a former legionary) and soaking in the vibe of that day.

  12. oldbrew says:

    Juergen – yes I’ve been to Andechs a few times but not in recent years.