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.