Germany’s Energiewende is faltering badly.
The truth is that the Energiewende is on the same path as the construction of the Berlin BER airport – racing down the highway to total debacle – something that everyone is doing their damnedest to ignore and wishing it would just go away.
Moreover, Eisenring writes, it is causing “collateral damage” to Germany’s neighboring countries, as huge supply fluctuations threaten to destabilize their grids and electricity markets.
Only 1% of rated capacity!
The Energiewende has led to some of the most expensive electricity prices in the world, and it is not difficult to understand why. Eisenring uses the example of German power production on January 24, 2017 when at 7 a.m. German demand was at 70 gigawatts but the country’s 84 gigawatts of installed solar and wind capacity were putting out a mere 0.8 gigawatts, i.e. only about 1% of capacity.
That means doubling or even ten-folding German solar and wind capacity would still not be enough at times. That in turn means that Germany is forced to run two separate systems: a renewable one and a conventional system. “That’s costly,” Eisenring comments.
The highly erratic supply of wind and sun means the conventional power plants are constantly being slowed down or cranked up in a desparate race to keep the grid stable. Eisenring illustrates:
It is as if you would constantly be putting on the brakes and accelerating on the highway while driving from Bern to Zürich: It is a highly inefficient way of production.”
Adding more renewables is only going to mean more hours of oversupply when the wind blows and the sun shines, Eisenring reminds. It will lead to even greater inefficiency and instability.
1000 hours of negative prices possible annually
To unload the excess power, wholesale prices have been increasingly falling into the negative range, which means the grid operator has to pay buyers to “buy” the unwanted power. Eisenring reports that last year German power prices on the wholesale exchange markets were negative for 97 hours, which is close to 2 hours a week. But that figure will only grown as more wind and solar come online. Eisenring writes:
However, there are estimates that this could be the case for 1000 hours by 2022.”
That comes out to be about 20 hours a week. No market can survive that.
Another problem, Eisenring writes, is the havoc that Germany’s bucking bronco power grid is wreaking on the grids of neighboring countries like the Czech Republic, Poland, France, Austria or Switzerland, to name a few – all caused by the “exorbitant subsidization of renewables.”
€520 billion per year by 2025!
Germany’s Energiewende and its high costs are hammering consumers, many of whom are no longer able to pay their electric bills and are thus losing power by the tens of thousands of households. Eisenring cites one study that estimates the Energiewende cost Germany 150 billion euros in 2015 alone, and by 2025 it could cost 520 billion euros.
Storage still a pipe dream
Storing surplus electricity is also currently unfeasible, noting that German renowned economist Hans-Werner Sinn calculated 125 million Tesla automobile batteries would be needed. Yet, even such a huge quantity of batteries still would not be enough to allow wintertime driving, Sinn calculates!
Eisenring also writes that so far Germany’s Energiewendehas led to very little protection of the environment, as much of the CO2 emissions have been offshored and have fallen only 6% in the electricity sector since the feed-in act was enacted in 2000.
Eisenring writes that Germany will not meet its 2020 40%-emissions-reductions target. Currently the country has reduced emissions by 27% since 1990, but most of that coming from shutting down the shoddy old industries of former communist East Germany after the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall.
Government still insisting it’s “our success story”
Yet, this glaring failure has not made any impression on the German government, as it recently released a propaganda brochure extoling the virtues of the Energiewende, calling it “our success story“, “sustainable and safe“, affordable and plannable” and “reliable and intelligent“.
Eisenring comments on the government’s propagandist self-assessment:
With this assessment Berlin is quite alone.”
Early this year Germany’s federal budget office determined that “the Ministry of Economics had in fact no overview of the financial impacts of the Energiewende” and that policymakers had “underestimated the impacts of renewable energy on the entire energy system“.
H/t reader kevin a.
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