A number of articles appeared this week following up on Germany’s quick decision in May 2011 to abandon nuclear energy in light of the Fukushima tragedy and its struggle now to find a replacement for this lost electric power generation. Germany’s goal is to make renewable energy account for 35% of the total energy mix by 2020 and phasing out all of Germany’s nuclear power plants by 2022. But as one source noted:

Renewable generation can be sporadic, with voltage fluctuations being caused by cloud cover or shading effects on PV solar energy systems or low wind speeds on wind farms. During peak-hours, congestion can occur in power transmission lines due to the exchange of excess electricity, and the intermittent nature of renewable energy resources implies that voltage and frequency fluctuations will become more common, threatening German electricity supply.

As a result, Germany has put itself on a forced march to create a sustainable renewable electricity system to power its 80 million inhabitants. For if it fails, parts of the nation will be plunged into darkness. And the whole world is watching.

 

In Germany Rethinks Path to Green Future Der Spiegel noted that the pace of grid expansion is sluggish and electricity costs for consumers are rising as the country attempts to transform itself to a green electricity economy. The author says “…the expansion of the power grid and many other projects simply haven’t been able to keep pace (with the government’s policy). Timetables are being mixed up, costs are spiraling out of control, and every day that the chaos continues, the green-republic project risks losing more supporters.” The Renewable Energy Act is the biggest cost factor in Germany’s energy transformation. The rules for the subsidies are quite simple: Operators of wind farms, solar panels and biogas plants get a guaranteed, fixed feed-in tariffor price for all electricity they generate over a period of many years. Power companies are required to purchase this energy, but at a price much higher than what they get for it on the open market. The higher difference is paid for by German consumers through their electricity bill. “More than a fifth of the electricity produced in Germany already comes from renewable sources. Not surprisingly, this has led 65 countries worldwide to try to copy the German model.” The average household  currently pays €144 ($181) a year for these subsidies, and this is likely to rise to more than €200 in 2013. It has been estimated that the operators of green power plants have been promised more than €200 million under this legislation. Meanwhile, industrial firms that use a lot of electricity are being given more and more tax breaks. The Federal Network Agency has calculated that Germany’s biggest electricity uses account for 18% of overall consumption, but bear only 0.3% of the costs. Yet despite the rapid expansion of on-shore and off-shore wind and solar panels, the work on the national electric grid can’t keep up and in some cases is years behind schedule. As a result some off-shore wind farms are not connected to the grid and work on them has stopped as it make take years to get connected. See also Der Spiegel North Sea Wind Offensive Plagued by Problems and Germany Hits Brakes on Race to Renewable Energy Future.

hydrogenfuelnews wrote about how Germany’s energy infrastructure is undergoing a major overhaul. “While Germany has made significant progress in its adoption of alternative energy, it still faces a serious challenge that could inhibit further progress: Energy infrastructure…(Germany’s energy transition) represents the largest energy infrastructure overhaul the country has seen since World War II. The scope of the initiative is massive and will require the use of emerging and development of new technologies in order to be successful. The country’s conventional energy infrastructure is not compatible with the clean energy that is being generated through solar and hydrogen technologies.” The author notes that this ambitious project might take several decades to reach completion and if the country’s energy infrastructure fails during this transition, it will be a costly blow to Germany both domestically and internationally. Finding a new and innovative way of storing renewable energy may be the only way Germany avoids disappointment and electricity blackouts.

Transmission & Distribution World said Germany’s Independence from Nuclear Energy will be Driven by a Smart Grid. The post states: “…pessimism regarding the cost and reliability of renewable energy resources implies that smart grid technologies will be vital in order to keep the nation’s power on….Large scale nuclear energy generation led to low power prices and a strong reputation, and it will take time and extensive R&D for renewable energy sources to catch up. The use of smart grid technologies will help Germany to become independent of its nuclear power plants, but it will be some time before these initiatives bear fruit.” Like previous posters, this site believes that only innovative energy storage systems will keep the lights on in a renewable energy world.

Der Spiegel suggested that a new generation of coal-fired electric power plants could save Germany’s goal of a renewable energy future. Meanwhile, the same source said German Shipyards See Future in Wind Power.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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