Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Welcome to the Renewable Energy Future: A Lesson From Germany

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Germany's power grid is in trouble, and federal regulators are warning something must be done before the onset of winter's usual skyrocketing energy demands. They say the current grid is unable to support the forced transition from nuclear to government-mandated "renewable" energies and must be expanded quickly to avoid blackouts.

"The situation of the power grid in the Winter 2011/12 was very tense," recounted a press release announcing publication of the annual report from the Federal Network Agency (FNA), Germany's energy regulating bureau. But the tension didn't surprise regulators.

Last August they recommended precautionary measures in light of the nuclear power station shutdowns forced by Germany's nuclear energy exit bill. The legislation, passed in July in a knee-jerk reaction to Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, wiped out 40 percent of German nuclear capacity. This, along with the unpredictability of wind and solar power and February's unexpected gas supply shortage, forced the country to lean heavily on emergency reserves and imports from Austria.

"Reserve capacity in Germany and Austria was strained on multiple occasions," reads the FNA annual report. The agency recommends about 1,000 megawatts of reserve power to be on standby this coming winter. It also promises to implement "regulatory measures" to "ban the shutdown of conventional power plants" in an effort to meet demand.

Agency head Jochen Homann fears a repeat of last season's power interruptions since new renewable power facilities will not be able to deliver next winter based on the existing infrastructure. He told reporters a mere 100 kilometers of new transmission lines are now operating, though 1,834 kilometers are needed, Reuters reported. More nuclear power plants will be phased-out in coming months, and FNA estimates it will take two years for new plants to meet the 12 gigawatts GW of scheduled closures. Based on projected demand, the agency estimates an additional 15-16 GW of capacity should also be built.

Blogger P. Gosselin credits this transformation of "Germany's once impeccably stable world-class power grid" with its "reckless and uncontrolled rush to renewable energies, wind and sun, all spurred on by a blind environmental movement and hysteria with respect to nuclear power." He quotes Steffen Hentrick of the Liberal Institute:

This shows not only how the replacement of conventional energy capacity through renewable energy is an illusion, but also how expensive the forced energy transition to renewable will be for citizens. The transformation of the energy supply, as it is now being conducted, cannot be supported by the arguments of environmental protection, supply reliability and economics, even when the reports of state officials allow us to see that none of these targets sells by itself.

Indeed, government representatives who met last week to discuss Germany's energy issues determined that by 2020, when all nuclear power is scheduled to be phased out, the country's power gap will equal the output of 15 power stations, according to Russian Times. The report said government officials and industry executives are scheduled to meet again May 23 to search for solutions.

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