Chris Hayes, Dave Roberts on Germany’s Feed In Tariff
December 18, 2012
Despite some unevenness, bumps along the way, and a few major problems that need to be ironed out, Germany’s energy transformation continues, driven by a deceptively simple policy that has proven to be the most effective driver of renewable energy transformation worldwide.
On Friday, Germany’s Manager Magazine reported preliminary figures for the German power sector, revealing that Germany exported more electricity in the first 3 quarters of 2012 than ever before. Nonetheless, some remain concerned.
According to preliminary figures not yet published by the BDEW, an association representing power and water providers, Germany exported 12.3 terawatt-hours of electricity in the first 9 months of 2012, compared to minus 0.2 terawatt-hours in the first 3 quarters of 2011 (effectively meaning that Germany was a net importer in the first 3 quarters of last year). The sudden nuclear phaseout last spring clearly reveals itself when we look at the statistics for the first 9 months of 2010, when Germany was a net exporter of 8.8 terawatt-hours. Nonetheless, experts remain concerned mainly about two things: the wide gap between peak power demand in the evening late in November; and the low value of German power exports relative to power imports.
In the evening in late November, power demand in Germany generally peaks for the year at around 80 GW. These hours are reliably always dark, so no power will come from photovoltaics. If there is also little wind power at that time, Germany will have to have that entire amount as dispatchable power generating capacity. The situation is not new, however, and it will not change; going forward, Germany will always have to have at least 80 GW of dispatchable power generating capacity, though not all of that need be fossil and nuclear – power storage will increasingly make up a small share of the pie, and gas turbines could increasingly run on biogas and gas made from excess renewable electricity (power to gas, itself a form of power storage).