Germany Is In Trouble...Of Its Own Making

I had an interesting ‘discussion’ with a solar power proponent, specifically about solar power’s overblown ability to meet our energy demands in the US. She insisted it could meet all our needs and I countered with “Then you are grossly underestimating the electrical demand, both as it exists now and the projected demand to recharge all of the electric vehicles being rammed down our throats by Biden, and the efficacy of solar, particularly in the climate here in New England.” She then cited Germany’s switchover to solar and wind as an example of how it can be done.

The only problem with her claim?

Germany hasn’t been able to meet the electrical demand and, in fact, has had to ask heavy industry in some parts of the country to shut down to prevent blackouts. As part of a twofer, it also has some of the highest electricity rates in the world.

Power supply for critical industrial companies disconnected from the grid On Saturday, August 14th, the network operators disconnected several industrial companies from the power grid in the evening. The electricity generation could no longer cover the current electricity demand in Germany. The power supply was critical and it was no longer possible to secure the supply even by importing electricity.

A break in solar power triggers the shutdown of industrial companies. The generation of electricity in Germany on this Saturday was downright chaotic. During the day, the solar systems generated a lot of electricity due to the almost optimal solar radiation. Between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., the solar power reached a peak output of more than 30,000 megawatts. In the evening, the power generation of the solar systems collapsed drastically. Between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., they delivered around 3,000 megawatts, just 10% of the output from the afternoon. Demand for electricity not covered by electricity imports either.

However, the demand for electricity in the evening was almost unchanged at a good 50,000 megawatts. The network operators therefore had to call up all available reserves. But the output of the pumped storage power plants and the lignite power plants run up to their maximum load was not enough to compensate for the deficit between electricity demand and electricity generation. The still missing amount of electricity could not be compensated by importing electricity from abroad. Therefore, shortly before 8 p.m., loads were shed from larger, energy-intensive industrial plants, such as aluminum and copper smelters.

This isn’t a one time event as it has happened before. It will happen even more often as Germany shuts down and decommissions its last nuclear plants, reducing its available generating capacity more than it already has. It has also been removing coal-fired generating plants from the grid, though it has suspended those plans for the time being.

They are finding out their whole ‘green’ energy dream isn’t working the way it was promised, that it is far more expensive than they were told, isn’t as reliable as it should be - even with storage - and isn’t dispatchable (can be brought on line as needed, when needed). They're finding out energy from outside Germany isn’t readily available either, be it electricity from French nuclear plants or natural gas from Russia for combined-cycle natural gas turbine plants within Germany. All of this has led to Germans paying astronomical rates for electricity.

A new addition is the annually increasing CO2 tax on electricity generated from fossil fuels, which is one of the reasons why the electricity price has reached a new record.

Germany has the highest electricity price in an international comparison. However, a new peak was reached in August, higher than ever before. According to a current analysis by the comparison portal Verivox, one kilowatt hour of electricity now costs an average of 30.4 cents for private households.

The wholesale prices for electricity rose significantly in 2021 and are therefore the main reason for the current rise in electricity prices. In January the average price on the EEX electricity exchange was 45.29 euros per megawatt hour and had already risen to 50.81 euros by July. This corresponds to a price increase of around 12 percent. The electricity providers are now passing the price increase on to the end consumer.

This is the same fate AOC has in mind for us with her Green Nude Eel - A faltering electrical grid incapable of meeting demand - present or future - at prices that a lot of people won’t be able to afford, a changeover to electric vehicles which we won’t have the electricity to recharge, and a collapse of our economy because there won’t be enough reliable energy to run it. Germany is a preview of what we can expect here. It’s not anything we want to emulate.

It all comes down to this – renewable energy is incapable of meeting our energy needs unless we want to do incalculable damage to our environment because we’ll need massive tracts of land for all the solar panels and wind turbines, all the storage. A ‘back of the envelope’ calculation showed that under perfect conditions (12 hours of noontime illumination, 1000W/m2 of solar energy hitting panels with a 30% conversion efficiency [and that’s being generous], meaning it takes 3.3 square meters of panels to generate 1000 watts of electricity, panels set up so the sunlight would only hit panels and not the ground, i.e. edge-to-edge, and enough storage to store 12 hours of output), it would take solar panels covering approximately 3.3 square miles of land to provide the same amount of electricity of a single 1300MW nuclear plant for 24 hours. The panels would need to generate twice the output of that 1300MW plant because half of that power would be needed to charge the storage batteries or the pumped storage required to provide electricity for the 12 hour of darkness. In the real world, much more than that would be needed because sunlight isn’t illuminating the panels at noontime levels for 12 hours. Instead you have to design for the shortest illumination period of the year (about 8 hours up here on either side of December 21st), the varying illumination between dawn sunrise and sunset, and the clouds that cover a portion or all of the solar arrays, so figure an array 3 times that size, or about 10 square miles. In comparison, a nuclear power plant takes up a couple of square miles (including the security exclusion zone surrounding the plant), can run 24/7/365 at 100% power output, and is not affected by the vagaries of weather. It also has a service life of 60 years. Solar panels have a service life of 15-20 years, tops.

Which would I prefer? I’m sure you know my answer.