Germany’s green revolution continues to bedevil the country, chasing away German industry and raising electricity prices for households. Now the renewables push is claiming a new victim: coal and gas fired power plants. Reuters reports:
Since renewable power from wind and solar power is fed into the grid at the expense of gas and coal, conventional gas plants only run a fraction of the time needed to make money with them.In 2012, Irsching 5, a very modern gas-fired plant in Bavaria that is 50.2 percent owned by E.ON, ran less than half of the 4,000 hours needed to be profitable.Peter Terium, chief executive of Germany’s No.2 utility RWE, said last month about 30-40 percent of its plants were “in the red” mid-term. Most of RWE’s generation capacity is in Germany.
Some greens might see this as a victory: zero-carbon energy sources like wind and solar are driving dirty fossil fuels from Deutschland. But Germany still needs coal and gas plants to power the country when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. The fact that some utilities are thinking of packing up and moving to countries where they can still make money should be deeply troubling to Berlin.The German government incentivized renewable energy with guaranteed prices, but in doing so it has weakened its ability to provide power 24/7. With current technology, green energy can’t provide 100 percent of a country’s power 100 percent of the time. Sane energy policy has to take that into account.[Wind turbine image courtesy of Shutterstock]