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Germany's Green Costs Runneth Over

It’s not just German households and businesses struggling that are under the yoke of the country’s ill-conceived green energy scheme. The ripples from Berlin’s energiewende are also being felt by one of Germany’s neighbors, as Reuters reports:

Weather-driven surges of German solar and wind power may lead to higher costs for Austria as its grid is forced to take measures to avoid breaking down, a Austrian energy regulator said, calling for a region-wide solution to excess flows. […]

Austria must then cope with additional surges of thousands of megawatts more into its grid, called loop flows, when the weather favors German wind and solar plants.

Loop flows, which are most acute in the windy autumn and early winter, can knock out transmission systems and cause blackouts.

In some ways, Europe is the ideal region to handle renewable energy’s intermittency problem—that is, what to do with an overabundance of energy when wind and solar supply outstrip demand. European countries can just send excess electricity to their neighbors. But as Austria’s experience shows us, even in Europe that transfer is not as simple as flipping a switch.

There are a number of problems associated with dramatically increasing renewables’ share of an energy mix, and their relatively high costs are just the beginning. Grids need to be built out to accommodate a more distributed power supply. Wind and solar farms are more decentralized than coal, gas, or nuclear power plants. In its haste to go green, Germany neglected this key investment…and Austria is paying the price.

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  • S.C. Schwarz

    Of course, those of us who understand these issues (I am an environmental engineer specializing in renewable energy.) told them this would happen. It didn’t make any difference. Politics is more important than logic.

  • Albert Stienstra

    Europe the ideal region to cope with intermittency? There are two sides to intermittency. What to do when there is a high pressure system over Europe in wintertime and there is little wind in Ireland, UK, Benelux, Germany, France etc. right up to Turkey, for a week or longer? It happens every year a couple of times.The interconnects will be quite empty then and all fossil fuel power plants will have to run at full power.

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