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Will the Energy Transformation Cause the Lights to Go Out Soon?

Security of Supply

Will the Energy Transformation Cause the Lights to Go Out Soon?

  • Elektrizitätswerk

If you say A, you must also say B. If you choose the energy transformation, you cannot get around modernizing the energy system. This is the case in Baden-Württemberg. Today nearly 33 per cent of electricity produced here still came from nuclear power. Wind and the sun are to supply most of our electricity in the future, and yet their yields fluctuate. In order to guarantee an enduring and stable supply, our energy system must change. This has great significance for this business location. And it is doable.

Germany’s electricity supply shall be secure. This is stipulated in Section 1 of the German Energy Act (Energiewirtschaftsgesetz). The Federal Ministry of Economics assumes the monitoring duties; the transmission grid operators guarantee the secure operation of the system. Globally speaking, Germany has one of the most secure electricity supplies, which can be seen from the so-called unavailability figures. This is the average time period within a year in which a consumer’s access to electricity is disrupted. Compared with other countries in Europe, Germany has a particularly low figure (12.3 minutes in 2014). This should remain the case in the future. A functioning economy in particular needs to be guaranteed a seamless supply of electricity. And it will be – if we modernise the energy system accordingly. In order to do so, we must make adjustments in several key areas.

1. The Federal Network Agency confirms that Germany’s electricity production is sufficient. Even in the winter months, Germany exports electricity. In fact, on average, it exports the amount generated by a nuclear power plant daily. Although less solar power is produced in the cold months, generation from wind reaches some of its highest levels during that time.

2. Admittedly, there have been shortages in the grid on individual days in winters past, which had to be compensated by grid operators and the Federal Network Agency. The experience gained in the recent years helps to keep the grid stable - even during winter.

3. We must invest in new electricity grids to ensure that electricity can reach the end users who need it because switching to renewable energy changes the requirements for transporting electricity from wind parks in the north to business locations in the south, just to name one scenario.

4. Electricity grids must become intelligent. “Smart grids”, as they are called, are designed to recognise fluctuations in the grid and compensate for them quickly with appropriate measures. This gives us the technical capability of reconciling supply and demand.

5. Storage technologies will play an important role in the energy system of the future. Excess electricity can hardly be stored currently. In the future, pumped storage hydro power stations or power-to-gas plants will help ensure that excess energy can be made available for use during times when electricity generation is down.

6. In addition to renewable energy, we will also need highly efficient and fast-reacting gas power plants that can guarantee the security of supply even when there is no wind and at the same time clouds fill the sky. Coal-fired power plants emit a great deal of CO2 and need a significant amount of time to be switched on and off; they cannot be made available quickly enough when there is a shortage of supply.

7. It is true that all this will take a lot of work. But it does not endanger the electricity supply in our state. Now it is time to set the proper course and to quickly make the necessary investments.