Realities about renewable energy.
About 65% of the hours of the year, solar energy is minimal or zero.
About 30% of the hours of the year, wind energy is minimal or zero.
Many of these hours overlap and occur AT RANDOM.
That means, absent economically-viable, utility-scale energy storage (not yet invented, except impounded hydro), almost ALL conventional generating units are required almost ALL hours of the year to provide energy when solar and wind energy are insufficient.
It is called having “capacity adequacy” and it is NOT free, because all these generators would need to be:
- Kept in good working order
- Replaced on a scheduled basis with new ones,
to be ready to serve on a moment’s notice.
Capacity adequacy, and its operation, adds at least 5 c/kWh to the cost of:
- Delivering the sum of “fill-in” conventional energy + balancing the variable wind and solar energy, a significant “externality”, plus
- Extensive redesign and augmentation of existing grids to connect the distributed energy sources and control their variable, intermittent energy with the less-efficiently-operated conventional generators operating in inefficient, part-load-balancing mode.
If wind and solar energy require super grids, should not their cost be added to the cost of wind and solar?
Because Germany lacks grid adequacy to deal with increasing variable RE generation during an increasing number of hours of the year, Germany's answer has been, is, and will be, to increasingly use foreign grids to balance its variable RE energy, but Germany ends up selling this excess energy at near zero prices after subsidizing it at about 20 eurocent/kWh.
RE aficionados crowing about Germany exporting energy sounds rather hollow, especially when increased coal use causes Germany's annual CO2 emissions to INCREASE,
They are not crowing about:
- The adverse impact wind energy has on the traditional generators (without them, wind energy would be dead in the water)
- The extra transmission and the extra balancing capacity investments
- The high German household electric rates which are second highest in Europe at 29.5 eurocent/kWh, incl. fees, EEG, VAT and other taxes, right after Denmark.
No wonder, Germany and its ENERGIEWENDE has become the laughing stock of Europe.
However, because of increasing expensive RE generation from its too expensive ENERGIEWENDE, it is starting to bump up against the capacity, MW, of transmission connections with foreign grids (congestion and curtailments?), which will require Germany to finally make many billions of dollars of investments in grid expansions that should have been made at least 10 years ago.
The excuse for not doing it was the fable, it would not be necessary, because of smart grid, supply and demand management, electric cars acting as storage, economically-viable, utility-scale storage being just around the corner, etc., all of which turned out to be much slower and more expensive to implement, even by rich Germany, never mind by poor states, such as Vermont.
Basically, Germany rushed out the door to fight global warming, without being fully equipped for the battle, and deluding itself regarding the cost, etc. Somewhat similar to the way it rushed into Russia during WW II.