This isn\’t the German success you think it is

Figures just published appeared to vindicate Germany’s clean energy revolution, showing that the country’s electricity surplus had nearly quadrupled between 2011 and 2012.

Sure, Germany exports electricity. When the wind\’s blowing and the Sun\’s shining they have a large surplus. Which they must dump onto the electricity markets of other countries. Who would, likely (obviously, it gets dumped onto nearby countries, likely to be having the same breezy, sunny, days) also have a surplus if they had the same penetration of renewables.

And on overcast winter days Germany must import. When it\’s all much more expensive.

The figures from Germany’s Federal Statistical Office, which were based on information from Germany’s four big electricity grid operators, showed that the net surplus of 22.8bn kilowatt hours was worth €1.4bn.

That\’s income.

However, the figures do not take into account the cost of subsidising renewable energy, which some estimates put at €14bn (£11.8bn).

That\’s costs. Yes, annual costs.

So, a loss of over €10 billion a year.

If this is success then what the fuck does failure look like?

19 thoughts on “This isn\’t the German success you think it is”

  1. German dumping of random surplus electricity on its neighbours – sometimes even at negative prices (sic) – isn’t as popular with them as one might imagine, either

    it plays havoc with their grid balancing

    Czech Rep and Poland are taking steps to stop it happening, which will really bugger the German grid (though EU ‘free trade’ principles may hinder their efforts)

  2. Surreptitious Evil

    How much over-capacity could hydro-electric storage buffer? Realistically?

    With German Greens and nimbys objecting?

  3. Hydro isn’t really an option here because we lack the mountains to pump water up. Switzerland next door has plenty of hydro capacity, but they tend to fill it up with their own surplus – run the nukes 24/7 and run the water uphill in the night, and downhill in the day.

    Even if we had the mountains to pump water up, the grimby ((c) 2013 JamesV) lobby would, as you say, oppose every single scheme on some grounds or other. This is, after all, the country where the answer to living near a major international airport (i.e. giant wealth creator and employer of tens of thousands, with admittedly some downsides) is to protest against the airport, rather than to move to the 99% of the country that is not next to a major international airport.

    Thing is, you really do get the feeling that if any country is going to ever have a majority of production from “renewables”, it’ll be Germany that gets there. It may not be the most economically rational project but that wouldn’t stop it being an achievement of sorts.

  4. And re this: “…if any country is going to ever have a majority of production from renewables, itll be Germany… It may not be the most economically rational project but that wouldn’t stop it being an achievement of sorts.”

    The achievement would be to act as a laboratory for the rest of the world to see how stark staring economically insane it would be. Not that everyone would learn the lesson.

  5. I think it will turn out to be a bit economically insane but not a total disaster. After all, we’re now bankrolling half the continent so buying a few sodding windmills is pocket change.

    I’m sure Germany could try taking over someone else’s mountains, but just look how that worked out last time.

  6. Actually, Germany doesn’t really have the military to take over Liechtenstein, let alone anywhere with enough mountains.

    I suppose Germany could buy someone’s mountains, but then again the most obvious choice is Switzerland, and I don’t think Germany could afford to buy Switzerland.

  7. As for the cost, if you are receiving the subsidies, or you worship at the altar of Gaia and think nothing of sacrificing 10bn, then it’s a success.

  8. Just think – the Getmans are happy to piss away 10bn a year, but broke Cyprus for half of that, in a one-off cost.

    The European fraternity eh?

  9. Call me stupid by all means but; if they sell surplus energy at a PROFIT of 1.2bill. why do they need subsidies?
    Or is this euro-fudge accounting as usual…

  10. James, the mountain thing was a WW2-themed joke.

    Out of interest, as you live there and must be way better informed than UK-based readers, assuming they cannot actually keep all of Europe afloat forever, and don’t seem to be able either to leave the EU or allow it to implode, what is the long term outcome for Germany?

  11. JamesV,

    There’s quite a few mountains in Bavaria – I’ve walked up a few under duress. There’s also a few lakes up there, I’ve canoe’d them, again under duress, and they were effing cold, but not sure if the are suitable for hydro power.

    The Harz are a bit lumpy as well.

  12. So Much for Subtlety

    SimonF – “There-s quite a few mountains in Bavaria – I’ve walked up a few under duress.”

    Under duress? They haff vays of making you valk?

    I am told there is a place in the Chilterns where you can stand, look east, and no hill is higher than you are until you hit the Urals.

  13. “I am told there is a place in the Chilterns where you can stand, look east, and no hill is higher than you are until you hit the Urals.”

    ….and the notorius Northamptonshire Uplands 🙂

  14. “Under duress? They haff vays of making you valk?”

    Adventure training in the Army. We were staying in berchtesgaden and I was sent hiking when I would have preferred to do something else, well anything else given the options that should have been available.

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