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As Germany Adds Renewables, its Power Grid Still One of Most Reliable

Germany electricity reliability

Germany’s ongoing Energievende (energy transition) certainly has its critics. Some say that adding more renewable energy at a rapid rate will cause the heavily industrialized country’s electricity grid to become unreliable. However, so far it has turned out that the availability of electricity in Germany is more reliable than in the US, UK, Netherlands, and France, according to a ECOreport. In fact, out of all the countries tracked, only Japan and Singapore matched Germany for grid reliability.

Electricity availability was lost for an average of only 15.91 minutes per customer in 2012, according to figures from the Council of European Energy Regulators. Whereas, in the United States the figure was an enormous 244 minutes per customer in 2008; the UK figure was a sizeable 81.42 minutes. It’s not just a one-off thing, either. Germany has kept up its record for years. The last year the electricity unavailability per customer broke 16 minutes in Germany, was back 2008.

Far from leaving itself with without reliable “baseload” power, Germany’s electricity generation has become more dynamic, as Bloomberg has pointed out. Twenty of Germany’s power utilities can now earn fees by balancing the electricity market. They are able earn money by pledging to add or cut electricity at a moment’s notice to help keep the power grid stable. The fees can amount to many times what they would ordinarily earn with wholesale electricity prices.

According to the data, it seems that an electricity system that can switch this quickly and dynamically between various energy sources can be very reliable indeed. However, as Think Progress points out, the higher cost of switching means Germany does face higher electricity prices than its European neighbors. However, it’s still early days in the transition to sustainable energy, so over time the price issues may well be resolved as grid infrastructure is improved to cope with the increasing amount of renewable energy.

Germany is aiming to source 80% of its power from renewable sources by 2050. For the first half of this year, Germany managed to generate a third of its electricity from renewable sources, so it’s well on target.

Image: Germany Trade & Invest, Minutes lost per customer chart
Via Think Progress

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