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German Grid May Not be Able to Handle More Green Energy but it Can Handle More Coal

The growth of Germany’s green energy could grow so fast that its electrical grid may not be able to handle the added electrons, which still need to be firmed up with baseload generation that runs around the clock. So the government there may cut the subsidies so as to limit rate of renewable expansion.

The German government, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, still wants renewables to hit 45 percent in 10 years, and 80 percent by 2050, under its so-called Energy Transition. But any more than that would risk reliability and hence general economic expansion.

According to a Reuters news story, solar limits would be 600 megawatts a year while caps for on shore wind development would be 2,800 megawatts; last year alone, onshore wind provided 3,500 megawatts. If the proposals are enacted into law, they would take place next year. To achieve this, the news outlet reports that green energy producers would receive payments for their power if they would win a tender offer — not the guaranteed set payments that they have been getting.

According to the US Department of Energy, renewables now provide 31 percent of the country’s electricity while coal supplies 44 percent. Coal provided 43 percent in 2010, says the World Nuclear Association.

The result? Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise, again: In 2015, they rose by 1.1 percent, or to 10 million tonnes to 912 million tonnes in 2015. That’s according to Green Budget Germany, which tracks these things, and which says that the use of more lignite coal is a big reason. Lignite is the lowest rank of coal because of its low heat content and its high carbon content of between 60-70 percent.

The good news, according to the study, is that Germany’s carbon releases are 27 percent less than they were in 1990. But the bad news is that they are too high to reach the country’s target goal of being 40 percent less by 2020.

Will Germany still retire all of its existing nuclear fleet? That is still the plan — a fuel that provided a quarter of the country’s electricity before the Japanese nuclear disaster in March 2011.

Nuclear energy produces no carbon dioxide when generated. But Germany expects renewables to fill that void and thus avoid the problem of releasing more greenhouse gas emissions.

Therein is the Catch 22: Critics say that if renewables are limited because of constraints on the grid, the country can’t achieve its targeted reductions. Coal, though, would then fill that void. And that, of course, is what the world is waiting to see.

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One thought on “German Grid May Not be Able to Handle More Green Energy but it Can Handle More Coal

  1. Something sounds strange here in the article opening “its electrical grid may not be able to handle the added electrons” If you mean ‘may not be able to handle the load’ say so!! The entry to the article sounds to me a melange of barely connected concepts. ….electricity generators are not like hydraulic pumps .
    Electrons go nowhere without a continuous circuit ‘calling for them’. They become available when either consumer current demand (which includes voltage drop interactions) enables more electrons to flow on a ‘non battery bank system’ or when in usually smaller maybe even localised household grids battery banks present the source with a resistance or voltage reading which enables electron flow. To give incentive tenders might have a baseline payment to make it worth-while tendering and a system which totally stops ‘favoured’ sources getting any grid advantage but after that it must be based on kVA supplied.
    If the problem simply is the risk management of ‘sustainabiliy’ … say so instead of beating around the bush. I’ll extrapolate however….
    Angela Merkel’s is an outstanding manager, way beyond the expertise of the warmongering a-moral puppets called “US Presidents”, supine to the 1934 Reich-created middle eastern power broker of evil deeds and genocide…and any other present government).In this case She has wisely and who would do enabled a due diligence in energy capture and transformation and in this case in generation of electricity. Ideally we would have totally sustainable generation with perhaps more conventional back up.
    I am ‘for’ sustainability’ but with a serious concern. Like it’s world endangering adversary, fossil fuel use, seems to give no consideration to effects of changes to the norms of our planet and its own effects on eco-systems when intervention and disruption to wind heat, tides, whatever it is occur on increasing scales. Supporting the precautionary principle it says but not considering , perhaps through arrogance, in its own domain.
    When I have queried environmental scientists on this issue even on issues which might occur to ‘everyday people’. ..like airplane dumped fuel, the warming through air-conditioning , the effects of the weaponry used in the farcical fraud called “war for democracy’… I get waffle about ‘no effect’ in a manner which indicates it never occurred to them. Perhaps that’s explicable as they are academics. Democracy being a self-destructive machinating fantasy instead of an antidote to wretched absolute rule has failed socially, ethically, morally, practically and financially…it is glued
    together by a system based on total evil, the Central bankers who can generate any amount of ‘curency’ without any worth at all…until lent and interest accrues. …Absolute rule has some huge advantages when best practice and moral and not run by religious psychopaths, ethical and considerate of sound human lifetime but no such system presently exists…so we rely on government to act for us sensibly and economically, using control over consultant exploitation of tax. That doesn’t effectively happen, too many excuses, too much powerbroker-influence and ‘politician planting’ . In the sustainable generation of electricity Angela has been sensibly advised of treatment and control on the risk management to sustainable generation and wants to ensure continuity of supply.
    Two issues also arise, the emphasis and enforced compliance of efficiency in production and packaging…neither of which exists unless indirectly through ‘Environment-pollution’ Acts and actual enforcement of them and the requirement in safe-design that all products are 100% recyclable…which does not exist. A return to a repairable society rather than a wastrel, hedonistic, short attention-span throw-away society is another discussion in sustainability. In the meantime I think Angela Merkel is on the right track.

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