And the Winner is, Germany! – Is it good?


Francis Menton

Just over six months ago, in December 2021, I asked the question that is always on the tip of the tongue of everyone who follows the topic of the massive “green” transition to unused energy. fossil fuel. Actually, it was a lie. The question I asked was Not on the tongues of all thematicians, or even most thematicians, for reasons that to me are completely inexplicable. The question is: “Which US Country or State will be the first to achieve a Green Energy Wall?”

The candidates I nominated in that post who are likely to be the first to hit the “green energy wall” are California, New York, UK, and Germany. At the time, I thought it was clear that one of those jurisdictions would be broken sooner than most people expected. Indeed, I was pretty daring in the short amount of time I anticipated:

Prolonged adverse weather (calm and overcast) could cause severe energy declines to one or both Germany or the UK as soon as this winter. Or they might get lucky and go another year or two.

Now here we are in June 2022, and I think it’s hard to deny that Germany has in fact achieved a “green energy wall”. Let’s consider.

First, here is the definition of “green energy wall” that I gave in the post:

[O]ne or other of [those states or countries] A “wall” is most likely to occur – that is, a situation where the electrical system stops working, or the price of electricity breaks through the roof, or both, forcing drastic changes or even abandonment of the whole plan.

And here’s my take on why one or the other (or all) of the nominated jurisdictions will soon meet the “wall”:

All of these places, despite their wealth and seeming sophistication, are embarking on their ambitious plans without ever conducting any kind of detailed engineering study of how energy systems work. their new proposed will work or their cost. Sure, the wind/solar grid can work with 100% natural gas backup, if you’re willing to ask the fee payer to pay the bill for two overlapping power generation systems and redundancy when you There can be only one system. But “net-zero” emissions mean no more fossil fuel reserves. What’s the plan to keep the grid running 24/7 when coal and natural gas run out?

As (or should) be obvious to everyone, a predominantly wind/solar power generation system needs adequate backup from several sources to keep the lights running 24/7. Very few options: fossil fuel (coal, oil or natural gas) plants, nuclear or storage (e.g. batteries). Germany has ruled out fossil fuel and nuclear options. It never had much in the way of generating electricity from oil, and it has spent the past ten years phasing out coal and nuclear plants. So that leaves the repository. Sure, you might think, after embarking on a trillion dollar transition to a system that’s mostly wind/solar and has excluded both fossil fuels and nuclear As a backup, Germany would have focused like a laser on the storage issues that make the whole thing run.

You will be wrong. It’s really unbelievable the extent to which Germany – seemingly the most technically sophisticated country in the world – would bury its head in the sand and ignore the storage problem until they run the power system into the wall. .

Compare the amount of energy storage Germany will need to back up its wind/solar system with the amount of storage actually developed so far or in the pipeline. At this site, I have closely followed the question of energy storage, and discussed and linked to the most authoritative calculations of the amount of storage required to back up a wind/solar power system. heaven primarily or entirely to various jurisdictions, including Germany. In this post was in november 2018 I have linked and discussed extensively the work of someone named Roger Andrews, who calculated the storage requirement for Germany to back up an entire wind/solar system to be around 25,000 GWH. In that post, I also looked at some of the reasons why Andrews’ calculation might be low – for example, Andrews assumes 100% return from energy put into storage (which is not realistic) and also based his calculations on actual generation and weather data for one year (2016), which may prove to be more favorable than other years. But that said, Andrews’ calculations seem to me on the right track. More recently, in a post in March 2022, I discussed and linked to the work of two German scientists named Oliver Ruhnau and Staffan Qvist. Ruhnau and Qvist calculated the storage requirement for Germany to back up an entire wind/solar power system to be 56,000 GWH.

If you think Andrews could be on the low side and Ruhnau/Qvist on the high side, that gives a good rough estimate of Germany’s grid-scale energy storage needs to support wind/solar systems. somewhere in the range of 40,000 – 50,000 GWH.

So how much stock does Germany currently have or is in the process of shipping? Here’s an April 11, 2022 article from the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie, excitedly reporting on Europe’s plans to tackle the wind/solar link with storage, “Europe’s grid-scale energy storage capacity will increase 20-fold by 2031.”:

Europe has set some of the world’s most ambitious decarbonization targets. And the rate of change is accelerating. . . . [T]The region’s nascent grid-scale energy storage segment is growing rapidly. We forecast total capacity to increase 20 times between now and 2031.

Here’s their chart showing what “expanding 20x” will mean in 2031:

For Germany, this massive expansion is supposed to mean a full 8.81 GWH of grid-scale energy storage. Is there a decimal place error here? Unfortunately there isn’t. For their claim of 45,000 GWH +/- grid-scaled storage, they don’t plan to use 9000 GWH, not even 900 GWH or 90 GWH, but 9. They’re about 5000 off what they need. .

In other words, they haven’t even begun to tackle the storage problem that needs to be solved to make their wind/solar system work, and they’re unlikely to solve it by 2031. Indeed, the problem may be completely unsolvable, and they have not yet made a meaningful effort to figure it out. As we all know, as a result they were completely dependent on natural gas from Russia. Currently, Russian gas is not effectively available, and other potential sources have been under-supplied and prices have spiked. Here are a few comments on Germany’s current energy predicament. From Walter Russell Mead in the Wall Street Journal, June 27, “End of the German Idyll”:

Most recently in 2020, almost the whole world agreed with the complacent German remark that Germany has the most successful economic model in the world, [and] is embarking on an ambitious and largely successful climate initiative – around the world. . . . [Now we understand that] German energy policy is a mess, a shining example to the rest of the world about what not to do. . . . Green energy, despite massive German investment, will not be able to provide German industry with cheap and reliable electricity for a long time..

From Energy Intelligence Group, June 28, “King Coal is back in Europe”:

[German] Officials are working on emergency legislation that would allow about 9-10 gigawatts of idle coal and lignite capacity to return to service through 2024, replacing some of the 16% market share currently held by gas. The country is home to seven of the 10 most polluting power plants in the EU, according to NGO Ember. . . . Economy Secretary Robert Habeck said legislation that would allow more coal to be used and less gas production would be passed by the Senate – the upper house – in early July. . . . The government says there are no plans to change the coal phase-out date, with the final units still set to close in 2030.

It completely reversed the previous policy of closing coal plants. Economy Minister Habeck says the change is temporary, and that they are still on track to close all coal plants by 2030. And how exactly is that going to be achieved, given all of it. Is GWH hosted on grid scale? There is only one possible method, which is to go back to natural gas, or use alternative suppliers (US?), or because Russia rejoins the world’s good opportunities. But using natural gas as a backup is like giving up the “net zero” illusion altogether like using coal.

So I say that Germany has practically hit a “green energy wall” and is not going back, no matter what they are saying at the moment.

Read the full article here.

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