24 | The German Energiewende The German Energiewende | 25 Security of supply “Can supply be secure with so much electricity provided by wind and solar energy?” © dpa/Moravic Jakub © dpa/euroluftbild.de/Hans Blossey Germans can count on a continued reliable supply of electricity in the future. The country’s energy supply is one of the best in the world. Over the 8,760 hours in a year, its supply is down for an average of only 13 minutes. Indeed, power cuts have been reduced even further in recent years, despite the increasing amount of electricity generated by wind and solar energy. Power cuts are very rare in Germany Average length of power cuts in minutes in 2013 10.0 Luxembourg 11.3 Denmark 12.3 Germany (2014) 15.0 Switzerland 12.7 Germany (2015) 23.0 Netherlands 68.1 France 70.8 Sweden 254.9 Poland 360.0 Malta Renewable energy already provides over 60 percent of Germany’s electricity supply at certain times, and this share will continue to increase in the coming years. The various renewable sources complement each other. Pilot projects have shown that it is possible to combine power generation from the various types of plants, thus enabling them to provide a far more reliable supply of electricity. At times when there is no sunshine or wind, flexible conventional power plants bridge the gap. Gas power plants work particularly well in such cases, but pumped storage plants and bioenergy plants are also able to provide electricity quickly. However, the plan is that storage systems will bridge the gap during such periods in the future. Electricity consumers also play an important role. They can be given incentives to use electrici ty when supply is high, such as times of high winds. Large-scale consumers – factories or cold storage warehouses, for example – can significantly reduce the burden on the overall system in this way. The great challenge is to restructure the electricity market. Germany has started a reform process in this field and put the first measures into practice. Flexibility is important. All actors in the electricity market must react as well as possible to the fluctuations in the electricity generated by wind and solar energy. At the same time, there must be competition between the various balancing options in order to keep the overall costs low. Transnational grid expansion and the integration of what were previously separate regional electricity markets in Europe are also bringing about greater stability and flexibility in Germany. Power cuts are rarely caused by fluctuations in electricity generation. They mainly result from external factors or human error. This was also the case during the last major blackout in parts of Germany on 4 November 2006. This power cut, which lasted for around two hours, was caused by a planned routine disconnection of a power line. This overloaded other power lines and led to a chain reaction in the European grid. Since this incident, the security mechanisms in Germany and neighbouring European countries have been improved even further. For example, Germany has set up a fixed reserve of additional power plants in order to prevent shortfalls. These plants are particularly important during the winter months when consumption is especially high and German wind turbines are at their most productive. If the power grids are overloaded because they are transporting large amounts of electricity from northern to southern Germany, these back-up plants cover demand in the south. How does generation by renewable energies fluctuate? Power generation by all sources of energy and power consumption in Germany over the course of 2016 Power generation Power generation and consumption and in consumption gigawatts (GW) 100 GW 100 GW 80 GW 80 GW 60 GW 60 GW 40 GW 40 GW 20 GW 20 GW 0 GW 0 GW 6 Jan 10. Jan 20 Jan 24. Jan 3 Feb 7. Feb 17 Feb 21. Feb 3 March 31 March 17 March 14 April 6. Mar 20. Mar 3. Apr 28 April 12 May 17. Apr 1. May 26 May 15. May 9 June 29. May 23 June 12. Jun 7 July 26. Jun 21 July 10. Jul 4 Aug 24. Jul 18 Aug 7. Aug 1 Sept 21. Aug 15 Sept 4. Sep 29 Sept 13 Oct 18. Sep 2. Oct 27 Oct 10 Nov 16. Oct 24 Nov 30. Oct 8 Dec 13. Nov 22 Dec 27. Nov 11. Dec 25. Dec Solar Wind Onshore Wind Offshore Hydro Biomass Electricity Consumption Estimated Electricity Consumption Conventional power plants Solar Run-of-river (ROR) hydropower Biomass Electricity consumption Wind Agora Energiewende; Current to: 23.03.2017, 15:10 2011 A major accident occurs in a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan. Germany decides to phase out the use of nuclear power for electricity generation by 2022, earlier than originally planned. Eight old plants are immediately switched off. The European Commission publishes the Energy Roadmap 2050, a long-term strategy for climate protection and energy supply in Europe. 2012 The Kyoto Protocol is extended until 2020 at the United Nations Climate Conference in Doha.