Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The German Power Game

There's a game that German electrical power producers have been playing for almost a hundred years.

There's a game that German political figures have been playing since the 1960s over nuclear power in Germany.

There's also a game that the German government itself has been playing since the Japanese Fukushima disaster.

This week....another game was started within the conventional power production sector of Germany......which may trump all the other games and create a massive problem.

Here's the simplicity of this game.  The political figures of Germany have stressed for decades that renewable power needed to be the focus of German society.  It would help to lead to a Germany without any nuke plants.  After Fukushima....the attention became more acute and demanding.  Adding to this formula....was the slanted view of evil coal-powered plants by the news media of Germany.

In the past year....between solar and wind power.....renewable power has began to hit seventy-five percent.  The bulk of this achievement.....goes to wind power.

Last year, the Economist news magazine put out an interesting piece....talking of a half-trillion-Euro loss coming out of nowhere.  You see.....German renewable power can only create brief periods of power, and there is no stability in their quantity.  Tuesday might be seventy-percent production between 6AM and 3PM.  Wednesday might be forty-percent production between 6AM and 3PM.  And Friday might be twenty-eight percent production between 6AM and 3PM.

This means that the power grid in Germany must have coal-fired or nuke-power plants on-line and ready at a moment's notice to provide excess energy, when wind and solar can't perform at their peak.

The Economist folks sat down and discussed matters with the coal-plant designers, and came to this fantastic conclusion.....no one build coal-powered plants to just sit there and be working between twenty and forty-percent of the time.  Their design and cost fit into a figure of maximum needs that you might require for a substantial period of time.

So, just keeping a coal-plant as a stand-by source for renewable power sources....doesn't work with the current scheme of things.  In essence....it's a half-trillion Euro loss in investment strategy by someone.    

This week, Focus came out with a new bit of information.  The German power-plant folks have come to realize the game at hand, and pushed it to a new limit.  They want to shut down around fifty power plants (coal-powered by implication of the article).  The chief cause for the shut-down?  Poor profitability.  The companies didn't design the plants to provide stand-by sourcing of electrical power.  They weren't built to just stand there and work at one-quarter or one-half power.

The German federal agency over electrical power is a bit concerned.  They can finally see the whole pattern of electrical power and the implications of where renewable power is leading them.  Nothing was ever guaranteed on hourly or daily power.  People kept citing free power by the wind and sun....but they never considered how they'd cover the open periods when never could deliver the necessary requirements for the grid.

The implications?  I'm not a rocket scientist or Einstein-like guy....but I'm of the belief that you as the consumer are in a pretty crappy position in Germany.  First, the whole grid might be designed now to have brown-outs because no one wants unprofitable coal-plants as back-ups.  Second, you as the consumer just might have to pay anywhere from ten-percent to forty-percent more for electrical power because there HAS to be a coal plant sitting there and running constantly and prepared to take over the load if renewable energy suddenly falls.  And third, the non-renewable guys (the coal plant operations).....have you by the balls now.....with the ability to make your life cost more than it should.

The sad thing here?  To actually beat the high cost of stand-by coal-plants and the gimmick game that they are improvising here.....you might actually have to buy stand-by nuke-plant power from France, Ukraine, or Czech.....because it's cheaper than this screwed-up coal-powered deal that German plants offer.

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