Graph of the Day: Wind, solar provide half Germany's electricity | RenewEconomy

Graph of the Day: Wind, solar provide half Germany’s electricity

Wind and solar combined to feed more energy into Germany’s electricity grid than all conventional power plants combined for several hours on Thursday.


Today’s graph of the graph is a follow-up to Wednesday’s graph of the day, which highlighted the fact that Germany set a new record for solar output of 22.6GW on Monday.

On Thursday, it did not set a new solar record, but in combination with consistent output of wind energy, renewable generation reached record capacity of 36GW, and for three hours between noon and 3pm exceeded the combined contribution of coal, gas and nuclear plants.

This is the graph below. A couple of interesting points – one is the consistent output of wind throughout the day, the second is the comparison with what was planned by the energy market operator. It matches almost perfectly, which goes to show that renewables can be intermittent, but they are predictable – which is the vital piece of information for an energy market operator. If you got to the original graphic, it will allow you to hover over the bars to get more detailed information of the output from each energy source.

Given the huge output of solar PV, it will be interesting to see what happens to this graph when battery storage is introduced. Germany, which was the first country to introduce feed in tariffs on solar, the principal reason why it has the world’s biggest solar PV capacity at more than 32GW, is about to introduce the first subsidy for energy storage systems, which can smooth the output of PV, and push it into the evening peaks.

PV Magazine reports the energy storage subsidy will begin on May 1, with the bank KfW providing cheap finance, and a 30 per cent rebate being offered on the battery system by Germany’s Federal Environment Ministry.  The energy storage system is meant to be used in tandem with distributed solar installations with storage systems developed in Germany; the funds come with a maximum size requirement of 30 kilowatts.

The batteries must have a warranty of at least seven years to gain the subsidy. Another requirement is that the PV installation sends 60 percent of its capacity to the grid over the lifetime of the plant. As the magazine wonders, “could a German subsidy on energy storage replicate the German solar miracle for batteries instead? We should find out in a few weeks.”

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  1. Ben 8 years ago

    Let’s take another look at this in mid-June (summer solstice).

  2. James Hilden-Minton 8 years ago

    It would be nice to couple charts like these we the spot prices. The financial opportunity for storage is buy low and sell high. Storage is needed to set a floor on spot prices when renewables are abundant and to put a cap on prices when they are not.

  3. Geoff Russell 8 years ago

    You don’t actually know how energy is defined, please find out before writing any more misleading articles

    • Ronald Brakels 8 years ago

      Geoff, you forget to say where Giles misused the term energy. I know it’s an easy enough mistake to make, but if people read your above comment without knowing what a great guy you actually are, they might just dismiss you as a troll.

    • Tom Geiser 8 years ago

      The article has been edited. Geoff had a fair point, the title said 50% of energy but it is 50% of power for 3 hours.

      • Ronald Brakels 8 years ago

        Well, that was a bit of a howler, but I do understand how these things slip through editing.

  4. James Hilden-Minton 8 years ago

    Is it possible to mount some solar so that it picks up more energy in the early morning or more in the evening? This could help spread out the production of solar power. We should be concerned more with total solar production than with peak production. A geographically wide country with multiple time zones such as the continental US can use longitude to its advantage. Eastern oriented solar on the east coast can provide early morning energy to the whole country while western oriented solar could supply evening power. Germany is not as wide as the US, but treating Europe as a whole market opens up this sort of arbitrage. Perhaps Germany should invest in evening solar in western France and Spain and morning solar in Poland, Slovakia, Romania, even Greece.

    • Bob_Wallace 8 years ago

      Apparently east- and west-facing solar panels produce about 80% as much electricity as do south-facing. Given how rapidly solar prices are falling it might make more sense to mount east/west panels than to use storage to eat into the early/late peaks.

      Tracking apparently adds only 10% or so to the cost of a system so it also might make sense to use tracking to capture early/late sunlight.

      There have been discussions, and some work, on connecting everything from Iceland to eastern Europe and all the way into the Middle East and North Africa into one big grid. Desertec was the name of the original plan. I suspect the North Africa part has been delayed some by the current unrest there but things seem to moving forward in Morocco.

      Put some panels facing east in Saudi Arabia and some facing west in Morocco/Portugal and you’ve got a very long solar day. The HVDC transmission lines needed to make a huge capture area like this would be an investment with a very long useful life.

  5. Giles 8 years ago

    I changed it to electricity. I think energy is generally understood by lay people and in a loose term, but if there is an opportunity to be precise, then we should take it.

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