Today’s Graph of the Day will tell a story that will be repeated more regularly in coming months and years – the growing impact of solar and wind energy in countries such as Germany.
This comes from Sunday (March 24) and shows that in the middle of the day, more than half of Germany’s electricity output came from wind and solar. Two things are striking – one is the amount of solar capacity produced on a day in early spring, with nearly 20GW at its peak. The second is the consistent contribution of wind energy, which accounted for more than 25 per cent of the overall output throughout the day.
Imagine, then, what will happen when Germany doubles the amount of wind and solar production, as it plans to do within the next decade. On days like this, there will simply be no room for fossil fuel production – the so-called “base load”. Any coal or gas fired generation that remains will need to be capable of being switched on and off on demand. The base load/peakload model will be turned on its head – to be replaced by dispatchable and non dispatchable generation. Fossil fuels will be required just to fill in the gaps.
Re graph: The yellow bit is solar production, the light green is wind, and the grey is “conventional” – which includes coal, gas and nuclear, as well as biomass and hydro.
The original graph can be found here. Notice, too, the difference between what was delivered by wind and solar, and what was planned (graph below). There’s little difference. For all the talk about “intermittent” renewables, their output is actually quite predictable – more so than swings in demand ever were.