Irregular and unpredictable wind and solar power is increasingly becoming a problem for Germany’s power grid. Utility company Tennet TSO spent almost a billion euros last year on emergency interventions to stabilize the national grid.
That’s what the company announced earlier this week. The costs were thus about 50% higher than in 2016 (660 million euros) and around forty percent higher than in 2015 (710 million). Tennet is responsible for the electricity supply in an area that extends from Schleswig-Holstein in the north to Bavaria in the south of Germany and accounts for around forty percent of Germany’s total area. In particular, Tennet is responsible for important north-south transmission routes.
The reason for the increase in emergency interventions is the rising number of solar projects and wind turbines in Germany. The share of renewable energy increased from 29 to 33 percent of the electricity supply last year. Wind and solar power are irregular and often unpredictable. This makes the network increasingly unstable. Supplied and the demanded electricity must always match – otherwise it comes to blackouts. When imbalances threaten, the German network operators are forced to direct gas, coal or nuclear power plants to ramp up or throttle their power supply. Sometimes, they have to ask foreign power plants for support. It can also help to instruct wind power and solar plant operators to temporarily stop their production. However, network operators are liable for compensation because there is a purchase guarantee for alternative electricity. Tennet pays money for stopping wind turbines.