German wind turbines overloading European grid, highlighting problem of wind power oversupply

Source: Bloomberg • Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Central and Eastern European countries are moving to disconnect their power lines from Germany’s as a glut of wind-generated electricity risks causing blackouts.

It is a situation that highlights the difficulty many countries are facing as they try to integrate the world’s 200,000 wind turbines with aging and limited infrastructure.

Because there is no way to store excess renewable energy generation, utilities sometimes pay customers to use more electricity in order to avoid crashing the electricity grid.

Grids in Eastern Europe are stretched to their limits and face potential blackouts when output surges from wind turbines in northern Germany or along the Baltic Sea.

Upgrading Germany’s system will cost at least $42 billion and is needed to accommodate the more than 8,885 megawatts of wind energy it has installed since 2007.

The risk of blackouts may get worse during the winter as wind strength increases.

After the Fukushima Daiichi disaster last year in Japan, Germany decided to shut down its aging atomic plants by 2022 and turn to greater renewable generation.

“We do understand that the Czech and the Polish grid operators are concerned about market and system security,” said Volker Kamm, a spokesman for grid operator 50Hertz Transmission GmbH. “We are seeking a constructive solution.”

Zbynek Boldis, board member of the Czech Republic’s grid operator, said, “The Germans are using our infrastructure in an excessive manner. At this point they’re getting a free lunch” (Bloomberg, Oct. 25). –