German power exports more valuable than its imports
Now that the switch to renewables has not produced blackouts, but record power exports, the new conventional wisdom has it that German ratepayers are subsidizing electricity sold on the cheap to neighboring countries. Why doesn't anyone just do the math?
The new official figures published today by DeStatis basically confirm the preliminary statistics published by BDEW at the beginning of the year, which put Germany's net power exports at a record level – an outcome that flies in the face of concerns that the sudden nuclear phaseout of 2011 would lead to a shortfall of power generation.
Now, the German press is full of reports charging that German ratepayers are having to subsidize energy that is given away practically for free to neighboring countries. RP online writes of the "paradoxical situation" in which "German power providers have to pay for the power they export just to get rid of it so it can be consumed where it is not really needed."
As regular readers of Renewables International know, regular readers of Der Spiegel are particularly misinformed, so it comes as no surprise that the five visible comments under Spiegel's article largely assume that Germans are subsidizing cheap power for foreign countries. The third comment reads, "It would be interesting to know how much foreign countries pay for German power and how much Germany pays for foreign power."
The stupid thing is that all of this is provided in DeStatis’ press report from today, but no article I could find (RP online, Der Spiegel, Frankfurter Rundschau, etc.) bothers to do the math on the statistics published. So here it is:
|TWh||Billion euros||Price per kWh in cents|
|German power exports||66.6||3.7||5.6|
|German power imports||43.8||2.3||5.25|
This is not rocket science; it's basic math. On average, Germany received 5.6 cents and paid 5.25 cents per kilowatt-hour exported/imported, respectively. In other words, the value of the kilowatt-hour Germany exports is more than the value it imports – exactly the opposite of what everyone seems to expect.
The explanation is not hard to find either. A recent study produced by Germany's Institute of Applied Ecology (I summarized the findings in a four-part series starting here) found that it is in fact France, not Germany, that exports power at low prices at times of low power demand – so that its large fleet of nuclear plants do not have to be ramped down. Germany is the country that exports more power as demand in neighboring countries rises. (Craig Morris)