28.03.2013
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Energy transition

German power exports reach new record

The Agora Energiewende website provides an overview of power imports and exports to and from Germany. The statistics yesterday reveal that the country is becoming an ever bigger exporter of power.

 - Power imports to and exports from Germany since yesterday.
Power imports to and exports from Germany since yesterday.
Agora Energiewende

After the sudden nuclear phaseout of 2011, everyone believed that Germany would simply switch from domestic to imported nuclear power. In fact, German power exports reached a record level last year in terms of kilowatt-hours, and yesterday power exports peaked at an all-time high in terms of kilowatts, maxing out at around 14.3 million kilowatt-hours or 14.3 gigawatts at 1 PM.

How much is that? The largest modern nuclear plants have a capacity of around 1.4 gigawatts, so 14.3 GW is equivalent to at least 10 of the largest nuclear reactors made – and Germany only has nine left, most of which are smaller. At 1 PM, conventional capacity in Germany had been pushed back down to 51.6 gigawatts, only marginally higher than the 49.3 gigawatts demanded at 3 AM, the lowest point of power consumption.

The news is further proof that Germany does not by any means face a shortage of power. Indeed, there has been absolutely no talk of impending power outages among the usual scare mongers in Germany this winter, which continues to be quite harsh, with temperatures below freezing and heavy snowfall throughout March.

A recent study published by Germany's Institute of Applied Ecology (Öko-Institut) investigated what's going on and found that, paradoxically, Germany exports the most power when power demand is great, such as around noon time and in the early evening, as I explained in a four-part review of the study at the Energy Transition blog.

 - The view this morning from the Freiburg office of Renewables International. Under such weather conditions, Germany's roughly 33 GW of solar peaked at nearly 13 GW yesterday at noon.
The view this morning from the Freiburg office of Renewables International. Under such weather conditions, Germany's roughly 33 GW of solar peaked at nearly 13 GW yesterday at noon.
Craig Morris

Essentially, renewable power is offsetting so much conventional generation that conventional power producers are forced to sell their power abroad at low prices. That's right, renewables in Germany are making power costs lower for Germany's neighbors.

It is worth visiting the Agora Energiewende website to mouse over the chart above. You can then see the exact figures for each country. It is also worth keeping in mind that Germany provides some of the most thorough data on its energy and power sectors of any country, and it does so in nearly real-time; the Agora website provides information on power imports and exports that are only a couple of hours old. And, of course, France was a major importer of German power yesterday. (Craig Morris)

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