Germany's Network Agency says power outages "unlikely"
The President of the Network Agency, Jochen Homann, told the German press yesterday that there is "no indication" that the switch to renewables is causing more power outages.
In an interview with German news weekly Die Zeit, Homann, who heads the agency responsible for regulation of German power grids, says there is no need for concern about power outages, at least not any related to the switch to renewables. While he admits that something can always go wrong, he says that "more precautions are being taken than is generally known."
Indeed, the report says that it is not renewables that are making the grid less stable, but rather "the power grid has mainly become more susceptible to malfunctions in southern Germany since nuclear power plants were switched off" in the winter of 2011, when the German government shut down eight of the country's 17 nuclear reactors within a single week – an act that unnecessarily changed power flows on the grid.
The announcement is all the more interesting because of its timing. German power demand generally peaks around the end of November in the evening, when there will never be any electricity from photovoltaics. Sectors of German industry that oppose the energy transition are busy banging the power-outage drum.
The press often play along, with a recent power outage in Munich leading to knee-jerk reports (in German, Focus Magazine) that "experts are surprised" that things are still going so well. Later, the mayor of Munich reacted to such reports by pointing out that the power outage, which occurred at 7 AM, "had absolutely nothing to do with the Energiewende." Once the issue had been investigated, Focus itself published another report explaining what actually happened, and the word "Energiewende" does not even occur.
It turns out that a transformer station exploded at a time of relatively low power consumption, and Focus ended the article with a quote from an expert, who argues that the event is not a sign that the German power grid is becoming unreliable. In fact, since standardized statistics began to be taken five years ago, Germany has proven to have the most reliable grid in the EU. (Craig Morris)