Record renewables output shows Germany needs systemic revamp - energy industry
Germany’s latest renewables record shows that the country’s entire energy system urgently needs an upgrade, according to grid operators and energy companies. “The record for green electricity is an encouraging snapshot, but it must not be allowed to hide the deeper structural problems,” the head of utilities association BDEW, Stefan Kapferer, told business daily Handelsblatt. Renewables made up a record-breaking 44 percent of German energy consumption in the first half of 2019. Kapferer and grid operator Amprion are sceptical about whether the German power grid will be able to keep up with the boom in renewables under current circumstances and seeking better framework conditions, write Jürgen Flauger and Kathrin Witsch.
Amprion highlighted the need to integrate renewables into the energy system and called for a “master plan” for the integration of electricity and gas markets that would use power-to-gas technologies. “For this technology to be fully effective, we need a common master plan for the electricity and gas grids in the medium term," said Amprion technical director Klaus Kleinekorte. The company also said Germany needed to “get out of silo thinking” in order to reduce CO2 emissions.
Technologies such as power-to-gas could allow renewable electricity to be stored for later use, a process often referred to as “sector coupling”.This would alleviate problems for grid operators like Amprion that currently have to regulate wind turbines and solar plants when more power is being generated than can be consumed immediately. Last year, this cost German electricity customers 1.4 billion euros.
In a separate opinion piece, Jürgen Flauger highlights that despite the new record, “green energy sources account for just 15 percent of total energy consumption” in Germany, making it essential to include the heating and transport sector in the country’s energy transition.