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Clean Power German electricity production 1-3 October.
Image Credit: BCCONSULT

Published on October 15th, 2013 | by James Ayre

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Renewable Solar & Wind Energy Produced As Much As 60% Of Germany’s Electricity October 3rd

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October 15th, 2013 by  

Solar and wind energy production accounted for as much as 60% of Germany’s electricity use on October 3rd, according to a new study from energy consultant Bernard Chabot.

At peak production — right around 12pm that day — wind energy and solar energy were producing about 59.1% of the northern country’s power.

German electricity production 1-3 October. Image Credit: BCCONSULT

German electricity production 1-3 October.
Image Credit: BCCONSULT


Part of the reason for the relatively large percentage was down to especially sunny and windy conditions, according to the research. While renewables certainly did produce a large percentage of the electricity used by the country that day, they, of course, were still eclipsed by the total production of non-renewable energy produced that day. For the day as a whole, “only” 36.4% of the electricity production was via solar energy and wind energy.

PV Tech notes: “The contribution was large enough to reduce the European electricity price index (ELIX) during the day with power at 1400 as cheap as it was at 0600.”

This is clearly a very notable contribution, and one which will no doubt continue to grow in the coming years. Though, it probably will not grow as fast as it has during the last couple of years, thanks to the stair-step lowering over the past couple of years of Germany’s FiT program.

On a related note — it was just a few months ago, in August, that Germany last broke its monthly solar energy generation record, producing about 6.5 times more energy via solar than the US has during its best month. That’s in spite of the fact that the US is a far sunnier country than Germany is. :/

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • JamesWimberley

    If you are looking for records, Denmark reached a peak of 90% of demand from wind the same night.
    The takeaway from thses numbers is that grid integration is perfectly manageable at wind+solar penetration rates well over 50%. Both countries have modern grids and very competent engineers, but no secret weapons.

    • Ivor O’Connor

      You don’t know about the secret weapons. They are secret.

    • AegysLTS

      I do read somewhere sometime ago that Denmark is looking to EVs as a buffer to soak up those excess energy from wind generation.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        It would be wonderful to see EV batteries used as buffers. However it will obviously shorten their battery lives. EV manufacturers will need to amend their warranties to cover this additional wear and tear…

        • Bob_Wallace

          This isn’t using EV batteries as grid storage. It’s just using smart charging so that, in general, EVs aren’t fully charged in normal conditions which would leave room for dumping unneeded peak supply into the batteries.

          Think about someone who has a 200 mile range EV and is comfortable with having only 100 miles worth of charge on normal mornings. Smart charging (grid controlled) could keep them hovering around 100 on most nights but in a high wind event take them all the way to full charge. Then they could skip charging for a while, reducing demand.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            Oh. I misread him then.

          • Doug

            Tesla, for one, recommends keeping the Model S charged between 60-85% of capacity. Rarely does a person need the entire 200+ mile range.

          • MorinMoss

            I’m pretty sure that Denmark was thinking of using EVs as storage and Shai Agassi had mentioned it but with the demise of Better Place, that’s been shelved.

        • Doug

          There’s also value in slowing or stopping an EV charge. My EV is plugged in for 12 hours a day, but only needs a few hours to re-charge. As a consumer, I’m agnostic to when the charge occurs as long as it’s within the 12 hr window. I’d prefer to charge when the rate is the lowest.

          Municipal water works the same way. In Los Angeles, a huge amount of electricity is used to pump water uphill, so this is usually done a little bit every night. With “smart pumps”, this demand could be adjusted in real-time to better match the available generating capacity.

          I suppose my point is that electricity demand can also be a variable in the equation. With an advanced smart grid, a huge amount of demand can be shifted around.

          • Ivor O’Connor

            The charging patterns for lithium are different than lead, nickel, and what not. It’s interesting discovering what works best. Is it best to keep the temperatures moderate, no topping off, no total discharges, how heavy can the pulls be, what happens when you violate any of these tenants. So if maximizing battery life proves to be a thing will the size of battery packs be matched to the expected mileage. Say for instance an 85kWh pack can get you 260 miles. However for maximum life from the battery you keep it between 60 and 85 so you only ever use 15% or drive about 35 miles a day. But if your commute were 100 miles a day you’d buy, someday in the distant future, a 250kWh pack. Hopefully someday in the future we’ll get to see all the stats on lithium batteries so we can be sure of the ramifications of our usage patterns.

      • Rockne O’Bannon

        They are ordering large fleets of plug in vehicles from Japan. Not news yet, but it will be.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Wow, got a link for that? If not, I’ll look around.

      • Ronald Brakels

        Denmark has something like 4.3 gigawatts of wind capacity and about 5.6 million people and they are a very energy efficient country consuming only about 18 kilowatt-hours a day per capita. So meeting 90% of demand from wind seems quite doable under the right conditions.

    • Doug

      Smart grids will help smooth this out. There is a lot of consumption that can be throttled or geo-graphically re-allocated, including A/C systems, water pumps, some lighting, EV charging and massive data centers to name a few.

      Normally, my EV is plugged into the wall with a time-delay charge start time. However, if electricity was being “over-generated”, the EV could, with the right smarts, start charging immediately.

      Time of use rates, which are now fixed, could be discounted within a range – this would allow large electricity consumers the option of shifting electricity use around somewhat.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Somewhere I ran across an interesting study. The researchers took a large office building and linked ventilation fan speed to solar panel output (on sunny days). That meant that air exchange rates varied throughout the day as clouds passed over panels.

        They (IIRC) tracked panel output on some days and simply left the system running without tracking on others. People working in the buildings could not reliably report on which days the system was tracking.

        That points out a large potential segment for load-shifting. Slow down air exchanges when the Sun isn’t as bright or the wind not blowing as hard. If it’s going to be for prolonged times, then stagger which building is running at highest speed in order to lower peak demand.

        Lower peak demands have value to the grid. End-users should receive a bit of that value for allowing the grid to manage their use.

      • Bob_Wallace

        A “36 average miles per day” can be charged an hour and a half to three hours with a Level 2 (240 vac) charger. Three hours or less out of 12 gives the grid a lot of flexibility to use peak supply and avoid troughs.

  • tmac1

    Fascinating, just as impressive is the fact that for the last 2 days wind mostly kept 20% of Germany electricity going. The line dipped to 17% or so twice but was otherwise in the 20-30% range even when our friendly nuclear fusion reactor in the sky was not visible. I knew those Germans had loads of PV but was not aware on the wind power aspect.

    • Ivor O’Connor

      I believe some of the power was sold to neighboring countries. Lowering the market price that day.

  • Ivor O’Connor

    You all know that October 3rd was a national holiday during a working day, Thursday, in Germany and the demand for electricity was therefore very low? And any excess peaks could be sold to neighboring countries where they would happily buy it up unlike on a weekend where they would not need the energy?

    A more telling graph might be to show how much energy was produced compared to surrounding days. Probably would show none at all. And all that beautiful wind energy up in the north… how much wind energy are they getting in the south?

    Things are getting interesting but there is still a long long ways to go.

  • AegysLTS

    On a different note, its an interesting fact that the sunniest region in Europe isn’t Germany but Spain. While Spain isn’t sunny as the Sahara…

    • Bob_Wallace

      What makes it interesting to me is that solar is working so well in Germany even with Germany’s much weaker solar potential.

      Of course this is largely due to the very high price of residential electricity in Germany. That high price extends back well before renewables started coming on line or the decision made to close nuclear. The Economist had an article back in 2009 about the problem of the utility industry screwing rate payers.

      http://www.economist.com/node/13527440

    • JamesWimberley

      I live in Spain. Its solar policy and industry is a train wreck. A few hardy businesses like Ikea are putting in solar for self-consumption, but that’s about it. Spain is the one country in the world to have had a solar boom, and then killed it in the austerity slump.

  • Peter Forint

    While it is good news that renewables are contributing more than before, the headline is VERY MISLEADING. The 60% figure was at a single point during the day, not the whole of the day.

    • AegysLTS

      I didn’t realized that too until you mentioned it, I thought it means 60% of total energy output.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Should have looked at the graph.

        Pictures, thousand words, ….

    • Ivor O’Connor

      Your conclusion, very misleading, is spot on. However your reasoning to get there is 180 backwards.

      Go back and do some research. Or google for the answer. It is out there.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “(A)s much as” does not mean the same thing as “all day long”.

      And keep your pinky away from the caps lock key please. Our ears read small letters quite well.

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