Grid Operator: 70% Solar + Wind On German Grid Before Storage Needed

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Editor’s Note: Giles has landed some great soundbites from and an interview with Boris Schucht, the CEO of 50 Hertz, a German grid operator. If that name rings a bell, you probably saw the video I published about him talking about the same matter in Abu Dhabi earlier this year. If not, I am including that video again for you below. A lot of people like to toss around their armchair ideas for how to integrate renewables into the grid, or how it “can’t be done.” Boris knows this topic like the back of his hand — it’s what he does. So, I think it’s particularly important to listen to his point of view. The bottom line, though, is right there in the title: we can integrate a ton of wind and solar power into the grid before storage is needed. Here’s that video I recorded in Abu Dhabi, followed by the new article and interview from Giles:

The company responsible for more than one-third of Germany’s electricity grid says there is no issue absorbing high levels of variable renewable energy such as wind and solar, and grids could absorb up to 70 per cent penetration without the need for storage.

Boris Schucht, the CEO of 50 Hertz, which operates the main transmission lines in the north and east of Germany – and which is 40 per cent owned by Australia’s Industry Funds Management – says the industry’s views of renewable energy integration has evolved rapidly in the past decade.

“It’s about the mind-set,” Schucht said at the Re-energising the Future conference in Paris, and later to RenewEconomy.

“10 to 15 years ago when I was young engineer, nobody believed that integrating more than 5 per cent variable renewable energy in an industrial state such as Germany was possible.”

50 hertz

Yet, Schucht says, in the region he is operating in, 42 per cent of the power supply (in output, not capacity), came from wind and solar – about the same as South Australia. This year it will be 46 per cent, and next year it will be more than 50 per cent.

“No other region in the world has a similar amount of volatile renewable energy ….. yet we have not had a customer outage. Not for 35 or 40 years.”

Schucht conceded that Germany, which through its Energiewende (energy transitions) has pioneered the push into variable renewable energy, made some mistakes in the early years, particularly in relation to the management of rooftop solar PV. But at that time, the penetration rate was low and renewables was only a niche market.

He points to the changes made since then as proof that the integration is posing no issues. In the solar eclipse earlier this year, a ramp down of more than 10GW of solar PV and ramp up of 14GW of solar PV (both within minutes) were handled by the market with no need for intervention.

“We believed in the market and education of market,” Schucht said. “We did not need to interfere. It was done by itself.”

Because of this, Schucht believes that integration of 60 to 70 per cent variable renewable energy – just wind and solar – could be accommodated within the German market without the need for additional storage. Beyond that, storage will be needed.

Schucht later told RenewEconomy that even higher levels of renewable energy could be absorbed. But before the grid went to 100 per cent renewable energy, he thought that attention should be turned to ensuring there was more renewable energy in the transport and heating sectors.

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Giles Parkinson

is the founding editor of, an Australian-based website that provides news and analysis on cleantech, carbon, and climate issues. Giles is based in Sydney and is watching the (slow, but quickening) transformation of Australia's energy grid with great interest.

Giles Parkinson has 596 posts and counting. See all posts by Giles Parkinson

65 thoughts on “Grid Operator: 70% Solar + Wind On German Grid Before Storage Needed

  • Shows that Kuhns theory of science development also applies to technology. Old ideas don’t die out because the old farts get convinced of the new ideas. Instead it comes because young people take over.

    • Don’t forget some folks have large financial investments in those old ideas and are not keen to loose money to the new ones. For some it’s their livelyhood.

      • that and they know how to price and value the existing tech, the new tech is usually hard to price.

        • ” ….the new tech is usually hard to price”
          And no profit in it.

          Schucht is whining because the lignite plants he serves aren’t anymore needed.
          What he is looking for is a bigger grid, more transmission capacities used by the lads who know how to privateer.
          Of course he’s not going to pay for them nor are his share holder friends.
          The REs are to to be condemned for power price inflation caused by larger grid demand caused by his company.

          Strange article by Giles Parkinson , it seems the propaganda had been taken 1 for 1 .
          50 Hertz – the employer of Schucht – serves the worst polluters in Europe, the lignite power plants in Eastern Germany.
          Their natural enemy is the small scale power producer: the more there are the more difficult it is to sell lignite power locally.

          Don’t fall the devil’s sugar.

          • First you have to show that a storage solution is the better and cheaper alternative in comparison to more transmission capacity. Where are the studies whcih support your position with hard data? Are there any?

            Only to fight the optimum because the wrong guys (in your opinion) may make money is very strange. IMHO your argument is nonsense.

          • It is up to the consumer what he purchases and when.

            I don’t have to show data that a free choice is in the interest of the consumer, do I ?!

            The third way – intelligent meters for all who want them – would more or less make the large interconnectors obsolete.

            Every consumer could buy power then at the most cheapest rate when he wants and do with it what he wants: store it in batteries, in hydrogen tanks, in the heating system.
            Or just switch-off the fuse box when power becomes to expensive to purchase.

            A guaranteed income to grid operators (as in Germany) is certainly not in the interest of the electricity consumer.

          • Good idea, but why make the meters voluntary? Electricity should be priced based on its cost. That means time-of-use metering for everyone, preferably with rates tied to actual costs, not just time-slices.

            IMO, something as simple as a small LCD readout in every kitchen showing the cost of power for the next couple of hours (or whatever time slice makes sense) could do as much to solve this problem than any other technology.

            Sure, integrating cost info into major appliances for automatic demand response would be even better, but that’s more of a long-term challenge.

          • ” Good idea, but why make the meters voluntary?”

            Because voluntary purchase of meters/power consumption is in the interest of consumers and against mafia interests.

          • Why should people who are willing to be flexible with consumption pay the market price while people who are inflexible get a subsidy and pay a lower average price that’s below the cost of production?

            When the cost to produce something is highly variable, the best bet for consumers is pricing that accurately conveys price signals so consumers can make choices that best represent their interests.

            Flat rate pricing of electricity is a hugely market distorting historical artifact of twentieth century thinking and technology.

          • Why is the law maker called to make the legal situation comfortable for the grid owners?

            Why not setting the forces of demand as a base of market forces?

          • I think you damage your ability to get your message across by the continued use of the word “mafia”.

    • Young people are typically naive and easily exploitable, frequently sent to war by those who would not get directly involved themselves for example. Unaware of how power works in the world they are relatively easily marshaled into bringing forth change in a manner that is ultimately not for their own good, while at the same time convinced that it was their original idea.

      • “10 to 15 years ago when I was young engineer, nobody believed that integrating more than 5 per cent variable renewable energy in an industrial state such as Germany was possible.”

        A lot of otherwise smart and capable people – still believe this today.

        • It’s a lie he tells.

          When he started engineering (what does the term mean b.t.w.) there were already many 100% RE scenarios published.

          !00% REs were always possible in the grid. This is how the power distribution started after all.

          Pure propaganda by the profiteering beggar Schucht, don’t fall for the sales men lips.

  • Nice article. I really enjoyed the explanation with supporting details from someone with first hand knowledge.

    • First hand knowledge of sabotage that is

      50Hertz did not manage to supply data on RE output – be it in advance or in retro perspective – for years. Despite it is their legal duty they just did not report the legally demanded data to the power exchange, riding their own cowboy business

      50 Hertz (the employer of Schucht) is based in the same town as the power exchange and Transparency

      and they did not manage to transport the data of predicted wind and solar power from within their own borders from one house to the other. From the 50 Hertz office to Transparency a few roads down.
      There are trams, bicycle couriers, buses …. even telephone cables.

      Schucht is an engineer farming pigeons …

    • listen, is easy for this guy to say what he says. the problem is the same overgeneration driving down the price of energy thus revenue for the generator which of course reduces the incentive to build. what you will then see is a call for price supports for renewables which will start a whole other conversation here on cleantechnica

      • You are correct in that lower prices reduces the incentive to build. The problem being that PV has an generating cost of zero which no other generator can match (OK, a little for maintenance, but effectively zero) If you allow the grids to pass electricity around the world, then you’ll probably get close to “too cheap to meter” and the complete electricity bill would just be a standing charge to the grid for a connection.

        I see this situation happening in a few decades time once the complete grid is on RE – what a legacy for our children/grandchildren!

        • Right, zero fuel costs, not zero costs. We have seen predictions of too cheap to meter in the past.

        • or you start seeing an explosion in energy intensive, goods.
          Smelting sand into glass, smelting aluminum, destroying
          bio-waste. If you had a small machine at a hospital that you had all the tin cans go into and all the bio-hazardous waste and it cooked all night long putting out cubes of glass, aluminum and destroyed the bio-wastes, you could then sell the aluminum for profit.

      • The value of energy is reduced as more of it is placed on the grid at any given time (supply v demand). As Germany puts more renewable power on the grid, it is reducing the level of tariffs, which have been serving as de facto price supports.

      • “the problem is the same overgeneration driving down the price of energy
        thus revenue for the generator which of course reduces the incentive to

        Which is why we should be talking about a non profit business model, don’t you think?

        Your electric utility could be like your Fire Department – paid for by local, state, or national taxes and providing energy at the lowest possible cost – which could be mandated at…. zero, since the infrastructure would already be paid for by those taxes.

    • The Barrier is 1% 1970.
      The Barrier is 2% 1980.
      The Barrier is 5% 1990.
      The Barrier is 10% 2000.
      The Barrier is 20% 2010.
      The Barrier is 70%, 2015…

      I’d say the Barrier is 100%, all you need is Demand regulation.
      if you can suck up Socially useful uses for this power, aerating rivers and ponds, pumping stored waste water,UV sterilizing water in towers, charging
      electric cars, and be able to regulate that demand you can easily
      manage it without storage.

      • The final number will float up and down as we bring prices down over time. Cheaper wind and solar would mean a higher percentage as it would be cheaper to overbuild generation. Cheaper storage would lower the number as the cost of stored electricity competed with overbuilding.

        More dispatchable loads will drive up the number. EVs should be an excellent dispatchable load as they will spend about 90% of their time parked and will need to charge, on average, less than 3 hours (<13%) of the time. Many EVs will be able to skip charging for a day or even days.

        • “Cheaper wind and solar would mean a higher percentage as it would be cheaper to overbuild generation”

          I was looking for this phrasing, thanks!

    • Ha, yeah, and my memory was this guy saying the barrier before storage was 30%, but I’m now thinking that was the Younicos (battery storage) guy.

  • It’s almost a law: when you have unbundled grid operators, without a financial stake in generation, they see integration of renewables as an interesting but entirely manageable challenge. You would get a similar talk from National Grid in the UK, AEMO in Australia, or ERCOT in Texas. The resistance is partly generational, sure, but mainly reflects a financial conflict of interest when utilities own fossil generating assets that are displaced by renewables.

    • This.

      Separate the grid ownership from the generation and the free market magically works better. Somehow we find that surprising…

  • He makes no mention of how the German grid is exporting excess electricity at times to neighboring countries, in effect using neighbors for virtual storage. I wonder if he would qualify his remarks if the German grid was not integrated with the rest of the continent.

    I do agree with him though that the markets and innovators can find solutions to challenging engineering problems.

    • Interconnection to exploit regional strengths will be growing in importance on electrical grids from now on. Does anyone expect grids to begin to disconnect from one another – putting that genie back in it’s bottle?

      • I am not suggesting that the grids should be isolated. Just pointing out that the Germans are able to take the lead in integrating high amounts of fluctuating renewables because they can leverage their neighbor’s grids to help balance the system.

        Another view to ask whether the entire continent can integrate 70% renewables without storage?

        • Czech and Polish are building phase-shifter on the border. So, they will be in short time able to block any electricity flow from Germany anytime they want.
          Germans did the same historically to French nuclear power dumping. Now, they have plenty of useless phase-shifters.

          • Yes. Blocking energy exchange is a counterproductive effort caused by narrow minded nationalistic thinking. Those countries can benefit from exchange with lower electricity prices. Europe has to start doing that. Recently Spain and France have started cooperating.

            “Numerous studies have found that grid flexibility is crucial to enable further integration of renewable energy sources in Europe. While the European Commission — the main driver of the EU’s internal energy market — also understands the necessity of expanding the grid interconnection between EU countries, it often has to struggle against the heavy-handed involvement of member states governments.”

            Read more:

            Whats happening is that the EU authorities with responsibility for carbon emissions targets are stepping in.

            Not perfect, but improving.


          • Many national power companies work in the state of regulatory capture and they use it to protect their local asssets as well as medial artillery using phrases like:
            “Subsidised renewables are destroying the market.”
            “Uncontrollable renewables causes risk of grid collapse.”

          • Yes. Uncontrollable renewables causing me to lose my cushy guaranteed rate of return job security. 🙂 more like it.

          • There was a great time of central planning and 10 power plant running monopoly.

          • Czech and Poland are eager to take any Watt they can get from Germany.
            Both nations are the last resort for 50Hertz, the German grid closes down for heir lignite power plants when there are REs in the grid.
            So over the border the shite power is dumped.

            Check the Entsoe data.

            Or here:


            In the past Poland and Czech showed some month per year a net import from Germany and some month per year a net export.
            But this has changed, prices in the RE countries press power into the ‘free coal’ market (the subsidised Dinos)
            Even Sweden is using the full transport capacities to keep the lights in Poland on.

            Poland is importing more and more. Czech is so as well.

            The phase shifters are there to make the transport safe and not to hinder it.

          • Sorry, but we Czechs overproduce electricity massively. Half of Czech lignite power (~2 of 4 GW) is constantly exported. Our 8x smaller power production grid exports about half as much eletricity as German.

          • Probably true until spring this was.But certainly not since summer, many atom reactors are down and Czech is a net power importer.

            They are even afraid to do the routine checks in the still running reactors because black-outs would be the consequence!
            So ‘safety first’ is put on the back boiler:


            Without criminal action – the faking of atom plant test certicates – and without power imports there would be hardly a day without running brown-outs in Czech.


            ” CEZ is scheduled to take Dukovany’s unit 4 offline before
            the year-end for maintenance but will not do so until one of the
            other three units is reconnected to the grid, Bezdek said.”

            ( from:

            Czech is net importer from Germany since a long time and heavily depending on it.Without the demand from Czech and Poland the eastern German lignite business (50Hertz!) would have to close down.

            You can get this data here:


            ( click in the left column on “monthly” and “import, export”)

            The financial situation of CEZ is dire, financing new power generating capacities practically impossible without state aid.The atom mafia has already lost out to cheaper imports but clings to their structures:


          • The financial situation of ČEZ is still OK. They are still in black. Their new management is trying to jump into microcogeneration/solar/battery wagon.
            That nuclear outage is just a temporary problem caused by screwed outsourced maintenance.

          • It could be a permanent problem, Dukovany’s permit is running out in 3 month, see link above in previous post.

            The share price of CEZ fell a quarter(25%) since this summer (minus 50% since 2010) because shareholders do not trust them:


            With each atom reactor failing the share value runs down:


            This downturn is expected to last at least until 2017:


            Czech is a net importer because the state throws good money after bad atom.
            The coal mines are going bankrupt in the meantime:


            whilest REs are sabotaged by the Mafia government in Czech:


          • (new news just in)

            The safety and financial situation for CEZ is worsening every day, 3 of the reactors in Dukovany won’t come back at least until February:


            This means the Czech grid is running on the blade, there are probably no emergency capacities left.
            And certainly not 1 Watt for export.

            As said: if the deadline in March isn’t met some of the reactors are dead for good, their permission running out then.
            And a new permission would involve all neighbors agreeing (EU environment law), waving proper safety procedures. Not with Austria and Italy and very likely not with Germany!

            I can imagine where the CEZ shares are going on Monday ..:)

          • PS

            From the atom power plants in Temelin we hear that the documentation of safety issues is faked there as well, welding seam documentation is ” non-conclusive”

            The state run company running the reactors states that the situation can be compared with a car test: the illumination of the car boot isn’t really relevant …
            The state run control authority nods.


            The privately done tests of the radioactive welding parts of Dokovany had actually been faked as well.

            If this isn’t a mafia business what else is it to be called?

            The state owner of the atom power plants accepts faked documentation, the state owned ‘controlling’ body accepts the faking of documentation as non-important for the safety of people and environment and the cheapest private X-ray and welding company controls their jobs them self …..

          • Sorry, but I live in it, so I have to put your suggestion into reality:
            The Dukovany plant is OK but ČEZ outsourced security checks and SÚJB (Governmental office for nuclear safety) discovered that a part of pipe welding’s quality checks were fake (in non-nuclear part of the plant). Now, they have to do that once again under much more severe oversight. It will take them some time but nothing critical.
            The NWR are hard coal miners from deep underground, its share on electricity production is minimal, they mostly mine stuff for heating and for coking. The company is going to bankrupt because its owner sucked it dry (several billion EUR of dividends paid of borrowed money), sold/tunneled out valuable assets (heating plants, cokeries, housings) and found some naive investors to buy his share.
            The PV problem is caused just by one official who is in the threat of jail and plays some weird game demanding an EU notification of the 2005 FiT law while public support laws have needed it since 2011.

          • If the Dukovany plant was ok it would be running.
            Czech is paying record prices for imported electricity now, their own power plants can’t compete anymore.
            If there was a better infrastructure (more RE, more cables, more storage and a proper legal system) all reactors would be cold.
            Cooling water pipes in Dukovany broke during operation at full steam this year several times.

            Czech is net importer of electricity for the time being, the Temelin reactors aren’t much better and can be expected to break down any minute.

            When you wrote that Czech has an export surplus of electricity you knew as well that this in’t the case at present.
            It is an old story based on mafia technology, the exports could have never been achieved if the business was to be run on a legal base.
            Export records


            will never be achieved anymore as far as I can see.
            These old records broke the spine of the plants, of the power system.


            When you make claims then please provide a back-up, a link, some references.

          • Yes, and closing doorways to the German grid has resulted in huge blackout concerns in Poland this summer and again this winter.

        • Yes. Look at the big picture. Northern Europe has wind and hydro. Southern Europe has solar. The larger the area, the easier it is to use transmission to unite various sources and match load to generation.
          Islands are harder to integrate because they cannot interconnect.
          If Germany can get up to 70% without storage, a larger area can do so also. If fact, the exchange of energy is complementary. Germany doesn’t just import energy, it exports, too. So, too, with other areas like Spain and Scandinavia.

          • ” …grid interconnection ensures more reliable, cheaper power.”

            It ensurers that the profits stay with the Mafia who created it.

            It’s the small scale power producer and -user who has to fork out.
            It is Schucht and the like who makes a living on it.
            Assume those who need the international grids had to pay for them …

          • It might help if the grid was publicly owned.

          • Yes, but most aren’t.

            IMHO we waste far too much time complaining about grid ownership. That’s not something that is likely to change (except for utilities which might go bankrupt).

          • The way I see it, sure, they can make a fair profit offering their services, but they have to stay reasonable – otherwise they’re going to face what the australian grid is facing now – the prospect of user defection to solar and batteries.

            Now, I think the grid owners/operators are smart enough to avoid pushing it that far… which means these technologies place an upper-bound on electricity costs for end users. (That same technology also helps them lower their own operating costs, so it’s really a win-win assuming they are smart enough to adapt before their lunch is already eaten – which is where I might be asking a little too much of them…)

          • There are some underpinnings of the PU system that are harmful going forward. The worst is the concept of guaranteed rate of return. Its based on capital assets. No good for things like conservation and demand management.

          • Indeed, but the lobbyism is already keeping the lignite power plants in business, the new planned interconnectors are financed via the law (grid costs have to be payed via the power bill) and the grid operators are guaranteed (!) by law a net profit of over 9%/a

            So factually it won’t matter.
            As long as the old structures are walking in and out in the government they do as they please.
            Over 2,000 lobbyists have free access to the German Bundestag.

            600 are named here:


          • Globally, this guaranteed rate of return on capital equipment is interfering with the efficient use of energy. It distorts the market toward purchasing caital equipment rather than reducing emissions or energy cost.

          • Absolutely.

            In the German case we have to keep in mind that the old el. infrastructures were all based on monopolies.
            The monopoly to generate, to distribute and to sell power was granted by political parties which secured jobs and brown envelopes within this mafia system.

            After the EU demanded the splitting of this monopoly the grids were placed in new companies who payed nothing (zero €,£,$ !!) for this grid and were allowed to make over 9% profit on it, guaranteed profit by law.
            They payed nothing for something that was already payed for by the state and by the consumers a long time ago.

            The new grid operators in Germany are de–facto the old ones, a new name on the letter box and on the office door.
            In many cases they still reside door-to-door with the power generators within the same building, use the same cantine and car park.

          • Thanks for the insight. We need to know whats going on in Germany.

    • He does explicitly state that transmission is used at 6:11. He calls it grid extension and its not easy to hear it. Using transmission is good. It imports/exports energy from places with a surplus to those with a deficit.
      It also reduces the cost to get the job done. Along with demand management and efficiency, these are much cheaper methods of integration than storage and should be used first.
      He states repeatedly that Germany is not an island, but island nations would require more storage and a different approach because they cannot use export/import.

  • Demand response (particularly in the transit – EVs – and heating – smart thermostats/water heaters) can make excellent virtual storage…

  • Ireland set to build more storage since 50% penetration of windpower is achived now:–_100022363/#axzz3u7uO5H6y

    Here the interactive site for wind power generation in Ireland:

    (click on ‘Month’ to get the 1st of December)
    As the PV-magazine reports a number of wind generators had to be turned of.
    And the export capacities were used as well with 0.4 GW.

    Since the UK fears cheap power from Ireland (more interconnector capacities received a clear “NO” from London) power storage has to be employed now.

    The Irish situation shows what we have to make of the German situation described in Giles’ article.

    When a grid manager says “no storage” he means “more grid, more guaranteed money for me”.

    That 3rd way – the non-mandatory intelligent/smart meter in combination with fluctuating prices – seems to be forgotten by all actors on the stage.
    The theater would close down …

    • You have my vote for demand management, smart utilities, price signals. It’s the cheapest.

  • Cheap lignite power from Eastern Germany (50Hertz) is switching-off gas power plants in the Baltic states.

    Via the Polish cables cheap coal/lignite power can now be sold to the Baltics.

    Mr. Schucht says “Thank You”.

    On the other hand 4 planned atom reactors in Kaliningrad

    have been canceled, the power would be to expensive to compete with German lignite.

    The report about the cancelled Kaliningrad reactors here on a German speaking blog, there is nothing out in English as far as I can see:


    If someone comes along a report in English (or anything official, maybe from Rosatom?) on the developments of the Kaliningrad reactors please link it here.
    Thank you.

  • Much “Sunk Money” to chew over. Look to HVDC transmission. Seek Aviation’s secret to lighter a.c. motors using 400 hz at higher voltages. Remember: Many advances in solid state electronics can enhance or better current systems? Why does Europe work on twice the voltage found in America? Is there an advantage to going even higher, considering newer, better, insulators? Wil ‘De-centralized’ electric sources make for lighter loads, less losses in Transmission, and in transmission costs?

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