As Germany Curtails Wind and Solar, Billion-Euro Grid Projects Help Bring More Green Power On-Line.jpg

With great wind and solar resources come costly grid responsibilities, as a German government report details.

Germany is the world leader in incorporating wind and solar power into its electricity mix -- and it’s bearing the resulting technical and economic challenges for its power grid.

Billions of euros are being spent on grid projects to help reduce the rising amount of green power that’s being curtailed to manage the country’s electricity balance.

According to a recently updated government report, Germany curtailed about 1,581 gigawatt-hours of green energy in 2014, a threefold increase from curtailments in the previous year. While that’s only about 1.2 percent of the renewable energy eligible for payments, it still required compensation worth about €83 million (US$94 million), and trends for 2015 were only increasing.

As the report notes:

According to the feed-in management rules, electricity produced from renewable sources must be fed into and transported on the grid with priority. Under specific conditions, the responsible network operator can scale back priority feed-in from these installations temporarily if the network capacities are not sufficient to transport the total amount of electricity generated. In particular, the restrictions on feed-in for conventional generators must first be exhausted. [...] The operator of the scaled back installation is entitled to compensation for the unused electricity.

This level of curtailment isn't out of line with other countries. But apples-to-apples comparisons are difficult to make because of different data reporting regimes in different regions, notes another analysis.