Home and business electricity customers in the UK have heard a lot recently about the need to generate more energy from renewable sources such as solar panels.
However, our European neighbours in Germany could soon see their electricity grid overwhelmed by solar energy; such has been the success of the uptake of green energy generation in the country.
A report in Wired reveals how the head of Germany’s energy agency, DENA, is concerned that the mass enthusiasm for installing solar panels could in fact lead to power cuts.
Business electricity customers in Germany, along with their domestic counterparts, receive subsidies for adopting solar technology. Like the Feed in Tariff scheme here in the UK, homes and businesses can also sell surplus energy back to the grid at a profit.
By its very nature, solar power is sporadic, depending not only on whether there is sunshine, but also on its intensity. This can lead to energy spikes during the day, but very little during high demand times in the evening. Switching off regular power generators can ensure a consistent supply of power to the grid to manage the midday surges, but it is possible that the levels of solar generated power could be so high that they exceed demand even when traditional generators are off.
About 15 per cent of the electricity for business and home customers in Germany comes from green sources, and it aims to double that by 2020. Green energy is enshrined in German law thanks to the Renewable Energy Act, which was brought in in the year 2000. More than half of the world’s solar power is produced in the country.
Solar energy is rapidly approaching 30 gigawatts, Germany’s entire weekend power consumption, and it could reach these levels by the end of next year. Because of this, while UK business electricity customers are considering installing solar panels, DENA is thinking about capping their installation in Germany.
However, the German Solar Industry Federation argues that Germany’s energy infrastructure needs to be made more flexible to accommodate excess solar power.
You can read the full story in Wired.