February 17, 2017 Read More →

Germany’s ‘Energy Revolution’ Is Felt in Poland and Czechoslovakia

Zeke Turner for the Wall Street Journal:

A battle is raging in Central Europe over the balance of power—the electrical kind.

Poland and the Czech Republic see Germany as an aggressor, overproducing electricity and dumping it across the border. Germany sees itself as a green-energy pioneer under unfair attacks from less innovative neighbors.

As part of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Energiewende, or energy revolution, Germany will shut its nuclear power plants by 2022 and replace them with its rapidly expanding wind and solar power.

But the volatile renewables don’t always perform, and the Germans are also relying on coal- and gas-powered plants to keep the lights on.

That creates problems on windy and sunny days when Germany produces far more electricity than it needs. Excess power spills over the border into Polish and Czech territory, threatening their electrical grids with collapse, companies and governments there say.

German companies don’t deny that erratic power flows are a problem, but they argue that overloads are largely due to outdated grids on both sides of the border.

“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” said Gert Schwarzbach, the head of interconnectors at 50Hertz Transmission GmbH, a grid operator responsible for power lines that cross into Poland and the Czech Republic in northeastern Germany.

Polish power plants, according to Mr. Wilinski, are now burning four million tons less coal a year—the equivalent of closing one large power station—than they did before 2008 when Germany’s wind and solar capacity began to surge.

Andreas Jahn, a senior researcher at the Regulatory Assistance Project in Berlin, said that until Germany can finish outfitting its own network of power lines, its neighbors have few choices but to cope with the whims of Germany’s energy revolution.

Full article ($): In Central Europe, Germany’s Renewable Revolution Causes Friction

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