Climate Politics Means Chaos on the German Power Market
by Edgar L. Gärtner
“There is at present no other industry in Germany, which is torn up and directionless like the electricity industry. Reason is the dominance of environmental aspects in the energy and especially in the electricity politics.” Thus begins an analysis of the questionable developments on the German electricity market published in the business section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) on 25th March 2010. Mind you, it concerns not experimentally provable environmental and health problems like ruining of landscapes through high voltage routes or through electrical smog, but the so-called climate protection politics, unable to define which climate is to be protected, i.e. pure, nihilistically motivated political arbitrariness. The FAZ article makes understandable that an energy concept from a single source, as demanded by the economy and promised still for the current year by the Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel will not be realised as long as the energy policy is determined by ideological reasons and in the interest of the parasitic wind and solar lobby with focus on carbon-dioxide-free solutions.
Apart from the high costs, wind and solar electricity are characterised by unsteadiness and unreliability. Frequent abrupt load changes make it more and more difficult to keep the high voltage frequency in the given range of tolerance and to avoid emergency shut-downs from generators. Above all wind energy is generated in high volumes when depressions with storms are rolling in, however, especially during this time the energy need is smallest. This is the reason why at the Leipzig Energy Exchange (EEX) power providers had to pay on the second Christmas day in 2009 up to 230 Euros per megawatt hour to clients in order to at least get rid of the power surplus due to strong wind. At the beginning of October 2009 the current providers had even to pay nearly 1,500 Euros per megawatt hour, in order to somewhere get rid of the exceeding wind power. Der Spiegel reported in its 10/2010 edition, that between the beginning of September 2009 and beginning of March 2010, the electricity tariffs have been turned in negatives on not less than 29 days because of the wind energy surplus. The Austrian operators of pumped storage hydro power stations, who use this electricity in order to pump water into mountain reservoirs, profit most of those negative prices. In case of peak demand they can lead the stored water through over gutter-pipes on turbines and sell the generated power on the EEX at top prices.
The construction of wind parks in the North See has already started. Energy generated in those wind parks will have to be transported further and further. The billion extensive power lines in north-south direction – a long-term construction – will become the needle eye of Germany’s power supply. Because the major power providers like RWE, E.ON and Vattenfall are forced to unbundle their distribution networks, a poker game has started. Concretely: International investors could try to influence the German electricity market to their favour and/or to sell cheap nuclear energy to the high prices in Germany after an acquisition of parts of the German high voltage transmission grid. This could explain why the Dutch grids company Tennet and the Belgian Elia offered twice more for E.ON’s and Vattenfall’s networks than German consortia.
The FAZ agrees with the assumption, that the Belgian Electrabel, a subsidiary of the French utilities group Suez GDF, will ultimately sell its stake in Elia to the French grid operator RTE. RTE could then deliver unhindered French atomic energy to German networks. FAZ editor Werner Sturbeck concludes: “It seems quite clear that the influence of German players from politics and economics on the future organisation of the high voltage network has become less during the last months.”