No One Beats German Continuity of Electricity Supply

Craig Morris just kindly pointed on Twitter to this interesting report on the quality of electricity supply in Europe.

Looking at the data at page 115, I find that for the time reported (the five years from 2006 to 2010), Germany beats everyone else in Europe for the title of the most reliable grid. Interruptions were at a grand total of 14.9 minutes in 2010, beating France (62.9 minutes) by a factor of over 4.

The runner-up in 2010 is Denmark with 16.95 minutes (another country with a high renewable share in the mix).

It will be interesting to see how Germany does in that kind of comparison in 2020, once the share of renewable in the mix gets closer to 50%. For the time being, there seems to be no problem with the stability of the system.

As the excellent “German Energy Transition” site points out, the lights stay on in Germany even with higher renewable shares.


Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003,

One thought on “No One Beats German Continuity of Electricity Supply

  1. As explained on the “German Energy Transition” site, the main reason for the stability of the grid is that Germany has 100 GW of conventional generating capacity online, compared to only 80 GW of maximum power demand.
    However this overcapacity has a construction&maintenance cost.

    But globally the problems on the grid are much more an overload of renewable electricity than a lack. It’s still a bit annoying when power that is paid for can not be used.

    And as described also, in future as both it’s load factor and the average market price go down, you will need to pay to keep this capacity online, in addition to paying for the renewable. Meanwhile the average carbon content of German electricity this year will still be around 500g/KWh, which means the global reductions of CO2 emission at the moment do actually not come from the electric sector (or just from reducing use as the price goes up).

    In February 2012, it was the German fossil power that provided electricity to France, and materially not the solar power, since the peak of consumption in France is 19h, and in winter there’s no solar anymore in Germany from 17h. What’s more the Fraunhofer report on page 58 shows the solar production was always lower than the gas production for February, ie you were first consuming all the solar locally to reduce gaz usage (except maybe 12-19 which seems to have been hotter days since total consumption was lower). Incidentally whilst wind power capacity is much lower in France than in Germany, it provided more power during this February period than the German one.


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