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Solar power in Germany - Dismal Capacity Factors (10% to 13%)

Noam Mayraz's picture
Consulting Engineer Future Power, Inc.

Noam Mayraz, PE, is a senior consultant for the power generation industry.  Mr. Mayraz has over forty years of design, engineering, and field services as project manager, IPP projects director,...

  • Member since 2003
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  • Oct 23, 2019 2:00 pm GMT
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Solar power in Germany consists almost exclusively of photovoltaics (PV) and accounted for an estimated 6.2 to 6.9 percent of the country's net-electricity generation in 2016. About 1.5 million photovoltaic systems were installed around the country in 2014, ranging from small rooftop systems, to medium commercial and large utility-scale solar parks. Germany's largest solar farms are located in MeuroNeuhardenberg, and Templin with capacities over 100 MW.

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Germany has been amongst the world's top PV installer for several years, with total installed capacity amounting to 41.3 gigawatts (GW) by the end of 2016, behind only China. However, new installations of PV systems have declined steadily since the record year of 2011.[5] It's estimated that by 2017 over 70% of the country's jobs in the solar industry have been lost in the solar sector in recent years.[1] Proponents from the PV industry blame the lack of governmental commitment, while others point out the financial burden associated with the fast paced roll-out of photovoltaics, rendering the transition to renewable energies unsustainable in their view.

Note that the "with total installed capacity amounting to 41.3 gigawatts (GW) by the end of 2016" - is the nameplate rating.  We are interested in the actual electrical energy generated in GWH, aka the capacity factor (nameplate times the operating hours).  Read the empirical results as released by the German authorities - it is dismal at best. 

Nothing to write home about.  Anyone expecting 100% renewable should review the empirical production results and the impact on the grid’s quality and availability. 

Being weather related / depended, it is unpredictable, we have low voltage ride through issues combined with frequency and power factors control.

What makes the grid operation critical is the need for back-up power, aka spinning reserve, from base-load, fossil-fueled power plants who are held back (as spinning reserve, google that).

Anyone has the idea how to store solar energy for a rainy day (literally and figuratively)?

 

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