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Can Germany ride through the winter without cuts or brown-outs?
Written by Hugh Sharman   
Tuesday, 06 December 2011

We are grateful to Karel Beckman for alerting us to a new report by ENTSO, (European association of transmission system operators) which alerts Europe to the risk of a capacity-caused electricity supply shortage in the event of another cold winter.

Perhaps it can only be outright supply failures that will alert German voters to the dangers they face if they continue on their present path of accelerating the closure of nuclear power plants while excoriating fossil fuel generation.

Their now 20 GW of installed PV will be useless in the coming winter.  Cold weather is characterized by extended anticyclones.

Fortunately, the UK has time to take stock of what is happening elsewhere in the EU (and nowhere else in the world) of what happens when an advanced economy takes leave of its senses.

Karel's blog article appears, alongside many other important and relevant papers and articles at http://www.europeanenergyreview.eu/site/pagina.php?id=3316


So what if we get a cold winter?

Germany may be the country that has to bail out much of the Eurozone, when it comes to power production the Germans themselves may need to be bailed out by their neighbours if we get a severe winter. ENTSO-E, the European association of transmission system operators (TSO's), notes that, as a result of the German decision to close its nuclear power plants, there is a highly increased risk of power failures in Europe coming winter. The TSO's of Austria, Switzerland, Italy and France stand ready to help Germany out, ENTSO-E notes, but it is by no means certain they will have the wherewithal to do so.

As ENTSO-E puts it in a press release: "Reduced margins (available generation over load) in Europe this winter, in particular under severe weather conditions and accounting for the limited interconnection capacities between countries, have placed European TSOs on alert for this winter."

ENTSO-E’s President Daniel Dobbeni notes that "for this winter reserves to deal with severe situations are lower than in the past; due to the reduction of the available German power generation in the aftermath of the serious nuclear situation in Japan". He points out that "under normal winter conditions, the balance between demand and supply is not considered at risk with cross border transfer capacities sufficient to provide imports whenever needed. It is when the winter conditions become extreme and widespread that there is a significant risk to security of supply in some major European areas, he says. "

The press release is based on ENTSO-E's Winter Outlook 2011-2012, which was published this week. The analysis indicates that under severe conditions, December and January could be the most stressed months of the winter for security of supply. "As cross border interconnector flows’ peak in order to maintain system security, France could require a significant level of imports from neighbouring countries including Germany. However, Germany and France could also be unable to assist each other if extreme conditions occur in both countries at the same time."

ENTSO-notes that there is "a significant increase in the operational risk on a national and regional level in some major areas of Continental Europe. Security calculations for Germany show a significant decrease in the margin between generation and load, resulting in a highly loaded grid as well as regional voltage levels lower than usual." Dobbeni notes that "Since this spring, ENTSO-E and its members have been actively looking ahead to managing this winter. Countermeasures, the actions TSOs and consumers can take if the winter conditions become extreme have been studied in detail. In order to maintain system security this winter, TSOs will be prepared to activate, as needed, grid and market related remedies in a coordinated manner, including as a last resort controlled curtailment of power supply." Regarding the situation in Germany, Dobbeni notes that close support from adjacent TSOs (such as Austria, Switzerland, and Italy) is under detailed bilateral discussion.

Beyond this winter, he adds, to accommodate the major changes in generation observed all over Europe, grid reinforcement is urgently required.

Entsoe's report can be down-loaded at



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