Despite nuclear turnaround: germany increases electricity exports

Despite nuclear turnaround: germany increases electricity exports

The net surplus of 22.8 terawatt hours (twh) was almost four times as high as in 2011, the federal statistical office in wiesbaden announced on tuesday.

In 2012, germany imported 43.8 terawatt hours (twh) via the european electricity grids. Foreign electricity suppliers – mainly from the netherlands, austria and switzerland – purchased 66.6 twh from germany. The value of electricity exports was 3.7 billion euros, and imports 2.3 billion euros. The bottom line was a generated electricity trading surplus of 1.4 billion euros.

The net amount of electricity exported is equivalent to the annual production of more than two nuclear power plants. In 2006 and 2008, there was a slightly higher plus in electricity sales, at 22.9 twh in both cases.

The federal association of energy and water (BDEW) even calls the new figures a new historic high, as it comes to 23.1 twh surplus after already presented figures at the beginning of the year. One terawatt hour equals one billion kilowatt hours.

Reason for the surplus is the energy transition with the increase in solar and wind power. The share of alternative energies climbed to 23 percent in germany in 2012. By mid-2011, eight of 17 german nuclear power plants had been shut down following the fukushima disaster.

But since the production in wind and solar parks fluctuates depending on the weather, there are always high surpluses. At times, this also led to negative electricity prices last year – german utilities even had to pay extra to purchase the electricity.

For example, at 4 a.M. On christmas day, 220 euros per megawatt hour was paid for the purchase of the excess electricity produced. On 24. March for the first time, negative prices in short-term electricity sales occurred during the day for several hours – there was an enormous amount of wind and solar power with little consumption on this sunday.

Since there is less eco-electricity available overall in winter, many coal and gas-fired power plants are still needed to ensure round-the-clock supply nationwide. More expensive gas-fired power plants in particular currently have too few operating hours. Here lies at present a main problem of the energy turnaround. The BDEW points out that the temporarily very favorable german electricity prices have forced gas-fired power plants out of the market, especially in the netherlands.

Overall, there has been no breakthrough in the development of storage for excess eco-electricity – this would also reduce the need for fossil fuel power plants and make their use more predictable than today. "It’s a fallacy to believe that we can be unconcerned about security of supply," a BDEW spokesman stressed. "The current averages do not mean that there is a surplus of electricity in germany as a whole."It always depends on the place and the time of the power supply and the demand. The anti-nuclear organization "ausgestrahlt" interpreted the surpluses as proof that a nuclear phase-out is possible even before 2022.

The temporary oversupply of electricity has been causing the purchase prices on the electricity exchange to fall for months now. At the same time, this will increase the electricity surcharge added to the end customer price. The levy is used to pay the difference between the price paid for eco-electricity and the fixed feed-in tariffs guaranteed for 20 years. Consumer users criticize that energy suppliers have so far passed on lower purchase prices to customers too little.

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