Proponents always point out that, on good days, we already cover a large part of our electricity needs from renewable energy sources. Another argument is that we even have an export surplus of electricity over the year, which we export abroad. This suggests that the energy transition works with 100 percent renewable energy. As good as the arguments sound, this is only half the truth. The energy transition is largely based on wishful thinking (derpragmaticus: 16.11.22).
Proponents like to argue with cumulative values
Proponents’ arguments are mostly based on cumulative values and look at periods of one year, one month, or an entire day. In a modern industrial nation, however, sufficient electricity must be available at all times. This also applies to fractions of a second, because the network already collapses at a frequency deviation of 0.2 Hz. In order to avoid major power outages, at least as much electricity must be produced around the clock, on all days of the year, as is currently consumed. So, if renewable energies cannot supply enough electricity on just one day a year, it does not help if too much electricity is produced on the other 364 days.
Without baseload-capable backup power plants, it is not possible. 100 percent renewable energy is wishful thinking of our green politicians
Without baseload-capable backup power plants, it is not possible
Completely independent of the weather, the season or the time of day, however, only base-load nuclear, coal and gas power plants, as well as the run-of-river power plants can produce electricity. Renewable energies from wind and solar energy, on the other hand, are not base-load capable. Only the biogas power plants can make a small contribution, which, however, is far too small.
No matter how many solar and wind plants we can build, without backup power plants, which have to step in when renewable energies do not deliver depending on the weather or time of day, a round-the-clock power supply is not possible. Germany has therefore increasingly relied on the use of gas-fired power plants. But at the latest with the Russian attack on Ukraine, this plan failed, because on the one hand there is no longer enough gas available and on the other hand the electricity from gas-fired power plants is extremely expensive due to the sharp rise in gas prices. In addition, there are not enough gas-fired power plants in Germany to replace the decommissioned nuclear and coal-fired power plants.
The alternative would be gigantic storage
The only way to secure the power supply through 100 percent renewable energies would be gigantic storage systems that are filled in times of overproduction and that release the electricity back to the grid when there is a shortage. This works theoretically, but memory in the required dimension simply does not exist. Nowadays, electricity can only be stored in reasonably large quantities in pumped storage power plants. However, this requires the necessary topography and correspondingly large storage basins into which the water can be pumped. However, the regions suitable for this in Germany are largely exhausted in this respect.
Germany has a total of 36 pumped storage power plants, which together can store 0.04 terawatt hours. Total annual electricity consumption in 2020 was 540 terawatt hours. This would allow all storage systems together to secure the power supply for about forty minutes in dark doldrums, then all pumped storage power plants would have run empty.
Battery storage in the required dimension neither available nor affordable
Although they are now trying to use large battery storage systems, their capacities are much smaller and, above all, they are not affordable. In addition, these storage systems also have a relatively short service life and would therefore have to be renewed again and again in a period of between 10 and 20 years. There are not even enough raw materials for that. The hope for large battery storage systems is also largely based on wishful thinking.
Wishful thinking – You can’t negotiate with physics
The energy transition towards 100 percent renewable energy stands or falls with the availability of energy storage systems. As long as this does not exist and the government sticks to the nuclear phase-out, coal-fired power plants must be allowed to continue running on dark, windless days. The alternative would be to build more gas-fired power plants. Currently, however, our politicians are trying to replace fundamental economic and physical principles with wishful thinking. In doing so, they continue to cling to the idea of free, green and infinitely available energy. But the laws of physics also apply to those who ignore them.