Renewables covered 100% of energy consumption in Germany (for about 45 minutes)

A curious infographic from the twitter timeline of the Flemish greens (translated from Dutch):


For the first time, renewable energy delivered 100% of electricity consumption in Germany

That struck me by surprise. I was quite busy in the last few days with another project, so I clearly missed the news.

My first reaction was: 100% delivered by renewables, sure, but how many minutes? The second question: when did this happen? There was no date on that infographic, so it was not very clear when this actually happened. I guess it was somewhat before the tweet was posted (January 8), so I went to the Agorameter website and it showed by default the last 3 days (from January 6 until 9). I removed the conventional sources from the graph and to my surprise, I saw no period in which the production of renewable energy equaled consumption.

Not even close.

Germany agorameter Renewables vs Consumption 20180106 - 20180109

It has to be further back in time. When I pressed the button “Last 7 days”, there was still no 100% delivered by renewables either:

Germany agorameter Renewables vs Consumption 20180102 - 20180109

So, what then did they bragged about? Typical for the Green party to not mention information in order to check the facts.

I did a search online and, yes, I found my answer in a clear energy wire article of January 6. The title was “Renewables cover about 100% of German power use for first time ever”. Pay attention to the “about 100%”. The information leading to that 100% covered by renewables was prelimany data, so it could still change. It was expected to be more in the region of 95%.

I also found the data: the event apparently happened on January 1th and this is how they showed it in the clearenergywire article:

Germany Renewable vs Consumption Clearenergywire 20180101

When I zoom in, I see the combined wind/solar/biomass/hydro flirting with the consumption:

Germany Renewable vs Consumption Clearenergywire 20180101 zoom

It is not clear how much and how long. I went back to the Agorameter website and graphed the consumption and renewable production on January 1, but it didn’t look like production equaled consumption, also not at 6:00 AM:

Germany Agorameter Renewables vs Consumption 20180101

Then, going back the cleanenergywire article, I noticed that the graph is not from Agorameter (although it looks similar), the source of that graph is the “Federal Network Agency”. An online search led me the and clicking though to the Generation and Consumption app. Here I found the actual generation data of January 1.

It was not possible to download the data, but it was possible to get it in a html table, so it was not so difficult to copy/paste it into Calc. It became clear that there were only three moments in which renewables delivered as much as consumption: at 05:30 AM, at 06:00 AM (also visible in the screenshot of clearenergywire) and at 06:15 AM.

That was it.

The whole commotion was about just 45 minutes on a New Years morning when most people were in bed or preparing to go in bed. A morning with hardly any industry running, no rush hour,… It is a day and time with a very low electricity consumption.

Just a day later electricity consumption went back up dramatically, while the share of renewables started to drop. Widening the gap between renewable energy production and energy consumption. Less than a week later production went very low and starting from the 11th, it went even lower for a longer time. That is the consequence of intermittent energy sources. One period of 45 minutes doesn’t say much about how intermittent energy sources fit in a continuous flowing system.

Germany Renewables vs Consumption 20180101

The clearenergywire article saw that a bit different:

“This means we are entering a new phase,” said Felix Matthes, research coordinator at the Institute for Applied Ecology. “Renewables have finally left their niche.”

Only a pity that those renewables crawled back in their niche so quickly.


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