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):

Historic

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 smard.de-website 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 smard.de 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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