21.08.2015
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SAIDI

German grid keeps getting more reliable

So much for renewable energy destabilizing the German grid: Yesterday, Germany’s Network Agency published the SAIDI figure for 2014, showing that the number of downtime minutes fell to an all-time low.

It’s getting hard to count the minutes of power outages in Germany. And it’s getting hard to improve the figure.

As recently as 2006, Germany had 21.53 minutes of power outages, as counted in the SAIDI metric (report in German). That number has now fallen to 12.28 minutes as of last year, according to the official statistics from the Network Agency (website in German). Since 2009, the figure has hovered around 15 minutes, so this decrease of around 2.5 minutes represents a considerable improvement.

To get an idea of how good the German grid is, we need an international comparison.

 - 
EnergyTransition.de

Above, we see that Germany and Denmark have the most reliable grids by far in Europe. The Danes also have around 40 percent wind power, whereas the Germans have roughly 17 percent wind and solar combined. The share of these two energy sources is relevant because they react to the weather, not to grid events; they are not dispatchable and are therefore commonly held to be a danger to grid reliability, at least among critics of the Energiewende.

Italy also has roughly the same amount of wind and PV as Germany does, and its grid performance has improved since 2006. Likewise, wind and solar taken together are now the largest source of electricity in Spain, and that country’s SAIDI figure improved tremendously (but note that the data are only available for 2006-2011, PDF).

Correlation is not causation, however. Just because these countries have fewer minutes of downtime does not mean that solar + wind are the reason. Rather, as a report from the CEER explained in 2013, other improvements have been made to the grid, specifically the use of underground cables rather than overhead lines.

While solar + wind are therefore not the main cause for lower downtime minutes, clearly high levels of fluctuating renewable energy are possible with extremely low SAIDI numbers.

Note that SAIDI does not include natural disasters, so storms that cause blackouts are not included in the figure. Likewise, the outage must last at least three minutes, a criterion for which the metric has been criticized; after all, less than three minutes of downtime can be quite disruptive in the production sector.

(Craig Morris / @PPchef)

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7 Kommentare zu "German grid keeps getting more reliable "

  1. heinbloed - 24.08.2015, 10:27 Uhr (Kommentar melden)

    Now 57 power plants on the waiting list for retirement:
    http://www.bundesnetzagentur.de/cln_1412/EN/Areas/Energy/Companies/ReportsArchive/List_of_closure_notifications/List_of_closure_notifications_node.html
    The federal grid agency ("Bundesnetzagentur) has listed 11 of these as "relevant for the system", they can't be retired unless new capacities are installed, the grid extended or power consumsumption is reduced.
    The fuel type of these retirement plants is shown at page 1 here(in German)
    http://www.bundesnetzagentur.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/DE/Sachgebiete/Energie/Unternehmen_Institutionen/Versorgungssicherheit/Erzeugungskapazitaeten/KWSAL/KWSAL_Statistik_2015_07_20.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=1
    and on page 2 we can see the total of registered planned retirement plants on a month for month base

  2. heinbloed - 22.08.2015, 16:41 Uhr (Kommentar melden)

    Bird droppings shut down German atomic reactor - grid stays stable:
    http://www.swp.de/heidenheim/lokales/kreisheidenheim/Kotender-Vogel-Ausloeser-fuer-AKW-Reparaturart1168195,3390483
    More bad for Hinkley Point - the money ran out:
    http://www.clickgreen.org.uk/news/national-news/126381-exclusive-edf-mothballs-planned-hinkley-c-nuclear-power-site.html
    http://nuclearstreet.com/nuclear_power_industry_news/b/nuclear_power_news/archive/2015/08/21/site-preparation-at-hinkley-point-c-halted-at-spending-cap-082102.aspx#.Vdh6q30Vjcs

  3. Ulenspiegel - 22.08.2015, 09:39 Uhr (Kommentar melden)

    Johan,
    "...but it is reality. Why doesn't anybody react ? " Most simple and logic explanation, it is not reality. :-)
    Or, do not drink and post. This combination usually gives unsaticfactory results -- your post is perfect proof.

  4. Johan Van Oudenhove - 21.08.2015, 18:45 Uhr (Kommentar melden)

    Pure advertising and really bullshit. Germans are great in manipulating people. It is ridiculous what they have done with Greece which mostly is their fault and now they're buying everything for scrap prices IN GREECE ? ?????????. WW III is on the run with this Stazi Merkel. Everybody seems to have forgotten what WW I and WW II has done for Europe. Don't forget that we have forgiven the Gemrans and let them walk awya with 1500 B of debts !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! For me they may a bomb on Germany. Sorry : but it is reality. Why doesn't anybody react ?

  5. Mike Parr - 21.08.2015, 14:06 Uhr (Kommentar melden)

    James, I have to disagree on the "largely buried distribution grid" - if I look at transmision and distribution costs UK vs Germany there is some difference in absolute terms UK 4.2ecents/kWhr Germany 6.6 (Residential 2.5MWhrs - 5MWhrs) - so yeah - 50% more than the UK but the dis net costs account for "a lot of the high German retail price" -hmm nope - Germany 22% (6.6/30) UK 21% (4.2/20) . Looks very similar to me. I'd suggest that the US built down to a price, Germany and the UK built up to a performance standard. BTW - I worked on the most reliable (urban/sub-urban) network in the world - Merseyside 4.5minutes per customer per year (mostly u/g - but it was the network topology & the protection system that made all the difference).

  6. heinbloed - 21.08.2015, 13:57 Uhr (Kommentar melden)

    " American distribution lines on cheap-and-nasty poles are of course much more vulnerable to natural disasters such as tornadoes and ice storms. "
    Yes, but not only the weather makes these poles and overhead cables more risky. Rot and decay as well as vevicles driving into them plays an important role in the rural stretches of Europe as well. Ireland has more poles than sheep they reckon, with propably about the worst Saidi value in Europe. People drive diggers and tractors into them, cut them with hedge cutters and so on. There are towns where one hardly sees the sky looking up - I'm exagerating - the cables running from house to house all over the place. Try to fix a sign at a shop front, painting the wall, putting up a scaffolding and the power has to be cut. I watched a man in Ireland using a gas torch to clean a housewall from 1/2 inch of old oil paint and sure he burned the cables.

  7. James Wimberley - 21.08.2015, 11:08 Uhr (Kommentar melden)

    The largely buried local distribution grid in Germany is also responsible for a lot of the high German retail price. It's a good choice IMHO, but makes comparisons with the cheap and unreliable Anerican grid difficult.
    American distribution lines on cheap-and-nasty poles are of course much more vulnerable to natural disasters such as tornadoes and ice storms.

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