FERC Ruling and German Grid Stability

FERC Ruling and German Grid Stability

The recent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) decision disallowing the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) request for RTO/ISOs to require a 90-day on-site fuel supply, dismissed the notion that wind and solar, and other so-called competitive elements, such as demand response, were disrupting the resiliency of the US grid.

In contrast to FERC’s ruling, Germany is finding that wind and solar are disrupting its grid, and that huge sums of money are needed to stabilize it.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that the cost of stabilizing the German grid had grown to enormous proportions.

Grid operator TenneT said, “It had invested almost 1 billion euros in 2017, (710 million euros in 2015, and 660 million euros in 2016), in re-dispatch and other stabilizing measures to cope with the increased feed-in of renewable power.”

TenneT CEO Lex Hartmann said,

“Grid congestion, high costs for consumers and a growing unstable supply are the harsh reality.”

This is the result of Germany’s energiewende program which was put in place to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Germany has made huge investments in wind and solar power generation, using government subsidies to accelerate their adoption, but without significant results.

Current Status

Results thus far for achieving the goal of reducing GHG emissions 40% by 2020, and up to 95% by 2050 are shown in the accompanying chart. (The latest news indicates Germany may abandon the 40% goal.)

As of now, Germany has reduced its GHG emissions by 26%, including a 1% rise in GHG emissions in 2016.

Greenhouse gas emission trends 1990 through 2016

(It should be noted that initial reduction of GHG during the 1990s amounted to approximately 125 million tons. This represented a 10% reduction from 1990’s level of GHG emissions of 1,251 MT, with the reduction largely the result of closing inefficient East German industrial plants.)

After spending billions to develop wind and solar power generation, wind and solar accounted for only 18% of the electricity produced in 2016.

Meanwhile, coal accounted for 40% of electricity generation in 2016 and remains the primary source of power generation in Germany.

Nuclear is being eliminated. The Gundremmingen B nuclear reactor in Bavaria is the latest to be closed, with seven reactors remaining to be shut down by the end of 2022.

In all likelihood, coal and natural gas will replace the closed nuclear plants.

Generation Mix 2016


Germany is paying a high price for its failing energiewende policy.

There appears to be a disconnect between FERC’s ruling dismissing concerns over grid stability and what is happening in Germany.

However, FERC has also requested a further analysis of resiliency and grid stabilization:

“The Commission orders:

“(A) The RTO/ISOs are hereby directed to provide responses to the Commission, as discussed in the body of this order, within 60 days of the date of this order. Interested entities may submit reply comments within 30 days of the due date of the RTO/ISO submissions.”

This new review is very important and Americans should watch this matter very carefully because our grid is also in danger.

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