• German energy ministry official sees baseload power as a “poison” for electricity transition

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

Keeping with German news, Forbes has covered comments made by the director general for energy policy at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Thorsten Herdan. In comments that tie into those of Boris Schucht of 50Hertz, Mr Herdan suggested that the grid should learn to adapt to flexibility in order to avoid the need to have baseload power generation, which Mr Herdan described “poison for our electricity transition in Germany”. In his view, flexibility appears to mean making demand follow supply, rather than the other way around, which has been the conventional approach to the workings of grids around the world until now. Electricity would be consumed according to weather conditions, though there would be mechanisms to provide for more flexibility than that – gas peaking plants or battery storage might be used (the market would decide), and grid interconnectors to balance out the variability in generation would be employed, for instance the interconnectors now being built between Germany and Norway so that German wind power and Norwegian hydropower can complement each other. With this in mind, the approach may not be as radical as it first appears, but it still represents quite a change in mindset, and would still present technical challenges. Mr Herdan, however, pointed to the fact that in the last year, Germany experienced only 12 minutes of grid disruption, despite its high proportion of renewables, which at rare times have provided 100% of the electricity demand in the country. It is perhaps a slight flaw in Mr Herdan’s point that fossil fuels still provide a large proportion of Germany’s electricity, and how a supply-driven grid would work in winter, for instance, seems somewhat unresolved.