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When the sun turns off the solar panels

#sun #turns #solar #panels

The brighter the sun shines in southern Germany’s Aurach, the more likely it is that Jens Husemann’s solar panels will be taken offline – an annoying paradox at a time when Germany is navigating an energy crisis.

“It’s being shut down every day,” Husemann told AFP during a recent sunburst, saying there have been more than 120 days of forced shutdowns so far this year.

Husemann, who runs an energy conversion company near Munich, also owns an extensive solar power system on the flat roof of a transport company in Aurach, Bavaria.

The energy generated flows into the power lines of the grid operator N-Ergie, which then distributes it in the grid.

But when the weather is sunny, the power lines get overloaded – causing the grid operator to cut off the supply from the solar panels.

“It’s a betrayal of the population,” Husemann said, citing rising electricity prices and ongoing pressure to install more solar panels across Germany.

Europe’s largest economy is aiming for an ambitious shift to renewable energy, which will provide 80 percent of its electricity from 2030, to become carbon neutral.

But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has thwarted the work.

Moscow has cut gas supplies to Germany by 80 percent in what is believed to be an attempt to weaken the European powerhouse’s resolve to support Ukraine.

As a result, Berlin has been looking around the world for alternative sources to replace the shortage.

It’s all the more frustrating for Husemann, whose solar panels typically generate enough electricity for 50 households. With the repeated shutdowns, he suspects that they will only deliver half of their capacity by the end of the year.

– grid bottlenecks –

Grid operator N-Ergie, which is responsible for generating electricity from Husemann panels, admits that the situation is far from ideal.

Last year there were 257 days when power to solar panels on parts of the power grid had to be interrupted.

“We are currently experiencing – and that’s a good thing – an unprecedented boom in photovoltaic parks,” said Rainer Kleedörfer, head of the development department at N-Ergie, to AFP.

But while it only takes a few years to get a solar power plant up and running, it takes between five and 10 years to update the necessary infrastructure, he said.

“The number of interventions and the amount of restricted energy have increased continuously in recent years,” says N-Ergie spokesman Michael Enderlein.

“There is a good chance that grid congestion will actually increase in the coming years,” while it will take a few more years to resolve them, Enderlein said.

According to Carsten Koenig, Managing Director of the German Solar Industry Association, the problem is not just limited to solar energy, but also affects wind energy.

Solar shortages tend to be regional and temporary, he said. “Occasionally, however, we hear that shutdowns are more common in rural areas in Bavaria.”

– 2.4 million households –

Koenig agrees that the problem will likely get worse before it gets better.

“This is especially true if political measures to sufficiently expand the power grid in Germany drag on for too long,” he said.

According to the latest figures, around 6.1 terawatt hours of electricity from renewable energies had to be curtailed in 2020.

With an average consumption of around 2,500 kilowatt hours per year in a two-person household, this would have been enough to supply around 2.4 million households with electricity.

A spokesman for the Federal Network Agency said they did not share the assessment that “the network cannot be expanded to meet demand in the coming years”.

There are only delays in some aspects of the expansion, said the spokesman, mainly because of the slow approval process and the lack of specialist companies for the work.

According to Husemann, there are also delays in the payments that he is to receive for the solar power that he has supplied or has not supplied.

He already owes him around 35,000 euros for the electricity produced so far this year, which has never flowed into a socket.

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