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10 June 2013

Renewable energy and electricity demand in 2022

What changes do the further expansion of wind energy and photovoltaic imply for conventional power plants? What significance do these changes have for base load power plants? How will it be possible to meet annual peak load in low-wind weeks during the winter? This study addresses these questions with graphs based on the scenarios of the Federal Network Development Plan for 2022.

According to the forecast of the Federal Network Agency, in 2022 about 220 gigawatt (GW) of installed generating capacity will be available. Of this, 90 GW will stem from conventional power plants and 130 GW from renewable energy sources. Ninety per cent of renewable capacities will come from wind power and solar sources. This has explicit consequences for the balance of the supply and electricity demand.

To illustrate the challenges for Germany’s electricity system, Agora Energiewende commissioned the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES) to make a simulation of the supply from renewable sources for all 52 weeks of the year 2022. The weather pattern of 2011 was taken as a basis; thus the wind and sunshine levels used in the study are those of 2011. Moreover, it was assumed that the demand for electricity in 2022 corresponds to that of 2011. The results are summarized in the analysis; the graphs for all 52 weeks can be found in the long version of the presentation.

Key findings of the IWES simulation can be summarized as follows:

  • In 2022, there may be about 200 hours at which the electricity production from renewable sources exceeds the entire electricity demand in Germany (see graphs). If we take into account the German government’s energy efficiency targets (10 per cent less electricity consumption in 2020 compared to 2008), this number then increases to about 900 hours (own estimate). In this case, sun, wind, hydro, and biomass would produce more electricity in about 10 per cent of all hours than that which is consumed in Germany.

  • On the other hand, for about 240 hours a year there would be only 10 GW or less renewable energy available (mostly from hydropower and biomass). The challenge will be to ensure security of supply at these times.

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