Does renewables pioneer Germany risk running out of power?

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Germany, a poster child for responsible energy, is renouncing nuclear and coal. The problem is, say many power producers and grid operators, it may struggle to keep the lights on. The country, the biggest electricity market in the European Union, is abandoning nuclear power by 2022 due to safety concerns compounded by the Fukushima disaster and phasing out coal plants over the next 19 years to combat climate change. In the next three years alone conventional energy capacity is expected to fall by a fifth, leaving it short of the country’s peak power demand. There is disagreement over whether there will be sufficient reliable capacity to preclude the possibility of outages, which could hammer the operations of industrial companies. The Berlin government, in a report issued this month, said the situation was secure, and shortfalls could be offset by better energy efficiency, a steadily rising supply of solar and wind power as well as electricity imports. Others are not as confident, including many utilities, network operators, manufacturing companies and analysts. Katharina Reiche, chief executive of the VKU association of local utilities, many of which face falling profitability as plants close, said the government’s strategy was risky because… continue reading

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