Germany’s Wind Power Debacle Escalates: Nation’s Grid on the Brink of Collapse

German wind farm

It doesn’t just ‘look’ chaotic, it is ‘chaotic’.


Calamitous Planning: German Wind Parks Overload Power Grid … “At Its Limits” … Record 50,000 Grid Interventions In May!
Pierre Gosselin
1 July 2015

Online German NDR public radio here wrote last week how northern Germany’s power grid had suffered a major bottleneck that led to the overload of the Flensburg-Niebüll power transmission line in Schleswig Holstein last week.


North German transformer stations constantly overloaded by wind power. Photo image cropped here (not a German station, for illustration only).

The overload resulted from a power surge from North Sea wind parks when winds picked up a bit. What is unusual in this case, however, is that there was no storm present and the overload was caused by normal wind fluctuations. Thus the incident illustrates the increasing volatility of wind as a power supply, even under regular weather conditions.

At its limits

It turns out that intervening in power grids to avert a widespread power supply breakdown is nothing new in Germany. NDR writes that nowadays power engineer Stefan Hackbusch at the grid’s control center in Northern German increasingly has to intervene even when there are even moderate breezes. The north German public radio media outlet writes: “Because of the strong growth in wind park installations, the power grid up north is at its limits.”

Intervened 50,000 times in May

As winds pick up with little warning, engineers at control centers constantly have to keep a close eye out and be ready to act at a minute’s notice and intervene if the power surges (or drops) to dangerous limits. To prevent overloading of the grid, control centers often have to shut down wind parks until the power supply moves into a safe range. These unplanned wind park shutdowns are occurring more and more often, NDR writes. “Switching off has become much more frequent the workers at the control center confirm. Transformer stations in Schleswig-Holstein had to have their output reduced 50,000 times in May – a record.

“Waste electricity” skyrocketing

Not only is grid stability a problem, but “waste power” is also growing astronomically, NDR writes, citing the Bundesnetzagentur (German Network Agency), that 555 gigawatt-hrs of renewable power went unused in 2013 because of overloading and the surplus had to be discarded. The trend of “waste electricity” is skyrocketing, NDR writes.

According to the provisions of Germany’s EEG renewable energy feed-in act, waste electricity still needs to be paid for, which means that consumers foot a bill for something that is never delivered. Consumers are also required to pay for the electricity that doesn’t get produced when a wind park gets shut down. Wind park operators get paid whether they feed in or not.

Grid bottleneck dampens new installations

One solution for the German grid overloading from the uncontrollable wind and sun sources would be to vastly expand the German national power grid so that wind power produced near the North and Baltic seas power could get transmitted to the industrial south, where demand is big.

But here too the costs of building the such transmission power lines are astronomical and permitting entails a bureaucratic mess.

Moreover political opposition against these lines is mounting rapidly. Experts say that the earliest, most optimistic completion date for a major power transmission expansion is 2022. This however is now looking totally unrealistic, as pie in the sky.

With the German grid often becoming hopelessly overloaded and with no real expansion in sight, the future looks bleak for wind and solar power systems suppliers.

With no place to send the power, there’s no need for new installations. Orders and contracts for new projects have been drying up and wind and solar companies are now being hit hard.

studying candle

Q: what did Germans use before candles? A: “electricity”.


What appears above isn’t exclusive to Germany, it’s part and parcel of trying to integrate an entirely weather dependent generation “system” into electricity grids designed to operate in a steady, stable state; and that includes Australia.

In the video that follows, an electrical engineer, Andrew Dodson explains – in somewhat technical terms – the lunacy of trying to distribute wind power via a grid deliberately designed around on-demand generation sources. STT recommends it to anyone with even the vaguest interest in how our electrical grid works.

At the simplest level, think of our distribution grid as akin to a mains water distribution system. In order to function, the pipes in such a system need to be filled at all times with a volume of water equal to their capacity and, in order to flow in the direction of a user, the water within the pipes needs to be maintained at a constant pressure.

Where a household turns on a tap, water flows out of the tap (in electrical terms “the load”); at the other end an equal volume of water is fed into the system and pumps fire up to maintain the pressure within it (although gravity often does the work).

In a similar fashion, an electricity grid can only function with the required volume of electricity within it; maintained at a constant pressure (voltage) and frequency (hertz) – all of which fluctuate, depending on the load and the input.

What Andrew Dodson makes crystal clear is that these essential certainties (essential, that is, to maintaining a stable and functioning electricity grid) have been tipped on their head by the chaos that is wind power.

What Andrew has to say about wind power, in general, has special pertinence to Australians; given the fact that our Coalition government has just locked in a $45 billion electricity tax – which is to be directed at wind power outfits; and for no other purpose than to help them spear another 2,500 of these things all over the country.


About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.


  1. Could you point out to the NDR article ? your link is only to the site, and I couldn’t find any article that talks about the subject….

    • No, we can’t find it either. The link appeared with the No Tricks Zone article at the time; we checked their site and the link takes you to the same general news page. It appears that NDR does not maintain its archive permanently. We have tried searching their site and have not found it.

  2. Reblogged this on citizenpoweralliance.

  3. In Germany as in the U.S., it requires large taxpayer subsidies to build and maintain wind and solar power systems that are still only supplemental sources of power generation. Given the technical issues that impede the performance of the existing power grid, why do we continue to waste the time? Considering the fact that Germany is and has long been the manufacturing leader for the rest of the planet, how is the German economy going to fair when there is insufficient power to keep the factories running! We don’t have to worry about that in the U.S., all our manufacturing and related jobs have been exported to China and other low wage countries in Asia!

  4. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    It’s amazing how anyone could consider energy produced by Wind could produce an even flow, wind blows in fits and starts, uneven, even on a day of low velocity, but when it blows at gale force it can produce deep troughs as the wind gusts frantically.

    There is no way these troughs can be predicted. In the South Easter Grid of Australia over the past couple of days we have seen hugely diverse wind conditions, and before the gales commenced we had almost no wind energy across the whole grid, with very cold nights and days.

    After the winds arrived they pushed across from SA to Victoria and NSW to Tasmania missed out. However, the flow across the three states was slow taking a good 2 days for them to reach NSW and make any significant difference to the production there.

    Even then the graphs for each project site indicated that at times the strongest wind gusts missed some areas, which meant some projects were producing little while others produced near capacity even though projects were reasonably close together and in line with each other.

    On the 11th July 2015 wind was producing between 2,000MW and 3,000MW approx; with fossil fuelled produced 16,000MW and 23,000MW approx. On the 12th, yesterday, wind managed between 2,000MW and 3,000MW approx. with fossil fuelled doing between 15,500MW and 23,000MW approx.

    So even with gale force winds we cannot rely on our installed wind capacity to provide sufficient energy to come anywhere close to what is needed. Just how many more turbines will it take to take over from fossil fuelled energy on a reliable basis – far too many to make it art least financially viable.

    Continuing down the path we have been rushing will ensure we end up with similar problems to Germany – is that what we want?

  5. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak and commented:
    Calamitous Planning: German Wind Parks Overload Power Grid … “At Its Limits” … Record 50,000 Grid Interventions In May!
    Pierre Gosselin
    1 July 2015

    Online German NDR public radio here wrote last week how northern Germany’s power grid had suffered a major bottleneck that led to the overload of the Flensburg-Niebüll power transmission line in Schleswig Holstein last week.

  6. Melissa says:

    Synergistic, cumulative impacts of which few including the neighbours, seems to have any idea of what actually happens when hundreds of turbines are operating in conjunction.

    Immeasurable impacts on existing grids and on HUMANS and their long term health…. the studies which are required should just stop these developments until the facts are fully recognised. As the number of turbines in Australia doubles, can we expect our system to work any better than anywhere else in the world? Who is measuring and studying the escalating resonances from the grid as well as from inferior turbines and the impacts? Who is ensuring the mistakes are not repeated?

    The CEFC should be supporting and funding this kind of common sense and educating people to question and look properly into the details. To develop a system that does not pollute or destroy.

    So I agree…what a waste of resources; and when lie after lie promotes and supports the renewable industry there is definitely an accounting if not today then tomorrow. Hopefully people of Mr Dodson’s calibre are supported in their quest for the next level of renewables and an energy system that works, to benefit communities and not fracture them.

  7. RexAlan says:

    Wow. That video is amazing. I knew the grid was a balancing act between input and demand but resonance is new to me.

    That young man makes a lot of sense.

  8. Such a good piece, especially in light of Germany once again overloading neighbours’ grids a couple of days ago.

    Excellent interview. Quite apart from the chaos which is wind to grid systems everywhere, Andrew makes such valid points at the end with regard to the toxic waste materials in solar and turbines.

  9. Andrew Dodson said it, these windweaseles will pay the price, if not in this life, it will be in the next life, how true. If anyone is thinking of becoming a candle stick maker it could become a very lucrative way of becoming wealthy, as these things could become so out of sink they could fuse out the whole grid system.

    Candles could become the light of the future, what a way to go, hey.


  1. […] – Stop These Things – Germany’s Wind Power Debacle Escalates: Nation’s Grid on the Brink of Collapse – It wasn’t a storm that caused trouble on the grid. In clear weather it was a normal […]

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