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Brutal cold triggers reserve power plants

Published: 09 Feb 2012 15:37 GMT+01:00

The country's four main power operators requested the reserve generator at

a coal-powered plant in southern Germany and two plants in Austria be activated, the regional Environment Ministry in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg said.

The power station in Germany, in the southern city of Mannheim, would continue to be used Thursday, a spokesman said.

"We do not have a problem of supply, of quantity, it's principally a question of stabilising the network," a spokeswoman for the Germany electricity market regulator said.

Germany also had to tap its reserves in early December. Under the reserve plan, five generators in Germany have been designated, which are powered by coal or gas and normally not in operation, as well as several in neighbouring Austria.

They can only be used at the request of the electricity network operators in case of need or as a preventive step.

In the wake of the tsunami-sparked Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan last March, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government backtracked on an earlier decision to extend the use of nuclear power. Eight of Germany's 17 reactors have already been switched off and the nine reactors currently on line are due to be turned off between 2015 and 2022.

But so far Germany has not seen the power shortages that some predicted. In fact, the country even exported electricity to neighbouring France earlier this week, as French nuclear reactors failed to keep up with surging demand.

A recent study showed that Germany is now compensating for the off-line nuclear stations primarily with renewable energy: around three-quarters of the atomic gap. So although it’s been extremely cold recently, sunny weather in Germany helped fill France’s power shortfall caused by the country’s heavy dependence on nuclear energy.

This is largely because the French heat with electricity, rather than with natural gas like the Germans. Notoriously inefficient, electric heating across France has caused a spike in power demand during the latest cold spell that the country’s 58 nuclear reactors are having trouble covering.

“It is during extremely cold days like these that we see that renewable energies can provide us security of supply and stability,” German Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen, told Der Tagesspiegel newspaper on Sunday.

The Local/AFP/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

16:06 February 9, 2012 by zmoke
Oh, is gas also renewable energy??? Do they have a factory for that in Russia, behind Ural?

What green and renewable is on coal powerplants?

I just dont see point of harassing nuclear powerplants as there's no greener&reliable energy source invented so far.

But hey, let's not worry that. Stay green in germany and open gas tap for greeeen and cleeeeaan energy and put coal to fire place.
16:08 February 9, 2012 by derExDeutsche
How does this quote from Norbert Röttgen; 'It is during extremely cold days like these that we see that renewable energies can provide us security of supply and stability,'

have anything to do with the Headline? Am I not on enough LSD this morning?

if 'Germany helped fill France¦#39;s power shortfall caused by the country¦#39;s heavy dependence on nuclear energy.'

It is safe to say that Traditional Energy helped fill Germany's power shortfall caused by the country's heavy dependence on green energy.
18:02 February 9, 2012 by Englishted
Good points ex Deutsche,also to add that although electric heating is "Notoriously inefficient" it is also unlikely to blow you house off the face of the earth.
18:30 February 9, 2012 by carlm
Maybe if Germans weren't so green and self righteous it wouldn't be so cold out and they wouldn't need so much energy for heating? Here in the US, the Great Satan, we all drive SUV's with six liter V8 engines, let them idle even when we're not going anywhere and it never gets cold, except for the beer which we import from Europe which adds more heat to the climate. It's what I like to call "earth in balance."

The earth has a feeeeeeever!
22:30 February 9, 2012 by Enough
I'd start working on your wood piles for heat if I was any of you. When the Ruskies turn of the gas, you'll all be freezing!
03:21 February 10, 2012 by taiwanluthiers
Gas is still fossil fuel, so I don't see how that's "green" (despite how a lot of documentaries make them sound as though they are greener).

Gas is actually a very expensive way of generating electricity, which is why they're only used in time of peak load because they provide that quick boost of power. Nuclear can only be baseline (which means they're meant to maintain power continuously) because you can't simply adjust nuclear power output (one power plant in what used to be Russia tried and failed) and it takes a long time and a lot of money to shut down or restart a reactor.

Wind farms will only generate useful electricity if there's a lot of wind, and they're expensive like solar.
17:06 February 10, 2012 by Yah right
@carlm

Astounding intelligence you have?

GED for an education, no doubt!

Back to remedial school for you, sir.
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