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WEATHER

Rain eases as Germany catches last rays

Germany is basking in a late-summer glow as September rolls in, with sunny days and steadily cooling nights. The rain should hold off over the weekend for most of the country, the national weather service DWD said.

Rain eases as Germany catches last rays
Photo: DPA

Despite a showery start to Thursday over southern areas of the country, the sky should be clear later. That is set to continue into the night, when temperatures are set to hover between 13 degrees Celsius on the coast and four degrees in more hilly areas – signalling the end of humid summer nights.

Generally, skies should stay clear with the occasional smattering of cloud. Rain has not been forecast for the evening, the DWD said on Thursday, but added that fog could build up in the small hours.

But on Friday the sun should burn any lingering fog from the night before away, giving way to a bright September day with highs between 20 and 26 degrees in the south and south west. Northern states may well stay cooler though, as a thin layer of rain clouds could keep temperatures between 17 and 20 degrees.

The wind will be blowing a gentle breeze over all of the country except for the northern coastlines, where stormy gusts should be expected.

Drizzly rainfall has been forecast for the north and northeastern states throughout Friday night, but elsewhere it should remain dry and clear with temperatures between six and 13 degrees Celsius.

By Saturday, any hint of rain from the night before should have vanished as the entire day is forecast to be bright and sunny – even if there are some cloudy patches still in the northeastern parts of Germany.

Click here for The Local’s weather forecast

People in the southwestern regions of Germany have particularly warm weather to look forward to, as the DWD has forecast highs of 27 degrees. In the north it will stick around 20 degrees though.

These warm daytime temperatures should drop significantly after the sun sets, hitting lows of six degrees Celsius in higher parts of the country and 15 degrees in the warmer lowlands.

Sunday should bring another day of sunshine, making the weekend much better than the previous one’s washout. The whole country would be staying sunny with highs of 38 degrees in the south west.

The Local/jcw

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ENERGY

Why sunny weather in Germany can switch off solar panels

The more the sun shines in the southern German town of Aurach, the more likely it is that Jens Husemann's solar panels will be disconnected from the grid -- an exasperating paradox at a time when Germany is navigating an energy supply crisis.

Why sunny weather in Germany can switch off solar panels

“It’s being switched off every day,” Husemann told AFP during a recent sunny spell, saying there had been more than 120 days of forced shutdowns so far this year.

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

The energy generated flows into power lines run by grid operator N-Ergie, which then distributes it on the network.

But in sunny weather, the power lines are becoming overloaded — leading the grid operator to cut off supply from the solar panels.

“It’s a betrayal of the population,” said Husemann, pointing to soaring electricity prices and a continued push to install more solar panels across Germany.

Europe’s biggest economy is eyeing an ambitious switch to renewables making up 80 percent of its electricity from 2030 in a bid to go carbon neutral.

N-ergie thermal power station

The thermal power station of energy supplier N-Ergie in Nuremberg, southern Germany. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put a spanner in the works.

Moscow has cut gas supplies to Germany by 80 percent, in what is believed to be a bid to weaken the European powerhouse’s resolve in backing Ukraine.

READ ALSO: OPINION: How many massacres will it take for Germany to turn off Russian gas?

As a result, Berlin has been scrambling for alternative sources across the world to replace the shortfall.

This makes it all the more frustrating for Husemann, whose solar panels normally generate enough electricity for 50 households. With the repeated shutdowns, he suspects they will only supply half of their capacity by the end
of the year.

Grid bottlenecks

Grid operator N-Ergie, which is responsible for harvesting electricity from Husemann’s panels, admits the situation is less than ideal.

There were 257 days last year when it had to cut off supply from solar panels on parts of the grid.

“We are currently witnessing — and this is a good thing — an unprecedented boom in photovoltaic parks,” Rainer Kleedoerfer, head of N-Ergie’s development department, told AFP.

An employee of energy supplier N-ERGIE working at the company's network control centre in Nuremberg, southern Germany. 

An employee of energy supplier N-Ergie working at the company’s network control centre in Nuremberg, southern Germany.  (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

But while it takes just a couple of years to commission a solar power plant, updating the necessary infrastructure takes between five and 10 years, he said.

“The number of interventions and the amount of curtailed energy have increased continuously in recent years” as a result, according to N-Ergie spokesman Michael Enderlein.

“The likelihood is that grid bottlenecks will actually increase in the coming years,” while resolving them will take several more years, Enderlein said.

According to Carsten Koenig, managing director of the German Solar Industry Association, the problem is not unique to solar power and also affects wind energy.

READ ALSO: Reader question – Should I modernise my heating system in Germany?

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

2.4 million households

Koenig agrees the problem is likely to get worse before it gets better.

“This will be especially true if political measures aimed at sufficiently expanding the power grid in Germany… drag on for too long,” he said.

Some 6.1 terawatt hours of electricity from renewables had to be curtailed in 2020, according to the most recent figures available.

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

A spokesman for Germany’s Federal Network Agency said it did not share the belief that “it will not be possible to expand the network in line with demand in the coming years”.

Only some aspects of the expansion are seeing delays, the spokesman said — mainly due to slow approval procedures and a lack of specialist companies to do the work.

According to Husemann there have also been delays to the payments he is supposed to receive in return for the solar power he supplies — or cannot supply.

He said he is already owed around 35,000 euros ($35,600) for electricity produced so far this year that has never found its way into a socket.

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