Central Europe: German winds causing turbulence
23 March 2012
Financial Times Deutschland, Financial Times Deutschland
"The Poles fear German wind energy”, reports Germany’s Financial Times Deutschland. Since the shut-down of eight nuclear power stations a year in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, heavily industrialised southern Germany – a glutton for electricity – has suffered a perpetual shortage of power. Northern Germany, where the wind turbines are found, must send that energy south.
But there’s a problem with this, the Hamburg daily writes. On days of strong wind the north-south energy grid is saturated and the excess electricity is automatically shunted east, into Poland and the Czech Republic. The excess power, however, overloads those countries’ grids, which were designed for stable and continuous currents. Poland is therefore considering installing “phase shifters” at the border to turn back the electricity it does not need. If that were to happen the Germans would have to put some of their wind turbines on hold and, to fill the energy gap in the south, import nuclear energy from France.
The problem will get worse if the Czech Republic follows the example of Poland to protect its domestic grid, writes the FTD. For now, though, this small country, which is one of the major energy exporters to the rest of the EU, plans to invest 2.5 billion euros to upgrade its own network.