German report outlines vision for 100% renewable power

German report outlines vision for 100% renewable power

By on 26 August 2014
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Renewables International

The results of a three-year project investigating what a purely renewable power supply would look like have been published. The findings could be a roadmap for the coming years bar unforeseen technical breakthroughs.


Source: WWF

The visualization is nothing short of astonishing – see for yourself. And if you don’t speak German, you might want to use two screens, one with that website and one with this one because all I am going to do today is show you how to navigate the interactive graphics. In a future post, hopefully tomorrow, I will take a look at some of the underlying assumptions.

Basically, we are looking at an hour-by-hour extrapolation of current data for a future scenario with a 100 percent renewable power supply. The project is called “combined power plant” (Kombikraftwerk), a sort of virtual power plant consisting of solar, wind, and biomass with ancillary storage & generation facilities, control technology, and power lines. We originally wrote about the project briefly last year.

Back to the visualization – the map on the left shows you where what happens, and you click on the start button at the bottom left to go through the entire year hour by hour. If you press stop, you can also go through manually by hour (Stunde) or day (Tag), with vorherige(r) and nächste(r) meaning previous and next.

At a rate of around two scenario hours per real-time second, it will take you more than an hour to view the entire year, so the bar at the bottom (scroll down if you can’t see it right away) is your friend. Use it to see, for instance, how solar pops up in the summer relative to wind in the winter.

Over on the right, the chart shows the kind of flows in power production that my readers are used to seeing from Agora and thrown over data. Above the baseline, we have power production; below it, power consumption. The legends are as follows:

Generation Consumption
Excess Households
Imports Industry
Offshore wind Grid losses
Onshore wind Power-to-gas
Photovoltaics Batteries
Bioenergy Pumped storage
Biomethane Exports
Pumped storage
Green methane


At the bottom, we see a legend with the two circles for the map chart. When more power is consumed locally, a blue circle appears, and there is even a breakdown of the power source: yellow indicates solar, blue wind power, green bioenergy, and white other. When more power is consumed in that particular area, the circle is red. The larger the circle, the more power is being generated/consumed. When the circle is especially red, a lot of power is being consumed without much being produced at that location.

You will also notice some lines connecting the circles. They also expand and shrink, indicating the amount of electricity being transported – these are power lines. As the legend to the far bottom right shows (under “Leitungsbelastung” or line load), a black line indicates alternating current, whereas a gray line is direct current.

Obviously, part of the investigation concerned what power lines would be needed. At various moments, large blue circles appear out in the water north of Germany, where wind farms are to be installed offshore. Likewise, we get a feel for how much is consumed and produced where in the country, though the hourly representation does not tell us what the average is over the year. To find bottlenecks, you would have to go in and check various locations on an hourly basis to see what steps need to be taken – a task probably best performance with the raw data, not this visualization.

Drop me a comment below if you have any particular questions, and I will be back with a presentation of the background document, including the assumptions. Two things are already clear, however. First, it is useful to collect data in order to make such extrapolations for the future possible. And second, all of this is a purely technical feasibility discussion. It is quite possible that the amount of storage needed in this scenario, for instance, would make this particular arrangement unaffordable.

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