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The risk of solar energy




I never thought about this so far, but living with solar energy does come with some risk too. A big risk will be the eclipse of the sun coming up on March 20th, when between 9:30 and 12:00 in the morning up to 82 % of the sun will be covered by a shadow. For our energy providers this means that at the beginning energy production will decrease by 12.000 MW, so other power plants will have to jump in quickly to cover that. Continuous energy supply is a must have for many big industries in Germany.

A bigger risk will be the 19.000 MW suddenly streaming into our net some hours later ( when sun shines much more than in the morning ), coming from the 1 million solar collectors availabe in Germany. 19.000 MW, that would be the output of 14 large nuclear plants ! Hopefully weather won't be too nice at that days, a cloudy sky could help much to mitigate the problem.

After this challenging test the next will come up in 2048, when the next solar eclipse of this magnitude will show up.

Let's keep fingers crossed. Hopefully it will be like the year 2000 problem where finally nothing serious happened.

Source "Wir sind angespannt": Sonnenfinsternis birgt Blackout-Gefahr" ( heise.de )



5 blog comments below

This is not a threat Razz
The grids will be designed to handle periods of low light, and the return of strong light will not be an issue. Any properly designed solar system will include some form of storage system when light is low, and it's not like it goes from total darkness to suddenly extreme direct sun during an eclipse, it's a gradual process.

Add in that any solar system will likely be be augmented by other energy generation systems, and yeah, not an issue.
Ankhanu on Sat Mar 14, 2015 4:35 pm
I have to agree with Ankhanu. Like my personal solar collection, Battery storage for excess and natural gas fired generator to cover shortage.
standready on Sat Mar 14, 2015 5:01 pm
If we use solar energy most of the time other energy sources like oil and gas will last longer and can be used when solar energy is not enough.
Peterssidan on Mon Mar 16, 2015 5:55 pm
I don't see this as a risk, but as a real design limitation for solar power. Unfortunately I don't read Deutschsprache, so I'm not sure of the tone of voice in this piece. Since any type of power plant may suddenly go offline due to an emergency, power grids are and must be designed to adjust quickly to loss of power. I suspect that natural gas plants which can quickly come up to speed will continue to be built as backups, and may have to be considered a major overhead cost when wind or solar becomes a major portion of the supply.
SonLight on Mon Mar 16, 2015 11:39 pm
Yes, SonLight, you are right, and natural gas plants are used today already to deal with fluctuation of solar and wind energy, since they can be kept in a stand-by mode to start up quickly when needed. However all of this is designed for natural fluctuations of solar energy and an eclipse of the sun is a somewhat special situation where a lot of energy might go away in a wide area of the country.

Nevertheless, this eclipse today is over and my computer has been on all day long. So, nothing serious happend.
amagard on Fri Mar 20, 2015 6:54 pm



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