Germany's energy grid is outmoded. For decades its job was simply to transport electricity from generator to consumer. But now, with the energy transition in full swing, Germany is forecast to be generating 80 percent of its total requirement from renewables by 2050 . In fact, by 2016 renewables already accounted for 29.5 percent of the country’s total energy mix . "One of the big challenges is to reliably feed renewable energy into our grid and transport it to where it is needed," says Hans Koch, Chief Commercial Officer Prysmian Group Germany. Prysmian is a global market leader in the manufacture of electric power transmission and telecommunications cables. Meeting this challenge requires major infrastructure changes, because with renewables, electricity transmission and distribution is no longer a one-way street from centralized power stations to customers. Increasingly, electricity customers are also electricity producers ('prosumers') who need to be able to feed their solar and wind power into the grid.
What are the power grid implications of Germany’s big central power stations being joined by a multiplicity of small decentralized producers seeking to generate and sell electricity from renewable sources? More importantly, what happens during times of peak renewable production? In summer when the entire country is bathed in sunlight? Or in the depths of winter when a storm over the north of the country is turning the wind turbines at full speed? These situations already push Germany’s power grid to its limits. If the feed-ins from these volatile sources are too high, the country’s grid operators are forced to step in and throttle them back in order maintain grid stability. So, what does Germany need to do in order to enable its power grid to accommodate renewable energy?