Questions & Answers

Will the lights go out?

Germany has had the most reliable grid in Europe since standardized statistics started being tallied in 2006, and the German grid reached a new record reliability in 2015. That level - around 12 minutes of power outage per year - has remained stable since then. Furthermore, other countries that are going renewable, such as Spain and Italy, have also seen grid reliability improve as they ramp up renewables.

Within Europe, Germany (along with Denmark) has by far the most reliable power supply. Germans have enough capacity for their households, their energy-intensive factories and industry, and their high-speed trains.

Germany has had one of the most reliable power supply in Europe every year from 2006 to today, outperformed only by Luxembourg, Denmark and Switzerland.

Power outages are always possible, of course, but a systematic shortfall in power supply will only come about if investments in dispatchable power are not sufficient to replace aging conventional plants scheduled for decommissioning. Technically, the solutions are there: a combination of national and regional cross-border grid extension and optimization, a power plant mix combining a variety of renewables, flexible backup capacity, a strategic reserve of power plants, demand management, and, ultimately, storage. The challenge is more financial. For the future, the power sector is calling for capacity payments to ensure that enough backup generating capacity remains in service.

2016 turned out to be the fifth record year in a row for power exports for Germany. The Netherlands were the biggest net importer of German electricity, but exports also went to nuclear France. Germany surpassed France as the European Union's leading power exporter as the French nuclear fleet struggled to stay online.