Germany decided to go nuclear-free by 2022. A CO2-emission-free electricity supply system based on intermittent sources, such as wind and solar — or photovoltaic (PV) — power could replace nuclear power. However, these sources depend on the weather conditions.

In a new study published in EPJ Plus, Fritz Wagner from the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Germany analysed weather conditions using 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015 data derived from the electricity supply system itself, instead of relying on meteorological data. By scaling existing data up to a 100% supply from intermittent renewable energy sources, the author demonstrates that an average 325 GW wind and PV power are required to meet the 100% renewable energy target.

This study shows the complexity of replacing the present primary energy supply with electricity from intermittent renewable sources, which would inevitably need to be supplemented by other forms of CO2-free energy production.

Intermittent sources are, by definition, unsteady. Therefore, a backup system capable of providing power at a level of 89% of peak load would be needed. This requires creating an oversized power system to produce large amounts of surplus energy. A day storage to handle surplus is ineffective because of the day-night correlation of surplus power in the winter.

A seasonal storage system loses its character when transformation losses are considered; indeed, it only contributes to the power supply after periods with excessive surplus production.

The option of an oversized, intermittent renewable-energy-sources system to feed the storage is also ineffective. This is because, in this case, energy can be taken directly from the large intermittent supply, making storage superfluous.

In addition, the impact on land use and the transformation of landscape by an unprecedented density of wind converters and transmission lines needs to be taken into consideration. He also warns of the risk that it will intensify social resistance.

Publication: Friedrich Wagner. Surplus from and storage of electricity generated by intermittent sources. The European Physical Journal Plus, 2016
Research story: Springer | January 25, 2017 (source)

Editorial Team
The Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with data and insights to deliver useful news updates. We are experts with the mission to inform, educate and inspire the industry. We are passionately curious, enthusiastic, and motivated to positively impact the world. Send us a tip via hello @ pvbuzz [dot] com.

Forget political inclinations–both democratic and republican homeowners want solar

Previous article

Stanford says action is needed to make stagnant CO2 emissions fall

Next article

You may also like


  1. Can somebody help with ideas and plans as well as technical feasibility for stand-alone off grid solar power system to provide electricity to a village of 300 houses.?

    1. @Anthony Kuis: We advice you contact a solar power company in your geographic region directly with your inquiry. However, if you would like to work with a company in North America and need help contacting any, please email us directly and we can discuss via teampv (at)

Comments are closed.

More in Perspective