The Eurasian Policy & Energy Hub

Difficulty getting renewable energy from where it’s generated to where it’s consumed can be a big headache for countries wanting to go green.

That’s the case with Germany, one of the world leaders in wind energy, Energy and Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel says.

Most of Germany’s wind energy is generated in plains in the north, while the biggest power demand comes from its industrial heartland in the south.

The country doesn’t have a grid that can transmit enough wind-generated energy from north to south, Gabriel says.

It will take years and billions of dollars to add the transmission infrastructure that can do the job, he says.

This means Germany needs to slow its wind-farm-building pace, Gabriel says — a proposal environmentalists oppose.

On days when strong winds generate a lot of electricity in the north, Germany still has to use fossil fuel such as coal to cover the south’s needs, Gabriel says.

Environmentalists counter that the only reason the current grid can’t send all the wind-generated power from north to south is that electricity from fossil-fuel and nuclear plants is jamming up the grid. Reducing power from those sources would allow more wind-generated power on the grid, they say.

An international trendsetter, Germany would also slow the rollout of similar projects worldwide, including across Eurasia, should it scale back the pace of its alternative energy initiatives, experts believe.

On high wind days, Germany sends some of its wind-generated electricity to the grids of neighboring countries such as Poland for free.

You would think no-cost power would make Poland happy because it reduces the amount of electricity coming from polluting domestic coal-fired plants.

But the free power reduces Polish utilities’ profits and the amount of coal that local mining companies sell to Polish utilities.

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