After Fukushima, Germany dropped nuclear power like a hot potato. How utterly short-sighted.
Unlike the USA, Germany has few non-green solutions to fall back on except for coal. And they have lots of it. Especially lignite, or also known as brown coal. But coal plants are hard to power up on a dime. Heck, even natural gas power plants are tough to start up quickly.
I'm no power expert, but this means you need to have a fossil fuel power plant always on a "slow burn" (I have no idea what the correct term would be) so that it could quickly be ramped up to replace the quirky and fickle wind and solar power.
But really bad news? Germany is paying a hefty price to get the coal plants to supply this needed backup.
Twenty power companies including Germany’s biggest utilities, EON SE and RWE AG, now get fees for pledging to add or cut electricity within seconds to keep the power system stable, double the number in September, according to data from the nation’s four grid operators. Utilities that sign up to the 800 million-euro ($1.1 billion) balancing market can be paid as much as 400 times wholesale electricity prices, the data show.