Base, Medium and Peak Electricity Loads in Germany

Germany’s power demand varies between 40GW and 80Gw most of the time. This is managed by 24-hour baseload power plants, despatchable plants which are generally ramped up during the day as demand rises, and intermittently used back-up reserves to cope with unusually high demands.

Traditionally, baseload power plants have been coal-powered and nuclear power stations, which operate continuously to provide the 40GW of power which is always in demand. There is, however, pressure for an increasing proportion of the baseload to be covered by renewable energy sources, primarily wind and solar. Their intermittency raises problems with reliability of supply, solutions for which storage will play a role, as well as decentralisation of the network.

The medium load is the demand reached most days. In Germany the medium load is generally 40-60GW. To manage this daily increase in load requires power plants that can increase their output on call fairly quickly. Accurate weather forecasts help suppliers to predict output from wind and solar plants, so these can be included in the calculations for when and how much conventional plants need to increase their production.

The peak load is the range above the medium load, which in Germany is between 60GW and 80GW. This irregular demand obliges power companies to maintain plants that do not produce regularly, so need to be subsidised by a greater price for regular power. As utility scale storage, such as large battery packs, becomes more reliable and available, this reserve requirement can be reduced. The ability to store efficiently excess renewable energy for when peak demand is required is more cost efficient than idle conventional capacity in most cases.

EU Energy Strategy Targets



GHG = Greenhouse Gas emissions reduction c.p. 1990
RE = Renewable Energy share of total energy
Eff.= Efficiency of energy use c.p. 2008
*2015 achieved by end 2015