14 June 2014:
Biased Information from BMWI

On 3rd June the newsletter on Energiewende from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWI) claimed in triumphant layout that Germany has the most reliable electricity supply in the EU:

The average German interruption time is 15 minutes. Next on the list are the Netherlands with 34 minutes so the German lead seems to be impressive. But the two figures are from different years. In 2007 the Netherlands were better than Germany.

The Danish minister of climate says that Denmark i best in Europe. So what is true?

The source of the story is "5th CEER Benchmarking Report on the Quality of Electricity Supply 2011". The full report (260 pages) can be downloaded here.

The following chart from the report shows unplanned interruptions in minutes per year. For some countries there are large variations from year to year:

The peak in 2003 is the blackout in Italy. In 2005 the hurrycane Gudrun created an even higher peak in Sweden,

The same results can be found in table A2.1.3 in the report (here only for the years 2006-10):

Danish, German and Dutch data has been extracted for visual clarification:

Both the German and the Danish story could be true but BMWI does not mention Denmark. It is a matter of definition if Germany or Denmark has the most reliable electricity supply.

The bottom line is that the differences between comparable countries are insignificant. There are various methods of collecting data. Some countries are challenged by longer distances or a less developed infrastructure.

The core question is if public information mainly consists of selected happy stories. Are less favourable stories ignored on purpose? The method of creative selection of stories and data for publication seems to spread. Therefore there is more than ever a need for neutral, objective and easily accessible information on the performance of the electricity supply systems in Europe.

Opdateret d. 27.6.2014