Sunday was a great day for Germans to run air conditioners, do loads of laundry, and take plenty of hot showers, as the country’s renewable energy generation sunk energy prices to a negative level.
Wind turbines and solar power systems, as well as hydroelectric and biomass plants, supplied 55 GW of the 63 GW, or 87%, of the power being consumed on Sunday. The resulting fall in prices meant that Germans got a power freebie.
Just last year, renewable energy provided 33% of the power consumed in Germany. This year, however, new wind turbines have come online. A spokesman for Agora, a renewable energy initiative, said that a system with large amounts of renewable energy works fine.
People have not always agreed with that. Critics have contended that the sun and the wind are not reliable, and that renewable energy would always be a niche market. But Denmark’s wind turbines produce more electricity than the country consumes, and they sell the surplus. Germany plans to produce 100% of its energy from renewable resources by the year 2050.
The only problem on Sunday was that nuclear and coal plants can’t be shut down as quickly as energy prices can fall. They went on running at a loss, while their customers used power at a profit.
It was, leave those lights on when you leave the room!