Germany had so much renewable energy on Sunday that it had to pay people to use electricity
QZ, May 10, 2016
On Sunday, May 8, Germany hit a new high in renewable energy generation. Thanks to a sunny and windy day, at one point around 1pm the country’s solar, wind, hydro and biomass plants were supplying about 55 GW of the 63 GW being consumed, or 87%.
Power prices actually went negative for several hours, meaning commercial customers were being paid to consume electricity.
Last year the average renewable mix was 33%, reports Agora Energiewende, a German clean energy think tank. New wind power coming online should push that even higher.
Germany’s power surplus on Sunday wasn’t all good news. The system is still too rigid for power suppliers and consumers to respond quickly to price signals. Though gas power plants were taken offline, nuclear and coal plants can’t be quickly shut down, so they went on running and had to pay to sell power into the grid for several hours, while industrial customers such as refineries and foundries earned money by consuming electricity.