Everyone loves complaining about electricity costs, right? Maybe not in Germany, where the country recently produced so much renewable energy that customers had to be paid to use electricity.
For a few hours on a sunny, windy Sunday, May 8, Germany broke renewable energy records. Quartz reported that during the afternoon, "the country's solar, wind, hydro and biomass plants were supplying about 55 GW of the 63 GW being consumed, or 87 per cent."
The previous record was 78 per cent, achieved on July 25, 2015 which in turn broke the previous year's record of 74 per cent.
Sunday's surge, in a country where renewables generated nearly 33 per cent of electricity last year, sent prices into the negative zone for a few hours which meant that commercial customers were making money using power.
"Sunday’s spike in renewable output shows that wind and solar can keep pace with the demands of an economic powerhouse."
While great news for those industrial consumers, the takeaway for producers that lost money is the need for a more flexible grid, since the negative pricing was due to a surplus that couldn't be avoided. When solar and wind power suddenly increased, only the gas power plants could be taken offline as coal and nuclear plants can't cycle down quickly.
This will not be an issue in the future, however, if Germany manages to meet its Energiewende, or "energy transition," goal of 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050, an ambition that seems a lot more achievable now that they've neared 90 per cent, however briefly.
As Think Progress pointed out, "Germany is the fourth-largest economy on the planet... Sunday’s spike in renewable output shows that wind and solar can keep pace with the demands of an economic powerhouse."
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