Germany Generates Such a Huge Excess of Wind Energy Consumers Are Paid to Use It!
December 28, 2017
Josie Cox / The Independent & Josh Gabbatiss / The Independent
In Germany -- thanks to the growth of clean, renewable energy -- demand for energy has been outstripped by supply on weekends. This year, when factories across the country powered down and many offices closed, wind power generated such a glut of energy that customers were paid to use it. Germany aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 95 percent by 2050. Meanwhile, in Britain, the latest government figures show 'record high' for electrical power produced from sources like wind and solar.
Germany Energy Consumers Paid to Use Power
Over Christmas as Supply Outstrips Demand
Josie Cox / The Independent
(December 27, 2017) -- German energy consumers were paid to use power over the Christmas period, thanks to a slump in demand, warm weather and plenty of wind power on the grid, trading data shows.
Power prices slipped into negative territory on 24 December and again on 26 December, according to the website of the EPEX Spot, which is Europe's biggest power trading exchange.
Germany's massive investment in renewable energy -- partially thanks to the introduction of the 2014 Renewable Energy Act -- has in recent years triggered a drop below zero on several occasions.
Demand for energy has particularly been outstripped by supply on weekends this year, when factories across the country tend to power down and many offices are closed.
On Christmas Eve, factory owners and other big consumers were at times paid in excess of €50, or around £44, per megawatt-hour, according to The New York Times.
During the first half of 2017, Germany managed to raise the proportion of the power it produced by renewable energy to 35 per cent, from 33 per cent in 2016, according to figures from the BEE renewable energy association cited by Reuters.
On some days, Germany now gets up to 85 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources.
In a further sign of its commitment to green energy, the country's government has pledged to move to a decarbonised economy by the middle of the century and has set a target of 80 per cent renewables for gross power consumption by 2050.
It also aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent in 2020 from 1990 levels and by 95 per cent by 2050. Several other countries across Europe have experienced negative power prices in recent years, but Germany's slips into negative territory are the most frequent.
Renewable Energy Now Makes Up
Nearly Third of All Electricity Generated in UK
Josh Gabbatiss / The Independent
(December 21, 2017) -- Electricity generation from renewable energy has reached a "record high", according to new government statistics.
The third quarter of 2017 saw the share of electricity generated from renewable sources increase by nearly 5 per cent from the same period last year, reaching 30 per cent.
The latest record is "yet another nail in the coffin for the claim that renewables cannot be a sizeable part of the UK's electricity mix", according to Dr. Jonathan Marshall, energy analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.
Low-carbon electricity's share of generation increased to the highest ever point of 54.4 per cent, particularly due to a upsurge in wind energy.
Besides sources like wind and solar, low-carbon electricity also includes nuclear power.
The results are outlined in the Government's latest Energy Trends report.
With this year's slight decrease in the contribution of nuclear power, the boost in low-carbon electricity came largely from recent investment in wind farms and to a lesser extent solar energy.
According to Dr. Marshall, this vindicates those who have had confidence in the ability of renewable energy to reliably supply the UK with power.
"When the UK started to put wind farms and solar panels up and down the country, there were a lot of warnings that the unpredictability of the way electricity is generated -- as it is only produced when the wind blows and sun shines -- would lead to issues balancing the grid," he said.
Prior to the Climate Change Act of 2008, energy industry representatives and some politicians claimed renewable energy sources would not be able to supply reliable enough for a modern economy to run on.
"These quarterly statistics coming out showing higher and higher rates of renewables show how far away from the mark these predictions were," said Dr Marshall.
The electricity sector made up 17.5 per cent of the UK's overall fuel consumption in 2016, and is one of the three major energy system components along with heating and transport.
Though it is makes up a smaller fraction of overall consumption, the electricity sector has been the main target of renewable efforts.
Not only is the sector easier to "decarbonise", but renewable electricity can then be used to revolutionise the other sectors, for example through the electrification of transport.
A spokeswoman from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy attributed the increase in renewable energy use primarily to "increased wind capacity", as well as higher wind speeds in recent months.
Recent restrictions in the construction of onshore wind farms have forced the industry to build offshore. Such farms tend to be more expensive to construct, but can be bigger and work more efficiently.
"Having these developments in the pipeline that will come on in the next three to five years should see the energy from renewable sources continue to increase," said Dr. Marshall.
Such developments will also have real-world impacts for the UK population.
Dr. Marshall believes: "Record low prices for new renewables will bring bills down for British homes and businesses, on top of maintaining the UK's leading position in the global battle against climate change."
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