New high for renewable power: Germany produced so much energy that people were paid to use it
It’s the stuff that renewable energy dreams are made of. When a country actually produced so much green electricity that it had to pay people to use power. That’s exactly what happened in Germany last Sunday, when a particularly windy and sunny day led the country’s solar, wind, hydro and biomass plants to generate about 87% of the total power being consumed for several hours.
While the excess power supply was a new high for sustainable energy, the power system in the country is not yet fully equipped for electricity suppliers and consumers to respond to such price signals in real time.
So while gas power plants were shut down, nuclear and coal plants could not stop production immediately and had to pay to sell power into the grid for many hours. Ultimately, it was industrial customers like refineries and foundries, which made money by consuming the excess electricity.
According to Agora Energiewende, a German clean energy think tank, the average percentage of renewable energy produced in Germany last year was 33%.
“We have a greater share of renewable energy every year,” Christoph Podewils from Agora told Quartz. “The power system adapted to this quite nicely. This day shows again that a system with large amounts of renewable energy works fine.”
Germany plans to be completely powered by renewable energy by 2050, whereas in contrast, Australia is aiming for 23.5% of its total electricity generation to come from sustainable sources by 2020.
Meanwhile, Australia has joined Germany in the list of the top 10 countries to invest in renewable energy, according to Ernst & Young’s latest Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Indices.