Germany Had So Much Renewable Energy On Sunday That It Had To Pay People To Use Electricity

May 11, 2016

On May 8, 2016, 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.

Germany renewable energy paid people to use electricity
Credit: Getty Images

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.

"We have a greater share of renewable energy every year," said Christoph Podewils of Agora. "The power system adapted to this quite nicely. This day shows again that a system with large amounts of renewable energy works fine."

Germany renewable energy paid people to use electricity
Credit: Agora Energienwende

Critics have argued that because of the daily peaks and troughs of renewable energy — as the sun goes in and out and winds rise and fall — it will always have only a niche role in supplying power to major economies. But that's looking less and less likely.

Germany plans to hit 100% renewable energy by 2050, and Denmark's wind turbines already at some points generate more electricity than the country consumes, exporting the surplus to Germany, Norway and Sweden.

(h/t) Quartz

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