Germany had so much renewable energy on Sunday that it had to pay people to use electricity

By Pantona (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday I went to a warehouse in Bushwick, Brooklyn, to attend a VICE taping of Jeremy Rifkin expounding on the Third Industrial Revolution and the Zero Marginal Cost Economy. Rifkin was pleased to tell us that when Angela Merkel became Germany’s Chancellor about ten years ago, one of the first people she called for advice was none other than, you guessed it, Mr. Rifkin.

Part of the wisdom he shared with the Chancellor was that in order to grow its economy her country had to get off fossil fuels and focus on renewables. Germany has made amazing strides in that direction over the ensuing decade, so much so that this northern European country, not known for its sunny climate (just wait!) had so much renewable energy on Sunday that it had to pay people to use electricity, reports Quartz:

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.

“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.”

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…

[continues at Quartz]


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