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German Utilities Pay Customers to Use Electricity Thanks to Renewables Surplus

Renewable Energy
A wind farm in the Hesse state of Germany. Neuwieser / Flickr

This past May, Germany's renewable energy mix generated so much power that prices actually went negative for several hours, meaning grid operators were forced to pay customers to use electricity.

This coming Sunday, however, wind generation alone is forecast to hit a new record, according to data crunched by Bloomberg. This means average prices will be negative for Germany electricity customers for a whole day, not just for a few hours.


When prices go negative, power producers either close power stations to reduce the electricity supply or pay consumers to take it off the grid, Bloomberg noted.

In May, Germany's mix of solar, wind, hydropower and biomass generated 88 percent of Germany's total electricity demand. While that was an already impressive feat then, on Sunday at 7 a.m, wind generation will peak at 39,190 megawatts—or enough to meet more than half of the country's total demand. That's just from wind power!

Germany's previous wind generation record was 38,370 megawatts on March 18.

The world's fourth largest economy is in the midst of a clean energy revolution known as Energiewende. Fortune reported that German consumers pay a surcharge of around €20 ($23.61) on their energy bills to pay for the initiative. Power prices are higher in Germany than in any other European country except for Denmark, where it costs €0.308 ($0.36) per kilowatt hour versus Germany's €0.298 ($0.34). To compare, residential prices for electricity averages $0.13 cents per kilowatt hour in the U.S.

However, it appears that the overwhelming majority of Germans do not mind paying this extra amount to go green. An survey by the Agency for Renewable Energies (AEE) revealed that 95 percent of Germans rate the expansion of renewables as important to extremely important for energy security and to fight climate change.

"The survey results show the breadth of the societal consensus supporting the Energiewende in Germany," said AEE deputy managing director Nils Boenigk. "People in Germany know the deployment must continue so we can fulflil our obligations regarding climate protection and future generations."

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Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.

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