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Germany: 100% renewable power becomes a reality


Credit: The Energy Collective

Germany met all of its power demand through renewable energy for a brief spell lasting around an hour on Sunday afternoon, new figures show, in what was a first for Europe’s largest electricity market.

On Sunday, the brief 100% renewables window occurred between 13:00 and 14:00 Berlin time, as almost 23GW of wind power – robust generation even by Germany’s high standards – combined with more than 16GW of solar to meet typically subdued Sunday demand.

Programmable forms of renewable electricity, in this case biomass-fired power plants at 5GW, and hydropower at 3GW, plugged the remaining gap between renewable supply and total demand.

Consumption at the time was 46-47GW. All fundamental data was provided on Monday by German energy consultancy Agora Energiewende.

The feat is the latest in a series of milestones already achieved this year which show just how much the low-carbon transition is transforming European energy supply.

Figures published by EPEX Spot, the platform on which most power in Germany is traded on a day-ahead and intra-day basis, show the German power market:

Recorded its lowest hourly day-ahead price for two years of -€130.09/MWh earlier this month (see EDEM 9 May 2016)

Saw one negative baseload price and two instances of negatively-priced peaks products since the start of March

Has regularly recorded weekend peaks prices below baseload this year because of high solar power output and low demand

Recorded multiple instances of negative intra-day and hourly day-ahead pricing already this summer (see EDEM 28 April 2016).

Becoming more common

“[100% renewables] will become more and more common. It will be mostly on weekends, when there is low demand,” one intra-day trader said on Monday, which was a public holiday in Germany, although no negative pricing was recorded on Sunday for Monday delivery.

On a day-ahead basis, the power price for delivery on Sunday between 13:00-14:00 was -€9.25/MWh, EPEX Spot figures show.

“Meeting demand with renewables will become connected to negative prices,” one German power trader commented.

And on the intra-day auction, 15-minute weighted average prices fell lower still, reversing a pattern seen when German hourly prices were deeply negative earlier in May. On that occasion pricing on the intra-day market was negative but less so, as plant operators pulled capacity offline once the negative day-ahead price became available.

But on Sunday, the unpredictable nature of wind and solar power overrode any measures that may have been taken to limit supply. This meant negative day-ahead pricing does not necessarily mean the intra-day market will find support despite gate closure happening closer to real-time delivery.

Exports

Total German power exports were around 8GW during the hour in question on Sunday. The average over the last month has been around 5GW, although this includes working days.

Cross-border capacity however proved inadequate to allow prices in neighbouring markets to drop substantially. At one point on Sunday afternoon the Netherlands carried a €70.00/MWh premium over Germany under the flow-based market coupling system.

Looking ahead, intra-day price forecasts published by ICIS Germany-based analysts indicate a relatively weak German market until Thursday, when a drop in renewable power output will push the market higher. jamie.stewart@icis.com

A free two-month trial of ICIS intra-day German power price forecasts can be accessed by clicking here.

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