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10 Mar 2020, 13:46
Benjamin Wehrmann

Windy February drives record negative power prices in Germany

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

A very windy February caused power prices in Germany to turn negative for longer than ever before in a single month, Niklas Zaboji writes for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Heavy storms in February drove abundant wind power and broke renewable energy production records, and power prices turned negative for 84 hours in just the one month alone – compared to 211 hours in all of 2019. Power prices turn negative if more electricity is available on the grid than consumers demand, meaning that plant operators have to pay customers to accept power influxes. Zaboji says it is still unclear how much the wind power abundance cost producers. "But it should be at least a double-digit million-euro figure," he writes. While Germany’s plan to phase out nuclear power plants by 2022, along with the mass roll-out of electric vehicles, is expected to reduce periods of excessive power supply, researchers say negative power prices represent a waste of economic resources, and should be avoided, for instance by using excess electricity for heating purposes.

 Wind power in Germany accounted for about 45 percent of the country’s total power production in February, producing about 21 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity. A report on negative power prices published by Germany's Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) in October 2019 found that the power grid only requires a fraction of the conventional power plants that are continuously running in order to maintain grid stability, meaning the capacity of inflexible conventional generation capacity could be reduced without risk.

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