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Record Wind Power Levels Trigger Energy Price Fall Across Europe 226

Posted by Soulskill
from the any-way-the-wind-blows-actually-really-matters dept.
New submitter Forty Two Tenfold writes "Electricity prices across Europe dropped last month as mild temperatures, strong winds and stormy weather produced wind power records in Germany, France and the UK, according to data released by Platts. The price decline was more marked in Germany, where the average day-ahead baseload price in December fell 10% month over month to €35.71/MWh. On a daily basis, December was a month of extremes for Germany, with day-ahead base prices closing on December 10 and 11 at less than €60/MWh – the highest over-the-counter levels seen all year – only to fall to its lowest level December 24 to €0.50/MWh."
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Record Wind Power Levels Trigger Energy Price Fall Across Europe

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  • by nava68 (2356090) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @07:11PM (#45928709)
    Please note that those prices are day to day EPEX spot prices and have as much in common with the rate you get charged as a consumer/business. Even less than brent spot prices influence fuel prices at your gas station, since most electricity consumers have a yearly price agreement. The huge variation is due to the over-capacities of German networks during high wind/ sun times. This overload has to be sold to other meta consumers if necessary at a negative price. This is one of the reasons why a lot of companies here in central europe are investing in transportation (high voltage DC networks) and means to store the overproduction (water/salt/batteries).
  • by Koby77 (992785) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @07:19PM (#45928741)
    That is one of the problems with wind and solar: they are unpredictable. Free markets cannot "smooth it out" for consumers, because if there is large-scale reliance on renewable and the wind/solar generation fails, then there will be a shortage of conventional fossil-fuel/hydro/nuclear generated power. A better solution may be the development of longer term energy storage and batteries, such that consumers can buy at low prices and avoid buying at higher prices.
  • Re:bfd (Score:5, Informative)

    by mspohr (589790) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @07:21PM (#45928763)

    Not sure what you are thinking or if you're confused about units, etc. but ...
    A quick search of US Wholesale prices shows a range of $31 to $71 for last year with highest prices in the Northeast. California was $42 /MWh which is close to the euro 35 ($47) price in TFA.
    So... price for this wind power is on par with US wholesale prices for all (coal, hydro, NG, etc.) averaged together... not really 3x.

  • Re:bfd (Score:5, Informative)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @07:21PM (#45928765)

    That's not just not exactly cheap, that's 3x the cost of power here in California

    I think you need a new calculator. 35.71 euros is about $49. That is less than 5 cents/kWhr. Where in California are you getting a kWh for one third of a nickel?

  • Re:bfd (Score:5, Informative)

    by RicktheBrick (588466) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @07:38PM (#45928833)
    My calculations are 60 euro time 1.37 equals 82.2 dollars divided by 1000 or .082 or 8.2 cents per kilowatt hour. .5 euro times 1.37 equals .685 dollars divided by 1000 or .000685 or .0685 cents per kilowatt hour. The most expensive is close to what I pay and the cheapest is far less. At the cheapest rate my electricity bill would be less than 1% of what I now pay. 14.5 kilowatt hours per penny is almost free.
  • by ghack (454608) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @07:52PM (#45928891)

    On a daily basis, December was a month of extremes for Germany, with day-ahead base prices closing on December 10 and 11 at less than €60/MWh – the highest over-the-counter levels seen all year – only to fall to its lowest level December 24 to €0.50/MWh.

    I have seen a nice bumper sticker before: Solar and wind are allright, but nuke's do it all night.

    I agree with this sentiment. Shame Germany is phasing out nuclear [huffingtonpost.com] in favor of coal.

  • by Greger47 (516305) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @08:09PM (#45929003)

    Yes, the producers will pay you to use (more) electricity, happens when the cost of stopping and restarting a power-plant is high and demand is low.

    http://www.epexspot.com/en/company-info/basics_of_the_power_market/negative_prices [epexspot.com]

  • by 38ยบ (3495205) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @08:42PM (#45929173)
    I'm from Portugal, this type of "green-article" never tells the whole story .
    We have a serious problem with subsidized renewable energy , as has Spain , or Germany ( but these are rich and in Portugal we live in a severe crisis).

    When there is too much wind and hydro generation, prices in the energy market fall, BUT producers of renewable energy ( exluindo large hydro ) receive the same guaranteed rate ( feed-in tariff). As these producers have priority in the system all energy produced by them have to be bought, even if there is much cheaper energy in the market (gas, nuclear, oil, etc), even if it's free as has happened several times in the past (in Germany last year energy price at one day was negative) we have to buy the subsidized energy !

    So actually what happens when there is too much wind and rain ,this is terribly expensive for us, because the more subsidized energy is produced , naturally we paid more and more. Portugal already has one of the most expensive energy prices in Europe, but as the price of energy sold to public is regulated, dont reflect the real and crazy cost, consumers have accumulated a huge tariff debt to the system . In Portugal this tariff debt already exceeds 4000 million € in Spain now exceeds € 25000 million €.

    To get an idea of prices paid to subsidized energy, here I leave these two pictures:
    Annual change in average cost per type of energy: http://i.imgur.com/MFaPFRZ.png [imgur.com]
    Annual changes in the average cost of energy subsidized vs. average market cost: http://i.imgur.com/OFn71pI.png [imgur.com]
  • Wholesale prices (Score:4, Informative)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @09:03PM (#45929251)

    These are wholesale prices. Once you add in VAT and the EU's subsidy taxes the actual retail prices are quite a bit higher.

    The prices also vary quite a bit from country to country, and within countries.

    http://energy.globaldata.com/media-center/press-releases/power-and-resources/europe-paying-more-for-electricity-than-us-states-globaldata-consultant-with-dramatic-differences-seen-between-countries [globaldata.com]

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/williampentland/2013/10/27/berlins-ballooning-electricity-rates-become-highest-in-europe/ [forbes.com]

  • Re:bfd (Score:4, Informative)

    by thegarbz (1787294) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @05:46AM (#45931001)

    Wind is a perfect candidate for base load.

    I don't think you know what that word means...

  • Re:bfd (Score:4, Informative)

    by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Sunday January 12, 2014 @02:13PM (#45932855) Homepage Journal

    Both of your definitions are no "definitions".
    They are layman interpretations of the true definition :D

    Baseload: the amount of load you always feed into the grid, regardless of demand. That means even at night when your "demand" is only roughly 30% of the peak, you still feed the typical 40% "base load" into the grid, it is used to fill up pumped storages. Traditionally -- as you explain correctly -- done with cheap plants that run nearly at 100% *all the time*. With the side effect that those plants are also relatively slow in load following

    There are two problem areas here:

    - Using the first definition, a utility must be able to somehow satisfy maximum demand even if major variable supplies are unavailable.

    That is wrong. As *base laod* is not used for *maxiumum demand* but only for far less then half of the *maximum*, the rest is done with load following and peak plants.

    - Using the second definition, base load sources must be given priority lest the owners lose money. If utility owners routinely lose money, there will be no new utilities built, and possibly no maintenance of existing facilities. The problem is that most power sources are base load sources under this definition, thus everyone must have priority.
    That is not true as well. As modern *base load* plants are similar quick in demand change and adaption as normal load following plants. In fact they are the same thing. It is only a planning decision which plants you use for base load tomorrow
    If I know I will have enough wind tomorrow I will plan today how much of that wind power I consider base load.

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