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Power EU The Almighty Buck United Kingdom

Record Wind Power Levels Trigger Energy Price Fall Across Europe 226

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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  • Re:bfd (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @07:11PM (#45928717)

    €35.71/MWh from the generator is not exactly cheap by US experience.

    The cheapest electricity in the USA today is in Kentucky (coal country) where it goes for about 6 cents/kWh. That is about $60/MWh, which is considerably more than 35 euros. I live in California, and I pay from 12 to 30 cents per kWh ($120 to $300 per MWh) depending on usage tier.

  • by golodh ( 893453 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @07:20PM (#45928753)
    Consumers aren't affected as in Europe they typically have contracts with their utility companies for fixed rate delivery of electricity. I hear it's around $0.30 / KWh.

    The ones affected are the companies that actually own power plants to generate power and sell it to the utility companies, as they are the ones who see their earnings fluctuate between $0.50/MWh to $60/MWh.

    And guess what? These market conditions make it hard to impossible to make a profit out of modern clean gas-fired power plants. I know of at least one example (The Netherlands) where an ultra-modern gas-fired plant had to be closed down and dismantled because it couldn't compete. It was a plant that could both supply a base load and respond quickly to variations. It could compete very well as a peak-load plant ... but not as a base load supplier. Unfortunately the market for peak loads had shrunk to the extent that it could no longer be operated at a profit.

    The plants best suited to survive in this market are old, dirty, written-off coal plants (base load) and old dirty written-off peakers. Oh irony ... abundant (but quite volatile) green power kills off the cleanest and most modern fossil fuel plants first. I bet the Greens don't like that.

  • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @07:27PM (#45928797) Journal

    wind doesn't vary on a minute by minute basis, though. Perhaps we don't need batteries, so much as we need a way to communicate pricing signals to the consumers.

    If I had a device that I could set price points to, say, start a load of laundry or run the refrigerator compressor, or hold off on the AC when a price transmitted by the power company is high or low, I could make my own demand follow the actual supply more closely.

    Just because I might have a few big-power needs, doesn't mean I can't be flexible with when they are executed, if I have some way of knowing when a good time is.

    I would want the information to be a price that I choose, though, rather than the "smart metering" I've seen elsewhere where the device allows the power company to decide when your devices run. If I'm picking, I can override, for instance if I'm going to an interview in a few hours and just noticed I need to wash a suit or something.

  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @07:32PM (#45928815)

    A better solution may be the development of longer term energy storage and batteries

    An even better solution is to pass through the fluctuation in the wholesale prices directly to the consumers. This will stimulate a demand for appliances that are "price aware". So refrigerators, freezers, and AC will pre-chill when power is cheap and coast when it is not. Water heaters, clothes dryers, etc. will disconnect their heating elements when prices surge. Instead of only trying to smooth the supply, we should try to change the demand to meet the supply, and market prices are the best way to achieve that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11, 2014 @08:49PM (#45929203)

    Given the track record of UK power companies they will probably try and fiddle it so works out as a price increase to consumers. If there was any justice those running these companies should be looking at serious time behind bars for what they have been up to, Hollywood accounting and manipulating the wholesale prices to justify increasing household bills. As it is they will be allowed to retire to their huge piles in the home counties with probably a knighthood or some such to keep them cosy.

  • Germany (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @09:35PM (#45929437) Homepage Journal

    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 â60/MWh â" the highest over-the-counter levels seen all year â" only to fall to its lowest level December 24 to â0.50/MWh.

    What you really must know there is that these low costs are not passed on to the customer. On the contrary, energy prices for private users have been constantly rising for years.

    Why? Because our corrupt bullshit non-government has passed laws that exempt the - wait for it - biggest industrial users of energy from taxes. Which, of course, means that the rest of us have to pay their share.

  • Re:bfd (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ghack ( 454608 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @10:10PM (#45929627)

    Although wind power does not contribute to global warming through greenhouse gas emission, it does extract kinetic energy from the atmosphere and therefore may alter global climate even at continental scales []

    It may be the lesser of evils compared to some other supplemental energy options but it isn't perfect- and it isn't a good candidate for base load

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982