Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Power The Almighty Buck Technology

Consumers In Germany Were Paid To Use Electricity This Holiday Season ( 262

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Inhabitat: The cost of electricity in Germany has decreased so dramatically in the past few days that major consumers have actually been paid to use power from the grid. While "negative pricing" is not an everyday occurrence in the country, it does occur from time to time, as it did this holiday weekend. This gift to energy consumers is the result of hundreds of billions of dollars invested in renewable energy over the past two decades. This most recent period of negative pricing was a result from warm weather, strong breezes, and the low demand typical of people gathering together to celebrate. Germany's temporary energy surpluses are a result of both low demand and variably high supply. Wind power typically makes up 12 percent of Germany's power consumption on a daily basis. However, on windy days, that percentage can easily multiply several times the average. The older segment of Germany's energy portfolio, such as coal plants, are not able to lower output quickly enough. Thus, there is a glut of electricity. On Sunday, Christmas Eve, major energy consumers, such as factory owners, were being paid more than 50 euros (~$60) per megawatt-hour consumed. Further reading: The New York Times
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Consumers In Germany Were Paid To Use Electricity This Holiday Season

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The title is misleading and typical greenwash propaganda.

    Germany has one of the highest energy price on the world and even in times when the wind blows consumers pay a premium. Prices here only have one direction - upwards and the sky is the limit.

    • by lucm ( 889690 )

      Prices here only have one direction - upwards and the sky is the limit.

      Maybe you could create an energy marketplace where brokers would buy electricity in one region and sell it at a premium in another region. You could call it Einron.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @12:00AM (#55813381)

    Germans pay more [] for power than almost every other Western country. That fact was conveniently left out of the push piece in the submitted story.

    • by Klaxton ( 609696 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @01:36AM (#55813623)

      The wholesale price of electricity in Germany is about the same as the rest of Europe. Residential electric bills are mostly taxes and fees. You conveniently left that fact out.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Residential electric bills are mostly taxes and fees. You conveniently left that fact out.

        You're not helping your case by mentioning taxes and fees. Roughly half of those taxes and fees directly subsidizes [] green energy. Much of Europe is heading down a similar path as you mentioned.

      • Actually a part of it is just greed of the energy companies. The wholesale prices went down, the taxes will also go a bit down in 2018, but the end user prices are still going up - simply because most Germans can afford it.

    • by atomicalgebra ( 4566883 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @01:41AM (#55813629)
      Not only does Germany pay more, they pollute more. Germany has spent a quarter of a trillion dollars, and they are still **10x dirtier** then France. Any way you put it Germanys energiewende is a failure [] . Here is a second source [] And here is a previous slashdot story about it. []
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <> on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @02:50AM (#55813787) Homepage Journal

        It's only a failure of you selectively compare it to France, a country with a lot of really expensive and extremely heavily subsidised nuclear power. In fact it's so expensive that the French don't want it any more, leaving their energy companies to start leaching off other countries like the UK.

        Germany started in a poor position. It's half way through its transition, so any proclamation of failure is premature. It's reduced its coal consumption, massively increased renewables, and built up a huge new industry with jobs and wealth.

        Oh, and done something good for the planet too.

        What is the alternative? Throw even more money at a dying technology like nuclear?

        • How about rather than throwing money at it you attack the root cause of the costs. Nuclear power is actually incredibly cheap once you cut project overheads and investment risk out. Why do you think it was the great saviour of the 80s? Hint: it is cheap, and safer designs do not cost appreciably more.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Germany does not pollute more. Germany uses close to half as much electricity as the US per capita (7.1MWh vs 12.96MWh per year). Germany produces almost a third of the electricity from renewable sources. A little over half is from fossil fuels (including natural gas). The rest is nuclear. The US gets close to two thirds of its electricity from fossil fuels and only 15% from renewables. The remaining 20% are nuclear. The Per capita, the US consumes far more electricity from fossil fuels than Germany consume

      • by Uecker ( 1842596 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @08:26AM (#55814421)

        You are right that Germany pollutes more than France (but don't judge too quickly: CO2 per capita is still far lower than for the US). It was a mistake to first shut down existing nuclear plants instead of coal. But this does not imply that the energy transition with its push towards renewables has failed. Only the effect on coal and CO2 has been delayed. But in 2017 you can already clearly see how renewables start to cut also into lignite and coal:

        lignite 155.1 (2007) 148.0 (2017)
        coal 142.0 (2007) 94.2 (2017)
        nuclear 140.5 (2007) 75.9 (2017)
        renewables 88.3 (2007) 216.6 (2017)
        net exports 19.1 (2007) 54.0 (2017)
        numbers in TWh, source: []

        Just by looking at the actual numbers, one can easily see how many statements about the energy transition you can find in the internet a completely wrong. I can only recommend to look at actual numbers and build your own opinion.

      • That isn't that surprising, given Germany is a combination of West Germany, which has had a progressive, environmentally conscious, government since pretty much every other Western nation did, and East Germany, whose disastrous environmental policies are legendary. It takes time to recover from that kind of legacy.

        It sounds to me like they're doing a pretty good job of it, see sibling posters.

    • by garry_g ( 106621 )

      Not sure where those numbers come from, and what amount of taxes it includes, but the 0.19€ that sites lists for 2017 is WAY OFF ... typical prices are in the range of 0.25 and 0.28 per kWh with all the taxes etc ... plus additional fees on that (meters, etc.)

    • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

      Which has nothing much to do with the actual cost of renewables, German residential consumers pay:

      For the electricity (under 1/5th of the total)
      Grid Fee (excessively high)
      VAT (value added tax, VALUE?!??!)
      Concession fee (WTF?)
      Renewables Surcharge (excessively high)
      Electricity tax (would you like some tax to go with you're taxed tax)
      CHP surcharge (they're just making shit up now)
      Other Surcharges (Yes, more surcharges, plural)

      composition-average-german-household-power-price-2006-2017.png (PNG Image, 1132 x 800 []

    • "Germans pay more [] for power than almost every other Western country. That fact was conveniently left out of the push piece in the submitted story."

      Indeed, But in a few years that will lead to no more nukes nor coal plants, saving thousands of lives each year because of emissions alone.

      While other countries 'take the coal and clean it'.

    • by Uecker ( 1842596 )

      I really start to be annoyed by the stupidity of this argument, because you conveniniently left out a couple of facts:

      - This high price is not only due to the energy transition. In fact, the price increase due to the renewables levy is 6.74 Euro Cents in 2017. There are other reasons, why the price of electricity is high in Germany: For example, it maintains one of the most reliable grids.
      - Other power sources got (and still get) a huge a mount of subsides paid from general taxes. While this did not affect

  • Misleading (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bracktra ( 712808 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @12:02AM (#55813387)
    I doubt that random negative price days offset the ~50% rise in electricity costs for German households over the past 10 years. They are paying even when it's "free" via the government funded subsidies paid out to green energy providers funded by their tax dollars.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Doubled, really?

      https://www.cleanenergywire.or... []

      Doesn't seem like double the 2007 price.

      • by Calydor ( 739835 )

        Since when is +50% the same as x2?

        • Since when is +50% the same as x2?

          Well, it depends on your point of view if the price in 2007 was 50% of what it is now then it has doubled, if the price is now what it was in 2007 plus 50% of what it was then the price has gone up by 34%. The actual electricity price increase in Germany since 2007 is more like 27-8%. This is not wildly different from what has happened to energy prices in the US since 2005. The difference being that Germany built renewables while the USA built coal and gas and blamed price hikes due to rising extraction cos

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            The ultimate test will be of energy prices in the US fall dramatically due to Trump's anti-environmental polices.

            • Re:Misleading (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Freischutz ( 4776131 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @05:14AM (#55814057)

              The ultimate test will be of energy prices in the US fall dramatically due to Trump's anti-environmental polices.

              The real test of all of this has actually happened in the Gulf. The Arabs are actually pumping oil and gas around with solar power because it is cheaper than generating electricity by burning gas, so they stopped burning gas, sold it off and pocketed the difference... that's writing on a wall, ... large amounts of wall street money moving into renewables is writing on a wall. You'll know renewables are winning when the average price of solar & wind per kWh dips below that of gas in Europe and N-America and it is about to do that (according to Bloomberg it already is []). What you are seeing in those graphs is the natural gas and coal industries with their ever increasing extraction costs at war with renewables and their ever decreasing production prices due to ever increasing economy of scale and it was Germany who played a large part in setting that off with it's Energiewende. Form the point of view of a renewables enthusiast the fun is only beginning now. Germany and China are going to be the biggest players in the renewables techology scene and from their point of view Donald Trump and his presidency is a 4-8 year grace period to leave their American competitors behind as they struggle to defend themselves against Trump's efforts to put them out of business. Just watching the US delegations show up at these energy technology and climate conferences and giving presentations about how coal and gas are the future are regarded as comedy performances, people are actually laughing at these people.

            • Except, the US energy prices in the US will fall despite Trump's anti-environmental polices. This because the deployment of renewables will continue regardless of Trump. Nevertheless, Trump will claim it as a victory.

          • Since when is +50% the same as x2?

            Well, it depends on your point of view
            if the price in 2007 was 50% of what it is now then it has doubled

            I would beg to differ on your attempted "it depends on what you mean"-type excuse for misinterpreting what is generally a socially accepted translation of those words into a mathematically expressible meaning.

            While your statement that "if the price in 2007 was 50% of what it is now then it has doubled" is, by itself, correct, this is not at all what GGP said. Saying that

  • Can't they sell the surplus to bordering countries? Seems like they could get some sort of rebate from the extra power generation.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Surrounding nation now have their own nuclear, wind, hydro, solar power to sell.
      They want to export too.
      The good power deals that got done was for West Germany and communist eastern Europe.
      Poor nations sold their power to West Germany at a low price while their own people did without energy.
      A lot of the heavy energy use domestically has also been lost by the EU to exporting nations like China, South Korea, Japan.
  • Who is sitting around checking the current electric rate to see if it goes negative and they can turn stuff on to make a profit? I just don't see how a short term negative rate translates into anybody actually using electricity more because of it.
    • Pumped hydro installations. They "buy" excess energy and then sell back into the grid when prices are high.
    • Oh, and it used to be possible (back in the old days of predictable low demand at night) to purchase an off-peak hot water system, that only heats water when electricity is cheap. I imagine adaptive systems are now available.
    • Computers are pretty good at that sort of thing.
      It is still early days, but as the car fleet goes electric you can imagine people keeping only charging a couple of commutes worth as a minimum, and topping up only when rates are low. If house batteries take off, they would also enable market-driven demand smoothing. Every household would be a power trading bot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @01:30AM (#55813607)

    We want and need cheap and dependable power, not expensive and erratic power.

  • Unlike large companies, the regular consumer in Germany doesn't profit from the ever decreasing cost of electricity ... prices keep going up, despite the falling prices on the energy market. Thanks to guaranteed prices for producers of renewable energy, the EEG-Umlage (Erneuerbare Energien Gesetz, renewable energy law) - which is something like an additional tax - has increased from about 0.02€/kWh to almost 0.07€/kWh between 2010 and 2017. Interestingly, this tax doesn't have to be paid by "energ

    • by garry_g ( 106621 )

      Slight correction, typical prices are in the range of 0.25-0.28€/kWh ... still high enough ...

  • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2017 @06:19AM (#55814165) Journal

    If your a libertarian you'll hate this:
    composition-average-german-household-power-price-2006-2017.png (PNG Image, 1132 x 800 pixels) []
      If you're left wing you'll hate that too.
    If you're right wing you'll hate all of the renewables stuff.

    German is doing a remarkable job of making renewables look bad, their public pay insane amounts whilst electricity gets offered for free or less to factories when they're all closed for Christmas.

  • All excess power generation should be used to mine BC. What's not to like?

  • From the article: "Do German consumers benefit from negative prices? Not directly. The wholesale costs of power make up only about a fifth of the average household electricity bill in Germany. The rest is a stew of taxes, fees to finance renewable-energy investments, and charges for use of the grid. That means their bills are lower than they otherwise would be, because power prices are sometimes negative, though household energy bills have been rising overall anyway. Basically, utilities are not deposit

"If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed." -- Albert Einstein