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Germany Meets Nearly 100% on Clean Energy and Raises Renewable Bar Again

Sunday May 8, 2016, Germany reached a new high in renewable energy generation. Thanks to a sunny and windy day, at one point around 1 pm, the country’s solar, wind, hydro and biomass plants were supplying about 55GW of the 63GW being consumed or about 87% by the country. Germany’s renewable energy sector reached new heights, exactly a week after the country saw clean energy meets 95% of its power needs.

Despite the cool conditions across much of the country on Sunday, the high winds and hours of sunshine during the middle of the day meant that clean energy provided the boost in renewable power.

Power prices actually went down reaching negative numbers for several hours, which means commercial customers were being paid to consume and use electricity. For several 15-minute periods on May 8, power prices fell as low as $57/mWh according to analyst Epex Spot. Last year, the average renewable mix was 33% as stated by the German clean energy thin tank Agora Energiewende. They also stated that new wind power coming online will give more push resulting in higher renewable energy percentage. According to Agora’s Christoph Podewils, the power system adapted to it quite nicely. It also showed that the system with large amounts of renewable energy works like clockwork.

Albeit the positive results of having renewable energy, critics have argued that because of the daily peaks and troughs of renewable power, it will only or will always have a niche role in supplying power to major economies. Although it’s less likely, Germany plans to reach 100% renewable energy by the year 2050. Inspired by Denmark’s wind turbines, already at some point generate more electricity that it consumes, it is able to export surplus energy to Germany, Sweden and Norway.

As increased volumes of intermittent renewable energy comes to the grid, Germany has identified a handful of approaches designed for dealing with these challenges that includes more interconnectors, more storage and exclusion of some regions from future onshore wind power auctions.

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