Germany produced so much renewable energy it ended up paying people to use it

Germany produced so much renewable energy it ended up paying people to use it

By Natalie Shoemaker May. 12, 2016

Germany produced so much renewable energy it ended up paying people to use it

Last weekend Germany’s power grid was swimming in renewable energy, so much so that power prices went negative. The country was generating so much renewable energy on Sunday that, for a few hours, residents actually earned money from using electricity.

The weather was the cause of this monumental occasion—it was a particularly sunny and windy day—which allowed the country’s wind, solar, hydro, and biomass power plants to supply the country with 87 percent of its energy.

Gas plants actually shutdown because of the momentary surge, but nuclear and coal plants were unable to wind-down fast enough, causing a surplus. This extra power on this grid meant for a limited time, some consumers were earning money keeping the lights on.

The news brings hope that the promises made at the 2015 Paris Climate Summit will be kept. Germany has made a pledge to have its country’s electricity supply come from 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 and emissions 40 percent below what they were in 1990 by 2020.

Renewable energy adoption has grown significantly in the United States, thanks to the lowering of costs to install solar panels combined with government incentives. The city of San Francisco recently passed an ordinance requiring all new buildings to have solar panels. It makes a world run wholly on renewable energy seem within sight.

Germany’s weekend renewable energy surge is great news as the world continues to move toward a zero-emission economy. But when news of these occurrences becomes so commonplace it no longer makes headlines, that will be a truly momentous occasion.

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