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Record Wind Power Levels Trigger Energy Price Fall Across Europe

Soulskill posted about 9 months ago | from the any-way-the-wind-blows-actually-really-matters dept.

Power 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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bfd (0)

harvey the nerd (582806) | about 9 months ago | (#45928565)

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

Re:bfd (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45928613)

Considering that money is not going to subsidize some Arab regime, does not add carbon to the atmosphere, and does not use up a non-renewable resource, I'd say it's a great deal. More, please.

Re:bfd (0)

guevera (2796207) | about 9 months ago | (#45928657)

That's not just not exactly cheap, that's 3x the cost of power here in California -- where we get raped on power prices compared to other states. At the sort of prices TFA lists, I'd be out of business, and lots of people would be living in the dark.

Re:bfd (5, Informative)

mspohr (589790) | about 9 months ago | (#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 (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 9 months ago | (#45929447)

Yes, but at the retail level subsidies are charged to the end user.

Not sure the wholesale price accurately reflects the complete picture.

Re:bfd (2)

rainmouse (1784278) | about 9 months ago | (#45929535)

Not sure the wholesale price accurately reflects the complete picture.

Soaring energy bills in the UK is little short of a crisis but with little correlation to the wholesale cost of the energy, I the prices here don't fall at all.

http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/nov/16/energy-prices-rise [theguardian.com]

Re:bfd (4, Insightful)

tragedy (27079) | about 9 months ago | (#45929735)

Not sure what you are thinking or if you're confused about units, etc.

I'm pretty sure the poster was dividing 35.71 by 1000 to get KWh price and getting .3571 rather than .03571. Then they said "47 cents per KWh!? That's 3X our residential price!". Fairly simple, and easy, mistake to make when working with with one set that scales by 1000 (kilo, mega, giga, etc.) and another item that scales by 100 (dollars to cents).

Re:bfd (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 9 months ago | (#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 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45929357)

final customers in Germany pay much more than 5 cents/kWhr, 25 cents or so.

Re:bfd (1)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | about 9 months ago | (#45929577)

Wholesale vs retail.

Distribution charges add $0.07-0.12/kWh. I think that includes the markup on wholesale prices as well.

Re:bfd (1)

Spoke (6112) | about 9 months ago | (#45929977)

In California, at least, I'm pretty sure there is no markup on wholesale prices. Utilities get a regulated fixed profit based on distribution charges.

Re:bfd (4, Informative)

RicktheBrick (588466) | about 9 months ago | (#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.

Re:bfd (0)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 9 months ago | (#45929515)

I'm not gonna check his calculations, but if the above commenter's math is right, somebody really ought to give him a "+1 Informative".

And if his math is wrong, never mind.

Re:bfd (1)

nxtw (866177) | about 9 months ago | (#45928671)

More than half of my power comes from domestic hydro, wind, and landfill gas sources, with the rest most likely produced from nuclear and domestic sourced coal and natural gas.

Re:bfd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45928761)

Well invest [renewableenergy.com] in the technology then. If you're not doing this you're nothing but a hypocritical deadbeat.
 
Everyone claims they want alternative energy, how many have anted up?

Re:bfd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45928949)

Yeah!

More Global Warming to drive the wind farms!

Re:bfd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45929599)

Costs me a flat rate of $6/month for all of that green shit from my power company.

Re:bfd (4, Interesting)

ghack (454608) | about 9 months ago | (#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 [pnas.org]

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

Re:bfd (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45928615)

Well the green idiots are blocking Shale over here

Re:Score (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45928859)

The Greens TKO The Fossils!

Greens:1
Fossils:0

Re:bfd (5, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 9 months ago | (#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.

Re:bfd (1)

Mes (124637) | about 9 months ago | (#45928789)

I assume TFA is referring to wholesale energy prices, so you cannot directly compare that to your retail rate.

Re:bfd (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 9 months ago | (#45928877)

You can because if the retail rate vastly exceeds the wholesale rate you know that you are being ripped off.
Such ripoffs are why solar photovoltaics are very popular where I live despite being an expensive way to generate electricity. Cutting out the middleman becomes worth it when the middleman gets very greedy.

Re:bfd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45929175)

Uh no. If you're getting 6-9 cents/kW you're absolutely NOT being ripped off. Average day ahead market wholesale for the US is closer to $0.45 per MWh depending on where you live [1] . so yeah, that's a fraction of a cent per kWh, but
power planning, balancing, and line maintenance is not cheap. Yes, those companies are making a profit. Also the bulk of the profit is on commercial businesses, not residential. A single light manufacturing business might use the same electricity as 2,000 houses and they are paying premium prices for daytime electricity, which home users don't have to pay.
Now that doesn't mean I'm against PV. Go for it. Many ISO and RTO's love end user PV in competitive markets. They'd rather sell the power you would have used to someone else for more money. The last mile power company isn't too excited about it though because usually they have to reverse meter you and you don't have to pay for line maintenance ( presuming you are completely self sustaining but retain your tie in to the grid )

Wind is springing up everywhere in the US, but right now there's a problem with using much of that power in that most of their power is generated at night at off peak periods. Until more energy storage comes into those footprints, they are not earning the money they could be. ( water pumps are the norm, super capacitor banks are just too expensive ) . Don't let the press release fool you. This is a major problem in Europe too.

[1] http://www.eia.gov/electricity/wholesale/

Re:bfd (1)

tommeke100 (755660) | about 9 months ago | (#45929141)

Belgium is around 20 euro cents per kWh for the end consumer. And the end-consumer will just pay what they usually pay.

Re:bfd (1)

StarWreck (695075) | about 9 months ago | (#45930145)

Moses Lake, Washington has a 2.5 cents/kWh industrial rate. Commercial rate less than 5 cents. Its all hydroelectric.

Re:bfd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45930383)

Across the border in BC, the first tier rate for residential is 5.9c/kWh. Hydro as well. If you use a lot then it goes up to 8.9c/kWh on the overage.

Re:bfd (1)

agurk (193950) | about 9 months ago | (#45928751)

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

Only thing I could find on US electricity prices where http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/update/wholesale_markets.cfm

What is cheap and what is expensive electricity in the US?

POT (Personal Open Terminal) eases canabis psych (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45928575)

talk about hot air? when you are up the voices you hear are real. not alone anymore learning to share etc.... we heal....

Global Warming (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45928591)

We shouldn't hate on fossil fuels. It would appear that wind energy needs global warming in order to be more affordable.

Re:Global Warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45928653)

We shouldn't hate on fossil fuels. It would appear that wind energy needs global warming in order to be more affordable.

You should apply to Fox News.

I see you making millions of dollars every year and your grandparents can tell all the other old people they know that their grandkid is on Fox.

But just if I start getting emails from my parents that say, "FWD: FWD: FWD: FWD: FWD: FWD: Environmentalist conspiracy to hide the truth!

Wind energy needs oil and gas in order to be affordable!" I will curse you!

Volcanos (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45928757)

I don't understand why we haven't had more H8 directed at vulcanism, since, as is well known, Dick Cheney spends most of his time deep underground, sacrificing small animals and stirring eruptions.

Uh, that's a huge spread (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45928607)

â60/MWh to â0.50/MWh?!

Seems to me they should smooth that out for the consumers. You know, like a futures market or something the way gas is done.

Otherwise it's impossible to function with wild swings like that. Could you imagine a $100 power bill one month, then using the same electricity and getting a $10000 bill the next? That's ridiculous.

Re:Uh, that's a huge spread (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45928693)

Don't worry, they smooth it out by making us pay a fairly constant €147.97/MWh or so... yeah. We never get the savings, and we always get the bumps.

Re:Uh, that's a huge spread (3, Informative)

Koby77 (992785) | about 9 months ago | (#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:Uh, that's a huge spread (4, Interesting)

zippthorne (748122) | about 9 months ago | (#45928797)

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.

Re:Uh, that's a huge spread (4, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 9 months ago | (#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.

Re:Uh, that's a huge spread (3, Insightful)

Koby77 (992785) | about 9 months ago | (#45929261)

I suppose I'm considering a longer term buying and usage scale. The article mentions the high prices were December 11th, and the low prices were December 24th. It is concerning to me that my appliances might not operate for 13 days at a time until the price drops again. Certainly price aware appliances are a good idea, and could be combined with a battery or storage mechanism. But ideally I want to buy electricity at 0.50 euros/MWh, store it and ignore high prices while I continue to use my appliances at arbitrary times, buy additional electricity when the price falls again, and then laugh at anyone who paid 35 euros/MWh because they got their electricity from conventional generation while mine was generated and stored from renewable.

Re:Uh, that's a huge spread (1)

Spoke (6112) | about 9 months ago | (#45929985)

Obviously, one would need to know the forecast prices for at least some period of time in the future and use that to find the compromise in convenience and price when running said appliance.

Obviously you may not want to wait for prices to drop in certain cases.

Re:Uh, that's a huge spread (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 9 months ago | (#45928883)

That is one of the problems with wind and solar: they are unpredictable. Free markets cannot "smooth it out" for consumers

Free markets can, if the grids can. It's the infrastructure that needs a large scale upgrade. Just because we can't do it yet doesn't mean that it's technically impossible.

Re:Uh, that's a huge spread (2, Informative)

ghack (454608) | about 9 months ago | (#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.

Re: Uh, that's a huge spread (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45929211)

Nuclears can't adapt their offer to short term demand variations. Coal and gas can.

Re: Uh, that's a huge spread (1)

ghack (454608) | about 9 months ago | (#45929587)

Load following nuclear plants are possible and many designs (such as the PBMR) are intended to follow load. This is patently false

Re: Uh, that's a huge spread (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45929983)

A nuke bids its power at $10/mw so why do they need to worry about following demand? That is what peaker plants like gas and oil are for.

Re:Free Market FTW (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45928895)

Any Business that decides to put Solar Panels on their roof they should get a TAX CUT !

Re: Uh, that's a huge spread (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45929873)

You don't realize that the free market (close to it) has been doing this for over 3 decades very well. Wind isn't much more complicated than wheat, corn, rice, salt, oil, or fish.

Consumers don't see these fluctuations (2, Interesting)

golodh (893453) | about 9 months ago | (#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.

Re:Consumers don't see these fluctuations (1)

haruchai (17472) | about 9 months ago | (#45929135)

Then those old coal plants should be closed if they can't be brought up to modern emissions standards.
China has a mandate that ALL coal plants have until Summer 2014 to meet the tougher standards that took effect in Jan 2012 or shut down.
Of course, it'll have to be enforced to have teeth but given the terrible smog over major cities of the past few years, I think this will be taken seriously.

Re:Consumers don't see these fluctuations (1)

Rick Zeman (15628) | about 9 months ago | (#45929895)

Then those old coal plants should be closed if they can't be brought up to modern emissions standards.
China has a mandate that ALL coal plants have until Summer 2014 to meet the tougher standards that took effect in Jan 2012 or shut down.
Of course, it'll have to be enforced to have teeth but given the terrible smog over major cities of the past few years, I think this will be taken seriously.

Based on what? Their glorious record to date?

Re:Consumers don't see these fluctuations (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 9 months ago | (#45929291)

A lot of that is because the EU imports gas either in liquid form or from Russia. This makes it far more costly than in the US which is experiencing a glut right now.

Because the US has so much gas, there is no demand for coal and coal prices have crashed. That crash in coal prices is causing the construction of new coal plants in Europe because their gas price is not competitive, and they have a great deal of demand to meet with the shutdown of nuclear in Germany.

European electricity costs to the end user are generally 50% higher than the US because of a 19% VAT and subsidy charges for wind and solar.

Re:Consumers don't see these fluctuations (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 9 months ago | (#45929685)

European electricity costs to the end user are generally 50% higher than the US because of a 19% VAT and subsidy charges for wind and solar.

You are almost right, but it can be a little more complex, as most EU countries have multiple VAT rates for different products or service. For instance, France's VAT on electricity is 5.5% for subscription, and 20% for usage per kWh

Re: Consumers don't see these fluctuations (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45929553)

Greet capitalism and it's ability to get stuck in a local optimum.

Energy companies are big behemoths. Government just need to force business into offering a well-balanced energy pool instead of considering profits in a central-by-central basis.

Bizarro World (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45928621)

Whereas up here in Canada, Hydro Quebec would put out the exact same statement to explain why they're bringing the prices up.

Re:Bizarro World (2)

dk20 (914954) | about 9 months ago | (#45928725)

Man, i was going to post the exact same thing about Ontario Hydro and our somewhat "failed" green energy program.

We have one of the largest nuke plants in the world (Bruce nuclear, #2) but all they do is buy super-expensive wind and sign long term contracts to do so as well.
When the NIMBY people complained they forced the wind generators anyhow.

Re:Bizarro World (1)

haruchai (17472) | about 9 months ago | (#45929177)

Nuclear is baseload and quickly loses efficiency if you try to ramp it up and down and makes up most of Ontario's energy production. Wind's nameplate capacity in Ontario is under 2GW and they also have plenty of hydro & gas.

In 5 years of tracking the output from IESO [ieso.ca] I can't recall nuclear falling below 9.5GW.
Yes, the wind farms have "must-take" but if they are not producing, they don't get a penny.
Ontario has tried several times to price out building 2 new nuke plants and every time the bill gets much higher & the timeline longer.

When the nuke industry finds a way to build faster & cheaper without compromising reliability, they'll do very well.

global warmers (0)

csumpi (2258986) | about 9 months ago | (#45928665)

Now can we stop bitching about global warming? See, it's not all bad. And don't forget the thank you card for our gas guzzling habbits! Which reminds me, gotta remote start the Humvee to grab a pizza before kickoff. Go Pats!

On a more pragmatic note: so what? (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 9 months ago | (#45928687)

It's not like energy companies ever pass on cheaper wholesale prices to their customers.

day base price consumer price (4, Informative)

nava68 (2356090) | about 9 months ago | (#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).

Re:day base price consumer price (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#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.

3rd world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45928731)

Expensive, fluctuating, unpredictable as the wind blows, energy prices. The only people getting wealthy off that are the wind power manufacturers who successfully lobby governments to subsidise installations of THEIR product.

More nuclear, gas, clean coal please. Anything that can provide power reliably and economically viable enough that it does not require subsidies and corporate lobbying.

Re:Advice for Oil Corp (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45929001)

Step one: Don't price yourself out of the market
Step two: Make Money
Step three: ?????(LOBBY)
Step four: Profit

Re: 3rd world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45929239)

Provided you can get enough megawatts on a year, wind can be as stable as it takes. You just pair it with hydroelectric: you use overproduction to pump water up and you release it when needed.

Yes, believing in "clean coal" is third world. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45929249)

Yes, the big wind fat cats, oh how they pull the strings. Meanwhile, poor little fossil fuel just can't figure out how lobbying works.

Is this opposite day or something? Am I doing it right?

Seriously though, your comment is proof of how well fossil fuel industry handles lobbying and PR. You're either a shill, or some confused individual who has swallowed their rhetoric hook, line, and sinker. Either way, it's depressing.

OB: Yeah but.... (5, Funny)

rueger (210566) | about 9 months ago | (#45928771)

Just to save time, let's all agree that wind power could never, ever, ever work in North America. Or solar. Obviously the blah blah blah mumble mumble obfuscate is so different here that it would be impossible.

Also, North American wind is like TOTALLY different from European wind.

Re:OB: Yeah but.... (3, Funny)

dbIII (701233) | about 9 months ago | (#45928889)

Also, North American wind is like TOTALLY different from European wind.

In the southern states where they eat more fibre it's not so different.

Re:OB: Yeah but.... (1)

rueger (210566) | about 9 months ago | (#45928921)

Damn you dbill, using that so-called "science" stuff to win an argument!

Re:OB: Yeah but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45929245)

Of course it can you have a never ending supply of wind from your elite ruling political critter class and their sock puppets on talk radio.

Re:OB: Yeah but.... (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | about 9 months ago | (#45929273)

European wind uses the metric system. COMPLETELY incompatible.

Re:OB: Yeah but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45929711)

Yeah, the electrical power in Europe is metric, 220/50?

Whoever heard of that nonsense! And look at their plugs! Some of them have safety features and four prongs! That you can't put in the wrong way!

Re:OB: Yeah but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45930195)

Surely it works better than Australian wind power. Those turbines spin around the other way!

Actually... negative prices! (2)

mspohr (589790) | about 9 months ago | (#45928795)

According to this article:
http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/1/10/energy-markets/negative-spin-europes-amazing-electricity-prices [businessspectator.com.au]
"Over the Christmas holiday, which typically causes a drop in energy demand, wholesale electricity prices in Germany, the Nordic region, the Czech Republic and Slovakia turned negative on excessive renewable energy production and mild weather."
On December 24, 2013, when industrial and business power demand dropped sharply, the price of German power for intra-day delivery fell to an average of -€35.45 per megawatt-hour between 0000 and 0600 in the morning, touching lows of -€62.03/MWh halfway through that period.

Re:Actually... negative prices! (1)

markdavis (642305) | about 9 months ago | (#45928811)

What does that really mean? They will PAY the customers to use electricity?? I don't understand.

Re:Actually... negative prices! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45928951)

It means the huge subsidy Germany pays for solar and wind was much more than the retail price of the electricity.

Re:Actually... negative prices! (1)

Carewolf (581105) | about 9 months ago | (#45928987)

Not customers, they will pay other energy companies to carry the load, or charge suppliers that are not scaling down their energy production.

Re:Actually... negative prices! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45929039)

These are the prices at the european market amongst the companies (is wholesale the right word?).

We, the consumers, still pay ~0.25€/kWh and don't notice these changes...

Long term eco friendly storage (2)

wjcofkc (964165) | about 9 months ago | (#45928809)

Now we just need a practical, ecologically friendly way of storing, long term, the excess energy that has nowhere to go. It's great that this much wind energy can be generated under unusual conditions, it would be better if we would store the large quantities that no doubt went to waste for want of adequate storage technology.

Re:Long term eco friendly storage (2)

dbIII (701233) | about 9 months ago | (#45928959)

Google something along the lines of offshore wind turbines with compressed air storage. Doing it offshore means the storage is balloons at depth (build deeper for higher pressures) instead of expensive pressure vessels or messing about in abandoned salt mines. Of course the losses with compressed air are large but it does work.
There are others on the solar thermal side - molten salts or high pressure steam that lasts all night.

However most of the requests for this sort of thing come from a simplistic non-technical view of the subject and modelling power consumption as flat and even for 24 hours. Peaks are a much more difficult problem than base load and solar in some places has already taken the top off the peaks. Transmission losses are a big problem and power from solar is typically generated within a few kilometres of where it is consumed. That's already reduced the amount of coal consumed for electricity generation in some places.

Re:Long term eco friendly storage (1)

Daniel Hoffmann (2902427) | about 9 months ago | (#45928961)

I'm not sure how those countries generate electricity, but I assume they still burn some kind of fuel. Any saves they get from wind prevents burning even more coal/oil/gas.

Like all things in life the best approach usually is the middle ground. Multiple sources of power means that if there is a lack of rain/winds/sun you can burn more oil to help out the dams/wind farms/solar farms. In the future non-renewable power sources will probably be sporadically used to supply power in more aggravating times like extreme summers and winters or when disasters hits like hurricanes.

Re:Long term eco friendly storage (1)

Layzej (1976930) | about 9 months ago | (#45929283)

Some options being used are to pump water into a reservoir where it can later be used to generate hydroelectric, or store the energy as kinetic by spinning a 4000 KG cylinder up to 11,500 rpm (a flywheel). GE is now shipping their wind turbines with batteries so that they can store energy if the price goes low. If the state has a working energy market you could make a living by buying when the price is low (storing the energy) and selling back when the price is high.

Re:Long term eco friendly storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45930105)

Store the excess by turning on a fan. True renewable (wind) energy!

Wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45928863)

Wait...so mild weather and a season lack of demand resulted in...lack of demand, yet wind power is the cause of the price drop? Seems to me that the lack of demand is the clear explanation and that excess wind production was only an added benefit.

Who cares? Not state-owned. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45928887)

Cost reductions mean higher profits, not cheaper energy for the people.

Ahhhhhhhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45928923)

Bullshit. Pr piece. Have massive amounts of "wind farms" in my area for going on 5 years and no drop what so ever. I call complete and utter bullshit on it. Pr for those pushing a waste of money resource

Hold the phone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45928973)

Are the increased winds "climate" or just "weather"?

Headline wrong twice (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 9 months ago | (#45928997)

I don't see anything in the article about "Record Wind Levels", just that December was more windy than November. And a significant driver for the lower prices was lower demand due to warmer temperatures. But it's okay to cherry pick data in this context.

Need for storage technology (1)

Theovon (109752) | about 9 months ago | (#45929007)

The price fell because of a surplus that probably wasn’t being fully consumed. I wonder what kind of energy storage solutions they have. Batteries have substantial energy loss between charge and discharge, and supercapacitors aren’t cheap or super enough.

Re:Need for storage technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45929153)

No, just shunt the excess power to a center running:
1) bitcoin mining rigs, with immediate sale proceeds to pay down EU debts; or
2) folding@home, seti@home, or other distributed computing system serving the public good; or
3) an electrolysis system for generating clean H2 for fuel (which could even be made into methane later injected into the existing nat-gas system); or
4) lasers!

Simply quantize the individual miners/servers/electrolysis current/etc into discrete steps with power usage smaller than the typical grid-level fluctuations, and suspend/resume the miners/servers (or adjust the electrolysis current draw) to keep roughly in line with any excess production. A small bank of existing batteries could be used to provide a smoothing filter if the power grid has demand changes faster than the proposed current sink can adjust.

Heck, if you could put in a battery bank with the power storage equal to a single solar panel's production requirement and hooked it up to a solar production plant, just use the excess power to fill up that buffer and when it fills... *pop* a new solar panel for the grid.

Re:Need for storage technology (1)

haruchai (17472) | about 9 months ago | (#45929201)

Better storage solutions are on the way but will take a decade at least to be viable on the commercial scale.
Using EVs for V2G might arrive sooner but you'll need a lot of them. But even so-so batteries are more efficient than the best coal plants.

This type of article never tells the whole story (5, Informative)

38º (3495205) | about 9 months ago | (#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]

Re:This type of article never tells the whole stor (2)

38º (3495205) | about 9 months ago | (#45929397)

I forgot to mention that as fossil energy plants (natural gas turbine plants, etc) have long stops, the government has to pay them big compensations for not producing, as anyway they are necessary to the system.

Re: This type of article never tells the whole sto (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45930175)

oil and gas are cheaper only when environmental damage is not accounted for.

Re:This type of article never tells the whole stor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45930493)

Shut up! You are ruining the parade with "reality"!

Wholesale prices (3, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 9 months ago | (#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]

Germany (3, Interesting)

Tom (822) | about 9 months ago | (#45929437)

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:Germany (2)

Tom (822) | about 9 months ago | (#45929455)

Oh, yeah, I forgot the most important thing: Our wholly-owned politicians and the stupid media which for some reason believes people whose job it is to lie, swindle and bullshit, are making the renewable energies - whose unexpected success is causing these wholesale price drops - responsible for the rising consumer prices.

Re:Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45929641)

Which, of course, means that the rest of us have to pay their share.

Don't forget their free carbon credits.

Shills. Shills everywhere! (1)

n3tkUt (726923) | about 9 months ago | (#45930129)

The hundreds-of-millions of dollars spent every year by the fossil fuel industry, in order to curve public opinion, really comes to light when articles like this are posted. An overwhelming number of commenters (for this site) would have us think that "big wind" is pulling the wool over our eyes, and that nonsense like "clean coal" is the only fair way to generate power. Unreal. I've seen similar happen elsewhere (e.g. anything about fracking on reddit), but they are here now too, infecting helpless threads with pseudoscience bullshit. Had to make sure I hadn't stumbled onto Fox News, nope, it's Slashdot. Yikes. Is anywhere safe?

Useless development (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45930339)

The only problem is, that stupid German laws make sure, that nothing of the price fall ever reaches the end cosumers. Prices for alternative energy are guaranteed in Germany and the difference between market price and guaranteed price has to be paid by all consumers. This same law also makes sure, that environmental impact of energy production doesn't go down, because although production of renewable energy is surging at some times, conventional productions remains the same (just driving market prices low and increasing exports). All paid by the law guaranteed prices for renewables.

You insensitive 3lod... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45930423)

Good to write you tho5e uber-aashole
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