European Storms Create Negative Electricity Prices

by | Jan 11, 2014

turbineRecent storms in Europe spun wind turbines to such an extent that they helped strengthen a new winter phenomenon – negative electricity prices, reports Reuters.

Over the Christmas holiday period, which usually causes a drop in energy demand, wholesale electricity prices in Germany, the Nordic region, the Czech Republic and Slovakia turned negative due to mild weather and an overabundance of renewable energy.

Germany saw prices for intra-day delivery drop as low as -62.03 euros per MWh on Christmas Eve. That same day, Denmark saw prices fell to -6.28 euros per MWh, Reuters reports.

If winds blow with above average power or frequency it can cause wind farms to create more energy than is needed by consumers. When excessive renewable energy is created negative prices occur as energy cannot be stored in high volumes.

One unnamed European power trader predicts that the continued proliferation of wind farms will lead to more instances of negative energy prices.

The negative prices have proven damaging for utilities earning their crust by selling electricity and a boon for traders that make money off huge price swings, but they will not translate to cheaper power for customers the news service predicts.

A number of green energy subsidies make up around half of consumer energy bills and limiting their exposure to the negative energy prices, Reuters reports.

Overactive wind turbines are not a new phenomenon and utilities have found some creative ways to deal with a power spike.

In 2011, it emerged that the Pacific Northwest’s Bonneville Power Administration was pushing excess power to a local Nippon Paper Industries mill as its wind farms were regularly creating more power than it can handle.

One of the paper mill’s biggest consumers of energy is its pulping machine. The Port Angeles, Wash., plant generally runs this machine at its most energy-efficient, rather than its fastest, speed, meaning that their is regularly the potential to use more energy and pulp paper at a faster rate – a win-win situation for BPA and Nippon.

The average load of the mill, which makes paper for telephone books, is 53 MW, but the Nippon plant has the capacity to handle 73 MW, the paper reports.

Photo credit: Wind turbine farm with rays of light at sunset vis Shutterstock

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