How much will switching to renewables raise your utility bill? How about NEGATIVE ALL OF IT? In Germany, wind and solar projects have regularly been generating so much surplus energy that utilities are paying consumers to take it off the grid. High winds — although not that high, only 15 mph — led to negative-price wind energy for nine hours on July 24, bringing Germany's total to 31 hours of below-zero-cost energy this year.
The companies hate this, obviously. Bloomberg's reporting about the phenomenon is all "OH GOD WIND CAUSES ECONOMIC DOOM":
The gross margin at a coal power plant after deducting fuel and emission permit costs, the so-called clean dark spread, may “collapse” to as low at 3.50 euros a megawatt-hour, Barclays analysts including Peter Bisztyga said in a Sept. 1 report. The spread was at 6.15 euros today, Bloomberg data show.
Narrower margins mean it will take longer for companies to pay off building new gas- and coal-fired facilities. Those plants are needed. They can run around the clock, preventing blackouts when the sun sets or the wind dies as European power demand grows 5 percent through 2015 compared with 2010, according to Paris-based bank Societe Generale SA’s forecast.
That's right: It's terrible that solar and wind are producing so much energy, because they squeeze out gas and coal plants, which are necessary in case solar and wind don't produce enough energy.