TECH

Germany Made So Much Renewable Energy Last Weekend That Customers Actually Made Money

Well you don't see this every day...

12/05/2016 16:01

So on Sunday, 8 May, something seriously impressive happened in Germany.

The country produced so much renewable energy that it actually had to pay some customers to use it.

Sean Gallup via Getty Images

Just after lunch the country's wind, solar, hydro and biomass power plants were creating 87 per cent of the energy needed, far exceeding the country's previous record.

Let's just revisit that headline one more time. In a world where coal, nuclear and gas are still seen as the main energy sources Germany managed to use the sun, wind and rain to provide 87 per cent of an entire country's energy requirements.

It's an astonishing achievement and one that unfortunately the industry just wasn't expecting.

You see one of the biggest problems with renewable energy is that it's not constant - it's dependent unsurprisingly on the weather.

So to compensate for when it's raining and foggy Germany has to keep some of its nuclear and coal plants running.

Vincent Kessler / Reuters

However when the sun comes out it gets really tricky because while renewables are by definition flexible at turning on and off you can't just flick and switch and turn off a nuclear power plant.

They take enormous amounts of time and planning to do, and so by the time the price of energy had plummeted into the negative it was simply too late for anyone to do anything about it.

There's even better news on the horizon for Germany as the country has the ambitious target of becoming 100 per cent renewable by 2050.

Christian Aslund via Getty Images

It's an incredible target to set itself and it's actually one that Denmark is already hitting.

While it's not a constant, the Guardian pointed out that in July last year Denmark's wind power was generating 140 per cent of its demand - allowing for the energy to be sent over to Germany, Norway and Sweden.

Denmark isn't the only place on planet Earth that's tackling the energy revolution. Costa Rica spent 75 days last year being powered entirely by renewable energy sources.site

James Glover / Reuters

Then there's big businesses as well with Tesla's utterly gargantuan Gigafactory being powered solely by solar, or Apple's pledge to become a company that's entirely powered by renewable energy.

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