For a Short While There, California Electricity Prices Went Negative

California is producing so much solar energy that the prices dropped into negative territory this Spring. That means the energy producers actually had to pay utilities to take the energy they produced.

utilities to take the energy when prices dip negative than it is to shut down and restart production later. But that calculus is likely to change.

As Chris Namovicz, senior renewable energy analyst for EIA, put it, “I think it’s certainly giving system operators pause to reassess how their operations work. Things are changing, and they might not be able to work the way they have in the past.”

Such are the growing pains of transitioning to more renewable energy sources, but other countries that lead the world in renewables have adapted to this new reality. At one point in May of last year, for example, Germany was producing so much energy from renewable sources that they had to pay customers to consume it.

Christoph Podewils of Agora Energieweinde, a German clean energy think tank, was optimistic. “We have a greater share of renewable energy every year. The power system adapted to this quite nicely. This day shows again that a system with large amounts of renewable energy works fine.”

Last May, renewable energy sources accounted for 87% of all energy consumed in the Germany. Their goal is to get to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

By contrast, California hopes to produce 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. Nationwide, President Obama had announced a goal of getting to 20% renewable energy by 2030, although President Trump’s proven contempt for environmental protection has likely lengthened the timetable for achieving that goal.  

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