For any critics who say a country can’t receive 100 percent of their energy from renewable sources, Germany offers a rebuttal. The country has made headlines for its renewable energy use before, and this past weekend, it generated around 87 percent of its power from renewable sources. Electric suppliers effectively paid users to consume energy.
It was a lovely spring Sunday – sunny and windy – and around one in the afternoon the country was receiving so much power from wind, solar, biomass, and hydro plants that electricity prices plunged into negative numbers. Out of the 63 GW being consumed, 55 GW came from renewable sources. With new wind power plants entering the scene soon, it’s safe to say Germany just might reach its goal of electricity from 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.
Unfortunately some parts of the energy system did not react quickly enough, so while gas power plants were stopped, coal and nuclear plants kept on chugging. Heavy electric consumers like foundries and refineries were essentially paid money to suck up power.
Even so, Christoph Podewils, Director of Communication for German think tank Agora Energiewende, said the system “adapted..quite nicely.” Once more renewable energy is in play, more unsustainable sources can be shut off. He said, “We have a greater share of renewable energy every year…This day shows again that a system with large amounts of renewable energy works fine.”
Agora Energiewende reported that in 2015, Germany received 32.5 percent of all energy from renewable sources, up from 27.3 percent the year before. The think tank predicted that Germany could be rid of coal by 2040 if they began shutting down plants in 2018.
Neighboring countries such as Denmark are also surging towards utilizing wholly renewable energy. Even now, Danish wind turbines often create more power than necessary, and the country is able to sell it to Germany as well as Norway and Sweden.