Electricity prices in several countries temporarily below zero due to weather conditions
This weekend, electricity prices on the spot market will fall below zero in many European countries due to strong winds everywhere and the fact that solar plants always generate a lot of energy in the summer. Most people will not benefit directly from this, as their energy tariffs are fixed by contract. However, people with so-called dynamic energy contracts can temporarily get money on top when they turn on their washing machine or charge their electric car, for example.
Data from the major trading platform Epex Spot showed on Saturday that electricity prices in nearly a dozen countries would be negative for most of Sunday. In the Netherlands, the price would fall as low as minus 73.76 euros per megawatt-hour on Sunday afternoon.
This is not the first time these prices have fallen below zero. It happens when a lot of wind and sun suddenly makes a lot more energy available than is taken out. This summer, negative electricity prices seem to be occurring more frequently. It is also striking that this is now happening in so many countries at the same time.
According to experts, this is a side effect of the transition to renewable energy, as long as it is not accompanied by a change in energy use. Smarter appliances and storage systems are needed, which take up a lot of energy just when a lot of power is being generated, and less at other times.
"Negative pricing is an important signal in the power system to encourage flexibility and storage," says Tom Haddon, a consultant with Arcadis, a consulting and engineering firm in Cardiff. "Right now, negative pricing is a bug, but it should be a feature.
There are already electric utilities responding to wildly fluctuating electricity prices. Earlier this year, Zonneplan and the Dynamic Energy Suppliers Association (VvDE) reported that more and more households are switching to dynamic energy contracts. Customers with such a contract pay for their energy at the purchase price in effect at that time.
According to Zonneplan, customers with dynamic energy contracts received money for their electricity consumption for the first time in April. Since then, the company has already experienced some significant negative price spikes. Earlier this month, the market price even briefly dropped to 500 euros below zero. Anyone who charged their electric car at that time could have earned around 20 euros, according to Zonneplan's calculations.
Reporting by ANP