Germany Now Has So Much Solar Power That Its Electric Prices Are Going Negative

In the Green

Germany has so much energy coming from solar panels that it's outpaced consumer demand and pushed energy prices into a steep nose dive — even going past zero into the negative, according to Business Insider, creating an Alice in Wonderland energy market in which consumers of electricity can be paid to use the extra power.

This price drop is detrimental for solar power producers' bottom line, according to Bloomberg, hence slowing down efforts to expand solar further and stymie larger efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

But the biggest implication is the lack of efficiency. Consumers tend to use the most energy when the Sun isn't shining, such as in the evening when they get home from work, meaning that a lot of power is being wasted.

Sun Flare

The cause behind this steep drop in energy prices is that Germany went on a solar power spree last year, installing a high water mark of 14,280 megawatts of solar power capacity, nearly double compared to the previous year.

The issue isn't confined to Germany. California has experienced the same issue, making energy prices not so golden and slowing the pace of solar panel installations — and progress toward a carbon-neutral future — in the state.

In the short term, California lawmakers have responded by paying less money to solar producers, which annoyed the sector, and by also having the state grid operator sell its excess energy to neighboring states.

Obviously, the longterm solution is to install energy storage solutions that can store this excess solar energy so that consumers can tap it for cloudy days and in the evening when power demand is historically at its highest.

Until then, states with an excess of solar power will have to ride the tumultuous wave of energy prices going up and down like a roller coaster.

More on solar power: Researchers Say Solar is Getting So Good That People Could Start Quitting the Electric Grid