Slumping power demand due to the coronavirus crisis combined with April’s strong wind and solar power production have revealed that Germany’s fossil and renewable electricity generation, as well as electricity demand, need to become much more flexible, experts say. While the grid coped well with an unusually high share of renewable power, low demand in neighbouring countries meant that Germany could not export as much excess electricity as usual, resulting in record negative power prices.
The coronavirus crisis subjected Germany’s electricity system to an unplanned stress test in April. While power demand fell during the pandemic because much of the economy lay idle, sunny and windy weather led to strong renewable power production. This prompted wholesale power prices to repeatedly fall deep into negative territory – meaning that electricity producers rather paid wholesale customers to use the power they generated than turning off plants because it was less costly – revealing the inflexibility of the country’s electricity generation and demand, experts say.