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The German Oversupply of Renewable Energy

                As the renewable energy race ramps up with each region and country vying to achieve ever more ambititous goals, sometimes the price end-users pay for energy ends up as the beneficiary of the situation. Over the Christmas break, energy consumers in Germany were actually paid to use energy. Part of that of course is due to supply and demand. Supply greatly outstripped demand at that time across the country. Basic economics helps us predict what happens to price for a particular commodity with that particular imbalance. Unseasonably warm weather throughout a lot of Germany and plenty of wind power on the grid contributed to this. But a greater force underlying this phenomena is Germany’s relentless pursuit of renewables from a policy perspective. The country’s investment in the 2014 Renewable Energy Act has helped tilt Germany’s renewable energy mix even further towards renewables like wind, offshore wind, solar and biomass and other areas. Renewable investment has ben so effective in a sense that German end users have been paid to use energy on several occasions.  Specifically, on Christmas Eve of 2017, factory owners and other high energy consumption customers  were paid, according to the New York Times, in excess of €50, or around £44, per megawatt-hour.

                With the sun shining for sustainably long periods and the winds blowing actively, on some days in Germany the country gets up to 85 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. This portends well for lower use of fossil fuels and for the environment. Germany has now set a goal of achieving 80% of gross energy consumption by renewable sources by the end of the year. With the renewable tends only accelerating further in Germany in the years to comem will power producers find a more optimal mix or a better way to monitor renewable sources, store them when necessary and find a more appropriate way to balance out supply and demand? Time will tell but clearly the march towards plentiful renewables is a good problem to have.

Discussions

Actually if everything goes well, these stories will be a matter of the past in very short time. We are currently working with two Northern German States and local renewable energy producers on the implementation of a new type of non-battery storage system.

Non-battery, because we think that for grid-scale the current fad, lithium ion batteries, are just a "we can do that, too" technology. Out of the core competence of electronic appliances and vehicles. 604,000 tiny batteries for 8 MW is like pulling a super tanker with 20,000 tiny rubber boats with 5HP engines controlled by 4000 computers.

To make a real difference, we definitely need more 'muscles' - the 10,000 HP tug boat of the storage industry. Multiples of 30 MWh in a 8x20ft footprint will do the job. This will make solar and wind power base- and peak-load capable. A 30MW/120MWh project is in development in Asia.

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Hello Hans, it's great to see this non-battery approach to the base and peak load issue. I look foorward to finding out more if you have additional information in the coming weeks as I'd like to report on how this is being implemented and the advantages of non-lithium ion battery storage technology. Thank you.

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