Since the beginning of August 2017 the prices on the electricity and commodity markets have been breaking one record after the other. Is it eventually time to pop the corks and finally ring in the end of the lean times? Or is it barely a temporary anomaly? To find an answer, we investigate the causes of the current price development.
On Sunday, October 29th 2017 a high power generation from wind power plants hit low demand for electricity in Germany. Negative prices occurred over a maximum period of 21 hours, so that the production was affected by § 51 EEG 2017. Therefore, the number of negative prices rose to 103 for this year already.
The electricity price, be it at the futures or the spot market, depends on several factors. Those include the (expected) demand, the available power plants (renewable and conventional) and the short-term fuel costs of the power plants used. The power plants along the upper part of the merit-order have the greatest influence on the electricity price, because they are needed to just meet demand. Generally, hard coal or gas-fired power plants are price-setting.
August 2017 was characterised by the second tender for wind-onshore, the subsequent discussions about citizen energy companies and the significantly decreased price level. Despite the summer break, electricity prices have been increasing at the long end of the curve.
The influence of variable renewable energy sources (vRES) dominates the day-ahead market. The displacement of conventional power plants during high feed-in of vRES affects prices and generation volumes. For the Calendar Week 25 (19 – 25 June) it is analysed how conventional power plants need to adjust their scheduling because of the vRES feed-in.
On behalf of Greenpeace e.V., Energy Brainpool, outlined a coal phase-out in Germany with focus on achieving the climate goals and yet ensuring supply security. In order to reduce the transition costs it is necessary to drastically increase the implementation of cost-effective technologies on the market such as PV and wind. On the contrary, security of market supply needs to be ensured by building new gas power plants and installing cross-border capacities as well as flexibility options.
Eurelectric, the European association of the electricity sector, has decided by a large majority that its members will not build new coal-fired power plants from 2020 onwards. However climate protection goals can only be achieved by decommissioning coal-fired power plants.
Within a short amount of time the Green party, the German Federal Environmental Protection Agency and the WWF have expressed the opinion that the phase out of coal energy should begin soon. Different groups and players have said and proven with scientific papers that without an ambitious plan to get rid of coal as a source of energy Germany’s climate goals cannot be fulfilled.