The RES expansion headache

Grid shedding power as it struggles to cope with volume of energy produced by renewables

The RES expansion headache

For the first time ever, the Greek grid last Sunday recorded an electricity price of zero euros for six consecutive hours, being reminiscent of grids in northern European countries with a high penetration of renewable energy.

Also for the first time, the Independent Power Transmission Operator (ADMIE) last weekend resorted to cuts of “green” energy that went beyond any precedent so as to maintain the stability of the system. For 12 consecutive hours on Saturday and another 11 hours on Sunday, with a three-hour interval, ADMIE continuously threw out of the system “green” megawatts to keep it functioning and prevent an overload that would lead to a blackout.

Renewable energy source (RES) output on Sunday reached the very high levels of 80% of the total domestic production, though that was not the highest ever recorded: On October 7 last year and for five consecutive hours from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., almost 100% of demand was covered by RES. However, there were neither zero prices, nor energy cuts, nor an average megawatt-hour price of 51 euros for the entire 24 hours of Sunday, before returning to €88/MWh for Monday and to €111/MWh for Tuesday.

The factor that has made the difference is the combination of overproduction of RES with low demand, parameters that are consolidating as the penetration of RES continues to expand, having exceeded 10,000 MW in 2022 and demand has been on a continuous downward path for 11 months, recording in the first quarter of the year, an 11% decrease compared to the same period last year.

Overproduction and zero electricity prices are the problem Europe as a whole is facing, just a few months after desperate efforts and concerted campaigns by European governments to limit consumption and contain prices. Last year Europe paid dearly for its high dependence on natural gas; this year it is paying for the large discrepancy between the development of RES and of storage systems. A coordinated response is expected soon on European level.

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