Germany pays people to use electricity

Electricity power lines

Although we missed reporting this story when it broke last year, it's still worth a mention today due to its implications for the future of the world's energy consumption.

Despite 40% of the country's electricity being generated by burning fossil fuels, Germany hit the headlines back in 2016 when it emerged that, for a short time, some consumers were actually PAID to use electricity.

The circumstances that led to this bizarre situation included a mixture of sunny and windy days. At one point, solar and wind power in the country was so productive, it could supply Germany's power grid with 87% of the total being used at any one time.

Although the country also depends on nuclear and coal power, these types of power stations can't suddenly drop production at the flick of a switch. This meant that for a short time, they were forced to sell their power at a loss because of the surplus of energy at the time of the spike.

It bodes well for Germany's future as the country is one of a few European nations leading the way for cleaner energy by attempting to phase out its reliance on fossil fuels.

According to the German energy think tank Agora Energiewende, last year the average renewable percentage of use was around 33%. However, a spokesperson for the organisation said at the time:

"We have a greater share of renewable energy every year. The power system adapted to this quite nicely. This day shows again that a system with large amounts of renewable energy works fine".

Germany aims to halve CO2 emissions by 2030 and there are also plans afoot to be totally reliant on clean, renewable energy by 2050.

There is already a push for stricter European emissions quotas and also talk about whether imposing levies on gas, petrol and heating oil would push demand upwards for greener, more sustainable technologies.

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