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Renewable Energies: A threat for the market?

Renewables affect all assets on the market and are part of the reason for declining revenues. Still, the reason for this are not the power sources itself, but the system which is not made for decentralized energy production.

 

In 2016, the electricity demand for Germany was entirely covered by renewables for the first time. Since the transition towards renewables is politically intended, the expansion of those sources of power is promoted.

However, the more energy that is produced by renewables, the more their price decreases which makes even traditional assets less profitable. The economist calls it „Clean energy’s dirty secret“ and cites three fundamental reasons: Subsidies, that are granted with good intent, but worsened the situation; the intermittency of renewables and the low running costs for renewable energy facilities.

 

(…) subsidies hit just as electricity consumption in the rich world was stagnating because of growing energy efficiency and the financial crisis. The result was a glut of power-generating capacity that has slashed the revenues utilities earn from wholesale power markets and hence deterred investment.”

source: Economist

Meanwhile, consumers pay more for electricity. The increasing consumption prices may lead to the thought that someone profiting. Actually, the system is losing quite a bit of money.  Redispatching costs were at 400 million in 2016 in Germany and they are expected to rise even more.

 

“To keep power flowing, the system relies on conventional power plants, such as coal, gas or nuclear, to kick in when renewables falter.”

source: Economist

The transition towards renewables is crucial for a positive impact on the global climate, however, it threatens the profitability of all assets and the stability of our grid. The actual issue are not the sources of renewable energy, but the system itself. The energy market is highly regulated and not ready for decentralized power production. To improve the profitability of renewables long-term, market structures need to be reevaluated as well as technologies that help us to use electricity more efficient. Thanks to the digitalisation, smart meters and the Internet of Things we can deal with the intermittency of renewables better. By shifting our consumption partially according to the natural energy production, we can relieve the load on the grid which will lower redispatch costs long-term.