Germany Pays to Halt Danish Wind Power to Protect Own Output

  • Germany pays to idle Danish wind farms to ease grid congestion
  • Danish power producers pulled 37 gigawatt-hours in November

Germany’s wind farms are now producing so much electricity one of its grid managers is paying generators in neighboring Denmark to shut down to keep its network from overloading.

German network operator TenneT TSO GmbH paid Danish power producers to withhold 37 gigawatt-hours of output in November, or about a day of production from the region’s biggest nuclear reactor, according to data from the Nord Pool Spot AS exchange in Oslo. The increase from 1.5 gigawatt-hours a year ago came as TenneT began from 2015 to boost payments to Danish producers via its neighboring grid to avoid cutting German output.

When gusty weather floods the network with power and threatens stability, Germany can seek cuts, according to grid rules. If such reductions are still not enough, Germany will then start shutting its own turbines. The country’s shift to renewables has more than doubled its wind power over the past decade, with output reaching a record on Nov. 18. Investment in power lines to move it across the country has failed to keep up.

“It’s mainly old wind mills that aren’t receiving so much compensation from subsidies any more,” Peter Markussen, the head of system services at Danish grid operator Energinet.dk, said by e-mail from Fredericia, Denmark. “The wind turbine owners potentially want the same payment to halt as they would receive for producing.”

Electricity generated by wind parks has been growing in the area of the grid company Tennet.
Electricity generated by wind parks has been growing in the area of the grid company Tennet.

Nordic power producers, including those in Denmark, can be paid to halt generation through the Nord Pool Spot exchange’s so-called regulating market, where producers and consumers can bid to reduce or provide power to keep the grid balanced. While Germany isn’t part of the market, TenneT is connected to western Denmark and can reach out to its neighboring grid manager for producers willing to cut power for cash.

A total of 96 gigawatt-hours was cut in October and November at an aggregated market price of 1.8 million euros ($1.9 million) from parties outside the Nordic regulating market, according to Nord Pool data. TenneT is the only non-Nordic grid connected to the west Denmark area.

This comes as Germany saw negative prices in the market for hours on at least 10 days during the last month in high winds, forcing producers to pay as much as 116.99 euros per megawatt-hour to users to take electricity. Danish electricity output had to be reduced by 237 gigawatt-hours so far this year, a 25-fold increase year on year.

“There can be cases in which renewable generation in Denmark has to shut down before the German one,” Ulrike Hoerchens, a spokeswoman for TenneT, said, without commenting on the volumes or cost. Due to the high supply of wind power in northern Germany, “market-based shutdowns of wind power in Denmark were increasingly necessary this year,” she said.