Negative Electrical Prices

This interesting:

Electricity prices in Finland flipped negative — a huge oversupply of clean, hydroelectric power meant suppliers were almost giving it away

Finland was dealing with an unusual problem on Wednesday: clean electricity that was so abundant it sent energy prices into the negative.

While much of Europe was facing an energy crisis, the Nordic country reported that its spot energy prices dropped below zero before noon.

This meant that the average energy price for the day was “slightly” below zero, Jukka Ruusunen, the CEO of Finland’s grid operator, Fingrid, told the Finnish public broadcaster Yle.

In practice, it doesn’t appear any ordinary Finns are being paid to consume electricity. People pay a markup on the electricity, and often pay agreed rates for power instead of the raw market price.

The price drop was driven by an unexpected glut of renewable energy and Finns cutting back on energy use because of the crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

If you had access to almost free electricity what would you do with it? Bitcoin mining and charging your Tesla are the obvious things. But there must be something else. Here are my initial thoughts:

  • Electrolysis of water; the O2 and H2 can be used for welding gases, and fuel for everything from heating to rockets.
  • Smelting of metal ores.
  • Aluminum production.

7 thoughts on “Negative Electrical Prices

  1. There will NEVER be “free” electricity. Because controlling and charging for access to power is a means of control. So the real cost of production is irrelevant. The people in power will ALWAYS insure that the peons pay. If a means for producing free electricity at a personal level on a scale to rid the average person of being tied to the grid ever becomes available that technology will be buried and anyone knowing about it killed immediately. Even solar power….a putatively “free” form of energy is so highly regulated and controlled that it is close to impossible for the average consumer to acquire it without paying extortional amounts of money in the form of building permits, fee and contractors costs.

  2. Plasma incineration of waste (e.g. reduce to elemental forms) and synthesis of long chain organic polymers (e.g. feedstock for fuels, but also agriculture, pharmaceuticals, plastics, etc.)
    But wasn’t this the basic promise of nuclear energy?

  3. The ‘obvious’ solution to a greenie is to start taking down hydro dams to ‘restore the river to it’s natural state’… I wish that was a sarcastic post but I will bet we will see proposals in a month or so…

  4. Fix nitrogen. One can always bag it, and use it for fertilization. Along with dozens of other recycling operations that would benefit from cheap electricity.

  5. Kudos to the Finns!

    I wish this were a scalable solution. With current power technologies, it is not.

    Jerry Pournelle once cited a study, calculating how much hydro power we could generate if we trapped ALL water movement, around the entire coastline of the lower 48. (As he pointed out, wouldn’t THAT do wonders for the environment!) If memory serves, the energy we could generate from that extreme case would… just about power the city of Boston.

    Perhaps someday a single US desert will be able to generate enough solar energy to power a significant fraction of the US energy needs. We’re not there yet.

    • I think Pournelle’s arithmetic is off. Just Grand Coulee alone:

      The total generating capacity is 6,809 megawatts and its average annual energy output is about 2,300 megawatts, or enough power to continuously supply the needs of two cities the size of Seattle.

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