Renewables lead Germany’s electricity generation for the first time ever
RENEWABLES AC COUNTED FOR over 40 percent of German’s electricity production in 2018, generating 219 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity, out of a total national power production of 542 terawatt hours (TWh). It overtook coal as Germany’s main source of energy for the first time, research has showed.
Germany, Europe’s biggest economy is hoping for renewables to provide 65 percent of its energy by 2030 in a costly transition as it abandons nuclear power by 2022 and is devising plans for an orderly long-term exit from coal.
According to a research study carried out by the Fraunhofer Organization of Applied Science, coal plants run on imported hard coal contributed 75.7 terawatts hour (TWh), 13.9 percent of the total electricity generated. It also showed that output of solar, wind, biomass and hydroelectric generation units rose 4.3 percent last year.
Renewable energy’s share of Germany’s power production has risen from 38.2 percent in 2017 and just 19.1 percent in 2010 and experts like Bruno Burger, author of the Fraunhofer study, said it was set to stay above 40 percent this year.
“We will not fall below the 40 percent in 2019 because more renewable installations are being built and weather patterns will not change that dramatically,” he said.
Green power skeptics say that output merely reflects favorable weather patterns and does not prove the sector’s contribution to secure energy supplies.
Electricity generated through solar power increased by 16 percent to 45.7 terawatts hour (TWh) due to a prolonged hot summer, while installed capacity expanded by 3.2 gigawatts (GW) to 45.5 gigawatts (GW) last year, according to the Fraunhofer data.
The wind power industry also produced 111 terawatts hour (TWh) from combined onshore and offshore capacity of just under 60 gigawatts (GW), constituting 20.4 percent of total German power output.
Wind power was the biggest source of energy after domestically mined brown coal power which accounted for 24.1 percent.
Hydropower only accounted for 3.2 percent of power production at 17 terawatts hour (TWh), as extreme summer heat dried out rivers and was accompanied by low rainfall. Biomass output contributed 8.3 percent.
Gas-to-power plants accounted for 7.4 percent of the total; nuclear energy for 13.3 percent; with the remainder coming from oil and waste burning.
The report also added that Germany exported 45.6 terawatts hour (TWh) of power in 2018, mostly to the Netherlands, while importing big volumes from France.