Renewables’ share rises to all-time high in Germany

22 April 2020

Renewables covered around 52% of gross power consumed in Germany during the first quarter of 2020. Gross power consumption encompasses all electricity used in a country, but for the purpose of this calculation does not include exports. This all-time high was driven by a combination of one-off events. The figure results from preliminary calculations by the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) and the German Federal Association of Energy and Water Management (BDEW). February’s record winds were followed by an unusually sunny March. Power consumption was also down by 1% from the same period last year. This dip is attributable to the relatively weak economy and a decline in industrial production in the last week of March triggered by the Covid-19 crisis.

The amount of conventional power fed into the grid decreased markedly as renewable sources were given priority and power plants shut down in late 2019. These factors converged to create the conditions for renewable sources to furnish more than half of the power consumed in the first three months (in Q1 2019 it was 44.4%). However, these were special circumstances, so it remains to be seen if the trend will continue throughout 2020 – especially since the first quarter regularly shows a higher renewables‘ share owing to weather conditions.

“The record figures stand in sharp contrast to the dramatic situation in the current expansion of wind and PV systems: If the obstacles and caps are not removed quickly, the 65% target by 2030 will hardly be achievable. The difficult economic situation further intensifies the pressure to act: it must be ensured that further investments are made in the expansion of renewables so that they can guarantee the energy supply of tomorrow,” commented Kerstin Andreae, chairwoman of the BDEW board of management.

“More investments in renewables are going to pay off, particularly in view of the economic slump caused by the corona crisis,” added Prof. Frithjof Staiss, managing director of ZSW. “A far larger share of the created value remains in the country if you build wind and solar power plants rather than burn fossil fuels.”

Germany generated nearly 158 billion kWh of gross power in the first quarter of 2020, down almost 7% from the same period of the previous year (Q1 2019: 169 bn kWh). It consumed around 148 bn kWh (Q1 2019: 151 bn kWh).

Solar, wind and other renewable sources collectively produced around 77 bn kWh of electricity (Q1 2019: 67.1 bn kWh). Onshore wind accounted for nearly 43 bn kWh, biomass for 11 bn kWh, offshore wind for 9 bn kWh, solar power for 7 bn kWh, and hydropower for 5 bn kWh. The rest was sourced from biogenic waste and geothermal energy.

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