Renewables collectively covered 38% of Germany’s electricity consumption in the first three quarters of 2018, representing an increase of three percentage points compared to the same period of the previous year. The performance was even higher in January, April and May with unusual strong winds and sunny days, nothing typical of the season, which pushed the participation of renewables up to 43%.
The Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research BadenWürttemberg (ZSW) and the German Federal Association for Energy and Water Management (BDEW) have come to this figure in an initial assessment of Germany’s electricity consumption. If the wind speeds in the fourth quarter are in line with the average of recent years, renewable energy could be very close to covering 38% of the demand throughout 2018.
Electricity consumption of Germany
Solar, wind and other renewable sources generated about 170 billion kWh of electricity in the first three quarters of 2018. Renewables are nearing lignite and bituminous coal, which represented around 172 billion kWh of electricity, falling almost 7% compared to last year’s figure (Q1-3 2017: 184 billion kWh). Production of electricity based on natural gas also decreased by about 8% to around 59 billion kWh.
Onshore wind energy remained the main source of renewable energy in the period under review with about 63 billion kWh, an increase of 13% compared to the same period last year (Q1-3 2017: 55.4 billion kWh). Photovoltaic energy recorded the most abrupt growth, increasing by almost 16% to more than 41 billion kWh (Q1-3 2017: 35.6 billion kWh). Biomass came in third place with around 34 billion kWh (Q1-3 2017: 33.4 billion kWh). A prolonged drought left hydroelectric power in fourth place, with production falling by almost 10% to around 13 billion kWh (Q1-3 2017: 14.9 billion kWh). Offshore wind contributed around 13 billion kWh (Q1-3 2017: 11.7 billion kWh).
“Renewable energies are definitely on the fast track, while the contribution of conventional energy sources to Germany’s electricity consumption coverage is steadily declining, however, we still have a lot of work to do to achieve the goal of 65% participation of renewable energy by 2030. It is imperative to prevent this expansion from getting stuck: first of all, there must be enough space, in particular for the new wind projects on the ground, on the other hand, a total effort must also be made to promote the high-voltage lines from north to south, which urgently need expansion at full speed, while establishing the necessary framework conditions to operate the electricity storage facilities. These are the prerequisites for the large-scale use of electricity generated from renewable energies and the achievement of climate objectives, ” Stefan Kapferer, President of the General Board of Directors of BDEW said.
“This increase in the generation of renewable energy is great news,” says Prof. Frithjof Staiß, Managing Director of ZSW. “However, the heating and transport sectors figures are still worrying, we have to start making real progress here.” This also applies to European laws such as the Regulation of distribution of efforts, which came into force in July 2018. It requires that Germany reduces greenhouse gas emissions in sectors that are not subject to emissions trading – and that means heating and transport – by 38% from 2005 to 2030. The prospect of billions of fines is looming as early as 2020 if these objectives are not met. This is one of the reasons why investing much more in a successful transition in heating and transportation is a wise decision. “