Renewable Sources Are Feeding Almost Half Of Germany's Power Consumption In 2020

Amid lower power demand due to Covid-19, Green power to reach 46% of gross electricity consumption in Europe’s largest economy.

Preliminary figures show that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year, Germany will cover almost half of its power needs with renewable energy as electricity demand has pushed down.

According to data from the solar and hydrogen research center Baden-W├╝rttemberg (ZSW) and the German federation of energy and water industries (BDEW) almost 50% of the gross electricity demand in Europe’s largest economy in 2020 was likely met by renewable energy sources. 

That is 8 percent higher than in 2018 and 4 percent more than in 2019. 

This year’s lower energy consumption alone has contributed to the comparatively larger share of green energy. But, the share of renewables as part of the gross power consumption would have also risen – although only to 44%, without the corona effect.

The highest increase came from solar, which increased to 12%, and wind at sea, which jumped 11%. Onshore wind's share went up, by 4%.

BDEW chairwoman, Kerstin Andreae said in one of her statements that the share of renewable energies has increased this year, but the lower power consumption hides the fact that the expansion of renewable energy is not progressing as fast enough as it should be. She added that power demand is expected to increase significantly by 2030. And we will not be able to achieve the targets we have set if the extension continues with the handbrake on.

Faulty EEG reform

Germany’s government must now adopt a more ambitious amendment to the country’s Renewable Energies Act (EEG) to give the expansion of renewables momentum again. This act is currently being discussed in parliament, and its implementation is urgently needed to speed up the expansion of renewables, Andreae said.

The governing Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) of Chancellor Angela Merkel and their coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD), reached a compromise on the EEG amendment. The German federal parliament (Bundestag) needs to approve the reformed legislation before the end of this year to be in force next year when large volumes of renewable energy capacity will lose their subsidies under the legislation after a period of 20 years.

Industry groups have warned that the amended law is creating new hurdles for renewables. But, meanwhile, the compromise on the EEG sees some improvements. One such example is a waiver on the payment of a supplement to finance the renewables build-up also for medium-sizes rooftop solar.

Clearer rules for repowering and a perspective for wind farms that lose support to continue operating have been demanded by both the renewables federation (BEE) and the BDEW.

Onshore wind rules

The ZSW/BDEW data shows that in Germany, the highest share of renewable power measured in gross generation continued to come from onshore wind, with 18.7% of all electricity, followed by solar PV with 8.9%, and biomass with 7.8%.

Offshore wind, hydro, and waste provided another 4.9%, 3.3%, and 1% respectively. Geo-Thermal provided a tiny contribution of 0.03%. The percentage figures shown for generation are somewhat lower than those for power demand as some part of the power produced in Germany is exported.  

European Union Generated More Electricity From Renewable Resources Than Fossil Fuels

Not only Germany but the European Union itself generated more electricity from renewable resources in the first half of the year. Electricity generated from wind, solar, hydro, and bioenergy is 40% and, from fossil fuels, it is 34% across the European Union. And these results are far better than the US, as in US contribution from fossil fuels is 62% and that from renewable is less than 18% from January to June.

Apart from the zero carbon emission goal, renewables also have a cost advantage over fossil fuels. It is being seen that countries with more renewables have cheaper electricity. Poland, a coal-dependent country, wholesale electricity price came to €40 ($46) per megawatt-hour, while in the most populous EU country, Germany, it is just €23 ($26) per megawatt-hour. The European Union has made good progress in the last five years, as in 2015 Europe generated twice the electricity from coal compared to wind and solar, and this year it is 12% from coal and 21% from wind and solar.

As we have discussed above, electricity consumption has been affected by covid-19, and electricity demand has gone down in the European Union by 7%. And because of it, many countries had gone through a lockdown and, as a result, air and water pollution have reduced tremendously, and with the help of plenty of Sunny and windy weather, renewables production has gone up, which benefited the green fuel.

National Energy policies have also resulted in a 32% drop in electricity generation from coal across the European Union. Austria, Sweden, and Spain closed their last remaining coal power plants. Portugal and Greece dropped their coal generation by 95% and 50%, respectively. In Germany, it has reduced by 39%, which is 31 terawatt-hours, a large number, which is more than the total production of some European Union countries. Electricity generation from natural gas has dropped by 6% across the EU.

Among the EU countries, Denmark is the most advanced as it started to build infrastructure early and, it has a plan to build even more by 2030. The market for renewables is pretty big and will continue to expand for the next decade. And it has the potential to draw large investments. But, there should be consistency as building renewables inconsistently can lead to high prices. As in the case of the Czech Republic, to increase the amount of clean energy at a faster rate, built a lot of renewables in two years for a large amount, which has increased electricity prices.

Renewables produce a lot more electricity than fossil fuels. In Denmark, wind and solar energy produced astonishing 64% of total generation and, Ireland produced a total of 49% of electricity from wind and sun.

These are pretty cool developments. We can say from this data that the European Union is among the first to reach the zero carbon emission goal.