Renewable energy share reaches record high in Germany

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The share of renewable energy in gross domestic energy consumption is expected to rise to a record high of 28.5% in the first half of 2014, according to a preliminary survey by the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW).

The construction of new renewable installations coupled with favorable climatic conditions helped boost the share of renewables to record levels by mid-year. In the first half of 2013, the renewables share of gross domestic energy consumption was at 24.6%.

Producing 18.3 billion kilowatt hours, photovoltaic power generation increased by 27.3%, while wind grew by 21.4% to 31 billion kilowatt hours. Biomass energy generation increased 5.2% to 22 billion kilowatt hours in the period.

BDEW pointed out, however, that the half-year record trend was not indicative of 2014’s full year result. Electricity generation from renewable energy sources typically varies strongly depending on the season and weather and the annual average share of renewable energy can thus remain below the quarterly results achieved so far.

Energy generation by conventional plants on decline

The production by conventional power plants is declining significantly, BDEW reported. The share of gas in gross electricity generation in the first half of 2014 again declined to the current level of 9.8%, down from 11.4% in the same period last year. Coal-fired power plants accounted for an 18% share, down from 19.7%, while nuclear energy made up 15.4%, up slightly from last year’s 15.1%. The percentage of energy generated by lignite power plants remained nearly unchanged at 25.1%.

Overall, gross electricity generation reached 308 billion kilowatt hours in the first half of the year, down from 320 billion kilowatt hours in the first six months of 2013. Lignite power plants generated some 77 billion kilowatt hours, down from 81 billion; coal-fired power plants approximately 56 billion, down from 63 billion; and natural gas power plants around 30 billion kilowatt hours compared with 36 billion a year ago. Nuclear power facilities generated about 47 billion kilowatt hours, down slightly from 48 billion.

Gas and electricity consumption saw a general decline in the period: Natural gas consumption amounted to 445.7 billion kilowatt hours, down some 20% from 555.5 billion. The BDEW attributed the drop to significantly warmer weather in 2014, which lowered overall heating demand, especially compared to the very cold first half of 2013. A decline in production in Germany’s chemical industry likewise contributed to lower gas use. Adjusted for temperature, natural gas consumption still fell nearly 7%.

Electricity consumption in the period dropped 5% to 268 billion kilowatt hours, down from 282 billion a year ago, due mainly to the mild weather.